Monday 12 January 2015

Annual End Of Year Book Survey, 2014 Edition!

So I found this awesome looking survey when I was browsing another blog, and I thought, why not give it a go? It's hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner and looks so much fun! I really wanted to have some sort of '2014 Review' post and this seems like the perfect way to do it!

Number Of Books I Read: 64
Considering the fact that the challenge I set myself was 35, I'm pretty pleased! That's almost double my original target!

Number Of Re-Reads: 0
I simply didn't have time to re-read any books this year and probably won't next year either. I have far too much catching up to do!

Genre I Read The Most From: Fantasy
This was actually the winner by a long shot. So many of my reads are from this category and it's not surprising. On particular, I seemed to enjoy a lot of Urban Fantasy books in 2014 (and there were some good ones)! Other genres that came close included Paranormal Romance, Mystery (that was the biggest surprise), and Historical Fiction!

Best Book: 
'The Tale Of Raw Head & Bloody Bones' by Jack Wolf.

It was the first book that I read this year and despite my best efforts, it was the best. Twisted, complicated characters, fantastic world-building and an original plot that I have never read before. This book had it all and I would love to read more of Wolf's work.

Book I Was Excited About And Thought I Would Love More But Didn't:
'One Hundred Years Of Solitude' by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

This book had such a beautiful cover and a promising premise. It was considered a classic for one, which made me feel like I would enjoy it. As well as that, it held the promise of a brand new genre to me: Magical Realism. I was so intrigued by the concept and hyped by the good reviews that I was disappointed when I instead found the book hard to read, confusing most of the time and at points, entirely ridiculous. It had a pretty nice writing style but I remain disappointed.

Most Surprising Book I Read:
'Winterspell' by Claire Legrand.

This one was surprising in a good way, because after reading a lot of the reviews, I fully expected not to enjoy it. But I did! Sure it was a confusing, slightly twisted start, but it had so many good things to it that I was hooked. I can't wait till 'Summerfall'.

Book You Pushed The Most People To Read:
'The Snow Child' by Eowyn Ivey.

So many times this year I have recommended this book to people, because it is fantastic! It almost won the 'Best Book Of 2014' category but I changed my mind at the last minute.

Best Series Started:
The 'Study' Series by Maria V. Snyder.

I almost wrote Marissa Meyer's 'Cinder' here, but instead I had to talk about Maria V. Snyder's 'Poison Study'. It was the first in this series (and the only one I've read so far) and I loved it! Awesome characters, great world-building and a pretty original Fantasy story-line. It contains one of my favourite power couples too so it deserves this spot.

Best Sequel:
'Scarlet' by Marissa Meyer.

It's as far as I've got with 'The Lunar Chronicles' and it was just absolutely perfect. I couldn't believe that I thought it was even better than 'Cinder'. Little Red Riding Hood is one of my favourite fairy-tales and I'm so glad that this clever, original adaption did not disappoint in any way!

Best Series Ender:
Uh oh! Don't tell me I didn't finish a single series in 2014? Well that's absolutely unforgivable I know, especially as I started so many. I'll do better next time!

Favourite New Author:
George R.R. Martin.

This was a pretty difficult one to pick. I've met and loved a lot of new-to-me authors this year, but this man in particular has caught my attention and I am in love with his 'Song Of Ice & Fire' series. I'm so glad I watched HBO's adaption of it because I'm totally hooked now. I will most certainly be picking up the next book, hopefully soon!

Best Book Outside Of Typical Genre/Comfort Zone:
'The Sea Of Tranquility' by Katja Millay.

I don't like reading a lot of Romance books. Nor am I a fan of the New Adult genre. But this book had something more to it than just those labels and I adored it for that very reason! It was haunting, and Millay's writing style was fantastic. I'd like to thank this book for making me question my own beliefs on this genre and taking me out of my comfort zone!

Most Unputdownable Book:
'Cinder' by Marissa Meyer.

I know I said that I liked 'Scarlet' even better than this one, but this book was one of the first in the year that I literally could not bare to be apart from. I was hooked from start to finish and couldn't believe how good the writing was, how much I loved the characters, and how much the story of Cinderella mixed with robots and other planets just worked. Well done Meyer!

Most Likely To Reread:
Alas, I think I'm going to have to say none of them for this category. I have so many books to catch up on in 2015 that I won't have time to reread any from my 2014 reads! I really wish I could for some of them though,they were all so good!

Favourite Cover:

'Wolves' by Simon Ings.

This was definitely the hardest category to pick, but in the end I went for this one. It's so simple, yet so effective! It reminded me of an optical illusion, the way you can see two different things in the picture, depending on how you look at it. As well as that, Ings has a penchant for using the same artist in each of his cover designs and that makes me very happy!

Most Memorable Character:
Patrick from 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower'.

So many raced through my head when I saw this title, but Patrick in particular just stuck out to me. He was so funny, smart, and I absolutely wish he was my best friend. Yet behind that, his story was actually very sad. Caught in a time where his sexuality is considered unacceptable, it's heart-wrenching when the love of his life refuses to be brave enough to accept their relationship as normal and I just wanted to hug him and tell him it would all be okay!

Most Beautifully Written Book:
'The Miniaturist' by Jessie Burton.

I went into this book not knowing what to expect and was greeted with one of the most beautifully laid out books I've read in my life. It was so quotable, and I loved the way that Burton could get the sense of a moment or a place so right with just words! I really aspire to write like her someday, her style is phenomenal!

Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book:
'The Invention Of Wings' by Sue Monk-Kidd.

I will never stop plugging this book! I was hooked from start to finish and could not believe how well Kidd had handled the topic of both racism and sexism in a time when slavery and the oppression of women were right, but change was on the brink of happening. It was interesting too, listening to it from two different POV's and I loved it's Historical accuracy.

Book I Can't Believe I Waited To Read:
'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins.

I spent far too long getting round to starting this series and after reading it, /i have no idea why! I loved the movies? Why didn't I go out and purchase the book straight away? I'm so glad I did get round to it though, it was fantastic!

Favourite Passage/Quote:
"I wanted to tell them that I'd never had a friend, not ever, not a real one. Until Dante. I wanted to tell them that I never knew that people like Dante existed in the world, people who looked at the stars, and knew the mysteries of water, and knew enough to know that birds belonged to the heavens and weren't meant to be shot down from their graceful flights by mean and stupid boys. I wanted to tell them that he had changed my life and that I would never be the same, not ever. And that somehow it felt like it was Dante who had saved my life and not the other way around. I wanted to tell them that he was the first human being aside from my mother who had ever made me want to talk about the things that scared me. I wanted to tell them so many things and yet I didn't have the words."
- From 'Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe' by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Shortest Book:
'The Hotel Fakir' by Adam Smolka. 70 Pages.

Longest Book:
'It' by Stephen King. 1376 Pages.

Book That Shocked Me The Most:
'The Lord Of The Flies' by William Golding.

I knew very little about this book, other than the fact that it was set on an Island, featured a group of young boys trying to survive and my Dad studied it at School. I liked it in the end too, but some of the events were absolutely horrifying and I couldn't believe what I was reading at times. Watching some of the boys turn from well brought up, level-headed youths to wild, mad savages was a strange transformation and a very unnerving outlook on human society as a whole.

OTP Of The Year:
Cécile and Tristan from 'Stolen Songbird' by Danielle L. Jensen.

They were in close competition with Valek and Yelena from 'Poison Study', and Aristotle and Dante from 'Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe'. This couple however had something that neither of those two did. Banter. Their conversations seriously had me rolling on the floor laughing at times (especially as Tristan was just so sarcastic) and I liked watching them fall for each other. I can't wait to read 'Hidden Huntress' when it comes out because their future is left on such a massive cliffhanger and I so badly want things to be okay for them.

Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship:
Karou and Zuzana from 'Daughter Of Smoke & Bone' by Laini Taylor.

We shall ignore the fact that my recent review for 'Dreams Of Gods & Monsters' was a little on the negative side, and focus on the fact that I adored these two in the first book. They bounced off of each other so well and had such a funny relationship that I would love to reread that book again for that reason. Taylor got these two so right!

Favourite Book From A Previously Read Author:
'Finding Sky' by Joss Stirling.

This is a strange one because I haven't actually read anything else by Joss Stirling. I have however read the 'Cat Royal' series by Julia Golding, who is the same Author under a different name. I couldn't get my head around it when I found out, but I found 'Finding Sky' to be so enjoyable, I couldn't not include it.

Best Book That Was Solely Recommended To Me:
'Divergent' by Veronica Roth.

I actually had no intention of reading this book at all, for the same reason that I wasn't too bothered about starting 'The Hunger Games' series. I just didn't think that Dystopian books sounded all that interesting. But then I saw 'The Hunger Games' movies which swayed me. 'Divergent' however, I read solely because so many people said I should. I mean basically all of my readers. When Bev, my sister, read it and loved it I knew I had to catch up!

Newest Fictional Crush:
Prince Nicholas from 'Winterspell' by Claire Legrand.

I don't know if you can call my love for Nicholas (or characters like him) a crush as such. But I thought if I was going for a book boyfriend, he would be a good choice. He's strong, handsome, protective and definitely has his heart in the right place. He's respectful as well which is very important in my opinion. Who cares if he was a cursed statue? I've probably liked weirder in my time.

Best 2014 Debut:
'Red Rising' by Pierce Brown.

I couldn't decide between this and 'Stolen Songbird', but this book really gave me a new found appreciation for the Science Fiction genre. It had great characters, a fantastic story-line, and I loved the references to Roman Mythology and Culture. Yes please to reading 'Golden Son' soon?

Best World-Building:
'A Game Of Thrones' by George R.R. Martin.

Seriously, Martin's world-building skills are beyond phenomenal. He doesn't just have a Kingdom or two. He actually has a Known World, split into continents. Each of those continents has it's own culture, history, religion, social etiquette and political complexities and it just makes the whole series feel so real. You have to read the books to understand just what I'm talking about, but it's a world to rival Tolkien's Middle Earth.

Book That Made Me Smile:
'Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe' by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

I had never read a LGBT book before reading this one, but it was absolutely beautiful and I couldn't help but smile throughout the entire thing. Just watching Ari and Dante get closer and closer, totally fall for each other and not realise it, and learn all about what being a teenager really means. It's a heart-warming book that I would love to read again some day.

Book That Made Me Cry:
'The Snow Child' by Eowyn Ivey.

The ending for this book was just so sad! And what made it worse was that I knew it would be and I could do nothing about it, yet wanted to keep reading so couldn't do anything but prepare for the tears that would inevitably slide down my face. Yet another gorgeous book that I would thoroughly recommend.

Hidden Gem Of The Year:
'A Certain Slant Of Light' by Laura Whitcomb.

I'm going to call this a hidden gem because not very many people that I know have actually read this book. It was so good though that I have to put it here because I feel like more people should know about it. The plot-line was very original, the characters memorable and it had such a sad story with a heart-warming ending.

Book That Crushed Your Soul:
'The Fault In Our Stars' by John Green.

So I cried for 'The Snow Child', but this book went beyond that level. I knew what was coming, and that it would be sad. But I didn't know how hysterically I would cry and that it would haunt me for so long. It is really worth reading though, despite the torment that comes alongside it.

Most Unique Book:
'The Three' by Sarah Lotz.

I picked this book because of the way that the story was told. Rather than a straight narrative, it consisted of a series of diary entries, conversation logs, reports, articles, testimonies and emails that when combined created a deeply powerful and mystifying story. Despite the fact that another book I read this year, 'The Silent History' was similar(ish) in it's approach, it was mostly made up of accounts rather than all of the combined information that I found in 'The Three' (which in my opinion, was done better).

Book That Made Me Angry:
'If On A Winter's Night A Traveller' by Italo Calvino.

This book made me angry. The moment I finished it, I threw it across the room. In fact I did that multiple times before finishing. Why? Because it started off so well and then turned into a plot that was so ridiculous and lost me on so many levels that I couldn't understand who anyone was, what was going on and why all these bizarre things were happening. Not to mention all of the story beginnings that I will never hear the ends to. How frustrating!

My Favourite New Blog:
Well of course I'm going to be massively biased here and say that my sister's blog, 'My Senses Come To Life' is my favourite blog this year. I read it as much as I can in the limited time that I have and I always enjoy it.

My Favourite Review That I Wrote:
Erm? I don't know the answer to this one! I don't really have favourite reviews because they're pretty similar in format. Maybe I'll say my 'The Fault In Our Stars' Review because as well as my normal review, it had some questions that I answered with Myra from I'm Loving Books. Reading with her was a lot of fun!

Best Discussion Post:
So this one wasn't actually on my blog, but it's still my favourite. I wrote a Guest Post for 'Oh, The Books!' on Fairy Tales and really enjoyed doing it. You can find it here.

Best Event Participated In:
I haven't really participated in many events this year, but I did like my first ever Blog Tour for 'Moonfall' by Vanessa Morton. It gave me a chance to do my first ever Giveaway and Author Interview, and I look forward to more of those in the future!

Best Moment Of My Bookish/Blogging Life:
I think I would have to say it's discovering Netgalley. Being able to get hold of books in advance, read them and rate them makes me feel like I'm actually contributing to something, and gives me even more satisfaction from my blogging life. It introduces me to many books I probably wouldn't have read otherwise as well.

Most Popular Post On The Blog:
My 'Top Ten Tuesday' posts are always popular, and for some reason this one in particular was the most popular. I do love writing those lists and I'm glad so many people enjoy them! This one had 230 views!

The Post I Wish Got More Love:
I am always happy with all of the love that my posts get and I don't wish for more with any of them. I was going to put my least popular post here but I'm not sure how to bring it up!

Best Bookish Discovery:
This is going to sound like a bit of an obvious one but 'Goodreads'! I hadn't used it before 2014 and I am still mind-blown by the amount of things I can do on there. It has opened up so many opportunities and friends for me and I'm so glad I have an account on it.

Reading Challenges/Goals That I Completed:
Well my Goodreads Challenge was 35 books and I managed to read 64 books last year so I'm pretty impressed with myself. As well as that I entered the'Real Books' challenge and the 'Quick Fix' challenge. I managed fifteen Quick Fix books meaning I reached 'Paperclips' level. As for the Real Books challenge, I achieved 34, which I'm pretty proud of too! That means I read about half of each book type!

One Book I Didn't Get To In 2014, But Will Be Number One Priority For 2015:
'Dreams Of Gods & Monsters' by Laini Taylor.

How do I know that one is top priority? Because I've just finished it. Seriously it took me far too long to get to this series finale and I'm glad I did, despite not enjoying it as much as I'd hoped. Next priority reads include 'Mockingjay' by Suzanne Collins, 'Siege & Storm' by Leigh Bardugo and 'Cress' by Marissa Meyer.

Non Debut Book I Am Most Anticipating:
'The Enchanted' by Rene Denfeld.

This was a tricky topic but I got this book for Christmas and I am definitely very excited to read it! It looks so good and I can't wait to see what all the fuss is about. The cover is beautiful too!

Debut Book I Am Most Anticipating:
'A Court Of Thorns & Roses' by Sarah J. Maas.

I guessed by debut it meant any book coming out in 2015, and not one by a brand new Author. There were so many I wanted to pick but I chose this one because it would be a new to me Author and the plot concept looks so intriguing!

Series Ending/Sequel I Am Most Anticipating:
'Hidden Huntress' by Danielle L. Jensen.

I already spoke about how excited I was to return to this series. I really hope that I get to read this as soon as it comes out because I am so excited! Another close contender for this category was 'Golden Son' by Pierce Brown.

One Thing I Hope To Accomplish:
I need to get through the rest of my Netgalley reads ASAP. That is something I would love to achieve this year if I could!

A 2015 Release I Have Already Read & Recommended:
Uhh none? Give me a chance! We're only halfway through January!

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