2018 – A Bookish Retrospective

It’s the last day of 2018, which means it’s time for the bookish memes I do every year.

I read 84 books this year, which is ten fewer than the past couple, but I was travelling for a while and hit a reading slump in the middle of the year. I was also driving less, so while I finally got an Audible account (I’d been holding out but I think it is worth the money), I probably got few fewer audio books.

GoodReads says that my average rating for the year was 3.4, which does reflect the reading slump, but there were definitely some great reads in there, and I’m pleased to share them with you now. You can also see my GoodReads Year In Books.

I’m afraid I haven’t linked to any of the books or  my reviews in this post. There were too many for me to go around hunting for them all. But you can find my GoodReads here, with everything you should need to find them. Feel free to friend me so that my reviews show up in your Friends sections on each title.

Meme 1

Finish each sentence by using the title of a book you read this year.

My family reunions are: Legendary (Stephanie Garber)

At a party you’d find me with: The Other Alice (Michelle Harrison)

I’ve never been to: Station Eleven (Emily St John Mandel)

Motto I live by: Keep Her Safe (Richard Parker)

A happy day includes:  Sugar Spells (Lola Dodge)

On my bucket list is: Caraval (Stephanie Garber)

In my next life, I want to have: A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald (Natasha Lester)

People might be surprised: I Had Such Friends (Meg Gatland-Veness)

In high school I was: Unearthed (Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman)

I will never be:
Your One and Only (Adrienne Findlay)

My fantasy job is:
Girl Reporter (Tansy Rayner Roberts)

I hate it when: Adulthood is a Myth (Sarah Andersen)

At the end of a long day I need:  The Strings of Murder (Oscar de Muriel)

I Wish I had:
Lessons in Letting Go (Corinne Grant)


Meme 2

+ Books read: 84/75

+ The first 5 books that I read this year:

  • False Awakening by Cassandra Page (3 stars)
  • Everless by Sara Holland (4.5 stars)
  • Mr Stink by David Walliams (3 stars)
  • The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud (4 stars)
  • The Hospital by the River by Catherine Hamlin (4 stars)

+ The last 5 books that I read this year:

  • The Midnight Watch by David Dyer (4 stars)
  • Olmec Obituary by L. J. M. Owen (3 stars)
  • Sixty Seconds by Jesse Blackadder (3.5 stars)
  • Wundersmith: the Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (3 stars)
  • The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork

+ My top 10 books this year (in no particular order):

  1. The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore
  2. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  3. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
  4. White Night by Ellie Marney
  5. Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
  6. Sugar Spells by Lola Dodge
  7. The Midnight Watch by David Dyer
  8. The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork

I, uh… only really had a Top 8 this year.

+ Which book surprised you the most in a good way?

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. It took a while to get into but then I was actively looking forward to solo car trips so I could listen to more of it.

+ Any books that made a really big impression on you and that you think you will carry with you for a good while?

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore and The Midnight Watch by David Dyer were two historical novels based on real events. In both cases, I found myself pausing the audio books to google historical figures or events that were referred to. This is why I like historical fiction. I get more out of it than I do from non-fiction history books.

+ Any passage/quote you want to share?

“You were dead convinced you would marry this pianist. That was quite a change of heart, Clara. What happened?”

Clara hesitated, because she didn’t want him to take his hand away.

“I remembered you,” she said, her face burning.

Nutcracker was silent a moment. The snarling rats in the background seemed muffled. Clara didn’t look at Nutcracker’s face, but kept her eyes down, on his hand.

“Such a thing, Miss Stahlbaum. For when the world was darkest, I remembered you.”

The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork

D’awwww. 😍😍😍 This bit made me squee a lot.

+ Finally, my top 5 favorite book covers of the year in no particular order:

  • Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
  • White Night by Ellie Marney
  • Sugar Spells by Lola Dodge
  • The Enchanted Sonata by Heather Dixon Wallwork
  • Hunted by Meagan Spooner
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2016: A Bookish Retrospective

I did these two book memes at the end of 2015 and enjoyed them, so here I am again to apply them to the books I read in 2016. This was supposed to go up on NYE, but I never got around to it, so the Thursday Book Tag spot seemed like a good alternative.

Meme 1

+ Books read: 93/75 – smashed my goal!

+ The first 5 books that I read this year:

  • Somewhere In Between by Katie Li (2 stars)
  • Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairytales by Justin Richards (4 stars)
  • Alternate by Ernie Luis (4 stars)
  • Lucid Dreaming by Cassandra Page (4 stars)
  • The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville (5 stars)

+ The last 5 books that I read this year:

  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer (4.5 stars)
  • The Two by Will Carver (2 stars)
  • Elenore by Faith Rivens (4 stars)
  • Fairest by Marissa Meyer (2.5 stars)
  • Pyramids by Terry Pratchett (4 stars)

+ My top 10 books this year (in no particular order):

  • The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville (5 stars)
  • The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (4.5 stars)
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman (4 stars)
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (4 stars)
  • Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson (4 stars)
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (4 stars)
  • The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
  • I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer

+ Which book surprised you the most in a good way?

Am I Black Enough For You? by Anita Heiss. Memoir-types are always a bit hit or miss for me and it took a while to get into this one, but I really liked that Anita challenges my assumptions and made me think about racial relations in Australia.

+ Any books that made a really big impression on you and that you think you will carry with you for a good while?

That’s a good question, and sadly I think the answer is no this year.

+ Any passage/quote you want to share?

“Live your fear.” Why didn’t we teach kids that? Why wasn’t that in a graduation speech? Commencement speakers should start telling the truth: “You’re going to fuck up, but most of the time, that’s all right.” – Mara Wilson, Where Am I Now?

+ Finally, my top 10 5* favorite book covers of the year in no particular order:

top5covers2016
Clearly I have a thing for black backgrounds with vibrant foregounds.

*honestly, I didn’t read too many with covers that really wowed me this year.

Meme 2:

Finish each of the sentences only with titles of books you read this year:

My family reunions are: The Madness Underneath (Maureen Johnson)
At a party you’d find me with: The Raven King (Maggie Stiefvater)
I’ve never been to:
The Life Assistance Agency (Thomas Hocknell)
A happy day includes:
   A Stolen Kiss (Kelsey Keating)
Motto I live by: Catch Me If You Can (Frank Abagnale Jr.)
On my bucket list is: Life in Outer Space (Melissa Keil)
In my next life, I want to have:
Isla’s Inheritance (Cassandra Page)
In high school I was: Fairest (Marissa Meyer)
People might be surprised: I Hunt Killers (Barry Lyga)
I will never be: The Dragon in the Garden (Erika Gardner)
My fantasy job is: Rebel of the Sands (Alwyn Hamilton)
At the end of a long day I need: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge (Paul Krueger)
I hate it when: Seeing Redd (Frank Beddor)
I Wish I had:
More Than This (Patrick Ness)

(I had to stretch a few of these, but I got there in the end!)

The “I Messed Up” book tag

During the last semester, I’ve been saving the URLs of book tags that I’ve seen blogging friends do, with the intention to follow suit as soon as I had free time. Well, that  free time is now, so I’m getting onto the first one. This is the “I Messed Up” book tag, which I found on the Mud and Stars Book Blog aaaaaaaaaaages ago (in fact, it was posted in March). I confess to having to own up to a lot of these!

A character appearance that you misread or imagined differently:

Artemis Fowl from the series of the same name by Eoin Colfer. Basically in my head he’s a Draco Malfoy lookalike, because when we first meet him, he’s a twelve-year-old with a very high opinion of himself, and when the shoe fits, as they say… Despite knowing that he’s always described as “raven-haired” and is supposed to look more like this, I can’t get this picture out of my head.

A character name that you’ve been pronouncing wrong:

I’m trying to think of one other than Hermione Granger, but she’s the only one who comes to mind. In spite of the pronunciation lesson she gives Viktor Krum in the fourth book, I was still saying “Hermi-own” even though I knew it was wrong. I think the closest I got was “Her-me-OH-nee”. It was only when the first movie came out that I learned how to say it properly.

An overused trope that is your guilty pleasure:

While I am not a fan of love triangles, I really do enjoy hate-at-first-sight romance arcs. I love seeing characters begrudgingly forced together and then having to overcome their differences and eventually fall in love.

A cliché character type that you like better on screen than reading about:

I was going to say the “brooding yet sexy hero” because at least if it’s on screen you have the actual eye-candy there, but actually I think even that I hold to a certain standard of writing as well, even for TV/movies. I’m not sure there are really any that I would take on screen over reading if they weren’t written well enough for me to get into it.

A word/phrase you learned because of its use in a book:

I know there must be plenty, but there’s only one coming to mind right now because it was a recent one. In The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins, he refers to the “Hebrew Bible” at one point. I raised an eyebrow, thinking this was a lazy author who couldn’t be bothered looking up the correct names for Jewish holy texts which have nothing to do with the Bible. However, Wikipedia (via Google) informed me that this is in fact a word used by theology scholars.

Have you ever not read or completed a required reading book for school?:

Haha, yes! I’m sure there are plenty but James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Sally Young’s My Place come to mind. They were for the same course and I had several other texts to read as well. If I had had more time, I might have got through them.

Have you ever (or wanted to) skipped a chapter from the point of view of a character you weren’t interested in?:

Not that I can think of, but I’m sure if I read the Game of Thrones books this would happen a lot.

Have you ever cancelled social plans to read a book? ]

I don’t think I’ve ever gone so far as bailing so I could read, but I have declined short-notice invitations to things because I had already decided that night was a reading night. I’ve done it for writing as well. Don’t tell my friends, though; I usually say I’ve got a headache or something! (I am an awful person).

As usual, I’m not going to tag anyone to do this, but please feel free to pinch it if you are so inclined!


P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for one of two signed paperbacks of A More Complicated Fairytale.

The Book Courtship Tag

Hello and welcome to Thursday! I have another book tag for you, this time stolen from Magini Books.

Phase 1 – Initial Attraction: a book that you bought because of the cover?

colorworldColorworld by Rachel E. Kelly. I loved this cover and the other two in the series are equally gorgeous. Sadly, I ended up not really getting into the book. I recommend clicking the image to view the full size version, as it’s a bit hard to tell just how pretty it looks in thumbnail size.

 

Phase 2 – First Impressions: A book that you got because of the summary?girlfromeverywherecover

This is the way I choose most books, but I will put The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig as my actual answer, as the premise sounded really original and I jumped at the chance to read it.

 

cinnamongirlcoverPhase 3 – Sweet Talk: A book with great writing?

I know I do go on about this book a lot, but The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil. She nails both teenage narrative voice and a really Australian small-town atmosphere. Love this book.

madmancoverPhase 4 – First Date: The first book of a series which made you want to pick up the rest of the series?

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd. This YA version of The Island of Doctor Moreau pulled me right in from the get-go, and knowing that the subsequent books were based on The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Frankenstein respectively, I knew I had to get my hands on them immediately. (Warning if you go looking for these: they are dark, violent and do depict violence against animals in some detail)

unwindcoverPhase 5 – Late Night Phone Calls: A book that kept you up all night?

I’m actually more likely to stay in bed on a Saturday morning and neglect my housework than stay up all night, but either way, I’ll go with Unwind by Neal Shusterman, which portrayed a gripping and horrifying dystopian future that I wanted to see through.

lieutenantcoverPhase 6 – Always on my mind: A book you could not stop thinking about?

The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville. After reading it, I went and looked up the guy whose life it was based on, and was reading the digitised notebooks of his work, and getting excited each time I found things in the notebooks that were referenced in the novel.

fairytalescoverPhase 7 – Getting Physical: A book which you love the way it feels?

I’m not usually a fan of hard covers, since I do a lot of my reading on the go and hard covers are heavy and cumbersome, but when Time Lord Fairy Tales came in for me at the library, I was immediately in love (to the point of asking it for my birthday before I’d even started reading it). The picture of the cover doesn’t really do it justice.

seraphinacoverPhase 8 – Meeting the parents: A book which you would recommend to your family and friends?

Given that YA and Fantasy are two genres my mother isn’t especially interested in, but even she was impressed by the opening chapters of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman when she started reading it while visiting me recently, I feel this is a good choice to recommend to basically everone.

Phase 9 – Thinking about the future: A book or series you know you will re-read many times in the future?

I’m not generally a re-reader, but considering I have been thinking about grabbing the audio books of the Chaos Walking series and listening through them again, I guess that can go here.

seasonschaoswalking

I’m not really one for tagging, so if you fancy doing this tag, please feel free to pinch!

~ Emily

Book Tag: The Seasons of Book Blogging

seasons

 

I got a bit lax with my Thursday book tags, but I’m back now with this cute one, borrowed from Yvo’s blog. I’m Australian, so the seasons are all in the wrong months for me, but I’ll forgive it. 😉

March.
…is the month for luck and new beginnings. Name a book/series you would like to re-experience as if you’d never read it.

seasonschaoswalking

The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. This series was incredible and left me in a shaking, crying heap, but if I could read it again for the first time, I totally would.

Honourable mention to the Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud.

April.
…is a spectacularly ordinary month. Name a book that was so over-hyped that it just could not live up to your expectations

illuminae

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy this (I gave it four stars in the end!), but there were definitely parts (namely the first 200 pages) where I was thinking, “Really, this is what everyone is raving about?”

May.
…is the month when the flowers start to bloom. Name a book that was a pleasant surprise to you.

golemdjinni

It took me a while to get into this book, mostly because I was reading it in very short spurts and it’s really a book that should be read in as few sittings as possible. Once I actually got to sit down with it and give it my full and undivided attention, I was hooked. It’s a beautiful book!

June.
…is the time to take a break. Name a book or genre that you like to read when you just need to check out.

Generally I’ll go with a light urban fantasy at this time.

July.
…is the time to celebrate your independence! Name a book that made you see fireworks.

wildegirlscover

For ages, I wasn’t really sure about this book. It seemed really slow and I wasn’t sure what was going on and the characters were all a bit weird… then it all came together at the end and I was freaking out about how well it was all constructed.

August.
…is the hottest month of the year. Pick an up-and-coming author that you think will be the next hottest thing.

girlfromeverywherecover  cinnamongirlcoverI haven’t actually read too many really new, up-and-comers lately, but these authors only have one or two books out there; I don’t know if they will be the next hottest thing but I feel like they deserve to! (I just realised it’s hard to read: Heidi Heilig is the author of The Girl from Everywhere).

September.
…is time for students to go back to school! Pick a book you read for school that you actually enjoyed.

emmacover

I actually read this myself a year or so before I had to study it, but I didn’t mind revisiting it (and I’m also having trouble calling to mind books I read for school right now). We actually did a comparative study of Emma and the movie, Clueless, and to this day, I can still quote quite a lot of Clueless by heart.

October.
…is time to celebrate Halloween! Pick one character that you would love to dress up as.
groundedcover

Let’s be honest here, if Halloween was as big in Australia as it in the States, I would probably alternate between Doctor Who characters and Disney. So since she’s my favourite Disney Princess and this was also one of my favourite 2015 reads, let’s say Rapunzel.

November.
…is the month when we’re reminded of how much we have to be thankful for. Choose one book you’re grateful for having read and give a shout-out to the person who recommended it!
winniethepooh

The Winnie-the-Pooh series, which I first read when I was about five years old, and I still have a boxed set of the hardcovers on my shelf (though it’s one I had to go out and buy myself; the ones on my shelf as I grew up were my sister’s). I never really had them recommended, they were just always there.

December.
…is a time when friends and families come together and celebrate. Name one book you would give as a gift.

A Gathering of Shadows FinalmonstercallscoverseraphinacoverI was tempted to name my own book here, but I refrained. 🙂 I was trying to go for some variation because this would really depend on the person, but I guess all the books I would consider giving as gifts are fantasy of one form or another.

January.
…begins a new year. Name a resolution you made this year and if you’ve kept it or not!

I didn’t do resolutions this year. While I’ve got goals in various forms, they have only been set fairly recently (see my 100 Days of Productivity posts).

February.
…is the month for relationships. Name your favorite book relationship: romantic, platonic, or familial, your choice!

shipscovers

In order: Todd/Viola from Chaos Walking (which is friendshippy for the majority of the series, though it gets a little bit romantic towards the end), Cress/Thorne, who were pretty much my 2015 OTP (would I have read Winter right through if not for hanging out for more Cress/Thorne? Probably not), and Chava/Ahmed in The Golem and the Djinni, which is only very mildly romantic and doesn’t even have to be read that way if you don’t want to. I was trying to find some books I’d read with familial relationships, since I’m a sucker for sister stories, but apparently I confine those to movies/TV more than the books I read.

I’m not going to tag anyone particular for this, but please do feel free to steal if you like!

~ Emily

#teasertuesday – The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too

hollowboycoverThe new Lockwood & Co. book came out today! That link goes to the series page on GoodReads, and you can read my reviews of the first two books here and here. I had the new one pre-ordered on Amazon, so I was able to start it on my break today. Here’s the teaser:

Remember I said there was that moment of sweet precision, when we jelled perfectly as a team? Yeah, well, this wasn’t it.

At the moment that this remark is made, Lockwood is dangling out a window with his coat on fire, George is dangling from a ladder and Lucy (the narrator) has lost her sword down a trap door and is trying to avoid ghost-tentacles. And it’s only chapter three! Things often go awry like this for Lockwood & Co but they always manage to get the job done anyhow.

Please feel free to join in on Teaser Tuesday by visiting A Daily Rhythm and leaving a comment there. I’ll see you tomorrow for WIPpet and WWW Wednesday!

~ Emily

#teasertuesday – A Darker Shade of Magic – Pt 2

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too

You would think that I would have finished less-than-400-page book in a week, but the truth is, I didn’t get a huge amount of reading done over the past week, so I’m still in the middle of A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. It has quite a slow pace, but that works for the story. I’m really loving the world building, and I think I’m actually getting rather attached to the main character, Kell.

darkshadecoversmallLila gave him a derisive glare and fondled the stone. “Oh, no,” she said. “I’m just getting started.”

Technically three sentences, but I’m counting the dialogue all as one. 😛

Here is the GoodReads page, if what you read here intrigues you and you want to find out more.

Check out A Daily Rhythm for more TT posts!

I’ll see you all tomorrow!

~ Emily

The Inaugural keysandopenmind Teaser Tuesday

The reason I don’t have a particularly rigorous blogging schedule is because I simply do not have time for writing many posts in a week. It’s time consuming. I tend to write a lot. Usually when I should be doing uni work or otherwise working on more important projects.  But I found this meme, and it’s pretty quick and easy, so I figured I would join in.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

dustgirlcoversmallI’m currently reading Dust Girl by Sarah Zettell (amongst other things; I happened to be able to reach this one without getting up). Here’s the teaser, from page 34:

The clock on the mantel said it was only just going on eleven. But cooking us up lunch would mean I could think about something besides the storm and Mama being gone.”

Join in by adding your link over at MizB’s post.

I’ll see you all tomorrow, all being well.

~ Emily