December 2015 Recap

Download iMOM’s Free December 2015 printable calendar. Remember to stay merry and bright this December!:

So December was mostly the month of Tags and Surveys. I got a decent amount of reading done, but not all of the books were great. I even DNF-ed two ARCs, which I hate to do. I had a Bookish Christmas – I bought a book for every member of my family and I got my three favorite books of the year and a Nook gift card from them. Also this month I reached 400 WordPress followers (not counting e-mail or my Bloglovin’ followers), which is a nice number to end the year on. In my 2015 Report from WordPress (linked towards the end of this post) I realized I just about doubled my total views since last year.

Books Read: 7

Genres Read:
Adult: 3
New Adult: 1
Young Adult: 3

Books Read in 2015 Overall:

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You can check out my Good Reads Year in Books Here

Books Reviewed: 4

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – 3.5/5 Stars
Oblivion (Lux 1.5) by Jennifer Armentrout – 4/5 Stars
Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer – 4/5 Stars
Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer – 3.5/5 Stars

Top Ten Tuesdays:

New-To-Me Favorite Authors

Best Books I Read in 2015

Funny Fridays:

December 4th

This is perfectly true.:

December 11th

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December 18th

Book geek epiphany:

Other Posts:

Seasons of Book Blogging Tag

12 Days of Christmas Book Tag

‘Tis the Season Book Tag

Merry Christmas!

2015 End of Year Book Survey

2015 Annual Report

Reviewing the Unreviewed

Looking Forward to January

I’ll be posting some Bookish Resolutions. I haven’t decided on all of them yet, but I think they’re mostly geared towards slowing things down. I know what you’re thinking – “But Stephanie, how could you possibly be any slower?” It can happen.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

 

Reviewing the Unreviewed: December 2015

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I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads

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Front Row by Rebekah N. Bryan. Read December 13-14. 2 Stars.

This book is basically one of those Lifetime Cautionary Tales movies, except the characters never realize how crazy they all are. I found them unrelatable and thought their behavior was super concerning, but for some reason I just couldn’t stop reading it. It was a quick, easy read and while not my usual kind of book, I am interested to see what the next installment in the series is like, which focuses on a boy band cruise.

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You (You #1) by Caroline Kepnes. Read December 19-20. 4 Stars.

I don’t even know what to say about this book. It was so messed up. It was uncomfortable to read at times. The characters are just awful, awful people. But…I couldn’t put it down. It’s written in second person and the “You” Joe is talking to is Beck, the girl he loves/stalks/obsesses over. It was a unique style and it really worked for this kind of story. I was so in Joe’s head that I was actually rooting for him and found myself thinking things like, “You need to lock the cage, idiot!” Yeah. You know the writing is good when you’re looking out for the sociopath.

However, it was a little too slow paced at times. It was a lot of repetition and it honestly wasn’t as creepy as I thought it would be. If we were figuring things out with Beck there would have been really creepy reveals, but seeing everything from Joe’s POV his crazy behavior almost makes sense. Well, it doesn’t make sense. But we see how it makes sense to Joe. And we sympathize with him. And even though it was almost boring for a bit, it’s still why I have to give this book 4 stars.

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The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian. Read December 22-26. 2 Stars.

This book made me really angry, but probably not in the way it was supposed to. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. Read December 26-27. 3 Stars.

This wasn’t as funny as I expected it to be, but it did get several chuckles out of me and I still wouldn’t mind being best friends with Mindy Kaling.     

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BACK ON THE TBR

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These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly. I really wanted to read this, but couldn’t get into it and then it expired from the library. I’ll try it again, though.

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DNF

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Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. DNF at 55%

When this book hit NetGalley I followed the hype and requested a copy. I didn’t know much about it, but I liked the cover. I actually got granted access to a copy and was excited to read it. However, after much effort, I just couldn’t finish it. I did not like the characters, the pace was super slow, the plot was a little confusing. At halfway through a book I expect to feel connected to the characters and invested in what happens to them, but I just didn’t care.

The one thing I did like was Nicholas, who was likable and intriguing, but he was not enough to save the book.

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The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield.

This is a book I really wanted to like, but just could not connect with the characters. While Fifield does write well-developed characters, I found them so unlikable and a little unprobable that I just couldn’t make myself read any more. I got about 25% and then skimmed the ending.

The one other thing I wanted to mention was that the letter from both the author and the editor at the beginning of the book really turned me off. The fact that I needed a letter explaining the book and then another letter about how great the book is before I even started made me think that the story wouldn’t be able to stand on it’s own. That initial distrust may have contributed to my lack of connection and interest with the story once I started it.

2015 End of Year Book Survey

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This survey is created by The Perpetual Page-Turner.

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Number Of Books You Read: 123 (as of 12/27/15 – this will probably go up a book or two by year end)
Number of Re-Reads: 24 (not counted in the above answer)
Genre You Read The Most From: YA

 

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1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

I don’t think I can pick one book, but I have narrowed it down to my three favorite (which were also the ones I got for Christmas):

  1. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  2. Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
  3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (This book will be referenced a lot from here on out, BTW)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway, Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud, and The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

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The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – in a Good way!

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West. I’ve had a few different people tell me they read it because I kept talking about it.

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

Started – Six of Crows (Six of Crows) by Leigh Bardugo

Sequel – First Frost (Waverly Family) by Sarah Addison Allen

Ender – Winter (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

Allison Leotta – The Anna Curtis series

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – I don’t read a lot of books that have LGBT romance.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Six of Crows!

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Big Little Lies

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

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The book only got 2 stars from me, but I adore the cover of A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray.

11. Most memorable character of 2015?

Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows. He’s everything.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

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First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

This year I read for pure enjoyment purposes. I can’t say I read anything that was life-changing.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

Missing You by Harlan Coben. Not necessarily that book, but the author. I have never read him before and I know I’ll definitely be reading more of him.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

I don’t keep track of quotes. It’s not my thing.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

Shortest – Ten Rules for a Call Girl by Allison Leotta

Longest – Winter by Marissa Meyer

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

You know, there were several books that had some small twists or surprises, but there is not anything that stands out to me as being really shocking.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Cinder & Kai from Winter

Kaz & Inej from Six of Crows

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

The Six of Crows gang as a whole, Cinder & Thorne

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Six of Crows – previously read The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – because ALL THE HYPE

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

Kaz Brekker. Obviously.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

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Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Wrath and the Dawn

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

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The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

While it definitely wasn’t the sob fest that was Me Before You, After You by Jojo Moyes had me a little teary at the beginning.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

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Aimee and the Heartthrob by Ophelia London was pretty cute.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

I didn’t read a lot of heavy hitting reads this year. I’m not actually upset by this.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

You by Caroline Kepnes. This book was just Messed Up.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

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Vendetta by Catherine Doyle because it was RIDICULOUS!

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1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

I’m not entirely sure if it was this year or last year, but I’m pretty sure it was this year that I discovered Brandie is a Book Junkie. We don’t share the same tastes in everything, but we both love Suspense novels and if she gives a Suspense a favorable rating, it’s automatically going on my TBR. She is also the reason I read my first Harlan Coben book this year. And we also figured out that we live in the same county, which is pretty cool!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

If My Life were Like Chick Lit…The Wedding Date and All the Ways in which I am not a Proper Book Nerd/Blogger.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

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I went to a book signing/talk by Linda Castillo (of the Kate Burkholder series).

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?

I had my first publisher provided giveaway – for a copy of Black-Eyed Susans.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I’ve had several book slumps throughout the year and that bled over into not having anything to post on the blog. I’ve also had lots of Low-Blog-Self-Esteem moments where I kind of hate everything about my blog/blogging.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My review of The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne has the most views of the year. I don’t have any idea how to search by comments or likes.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I don’t really know. I wish every post got more likes/comments/views. But what can you do?

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Many new blogs

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

For the Good Reads Reading Challenge I wanted to read 115 books and I surpassed it.

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

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Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone. I bought it when it was on sale, but haven’t read it yet. It’s first up after I get some library books and ARCs out of the way.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

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The Raven King!!!! How many times has this been pushed back?!?

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I can’t think of anything at the moment. I’m not super attuned to those yet, I guess.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

The Raven King, obviously, and Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2)

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

Request less ARCs unless it’s a book that I know I REALLY want to read. I hate DNF-ing ARCs, but I also hate forcing myself to finish books I don’t like and then try to write coherent reviews about them.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

So far I’ve only read one and a half 2016 books and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them to everyone.

 

Review: Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

On his own

Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…

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I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Thicker Than Water will be available December 29, 2015.

I was a big fan of Kemmerer’s Elemental series (On a side note, I just saw that there is going to be another book in the Elemental series and I am sooooooo happy! I knew that series couldn’t be over!) so when I saw she had a new book coming out, I knew I had to read it. First, though, I need to get this off my chest – the synopsis says a prior murder victim was Charlotte’s best friend, but she wasn’t. It was a girl she just barely knew. Though that murder does play a large role in Charlotte’s life later in the book.

Kemmerer really knows how to write guy characters that I’ll fall in love with. Thomas made my heart break, but he could also make me smile, laugh, get frustrated, and – for lack of a better word – swoon. I just felt so awful for him as he was trying to come to terms with his mother’s death and living with the step-father he barely knows, all while the police have named him their number one suspect.

Charlotte is the youngest child – and only daughter – in a family of cops. She meets Thomas at his mother’s funeral and basically every thing she does after that just puts Thomas in more trouble. While she is capable of defending herself and I admired her for not automatically condemning Thomas like everyone else was doing, she drove me insane most of the time. She just kept doing stupid things and often Thomas had to pay the price for them, which infuriated me.

I really liked the supporting cast of characters in this book. I liked Stan, Thomas’ step-father, even though he didn’t always believe Thomas. Charlotte’s best friend provided a lot of comic relief and I really liked Charlotte’s brothers (I’ll mention again – Kemmerer writes guys I love) and wish we would’ve gotten even more from them. While they could all make me angry at times, they all had a good sense of humor and they were very protective of their family. And then there is JB who was a very interesting character that I really loved reading about, but I fear anything I say about him will go into spoiler-town, so I’m going to restrain myself.

I did like the romance between Thomas and Charlotte for the most part. Though it happened a little fast, I think that’s explained later on in the book in  a way that makes sense. This book is a little more graphic than Kemmerer’s previous books, so younger readers should watch out for that. I generally don’t appreciate that in YA, but it was only a couple scenes, so I can overlook it.

While it’s hinted at in the first chapter – and several times throughout- it takes over 200 pages for the supernatural element of the story to come into play. I think I would’ve liked it to be explained a little earlier in the story. Once we get to that point, it felt a little rushed and I’m still a tad confused about how it all works. It plays a huge part in the murder mystery aspect of the book and I wish the pace would have slowed down a little instead of speeding toward the conclusion.

Overall, I did really enjoy Thicker Than Water. I really loved the characters (even though Charlotte made me angry most of the time) and I just really love Kemmerer’s writing. The story is told in alternating 1st person POV and I thought it was done really well here. While I felt the ending was resolved enough to be a standalone, there was enough left open that I thought this could be the start of a series. I ended up asking Kemmerer on Twitter and she said, “Right now it’s a standalone…” so I have some hope there will one day be more books on the way, as this would be a series I’d definitely continue.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

3.5 stars

 

‘Tis the Season Book Tag

With only one more day until Christmas I figured I better hurry up and do this ‘Tis the Season Book Tag! Thanks to Eve Messenger’s OtherWORDly Endeavors for tagging me!

 1. Do you have a favorite winter read?

I don’t really read based on the seasons.

2. Find a book with blue on the cover!

I don’t really know why a blue cover is on a Christmas related list? Why not red or green? But anyways, this is one of my favorite books this year.

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3. Find a book you’d use as the star on a Christmas tree!

I’m totally stealing Eve’s answer and going for an angel on top of the tree instead of a star and I think this cover is beautiful (wish I was more impressed with the actual story, though…)

4. Pick one fictional place that would be perfect for a winter vacation!

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Luna, because it doesn’t snow on the moon. Although, so far (luckily for us), I’m really enjoying this weather we’re having right now. Yesterday I wore short sleeves and no coat – two days before Christmas in Ohio!

5. Pick one fictional character you’d take with you on your winter vacation!

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Kaz Brekker. Because he’s my favorite new character of the year and I would take him anywhere.

6. Name one book on your wish list this year!

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Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

7. Favorite holiday drink, treat, & movie?

Drink – Cinnamon Dulce coffee (my mom just discovered these Starbucks K-cups and my whole family is obsessed with it now)

Treat – Buckeyes (I’m from Ohio! And you can’t go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter!)

Movie – All I Want for Christmas (from 1991 with Ethan Embry and Thora Birch – and I just realized I haven’t watched it at all this year!)

Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like to do this! Thanks again, Eve, for tagging me!