Friday, December 26, 2014

Favourites of 2014

GUYS! 2014 is like, over!
This is nuts.

I lovelovelove favourites lists, in fact, one may even say that favourites lists are my favourite lists. I love to see what books resonated with readers at the end of the year, and which books seem to be a consensus favourite so I can pick them up with higher expectations (heh), as well as to see if I've missed out on books I've been meaning to read.

Unsurprisingly, I didn't actually meet my meager goal of 35 books this year-- same old excuses: university, homework, work, life, time, money, TV shows, passive hobbies... but that doesn't mean I didn't read any fan-effing-tastic ones that I'm eager to share. As per the last few years, I'll be copying the same format (see 2011, 2012, 2013 or just look in the sidebar) that was originally adapted from the lovely Nomes at Inkcrush (it's been years now, Nomes! Wowza.)


1. favourite book read in 2014!!!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

This book. THIS BOOK!!! It's released in 2012 and it's won a slew of well-deserved prizes. I can't believe it took me so long to get around to reading it, and when I finally did, it was like the universe had finally calmed down for a moment long enough to let me enjoy the simplicity and beauty of words on a page. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me feel so full of heart and love for these characters that I just want to write jibberish to convey my feelings.

I have so much love for Ari and Dante, and this is the most beautiful book I've read this year.

2. book you were excited about but didn't live up to your expectations

Raging Star by Moira Young. This book makes me a bit angry because I was so emotionally invested and in love with this series (the first book blew me away, the second was a brilliant shocker) and this last one was just frustrating and unengaging and horribly unenjoyable. *frowny face*
There's a handful of other books that could have made this list as well, but this one is the unlucky stand-out.

3. best ache-y, heart-breaking, tear-jerker read

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Did you not read what I just wrote above? I ached for these wonderfully realized characters, and their wonderfully realized lives

All the Rage by Courtney Summers
This is released in 2015, but boy, did my heart hurt for Romy and boy, did I want to strangle a lot of people. 

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (The Lynburn Legacy, book 3)
I unashamedly adore SRB and she put readers through a very specific and literary hell for this one

4. delicious, rainy day comfort read

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
This was just such a fluffy, predictable, but still incredibly charming read. Very cute, definitely recommended. 

5. adrenalin-filled, unputdownable read

Catalyst by SJ Kincaid
I want to bring some more attention to Kincaid's Insignia series, Catalyst is book 3 (read my review) and this series is just a bundle of fun, fast-paced action with witty retorts and a fantastic protagonist (that I feel Kincaid gleefully put readers through HELL in this last book).

6. the beautiful prose award

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Is this getting unfair yet? 

7. most atmospheric and vivid setting

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Another book published in 2012, this time it's an immersing fantasy book about dragons. Dragons! 

8. best under-appreciated, hidden-gem book

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
This is a high fantasy adventure that was marketed as Ocean's Eleven meets Robin Hood. It is neither of these things, but it is still fantastic -- great pacing, sympathetic characters, excellent action, shocking twists... give this one a go.

9. i-had-no-idea-i-would-love-this-so award
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski 
I distinctly remember my friend Eden holding a giveaway for this book and I had no clue what it was about-- she mentioned how it had been super popular in the blogosphere (again, something I was completely oblivious to) but I poked around the interwebs and decided to trust the reviews and picked it up for myself. It was SO much better than I had expected-- I thought it'd be a 3-4 star read, but I think it's like a 4-5 star read, because I was thoroughly entertained and engrossed in the world and the chemistry between the characters.  

10. outside my comfort zone but gosh how i loved liked it

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
This is a mix of a memoir/nonfiction story, and I gave it a rating of 7.7/10 (so not "loved", but still enjoyed). I'm putting this on my list mostly because I didn't really read anything outside of my comfort zone (does journal articles for school count?) and this is pretty much the only non-YA, non-fiction book I read this year. I do encourage you to watch her TED talk (here), or, while we are on the topic, Brene Brown's TED talk (here).

11. an unfinished series that i'm loving 

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer 
Same as last year! I finished Cress in 2013 (so now I've gone an entire year without a Marissa Meyer book.. *sniff*.. it was fantastic.
Fairest is a companion novel about Queen Levana, and is released in January 2015, while the conclusion, Winter, is released in November. And I am beyond excited.

Honourable Mentions:
The Winner's Curse Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski (I've read book 2 already... so I've got a pretty long wait til the last one)
The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss (not holding my breath here, though)

12. can't believe i waited so long to read this

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I can't believe I'm 2 years late to this delightful party.

13. book that lived up to (or superseded) the hype

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
I expected a solid 4-star read, and I got the solid 4-star read. LaCour is a talented author and I've read and enjoyed (and given 4 stars to) all of her books :) Emmi's job was the coolest!
Also, I didn't want to put Ari & Dante on this list again

14. want to re-read already

Aristotle and Dante....  

Yeah, no ragrets.


1. best plot-twist (no spoilers!)

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
A mild spoiler: "NOOOOOOOOOO HOW COULD YOU" that is all, Mr Lynch, that is all. Not really. You bastard (I say this lovingly).

Honourable Mentions:
Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan-- the above comment works for you, too.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart -- admittedly the hype kind of killed my enjoyment (and memory) for this book, but I apparently really liked it when I first read it (I gave it an 8.5/10). Anywho, great twist. 

2. best swoon-worthy moment

"I love swimming - and you." 
-this is from a book you can probably guess. I'm not sure if the quote is 100% accurate because I don't own the book (*cries*)... but you get the gist.

3. best cliffhanger

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Not gonna say any more, it's released in 2015.

4. best ending for a stand-alone

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
This one is a re-read.
I get a little choked up when I read "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman, and a ride home." (which like a dork, is something I've memorized, and is why I noticed that it's misquoted in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and that bugged me to no end. Why am I even telling you this?) 

5. best ending for a series

Catalyst by S. J. Kincaid (The Insignia trilogy). I didn't finish too many series this year, but oh gosh, Catalyst was so satisfying. Not perfect, but definitely loved the darker tone and the resolution for such an action-packed trilogy.


1. most memorable female character

Kestrel - The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Loved her.

2. most memorable male character

Dante - Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Or maybe Ari? Is anyone surprised by my lists anymore? 

3. favourite friendship
Kami and Angela - Untold/Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan. 
They were pretty kick-ass-- a sassy, headstrong detective coupled with a secretly-caring but outwardly apathetic bff. They're sisters, really.

4. favourite relationship 


I don't really want to spoil it? But like, it should be pretty obvious by now.. 

5. new literary crush

Probably Dante's parents, or something. I should retire this category, I don't seem to crush on literary characters very much anymore. 

6. favourite sibling relationship

Angela and Rusty - Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan
SRB, you sure are making a lot of appearances on this list!

7. best villain


All the Rage by Courtney Summers (released April 2015)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski


1. favourite cover (of a book i read)

It's just so pretty!!

2. book you're looking forward to the most in 2015

This year's list: The Howling Boy by Cath Crowley, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, Winter by Marissa Meyer, Minders by Michele Jaffe, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Also, any type of book and/or grocery list by Melina Marchetta.

Several debut authors, and a book I've been holding out for for a few years.

Last year's list (strike-outs mean I read them): The Howling Boy by Cath Crowley, Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, Raging Star by Moira Young, Catalyst by S.J. KincaidThe Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey.

And to Markus Zusak, WHEN DOES THE BRIDGE OF CLAY COME OUT?!?!??!??!! (just kidding, take your time) <-- pretty sure this comment has been here for the last three years


And that's it! Kind of long, kind of repetitive, just like my internal monologues.

Thanks to all of you who have stuck around and read my singular blog post each month (even then, not always). I really appreciated your comments, and I hope to keep it up next year, since I love to set hazardously low bars for myself.

I hope you all read wonderful books and explored worlds and fell in love with characters and prose. Please let me know what your favourite read was this year, I'd love to know!

I'll be posting my favourite movies in the upcoming days, so stay tuned.

Lastly, have a wonderful new year, and an extraordinary 2015. Here's to you! xx



Thursday, December 18, 2014

a Holiday wishlist

Dear Santa,

For Christmas, I want:

A Quentin Tarantinto-esque YA novel (this is very important, Santa. I've been thinking about this a lot). Must include: twisted off-kilter protagonists, dark but funny dialogue, unexpected character deaths, suspense for the ages, violence (preferably not hypersexualized, though), and someone I can visualize as Christoph Waltz.

A ticket for The Hobbit 3 (to be cashed in tonight).

Sarah Rees Brennan to finish writing a her parodies of The 100 (they are brilliant and got me through watching the entire series). In other news, The 100 is not terrible and has complex female characters and a boatload of grey-tinged morality (the best colour for morality, I say!). It also has a boy named Bellamy and a girl named Clarke who need to get married already.

More time to read books. Or, more motivation to do so. And please make Scarlet (from Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen) not annoying, I'm only a few chapters into the book and I really want to like it but I'm worried it's going to veer into mind-numbingly-frustrating-heroine-slash-love-triangle territory.

A good TV show to watch. The Americans? Broad City? True Detective?

Some tiramisu cake from Costco (let's face it, it's the best dessert ever created).

Winter by Marissa Meyer

My TV shows to come back from hiatus.

Someone to write my best-of list because I'm pretty lazy (hint: you can just put one book for all the categories because it is the best)


So... what's on your list?