Tuesday, 3 January 2017

End of Year Book Survey 2016

It's that time of year again, time to do the End of Year Book Survey hosted by Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner. It is a great time to look back on my reading and blogging year. I get to see all the books I have read, authors I have discovered, events I attended and so much else. It also lets me see that even though I have felt like the most failing blogger ever... I did accomplish quite a lot this year and should be proud of that. 

Every year I struggle not to reuse the same 12 or so books, but this year I will attempt to change it up a little bit... it probably won't work though. I also like to use picutres of the covers but my HTML on this post is being a little bitch and it won't let me put the image next to the text in most cases so that won't be happening apparently.

Here are my past End of Year Survey:

  1. End of Year Book Survey 2015
  2. End of Year Book Survey 2014
  3. End of Year Book Survey 2013

Number of books read: 114

Number of re-reads: 21

Genre you read the most from: Fantasy

1. Best books read in 2016?

This actually said best 'book', but I am not about to pick just 1 favourite book of 2016. Mostly because I am one indecisive person, but also because I read so many amazing books.

I am not going to go into detail about these as I will probably use them for other answers and will give more detail then. 

2. Book I was excited for, thought I would love but didn't?

Oh so many books left me disappointed this year:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was just like reading some god awful fan fiction, written by someone who didn't know the characters or the world very well. It was awful. I have bought tickets for the play, as I still feel it will be magical to see on stage. But this will never be canon to me... EVER! You can read my full ranty review here

The Dream Thieves was just too meh. Nothing really happened and I was bored whilst reading. I reviewed that book too, which you can read here. I love Colleen Hoovers books but I felt this one was too emotionally manipulative on so many levels. Every single character had some kind of tragic back story. Not to mention the weird diary entries to Ellen Degeneres, being just another attempt for Colleen Hoover to get on that show. I thought it was an okay read, but not to the level of her other books. Too Late was her doing something very different and I hated it, it was soap opera level drama and I couldn't stand it.

RoseBlood was one of the strangest books I have ever read. It is so weird that I couldn't even begin to try and put all the weirdness into words, which made reviewing it so hard. Chasing the Stars was just so terrible for a lot of reasons, I couldn't even bring myself to review that one.

3. Most surprising book I read, in a good or bad way?

Image result for what is happening gifEmpire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5)Definitely the most suprising in a bad way was Empire of Storms, I really did not enjoy that book. I didn't absolutely hate it, I just felt it was the weakest in the series after Queen of Shadows. It had some brilliant moments, but I hated the surprising turn of one of my favourite young adult series turning into a weird new adult romance novel, with a bit of erotica thrown in. No, not okay. The best parts of this book were all of Manon's chapters.

4. Book I "pushed" the most people to read, and they did?

I have already mentioned the being a sucky blogger for all of 2016, so I have kind of been unable to push books onto people. I want to push the Saga graphic novel series on to EVERYONE though! So, if you haven't read it, go read it. It is hilarious and emotional, with incredible characters and a great story.

5. Best series I started in 2016? Best sequel of 2016? Best series ender of 2016?

Illuminae and Saga were my two favourite new series that I discovered, I absolutely love both and highly recommend them. I think A Court of Mist and Fury was the best book I read all year, it was incredible. Morning Star was such an epic conclusion to an already highly epic series.

6. Favourite new author I discovered in 2016?

I discovered Jay Kristoff this year and I am very happy for that... Now I just need to read Nevernight and hope it doesn't disappoint.

7. Best book from a genre I don't typically read/was out of my comfort zone?

I have to go with Vain for this one, as that is a new adult and not something I read very regularly. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it, especially when the main character is supposed to be so unlikeable in the beginning. I couldn't put the book down though, it was one of the best new adult books I have ever read. And I then devoured the rest in the series, plus bought two more books from the author. You can read my full review here.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

I think I am going to have to go with Gemina for this one. I thought that book was sooooo brilliant and I found it almost impossible to put down when I was reading it. Plus it completely shocked me at times, had my mouth hanging open and wanting to close the book, and step away from it slowly. Such a brilliant book!

Image result for reading shocked gif
Basically me reading this book.

I almost forgot Half Lost. Half Lost. Half Lost. HALF LOST!!! THAT ENDING!?!?!

9. Book I read in 2016 that I am most likely to re-read next year?

Literally any book that is a part of a series with a book coming out next year. I don't want to, but I will be rereading Empire of Storms so that I can review it finally and also do a recap for it.

10. Favourite cover of a book read in 2016?


11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Image result for six of crows characters

These six are memorable for so many reasons! Such a brilliant cast of characters, ones I did not want to leave.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

I actually don't know which book I should pick for this so I won't pick any!

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2016?

I think these two are great choices for this as I thoroughly enjoyed both. One handled mental health so well, the other dealt with grief and loss. I loved both.

14. Book I can't believe I waited until 2016 to finally read?

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)

15. Favourite passage/quote from a book I read in 2016?
"I would have come for you. And if I couldn't walk, I'd crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we'd fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that's what we do. We never stop fighting."
Image result for i haven't cried like that since titanic gif

16. Shortest and longest book read in 2016?

Shortest: Half Lies by Sally Green
Longest: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

17. Book that shocked me the most?

I definitely want to go with Morning Star for this for a few different reasons. It shocked me so much when reading.


Rhysand & Feyre 

She is so incredibly talented, her prints are available on Society 6. I got her 

19. Favourite non-romantic relationship of the year?

Image result for bye felicia gifThey are not new to me this year, but they will win out because they are incredible: Darrow & Sevro from the Red Rising series. Brilliant friendship! Sevro is so fiercely loyal to Darrow, and they have stuck together from the very beginning. Plus I love how utterly hilarious Sevro is, he brings some much needed humour to the series and to Darrow.

20. Favourite book read in 2016 from an author I have read previously?

I have already said that I love ACOMAF, it is my top read of the year. So to change it up, I will mention something different. I will go with P.S. I Like You by Kasie West. It was utterly adorable, as I have come to expect from Kasie West.

21. Best book read in 2016 that I read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure?

I finally read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and that was definitely because of pressure from other people. I actually really enjoyed it and am excited to read the sequel.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book I read in 2016?

Technically I discovered Kaz last year, but I am counting it!

23. Best 2016 debut I read?

The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, #1)

I would have gone with Rebel of the Sands, as that is a brilliant piece of storytelling. But I technically read it in 2015 and it was included a ton on my End of Year Survey last year. Instead I will go with The Crown's Game because the Imperial Russia setting won me over completely, which is why I would also consider it for the question below - brilliant world building for sure!

24. Best worldbuildig/most vivid setting I read this year?

Art by the incredibly talented Charlie Bowater

25. Book that put a smile on my face/was the most fun to read?

Nimona Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery

These two graphic novels were a lot of fun to read. This was the year I discovered a ton of graphic novels and loved them all. Nimona was one that made me smile, it had such a cute gay romance in it too that was just too adorable. Rat Queens is just funny as fuck, I love the characters so much and can't wait for the next Volume.

26. Book that made me cry?

Half Lost (The Half Bad Trilogy, #3)

Image result for why are you making us feel these things GIF
Basically every reader to Sally Green. Why, bitch, why?!?!

27. Hidden gem of the year?

Things We Know by Heart

I did not expect to love this book anywhere near as much as I did.

28. Book that crushed your soul?

I'm just going to go with Half Lost again. WHY, Sally Green, WHY?!?! *ugly cries*

29. Most unique book I read in 2016?

I am going with The Leaving by Tara Altenbrando, which I felt was very unique. I loved that book so much, and totally wasn't expecting it.

30. Book that made me the most mad?

Too Late Paper Princess (The Royals, #1)

Image result for what the fuck is wrong with you gifNot only did the book make me mad, the stupid fucks reading it did too. There is a character in this book who is abusive and a rapist. And people kept saying how much they loved him. Or wished he got a happy ending. Or wish the girl had stayed with him. Or that he deserved sympathy because of a tragic past. Nope. No. Not ever. Never. Fuck you all. What absolute idiots?!? There is never any excuse to rape or abuse another human being. Having a tragic past excuses nothing. How can you like a guy like that. I also hated the main character, who acts like getting raped repeatedly by her boyfriend is completely normal. It is never addressed or treated as a big deal. Urgh. I was shouting at this book so much. I just wanted to chuck my Kindle out the window.

Image result for what the fuck is wrong with you gifPaper Princess made me so mad too, for almost the same reason. The romantic male lead is a total dick. He is an awful human being. He basically refers to every woman as a slut or a whore. And is mean as all hell to the lead. Then the authors try to excuse this behaviour because 'he liked her all along really'. No, NOT OKAY! And to make matters worse I had the sequel and read that too, and it got worse from there. He then becomes that character who beats up any person who looks at the girl the wrong way. And she likes it! Urgh. Not to mention the female character is drugged and almost raped, which I hate when that is used as a plot point to just allow the male lead to come to her rescue and prove he's not a total dickhead. But she then decides to not press charges or do anything about it because he didn't succeed in raping her. WHAT?!?! What is this book trying to say?!? That it is fine to try and rape someone as long as you're caught before you can do it. Or that you shouldn't press charges, just let the guy get away with it so he can try and succeed with someone else in the future?!? Oh my, worst books ever.

1. New favourite book blog I discovered in 2016?

I am not joking when I say I was an awful blogger for the whole of 2016, so I didn't really discover any new blogs. But here are some of my favourite bloggers, not just for their incredible content but also because they are all wonderfully kind and supportive individuals:

Cait @ Paper Fury / Natalie & Lexie from The Honest BookclubAmanda @ Nellie and Co. / Brittany @ This is the Story of My Reading Life / Rachel @ Confessions of a Book Geek / Ella @ Once Upon a Bookish Time / Zoe @ Stories on Stage / Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books / Jeann @ Happy Indulgence / Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

I know there are probably a million more amazing blogs I love and should mention, but my brain is like jelly right now and I can't think. So I am sorry if I have missed you off the list.

2. Favourite review that I wrote in 2016?

My Fav Positive/Gushy/Fangirling Ones

My Ranty/I-Hate-This Ones

3. Best discussion/non-review post I had on the blog?

Things to Know When Dating a Bookworm

4. Best event that I participated in?

I went to soooooo many amazing events this year and I loved them all. I got to go to another Sarah J. Maas event and meet her for the 2nd time. I also got to go see Leigh Bardugo and Rainbow Rowell on their Worlds Collide Tour, although the signing after was disastrously planned out - I was still so happy to get my Six of Crows books signed. I also got to go to YALC for the 3rd year in a row, it was the funnest one I've been to so far. I also got to go to some great blogger events, I especially loved the Chapter 5 event that I went to, so good.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Giving more time to my Instagram and seeing it pay off. I have loved watching my Instagram grow, my style get better and finding my feet. I even started hosting a challenge every month and I love it.

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

I suffered a giant blogging and reading slump this year. I have spoken a little in the past about my struggle with depression. I go back and forth with my medication, I always make the mistake of going off it as soon as I feel 'better'. Then my energy levels dip again and I can't bring myself to blog or read. I also started to get a bit healthier, I joined a gym but it is quite far away and so going their took up all my spare time after work. I might swap gyms to a closer one to give myself more time. I found regular exercise did amazing things for me, it really helped with my anxiety and depression. I hope to work on myself more in 2017, so I can dedicate more time to the blog.

7. Most popular post this year on the blog?

8. Post I wished got a little more love?

I don't know, probably reviews as they always get the least love.

9. Best bookish discovery?

Image result for fairyloot

I am obsessed with this subscription box!

10. Did I complete any reading challenges or goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year?

I complete my Goodreads challenge of reading 100 books, which is amazing considering my reading slump started in September and I only read 12 books in the last 4 months of the year, which means I read over 100 in just 8 months.

1. One book I didn't get to in 2016, but will be number one priority in 2017?

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2) Heartless Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)

2. Book I am most anticipating in 2017?

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)

3. 2017 debut I am most anticipating?

Caraval (Caraval, #1)

4. Series ending/a sequel I am most anticipating in 2017?

Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #3)

I also really want the next book in the Illuminae Files series, as well as to see how Throne of Glass ends. 

5. One thing I hope to accomplish or do in my reading/blogging life in 2017?

Just to post a bit more regularly and get on top of my reading slump.

6. A 2017 release I have already read and recommend to everyone?

Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2)

So that is all my bookish thoughts of 2016, everything I read and accomplished all put down for me to see, and I am rather pleased with myself. I felt like I was the worst blogger in 2016, but I think I am being a little hard on myself. I did quite well for the first two thirds of the year, it was just the last 4 months that kicked my ass. Here's hoping 2017 is a bit better!

How was your reading year? Do we share any favourite books this year? Did you do the survey? If so, link to it, I'd love the check out your answers.

Monday, 19 December 2016

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)Title: The Dream Thieves
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

The love for Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle series is so intense that it made me nervous to start it. I really didn't want to end up being the odd one out, that one person who didn't like it. So I ended up putting off reading the first book for years. Thankfully, I thoroughly enjoyed The Raven Boys and was excited to try the rest of the series and see where this ridiculously strange story was going. I'm sad to say that I didn't enjoy The Dream Thieves anywhere near as much as the first book. If you're interested in my thoughts on The Raven Boys, you can read my review here.

Me reading this... *yawn*
My biggest issues with this book was the pacing of it and the complete lack of actual plot. I am highly aware of the fact that I go on about pacing all the frigging time, but that is because I feel it is so vital to a good story. Good narrative pacing is vital to good storytelling. Unfortunately, this book suffered from very poor narrative pacing, nothing really happens until the last 50 pages or so. Which brings me along nicely to the fact that this book seemed to have a distinct lack of plot. There honestly wasn't much happening in this book, and it was utterly frustrating to me whilst reading. Much of the book seemed wasted on really pointless street racing, dull dream thieving and very little else until the last fifty pages.

This series utterly confused me at times, with the lack of explanations and weird actions of our characters. There were times when I felt a little lost while reading. I feel the best way for me to review this book is to go through and look at my thoughts on the individual characters.

Blue: I really, really liked Blue in The Raven Boys. She is strong and has confidence in herself and who she is, although she does have her struggles. Nothing really happens with Blue in this book, as it focuses very heavily on Ronan. I actually missed Blue in this book, so I can only hope that the next book shines the spotlight more on her. There was one scene in this book between Blue and Noah that seemed to come completely out of the blue, pardon the pun, which was just really weird and perplexed me. If you have read it, then you know what I am referring to. I missed Blue in this, I really hope the next book focuses on her - I would hope so, given the name is Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

Adam: Oh Adam, sometimes I love you and then other times I want to knock some sense into you. Adam is like the walking embodiment of pride, and makes it obvious why that is seen as a deadly sin. He was so frustrating at times, and it makes his character hard to deal with. He never wants to accept help, ever, even when it is needed. At times, his need to do everything for himself seems admirable, at other times it just seems that he allows his pride to get in his way. He wasn't very likeable in this book.

Image result for why so stupid gif
Basically me every time Adam refused much needed help!

Gansey: I can't help but love Gansey. I hadn't warmed to him by the end of The Raven Boys, he's rich, entitled and could be down right rude without ever seeming to realise it. His obsession with Glendower sometimes borders on the completely insane. But, he's also very funny and charming, and I just came to love his character over the course of this book. I was surprised to see his search for Glendower be so easily put to the side, while he was off wasting time helping his mother in her political pursuits.

Noah: Oh dear, poor Noah. The cats finally out the bag about the whole being dead thing. So I had thought that Noah might finally be able to gain a personality and not just kind of be there in the background. Nope, he still has zero personality and doesn't really seem to have a reason to be here, except for that really awkward scene with Blue. At this point, I've given up hoping for him to become a more fleshed out character.

Ronan: When I read The Raven Boys, I felt like Ronan was the most fascinating character and that is most definitely true. Even more so now we know he can bring things out of his dreams. This book is Ronan's book, the story centres completely on him. Sadly, I felt there just wasn't much of a real plot there. He just takes part in some street racing, and then learns how to dream thieve better. That is it. It isn't exactly the most riveting stuff. To me that isn't a plot, it gets old real fast. He also drove me absolutely crazy with the amount of completely stupid decisions he made throughout this book. The only fascinating development here is how absolutely in love/lust he is with Gansey, the boy wants the d so bad.

Kavinsky: Kavinsky shows up again in this book. He is the stereotypical bad boy from every 90s teen flick ever - The 'I'm so tough, I sell drugs and street race' act just does not work. My eyes were rolling so hard every time that guy opened his mouth. He felt far too much like a cardboard character at first, I was happy to see that there was more to his character, it just took a while to find it. We do actually get to see his motivations as the book went on. He turned out to be a much more complex character than I had first thought. He's a very angry man, probably because he is soooooooooooo sexually repressed and afraid of his own feelings - it made him a rather bitter person. He was quite fascinating, but not the greatest antagonist.

The Grey Man: This book sees the arrival of the Grey Man, a hit man who is on a job in Henrietta, searching for something called the Greywarren. I have to admit to being unbelievably confused by how others reacted to his character. Everyone acted as though they were totally okay with the fact he is a hit man, who essentially kills people for a living. No one seemed to think that was a big deal or acts even slightly put off by it. On the contrary, they strike up friendships with the guy or go one dates with him?!? What the actual fuck? That is not how sane, rational human beings behave. I also hated the insta-love storyline he was involved in.

angry mad hell office space disgruntled
Who goes on a date with a hit man? Seriously?

Most of my issues with this book are summed up in my feelings for the characters themselves. My biggest issues were the lack of plot and the poor pacing, I can't get over it. I wish a lot more had been happening in this book. The problem here is that it was just a build up to the next book, it's not a story in its own right with a clear plot. It just seems to be there to lay the groundwork for what is coming next and, honestly, it was boring. I really hope the next book is better, if not then I am going to be calling bullshit on this series' hype.

I do know that so many of you love this series, and I'd love to know what you thought of this instalment. Did you love it? Did you appreciate it more after reading the next book? Which is your favourite book and least favourite book in this series? And, most importantly, did you think that Blue Lily, Lily Blue was better than this book? Should I continue?

2/5 Butterflies

Thursday, 8 December 2016

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard: Not Your Usual Phantom Retelling

RoseBloodTitle: RoseBlood
Author: A.G. Howard
Publisher: Abrams
Buy this book: Amazon / Book Depository
In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. 
At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

I find RoseBlood nigh on impossible to review as I still can't quite figure out how I actually feel about it. Quite honestly, it is one of the weirdest books I have ever read, and I always struggle with these kind of strange reads. I read Howard's debut, Splintered, a few years ago and seemed to be one of only a few people who didn't love it, it just didn't work for me. RoseBlood had appealed to me as I am drawn to Phantom retellings, plus the blurb I saw for it made no mention of anything supernatural or otherworldly. RoseBlood was not what I was expecting at all, going off the blurb I saw for it. I was surprised when the book turned weirdly supernatural when nothing I had seen had hinted at that.
Me reading this book:
confused jane the virgin wut jtv i dont think so

Those who loved Howard's Splintered series will probably be equally enthralled by this dark, weird and fantastical story. I was completely thrown off by the strangeness of this story and its supernatural elements. Maybe if I had been aware of that before starting then I might have found it easier to swallow. For me, it just seemed a little too much and it didn't work for me. The Phantom role in this and his plans for Rune were just too out there and ridiculous for me to grasp. Honestly most of my time spent reading this I was utterly confused and trying to figure out what the hell was going on. Those who love Splintered will probably eat this up, as it is all the strange of Splintered, meets the darker side of the Phantom story.

friends confused joey joey tribbiani matt leblancOur lead character, Rune, is someone I just couldn't seem to care about. She is moving to a musical boarding school in France, that focuses on Opera. She is running away from something she did back home, that ended with a boy in a coma. I felt her back story was quite muddled and confusing. For a lot of the story there are big questions surrounding Rune and I was quite disappointed by how these were concluded in the end -especially when it came to her grandmother. Rune's other issues was that she felt a little like a walking, talking special snowflake cliche. Although this book contained a few cliches, the most annoying was definitely the seemingly pointless drama between Rune and the schools resident 'Regina George'.

It was a real shame here that so much time was given to Rune and Thorn, but so very little attention was given to secondary characters. The secondary characters are mostly ignored in this book and only pop up when they can serve some purpose. It is a shame because I feel that there was a lot of potential with these characters, and more of them could have mad this book more enjoyable. This book is just the Rune and Thorn show and that was disappointing to me. Thorn is a very intriguing character and I found him a lot more interesting than Rune. I felt he was fleshed out a lot more and had more of a personality. Thorn also has such an interesting back story that was explored a lot throughout the book. He has spent a lot of his life being raised by the Phantom, and has been helping him to achieve his goal no matter what the Phantom asks of him. Thorn was a very conflicted character and I liked that about him.

movie disney gross goth emo
My reaction to 'soulmates'
One bookish trope that I just can't stand is soulmates, actual soulmates. Those that are 'destined' to be together. Some like that, I absolutely hate it. I would much rather have a romance built on two characters that get to know one another and falling for who they are as a person. I don't go for the whole instant connection because of a supernatural link between them. I have so much I want to talk about regarding this book, but I don't want to give away any major spoilers.

2/5 Butterflies

I think A.G. Howard fans will absolutely love this, it just didn't work for me. I felt it was a little too long and completely confusing, not at all what I had been expecting. I felt I might have handled all the supernatural elements better if I had known about it in advance, but the blurb I saw didn't have any mention of anything like that. This is also not a retelling and more a continuation of Phantom of the Opera. If you love weird, wacky books then this is probably one you will love. Or if you are looking for a supernatural Phantom retelling.