End of the Year Bookish Survey

reading-stats-2015-1024x278

Number Of Books You Read: 48
Number of Re-Reads: 6
Genre You Read The Most From: Young Adult (26)best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2015? Not including rereads (which rules out Harry Potter and Persuasion), I’d have to say The Martian.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? Legend by Marie Lu. I really didn’t connect with this book at all.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2015? I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I liked Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith since her books tend to be hits or misses for me.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2015? Either The Martian or The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.

5. Best series you started in 2015? I finally started The Lunar Chronicles (still waiting to read Winter)!

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015? Emery Lord!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. I don’t typically read those types of supernatural novels, so I was surprised at how quickly I got into this one.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? It’s not action-packed, but the book I had the hardest time putting down was Me Before You.

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? Persuasion or Open Road Summer.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015? I really love this new edition of Anne of Avonlea.

11. Most memorable character of 2015? Mark Watney from The Martian.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015? Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015? Again, Me Before You.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? Cinder by Marissa Meyer or The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015? “You’re stronger than you believe. Don’t let your fear own you. Own yourself.” – The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. I read this book early in the year and this quote stuck with me for a few months. I would recite it to myself whenever I was going through a scary or challenging situation.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015? Shortest: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde; Longest: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most: Me Before You.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR: Aidan and Clare from Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between ALTHOUGH Matt and Reagan from Open Road Summer are also up there!

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year: John Worthing and Algernon Montcrieff’s brotherly jests and rivalry in The Importance of Being Earnest was really fun to read.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (previously read North and South).

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure: The Martian! I read so many good reviews last year and in 2014 that this quickly became a Must-Read for me.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015? Probably Thorne from Cress. He’s like a cross between Flynn Rider and Han Solo <3

23. Best 2015 debut you read? I didn’t read any 2015 debuts (I don’t usually read debuts until at least a year later, like Open Road Summer for example).

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? Probably the futuristic sci-fi world in The Lunar Chronicles.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? Open Road Summer by Emery Lord.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014? I cried about three times during the last few chapters of Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014? The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman was pretty unique.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I didn’t like this book, even though I know it’s a classic sci-fi novel that a lot of readers enjoy. I enjoyed the world building and some of the more action-packed chapters, but I felt like this book would never end and maybe it was the narrator (I listened to the audiobook version), but by the end I was so annoyed and ready to be done with Ender’s Game.

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? I made a new online friend this year whom I was actually able to meet a few months ago! I really enjoy reading Alise’s reviews on Read.Write.Repeat and I’m so happy to be friends with another NC blogger :)

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? Probably my review for Wives and Daughters because it includes a clip of the ending to the miniseries :)

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? Where I’ve Been, where I discussed depression and pregnancy. It was a post that took me months to contemplate and write, but it meant so much to receive support and encouragement from my friends and readers.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? The Broke and the Bookish’s Annual Secret Santa event is one of my favorite bookish events!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014? Getting over my months-long reading slump. I went THREE MONTHS without reading a book or writing a review. It was one of the most depressing times of my life, and it’s mostly attributed to early pregnancy hormones.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)? Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters I’d Want With Me On a Desert Island

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? This post about Classic Alice, a literary-inspired web series.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? Fandom bookmarks and jewelry! This year I’m also contemplating signing up for an OwlCrate or Fandom of the Month Club subscription.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? I didn’t set any reading challenges for 2015, but I was able to read almost 50 books, which is impressive considering I went through a 3-month reading drought.

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016? I just started reading Winter by Marissa Meyer so I can finally finish The Lunar Chronicles series.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)? The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson.

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? I think Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira. It’s been on my To-Read list for a couple of months now.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016? Hearts, Fingers, and Other Things to Cross by Katie Finn.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016? Read and review all the ARCs that have been piling up on my Kindle. It’s a weight on my shoulders and I feel like I can’t enjoy books that I’ve purchased until I review the ones I needed to last year.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone: I haven’t read any 2016 releases yet! Any recommendations for me?

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

Wives and Daughters

“How easy it is to judge rightly after one sees what evil comes from judging wrongly.”

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Published 1865 by Smith, Elder & Co.
Classics/Drama/Romance
Format: e-book; 805 pages
Also From This Author: North and South, Cranford
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Synopsis:

Set in English society before the 1832 Reform Bill, Wives and Daughters centres on the story of youthful Molly Gibson, brought up from childhood by her father. When he remarries, a new step-sister enters Molly’s quiet life – loveable, but worldly and troubling, Cynthia. The narrative traces the development of the two girls into womanhood within the gossiping and watchful society of Hollingford.

Thoughts:

This book was so hard to finish! Not only because I didn’t want it to end, but also because I knew beforehand that Mrs. Gaskell suddenly passed away a mere chapter or two before Wives and Daughters would have been completed. I absolutely loved the ending to North and South, and I so would have enjoyed reading Gaskell’s intended ending for this novel, but fortunately the editor does leave us with some closing remarks about how the author planned the ending. So even though the novel ended abruptly, at least there was a bit of closure.

The plot of Wives and Daughters is very long and may seem unending at times, but the characters are very interesting. I appreciated how Gaskell depicted real, disjointed families and in the midst of all the selfishness and scandals we have Miss Molly Gibson, who learns to grow up when her father unexpectedly decides to remarry. Some readers may find Molly a bit dull due to her high Victorian morals, but I love her all the more for them. Molly, similarly to Fanny Price of Mansfield Park, seems to be surrounded by friends and family who are selfish, unforgiving and at times harsh, and who gossip uncontrollably without considering the harm it inflicts upon others. Often at times my heart would break for Molly and her plights, but I knew I could count on Mrs. Gaskell to reward her heroine for it at the end.

While I hated Molly’s stepmother, the widowed Mrs. Kirkpatrick (she could give Mrs. Bennet some competition as Most Annoying Mother), I did care for her daughter Cynthia, who is arguably the most interesting character in the entire novel. Sometimes it felt as if Cynthia, and not Molly, was the main character. But I felt the most for Molly, especially when Roger Hamley, Molly’s dear friend and secret crush whom I had adored for the first half of the novel, practically ignores Molly during his quest for Cynthia’s favor (he begins to make up for it towards the end of the novel, however!). This is another reason why I likened Molly Gibson to Fanny Price, although the two big differences are that Cynthia Kirkpatrick, unlike Mary Crawford, honestly cares for Molly and is a genuine friend to her and Molly is also more confident of herself than Fanny Price (so for all you readers who dislike Mansfield Park and it’s “goodie-goodie” heroine, Wives and Daughters should be more agreeable to you. I for one happen to love both novels, but W&D touched my heart a lot more).

Read This Book If:

…you love Victorian Lit and its themes.
…you enjoy novels with both lovable and detestable characters.
…you’d be interested in seeing parallels between mid-19th century society and today (gossiping, secrets, love triangles).
…you’re looking for a novel that will make you “feel all the feels”, as I like to say.

Final Musings:

I finished this novel a few days ago and I am still on a book hangover. I want more of Molly Gibson, her family, and the dear Hamleys. The more I think about it, the sadder I am that Gaskell passed away just before finishing Wives and Daughters. I really loved the ending to North and South, despite the fact that the miniseries ending is beautiful in its own way, and I wish I could read Mrs. Gaskell’s own intended happy ending for dear Molly. BUT, the BBC Wives and Daughters miniseries offers its own ending that I really enjoyed, despite the fact that it wasn’t exactly what Mrs. Gaskell would have penned herself. It’s still beautiful and fits the characters very well. I would encourage everyone who loves period dramas to give the miniseries a watch, and if you already have seen it (or if you don’t mind spoilers), I’ve shared the ending scene here because I love it so much and have watched it quite a few times (I’m not ashamed to admit it)!

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Book Purchases

toptentuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, features my most recent book purchases! This was a fun post to write because my books are rather diverse (science fiction, nonfiction, mystery & thriller, classics, and YA classics). Some of these books I have already read, some I’m in the middle of reading, and others are still waiting to be picked up!

Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession (I didn’t include library check-outs, because I honestly forgot about them!)


Amelia ElkinsAmelia Elkins Elkins
by A. M. Blair (via Kindle) – One of the bloggers I converse with regularly recently published a retelling of Jane Austen’s PersuasionAmelia Elkins Elkins is a modern “courtroom drama” version of one of my favorite Austen novels (I haven’t started it yet, so I may be exaggerating on the courtroom drama aspect, but it is a legal mystery/thriller!). Hop on over to The Misfortune of Knowing to read more about this Persuasion adaptation!

The Lost WorldThe Lost World by Michael Crichton (paperback)- After racing through Jurassic Park a few weeks ago, I went to Barnes and Noble to pick up the sequel. I had hoped to read it during my vacation two weeks ago, but I was immersed in another book on this list. The Lost World is still on my immediate TBR list, though!

Elizabeth GaskellCranford and Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (via Kindle) – I’m desperately trying to get through my Classics Club list, and I have just started Wives and Daughters after hearing about the Victorian Celebration event A Literary Odyssey is hosting this month. The only other Gaskell novel I’ve read is North and South, which I ADORED, so I’m hoping I like these two novels as well.

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir (paperback) – I’ve been trekking through this book for a few weeks now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s anything but boring, but it is highly technical and therefore I can only pay attention when I’m reading in absolute silence (which wasn’t easy to do when I brought this book along on my cruise vacation two weeks ago).

Jane Austen DevoA Jane Austen Devotional by Steffany Woolsey (hardcover) – I picked this book and the succeeding one up from Lifeway the last time I was there a few months ago. Each entry starts with a page-long excerpt from an Austen novel, followed by an important moral lesson from the story. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with Austen :)

Marriage AdventureThe Uncommon Marriage Adventure by Tony and Lauren Dungy (hardcover) – My husband and I started going through this devotional together, but it’s been hard for us to find a consistent time to read it so we’ve been slacking.

IMG_0746What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Monroe (hardcover) – I mentioned this book on a non-fiction themed Top Ten Tuesday a while back and I am pleased to say this one was very entertaining and enlightening. If you like science or just like to ponder ridiculous hypothetical questions, please check out What If?!

Anne of Green GablesAnne of Green GablesAnne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery (paperback) – I bought these three personal favorites a few months ago, anticipating a spring reread. Unfortunately I didn’t get around to doing that, but I do enjoy admiring the gorgeous artwork every time I see these books on my shelf. I wish the whole series was published in this format, but there’s only these three plus Anne of Windy PoplarsAnne’s House of Dreams, and Anne of Ingleside.

What was the last book you purchased?

May & June Highlights

I haven’t done a highlights post in forever! It feels nice to be back into blogging regularly :)

Here is what I was up to the past two months…

I read 8 books.

Hitchhiker's Guide  Jurassic Park  Persuasion harrypotter whereshewent

      Fables  Seconds  Stealing the Groom

Which is a lot considering I was still coming off my reading slump last month.

Most Popular Posts

Where I’ve Been – It was nice to finally share with everyone our exciting news and explain why I’d been absent for several months.

25 Things: Ever After’s Château de Hautefort – I love that this post from last summer is still so popular, especially since it was on my bucket list for so long & I’d love to revisit it!

What I Watched

I finally got to catch up with my favorite web series! I updated my ‘Literary Vlogs’ sidebar to reflect some of the new YouTube shows I’ve been watching, like Northbound and From Mansfield With Love (adaptations of Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, respectively).

Northbound

I relate very much to Catherine Morland…and of course, who doesn’t love Henry Tilney?!

I also caught up on From Mansfield With Love, finally. It’s a harder Jane Austen novel to adapt, but the frequent cameos from the minor characters make it pretty interesting :)

May & June Highlights

  • Traveling – I traveled a lot the past two months. Probably more than a pregnant lady should, but I always had a buddy with me (either family members or Solo) and it was nice to visit friends and family.
  • 2nd Trimester! – After the first trimester’s ups and downs, it’s been like a breath of fresh air being in my second trimester. We also got to see our “little baby french fry” up close and found out it’s a boy! Since then we’ve been preparing our tiny apartment (and ourselves) for his arrival. Every time I see a friend has had her baby I get a tiny bit jealous! For now, labor doesn’t scare me, but I’m sure that’ll change in a few months!

    24 Weeks

    24 weeks as of July 6th!

  • VACATION! – Last week we went on a family reunion cruise. It was wonderful :)
    Key West

    My husband and me in Key West (we also visited Cozumel).

    Carnival

    Carnival Ecstasy

    Cruise

    My mom’s side of the family :)

    Matt and Ian

    My brother would probably kill me if he knew I put this online, but I love this picture so much! We were all pretty exhausted on the drive back from Miami.

    We also got to spend 4th of July at EPCOT so my husband and I got an unexpected Disney fix (thanks to my aunt’s sister who works at the parks).
    Epcot

    Matt

    Isn’t he cute? ;)

May & June Challenges

  • Feeling hungry all the time – This has been the one pitfall to my second trimester. I feel like I’m hungry so often, and most of the time the only foods I want to eat are sweets and junk food =P I’ve always been active and have had a fast metabolism, so it’s hard for me to limit myself but I don’t want to overindulge at the same time.
  • Missing having a job – I wasn’t able to find a job before we moved to Wilmington, and after I hit the 12 weeks mark I figured it would just be best for me to take it easy and pick up my job search early next year. But I miss having a routine and that extra income. If anyone knows of some reliable, non-telemarketing, work-from-home jobs, PLEASE let me know!

Things I’m Looking Forward To in July

  • More traveling – Hey, it’s better to get all this traveling in now than when after the baby arrives!
  • Catching up on reading – I’m trying to put a big dent in my Classics TBR plus I have tons of unread books on my shelves that I’d like to get to sometime this year.
  • Summer activities with friends – We have some game nights and beach days penned down for the summer that my husband and I are both looking forward to (although I’m much more hesitant about the ocean after the 8th North Carolina shark attack this year was reported a few days ago…).

July To Be Read

harrypotter  The Martian Wives and Daughters

My husband and I are continuing through our read along of the Harry Potter series. I started reading The Martian last month and although it’s holding my attention, it does take a while to read. I’m seriously behind on my Classics Club list, so I’m picking up Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters this month.

What was your favorite moment from June?

Top Ten Tuesday: Romance Novels

toptentuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about what we like and dislike in romance novels. I actually wish there was another term for “romance novel,” because it automatically brings to my mind those old Harlequin paperbacks with Fabio-esque characters on the cover. In reality, the romance genre is very wide and varied, and they don’t all feature Fabio.

What I Like in Romance Novels:

  1. Hilarious and often embarrassing situations.
    Yes, I love laughing out loud, but I also love the aftermath of embarrassing situations when characters make amends and you find out how likable they really are :)
    Fiance muchado
  2. Pride-and-Prejudice-types of romances.
    Lizzie and Darcy’s relationship is classic, and I don’t care how often I see it repeated in other romances. If it’s done well, there’s a high probability that I’m going to love it.
    NorthandSouth AoGG
  3. Unrequited love and tragic situations.
    I don’t care how sad these types of books are, I love unrequited love stories (especially if it’s no longer unrequited at the end). I also feel the same way about tragic books, when a fictional couple faces a dramatic conflict and they have to recover from it. I learn a lot of lessons from those types of novels.
    senseandsensibility janeeyre
  4. Letters! (or emails or text messages)
    I think Jane Austen said it best: “Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.”
    attachments meanttobe Persuasion
  5. Character growth.
    I always enjoy a story with deep and well-developed characters. One of my biggest bookish pet peeves is trying to suffer through a novel, especially a romance, when the characters are utterly flat and unmotivated. (these books definitely show great character growth!)
    lastbestkiss sisterhoodeverlasting
  6. Deep themes and serious issues.
    I love books that make me feel those deeper emotions. When it comes to romantic books, I really enjoy the ones that deal with sad, and even dark issues unrelated to the central romance. Also, maybe I just like books that move me to tears because that means it’s some pretty powerful writing.
    secondchancesummer mara dyer Redeeming Love

What I Dislike in Romance Novels:

  1. CHEESINESS.
    I can handle one or two clichés, but a whole book full of them? Not so much.
  2. Explicit descriptions and foul language.
    Nope. I don’t finish any book, from any genre, that is overtly explicit/graphic or that includes too much foul language. Nothing turns me off quicker than seeing a dozen curse words splattered across a single paragraph, especially when they’re the weirdest and rarest ones I’ve ever heard. If an author can put THAT much creativity into which curse words their characters spew, surely they can come up with some less abusive vocabulary? (ok, rant is over–see, I told you it bothers me!)
  3. Unrealistic characters, plot lines, or dialogue.
    If it’s unbelievable, it’ll be unenjoyable for me too.
  4. Characters who are obsessed with their significant others.
    I’m talking New Moon Edward and Bella obsessed. I don’t want to read books where characters mope around and don’t know how to survive when their significant other leaves them or is gone for one day. It’s pathetic, dangerous, and in the case of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, just plain creepy.

What’s your favorite romance novel? Do you share any of my pet peeves or favorite motifs when it comes to romances?

Back to the Classics 2014 Wrap-Up Post!

classics2014I did it!! I read 10 classics from various authors, countries, and time periods in 12 months! (To be honest, a big chunk of those books were read this month *procrastinator*).

This was such a fun challenge, and I’m earnestly considering doing the Back to the Classics 2015 challenge next year, although I still have a little time to decide :)

Here is my wrap-up post listing all of my reviews for this challenge:

Required Categories:

Optional Categories:

I thoroughly enjoyed every one of these books (except for maybe Wuthering Heights), but if I had to rank my Top 3 it would be: North and South, Little Women, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Thank you to Books and Chocolate for hosting this challenge!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Are you up for next year’s Back to the Classics Challenge?

North and South: The Miniseries

northandsouthposterLast week I raved wrote about Elizabeth’s Gaskell’s North and South, a novel I started but never finished reading back in college and now all I can say to myself is, “WHY didn’t I read this book before?” I decided to read it this year for the Back to the Classics Challenge, mainly so I could re-watch the BBC miniseries starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.

Since I loved the book, I was excited about comparing the miniseries to the original text, and although there were some expected changes, overall I was very satisfied with this adaptation. I’ll try not to spoil the book or the miniseries while I highlight some of the biggest changes I saw in the adaptation.

Mr. Thornton is seen as much crueller in the miniseries

Unlike other Byronic heroes, I never disliked Mr. Thornton. Right from our first introduction to him in the book, I held a soft spot for him. The way we are introduced to Mr. Thornton in the miniseries is much more abrupt and it exaggerates Margaret’s view of him as a harsh and unfeeling master. The cotton factory scene is completely made up for the miniseries, and yes, it bothered me a little to see Mr. Thornton so violent, but I didn’t think it ruined the adaptation.

The ending

For the record, I love the ending from the miniseries. But the book ending made me cry happy tears that I haven’t cried since reading Jane Eyre (side note: this book reminded me so much of Jane Eyre). I would love to see an adaptation one day when they keep the original ending, but I have to say that I don’t think that ending would have suited this miniseries. The ending they created was beautiful and it fit this particular cast and direction beautifully.

Some of my favorite aspects of this adaptation were:

The music!

I can’t talk about this soundtrack enough. This particular track, “Northbound Train,” can literally bring tears to my eyes (believe me, it happened at work one day last week). I love music that makes you feel the same strength of emotions whether you’re watching the movie or not.

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/NeH8st9ZBCE” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

The actors

Richard Armitage, in my opinion, was perfectly cast for the role of Mr. Thornton. I also loved Sinéad Cusack as Mrs. Thornton; she’s another character I held a soft-spot for despite her harsh characteristics.

northandsouthcharacters

I could probably talk about this novel and the miniseries forever, but instead I’ll just let you enjoy it for yourself :) It’s on Netflix if you’re in the mood for a Victorian romdram.