Sunday, December 31, 2017

December Wrap-Up and My Second Blogoversary

Well, it's the end of another month, and of another year. But there's something else that today second blogoversary! Two years ago, I started this blog with my top ten books of 2015 (which...I'll be honest, not all of those are favorites anymore), and I never dreamed that blogging would have introduced me to so many people or books or opportunities. I haven't been around much these past few months, but I'm really hoping that this third year of blogging that I'm starting (wow, it feels so weird to write that) is going to be even better than the ones I've had so far.

Obligatory blogoversary party/dance gif:

Last year, I did a giveaway of one of my favorite books of the year. I'm not doing a giveaway in this post, but I'm considering doing a belated one in the new year - let me know if that would be something you're interested in!

Onto this month's wrap-up. I had to read a lot this month to make up for falling behind. And I'm not going to talk about every single book, because do you really want to hear about 10 separate Star Wars picture books? There are a couple at the very end that I haven't quite finished yet, but I'm going to do that before the end of the year if it kills me.

Highlights from my reading month:
  • A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES made it onto my favorites list!
  • I caught up on a couple of comics series thanks to my library finally getting a bunch of new volumes in.
  • I read MY LADY JANE about a year after all the hype and it was super funny!
  • I finished two books that I started months ago - THE SECRET KEEPERS and STYLE - and the time gap didn't interfere with how much I liked them at all!
  • The public library near my school had an entire display of Chanukah picture books that made my heart so happy, and I found two about Chelm that were absolutely delightful: CHANUKAH IN CHELM and THE JAR OF FOOLS.
I'm not writing about my challenges here because I just did a yearly wrap-up post for those, which you can find here. I ended up finishing most of my challenges, but the couple that I didn't manage to get through I was really behind on. Here's to more realistic goals for next year!

How was your reading year? What was your favorite book? Did you have any last-minute surprises? What's your first read of 2018 going to be? Tell me in the comments! 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Challenge Wrap-Up and 2018 Challenge Plans

I didn't finish all of my challenges this year, so I'm going to do more challenges next year! That makes sense, right?

In all seriousness, I think that this year's challenges are going to help me set more realistic goals for next year. In a lot of those cases, I didn't really know what a realistic goal would be, so I just picked a number. A lot of my challenges for next year are related to ones I did this year, so I can build a more doable goal from what I actually ended up reading.

2017 WRAP-UP

Goodreads Challenge: I'm going to say I completed this one, even though I technically haven't done it yet. I'm so close, and the books that I'm planning on reading before the end of the year are so short that I think I can manage it. So 140 books, done!

Backlist Reader Challenge: This one was a fail. My goal was 60 books, and as of right now, I've read 42 (which is a whole lot better than it was looking even a month ago). A few more of the books that I'm planning on reading to finish up the year will count for the challenge, but there's just no way that I'm going to make it to 60. Oh, well - lesson learned!

Series Enders Challenge: A success! My goal was 3-5, and I've read 7. I might even get in an 8th before the end of the year! Granted, only 4 of them were finishing up series that I started before this year, but I'm still counting them. I won't next year, though - more on that later.

2017 Debut Author Challenge: I was a little worried about this one, but I did it! My goal was 12, and I ended up reading 13.

Read It Again, Sam Challenge: Another success! I read 19 books, which overshot the low mark for the highest tier (16). Granted, a ton of those were A Series of Unfortunate Events, but it still counts!

2017 Discussion Challenge: Quite possibly my biggest failure. I wrote 6 out of my goal of 11-20 posts. I'm not sure whether I'm going to formally do this challenge next year, but I definitely want to do better than I did.

2018 GOALS

Goodreads Challenge: I'm setting my sights a little lower this year because I don't want the frantic rush at the end of the year like I have right now. I can always raise the number later! My current goal is 125 books.

Beat the Backlist Challenge @ NovelKnight Book Reviews: I'm doing another backlist challenge, but this one has an important difference - any books published before 2018 count. This year, I didn't get to count 2017 or 2016 releases, which got pretty difficult. I'm still going to try to include a lot of pre-2017 releases in this challenge, but including the 2017 ones is going to make this a lot more doable. That's why I'm setting my goal high (but achievably so) for this one: I want to reach 70 books.

Nonfiction Reading Challenge @ Doing Dewey: I always say I'm going to read more nonfiction, but I never end up reading as much as I want to! So this year, I'm joining a challenge to hold myself accountable. I want to read 20 nonfiction books.

NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge @ Bookish Things & More: I've gotten a little behind on my review books lately, so this will be good incentive to catch up! I don't know how many books I'm going to get approved for throughout the year, so right now, I'm only aiming for the bronze level of 10 books. If I get approved for enough, I'd love to go up to the silver level, which is 25 books.

Finishing the Series Challenge @ Celebrity Readers: I'm actually getting a little stricter with myself for this challenge! I noticed that I read a lot of series in their entirety this year, but didn't actually finish a lot of older series. This challenge specifies that I have to have started the series before 2018! On the other hand, it also includes catching up on series rather than just completing them, which will open up some more opportunities. Right now, I'm aiming low with the C-List tier of 1-4 series, but hopefully I'll be able to do more than that!

2018 Debut Author Challenge @ That Artsy Reader Girl: Not changing much from last year! I want to read 12 books by 2018 debut authors. If I did it this year, I'm pretty sure I can do it next year without too much trouble.

Read It Again, Sam Challenge @ My Reader's Block: I think this one is going to be a bit trickier this year because I have no plans to reread a 13-book series. Right now, I'm aiming for the A Trip Down Memory Lane level, which is 12+ books.

How did you do on your reading challenges for the year? Which ones are you doing next year? Are we doing any of the same ones? Tell me in the comments!

End-of-Year Book Survey 2017

It's time for one of my favorite posts of the year - the 2017 end-of-year book survey! This is a tag-like thing made by Jamie @ Perpetual Page-Turner, and I love seeing everyone's responses to it.
Number of books you read: I'm just gonna go ahead and say 140, since I'm pretty sure I'll make my reading challenge by the end of the year. As of this moment, it's technically 138, but I'm going to finish 2 books that I'm already in the middle of, and I'm going to make it.
Number of re-reads: 19 (included in the number above)
Genre you read the most from: contemporary, with roughly 45 books

1. Best book you read in 2017? THE HEARTBEATS OF WING JONES by Katherine Webber! I'm never going to stop gushing about this book. I loved it so much that I read it twice in a row, which never happens.
2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't? I had high hopes for NORA & KETTLE by Lauren Nicolle Taylor, but it just annoyed me so much and there weren't really any moments that I enjoyed
3. Most surprising (in a good way or a bad way) book you read? Most surprising in a good way probably goes to HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME by Adam Silvera. I'd heard a ton of good things, so I wasn't too surprised, but I also wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did.
4. Book you pushed the most people to read (and they did)? I'm not usually all too sure about whether people read the books that I push them to read, but I know I recommended WONDERFUL FEELS LIKE THIS by Sara Lovestam to someone and she read it and loved it!
5. Best series you started in 2017? Best sequel of 2017? Best series ender of 2017?
SERIES STARTER: LADY MIDNIGHT by Cassandra Clare, the first book in The Dark Artifices series
SEQUEL: I really didn't read a ton of sequels this year! But GEMINA by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, the second book in the Illuminae series, was pretty great.
SERIES ENDER: INTO THE BRIGHT UNKNOWN by Rae Carson, the last book in the Gold Seer Trilogy
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017? My top two books of the year were both written by new-to-me authors, so I'm going to say both Katherine Webber and Krystal Sutherland for this one.
7. Best book from a genre you don't typically read/was out of your comfort zone? I didn't read a ton that was really out of my comfort zone this year, but I don't read a lot of adult fantasy and A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab was pretty great.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? Not action-packed in a traditional sense, but I was practically glued to THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES by Mindy McGinnis.
9. Book you read in 2017 that you are most likely to reread next year? I'm pretty sure I'm going to want to reread YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE by Rachel Lynn Solomon because I just can't stop thinking about it!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017? Gotta be INTO THE BRIGHT UNKNOWN. Or maybe THE NAMES THEY GAVE US. They're both absolutely stunning.
11. Most memorable character of 2017? Adina from YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE. I was really thinking that Tovah would be the more memorable/relatable character of the book, but Adina really stole my heart.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017? Have I talked enough about THE HEARTBEATS OF WING JONES yet? On my reread, I found that every once in a while I would just stop reading to let myself soak in the words that I had just read because they were that good.
13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2017? I kind of had to sit and reconsider everything after reading 10 THINGS I CAN SEE FROM HERE by Carrie Mac.
14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? I finally read A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab! It was so good (though with all the hype, I wasn't really expecting anything else). And now I just have to get around to reading the rest of the series.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2017? I haven't been great at keeping up my quotes list this year, but here's one of many that I love:

"Sometimes it's okay to be surprised. It's going to sound stupid, and I wouldn't ever say this out loud, but the way Theo and I came out to each other was sort of like getting caught in a thunderstorm. Storms can suck when they're knocking out power and ripping apart houses, no doubt. But other times the thunder is a soundtrack to something unpredictable, something that gets our hearts racing and wakes us up. If someone had warned me about the weather, I might have freaked out and stayed inside.
But I didn't."
- Adam Silvera, History is All You Left Me
16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2017?
Shortest: All of the Little Golden Books I read were 24 pages each, but the one that it took me the least time to get through was probably I AM A DROID.
Longest: By quite a bit, LORD OF SHADOWS by Cassandra Clare (701 pages).

17. Book that shocked you the most? Gotta be LORD OF SHADOWS. I kind of saw the ending coming, but I didn't want to believe it would be true, and then when it actually happened I just sat in shock (and tears) for like half an hour.
18. OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship!)? Lee and Jeff from the Gold Seer Trilogy!! I've loved them in every single book, but this last one just solidified their status as #1.
19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year? Gotta be Adina and Tovah from YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE by Rachel Lynn Solomon. Or maybe Eugene and Esther from A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES by Krystal Sutherland. It was a good year for twins in books.

20. Favorite book you read in 2017 from an author you've read previously? Definitely HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME by Adam Silvera. It made me so excited to read more of his books!
21. Best book you read in 2017 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure? Not solely, but I put I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE back on my list based on recommendations. I was too scared of the secondhand embarrassment, but that wasn't an issue.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017? I'm not usually one for fictional crushes, but this one's gotta go to Jamie from PRINCE IN DISGUISE. Cheesy as hell, which is what I live for.
23. Best 2017 debut you read? I've already said this about 40 times, but THE HEARTBEATS OF WING JONES. Just...yes.
24. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year? THE CROWN'S FATE by Evelyn Skye (but really the whole duology). All of the descriptions of the magic just make it come to life!
25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read? NOTEWORTHY by Riley Redgate! I laughed out loud so many times that I lost count.
26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2017? Oh, there were quite a few of these. But the one that made me sob the most was THE NAMES THEY GAVE US by Emery Lord. I was very much Not Okay after that one.
27. Hidden gem of the year? SO many of my favorites are hidden gems! Like A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES, NOTEWORTHY, and THE HEARTBEATS OF WING JONES.
28. Book that crushed your soul? There are so many, so let me give a shout-out to one I haven't mentioned in this post yet: WE ARE OKAY by Nina LaCour. Devastatingly wonderful.
29. Most unique book you read in 2017? THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES by Mindy McGinnis! I don't read a lot of thrillers, and that was unique even for a thriller.
30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn't necessarily mean you didn't like it)?: I definitely got mad at NORA & KETTLE because the main thing on the back of the book didn't happen until 70% of the way through and it made me so frustrated.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017? Just discovered this one earlier this week, but Elise @ The Bookish Actress has a fantastic blog!
2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017? I really liked my review of WONDERFUL FEELS LIKE THIS! I got to gush about the characters and really shine a spotlight on an underrated book.
3. Best discussion/non-review post that you had on your blog? I really liked my post about how I Don't Like Series Finales. It brought out some interesting discussions!
4. Best event that you participated in? I went to my first book signing for - guess which book - THE HEARTBEATS OF WING JONES! And it was so fantastic to be able to go after I had already read the book so that I could properly gush about it.
5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?
6. Most challenging thing about blogging your your reading life this year? Finding time. My blogging has really suffered because of the academic stress I've been under, and I miss it!
7. Most popular post this year on your blog?
By comments: Four of my Top Ten Tuesdays from the first few months of the year got 16 comments each: Top Ten 2017 Debuts I'm Excited For, Ten 2016 Releases I Didn't Get To (But TOTALLY Plan To), My Ten Most Disappointing Reads, and Ten Unique Books I've Read.
By views: My August Wrap-Up was bizarrely popular.
8. Post you wished got a little more love? This one got quite a few views, but it's never a bad time to have a list of book recommendations for people who want to punch Nazis.
9. Best bookish discovery? I'm really not sure! Maybe all the Black Friday sales that I totally took advantage of this year.
10. Did you complete any of the reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? I actually have a whole separate post about this that's going to be up later today! TL;DR: I completed most of them, but my failures were pretty spectacular.

1. One book you didn't get to in 2017 but will be your number one priority in 2018? Definitely BEFORE THE DEVIL BREAKS YOU by Libba Bray! I love the Diviners series, and I'm really surprised I didn't read this as soon as it came out.
2. Book you are most anticipating for 2018 (non-debut)? Oh gosh, there are so many good ones, but at the moment I'm most excited for THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL by Maurene Goo.
3. 2018 debut you are most anticipating? I've heard so many great things about LOVE, HATE, & OTHER FILTERS by Samira Ahmed - I'm so excited to finally read it! (This would have been YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE by Rachel Lynn Solomon, but I was lucky enough to get an early copy of that and it's already made my favorites list!)
4. Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2018? Does LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT count? It's more of a companion than strictly a sequel, but I'm so ready for it!

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2018? I really want to post more consistently. I have a feeling I'm going to be saying this forever, but I really want to put more time into this! Of course, I have other priorities, but I know I can make more time for this.
6. A 2018 release you've already read and recommend to everyone? As hinted at before (ha, imagine me gushing subtly), YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE by Rachel Lynn Solomon! And it's almost here!! (Also, I can't believe that I get to answer this question? Last year I had barely been approved for any books on NetGalley and none of them were far enough in advance to be next year releases, and now, if I had been caught up on my review books, I would have had so many to choose from!)

Have you done this survey? What were some of the highlights of your 2017? Tell me in the comments!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Top Ten Prettiest Covers of 2017

This list is part of the Top 10 of 2017 event at Kimberlyfaye Reads, which I unfortunately didn't find out about soon enough to participate in the rest of! Today's theme is cover love; tomorrow is top ten books of the year, which I already posted about here, and the next day is most-anticipated 2018 books, which I miiiight be able to pull something together for.

I'm usually pretty good at not judging a book by its cover. There are a ton of covers out there that I just don't feel that strongly about one way or the other. But sometimes, a cover is too pretty to not notice it. Here are my top 10 covers of 2017 releases! (I haven't yet read all of these, but they're all at least on my TBR.)

The books: RETRIBUTION RAILS by Erin Bowman (Vengeance Road #2), INTO THE BRIGHT UNKNOWN by Rae Carson (Gold Seer Trilogy #3), THE NOWHERE GIRLS by Amy Reed, THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS by Leigh Bardugo, THE PEARL THIEF by Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity prequel; one of the international editions), THE NAMES THEY GAVE US by Emery Lord, THAT INEVITABLE VICTORIAN THING by E.K. Johnston, A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES by Krystal Sutherland, THE HEARTBEATS OF WING JONES by Katherine Webber, THE CROWN'S FATE by Evelyn Skye (The Crown's Game #2)

What were some of your favorite covers of 2017? If you've read them, how did those books match up to your expectations? Tell me in the comments!