Monday, December 31, 2012

Recapping 2012 - Looking Forward 2013

Bye, bye 2012. Hello 2013.

Ok guys, so after reading Push by Chalene Johnson at the beginning of 2012 (my review here), I decided to stick with the goal setting that she discusses in the book. I highly recommend anyone checking out that book. It's so more than a diet/fitness book.

Anyway, part of the suggestions she gives you is to create a list of 10 goals that would be crazy cool if they happened over the next 12 months. I've never been good at keeping up the New Year's resolutions, but goals...every day goals. Yeah, I could do that. So I came up with my 10 goals, and I wrote them down, and rewrote them every week just like Chalene (yes, we're on a first name basis...jk) tells you to do.

And I have to say, I accomplished more in 2012 than I probably ever have in one single year. I can't say that definitively because I've never sat down and written out my goals or kept up with what I accomplished over the year before.

Four of my goals for 2012 in particular related to reading and/or my blog. Those were:

1) Read 52 books in 2012. 2012 being the first year where I didn't have school of some sort, I wasn't sure how many books I could actually read in a year. I hit 52 books much sooner than I expected, and in fact ended up reading 94 books for the entire year of 2012 (not counting re-reads).

2) Have 15 blog followers., exceeded that one at a bit. At the time of typing up this post, I currently have 400 GFC followers (not included email followers). Granted 15 probably wasn't a huge stretch. I started the blog in 2011, but didn't tell anyone about it until 2012 because I was a big "fraid-ee-cat." But I also had no idea how to market my blog at that point either. Thanks to all of you who have ended up following Somewhere Only We Know. I will be ever thankful to each and every one of you.

3) Read 6 - 10 Non-fiction books. Fiction is my true love when it comes to reading, but I also really enjoy reading books that help me become a deeper/better person. I ended up reading 12 non-fiction books. (Push by Chalene Johnson, Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend, Praying the Name of Jesus by Ann Spangler, Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life for Teens by Joseph V. Ciarrochi, Louise Hayes, Ann Bailey, and Steven C. Hayes, Crazy Love by Francis Chan, The God Who Sees You by Tammy Maltby, Forgotten God by Francis Chan, 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller, The Bible by God, God, Girls, & Guys by Robin Marsh and Lauren Nelson, Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst, and Making the Cut by Jillian Michaels)

4) Finish reading the Bible by October. I'd started reading the Bible straight through in October of 2011 and I wanted to complete it in a year from that date. I ended up finishing in September. Talk about the ultimate book that help you become a deeper/better person.

After actually keeping up with my goals and rewriting my 10 goals each week, one thing I noticed for sure, I accomplished almost every single goal a put on my list. And 90% of the goals I either exceeded or completed ahead of schedule. (Fun fact, I accomplished at least 22 goals for 2012. Once I accomplished one of my 10 goals, I added a new goal to the list so that I always have 10 goals at one time.) I think my success stems from being aware of what my goals actually are therefore being able to focus my time and energy into completing things that I have thought out to be worthwhile instead of haphazardly traipsing through life hoping to accomplish something--anything.

So without further ado, here are my blog/reading goals for 2013:

1) Read the Bible (yes again) by December 2013.

2) Read 104 books. (Doubling my goal from last year and hoping to keep up with my schedule of reviewing 2 books a week on the blog.)

3) Read 6 Classics by December 2013.

4) Have 750 GFC followers

According to the 2013 Challenges I've joined (see my post here on the challenges):

5) Read 12 books that are currently on my TBR list but not in my possession.

6) Reading a minimum of 5 books about witches &/or witchcraft.

7) Read 15 Sequels. I'm actually a big reader of series, so hopefully I shouldn't have too hard of a time on this one.

And then my bookish goals related to specific books:

8) Re-read The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian & Push by Chalene Johnson

9) Read The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey, Praying the Name of God by Ann Spangler, & Captivating by John & Staci Eldredge

10) Finish The Power of a Praying Church by Stormie Omartian, The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage by Stormie Omartian, & One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

I have other goals for 2013 that don't include books or my blog. A few examples are paying our mortgage to a specific $ amount, reaching my goal weight, and taking one picture each day for the entire year of 2013 (my husband and I have barely taken any pictures since we got married 3 years ago, and I want to get better about that). I have no doubts about reaching my goals as much as they remain within my control.

What about you? Did you have any goals for 2012? Did you achieve them? If not, what do you think stopped you? Do you have any goals for 2013? Do you think you could try re-writing you top 10 goals for a 12 month period each week and see if that helps you achieve them. Let me know, I'm totally interested!

(My day planner has the perfect spot for me to write them so I can see them while looking at my entire week. I blacked out some of my more personal goals. And shame I won't get to use this calendar for 2013, it's been great. But hopefully I'll have an even better one for 2013.)

2013 Reading Challenges

I'm choosing to participate in some challenges this year. Though I don't like to pre-plan my reading too much, I am excited about the challenges that I've chosen to participate in. So without further ado, here are my 2013 Challenges...

2013 Wish List Challenge

Here is the challenge:

Read 12 books (one for every month of the year) that you would like to read, but don’t already have on your shelves.


1. The challenge runs from January 1st, 2013 to December 31st, 2013.

2. You are to read 12 books from your current wishlist. If you don’t have a list anywhere, write down books that you are eager to read, that you don’t own yet, and choose 12 books off that list.

3. If you can’t find a book that’s on your wishlist (your library doesn’t have it, or you don’t want/can’t buy it) then you can use another book. But: you are not allowed to include any NEWLY added books for this challenge. So, whatever your list is now, that’s it. I.e. you can’t read amazing things about a book on someone else’s blog, decide you want to read it, then read it for the Wishlist Challenge. The opposite is true: you want to read something for the Wishlist Challenge, so you go to your wishlist, find a book that was on that wishlist before January 1st, 2013, and read it for the challenge.

4. You can overlap with other challenges, as long as you read books that were on your wishlist before January 1st, 2013.

5. Sign up [at the link above] by leaving a comment with a link to your announcement post for this challenge.

6. When you’ve read your 12 books, come back here and leave a comment with a link to your final post about the challenge. Make sure you’ve done this by January 15th, 2014.

My 12 Books:

1) The Fault in our Stars by John Green

2) Ten by Gretchen McNeil

3) Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

4) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

5) Cinder by Marisa Meyer

6) The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (not released yet, but has been on my Wish List since June 2012 when the title and cover were released)

7) Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (also not release yet, but has also been on my Wish List since before January 2013)

8) A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers

9) Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire (same as The Indigo Spell & Clockwork Princess)

10) Dare You To by Katie McGarry (same as The Indigo Spell, Clockwork Princess, and Walking Disaster)

11) Fragments by Dan Wells (not released but has been on Wish List for months)

12) Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

And just in case I need to swap one out...Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.

2013 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

Challenge Rules:

1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2013 - Dec 31, 2013. (Note: You do not have to review the books to participate, but only those who link up reviews will be entered for the prize)

2. Grab the reading challenge button (code & button [at the link above]) and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. You do not have to be a book blogger to participate- you could track your progress and post reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc..

3. Any full length book that includes a witch as a main character or major witchcraft elements counts. They may be fiction or non-fiction. However, they should not be reference books which are not read cover to cover-I will leave this to your discretion.

4. Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).

5. Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.

6. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

7. When you sign up in the linky put the direct link to your post about joining the 2013 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge.

8. You can move up levels, but no moving down.

9. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2013, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.

10, Have some Witchy Good Fun !!!

The Levels:

Initiate: Read 1 - 5 Witchy Books

Maiden: Read 6 - 10 Witchy Books

Mother: Read 11 - 15 Witchy Books

Crone: Read 16 - 20 Witchy Books

I'm going for the Initiate level, and I don't plan to list my books out in advance. The only ones I know for sure I plan to read right now are Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl and The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead. These two are overlapping with my Wish List challenge above and my next challenge below.

Also, there is a list of ideas for books in this category at the link above for the original challenge sign up. Check it out if you're interested in participating, but need some ideas. I'll probably have to use it too.

And finally...

2013 Sequel Reading Challenge

The goal: To read as many sequels as you can. You set your goal at whatever number works for you.


1. The challenge runs from January 1st to December 31st.

2. Any books started before Jan. 1 will not count.

3. Any book after the first book in a series counts. Books in the same series also count.

4. Novellas also count, as long as it is after book #1. (ex: #1.5, #2.5, etc.)

5. Sign ups will be open until December 1st, 2013.

6. Add the URL of your challenge post to the linky widget. (If you'd like to wait, it's ok to use your blog URL and send me your link when you get the post up)

7. At the end of each month I will post a linky for you to add your sequel reviews to.

8. [The challenge host] will try to do some giveaways throughout the year for participants.

9. There will be a giveaway at the end of the year for all participants who completed the challenge.

I read tons of series so this one shouldn't be a challange at all. It's really more of a "for fun" kind of thing. So that's it. Aside from my other 2013 Reading Goals which I've discussed here, these are the challenges I plan to participate in. Want to join me? You don't know have to review books to participate in some of these, and you can always participate unofficially as well.

Go here to find a list of different reading challenges. There are so many, I'm sure you'll find something that suits your tastes.

What challenges are you participating in for 2013? Let me know!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Post - 26

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~this meme was inspired in part by ~ In My Mailbox~ It's a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

I'll feature the books I received over the last two weeks in my In My Mailbox post next Sunday.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. I certainly did. Love this time of year. I really love spending the quality time with the family. Plus, who doesn't love getting and giving gifts? So much fun. Also, wishing everyone a Happy New Year as well!


Monday: Review of Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch (3 Stars)

Tuesday: Top 10 Favorite Book Blogs

Wednesday: Best in Books 2012 Giveaway Hop which is still open until Dec 31st & Waiting on Altered

Thursday: Review of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (4.9 Stars)

Friday: I participated in the End of Year 2012 Book Survey.

Saturday: I never recapped 2011, so I did a post of the Books I Read 2011.


Monday: 2013 Reading Challenges and Recapping 2012 - Looking Forward 2013

Tuesday: Top 10 Tuesday: Top 10 Books I Resolve to Read in 2013

Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday

Thursday: Review of Waking Up Married by Mira Lyn Kelly

Friday: Review of Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout

That's it for my mailbox and recaps of my past and upcoming week. What did you get in your mailbox this week? Any bookish news you want to talk about? Let me know!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Books I've Read 2011

So yeah, I know most people are doing a recap of 2012, and I'll do one of those too. But at the end of 2011, I recapped 2010, and so I still haven't done a recap of 2011. So here goes.

I'll be removing my widget on the left side of my blog with my list of books I read in 2011. So that anyone who might want to access a complete list of the books I read in 2011 can find it in this post.

A lot happened to me in 2011. The most obvious one being that I started this blog. I graduated college with my BS in Business Administration. And I started a new job--my current job. Busy year. That being said, I didn't read as much in 2011 as I have in 2012--especially the first half of the year since I was still in school.

When I started this blog, I wasn't even sure what I was going to do with it. But my first reviews were of books that I read in 2010. Obviously, my earlier reviews weren't the most descriptive or informative. I gave little information about the books themselves, focusing mostly on how each book made me feel. And while I still try to include that in my current reviews, I do try to give more information about the books themselves. My very early reviews didn't even have pictures of the covers.

In 2011, I read the following books before I started blogging and therefore have not written reviews of them (links are to Goodreads): Awakened (HON, #8) by PC & Kristin Cast (2 Stars); Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, # 1) by Maggie Stiefvater (4 Stars); Misguided Angel (Blue Bloods, # 5) by Melissa de la Cruz (3 Stars); Need (Need, # 1) by Carrie Jones (3 Stars); and Captivate (Need, # 2) by Carrie Jones (4 Stars).

I did a post for Fragile Eternity (Wicked Lovely, # 3) by Melissa Marr here--if you can even call it a post. I wasn't impressed with Fragile Eternity so I didn't have much to say at all. I gave it 3 Stars, but looking back on it, I might rate it as 2.

Next is Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. (Goodreads) Gave Hush, Hush 4 Stars. This was my fallen angel series (I count Blue Bloods as vampire), and I enjoyed the start of it. The first book in a series is often my favorite.

Had to read Good to Great by Jim Collins for school, but I enjoyed it much more than any other text book. Great information in this book about business and what makes them go from average/good to outstanding and great companies. And stay that way. (My review). 4 Stars. *My post titles were much more imaginative back then.

The Dark & Hollow Places (The Forest of Hands & Teeth, # 3) by Carrie Ryan. I found The Forest of Hands and Teeth to be completely original. I fell in love with Carrie Ryan's writing style in it. Plus that was my first ever zombie book. Then Carrie Ryan blew me away even more with The Dead Tossed Waves which still holds a place as one of my favorite books of all time. However, The Dark and Hollow Places fell alittle flat for me. I wasn't as invested with Annah as I was with Gabry. At the time I gave The Dark and Hollow Places 4.9 Stars, I'd probably give it a low 4 or high 3 now.

Next, I fell into the world of Harry Potter. I'd shared The Vampire Academy series with my friend Lacy. During our talks about VA, I raved about how much thought Richelle Mead had put into this series before she even wrote book 1. I didn't really know that for sure, you could just tell how everything fit together perfectly and how she brought things back from book 1 to the very end of the series. Well Lacy informed me that JK Rowling was the master of this and that I MUST read the Harry Potter series. I'd already seen all of the movies except The Deathly Hallows Pt 2 which hadn't even been made yet. So I was like "okay." Lacy loaned me the first two books in the series, but I found that I struggled through them since I'd already seen the movies and books 1 and 2 were very similar to the movies (or should I say the movies were very similar to the books). Lacy came to the rescue again and loaned me her iPod for like MONTHS so I could listen to all 7 books on audio--which worked out great because I could listen to them during the day at work and went through them much faster that way.

My reivew of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling (3 Stars).

I can't even call this one a review, but I was still new and wasn't sure how this whole thing was going to work and what I wanted it to be. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I gave this one 3 Stars too. And while I think overall I rated some of the books 3 stars and 4 stars. I think I only rated The Deathly Hallows as 5 Stars. This is definitely a 5-Star series overall.

Another barely anything post, but really what more can be said about these books? Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban gets 4 stars.

Ok, not such an embarrassing review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (4 Stars). This is where it really started turning into a series for me. And more pieces of the puzzle started falling into place.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix gets 3 Stars from me. As the longest book in the series, it definitely held a lot of information, but some of the others like books 4, 6, and 7 were just more entertaining to me.

Book 6 probably would have had more to say about it if I hadn't seen the movie first. And I wish I hadn't seen the movie first. Oh well. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince gets 4.9 Stars from me. This is where I really came to love Snape as a character. He's easily one of my favorite fictional characters EVER!

And finally a review worthy of this series (maybe? anyway) for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 5 stars ladies and gentlemen. My first 5 star book read since starting the blog.

Crescendo (Hush, Hush, # 2) by Becca Fitzpatrick 4 Stars. I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as Hush, Hush because Nora was getting on my nerves acting like the teenager that she is. (Goodreads)

Read at the same time as Good to Great by Jim Collins, How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins was also a great book about business. This time a what not to do. (Goodreads) 4 Stars.

Next comes a review I've had to apologize for twice of City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments, # 4) by Cassandra Clare. I was extremely disappointed with this book. I was content with my happy ending for City of Glass, and I let my completely unreliable ability to predict the future get my panties in a bunch on this one. In case you're wondering, my predictions were wrong--which is what led to my two apologies. Gave this one 3 stars.

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman was my first mermaid experience in books. I was alittle disappointed. 3 Stars. Had a hard time connecting to the main character--she was a science nerd, which is not my thing.

Struggled through, but ended up liking The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. 4 Stars. Reminded me that there are some severely twisted people in this world.

Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, # 2) by Maggie Stiefvater is still one of my favorite reviews. Gave this one 5 Stars. Love Sam and Grace. And wanted to pick up Cole and Isabel and give them both a big bear hug.

Finishing up the series is Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, # 3) by Maggie Stiefvater. Really love Maggie Stiefvater's writing style. Was slightly disappointed with the ending, but accepted it. 4 Stars.

Began another brilliant series,4 Stars for A Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice, # 1) by George R R Martin. Had some slow parts you have to push through, but totally worth it. Twists to be expected in this series.

The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian single handedly changed my prayer life. LOVED IT! 5 Stars. MUST READ!!!!

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, # 1 ) by Richelle Mead is a spinoff series from The Vampire Academy which I loved. I actually did a good job on my prediction that this is just the beginning and setup for something great. 4 Stars, but looking for more in the remaining books in the series.

Who can really decently review a classic such as Persuasion by Jane Austen? Not me! I will say, I didn't put a ton of effort into this review, and that's completely evident. But Persuasion still gets a well deserved 5 Stars from me.

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Fire and Ice, # 2) by George R R Martin gets 4 Stars from me. Still twisting and turning to this plot.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins should be no surprise that it gets the coveted (by who? or is it by whom?) 5-Star rating from me. Very fast paced and driven by fear that leaks out from Katniss and the rest of the country to the reader.

I read Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, # 2) and Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, # 3) by Suzanne Collins back to back. I didn't make much of a mental note of where one ended and the other began. So...I reviewed them together. 4 Stars for both.

I do believe this was my first really negative review. Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, # 2) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Eh...wasn't impressed. Took me forever to finish this one. It was really long and not a whole lot happened.

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater. I needed more Maggie! And she didn't disappoint. 4 Stars. Half the length yet seemed like twice as much happened as in Beautiful Darkness.

Hollowland (The Hollows, # 1) by Amanda Hocking was my first Amanda Hocking experience. I didn't think it was too shabby. 4 Stars. Sure there were grammar mistakes and typos, but I think she did much better than most people with having no traditional editor and publishing company to have her back. Kudos man.

The Glass Wall (Return of the Ancients, # 1) by Madison Adler gets a 4-star rating as well. One of the few to make me laugh out loud.

Another failed attempt at reviewing a classic, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Not my favorite Jane Austen book ever. Still good though.

And finally, the last book of the year 2011, Fallen (Fallen, # 1) by Lauren Kate kept me intriqued. I put off reading this one because of a review I read on Amazon, but it was much better than I expected.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Best in Books Survey - 2012

Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner apparently does an End of the Year Book Survey, and I thought it would be a lot of fun to participate, as well as feature to my reading audience what books qualify for me as the best of 2012. Be sure to go check out others' answers as well. Also, I finished this survey before reading at least 2 more books I'd add to the top 2012, so they aren't listed below, but they are Hopeless by Colleen Hoover and The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay. 

Ok guys…so help me, I’m going to try to complete this survey. However, if you ever read any of my Top 10 Tuesday posts, you know that I’m not so good at narrowing down options and staying within the allotted number of choices. But here goes nothing—oh and I do have several end of the year posts planned recapping the year and outlining my goals for the upcoming year, this was just a for fun type of thing.

End of the Year 2012 Book Survey

Best in Books 2012

1) Best Book You Read In 2012?

Oh my…December 18th, the Top 10 Tuesday topic is Top 10 Books I Read in 2012, so check that out to see my full list. If I had to narrow it down even further from 10, I’d have to go with Pushing the Limits, Slammed, Point of Retreat, and Clockwork Prince. (Man that was painful.) Also, check out my Best of 2012 Giveaway going on until December 31st.

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

Wilde’s Fire, Undeadly, Entice, The Raven Boys, Incarceron, Airel, The Shack, Hare Moon

3) Most Surprise (in a good way) Book of 2012

Slammed. I hadn’t seen any reviews on this, I’d barely read the description before I requested it, and I was just sure that it might be a total dud. And then Back to You by Priscilla Glenn. To think, I almost turned this one down when Priscilla Glenn contacted me about reading and review it. I’m still kicking myself for even thinking about turning it down. And also Graffiti Moon. I didn’t have high expectations for this one, but was greatly surprised with how much I liked it and how fast I read through it. These three are must reads—go check them out, NOW! J

4) Book You Recommended to People Most in 2012

Probably Pushing the Limits, Crazy Love, Boundaries, Push, Made to Crave, Graffiti Moon, and Slammed. Though I LOVE fiction, I also like to read books that help me work on myself and become a better person. And I’m lucky to be surrounded by a group of ladies who also like to work on themselves. So any time I read a book that helps me grow as a person, that book is getting recommended to my friends who like to work on themselves too. And then of course, several of my friends will read anything I can pass their way, so my favorite fiction books of the year definitely get recommended A LOT!

5) Best Series You Discovered in 2012

Divergent, Graceling, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Slammed, Pushing the Limits

6) Favorite New Author You Discovered in 2012

Katie McGarry, Colleen Hoover, Veronica Roth, Jamie McGuire, Priscilla Glenn, Cath Crowley

7) Best Book That Was Out of Your Comfort Zone or Was a New Genre For You

That’s hard to say. The only one I really feel like I read in 2012 that was much of a step outside of being a comfortable genre for me was The Kindling (a middle grade book) and I wasn’t hugely impressed with it.

8) Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book in 2012

Divergent, Insurgent, Bitterblue, Pushing the Limits, Slammed, Point of Retreat, Back to You, Graffiti Moon, & Beautiful Disaster

9) Book You Read in 2012 That You Are Most Likely to Re-Read Next Year

Pushing the Limits, Slammed, Point of Retreat, Back to You, Graffiti Moon

10) Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2012

Clockwork Prince

11) Most Memorable Character You Read in 2012

Will Cooper from Slammed. Travis from Beautiful Disaster. Fire from Fire. Will Herondale (though my first introduction to him was not in 2012) from Clockwork Prince.

12) Most Beautifully Written Book Read in 2012

Slammed, Pushing the Limits, Graffiti Moon

13) Book That Had the Greatest Impact on You in 2012

Boundaries, Push, Made to Crave, Crazy Love, Praying the Names of Jesus

14) Book You Can’t Believe You Waited UNTIL 2012 to Finally Read

Graceling, Divergent

15) Favorite Passage/Quote From a Book You Read in 2012

I'm not good about keeping up with quotes as I read them. I used to be, but not so much anymore.

16) Shortest & Longest Book You Read in 2012

Deadlocked by AR Wise at 54 pages & A Storm of Swords by George R R Martin at 1128 pages

17) Book That Had a Scene in it That Had You Reeling and Dying to Talk to Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc) Be careful of spoilers.

Clockwork Prince for all of the above, Pushing the Limits just because it was awesome, Slammed for all of the above, A Storm of Swords for all of the above.

18) Favorite Relationship From a Book You Read in 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)

Echo & Noah; Will & Layken; Lucy & Ed; The Hound& Arya; Lauren & Michael; Tessa & Will; Fire & Brigand

19) Favorite Book You Read in 2012 from an Author You Read Previously

Clockwork Prince, A Storm of Swords

20) Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLEY on a Recommendation from Somebody Else

When I first read this question I thought, “I haven’t actually read ANY books based solely on a recommendation from someone else.” But that’s not really true. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend was a recommendation from my friend Kay (love it by the way). Praying the Names of Jesus by Ann Spangler was recommended to me by my friend Jennifer. Partials by Dan Wells I won in a giveaway, but I wouldn’t have even entered the giveaway had it not been for the recommendation through her blog by Kat @ The Aussie Zombie. Made to Crave was recommended to me by my friend Paula. And finally Back to You was recommended to me by the author Priscilla Glenn. 

Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012

1) New Favorite Book Blog You Discovered in 2012?

So I knew NOTHING about book blogging before I started my own blog. I literally visited Anna Reads like once or twice before deciding that I thought it was a cool idea. I literally had no idea that there was such a community out there as it is. That being said, I’ve discovered SO MANY great blogs this year. Even though I started my blog in 2011, I didn’t actually tell people about it until the beginning of 2012. So I didn’t really start discovering the community until this year. That being said I’m going with Kimba The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. I hope this isn’t offensive, but in some ways, I feel like she’s my blogging mom. Everywhere I go I see her comments on other people’s blogs, not just my own. She’s always willing to give you tips, tricks, and ideas to help you out. And she had this crazy month long event for October that was AWESOME!

2) Favorite Review that you wrote in 2012?

Oh man. I’m so critical of my own writing. I don’t write lyrically or very descriptive. I’m blunt, okay. I have a point of view and I put it out there. So many times I go back, re-read my reviews, and think that I should have added more or been more eloquent. But I’m not here to write beautiful descriptions of books. I’m just here to share my excitement and love for reading. I tell it how I see it, and that’s not always very beautiful or eloquent. That being said, I guess these are some of my favorites….Linger, Pushing the Limits, Slammed, Point of Retreat….

3) Best discussion you had on your blog?

Um truthfully, there hasn’t been much discussion on my blog. I try not to post too many “random” things. I try to stick to reviews, memes, and such. But I did a post recently asking for help on the subject of DNFing that’s gotten the longest comments—though not very many comments.

4) Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on someone else’s blog?

Again, I’m not a huge discussion type person. Though I’ve done my best to stay out of the craziness that has gone down in the blogging sphere this year, I have learned a lot from the whole situation and spent a good bit of time thinking and asking myself questions about it all. I didn’t really discuss my thoughts with anyone except my husband.

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

I didn’t make any author signings this year. And I didn’t make it to any physical events. I did participate in Armchair BEA which was pretty cool considering I’m not sure I’ll ever actually make it to the real BEA. I love Top 10 Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday memes. And as I mentioned above, Kimba hosted a month-long event for October and part of that was Fraterfest. Fraterfest was my first read-a-thon event. Very fun. Though I think I spent more time participating in the events and visiting other people's blogs than I did reading. Oops!

6) Best moment of blogging in 2012?

There have been so many great moments for me this year. My first giveaway. Considering my first goal for the year concerning the blog was to have 15 followers….the moment I had 100 followers and then when I didn’t take my near as long to get to 200...and then 300. The first time an author contacted me to review his book. The first time an author contacted me about doing an interview and author hosted giveaway. Hitting 100 likes on my Facebook page for the blog. I know all of that is focused more around the numbers than content, but you know how it is starting out.

7) Most popular post this year on your blog (by comments or views)?

8) Post you wished got a little more love?

All of them?
9)Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc)?

Goodreads! I was keeping a wish list on Amazon for any book that I saw that even looked like something I would read, and then I found out about Goodreads. I can’t even remember where I heard about it first, but LOVE that site.

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

I didn’t really do any challenges this year. I did set a goal for myself for the number of books to read this year (52 averaging 1 a week) and I believe I hit that goal in September or something. I can’t remember. Anyway. 2012 was the first year I didn’t have to work college into the reading mix as well (or should that have been “work reading into the college mix”???) so I wasn’t really sure how many books I could read in a year. One a week seemed like a stretch at the time, but obviously, that wasn’t so far-fetched. I’ll do another post soon recapping my goals and such. 
Looking Ahead....

1) One Book You Didn’t Get to in 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

2) Book You are Most Anticipating for 2013

See my Top 10 Tuesday Post here for an extended list. Short list is The Indigo Spell, Clockwork Princess, Dare You To, Walking Disaster

3) One Thing You Hope to Accomplish or Do in Your Reading/Blogging in 2013

I’ll do a separate post for my New Year’s “goals” for the blog and for reading closer to the beginning of 2013. One thing that’s been on my mind is being more specific with the books I request for review. I don’t want to requests books that I’m not wholly excited about reading and reviewing because chances are I won’t be overly excited once it comes time to read those and I feel too much pressure not to DNF if I can help it. See my post on that recently

So that's it for the End of the Year 2012 Best in Books Survey. I've enjoyed participating! This has definitely been the best reading year for me so far. What do you guys think? Feel free to participate by leaving your answers in my comments section if you don't have a blog. If you do, leave me your link so I can check out your Best in Books 2012. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Code Name Verity - Review

Code Name Verity

By: Elizabeth Wein

Published: May 15th 2012 by Hyperion (first published February 6th 2012)

343 pages

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!)

( Goodreads | Amazon )

Goodreads description--Oct. 11th, 1943--A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun. When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Harrowing and beautifully written, Elizabeth Wein creates a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other. Code Name Verity is an outstanding novel that will stick with you long after the last page.

I got Code Name Verity from NetGalley back in May or June of 2012. I’d seen many people comment on how much they loved this book, and I’d even seen people say based off the description they didn’t think they’d enjoy it, but after reading it, they loved it. And that’s exactly where I was. I put off reading it because well the description just didn’t pull me in. I love love stories. Romance. Falling in love for the first time. But that’s not all I’m capable of reading and enjoying.

Elizabeth Wein, I owe you an apology for putting off reading Code Name Verity for so long. This book is “bloody brilliant.” That’s the phrase that keeps getting stuck in my head when I think about it.

Reviewing Code Name Verity is going to be somewhat difficult because there’s so much that doesn’t need to be shared with the reader until he/she gets to it in the book. And Code Name Verity is one of those books where EVERY detail is tied into everything else—the bigger picture. Yet you don’t realize that until the book is 85% complete. But this is one of those books that I need to go back and re-read because I know I missed so much in the first half of the book now that I know how it ends.

Elizabeth Wein says in the author’s note that she would love to go through the entire book and document where she got the idea for each piece of the book, but that it would take a really long time to do so. However, I suggest to her that I’d love to read that. As I’m reading a book I always wonder such things and this is definitely one that I would go back and re-read along with the author’s notes. I can totally see that enriching the entire experience for me. (Like watching the Directors Cut of your favorite movie, which I may or may not do all that time.)

As the description above says, the main character is about a British spy (though she’s not English, please don’t be mistaken on that point) is captured by the Gestapo. The spy part is what I’m really trying to focus on right now. The first half of the book is from the spy’s point of view. We don’t learn her real name for quite a long time, and she has more than one code name, so it’s difficult to know which name to call her in my review. Just covering my bases as there might be readers of my blog unfamiliar with Code Name Verity, I’ll just stick with Verity.

As I was saying, the first half of the book is from Verity’s point of view. Her character is so well written that she literally jumped off the page within 5 sentences. Probably within the first two sentences I felt like Verity was a real person. I don’t know that I’ve ever had an experience with a character quite like Verity. Sure, I’ve loved characters, I’ve seen myself in characters, I’ve hate characters, etc. But I’ve never felt like a character was so real as Verity, and especially not so quickly. That being said, when narration swapped to Maddie to continue the 2nd half of the book, I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to get Verity’s voice out of my head. However, that was not the case at all. Maddie was just as strong of a character and came to life with her own voice so clear and distinct from Verity’s. It’s truly amazing to me that Elizabeth Wein was able to create more than one character who came alive in this way because such a gift is truly, truly rare.

Along with such amazing characters and the tie in of every single detail, the way that Code Name Verity was written—as a spy writing out her confession and the journal of a pilot—was brilliant as well. The narration style fit the mood and events of the book perfectly. I don’t think Verity and Maddie’s story could have been told in any traditional narration style, and the journal/confessional style added to authentication. For example, I loved how both Verity and Maddie would be telling a story and interject their personal feelings or lamentations. It’s true stream of consciousness writing, which I happen to really enjoy.

As my fear for swapping narration from Verity to Maddie, I began another book almost immediately after finishing Code Name Verity, and not only could I not get Maddie’s voice out of my head (since she was the narrator of the 2nd half of the book), but the events and the end of Code Name Verity prevented me from being able to focus on the new story I had begun. Whoever authored the Goodreads description above hit the nail on the head when they said Code Name Verity would “stick with you long after the last page.” I have a feeling I’ll be thinking about this book quite frequently for quite some time.

Aside from “bloody brilliant,” if I had to describe Code Name Verity, I’d pick “harrowing” (also used in the Goodreads description). That pretty much sums it up. Code Name Verity gets 4.9 stars. Have you read Code Name Verity? What did you think? Let me know!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best of 2012 Book Giveaway Hop

I couldn't pass up the option to giveaway one of my favorite books from 2012. The Best of 2012 Book Giveaway Hop is hosted by I'm A Reader, Not A Writer where all prizes are optioned based off each blogger's favorite books from 2012. So...let's look at my favorites of 2012!!!!

Winner gets one choice of the following 15 books that I thought were the best I read in 2012. Some were published in 2012, some not. All links lead to Goodreads. But I have reviewed all of these books except The Sea of Tranquility and Hopeless. Reviews to come for those two.

Hopeless - Colleen Hoover

The Sea of Tranquility - Katja Millay

Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein

Back to You - Priscilla Glenn

Made to Crave - Lysa TerKeurst

Slammed - Colleen Hoover

Point of Retreat - Colleen Hoover

Beautiful Disaster - Jamie McGuire

Pushing the Limits - Katie McGarry

A Storm of Swords - George R R Martin

Graffiti Moon - Cath Crowley

Crazy Love - Francis Chan

Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare

Push - Chalene Johnson

Boundaries - Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

See my Giveaway Policy for official rules and guidelines. Open to US Residents Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in the Giveaway Hop.

Waiting on Altered

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Altered (Altered, # 1)

By: Jennifer Rush

Expected Publication: January 1st 2013 by Little, Brown & Co.

336 pages

( Goodreads | Amazon )

Goodreads description--When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.

Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.

Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

What are you waiting on this week? Let me know!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Book Blogs

Top 10 Tuesday is a post hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week's topic is a freebie, so I'm doing Top Ten Favorite Book Blogs.

One thing’s for sure, this community is pretty awesome. It encourages visiting and commenting on others’ sites and generally is super supportive. And I’m thankful to be a part of this community. And that’s kind of why I’m doing in this Top 10. It’s not just my favorite book blogs, but book blogs that I’m thankful for as well. The blogs that make this list by no mean diminish any other blog and as always, I find it hard to narrow a list down to 10. I guarantee you that there will be blogs that aren’t mentioned that I’m thankful for and if you’re reading this post at all. I’m thankful for you.

1) Anna Reads – This was the first book blog I ever followed. I found Anna’s site when she did her stick figure drawing video of Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy. I knew then that I’d love her site. And I do.

2) The Aussie Zombie – Another one of my earliest follows. I guess more than anything it was the name that drew me in. I also really like the fact that she reviews such a variety of books—most of which actually AREN’T on my TBR list.

3) The Story Siren – Ok, I totally know that there’s TONS of controversy surrounding her site—and I really don’t want to get into any of that here. All of that went down when I was very new to blogging (publicly anyway), and I really have no idea the details about what happened, nor do I care to. I’ve learned so much from Kristi. I spent tons of time on her site under her tips and tricks section when I was first starting out, and who knows when I would have learned about NetGalley if it wasn’t for her. Plus yeah, I’ve kind of learned some what not to dos—those are good to know too. SITE SITE SITE your sources!!!! (Can I get an “amen?”)

4) The Caffeinated Book Reviewer – Kimba is great. She comments so much that I have no idea how she has time to comment on everyone’s stuff much less read. But the comments are always appreciated here. She’s always encouraging and willing to offer help. Plus I’ve learned a lot from her Blogger Tips and Tricks posts too.

5) Bunbury in the Stacks – Also one of my first blogs to follow and also another blogger that I don’t exactly have the same preferences in genre. But I like it that way. Variety is the spice of life and all of that. Plus her reviews are super great—informative and funny.

6) A Librarian’s Library – We totally have the same taste in a lot of reads and it just so happens that we both live in Alabama. As small as our state is, what are the chances? Anyway, always giving a shout out to my fellow Alabamian blogger.

7) Word’s Fueled by Love – This is my sister-in-law’s blog. I really like the unique spin she’s done on her reviews by including her favorite quotes from every book. Great idea. Of course she has to make the list being one of my favorite people in the entire world and such. Plus we super have the same reading taste which is great! Always swapping books back and forth. Not to mention that she sparked my love for reading again when she handed me Twilight for the first time.

8) The Broke & the Bookish – Because I’m completely obsessed with this meme. It’s been tons of fun for me to do these lists each week, not to mention the other bloggers that I’ve “met” via this meme/blog.

9) Breaking the Spine – Who also says she’s from Alabama and because I love the Waiting on Wednesday meme. Though I find it slightly mysterious that Waiting on Wednesday seems to be the only post she ever seems to do--I could just be missing the others.

10) You – No seriously. If you’re reading this then you deserve to be on this list. Even though I do this blog for myself and because I enjoy it, it would be pretty disheartening to know that no one was reading it. So thank you for reading. Thank you for visiting. Thank you for commenting. Love and blessings I send your way.

I promise there are many other bloggers who stand out to me and who’s blogs I know and recognize by name, you are not forgotten. And even though I didn’t create the Sunday Post meme (that’d be Kimba mentioned # 4 above), I feel like all of the blogs that participate in that meme are like my little blogging family. Thanks again to everyone!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Magisterium - Review


By: Jeff Hirsch

Published: October 1st 2012 by Scholastic Press (first published January 1st 2012)

310 pages

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!)

( Goodreads | Amazon )

Goodreads description--On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go.

With MAGISTERIUM, Jeff Hirsch brings us the story of a complex, captivating world that will leave readers breathless until the very last page.

Most of the time when I’m going through trying to find books to add to my TBR list I read the summary, but I try not to focus so much attention to it that it becomes absorbed into my memory. I try to just retain enough information to distinguish one book from the next when it comes time to pull one off the shelf. I do this because sometimes the summaries give too much information away and I’m a huge stickler for reading and experiencing each book as it’s meant to be experienced—page by page.

That being said, I pretty much completely forgot what Magisterium was about. So when it came time to pull one off the shelf and I thought, “It’s probably time that I check that one out,” I was starting with a clean slate. In the first bit where Glenn is focused on travelling through deep space to this Earth-like planet never planning to return, I thought, “I don’t remember this being a sci-fi, space travel book”—not that I remembered much of anything about it anyway. But of course, I learned fairly quickly that this book isn’t really about space travel at all.

After the very beginning which was a little slow for me, Magisterium began to pick up speed and while I won’t say I was engrossed, I was at the very least perfectly content to just keep on reading. Though I have to say that the ending wasn’t my favorite—a wee bit too much description for my taste—and I skimmed some (though not much) of the last 30 or so pages. Magisterium was still an enjoyable read for me and it falls into the category of one that turned out better than I expected it to be.

Glenn was a decent heroine. She’s got a well-established background, and just enough pain and just enough happy memories to balance her out. I have to say that I was confused by her relationship with Kevin. It seemed that she and Kevin were barely friends from the way she describes him in the earlier parts of the book and that she barely liked him at all. Yet we find out they’ve had a near romantic moment apparently in the not too distant past and they continue to move in that direction throughout the book. It just didn’t make sense to me. Trying to convince yourself that you don’t have feelings for someone you do is completely different from acting like you’re annoyed by their very presence in your life in your own thoughts.

I liked Kevin’s character a lot though. He was exactly what a strong, supporting man should be—firm and comfortable with himself, yet feeling and emotional when needed. Kevin had his own ideas about the future and he was strong enough to follow his own path no matter what Glenn decided to do with hers. Not to mention that he pretty much almost died for Glenn in the beginning and that makes him even more endearing.

Speaking of likable characters, Ammon pretty much took the prize in this category for me. Werewolves, I’m used to. Other were-creatures (though I don’t find as believable) and shape-shifters, all of that falls into the paranormal stuff I’ve read before. Human-like cat people, not so much. Plus you truly don’t know what to think about Ammon. He seems like a good guy, but so many other characters tell Glenn not to trust him. In the end, Glenn has to make up her own mind about which side Ammon fits on.

Ultimately this was a good read. I wasn’t blow away, but I didn’t find myself wanting to put it down too often either. Magisterium gets 3 stars from me. Have you read it? What did you think? Let me know!