Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Swap: End of Year Book Survey 2015

The following post is kind of off topic for a snail mail blog post, but it is for this Swap-Bot swap and I couldn't think of a better place to post.


At the beginning of the year I resolved to read more books this year, and the thing that motivated me the most was by participating in the Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge. I was lucky to have a few interested friends who helped me stay motivated and {mostly} on track all year. (Thanks ladies!)

2015 Reading Stats

  • Number Of Books You Read: 52 books, 12,287 total pages
  • Number of Books read for Challenge: 43 out of 50
  • Number of Re-Reads: 6
  • Genre You Read The Most From: YA Fantasy

Best in Books 2015

1 Best Book You Read In 2015?

It may be because I have finished it at the end of the year and it is fresh in my memory, but I'm pretty sure The Night Circus wins this one of it's own merit. I can tell I'm just gonna have to gush about this one over and over and over again! 

The premise: "The Night Circus comes without warning." It always appears overnight without warning outside whatever town in which it will perform. It is open from dusk until dawn, and mystery and theatrics is it's specialty. However, the circus is merely a stage. Behind the scenes, two magicians (who of course practice real magic) are engaged in a competition they have been trained for since childhood, and the rules of which have never been explained to either competitor-- particularly that it is a game only one can win.

With that said, let me explain why this one is absolutely the best book I've come across all year:
Every scene is described in such vivid detail that you can perfectly imagine exactly what is happening, even though so much of it defies physics. There is a high level of intrigue. The magicians don't know what's going on entirely. Almost everyone else in the circus (and the world!) has no clue what is really going on either, and those who do know only drop us poor readers breadcrumbs so we are shrouded in as much mystery as the characters are. I was dying to figure it all out, but I was mystified up to the very end. Now if only they'd get to work on the movie!

2 Books You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

My biggest let down of the year had to be The Iron King

The premise: An ordinary girl suspects she may not be so ordinary and discovers she is actually the daughter of a fairy king. The fate of a fairy war as well as the fate of her loved ones depends on her defeating a mysterious evil. Oh, and of course there's a mysterious fairy prince she will inevitably cross paths with too.

The back cover sounded really good. I thought this girl was going to track down her father who mysteriously disappeared when she was six. I was excited to read a story that combined our modern American life with the more mythical bits of fairy tale. Unfortunately the actual writing was pretty lame. I think I gave up in the middle of this one because instead of being a mysterious adventure, it felt like a lot of high school drama, and the action it did have didn't really hold my interest. There was also a lot of alluding to a certain Shakespeare play (sorry, don't remember which one) I never read, so I found that quite annoying. I suspect it was a retelling of Shakespeare's work, and I was looking for something more original. Maybe it got better by the end, but there's so many good books out there I have trouble investing so much time in less than awesome ones.

3 Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2015?

The most surprising thing I read all year came from Pearl. I was surprised because I started this book (like I start all books) assuming the story was going to be about the main character; however, that is not the case in this one. Instead, the main character Pearl's function is to discover and tell the story of her mother.

The premise: Pearl (who much prefers to be called Bean) lives with her deadbeat mom and wonderful grandfather. Bean's best friend Henry lives with his reclusive grandmother. When Bean's grandfather passes away, the whole world turns upside down for Bean, Henry, and their parental figures.

That's about all you get from the cover of the book. Pearl's mother is hardly mentioned at all, and you'd never suspect this is really her story. If anyone wanted to pick this up I'd be very interested to know if they get the same vibe. I really felt like Pearl doesn't have nearly as much depth and development and character change as her mother does, and I really didn't expect to find a story that's all about a side character.

4 Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2015?

I am proud to say I convinced the members of my church book club and my husband to all read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave this year. I am happy to push you all to do it too.

The premise: As the title gives away, Frederick Douglass was born an American slave. He never knew his father, nor did he even know his own birth date. He and his family were exposed to all sorts of abuse no human being should be forced to endure. However, one of his naive master's wives whose heart had not yet been totally corrupted made the mistake of beginning to teach the young boy Douglass to read. The master quickly set his wife straight, but it was too late. Through much hard work and determination, Douglass was able to educate himself, flee to the north, and devote his life's work to abolition and education.
The life of Frederick Douglass is one of the most inspiring stories I have ever heard, and it's an extra special treat to learn about it in his own words. We all live in a world where basic education is mandatory, and we don't have any idea just how hugely blessed we are and how much power we have because of it.

Seriously, why are you still reading me when you could be reading him? It's old enough I would imagine it's probably one where you can download an ebook for free, and if not you can check your local library, or I'll even lend you my copy! It’s less than 100 pages (that is the actual part he wrote and not all the historical notes in the back written by people we don't care about) and it is one of those books that will seriously change your life for the better in just an afternoon. GET ON IT!

5 Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

I was so excited to start reading The Infernal Devices! This is a series that I guess I've been vaguely aware of for some time, but a Youtube review pushed me over the edge to pick it up and read. 

The premise of book one: Following the death of her aunt and guardian, Tessa Gray is forced to leave New York and join her brother in Victorian era London. However, upon her arrival Tessa is taken prisoner by supernatural creatures who have taken her brother hostage until Tessa does their bidding. Eventually Tessa is rescued by and joins forces with the Shadowhunters, an opposing faction of different supernatural creatures, to bring down the mysterious Pandemonium Club and locate her missing brother.

I've only read the first volume (Clockwork Angel) so far, and I really found myself disagreeing with Zoe's review regarding the lead heartthrob, but I'm hoping that will improve as the series gets rolling, and --thank goodness!-- the book had plenty more than just the love interest to make this universe captivating.

Believe it or not, I don’t think I read any sequels. However, my favorite series ender was Mortal Heart, in the His Fair Assassin series. I have really loved all three volumes in the trilogy. 

The premise of the series: Young women enter a convent where they devote their lives to carrying out the will of Mortain, the God of Death. During their years in the convent, they acquire various assassin skills in weaponry and poisons, but they also must master social skills like etiquette and seduction in order to be flawlessly camouflaged when carrying out Mortain's will in noble circles. Each volume focuses on the story of a different nun.

The premise of book three: After becoming the most well trained novitiate in the convent, and watching her younger counterparts being sent out on missions before her again and again, Annith fears she is not being groomed to carry out Mortain's will outside the convent, but instead to become a replacement for the aging Seeress, a position which means being sealed up inside the convent forever. Betrayed, Annith chooses to escape the convent and discover for herself how she can best serve Mortain.

You might think the combination of nun and assassin is just weird, but this one is done so super well! It probably helps that it’s a pagan polytheistic religion and the nun assassins are devoted to carrying out the will of the God of Death, and not shriveled up old Catholic nuns poisoning the sacrament wine or something lame. Highly, highly recommend it!

6 Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

The best new-to-me author I read this year is Sarah J Maas, author of Throne of Glass. I picked this one up thanks to another +readbyzoe Youtube review. 

The Premise: Celaena Sardothien is a convicted assassin who is pulled out of her life sentence of working in the salt mines in order to fight 23 other competitors in a competition to be named King's Champion. As the competition wears on month by month, Celaena discovers her life's destiny to rid the world of an evil lurking under the castle.

I thought Throne of Glass was really exciting up until the ending which I thought was super lame. Like Superman, Celaena can do all these ninja combat moves with ease, and then has to be weakened via a kryptonite-like means for the final boss. (Lameo. Am I right?) I’ve heard rumors that the rest of the series should be amazing though, and I'm looking forward to finding out for myself.

7 Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Hands down, I really loved reading P.H.D. (Po Ho on Dope) to PhD: How Education Saved My Life. This was pretty far out of my comfort zone! I learned waaaay more about prostitution than I think I ever need to know unless I decide to open a brothel.

The Premise: A true story about a woman’s experiences growing up in poverty. Though she was a very bright child and did well in school, she was raped in middle school by her first “boyfriend”. Being so young, she doesn’t understand what sex is, how it’s supposed to work in healthy relationships, or that she should tell someone what happened. As a result, after about 6 months, her mother notices the author is pregnant and takes her to another state where she can get an abortion that late in the pregnancy. Even then, because of threats made by her "boyfriend", she doesn’t tell her mom what happened. Instead, her family loses hope in her. She is driven to find acceptance and keeps partying with the wrong crowd, drops out of school, and eventually gets wrapped up in prostitution for years and years and years. Finally something happens to pull her out and help her get back on her feet. Miraculously she works her way out of the ghetto, out of addiction, and out of prostitution. . She completes her education, and even goes on to get a PhD!

Pimps and prostitutes have a surprisingly sophisticated hierarchy similar to drug dealers. It was really fascinating to learn how that kind of crime works. Aside from prostitution, there’s a lot of involvement in other crimes such as theft, assault, and drugs. It’s complicated! And yet, when she's at her lowest low, she finds a way out. Seriously. 10000 points for Gryffindor here.

8 Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Are you familiar with the blog called Humans of New York? Cuz if you live under a rock and have somehow missed it, you should really check it out. It even comes in this beautiful, glossy coffee table book form if you're so inclined.

The premise: Brandon Stanton is a photographer who wanders the streets of New York City documenting the many colorful, unusual, and beautiful inhabitants. The best photos are accompanied with captions that bring the pictures to life ranging from explanations of what the subject is doing to deep, soul bearing confessions. Humans of New York really grabs the heartstrings.

This is not a novel. It's not an action packed thriller. However, of all the books I read this year, this series of tiny biographies is the one that made me stay up way past my bedtime reading until I couldn't keep my eyes open. I even dropped it on my face a couple times and kept reading. It is so addictive! Each caption seems short enough that it's impossible to stop. You say to yourself "The next one is short, I'll just read one more", and yet you find yourself reading the next one and the next one.

9 Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Um, the scriptures? I really rarely re-read a book because there are so many other great and exciting books waiting to be discovered, but the scriptures are ones you kinda have to read over. And over. And over. 

10 Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

Usually when I think of favorite covers I go for the ones that have pretty landscapes or heroes or heroines with elaborate costumes, so I was quite surprised to find that looking over my list one more time my favorite cover actually comes from Alton Brown's Good Eats: The Early Years. Every time I see it without fail I find myself asking, "What on earth is he doing to that egg?", and if that doesn't tell you it's some great cover art, what will?

The Premise: Celebrity chef Alton Brown used to have a long running show on Food Network called Good Eats. Unlike other cooking shows, instead of assembling gourmet recipes, Alton goes out of his way to explain the science behind where food comes from and how we cook it. (As an added bonus, he often uses puppets!) Good Eats: The Early Years is a compilation of the recipes used in the early seasons of the show complete with thorough directions, explanations about the scientific aspect of cooking, and behind the scenes tidbits about the show.

11 Most memorable character of 2015?

Celaena Sardothien! Throne of Glass (See question 6). She is one tough chick. First off, just her pose on the front cover is strongly reminiscent of River in Serenity. Celaena also reminds me of Black Widow in the Avengers. She’s super well trained, incredibly adept at killing people, has a mysterious past, and noble intentions. She doesn’t just kill people willy nilly, but she totally could if she wanted to. This character is seriously overpowered, thus why it was necessary to weaken her for the big battle at the end, but I still feel that doing so was a total flop. 

12 Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

Memoirs of a Geisha. Apparently I read a couple prostitution books this year, but I gotta say Memoirs and PHD are about as different as kitty cats and tigers. 

The premise: I can’t remember her name, but the protagonist's mom dies of an illness, and her dad is super old (the dead wife is either a second or third marriage, don't remember) and dying too. He knows he cant take care of Protagonist and her sister, so he ships them off to the city where they are separated into two different Geisha houses. The sister ends up in a low-end sleazy joint, so she’s basically forced into child sexual slavery until she can escape. Protagonist however has a very different experience. Her geisha house is top of the line, and her training is more focused on being a lady and someone people want to hang out with than being a drive thru style hooker. Even so, life is still very difficult and the environment of geisha culture is tremendously competitive.

You're probably still wondering what I find beautiful here. P.H.D to Ph. D is a horribly depraved side of humanity. It’s gritty, and awful, and it is a beautiful story because you get to see her overcome it. Memoirs of a Geisha on the other hand is different. Protagonist suffers from poverty only up until her father sends her to the city. Her struggles seem less ugly because at least she has her basic necessities met. Additionally, the author beautifully crafted all the details of her life in Japan: the richness of the culture, the hierarchy within the geisha house, and all the ornate ceremony by which just about everything is done is really wonderful and seems extra beautiful to my western eyes.

13 Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

Chinese Cinderella: Story of an Unwanted Daughter gets the prize here. I read this months ago and still catch myself thinking about it often.

The premise: In pre-communist China, Adeline is the middle child of a step family. Her mother died giving birth to her, so all of her siblings and her father resent her for that. His second wife is this super fashionable French lady who spoils her own children and writes off all of her husband’s first family, but she is particularly cruel to Adeline. In spite of it all, Adeline works really hard and through her own effort builds a better life.

I’m confident that to some degree everyone feels like their parents or families have messed them up, but this is not just a person complaining “yeah, my stepmom was really mean to me.” Adeline describes her everyday goings-on and lets you see for yourself how hard her family tried to show her she wasn’t loved. It’s really awful all the things they did to her. It could only be more Cinderella like if she had a magical fairy godmother come save her, but that didn’t happen. She emphasizes the fact that she had to work hard to save herself.

14 Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?

For whatever reason, it's taken ages to get around to reading The Scarlet Letter. I’m surprised it took me so long because I love classics and this is definitely one you would think I was taught in high school or college but I somehow escaped without it.

The premise: Hester Prynne, a resident of a Puritanical 1600s Boston, has committed adultery and given birth to an illegitimate child. She is publicly punished and forced to wear a scarlet letter A on her shirt to mark her as an adulteress to warn any and all who interact with her. Just like any society, there is more going on under the surface.

At first I was a little hesitant about this one because to me anything Puritan makes me imagine really drab settings and prim and proper-ness everywhere with nothing really happening. Luckily, that's not the case here! Can I just say Hester is my hero? She gets put through so much garbage, forced to do such stupid things like wear the letter and constantly be ostracized by hypocrites, but through it all she still manages to stick it to the man. Go Hester!

15 Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

“We are all of us, gods and mortals, made up of many pieces, some of them broken, some of them scarred, but none of them the total sum of who we are.” -Mortal Heart

Maybe it's not the most important and impressive quote ever, but I did feel moved enough that I bothered to write it down, and that is saying something. Something I’ve been learning a lot the last year or two is that people, including myself, are very multifaceted. It takes a long time and many different situations to see more than one side of someone, and I’m not convinced anyone will ever see all the sides. Singular strengths or weaknesses do not entirely define a person. No one is perfect, and no one is perfectly worthless.

16 Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

  Longest: Jane Eyre (507 pages). Shortest: Little Humans (36 pages).

17 Book That Shocked You The Most:

If You Find Me really rocked my world because I realized that the story could really happen, and probably does more than I want to know.

The premise: This one is about a the daughter of a crazy drug addict mom who has been raised hidden away in a beat up trailer in a national forest. The daughter has to grow up to become the responsible member of the family, taking care of her much younger half-sister and reminding her mom to buy food when she drives into town. Mom often leaves for days and weeks, and finally months at a time until she doesn’t return at all. One day, Social Services arrives to take the girls to civilization where they have to not only adjust to foreign experiences like crowds, fast food, and school, but even depressingly basic things like a toothbrush.

Did you know that when kids get picked up by social services, they often have to put what belongings they are allowed to take in trash bags? This stuff actually happens. (There's actually a charity I discovered recently that works to help kids in this situation. Check it out!) The scene where the social worker has to teach a teenager what a toothbrush is and how to use it really broke my heart. I never even considered that someone living in the USA might not have access to one. I could have cried (and probably did but just don't remember).

18 Favorite Romantic Relationship of the Year:

I’m trying not to use the same titles over and over, but I absolutely cannot substitute for The Night Circus on this one!! I’m totally not one for chick flicks and mush, especially in books. I guess because of their length love stories in books are usually love-at-first-sight/lust-at-first-sight and I am totally not interested. For me, relationships gotta be slow cooked. (My husband and I didn’t even kiss until several months after we had been seriously dating. I mean, WHO DOES THAT? Well, besides us?) Fortunately, The Night Circus was right up my alley. The story unfolds over decades, and both magicians get to know each other through building on each other’s illusions and creating new ones they think the other will genuinely enjoy for years and years before they even meet. It’s totally different learning about someone through their artwork than “you’re hot, lets get coffee.” It’s seriously beautiful.

19 Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

I did already talk about Pearl back in question 3, but that question was all about her mother's issues, and what I really liked best about the book was the relationship between Bean and Henry. They’ve got one of those friendships where they’ve known each other since always and always have the other’s back. Both kids have some kind of strange home lives that they don’t understand, but as they grow up and help each other figure out what is all going on, their relationship only gets stronger. Eventually they do notice that they are opposite genders, but I don't remember how that turns out. Aside from that and all the crazy adults involved, I really enjoyed all the warm fuzzies I got from reading about their super close childhood friendship.

20 Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

This year I completed the Books of Bayern series by Shannon Hale. Hale has yet to disappoint me! I also read one of her graphic novels this year which didn’t quite measure up to the same degree of awesome, but I think that was mainly a fault of the format. However, Enna Burning (part two in the Books of Bayern) is so much fun! When I first came across the series, I didn’t realize they were a series because the spines don’t have numbers on them. Turns out I read the first book and then the last one, so it was nice to see some of the dots connected.

The premise: Having unlocked the secret of fire speaking, Enna  wishes to use the gift of fire to protect Bayern from invading forces. However, can she forever use fire for the good of her country without being consumed by its need to destroy?

 Enna is my favorite character in the series so I really liked that she was the main character in this adventure. Like all of Hale's work, her imagination runs wild in vivid detail, and there's lots of clever banter between characters. Enna isn't the same level of fierceness as Celaena Sardothian, but she is still incredibly driven and not afraid of a fight. I love that Enna is stubborn and doesn't let herself be pushed around. Also, fire is probably my favorite of all elemental magics, so there's a lot of special effects value too.

21 Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Night Circus, Clockwork Angel, and Throne of Glass and so many others were all fantastic reads that were recommended to me by friends and Youtubers. But, seeing how I've already discussed those at length, I'm going to go with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, suggested first by a friend, and then reinforced by tons of other friends who were very excited to find out I was reading it.

The premise: Karou is a talented art student in Prague. She spends a lot of time filling her sketch book with all sorts of monsters and adventures. However, these demons are actually her family, -- a family about to be torn apart by a war between angels and demons.

The way the demon world is set up really intrigued me. I loved exploring the connection between our world and angels/demons, and how magic works in this universe. There is a lot of richness to it! However, it turned into a love story, and that part wasn't as cool to me. I just want to know more about Karou and her world!

Aside from the personal recommendation, the cover art really sucked me in too. I love the bright peacock blue mask against the black and white background. There's just something about masks that instantly make book covers and stories more interesting. (Masque of the Red Death, anyone?) However, I just now noticed that if half her face is in shadow, half of the mask should be less bright as well, or you should be able to see both eyes. I just ruined this cover for myself. :(

22 Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

I can't deny that I found Razo in River Secrets (part 3 of the Books of Bayern) totally charming because his goofy personality and self-doubt  reminded me so much of my husband!

The premise: Poor Razo has always been an easy to overlook character in the first two parts of the series. Because of his deeds in past adventures, Razo has been given an honored place in the elite group of 100 soldiers who directly serve the king. Trouble is having a small frame and almost zero handiness with a sword, Razo is far from a skilled solider. When the King's Hundred Band is sent on a diplomatic mission to a neighboring kingdom, it becomes clear he doesn't quite belong. Though too small and ordinary to be considered a fierce soldier, Razo discovers what other talents he contributes.

One of my favorite scenes involved Razo talking with his crush. Instead of dramatic, grandiose romantic gestures and mushy flirting they play a sort of twisted game of Would You Rather, which is much more my style.

23 Best 2015 debut you read?

It’s hard to tell if any of my novels were by new authors, so I’m gonna go with The Little World of Liz Climo. This is her first published book as far as I know. She has a lot of visual jokes kind of like a comic involving cute animals. How can this possibly go wrong?

24 Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Undisputedly, this has to be The Night Circus. Again. I know. I can’t shut up about it, but this one seriously takes the cake! Maybe I'm obsessed, or maybe it really is the best at all these categories.

I keep saying it should be a movie because the words make it so easy to picture what’s going on. Even though it’s all this awesome, mind bending, magical,  gravity defying stuff, I really did feel like I was there. Aside from just really good description, I think it also built one of the most unique and beautiful worlds that overlaps with ours since Harry Potter.

25 Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

For the reading challenge I did last year, I selected Calvin and Hobbes: Yukon Ho! as a book published the year I was born. After reading a bunch of dense literary stuff like Jane Eyre, it was a most welcome break.

The premise: 6 year old trouble maker Calvin makes mischief  and imagines fantastic adventures with his stuffed tiger pal, Hobbes. In this volume, Calvin and Hobbes leave oppressive schoolwork and chores behind opting instead to live off the land in the wild Yukon.

Calvin and Hobbes is always a little bit thought provoking, but super lighthearted  and enjoyable. It was definitely a different dynamic reading part of the Calvin and Hobbes series as an adult instead of a child. Growing up I always thought Calvin's parents were really mean and grouchy, but now I see them as parents who really love their child even though he constantly does things to drive them up the wall. Does this mean I'm now the grouchy mean adult?

26 Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

There’s some pretty traumatic war scenes, in Enna Burning that totally made me cry. At first I thought it was because I was feeling very hormonal, but I ran into the same problem in the next volume, River Secrets, when it discusses the same incident. To be fair I read River Secrets a few weeks later, so maybe I was just hormonal again. Then again, maybe war is just terrible and the fact that so many young people die for it is legitimately sad.

27 Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Better Bag Maker is a non-fiction tutorial for how to sew purses and tote bags etc. I think this one is a hidden gem because it’s one I stumbled into in a corner of the library. I found several different books in the same vein, but the quality of The Better Bag Maker was far superior. (All I can say is the author must really be the better bag maker. ;) ) Detailed instructions and excellent clean, well-focused pictures for every step make it easy to follow. The finished products in other books on the same subject look lumpy and obviously homemade, but these look professional and store bought, even designer. I’m excited to check this out again when I have time and fund$ to make something for myself.

28 Book That Crushed Your Soul?

I had a lot of heavy reads this year, but for some reason The Scarlet Letter really reached me in a way that makes my heart ache.  Even though hundreds of years have passed since Hester Prynne's time, the same mistreatment of individuals, hypocrisy and harsh judgement the villagers experienced is incredibly prevalent today. Recently in my own city terrible crimes of violence have been committed by people who think they are doing good things and living how God wants them to and don't care what harm may come to others along the way. Knowing that real people are suffering like this crushes me.

29 Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

Oh man. I really loved Hyperbole and a Half! I really don't think I've ready anything quite like it before.

The premise: The author, like many others, retells her experiences and hilarious stories from her childhood, but she also does it with these terrible yet endearing MS Paint style illustrations.

Hyperbole and a Half is one of those books I've yet to get tired of. The silly childhood stories never get old. On a serious note, she does have a longer tale about her struggle with depression. I love that her experience is real and unfiltered. She talks about exactly what she went through and how useless a lot of the tactics we use to comfort depressed individuals can be. I really appreciate Allie Brosh's point of view and the advice she gives that helps me understand and connect to my loved ones with depression.

30 Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

I really enjoyed “Food: a love story” by Jim Gaffigan. "A Love Story" is definitely a fitting subtitle! Gaffigan definitely gets ooey gooey when he explains in detail all the minute things he adores about certain foods or local restaurants. However, what made me angry was that he gets equally disgusted by small things with foods he doesn't like. He seemed to choose at random which restaurants he praised and which he railed against. I got a little defensive about some of them, but he’s allowed to disagree with me. (I guess. If he wants to be wrong.) I got a little tired of him ranting against chain restaurants and praising local joints. Personally I like that when you visit a chain you know exactly what you're getting no matter where you are, but small local places make me nervous. Maybe I should branch out more. His relationship with food is most certainly long term love.

Despite my complaints, don't let me deter you from listening to this one! Seriously. Audio book is a must on this one. Gaffigan himself narrates the audio version, and I quite liked hearing him do all the Italian and Southern accents throughout. 

Looking Ahead to 2016

1 One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

We Were Liars is really tempting my fancy right now.

The premise:
"A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. 
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE."
Again, this is one that I heard about via Youtube, but once I added it to my list on Goodreads I found that two of my friends (whose opinions I probably value most highly over anyone’s when it comes to books!) already read it and love it. Apparently when someone asks you how it ends, you’re supposed to lie about it, and I really really want to find out why! I’m already hooked and I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet.

2 Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

I'm not one to stay on top of new releases, but my wonderful cousin got me a copy of All the Light We Cannot See for Christmas, and I've been looking forward to that one for ages. I've already started it, and I'm sure it will be one of my top reads this year.

3 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I don't actually have any idea what might be coming out this year.

4 Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

I am looking forward to continuing both the Throne of Glass series as well as Infernal Devices. I guess I’m leaning more toward Throne of Glass because of the two I enjoyed the first volume of that one much more, but I keep hearing good things about Infernal Devices so my hopes are pretty high for that one.

5 One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

I think I'm a little burned out from trying to cram so many books into my year while still working full time and pursuing other hobbies in my free time. Fortunately we're attempting a smaller challenge this year, so I am looking forward to soaking books in instead of trying to crank them all through like I was.

1 comment:

  1. You write excellent reviews, Natalie! New challenge: Write a book! Congrats on # of books read. Only had time to read through 1-15, gotta get to church. But, this is fabulous. I'd like to borrow the one about Douglas and lend you a similar one. Loved your favorite quote. What to read the NY photo book. As I often say, you remind me so much of my dear sister. She's an avid reader, esp. loves fantasy. And your Grandma, has a book in hand, ear, car at all times. I wish books had ratings like movies. We were counseled not to watch R, so I hate it when I pick one up by accident. I can see how book reviews could help with that.


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