You know what the end of the year means for book blogs: talking about all the great books we’ve read this year! Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner is once again hosting an End of the Year Book Survey! You can check out her own and links to other people’s surveys here.
Best in Books 2013
1. Best Book You Read in 2013? (If you have to cheat, you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)
Contemporary: I’ve read a lot of great contemporary books this year, and it’s really hard to choose so I’ll just list a bunch of amazing contemporaries I’ve read this year: My Life Next Door, Where the Stars Still Shine, Lock and Key, The Truth About Forever, The Distance Between Us, Golden…
Paranormal: The Diviners was really long, but it read really quickly and proved that I am still a big Libba Bray fan. This book probably shows up somewhere else on this list, so I won’t say much about it, but I will say this: Bray has proved that she’s still great at writing paranormal books in distinctive periods (this time the 1920s) with plenty of interesting characters and plot twists.
Historical: I don’t read many historical books, but Out of the Easy was amazing, historical or not. You don’t get to read about the 1950s much either, so it was nice to get a different time period than the Victoria era or the ’20s or the Tudor years (although I do like those as well).
Adult: Well, I’ve only read one adult book this year (hopefully that’ll change next year, as you’ll see when I post about 2014 challenges), so this was no problem answering: J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, which was a big departure for both her and me, since I’ve never read an adult book outside of school. It wasn’t perfect, but I really did enjoy it.
2. Book You Were Excited About and Thought You Were Going to Love More But Didn’t?
There have been a fair few books I expected to like a lot more, but I don’t think any more so than Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea – I expected to love it or, at the very least, enjoy it, but I ended up DNFing it because I couldn’t stand most of the characters and I was worried I might throw my Nook or something if I tried to finish it. I couldn’t enjoy the things that other people enjoyed, so the things that others might have found kind of annoying or frustrating seemed magnified, so it was just bad for me overall, which is really sad, because I really did want to love it – I mean, look at the cover! And the author’s middle name is my name, which you pretty much never see! Why couldn’t I love this?!
3. Most Surprising (in a good way!) Book of 2013?
My Life Next Door would go here, but I don’t want to repeat so many books and it’ll show up at least twice below, so instead I’ll choose Out of the Easy. I tend to avoid historical books, even though, like fantasy books, I tend to like the few that I do try; anyway, I had heard good things about this book, and figured that it would be decent, but I hadn’t counted on connecting to so many of the characters like I did. It definitely makes me want to read more of Ruta Sepetys’s books in the future, maybe even, *gasp* her WWII-set debut, even though I try to avoid books about war because they make me SO SAD.
4. Book You Read in 2013 That You Recommended to People Most in 2013?
I don’t really recommend books all that much in real life, and my idea of “recommending” here is to talk about a book so much that people either start tuning me out or finally read it, so my recommendations tend to be limited to what I tell my sister she should read. I did a Top Ten Tuesday last month about recommendations for her, but she’s a busy little bee who hasn’t had the time to really read since summer, so she hasn’t taken me up on any of my ideas. She did, however, read The Friday Society this past summer after I recommended it to her, so yay for that! I don’t remember if she liked it or not, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t hate it, which is saying something, right?
5. Best Series You Discovered in 2013?
The Diviners felt like it could have been a standalone (and maybe initially was, with a couple extra chapters tacked on later – who knows?), but it’s probably the book whose sequel I’m most looking forward to next year. In general, though, I feel like many of my most anticipated books for next year are books in series I discovered prior to 2013 or are books from contemporary authors who only do standalones.
6. Favorite New Author You Discovered in 2013?
Can an author be a favorite if you’ve only read one of her books? I’m going to go with yes, because that’s basically how I feel about Huntley Fitzpatrick, the author of My Life Next Door. As with her debut, her sequel sounds like a pretty normal YA contemporary based on the summary, but I’m so freaking excited for it after reading My Life; and don’t even get me started on The Boy Most Likely To, which is a companion! I’m just glad I didn’t get around to reading her book until this past year so that I didn’t have to wait two full years for another book from her!
7. Best Book That Was Out of Your Comfort Zone or Was a New Genre for You?
The Casual Vacancy was my first (and only, so far) official adult book. Adult is definitely a new genre for me and I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself an adult, even when I have grey hair and am eligible to retire, but I think I’ll be okay with dipping my toes into the genre for now.
8. Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book in 2013?
I feel like most of the books that I just had to read and know what happened next were contemporary books, which aren’t necessarily “thrilling,” even if I wasn’t able to put them down in many cases, so I’m going to go with a slightly different pick: Second Chance Summer. The beginning was kind of slow for me, but once I got to the last third or half or so, I just had to keep reading, even when I could barely read because it was just so heartbreaking. I didn’t care about the main character all the time, but I did during the last part of the book. Part of the reason I couldn’t put it down was because I wanted to make sure I finished it (and crying) before my roommate got back, but mostly I just needed to see how it would ended, even though I *knew* how it would end, what with the father’s terminal disease and all. So, kind of an unconventional pick for this option, but oh well!
9. Book You Read in 2013 That You Are Most Likely to Reread Next Year?
Well, I reread a lot of books, but one that I’m really looking forward to rereading is a book I hadn’t even expected to like a whole lot: My Life Next Door. Sometimes I feel like this is my Ruby Oliver book of the year – it came out of nowhere and I’ve become a bit obsessed and some people are probably tired of hearing me gush about, but I just loved it so much. It was one of those books where you notice some things that other people might dislike and that even you would normally dislike, but you honestly couldn’t care because you enjoyed the book so much. I am definitely anxious to reread it, which is why I bought it soon after returning it to the library even though I knew I wouldn’t be rereading it very soon.
10. Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2013?
There were plenty of pretty covers this year, some of which actually containted pretty stories to match (well, what I liked – some other people might enjoy the story of, say, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, but it obviously didn’t live up to the cover for me), and Where the Stars Still Shine is definitely one of those wonderful books. Since I talk about the book itself later on in this survey, I’ll focus on the cover right now – before I read the book, the cover (and the premise and good reviews, but whatever) was definitely what drew me to the story, but now that I’ve read the book, I feel like I love the cover even more, because it matches the story in a small way that I didn’t even realize until recently: the lights! It’s a small part in the book, but the lights are still kind of a big deal to Callie, and I love to see them incorporated in the cover, especially since they’re just so pretty!
11. Most Memorable Character in 2013?
On one hand, I feel like there were a lot of memorable characters, but there didn’t really seem to be a memorable character out of that group of me. Ruby from Lock and Key, my second Sarah Dessen book, did seem quite memorable to me, especially out of all the Dessen protagonists. She wasn’t a perfect person, but she interested me just like the rest of the characters in her book.
12. Most Beautifully Written Book Read in 2013?
I don’t really pay attention to the way stories are written a lot of the time – which is silly, considering I’m an aspiring writer myself and kind-of English major, but that’s just me being me, I guess – but there was one book that I specifically wrote a quote down from (which you’ll see below), so I’ll go with Jessi Kirby’s latest, Golden. It didn’t affect me nearly as much as some other people, but I did think it was a great book that was short but quite powerful.
13. Book That Had the Greatest Impact on You in 2013?
I was lucky (well, I wouldn’t call it luck) enough not to go through my grandfather’s fight with Alzheimer’s, since he died before I was even bored, but it’s something that’ll always been a part of my family, so reading The Book of Broken Hearts still felt quite personal, even though I haven’t go through the same things that main character Jude has. This was the book that also saved Sarah Ockler in my eyes – I was ready to give up on her books since I tended to find them kind of underwhelming, but now I’ll check out her future books to see if they can match my feelings about this book.
14. Book That You Can’t Believe You Waited UNTIL 2013 to Finally Read?
Any of Sarah Dessen’s books – I’d heard of her, even before my blogging days, but I always shook my head and moved on without even checking her books out. Maybe I agreed with my sister (she seems to think that Sarah Dessen is the Nicholas Sparks of YA, which isn’t a great thing to us, even though neither of us have read or seen any of his books or the movies based on them – scratch that, my sister saw The Last Song kind of against her will with some friends) and was scared off from them, but I’m glad I gave them the chance. I didn’t love them all, and some were a bit of a chore to get through, but the ones I did like were really great, namely The Truth About Forever and Lock and Key, which were also my (great) introduction to Sarah Dessen in the first place!
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From a Book You Read in 2013?
On clear winter nights the constellation Orion hangs perfectly framed in my window, and beyond him a backdrop of sky dotted so dense with stars it looks like sugar spilled across the night.
– Golden, page 34
I like reading quotes from books, but while reading books, I rarely write down things that I find inspiring or pretty or whatever. Therefore, the fact that I actually pulled out my phone to write down this quote is a big point in this book and its writing’s favor. I don’t quite know what it is about it, but I just think it’s so pretty!
16. Shortest and Longest Book You Read in 2013?
According to Goodreads, Saffy’s Angel was the smallest book, clocking in at a mere 160 pages, and even if my edition of the book was different, it’s sure to be somewhere around there. Meanwhile, the biggest book was The Diviners at 578 pages, with The Mark of Athena coming in close with 574. Quite a lot of really big and really small books this year, it looks like!
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. etc.) – Be Careful of Spoilers!
There’s a paricular scene that was more of a throwaway line and was a bad scene for me, but it’s the type of thing I’d really like to talk about more with real life people who share my education major: the scene (well, paragraph, really) that made me give up on This Love Will Save Your Life. I wanted to like it so much, but when the MC got pissed off that her teacher cared about the girl who tried to kill herself earlier, I couldn’t stand it anymore. You can check out my review to read more about it, but it just was too much for me. I wish I had loved that book as much as everyone else, I really do, but it just was not for me.
18. Favorite Relationship From a Book You Read in 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc.)
Romantic: This can also work for the friendship, but I just love Maya and Daniel’s relationship in the Darkness Rising trilogy, culminating in the final book, The Rising. I wanted their maybe-something-there-relationship to become a romance, and I won’t spoil the ending and whether their friendship becomes something more, but I’m putting it in romantic because pretty much every scene they had together was romantic in my mind because they were adorable and friends first, which would make for a strong romance. You’ll have to read it to find out if the relationship becomes something more or not!
Friendship: Daughter of Smoke and Bone started off really well for me, and part of the reason was that I really, really liked the best friend, which is can unfortunately be rare for me in YA (you can even read about that problem here!) – Zuzana was so awesome that she broke out of that problem for me. She also seemed like she should be the type to get on my nerves (very outgoing and loud), but I think the fact that the MC wasn’t the quiet wallflower to Zuzana’s social butterfly helped. They complemented each other, but they also fit together well because they were kind of similar. Zuzana made the later part of the book more bearable when I was rolling my eyes at the main romance (sorry, but I just wasn’t a big fan of it – especially the random, really long flashback section).
Familial: THE GARRETTS! How could I not choose the amazing Garrett family from My Life Next Door? They make me so sad that I just have one sister – we always wanted more siblings, but it just never happened, so I guess I’ll have to read about the adorable Garrett family, especially the young ones (George!), instead.
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From an Author You’ve Read Previously
I read and enjoyed for the most part Trish Doller’s Something Like Normal last year, but it didn’t blow me away like it did for some people. That was not the case for Where the Stars Still Shine, however – it was amazing and has made me a real Trish Doller fan. I am so excited for whatever she writes next, and hearing her talk about it on Twitter can be painful because I just want to go ahead and read it already!
20. Best Book You Read in 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY on a Recommendation From Somebody Else
There were plenty of books I only checked out because of good reviews, but The Distance Between Us is one that comes to mind quickly because the reviews made it sound so amazing that I went ahead and bought it without reading it first, which I almost never do unless it’s a book in a series I already love or something. Luckily for me (and my wallet), it turned out well and I’m sure I would have wanted to buy it if I hadn’t already!
21. Genre You Read the Most From in 2013?
It’s a little hard to say, but I’m pretty sure I’ve read more Contemporary YA books than ever, and they actually eclipsed paranormal books this year. I’ve begun feeling a bit burned out on paranormal books, especially paranormal romances and dystopian (dystopian romances, really, because let’s be honest, so many of them are taken over by romances), and contemporary books have begun getting all of my attention. Sometimes I’m worried I’ll start getting burned out on contemporary as well, but until that happens, I will continue reading and (hopefully) loving them.
22. Newest Fictional Crush From a Book You Read in 2013?
I’m trying not to repeat things, but Jace from My Life Next Door is an adorable boyfriend and, more importantly in my mind, an amazing older brother! He cares about his family and helps out his mother and father and doesn’t care that they still act like they’re in love and show it with a new kid every few years. He loves his family and he loves Samantha and he grudgingly accepts Tim later on and it just makes me so happy to read about all of them!
23. Best 2013 Debut You Read?
This year hasn’t been the greatest for debuts, so nothing really came to mind right away, but there were a couple that stand out from the rest: Pivot Point, The Nightmare Affair, Nantucket Blue, and Prep School Confidential. Right now I’m reading a debut as well, Another Little Piece, so time will tell if this is good enough to make this list (although I don’t think I’ll be done with it before it goes up).
24. Most Vivid World/Imagery in a Book You Read in 2013?
With all its pictures and receipts and such, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour helped put you on the road along with Amy and Roger. In my review I mentioned how some things kind of took me out of the story (you’ve never even been in another state before, Amy, seriously? And it’s Lou – a – vull! There’s an “a” sound in it! I appreciate someone pointing out that most people say it wrong, but your pronounciation didn’t sound quite right either!), but overall it really put you into the story, even if it’s not some great, new world.
25. Book That Was the Most Fun to Read in 2013?
The Distance Between Us was just a fun and adorable fluff of a book – it had some deeper issues, like wealthy v. poor, but mostly it was a hilarious and fun book that I read in no time at all and that has me anxiously awaiting Kasie West’s next contemporary book.
26. Book That Made You Cry or Nearly Cry in 2013?
When I’m alone, it’s much easier for me to cry while reading a book, but I know that I would have been pretty much sobbing no matter how many people were around me when I read the last fifty or so pages of Second Chance Summer – which is why I was really glad that I was alone in my dorm room for the night. The book was kind of so-so for me until the end, and then it was an emotional minefield. It probably took me about half an hour or more to read twenty or so pages because I would stop reading after just a paragraph or sentence because I COULD NOT HANDLE IT. Definitely the book that made me cry the most, and big crying, not just tears slipping down like I normally cry. I was already a bit sick and my nose was not happy that it had to endure even more Kleenexes.
27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year or When It Came Out?
The Dead and Buried came out in early 2013 with a lot of other, bigger titles, like Just One Day and Unravel Me and I don’t even remember what else, so it kind of got overlooked by most blogs, which is a shame. It was a quick and enjoyable ghost story and a standalone to boot, which so many people want to read more of since series can sometimes feel like they’re taking over, especially in the paranormal genre.
Book Blogging/Reading Life 2013
1. New Favorite Book Blog You Discovered in 2013?
I feel like I did the bulk of my “discovering” this year and at the end of last year. Before that, I read a couple, but I didn’t use Bloglovin’ or Feedly or anything like that, so I had to go to them individually, which made me less likely to seek out new blogs. So there are just so many to choose from and I don’t think I can do it! So, just to be safe, you can check out my blogroll somewhere in the sidebar, and I’m sure there are some newer ones I still need to put on there.
2. Favorite Review That You Wrote in 2013?
Before this year, I didn’t really care all that much about reviews – I wrote them because I felt that I had to in order to be a book blog and it was helpful to go back and see why I did or did not like a book. This year, though, there were some reviews that were much longer and detailed and personal, and I’m just so proud of them, but none more than my review for Sarah Ockler’s The Book of Broken Hearts. It wasn’t one of my top books this year, but it was my favorite from Ockler and because I connected to it in some personal ways, and because I was so proud of my review, I think my opinion of it has gone up even more, and I still think about it sometimes about half a year later.
3. Best Discussion You Had On Your Blog?
I’ve been really getting into discussions this year as well, and I’ve had some pretty interesting ones (well, ones that I find interesting – hopefully other people did as well!), but looking back over them, one of my favorites was probably my inaugural “Common Archetypes” post, which is like a specific type of discussion post that focuses on, you guessed it, common types of characters that keep popping up in YA! For my first post, I focused on “The Broody Couple and Fun Friend,” as seen in Siege and Storm, Unravel Me, etc. This was an interesting and fairly long post for me, and I loved finding Teen Wolf GIFs for it – I like having GIF posts, but I don’t always like looking for them since it takes so much more time, but this was pretty fun for me and I kept trying to twist my words so that I could use specific GIFs! So, probably one of my favorites, and I was really excited when people actually commented on it and such!
4. Most Thought-Provoking Review or Discussion You Read on Somebody Else’s Blog?
There were so many great discussions this year, many of which seemed more recent, but the one place where you’re sure to fine a lot of personal discussions and reviews and such seems to be the host of this survey, The Perpetual Page-Turner. She has a post about being married to a non-reader, about losing her mother (which resulted in a very personal review for Second Chance Summer) – just check out everything, basically, and you’ll find plenty of personal and great posts!
5. Best Event That You Participated In (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Well, I don’t really participate in book events because there never seem to be any near where I live, so memes is the closest thing. I know that some people don’t like memes, but I enjoy doing them for the post part, especially little surveys (kind of like this one!) that individual bloggers come up with just to have something fun to do. I’ve done a few different ones this year, like a Harry Potter Survey from Flip That Page and a Superlatives-type survey, also from The Perpetual Page-Turner – they’re just so fun, and it’s great to see other blogs participating in them and seeing how they can differ!
6. Best Moment of Book Blogging/Your Book Life in 2013?
Authors are kind of intimidating to me. I know, they’re real people and all that, but considering that a lot of my peers and most people older than me seem to intimidate me (darn shyness!), it’s really not that surprising. Anyway, I have a point, I promise – I ignored how frightening that was and tweeted at two authors whose books I really liked and made that clear in my reviews (I don’t think I’d every be able to tweet at authors when I only thought their book was OK or even lower) and they acknowledged them! Kasie West, the author of The Distance Between Us, replied to my tweet about the review, and Trish Doller, the author of Where the Stars Still Shine, favorited my tweet of the review! It was scary for me, but it was so exciting to know that these authors know I exsist now! (See how easy it can be to make me happy?)
7. Most Popular Post This Year on Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
This one kind of surprises me – it’s my Top Ten Favorite Beginnings/Endings, back in July. According to WordPress, I had 53 views! I know that sounds small to some people, but that seems massive to me and makes me so excited! It’s surprising though because I barely even remember writing that post at this point! My most commented posts make a bit more sense to me, though – Top Ten Books I Would Love to See As a TV Show and Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far in 2013 were both tied at 19 comments! Again, that seems huge to me and makes me so happy to know that people are reading what I write! I wouldn’t mind getting more views for non-TTT posts, but they definitely helped get my blog out there and I enjoy doing them!
8. Post You Wished Got a Little More Love?
I know I already mentioned it, but since it was one of my favorite posts, I’d love for The Broody Couple and Fun Friend to get even more love! But for a non-repeat, I’d also like for my post about Being Blonde in YA – a lot of people have focused on how too many brunettes are characterized as mousy, nerdy, and socially awkward, which is definitely a problem, but not as many people look at how blondes are equally and poorly characterized, normally as the dumb blonde or mean girl (or both!). I’d definitely love to hear more people’s thoughts on this subject.
9. Best Bookish Discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
I certainly knew about it before this year, but I had barely, if ever (can’t remember exactly when my first trip was right now) been to the wonder known as Half Price Books. Not all the books are super cheap, but the clearance area in particular is great for finding quite a few older books to buy. They have newer books, but they can sometimes be the same price as a regular bookstore, so I tend to enjoy going to HPB to get older books, like A Series of Unfortunate Events, which I’m determined to get all of the books of for only $1 each! Still have a few left… And they don’t just have books – they have movies, TV shows, magazines, audiobooks, and even records! And you can sell some of your own books that you don’t want anymore and use that money to buy even more books! Such a great plan!
10. Did You Complete Any Reading Challenges or Goals That You Had Set for Yourself at the Beginning of this Year?
I did quite well with all my challenges, actually, although I don’t know how things will go next year. Anyway, my Goodreads challenge was to initially read 75 books, and then was bumped up to 100, which I passed quite a while ago, so I completed that! Then, I also did the Debut and Sophomore Authors challenges, both of which I completed as well, along with my own personal Sarah Dessen challenge, which I also completed. So, yeah, a lot to live up to next year! You can check out all my past, current, and future challenges here.
1. One Book You Didn’t Get to In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?
Earlier this year, I finally read my first (YA) book from Judy Blume, so next year I’ll do my best to read one of her most popular ones, Forever, which seems to be many other readers’ first exposure to sex in YA, so I feel like I need to read it at some point! It’s older than I am, but Tiger Eyes didn’t seem too dated, so hopefully this book won’t be either!
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating for 2014 (non-debut)?
After reading about one book multiple times, is it really any surprise that I’m really looking forward to Huntley Fitzpatrick’s next book, What I Thought Was True? It’s not the companion to My Life Next Door that I’m anxiously looking foward to, but I’ll definitely take it while I wait!
3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?
Will Juliette and Adam stop being so angsty? Will Warner get the girl and, more importantly, will he become a nice(ish) guy so that I don’t have to feel so bad for cheering him on? Will Kenji be awesome and amusing? Well, the answer to the last question is pretty obvious (YES! Or I will be very mad), but only by reading Ignite Me will I be able to find out some of the other answers I’m waiting for!
5. One Thing You Hope to Accomplish or Do in Your Reading/Blogging 2014?
I really hope that there are less DNFs for me in 2014. Before this year, I didn’t have that many DNFs – one or two a year was a lot for me. And, while I’m happy I started DNFing because it probably prevented me from falling into a few book slumps, I still wish I didn’t have to start reading so many books that either make me mad or bore me. I am kind of hopeful for next year – I’ve gotten a little better at avoiding books that sound like they aren’t my thing by reading reviews of them before I even try them, and many of the DNFs were books that had been on my to-read shelf for a while that I just couldn’t bear to get rid of without trying, even if they didn’t sound like my thing. So, while I doubt I’ll make it through the year with the same number of DNFs that I had pre-2013, I’m hopeful that there will be a lot less, even if that means my book count is a bit lower at the end of the year.