Annual End of Year Book Survey 2014

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Photo Courtesy muffin9101985 - Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy muffin9101985 – Creative Commons

Wow! The last time I blogged was June, my bad! Well here I am sending through a post that will always get me out of hibernating, a good old fashioned end of year survey. I have always loved end of year sum ups, including ‘best of’ lists, and the following survey is no exception. It was great looking back on what I’ve read over the past year, and what left a lasting impression on me. I got this from The Perpetual Page Turner (one of my all time favourite book blogs).

So here goes:

2014 Reading Stats:

  1. Number of Books You Read: My aim was to read 37, I’m not sure I’m going to quite get there as I’m currently on 32, but I should get to at least 34 or 35.
  1. Number of Re-Reads: Zero. They’ve all been new reads this year.
  1. Genre You Read the Most From: I thought this would be a hard one for me to answer, but looking at what I’ve read it’s actually incredibly easy. Dystopian, both Young Adult and Adult.

Best in Books:

  1. Best Book You Read in 2014: Without a doubt, Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel
  1. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  1. Most Surprising Book You Read in 2014: Hmm, this is a hard one, I’ve read a lot of good books this year. I’ll say, Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, I didn’t have much of an idea what this book was about, and found it’s plot, characters and the various areas it treated with beautiful and surprising.
  1. Book you ‘Pushed’ the Most People to Read, and They Did: Haha once again, Station Eleven (I still haven’t stopped ranting about that book).
  1. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014? Wow! There’s a lot in this question.
  1. Favourite New Author You Discovered in 2014: I’ve actually discovered a lot of new, particularly female, authors this year, which has been great! But sticking with the theme I’ll say: Emily St John Mandel
  1. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? My Brilliant Career, by Miles Franklin. At the start of the year, I challenged myself to read my Australian female authors, I realised that I didn’t know many, and had read even less. I often shy away from classic ‘Australian’ novels i.e. set in the dry, dusty country, working on the land (I blame Yr9 & 10 history for this), but I actually really enjoyed this book, and was blown away by the fact that she wrote it so young.
  1. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? At the risk of sounding like a broken record: Station Eleven. With a special mention to the Year of the Flood, Oryx and Crate and More Than This.
  1. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? The MaddAddam Trilogy, I gobbled all three of those books up, and am keen to revisit them again.
  1. Favourite Cover of a Book You Read: Looking at the books I’ve read, I’ve actually come across some cool covers. I think I’m going to go for this version of Rooms, By Lauren Oliver.
  1. Most Memorable Character of 2014: This is a hard one, I’ve come across some great characters this year. I’m going to go for Arlen in the Desert Spear, By Peter V. Brett.
  1. Most Beautifully Written Book of 2014: This one is almost impossible, I’m struggling big time. If I have to make a call though, I think I would say: The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  1. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014? Hmmm…I think I’ll say Middlesex
  1. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? Oryx and Crake, By Margaret Atwood (I didn’t even have to think about this one).
  1. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014? This will have to be a Margaret Atwood quote; I love pretty much everything she puts into words. Deciding on one quite is difficult! Let’s for this one:

“Glenn used to say the reason you can’t really imagine yourself being dead was that as soon as you say, ‘I’ll be dead,’ you’ve said the word I, and so you’re still alive inside the sentence. And that’s how people got the idea of the immortality of the soul – it was a consequence of grammar.” ― Margaret AtwoodThe Year of the Flood

  1. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013? The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, was definitely my longest (I didn’t even need to look this up), at 834 pages, it was a hefty one to carry around. I’m not sure on the shortest book, I’m struggling to work out how to find this out, it’d probably be, My Brilliant Career, by Miles Franklin
  1. Book that Shocked You the Most: Hmm I guess More Than This, by Patrick Ness…I wanted moooooore.
  1. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year: Todd and Manchee from The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness. I loved that dog (Manchee)!
  1. Favourite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: I’ve read so much Margaret Atwood this year, but my favourite of hers that I read is The Year of the Flood (The second book in the MaddAddam trilogy).
  1. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure: Middlesex, by Jeffery Eugenides
  1. Best 2014 debut you read: Hmm I don’t think I’ve read any debuts yet. Rooms, by Lauren Oliver was really good, and was her adult fiction debut.
  1. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? You can’t go past fantasy for an answer to this question. I’ll say The Eye of the World, By Robert Jordan (the first in the Wheel of Time series).
  1. Book That Put a Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? That’s a tossup between: A Fraction of the Whole, by Steve Toltz and American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.
  1. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014? Hmm there’s a quite a few (I’m such a sook when it comes to a well written book). Probably the one that made me cry the most was The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
  1. Hidden Gem of the Year: All the Birds Singing, by Evie Wyld
  1. Book that Crushed my Soul: Haha, wow that’s dramatic…I guess The Shadow of the Wind, or maybe MaddAddam, because I was so sad that I’ve now finished the MaddAddam trilogy and can never read them for the first time again.
  1. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014? American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, there isn’t a lot of competition to Gaiman’s amazing, creative mind.
  1. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)Allegiant, by Veronica Roth. What a ridiculous/messy ending to an otherwise entertaining Young Adult series (and yes, here mad means I did not really like it).

I’m skipping the bloggish questions as I am not much of a blogger, despite constantly trying to kick-start my blogging ways, I never really get there, just dabble every now and again (with fun yearly sum ups like this).

Looking Ahead:

  1. One Book You Didn’t Get to In 2014 but Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015? Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness – I need to know what will happen in the final book of the Chaos Walking series.
  1. Book You Are Most Anticipating for 2015 (non-debut)? I have no idea, honestly, fill me in on details of books that are being released, I haven’t even looked into it yet. I have heard whispers about All the Rage, by Courtney Summers, I’ve never read anything by her, but it sounds really interesting.
  1. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy. I love family/character based novels.
  1. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015? This isn’t new in 2015, but I am looking forward to finishing the Chaos Walking Series, by Patrick Ness and the Demon Cycle Series, by Peter V. Brett.
  1. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015? Read, read, read.

Future Perfect #BlogJune

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Future PerfectI’ve been a little bit slack this month. I blame the fact that I’ve started a new job, and my days have been quite full learning lots of new things, the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is writing a blog post.

Today’s post is a bit of a brag/look how talented my friends are post. Over the past few months some of my friends have been working super hard at putting together a magazine (a paper magazine…crazy I know). Yesterday it was released and I have to say I am incredibly impressed. The writing is articulate, interesting and relevant, the design is beautiful. It is an incredibly interesting magazine, as I was flicking through it last night I was blown away by the fact that some of my friends put this magazine together…when did they become so talented ;) (I kid, I’ve always known that my friends are talented).

Sooo if you want an interesting read, if you’re interested in global affairs, opinion, interviews, reviews, photospreads and more I could not recommend Future Perfect more.

If you’re in Australia you can check out their website for stockists, or you can order online: http://www.futureperfect.today/ 

Seriously, check it out, it’s a beautiful magazine.

Cooking Adventures #blogjune

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It’s Friday so this post is going to be short, I’m tired and ready to chill out.
I think I’ve mentioned before my love of cooking, so I thought I would share a picture of a delicious (if I do say so myself) meal I cooked up on Monday night. It’s based off a Jamie 15min meal recipe.
I know here in Australia Jamie isn’t the most popular person at the moment – mainly due to his over promotion in a Woolworths campaign, and the overcharging of our farmers for their produce – but he knows how to come up with an excellent recipe.
Despite taking me longer than 15min (they always do) this is a fun recipe to make, full of vibrant flavours and fresh food. Say what you will about Jamie, he knows how to make cooking enjoyable.

Writing, writing, writing #blogjune

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tumblr_static_writing450I’ve had a few conversations with colleagues over the past few days about writing. Particularly based around authors we love, and the fact that a few of them have released books on writing. A few of my colleagues love On Writing by Stephen King. I personally have never read it, but it does sound great. I actually love the idea of successful authors encouraging others to write. One of the main reasons I tried to give writing a go when I was younger because my favourite author, John Marsden, released a book on writing, I would keep a journal every day, because it was one of the tips he gave.

I may be risking this blog becoming a Neil Gaiman fanfest, but Gaiman is also an author that is excellent at encouraging his fans to write, he has a tumblr blog that is full of his answers to fans on their many questions on how to become a writer, how do you stick at writing, how do you get ideas for writing, etc. etc.

So why am I bringing all of this up? Truthfully I’m not 100% sure, my brain is so tired, and I honestly just began to write, because this year #blogjune has been hard for me, and I’ve lacked a lot of motivation and creativity, buuut one of the main things that many authors say when they are asked about writing is to just do it, begin with whatever comes into your mind, just to get the flow happening, even if you don’t use any of it at the end of the day…I however am going to use it, seeing as this is simply my blog of rambling I am happy to use whatever comes out of my tired brain (whether this is a good or bad idea is completely up to you).

Either way, I love that so many authors love their field and encourage others to get into it. I think writing (whether creatively or not) is such an important skill, and one that is often forgotten about in this day and age. So thanks to #blogjune for forcing me to do one of my favourite past times, even if I don’t love it every day, and thanks to all those amazing authors out there that continue to encourage their fans to dive right into their art.

A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving #blogjune

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Water_for_elephantsHmmm…this is a difficult one…it may be because I have been up since 4:45am, and my brain just isn’t used to that…or it may be because I have read waaaay too many books to possibly come up with an answer…thank goodness for Goodreads!

I only started using Goodreads about two years ago but I am so thankful I did. I enjoy the social aspect of it, but that’s not the main reason I use it (many people were turned off when Amazon purchased the site), the main reason I use Goodreads is to track the books I read, and my initial thoughts of these books. Although to some, I don’t read a large amount of books each year, for me it is too hard to remember all of them, and to remember my initial thoughts, so I will forever be thankful for the “Read” shelf on Goodreads.

Browsing through the books I have read over the past few years I’d say “Water for Elephants” is a book that jumps out to me as one I wasn’t too excited about reading. In fact, I honestly couldn’t tell you why I decided to not only read it, but purchase from The Strand bookstore in New York (incidentally one of my favourite bookstores I have had the pleasure of visiting). I was late to the Water for Elephants train (geddit train*) and had only heard of it because of the movie. I have to admit I have not seen the movie, because the shorts made it look laaaaame (I’m sorry if it’s not…perhaps I should give it a go). I am not a huuuge lover of chick flicks, they have to be pretty good for me to enjoy, and this movie looked like the biggest chick flick of them all, the fact that it also starred Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson wasn’t really helping it’s cause, so my mind was made up about the book from the movie short…WHEN WILL I LEARN…don’t judge a book by its movie…or its movie short…so for reasons unknown I bought and read the book, and you know what, I loved it!

I really did enjoy reading it. It’s a simple read, the writing could have been a bit stronger, but it was a great story, quite sad at times, with humour thrown in there. It was such a great story that pulled me in from the prologue. I couldn’t stop reading it. A lot of the side characters made this book (including the elephant). I was satisfied by the ending (often not the way with “sadder” novels), and I actually really enjoyed reading the Author’s Note about the history of circuses, it made me want to research more about old time circuses as well.

So there you have it, lesson learnt, don’t ever judge a book by it’s movie trailer…as I often rant about, books are so often done a disservice by their movies, now I just need to remember my own opinions!

*A pun that hopefully any Water for Elephant readers will get

Most Over-rated Book #blogjune

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220px-Rye_catcherFor the next part of my book meme I am asked to discuss, in my opinion, the most over-rated book. I have to admit, a few classics ran through my mind when I saw this day…In fact, I was surprised at how many books did run through my mind. I think classics, in particular have the tendency to become over-rated. They are put on a pedistool, they are continually discussed, they always come up in “100 books to read before you die lists” and everyone expects them to be amazing. However. they are still subjective, just because 50 people love one book and decide to rate it as a “classic” doesn’t mean the next 50 people will enjoy it.

Always an interesting thing to consider…the whole “what makes a classic”. I have never been a huge fan of the ‘title’ of classic, although obviously if a book has stood the test of time it definitely needs to be recognised, I guess what really bugs me is when people are shocked and horrified if you haven’t read a certain book, or if you did read the book and didn’t enjoy it. Just because a book has the title of “classic” doesn’t mean all tastes will be removed and everyone will read it and love it.

For me, there is one book/classic that stands out above the rest, and that has to be “The Catcher in the Rye”. I know many people that will *gasp* at what I just stated, but I actually hated this book. I hated the main character, his constant whining grated me like no other character I had ever read. Perhaps there are some other redeeming qualities to the book, but my hatred for Holden Caulfield over-ran any other redeeming qualities. I know he is constantly deemed as an icon of teen rebellion, but seriously, stop whining and get your act together!

Have I completely missed the point? Have I made any-one mad by my hate for Caulfied/the book? Let me know what you think.

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Sinking Friendships – Jonsi #blogjune

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This song will always, always have a special place in my heart. On the 24th of August 2013 at 3pm I walked down to the isle to marry my bestfriend with this song playing.
Whenever I hear it I am automatically taken back to the moment I walked out of the doors, down the isle with only B in my sight. What an amazing day, and what a wonderful journey we began that day.

Day 07 – An underrated book #blogjune

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Knife_of_Never_letting_Go_coverFor the 12th day of Blog June I’ve decided to get back into my book meme and dicuss an underrated book.

Young Adult dystopian fiction is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine (actually scrap guilty, I don’t feel guilty at all about my enjoyment). Many people have heard of Patrick Ness and his Chaos Walking series, particularly the first ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’, but when you compare this series with other young adult dystopian series such as ‘The Hunger Games’ and Divergent there is a lot less interest. I had heard of Patrick Ness but for his book “More Than This” which was released last year. I stumbled across The Knife of Never Letting Go by accident, trolling a Lifeline bookfair earlier this year I took notice of the cover, saw that it was by Patrick Ness and thought “why not, I’ll give this book ago”. I was certainly glad of this 2 second decision.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is an excellent Young Adult dystopian novel. While the main character, Todd Hewitt, can be annoying at times (when I think about it most main characters in YA dystopian are) one of the main things I loved about this book is that it is set in a much different dystopian world then many we see these days. The world is ‘backwards’ in a lot of ways, lots of agriculture, and very little technology – although there are people who arrive by spaceships, and alien-like creatures to remind us that this is a dystopian fiction. I couldn’t put this book down, I got sucked into the story line, Ness develops a fast-paced story that keeps you intrigued the whole time, he provides strong male and female characters and even includes an amazing side-kick through a dog called Manchee.

While I really enjoy series such as ‘The Hunger Games’ and the Divergent Series, I feel The Knife of Never Letting Go is underrated as Ness brings something different to dystopian fiction. He is an extremley creative writer, and although the Chaos Walking series is popular, I think it deserves more, I want to hear people still talking about it. If you enjoy YA dystopian I highly recommend this book/series.

What do you guys think? Am I way off here? Have you read the series? What did you think?

New…and old? Beginnings #blogjune

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Stock images always make me laugh.

Stock images always make me laugh.

Yesterday seemed to fly past too quickly, and the opportunity to keep up with Blog June once again went by…never mind, here I am today, still trying to keep up.

Yesterday was my first day at an old work place. After a year and a half in another job, I was given the opportunity to return to the univeristy library I began my career in, and I jumped at the chance. Yesterday was my first day back and I have to say it was quite a nice experience. I have touched on the fact that I was feeling fairly isolated at my newer job and it was wonderful walking into a fairly large university library, full of staff members greeting me, and interested to hear what had been happening in my life. In fact that was one of the things that really stuck out to me yesterday, despite the fact that most staff members sit down and work incredibly hard they are also interested in each others lives, there is a want to hear about people’s plans, what they’ve been up to, genuine concern of an injured staff member, and jokes happening throughout the day, and for me this was refreshing.

This made me realise the type of workplace I want to be in. I believe I am a hard worker, and when things need to be done I will plug my music in and get things done. However, I am also someone who loves people, I like to know what is going on in my colleagues lives and how they are progressing with different problems and situations that may have arisen. I think a close, friendly, working relationship is important for workplace morale, and one that may sometimes be ignored.

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