Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

In no particular order, the top ten books I have read in 2013. I am excited to keep reading, it seems the more I find and enjoy, the more I discover. There are some seriously talented writers out there.

2013 End of the Year Book Survey

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)
This is obviously really hard to pick – but I am going to pick The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I really loved Stardust and was expecting a story at the caliber, but it was odd and I still don’t feel like I know what was going on

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 
World War Z by Max Brooks. I listened to this one as an audio book, it was epic. The storyline was amazing and loved the historical interviews on before and after the zombie apocalypse.  It is too bad the movie was better, I wish it followed the book more, but I know that would be hard to do.

 4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
Divergent by Veronica Roth. I love, love, love this book and am so excited to see the movie. I actually forced my husband to read it. SO good.

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
Enclave – Razorland series by Ann Aguirre. I am reading the last one now and am glad I started the series, it is interesting and something completely different in the dystopian genre.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
Jenny Lawson – Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. This blogger is hilarious, I was laughing with tears during the entire book, SO good.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Orphan Train by Christine Baker Kline. It was something I would not have picked up by myself but it was a book club choice and I actually really liked it

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
Allegiant by Veronica Roth. The Divergent series is my favorite and I had Allegiant on my calendar for a long time.

 9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Fragments by Dan Wells. I am probably going to re-read the whole series in preparation for the next book

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 
Cokie from Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
The Promise of Stardust by Priscilla Sibley

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 
I would have to go back to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 
The Great Gatsy by F Scott Fitzgerald

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
From The Fault in our Stars (image by Anna Castro)

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest– Giver by Lois Lowry – 179 pages (re-read)
Longest — Fragments by Dan Wells – 564 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. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
The ending of Champion by Marie Lu. I do not have any friends who have read the series and I am busting at the seams to see what someone else thought

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Sutter and Amy from The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp – I know that it doesn’t end well but they really learned from each other and brought out the best in each other in ways that were not recognizable at first.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You've Read Previously
Champion by Marie Lu

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Enclave by Ann Aguirre

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
Dystopian Young Adult

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
Anden from Champion by Marie Lu.

23. Best 2013 debut you read?
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
Enclave by Ann Aguirre.

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick – crazy odd but a good time

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee. I found this audio book at the library and it was a sweet little book. I was glad that I picked it up without knowing anything about it

1. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?
Ashfall by Mike Mullin

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?
Ruins by Dan Wells

3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – looks interesting

4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?
Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi and Ruin by Dan Wells – lol, guess my mind is set for 2014

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?
I am really enjoying this blog and want to continue writing, gaining readers and finding new blog friends. I love reading so much and sometimes wish I went into publishing. Life is boring sometimes, or at least less of an adventure, and books are such an amazing outlet. I hope to share my love of books through my blog.

Week Recap - Holly, Jolly Christmas

It is crazy to think that this week was Christmas, it seems like it has been so long ago. I guess time flew this week. I had Monday through Wednesday off from work and took advantage of my free time. Monday I went out to lunch with a friend, some downtown shopping and worked on my hardest quilt to date. 

Then Christmas came with a fun surprise and the coolest Christmas present ever, a new nephew. Joel Oren was born at 11:39am on Christmas morning. My sister had a long labor, so she was pretty glad when Joel was out and ready to meet the family. Now I just have to wait 4 weeks before I can fly out to Montana to meet Joel in person.

I also learned how to make zippered bags and to knit! I bet you can see why I can't believe Christmas was this week. I have been busy!

 And with the approaching New Year, there are a lot of blog posts and Goodreads lists of the best books of 2013, so I have a TON of new books added to my to-read list! I wish I had more time in the day for reading, there are going to be a lot of late nights in my future!

Cinder - epic fairly tale read

I just finished reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I seriously LOVED it. I stayed up late last night, work up in the middle of the night, early again in the morning and finished it now, right before lunch. 

I actually started this book a few months ago and didn't get past the first few pages, just not in the mood. I read a few reviews and decided to get back into it again.

Cinder is a modern Cinderella story. Cinder is a cyborg who is held be her legal guardian and two step sisters. The prince of New Beijing hears about her mechanical work and brings his android in to be fixed. 

The world has changed a bit after World War IV and there is now a colonization living on the Moon. There is also a plague going through the earthen human race.

Cinder quickly finds herself in the hands of the palace and right in the middle of the quest to find the cure. She also finds out there is a lot more to her history, even more than the small part she can actually remember. She also find runs into the prince again and gets a personal invite to be his date at the ball, an invite she has a million reasons to deny. Cinder is in the middle of worldwide conflict and has to take steps of faith. 

I was really sad when the book ended, but happy that I waited long enough to start the Lunar Chronicles series that the second book in the series is already out. Scarlet is the second book and it brings in a new character, Little Red Riding book. I love the new fairy tale twist. I should actually stop writing this blog entry and get reading! 

Add it to Goodreads

Warehouse 13 - my favorite TV show EVER!

I have to share my favorite show on tv with you. I love TV and watch way too much, get emotionally involved and am a frequent binge-watcher. I realize I have issues, but you need to have the same issues, because Warehouse 13 is so awesome and you must watch.

So - here the premise (from Wikipedia)
The series follows U.S. Secret Service Agents Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) and Pete Lattimer (Eddie McClintock) when they are assigned to the secretive Warehouse 13 for supernatural artifacts.[7][16][17][18] It is located in a barren landscape in South Dakota, and they initially regard the assignment as punishment. As they go about their assignments to retrieve missing artifacts and investigate reports of new ones, they come to understand the importance of what they are doing.[7][18] In Season 1, Episode 5, they meet Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti), who is searching for her missing brother; in Season 2, she joins the team as their technology expert. In Season 3, Episode 1, Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore), an Agent from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives comes aboard.

I love this show because of the crazy storylines. The Warehouse is super, super secret and has been around forever. In the Warehouse is awesome artifacts, like the disco ball from Studio 54, Lewis Carol's mirror from Alice in Wonderland, Pandora's box and other crazy historical items. The Secret Service agents go all around trying to find and bag these items because their powers are too crazy to have in the outside world. 

The best part is cross-over characters from Eureka come into the show, I loved Eureka so much too (also an amazing watch). Fargo is such a funny character and I always love when shows mix worlds. I am watching Warehouse 13 now for the third time and just wanted to make sure you get on the Warehouse train in time for the 5th and final season airing in 2014. 

And I cannot deny that I love Claudia's character so much. I love her attitude, clothing and even her hair. Not going to lie, I brought her picture in last year for a haircut. She is just so damn sassy! 

The ending of Razorland

I finished Horde by Ann Aguirre the other night, staying up late because I had to finish it. There was a "postcard" on Pinterest that explains my late night reading:

But anywho, the final book in the Razorland series was definitely the best. Although I am not too keen on all the battles, it was by far the most interesting. I loved getting to know the other members of Solider's Pond and seeing Deuce really come into who she was.

In Horde, Deuce decides that she needs to fight the Freaks to save mankind. They are getting smarter, evolving. She raises a group of soldiers who are willing to sacrifice themselves to fight to Horde. Deuce and the men who agree to fight with her travel from community to community gathering men and learning more about the Horde.

It was really interesting to read more about each town and how they were interacting with the Horde. She gained more information on how the Horde worked, as well as, their history and how they were evolving.

I actually really liked the ending, spoiler alert, it was fairly happy and poetic. Most of the dystopian fiction I have read lately have ended incomplete or with main characters dying. It was nice to end a series on a happier note, almost like an add post-apocalyptic fairy tale.

The Desolation of Smaug

On Christmas Eve my hubby and I went on a little holiday date. It just happened to be a blizzard, so not the best time to adventure out, but luckily by the time we got out of the theater, 3 hours later, it was no longer snowing.

We went to see The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug. I haven't read the book (eek! I know I shouldn't admit this when I review books all the time) but my husband is an avid fan and I always love a good movie.

The movie started off where the first one left off. I still think it is ridiculous that they stretched it out to three movies, but that is for another time. This movie, as the first, had great special effects. I I loved the scene where they were floating in barrels, but my husband informed me that this is not a big fight scene in the book. I laughed quite a bit when one of the characters was rolling over and bouncing in the barrel, killing Orcs on his way. I was the only one laughing in the theater, so I must have an odd sense of humor.

Adding Legolas, Tauriel and the elves did seem out of place with the story. When Legolas and Tauriel follow the dwarfs it seemed odd. The fight with the Orcs had nothing to do with the Elves, so I didn't understand why they were there. I even asked my husband if that was in the book because it seemed so odd.

The best part of the movie was Smaug, the animation was amazing. He looked so real, down to the smallest scale. His small movements were so well done, I was really impressed.

The movie was pretty good, but I am glad that I we only paid $5 to see it with a Tuesday special at the movie theater. Although, I am sure we will go to the third movie in the theater since we have seen the first two. I might actually pick up the book and read it, it would be nice to put the whole story together since I am hanging in suspense until next year.

NaNoWriMo - novel writing and advice

This year I successfully won NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

In October I started drafting an idea and researching my story. I wrote about Penny, who lived in the United States after it was decimated by chemical warfare. There were only a few other people in existence and the families were gathered into a city that was circled by the wall. Penny's parents grew up in the town and Penny is part of the second generation in the city.

The chemicals in the ground started to get citizens in the town super powers, such as super intelligence, flying, walking through walls and going invisible. Penny's town is lead by two men who exploit the Supers, making them into soldiers. Penny's brother is in the training camp and they find out just how badly the leaders are treating the Supers.

Penny and her father are working to create a serum that removes the gene from Supers, allowing them to live life without the fear of being put into the training camp. Penny also meets a boy, Austin, who ends up being close to one of the leaders and has some tough choices to make.

I have started NaNoWriMo before, but barely started and only a few thousand words before I gave up. This time I stuck to it and had a few friends that were also writing. I took my Ipad and keyboard with me where ever I went and even would write on my phone when waiting for appointments or with downtime. My husband was amazing and let me sit every night, bundled up on the couch writing.

I learned some valuable lessons during the month and I thought I would share for those aspiring writers or someone who just wants cross of a bucket list item:

Turn off your self-critic - it was so hard to write sometimes because I hated what I was writing. I had to keep trucking along to get the daily word quota done, but it was hard. I finally just had to start enjoying what I was writing, getting into the story and just letting it flow.

Back-up a million times - I used multiple programs to write since I do not have Word on my Ipad. I just found out the hard way that without an internet connection, Evernote and Google Drive are unpredictable and you can lose your work easily. I still have yet to find the perfect program, but something that saves constantly, like the IPad Note app might be your best bet. I lost thousands of words a couple times and it was devastating.

Write without distraction - I tried to write with the TV on and it was not the best idea. I was easily distracted and it would take hours to get through 1600 words, but when I would write with only music or at a coffee shop I could get a lot more work done.

Reward yourself - share every milestone, it was amazing how many friends and co-workers were excited with my progress. Share your word counts, page numbers and reward yourself with the encouragement your friends and family give you.

Read the pep-talks - with NaNoWriMo they had pep talks sent to your mailbox all the time. It was awesome to get encouragement and words of advice from popular writers. It made you feel special and gave you advice to get through those trying periods.

Get connected - I found a Facebook page for NaNoWriMo writers in Fargo/Moorhead and the NaNoWriMo website also has regions so you can find writing groups and get together with others to write. I wasn't able to go to any of the write-ins but it was nice to have resources there if I needed extra encouragement or help.

Keep writing - I started this blog to keep writing and to share my love for books. I have to be honest that I have not finished my book yet, I am close and just trying to get back my momentum for writing. It was a lot easier when I knew I was doing with 300,000 people. I really want to finish so that I can officially say I wrote a novel and I want to keep writing.

I started a Pinterest board with writing prompts and am going to try to do at least one a week. Some I will share here and some I will use to just keep up my craft. The more I write the better it becomes. I also would really like to take some writing classes.

So I totally encourage you to do NaNoWriMo next November! You have almost a full year to prepare - so start thinking of ideas! I will also share the writing prompts I found if you need some ideas!

Books I Hope Santa Brings

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is all about Christmas! These are 10 books I hope Santa drops off tonight, just in time for Christmas day!

 1. Ashfall by Mike Mullin - I actually just found this one yesterday when I was browsing a cute little store in downtown Fargo. It looks totally up my alley - dystopian young adult fiction
2. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell - I have heard so many amazing things about this book, I really need to read it soon 

3. Harry Potter Box Set - I love Harry Potter but don't have all the book in hardcover, this one is one book I love so much I would love to preserve it forever

4. Hunger Games Chocolate Book - This one really isn't a book, but it is fun and candy! 

5. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh - I have heard amazing things about Allie and this book. It is definitely one that needs to be in paperback form instead of an e-book

6. John Green Box Set - I loved The Fault in the Stars and enjoyed Looking for Alaska, so I thought it would be fun to read all his books

 7. With all the hype over Saving Mr. Banks it really made me think I should really all the Mary Poppins books to get the real story
8. Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine - I also just found this book a couple days ago and it sounds pretty awesome. A girl loved Treasure Island so much she is obsessed with it. I can totally relate being wrapped up in a book.

9. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - This is another one of those dorky, totally young adult books that I just have to read. Make fun if you will, but I am sure I will enjoy it.

10. Book Lust by Nancy Pearl - I heard about this book on NPR a couple weeks ago and it sounds awesome, plus I can totally relate to the title. I love books so much I want to read constantly and have anxiety that I will not have enough time to ready everything on my list (now up to 314).

Week Recap

This week went so quickly. I can barely believe that next week is Christmas - I only had a few presents before this Monday, so I was shopping all week. We had our Christmas gathering at work, going to the Longhorn for a lunch feast and then a present exchange. Plus some amazing presents from my co-workers, I came home with gift cards to Caribou, Starbucks, Panera, Happy Harry's, foaming hand soap and a candle -felt pretty loved.

We are celebrating Christmas with my in-laws and opened gifts this morning. My in-laws got me a pair of boarding snow pants, a sweater and a scarf. My husband spoiled me with new diamond earrings and a sweatshirt from our favorite restaurant JL Beers. I kept the other presents to open on Christmas so we can make our holiday last for a while.

We took the in-laws a hibachi grill for the first time. They loved it! Sometimes we have to force them out of their comfort zone but it was worth it

I added quite a few books to my reading list this week, lots from new bloggers I started following and Entertainment Weekly, check them out:

10 New-To-Me Authors

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013

I read a lot of new books from new authors this year, through the amazing internet, friends and the Goodreads website. So, in no particular order new-to-me authors I read in 2013:

Ann Aguirre - I am current reading the Razorland series and enjoying it

Emily McKay - I read the first book in her series The Farm, I wasn't in love with the book but her writing was easy to read

Margaret Stohl - I started to read Icons and I really could not get through it, it was slow and the writing lacked dimension

John Green - I found both Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars this year. Fault has become one of my favorite books and I was so attached to John's writing I could barely put the book down

 Alex Flinn - Another book I grabbed because of the interesting cover, it was another quick read and was fairly entertaining
 Cat Patrick - This was another one I just grabbed off the shelf at the library. It was a great, easy summer read. I finished the whole book in a few hours while my toes soaked into the shoreline
Ruta Sepetys - I grabbed this book at the library and loved it, Ruta did great work with bringing life in New Orleans to life, culture was evident throughout the book and the characters came to life
Tim Tharp - Since this one was coming out as a movie, I wanted to read the book first. I really liked the way Tim writes, he is down to earth and you could really feel his MC's emotions

Dan Wells - I love Dan's Partials series, I cannot wait until the third book comes out
Kiera Cass - Another series I really enjoyed, The Selection. Kiera has a great writing style and I really enjoyed the story she created