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Bookend Review 2014

Bookend Review 2014

So it turns out that student teaching kept me plenty busy, but not so busy that I couldn’t read around 25 books while doing it. I applied for jobs…didn’t get jobs. So my fall was spent subbing, which means lots of reading time, especially in high school classes where I don’t have to repeat myself tons of times. As such I was able to read a total of 101 books in 2014, I probably could have squeezed another in there but I decided to just relax, plus I got sick and have issues concentrating on things when I’m sick.

My goal for next year is going to be 150 books. I plan to read more manga, which some consider books and others don’t. As long as it’s over 100 pages, I count it. Onto the books and reviews!

Start: 1/1/14

End: 12/18/14

1.       The Fault in Our Stars – John Green – 4 stars – I'm glad I gave John Green another shot after reading "Will Grayson, Will Grayson", that book did nothing for me but this was just the opposite. I liked all the characters, though I liked Augustus the most. Of course the exception was the author of the book within the story, he was just an asshole. I was actually surprised by the end of the book.

2.       My Name is Rapunzel – K.C. Hilton – 5 stars – This was an extremely refreshing take on the tale of Rapunzel and I quite enjoyed it.

3.       This Side of Forever – C. Marie Mosley – 2 stars – I think...I must have missed something about this book. It started off okay but the moment Jeremiah returned things just went downhill. The chemistry just wasn't there for me and the whole deal with the parents...that was just weird.

4.       Under the Mercy Trees – Heather Newton – 3 stars – Normally I wouldn't breeze right through a book that bored me as much as this one did...but there was something about the characters and their connections that propelled me forward.

5.       The Promise of Stardust – Priscille Sibley – 5 stars – When I first saw this title about a month ago on the Goodreads end of the year book awards I was not expecting what this book is actually about. The title caught my attention and when I read the summary I debated on whether or not I wanted to read it. I lost my own mother eight months ago, she had been on life support for about two weeks before a brain anyerism changed everything. Now, there was no chance of her being pregnant, but even knowing that she never wanted to live on support it was still the hardest thing I've ever had to do when my Dad looked at me and I slowly nodded.

I could not imagine being in Matt's position. I connected to his grief, his doubt and his love. This book was fantastic and as promised handled the issues presented with compassion. It was beautifully written and I look forward to seeing if Sibley publishes anything else in the future.

6.       Allegiant – Veronica Roth – 4 stars – I liked this continuation, though his trust was a bit misguided I really liked seeing Tobais' doubt. It really gave his character something I felt he had been missing. Up to about 80% through this book I would've given it 5 stars but then I got to the final stretch and while I did like it, you can't always have your fairy tale ending, there was just something that about it.

7.       The Longest Ride – Nicholas Sparks – 4 stars - I loved both stories told in this book. Both were so sweet and...real. I was very curious to see how they were going to connect because they seemed to take place at two different times. I was pleased by how it all worked out.

8.       Sex & Violence – Carrie Mesrobian – 5 stars - This was truly an amazing book. The author captured the teenage male voice spectacuarly. I loved that even though Evan was a dick for the majority of the book...I still liked him.

9.       We Two: Victoria & Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals – Gillian Gill – 4 stars - Aside from the extremely long names that were hard to pronounce, and extremely common at the time, that I will never remember...I found this to be an extremely interesting and enjoyable read.

10.   Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker – Jennifer Chiaverini – 4 stars - An excellent historical fiction. I really enjoyed following the events of the Lincoln White House through the eyes of another, certainly gave an interesting take on everything.

11.   Orphan Train – Christina Baker Kline – 5 stars - A terrific, historical read. It didn't end the way I expected, it was better.

12.   The Tudor Secret – C.W. Gortner – 4 stars - A very intriguing 'what if' twist on history. I quite enjoyed it.

13.   The Shadowhunter’s Codex – Cassandra Clare – 4 stars - Very interesting, much better than the essay anthology. I really liked the comments added by the characters; most of it was very funny. I LOVED seeing all of the artwork by Cassandra Jean, she is so talented.

14.   The Course of True Love (and First Dates) – Cassandra Clare – 5 stars - This was everything I had been waiting months for. It gives us a tiny little bit more insight into Alec's character and I LOVE him. No first date was more perfect than this.

15.   Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys – 4 stars - I didn't expect to like this book, it's not something I would normally pick up. But, when the book club picked it and then I saw the cover, I had to read it. I was absolutely captivated. Page after page, chapter after chapter, I found myself unable to put it down. I was captured by Lina's story, felt her heartbreaking. This book was written beautifully.

16.   Crash & Burn – Michael Hassan – 4 stars - If I didn't hate Steven's character so much I would have definitely given this five stars. However...even though I hated Steven's character, he was perfect. Steven was everything I imagine his type of character to be. I didn't expect to get so into this book but by the time I got to the events with the cabin I was hooked.

17.   Lucky Day – Barry Lyga – 4 stars - A very good novella. I liked the insight into Billy's capture though how G. William made a couple of the connections escaped me. The human mind is certainly amazing.

18.   Boarded Window – Isaac Marion – 4 stars - This was so short but strangely poetic... it really left me wanting more.

19.   The New Hunger – Isaac Marion – 4 stars - I loved it and yet I was expecting more. This honestly left me with more questions than answers.

20.   The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown – 2 stars - I was definitely expecting something different when I started reading this book but the format did not deter me, even if I found it somewhat boring. My biggest problem with this book was the author's insistence of Anne's innocence. There are certainly multiple views on whether or not Anne was innocent, I myself, believe her to be innocent of the crimes she was accused but not necessarily innocent. I found it amusing after reading "poor Anne" more than once and all the defending the author did of her character, that at the end the author claimed she did not think of Anne as a blameless person. I did appreciate the looks into what other historians have written and thought on the subject.

21.   The Wizard Heir – Cinda Williams Chima – 4 stars - I liked Seph a lot better than Jack, which made reading this book a lot easier than its predecessor. This story and the events were certainly intriguing. I look forward to reading the sequel.

22.   Tiger Lily – Jodi Lynn Anderson – 4 stars - A very interesting take on the adventures in Neverland. There were aspects that I really enjoyed...and others I didn't. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who ever wanted to go to Neverland.

23.   Boyfriends with Girlfriends – Alex Sanchez – 2 stars - This was certainly not Sanchez's best. While I enjoyed each of the characters, I felt that some of their actions were a bit contrived and exaggerated. This fact made me want to rush to get to the end, which I don't feel like is a good thing.

24.   Home Front – Kristin Hannah – 5 stars - Kristin Hannah stunned me with the amount of emotion and compassion she packs into just a few chapters. I enjoyed this story, I truly felt like a person in Jolene's family dealing with the feelings of hurt and rejection when she returned from war. I loved the added, heartbreaking, story of Keith and how it started to help Jolene. Jolene's loss touched me, just the way Hannah's Firefly Lane and Fly Away touched me. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone.

25.   The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory – 2 stars - I am so glad to be finished with this dreadful book. I was so bored until around the time Mary married William that I'm amazed I had the will to even finish it. I hated the way the author chose to portray all the characters, especially Anne and George. I know that this is "historical fiction" but I would think that if one were going to use certain elements then they would at least want to get those right. I doubt I will read anything by Gregory again.

26.   City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare – 5 stars - An excellent end to the series. I loved how the characters grew over the course of the series, especially Simon and Alec. I also enjoyed how the characters from The Infernal Devices played a part. I look forward to the next series and a new set of Shadowhunters to get to know.

27.   Demon Eyes – Scott Tracey – 3 stars - I kept getting distracted while reading this one... I'm not sure why. I was finally getting into it around the last couple of chapters and then it lost me completely. I guess if there's another I'll have to read it just to figure it out.

28.   The Ambassador’s Daughter – Pam Jenoff – 3 stars - I loved this story, wasn't so crazy about Margot's character. I think I disliked her so much is because I am so far removed from the time when women had no real choice in their marriages and such. I just felt she should have taken a stand sooner instead of being so indecisive. But the writing was wonderful, there was honestly something magical about it. Maybe that's the effect of Paris.

29.   Third Stike – Heather Brewer – 4 stars - I need to know what happens next to Joss and Vlad. Urgh, I was expecting more of a completed feeling but I love this too. I'm really happy with how "For Cecile" turned out.

30.   Sinner – Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars - I loved Cole when he was introduced in the Shiver trilogy, he was just one of those characters that broke your heart without trying. In this book he continues to do that, he tries so hard to be good...I found myself repeating a saying from one of my favorite childhood movies "let no bad happen". The ending had me smiling to big, I think I may be in love with Leon.

31.   The Kommandant’s Girl – Pam Jenoff – 4 stars – I liked this one much more than The Ambassador’s Daughter. Emma/Anna were much more likable than Margot to me. I was a little sad with how things ended but things could never work out the way I would have wanted.

32.   The Diplomat’s Wife – Pam Jenoff – 4 stars - I didn't like Marta much in the previous book but over the course of her story in this one, she really grew on me. There were certainly some plot twists in this one that I didn't see coming.

33.   The Dragon Heir – Cinda Williams Chima – 4 stars -   It took me a bit to get into this one. I think it's because I never completely connected with Madison's character in the previous book. But, she certainly grew on me over the course of this one. I honestly wanted more people to die, I mean sure a lot did...but we didn't really know their names. I look forward to seeing what the next book brings.

34.   For All Time – Jude Deveraux – 5 stars - I loved Toby and Graydon and their story. I caught myself chuckling a few times, which always means I'm enjoying myself. I loved Toby's character; she reminds me a lot of myself. The bit of the twist at the end made me grin with glee.

35.   The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater – 3 stars - Well, this one didn't have that point that I'm so used to in Stiefvater's books where I just HAVE to finish it. But the premise was interesting enough I wanted to. I liked it enough to be intrigued about the second book. I'm curious about some writing choices that Stiefvater made, maybe I'll get lucky and she'll answer me on Tumblr. (P/S: She did, turns out I had a UK copy…that explains a lot).

36.   Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident – Donnie Eichar – 5 stars - I'm always surprised when a non-fiction book captures my interest the way this one did. I was intrigued from the first page and could barely put it down. I wish there were a definitive answer of what happened but the final theory is a lot more believable than others that were presented throughout the book. I truly appreciate the detail that the author put into the various theories.

37.   Four – Veronica Roth – 4 stars - I like Four's voice more than Tris'. I liked seeing his beginnings and what led him to be the way he is.

38.   Black Butler Vol. 1 – Yana Toboso – 5 stars - After seeing the anime, I'm curious to see what the differences between it and the manga will be. I certainly enjoyed this first volume.

39.   Black Butler Vol. 2 – Yana Toboso – 5 stars – Interesting twist on the mystery of Jack the Ripper.

40.   Black Butler Vol. 3 – Yana Toboso – 5 stars – Ohhh myyy Gryell… you will make me laugh a lot more I think.

41.   Secrets – Jude Deveraux – 4 stars - This was an interesting plot but I found some of the characters actions annoying.

42.   Sundays at Tiffany’s – James Patterson – 2 stars - I have really enjoyed all of James Patterson's "softer" books...until this one. The first part was good but it quickly went downhill from there. As we proceeded into part two and onward, over and over I listened to Vivienne being described as a *itch, Hugh as a dick and Michael as nothing but wonderful. I thought I had gotten a disc of Twilight by mistake. In the end, Jane was mysteriously sick and then not, someone dies and someone else comes close. What happened Mr. Patterson? Did you forget your plot points? This plot had real promise and then...I don't know what happened.

43.   Dream Boy – Mary Crockett – 3 stars - I really wanted to like this story more. The cover was beautiful and what initially caught my attention. But the story...I don't know, it was missing...something for me. I feel like the ending was a bit incomplete.

44.   Distant Shores – Kristin Hannah – 4 stars - I was expecting this to be worse than it was based on some of the reviews/ratings I had seen, including my best friends. But I was pleasantly surprised. At first I could see where some found Jack to be selfish but as I continued reading the book kept reiterating how young Jack and Birdie had married...and I realized that neither of them had truly had a chance to grow up. By the end of the novel both had had a chance to grow and come into themselves in a way they hadn't before. I think that made them better characters.

45.   Black Butler Vol. 4 – Yana Toboso – 5 stars - Prince Soma is my favorite. I love all these characters.

46.   Blood of my Blood – Barry Lyga – 5 stars - The perfect ending to a really awesome series. There were so many twists and turns with this book. I certainly didn't expect what I consider to be the biggest one. Excellent, just excellent.

47.   Black Butler Vol. 5 – Yana Toboso – 5 stars - So different from the anime! I love it! And now off to the circus!

48.   The False Prince – Jennifer A. Nielson – 4 stars - Although I felt, at first, that the writing was below the level that I usually enjoy, I quickly became lost in this story. I had my suspicions long before the truth was revealed but I enjoyed how everything played out. I can't wait to get the sequel and find out what happens next.

49.   Loud Awake and Lost – Adele Griffin – 4 stars - I never got really into Ember's character, though the last couple of chapters were heartbreaking. I definitely felt everything Ember was going through, that part was handled very well.

Continued in Pt. 2...
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