Sunday, March 1, 2015

Review: KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS by Aya Shouoto

kiss of the rose princess vol 1 cover

Anise Yamamoto's father has warned her that if she removes her rose choker, she'll be cursed by a terrible punishment, which is why she always wears it even in defiance of her school's dress code. But when the choker mysteriously disappears, Anise is suddenly confronted with four Rose Knights, who insist that she's their sovereign. Oh, and they happen to be the four hottest boys at school. Most girls would think this a dream come true, but Anise can't help but wonder if having to put up with these guys is her punishment.

It's been a while since I reviewed a manga, probably because it's been a while since I enjoyed one enough to finish it. Kiss of the Rose Princess is a very promising start to a series, with a great twist on a vampire romance storyline.

Essentially, the Rose Knights are vampires, in that they need to draw blood from Anise in order to wield their powers. At least one of them isn't human, although I'm not sure if that's true of all of them or not.

My favorite of the Rose Knights is Kaede Higa, who's more or less a regular teenage boy. He and Anise are friends... of a sort. If you consider their constant bickering a form of friendship (I love it when the hero and heroine fight in romance novels, by the way).

rose knights kiss of the rose princess


The other Rose Knights include Mitsuru Tenjo, the class president and most handsome and popular boy at school; Seiran Asagi, a gentle and sweet kid who has allergies (yup, roses... ironic); and Mutsuki Kurama, he of the non-humanness. He's also rumored to be an otaku, but I'm not exactly sure what that's supposed to mean in the context of this book. Whatever it is, it's not good.

Anyway, Kiss of the Rose Princess feels surprisingly modern, mainly because of Anise. She's very independent, good at sports, not interested in putting up with any of Kaede's crap, and quick on the uptake that more penises mean mo' problems. She's not some beautiful and passive princess type.

kiss of the rose princess anise


As for the artwork, I sometimes find graphic novels a little headache inducing, and there are times when the visual storytelling could flow better and be less confusing. But overall it wasn't too bad. I really liked the title pages.

Definitely a promising manga to keep an eye on! The second volume was only just published (in the US, anyway) and a third one is on the way in May, I believe, so it's early days yet, but I can see this series developing into something as addicting as Vampire Knight in future installments.



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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Five of My Auto-Buy Authors (TSS)

The other day Colette from A Buckeye Girl Reads mentioned that she couldn't think of more than three authors that are on her auto-buy list. In case the title's not self-explanatory, auto-buy authors are authors whose work she will automatically buy, no matter what the book's about.

This made me realize I don't have a bunch of authors on my auto-buy list now, either. I *used* to have dozens of auto-buy authors. I'd even visit their websites on a weekly basis so I could check to see when their next book was coming out. I would keep track of all the upcoming releases in a spreadsheet and stop by Barnes & Noble every Tuesday to pick up my new books (remember when new books were only and always released on a Tuesday? Why was that?). And if the book I was anticipating wasn't there, I was PISSED.

But now, like Colette, it takes some thinking for me to come up with my auto-buy authors. I definitely have them, but my buying habits have changed so much that I don't really keep track of them anymore. Instead of having to go looking for when their next book is coming out, they email/tweet/facebook me about it. Instead of making a special trip to the bookstore, now I can download their new book within seconds with one-click.

Also, the authors that are on my auto-buy list have changed dramatically. Most of the authors I used to keep track of have moved on to different genres I'm not that into (Christina Dodd, Lisa Kleypas), settled into a long-running series I have no interest in (Patricia Briggs, Gaelen Foley), or simply stopped writing.

However, there are definitely new (new to me anyway) authors whose books I will absolutely buy, even if they're priced outrageously. Here are my top five; who are some of your auto-buys?


laura florand

Laura Florand
Florand wrote several of my favorite reads in 2014. Even when I don't fall completely in love with one of her novels, I know that they're going to be romantic, emotional, and escapist stories with a fairy tale vibe. I simply love her books.

daniel silva


Daniel Silva
At this point I'm so invested in the Gabriel Allon series that's there's no question of me reading the latest book, which should be out in early July. Speaking of, I'm still waiting for Gabriel to take down ISIS.

lh cosway


LH Cosway
This is a perfect example of one book making me a fan of an author for life. I read Painted Faces several years ago, but Cosway didn't make it onto my auto-buy list until I read Still Life with Strings last year. I know with Cosway that I'm going to get unique characters and a non-formulaic story. I also love her writing style.

craig johnson


Craig Johnson
This is cheating somewhat, because I've actually never bought one of Johnson's books yet. I'm still trying to catch up on the series, and my mom owns all his books, so I just read those. But I definitely consider Johnson a must-read author and his Walt Longmire series is very much worth buying in hardcover.

bryan lee o'malley


Bryan Lee O'Malley
Even though I was a bit disappointed in Seconds, it was one of the few books that I pre-ordered in actual book form in 2014. Actually, scratch that–it was the ONLY book I pre-ordered, in ebook or paper. O'Malley won me over with his brilliant Lost at Sea and the crazy-fun Scott Pilgrim series. I will happily fork over whatever money I have for his next graphic novel. All he needs to do is write faster.

Bonus authors:
Rebecca Rogers Maher, Megan Whalen Turner, Dan Brown (yes I will read every book he puts out), Stephenie Meyer, and JK Rowling (of course).



So that's my top five. I'm surprised by how many men are on it! Used to be one in every one hundred books I read were by a man. I also find it interesting that two of the authors on this list self-publish. Obviously it's not just my buying habits but my reading habits that have changed in the last few years.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: THE SECRET OF PEMBROOKE PARK by Julie Klassen

pembrooke park

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley for the purposes of this review.

After a bad investment, the Fosters find themselves looking to downsize with a small home in the country. But they can't find a property that's both affordable and large enough for the entire family, until a lawyer appears offering them the lease of a large estate called Pembrooke Park ("With two o's"), for an amount they can't refuse. Yet questions surround the property, such as: Who is leasing it to them? Why was it abandoned twenty years ago? And are the rumors of murder and hidden treasure true?

I decided to read The Secret of Pembrooke Park for several reasons: one, I know a few people who love Julie Klassen's books, and I've been meaning to try them for a while. And two, it was pitched to me as inspired by Northanger Abbey. Because of that, I feel like The Secret of Pembrooke Park invites comparisons to Northanger Abbey; unfortunately it doesn't fare very favorably in that comparison. If you're looking for something fun and romantic along the lines of Northanger, you're going to be disappointed. Unfortunately, if you're looking for something along the lines of a traditional Gothic romance with Pembrooke, I feel like you're also going to be disappointed.

Although there are definitely parts of The Secret of Pembrooke Park that feel very Northanger Abbey-ish–specifically William Chapman, the handsome and charming (though of course not as charming as Henry Tilney; that would be impossible) local curate–The Secret of Pembrooke Park is fundamentally different in execution and tone from Northanger Abbey for the very fact that it takes itself about 200% more seriously than Northanger Abbey does. Northanger Abbey was a parody of the Gothic genre; Pembrooke Park is not. There's very little humor or self-awareness of how the story operates as a Gothic novel in these pages. There's a lot of Gothic-y stuff going on, definitely, but none of it really comes together. Just a few plot elements off the top of my head:


  • Creepy doll house with decapitated dolls lying around. Good start, but the doll thing is quickly abandoned and forgotten about.
  • Missing portrait of the mistress of the house.
  • Hidden treasure.
  • Pool of blood found on the night the family abandoned the mansion.
  • Secret room.
  • Stolen brooches?
  • Long-lost Pembrookes returning.
  • Unknown figure in a hooded green cloak wandering about. Is it the ghost of Clive Pembrooke?! Is Clive Pembrooke the guy who owned the house before the Fosters moved in, or was that the other Pembrooke everyone keeps talking about? And why do we care about that guy? Confusing.
  • Random journal entries mailed to Abigail for no apparent reason.
  • Coded messages.
  • A grumpy caretaker who clearly knows more than he's admitting.
  • A lazy and suspicious manservant.
  • A slutty sister bringing shame to the family name.
  • Lost heiresses.
  • Missing family bible.


It's a lot to take in. I wouldn't have minded if it was all to a purpose, but it felt more like Klassen was making it up as she went along, throwing a bunch "spooky" stuff out there in the hopes it would stick, without considering how to make the most of the strongest elements. Catherine's suspicion of General Tilney when she first arrived at Northanger Abbey was more chilling than all of the stuff in this book combined, and she made all of it up in her own head!

As for the love story, I was not into it. It's kind of hard to feel invested in a relationship arc when there are three men chasing after the heroine and, as far as I can tell, they are interchangeable to her. It was impossible to tell what Abigail's feelings for the guys were, beyond "a flutter of attraction." Whenever any of them came on to her, she just kind of stood there and passively accepted what they did to her, no matter who it was. I would have liked for her to demonstrate some feeling or personal preference, by perhaps throwing herself at William, but she never did. It was very frustrating.

In fact, as the book went on I grew more and more annoyed with Abigail in general. We're TOLD she's practical and knows her own mind, but her behavior doesn't really bear that out. Actually, her behavior doesn't bear much of anything out–I've encountered ghosts in literature with more personality. She's devoid of any goals or personal motivation, and feelings...? Hard to say. By the time I finished The Secret of Pembrooke Park, I found myself convinced a cup of weak tea would have been as interesting a heroine as Abigail.

I will say Klassen's writing style is charming, and that was enough to keep me engaged for the first half of the book. But no writing style is enough to make me overlook the last twenty percent of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, where instead of letting the numerous plot points that went nowhere just hang there, each and every single one is laboriously explained through an endless series of expositional monologues. I'd rather be left to wonder–and that's another frustrating thing about The Secret of Pembrooke Park. There are moments when a genuine mystery or something of interest pops up (William snooping on his tour of the house, for example), but these elements are either immediately revealed as harmless (William was just curious) or dropped in favor of something else. Klassen shines when writing about everyday society–balls, going to church, Abigail's sister's behavior in London–but when it comes to building a sense of mystery, not so much.

Basically, I enjoyed the first part of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, but by the end I was more than a little annoyed. If you would like to give the book a try yourself, however, there's a tour-wide giveaway! Three lucky winners will receive one trade paperback or eBook copy of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and one grand prize winner will receive one copy of all eight of Julie’s novels: Lady of Milkweed Manor, The Apothecary's Daughter, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Tutor’s Daughter, The Dancing Master, and The Secret of Pembrooke Park, one DVD of Northanger Abbey (2007 [love this production]) and a Jane Austen Action Figure.

secret of pembrooke park tour prizes


To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour starting February 16, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, March 9, 2015. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Julie Klassen’s website on March 16, 2015. Winners have until March 22, 2015 to claim their prize. The giveaway contest is open to residents of the US, UK, and Canada. Digital books will be sent through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Good luck to all!

And here's a list of the other blog stops. I'm sure most of these readers liked The Secret of Pembrooke Park better than I did, so don't hesitate to check out their reviews if you'd like some second opinions:




Thanks to Laurel Ann and Bethany House for inviting me to be part of the blog tour!



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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: QUEENPIN by Megan Abbott

queenpin megan abbott

On the surface, a young woman appears to be a good girl: going to school to be a secretary, not sleeping around, taking care of her dad. But on the inside, she craves danger, action, excitement. And when her dad gets her a job at a casino, the world of bookies, gangsters, liars, and gamblers pulls her in. Soon she catches the eye of Gloria Denton, a cash handler for the big boys. Gloria offers her everything a woman could ask for–a swank apartment in the ritzy part of town, fabulous clothes, jewelry, fancy dinners out, cocktails every night, and a job making the rounds of every casino and track in town. But is Gloria her fairy godmother, or her evil stepmother?

I've seen Queenpin around the blahgs a few times over the years and always wanted to read it, but it wasn't until I saw Jessica's post on neo-noir over at Book Riot that I decided to take the plunge. I'm so glad I did! Queenpin is not what I usually read at all–it's hard-core noir. No one in this book is a hero, everyone betrays everyone else, and there's no redemption for the main character. I don't think I've ever read a novel this dark and cynical of my own volition. But at the same time, Queenpin tells a completely gripping story with fantastic, gritty writing that totally sucked me in and invaded my dreams.

In a lot of ways Queenpin reminds me of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: our narrator is an unnamed, relatively innocent young girl who becomes fascinated, perhaps even obsessed, with a femme fatale who seems to represent everything a woman should be and everything she's not. "A woman of 36, dressed in black satin with a string of pearls," is how the heroine of Rebecca puts it, except I suspect Gloria is considerably older than 36.

In a few respects Gloria is a mother figure to the heroine, but really there's something more possessive and vaguely sexual about their relationship than a typical mother/daughter dynamic. When the heroine starts sleeping with Vic, a gambling addict, she acts more like a wife trying to hide her lover from her husband than a woman who's dating a guy her boss (or mom, for that matter) would find inappropriate. At one point Gloria tells her, "You're mine. Whoever put those marks on you might as well have put marks on me."

Which brings me to the major difference between Rebecca and Queenpin (aside from, you know, setting and genre and themes. Most things, really): there's no prince charming. Vic has all the charm of Maxim de Winter, but he's without a doubt a complete loser and a terrible person. Yet you can totally understand why the heroine goes for him–it's all about lust, and their scenes together are probably some of the hottest, yet-not-in-any-way-graphic scenes I've ever come across in a book. You can FEEL how they're using each other and it's compelling stuff. Sex, drugs, and rock n roll, baby. The heroine wants it all, and she wants it now, and that kind of greed fits perfectly into her relationship with Vic.

Obviously things do not end well for Vic and our nameless narrator. A gambling addict and a woman who collects gambling profits for gangsters? Yeah, that's a great combo. But the fact that he's the completely wrong person is part of his appeal to the narrator, too.

I'll be honest: as things went from bad to worse in Queenpin, the book started giving me nightmares. What happened to Vic in particular, even though he had it coming (everyone gets what was coming to them in this novel, and seeing as how they're all awful, it's nothing good), was just horrible horrible. Yet I think that speaks more to the intensity of the book than any gratuitous violence in it–I never once considered abandoning it. Like the heroine, I was hooked on the story and determined to follow the actions of these characters to their inevitable conclusion, no matter how bad it got.

Basically, Queenpin is REALLY good. If you want a noir novel with a feminine twist, you can't go wrong with this one. Raymond Chandler couldn't have written a better crime novel. I am definitely going to dig into more of Megan Abbott's noir fiction... although I may wait awhile for the aftereffects of Queenpin to wear off before I do.


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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Should You Get a Kindle Voyage?

kindle voyage shelfie

If you like tech stuff, and you like to read, chances are you have an ereader of some sort. Aside from my phone and iPad, I've had a Kindle Paperwhite for the last two years and loved it. However, this year Amazon came out with an improved ereader, the Kindle Voyage, that I super duper wanted and got for Christmas. Yay!

So, the question is: If you're thinking of replacing your older Kindle with the Kindle Voyage, or looking to get a dedicated ereading device (as opposed to just using your phone), is the Voyage worth it? I'm here to break it down for you!

Features


On the surface, the differences between the Kindle Voyage and Paperwhite seem minor:

  • There's no "ridge" between the frame and the screen
  • You can now set the backlight to auto-adjust
  • There are buttons on the side that can turn pages in addition to the touch screen
  • The screen itself is much "crisper" (300 ppi as opposed to the Paperwhite's 212, whatever that means)
  • And it's slightly smaller and noticeably lighter (6.4 x 4.5", versus the Paperwhite's 6.7 x 4.6")


In practice, however, these small changes on the Voyage make a big difference! I love having the buttons on the side in case I'm holding it with my left hand, and I like not having to think about adjusting the lighting every time I move from indoors to outdoors or a bright room to a darker room. The smooth surface of the screen makes it much easier to turn pages via the touch screen, the lightness of the Voyage means it's super easy to carry around, and Amazon has done a good job of nearly eliminating the "etch-a-sketch effect" that was a hallmark of the early Kindles and Nooks.

The browser–which you can use to buy or borrow books via Amazon–is also VASTLY improved from the Paperwhite's. It runs quickly and smoothly and makes for a better buying experience. With the Paperwhite I would put it down to download books over my phone before I'd use its built-in browser.

Covers


As I've mentioned before, covers are a BFD for me. I loved both the classic Kindle and Paperwhite's covers. LOVED them. For the Kindle Voyage, on the other hand... well, it's been a bit of a journey.

ACcase Smart Shell Kindle Voyage cover


The first cover I bought was the ACcase Smart Shell Case. The color was very pretty, but the surface was extremely slippery, and there was a slight gap between the front of the cover and the Kindle. However, once I started reading with the cover flipped back, the slipperiness wasn't a problem and I liked the feel of it in my hands.

flintie protective leather cover for kindle voyage


However, I was somewhat unsatisfied and pretty sure there HAD to be a better cover out there. Which is why I decided to purchase another cover, the Flintie Protective Leather Cover. This one was not slippery. Yay! However, it felt cheap and dinky, and there was a much more significant gap between the cover on this one and the screen of the Kindle than there was with the ACcase cover. I DON'T LIKE GAPS. I used this cover for about an hour before switching back to the first one.

origami kindle voyage cover
No gaps!

And then I finally broke down and bought the Amazon-designed Voyage cover, which they call the Origami. The biggest negative with this one is it's expensive, like fifty freakin dollars (compared to the first two, which were around twelve dollars each). Uhg. BUT. But! It's also fantastic. The surface of the cover is pleasantly grippy and not slippery, the front locks securely in place to both the Kindle screen and the back of the cover using magnets, and I love the origami feature that allows you to fold the cover and prop up the Kindle for easy reading while eating or cooking.

So basically: the Amazon-designed cover is once again totally worth the price. If you're being particularly frugal for some reason, though, the ACcase is a not-completely-sucky alternative.

Minor Annoyances


The Kindle Voyage also comes with some minor, possibly-to-become-major-PITA annoyances that are worth mentioning.

First and foremost, I don't know if this just my device or what, but the thing in the lower left-hand corner that tells you where you're at in the book is IMPOSSIBLE TO CHANGE. On the Paperwhite, it's easy to tap and switch between what page you're on, how many minutes you have left in the chapter, how many in the book, etc. Yes, that info's usually wrong, but hey. I like to stay misinformed.

On the Voyage I can't even do that! If I tap on it nothing happens, unless I tap on the top to get the summary view, then return to the page view and THEN tap. I can see this sending me into Hulk Mode on a bad day.

Also the auto-adjust feature, while nice, is overly sensitive. One minor tilt of the screen can send the screen into bright light or no light mode. However, I can turn off the auto-adjust if it ever gets to be too annoying.

Those are really my only complaints so far.

Conclusion


Purchasing the Voyage as a replacement for an older Kindle or as a dedicated ereader is definitely worth it! The changes to the device make using it feel much more intuitive and require less "thinking" on the reader's part than any of the previous Kindles. So far I'm definitely happy with it.


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Friday, January 2, 2015

Review: THE DEVIL'S GRIN by Annelie Wendeberg

the devil's grin cover

By day, Dr. Anton Kronberg is one of the leading bacteriologists in the world. By night, Anton becomes Anna, a nurse living in the worst slum in London. Since women are barred from practicing medicine, Anna pretends to be a man so she can pursue her passion for science. No one's ever seen through her disguise–no one except the famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes. Now Anna and Sherlock must work together to solve the mysterious death of a man found floating in the Thames. Was it disease, or murrrrrderrrrr? I'm guessing the latter.

I have mixed feelings on The Devil's Grin. The story moves very fast, I loved Anna, and the mystery was somewhat chilling. But there seemed to be a lot of gaps in logical storytelling, and by the end I found myself wondering why Sherlock was included in the book at all (aside from marketing, of course).

I'm always a little hesitant going into crossdressing stories like this because they tend not to resonate with me (one word: Yentl. Uhg), but actually the crossdressing was one of the least-problematic aspects of the book. What did bother me was that Wendeberg took what started off as a very interesting character and turned her into something over-the-top and cartoonish. So not only is Anna a crossdressing, famous scientist, she runs through the woods barefoot like a little gazelle and swims in lakes on the moors. Naked. At night. In my head, I was picturing those drawings by (male, naturally) explorers of Indian women swinging from trees bare-breasted. Realism! Anna also exposes her naked self to Sherlock. Cuz, you know, why would a Victorian female who spends most of her life hiding the fact that she's a woman have body issues, AMIRITE?

The investigation also didn't seem like it progressed logically–or, to be more specific, the solution to the problem that Anna came up with didn't seem like a good default option. SPOILERS AHEAD, YE'VE BEEN WAAARNED: When Anna and Sherlock discover that the murder victim came from an asylum where they're performing medical experiments on their patients, Anna's solution is to:

  1. get a grant to study the diseases they're experimenting with; 
  2. become the world's leading expert on said diseases; 
  3. lure them into asking her to work with them (see: become an expert); 
  4. gain their trust; and finally, 
  5. expose their activities. 

This, she says, is the ONLY WAY TO STOP THEM. What? Huhn? There are a lot of assumptions running through that plan. What if she doesn't get the grant? What if they move on to other diseases by the time she's an expert? Meanwhile, there are a bunch of people still being experimented on and dying! Why didn't she and Sherlock do what they ended up doing anyway and just call the police to raid the asylum? Sure, they found a few more of the people working behind the scenes to run the experiments by following Anna's plan, but they probably could have discovered all that just as easily through other investigative methods. I would have expected Sherlock to be more dedicated to the principle of Occam's razor.

And speaking of Sherlock: let's be honest, the only reason I decided to read this book was because Sherlock Holmes was in it. Yet I wasn't very impressed by his role in the story. He never actually investigates anything–indeed, he doesn't seem to think there *is* anything to investigate (to be fair, he's mostly right). And the "romance" between him and Anna made me roll my eyes. Part of the Sherlock canon is that he's asexual. I'm not opposed to breaking the canon, but if you're going to do it you have to do it in a convincing way–like in the Mary Russell series, for example. Here it just felt rushed and uninformed. Wendeberg could have given Holmes another name and made him just another detective, and I never would have identified him as based on Sherlock Holmes.

This all makes it sound like I hated The Devil's Grin (additional question: what is the meaning of this title?), but I actually didn't. It was an overall enjoyable read with some weird moments. And honestly, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if it HADN'T had those WTF moments. Without them I might have (probably) gotten bored. Also, how many books do you read with crossdressing female detectives? Not a bunch!

Since this is a fairly original book and a very fast read, I'm willing to forgive a lot. I'll probably wind up reading the second book in this series (against my better judgment, what there is of it). If Sherlockian books about Victorian lady scientists who don't put up with any crap are of interest to you, definitely give The Devil's Grin a shot.



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Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Year-End Round-Up

Au revoir, 2014! What a strange year. It was an improvement over 2013 (not that that was much of a challenge), but at the same time I never would have predicted it would end with me in the place I'm in right now.

Not that there have been any MAJOR life changes for me this year, mind. I didn't get married or have a baby or anything. But I did take on three jobs. None of which were/are full time, so I do have time to sleep, but unfortunately not so much time to read! (Actually, it seems like the only time I *do* read now is when I'm having an attack of the insomnias... and if that happens, I better be reading a good book, because otherwise I'm going to be G R U M P Y.)

As a result of this scheduling insufficiency, I discovered something about myself: I really do need to read on a daily basis. Like if I don't read for a stretch of a day or more (it actually happened... unthinkable) I may legit take someone's head off.

Anyway! Here's the best of what I did manage to read this year. What about you?


the chocolate kiss laura florand
New Auto-Buy Author: Laura Florand
There aren't many authors who are on my auto-buy list these days, but Laura Florand definitely is one. Her novels are perfect tales of romantic escapism that revolve around three of my favorite F's: fairy tales, food, and France. Sexy French chefs FTW.

Favorite Mystery/Thriller: The Salinger Contract by Adam Langer
A smart, fast-paced, perfectly over-the-top book about books, with the feel of an old-timey movie. Loved it!

Favorite Forgotten Classic: I've Come to Stay by Mary Heaton Vorse
This short romantic comedy perfectly captures the avant-garde community of Greenwich Village in the 1910's. It's SO FUNNY and delightful and I loved all the quirky characters. The ending was absolutely perfect. Read it!

Favorite Non-Fiction Book: Craft Cocktails At Home by Kevin Liu
Two words: Science. Cocktails. Kevin Liu uses the scientific method to investigate all the burning questions of the home mixologist, such as: why is it so impossible to make clear ice cubes? How much exactly is dash? Why do we chill glasses before pouring cocktails in them? And so on. A super-must-read for cocktail geeks no matter if you're a newbie or a professional bartender.

Book That Pissed Me Off The Most: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins 
wtf book

Uhg. Just uhg.

And speaking of Mockingjay...

Subgenre That I Can't Believe I Keep Reading Right Now: Dystopian Young Adult
Working with teenagers this summer must have affected my brain, because during the second half of the year I was ALL ABOUT dystopian YA novels, a genre I've assiduously avoided for the past several years. It all started with, "Oh, I've been meaning to read Catching Fire," and pretty soon I'm staying up until 7 in the morning reading the ridiculousness that was Allegiant! Oh well, might as well run with it.

neanderthal seeks human penny reid
Subgenre That Probably No One is Surprised I'm Reading Right Now: Quirky Romances
Since most of the quirky romances I've read–and loved!–this year were recommendations from book blogging buddies, it probably won't come as a shock to anyone that many of them count among my favorite reads of the year, like Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, and Still Life With Strings by LH Cosway.

Favorite Book Actually Published In 2014: Tie between The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand and Still Life with Strings by LH Cosway
I picked The Chocolate Temptation as my favorite on Book Riot, but actually it's more of a draw. I had a few issues with each book, which stopped me from completely adoring either one. Although I still really really like them!


As you can see, my list is pretty short this year. That's because I read a pathetically small number of books, for me anyway. I haven't even hit the 100 book mark yet; my goal was actually to read 200. Overly optimistic, I admit, but still. The other goals I had for this year–to catch up on the Walt Longmire and Gabriel Allon series–also didn't happen.

Sigh. Book blogger problems.

Anyway, it could definitely be worse. I read some really awesome books this year, my personal life doesn't suck, and hopefully 2015 will be even better! Thanks for sticking it out with me and for sharing your reads and book recs. Happy New Year!


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