Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Book Survey

Now Playing: The Pretty Reckless - Miss Nothing

Last year, I filled out an End of the Year Book Survey and I considered it quite fun. Because schoolwork only plagued me for the first half of the year and I rediscovered the joys of library life, I've decided to fill this out again. Plus it's been a slightly more successful book reading year; I wanna commemorate it.

Despite the fact that overall I feel like I read a ton of fun and awesome stories, weirdly, Goodreads calculated my average rating to be 3.1 stars. Uh. Which means. Woooo, average-ness!

(Maybe I'm just super harsh with my ratings?)

Either way, here we go! Survey time.

Number Of Books You Read: 50.

Finallyyy. I would have been so mad if I hadn't finished properly.

Number of Re-Reads: I'm never sure about this since I tend to reread passages at random. Complete reread. . .three or so? Just guessing here.

Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy.

Side category would most likely be Vampire books--of the non-fiction and fiction variety. Oh thank you, Slavic Vampire class. I am much the wiser now.

1. Best Book You Read In 2015? 

I had a lot of favorites, but though it's a bit uncommon for me to read nonfiction, the best book I read this year was in that category: The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero. It left me thinking about the inherent merit found in any work of art--even terrible art--and how much a creation can truly reflect its creator. And it's funny. Never have I felt such an array of emotions with any other book--fiction or non-fiction.

2. Book You Were Excited About/Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? 

Ready Player One. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't very good either. I wasn't into all the (often pointless) pop culture references, I wasn't buying the world wholeheartedly, the characters were flat and read like wish-fulfillment fantasies at times (cough Wade), and it was just kind of...meh? Also, there were some awkward sentences and the writing could be just completely flat and monotone. Let's not even talk about how the author deals with characters of color >_> Especially his two Japanese characters.

I didn't hate it because, again, aside from two or three aspects that were terribly worded and just downright stupid, it wasn't frothing-at-the-mouth-offensive. It was just nothing. Which makes me kinda sad because I gave it to my brother first and he loved it so I had high hopes for it.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2015? 

  I've owned The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K Rowling for ages now and didn't get around to reading it till this year. I was surprised how well she captured the tone and feel of fairy tales while also making completely original stories on her own.

Oh, and Dumbledore's commentary is an awesome bonus.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2015? 

Steelheart. aND I REGRET NOTHING. Love Sanderson as I do, children. Love himmmm.

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015? 

Oh Batman nooo, don't ask this to the woman who never finishes anything.

Okay, lemme try:

Best series I started: either The Reckoners series or The Lotus War series. Stormdancer has some beautiful writing and the two leads are adorable together, and The Reckoners is just endless fun to me. Plus they both have likable leads.

Best sequel: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.

Best series ender: Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. Although I have to say it's pretty much the only series I wrapped up in 2015. (Not that it makes the book bad! I gave it three stars. So it was okay and wins by default. I'm sorry.)

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015? 

Brandon Sanderson, definitely.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? 

I'm not into romance or erotica, let alone BDSM billionaire Dom with younger sub stories--and oh, I'm sure there are plenty--but The Boss by Abigail Barnette (pen name) was quite good.

On a purely personal level, I find BDSM and the age difference in the book off-putting, but I read it 1) cuz it's free and 2) I adore the author, Jenny Trout, and her blog. Plus, I figured I read Fifty Shades of Grey in the past so I might as well bring my literary karma back in balance by reading a good BDSM billionaire erotica.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? 

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. A lot of the book is spent planning and discussing and figuring out back-up plans. But when the actual action gets going, it is sooo fun.

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? 

Graphic novels time! Mostly because I have to get to the rest of the volumes, I'll reread Ms. Marvel: No Normal and The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes before tackling the rest.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015? 

Oh there were so many good book covers I came across this year. The Lotus War especially has some great designs for the American editions--it's part of the reason I kept being drawn to the series. (What? I judge books by their covers, try and stop me).

(Although I've yet to read Endsinger)

Despite my problems with this other series, I like the redesigned cover for Throne of Glass.

And The Night Circus. Also a very cute cover that encompasses the atmosphere of the story.


11. Most memorable character of 2015? 

Sadly, she's in The Broken Empire series sparingly, but when Miana shows up in King of Thorns, you know there's no better queen to stand at Jorg's side.

What's strange to me is that the series spends a lot of time on Jorg's obsession with Katherine, yet I, for the life of me, can't remember a single thing about Katherine that would point to her being interesting. In fact, as incredible as the world and writing are in the series, the characters can be a touch forgettable. (In my opinion--others might disagree).

That is except for Jorg--sociopathic, bratty, violent conquistador--and Miana. She's twelve years old in King of Thorns and still puts the then-eighteen year-old Jorg in his place.

I adore her.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015? 

There were a lot, but I want to pick Uprooted by Naomi Novik. It mostly comes down to the unique atmosphere the prose creates.

It's one of those rare books that deal with familiar aspects of fantasy fiction, but it DOESN'T feel like another run of the mill European Medieval Era fantasy. It has a ton of fantastical aspects, but you can definitely see the type of Slavic folklore that had inspired it.

It's pretty rare. There's only so many English fairy tale/folklore inspired narratives I can take and this one feels unique without being alienating.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015? 

Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman.

I already knew that Gaiman's Death was (also) a teenage girl before I jumped into the first Sandman volume, but because of that, I was sooo upset when she only showed up at the very end of that volume. (Although her scene with Dream is so mega cute, I wasn't mad).

Because of that, I couldn't wait to read her stand-alone mini side story. The plot is simpler than what I'd expected and can feel a bit too meandering (although that's to be expected, given the set-up), but it's still thought-provoking. That's probably a given since it's a story about Death and her day with humanity, but nonetheless, it's interesting to see this kind of portrayal of the personification.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

Confession time: I hadn't read Octavia Butler until this year. My Women in Lit class had me read Bloodchild and then I found the first of the Lilith's Brood book at the library.

I know, I'm ashamed D: I shouldn't have taken this long.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015? 

We can go about this two ways. The Incredibly Deep Way:
"Memory is all we are. Moments and feelings, captured in amber, strung on filaments of reason. Take a man’s memories and you take all of him. Chip away a memory at a time and you destroy him as surely as if you hammered nail after nail through his skull."
― Mark Lawrence, King of Thorns

Or The Incredibly Amusing Way AKA How-Not-To-Handle-A-Weapon:
"Whoa. Not too stiff," Cody said. "Secure, strong, but calm. Like you're caressing a beautiful woman, remember?" 
That made me think of Megan. 
I lost control, and a green wave of smoky energy burst from my hand and flew out in front of me. It missed the pipe completely, but vaporized the metal leg of the chair it sat on. Dust showered down and the chair went lopsided, dumping the pipe to the floor with a clang. 
"Sparks," Cody said. "Remind me to never let you caress me, lad."
― Brandon Sanderson, Steelheart

Pfft. Oh David. . . .

16. Shortest and Longest Book You Read In 2015?

Ughhh. I totally cheated and put up my school textbooks on Goodreads. They ate up so much of my reading time I figured I might as well make them count towards my challenge, but I don't know if I could realistically say I read all of Film History: An Introduction by Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell. I read a good chunk of it--I'd say about 85%, then scanned the rest--but is it still cheating? Yes. Either way, it's what Goodreads says was my longest book.

  Shortest would definitely be Vasilisa the Beautiful and Baba Yaga, translated from Alexander Afanasyev's original Russian. It's only 25 pages long. And, of course, it's such a wonderful little fairy tale.

I actually feel a bit guilty that I haven't delved into other Russian fairy tales, but I've read this one a few times now and I've really come to love it. It has some of the most inventive images I've ever encountered in a fairy tale and Vasilisa is an interesting heroine. She's the prototypical impossibly kind and beautiful fairy tale heroine, but the story places a lot of emphasis on how hardworking and brave she is. I wasn't expecting that.


17. Book That Shocked You The Most (Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.) 

The Prince of Thorns twist was Badass™. It was one of the reasons I decided to give the rest of the books a chance, even if I did have a giant problem with some of the narrative choices in the first book.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)?

  Scarlet and Wolf from The Lunar Chronicles :D They are so cute together and really cool apart from each other. Their relationship edges dangerously to instalove, but I think they seem to somewhat understand it's just attraction at first that's slowly turning into actual love. It's a good romance for a YA science fantasy.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year?

Yukiko and Buruu from The Lotus War series. Haven't read the last book yet, but through both Stormdancer and Kinslayer, those two are disgustingly adorable.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?

  
Coraline
by Neil Gaiman. I read American Gods a few years ago and just thought it was okay--and by now, I barely remember the plot.

This year, I read more of Gaiman and found I like him a lot more when he's writing for children. I liked The Graveyard Book, mostly because Nobody is super cute, but I found I liked Coraline's creepy, imaginative atmosphere much more.

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure?

Best. . .? There was only one set of books I read through peer pressure--the entire Throne of Glass series published so far. (With the exception of Assassin's Blade).

I read the first one ages ago and I hated it and never thought I'd try the rest. But, thanks to Goodreads and BookTube, I kept hearing from fans and haters alike that the other books got a lot better. So, with a hopeful mindset, I tried to push on and see if anything good came out of it

And. . .err. No, that didn't happen. I guess I got Manon out of it? But that's the only good thing, the rest was still bad.

I'll say the "best" out of those was Queen of Shadows. Still dumb, still incredibly simplified and in desperate need of editing that page count down, but the writing's cleared up a lot, there's some cool action, and I got to see more of Manon.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

Speaking of which, the first name that popped into my head was Manon from Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows. Admittedly, it might be partially because her society and her character remind me of some of my own characters. For the most part, I just love how morally-grey of a character she is. From her introduction I was enamored by her.

If all of  the Throne of Glass series was about her and her dragon, it would seriously improve it to a great series.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

. . . :( I didn't read a single 2015 debut. All the 2015 releases I got to were from already published writers.

  
The one debut I got to--Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen--was published in 2014.

I'm always late to the party.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

On that note, Stolen Songbird has a beautiful, vivid setting. It's one of the most memorable parts of the book, next to the cute romance scenes.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Ahhh! So many to chose from! I'll pick Firefight by Brandon Sanderson. The Reckoners series has been fun so far. I can't wait to get to the last book.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

Errr. Not a single one. There was no crying this year. I guess I felt really, really bad for a ton of characters in Fairest by Marissa Meyer. Mostly Evret and Winter, who are prime victims of Levana's delusions. And hell, I even felt bad for Levana herself at times. (The book doesn't phrase it this way, but I stand by my statement when I say SHE RAPED A MAN, and that's fucked up and unforgivable. But, uh, damn if this girl didn't have a traumatic childhood).

27. Hidden Gem Of the Year?

I'll pick Halo: Cryptum.

  
It's been out for a while but I don't always hear Halo fans talk about it. The ones that read the books usually stick to the more action-heavy Halo stories from what I've encountered. And to be fair, I don't blame them for being drawn to those books. They're fun and keep with the spirit of the games. That said, I find the entire lore of the Forerunners to be one of the most fascinating aspects of the universe. It's what made it my favorite video game series in the first place.

Master Chief's origin and the structure and conflicts of the military and the Covenant are all interesting, but not as much as what makes the backbone of the mythology in Halo. That's the part that's always made the universe feel grand to me.

It's not a perfect book, but it is exactly what I wanted from a Forerunner story.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. It lives up to its title since its heroine is just this miserable, chronically depressed person with next to nothing to live for, no prospects for a good future, and a past that's haunted her in every way imaginable. Most of what crushed my soul had to do with her mom, though. That poor, poor woman.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

  
Back to Gillian Flynn: the format of Gone Girl is interesting. In fact, it's most likely one of the reasons the book has become so famous.

Despite the fact that I had seen the movie beforehand and knew all the twists coming in, I still loved reading Amy's diary and then seeing it in contrast to Nick's early narration--then the infamous shift after the middway point make the earlier set-up all the better.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

I'll answer this question in two ways:

  Liked the Book: Tin Men by Christopher Golden is good, but near the end, a interesting character gets executed and disposed of as if he were a run-of-the-mill antagonist rather than someone who added a ton of complexity to the conflict.

I almost gave the book two stars out of the rage I felt >:(

Disliked the Book: Reading like a Writer by Francis Prose can have some solid advice, but godfuckingshit is it the embodiment of pretentious literary writers who never Shut the Fuck Up about how Complex and Deep and Inherently Awesome they are compared to the lowly genre fiction writers. It partially made sticking through my last creative writing workshop a fucking chore and effectively convinced me I am never, ever going back to another university writing class again. If only so I never again have to read another How-To writing book.

SIDE NOTE: The original challenge has a second category here for book reviewers, but since my Goodreads reviews are just quick things I write to sort out my feelings, I don't answer that part.

I feel like, instead, there should be a category for all the atrocious crap we put ourselves through. Or--in honor of my 3.1 average rating--the mediocrity found in our literature choices.

  I mean, I read Matched and it somehow turned out to be even worse than what I'd expected, and After the End was a massive disappointment and weirdly offensive at times.

I kinda wish I could rant about those. Uh. But that's just cuz I'm a bitter reader >_>

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2015:

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

Technically all my birthday books, since having a December birthday means a ton of bookish presents and too little time to tackle them before the year ends.

But my number one will be Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I went to Barnes and Noble on my birthday, read the first 20 pages of Illuminae, and loved it so much I had to have it.

Also, runner-up is Winter by Marissa Meyer; I gotta wrap up The Lunar Chronicles.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)? 

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson, last book in The Reckoners series. Ho-ly sheeet, I can't wait for the end of the trilogy. The first two books already converted me into a Sanderson fangirl.

Also...let's put The Winds of Winter back on this list >_> Even though there's still doubt. There is always doubt.

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Fellow blogger, Ava Jae, has a book coming out! I've been terrible at keeping up with book news this year that I'm mostly ignorant on incoming 2016 Debuts, but this is one I didn't forget. It's called Beyond the Red and comes out on March.

It's listed as "science fiction" on Goodreads, but it's got an alien queen and rebel soldiers and kingdoms. I'll have to see once I get the book, but I wonder if it'll have elements of science fantasy.

If so, I am glad that genre is making a comeback.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016? 

Read ten more books! 60 books in total.

I also wanna get through the entire Encyclopedia of Serial Killers. Wish me luck.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Still zero on this one >:( I made a NetGallery account and then I didn't fill it out because I realized I'd never get books sent to me.

I do get an awful lot of recommendations for new releases in the romance/erotica genres. Did I accidentally click that box in my preferences? Probably. Should I unclick it? Nah.

Happy reading!
~Becky

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:42 PM

    WOOO UPROOTED

    Also, you should have had a special mention for Hunger @_@ It was... quite something else. Even if you didn't read it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honorable Holy-Mother-Of-Cheese-Why-Does-This-Exist category? @_@

      Delete

"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.