Yesterday Cassie, Melissa and I had our third episode of the Spines With Wines Book Club. For December’s book we wanted to choose something holiday themed but since we had all already read My True Love Gave to Me, Let it Snow, and I had read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, we decided to go with Winterspell by Claire Legrand which is a YA retelling of The Nutcracker. Unfortunately, none of us liked this book for very many reasons so this was a pretty interesting book club. I’ll also be posting a written review later this week.
We’re only a couple of days into 2016 but I’m already gearing up to participate in my first read-a-thon of the year which is called TBR Takedown. TBR Takedown takes place from January 4-10 and there are list of challenges that you can choose to complete which I’ve outlined in video below. I’ve also linked a ton of stuff in the description box of the video if you’re interested in finding out more about the challenge or some other bookish goodness! Let me know what you’re going to be reading if you participate. Happy reading!
One of the 2016 Reading Challenges I signed up for this year is the Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge hosted by Jess of Gone With the Words and Danielle of Love At First Page. My goal is the Grand Slam which means I’m committing to 21+ contemporary romance reads which I think is very achievable for me! Each month of 2016, the girls will be hosting a monthly link-up and they’ll announce a topic that anyone who signed up for the challenge can participate in. This month’s topic is the 10 most anticipated romances for the first half of 2016. It was actually really hard to narrow down my list (I feel like I say this ALL the time but BOOKS). I’m hoping to catch up on a bunch of contemporary romances I already own in addition to the books I’ll be adding to my shelves throughout the year.
Preorder the Books from Amazon!
The Unexpected Everything
P.s. I Like You
Bookishly Ever After
Firsts: A Novel
Tell Me Three Things
The Museum of Heartbreak
Summer in the Invisible City
Summer of Sloane
When We Collided
You Know Me Well
Alice of The Geeky Burrow is one blogger that consistently and continuously leaves me feeling inspired me after reading her posts. I’ve been reading her site since she started blogging and I’ve witnessed her blog’s evolution over the past few years into what it is now. I’m always finding something new and helpful (like her guide to using Trello for blogging), enjoying her openness and honesty in posts like Tea Talk Tuesday, providing my eyes with some serious eye candy from her snapshots or fangirling over our mutual love of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Alice is the epitome of organized and her goals are always focused and clear cut. Her most recent post Being More with Less in 2016 has once again left me thinking about my upcoming 2016. I left her a comment commending her on choosing such a meaningful word to sum up her year yet again and said that I would never be able to choose just one for my own year. But then I started thinking more seriously about it and I came up with one that suits my desire for 2016; Risk.
While I did have a wonderful year in 2015, I definitely stayed inside of my comfort zone for its entirety. There are *some* minor risks I took and to the outside observer they may assume that I went for everything I wanted but in my day to day life, I can honestly say that I don’t feel like that’s the case (especially in the latter half of the year). In 2015 I let fear get the best of me. After a terrible experience on the subway (the A train which is an express and I was stuck on it from 59th street to 125th with no place to escape to in between those two stops) I started getting really nervous about riding the subway alone which is something that has never bothered me in all of the years I’ve been commuting for school ,business or pleasure. I started saying no to things I really enjoy, like going out with friends, because I would preemptively dread the train ride home afterward and I’m sad to say that I’m still catching myself doing this. (2013 Kristin would take 4AM trains alone without a care in the world, and would never dream of saying no to a social event and I want her back). In June, I moved back home to save money before my wedding (which has been GREAT) but I’m now spending a good portion of my day commuting and I often find myself turning down after work plans because I have an additional excuse. I think about how if I were to get home at midnight, I would only have about 5.5 hours at my house (for sleeping, showering, blogging etc) before I would have to leave again the next morning and that seems really unappealing. I also rarely go into NYC on weekends because those are the only days that I don’t have to be on trains. But it wasn’t until November when the terrorist attacks occurred in Paris that I really gave in to my fear. I became consumed with thoughts of how NYC is a huge target because of the high population of people. I honestly spent almost a full month afterward dreading going into work and not being able to even read on the train because I was too preoccupied with being aware of my surroundings in case something were to occur. My mindset would often be “if I can just make it to work” and once 5:30 hit “If I can just make it home.” I began to feel like something happening was more of an inevitability than a possible isolated incident and I let it get in the way of my everyday life. I’ve never been this way before. It’s pretty stressful and definitely not an enjoyable way to live. In the past I’ve always walked around confidently, went after what I wanted and thought very little about all of the obstacles I would face along the way and I am determined to get back to that point which brings me to my word of 2016.
For me, 2016 is going to be all about taking risks. I’m not saying that you can expect to see a skydiving recap on my blog anytime soon, but you will see more event posts. I’m talking about risk-taking in the seemingly minor everyday choices I make, especially accepting more invitations from friends and seeing more sights around NYC since really, I’m very lucky to live here and I should take full advantage of it. I’ve been doing a better job of this in the past couple of weeks but I want to get to the point where I don’t feel like I’m giving myself a little pep talk to do something that will, without a doubt, be really fun once I’m there! 2015 has made me worry that it would be very easy for me to become a hermit, especially when I get to look forward to going home to see Andrew every night, so 2016 is going to be all about going out and taking chances (with Andrew in tow of course when the event interests him). It may seem silly that I’m equating such a big word to something that seems so small, but until I rebuild that fearless foundation, I will have closed myself off to those bigger risks anyway. I think by assigning the word risk to my year, I’ll constantly be thinking about. It’ll force me to leave my comfort zone. I’ll be more thoughtful about all of my choices and what I want out of them. So 2016, here’s to adventure!
A few days ago I decided it would be fun to add one more reading challenge to my list for 2016. Since there have been so many Peter Pan retellings released in the past couple of years, I decided to challenge myself to read one Peter Pan retelling per month in 2016 (and of course I had to create a fun graphic to go along with it to outline my year!). Unlike the other 2016 Reading Challenges that I’ve signed up for, this is one that I created for myself. Anyone is welcome to join in for fun but it’s more of an impulsive challenge than an officially hosted one. Some of the books listed below will be rereads for me which I can also count toward the reread challenge. I’ve been wanting to revisit the Peter and the Starcathers series again so I chose to start those in my birthday month!
Buy the books!
January –Wendy Darling: A Novel
February – Unhooked
April – Second Star
May – Never Never
June – Peter Pan (Puffin Chalk)
July – Peter and the Starcatchers
October – Tiger Lily
November – Hook’s Revenge, Book 1 Hook’s Revenge
Overall, 2015 was an AWESOME reading year for me. I feel really pleased with the number of books I’ve read, and more importantly, with the quality of those books. There were so many new favorites this year that it was challenging to narrow down my list (but I was at least able to justify a top 15 instead of top 10 list!). What were your favorite reads of the year?
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting. This week I’m choosing Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell. I think anyone who’s been reading my blog for a while probably knows how much I love Peter Pan so this week’s choice should come as no surprise. The book follows a girl named Gwen and her best friend Olivia who get kidnapped and whisked away to Neverland. The lines between good and evil are seriously blurred and the girls need to find a way home and decide whether Peter or Hook is the right character to trust. Plus there’s a pirate ship on the cover. Insta-preorder. You can preorder your own copy on Amazon!
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.
But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.
The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.
With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself? (via Goodreads)
This is the second year that I’m participating in Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner’s annual end of year survey (and the 6th year that Jamie is hosting it!). I love having another excuse to write about books and my reading habits throughout 2015! I really enjoyed my time completing the survey last year and it’s a great way to reflect on what I’ve consumed. If you’re interested, you can read my 2014 survey answers here!
Number Of Books You Read: 109
Number of Re-Reads: 4 (All Harry Potter!) A big increase from last year, but I’m planning on re-reading even more (see My 2016 Reading Challenges).
Genre You Read The Most From: Young Adult (Fantasy / Contemporary mix, same as last year!)
1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
(Not counting re-reads because Harry Potter) The best book I read in 2015 is Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I just loved everything about it so much. You can read my full review here!
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi – Everyone seems to rave about this series but I just wasn’t so into it. You can read about why in my full review (here).
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
The Selection series by Kiera Cass. I was expecting to dislike these books but I flew through them in almost no time! They’re really fast paced, addicting, and I enjoyed the story so much more than I ever expected to. You can read my reviews of The Selection, The Elite and The One for more information!
4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas! Throne of Glass is the first book I read in 2015 and I loved it! I convinced my two best friends to read it and they also loved it enough to get completely caught up with the series while I still haven’t read Queen of Shadows yet even though I got it on its release date!
5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
The best series I started in 2015 is the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, also by Sarah J. Maas. I read the first book in one day and I cannot wait for the second installment! You can read my full review here. The best sequel I read is The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski. The story is unlike any other YA that I’ve read and I love Kestrel and Arin’s storyline. You can read my reviews of The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime or watch my video about the heartbreak I’m experiencing regarding the cover change. And finally, the best series ender is definitely Winter by Marissa Meyer which concluded The Lunar Chronicles series. You can watch Cassie, Melissa and I’s Spines With Wines Book Club episode for all of our feelings on the last book or you can can read my review here.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
Brandon Sanderson! I read Steelheart and Mistborn this year and I love them both! I want to read everything Sanderson has ever written and ever will write and luckily, I have a long way to go with that goal :-)
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I don’t think I have a comfort zone. I used to be fantastic at being a well-rounded reader, making sure to switch genre after every book I completed, but I really love YA so this year I read an overwhelming amount. I read one non-fiction book this year (You’re Never Weird on the Internet…Sometimes by Felicia Day) but I didn’t like it at all so I can’t even count that one!
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. Another series starter that left me dying for the second book! Luckily, there’s only another month of waiting!
9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. I read the first book in 2014 and I’m definitely planning a 2016 re-read. The third book has yet to have a release date but I know I’m going to want to re-read the first two just beforehand!
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
Definitely the cover of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass. I fell so deeply in love with the cover the moment I laid eyes on it. I love the black, white and red coloring and the outfit Feyre is wearing is so appealing. In fact, I love the cover so much that Melissa Grey designed nail art based on it and we made a DIY BookTube video about it!
11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Echo from The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey. Echo is super sassy and she doesn’t take crap from anyone. I loved spending time inside her head!
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
I’m torn between The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson and The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler. The prose in both books is so gorgeous that both stories have really stuck with me since I’ve read them.
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
Also, the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness! After meeting Ness at BEA this year and realizing that he is one of the nicest humans ever, I decided to finally read one of his books. I couldn’t put down The Knife of Never Letting Go and I read The Ask and the Answer very soon after. Then I finished out my year with the conclusion Monsters of Men. The series deals with so many serious social and political issues and I still think about it to this day.
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
“You have to pretend you get an endgame. You have to carry on like you will; otherwise, you can’t carry on at all.” – Carry On
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
Shortest: Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Longest: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. Everything about this book kept me on the edge of my seat. I can’t believe how it ended and it felt like my heart was being torn out.
18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Simon and Baz from Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Kelsier and Vin from Mistborn. I really loved the teacher / student relationship between the pair. I thought it was adorable how Vin looked up to Kelsier and I loved that he looked out for her like a big brother would.
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. This third installment of The Raven Cycle is so full of action. I cannot wait for the series ender which is being released in a few short months!
21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
The Nantucket Blue and Nantucket Red duology by Leila Howland which was recommended by Brittany from The Book Addict’s Guide. It’s the perfect summer read and I instantly felt very invested in the characters.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Josh from Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. I have a thing for talented artists (I’m marrying one next May!) and I love that Josh is so into comics. He’s sweet and protective and he seems like such a great guy.
23. Best 2015 debut you read?
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. I adored this book! It is such a fun and unique contemporary and I love the illustrations that were incorporated into the storytelling.
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Her description of the world (especially Prague) is so beautiful<3
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell by far!
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
The One by Kiera Cass and it was SO unexpected.
27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Undertow by Michael Buckley. I barely heard anyone talk about this book but I really enjoyed it!
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Heir of Fire without a doubt. That’s why I’ve been so hesitant to pick up Queen of Shadows!
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
The Marvels by Brian Selznik. The first 400+ pages of the story were told solely through illustrations.
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach. There were some issues that were handled really poorly in this book.
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?
I love this question because this is the year I discovered book blogs! I made a video a few months ago of the top 5 book bloggers I read but after I filmed it I discovered another blog that I fell in love with which BookMark Lit by Lauren. I love her color scheme, her beautiful graphics and her unique content.
2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?
My review for P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han because I love the conclusion so much and I had a blast explaining why! Jenny Han even quoted and RT’ed my ARC review which totally made my day!
3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
My favorite non-review post this year is obviously my Harry Potter Engagement Story! My fiance planned an elaborate 7 day engagement beginning with my acceptance letter to Hogwarts and ending with him popping the question at The Strand bookstore so this question is a no-brainer<3
4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I attended so many great book events this past year! I think my favorite would have to be BEA because it lasted for days and I got to connect with so many people that I usually only see online. I’m sad it’s being held in Chicago this year but I’m looking forward to its 2017 return to the Javitts Center!
5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?
I feel like 2015 was such a great blogging year for me that it’s hard to choose just one thing! I was really able to focus this year and start writing about the things that make me the most happy without feeling like I have to cater to a certain niche. I posted some feelings about that early on in the year (How I’ve Been Upgrading to Kristin 2.0 Through General Life Overhauls). I started blogging a lot more about books, fashion, and beauty and I started a BookTube channel in February. I also won a photo challenge for Jenny Han’s P.S. I Still Love You series which made me really happy! Regardless of winning or not, I had such a great time perfecting my photo and trying to make my vision come to life. One of my favorite artist also surprised me by posting an illustration she drew of me on instagram. I started posting some Outfit of the Day photos which have been so much fun! I already have a bunch of ideas for 2016 once the weather gets warmer and it’s easier to take photos outside. And most exciting, I started learning Photoshop and I’ve been so much happier with my blog posts :-D
6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
I think the most challenging part of my online life this year (besides feeling as connected as I used to) has been posting as much as I would like to on instagram. It’s been four years since I started blogging and as I’ve progressed I’ve begun to hold myself to much higher standards which is great but also frustrating. I have so many things that I want to take photos of and post but sometimes I don’t feel like setting up lighting equipment after a long day of work and I end up forgetting altogether. I’m planning on getting better about that. I used to just post what I love without caring about lighting, composition, etc. but now I cringe when I see those old photos. The struggle is real.
7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I made a video about my mug and teacup collection for BookTube and it didn’t get nearly as many views as much Funko video which has since surpassed 10,000K. So crazy!
9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
The past couple of months I’ve discovered some great bookmark shops on Etsy and and some wonderful bookish shops on Society 6! I’m planning on posting about them more during the coming year so I’ll outline them there :-)
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
The only goal I set for myself was a Goodreads challenge of 100 books and at the time of posting I’ve surpassed that goal by 7 books. I’m participating in a lot more challenges in 2016 and I outlined them all on my blog last week!
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas before Melissa or Cassie kills or spoils me for not having already done so.
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?
The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh which is the conclusion to The Wrath and the Dawn duology.
3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum. It’s Julie’s debut YA novel (she’s previously published two other books) and I love the cover and plot synopsis which you can see on Goodreads.
4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater which will conclude The Raven Boys series.
5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?
I really want to focus on joining in on as many bookish challenges as possible and to build a stronger relationship with bloggers within the community. I’ve felt a bit disconnected from social media since 2014 and I really want to get back into the swing of things because I know how great it can be if you only put in the effort.
6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
PASSENGER BY ALEXANDRA BRACKEN. Without a doubt.
I came across the cutest Sailor Moon luggage, carry ons and passport covers ever and I’ve been swooning over them ever since. The accessories incorporate everything I love about fashion. They’re pastel colored, they’re detailed with bows, and even the inside lining is covered in moonsticks. My favorite of the sets are the bags styled after Sailor Jupiter because mint green and pastel pink are my aesthetic. I’m really hoping I’ll be able to buy these online without spending hundreds of dollars for it on eBay! Japan always gets the best merchandise. For even more photos you can see everything on the Sailor Moon Collectibles website.
There are so many amazing books coming out in 2016 that it was really hard to narrow down my list for this video! I say that I chose my top 20, but I actually only listed 19 because apparently I can’t count. I’m amazed at how many books are being released in January and I’m so thankful for all of the Barnes & Noble and Amazon gift cards I received for Christmas because I’m totally putting them toward my preorders!