2016 Favorites & Disappointments

Hey guys, I know we’re almost halfway through the first month of 2017 (!) but I wanted to discuss my favorite and most disappointing reads for 2016.

My favorite books per month:

1. Without Tess by Marcella Pixley
2. The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft
3. Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
4. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
5. Animorphs #19: The Departure by K.A. Applegate
6. Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
7. End of Watch by Stephen King
8. Labyrinth novelization by A.C.H. Smith
9. Cress by Marissa Meyer
10. The Haunted Mask (Goosebumps) by R.L. Stine
11. Fairest by Marissa Meyer
12. Winter by Marissa Meyer

If I had to choose my top six, they would be: Without Tess, Burn for Burn, The Fifth Wave, Queen of Hearts, End of Watch, and Cress.

My #1 pick would be my first favorite of 2016, Without Tess. It was beautifully written and a very haunting yet deep story involving sisters and imagination. Ironically it is also my favorite book picture for the year.

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For 2016, I challenged myself to read one classic each month. Here are the books by month:

1. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
3. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
6. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
7. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
10. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
11. Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
12. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

My top six favorites out of this list would be: Jane Eyre, The Fellowship of the Ring, To Kill a Mockingbird, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Martian Chronicles, The Little Prince, and the Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

I actually enjoyed all of the classics I read and most of them got 3.5 to 4 stars. If I had to pick a least favorite it would probably be The Wizard of Oz just because while I did enjoy it, at the same time it felt like the story was also missing a lot of details. The writing style was also a little difficult for me to get into.

My favorite classic was hands down, Jane Eyre! While I did find parts of it to drag, I found myself thinking about this book a lot this year so it has become my favorite classic of all time.

My classic read for February 2016.
My classic read for February 2016.

These are all of the series I managed to read in 2016:

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
The Lunar Chronicles (minus Stars Above) by Marissa Meyer
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King
The Selection trilogy (not the short stories or companion novels) by Kiera Cass
Divergent series (Minus Four) by Veronica Roth
Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay

Out of these, my top three would be: The Lunar Chronicles, Infernal Devices, & Bill Hodges.

Only two series ended up being disappointing.

The first was The 5th Wave trilogy. I loved the first book. The second was decent. But the last book, the conclusion, I hated it. It started off okay but ended up being a huge disappointment. It wasn’t even because it was a “sad” ending or anything, but that the author tried to make it “happy” despite the losses. It just felt so fake to me, some characters felt unlike themselves, and it felt like a slap in the face.

The second was the Divergent series. I loved the first two books but the last book was awful. Aside from the ending itself, I didn’t like it for the majority because the characters, especially the main ones, no longer felt like the ones I’d known from the previous books. I also hated the shifting POV.

My favorite series ended up being The Lunar Chronicles. I read Cinder years ago but forgot it was in a series somehow. When I re-read it this year, I liked it but it also didn’t blow me away. The next book got better. Then the next three books became my favorites for each month I read them for. The conclusion was very satisfying. I haven’t read the short story collection, Stars Above, yet, but I can’t wait! Cress, the third book, is still my absolute favorite (and she is also my favorite character) but I loved the entire story arc, the writing, and the characters.

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Now for my most disappointing reads for 2016. These are ones I hated, did not enjoy, or just felt very disappointed about.

In no particular order (yet):

1. Two Girls Staring At the Ceiling by Lucy Frank
2. The 100 by Morgan Cass
3. Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz & Ron Bass
4. The Last Star by Rick Yancey
5. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
6. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne (J.K. Rowling)
7. I Know It’s Over by C. K. Kelly Martin
8. Kiss by Ted Dekker
9. Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
10. Dexter’s Final Cut by Jeff Lindsay

My top three disappointments would be: The Last Star, Dexter’s Final Cut, and Allegiant.

You can probably guess which one of these is my most disappointing read of 2016 since I’ve already ranted about it. That would be The Last Star by Rick Yancey. I just have so many feelings on that one. I could probably write a novel on how disappointing it was and I think I feel this way because I loved the first book, The Fifth Wave, so much. To see how things ended the way they did was like squeezing my beating heart.

Anyway, yeah, worst book of the year for me. I’m still debating on whether or not to keep it. I believe I ended up giving it a generous 2 stars for the few things I did like but the more I think about it, the more I want to deduct one.

So, to recap:

Favorite book of 2016: Without Tess by Marcella Pixley

Worst book of 2016: The Last Star by Rick Yancey

Favorite classic of 2016: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Least liked classic of 2016: The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Favorite series of 2016: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Worst series of 2016: The Fifth Wave trilogy by Rick Yancey (should have been a standalone)

 

What were your favorite(s) and most disappointing books and series for 2016? I’d love to know! Thankfully overall I found 2016 to be one of my best reading years yet.

 

jnc

 

2017 Writing Goals

Last year was not a great year overall when it came to writing. I’m pretty sure the only major achievement was writing Not My Fault for NaNoWriMo, and starting on the re-write of Creeper. I miss writing and need to make more time for it. I’m hoping that I will be ready to begin thinking about publishing this year or next. Whether it’s traditional or self-published will just depend on how the year goes.

My goals for 2017:

* Finish Creeper re-write.

* Continue to enter Twitter writing events such as Pitch Wars, Pitch Madness, #PitMad, etc.

*  Re-write Whispertown.

*  Re-write/edit Our Reasons.

* Re-write/edit Evil in the Walls.

* Write something new

* Begin researching serious publishing options
Those are going to be my main goals this year. I really want to work on fine-tuning these stories and hopefully find a publisher for at least one of them. If not, then I will more than likely look into self-publishing.

I’m sure most writers have fantasized about becoming famous because of their books and I’m no exception, but over the last few years that dream has changed. Now my only wish is to share my stories with the world and see them on bookshelves, whether on readers or those in stores. I miss readers so much.

Hopefully 2017 will be a more productive writing & editing year than 2016 was!

 

jnc

Books in December 2016

For 2016, I have challenged myself to read 100 books. In December, I read seven books.

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Favorite:
Winter by Marissa Meyer
Least Liked:
Dexter’s Final Cut by Jeff Lindsay
Classic:
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

 

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I also enjoyed The One, the epilogue of The One, My True Love Gave to Me, and Dexter is Dead.

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My favorite read for December 2016.

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My classic read for the month.

What did you read in December and what were your favorites? I hope to have a wrap-up of all of my favorite reads for 2016 shortly.

jnc

December Writing & Reading Goals Check (January 2017 Goals)

Last month I decided to do a post with a list of goals I wanted to accomplish in the coming month. Let’s see how I did.

GOALS FOR DECEMBER
✓ Read Oliver Twist for my classic book
✓ Read at least 6 books
✓ Read The One for my TBR
✓ Read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan for my TBR
✓ Read Winter for my TBR
✓ Read Dexter’s Final Cut for my TBR
✓ Read Dexter is Dead for my TBR
✓ do book pictures for the month
✓ Write a Christmas short story

 

I feel pretty good about my progress considering how busy they were with work, the holidays, and two weeks of being sick again! I feel overall I did great with my reading goals for 2016 in general but this year I want to focus more on writing, too!

 

GOALS FOR JANUARY 2017
✓ Read The Bell Jar for my classic book
✓ Read at least 6 books
✓ Read Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone (illustrated) for my TBR
✓ Read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up for my TBR
✓ Read Red Queen for my TBR
✓ Read Heaven by V.C. Andrews for my TBR
✓ Read Frost Blood for my TBR/review book
✓ do book pictures for the month
✓ Work on Creeper re-write

 

Wish me luck! Do you have any goals this month? How did you do with your goals for December? Or 2016 in general?

 

jnc

2017 Reading Goals (and 2016 Goals Check)

2016 is almost over (Thank God!) and with it, the promise of a fresh start and new goals. After I finish my current book, I will have read 104 books for 2016–4 books over my Goodreads Challenge! I’m pretty happy about that because I haven’t been able to meet the GC goal for years.

I did pretty well with my reading goals for 2016. I’m going to do a quick check on how I did before moving onto my new goals. This is going to be a long post so buckle up!

Source: http://cdn.mspaintadventures.com/storyfiles/hs2/03406.gif
Source: http://cdn.mspaintadventures.com/storyfiles/hs2/03406.gif

100 Books — I read 104!

12 Classics — I read 12!

 

Source: http://www.startupremarkable.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/a-book-a-week-image.jpg
Source: http://www.startupremarkable.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/a-book-a-week-image.jpg

6 Series in 2016:

 

1. Divergent series–I finished the first three books (I finished Divergent last year) but didn’t get to the short story collection, Four. Since it is a short story collection, I’m still counting this series as read, especially since I didn’t particularly care for that character. I might read it in 2017, but that is a low priority at the moment. So, complete!

2. Selection series– I re-read the first book and read the next two. So I finished the original trilogy but not the companion books, which are about the main character’s daughter, or the short story collection. I’m going to count this as halfway done and try to finish the rest of the books next year.

3. The Lunar Chronicles— I re-read Cinder and then Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest. I am currently reading Winter and have little doubts that I will not finish it. The only thing left is the short story collection so I am counting this series pretty much complete! I plan to read the short story collection next year, though.

4. The Infernal DevicesComplete!

5. Dexter series– Complete! I read the first four last year and finished the next four this year.

6. The Bill Hodges Trilogy– Complete!

I also ended up finishing the trilogies for Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian as well as The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey.

So I read 5 of the series I planned and half of the other. I also read 2 other trilogies I hadn’t planned on reading. As someone who has struggled finishing series and trilogies, I feel very accomplished and okay with my progress on that for this year!

Out of my list for 16 Books I Want to Read in 2016, I read 13! Not bad! I didn’t get to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Red Queen, or Crank so I will attempt to read them next year.

I also did a list (see above link and this one is right below that one) of 16 Books on my Shelf that I Want to Read in 2016 and I read 12! I feel that’s pretty good and will try to get to the ones I didn’t read next year.

Overall I feel like I did pretty good on my reading challenges! I will probably do a post a little later on about what my favorites for 2016 and my classics were.

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Reading Goals for 2017

I want to take a little more time with my reading this year as I felt that I was rushed all through 2016 in regards to my reading goals. I’m keeping it as simple as  I can this year. My Goodreads Challenge will be to read 80 books. That puts me at reading 6-7 a month, which is do-able for me depending on my selections.

I’m going to attempt to finish the books I did not get to in 2016 that I had on previous lists:

  1. Afterparty
  2. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  3. Crank
  4. Smashed
  5. Red Queen
  6. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

I had a lot of fun branching out and reading a classic each month for 2016 so I am extending that to this year as well.

12 Classics in 2017:

 

  1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  2. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  4. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
  7. The Twin Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien
  8.  The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
  9.  Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  10.  Dracula by Bram Stoker
  11.  The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  12.  Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

 

7 Series to Read/Finish in 2017:

 

  1. Harry Potter by/inspired by J.K. Rowling (First two illustrated editions, Books 3-7, and the guidebooks, plus the Fantastic Beasts Screenplay). I also plan to look through the Unofficial Cookbook and make one or two recipes per month as well as watch all of the movies.
  2. Casteel series by V.C. Andrews (A re-read)
  3. The Selection series by Kiera Cass (The short story collections as well as the two companion novels).
  4. The Dust Lands by Moira Young (I’ve decided to re-read the first book because I couldn’t remember what had happened, as well as finish the two books after)
  5. Jasper Dent series by Barry Lyga (I’ve read the first two but plan to re-read them as well as the conclusion)
  6. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (I have three more of the actual novels plus one of the spin-offs)
  7.  Cahill Witch Chronicles by Jessica Spotswood (I read the first book in 2016 so I will just be finishing the next two this year)

I will also be reading as much of the Animorphs and OnePiece books as I can squeeze in but since they are both long, I am willing to work on them over a longer period of time. I felt that I would also narrow down to one list of 17 books to read this year rather than a list of new books I might or might not own as well as a list exclusively of books I owned–it ended up being a little complicated and I’d like to have more spaces for surprise reads this year.

17 Books in 2017:

  1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  2. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  3. This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
  4. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  5. Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
  6. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  7. Rooms by Lauren Oliver
  8. The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
  9. Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts
  10. The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
  11. Meg by Steve Alten
  12. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  13. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  14. Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
  15. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
  16. Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young
  17. Vicious by V. E. Schwab

 

So those are all of my reading goals for 2017. If you made it to this point, thank you so much for your patience! I know it was a long one. How did your reading goals go in 2016? What reading goals do you have for 2017 and what books do you hope to get to? I’d love to know. Here’s to hoping that 2017 is as successful for reading as 2016 was!

 

jnc

Late Autumn & Christmas Book Hauls!

Hi guys and apologies for the hiatus! I managed to get sick yet again right before Christmas. I’ve also been working and visiting family and friends but I have some time off coming up so hopefully I will be able to post more and then back to a regular weekly schedule!

Since December isn’t quite over and I still have time to accomplish my December goals as well as my books, I thought I would share some of the books I’ve gotten since my last haul. These are from October to Christmas!

 

Can you believe I got these for a dollar each at Dollar Tree? Always check the book section. Usually I don't find anything but every once in a while I am surprised!
Can you believe I got these for a dollar each at Dollar Tree? Always check the book section. Usually I don’t find anything but every once in a while I am surprised!
I got this big stack for a few bucks at our local library's big book sale they always do in October. The deal was $3 a big brown bag and that's exactly what I paid here. Some books I am taking to the used book store or gifting but overall they are ones to add to my TBR.
I got this big stack for a few bucks at our local library’s big book sale they always do in October. The deal was $3 a big brown bag and that’s exactly what I paid here. Some books I am taking to the used book store or gifting but overall they are ones to add to my TBR.
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This super cute tea themed coloring book was $1 at Dollar Tree!
I got these at my library outlet's store for a few bucks.
I got these at my library outlet’s store for a few bucks.
Here is a closer view of the "pretty" little books I found for my decorative shelf.
Here is a closer view of the “pretty” little books I found for my decorative shelf.

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I got all of these at Ollie's Discount Outlet for a few bucks.
I got all of these at Ollie’s Discount Outlet for a few bucks.
I needed this for the election.
I needed this for the election.
I got this in my last Horror Block!
I got this in my last Horror Block!
Book Outlet was having a Black Friday sale so I could not resist.
Book Outlet was having a Black Friday sale so I could not resist.
I got this to color during the Christmas season.
I got this to color during the Christmas season.
Here's how the cover turned out with Lolliz gel pens!
Here’s how the cover turned out with Lolliz gel pens!
My awesome in-laws got me some Harry Potter items for Christmas!
My awesome in-laws got me some Harry Potter items for Christmas! I have an item on the way from my husband as well but I will share that in my next haul!
Also a Christmas present from the in-laws. The movie was "fantastic"!
Also a Christmas present from the in-laws. The movie was “fantastic”!
Christmas gift from in-laws.
Christmas gift from in-laws.
Have I mentioned that my in-laws are way too good to me?
Have I mentioned that my in-laws are way too good to me?
My in-laws are super awesome.
My in-laws are super awesome.
I also got this because I was impressed with the last book and it was on sale.
I also got this because I was impressed with the last book and it was on sale.

So that’s a ton of books! I definitely got way too many but I don’t regret a single one of them. What books have you hauled recently?

jnc

The Book Vs the Movie (TV Show): Dexter (Conclusion with Spoilers!)

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Two years ago, I did a book vs movie/tv show post on the first three Dexter books vs. the television series. This year my goal was to finally finish the book series to see what direction it went in and I have so many feelings on it that I felt the need to do an updated post on it.

This post will have SPOILERS for the Dexter books and TV show so please don’t read any further unless you don’t mind being spoiled or have seen both. I highly recommend watching the show and reading the books because they are completely differently from one another for the most part. Also, if you dig audiobooks, the author narrates his own and actually reminded me a lot of Michael C. Hall so I highly recommend those.

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Dexter-Logo

Book series started in 2004 by Jeff Lindsay

TV series started in 2006 by James Manos, Jr.

 

 

Source: ebay
Source: ebay

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Picture Source: Wikipedia.com
Picture Source: Wikipedia.com

Which I Viewed First: The TV show.

Which I Enjoyed Most: The TV show BUT I liked the ending of the book series better. While it was sad to see Dexter die, it seemed more fitting than him living a mundane life away from anyone he loved or cared about.

Out of 5 stars, the Book Series Gets: I would give the overall book series 4 stars. The first two books were good, the third was awful, the fourth was good, I loved the fifth and sixth, was not a fan of the seventh, and the eighth was pretty good and almost redeemed itself from the previous book.

Out of 5 stars, the TV Show Gets: 4.5 stars because that ending still pisses me off. I guess I felt Deb deserved a better ending than that. It just felt sloppy and unauthentic.

Things the Book Did Better: Getting inside Dexter’s head, giving an alternate universe, the ending. The plots in the fifth and sixth books were also really good and I would have loved to seen them in the show somehow.

Things the TV Show Did Better: The overall plot, minus the ending, & the cast, especially Micheal C. Hall. I also liked that the show put more focus on Dexter’s co-workers than the book series did. I also prefer the TV show’s ending for Rita.

Verdict?: The TV Show.

Why?: Although the book series was really good, it didn’t draw me nearly as much as the show did. I think part of it is because of how well Michael C. Hall plays Dexter but another is that the storyline itself really is interesting and intricate, at least until the last season and the ending, which felt rushed, sloppy, and ill fitting.

Should the TV Show be re-made or a movie made?: Nah.

What do you think? Agree, disagree? Would love to hear your thoughts!

 

jnc