Tuesday Top Ten – Favorite Books Read in 2015

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had an absolutely FABULOUSLY nerdy 2015, see full of books and all kinds of awesome. I know I did. 2015 was a GREAT year to be me and I’m stoked to see what 2016 brings me.

For now, information pills let’s count down the top ten (technically 12) books that I read this year. Keep in mind…I read 126 books this year so this was HARD

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 4.11.21 PM

Both of the Honorable Mention books are actually being published in 2016. I read both of them in 2015 as ARCs and absolutely loved them both, page so they make my list of best books I read this year :)

Click the book title for its GoodReads page, the author name for their website and the book cover for my review!

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima 

I was so excited when I got this ARC both digitally and in the mail. I absolutely adore Cinda Chima and I honestly think she’s one of the best fantasy authors I’ve ever read. She’s just so damn good. She’s going to be visiting in April, about two hours away, but I’m going. Hands down. This is the first in a new series, a spin off of my favorite series by her, the Seven Realms. It was great to be back in that realm, though I miss Raisa and Han, and it was just…ugh, so damn good. I can’t wait to read more!

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Confession Time: I’ve never read an Alex Bracken book before. I’ve heard The Darkest Minds series is good but I just haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I got this book in the mail as an ARC and I loved the cover and concept and immediately dove in. I can’t even begin to explain how much I ADORE this book. I’m a huge fan of Alex’s now and I can’t wait to make The Darkest Minds a priority in 2016.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 4.13.21 PM

Unchanged by Jessica Brody

Its hard to believe that I read this book nearly a year ago! How insane is that! So weird. But god, what an amazing end to the trilogy. I had all these theories and expectations and this literally blew my mind. It is just…its not at all what I expected at all. She surprised me and shocked me and its really hard to genuinely surprise me and I was like like OMG. Jessica Brody got progressively better and better with this series and I just absolutely loved this series ender.

The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen

In all truthfulness, I read the entirety of this series this year, and I loved every single minute of it. I was hooked from book one and devoured the entire series and anxiously awaited the new releases. But by far, easily, my favorite is The Shameless Hour. I love both of the main characters and I love the story. I love Bella so much, I love that she’s not your typical virgin, which we see most of the time in NA series. I love that she owns who she is until things happen and she questions herself, but still ultimately comes out as confident in the person she is. I don’t know if that sentence made sense AT all but that’s how I felt. SUCH a good book.

All Played Out by Cora Carmack

Even though Carson is my favorite and will always have the special spot in my heart, I just loved loved loved All Played Out. Like I said about with Jessica, Cora just got better and better with these books as the series continued and I devoured APO in a matter of hours. Just blew me away. I adore Nell, her personality, her directness, everything and Torres is just…the kind of guy that would drive me absolutely insane in real life but causes me to swoon when I read. I am INSANELY excited about the release of the fourth book :)

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I had been hearing about this book for ages and I had actually bought it when I met Victoria at YALLWest back in April. Everyone said it was SO good, but I just wasn’t feeling it for awhile. But when I finally sat down to read it…it just blew my mind. The world building is incredible, absolutely incredible…it flows so well and is so believable. And the twists and turns in this book…I was incredibly shocked at the ending of this book, jaw dropping, for sure. That cliffhanger…is it time for book two yet?!

Stand Off by Andrew Smith

I love Winger. Its one of my favorite books of all time and when I heard there was going to be a sequel, I nearly peed my pants with excitement. Because I was going to get my Ryan Dean back and the antics that follow him, always. And yes, that is what happened in Stand Off. I laughed so hard, because Ryan Dean is hilarious and Andrew is hilarious and the brand new character of Sam Abernathy is so freakin’ hilarious. But the book surprised me and became so much more, just like Winger. It had a lot to say about post traumatic stress disorder, and panic attacks and was written so beautifully. Always a win with an Andrew Smith book.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

I had high anticipation for this book because I absolutely adore Aaron Hartzler. He’s a great writer and just an all around great person and I was so excited when I was able to get an ARC of this book. And my expectations were blown away. I loved his first book. I absolutely am obsessed with this one. Aaron Hartzler writes a compelling and incredibly emotional read and its beautiful and poignant and relevant and permanent. I read this months ago, and the story still is stuck with me, still sends chills through me. Its a must read for sure.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

The first book I ever read by Rainbow Rowell was her novel, Fangirl, which I’ve now read several times. One of my favorite books that I’ve ever read and one of the few characters that I’ve been able to identify with as much as I have with Cath…Cath is me. So when I heard Rainbow was putting out Carry On, a story of the fictional characters created in Fangirl…I had to. And its amazing how invested in these doubly fictional characters I was! I loved the story from beginning to end and I laughed so hard, so many times, and I will ship Simon and Baz until the end of time. One of the best Harry Potter fan fictions I’ve ever read in my life, and I’m so glad this became a real book.

Winter by Marissa Meyer

I honestly felt like this book was NEVER going to be released. It had been nearly TWO years since Cress and I was DYING to find out what happened next. I’ve been in a perpetual slump with reading the past few months but I knew I had to sit down and read this one and I’m so glad I made myself do it because I blew through it. Marissa Meyer has an EPIC end to the series, with so many throwbacks to the original fairytales but also keeping me hooked to the action and the surprise and the romance and all of it. I LOVED this book and this series, and I can’t get it out of my head.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I don’t think I’ve ever met an author as talented at writing this beautifully and creating these kind of worlds so intricately than Leigh Bardugo. Seriously. The kind of fantasy she creates, the characters, the worlds, the way they all weave together to create the story…it just completely hooks me. Its emotional and real and its gripping because you can feel everything in the story as if you stepped through the pages. Leigh takes the world she created in the Grisha trilogy and opens it up wider, further, and pulls us into a new story, and its not hard to fall into it. I loved each and every character, I loved the story and I feel like I’m never going to fail to be impressed by this lady.

Scorched by Jennifer L Armentrout

I didn’t expect for this book to be on this list. I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did. I love Jennifer Armentrout and I’ve learned this year to love love love her new adult books. I loved Frigid but I took it as what it was and was excited for Scorched. I was so unprepared for what that book would do to me. Scorched’s main character, Andrea, suffers through mental illness, mental illness that is very very similar to my own and it felt…so real, so raw, so emotional to read the point of view of someone who felt so much like I do. I cried a lot because I felt like JLA had given me a voice, when it felt too hard to describe how I felt…especially when she described a panic attack. I kept thinking, YES, that’s how it feels. So yes, I loved the story and the romance and all of that but I also loved Andrea, and her struggle and JLA’s ability to put my feelings into words.

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What were some of YOUR favorite reads of 2015? Don’t forget to sound off in the comments!

May Book Wrap Up!

Books Pledged to Read in 2015:

150

Am I On Track: 

2 books behind. This seems to be the trend every month..

Books Read So Far: 

59

Total Books For May: 

12

The Heir

22918050

Saint Anything

23009402

Pucked

24504274

Scoring Wilder

21843117

Be With Me

17558817

Stay With Me

19501672

Fall With Me

20980781

The Proposal

21491442

Trust In Me

17860217

Frigid

16122034

PS I Still Love You

20698530

The White Rose

24585267

All Lined Up (Re-Read)

18505845

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How was your May?!

April Book Wrap Up!

Books Pledged to Read in 2015:

150

Am I On Track: 

3 books behind (That being said, unhealthy I’m really proud that I didn’t get further behind. I was 7 books behind at one point. April was the most INSANE month so I’m stoked that its only 3 books)

Books Read So Far: 

46

Total Books For April: 

13

The Understatement of the Year

Understatement of the Year

Three Day Summer (ARC)

23232396

The Deal 

24504048

Royal Wedding (ARC)

23215471-1

What We Saw (ARC)

20922826

The Shameless Hour 

23346876

All Played Out (ARC)

22249707

Sweet (ARC)

Sweet

How to Love

22693175

Alienated (Re-Read)

13574417

This One Summer

18465634

The Mistake

25031450

Every Last Word (ARC)

23341894

Book News! Cora Carmack and All Closed Off!

I am SO insanely excited to be bringing you this FABULOUS news today. The blog world is going to be exploding today because so many blogs are sharing this and I’m so glad to be a part of this.

For those of you who may not know, web I am *slightly* addicted to Cora Carmack’s Rusk University series. Football. Hot boys. Romance. UGH. I’m in love. I’ve enjoyed all three books that have released so far, and I thought that was the end. I’m so happy to be part of the announcement that this is not the end!

Please read this awesome announcement from Cora herself. 

Please be warned that it WILL have spoilers from the second book, All Broke Down, so if you have not read that book, please do NOT proceed!

ACO announcement

Hello beloved readers! 

The first person who read one of my Rusk University books was my older sister. I gave her All Lined Up when I finished, and her first question was “Are Ryan and Stella going to be together?” 

At the time, I told her no. I had plans for both of them that included their own storylines. I thought they were too much alike. They’d make great friends. They might even hook-up, but in the end… I couldn’t envision anything serious for them. So I actually rewrote some of their scenes trying to make that aspect of their connection more obvious. And still, when All Lined Up released, amidst the chatter about sweet Carson and sassy Dallas, I had people asking if Stella and Ryan were next. I denied it again (and again and again). 

But sometimes in writing, the stars align and a character will become bigger and more real than you could have possibly imagined. It’s a wonderful experience, but in Stella’s case it was also incredibly heartbreaking. While I was writing All Broke Down, the news was inundated with information about the Steubenville rape trial and other tragedies and injustices like it. Tragedies where women have been violated first by an attacker, then by judgmental and hateful people, and finally by a justice system that repeatedly fails survivors of sexual assault. Having grown up in Texas, where too often football stars are treated like gods and can get away with just about anything, it hit particularly close to home. And since All Broke Down featured a passionate activist heroine, I felt compelled to reference this chronic dark underbelly of elite sports. 

I can remember vividly sitting on my couch, brainstorming how I would incorporate such an event into the book. I had thought the assault would happen to an unknown character, and maybe I would focus on the way it divided the team and the school and the town. But like I said… Sometimes a character will become bigger and more human than I anticipated. And it sounds crazy, but in my mind, I felt Stella push her way forward and say, “Mine. This is my story.” I immediately began to cry. Sob, really. Because I loved her as a character. She was hilarious and strong and didn’t take crap from anyone. She was everything I always hope to be. And I didn’t want her to go through that. Even as I cried, my brain began to tell me that it made sense. Stella was vibrant and enjoyed a wild party. She was not afraid of her sexuality, and she had no problem with casual sex. She was the kind of girl that probably had a reputation. The kind of girl who could be heinously and violently taken advantage of, and people would STILL blame her. Because she was in the wrong place, wearing the wrong clothes, behaving in the wrong way. But just because it COULD happen to her, didn’t mean I wanted it to. But once again, Stella was there in my head saying, “Someone needs to tell this story. And I’m strong enough to do it. Let me.” And when Stella chose her story, she also chose the man I’d been adamant wasn’t right for her. Because as it turns out… Those two characters who I thought were too alike aren’t so alike anymore. And Stella needs Ryan to help her hold on to that vibrant and strong girl she was before. 

So I let go of all the plans I had for her, and allowed her to tell me her story, which is about more than just sexual assault. It’s about the aftermath. Depression. Shame. Guilt. Anger. Injustice. Victim-blaming. Slut-shaming. It’s about the way that kind of event can change everything– how you relate to people, how you think, how you dream, how you love. It’s about the way the rest of the world moves on to the next big tragedy, and you’re still left holding the broken pieces of who you used to be, with no idea how to put them together again or even if you want to. It will be the most difficult story I ever tell. And the most important. Because it’s a story that belongs not just to Stella, but to millions of people around the world. It’s a story that belongs to a new person every 107 seconds*. And that’s just in the United States. Think about that for a moment. 107 seconds. Stella’s story won’t be any easier to read than it will be to write. But I hope you’ll help me drag this story into the light. 

So now I’ll step off my soapbox and just tell you about the book… 



ALL CLOSED OFF:

Stella Santos is fine. 

Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same. 

But none of that matters because she’s just fine. 

For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t.  

When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again. 

Vulnerable. 

***** 

ALL CLOSED OFF will be releasing sometime in early 2016. I don’t have a date yet for several reasons. The first and most important, is that I want to do this story justice. And as such, I have no intentions of rushing the process. Secondly, I’ll be returning to indie publishing for the remainder of the Rusk series. As you can probably tell, this story means a great deal to me. And by having the ultimate control over everything from timing to editing to price, I’ll be able to ensure that I’m able to create exactly the story I envision. Unfortunately, that means you won’t be seeing the paperback of ALL CLOSED OFF on the shelves in most stores. Nor is it currently available for pre-order. But I hope you’ll add the book on goodreads, follow me on social media, and/or join my newsletter. I promise to shout it all over the place when I have a set release date or pre-order links. 

Thank you for listening as I told you the evolution of Stella’s story. When it’s finished, I hope you will feel as passionately about it as I do. 

All my best, 

Cora Carmack 

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WhenItHappened title

There is also a chance for you to add your own voice to Stella’s story. Read more about it here: 

Stella’s experience is only one story of many. She was with someone she trusted when it happened, and the only memories she has are pieced together from her own blurred recollections and the things people have told her.  Not everyone’s experience with sexual assault is the same. Each person reacts, copes, and overcomes differently. And while this book is about one specific character’s journey, I would like to tell as many sides of this story as possible. As Stella grapples with her thoughts and emotions she’ll be searching for advice, for comfort, for a place where people understand her and can identify with what she’s experiencing. There will be room for truth within the fiction, and if you’d like that truth to be yours, this is your chance.

If you have a story like Stella’s, and you want your voice to be heard….

If there’s something you wish more people understood about what you’ve gone through….

If there’s something you’d like to tell people struggling with a story like yours…

I’d like to give you the opportunity to add your voice to Stella’s. Use the hashtag#WhenItHappened and let your voice be heard on your own by posting on your own social media, or if you’d rather I share your words fill out this google document and tell me your story. You can fill out this form anonymously or not. I’d like to begin this discussion now because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But my hope is to include as many stories as possible within the book itself.

So many have stories of #WhenItHappened. Your voice and your story deserve to be heard. I’m listening.

#WhenItHappened Google Form: http://goo.gl/forms/4VRjWgZYSW

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About Cora Carmack 

Headshot

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something New York Times bestselling author who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She now splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City and spends her days writing, traveling, and spending way too much time on the internet. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too.

January Book Wrap Up!

Books Pledged to Read in 2015:

150

Am I On Track: 

3 books head

Books Read So Far: 

16

Total Books For January: 

16

This Shattered World

13138734

Suspicion

22533415

The DUFF (Re-Read)

6931356

Half-Blood (Re-Read)

9680718

Unleashed

23343587

Paper or Plastic

22249447

My True Love Gave to Me

20309175

Everything Leads to You

18667779

The Winner’s Curse

16069030

The Orphan Queen

18081228

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless

20646933

Inspire 

22824819

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess ARC

22718809

Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys) ARC

18333999

I Was Here by Gayle Forman 

18879761

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

22489107

*       *       *       *       *      *

Book Review: Inspire by Cora Carmack

22824819Genre: 

New Adult, ampoule Romance, sick Fantasy

Pages: 

284

Part of a Series?:

First Novel in a Trilogy (?)

Release Date: 

December 15th, more about 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author’s Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Kalliope lives with one purpose.

To inspire.

As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real.

Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal.

Her presence may inspire genius.

But it breeds madness, too.

My Review:

Seriously. Cora. How can you do this to me? First, you made me fall in love with Carson. And then Silas. Then, let’s face it, I’ll probably fall madly in love with Torres. But in the meantime, I just fell madly in love with Kalli and Wilder.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. It wasn’t that I didn’t think it was going to be good because the Rusk University series has seriously made me fall madly in love with Cora as a writer. I read Inspire because it was on sale for 99 cents and I couldn’t really turn down a deal like that, especially when I was feeling a little slumpy (despite the hundred books sitting in a pile, waiting to be read), so I decided to buy it.

And I just love it. It was such a beautiful and addicting book. I didn’t think it was possible for Cora to make me love her more as a writer but it was. I immediately absolutely love Kalli. You’re in her head, and you feel her struggle. She’s a goddess, a muse, weighed down by this power that she has to use…but also is dangerous to use as well. You feel her struggle and you just want her to have a normal life. She immediately felt like someone I would want to be best friends with, and not just because she would help my writing flourish haha.

Then we enter Wilder. And they immediately have a connection, from their brief encounter at the grocery store, to their first encounter…in…the…shower, I was sold on them. Their romance was quick, thrilling, sexy, hot. There is a thread of fate between them and I knew that I wanted them together so badly. They had an incredibly chemistry, and there are some seriously steamy scenes between them that made me blush in all the best ways possible. You really want to root for them. You really want Kalli to have a normal life even though she really can never possibly be normal.

And that’s where things get complicated. The book is in split point of views, so that we get both sides of the story, Kalli and Wilder. And when we learn things about Wilder that Kalli doesn’t know (which I can’t say, because, you know, spoiler free), your hands are clutched tightly to the pages, frantically flipping, waiting for the moment when things are going to implode, because inevitably shit is going to hit the fan. And when it does, I was in near tears, hoping that things were going to work out. This book is an emotional roller coaster. It made me laugh and blush, and it made me pant and it made me tear up more than once.

What really gets me about this book though is that its so different from anything we’ve seen from Cora yet. She says that fantasy is actually her forte, what she had spent many years writing and that she went with the contemporary of Losing It, to try and get published. Now, having read Inspire, you can see how that was something she felt so comfortable writing for so long. It seems effortless, the world and characters that she has created and I bought into almost immediately. And its a story of Greek mythology that I definitely don’t think is out there. Kalliope and her sisters, the muses, you don’t see versions of that at all.

All in all, Cora completely scores with this fantasy romance, with her characters, her steamy scenes and the mythology she weaves into the novel. Its beautiful and she leaves me with such an epic cliffhanger that I was super disappointed when the book ended. Luckily, hopefully, I won’t have to wait too long to find out what happens next!

Rating: 

4.5 out of 5 Stars