I love the End of the Year Survey + I loathe the End of the Year survey because it’s so difficult to pick favorites, especially after reading 160 books this year. I’m going to try to do what I did last year which is answer each question as differently, as possible so I can get you a real taste of all I read this year. Thanks in advance for spending time with my answers!
Thanks to Jamie for making this happen again!
[ best books ]
1. Best Book You Read In 2013?
Here’s the thing… I’ve kept a running list all year of my favorite books and I’ve been swapping them out as I’ve needed to. And then at the end of the year things just got out of control because I loved reading so many things. But like I said last year, if you know me in real life, it’s very likely I’ve talked about one of these books with you:
Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones
How to Love by Katie Cotugno
Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy
Openly Straight by Bill Konisberg
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu
Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding
The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Winger by Andrew Smith
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Fault in Our Stars was the first book I finished this year, and I just… didn’t feel the same affection for it that everyone else did. I wish I had.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
Time Between Us series by Tamara Ireland Stone. I had Book 1 from Rachel for a long time, and didn’t read it until months after, a few days after I saw Tamara at a reading. I practically stayed up all night finishing it, and as soon as I got another B&N coupon, I bought the newly released Time After Time. I loved the rules to Stone’s time traveling world, the family interactions, and all the music (look at these mixes!) really won me over. Anna and Bennett are two characters I’m going to think about for a long time.
4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
But then again, if you have seen me in any capacity (this includes social media), I have probably talked about a title in question 1.
5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
Starstruck by Rachel Shukert. Hollywood, 1930s, unique ladies on different paths. Book one was so well-researched (politically, too) and written so fully… I am so looking forward to Book 2.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
Elana K. Arnold, author of Burning, was sweet enough to send me a copy of her book during my first book buying ban. Her writing is beautiful; her premises are unique and I can’t wait to go back and read her other books.
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
I read a lot of time travel books this year, and while the idea of it really freaks me out… I really enjoyed each of them for their own separate reasons: 11/22/63 by Stephen King, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, and the Time Between Us series by Tamara Ireland Stone.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill for sure. It was raining outside, I was standing outside my grocery store reading and texting Sasha at the same time because the ending was so WTF and crazy. Such a fantastic book. I really like time travel stories! (Even if they freak me out.)
Bonus answer: Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy… this book stopped me in my tracks. It scared me, it challenged me, and gosh, I wanted to stay up all night and read it SO badly.
9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I think Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell) and How to Love by Katie Cotugno. I have been unable to get these characters out of my head, and both copies I read of the books were advanced copies. I want to wear in my very own copy. AND WRITE DOWN ALL THE BEAUTIFUL QUOTES.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
11. Most memorable character in 2013?
Rafe from Openly Straight has been on my mind since I left him back in the summer. He leaves a very liberal place where he is fully accepted to a boarding school where he wants to be seen as himself and not defined by his sexuality. He makes so many mistakes but I loved his heart and his experiment and everything about him.
Bonus: Lemon in Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia. I read this book on a road trip to Florida and I couldn’t put it down. Lemon’s journey to find her dad, deal with her pregnancy, and break away from her mom was so effective and emotional but also full of light and joyful moments too. I think of Lemon a lot.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
How to Love by Katie Cotugno had me from page 5. The language was so beautiful and still down to earth, and I just connected with the story so deeply. Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith is definitely a close second. Her writing was so rhythmic, emotional, and manic — just like the main character.
Bonus answer: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. A REVELATION.
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones seems like a silly answer maybe. But it felt inspirational to me. Here is this man from a very small town, a very supportive and creative family, who works so hard to get what he wants and literally never stops working. He basically works until he dies. I was amazed by how his mind was always coming up with these amazing concepts to create and share with the world, and how he never gave up on a project. Henson also had this special talent for picking the right people to work for his company, and watching that happen on a page, was so special. It made me feel like somewhere, someplace there is a spot for me to embark on projects of my own. (He was also a great dad, even if he wasn’t the best husband. I admired how he motivated his children.)
Bonus answer: 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Another strange answer, huh? I’ll admit the beginning of this book was slow and wasn’t about JFK as much as I thought it would be but the main character, Jake, and his journey… made me think a lot about the choices we make and the ripple effect each one has. It truly is an emotional book, and not only because a president is shot and killed. There’s a very human, down to earth story in there.
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
Anatomy of a Boyfriend series by Daria Snadowsky. I had NO idea these existed and I got such a kick out of reading this and Anatomy of a Single Girl. Daria’s writing reminds me of Sex and the City for teens, and the feelings in Boyfriend were so spot-on for me when I was about to graduate high school. Definitely check these out; the covers are great too. (Also “Single Girl” is what NA should be, I believe.)
Bonus: The Best Night of My Pathetic Life by Tara Altebrando: SO FREAKING GOOD + not based on romance, at all. Loved that.
Triple bonus: Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume. I was seeing the film so I read it right before that and wow, a story of so many emotions and so much growth in such a short collection of pages. THIS is why Judy is a queen. (P.S. See the movie. Go to iTunes. Do it.)
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
“We would hold hands as we jumped, but by the time we swam up to the surface, we’d have to let go. No matter how we tried, once we started swimming, we always let go. But after we bobbed to the surface, we’d climb out of the pool, clamber up the high-dive ladder, clasp hands and do it again. We’re swimming separately now, I get that. Maybe it’s just what you have to do to keep above water. But who knows? Maybe one day, we’ll climb out, grab hands, and jump again.” — Gayle Forman, Just One Day
“It’s hard when you open your heart and let someone in and then suddenly they’re not in it anymore. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is; that empty spot stings so bad that you want to find any kind of relief, or wrap yourself up so tight you can’t feel it anymore.” — Bill Konigsberg, Openly Straight
“I think often there is no good way out of something. No nice, easy ending or neat resolution, no clear way to set things right. That works in stories, in children’s fairy tales, but not in real life. Nothing everything can be fixed. And perhaps not everything should be.” — Elana K. Arnold, Burning
“How do you know? How can you tell if anything will ever come out of it? How can you endure waiting for someone else to, well, recognize you? How can you stand the not knowing?” — Lauren Graham, Someday Someday Maybe
“Life’s too short to walk away from people who love you. Even if that love is flawed and complicated and screwed up it’s still love. And that makes it worth finding a way to hold on to it.” — Kristen-Paige Madonia, Fingerprints of You
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest: Honeymoon in Paris by Jojo Moyes (72 pages)
Longest: 11/22/63 by Stephen King (849 pages)
17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas was full of WTF moments for me. I convinced Shanyn to read it after me, and then Tara read it and even after all of that, we were still dissecting the book to death because it was so OFF ITS ROCKER and amazingly mind-bendy.
Bonus answer: Winger by Andrew Smith. Pretty sure I freaked out the guy sitting next to me on a plane because I gasped or cried out or something. I also slammed the book shut and I was in the air and without Twitter or texting and really going to lose my shit over it. Such a brilliant book.
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Mo and Annie in The Vow by Jessica Martinez; they were willing to do so much for each other.
Ryan Dean and Joey in Winger by Andrew Smith; Ryan Dean really needed a sense of reality with all of his dreaming and immaturity (he couldn’t help it) and I loved how Joey gave him advice and was patient with him.
Anna and Bennett in Time Between Us series by Tamara Ireland Stone: I never wanted a couple to make it work so badly; I really believed in them.
Sam and Camilla in Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil; it was just too adorable to watch them get to know each other. The author really took her time with this one, and I loved it.
Ted and Ava in The Look by Sophia Jordan: two very different sisters who share some very touching and tough moments.
Merry and Queenie in Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer: Sisters who need to make peace with their past, rekindle their friendship, and also took such different paths in life. I loved how they complimented each other.
Jude and her dad in The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler: Let me just buy you some tissues. Please? This book is so beautiful. Sure there is romance but at the core, it’s about devotion to a parent and trying to give them back something for giving you so much in this life.
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
The Vow by Jessica Martinez. I read Virtuosity last year, and I liked it but The Vow really blew me away. I was a little intimidated by the heft of the book, but the reading experience was so worth it. Two friends making this HUGE decision, defying their parents, and figuring this messy situation called marriage of convenience out? So discussion worthy and wonderful.
20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
Definitely contemporary. But I’m happy I dabbled in others, too.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
I don’t really get crushes on my book people. I’M SORRY. But I did love Ryan Dean in Winger. (In fact I am pretty sure I dated a guy just like him in high school. So there ya go.)
23. Best 2013 debut you read?
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu. Bea is such a realistic character that it almost hurt to read her sometimes. She was in total denial about who she was and as a reader, I just wanted to scream at her and care for her at the same time. There were so many well-rounded characters in this book, each with their own challenges, and the cover is SO BRIGHT. (Corey also has a new book coming out in the spring…!)
Bonus: Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland — this book about summer in Nantucket, broken friendships, and surprising romance just reeled me in and I felt so connected to it. Such beautiful scenes, and really heartbreaking ones. Leila is a new favorite for me.
24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
I am going to say Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland here again. She made Nantucket so alive to me, and you could tell it has a special meaning to her. I could practically smell the sea air, see the town, and all of its summer guests.
Bonus answer: Reality Boy by A.S King. This book is utterly brilliant, and King created such a realistic world of this reality show family and even the dream world our main character escapes too when he needs a break. Why didn’t this book get more attention?
25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu. This book was amazing and powerful. More people read it please? Also the Starstruck series by Rachel Shukert. Especially for adults who like YA, this is a must read.
[ blogging ]
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2013?
It is incredibly hard to keep track of who I started reading this year but I am going to give it a shot:
- Maggie at Just a Couple More Pages: incredibly candid, honest and smart reviews. I love her. (Even when we disagree.)
- Brittany at The Book Addicts Guide impresses me constantly with all the projects she can juggle, the utter enthusiasm she has for reading and joining people together.
- Judith (and now Ellice!) at The Paper Riot: super creative and original with succinct and thoughtful reviews. These girls make me want to read everything.
- Betty at Book Rock Betty: she is the most fearless blogger I know and she provides her readers with such varied content (natural products, the always-game Mr. Betty, Baby Betty reviews, BARBIE videos). I never know what I’m going to find when I check out her blog and I just love that.
- Cassie at Books with Cass: technically I met Cassie around this time last year but I am going to fib a little because this girl. THIS GIRL. She is the ultimate book pusher, she makes everything fun, and who she is shines through her blog all the time. She’s thoughtful and funny and sweet and I love her eclectic book tastes and her love for the Kindle Paperweight. And book sales!
- Okay last one: Melissa and Christina at Allodoxophobia: I didn’t stumble on this blog until May but ever since I subscribed I get a lot of my best book recommendations from these two. The reviews are clean, well-written, and super straight forward.
2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2013?
3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
Write Meg has been one of my favorite bloggers for a long long time. This year I loved hearing her thoughts as she planned a wedding, journeyed through weight loss, and of course, found time to read. Here’s a post about her journey to get healthy and a thoughtful wedding tips.
I love how Melissa at Writer Grrl Reads shared such a personal story with her review of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.
And I have to mention some FUN posts: Ginger during our Sweet Summertime Reads feature: ingredients for summer romance + Jamie teamed up with me to talk about our husbands and the state of their reading. Will is not a reader. Jamie did a great job!
5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
See some moments below. Also NA Slumber Party was so much fun! Can’t wait to start it up again next year. Also guest posting for Rachel’s Bookbags feature was SUCH A CHALLENGE. She makes it look easy, friends.
6. Best moment[s] of book blogging/your book life in 2013?
Moment 1. Talking about books with Leila Howland (author of Nantucket Blue) and these lovely ladies: Rachel from Rachel Reads, Alexa from Alexa Loves Books, Betty of Book Rock Betty, and Gaby from Queen Ella Bee Reads.
Moment #2. Hanging out with my beautiful and sweet friend, Magan, TWICE THIS YEAR. The above picture is from my summer trip to Austin but it was so cool to see her for a quick jaunt down to Washington D.C. too. I always have the worst Magan hangovers when I get back from hanging out because she is awesome and we just get along so freaking well, and seriously laugh until we cry. MUST DO THIS AGAIN SOON.
Moment 3. Okay, so even if we waited in this very long line to meet Lauren Graham… it was totally worth it. She was super sweet and still going through after signing SO MANY BOOKS. I was so so nervous.
Moment 4. You know I must love this moment because this is not the most flattering picture of me. James and I had just had a very nice day at the beach, and on the way back, decided to say hi to Cassie while she worked. It was kind of an adventure because our GPS kept getting us lost BUT IT HAPPENED. And you know what, Cassie is just as awesome and sweet and funny in person than she is on the internet!
Moment #5. I didn’t go to BEA so I can’t even say BEA but… it was nice that so many people I had been chatting with forever were in town and I got a lot of socializing in with them. But EH it was so hot, I thought I was going to faint in that NYC heat. So my brain wasn’t working and I don’t have a ton of pictures. But it was so nice to meet Shanyn and Asheley (left) and reunite with Sasha and Elena. In the right picture, a casual hangout at The Strand with Brittany, Alyssa, Mandee, Heidi, and Amara!
7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
I really loved the feedback that I got for my Internet + I post. It was very difficult to hit publish on this one, but I was comforted to see how many people feel like I do… the internet is so crucial in our lives as bloggers (and readers) and it’s my main way of meeting people so… I think it’s important to share those experiences.
It was also a ton of fun to do this Austin Tour through the eyes of Lovestruck Summer, an older novel by Melissa Walker. I loved that Magan and I could work on it side by side, and also talk about one of our favorite authors at the same time. Austin is a gorgeous place and this post makes me miss it.
8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I get a little frustrated with my Big Kids’ Table feature. I love it, but I also hear crickets when I post them. For example, I had a blast putting together this post with YA authors recommending their “big kid” picks and it just didn’t pick up steam like I wanted. I see a lot of readers and bloggers searching for something NEW and less popular to read, and therefore, I get a little sad when Big Kids’ Table doesn’t fulfill that need? (Suggestions welcome, friends!)
9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Does Lit Lushes fit under this category? I love the chats what Alyssa and Brittany host every other Thursday. I’ve met so many fun Twitter people, and the conversations are always SO SMART. I find myself thinking about them afterward and forgetting where they happened! During a Lit Lush Thursday chat of course!
Also the Recaptains is a project that I don’t see getting nearly enough attention. A few bloggers got together to help readers (like us) brush up on series volumes so we don’t have to totally reread. It’s a genius idea, and I love it so much. GO SUPPORT THEM.
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
My goal was to read 100 books this year, and then I increased it to 150 and I’m about 10 beyond that now. I also read a lot of books out of my comfort zone, reread some books, and stopped reading review books in order to pick up something Magan loved. In so many ways, my reading felt like a success this year!
[ the future ]
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?
Don’t kill me but I still haven’t read Just One Year (Gayle Forman). I have a small trip coming up, and I think I will finally get my chance. (I wanted to make sure I re-read Just One Day too so it’s a tall order and I haven’t had a chance to make this happen yet!)
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?
3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Officially the hardest question in this survey. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer. Reality show, performing arts, high school drama! This was pitched as something like Glee? And I was pretty much sold!
4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?
I’m not much of a series person, but I am looking forward to Book 2 in the All Our Yesterdays series? I am so so interested to see how Cristin will keep it going.
5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?
Read a classic! Concentrate more on what I have already and what I like, and to stop feeling pressured to buy books when I don’t need them and already have a HUGE variety to choose from at home. (Can someone help me with this, please?) As far as reviewing, I need to keep track of publication dates better and not get request happy in any capacity. I want to be able to take a break if I can and not feel obligated. To say it more simply: just to have fun, stay relaxed, be creative, collaborate with more bloggers, and have even more of a blast blogging with Magan next year!
♥ ♥ ♥
Just want to give a huge thank you to the bloggers out there to continue to inspire me, and are always supportive and wonderful to talk to whether it be about books, beer, Zac Efron, or anything life related. It’s been such a fantastic year getting to meet so many of you in person and I have loved every second of it. Of course, to Magan, I could not ask for a better partner. I can’t wait to see what kind of blogger Baby B will turn out to be. (We start ’em young!) And to you, dear reader, even if you picked up one book because of our recommendations this year, thanks for trusting us with your time. We are so grateful and can’t wait to bring you more awesome books and thoughtful discussion in 2014!
Oh gosh! If you read through that whole thing, THANK YOU.
Hope you get some good recommendations out of it! What a fantastic year!