Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books That I’ve Read This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

I just started my blog a few months ago, so all of the books that I’ve reviewed have been read this year. Here’s a list of my ten favorites with links to my reviews (if I’ve reviewed them).

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The Monuments Men by Robert M Edsel

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Prudence by Gail Carriger

What have you guys been reading this year?

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes [Audiobook]

Cassie’s mom was murdered. Ever since then, she’s been living with her Dad’s family and trying to fit in. When she receives an opportunity to work for the CIA as a profiler, she leaps at the chance. Almost as soon as she begins her work for the CIA, a serial killer in the DC area starts killing women that either look like Cassie’s mother or were in the same line of work as a psychic or medium. Cassie demands to be put on the case, but the CIA says it’s too dangerous.

This was the first audiobook that I listened to on our massive Disneyland road trip. The narrator was okay. Sometimes her voice was a little annoying, but overall it wasn’t so bad. The characters were all very interesting to me. All five had an interesting skill-set and distinct personalities. What I didn’t like was the forced love triangle between Michael, Dean, and Cassie. I liked Michael and Dean as characters, but I didn’t particularly like them as people and I ESPECIALLY didn’t like either of them as love interests. I feel that this book could have been greatly improved without the romance element. The romance made Cassie seem a lot weaker than I think she actually was. She’s working on some tough stuff as a profiler but there were still times when she just seemed like a wuss.

My other issue was that it’s never explained to us how “naturals” come to be. Cassie’s skill is explained and Dean’s is too somewhat, but how did Michael get so good at reading emotions? How did Leah get so good at lying and discerning the truth? How did Sloan get so good with statistics and remembering facts? What makes some people naturals and not others? And why do naturals peak during the teen years? These are questions that would seem important, but were never answered.

I felt that the plot was pretty suspenseful. It kept me wondering nearly the whole time. I started to figure things out in the last few chapters, but I still hadn’t put it all together when the reveal came. I don’t read a ton of mystery books, but I feel like a good mystery book has clues scattered throughout that the reader can put together as the characters are solving it. I wish this book had a little more of that, but that’s my only complaint in the plot area.

Overall, the book was pretty good. I just discovered that there are actually two additional books after this first one: Killer Instinct and All In which comes out November 3rd. At this point, I’m not sure if I’ll read the other two. I think I would if someone just gave them to me, but it’s not a priority of mine at the moment.

Overall Rating: 3
Violence: Heavy. A lot of gore, but not explicit descriptions.
Language: None
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: None

The Would You Rather Tag

I was tagged for this by cup of tea with that book, please and Joey @Thoughts and Afterthoughts.

Would you rather only read trilogies or only read standalones?

I would choose trilogies. If I like a book or a world then I never really want it to end so it’s always nice when there’s more than one book. But if I don’t like a story then I don’t HAVE to read the rest of the trilogy.

Would you rather only read male or female authors?

The majority of authors that I read are female so I’d have to go with female. Plus, how could you ask me to give up Sarah Dessen or Jennifer E Smith? That’s just inhumane.

Would you rather shop at Barnes and Noble or Amazon?

AMAZON. I think I’m mildly addicted to Amazon. I visit the site at least once a day–sometimes multiple times a day. I’ve bought books, games, clothes, makeup, and even groceries on Amazon before. I LOVE AMAZON. It just makes my life so much easier.

Would you rather books were made into TV shows or movies?

I would have to say movies for this one. I know it’s hard to get everything from a book into a movie, but I don’t like the idea of things being created that weren’t in the original story just to make sure a TV show has enough episodes or seasons.

Would you rather read only 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?

Five books a week for me. I’m a pretty fast reader and even though I don’t currently read five books a week, it’s definitely in the realm of possibility if it was a requirement or I made it a priority. Also, it would KILL me to only be able to read five pages a day.

Would you rather be a professional author or reviewer?

Reviewer for sure. I’ve always thought it would be fun to be a content editor so that’s why I like reviewing. I’ve tried to start books in the past, but I find that I have about zero creativity (I’m super analytical) and so I just end up recycling ideas from books I’ve read.

Would you rather be a librarian or a bookseller?

Bookseller! I think it would be so fun to run an independent bookstore. You could totally control your inventory, maybe get some regulars…it just sounds like it would be really fun to me.

Would you rather only read your favorite genre, or every other genre but your favorite?

This is a tough one…are we counting YA as a genre? Because that’s basically all I read anyway. So, if it counts then only my favorite genre. If it doesn’t then I’d probably choose every other genre.

Would you rather only read ebooks or physical books?

This is a tough one too…I do like the feel of having a physical book in my hands, but the convenience of ebooks is hard to beat. I guess I’d say–if price were no option–physical books.

I tag anyone who wants to do this! #lazy

Date with a Rockstar by Sarah Gagnon [ARC]

Monet has a disease called Fluxem but she’s too poor to afford the $20,000 cure. Her only hope is to get onto a reality TV show for a chance to date teen heartthrob singer Jeremy Bane–and win $30,000. After taxes she’ll have almost all of the money that she needs for the cure. What Monet doesn’t count on is how she’s starting to feel about Jeremy.

Just to start, I’m a BIG sucker for books about people competing in reality TV shows. I don’t know why, but I love it. This book was really up my alley. Reality TV show plus a little romance? Perfect. Right off the bat, we were struck by how completely ordinary Monet is. It’s stressed to the reader over and over. But then, she gets selected to be on this TV show. As a reader I’m just like…what? But she’s so ordinary (especially when compared to the other girls). It just seemed improbable that she would actually get chosen based on the information we’re given as a reader. The only reason we’re given is that one of the answers that she gave during her interview was really good. One answer? Is that all it takes?

One thing I did like about the book is that Monet readily admits that she finds Jeremy attractive and has a fangirl crush on him. The “girl doesn’t like celebrity, girl gets to know celebrity, girl likes celebrity” theme is a little overdone and also doesn’t seem wholly realistic. It was refreshing that Monet liked Jeremy and thought there was depth to his songs. Jeremy was an okay character…a little too perfect for my tastes. There was never really any conflict between Monet and Jeremy and because of that their relationship felt a little flat. The other girls were also pretty one note. None of them felt very developed and I feel like more things could have been explained to us. Like the girl with the purple contacts? Why? Is it Jeremy’s favorite color or something? Who knows? It’s just a random detail that’s mentioned several times but is never explained.

The ending was…satisfying but not. I thought that everything got wrapped up a little too nicely. *Spoiler* Monet basically ends up being taken care of by Jeremy. It’s not the fact that Jeremy takes care of Monet that’s my issue, it’s that it basically all happens off-camera while she’s unconscious. It’s almost like her fairy godmother came while she was unconscious and waved her magic wand and made everything better. Also, her little friendship with Praline at the end didn’t feel genuine. There wasn’t really anything leading up to that and so it felt really random and just thrown in so Monet would have someone to talk to at the end. *End Spoiler* So…the ending maybe could have used some reworking, but I’m not complaining too much.

Overall, I liked the book quite a bit because of the reality TV show element so I’m probably giving it more stars than it actually deserves. The plot and characters were a bit flat and conflicts were resolved a little too easily. But it’s an easy read that you won’t have to get too emotionally involved in.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

DISCUSSION: AutoRip for Books? (Automatic Digital Download)

As a reminder, this is a feature that I’m starting (hopefully once a week or so). I’ve done some research on a topic that I now present to you. Then I have a few questions at the bottom. Feel free to discuss, but remember to always be kind in your comments.

Amazon-AutoRipIn 2013, Amazon introduced two new features. One was called AutoRip where you could download the MP3 version of qualifying CDs for free (as long as you had purchased the original CD from Amazon). What a great feature! Now you can have the physical CD but also download the music right away. So convenient! It kind of makes sense, right? You already bought the music so why not be able to download for free? You already paid for it!

The second feature that Amazon introduced in 2013 was Kindle Matchbook. For any qualifying physical book that you have purchased from Amazon since 1995, you can purchase a digital copy of it for $2.99 or less. Seems like kind of the same idea, right? You’ll probably end up having to pay a little bit, but $2.99 isn’t bad.

These features got me thinking about why other bookstores (let’s say…Barnes and Noble) don’t do something like this? Technically, it would cost very little to supply free eBooks to those who have purchased physical copies in-store or online. I doubt that they would lose much revenue from their eBook sales (how many people buy the physical book and then go pay for the eBook as well?) I propose that it would only help their profits by creating an incentive for people to shop at their store as opposed to alternatives. I’ve had the dilemma of, “I’d like to have a physical copy of this book…but I’d also like to have the convenience of having it on my Kindle…but I only have enough money to do one of those things.”

Now, I could see people wondering about the flip-side of the argument, “If I buy an eBook shouldn’t they supply me a physical copy?” My answer to this is…no, I don’t think so. This is because it would actually cost companies money to do that. Electronic forms of media are free to reproduce and would not cut into profit margins while supplying eBook customers with physical copies would (it’s just not practical). In addition, when you buy a physical book, you buy more than just the words on the page. You buy the book cover, the pages, the feel of a book in your hands. When you buy an eBook, you’re just buying the words (words that you already have when you’ve purchased the physical copy). So supplying an eBook to people who have purchased physical copies (in my mind) is supplying them with something that they already have. Whereas the other way, the customer would be receiving something extra.

Here are my questions for you: Should bookstores supply customers with a free copy of the eBook when a physical copy is purchased? Or do you think people should have to pay a little bit like with Amazon’s Kindle Matchbook program? Would this be a feature that you would utilize?


June Book Haul

I was lucky enough to win a $30 gift card to Barnes and Noble from Amanda @Anchored to Sunshine. She has a fun little lifestyle blog that I started following a few weeks ago–go ahead and click. You know you want to!

BH 5

Of course, I had to get to Barnes and Noble ASAP. I ended up getting two books. I generally try to get my books used (just to save a little money) but it is such a treat to not have to hunt for a book that you want. Also, these books are in PRISTINE condition. Amazing.

Top to bottom:
Scarlet by Marrisa Meyer – Checked out from the library. I am LOVING this series.
Welcome Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell – I bought this from the library for $1. I haven’t heard of it before, but it looked fun and it’s about a high school radio station which is something I’ve always been a little interested in. Let me know if you’ve read it and what you thought!
Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg – Okay, so I actually forgot that I’d included this one in my last haul…but yeah, I still have it.
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith (B&N) – I LOVE JEN E SMITH. I love this book and I’m definitely planning on getting the rest of her books eventually.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (B&N) – I loved this book so much. I used to be really against marking up books, but I’ve recently gotten over that. I cannot wait to go through this book again and mark my favorite passages.

Who else has a book haul to share? Link it in the comments because I’d love to check it out!

Unknown Sender by Ryan Lanz

Jessica is focused on her schoolwork. She doesn’t have time for boys or partying like her roommate, Aubrey, does. On the one night she does agree to go out, she starts receiving mysterious text messages. They’re benign at first, but become increasingly familiar and creepy. It’s starting to look like Jessica might have a stalker…
Unknown Sender

I don’t generally like horror books, but the creepy stalker kind are something that I can stomach a little easier. Just because there tends to be less gore and because I feel more separated from the story maybe? It’s not like I’M getting creepy stalker texts or anything like that. This book was just the right amount of creepy. I was a little unsettled with what the texts were saying, but I wasn’t “keep the light on all night” scared. I will admit, I didn’t start reading this until my husband started watching a baseball game (I wanted to make sure he was with me in case I got too scared). But that ended up not being an issue.

This book is a fast read! Much faster than I’d originally anticipated. The author described it to me as a novelette, but it’s probably more short story length (I don’t know if there’s really a difference, I just picture novelette’s being around 100 pages whereas this is only 25). It’s good if you only want to feel a little spooked or unsettled because you can get that feeling, but then be done and move to something more lighthearted afterwards if you need that (I needed that).

Okay, now that we’ve established what a scaredy cat I am, let’s move on to actually discussing the book! The characters were interesting. I was surprised with how much I liked Aubrey, the roommate. I expected her to be shallow and slightly demeaning towards Jessica, but she was actually really nice and a good friend. Ricky, Aubrey’s boyfriend, was appropriately creepy. I did not like him (we’re not supposed to anyway).

Plot-wise: Like I said earlier, those texts? Creepy. Then we get to the very end…did not see that coming. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it was almost like the story switched horror genres just for the very end. I’ll admit, at first I was a little confused. But then the author got me the revised copy and I thought about it a little more and then everything clicked. I just had to think about the story (and the narrator) a little differently.

Overall, creepy but the length of the story makes it something even non-horror readers could enjoy.

Overall Rating: 4
Violence: Moderate
Language: Mild
Sexual Content: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate

Note: I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: My Ten Favorite Top Ten Topics We’ve Ever Done In The Past 5 Years

This is actually my tenth Top Ten Tuesday for this blog. So as a celebration of that, I’ll just link to my last nine Top Ten Tuesday’s!

1) Inspirational Quotes

2) Favorite Authors

3) Fill-in-the-blank! Characters who…have a fun/cool/interesting talents or hobbies

4) Books I’ll probably never read

5) Freebie! Authors with ties to BYU

6) Great Beach Reads

7) Books that should be turned into movies or TV shows

8) Most anticipated releases for the rest of 2015

9) Summer TBR

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

During World War II, a blind girl, Marie-Laure LeBlanc, is forced to flee Paris with her father. Werner Pfennig, a German boy from a coal-mining town, has the opportunity to go to a prestigious boy’s school. Their paths cross for less than a day, but they are more connected than either of them realize.
18143977I loved this book. It’s definitely not my usual read, but the writing was so beautiful and the story was surprisingly gripping. I liked the chapters switching between Marie-Laure and Werner along with some of the other characters. Overall, I felt like the characters were all so interesting. I loved Marie-Laure’s uncle and the people from the village. Werner’s sister, Jutta, was a great character as well, along with the other people from the orphanage. Everyone just felt so real and fully developed. It almost felt like this was a nonfiction book. These people just have to be real! And I think that’s the beauty of it. This story may not have actually happened, but these things and the events in the story did happen to someone and often more than one person.

Let’s start with the writing. AMAZING. My husband is really the one who appreciates and gains utility from good writing. I usually don’t care so much about that as long as the plot and characters are good. But I could not help but to fall in love with how the author wrote this book. Here’s a non-spoilery quote:

“The sky drops silver threads of sleet. Gray houses run in converging lines to the horizon, bunched as if to fend off cold.” -pg 218

And the whole book is like that! The imagery is so vivid and poetic.

Okay, characters. Like I mentioned earlier, they were all amazingly realistic. In this story we follow a German boy and a French girl. There are no heroes and there is no right and wrong. Even though history has shown us how bad a guy Hitler really is, from Werner’s perspective being a Nazi isn’t really such a bad thing. Basically, he’s just joined the army and he’s getting an amazing education out of it. I absolutely fell in love with Marie-Laure. She’s been blind since around six or seven, but she’s so strong and independent and brave and SMART. What an amazing girl. Her relationship with her Father nearly brought me to tears a couple of times and her relationship with Etienne was so tender as well.

There wasn’t a very aggresive plot (which usually would be a bad thing in my book) but the characters kept the story moving along. Like I mentioned earlier, the story felt so real. We weren’t given a traditional happy ending, but those don’t really exist in real life anyway. There isn’t an ending at all really. Life just keeps going even after we die. That being said, the author does a very good job of making the ending feel resolved–or at least, as resolved as life can be. There are still a few loose ends, but those always exist.

Overall, such a good book and definitely one that I’ll be adding to my collection and rereading. I cried, I laughed, and I felt things. So many emotions. What a story and definitely deserving of the Pulitzer Prize.

Overall Rating: 5
Violence: Heavy. It’s set during World War II so there is violence, but nothing too explicit.
Language: Moderate. Some strong language is sprinkled throughout (especially during Werner’s sections when he’s out in the field.)
Sexual Content: Mild. Occasional innuendos, one scene of rape (not explicit)
Smoking/Drinking: Mild

Combined Lola/Isla Review by Stephanie Perkins

Since I’m reviewing two books at once I’m going to skip the summary. Suffice it to say Lola and Isla both like boys who like them back. End summary. My review for Anna and the French Kiss can be found here.


I kept reading these books because I really wanted them to get better. Unfortunately, that never happened. I didn’t really like any of these books. I just didn’t feel like they had a good message. I don’t know…something about these books really bothers me. I didn’t like any of the protagonists–I couldn’t really relate to Anna or Lola and I didn’t agree with practically any of the choices that any of the girls made. I found myself rolling my eyes multiple times throughout the series. They were just so hyped up and I know I’m really in the minority here, but these books are just not for me.

Let’s start with Lola. She was really annoying to me the whole time. I couldn’t handle it. I liked Cricket quite a bit because he seemed like a decent, smart guy but I have NO IDEA what he saw in Lola. She was self-absorbed and entitled the whole book. No thank you. Even though Max ended up being a creep, I really didn’t like the way Lola strung him along at first. Just be honest! If you’re not confident enough in your relationship to be honest, then there’s obviously something wrong with the relationship. It felt like Anna 2.0 and I wasn’t a fan.

Now for Isla…I could actually relate to Isla a bit. She felt a little lost and was feeling bad because it seemed like everyone else had their lives planned out when she didn’t. I know exactly how that feels. I first felt that at the end of high school and then again a bit at the end of college. Not a great feeling, but you do get over it eventually. I liked Josh from the first book, but I didn’t like that he was being portrayed as this “bad boy” with all of his rule-breaking and detention. I’m so tired of the good girl falls for bad boy trope. MAKE IT STOP!!! Bad boys are labeled bad boys for a reason. It’s because they’re BAD. In real life, bad boys are not waiting for the right good girl to come along to reform them. Because they’re just bad. They’re NOT GOING TO CHANGE. Sorry, mini-rant there. There are just so many good guys out there…don’t waste your time on the bad ones ladies. Okay, but last little comment. I liked the relationship between the three sisters Hattie, Isla, and Gen. I thought their relationship seemed genuine and I liked the growth that was there especially between Hattie and Isla.

Overall, I would not recommend these books. I don’t feel like they portray healthy relationships. They’re not books that I would let my daughter read. Not because there’s anything inherently bad about them, but just because I didn’t feel like they’re worth reading when there’s so much out there that’s better. In every sense of the word.

Overall Rating: 2 (both)
Violence: None (both)
Language: Moderate (brief, strong language in both)
Sexual Content: Moderate (mentioned in both, not explicit)
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate (Lola), Mild (Isla)