Notebook Sisters Blog Hop – For The Bookworms

Over at the Notebook Sisters blog, they’re holding a linkup and giveaway, so check it out 🙂 In the meanwhile, I felt it a great way to summarise my reading and writing over the course of this year – and you know I love to talk about what I’ve been up to 😉 Without further ado:

What was your overall favourite book this year? (Yes. Pick one.)

Too difficult! I came out with UNTEACHABLE by Leah Raeder. You’ll see it comes up a lot in my answers below. It was the prose that took my breath away. I might review it at some point. In addition, it fell into NA contemporary romance, a genre which I have really been getting into recently, as per research into ideas for a university trilogy romance.


Favourite debut? (Author must have been first published in 2013.)

Well, considering that I’ve read very few debut authors… Actually, out of about three, I’d go with UNTEACHABLE by Leah Raeder, since it thrilled me, made me cringe, laugh and go through the whole rollercoasters of emotions the characters faced. The plot seemed to dip at times, but it was steady and clever most of the time. Not your average teacher-pupil story.

Which books did you reread this year?

Skulduggery Pleasant7 book cover.jpg

I reread THE FACELESS ONES by Derek Landy after I finished his KINGDOM OF THE WICKED, and I also found Jacqueline Wilson’s LOVE LESSONS when moving house, which I can always read in a day or two, hence I loved swimming through it again. In the same week (for the same reason that I had to re-shelve my books) I reread the last three of A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. The feels! Kit is one of my favourite characters and I always cry when she and Dewey die.

(For the record: I hate these versions of the covers, but I couldn’t find/take a decent pic of the hardcover versions.)   

Favourite cover(s) this year!

I liked Samantha Shannon’s THE BONE SEASON cover because it is abstract enough not to give away the story or premise, but full of meaning. Besides that, its colours are elegant yet muted. In short, it’s a clever cover that I myself would choose for a book of my own.

Herbie Brennan’s RULER OF THE REALM comes second, but, sadly, I had the ebook version of the cover, which wasn’t as beautiful as this. (I even mentioned so in my energetic review).


Worst cover(s)?

I guess, REAL VAMPIRES DON’T SPARKLE by Amy Fecteau, since that appeared to me as the most generic of the covers I’d read: MC turned into vampire with his shirt off, standing moodily looking over a city. Yes, it sums up the premise, but could have been more original. Yawatta Hosby’s ONE BY ONE cover was simple and typical for her premise, but hers doesn’t annoy me, as it doesn’t feature a character on the cover (this is one of my reader pet peeves).


What self-published books did you read this year?

I saw a lot of self-published books that either intrigued me but I had no money to buy, or that let me down in their sample pages. I’m notoriously hard to please when it comes to self-publisheds. However, I did read ONE BY ONE by Yawatta Hosby. I got a signed copy (see above pic!) and squee’d about it!

I started THE DREAMERS by Oliver Dahl, but I’ve not had the chance to get very far.

Which book(s) gave you a massive hangover?

THE BONE SEASON. Although I disliked the MC, the Supporting Characters reminded me of people I knew and I emphasised with a good selection of them for a couple of days after I’d finished.

Best standalone you read?

It may be part of Christie’s episodic Poirot ‘series’, but I count DEATH IN THE CLOUDS as a standalone. Clever, witty, mysterious, it encompasses Christie’s style of writing that I love so well. I reviewed it the day after I read it.

Biggest book(s) you’ve read this year?

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL by James Herriot. Okay, this is an anthology of three books, but considering that I’ve read most of it and treated it as a single novel, I count it as the biggest book I read this year. It flows well enough for that.

Book(s) you followed the hype for and then loved!

I’m not great at following hype. There was certainly hype for THE BONE SEASON, but I can’t say I loved the book unconditionally. I bought UNTEACHABLE after reading its rave reviews on Amazon and definitely loved it, but I don’t know if that quite counts for hype. So, either.

Most disappointing book(s) you read this year?

Sadly, I lost interest in Michelle Harrison’s THE THIRTEEN SECRETS quite quickly (I’m currently halfway through, but I’m in no rush to get back to it). I liked the idea behind the last in the 13 Treasures trilogy, but I wasn’t entirely convinced by the characters’ motivations. If the book picks up in its second half, I’d consider a 4/5 star rating, but it currently stands at 3/5. However, this may well be because I’ve grown out of the reader range.

13 Secrets (Thirteen Treasures, #3)

Favourite leading-female character?

Difficult to choose. Some female characters I hated, some I loved. For this, I’ve gone for Princess Holly Blue in Herbie Brennan’s THE PURPLE EMPEROR and RULER OF THE REALM (sorry, Valkyrie Cain!). Yeah, at times I wanted to smack her over the head with a newspaper, I liked her moxie and ingenuity. She has an electronic pet spider-thing and can also be royally elegant, even when I questioned some of her political decisions in Ruler. However, I felt she came out as my favourite FMC overall.


Favourite leading-male character?

Same difficulty with this one. I don’t tend to read male-lead or male-POV stories, so I made my choice out of Supporting Characters, too. Anyway, I’ll go for Skulduggery Pleasant because he’s awesome. It’s just his sense of humour that cracks me up. And, even then, for a dead guy, he’s flawed. Good work, Landy, good work.

Best romance(s)?

Evan and Maise from UNTEACHABLE. I really felt and empathised with their passion and love. At times, I wholly didn’t condone of their actions together, but they wouldn’t be good characters were their morals perfect/a match with mine. I also liked the romance between Henry and Blue in RULER OF THE REALM, since the characters fit together well, but this romance has always felt rushed or contrived, a let’s-admit-our-feelings-when-the-other-is-about-to-die cliché.

What book(s) hit the DNF list?

None this year explicitly. If I didn’t finish them, it was in the I’ll-read-you-when-I-have-more-time capacity.

What book(s) did you read out of your comfort-zone?

I guess THE BONE SEASON falls into this, because I don’t read dystopian as mostly a rule (it’s not a genre that interests me), but two reasons drew my eye to it: a) as Samantha Shannon was an Oxford student 19-year-old when she got her contract, she won my heart, and b) her story is set in near-future with the alternate-history theme similar to WHEN THE CLOCK BROKE. So, one of my reasons for picking it up was research into worldbuilding.

And, yeah, the plot didn’t engage for me until MC got to the alternate universe Oxford and met Arcturus. *cough* And then I spent the rest of the book drooling over him. *cough* But I felt the writing was similar to my own style and it appealed to me that way, and the plot was interesting. Whilst I probably won’t pick any more of the series, this was one book that surprised me in a good way, and, although I wanted to be picky (due to it not being in a genre I was particularly comfortable with), I found TBS really difficult to fault.

Another one that falls into the different genre question is REAL VAMPIRES DON’T SPARKLE. Note the second word and my passion for destroying the vampire genre. However, I bought this as an ebook from a small quirky press, Curiosity Quills Publishing (who asked for a partial of WTCB during the Pitcharama’s contest) because of its heavy humour and sarcastic NA voice.

Which author did you read the most from?

Herbie Brennan and Derek Landy (two each). Both because their books are in series and I was catching up or rereading for fun.

Top 5 books you’d recommend from all the books you’ve read this year?

I don’t know if my list is very accurate of recommendations. I don’t tend to recommend because I realise how personal reading is. These are the five books I feel people should read more of, though.

  1. UNTEACHABLE. Gloriously indulgent and entirely absorbing, this novel was filled with gushing prose, whilst also having realistic, gritty characters who could also feel love. It felt like I was watching an artist painting the two lovers on a canvas; even the drying of the paint made me tingle – every little piece was part of the whole book.
  2. DEATH IN THE CLOUDS. As I said before: classic Agatha Christie. Good if you want a quick, lively mystery that keeps you thinking outside of the box.
  3. ONE BY ONE. Once you get into this thriller, its short chapters sink into your flesh, not letting go until you understand the mystery. Hosby’s style is, in my opinion, almost the opposite of Christie’s, but this is what gives the book its nature: instead of being a softer mystery, it is a gripping tale of gruesome and crude murder. It’s creepy, too – I regret reading later chapters home alone.
  4. KINGDOM OF THE WICKED. Skulduggery Pleasant, magic and people turning mad. Need I say more? Okay, I shall. I liked this because of the ethical ideas raised. For those who’ve not yet read it, all I’ll say is it’s called Kingdom of the Wicked for an apt reason. As usual, Landy’s prose is simple but effective, his settings are steady and his snarky voice/characters involve the reader.
  5. THE PURPLE EMPEROR. An old series now, I believe, these parallel realm fairies and demons mix well with the ideas of necromancy and black magic. Brennan shapes his worlds expertly. A nice YA for those who don’t mind breaking out of the traditional epic fantasy genre.

How many books did you read this year all up?

Uh, 15. Yeah, I know – all of you book aficionados out there must be clicking away from my page at this point. Actually, 15 is pretty good for me. I can read quickly, but to fulfil the purposes of a book, I pace myself when reading. However, I’d like to point out that I also read three whole non-fiction pieces and read quite a bit of three others. At the moment, it’s things like Linguistics and Psychology textbooks that take up my time. (I have no way to keep track, either.)

In case you’re wondering, I tallied the fiction and I read nine YA novels, four adult ones and two NA novels. Two contained scenes of an explicit sexual nature; the majority, however, were even clean of language. Four were urban fantasy (one following on from another), two were epic fantasy (one following on from another), two were mystery/thriller, two were straight contemporary romance; A Series of Unfortunate Events I guess falls into alternate universe mystery drama-ry thing; one was dystopian/alternate universe, and I’m not sure where the semi-autobiographic vet tales come in.

What’s a book you’re hugely excited for coming out in 2014?

Uh, call me boring, but there’s nothing in particular for which I’ve been waiting. I’ll probably snap up a new release via the blogs and publishers I follow, as I have done for some of the books this year, but I don’t really follow book hype.

Thanks for reading. Part two of the blog hop – about what I’ve written this year, yay! – coming soon.

8 thoughts on “Notebook Sisters Blog Hop – For The Bookworms

  1. I’m going to get The Bone Season! It looks epic. 🙂 Liiiittle bit worried that the MC is annoying, but I’ll just have to see, eh? 😉 I LOVE A Series of Unfortunate Events. If I had the time, I’d reread it! I have the whole series…aw, they’re gorgeous on my shelf. ^.^ Definitely with you on those worst covers. Ew.

    1. Ah, personal opinion, of course. I found the MC annoying, but that doesn’t mean that you will.
      Yes! – I’d love to have a marathon of the series, to see how they look in retrospect, concentrating on all the little secretive bits that’s I missed before.

  2. Hey Miss Alexandrina,

    15 books this year–that’s pretty impressive. Some people won’t even read 1. Thanks for the shout-out and hopefully you’ll continue to find more interesting books. It’s cool that you highly recommend Unteachable. I keep seeing that author’s sig on AW–may have to check out the book 🙂

    Keep smiling,

    1. Not when one compares my total with those of other bloggers/writers and people doing this ‘hop. I read one person reviewing their 2013 who’d read over 350!
      It’s sad that some people won’t read one, but, as a writer, I feel I have a duty to read for my own craft and to support other authors.
      You’re welcome! After all, your One By One was one of the 15 and I did enjoy it. It would’ve been wrong not to mention it. And, yeah, if you like teacher-student romance that’s hard-hitting and realistic, I’d recommend it. (That’s an example of books with long chapters, though!)

      1. Hey Miss Alexandrina,

        I bet those bloggers who’ve read all those books did them b/c they’re book reviewers. I can read about 10 books a week, but actually taking the time to write my thoughts down is a different story. That’s why there’s always such a gap between time when I post book reviews.

        As long as the romance isn’t like Ezra and Aria’s portrayal from Pretty Little Liars, then I’m down to give it a try. Their relationship is so boring LOL.

        Keep smiling,

        1. Ah, perhaps. I find that if I want to review something, it takes more of my effort and I read less. You know? The opposite of what’s actually the case for seasoned reviewers.
          On the other hand, non-reviews have read that amount as well. It dazzles me how much people can read, but I just can’t eat books to that extent.

          I don’t know that relationship, but, yeah, any boring pairing doesn’t make for good reading.

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