Looking Back: All The Books I Read In 2013

Can you believe it's the end of 2013 already? Can you believe people born in 2000 are now teenagers?? Sometimes, I really can't.

Anyway, this year has managed to be a productive reading year for me. Somehow, I managed to read over 70 books, the most I've read in a long time. I'm pretty sure this coincides with my purchase of a tablet, but I'm still surprised. I only started my book blog fairly recently, so I haven't been able to really show off all the books I read this year. Hopefully, this post can give you a better look at my taste in books. These are all the books I rated on Goodreads in a nice picture format (in no particular order).


2014 Reading Challenges: The Standalone Reading Challenge

As much as I am anticipating sequels to some of my favorite books in 2014, I also hope the new year brings in more standalone books. I'm a pretty impatient person, so waiting two or three years to find out the ending of a series absolutely kills me. That's why this 2014 Standalone Reading Challenge is the perfect complement to the Series Challenge I'm also participating in.

2014 Standalone Reading Challenge
The 2014 Standalone Reading Challenge is hosted by Hafsah at IceyBooks and Lisa from Dizneeee’s World of Books, and it consists of the following guidelines:

  • THE CHALLENGE: To read 15 Young Adult and Middle Grade standalone novels in 2014 released in the United States between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014. This means that the book can not have an announced sequel, prequel, follow up, etc.
  • Companion novels count towards the challenge as well. Companion novels take place in the same world as a novel but usually follows the life of a different character. It can be read independently from the book that came before it.
  • The book must be released between January 1 – Decemeber 31, 2014 in the United States.
  • Can be read in any (legally) readable format: ARC, Paperback, Hardcover or e-book. Audio books do not count toward the challenge.

2014 Reading Challenges: The Series Challenge

For 2014, I'm thinking of spicing things up and participating in at least one or two reading challenges. For sure, I'll be participating in the Spring/Summer '14 Reading Challenge in Goodreads' College Students! group, but I'd also like to participate in some more general challenges. Here's one of the challenges that caught my eye, mainly because it seems like a good way to also keep track of all the series I'm currently following or interested in.

The 2014 Series Challenge is hosted by Octavia at Read. Sleep. Repeat. and consists of the following guidelines:

  • You must finish the series in 2014. If the series won't be completed by December 2014, then you must read up the most current release.
  • Series that you started prior to 2014 are fine as long as you finish the series in 2014.
  • If you decide to stop reading a series after one or two books, it does not count.
  • The series has to have at least 2 books out prior to December 1st, 2014
  • Proof that you finished the book is required. It could be a full review, a mini review, or a rating with a few lines. DNF’s do not count.


Review: Fifty Million Reasons by Heather Wardell

Fifty Million Reasons
Author: Heather Wardell
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published: December 4th 2013
Publisher: Holly Leaf Press
Source: ARC via Netgalley
Find: Goodreads
Angela has typical lottery-player plans: help friends and family, give more to charity, and escape her rut. But when she wins big, she faces angry relatives, her own unexpected greed, and a lawsuit from the person who put her in that rut. Almost nobody treats her normally, and they've got fifty million reasons not to.

She can buy anything she wants now, but can she buy the life she needs?

If you're looking for a light, heart-warming story to read this holiday season, this is the book you should be reading. This might not make sense to some, but the only word I can think of to describe my experience of reading Fifty Million Reasons is "soothing." It’s just rare to find a book that I can easily read through without pausing once to think, “Hmm, that doesn't seem right.”

For most of us, winning a million dollar lottery is nothing but a dream, a nice little fantasy we like to entertain ourselves with only in our wildest daydreams. For Angela whose dream just became a reality, however, she quickly finds out that there's more to being a multi-millionaire than living extravagantly and buying private jets. While there are definitely some perks, there are surprisingly a lot of downsides in which Wardell is unafraid to explore.
I spotted another group just beginning their walk, taking tiny steps like we had, and realized we were now walking as smoothly as the previous group had been. Amazing how quickly humans get used to crazy situations.


Top Ten Tuesday (#5): Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly blog meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish that allows readers to share their lists and opinions on a number of subjects from their top ten book covers to their top ten villains.

This week's topic for December 24th is:

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

1. Cress by Marissa Meyer
I just realized that this book is my most anticipated book for 2014. How can I resist futuristic fairy tale retellings with cyborgs, sassy spaceships, and people from the moon?? If there's anyone who could get me a copy of this book before the actual release date, it'd be Santa. If you can't do that, Santa, a pre-order would be fine, too.

2. Across the Universe series by Beth Revis
I've already read this series, but I had borrowed the books from my friend who raved and ranted and bugged me until I did read it. I automatically fell in love with this series, but I really need to get a copy of my own.


Weekly Roundup: 12.16 - 12.22

Happy Holidays, everyone! (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ・゜・。・*:.。.:*・゜I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas this week. I'm not sure what my family will be doing for the holidays (we're all terrible planners), but I have a feeling my siblings and I will be cooking the holiday meal this year. Maybe some lamb chops? Some creamy garlic mashed potatoes? Some roasted brussels sprouts? What else? I probably should stop planning the dinner right now as all this food talk is making me hungry!

Anyway, since this week will be busy, I probably won't be posting all that much this week. I also want to get ahead in my blogging and schedule reviews in advance, but for that to happen, I'll actually have to spend more time reading.

What's everyone's plan for the holidays? Are you doing anything special? Are there any special books you're planning to read during the break?


DNF: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

I was debating whether I should make this post or not as there are different ways to handle DNF books and there's no real agreed upon standard on how to deal with them in the book blogging world. My initial instincts were that it would be wrong to talk about I didn't even finish, but this book elicited so many strong emotions from me that I feel I have to share.

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant
Author: Joanna Wiebe
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
To Be Published: Jan 14 2014
Publisher: BenBella Books
Source: ARC via Netgalley
Find: Goodreads
So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world’s wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her—sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks.

One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move—even her performance at the school dance—is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in… and why.

As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth—and change it—before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.

Stopped: Page 128 out of 458 (27%)

Why I Didn't Like It:
As Emma on Spun with Words said, the characters are half the battle. You don't have to necessarily like a character to enjoy reading a book. But if you don't enjoy reading about the main characters, then it will be a chore to get through the book. Getting through Anne Merchant was more like a chore and a half. Not only did I not enjoy reading about Anne and the other characters, I actually hated them to the point where they elicited rather strong feelings of anger and frustration at times. Our rather, I hated Wiebe's characterizations. Instead of seeing them as actual people, I saw Wiebe's characters more as shallow caricatures full of the worst cliches and stereotypes. Sometimes, it worked. Villicus, the headmaster of Cania Christy is sufficiently creepy and disgusting enough to play the villain with his arched eyebrows, hairy mole, and crooked brown teeth. Most of the time, the cliches and stereotypes can only go so far in creating believable, complex characters.


Waiting on Wednesday (#5)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight some upcoming releases that we're impatiently tapping our feet for. It's a great way to to keep track of some of the most anticipated releases amongst other book bloggers and a new way to discover books yourself.

At the moment, the book I'm most excited for is:

While Beauty Slept
Author: Elizabeth Blackwell
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale Retellings
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
To be published: February 20, 2014
Find: Goodreads
A beautiful princess lies in a sleep so deep it is close to death. Was Sleeping Beauty revived by a prince's kiss? What really happened in that tower so long ago?

While Beauty Slept re-imagines the legend through the lens of historical fiction, telling the story as if it really happened. A Gothic tale of suspense and ambition, love and loss, it interweaves the story of a royal family and the servants who see behind the glamorous facade, following the journey of a young woman as she lives out a destiny that leads her to the brink of death.


Top Ten Tuesdays (#4): Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly blog meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish that allows readers to share their lists and opinions on a number of subjects from their top ten book covers to their top ten villains.

This week's topic for December 17th is:

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013

1. Patrick Ness
Books I Read: The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, A Monster Calls

Patrick Ness is probably one of my new favorite authors for his way with words that just hits you directly in the gut every time. His books evoke such strong emotions from me that I literally have to put down the book just to compose myself. He's just that good. I actually haven't read the last book in the Chaos Walking trilogy because I'm so afraid of how it might end. More Than This is currently on my TBR shelf and I can't wait for the release of The Crane Wife.


Weekly Roundup 12.9 - 12.15

Wow, I can't believe there's only ten more days until Christmas and only sixteen more days left of 2013. Where did all the time ago? To get into the holiday season, my family tried to make hot buttered rum last night, and we failed miserably. I've never tried it before but I always thought it would be the closest thing to an alcoholic version of Butterbeer. You can imagine my disappointment when it didn't taste a thing like how I imagined it would. I think I'll stick with my hot chocolate and spiced apple cider for my seasonal drinks.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug came out this past week, and I unfortunately haven't seen it yet. I'm hoping I'll be able to see it some time this week. Have any of you seen it yet? If so, what did you think? Was it better than the first one?

For all those students out there, half of you might be done with finals week while the other half still have about a week to go. For those of you are done, CONGRATULATIONS, enjoy your holiday break to catch up on all your lost sleeping hours. For those of you who aren't, my condolences and good luck.


Bookish Mugs: Gifts for the Caffeinated Book Lover

Lately, I've been really obsessed with cute mugs and cups. If you've ever seen Being Human (UK), then you might've noticed how Annie, George, and John have an entire counter in their kitchen dedicated to an odd and mismatched assortment of mugs. That's kind of what I want to have. It doesn't help that with the cold snap in California these past few weeks, my household has been stocking up on a lot of hot chocolate and hot apple cider. And I mean A LOT. These book-related mugs are a few of my favorites that I would love for myself, but they'd also make great gifts for the caffeinated book lover.

Shakespearean Insult Mug, $12.95
From The Unemployed Philosopher's Guild
I never really learned to appreciate the Bard until we spent an entire class dedicated to analyzing the insults in A Midsummer Night's Dream. I don't know anyone else who could make the word "acorn" sound so insulting. Personally, my favorite Shakespearean insult is "a painted maypole." Unfortunately, that isn't featured on this mug, but there are still 30 other insults including "canker-blossom" and "thou art a boil, a plague sore." There's also a Shakespearean love version as well, but it's pretty obvious which mug is superior.

(Mini) Review: Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson

Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Published: December 3rd, 2013
Publisher: Random House
Find: Goodreads
From "New York Times" bestselling author Brandon Sanderson's action-packed novel "Steelheart" comes "Mitosis," a short story set in the world of The Reckoners series, exclusively available in the digital format.

Catch all the action before, "Firefight" the exciting sequel to "Steelheart" hits shelves in fall 2014.

WAIT! This review may contain minor spoilers for Steelheart. Don't continue if you haven't read it yet and want to avoid spoilers. Unless, of course, you don't mind spoilers. In that case, continue~

A short review for a short story! This novelette can be found on Brandon Sanderson's site, and it's a nice little filler to satisfy Steelheart fans before Firefight comes out in Fall 2014. (Why is that so far away?!) I can't really talk much about what Mitosis is about without spoiling Steelheart, so let's just say there's a new Epic in the town of Newcago by the name of Mitosis and leave it at that. If you haven't read Steelheart yet, what are you waiting for? Read. It. Now. If you need a little bit more convincing, most of the reasons why I loved this short story are the same reasons why I loved the original book, so keep on reading.
"Sparks," Tia said. "Like rats on a ship."
"Yeah," I said. "Or glitter in soup."
Tia and Abraham fell silent.
"Have you ever tried to get all of the glitter out of your soup?" I demanded. "It's really, really hard."


Review: Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

Rebel Spring
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Published: December 3rd, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Books
Find: Goodreads
Love, power, and magic collide with war in the second book of the Falling Kingdoms series

Auranos has fallen and the three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now united as one country called Mytica. But still, magic beckons, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the world...

When the evil King Gaius announces that a road is to be built into the Forbidden Mountains, formally linking all of Mytica together, he sets off a chain of events that will forever change the face of this land, forcing Cleo the dethroned princess, Magnus the reluctant heir, Lucia the haunted sorceress, and Jonas the desperate rebel to take steps they never could have imagined.

WAIT! This review may contain minor spoilers for Falling Kingdoms. Don't continue if you haven't read it yet and want to avoid spoilers. Unless, of course, you don't mind spoilers. In that case, continue~

Admittedly, I had very mixed feelings about Falling Kingdoms. There were some parts that just dragged for me and most of the characters didn't exactly win my enthusiasm, but I still somehow wanted to read the rest in the series. Luckily, Rebel Spring turned out to be an improvement. While I still had a few issues with it, the second book in the series was a much more enjoyable read.
This summoned a grin once again. "Do you need such protection for a simple dress fitting?"

"I think so," she said, finally finding her own smile. "Don't forget, I will be forced to spend the entire day in the company of the queen."

Waiting on Wednesday (#4)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight some upcoming releases that we're impatiently tapping our feet for. It's a great way to to keep track of some of the most anticipated releases amongst other book bloggers and a new way to discover books yourself.

At the moment, the book I'm most excited for is:

Moth and Spark
Author: Anne Leonard
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Viking Press
To be published: February 20, 2014
Find: Goodreads
A prince with a quest. A commoner with mysterious powers. And dragons that demand to be freed—at any cost.

Prince Corin has been chosen to free the dragons from their bondage to the Empire, but dragons aren’t big on directions. They have given him some of their power, but none of their knowledge. No one, not the dragons nor their riders, is even sure what keeps the dragons in the Empire’s control.

Tam, sensible daughter of a well-respected doctor, had no idea before she arrived in the capital that she is a Seer, gifted with visions. When the two run into each other (quite literally) in the library, sparks fly and Corin impulsively asks Tam to dinner. But it’s not all happily ever after. Never mind that the prince isn’t allowed to marry a commoner: war is coming to Caithen.

Torn between Corin’s quest to free the dragons and his duty to his country, the lovers must both figure out how to master their powers in order to save Caithen. With a little help from a village of secret wizards and a rogue dragonrider, they just might pull it off.


Weekly Roundup 12.2 - 12.8

Bookcharmed has a new design! I spent the entire past few days working on the theme, and there are still a few tweaks I want to do, but hopefully there aren't any problems with it. Please let me know what you think, and if there are any bugs or errors, let me know in the comments!

This Past Week on Bookcharmed


Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Published: September 3rd 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository
"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

Out of all the books I've read in 2013, All Our Yesterdays has been the biggest surprise by far. I decided to read this during my Thanksgiving weekend because a few people recommended it to me, but I didn't really know what it was about and I didn't really have any expectations. If anything, I was probably a little hesitant to read it since the topic of time-travel didn't really interest me. Wow. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book.
"You're the best, Mike," I say, and when he walks away, I add him to the list of people I hope I never lay eyes on again.
In one sentence, it's about two prisoners, Em and Finn, who escape a military base and hijacks a time machine to travel back into the past to kill the man who started a devastating war in future America.


Waiting on Wednesday (#3)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to highlight some upcoming releases that we're impatiently tapping our feet for. It's a great way to to keep track of some of the most anticipated releases amongst other book bloggers and a new way to discover books yourself.

At the moment, the book I'm most excited for is:

The Waking Engine
Author: David Edison
Genre: Scifi & Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
To be published: February 11, 2014
Find: Goodreads
Welcome to the City Unspoken, where Gods and Mortals come to die.

Contrary to popular wisdom, death is not the end, nor is it a passage to some transcendent afterlife. Those who die merely awake as themselves on one of a million worlds, where they are fated to live until they die again, and wake up somewhere new. All are born only once, but die many times . . . until they come at last to the City Unspoken, where the gateway to True Death can be found.

Wayfarers and pilgrims are drawn to the City, which is home to murderous aristocrats, disguised gods and goddesses, a sadistic faerie princess, immortal prostitutes and queens, a captive angel, gangs of feral Death Boys and Charnel Girls . . . and one very confused New Yorker.

Late of Manhattan, Cooper finds himself in a City that is not what it once was. The gateway to True Death is failing, so that the City is becoming overrun by the Dying, who clot its byzantine streets and alleys . . . and a spreading madness threatens to engulf the entire metaverse.


Top Ten Tuesdays (#3): Top Ten 2014 Releases I'm Dying To Read

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly blog meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish that allows readers to share their lists and opinions on a number of subjects from their top ten book covers to their top ten villains.

This week's topic for December 3rd is Top Ten 2014 Releases I'm Dying To Read.


Weekly Roundup: 11.25 - 12.1

I hope everyone's had a fun, safe, drama-free Thanksgiving weekend. I didn't get to do any Black Friday shopping but my weekend was still super busy between prepping the Thanksgiving meal, eating that meal, and a planning a meetup with friends that included an all-you-can-eat sushi binge and watching Catching Fire at the drive-in theater. I was debating whether I should do a movie review for Catching Fire or not, but I decided against it. All I have to say was that I surprisingly loved it. It was loads better than the first movie and much better than the books. And oh my word, Finnick. There's been a lot of hooplah about how Sam Calflin wasn't right for the role, but I certainly enjoyed watching him.