Year in Review: 2013

Ugh. This was probably my worst year of blogging EVER. So... these stats are pretty sad, but I always post a year in review so... not gonna stop now!

EDIT: This should have gone up at 11:59pm on 12/31/12. Dunno why it didn't.

Here is my year-end statistics post:

As of 11:59pm on 12/31/13

Followers: 1,718 (Up 4 from last year, but kind of obsolete now that Reader is gone.)
Newsletter Subscribers Gained: 2
Twitter Followers: 1,175 (DOWN 44 from last year. ouch.)
2013 Blog Posts: 65 (DOUBLE ouch! Total 1163)
Books Read: 46 (*hangs head in shame*)
Average Time Taken per book: 8 days
Pages Read: 15,850 (Approx. 345 pages per book)

Books Reviewed: 26
2013 Squeaky Books: 6 (Total 72)
2013 Semi-Squeaky Books: 2 (Total 41)

See you tomorrow for a look at how I did on my 2013 goals, and some 2014 goals!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013

Top 10 of '13

I may have only read 46 books in 2013, but that isn't going to stop me from making a top 10 list! No sir-ee! So here we go, my top 10 books of 2013:

#10 Mind Games, by Kiersten White
GoodReads | Amazon* | My Review
This book was short and sweet, like a TV episode vs a movie. And it was a delightful read. I am still eagerly awaiting the sequel.

#9 The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor
GoodReads | Amazon*
I know I'm late to the party when it comes to this series, but I still really enjoyed it! Beddor has a great way with wordplay and storytelling.

#8 The Fury, by Alexander Gordon Smith
GoodReads | Amazon* | My Review
I still have nightmares about this one, guys. Even though it was HUGE, and I'm still not entirely sure what happened, I remember whipping through this book like it was a race. I almost literally devoured it. Almost. ;)

#7 Ever After High, by Shannon Hale
GoodReads | Amazon* | My Review
I might have surprised myself with how much I liked this book. I just... I just really liked it! It made me feel happy!
#6 What's Left of Me, by Kat Zhang
GoodReads | Amazon*
I really admired this book for how many things it got me to think about, and I'm talking deep things. Although I feel like the plot got a little fuzzy/boring in book #2, I still think this book is AWESOME, and I can't wait for book #3.
#5 The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey
GoodReads | Amazon* | My Review
THIS is aliens done right. It's been almost a year since I read this, and I can STILL clearly recall some of the story elements, as well as the emotions I felt while reading. LOVED IT! And the sequel cannot come out soon enough!
#4 Asunder, by Jodi Meadows
GoodReads | Amazon* | My Review
AH! I still love this series. I absolutely cannot wait for the third book to come out (less than a month away!!!), and I still think Jodi is a master storycrafter. How does she manage to fit all those awesome plot elements into ONE BOOK?!
#3 Transparent, by Natalie Whipple
GoodReads | Amazon* | My Review
Okay, I technically read this in 2012, but so late in the year that I'm counting it as 2013. This book was SOOOOOOOOOOOOO awesome. Like... I think I need to re-read it. Right now. See ya later. (Psst. Read review for more coherent explanations of awesome-ness)
#2 Pivot Point, by Kasie West
GoodReads | Amazon* | My Review
This book BLEW MY MIND. It was a tough call to put this in 2nd place, it almost got 1st. It's that awesome. I just... my feels went on a crazy trip in this book. And it was so mind-bendy! I am a little afraid that the second book won't be as awesome because it will rely on the same thing that made the first book awesome (the split timelines), but I still have high hopes!
#1 Cress, by Marissa Meyer
GoodReads | Amazon*
Whoa. Whoa, you guys. Whoa. I usually try to avoid putting not-released books on this list (notice a lack of Dangerous? That's intentional. I thought it would be mean. ;) ) but since this one is part of a series that's already awesome, I figured I'd just put it out here anyway because I think this is my favorite book of the series. I'm sorry to be mean and say that when it's still got a while before it comes out, but... whoa, guys. Just whoa.

But, to be entirely honest, 2013 was not a great year for reading for me. Not only did I not read very many books, but when I went to make my top 10... there were only 10 books I was even considering putting in. Usually I have to stress forEVER over the order and which ones to give up. This time it took me about 5 seconds.

So I NEED YOUR HELP! What were the great books of the year for you? What did I miss? Because I definitely feel like I wasn't as involved in the book community this year, and I'm SURE that some awesome books slipped past my radar. So help me! Please?

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013

*Ever After High-- Shannon Hale

Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Genre: Fairy Tale, Middle Grade
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 304
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens...whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.

As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen's destiny is to follow in her mother's wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven's style. She's starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future.

What if Raven doesn't sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both.
Blurb: The goal may be to sell Mattel, but this is still 100% Shannon Hale.

Review: I did have a concern going into this book, but it doesn't seem to be the same concern that most people had. In nearly every review I read I saw people saying "I was nervous about Shannon and Mattel working together." To which I say: ...why? For some reason I never had this worry. Yes, I knew that the goal of this book would be to sell the dolls, merchandise, etc. But I also felt pretty confident that Shannon wouldn't have agreed to any kind of book deal if she didn't know she could be true to her own writing.

So no, that wasn't my concern. My concern was simply that this book was clearly targeted for the middle grade audience. Not only am I not a middle grader, I actually really dislike middle grade books (just personally, not in general).

Both of these concerns were resolved by the same fact: This book was written by Shannon Hale. Despite the commercialism behind it, Shannon rocks out some awesome values. And despite the intended middle grade audience, the brilliant writing can make this appealing to all ages!

I'll admit that I struggled through the first few chapters. It was just dripping with puns, and at first the use of the word "hex" was just too much for me: "hexcellent" "hextbook" "hexting" AHHHH!!! But eventually it became just like any other book that makes up its own lexicon, and I got used to it. After that happened I loved this book. There were so many subtle things that I'm not even sure a middle grader would get, but I got it and thought it was hilarious. There were even some sections (particularly when the narrator is addressed directly) where I could hear Shannon reading the book in my head. So yes, this book is meant for middle graders, but in the same way Disney movies are made for kids: most adults can still enjoy it if they embrace a little bit of silly.

And I definitely noticed some awesome messages that Shannon had stuck into the book. There were several, but the main one that stuck out to me was how she portrayed the female body image. Yes nearly every princess in the book is described as being beautiful, but I can't remember one time a character was described as "skinny." One of the main characters puts her hands on her "broad" hips, and then later when called "plump" the character isn't bothered. And another character is positively described as having very strong legs (my favorite character in fact, guess who?). Now... I may be reading too much into this, but when I look at those dolls I see skinny waists, big eyes, and high heels. But when I read this book I see princesses that every girl can love and become. And whether or not Shannon consciously wrote this into the book, I LOVE it!

In fact, I loved everything about it. Was it fluff? Hex yes! Fluff to the max! But what did Austenland teach us about froth and fluff? It's the best part! And honestly, I am just as excited for the sequel to this book as I am for some of her YA books.

Other Reviews (TBA):
  • TBA (Loved it!) I can't find one of these on a blog! Just goodreads. Anyone know where I could find one?
  • Random Musings of a Bibliophile (It was okay)
  • TBA (Didn't Like It.) Also couldn't find a blog with one of these. Instead I found a lot of GoodReads reviews that simply said "It was too fluffy and punny, I couldn't finish."

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

Non-Christmas Books for Christmastime

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! And if you don't celebrate Christmas: happy Tuesday with no school/work! And if you work in retail... I'm sorry. ;)

Anyway, I was trying to think of a good Christmas-y post, but I realized that I don't read a lot of Christmas books. So I thought, what books DO I read that would be good for Christmas/Winter Holiday season? And here's what I came up with! Enjoy!

The Giver, Lois Lowry
Goodreads | Amazon

This book has always felt like Christmas to me. Probably because of the end. ;)

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

In a classics mood? Try Jane Eyre this holiday. It's my favorite classic and has this wonderful way of both squeezing and warming your heart.

Frost, Wendy Delsol

Now this is the sequel to Stork, and Stork is very winter-y, but this one takes the cake. It's primarily a retelling of The Snow Queen, and a lot of it takes place in Iceland. I felt cold the whole time I was reading it. I loved it! 

Sabriel, Garth Nix

Why yes, yes this book is about demons, BUT I always picture it as the perfect curled-up-by-the-fireplace read. With snow falling heavily outside, the pages lit by the firelight. *shudders* Oh my word that sounds like heaven. And if you can get hold of the audiobook, it's narrated by TIM CURRY! TIM CURRY, people!!

Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys

If you need a book that will make you love all your fellow man. It's this one. Oh... dear... excuse me while I go cry for a minute.

Ice, Sarah Beth Durst

This is probably my favorite retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. (Although, no, I have not read East). I fell in love with the characters, setting, and more. A great winter read!

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Goodreads | Amazon

Need I say more? Really?

So what do you think of my list? Have you read any of these? Are they good for the holiday season? What books make you feel the holiday spirit?

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

My Holiday Plans!

I apologize for saying I was coming back and then disappearing for over two weeks. I was hit by the flu, which then turned into bronchitis, and weakened my immune system enough to allow the stomach flu to join the party as well. And after THAT funtimes was done, it was time for finals week!

BUT, the good news is that finals is OVER and this is the first time I've had a job that is totally closed over the holidays (yay for working for the public school system!) which means I have TWO WEEKS of no school and no work. And I'm gonna use them well!

Aside from the obvious spending time with family, here are my plans:

First, I've got to read 7 more books to reach my goal. If I count all the manga I've read I've already surpassed my goal, but I'm not going to count those unless I have to. Here are the 5 books I'm planning on reading right now, and hopefully I'll get more for Christmas!

Plus OneHereafterThe Winner's CurseEver After High: The Storybook of LegendsAcross a Star-Swept Sea

I'm also planning on doing a lot of sewing this holiday! Are y'all interested in seeing any of my costume stuff? It's usually not book related (though I am planning on starting on an Ever After High costume after I finish the book). Let me know! But regardless, here's what I'm working on this break:

Not a costume, just for fun, I'm planning on making this dress as a Christmas present for myself.

That dress is my first priority, since I'd like to wear it the Sunday after Christmas. But after that, it's time for a NEW COSTUME!

I am SO TIRED of all of my costumes being so cold! I really got into costuming in the summer, and nearly all of my costumes are perfect for summer weather and MISERABLE right now. Therefore I decided I needed a winter costume. And then I realized that my favorite anime character of all time lives in an arctic climate. Perfect!

Thus, I present my next costume:

Olivier Mira Armstrong!

If you don't know who this is, that's okay. But she is the best character from the best anime in the whole entire world. AND she wears like 3 layers! Over the break I'll be patterning the uniform and creating a mockup. I'll probably have to do this more than once (patterning is HARD!) but I want to get round 1 done over the break.

On top of all of this I plan on FINALLY finishing Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, and casually watching Naruto Shippuden (my roommate really wants me to watch that show).

And of course I'll be reviewing awesome books and posting about awesome bookish stuff.

So? What do you think? Am I being to ambitious? What are YOUR plans for the holiday?

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

Nil-- Lynne Matson

Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Genre: Romance, Mystery, Adventure
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Pages: 384
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have exactly 365 days to escape—or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that she has to find a way to beat the clock, and quickly.
Blurb: A nice relaxing read. Gritty, and yet fluffy.

Review: Sorry to review this so early, but I can't keep quiet about this one! This was the book that brought me out of my reading slump. It was really easy to get engaged, and the plot was very interesting. However... it was a strange paradox, the plot seemed gritty, and yet it always felt fluffy. I never really took it seriously. This is probably because the romance always seemed over-the-top and silly. But then again... I almost always say that teen romance is over-the-top and silly; so that isn't necessarily a trustworthy stance. And anyway, I really appreciated how easy it was to read (which could be interpreted as fluffy, I suppose) because it was like a happy roller coaster for my brain. Didn't have to fight it to like it.

Even though it seemed fluffy, I was definitely invested. I like that the book is a stand alone (it is a stand alone, right?), but it drew me in and I definitely wanted to know more about Nil. This is the kind of book that I really wish had a map and/or pictures. Ooh! And a prequel would be really cool!

This book comes out in spring, and I think it'd make a great spring break read!

Other Reviews (TBA):
  • TBA (Loved it!)
  • TBA (It was okay)
  • TBA (Didn't Like It.)

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.
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