Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2014 Book Recap Survey // A Lot of Flailing

Hello to you and a very merry Christmas! I'm sure that it was summer five minutes ago so I'm not coping well with the fact that in two days, 2014 will be gone forever. It's been a great year in many ways, and as we all know the best way to look back is by looking back at books! 


2014 End Of Year Book Survey

This is a linkup hosted by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner, the existence of which I found via Cait @ Paper Fury. It contains many delicious questions which I shall address hencewith! 


reading-stats-2014

Number of books you read:
50. 50/50 for my Goodreads challenge.

Number of re-reads: 
Approximately 8:
~ Harry Potter numbers 2-7 (I read them last Christmas holidays, so the first one was technically still in 2013 and therefore does not count).
~ Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin. I love that book.
~ The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. I read it years ago but reread it as a prequel to LotR, at  a friend's insistence.
~ I also read Anne of Green Gables numbers 1-3, which I'd had read to me when I was younger, but that doesn't really count does it?

Genre you read the most from:
Classics, which, according to the beautiful pie chart I made but am unable to upload (curse, you internet), made up 28.3% of my reading. 


best-YA-books-2014

1. Best book you read in 2014?

That, you know, is a horrible question. I can't. And I won't.


12 books. One for each month, right?? 
Mentions must also go to: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald and Georgia Nicolson books 4-6 (the ones I read this year). Also bear in mind that by A Game of Thrones I also mean A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow, and by Anne of Green Gables I also mean Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island, and by The Lord of the Rings I also mean The Hobbit(Totally not cheating.)
Oh, and Harry Potter of course, but those were rereads. They'd blow everything else out of the water.

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
This book wasn't bad, but I had such high hopes after How I Live Now (one of my favourite books of ever) and it really failed to meet them. Full review here.


3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?

Good surprise:

This book was totally and not at all what I was expecting. But I loved it! Review here.

Bad surprise:


I almost put this as my answer to Q2 because I was really excited about it. I feel terrible for saying this, but what surprised me most was how bad the writing was. It seemed like Paolini had no editor and no concept of the beauty of sparse adverbs. Review here.

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did) in 2014?
I'm not sure, but I just read this post from Marian @ Ivory Clouds who says she wants to read Anne of Green Gables and Department 19 based on my recommendation ... others have said the same thing about Anne, too. Tell me: are there any books I've made you want to read?

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best sequel of 2014? Best series ender of 2014?

Best series is without a doubt:
I am 100% head over heels in love with this series. I'm reading the third one right now. Its scope is spectacular; stunning plot; very well written; superb characters; a breadth of imagination that is close to unrivalled in everything I've read.
Best sequel goes to The Dream Thieves, which was beautiful and nerve-racking and fantastic. Review here. I must also mention Department 19: Zero Hour; I was going to give it joint place for this question, but I'm going to talk about it further down.
Best series ender. Wow. OK. Skulduggery. Words. Words ... no words. Review here.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
Hmm. Does this mean a new author as in one who made their debut in 2014? I did not read anyone under that category. But new to me this year  who I will no doubt read many more books from (and who, ironically, are all well-established and in two out of three cases long dead):
~ Charles Dickens
~ George Eliot
~ George RR Martin

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I don't typically read guides to grammar (you could say: I've never read one before and I doubt I will do again), but this was highly enjoyable! Review here.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

~heavy breathing~ I am a little obsessed with this series and this fourth book was the most high-powered pageturner yet. Wow, wow, wow. Review coming soon. Also Skulduggery book 9. I'm trying not to answer every question with Skulduggery Pleasant though.
9. Book you read in 2014 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
Frankly? None. I reread a lot, but never the same book twice in two years.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

My gorgeous leatherbound Barnes and Noble edition of Sense and Sensibility // I love the graphic of Picture Me Gone // I love the retro kitsch of this 1970s edition of LotR

11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Skulduggery. Obviously. And Anne Shirley. They're pretty much my two favourite characters, male and female.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?



13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2014?

Without a doubt. This memoir showed me Mao's China when I'd had no idea of it before and affected me very deeply. I think this should be mandatory reading for everyone. Full review here.
 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

899773
How did a self-proclaimed fantasy fan go so long without this book? How did I not see the gaping Lord of the Rings shaped hole in my life? I absolutely loved it. That is all. 
 15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2014?

The only rub was, Blue was another troubling thing. She was like Gansey in that she wanted him to explain himself. What do you want, Adam? What do you need, Adam? Want and need were words that got eaten smaller and smaller: freedom, autonomy, a perennial bank balance, a stainless-steel condo in a dustless city, a silky black car, to make out with Blue, eight hours of sleep, a mobile phone, a bed, to kiss Blue just once, a blister-less heel, bacon for breakfast, to hold Blue's hand, one hour of sleep, toilet paper, deodorant, a soda, a minute to close his eyes.
        What do you want, Adam?
        To feel awake when my eyes are open.

~ The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2014?

A baby 90-page novella.
899773
Counting the three books as one, this was over 1000 pages.
17. Book that shocked you the most? (Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light left me absolutely reeling. So did all the A Song of Ice and Fire books I read, and Department 19: Zero Hour. I did not see any of those plot twists coming! (Apart from the ending of A Game of Thrones but only because of a spoiler from my English teacher. Thanks, Miss B.)

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
ANNE/GILBERT EXCUSE ME WHILST I ASDFLKJGLKSH;;;;

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year


[source -- I do not own this fanart and did not draw it]
"I'm trying not to answer every question with Skulduggery Pleasant" -- hmm clearly not. Skulduggery and Valkyrie (mainly Skulduggery. Let's not lie here. He is my absolute fave). Honourable mentions must go also to Jamie and Matt from Department 19; Anne and Diana from Anne of Green Gables; and the Raven Boys.
20. Favorite book you read in 2014 from an author you've read previously?

Previously read: Georgia Nicolson books 1-3 by Louise Rennison; Pride and Prejudice and Emma by Jane Austen; The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater; Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein; Skulduggery Pleasant books 1-8 by Derek Landy; Deparment 19 books 1-3 by Will Hill.

21. Best book you read in 2014 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure:

I read this solely because Kirthi Rao said I had to (and fangirled, often, in all caps, about it).
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables series, and Valentin Rusmanov from Department 19. These two are polar opposites.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
I didn't. My TBR list is so long that by the time I get to things they're rarely debuts anymore!

24. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year?

The scope of GRRM's world is absolutely stunning. He's created a heap of countries, all with their own customs and cultures. The maps at the beginning of the books are amazing. The depth of religion and tradition seems so real. I am bowled over. 
25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read?


Always make me laugh out loud. These are numbers 4-6, the 3 I read this year.
26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014?

I sobbed. And I do not sob. Ever. (I talked about this here, and mentioned that before this I'd only cried at one book in my life.)
27. Hidden gem of the year?

301348
I adored this book. I seriously did. It was beautiful and compelling. Review here.
28. Book that crushed your soul?


because


29. Most unique book you read in 2014?


30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?


Less mad than just hopelessly confused by my feelings. And stressed. And paranoid. And overwhelmed. And exhausted.
And I love them.

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2014 but will be your number 1 priority in 2015?

How've I not got round to this yet?? I'm about to start it this very night (and yes, I know it's still 2014. Shoot me).

Also on the priority list:
2. Book you are most anticipating for 2015 (non-debut)? // 3. 2015 debut you are most anticipating?
I'm not sure ... I literally never have any idea what books are coming out. Especially debuts.

4. Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2015?
Department 19 book 5!!! It's called Darkest Night, and it's coming out in June. I'm excited already.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2015?
I am going to participate in the Goodreads challenge again, and once again I will set my goal as 50 books (the exact number I read in 2014).

6. A 2015 release you’ve already read & recommend to everyone:
Nope. I'm not loved enough to be sent ARCs. (Hint to publishers: send me ARCs!) Though actually I'm not sure if I'd want to. It would be reading to a deadline all the time. And what if they weren't good??

So, that is that! A very long post. A lot of questions. If you soldiered through it, I salute you.

Now, let's play a fun round of you-answer-the-questions-I-give-you-in-the-comments, shall we?

1. Best books you read in 2014?
2. Favourite cover?
3. Most memorable character?
4. How many rereads?
5. Most beautifully written?
6. Most thought-provoking/life-changing?
7. 2015 release you're most excited for?

And if you've participated in this link-up, or any kind of 2014-book-wrap-up, do tell! And link me up! For now, a very Happy New Year. I'm off to read Blue Lily, Lily Blue!

Emily x

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Adventures in Singapore

Good afternoon, one and all. Recently in my life:

1. I got Twitter! This was exciting. Also scary, when I realised that people from my Facebook (ie, whisper it, real life people) could find me because I was using the same email ..... I may have deleted my new account, made a new email, and used it for a new Twitter. What? What?

Anyway, you lot can follow me @Emily__Etc. 180-CHARACTER-GENIUS COMING SOON (or so I hope).

2. I discovered that Daniel Handler and Lemony Snicket ...

are the same person.

When was anyone planning on telling me this?? Did you know?? IT'S WEIRD KAY!

3. I finished Department 19: Battle Lines. WHAT WHAT WHAT. Frankly I shouldn't be allowed to read emotionally intense thrillers ~cough~ Skulduggery Pleasant ~cough cough~ because I am left simply a wreck. I've also got a major new fictional crush. Like that's going to help me in any way.

4. I went to Singapore!

...

OK, so, when I went to Singapore to see my brother, sister-in-law and nephew Arthur it was mid-October. But posts take a long time to write, OK? And, in my defence: school. So without further ado ... my Singapore Adventures!

We stayed in the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. In Chinese culture a water feature symbolises wealth, prosperity etc. so in affluent parts, every - single - building - has a water feature outside. Our hotel's, as you can see, involved a large golden ball. 

  
The hotel was very, very tall and very, very fancy. In the foyer there resided a glass case full of desserts, all the time. 

The outdoor patio, on the river.





Each morning we walked along the river, past the boats and small shrine en route, and across a bridge. 



A bit further on we reached the apartment building where my brother and sister-in-law and my nephew Arthur live.



Like all the other building's in Singapore's richer parts, it was very, very tall. It also had a lovely swimming pool.


Over the week, we went on a lot of trips. 

1. The first day was Sunday: church and an Indian restaurant.

2. On my birthday, Monday, Henry and I went secondhand book shopping



I didn't get any pictures of the amazing labyrinthine shops we went to, but I did get some v. exciting books. 

3. Then we went to the Raffles hotel for afternoon tea. It was very posh. 

 Tiffin Room
Picture of the Tiffins Tea Room taken from the hotel website. [I do not own this picture]





4. One day, we went to the Botanic Gardens



A water feature at the entrance. Surprising. Not. 




The Orchid Garden // more orchids // there were a lot of orchids // goldfish pool

Did you know Singapore has a national orchid? (They like their orchids.) This is it. It's called Vanda Miss Joaquim

 


 

Patterned leaves // orchids // other orchids // I took a lot of pictures of orchids


Some of them looked vaguely poisonous.


5. Another day, we went to Chinatown

Paper lamps and beautiful coloured facades abounded.



Tattoo parlour // outdoor tat market // amusingly named eateries // pretty facades 




Durian skins in a dustbin - did you know that this fruit is banned in many places because of its smell? // more facades // sightseeing bus // lantern


One of the interesting things about Singapore was the fusion of Indian and Chinese cultures. A Hindu temple in Chinatown, sacred cow perched on the roof.  


We also visited Chinatown's cookshops. (My mum bought a huge meat cleaver.) I was excited by all the shininess ....




Ooh shiny ladles // pretty plates // gigantic woks // a frankly terrifying industrial-sized beater



Little handmade crafty shop // outdoor food stalls

6. On the last morning, we went on a historical tour.

Singapore is famous for its colonial black and white houses, a few of which we toured. 



The whole house was a museum/gallery/shop.

Statue in the drive // elephants by the door // wooden wheel // tiny reading statue





There were a lot of beautiful cabinets.





Beautiful carpet // necklaces // lovely box // Singapore map






trio of statues // hanging ... things // beaded doorstops // horse




Goodbye to the beautiful black and white house.

This was a Danish seamans' church. (Because why not.)



House-side // "ooh stars"




Some more they-look-a-bit-poisonous flowers // amazing spiral staircase // a boat on the wall (seamen, right?) // beautiful tiled floors.

The tour was presided over by an eighty-something slightly-mad historian, and it was a great experience. 

7. That night we went to the hawkers' market.

It had this amazing structure inside.


Food cooking on the street // our plates when we were finishing

Singapore was a brilliant place to visit - I really want to see more of Asia. I was so blessed to be able to go there, to see my family and to meet my nephew Arthur!

Very cool hanging light formation in Singapore Airport. Until next time!

So tell me: have you been to Singapore? Or somewhere else cool recently? Bonus question: what's the farthest you've travelled from home? Oh, and do you have Twitter? What's your name? ALSO, have you read Department 19?? CAN WE FANGIRL??

Emily x

PS Did you know that Daniel Handler and Lemony Snicket are the same person? I'm not processing this well.