January Reading Wrap-Up

One of my reading goals for 2015 (which I still haven’t written a post on) is to read five books each month. Not an average of five books a month, not 60 books this year, but five books every month. In the month of January, I read a total of six books. In the past, January has been one of my biggest reading months of the year; I usually clock in with 10+ books. But I got off to a slow start and didn’t begin reading my first book this month until January 15th. C’est la vie. Here are the books I finished this month, followed by a brief recount of my thoughts.

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Synopsis | I loved this book. It was one of my most anticipated books of 2014, but sadly I didn’t get to it until this year. It reminded me a bit of the Throne of Glass series in terms of the way it made me feel. I finished it the same day I started it. It’s a fantasy novel and I think it’d be great for people looking to get into the genre. I had very high expectations for this novel and it amazingly surpassed them. This was a great start to the series and I can’t wait for the sequel to release in July. | My Goodreads Review 5/5 stars

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Synopsis | This is the third book in the Throne of Glass fantasy series. If you saw my Top 15 post, you know that this was the number one book from my shelves that I wanted to get to in 2015. I did, and my mind is BLOWN. This book was outstanding, just like the other books in the series and I was so, so happy with it. I literally cannot wait for the fourth installment. The Throne of Glass series is one of my all time favorites and I highly recommend picking up these books. | My Goodreads Review 5/5 stars

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Synopsis | This is the third book in the historical fiction/fantasy trilogy, His Fair Assassin. I was slightly disappointed because I expected so much from this book- the first two installments are two of my favorite books. I didn’t think this one was as good as those, but I still enjoyed it; it was by no means a bad book. This trilogy is about the French duchy of Brittany in the 15th century and each book follows a different female protagonist, each an assassin and handmaiden/daughter of Death. I definitely recommend it and the fantasy elements are minimal and realistic to the times. | My Goodreads Review 4/5 stars

Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
Synopsis | This is the third book in the paranormal, mythology-based Everneath trilogy. The premise is loosely based on the Greek myth of Persephone, but it’s far different than other young adult retellings I’ve read. I usually despise paranormal romance books for many reasons (I need write a rant post sometime), but I found this trilogy very enjoyable. It was a fun, easy read that made me laugh and that I didn’t have to take very seriously. It’s quick and teenager-ish and I embraced its typical paranormal romance qualities, although it stood out to me because it in some ways defied the normal cookie cutter format of the genre. I think anyone who loves paranormal romance will get a kick out of this trilogy and maybe even some people like me who dislike the genre. | My Goodreads Review 5/5 stars

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Synopsis | This is the second book in the paranormal/supernatural Mara Dyer trilogy. After reading the first book, despite really liking it, it took me over a year to pick this one up because these books are such heavy reads for me. It’s dark, creepy, eerily reminiscent of a horror story. Technically, it’s a paranormal romance series, so naturally I have my issues with it. But I do really like the series, and I liked this book- it’s completely different than anything I’ve ever read. I haven’t purchased the third book yet. I for sure want to read it but after completing this installment, I felt exhausted and drained. Who knows, maybe it’ll be another year before I finally finish off this trilogy. | My Goodreads Review 4/5 stars

Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes
Synopsis | This is a standalone contemporary novel. It follows a main character named Anika who is half Romanian who lives in Nebraska with her mom, two siblings, stepdad, and two step-siblings. She has a witty and humorous voice, drily detailing her life as a 10th grade student. She deals with popularity, racism, nativist sentiments, petty theft, love, and friendship. While I didn’t give this book as high a rating as I usually give, I did enjoy it. I thought it was realistic, truly unfiltered. I do recommend it because I think it contains important messages and it is well-written and fun to read. | My Goodreads Review 3.5/5 stars

Overall, I really enjoyed the books I read this month. I started reading fantasy again (now I’m on a kick), read a few paranormal books, and even managed to squeeze in an entertaining contemporary. I also began Cress by Marissa Meyer, but put it down because I wasn’t in the mood for it. And throughout the month, I’ve slowly been working my way through Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan. I finished four of the books on my Top 15 TBR list for 2015. And I surpassed my goal of five books during the month. I have no idea what I’m going to read in February, but I’m excited for a new month of reading!

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infinite

Today the sky was blue. Not blueish, not stained with white wisps of air and water, not fragmented by Apollo’s rays. Pure blue, so blue you’d think the sky went on forever, that there is no universe beyond this moment but that there is at the same time because surely this can’t be the end. Today the grass was green. A vivid, luscious, effervescent jungle springing up from the ground, filled with wildflowers where before there were none. The dirt was deep and beautiful and brown. The bricks that were mortared together a century ago were suddenly as vibrant as the red ribbon he tied my hair back with in another lifetime. The world had come to life, returned to its full glory, if only for a day.

Today the world was colourful. It was more beautiful than a chrome filter, more striking than most people ever dare to dream. I swear I saw a rainbow today, and not in the sky after the early morning showers, but everywhere I looked in nature and in the oldness of it all. The wind was crisp and cool; it felt like a gentle breeze whispering ”you’re home. Today I felt like I belonged, like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, like everything is right. Peace, content, still, wonder. Today was one of the few glorious days where I stood in the middle of my driveway after school and was overwhelmingly glad to be alive.

Today is the day we live for. The day we stop and think and reflect instead of go go going and planning and wallowing in the misery of now. The day that Elpis’s spirit is infused in all of our bones, seeping into our marrow until hope reaches our core, casting out our deepest fears, our shallowest troubles, all of our weariness. Amazing us with the lucid simplicity of it all. I wish days like this came more often, days when the world is so beautiful that all I want to do is run run run to the woods, to another continent, to every place I’ve never been before, but I want to stay here and enjoy the fleeting beauty at the same time and even if I did run it wouldn’t be to escape like usual. But if every day were like today, we would lose our humanity, our ability to appreciate it; we would ruin, destroy, trample all over the signs.

So maybe tomorrow will be faded again, like a washed-out old film, hazy because the human race struggles to see clearly through all of its agony. Maybe tomorrow I’ll curse the gods or God or whoever created this damn existence. But today I thanked them.

Because today I felt infinite.

Top 15 Books I Want to Read in 2015

After a long week of exams, I finally got some reading done for the first time this year. A goal for me this year is to minimize my TBR pile (books I have sitting unread on my shelves). I did a post last year listing all the books I’ve bought but haven’t read yet (though it’s no longer up to date). I’ve knocked a few off, but here are 15 I really want to get to in 2015.

1. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
3rd book in the Throne of Glass series. I actually just finished this one today at 3 am, but this was my top 2014 release to read in 2015. I’ve been with the YA fantasy series since the beginning and this installment was FANTASTIC. I’m contemplating writing a review. | Goodreads

2. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
3rd book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy. Each book follows a different character, each a female assassin/nun/daughter of Death. Another series I’ve been with from the beginning, and this installment was highly anticipated. I can’t wait to devour it. | Goodreads

3. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
5th and final book in The Mortal Instruments series. I picked this YA urban fantasy series back up last year and am thrilled that I did. Because this book is a monster- over 700 pages long- I’ve put it off until I can sit down for a day and read it straight through. | Goodreads

4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
This is another big book I didn’t finish in 2014. I bought it for book club (the unabridged version) in November but only read around 70 pages. I love it so far; it’s a classic set in France revolving around mystery and complex subplots. | Goodreads

5. The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, & Maureen Johnson
This is a collection of eleven short stories- originally published as novellas- detailing the backstory of TMI and TID character, Magnus Bane. My mom bought me a signed copy for Christmas and I can’t wait to read it! | Goodreads

6. Cress by Marissa Meyer
3rd book in the Lunar Chronicles quartet. I bought this when it released last February and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since, patiently waiting for me to pick it up. The series follows a string of characters and plots in a sci-fi retelling of several fairy tales. I read the first book, Cinder, when it came out in 2012. The last book, plus a prequel, release early this year so I hope to get to this one soon. | Goodreads

7.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I started this book in the summer between 7th and 8th grade. I didn’t know nearly as much about the Holocaust and World War II then, nor did I know that the novel is narrated by Death. I read 26 pages before giving up. Since taking History of the Holocaust as a sophomore, I’ve wanted to finish this novel. And in 2015, I’m going to finally do so. | Goodreads

8. Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan
I’ve been reading this collection of myths told from Percy’s perspective almost every night since the new year began. It’s beautifully illustrated, humorous, and I’ve surprisingly learned new things about Greek myths that I’d never heard of before. I think I’ll be finished with this one soon. | Goodreads

9. The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
2nd book in the Mara Dyer trilogy. I read the first book of this eery paranormal series over Thanksgiving break in 2013 and the third book released at the end of 2014. I’ve been meaning to get to this one for ages because I need more Noah Shaw… and answers. | Goodreads

10. The Offering by Kimberly Derting
3rd book in The Pledge trilogy. I absolutely loved the first two books in this dystopian fantasy series. I started the third installment last year soon after it released, but I couldn’t get into it. I’d found that a year after the second book, I didn’t care much anymore and I was bored. I want to give it another try this year, especially after adoring the first two parts of the trilogy. | Goodreads

11. Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
3rd book in the Everneath trilogy. I bought it when it released last January. This paranormal trilogy has elements of Greek mythology weaved into it and I really want to finish it up. I can’t wait to find out what happens after the second book’s cliff hanger. | Goodreads

12. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
I bought this adult historical fiction novel a long time ago. I don’t read many adult novels, but in 2015 I’d like to expand my horizons in that aspect, starting with this one. Then I can finally watch the movie! | Goodreads

13. What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang
1st book in The Hybrid Chronicles. I bought it at the end of 2012 due to its gorgeous cover and a recommendation and I just haven’t desired to read it since. But it’s been long enough and it’s finally time to give this dystopian novel centered around twins a shot. | Goodreads

14. Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
1st book in the Goddess War series. I bought it at the end of 2013 on a whim because of its premise. I love Greek mythology and I thought this book sounded different and interesting. However, it didn’t get the greatest reviews and I decided it wasn’t worth prioritizing. Now I’d like to see for myself, especially since the sequel released last year. | Goodreads

15. God Loves Ugly by Christa Black
I got this book at a Christian conference as a freshman. Christa was a speaker and her story was so raw and inspiring that I wanted to read it for myself. I don’t know where I stand in terms of faith and religion, but I can relate to some of the author’s struggles. I want to finally sit down and read this book sometime in 2015. | Goodreads

If I read all 15 of these books in 2015 I’ll be very happy with myself, not to mention proud. It’s time to get reading!

Q&A Wednesday (1)

This is a new post series/meme I am going to be doing. I don’t know that I’ll do it every Wednesday, but I’ll try to do it as often as possible. Basically, it’ll be a short and sweet question- that I thought of, was asked by someone in daily life, or discovered through another source- and an answer. Simple as that.  Since one of the goals of this blog is self-reflection, I thought the idea was perfect.

This question was recently asked over text by one of my friends.

Q: If you could only listen to five songs for the rest of your life, what would they be? (The original question was actually three songs, but I convinced him to make an exception because I couldn’t decide.)

A: Wake Me Up by Avicii, Rosyln by Bon Iver, Sur ma route by Black M, Story Of My Life by One Direction, and I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift.

I picked songs that are all-time favorites, that are the most played on my playlist, and that I have loved for a long time. Wake Me Up makes me feel alive; I want to live life to its fullest extent when I listen to its blues/techno mix. Rosyln is a haunting, sad song that takes me back to some of my darkest moments, my lowest points. It’s great to listen to when I’m feeling down, but it doesn’t force me to relive bad experiences. Sur ma route is a French song that inspires me and makes me feel alive and capable of deciding what to do with my life. It’s powerful, speaking volumes in a language I barely understand. Story Of My Life is probably my favorite One Direction song. I love the chorus and just the sound of it warms up my insides and makes me feel nostalgic for reasons I don’t quite understand. I Knew You Were Trouble is the top played song in my iTunes library. It’s strong and angry and self-reflective in a way. It takes me back to the time I listened to it on repeat for weeks, months, as do the other songs I picked. Music can do that- time travel.

Happy List (2)

This is the second of my Happy List post series, which I began back in November.

1. A New Year
2015 is my last full year at home and that realization is crazy. I love the start of a new year because it’s full of hope and possibility and a willingness to change that we don’t find in ourselves often.

2. Russian Tea
My family went to Alaska two summers ago and my mom bought a bag of Russian tea. She’s made it sparingly since then, but the past few days we’ve had a consistent brew of it available and it is heavenly.

3. Cookie Dough
I’ve made several batches of cookies with friends and siblings in the past week but nothing beats a bite (or three!) of raw cookie dough. I’ve been nibbling on it as I’ve done a ton of Model UN research and it’s nice to treat yourself to a little reward after a lot of hard work.

4. Debussy
Clair de Lune is one of my favorite classical pieces; I find its melody soothing and nostalgic. However, as I’ve been working like crazy on my research and position paper, I’ve started listening to more of Debussy’s compositions. I’ve discovered quite a few more that I like.

5. Model United Nations
As much work as this club has been the past few days, I really really enjoy it. I love social studies; it’s one of my great passions. I’m interested in international business and international relations as possible majors in college and career paths. It’s nice to be surrounded by people who share my adoration for history and politics and I’ve learned a lot through my research. It’s hard work and I’m not sure I have it all figured out yet (this is my first year participating in MUN), but I’m proud of myself for trying something new and committing to it.

That’s my happy list for the week! A bonus I’d like to add is the book I’m currently reading, Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan. It’s full of stories that I already know, but Percy’s narrations and my love for mythology make this one a winner. It’s easy to put down when I need to work, but great for a few stories before dream catching. Bonne semaine!