Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Let's Get Started | My Goals for 2015!

Last year's book and life goals went so well and I'm excited to begin working on my new list of goals! Just as last year, I had 10 book and life goals for 2015!

My Book Goals for 2015:
Disclaimer: Most of the books I plan on reading next year won't overlap in categories but I'm okay if some of them overlap; i.e. in categories #2 and #8

1. Read 5 of my oldest ebooks (added before 2015)
I have an awful time getting to the books on my kindle. I acquire eARCs and purchase older ebooks I've been meaning to get to but then never get to them. Last year I had a similar goal (read 5 ARCs) and didn't meet it, but I have better hopes for this one. i.e. Always You, Thomas & January, Just Remember to Breathe, Maybe One Day, Reason to Breathe, Anathema, On the Island, Breaking Free, Little Women, Stalk Me, etc

2. Read 5 of the earliest books added to my TBR list (in 2012) 
I met this goal last year and wanted to do it again because there are still more books I've been neglecting for a long time. i.e. Back to You, The Body Finder, Sloppy Firsts, My Name is Memory, etc

3. Read 5 books I already own
I acquired 31 books in 2014 and read 10 of them, four of which I read within the last couple weeks of the year. Some of them were odd gifts or cheap pick ups from garage sales so I'm not sure how many of them I'll want to read in the end and, therefore, didn't want to put too much pressure on myself to read them if I am just not feeling them, but there's at least i.e. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Since You've Been Gone, Thin Space, The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller, Home Front, Chasing Hope, Night Road, Everneath, etc

4. Read 3 classics
I've never read a classic willingly, but I want to try some out that I'm actually interested in and get a taste of these world renown authors. i.e. Pride and Prejudice, The Three Musketeers, David Copperfield...

5. Read 5 books that inspired Disney/childhood movies
i.e. The Arabian Nights, Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, Tarzan and the Apes, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, etc

6. Read 5 historical novels and/or memoirs
This year I started getting into historical novels and memoirs. Unfortunately I didn't read that many of either, but that's where this goal comes in! I grouped these two categories together because they kind of have to do with similar subjects: both based off or inspired by real events. i.e. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Sold, I Am Malala, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, etc

7. Finish 5 series I've already begun
Particularly: Anna and the French Kiss, The Mortal Instruments, The Lunar Chronicles, Newsoul, Maze Runner, and That Boy

8. Read 10 new-to-me authors
Keep things fresh! i.e. Rainbow Rowell, Priscilla Glenn, A.L. Jackson, Tarryn Fisher, Steph Campbell, Amie Kaufman, Jennifer E. Smith, 

9. Begin 10 series (and maybe binge read them??)
There are so many series I'm missing out on! i.e. The Heroes of Olympus, The Iron Fey, Nightshade, The Darkest Minds, Angelfall, Breathing, Sweet Evil, Ruby Red, The Syrena Legacy, Jessica Darling, Starbound, The Winner's Trilogy, Anathema, The Keatyn Chronicles, Fate, etc

10. Read more Shelly Crane books
I love her Significance and Wide awake series, but I only read two of her books last year. That's a problem that needs fixing! i.e. Smash into You, Collide, Stealing Grace, etc


My Life Goals for 2015:

1. Write my first completed draft
I've started multiple stories, but haven't finished any of them. I struggle with my writing and get discouraged easily, but this year I hope to keep chugging even when it is difficult.

2. Watch 1 new movie/documentary/TV show a week
I added this a list after January for last year's goals and I loved it so I wanted to do it again!

3. Hone crafting skills
Last year I knitted my first scarf, barely started sketching, challenged my design skills by making four Yearbook spreads, helped build a shed, and started making adjustments to my bookcases! Especially recently, the creative energy and inspiration is definitely swirling within me and I must do more with it! I received new knitting, crocheting, sketching, and calligraphy supplies for Christmas, so I plan on using the crap out of those. I also am taking a graphic design (drawing) class next semester, want to finish my bookshelves, and then do more work with wood and paint.

4. Go to my first concert
There were two concerts I wanted to go to last year (Tyler Ward and Bastille) but didn't get to go to either so this is a MUST. X Ambassadors looks promising but we'll see!

5. Educate myself and vote when I can
I didn't register so I wasn't able to vote, but this year I'm determined to make this happen.

6. Develop a healthy living style
Last year my goal was to "get off my butt more", which was an on and off process that picked up the last two months, but this year I want to take it a little bit farther and try to not eat so snacks and sweets so often and exercise at least semi regularly.

7. Consciously appreciate the things and people I have in my life and show that I mean it
Whether this be through reflecting on the good things that happen to me and the people I meet or reminding my family and friends I care and am thankful of them or being patient and thanking strangers.

The rest are a life goals I started last year and want to continue for the rest of my life:
8, 9, 10, & 11? strive to be helpful, honest, kind, and knowledgeable; 
12. try new things without fear holding me back;


Check out The Broke and the Bookish to see what other book bloggers aim to achieve in 2015


What are your goals for 2015?

Related Posts:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Results Are In | 10 Book Goals for 2014

I had two sets of goals for this year: book goals and life goals. Both sets of goals went really well this year and I'm excited to share my results! Continue reading for my book goal results and click here for my life goal results.

10 Book Goals:
My main focus this year was to read a variety of books from different points in time whether that be their publishing year or when I first started the series. With so many books on my TBR list, I wanted to give everything a fair shot, instead of just reading i.e. all new releases. (Btw, the publishing year time frames for each of my goals was determined based on how many books in each year I had on my TBR list).

1. Read 5 books published before 2000 - COMPLETED!
-Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland
-Night by Elie Wiesel
-The Color Purple by Alice Walker
-Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
-Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou 
+ The Iliad, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

2. Read 5 books that were published between 2000-2007 - CLOSE, YET SO FAR AWAY
I didn't think I was going to make this one but then a week ago I was like, yeah I can totally read two more books to meet the goal! But within the last 24 hours I have not read more than 9 pages in the last book and I just don't feel motivated to finish it in the next 12 hours. I wish I could say I made this goal since I totally could have but at this point I'm perfectly okay because I accomplished a lot book-wise this year.
-The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
-Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
-The Garden of Eve by K.L. Going
-A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

3. Read 10 books that were published between 2008-2011 - COMPLETED!
-Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
-Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins 
-The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
-Glitches by Marissa Meyer 
-If I Stay by Gayle Forman
-Where She Went by Gayle Forman
-Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler 
-The Maze Runner by James Dashner
-The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein 
-Seriously, I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
-It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han 
-We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
+ The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, Sand Queen by Helen Benedict, Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

4. Read 10 books that were published in 2012 - COMPLETED!
-Cinder by Marissa Meyer
-Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
-Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
-Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi
-The Queen's Army by Marissa Meyer
-Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
-Burn for Burn by Jenny Han
-Every Day by David Levithan
-Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
-Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

5. Read 10 books that were published last year - COMPLETED!
-The Other Fish in the Sea by Jenn Cooksey
-Shark Out of Water by Jenn Cooksey
-Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
-Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
-Just One Year by Gayle Forman
-Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi
-Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout
-The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
-Life Before Legend by Marie Lu
-Prodigy by Marie Lu
+ Crash into You by Katie McGarry, Four Summers by Nyrae Dawn, Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
 

6. Read 10 books that were published this year - COMPLETED!
-Wide Open by Shelly Crane
-A Father's Kiss by Colleen Hoover
-Consequence by Shelly Crane
-This Star Won't Go Out by Esther Grace Earl
-The Little Android by Marissa Meyer
-Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
-Tiger's Promise by Colleen Houck
-Panic by Lauren Oliver
-Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Dodge
-We Were Liars E. Lockhart
+ To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, Dumbledore's Army by J.K. Rowling, Champion by Marie Lu, Red at Night by Katie McGarry, Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, Take Me On by Katie McGarry, Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry

7. Read 5 ARCs - UNCOMPLETED
-Fields of Elysium by A.B. Whelan... but I only read 25% of it before quitting. I just haven't been excited about the ARCs so I'm not sure if I'll do anything about this next year.


8. Read 5 of the oldest books on my TBR list--added between June 2012 and September 2012 - COMPLETED!
-Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
-Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
-Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
-Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
-The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

9. Finish 5 series that I have previously started - COMPLETED!
I finished so many series this year! Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Covenant by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Legend by Marie Lu, Summer by Jenny Han, The Chemical Garden by Lauren DeStefano, + Selection by Kiera Cass, The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare...

10. Read 2 book jar picks - Quite a few of the books listed above were book jar picks so I'm not going to list them, but yes, I did COMPLETE this goal!

BONUS - On Goodreads, I made a "must read" list for 2014 and I read 24 of the 47 books on that list. Not exactly an ideal result, but that list didn't include all the 2014 releases I was highly anticipating and ended up reading nor the series I continued after beginning one of the books on the list. Also, I'm still happy with the books I did get to this year. :)

Final Results:
8/10 book goals completed!

Considering that this is my first year making book goals for myself, I'm proud of what I accomplished! Although I didn't read as many books as I have in past years (108 books in 2013), these goals were so much more satisfying than reaching a specific number of books. I purposefully didn't make a "total books read" goal this year because I wanted to focus more on these goals than on a set end number, but I did end up reading 85 books, which I think is pretty darn good.

Also, since I started these goals as a Top Ten Tuesday, I'll link back to The Broke and the Bookish.

Watch out for my 2015 reading and life goals post and tell me what goals you completed this year!

Thanks for reading. :)

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Results Are In | 10 Life Goals for 2014

I had two sets of goals for this year: book goals and life goals. Both sets of goals went really well and I'm excited to share my results! Continue reading for my life goal results and click here for my 2014 book goals results.

10 Life Goals for 2014:

I made most of these goals vague (i.e. get off my butt more) because I did not want to base my year off one specific goal (lose 20 pounds) and then feel immense disappointment if I did not reach a specified goal. I wanted them to be things I had complete control over and could achieve at any time (hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly) as long as I set my mind on them.

1. Be honest
This wasn't something I kept track of, but I know I've improved on telling others how I feel when they have hurt me and not being afraid to tell others what I think about a subject, including sticking up for the things I love but others might consider silly or nerdy.

2. Be kind
I don't have much to say about this other than I felt an improvement in my own attitude and I feel better because of it.

3. Confront fears and take chances
These are tricky goals because when I started them, I didn't really have any specific fears (such a public speaking or spiders) in mind when I made it. But some things I had reservations about had to do with independence. I was nervous to drive across the state to unfamiliar places by myself, fly across the country alone, ride on the subway alone, start college (with harder classes and a unknown roommate)... but I did them anyway and loved them all! When I got to college, I pushed myself to meet new people, join clubs and organizations, do crazy things, and I don't regret any of it!

4. Try new hobbies/things

I knitted my first scarf and started sketching and yoga, but not much so I will be continuing! I actually started journaling my "firsts" which included new foods (Latin, Indian, authentic Mexican, chirros, etc) new experiences (mani-pedi, riding on a subway, white water rafting, going to California), and milestones (started college). 

5. Go on an adventure
I went to my first author events (Ruta Sepetys, Marissa Meyer, Joelle Charbonneau, and Sarah J Maas!), flew across the country to visit cousins, went skinny dipping (teehee!), traveled to Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Caroline where I did a whole bunch of fun things including white water rafting, ziplining, and wild black bear searching. 


6. Help those in need
I raised $610 for Amazima Ministries' child sponsorship, joined the National Service Fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and went to North Carolina on an Alternative Break to volunteer at the YMCA! Such great experiences and I'm so happy to have impacted my local and world community in big ways! Oh!! I just remembered I also gave blood for the first time and I loved it! I want to do it multiple times a year from now on!

7. Simplify material possessions
Cleansed by room and closet in June, and then moved out lol.


8. Strive to keep learning
I got into watching documentaries this year and they were so enlightening! I also started my first semester in college, which was a huge transition in my life, and learned an infinite more about myself and the world.


9. Get off my butt more
This was an up and down process of not exercising and eating crap and then exercising and eating healthy food again and again. Throughout the first couple months of the semester I was eating pretty bad, had stopped exercising, was feeling awful, and was beating myself up for it all. But then I reached a point (on October 31 to be exact) when I realized I could not continue living this way. Since then, I've lost 9 pounds, am feeling pretty good, looking pretty good, and not stopping!

10. Watch a new-to-me movie a week
I added this to my list of goals soon after the new year began. All of 2012 and most of 2013 I was in a movie slump and when I came out of it, I wanted to catch up on movies I hadn't seen. This turned into watch a movie/TV show/documentary a week, and I ended the year with a total of 56! Click here to see what my top 14 movies of 2014!

Let me know how you did with the goals you set for yourself this year!
Thanks for reading,

Holly

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Top 14 Movies of 2014

As a part of the 10th goal I added to my 2014 life goals (to watch one movie/show a week), I was going to list all the new-to-me movies and shows at the end of the post about my life goals results but thought ehhh that'll be boring. Instead, I'm going to highlight my 14 favorite movies/documentaries/TV series out of the 56 I watched this year!

A brief run-down of how I rate movies:
5 stars - Rarely use them, but when I do they mean what they imply: I think its perfect 
4 stars - Not perfect, but loved it!
3 stars - I enjoyed it.
2 stars - Some aspects were decent.
1 star - Did not enjoy.


My Favorite Movies of 2014
(No particular order)


When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions - 5 stars (Netflix)
Absolutely fascinating and mind blowing! If you love learning about space or simply want to learn about the NASA space missions, this 6-episode series is chalked full of real footage, interviews from NASA employees including astronauts on the missions. Seriously, this TV series is the definition of "mind blowing"!

The Fault in Our Stars - 5 stars (In Theaters)
I started crying practically as soon as the movie began. My fangirl heart could not handle it the sheer beauty of this story. Around the end of the movie when tears were actually acceptable, I was sobbing and you know what the best part was? I forgot to bring TISSUES. So after the movie, a hiccuping Holly went straight to the bathroom to attempt cleaning up the swollen, bloodshot eyes and a snotty face. :P People who in the same theater as me were smirking as I tried to clean up and I wanted to yell, "I heard you crying too!"

TINY: A Story About Living Small - 5 stars (Netflix)
I'm not sure if I could ever live in a tiny home, but the idea of simplifying our material needs to the bare necessity, thus, being able to focus on the things that matter most around us and live a happier life was such a refreshing, reinvigorating concept. I watched this documentary 3 times because I had to share it with family members.

Fried Green Tomatoes - 4.5 stars (DVD)
One of my mum's favorites and when I was spending quality time with my aunt this summer we chose this as one of our movies. So happy we did because it was truly a great story! Kind of like the Titanic in that it's an undeniably great movie.

Stuck in Love - 4 stars (Netflix)
Chose this on a whim as a destresser before finals and the entire time I was reveling in how much I was enjoying it! I loved the cast (Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Nat Wolff, Lily Collins, Logan Lerman, and Kristen Bell!!) and the story line! It's extremely relatable to book lovers, writers, and all artists!

White Oleander - 4.5 stars (Amazon)
One of the first movies I watched this year. I tried reading the book a few years ago, thought it was disgusting, but I think I just wasn't ready at the time to handle its mature content. This movie was incredible though! So impacting.

The Spectacular Now - 4.5 stars (Netflix)
So cute and relatable! I loved how special the film was made and how clip used was either the first or second (rarely third) shot! Really speaks for the talent of the cast and crew. 

The Hundred Foot Journey - 4 stars (College Early DVD Release)
This movie is a must see for anyone who loves food. Seriously, the cinematography was beautiful and the way it portrayed the art of food... mmm that was an art in its own category! Some parts were predictable, but I honestly loved it start to finish. 

Mockingjay - 4 stars (In Theaters)
I didn't love it as much as Catching Fire; some scenes were dragged out a bit too far for my liking, but overall I loved the adaptation of the book and cannot wait to see Part 2!

The King's Speech - 4 stars (Netflix)
I love movies about history and especially loved this because I don't know too much about England royalty. That aspect was really intriguing but the acting and cinematography was great!

Divergent - 4.5 stars (In Theaters)
All of my issues with the book had to do with the writing so in a different art form I loved it! Click here to read my full spoiler-free review on the Divergent movie.

The Maze Runner - 4 stars (In Theaters)
My friend Trina from Between Chapters told me how amazing it was and I was kind of skeptical. Based on what I had seen in the trailers, I was excited to see it but didn't know exactly what to expect from it. I was thoroughly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! No complaints here!

In Your Eyes - 4 stars (Netflix)
Finished watching this a few hours ago and it's what ultimately made me decide to do this post. I LOVED the concept of this movie. If you haven't heard of it, it's about two strangers who are linked within their minds since they were kids and can sometimes experience, hear, see, and feel what the other is feeling. They don't fully comprehend what's going on until they're adults. I loved what happened from there, loved the concept of two strangers being linked like that, and kept thinking I wish I had written a book about this!

Thanks for Sharing - 3.5 stars (Netflix)
To be honest, this is not one of the greatest movies out there; the ending was a little flat for all the great material and build up throughout the movie, but it is SO underrated. I cracked up at so many points during this movie and I thought the plot was really interesting. With a grain of salt, I would totally recommend this to everyone.

Honorable mentions:
Monster's University
Good Will Hunting
I Am Legend
How I Live Now
Little Women
Gimme Shelter
Pitch Perfect
Silver Linings Playlist
Vampire Academy
Camp Takota

Curious to know what else I watched in 2014? Here's a full list of all the movies and shows I watched!

Did you have any favorite movies, documentaries, or TV shows this year? Let me know!
Thanks for reading and I hope you have a Happy Christmas and wonderful holiday! :)

Holly

Another post you might like:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Top 14 Books of 2014


This year I discovered so many new favorite books! When I went through the 84 books I read this year, I spent forever trying to narrow down to the 14 I was going to recognize as my top 14 books of 2014. I honestly couldn't narrow the list smaller than 16 and I'm still sad about the awesome books I'm not including. For a lot of these, I wasn't expecting to love them as much as I did so that makes them even more special! Because I rated most of these 5 stars, I'm going to discuss them in the order I read them this year instead of trying to determine highest to lowest favorite.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - 5 stars
The first book of 2014 jumped to my all-time favorites list in a heartbeat! I've mentioned this in just about every TTT post and will forever rave about it. It made me so emotional: heartbroken, relieved, frustrated, depressed, elated... I felt everything in this story. I loved reading about Afghanistan, the complex characters, and the struggles they faced. This story is about trying to cope with and redeem one's self for deeply rooted guilt and regret and it was nothing short of a masterpiece in my mind.

Shark Out of Water by Jenn Cooksey - 4 stars
This is the third book in the Grab Your Pole series (mature YA/NA contemporary romance). I rated the first book four stars and the second book three stars so I was expecting to just decently enjoy this as well, but the EMOTIONS this book evoked within me were incredible! This series deals with situations and relationships that the main characters (Camie and Tristan) are foreign to so these books explore them and their friends trying to adjust, understand, and communicate with each other. There is a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding that drives these passionate characters apart from each other. It's so frustrating because you just want them to solve their issues, but the issues are relate-able or at the very least understandable for these types of characters. When everything comes together at the end of this book, I cried like a baby because this interesting duo was just too beautiful! I never wrote a review on this book, which is probably why I wrote so much just now. Anyway, I loved it so much!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - 5 stars
I think every YA contemporary romance fan has read this book and if not, they should! And don't let the title fool you. It isn't cheesy; just a super sweet, fun story full of quirks and personality!

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows - 4 stars
This was another one I enjoyed more than I expected! It's a very fun, light read that has great and serious conflicts. I LOVED the romance, the fantasy intrigued me rather than scared me off, and the storytelling was wonderful with good pacing. Meadows had a way of telling the fantasy, conflicts, and romance of the story so beautifully. I rated this 4 stars but couldn't stop thinking about it and its sequels (which I will for sure read in 2015) all year!

This Star Won't Go Out by Esther Grace Earl - 5 stars
Esther was so relatable and I'm so happy I read her story. Check out my review for all my thoughts of Esther's life because I cannot possibly explain them all right here. :)

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare - 5 stars
For someone who wasn't entirely thrilled with the first two books in TID, this amazed me! All of the connections that were made with TMI and its characters, the way everything came full circle... absolutely wonderful! I teared and choked up multiple times, was delighted by the humor and joy of its journey, and I loved all the characters more than I ever have!

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge - 5 stars
Yet another one that surprised the crap out of me for loving it! I mainly read it because it was a spin off of Beauty and the Beast and my two of my friends really wanted to read it so I thought, okay, might as well. It was fantasy and kinda creepy (things I'm not a huge fan of) but it was dark and I was addicted to it! I fell in love with the love interest who was also creepy (loving him creeped me out) and the ending was incredible! I totally recommend it!

Where She Went by Gayle Forman - 5 stars
I loved this much more than If I Stay! Probably because the ending was so perfect. Loved! For my full review click here!

We Were Liars by e. lockhart - 5 stars
I'm not even going to say what I loved about this book because everyone should go into this book knowing nothing about it. Seriously, just jump in! So good!

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - 5 stars
What a page-turner! Having all of Lara Jean's love letters accidentally sent out to past crushes was such an interesting plot, but what I loved most was getting to know the relationship between Lara Jean and her sisters and her and Josh! So sweet and heartwarming!

Prodigy by Marie Lu - 5 stars
Marie Lu is SO good at writing action sequences! They're simply amazing and the awesome plot kept me guessing the possibilities. I liked how all the characters are developed and was torn between who I wanted to be in a relationship with whom.

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover - 5 stars
Colleen Hoover never disappoints! All of her books have differing characters, complications, backgrounds, and plots, and they're always so good! I loved Sydney and Ridge and the ending was so satisfying! I reread the ending twice as soon as I finished the book because it was such a beautiful conclusion.

Four Summers by Nyrae Dawn - 4 stars
Huge surprise! Okay, so every book in this list except CoHo's surprised me ;) This book is about a girl who has been living in a lake house her entire life and works around the lake houses during the summer months as guests rent out the cabins. It explores four summers that a specific family with two boys rent the same cabin. Romance ensues and the story covers the relationship that blooms between Charlotte and Nate each summer they are together. I felt all the feels and it was the perfect summer read!

It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han - 4 stars
This is the second book in the Summer trilogy and I loved it the most because of the progress that was made among Belly, Jeremiah, and Conrad.

Take Me On by Katie McGarry - 4 stars
Of the 6 books I had read by Katie McGarry at the time, Take Me On was my second favorite, after Pushing the Limits of course! ;) I haven't loved any of the relationships in McGarry's books as much as I love Echo and Noah's, but this is closest! The thing that makes me consistently knock a star from McGarry's books is that at some parts I feel like you can tell a woman wrote the guy's perspective. They're so emotional to the point of being boarder line cheesy and it ends up being too much for me. But I've enjoyed all the relationships and the plot is always intriguing. This book had the least amount of cheesiness so it bothered me least and the kickboxing kickassery of Haley was awesome!

Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry - 5 stars
I love Echo and Noah! Did you hear me? I LOVE ECHO AND NOAH SO MUCH! I'm so happy Katie McGarry decided to continue their story and write their happily ever after! Gaaah perfection!

Honorable Mentions: (Other 4 and 5 star rated books)
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Did any of my favorites match yours? Tell me what your favorites were! 
Thanks for reading!


Holly

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Reading in Review | Spring & Summer 2014

As you might have noticed, I took a few months off from blogging, lasting most of spring and all of summer. To keep it short, I'll just say that the way I was blogging wasn't working out for me so I needed to get away from it for a while, get a new perspective, recollect my enthusiasm, and revamp the blog to suit my new approach. Since you are currently reading this post, you've probably realized that I've done that and (sings) I'm BAAAAAACK!

If you don't follow me on Goodreads or Instagram, you have no inkling as to what I've been doing during this 5-month hiatus, so today I figured I'd give you a low-down (actually it's quite big) on what I've been doing since I've been gone! I'll get to more life oriented things later, but for now, let's go back to the basics. Basics meaning books. :)

In March, I mentioned 10 books I wanted to read this spring. I also kept a personal list in my notebook for the books I wanted to read this summer, which included 24 books. Before posting this, I listed every book on my spring and summer TBR lists, but that was quite the eye sore, so let's just look at the results.

What did I read between March 21st and August 21st?
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson | The Little Android by Marissa Meyer | Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe | The Color Purple by Alice Walker | Sentinel by Jennifer L Armentrout | Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi | If I Stay by Gayle Forman | What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick | The One by Kiera Cass | Clockwork Princes by Cassandra Clare | Tiger's Promise by Colleen Houck | Panic by Lauren Oliver | Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge | Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian | The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau | Just One Night by Gayle Forman | Where She Went by Gayle Forman | We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler | City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare | The Maze Runner by James Dashner | The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein | Cress by Marissa Meyer | Sever by Lauren DeStefano | To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han | Dumbledore's Army Reunites at Quidditch World Cup by J.K. Rowling | Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres | Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou | Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry | Prodigy by Marie Lu | Life Before Legend by Marie Lu | Crash into You by Katie McGarry | Champion by Marie Lu | Red at Night by Katie McGarry | Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover | Every Day by David Levithan | Four Summer by Nyrae Dawn | Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson | It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han | We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han | Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas | Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas
Not pictured: Rapunzel by Jacob Grimm | The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Total
44 books: 35 novels, 7 novellas/short stories, 2 inspirational/nonfiction books

Sidenote: I discovered the audiobook rentals my library offers through OverDrive and have found a liking for this method of reading! These are the 7 books I read via audiobook (already counted above).

Average Rating
3.66 stars
(7 five stars, 20 four stars, 13 three stars 3 two stars, and 1 one star)

Which books did I not get to read?
Fields of Elysium by A.B. Whelan
City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (reread)
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
The Last Summer (Of You and Me) by Ann Brashares
My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares
Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

DNF - Did Not Finish (and won't continue)
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

TFL - To Finish Later
Collide by Shelly Crane
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Success Rate:
34 desired | 6 unread | 16 new additions

Most Surprising
When going into these books, I either a) did not know what to expect or b) did not have very high expectations. The level of enjoyment I felt as I read these completely caught me off guard! Cruel Beauty takes the cake for most surprising though; I'm still shocked by how much I loved this and obsessed over staying late into the night to read this!

Most Disappointing
Now, don't think I didn't enjoy this, because I did, (four stars worth of enjoyment so there), but I was SO excited for this book, I was expecting to love it so much, and it just didn't reach that threshold. There were a lot of little things that bothered me about the book, but mainly I had anticipated America to not make so many irrational decisions (since the first two books were chalked full of them) and wound up being irritated with her or Maxon half of the time, and the ending wasn't what I was hoping for either. Like I said, I still really liked it, but after loving The Elite, it let me down.

Most Likely To Accidentally Be Run Over By My Car. Twice.
This was another book that was a let down, but mainly, it just SUCKED. It was frustrating beyond belief, I wanted to call quits multiple times, but then little glimmers of hope shone so I would continue, and THEN I wanted to beat my head against it. Ugh, just, what was the point of this book? To drive my crazy? This series finale can kiss my dairy air. P.S. I have no resentment towards this book at all.

Biggest Turn Around Reaction
I went into this without any excitement. I wasn't a BIG fan of Clockwork Angel and Prince (3 stars each) and the only reason I was reading this was so I could read City of Heavenly Fire. I put Clockwork Princess off for TWO years because I just didn't want to read it and I only started warming up to the idea (or was it discontented acceptance?) of reading it this spring. Even after I started it and was a hundred pages into it I complained about the long descriptions and wanted to get it over with. Thankfully, I switched to audiobook at that point to get me over my initial rough patch and before I knew it I was hooked! I cannot tell you how much I loved this conclusion to TID trilogy! It was simply fabulous.

New Favorites
All five stars!! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
And they're all so different, which is really exciting for me!

Final Thoughts
I hit the jackpot with wonderful books this summer! I read most of the books I aimed to get to and then some! Early spring was really busy for me so when things slowed down and I took a break from blogging, reading became an even bigger enjoyment for me. Truly blessed with a few months of great reading.

Tell me about the books you've been reading! Do we have any in common? Have any new favorites? I'm excited to discuss books with you all again!

Until next time... :)

~~~~~~~~~~

Click HERE to see what books I read this past winter!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First post since being back!

Hey y'all! It's been a while!

If any of you noticed that my blog has been stalemate and down for the past five months, I apologize for not giving you an explanation sooner. I reinstated my blog yesterday and won't be making a "real" post (which includes a more in depth, but still short, explanation for my absence) until tomorrow so I wanted to give any visitors in the next few hours this brief reassurance of more to come from me! :) I'm excited to be back and I hope to hear from you all soon!

Until next time...

Holly

Friday, April 4, 2014

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: March 2014

March Reading Stats:
10 pieces of literature: 5 novels, 5 novellas/short stories



March Reads

Unravel Me
4 of 5 stars
I am really struggling on whether to give this four or five stars. Some parts for 5+ worthy :-). I love Adam and Juliette so much. They complement each other! Juliette annoyed the heck out of me when it came to Warner. I could not see th...
Just One Year
3 of 5 stars
This is a story about loving and learning from life and the people in it, including oneself. Anyone going into this book expecting an incredibly romantic follow-up to Just One Day (me) will be sorely let down (me), which is where my two ...
Destroy Me
3 of 5 stars
I understand Warner more now. I don't think he is a monster, but as I remember some of the things he said to Juliette in Unrave Me, I still don't like him.
Fracture Me
2 of 5 stars
I am so frustrated! Adam, what the heck?! Acting like Juliette's a burden, something to take care of because she can't take care of herself, instead of caring for her! Juliette's the weak link, Juliette's too trapped in her own head, Jul...
Unite Me
3 of 5 stars
Thoughts on Destroy Me:
I understand Warner more now. I don't think he is a monster, but as I remember some of the things he said to Juliette in Unravel Me, I still don't like him.

Thoughts on Fracture Me:
I am so frustrated! Adam, what...
This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl
5 of 5 stars
This review and many others can be found on my blog: Holly's Reading Hollow

Pre-read:

Oh, I cannot wait to read this book! <3

DFTBA

Post-read review:

Sometimes I wonder how I could possibly consider myself a writer when I cannot ex...
Glitches
3 of 5 stars
Aw. Poor Cinder. She matured well though considering the circumstances.
The Sky is Everywhere
3 of 5 stars
So sweet. And the epilogue: lol, so cute. A story about living after tragedy, living with grief, loving everywhere the sky touches, and learning that love, like the sky, is everywhere.
The Little Android
4 of 5 stars
Ohh, I was not expecting that ending!


goodreads.com



Favorite Book of the Month: This Star Won't Go Out
Book(s) I'm Most Looking Forward to Reading Next Month: Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I'd love to hear what y'all read this month in the comments. :)
-Holly

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spoiler-Free Movie Review | Divergent (based on the novel/Veronica Roth)

Although this review is spoiler-free and, therefore, safe to read if you haven't seen the movie or read the book, your opinions on the film might be influenced by my and others' opinions. Read with caution. 

About the movie:

DIVERGENT is a thrilling action-adventure film set in a world where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader (Kate Winslet) to destroy all Divergents, Tris must learn to trust in the mysterious Four (Theo James) and together they must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it's too late. Based on the best-selling book series by Veronica Roth. (C) Summit.

My Rating:
93%

My Review:
For someone who read the book and wasn't thrilled by it, I loved this movie! The cinematography, action, acting, and chemistry were top-notch. The complexity of the characters, plot twists, inflections of humor, and seemingly brutal action scenes kept the film interesting and me engaged for the entire two hours and twenty minutes. The suspense and anxiety caused me to fidget in my seat. 

For those who haven't read the book, the introduction to this dystopian world is done very well not only right off the bat but the world building is pieced throughout later scenes as well. I noticed a few aspects weren't explained as thoroughly as non-readers may appreciate but in the grand scheme of things, they were minor and we can fill in the blanks. Questions that were raised and left unanswered about divergents and factions are also currently mysteries for the characters and will be answered in the following movies/books so don't let those get you hung up. 

I know fans might be disappointed to see some of their favorite scenes not included, but fan favorite characters were given great lines and the scenes that were included were captivating. It's been two years since I read Divergent so I cannot remember the book scene for scene, but the movie had great pacing, suspense, and humor so I think what was added made up for what was lost. A couple of the cheesier parts of the book were made relevant to the plot through these changes too so that was great. What was changed or left out will not deter fans of the book from enjoying, if not loving, the adaptation.

I've read a number of film critic reviews for Divergent and it fathoms me how many of them can shoot down the concept and theme of the series, criticize the fantastical words (faction, divergent) as if futuristic and dystopian movies aren't allowed to have their own terms, and their need to compare this film to every other film out there. My opinion? Two messages I take from Divergent are: one, people cannot be placed in "boxes" and two, the fight against conformity, corruptness, and confinement from our governments and societies. I think these are strong, wonderful themes for teens and adults alike. But if the theme and everything else about it is going to be argued to no avail, I'll just say that in the end, Divergent was as entertaining as crap. Well, quite a bit more entertaining than crap because this adaptation gets a 5/5 stars from me based on pure entertainment value. And isn't that why we go to the theaters? To be entertained?

Do I recommend seeing Divergent?
Yes, to teens, adults, men, and women alike!

Will I see it again?
If not in theaters again then on DVD for sure.

Will I purchase the DVD?
This deserves to be added to my collection.

Will I see the sequel?
Definitely!

This review was written by Holly of Holly's Reading Hollow.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Reading in Review | Winter 2013/2014

In December, I mentioned 10 books I wanted to read this winter. Yesterday was the last day of winter and here are my reading results!

What ten books did I want to read this winter?
Tandem by Anna Jarzab
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
You Are Mine by Janeal Falor
Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn
Unbreathable by Hafsah Laziaf
Wide Spaces by Shelly Crane
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman
Defiance by Shelly Crane
The Selection by Kiera Cass
Mystery book jar pick - Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Which books did I actually read this winter?
(Click the titles to read my reviews)
Tandem by Anna Jarzab | The Selection by Kiera Cass | The Prince by Kiera Cass | Just One Day by Gayle Forman | The Elite by Kiera Cass | Blood Will Tell by Samantha Young | Wide Spaces by Shelly Crane | Reverence by Shelly Crane | Defiance by Shelly Crane | Independence by Shelly Crane | Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers | That Boy by Jillian Dodd | Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins | Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn | Wide Open by Shelly Crane | The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini | The Other Fish in the Sea by Jenn Cooksey | Shark Out of Water by Jenn Cooksey | Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins | Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys | Cinder by Marissa Meyer | Incarnate by Jodi Meadows | Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker | A Father's Kiss by Colleen Hoover | Consequence by Shelly Crane | Scarlet by Marissa Meyer | Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll | Night by Elie Wiesel | Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi | Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi | Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi | This Star Won't Go Out by Esther Grace Earl with Lori and Wayne Earl
(The last two were not featured in the collage because...oops!) 
Just One Year by Gayle Forman | Glitches by Marissa Meyer 

Any short stories/extra scenes? Yes,
A Very Hexy Valentine's Day by Rachel Hawkins
Anna and the French Kiss Deleted Chapters by Stephanie Perkins
The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
If I Were a Man by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway
Everyday Use by Alice Walker

Which books didn't I get to?
You Are Mine by Janeal Falor
Unbreathable by Hafsah Laziaf
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

Success Rate
Based on the top ten I wanted to read, my success rate is a 7/10. But I don't know; do the twenty-five other books make up for the loss of three books?

Most Surprising

When going into these books, I either a) did not know what to expect or b) did not have very high expectations. However, I'm so pleased to say I thoroughly enjoyed each of these books, rating them between four and five stars!

Most Frustrating
The main character in each of these frustrated the HECK out of me!

  • Regina from Some Girls Are is not a very likable character. She's the protagonist so you want to root for and sympathize for her; and yet, she makes some really nasty, vindictive decisions that made me want to pull out my hair.
  • I am not a fan of Warner in the Shatter Me series so whenever Juliette was going all ga-ga over him and swooning at the words he said that I found utterly unromantic, I could not see her point of view for the life of me.
  • I am not even going to go into how much Adam in Fracture Me ticked me off because expletives will soon follow, but if you'd like to read my thoughts on this novella, scroll up and click the linked title. 

Most Disappointing
I read Anna Jarzab's mystery novel All Unquiet Things a few years a go and quite enjoyed it. I was excited to read another novel of Jarzab's but this one simply did not do it for me.

Most Moving

  • The Kite Runner is a historical fiction novel about two best friends who grow up in Afghanistan before the Afghan War. The story that plays out is heartbreaking, captivating, and so indescribably beautiful.
  • This Star Won't Go Out is the collection of journals and drawings of the girl and fellow nerdfighter Esther Grace Earl who passed away from thyroid cancer in 2010. This autobiography/biography of Esther includes updates written by her parents as she battled cancer for almost four years and letters and passages from her family and friends. Her story and friendship with author John Green fueled what would be The Fault in Our Stars. There were so many touching parts to her story and it made me sob.

New Favorites
I loved them all for different reasons, but the aspect they all have in common is that they made me feel.

Overview
I read forty-one works of literature this winter! Twenty-five novels, seven novellas, eight short stories, and one children's chapter book.

How many books did you read this winter? What were your favorites? Did any surprise you? Let me know in the comments! 

Click HERE to see what ten books I want to read this spring!