2016: A Year for Reading

2016: A Year for Reading

22 books this year shooting for 40 in the next!
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Since 4th grade I have considered myself to be an avid reader. In fact one summer I ended up reading up to 10 books in the span of a couple weeks. However, as years have passed I had found my love of reading to grow from a hobby to something that was only done from time to time on a rare basis. Which makes sense because the more you grow the more things start to get in the way and you find yourself distracted by other ordeals. Another obstacle that definitely stopped me from reading so much though, was that I started to get embarrassed of the books I liked to read. I really enjoy indulging in good YA (Young Adult) fiction, it's just more interesting and there seems to be more intense drama going on in them then there are in novels for adults. For quite awhile I had felt as if the older I got the more I should start reading books with character's of my own age group, with the exceptions of already popular and well loved series by people of every age, such as The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.

However, then I came across the booktube community of youtube and found I was not alone in my love of YA fiction. Through this community I found funny and creative individuals who I could find myself actually being friends with, if we ever met, as they gave suggestions and talked about new books that they loved and wanted to share with others. I'll mention my favorite ones for anyone who wants to check them out, at the end of the article.

After taking notes of the books they suggested I went on to rekindle my new love of reading back at the end of 2015. Along with the discovery of the fun website called Goodreads, I set a goal for myself to at least have read/listened to 20 books for the year of 2016. As 2016 came to a close I actually read/listened to 2 more books than I had planned to read and finish, which makes me very proud of myself. Throughout this year I read books from different genres that I wasn't used to reading about and even strayed outside to realm of YA fiction.

Below are the list of the books I read this year from least liked to loved, and my general thoughts about them:

22. Armada by Ernest Cline

It was full of some very fun 80's references but had a very rushed pace to it while still seeming to go on and on at a couple parts that made me want to say "Oh my god we are still talking about this?". I don't even want to go on about how "Manic Pixie Dream Girl"/eye roll worthy the love interest was. Not to mention it had all of this almost sugar high hype going on throughout the book, only for it to lead up to a really anticlimactic ending.

21. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

It went a very different route then I thought it was going to go after falling in love with the first book and I was not a fan of it. I know I'm the one with the unpopular opinion here but I just didn't like how different it was from the cutesy Beauty and the Beast-ness story line the first book had. Plus it had a kind of forgettable plot at some points, where I would set the book down for a couple days and then come back to the book and completely not remember what was really going on. Although the ending was interesting?

20. The 100 by Kass Morgan

Do not go in basing this book off of the very popular and well done TV show that it is adapted from. It is completely different from it's counterpart. The adaptation kind of went for the "How to Train Your Dragon" route where a lot of the characters in it's adaptation have the same names as the ones in the book and there's some plot points they stick too but other than that the two are completely different. Also maybe it's just me, but if they excluded one of the characters from the book nothing about the plot would have changed.

19.Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Not much to say about this book except that it was just kind of "meh" for me. The only thing I really didn't like about it was the voice acting for the audiobook. The voices can just sometimes make or break a book for you.

18. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Fun fact this was the first novel I have ever read where a gay couple are the front and running main characters in it. I had never read it's companion novel "Fangirl" before checking it out but maybe I feel like I might have enjoyed it more if I had. It was cute but just went to slow for me at a couple parts, where it almost seemed like nothing was really going on. This is another one of those novels where I know I'm one of the few here with the unpopular opinion.

17. The Selection by Kiera Cass

A book with a plot relatable to "The Bachelor" in a dystopian future. I probably am not the right age group for this series because I rolled my eyes at a couple parts where I know 15 year old me would've gone "oh that's so romantic". The funnest part about it though is just for the fact that it is definitely like the show it's grabbing inspiration from with the way it gave me that "I can't look away, this is junk food for my brain" reality TV show feeling.

16. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

A cute book that's great to read around Halloween time, I think it's definitely geared towards younger tween readers. You can check out my review on this book here.

15. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

What would happen if Katniss, from the Hunger Games found out she was an elite super hero? This book pretty much! You can check out my review on this book here.

14. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

A very nice and slightly spooky fall read to put you in the Halloween spirit, even though the book takes place during the summer.

13. After You by JoJo Moyes

I wasn't really sure how a sequel to "Me Before You" was going to play out but I like the way it did with this book. It had a nice story about just growing up, finding what makes you happy, and realizing how the people in your life can affect who you are as a person.

12. I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

If you've read Kinsella's "Confessions of a Shopaholic" then you will really enjoy this book. It has a cute and quirky plot that will actually have you guessing where it's going with each new turn.

11. Ms. Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

An interesting new addition to the YA Fantasy genre with it's inclusion of time travel and Burton-esque characters. The movie sadly didn't do it as much justice as I think it deserved but it was still an enjoyable read that made me want to check out the sequel next year.

10.Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Would've been a bit higher on my list if it weren't for the book's slightly rushed and out of nowhere ending. Thank goodness we are getting a sequel!

9. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I talked about why I really enjoyed this book earlier this year and you can check it out here (hey that rhymed).

8. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

If I'm correct this was actually Sarah J. Maas's first book that ever got published. It was a really exciting story about a kick butt female protagonist and is actually getting its own series soon on Hulu.

7. Illuminae by Jae Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Another awesome book that I already talked about earlier this year and you can check it out here.

6. Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

I had never showed any interest in an extended universe Star Wars book but after hearing such good reviews about this one I decided to see what the hype was all about. It was such a fun audiobook experience with it's sound effects and John Williams music that came along with the story. The awesome part was seeing how these two random characters get incorporated into the beloved Star War's plots we all know from the films. It even kind of incorporates itself into some unanswered questions you may have had about the state of Jakku at the beginning of "The Force Awakens".

5. Return of the Jedi-Beware the Power of the Dark Side by Tom Angleberger

It's basically a word for word book adaptation of the film for kiddies. However as an audiobook it is still so much fun and the narrator does a great Harrison Ford impression.

4. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

Now usually when I hear about a book that has a very sad sounding premise that I know is going to have a bad ending I stay away from something like that. However, something about this book intrigued me and I'm so glad I read it. It's not so much going to be about the romance between Louisa and Will like you think it's going to be but it's more about stepping out of your comfort zone to learn who you really are. It was just such a good book and I loved the main character Louisa.

3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, JK Rowling

Another one where I'm probably on the unpopular opinion side but I actually really enjoyed this book. Now were there a couple things wrong with it? Yes! Still I just really enjoyed it and had fun with it. I would love to see it on the stage!

2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Yet another book that I actually wrote about earlier this year and if you want to hear my thoughts about it you can check it out here.

1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by JK Rowling

Ok this one was a pretty obvious one if you really know me! I just loved it, I loved the film and this screenplay is just amazing and does such a good job of actually detailing what you see in the film!

Favorite Book Tubers (in no particular order):

PolandBananasBooks

Tashapolis

Katytastic

PeruseProject

Abookutopia

Itswaypastmybedtime: Her channel is not geared necessarily towards books but she does make great suggestions in the videos where she does talk about them. Stick around though to check out her amazing and heartwarming vlogs. Plus she's an author herself and I can't wait to check out her latest book "On the Other Side" in the new year.

Cover Image Credit: Wallpaper Gallery

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Just A Little Further: Finding Your Point B

When you find yourself giving up, ask, "Can I go any further?"

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I despise running.

Ever since I was an out of shape fifth-grader in desperate need of conditioning before basketball season, and my mom forced me to start using the treadmill, I have held a deep and personal hatred for running close to my heart.

Nonetheless, as I've gotten older, I've begun to appreciate running, both for its many health benefits and also the feeling it can bring - not the exhausted, "I wanna die" kind of feeling, but the release of adrenaline a good run can bring. A "runner's high," as it's called. So despite my loathing of the activity, I run.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platinum_%26_Gold_Collection_(A_Flock_of_Seagulls_album) No, no no. I run, not "I Ran . . ."Credit: Wikipedia

In a seemingly unrelated tangent, I'm currently writing this during a temporary break in my college coursework - but a break I know won't last for long. Last week, I had two big exams, an important group presentation, and a paper all due within two days, and next week I'll be busy studying for a difficult physics exam on Friday, all as I try to prepare for the next phase of my group project. While I wish I could say this is merely a temporary uptick in my course load, it isn't. I've been just as busy for the last month or so, and it doesn't look like I'll be catching a break anytime soon.

That's all well and good, you say, but hey, college is tough for everybody. And what does my disdain for running have to do with my ever-increasing amount of homework?

Well, the answer lies in finding your "Point B." Allow me to explain.

I'm out on a jog. It's hot, the air is sticky, and I'm getting tired. While I may not notice it, my strides have gradually gone from long & powerful to short and choppy, and I'm on the verge of quitting. In all-too-familiar situations like this, there's one mental strategy I routinely go back to, to give myself that extra push I need to run on a little bit farther. And that's finding my "Point B."

What I do is I pick a landmark out in front of me - an intersection, a tree, a telephone pole - it doesn't matter what, but preferably it's something I can see. And then I have a conversation with myself.

Okay, I think. See that tree right up there? You can make it there, right? It's not that much farther. You've already made it this far. And lo and behold, a minute or two later I find myself there. But I'm not done yet.

Okay, you made it. You've got some more left in the tank, right? See that stop sign up ahead? Go for that. So I keep going.

And that's the essence of finding a "Point B." You use all the energy needed to get to that point, and once you make it there, you take a mental inventory. If you do need to stop and walk for a little, that's totally fine. You made it there. But if you think you can keep going, don't stop. Throw that Point B out further in front of you - and do that again and again and again, until finally have to stop. Try it on your next jog; I guarantee it'll improve your endurance.

But the real beauty of this tactic is that its applications go far beyond just suffering through an evening jog. You can utilize "Point B's" at work, in class, and even just during everyday life. This isn't some revolutionary new approach at all; in fact, I think we all do it at least on a subconscious level. Ever told yourself, "I just gotta get to this weekend & my life will get easy?" Of course you have; we all have. But once you can make this type of thinking more of a conscious objective, you'll find that it can do so much more for you.


https://examinedexistence.com/does-cramming-for-tests-work/ We've all been here a few times before.Credit: examinedexistence.com


And that's all the "Point B" system is, really. You find a fixed landmark out ahead of you - whether it's the tree you gotta make it to, or Friday night after your test - and you make it there. And once you get there, you see if you can go any further.

So this week, once I finally manage to start cramming for a physics test that I am, at least at the moment, woefully underprepared for, this is how I'm going to be thinking. And I want you to try it, too. That's right, as a reward for making it this far into my article, I'm assigning you homework. It's your own fault, really.

Next time you're starting to fall behind on a jog, or you find yourself pulling an all-nighter to cram for that test you forgot was tomorrow, or even if you're just going through a rough patch in your life, pick your Point B.

When you find yourself giving up, ask: "Can I go any further?"

Because I'm willing to bet that you can.

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