Hey guys! I’m mid-move right now and feel like I am so far from catching up on life, the blog, EVERYTHING. Just in case I go MIA for a few days, you know what’s happening.
I obviously don’t have a ton of reading time right now, but I did leave a nice stack of books unpacked from my boxes. Pretty please help me decide which to read first — I am so scattered right now, I can’t decide for myself:
What do you think? They all sound FANTASTIC!
For those of you who don’t know, last night I was lucky enough to attend the Chicago premiere of the new movie Divergent, based on the books we all know and love!
The evening started out with a lot of waiting in line. Thankfully we came prepared:
We got moved into the theater and lucked out again by getting spots right along the red carpet.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel came down the carpet first, shaking our hands and high-fiving us and generally chiding us for not doing the Polar Plunge this week with Jimmy Fallon. Then the actress who plays Molly came too.
First up was Veronica Roth herself. Here she is recognizing Heidi and getting psyched she came out:
Next up? ANSEL ELGORT.
HAHA a little blurry.
Anyhoo, for those of you who don’t know, Ansel (Caleb in this movie) is also playing Gus in the upcoming The Fault in Our Stars movie. And, to be honest, I wasn’t too pumped about that. Past tense.
I used to work for a major TV talk show here in Chicago, and we saw a lot of celebs come and go. People used to ask me what they were like, and I used to say “they look expensive.” There’s just something about certain people the oozes star quality. That’s what it felt like to meet Ansel.
He was so handsome in person (and I never thought that previously!), his suit was impeccable, his cheekbones stunning, and he looked me right in the eye when he talked to me. I sound swoony, but I was impressed. Oh, and when someone in the crowd yelled “Okay,” he yelled it right back. He’s got the TFiOS thing down pat already!
Here he is getting interviewed.
Speaking of eye contact: Shailene Woodley, aka Tris.
She also looked me directly in the eye and talked to me for a bit, asked me questions. That so impressed me — she was genuinely friendly. I was a bit tongue-tied honestly, but she was a natural at handling the crowd!
Oh, and she was surprisingly tall. I’m 5’7″ 1/2 and we were all struck by how tall she was. Oh, and gorgeous of course.
Here she is with her leading man, Mr. Theo James.
And here I am with him.
AHHH FOUR! This part was all a bit of a blur. I will leave it at that lovely image.
Veronica, Shailene and Ansel all signed my book, which was double cool.
Pure insanity. After that nonsense was over (turns out I have a low tolerance for screaming tweens), it was movie time!
WOW. You guys, I can’t think of a YA movie adaptation I so thoroughly enjoyed, other than the Hunger Games movies. After all the bombs lately, we really needed that.
The chemistry was amazing, the acting impressive, the action explosive…I really have nothing but good things to say about it. Phew, right?
A nice bonus for me as a Chicagoan was that the city was a gorgeous backdrop. A lot of movies pretend to be set in Chicago but totally fail in terms of botching the geography and culture. Sure, it was bombed-out Chicago, but it totally nailed it.
Okay, this is probably full of typos and some of the pictures are cray, but I am throwing this together before work so please forgive me and just rewatch the trailer to pump yourself up. The movie comes out March 21!
PS: HOW CRAZY WAS LAST NIGHT?
I realized recently that some of you might be wondering: Why do you rarely see “bad” reviews here on Anna Reads?
It’s a pretty simple answer: I don’t read a lot of “bad” books.
Though I love to try new things and expand my horizons, for the most part I know what books are up my alley and which authors and topics tend to turn me off.
As a result, I rarely pick up a book I don’t end up enjoying at least somewhat. And in those cases where I’m iffy, I’ll post a review and try to point out what I liked, what I didn’t and which readers I think may have a more positive reaction.
If I do pick up a book I don’t like, I don’t finish it. And if I don’t finish a book, I don’t think it’s fair of me to review it.
(Click here to read about why I’m an excellent book quitter.)
Now, there are a few books I’ve finished, but chose not to review. Why? Honestly, sometimes it’s for professional reasons or because I have a personal relationship with the author. More often, it’s because I personally choose to follow the “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” philosophy.
Early on in this blog, I posted a really harsh, negative review of a book I absolutely hated. But it weighed on me, and I ended up deleting it. It just didn’t feel like a reflection of me and the tone I wanted for this site.
But please don’t get me wrong: I really enjoy reading negative reviews on other blogs, if they’re done professionally. I 100% support every blogger’s right to post their own thoughts online, whether they’re positive, negative, mixed, you name it, and any form they choose to use to do so.
I love this “THINK” philosophy I’ve seen around about questions to ask yourself before posting something online:
- Is it true?
- Is it helpful?
- Is it inspiring?
- Is it necessary?
- Is it kind?
And negative reviews 100% fit in here — they’re extremely helpful to readers.
Anyway. I don’t really know what my point is, other than to explain why you don’t see negative reviews from me very often. It’s not really a political stance of any sort — it’s mostly just that I have pretty strong reactions to books and if I don’t like one, I’ll put it down. Simple as that.
I’ve seen other bloggers who do a “DNF” feature (Did Not Finish) explaining which books they tried to read and why they put them down. I love that idea, and it’s definitely something I’ve considered doing. Thoughts? Interest in seeing that here in the blog? Honestly, like I said before, they would be few and far between because I mostly pick books I’ll enjoy, but it might be a helpful feature!
What are your thoughts on negative reviews? Share them in the comments below — I’d love to chat about this more!
Some mini mantras I hope to keep in mind personally in the year to come.
In terms of blogging, I resolve to be more creative in 2014. To be more positive. To be more timely. To be more responsive and grow the level of discussion here. To be more daring. To let go of jealousy, something I struggle with far too often. To mix things up. To shed any feelings of inadequacy or unpopularity. To work hard. To have crazy amounts of fun!
Happy 2014, friends. Let’s show this year what’s up.
1. Best Book You Read in 2013?
Jessica Darling’s It List #1: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection by Megan McCafferty (My review)
Don’t even pretend like you’re surprised.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going to Love More But Didn’t?
Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan (My review)
It’s about invisibility, it’s about romance and it’s by David Levithan. It had all the makings of a book I’d love, but it just didn’t work for me.
3. Most Surprising (in a Good Way!) Book of 2013?
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (My review)
I’ve always loved apocalypse books, but I guess I thought I was over them. NOPE. I wasn’t. This book blew me away.
4. Book You Read in 2013 That You Recommended to People Most in 2013?
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (My review)
I thought it was beautifully written, emotionally moving — just a stunning story.
5. Best Series You Discovered in 2013?
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (My review)
I’ve loved Melina Marchetta for years, so I don’t know what took me so long to read this series. I fell in love with it and gobbled up all three books back-to-back.
Lindsey Leavitt was new to me this year, and I really enjoyed her fun, quick reads. Definitely looking forward to her 2014 book Chapel Wars.
7. Best Book That Was Out of Your Comfort Zone or a New Genre to You?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (My review)
Narrated by death? About the Holocaust? Blahhh. It took me years to read this book, and I’m so sorry I waited. It was beautiful.
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (My review)
Yeah! I love the Bloodlines books and basically need to read them in a single sitting. I can’t take the suspense!!!
9. Book You Read in 2013 That You Are Most Likely to Reread Next Year?
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (My review)
I adore this fantasy series and am already dying for the next book. I’ll definitely have to reread this one before the next one comes out!
10. Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2013?
Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (My review)
Such a cool cover, and it really matches the frenetic energy of this book.
11. Most Memorable Character in 2013?
Oh man, it’s a tossup between Eleanor from Eleanor & Park, Willem from Just One Year and Sydney from The Indigo Spell and The Fiery Heart.
12. Most Beautifully Written Book Read in 2013?
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi (My review)
Aghh, as an Anti-Warner person, this pains me. But I really think Tahereh Mafi’s writing is engaging and different and interesting to read.
13. Book That Had the Greatest Impact on You in 2013?
Just One Year by Gayle Forman (My review)
I’m still thinking about this book. It really made me question my own assumptions. I made a lot of judgments about Willem in Just One Day, and Gayle really turned them upside-down for me in sharing his story. It reminded me to live in the moment, to fight for what I want, to get to know people instead of judging them and so much more. It stuck with me.
14. Book You Can’t Believe You Waited Until 2013 to Finally Read?
Live Through This by Mindi Scott (My review)
I kept meaning to read this and meaning to read this…and then my friend Ginger let me borrow it…and then it sat on my shelf a few months. Anyway! I finally read it and was really affected by it. I thought it was a heartbreaking and powerful story.
15. Favorite Passage/Quote from a Book You Read in 2013?
OMG I failed on updating my favorite quotes on Goodreads this year and now my highlights on my Kindle are mysteriously not working so I’m going to pick one that gave me goosebumps from a recent read: “Centrum permanebit.” — The Fiery Heart
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read in 2013?
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare for longest. And shortest…hmmm. Hard to tell because I read so many in my Kindle these days!
17. Book That Had a Scene in It That Had You Reeling and Dying to Talk to Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
I don’t think ANYONE could read Allegiant without immediately needing to discuss it with someone. Anyone! It was too hard to process on my own. (My review)
18. Favorite Relationship from a Book You Read in 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Romance: June & Day in Champion by Marie Lu (My review)
Friendship: Rose & Roza in Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (My review)
Familial: Jude & her dad in The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler (My review)
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 from an Author You’ve Read Previously
Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Oooh I haven’t even reviewed this one yet but it was all dark and twisty but still romantic like you’d want form EScott. I liked it a lot. I think you guys will enjoy it!
20. Best Book You Read in 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY on a Recommendation from Somebody Else
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (My review)
I thought this one would be too raw and difficult for me given a few things that happened personally in the past year, but it turned out to be just what I needed. I have friends like Ginger & Jamie to thank for that!
21. Genre You Read the Most From in 2013?
I’m definitely pro-contemporary this year. And adult historical romances have been my guilty pleasure!
22. Newest Fictional Crush from a Book You Read in 2013?
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (My review)
Loooved this whole book, but especially Tarver.
23. Best 2013 Debut You Read?
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (My review)
This new series was really cool, different, quirky – I loved it. Plus, forbidden romance omgggg.
24. Most Vivid World/Imagery in a Book You Read in 2013?
Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund (My review)
25. Book That Was the Most Fun to Read in 2013?
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West (My review)
Got me out of a reading slump — was a great summer read.
26. Book That Made You Cry or Nearly Cry in 2013?
Allegiant by Veronica Roth (My review)
I can’t remember the last time I sobbed this much during a book. Like, full-out SOBBED, you guys. It was bad. Thank goodness I was home alone.
27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year or When It Came Out?
Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (My review)
I don’t know that this one got overlooked per se, I just love Trish Doller and really enjoyed this book so thought it should get one last shoutout! Read it!
Uhhh somehow I am at the end of this and so many good books didn’t get mentioned! AHHH!
1. New Favorite Book Blog You Discovered in 2013?
I don’t follow a TON of people on Twitter, but this year I met a lot of bloggers specifically at BEA whose bookish tweets I love to follow. Just to name a few ladies I got to hang with at BEA for the first time: Gaby @EllaBeeReads, Katie @isolateme, Gillian @mizgillianberry & Jen @JenEllision.
2. Favorite Review You Wrote in 2013?
Um, I am mentioning Richelle Mead way too much on this survey, but my spoiler-free reviews of Richelle Mead’s books always got a lot of attention, and I have always been really thankful for the support I’ve received on the blog from VA fans. So I’m going to pick my review of The Indigo Spell.
3. Best Discussion You Had on Your Blog?
What’s the Deal with New Adult Books?
4. Most Thought-Provoking Review or Discussion You Read on Somebody Else’s Blog?
This year was a weird year for me in terms of blogging. Everything just seemed abnormally low in terms of interaction, comments and interest. And maybe that’s on me, but I thought this blog post my friend Jamie shared with me about book blogging “falling out of fashion” was an interesting perspective from a blogger experiencing something similar.
5. Best Event You Participated In?
Before the City of Bones movie came out (and totally stank, if you ask me), I was invited to a party celebrating the movie and to catch a sneak preview of a scene. Cassie Clare was there, it was a gorgeous/very Mortal Instruments-themed venue, we got runes painted on and a lot of my best bookish friends were there. Such fun!
6. Best Moment of Book Blogging/Your Book Life in 2013?
Meeting Megan McCafferty. I can’t even talk about it or I’ll get all verklempt.
I may or may not have cried afterward.
It was also a HUGE treat to be featured in the first Goodreads YA newsletter.
7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
My most popular post in terms of views was about the time I went to casting for the Divergent movie. I was actually called back for four days of filming as a member of the Amity faction…but I was in Europe during films. SO BITTERSWEET. Here’s that post and a reminder of how long the FREEZING lines were:
8. Post You Wished Got a Little More Love?
Just my reviews in general. It is a review book blog…but for some reasons there seemed to be less interest in the books themselves this year. I think perhaps I was reviewing them too soon — I’m trying now to do my review posts a little bit closer to the time books come out or preferably even after they’ve been out for a bit.
9. Best Bookish Discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Okay, this isn’t bookish, but it’s been good for blogging. I used to work as a designer for a living, but my Photoshop skills have gotten rusty in the years since them. I have loved PicMonkey this year for help in making quick blog graphics — like the one at the top of this post!
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Maybe. I certainly didn’t read as much (130ish this year vs. 180ish last year) this year. But I did try to be more positive and chill this year…and that worked…to a certain extent. More on that and my goals for 2014 in the next week or so!
Thank you all for another fantastic year and for continuing to visit my blog. It’s brought a lot of good books, great friends and unbelievable blessings into my life. Here’s to another year of happy reading!