2013 – A Year In Review

fireworksIt’s totally cliché, but where the hell has this year gone? With today being the very last day of 2013 I figured I’d do a quick “Year in Review” post to talk about my progress with reading challenges and also to discuss my favorite books of the year!

Quick rundown on how I did with my reading challenges: I successfully read 120 books this year. In fact, as of the time of writing this post I am at 199 books for the year! (WOOT!) You can see all the books I’ve read with links to their reviews here. Now, a bit of bad news. I utterly failed (for the second year in a row) the audio book challenge. I didn’t listen to 1 audio book this year (read: pathetic.) I also didn’t do so great with the Book to Movie challenge either, with only 2 out of 12 read. Now, to the good news: I completed 78% of the Color Coded Challenge, or 7 out of 9 reads. I actually had a blast doing this challenge. You don’t realize how many books use colors in their titles until you do a challenge like this! Additionally, I unsurprisingly completed the Historical Fiction Challenge as well as the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary challenge with no trouble at all.

And now for the difficult part: Picking my favorite reads of 2013.

  1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  2. The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley (look for my review next week!!!)
  3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  4. The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers/Making It Last by Ruthie Knox
  5. Beauty and the Billionaire by Jessica Clare
  6. Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
  7. Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander/Easy by Tammara Webber
  8. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
  9. Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost
  10. The Secret of Ella and Micha/The Forever of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen

Having read almost 200 books this year, choosing 10 (really 12) of my favorites almost killed me. So, in the effort of easing my conscience I’m giving you some of my runners-up (in no particular order)!

  1. Pride, Prejudice, and the Perfect Match by Marilyn Brant
  2. The Edelstein Trilogie by Kersin Gier (Book one, two, & three)
  3. The Westfield Wolves/Regency Vampyre Series by Lydia Dare
  4. Return to Longbourn by Shannon Winslow
  5. The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
  6. Losing It by Cora Carmack
  7. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  8. Bittersweet by Noelle Adams

This was hands down the hardest year yet to pick my favorite books. When you read almost 200 books in a year I guess that should be expected, no?

Ok, the burden is being passed to you. What did you love reading this year?!? Please let us know below. And finally, enjoy the rest of your New Year’s Day, hopefully with a great book. See you in 2014!

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Kim’s Review of Easy by Tammara Webber

etwI mentioned in my review of Cora Carmack’s Losing It that I’ve become obsessed recently with the new adult genre.  After being blown away with how awesome that book was, I dove into Easy by Tammara Webber.  This book makes strong and amazing stances on the issues of rape culture and sexual assault and was a perfect choice to continue my tour of the new adult genre.

From Goodreads:

Rescued by a stranger.
Haunted by a secret
Sometimes, love isn’t easy…

He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior…

The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart.

Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth—and find the unexpected power of love.

A groundbreaking novel in the New Adult genre, Easy faces one girl’s struggle to regain the trust she’s lost, find the inner strength to fight back against an attacker, and accept the peace she finds in the arms of a secretive boy.

NO MEANS NO.  It’s a statement that should need no explanation when put in a sexual context.  Unfortunately, all too often people are taken advantage of, left helpless, and not taken seriously when attempting to report a rape. Webber’s Easy blew me away with the stances it took on this hot button topic.  “Rape culture” is a phrase that we’re hearing all too often these days, mostly in reference to the serious lack of knowledge about the topic of rape in younger generations.  The Steubenville rape case is a prime example of this.  Misconceived notions about virginity, consent, and a “slutty persona” fuel the dismissal of legitimate sexual assault cases.  So much of Easy pushes the notion of self-empowerment and the belief in helping others to stop the cycle.  Learning how to defend yourself (both physically and mentally), holding others accountable for their actions and words, and maybe most importantly, how to listen to others and knowing how to set boundaries are all important lessons learned in this book.  I think it should be a required read for those younger generations who are beginning to experiment with one another, going to parties and attempting to fit in.  In the midst of all the signals they receive, from the media, social networks, gossip in school, and their parents, they need to realize that there are boundaries that they cannot cross.  Easy teaches this lesson, and it is presented in a way that is easy to understand and relate to.  I am so glad that Webber is making a strong and unyielding stance on this issue, and sets the record straight on a lot of the various false ideas that are common in “rape culture.”  I applaud her a hundred times over for getting this message out.  Once this information spreads, we can hopefully eliminate rape culture once and for all.

I cannot speak highly enough about this book.  Lucas is seriously the most amazing male character I’ve ever read.  He is a freaking superhero of awesomeness and is the epitome of what men should strive to be.  He takes the shit life threw at him and somehow learns from it, turning his life into a constant state of pay-it-forward.  Jacqueline is also a woman to learn from.  She learns from her mistakes and with Lucas’ help transforms herself into a strong, independent woman who is no longer afraid of what the future can hold.  So, hopefully with the help of a book like Easy and positive role models that deliver the right message to younger girls, they too can become strong women that know that saying no really means no.

5 out of 5 Stars

Easy by Tammara Webber
Penguin Group (2012)
eBook: 336 pages
ISBN: 9781101618011