Saturday, 23 January 2016

Q&A with the Authors of A North Shore Story

If you haven't already seen my part of the blog tour for A North Shore Story, the debut novel of Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis, you can click here for the details and my review of the book.

I only published my review of A North Shore Story for my part of the blog tour, but I also have a great Q&A with the wonderful authors of this book, which I was dying to share with you, so here goes..!

Questions for Dean Economos

Dean Economos
Give us some background information, what did you do before writing this book?
I went to college at Loyola University Chicago and received my undergrad in Biology and a minor in Biostatistics. I then went on to receive my M.B.A from Loyola's Quinlan School of Business with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.

What were the events that inspired this book?
The book was inspired by different experiences growing up. Those key events and experiences were then intertwined with the more current events of our church's media coverage.

Some parts of your book are things you actually experienced, they must have stuck with you for you to want to write about them later. Did you always know you wanted to tell these stories?
I kind of had a premonition growing up that these events would be shared. My friends and I would always say we should've had a show like Laguna Beach, or something of that nature. So, in a way, I did think these stories would be told in one way or another, I just didn't think I'd be the one to tell them.

Like other stories of turmoil, we are drawn to A North Shore Story because we can relate to the characters. Can you elaborate on what is relatable about the internal struggles of the characters?
What makes these characters extremely relatable to the readers are the confidence and relationship problems each one of them goes through, whether it be friendship or romantic. Some characters go through other internal struggles such as underage drinking, drug use and sexual peer pressure. I think that everyone at one time or another has been in one of these circumstances.

What was your favourite part of writing this book?
Since this was my first book, I didn't know what to expect. I thought I was supposed to have a template or well-thought out plan before writing anything. Instead, I jumped into it head-first and developed the story as I wrote. I feel that doing it that way allowed myself to be more creative and not stick to a "script" per say. I was even surprised at what I was able to create.

What inspired you to write this story so many years later?
What originally got my gears turning was the media's coverage of our former priest and his embezzlement of the church funds. I then started to think about our time growing up at our church and the events that our friends and I experienced. After pinpointing key events, I began formulating the plotline which now makes up a North Shore Story.

You know some of these characters in your waking life. Who was the most exciting to write? How have they changed because of what happened?
The most exciting character to write about was definitely Kate. Kate, and the girl who she's based off of, has a very exciting personality and a distinct attitude. When our friend read the story, she loved how she was portrayed in the storyline. I think that she, along with the rest of our friends, have changed in that we've learned how to tackle the problems that Kate and the rest of the group are dealing with right now.

Tell us more about your personal part in the stories. Are you in the book? How did you change your story for the fiction rendition?
I am in the book. With my character, and with all the characters, I left elements of real life in the story, but overall the fundamental qualities of each character are unique from their real life counterparts.

What strengths did you and Alyssa bring to the table to help one another write the book?
I felt more connected to writing the actual story. I was able to figure out and connect the different sub-plots of the book, while Alyssa is very familiar with novels and creative writing. With those skills, she helped make the book come alive.

Do you anticipate a sequel?
I've thrown ideas around in my head, and I've talked about it with Alyssa. We're open to it, but haven't started writing anything yet.

Questions for Alyssa Machinis

Alyssa Machinis
Tell us about your background, what have you done since the events that occurred that inspired A North Shore Story?
Well, I went to college at University of Illinois and graduated with a degree in Advertising and minors in both Business and Communications. Now I work at an advertising-technology company as a Digital Strategist.

What is your side of the story depicted in the book? Did you change the reality for the fiction version?
My side of the story is depicted in the book, but it's pretty separate from reality. The biggest and only consistence between my character and I are our driven personalities.

What was the most difficult part about writing this book?
The most difficult part of this book was helping it come alive. The content was there, and the story was strong, but fostering the story from a passive standpoint into an active point of view was a challenge.

What do you think the most important lesson from the book is?
The most important lesson from the book is to be confident in who you are. Don't worry about what other people think because the fear of judgement can turn you into a person you don't want to be.

What part of this story do you think appeals to young adult readers most?
I think what appeals to young adults about A North Shore Story are the pop culture references mixed with the struggles that I think a majority of teens have experienced or encountered at some point in their lives.

What cliche were you in high school? Can you tell us an event that happened to you and your friends that almost made it into A North Shore Story but isn't included?
 I was definitely in the choir group throughout high school. There weren't many events that didn't make it into A North Shore Story, but we almost wrote in a choir sub-plot. However, we switched it to fashion as the story developed.

What were your favourite books in high school, when the story places place?
I loved the Harry Potter series and the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. He writes excellent mystery novels, and J.K. Rowling is a genius.

Who is your favourite author? What were a few books that inspired your writing?
I don't necessarily have a favourite author (I read a lot). However, I do think that J.K. Rowling's writing style was very influential on my own. It's also comporting to know what she had humble beginnings just like Dean and I have now.

Do you think you'll write another book?
Like Dean mentioned, we've talked about it a little bit. However, as of now we have not made and strides toward writing another book. 

Thanks to PR by the Book for this Q&A!

That's all for now but I hope to be back with more bookish posts soon!

Charlotte xxx

Thursday, 21 January 2016

A North Shore Story | Blog Tour

Hello and welcome to my part of A North Shore Story's Blog Tour! 

So, if you haven't already guessed, I was given the pleasure of joining the blog tour for A North Shore Story, the debut novel of Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis! I received a free copy of A North Shore Story from PR by the Book for reading before its release day, so thank you very much to PR by the Book for sending me that!

 A North Shore Story, by Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis
Publish Date: 19th Jan 2016
Length: 122 pages (e-book version)
Genre: YA, Fiction, Coming of Age

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

For the teenagers of Chicago’s North Shore, everyone has something to hide.
In a daring attempt to impress the elusive Sophia, Michael makes the biggest decision of his life, stealing over a hundred thousand dollars from St. Theodore Community Church.
That same night, Nichole’s insecurities are finally forgotten with a drug she soon won’t be able to control.
When Michael makes his getaway, he sees his friend Joseph cheat on his girlfriend with the priest’s daughter and knock over a candle that sets the church ablaze.
As the consequences of that night unfold, Joseph is blamed for the fire and the missing money. Can the teenagers of the North Shore confess their vices to help their friend? Or will their greed, infidelity and jealousy change all their lives forever?

So, without further ado, here is my (spoiler free) review for A North Shore Story!

To begin with, I must say that I wasn't actually a big fan of this book. I wasn't too sure why I disliked it to begin with, but I felt an initial lack of connection with the majority of the characters and I didn't find myself gripped by the writing.

I am pleased to say that all of this improved through the course of the novel!
While I'll admit that the start was quite slow, once I had gotten my head around whom each of the characters were, who their friends and partners were, and who they didn't get along with, I found this book so much easier to understand! At about 40 pages into the story, I found myself completely entranced by everything and wouldn't have put it down for anybody! I still wasn't the biggest fan of the writing in this book, but I was really interested in the plot and was really gripped in by what was happening and about to happen.

The main idea for the story centres around a group of teenagers living on the North Shore of Chicago.  As the story unfolds, a set of events occur that could change their lives forever. Some are by no fault of anybody, while others are a direct cause of something else. But will anybody own up to what really happened on the North Shore? Or will the consequences of somebody's actions lead to another chain of unspeakable events?

This was definitely a very dramatic book, however I was really interested in discovering, thanks to a Q&A with the authors (provided by PR by the Book), that the events that occurred in this work of fiction did in fact happen in reality. Obviously names were changed and the story was adapted to be put into the form of a novel, however the whole 'scandal' regarding the church did indeed happen, and both authors were actually characters in their own novel.
I personally think that's quite amazing! I would really love to find out more about that to discover what really happened on the North Shore, as opposed to what was changed to fit in the book.
But back on the point of it being a dramatic story, I can actually see this story being adapted to be a performance of some sort. I think it would be even more entertaining in the form of a play so I would love to keep an eye on this story to see where it goes, especially if a sequel is released, which the authors have stated that they're open to!

I did think that some parts of this story were possibly a little predictable and the ending did seem a little obvious to me, yet, nevertheless, I was still shocked by what happened and my mouth was actually left hanging open as the story drew to a close! By the end of the whole thing, I was really impressed and overwhelmed by what had occurred, so much so that I very nearly gave the story 4 stars, but decided to settle on 3.5 (officially 3 stars on Goodreads) simply because I didn't think the story had a very good start.

But, overall, I was really impressed by this book and do feel the need to go back to read it all over again to get a different perspective and view on the whole thing, which I think will lead me to enjoy the story even more as I will be familiar with and understand the characters right from the start, which was the main thing I felt that A North Shore Story lacked in.
That, however, does not mean to say by any means that it was a bad book! I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing when the story got going properly. While this didn't initially seem like the type of book that would appeal to me, I found myself falling for it in the end!
Due to its short length, this would be a great read for taking to a lazy day at the beach, or for reading when you're fairly busy, as it was one of those books that could be read in one sitting, only taking an hour or so, depending on how quickly you read. On the whole, I generally prefer longer books that can be read over several days; however this made a nice change and was really easy to read in the short time I had to spare!

I would recommend A North Shore Story to fans of YA fiction, mystery, and suspense and drama. I don't think this book would be suitable for young readers due to it containing more mature themes such as drug use, drinking, bad language and sex, but depending on maturity, I wouldn't see this being an issue for any reader older than 13 - it is teen-fiction after all!

So, overall, I enjoyed A North Shore Story and I will be recommending it to my bookish friends - just go in with an open mind and let the story do the talking before you come to any conclusions!

That's all for now but I'll be back for more reviews soon!

Charlotte xxx

Want to buy A North Shore Story?

Amazon US          Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble


Sunday, 10 January 2016

Favourite Books of 2015!

*I know this is super late - sorry guys - but it took me so long to put together, so better late than never!!*

Wow! I can't believe 2015 is over already!! It only seems a few days ago when I was debating over how many books to set for my Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge, and sorting out my TBR pile for the year, and now, here I am doing it all again!
At the start of 2015, I promised myself that this would be the year I would read 100 books. I'd been wanting to be able to achieve this for a while, but as of 2014, the highest number of books I'd read in a year was 71. I also decided that I was going to read at least 36,500 pages - 100 pages for each day.
So, I sat and planned out exactly how many books I needed to be reading each month and how long each book needed to be. And I did it!! I actually read 100 books!! - Well, 102 to be exact!!
And I got to a total of 40,340 pages for the whole year, which I'm absolutely thrilled with!!

Looking back on it all, 2015 really was a fantastic year, especially in terms of books. Not only did I go above and beyond my goals, but some amazing books were released; A Court of Thorns and Roses, Queen of Shadows, Winter, P.S. I Still Love You, and a whole bunch more! After years of waiting, Mockingjay Part 2 finally hit cinemas and wasn't it just incredible?! The Cursed Child tickets were released and after 6 hours of online queueing I finally got my tickets! The trailer for Fantastic Beasts dropped so now we have a first look at the next line of Harry Potter films! Oh, and I got the chance to meet Sarah J. Maas, one of my all-time favourite authors, and talk to her about books (see that post here!)
It really was an amazing year!!

But we're here for the books, so without further ado, here are all my books of 2015..!

My glorious pile of 2015 books!!

(Books in bold are ones I've read for the first time in 2015 - the ones not in bold are ones I have reread this year!)

An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi
Unravel Me - Tahereh Mafi
Ignite Me - Tahereh Mafi
Unite Me - Tahereh Mafi
Before I Go To Sleep - S.J. Watson
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin
The Evolution of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin
The Retribution of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin
All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven
We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

Divergent - Veronica Roth
Insurgent - Veronica Roth
Allegiant - Veronica Roth
Cinder - Marissa Meyer
Scarlet - Marissa Meyer
Cress - Marissa Meyer 
Faerie Tale - Raymond E. Feist
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas
Crown of Midnight - Sarah J. Maas
Heir of Fire - Sarah J. Maas
The Assassin's Blade - Sarah J. Maas 
A Moment Like This - Anita Notaro  
A Street Cat Named Bob - James Bowen
Just One Day - Gayle Forman
Just One Year - Gayle Forman
Just One Night - Gayle Forman
A Court of Thorns and Roses - by Sarah J. Maas
Anna and the French Kiss - Stephenie Perkins
Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephenie Perkins
Isla and the Happily Ever After - Stephenie Perkins
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith
Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead
Frostbite - Richelle Mead
Shadow Kiss - Richelle Mead
Blood Promise - Richelle Mead
Spirit Bound - Richelle Mead
Last Sacrifice - Richelle Mead
Before I Die - Jenny Downham
I Was Here - Gayle Forman 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
Charlotte's Web - E.B. White
The Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett
Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Darkness - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Chaos - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Redemption - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Dream Dark - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Paper Towns -John Green
Dangerous Creatures - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Dangerous Deception - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
To All the Boys I've Loved Before  - Jenny Han
P.S. I Still Love You - Jenny Han
The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han 
It's Not Summer Without You  - Jenny Han 
We'll Always Have Summer - Jenny Han 
I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson
Since You've Been Gone - Morgan Matson
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl -Jesse Andrews
The Queen of the Tearling - Erika Johansen

The Maze Runner - James Dashner
The Scorch Trials  - James Dashner
The Death Cure  - James Dashner
P.S. I Love You - Cecilia Ahern
Four: A Divergent Collection - Veronica Roth
Extraordinary Means - Robyn Schneider
Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Prince -Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Princess - Cassandra Clare
The Bane Chronicles  - Cassandra Clare
The Game of Love and Death - Martha Brockenbrough
Love Letters to the Dead - Ava Dellaira

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell
Landline - Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell
Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay  - Suzanne Collins
Winter - Marissa Meyer
Queen of Shadows - Sarah J. Maas
Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver
Panic - Lauren Oliver
Legend - Marie Lu
Prodigy - Marie Lu
Champion - Marie Lu
My True Love Gave to Me – Stephanie Perkins
Let it Snow - John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle

Well, that's all of them! But now I think it's time for some 'Favourite Awards' don't you think?
Here, I have 10 categories of 'awards', if you will, and have named my personal favourite from each of the categories. The only books able to fit into these categories are ones that I've read for the first time in 2015 (see books in bold). No rereads will be included in this!! And these books aren't necessarily the books released this year; they're just the ones that I've read!

My Favourite Heroine / Female Protagonist Award
Over the last year I have been introduced to a great number of new amazing female characters, all having different voices, opinions, lifestyles and stories. A huge amount of them made me feel honoured and privileged to be able to stare their stories with them; a few of them, not so much! But they each gave me something different and I loved each female character in a completely different way. The female main characters in the running for this award are...
Rose Hathaway - Vampire Academy, June - Legend, Mara Dyer - Mara Dyer , Lara Jean - To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Anna / Isla - Anna and the French Kiss, Cinder / Cress - The Lunar Chronicles, Sadie - Extraordinary Means, Feyre - A Court of Thorns and Roses, and Juliette - Shatter Me

But I think my favourite main female character from 2015 has got to be...

Celaena Sardothian - Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
The thing I love the most about Celaena is that she's not really a heroine. She's a ruthless assassin just trying to make her way and stay alive. She doesn't want to save the world, she almost wants to destroy it. And if somebody gets in her way, well, they'd better watch their back!
But above all of that, Celaena is a really caring person. She won't let anybody touch the people close to her, and she doesn't kill for nothing. She does what she has to do to stay alive, and, well, also kill anyone who tries to kill her first!
She's not your everyday heroine, but throughout this series, Celaena develops from a badass assassin to a badass ruler, and I love every part of her!
She's not exactly a character you would aspire to be, but that doesn't stop her from being incredible!

My Favourite Hero / Male Protagonist Award
I think it's got to be said that there aren't as many male leads as there are female leads - in the books I read especially. However, that's not to say male lead characters are to be looked down upon! I have read about some amazing (and hot!) male characters who either end up saving the day, ruin the day in an attempt to save it, or just have an amazing character, voice and personality. These are my favourites...
Adam - Shatter Me, Noah - Mara Dyer, Kai - Cinder, Thorne - Scarlet, Dorian - Throne of Glass,  Dimitri - Vampire Academy, Peter - To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Greg - Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Day - Legend, and Lane - Extraordinary Means

But my favourite male character I was introduced to in 2015 was...

Josh Wasserstein - Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Ahhhhh. I just loved Josh.
Out of all of the gorgeous boys we were introduced to in this series, he's got to be my favourite. Isla and Josh's relationship was also my favourite out of all them in the trilogy. I don't quite know what it was about him that I fell in love with, but I'm pretty sure every single part of him contributed.
Not only did Josh seem to be the most romantic, but he also seemed to be the most real to me, and I think that's out of all the fictional boys as a whole. He wasn't stuck in some fantasy dystopian that was forcing him to fall in love, he was simply just an amazing guy. I really can see why Isla loved him so much! I'm going to try not to spoil, but if someone did for me what Josh did for Isla at the end of this book, I'd probably just be dead on the flood cause my heart would have exploded.
This does sound really petty and swoony, but I honestly feel like Josh would just be perfect in any situation. He was just the perfect character! I feel like, even if you took his character out of this book and dumped him in a fantasy, dystopian, vampire or horror book, he would still be just as epic and amazing!

My Favourite Ship Award
For those of you who have been living back in the stone ages, let me explain... A ship is not what you think. It is no longer a boat or any other vehicle. It is, in fact, the term used when you pair characters (or people) together in a relationship. For example, if I thought that Magnus and Alec, from The Mortal Instruments, would make a good pair, (which I do!!), I would 'ship' them, and their ship name would be Malec. Are you with me? I'm glad everybody has caught up!
So, some of my favourite ships from 2015 have been...
Mara and Noah - Mara Dyer, Cress and Thorne - Cress, Celaena and Dorian - Throne of Glass, June and Day - Legend, Sadie and Lane - Extraordinary Means, Rose and Dimitri - Vampire Academy, Anna and St Clair - Anna and the French Kiss, and Isla and Josh - Isla and the Happily Ever After

But I think that my favourite ship of 2015, or 2015 OTP, if you will, is...

Cinder and Kai - Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

What can I say about Cinder and Kai? Where do I even start? For the couple of blissful weeks I spent reading this series, this couple were my everything. In most books, the pairings aren't perfect, which tends to be a good thing because real relationships aren't perfect. However, one of the things I loved about this series was that it was a fairytale retelling, so things could be perfect! And Cinder and Kai's relationship was one of those things!! I can't say for sure that it was my all time favourite ship from the series- it was a complete draw with Cress and Thorne, but Cinder and Kai have been with us from the very beginning, which is why they won me over. If you haven't yet read this series, you really, really, really need to think about starting it soon! It is just perfection. Nothing else can describe it. Needless to say that I was head-over-heels in love with the relationships here. I can't say much more without spoiling the series, but this relationship was a perfect fairy-tale one! 

Favourite Not-a-Main-Character Award
I honestly believe the 'sidekicks' should get more recognition than they do. So here is my recognition for the amazing 'sidekicks' and secondary characters that do just as much as the main protagonists and accept the little recognition they're received with their heads held high. These are the characters that everybody seems to forget after the story ends, but the characters that make the story what it is. These characters could be sidekicks or just characters that happened to be there! 
Here they are..
Lysandra - Throne of Glass, Fleetfoot - Throne of Glass, Kitty - To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Lissa - Vampire Academy, Kenji - Shatter Me, Earl - Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Charlie- Extraordinary Means, and Eden - Legend

But my favourite not-a-main-character of all my 2015 books was...

Iko - The Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer

I feel unable to explain all of my feelings towards Cinder's little android friend. Iko is just the best, and I'm pretty sure I've said that about all of Marissa Meyer's characters, but Iko is just something else! She is one of the funniest 'people', if you can class her as that, I have ever read about, and she never ceases to make me laugh. I need a whole book just about Iko because that would be hilarious - see what I mean about these characters being left out? Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter all got a book! Why not Iko?
To say she's a walking and talking and thinking android, she's still such a vivid and real character and I personally think that she's the most relatable too!
These stories wouldn't be what they are without that little android. She's the real hero of the series!!

Stand Out of the Crowd Award
I love finding books that are just a little bit different to what you normally get to read. When you read so many books in a similar genre, it can sometimes feel a little boring to read so many books written in the same way, with the same kind of characters and the same kind of plot line. So, this is my award for those books that were a little bit different and stepped out of the ordinary way of writing, whether it's with different characters, plotline or just a unique writing style!
Here were the contenders...
The Game of Love and Death - Martha Brockenbrough, Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi, We Were Liars - E. Lockhart, Love Letters to the Dead - Ava Dellaira, Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn, and I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson

But the book I found to stand out from the rest of them was...

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Jesse Andrews

This book really took me by surprise. Was I expecting a book that would touch my heart and make me feel so many things and would make me end up crying in a little ball on the floor by the time it was over? Yes! But that wasn't what I got.
The way this was written was absolutely stupendous and so, so clever. I didn't expect to love it when I read the opening, but as the story progressed further on, I found myself loving it more and more and more!
The thing that I found to be so unique about this book was that Jesse Andrews didn't make you feel empathy towards the characters. Greg, the main character was a self-centred idiot really, but he wasn't unlikeable. He was just human.
As I've already said, this book made me think I would be crying hysterically by the end, but that was another thing that shocked me about this book... It wasn't really sad! Obviously the whole theme of cancer is sad, and sad things do happen, but the story was told in a way that made you laugh far more than you cried, and that's a fairly unique thing for me to find!!
Also, the story was told in such an amazing way! It was a mix between film-scripts, stage directions, lists, bullet points, and 'normal' narrative. But even then it just felt different to your average book. Me and Earl really impressed me!

The Exceeds Expectations Award
This award is for the book that surprised me the most. Perhaps a book with an absolutely awful cover (because we all judge books by covers really!) but still absolutely blew my mind, or a book that sounded terrible or too cheesy to be good, but was actually pretty decent, or one with a stupid title that made it sound far worse than it actually was.
So, these are the books that surprised me the most this year...
The Lunar Chronicles - Marissa Meyer, We Were Liars - E. Lockhart, To All the Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han, Legend - Marie Lu, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Jesse Andrews, Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins, and Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

The book that surprised me the most though, was in fact...

Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead

I wasn't the first to notice how terrible the titles of these books made the series sound, and I won't be the last. I mean, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise?? They sound absolutely awful! And the synopsis didn't really do much for them either!
But while I will admit that the first book didn't really do much for me, the rest of this series was absolutely fantastic. It captivated me so much and I was hanging on to Richelle Mead's every word by the end of Shadow Kiss. I stand by my previous thought, in that the titles are terrible and put more people off the books than attract them, but these books really were worth than their titles made them out to seem. The whole concept does actually seem quite rubbish; fancy trouble-making girls end up in a boarding school for 'vampires' and vampire guards. It just sounds really cheesy. But these books were so much more than that! I would suggest that people give them a proper chance, and by that, I mean that they read the first three books and then form an opinion instead of turning their noses up after the first few chapters! Just try them!!

The Book That Made Me Cry The Most Award
So, if you didn't already know, I'm a book-crier. I know a lot of people just don't cry from reading, but I don't fit into that category. I cry at everything - sad books, happy books, cute books, horror books! All the tears are for different reasons, but nevertheless, the majority of books end up with me on the floor in a puddle of my own tears. Needless to say, a lot of books fit into this category!

In no particular order, the runners up in this category include...
Extraordinary Means, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, All the Bright Places, The Assassin's Blade, Cress, Queen of Shadows, Champion, Isla and the Happily Ever After, Before I Die, and P.S. I Still Love You.
All of these were great books and all definitely brought a fair few tears to my eyes...

But the Book That Made Me Cry the Most in 2015 was...

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart!

This book got messy! I'm not kidding... Not only did I break down into a sobbing fit during and for a good hour or two after reading this book, but it got so bad that I literally just had to look at or thing about the book and it would bring tears to my eyes. 
It was bad!
Well, I mean, it was an amazing book, but it killed me in multiple ways.
If you're planning to read this (and I recommend that you do!) be sure to mentally prepare yourself beforehand, otherwise you risk losing your dignity, sanity and respectability. 
I cried over this in public. It was not good!!!

The At-the-Edge-of-Your-Seat Award
So, these are all the books that creeped me out. Really creeped me out. If you don't already know, I can get creeped out really easily. The slightest creak of a door in the breeze can send me running straight upstairs and under the covers of my bed. And let's not even talk about the time I thought I heard a noise and spent an hour searching through the house with a bottle of disinfectant, ready to attack the 'intruder'!
But there are some books that really, unnerve me, and while this list is shorter than the others (probably because I avoid horror books!), these were definitely some powerful books...
Before I Go To Sleep - S.J. Watson, Before I Fall - Lauren Oliver, Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn, We Were Liars - E. Lockhart, Faerie Tale - Raymond E. Feist, and Love Letters to the Dead - Ava Dellaira

But the book that I found to be the creepiest was...

The Retribution of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin
If you've read this book, I think you'll know what I mean!
It wasn't just the final book in this trilogy that creeped me out. It was the whole series, but this book in particular had me sitting up on the edge of my seat (well... bed!) and gripping onto the book in part horror, part fright! Now, it wasn't necessarily a scary book and certainly wasn't in the horror genre, but I found myself thinking about these books way more than I should have been, which then made me over think the whole concept and ended up scaring the crap out of me!
So the basic outline of this series is that Mara, the main narrator, is in a mental hospital following an accident that killed all of her friends but left her alive. After moving away from the place of her nightmares, Mara realises that she's never actually far from what has happened, especially when she starts to see the faces of her dead friends, and spookier still, the deaths of people who are still alive, all of which end up occurring.
I can't really explain how much this book freaked me out without spoiling it for anyone who wishes to read it, but what I will say, and what I found to be the scariest part of the book, is that it's all told in a way that it could possibly be true. Nothing is too paranormal that it would be completely out of the ordinary, and everything is left covered up, so you have to ask yourself the question of whether this really could be a true story or not. On top of that, after reading an interview with Michelle Hodkin about how Mara Dyer came to be, it has been revealed that maybe this story isn't too far from the truth at all. Which is an even scarier idea!

Favourite Series Award
As can be expected of a person who has read 102 books in a year, I got through a lot of series in 2015 too! I think I finished a total of 17 series this year (including the ones I have read in previous years), but here were my contenders for my favourite series of the year...
Legend - Marie Lu, Shatter Me - Tahereh Mafi, Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas, Vampire Academy - Just One Day - Gayle Forman, Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins, To All the Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty - Jenny Han, and Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin

But my favourite series of 2015 was...

The Lunar Chrnoicles - Marissa Meyer

Ahh, I really wanted to be original here and have a series that I hadn't already mentioned! Sorry guys, for my lack of originality. I know I have already given The Lunar Chronicles two awards, but I just couldn't resist! Hands down, this was my favourite new thing of the year 2015! I'm just annoyed that I didn't start it sooner so that I could have dragged this magical experience out so that it lasted longer! 
But seriously guys, this whole series was just incredible! If you haven't already read or started The Lunar Chronicles then START NOW!! I cannot put it plainer! I promise that you will not regret it! This series just has everything - action, adventure, amazing villains, a dark, twisted hidden side, androids, cyborgs, princes, princesses, spaceships, and don't forget all the romantic hot guys! 
I simply cannot recommend it higher. Please just read it!

Favourite Author of the Year Award
Last award now! Don't worry, we're nearly done!
This award is for the author I have discovered this past year, and I have definitely found some amazing new ones! So let's have a look at them shall we..?
Michelle Hodkin, Marissa Meyer, Richelle Mead, Jandy Nelson, Jesse Andrews, E. Lockhart, Jennifer Niven, Stephanie Perkins, Jennifer E. Smith, Morgan Matson, Robyn Shnieder, Jenny Han, Marie Lu, Gillian Flynn, Jenny Downham, Ava Dellaira, and Erika Johansen

But my new favourite author of 2015 was...

Sarah J. Maas
So, maybe I'm being a little biased about this one! But Sarah J. Maas has proven to me over the course of the year that she deserves to be the winner of this award, so who am I to argue with the queen of fantasy?!
I mean, it probably helped that she went to a bookshop in the middle of nowhere (well, kind of!) and gave me the chance to meet her, talk about hot guys and about her books, and signed all 5 of them! But on top of all that, all of Sarah's books are things of beauty and her writing is just incredible. I cannot wait to read the next books in the Throne of Glass series, and the last two books in the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. If they're anything like her previous novels, they're going to be epic and make me want the next ones even more! Thank you Sarah for enhancing 2015 with your incredible books!

So, that's all of them now, and I guess that wraps up this post! 
Sorry again for it being so late out, but I hope all my readers have had an amazing 2015, and I wish everyone and even better 2016!!

See you soon,

Charlotte xxx