Quartz Gazette 2016 Recap - The Books, Movies, and Shows of 2016 + The Return of the Gazette

Saturday, December 31, 2016
Quartz Gazette 2016 Recap

Quartz Gazette's been a bit absent of late, mostly because I decided to retire it, due to my new posting schedule. However I ended up missing doing these recap posts, so it's back! A lot has happened since my last post and I'm not about to try to cover it all, so I decided, why not welcome this feature back with a recap of the year.

A lot has happened this year, I entered high school, sunk into so many more fandoms, and finally got my long dreamed of sewing machine.

2016 was (should I use present or past tense?) also the year where I discovered an interest in politics and the happenings of the world.

The 2016 election was the first one I payed close attention to. I'd been following it ever since the primaries (which were quite interesting.... I still can't believe candidate genital size was an actual area of contention).

Overall 2016's been a roller coaster of a year, both in good and bad ways.

I'm both eager and admittedly, a bit worried, to see what 2017 brings. Okay we're done with the sappy stuff, let's move onto the books. (I'll also be throwing in some movie/show love towards the end.)

So remember when I said I'd keep a better record of the books I read in 2016....

Well, I did do better this year, but there's still much room for improvement.... In 2017 I'm going to give All About Books' spreadsheet a go, we'll see how it works out.

Cassidy has read 95 books toward their goal of 200 books.

As you can see, my goal this year was not met (at all). I totally underestimated how much life would get in the way of my reading time.... My goal for next year will most likely be around 100, hopefully something I can achieve.

For the next bit, I'm gonna borrow some questions from Jamie's End of the Year Survey. I participated in the 2015 End of the Year Survey, and was planning on doing the same this year, but I ended up deciding to only pull a few questions. (I was too lazy to answer them all if I'm honest. It's hard to pick between all the great books I've read this year).

Carry On

Best Book You Read In 2016?

I don't know a single bookworm who doesn't despise this question, after all, forcing us to choose between our precious books is unnecessarily cruel.... However this year the question isn't quite as hard, mostly because there's a clear standout, that I've already reread at least three times. And that is... Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. If you don't have this book in your life, you need it. Also because there were so many other amazing books:

Notable Novels from 2016

The Beauty of Darkness

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

A lot of books have disappointed me this year (mostly due to the fact that I've become pickier), honestly there isn't a major standout, so I'll talk about a couple particularly disappointing ones.

Ever the Hunted: I was super excited to read this one, and was super ecstatic when my request was approved on Netgalley. However, I ended up DNFing because the story was flat and very tropey, also the romance was kinda getting on my nerves. Though that cover is still undeniably a beauty.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies: I'd heard so many good things about this book, and my expectations were pretty high. I put it aside around the 50% mark, intending to pick it up again, but after a month of it going untouched, I decided to DNF. (I just realized I DNF a lot of books about halfway for some reason....) I just never clicked with Norah, the book wasn't bad, just wasn't for me.

The Beauty of Darkness: This book earns the tops spot. Mostly, because, I'd already spent so much time reading the previous books in The Remnant Chronicles, only to get bored in the final book, The Beauty of Darkness. It's always disappointing for a final book in a series to fall short, much less one you'd already read 620 pages of.... I do intend to finish it someday, as I only have 64 pages left, but still, it was a pretty major disappointment.

Wolf by Wolf

Best series you started in 2016?

Wolf by Wolf was a welcome surprise. I'm beyond happy that I ended up finally reading it. It's just one of those books I knew I'd love from the first page. I really need to get my hands on Blood for Blood!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

It took me a bit to whittle the list down to one, as I'm a notorious cover judger and pretty cover gusher, however, in the end I had to pick Aristotle And Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, because the topography is just gorgeous, not to mention the beautiful art.

Creativity Inc.

Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2016?

I mostly picked up Creativity Inc. because, hello, newborn animation freak here. I loved learning about how Pixar functioned, how the structure of the company fostered creativity, and how the company has struggled. Honestly, this novel has made me want to work in animation so much more. Speaking of Pixar, I have a lot of their films to catch up on. I still haven't seen Toy Story, can you believe it?

Yuri on Ice

OTP of the Year (you will go down with this ship!)

Seriously, I'm suppose to choose??? 2016 has been a great year for shipping, and I am not picking between my ships, so enjoy them all.

The Ships of 2016

Cursed Child

Book That Made You The Most Mad?

To say Cursed Child made me mad, is the understatement of the century.... Just ask my family, I was yelling at the book the whole time I was reading it. The main cast from the Harry Potter series was out of character, the plot was a mess, the story and the twists (if you can even call them that) felt so damn lazy. The only good thing was Scorpius Malfoy, he is a precious cinnamon roll, and pretty much the only character I liked in Cursed Child. I mean Albus was fine, but sometimes he got on my nerves.

Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017?

We'll be pretending that says books, as once again, my flawed decision-making skills are becoming apparent.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love: A book about a girl trying to find a boyfriend using K-dramas? Say no more. I've only seen two Korean Dramas (Boys Over Flowers and Goong), but I loved both, and both left me in terrible show holes, so I've been avoiding K-dramas for the time being to protect my fragile heart. Also the mc is going to Stanford??? Color me envy green, cause damn, I'd love to go to that school, but there's no chance....

Once and for All: I can't wait to read this book because, SARAH DESSEN!!! Plus the mc is a total HEA cynic, and I love hanging with my kind. Also I am totally digging that cover.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue: Time-traveling and history, I AM SO IN. Don't even get me started on the unrequited crush on bff part, and freaking 18th-century Europe.

Rogue One

Best Shows & Movies?

Before 2016, I rarely watched shows or movies, I probably graced the theater with my presence like once a year. However, this year, everything changed, because I got addicted to animation.... So here are some of my favorite shows and movies of 2016:

Voltron: Legendary Defender: Tumblr is to blame for this one (as it's to blame for a lot of things). I never thought I'd like Voltron, I mean, the mecha genre has never interested me. But Voltron is different, it has a very serialized plot, well-developed characters, and it's not all about the fight scenes, not to mention the beautiful animation. In short, it's the perfect show to get addicted too.

Yuri on Ice: No, this show isn't what you think it is. In this case Yuri doesn't mean that... it's just the shared name of two characters, nothing more. Yuri on Ice's plot is quite simple, but the bonds between the characters are so strong and organic. The entire story is centered around Yuuri Katsuki, and how he develops and grows, both as a person and as a skater, throughout the show. The music is amazing, and the animation is beautiful (well some places it was a bit lacking, most likely due to budget constraints). Either way, I'd highly recommend it.

Zootopia: This one's still my favorite, even after Moana. I love how the film handled the delicate issues currently affecting our society, and the positive message it gave. I'm rooting for Zootopia, though I'm expecting Moana to sweep the Oscars, due to the fact that it's fresh in everyone's mind, has an amazing soundtrack, and of course, is a Disney Princess film.

Rogue One: One thing here doesn't match.... I don't see much live action, however I went to see this one with my brother, and absolutely loved it. Unsurprisingly, K-2SO was my favorite, gotta love that snarky bastard. As someone who's only seen two Star Wars films (this one and Force Awakens), I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. I might actually check out the rest of the franchise because of Rogue One, (view spoiler)[though I'm still freaking salty over the fact that they killed off everyone].

I'm Joining the Winter 2017 Comment Challenge!

I don't do many challenges, as a lot of time, they just aren't my thing. However, I always like participating in FLYLÄ“F's and A Kernel of Nonsense's Comment Challenge. It's a great way to get to know other bloggers, and I'm so excited to get to know my partner this time around!

I Was Interviewed!

If you'd like to know a bit more about me, than check out my interview with Isobel @ Write through the Night. She asked so many great questions, and I had such a fun time answering them!

Well that's a wrap! How was your 2016? What are you looking forward to in 2017?
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In Which I Accidentally Ramble on About My Reading Habits - Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill Review

Thursday, December 29, 2016
Ever the Hunted Review

When I go into a book, I'm always anticipating a spark, a moment where the book fully grasps my attention, and I become invested in the story and in the characters. Sometimes it's gradual, and I don't realize it's happened until I've finished the book, sometimes I can pinpoint the moment, the exact chapter, where everything clicks, and the story just comes to life. Sometimes it's the first page, sometimes it's not till 3 chapters in, or sometimes it just never happens, like with Ever the Hunted.

Synopsis & Details:

Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to read more... her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

Title: Ever the Hunted
Author: Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1
Publication Date: December 27th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks HMH!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

I'm not sure if I'm the only one who reads like this (I only realized this about myself recently), and if I am, I hope my explanation of my odd ways makes sense. Either way, the main reason I DNF books, is just this moment never coming, and Ever the Hunted falls right into this trap.

In the 50% of the book, I read, I was bored most of the time.

The story was flat, and I never connected with the characters and their motivations, never really got pulled into the story. There were a couple exciting parts and questions that keep me reading, but after awhile they just weren't enough anymore.

I loved the concept of this setting, the magical system, the political conflict, all intrigued me.

However this book also felt like something I'd read many times before. It had its fair share of fantasy tropes, including the dreaded special snowflake, and perhaps even the stirrings of a love triangle (I didn't finish the book so it's highly possible that I'm wrong about the love triangle *shrugs*).

The synopsis was amazing.

It gave me the impression that Ever the Hunted would be a story about a girl torn between her emotions, struggling with the idea that the man she loved might have murdered her father. While we definitely got this storyline, it wasn't used to it's full potential in my opinion.

I think Britta was suppose to be older than the impression she gave me...

This kinda threw a wrench into the romantic plotline, cause the love interest is mentioned to have a beard many a time, and at the age I pictured her as, any dude who'd grown a legit beard, would have some years on her...

In summary, I liked the idea of this book, and the image the summary gave me, but in the end, the book just didn't work out for me.

However, I'd still urge you to give it a try if it sounds like something you'd love. Though if tropes annoy you, then this one's probably not for you.

Rating: DNF

What things do you like to see in fantasy novels? Do repetitive tropes bother you?
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A Thrilling Journey through the South Pacific 2000 Years Ago - Moana Review

Monday, December 12, 2016
Moana Animated Movie Review

I've been following Moana closely pretty much since it was announced, so I was extremely excited to see it in theatres. I went to a rather early showing on the release day, so the theatre was fairly empty, which was a lovely surprise.

Synopsis & Details:

An adventurous teenager sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest to become a master way-finder. Together they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering read more... enormous monsters and impossible odds. Along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she always sought: her own identity.

Title: Moana
Director(s): John Musker, Ron Clements
Studio: Disney
Release Date: November 23, 2016 (US)
Genres: Action, Animation, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars

Well, well, where do we start? How about the beginning?

Moana starts out by introducing us to the legend of Maui, this is followed by a montage of Moana growing up. This scene introduces Moana's island home, and establishes the first hurdle she must jump. The opening is well done, and slides us excellently into the story.

As a huge fan of Hamilton, I couldn't not mention the music.

Moana has a wonderful array of songs, my favorites being: Tulou Tagaloa, Where You Are, We Know the Way, You're Welcome, and How Far You'll Go (okay that's like almost all of them). They are all rather catchy, trust me they've been in my head since I've seen the film (and I'm currently aggravating the issue by listening to the soundtrack on repeat). I suppose my favorite would have to be You're Welcome, Dwayne is a fantastic singer, and this song is a great way to introduce Maui to the audience.

The animation is gorgeous, of course. The surrounding environment is lush and alive.

I found the water particularly impressive, water has been known to be tricky, and handling that much must have been quite the challenge. Speaking of water, the ocean was such a fun character. It never speaks a word, yet has so much personality and sass.

Moana has it's fair share of humor, including this wonderful quote, where Moana is yelling at the ocean:
"Fish pee in you all day!"
and of course, that tweeting joke *slight groan* (such a dad joke). The ocean was the center of plenty of gags, as Moana took full advantage of the personified ocean.

Despite being a bit afraid that the parents would fall into stereotype valley, I actually ending up really liking them, and their dynamic with Moana. While the father's role in the story, is definitely something we've seen before, and can definitely be considered a bit stereotypical, this film manages to make it feel fresh and new.

On the other hand, I did have some reserves with one of the villain characters.

(view spoiler)[I'm a bit on the fence, about that giant Hermit Crab. The song Tamatoa sings isn't bad, in fact I rather like it, however it felt a bit out of place.] I don't really have any other specific criticism for the film. I will admit though, that I left the theater, feeling as if the story was a bit lacking in some mysterious aspect, that I couldn't quite name. While I don’t feel Moana is as good as Zootopia, it's still a strong film, with a wonderful story, and great characters.

Short film segment: Inner Workings

Inner Workings is centered around a middle-aged man caught in the middle of a constant struggle between his heart and brain, the story is told in a quirky, sweet way. This short was adorable, but not quite as adorable as Piper, the short that accompanied Finding Dory (though I suppose comparing these two is a bit like comparing oranges and apples).

I found Inner Workings to be quite reminiscent of Inside Out, heck the color scheme is even a bit similar when it comes to the organs. However while there were many things in common between the two, Inner Workings is different enough to stand strongly on it's own. This short reminds you to not overthink everything, and let your heart lead sometimes.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Have you seen Moana? If so, thoughts? Also who's your favorite Disney Princess?
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His Royal Highness Prince Overprotective Brother - Christmas at the Castle by Melissa McClone Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway

Monday, December 5, 2016
Christmas at the Castle Review

I went into Christmas at the Castle, looking for something cute and fluffy, which is pretty much what I got. Despite a couple issues I had with the novel, I enjoyed it overall.

Synopsis & Details:

A royal wedding. A meddlesome mother. An unexpected union. A European getaway during the Christmas holiday is exactly what veterinarian Katrina “Kat” Parsons needs. She can’t wait to be a bridesmaid in her childhood friend’s royal wedding, but she hopes to steer clear of the read more... bride’s arrogant older brother.

Crown Prince Guillaume wants his younger sister’s wedding day to be perfect, but he’s suspicious of Kat. He and his mother on are on high alert, afraid Kat is not just there for the wedding, but also to find a prince of her own.

But when Kat’s kindness and generosity prove them wrong, the prince realizes there’s more to her than he ever imagined. Can he trust his heart or will he lose the one woman he can’t live without?

Title: Christmas at the Castle (Ever After #3)
Author: Melissa McClone
Series: Ever After
Publication Date: October 18th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: I received an arc through H.C.L. Author Services, this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

The romance kind of comes out of nowhere, I'd seen the build up, but then it appeared a tad early.

In my opinion, it could have used a few more pages to develop.

Some parts of this book felt really cliche, and not in the good way (like with Kasie West's P.S. I Like You), but in a cringy-ish way.

At first Gill really annoyed me, his reasons for disliking Kat just seemed extremely immature.

90% of the notes I made while reading, were just me being a 100% annoyed, with Gill, thinking about how Kat, was a gold (royal) digger.

However he really began turning around towards the second half of the book, his POV quickly became my favorite after that.

As for Kat, I never felt like her character really developed, she felt a bit flat.

Christmas at the Castle had a couple really humorous moments, and the second half of the book was definitely better than the first. If you're looking for something cute to wave in the winter holiday season, then this one might be up your alley.

Rating: 3/ 5 Stars

What are you looking foward to this winter season? Are you anticipating any book releases?
About Melissa McClone
Melissa McClone’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University led her to a job with a major airline where she travelled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters. Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! Since then, she has published over twenty-five romance novels with Harlequin and been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA award. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim and soccer practices, 4-H meetings and dog shows. She also supports deployed service members through Soldiers’ Angels and fosters cats through a local non-kill rescue shelter. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house.

Blog Tour Schedule
December 4th
December 5th
December 6th
December 7th
December 8th
December 9th
December 10th
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