Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How can Life's Challenges Shape us?

The other day in my English class, I was given the writing prompt:  How can Life's Challenges Shape us?  I could have easily gone with my own experiences.  This year has been difficult for me.  I've been constantly sick.  First, I  had Strep Throat, then Flu A, a broken foot, and finally, Mono.  As a result, my grades aren't where I'd like them to be.  They are good enough, but could have better if I hadn't missed so much school. 

I could have easily chosen to write about my illnesses, but since this was a practice writing prompt for a standardized test, I decided that I'd better follow the format we'd learned which was to include an example from a book and from a movie. I did exactly that and I made a 100 on my paper.  This got me thinking.

A 100 on my paper

Is the writing industry so formulated as well?  Based on my limited research. . . um, yes . . . there is some expectations to follow.  Some tips include:  Follow the story arc; include universal themes and emotions; avoid clichés, adverbs, and adjectives; fifty percent of the writing should be dialogue; write what you know, but with your own unique twist; and make sure you have your own voice. 

So, this year I will be working on trying to reign in and shape my wild ideas into a more universal story and hope for the best.  I can't promise that I'll master the art or that I'll even get published, but all I can do is work on my craft and grow as a writer. Happy writing!

My book among the greats.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Triona's Top Ten Book Picks of 2014

I'm stealing Stacy's idea this week and sharing my favorite reads of 2014. My favorites are pretty evenly split between YA, adult, and MG. I tend to favor sci-fi and fantasy, but a few contemporary books snuck onto the list too.

Without further ado and in no particular order, here are my ten favorite books I read this year:

1. THE THOUSAND-DOLLAR TAN LINE by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
I'm a big fan of the sadly short-lived TV show Veronica Mars, so I was really excited when I spotted this book in an airport bookstore. This is the first book in a new series featuring Veronica and the other characters from the show. It read just like an episode of the show. I couldn't put it down for the whole flight, finishing just as we touched down on the tarmac. The second one in this series comes out in just a few days. I can't wait!

2. SEARCHING FOR DRAGONS by Patricia C. Wrede
An oldie, but a goodie! I received a box set of all four of Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles for my birthday and read them all in about a week. I'm listing this one, the second in the series, because it narrowly edges out the first as my favorite. I first read these books when I was a preteen and so identified with spunky Princess Cimorene, who melted wizards with soapy water and bossed dragons around. These books were just as good almost two decades later.

3. RUIN AND RISING by Leigh Bardugo
The final book in the Grisha trilogy didn't disappoint. This book was just as compulsively readable as the first two. Although some people didn't like the ending, I thought it was perfect. Everyone got what they deserved in a very satisfying way. (Side note: I will forever remember this book as the one I was attempting to read while in labor! I didn't get more than a page or two done, but I figure I should get some props for trying.)

4. THE EIGHTH DAY by Dianne K. Salerni
I went on a big middle-grade sci-fi/fantasy reading spree near the end of the year, since that's the genre of my current WIP. This was my favorite of them all--an action-packed novel with an intriguing premise and fascinating characters. The second book in this series is coming out any day now, and it's definitely on my to-read list.

5. CINDER by Marissa Meyer
Several teenage friends were swooning over this book, so I had to check it out. I thought the Cinderella-as-cyborg premise was very well thought out, and the pacing of the story was great. I also read the second one in the series, which was also very good.

6. BEHIND THE SCENES by Dahlia Adler
When I was eight months pregnant, my husband had to go out of town. I was feeling sorry for myself, so I wanted a fun, light book. This one definitely delivered. I liked the characters and premise a lot, and the feel-good ending cheered me right up.

7. CHAMPION by Marie Lu
Like Ruin and Rising, this was the third book in a trilogy I really enjoyed. It was my YA Book Pick for May, so you can read all about it here.

8. ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell
I read this author's FANGIRL and ELEANOR & PARK and absolutely loved them, so when I spotted this adult romance, I snapped it up. It was full of Rainbow's great dialogue and achingly relatable characters. I couldn't put it down.

9. SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY by Mary Robinette Kowal
I usually gravitate toward sci-fi and fantasy, but I have to admit to a soft spot for Jane Austen. This book, the first in the Glamourist Histories series, blends Austen-style prose and settings with a fantasy twist. I loved having both elements in one book and thought it was really well done. The next two books in the series were great too, and I can't wait to see where the author goes with it.

10. HOOK'S REVENGE by Heidi Schulz
I heard a lot about this book when Heidi sold it, and it totally lives up to the hype. Captain Hook's daughter is fearless and likable, and the narrator's witticisms alone were worth the read. This was another one I had trouble putting down.

Here's to more great reading in 2015!

Monday, January 19, 2015

YA Book Pick: Girl Online

Once a month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!

This month's book pick is Girl Online by Zoe Sugg and Siobhan Durham  

Girl Online Cover
Synopsis (from Goodreads):

I had no idea GirlOnline would take off the way it has - I can't believe I now have 5432 followers, thanks so much! - and the thought of opening up to you all about this is terrifying, but here goes...

Penny has a secret.

Under the alias GirlOnline, she blogs about school dramas, boys, her mad, whirlwind family - and the panic attacks she's suffered from lately. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets the gorgeous, guitar-strumming Noah. Suddenly Penny is falling in love - and capturing every moment of it on her blog.

But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny's cover - and her closest friendship - forever.


Zoe Sugg is in reality a self made success.  She is only twenty-four but already an online blogger sensation with over six million subscribers (and counting) on her YouTube channel.  The stuff she blogs about is what tickles any teenage girl - fashion, hair, make-up to name a few.  But she also chronicles her own experience with panic attacks which makes her real and honest to her fans. 

Co-written by Siobhan Durham (a scandal in itself since it was just recently announced that Sugg had a ghost writer), the novel nevertheless stays true to who Zoe (or Zoella for those who follow her online) is and what her brand is about.  

The story may not be entirely original, but it speaks to its audience in a way only someone who's close to their age can.  It's cheery and sweet in that Zoella kind of a way and feels at times like the story is an extension of her persona. 
Zoe Sugg

Notes for Writers

As mentioned above this debut novel has created many polar opinions - especially when Durham was not originally mentioned in the press as the ghostwriter.  It wasn't until recently that her name was added to Goodreads.  

This is a great case study in examining the severity of the backlash that can happen when an author is not upfront with its audience - especially one so comfortable navigating the web. The online attack was fast and vicious and elicited quick responses from Sugg and Curham (who had nothing but positive things to say about Sugg).  While it hasn't hurt sales, it has nevertheless tarnished Sugg's reputation and more importantly, her brand.

A Good Read For:  

Fans of Zoella (of course) and anyone who just wants to enjoy a light read about today's teen perhaps under a beach umbrella or snuggled warm beside a fire. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Giveaway: Month9Books Spring 2015 Debut Blitz, Including WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS!

Hi Everyone!  My Publisher, Month9Books, is giving away FOUR ebook prize packs of upcoming Spring releases, which includes my April debut WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS.  Check out all the Spring releases and scroll to the bottom for a chance to win.  And, you know, if you feel inclined to add my book to Goodreads that's okay too. ;-)

Good Luck!

Month9Books Spring 2015 Debuts Blitz and Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals

Welcome to the Month9Books Spring 2015 Debuts Blitz!
These upcoming M9B books will be ones that you'll definitely want to add to your TBR list!
You can enter for a chance to win 1 of 4 prize packs of eBooks open Internationally.
Horror Business by Ryan Bradford
Coming February 2015

Armed with a passion for classic B-grade horror movies, a script co-written by his twin brother, and a wicked crush on his death-obsessed neighbor; hardcore horror fan Jason Nightshade must finish his student film.
But his plans are derailed when the children of suburban Silver Creek start disappearing – his twin brother among them. Battling a possessed video camera, a crazy zombie dog, a monstrous bully, and a frighteningly broken down family life, Jason embarks on a mission to find his lost brother so the two can write an ending for his story.
As an any horror fan knows, saving the day won't be easy, as Jason finds himself forced to face the real world where death isn't just a splash of fake blood on a camera lens.
add to goodreads
Ryan grew up in Park City, Utah. His fiction has appeared in Quarterly West, Paper Darts, Vice, Monkeybicycle and [PANK]. He currently lives in San Diego where he acts as Creative Director for the nonprofit literary arts organization So Say We All. He’s the co-editor of the anthology Last Night on Earth and founder of the literary horror journal, Black Candies. Find him at
Fingers in the Mist by O'Dell Hutchison
Coming February 2015
Sixteen-year-old Caitlyn Foster never believed in the legend of the Redeemers. That was before the trees started to whisper her name. Before a murder of crows attacked the town. Before she and her family came home to find a bloody handprint on their front door, marking one of them as a sacrifice. As Caitlyn’s friends are ripped from their homes, she knows it’s only a matter of time before the Redeemers come for her. Caitlyn has the power to stop the terror, but she’ll have to decide if she’s willing to sacrifice herself to save those she loves.
add to goodreads
O’Dell was born in a small rural town in Idaho. There were no Redeemers living there (that he knows of). After attending college in the Pacific Northwest, he found his way to the Houston area. By day, he is a Business Systems Analyst and at night you can either find him sitting at home, dreaming of random super powers he wishes he had, or directing plays and musicals at various theaters around Houston.
Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show by Steve Bryant
Coming February 24, 2015

Lucas Mackenzie has got the best job of any 10 year old boy. He travels from city-to-city as part of the London Midnight Ghost Show, scaring unsuspecting show-goers year round. Performing comes naturally to Lucas and the rest of the troupe, who’ve been doing it for as long as Lucas can remember.
But there’s something Lucas doesn’t know.
Like the rest of Luca’s friends, he’s dead. And for some reason, Lucas can’t remember his former life, his parents or friends. Did he go to school? Have a dog? Brothers and sisters?
If only he could recall his former life, maybe even reach out to his parents, haunt them.
When a ghost hunter determines to shut the show down, Lucas realizes the life he has might soon be over. And without a connection to his family, he will have nothing. There’s little time and Lucas has much to do. Can he win the love of Columbine, the show's enchanting fifteen-year-old mystic? Can he outwit the forces of life and death that thwart his efforts to find his family?
Keep the lights on! Lucas Mackenzie’s coming to town.
add to goodreads
Purchase HERE!
Steve Bryant is a new novelist, but a veteran author of books of card tricks. He founded a 40+ page monthly internet magazine for magicians containing news, reviews, magic tricks, humor, and fiction; and he frequently contributes biographical cover articles to the country’s two leading magic journals (his most recent article was about the séance at Hollywood’s Magic Castle).
The Perilous Journey of the not so Innocuous Girl by Leigh Statham
Coming March 17, 2015
Lady Marguerite lives a life most 17th century French girls can only dream of: money, designer dresses, suitors and a secure future. Except she suspects she may be falling for her best friend Claude, a common smithie in the family's steam forge. When Claude leaves for New France in search of a better life, Marguerite decides to follow him and test her suspicions of love. But the trip proves more harrowing than she had anticipated, revealing secrets and testing her strength as well as her heart. Love, adventure and restitution await her in Canada, but only if she can survive the voyage.
add to goodreads
Leigh Statham was raised in the wilds of rural Idaho, but found her heart in New York City. She worked as a waitress, maid, artist, math teacher, nurse, web designer, art director, thirty-foot inflatable pig and mule wrangler before she settled down in the semi-quiet role of wife, mother and writer. She resides in North Carolina with her husband, four children, five chickens and two suspected serial killer cats. If the air is cool and the sun is just coming up over the horizon, you can find her running the streets of her small town, plotting her next novel with the sort of intensity that will one day get her hit by a car.
I Heart Robot by Suzanne Van Rooyen
Coming March 31, 2015
Sixteen-year-old Tyri wants to be a musician and wants to be with someone who won't belittle her musical aspirations.
Q-I-99 aka 'Quinn' lives in a scrap metal sanctuary with other rogue droids. While some use violence to make their voices heard, demanding equal rights for AI enhanced robots, Quinn just wants a moment on stage with his violin to show the humans that androids like him have more to offer than their processing power.
Tyri and Quinn's worlds collide when they're accepted by the Baldur Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. As the rift between robots and humans deepens, Tyri and Quinn's love of music brings them closer together, making Tyri question where her loyalties lie and Quinn question his place in the world. With the city on the brink of civil war, Tyri and Quinn make a shocking discovery that turns their world inside out. Will their passion for music be enough to hold them together while everything else crumbles down around them, or will the truth of who they are tear them apart?
add to goodreads
Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing, she teaches dance and music to middle schoolers and entertains her shiba inu, Lego. Suzanne is represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.
Where the Staircase Ends by Stacy Stokes
Coming April 2015
After her best friend orchestrates the lie that destroys her reputation, Taylor wants more than anything to disappear from her life. But when an accident turns this unspoken wish into reality, instead of an angel-filled afterlife, Taylor must climb a seemingly endless staircase into the sky.
Instead of going up, the journey plunges her into the past. As she unravels the mystery behind her friend’s betrayal, she must face the truth about life and find the strength to forgive the unforgivable -- unless the staircase breaks her first.
add to goodreads
Stacy grew up in Dallas, TX, but has lived all over. After spending time in Austin, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, she is happy to call San Francisco her home, where she lives with her husband. When she’s not bringing the voices in her head to life, she’s working as a brand and marketing professional in the consumer products industry. She has a slight obsession with puns (they are, in her opinion, the highest form of humor), which might be linked to the three years she spent studying improv comedy at Chicago’s Second City and IO theaters. She holds a BBA from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business. WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS is her debut novel.
Nobody's Goddess by Amy McNulty
Coming April 21, 2015
In a village of masked men, each loves only one woman and must follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.
Where the rest of her village celebrates this mystery that binds men and women together, seventeen year old Noll is just done with it. She’s lost all her childhood friends as they’ve paired off, but the worst blow was when her closest companion, Jurij, finds his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever loved her: she is in fact the goddess of the mysterious lord of the village, a Byronic man who refuses to let Noll have her right as a woman to spurn him and who has the power to fight the curse. Thus begins a dangerous game between the two: the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither Noll nor the veiled man is willing to lose.
add to goodreads
Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently spends her days alternatively writing on business and marketing topics and primarily crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.
The Artisans by Julie Reece
Coming May 19, 2015
They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Raven Weathersby gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands.
To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day.
Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad's drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.
But Raven's stepdad's drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she's ever known out of jail, or worse.
Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries' clothing line, signing over her creative rights.
Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can't imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.
But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?
add to goodreads
Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.
I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.
Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.
Then I thought I’d write one down…
Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!
Summer Of The Oak Moon by Laura Templeton
Coming May 5, 2015
Rejected by the exclusive women’s college she has her heart set on, Tess Seibert dreads the hot, aimless summer ahead. But when a chance encounter with a snake introduces her to Jacob Lane, a black college student home on his summer break, a relationship blooms that challenges the prejudices of her small, north Florida town.
When Jacob confesses that Tess’s uncle is trying to steal his family’s land, Tess comes face to face with the hatred that simmers just below the surface of the bay and marshes she’s loved since birth. With the help of her mentor Lulu, an herbal healer, Tess pieces together clues to the mysterious disappearance of Jacob’s father twenty-two years earlier and uncovers family secrets that shatter her connection to the land she loves.
Tess and Jacob’s bond puts them both in peril, and discontent eventually erupts into violence. Tess is forced to make a decision. Can she right old wrongs and salvage their love? Or will prejudice and hatred kill any chance she and Jacob might have had?
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Laura Templeton lives near Athens, Georgia, with her husband, son, and a menagerie of animals. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, gardening, ice skating with her family, and taking long walks on the quiet country roads near her home. Her previous novel, Something Yellow, was released in 2013 and is set in one her favorite places – the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Vessel by Lisa Cresswell
Coming May 26, 2015
The sun exploded on April 18, 2112. It exploded in a Class X solar storm the likes of which humankind had never seen.
They had nineteen minutes.
Nineteen minutes until the geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every electrical device created by humans, blacking out entire continents, every satellite in their sky.
Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew, forever, and to prepare for a new Earth, a new Sun.
Generations after solar storms have destroyed nearly all human technology on Earth and humans have reverted to a middle ages like existence, all knowledge of the remaining technology is kept hidden by a privileged few called the Reticents and books are burned as heresy.
Alana, a disfigured slave girl, and Recks, a traveling minstrel and sometimes-thief, join forces to bring knowledge and books back to the human race. But when Alana is chosen against her will to be the Vessel, the living repository for all human knowledge, she must find the strength to be what the world needs.
add to goodreads
Lisa, like most writers, began scribbling silly notes, stories, and poems at a very young age. Born in North Carolina, the South proved fertile ground to her imagination with its beautiful white sand beaches and red earth. In fifth grade, she wrote, directed and starred in a play “The Queen of the Nile” at school, despite the fact that she is decidedly un-Egyptian looking. Perhaps that’s why she went on to become a real life archaeologist? Unexpectedly transplanted to Idaho as a teenager, Lisa learned to love the desert and the wide open skies out West. This is where her interest in cultures, both ancient and living, really took root, and she became a Great Basin archaeologist. However, the itch to write never did leave for long. Her first books became the middle grade fantasy trilogy, The Storyteller Series. Her first traditionally published work, Hush Puppy, is coming soon from Featherweight Press. Lisa currently lives and writes in Idaho with her family and a menagerie of furry critters that includes way too many llamas! You can visit her website at
  • Three (3) winners will receive eBook prize packs of 5 Month9Books of your choice, upon their release (INT)
  • One (1) winner will receive all these titles, upon their release (INT)

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Year In Books: Top Reading Recommendations From 2014

Thanks to Goodreads, I have a complete list of the 40+ books I read last year, and I have to say it was a pretty phenomenal year of reading.  Since January seems to be all about making lists, I thought I would share a list of my 15 favorite reads from 2014 (in no particular order).
Love Letters to the Dead

1.  LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD by Ava Dellaira 

I loved, loved, loved this book.  The story, the writing -- it made my heart happy. I loved this one so much that I might go so far as to say it was my favorite read of the year, which is saying a lot when you consider my list.  

Not a Drop to Drink (Not a Drop to Drink, #1)2. NOT A DROP TO DRINK by Mindy McGinnis

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)Mindy is a moderator and posts regularly over at AgentQuery Connect, so I feel a bit like I got to watch her debut happen in real time -- from getting an agent to landing a book deal.  So of course when Not a Drop to Drink finally came out I had to give it a read, and I am so happy to say that it did not disappoint. I suppose it's considered a dystopian story, but it has such a fresh take and the setting feels so realistic and plausible that I hesitate to lump it into that category.  Whether you like dystopians or you're suffering from end-of-the-world burnout, give this book a read. You won't be disappointed.
We Were Liars

3. BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE by Maggie Stiefvater

FangirlThis was my November YA Book pick, so I'll let you read my gushing post here.  Needless to say, I <3 Maggie Stiefvater and all of the books from THE RAVEN CYCLE series.

4.  WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart

This was a Goodreads Choice 2014 winner, which pretty much says it all. 

5. FAN GIRL by Rainbow Rowell

2014 was the year I fell in love with Rainbow Rowell. I picked this one up as soon as I had finished Eleanor & Park, and I loved every word of it.  Rowell has a true gift for writing unique characters that jump off the page.
Eleanor & Park

6. ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell

I was worried this one wouldn't live up to the hype, but holy hell did it. And if that's not proof enough, than perhaps the fact that it was a 2014 Printz Honor award winner will be.

7.  BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys

This is a beautiful and heart wrenching YA historical fiction centered around a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl named Lina who is forced into a work camp under Stalin's orders.  You can read Lauren's review of it here for more details.

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)8. THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey

I picked this one up after Triona featured it as her February YA Book Pick.  Admittedly I'm not a huge fan of Sci-Fi, but this story felt fresh, the characters real, and the pacing was so spot-on that I finished it in a matter of days.  I can't wait to read the next one.

9. POINTE Brandy Colbert

I haven't read any stories from the perspective of an aspiring ballerina, and I have to say I really enjoyed it (perhaps that's the ex-dancer in me). Theo is a complicated and well developed character, and her story is heart breaking and at times hard to read in all the right ways.

Between Shades of GrayNight of Cake & Puppets (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #2.5)

Laini Taylor is another one of my all time favorite authors. Whether you've read Daughter of Smoke and Bone or not, this is a great read.  It's more of a companion novel than a continuation of the series, and it delves into my favorite character from DOSAB -- Zuzana. As with everything Taylor does, it's beautifully written and hard to put down.

11. SINNER by Maggie Stiefvater

This is a companion novel to the SHIVER series, but like Night of Cake and Puppets you don't have to have read the series to enjoy this story.  As with all things Stiefvater, the writing is beautiful and the characters are blisteringly real.  I love that both Cole and Isabel should be unlikable characters, but in Stiefvater's hands you can't help but root for them.

A Monster Calls
12.  A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness

So unique, I don't really have words to describe it. I read it months ago, but I still find myself thinking about it -- I think the symbolism, emotion and truth of the story will sit with me for a long time. Highly recommend.

13. CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein

Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #4)
This historical fiction is told from the perspective of a young spy who's been captured and imprisoned in 1946 Nazi occupied France.  Filled with twists and turns and an unexpected narrator, this is possibly one of the most unique WWII stories I have ever read. And talk about strong female characters...eesh! 

14. THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken

If you enjoy The 5th Wave, you'll enjoy this story and vice-versa. It has a similar feel and similarly great pacing, though the stories are nothing alike.  If I had to pick between the two I'd pick The 5th Wave, but only by a hair.

15. THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt

I had to have at least one Pulitzer winner on the list, and you can't lose with The Goldfinch. I actually listened to this one as an audio book, which I'm not sure I'd recommend given the length.  But the story was so good I almost missed my stop several times during my work commute, and I found myself staying on the elliptical at the gym much longer than usual because I wanted to find out what happened next.  My only beef with this book is the length, but otherwise it is brilliant, beautiful, unique and worthy of all the praise. 

What were your favorite books of 2014, and most importantly, what should I read next? ;-)

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)The Goldfinch Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1)