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)

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