Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2014

Stand-Out Books of 2014!

Time to find out what I personally recommend to you, my lovely bibliophiles!!!

After what I hope was a bookish Christmas full of gift cards and novels wrapped in pretty, festive paper, I am bringing to you the fifth annual Stand-Out Books of the Year post!

Being that I am working full-time and sadly have less time to read than I used to, a lot of my numbers have dropped when it comes to statistics.

However, what has not changed is the fact that there are a whole lot of books that stood out to me in 2014!

As always, the books don’t have to have been released in 2014 – I’ll just have read and/or reviewed them in 2014.

So:

How many books did I read?

120

That's 45 less than in 2013.

How many pages did I read?

41,186

That's 15,123 less than in 2013.

How many pages, on average, did I read per day?

113

That's 41 less than in 2013.

Like I said – far busier as I get older – but a bibliophile I shall always be!!!

This year there are a whopping 44 books on the Stand-Out Books of 201…

Love Me

Love Me is the second book in the YA 1930s Hollywood Starstruck series by Rachel Shukert.

As this is a highly serialized series, I strongly suggest that you read Starstruck – reviewed in October - before Love Me. Ya hear?

If you have yet to read Starstruck, avert your eyes from this synopsis…

After becoming an overnight sensation and sparkling movie star, Margaret Frobisher is now truly Margo Sterling. She’s also involved with heartthrob Dane Forrest – someone whose picture was over her bed back in Pasadena not that long ago. Now the issue is not losing it all…

Amanda Farraday is nursing a broken heart after her seedy past as Ginger was revealed to Harry Gordon, hotshot screenwriter. She’s sure if she could only talk to him she could convince him that the love they have overcomes her scandalous former life…

Popping pills and downing alcohol is getting easier and easier for childhood vaudeville star Gabby. She’s still waiting for her big break after Harry Gordon decided to go in a diff…

Princess of Thorns

Princess of Thorns is a YA fantasy Sleeping Beauty retelling by Stacey Jay.

Sleeping Beauty’s story did not end with Happily Ever After.

Instead, she sacrificed her life in the arms of her seven year old daughter Aurora in order to give Aurora her fairy magic – and a chance to survive the coup of the murderous ogres.

Now, ten years later, Aurora has learned that magic always has an unexpected, bitter result – and though it has given her excellent fighting skills and a merciful heart, it also has barred her from ever having true romantic love.

When her younger brother, Jor, is captured by the Ogre Queen, she sets off to raise an army to rescue him while dressed as a boy and hunted by the Ogre Queen’s followers.

Meanwhile, Prince Niklaas is searching for Aurora – his life depends on it. A curse laid down by his own father leaves him with only days before his fateful eighteenth birthday – a birthday that will claim his humanity, as it did his ten older brothers.

His only hope, as he was…

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a middle grade fantasy for all ages by Catherynnne M. Valente.

Twelve-year-old September has gotten rather tired of the sameness of each day – washing the same dishes, sleeping on the same pillow, etc.

That is why she leaps at the chance to go to Fairyland when the Green Wind and his flying leopard extend an invitation.

Adventure at last!

Yet Fairyland is in turmoil – things are not as they once were now that the evil Marquess is ruling after the suspicious disappearance of the beloved Queen Mallow.

With the help of a dragon-like creature who has memorized A-through-L of the encyclopedia and a blue boy who is almost, but not quite, human – September will try to restore Fairyland back to its former glory.

Days after finishing The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making I am still thinking about it!

The prose and plot is astonishingly rich in its cleverness, inventiveness and beauty. I had to …

Percy Jackson and the Olympians # 1: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief is the first book in the middlegrade contemporary twist on Greek mythology series Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan.

Considered a troublemaker, twelve-year-old Percy has been thrown out of more schools than he can count – with his dyslexia and penchant for a temper he finds it difficult to fit in. Even at a school for misfits.

Before being kicked out of his latest school, though, he notices some rather odd occurrences. He knows weird things have happened around him before – but having a teacher turn evil, attempt to kill him, dissolve into tiny bits when defeated and then no one remember her being a teacher at his school in the first place is only the latest.

And, admittedly, the strangest.

Before long, Percy realizes that the mythological monsters and gods of Mount Olympus are not just something to be studied in his textbook – but are real and walking around.

Or trying to kill him.

Pulled into this stunning revelation, Percy is brought to a place whe…

What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye is a YA contemporary novel by Sarah Dessen.

When Mclean made the decision to live with her dad after her parents painful, shocking divorce a couple of years ago she knew she was taking on a life of moving.

As someone who is assigned struggling restaurants to get back in tiptop shape or close up, her dad is sent to various different towns – and so is she.

From the first move, Mclean decided it was an opportunity to reinvent herself. Each move, each short stint at a new high school, Mclean introduces herself with a different nickname and quickly picks a persona – cheerleader, drama crowd, etc.

She makes easy, quick exits when a new assignment come up – never saying goodbye or feeling particularly attached to anyone or anything.

With their most recent move, though, it doesn’t go as smoothly. She finds herself struggling to pick a new identity and her real name begins being used before she manages to correct them with a new nickname.

Mclean soon recognizes that it…

The Fire Wish

The Fire Wish is a YA fantasy novel – the first of the Jinni Wars – by Amber Lough.

Princess Zayele of Zab does not wish to leave her little brother or her home but has been selected to be the bride of the prince of Baghdad. As she travels to the palace in a locked caravan, she longs for nothing more than to return home.

And she won’t pass up an opportunity.

Jinni Najwa has just been admitted to a band of spies as her unusual ability to access an area of the human word no other Jinni can is revealed.

When Najwa uses her magic to glimpse the human world for a mere moment, Zayele sees her, captures her and makes a wish.

The wish does not go according to plan.

Zayele and Najwa – already remarkably similar in looks – have traded places. Najwa is now the princess on her way to marry and Zayele is suddenly expected to help with the war against humans by using a talent she does not have.

Now they are both in terrible danger amongst their enemies…

The Fire Wish is covered in flattering quo…

Love, Lucy

Love, Lucy is a YA contemporary novel by April Lindner that will be released in January 2015.

In exchange for giving up her dreams of being an actress to become a business major in college, Lucy’s father has funded a backpacking through Europe trip.

Desperate to soak in as much culture and beauty from a trip that traded away her aspirations, Lucy finds herself absolutely besotted with Florence, Italy.

…Not to mention a certain handsome traveling street musician named Jesse Palladino.

Before long, Lucy is swept into a whirlwind summer romance that feels like more – though Lucy steels her heart as much as she can.

After all, she has to return home. She has to go to college and take business courses.

She has to be practical.

But are their feelings more than a vacation fling?

Yet again, I am impressed with Lindner’s ability to create just the right atmosphere.

In Jane and Catherine she had that gothic vibe mixed with a contemporary setting – here we have a fantastic sense of Italy and tr…

Parched

Parched is a sci-fi dystopian YA novel by Georgia Clark.

Born and raised a privileged Edenite, sixteen-year-old Tessa Rockwood left everything behind after the sudden, violent death of her scientist mother to escape to the Badlands.

The Badlands are outside the lush borders of Eden – where water is a precious, rare commodity, as is privacy, prosperity or nearly anything that comes easy in Eden. After years of the Trust – those that govern Eden – leading Edenites to believe the Badlands are simply an exotic, humbler place, Tessa now knows the ugly, brutal truth.

So, when she is approached to return to Eden and secretly fight the inequality by joining a rebel group called Kudzu, Tessa does. She attempts to swallow down her gnawing guilt at the secrets only she knows about her mother’s death and tries to slip back into her old life by showing up at her uncle’s home.

It’s tougher than she expected to return, though.

And as it’s revealed that the Trust may be tinkering with artificial in…

The Iron Trial

The Iron Trial is the first middle grade fantasy novel in Holly Black and Cassandra Clare’s new Magisterium series.

All of Callum Hunt’s life, his father has been adamant about steering clear of magic – that it’s dangerous, that it’s something to be avoided entirely.

So, though most kids are excited to be going to the Iron Trial – a test for children exhibiting possible magical abilities to be entered into apprenticeship education at the Magisterium – Callum is entering into it with the intention of failing.

Failing on purpose.

Yet the tests end up being more obscure than Callum expected – and though he does poorly, somehow he still manages to be selected to be a student.

Tearing Callum aware from his shouting father, Callum’s mind thunders with all of the warnings and fears his father pounded into his head over the years.

Now he has no choice but to face those forewarnings and try to get thrown out and go home before it’s too late…

I could have given even more information in that sy…

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the third book in The Raven Cycle, a quartet of YA contemporary fantasy, by Maggie Stiefvater.

Being that they are stunning books that are highly serialized, I urge you to read the books in order. You can read my review of The Raven Boyshere and The Dream Thieveshere.

Being in a family of gifted females – gifted meaning clairvoyants, psychics and other type of weirdness – as well as having her own ability of increasing others’ power by her presence, Blue has always been an outsider.

But then she met her Raven Boys.

Now fully accepted into their exclusive group and part of the quest to find the long lost king Glendower amongst the ley lines, her experience in weirdness is coming in handy.

Things are not rainbows and sunshine, however.

Her mother has disappeared – and Blue doesn’t know whether to be angry or worried.

Dangerous people have tracked down Blue and her Raven Boys – people that are getting too close to following their footsteps to Glendower.

Their ques…

Fox Forever

Fox Forever is a YA sci-fi novel – and the third in the Jenna Fox Chronicles – by Mary E. Pearson.

Happily, I was able to take the time to re-read The Adoration of Jenna Fox and The Fox Inheritance before reading Fox Forever. Yet again I was moved and amazed by the originality and characterizations that made both books so stunning.

I recommend reading these books in order to get the whole effect – so refrain from reading this review if you haven’t yet read The Adoration of Jenna Fox and The Fox Inheritance.

Locke Jenkins has left the relative comfort of Jenna’s home to live the life he’s been robbed of for the last 260 years – time that Jenna has lived, despite still looking a young seventeen-years-old.

But he has a Favor to repay – from the time that he and Kara were escaping from the monstrous Dr. Gatsbro and the Network – those who are on the fringes of society as non-civilians in this futuristic, split United States - helped them.

They seem to think Locke would be a great parti…

House of Many Ways

House of Many Ways is a middle grade/YA fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones and the sequel, of sorts, to Howl’s Moving Castle and Castle in the Air.

Due to this, I recommend reading the books in order to get the full, fun effect.

When Charmain’s great-uncle, the royal wizard of their land, becomes mysteriously ill and is carried off by elves to be tended to, Charmain is volunteered by her wealthy aunt to look after his house in his absence.

To Charmain this is an opportunity to read nonstop without pesky, bothersome parents about to disturb her – but she soon discovers that time to read at this unique house may be tougher to come by than she expected.

A humble, ordinary dwelling on the outside, Charmain’s great-uncle’s residence is a wonder from the inside – with the ability to bend space and time. There’s also a clingy, stray dog in residence that may or may not be magical and an inconvenient arrival of a clumsy wizard’s apprentice.

To top all of this off, Charmain becomes involved i…

The Book Thief

The Book Thief is a historical fiction novel by Markus Zusak.

In 1939, Liesel has lost her little brother and has been left by her mother to live with foster parents in Germany. She clutches The Grave Digger’s Handbook, a book left by her brother’s grave by accident, even though she does not know how to read.

This first act of book thievery is only the beginning – and as she learns to read with the assistance of her foster father she commences a passion for books and words.

But as the Nazi’s hold in Germany strengthens, Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement and sets off a string of events that will change Liesel’s life forever…

I have heard of The Book Thief, of course, for quite some time. As I finally reached the point to read it for myself, I was a bit scared of it not meeting expectations – or that it would and I’ll cry for ages!

The prologue is powerful, golly that’s for sure.

The Book Thief is deeply touching, frightening and engrossing.

This is a meaningful and …

Surprised by Love

Surprised by Love is a Christian historical romance by Julie Lessman, the third book in The Heart of San Francisco trilogy.

Though each book in the series focuses on a different family member, I’d still advise reading the books in order to avoid spoilers – as the characters overlap. First you’ll want to read Love at Any Cost and then Dare to Love Again. Click on the titles to read my reviews of those novels.

A year ago plump, smart Megan McClare left San Francisco to study in Paris.

During that year she has turned into a beauty – having slimmed down, learned some makeup tips and fashion how-to. Even her own family has a tough time recognizing her at first!

With ambitions and a heart that is as strong in faith as ever, Megan embraces the opportunity to intern at the district attorney’s office.

But then she finds out that Devin Caldwell will also be interning there – the boy that she had a crush on when she was younger.

The boy who mocked, teased and hurt her with callous words.

Faced …

Castle in the Air

Castle in the Air is a middle grade/YA fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s also a companion to Howls Moving Castle.

To keep from being spoiled at all on Howl’s Moving Castle – I recommend you read it first. You can read my review here.

Young carpet merchant Abdullah makes smart buying decisions and spends his free time with his friend Jamal and Jamal’s people-hating-except-for-Jamal-and-Abdullah dog.

He also spends a lot of his time dreaming.

When one day a mysterious man sells him a persnickety magic carpet, things begin to get complicated.

That very same night, Abdullah awakens to find himself in his imagined palace garden and meets girl just like the one he’d daydreamed about – she is a princess and her name is Flower-in-the-Night.

Just as Abdullah begins to think all of his dreams are coming true – Flower-in-the-Night is kidnapped by a wicked djinn.

A quest has begun – as he must save her!

Along the way his stubborn magic carpet leads him to a shady genie and deceitful …

Of Beast and Beauty

Of Beast and Beauty is a YA fantasy reimagining of Beauty and the Beast by Stacey Jay.

Inside the domed city of Yuan live the Smooth Skins – of which blind Isra is the princess.

Despite being blind, she knows she is a hideous blemish on her people and has been held in a tower, unseen by the Smooth Skins, since her mother’s death.

But does it matter? She’s been raised to be a human sacrifice anyway – a girl whose death will mean the prosperity of the Smooth Skins for years to come.

Outside Yuan is the vast, barren desert where those they call the Monstrous live. As they fight starvation, Gem is one of many that cross the border into Yuan to search for food for their loved ones.

When caught, Gem becomes a prisoner of Isra and the question of who is the monstrous becomes more pressing than ever before.

Isra’s way of life is called into question by her association with Gem – who she begins to consider intelligent, compassionate and wholly human – not monstrous at all despite his claws and…

The Mirk and Midnight Hour

The Mirk and Midnight Hour is a YA historical retelling of The Ballad of Tam Lin by Jane Nickerson.

Though this novel takes place in the same universe as Nickerson’s previous novel Strands of Bronze and Gold, my review of which you can read here, it is not necessary to read in order.

Violet Dancey, seventeen, does her best to assist in the efforts of the fight against the North as she lives out her daily life in Mississippi. She tries to help wounded soldiers – though she hardly knows what she’s doing.

When her father announces that he is going to marry and Violet will have not just a new stepmother but also a stepsister – a girl her own age that she knows and does not particularly care for – she is not pleased. To have her comfortable little home invaded by strangers – while she’s still grieving her beloved soldier twin brother and relies on the support of her best friend, a slave her own age that is more like family – sounds devastating.

Then her home of Scuppernong Farm also is v…

Famous Last Words

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

To celebrate, what is more appropriate than a ghost story?!

Famous Last Words is a YA contemporary murder mystery –slash- ghost story by Katie Alender.

Still haunted by the circumstances surrounding her dad’s death two years ago, Willa is struggling to adapt to a new life – after all, she’s still trying to return to the person she once was before her dad’s death.

With a successful Hollywood director as her new stepdad, Willa and her mom have moved into a mansion that used to be the abode of 30s starlet Diana Del Mar.

Overall things are going okay – if a bit awkward and strained – but the fact that there is a serial killer targeting young, burgeoning actresses on the loose makes the move hard to swallow.

When Willa begins to have strange visions – and begins to get the sense that either she’s crazy or this house is haunted – she has no one to turn to.

Until she meets Reed – a guy at her school that is obsessed with the Hollywood Killer.

But – is that the best sort of …

Unmade

Unmade is the third book in the YA contemporary supernatural trilogy The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan.

This is a phenomenal, emotional trilogy that you MUST read in order!!! Therefore, feel free to check out my review of the first book Unspokenhere and the second book Untoldhere.

But whatever you do – DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNTIL YOU’VE READ THEFIRST TWO BOOKS!

Understand?!?

I’m trusting you!!!

An only recently severed psychic link connected Kami and Jared their entire lives – creating a bond that was indescribable to others. Half the time they thought they were crazy – but oh how they relied on it.

When Kami and Jared came face to face in Kami’s small, English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, the shock of realizing they were both real, flesh-and-blood people nearly tore them apart.

Now, Kami is left heartbroken as Jared is missing – and everyone is telling her he must be dead.

She’s sure she would know if he were dead… wouldn’t she?

During the months of Jared’s disturbing, sudden…

Hexed

Hexed is a YA supernatural contemporary novel by Michelle Krys.

Indigo Blackwood has followed her best friend to popularity in high school.

She’s a cheerleader and dating one of the best looking guys in school.

This is against all odds since she could instead easily be considered the daughter of that weird woman who runs an occult shop. Since that would be accurate.

But then strange things start to happen. A guy drops dead in front of her. Her mother’s ancient “bible” of witchcraft goes missing and she gets some odd, offbeat visitors at school.

Not long after that Indie’s life begins to change forever…

Hexed surprised me.

This is a fast-paced book with humor and intriguing paranormal suspense. I went back and forth between thinking Indie was pretty unrealistic and not loving her to finally coming around a bit later… In fact, I had a hard time with ALL of the characters for a while but did find myself begin to thaw.

Hexed is fun, yet surprisingly violent, with dark twists that take the …

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time is a classic sci-fi children’s novel by Madeline L’Engle.

I know, I know. This another one of those, “How could you not have read this yet?” books.

Well, I’m getting around to them!!!

Many of you have probably already read A Wrinkle in Time – but for any of you who haven’t, join me in fixing this literary crime.

It’s a stormy, windy night when Meg simply cannot fall asleep in her attic bedroom. Wandering down the stairs she is joined by her beautiful, scientist mother and little brother Charles Wallace.

It’s on this night that the mystery of her father’s disappearance begins to unravel. It’s on this night that the marked difference of Charles Wallace becomes all the clearer.

It’s on this night that Meg meets Mrs. Whatsit.

Thus begins a journey of Meg, Charles Wallace and new friend Calvin O’Keefe – a journey that will reveal that far more is out there in creation than she could have ever imagined – including her father.

It’s a journey fraught with peril, magnificen…

Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line is the first book in the book series based on the Veronica Mars television show written by creator Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham.

Stop right there, bibliophile.

Have you watched all three seasons of Veronica Mars? Have you watched the recent Veronica Mars movie?

If your answer is no to one or both questions – get on that ASAP.

Veronica Mars
is one of my favorite TV shows and the kickstarter campaign that funded the movie follow-up seven YEARS after its cancellation is a clear indication I’m not alone in that.

Anywho, this book takes place after the latest movie – in other words you will spoil awesome, heart wrenching binge Veronica Mars viewing if you read this before you do the aforementioned binge watching.

Only those of who who’ve seen everything to date on Veronica Mars, continue –

Back in Neptune, California ten years after graduating, Veronica is pursuing a much different career path than she’s been working towards for the last many years.

Despit…

The Glass Casket

The Glass Casket is a YA fantasy fairy tale by McCormick Templeman.

Rowan’s village has been a quiet, peaceful place for many years.

Now something dark has invaded it.

It begins with five horses and five riders that gallop through the village and up the hills with covert intent – only to be found days later dead. Dead in a disturbing, unnatural way.

The official word is a wolf attack – but anyone who saw the violence knows it was no wolf…

Other strange happenings take place as well – such as a beautiful girl close to Rowan’s age suddenly moving into the village. A girl that seems to have a connection with Rowan…

Something ravenous – something deadly – has come to occupy their village.

Rowan could be next…

The Glass Casket perplexed me a bit.

On the one hand, the plot itself was stimulating and darkly intriguing.

On the other hand, I found I could never truly connect with any of the characters. I just never really care about any of them, which causes the story to not be as engrossing …

Starstruck

Starstruck is a YA novel set in the world of 1930s Hollywood by Rachel Shuckert.

Margaret eats up any news on her favorite actress – the dazzling Diana Chesterfield – like candy. She’s seen all her movies and can only imagine one day meeting her. Her zeal helps to liven up the otherwise unexciting finishing school life she lives in Pasadena.

When a bigwig from Olympus Studios, MGM’s greatest competitor, discovers Margaret at soda shop one day and notices her exceptional beauty – her life turns into a whirlwind as she swept toward the silver screen. She can hardly believe her luck! Though, sadly, it comes on the heels of Diana Chestefield’s questionable disappearance from the public eye…

Meanwhile, Gabby Preston has been working the Hollywood and Vaudeville scene since she was a little girl struggling to survive under her mother’s demands during the Great Depression. Her gorgeous singing voice hasn’t transcended into a gorgeous exterior and she struggles to lose weight and see her long…

The Bride Wore Size 12

The Bride Wore Size 12 is an adult contemporary mystery humor novel by Meg Cabot – and the fifth book in the Heather Wells series.

To fully enjoy the series in order read the books as such:

Size 12 is Not Fat
Size 14 is Not Fat Either
Big Boned
Size 12 and Ready to Rock
The Bride Wore Size 12


Got it? Now, if you haven’t read books one through four yet – don’t read this review! It’ll contain spoilers of the earlier books!!!

Established Heather Wells fans, read on:

Preparing for incoming freshman at New York College as the assistant director of Fischer Residence Hall – a.k.a. Death Dorm – is almost as exhausting as planning a wedding at the Plaza.

Heather wants nothing more than for everything to go smoothly.

Then an attractive junior turns up dead in her room.

Tragic? Absolutely.

Murder? Heather certainly hopes not.

Yet Heather’s rather skilled observational talents and nose for trouble is starting to wonder…

In the meantime, Heather’s mother shows up - the mother who stole all her m…

Rebecca

Rebecca is, as the cover states, a classic tale of romantic suspense by Daphne Du Maurier.

Shy and timid, our heroine is stunned when the dashing, enigmatic Maxim de Winter asks him to marry him. They barely know each other but have spent many days in Monte Carlo – while her employer was ill in bed, leaving her an unusual amount of free time – taking drives and enjoying a comfortable quiet.

She knows that his home, Manderley, is revered and that she will be the second Mrs. de Winter, but when she accepts Maxim’s proposal she isn’t too concerned about all that.

Upon arriving at Manderley, however, she finds a magnificent manor that feels as though it’s still inhabited by Rebecca – Maxim’s first wife. The servants still follow her orders as though she were alive, the townsfolk speak of her beauty and grace with awe and the eerie, disconcerting housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, lays out clothes for Rebecca in her old rooms.

Certain that she will never meet the standard Rebecca met – and feeling…