Monday, December 29, 2014
Stand-Out Books of 2014!
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.
How many books did I read?
That's 45 less than in 2013.
How many pages did I read?
That's 15,123 less than in 2013.
How many pages, on average, did I read per day?
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 2014 list!
Keep in mind, that I may have liked or even loved many other novels throughout the year – but when going over the list these are the ones that stand-out specifically.
You can click on each title to be transported - almost magically you might say - to my original review of the book.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Oh my gosh. Do you love gothic fiction? Do you love to be swept away fully and completely by gorgeous writing? Do you like to be both unsettled and intrigued? Do you, perhaps, enjoy feeling wholly obsessed with a novel? Then this gem is for you! A book that blew me away with mystery and utterly captivating prose, this story of a book loving writer penning the biography of a reclusive author is one-of-a-kind!
Howl’s Moving Castle / Castle in the Air / House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
Featuring charismatic characters, witty dialogue and clever fantasy plots, these three novels were such fun to read! A couple of them have some romance, all of them have surprising character development, and each has an astoundingly intricate story that doesn’t disappoint!
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Golly, this book is a marvel in creativity! When a young boy receives a mysterious tollbooth that magically transports him to a land where he must survive the Doldrums, take look over Point of View, jump to the Island of Conclusions and much other extremely clever wordplay – all the while learning lessons that sparkle with true wisdom – we, the readers, win the bibliophile lottery!
The Chronicles of Crestomanci, Volume I by Diana Wynne Jones
Well, this was the year I really started to read Jones and was enchanted, truly! Here we have the first two books in the Crestomanci series in one volume. Taking a magical, alternate universe and mixing in trouble, multi-layered characters and legitimate surprises and most excellent humor – we yet again have proof that “children’s” books are not always for children! In fact, the best ones (which I feel like I’m featuring in this section) are a delight to ANY age!
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente
Okay, yes, I know that this is a newer book and probably can’t officially be called a classic yet – but my goodness golly does it feel like one! Placing a smart, creative little girl in a Fairyland fraught with tyranny from a frightening queen that doesn’t look any older than her, this stunner combines incredible prose with Alice in Wonderland-like surrealism and underlying astuteness. I was absolutely blown away!
Percy Jackson and the Olympians # 1: The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan
Again – not officially a classic yet but, I believe, soon to be one! What a fun, original, contemporary fantasy take on Greek gods and myths! Mixing comedy, suspense, mystery and adventure into a clever reimagining of mythology, as soon as I finished book one I started looking at every other book Riordan wrote – not to mention the rest of this series – and started getting ready to order!
All the Wrong Questions # 1: Who Could That Be At This Hour?
All the Wrong Questions # 2: When Did You See Her Last?
File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents all by Lemony Snicket
I know, I know. Maybe I shouldn’t have named this section “classic” children’s books - but I’m sorry, I’m convinced! Lemony Snicket is back after the woefully wonderful A Series of Unfortunate Events books, telling his own tale as a youngster entered the enigmatic work of VFD – solving mysteries and avoid photographs of his face. All three are literary fun with awesome wordplay and giggle worthy silliness. File Under is especially fun, providing 13 short story mysteries that have solutions you flip to the back for. I’m ready for more, Lemony!!!
The Dresden Files # 1: Storm Front by Jim Butcher
As a huge fan of the short-lived television series, I knew I had to eventually try the popular book series it was based on. Happily, this fast-paced, humorous yet serious urban fantasy was a great start to what I am hoping will be a great series! If you like your hero hard-boiled and mixing all kinds of magical beings with crime mystery, time to try this!
Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal
Here we have the fourth entry in Kowal’s wondrous Glamourist Histories series. Tying Regency-era England, a phenomenal romance and uniquely natural magic called glamour, this series just seems to keep getting better. I especially love the characters and awesome relationship between the married leads – mix in suspense and wartime intrigue and you get quite the read!!!
Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
In the second entry of the ridiculously clever, intriguing, laugh-out-loud funny Finishing School series, we get more gorgeous alt-Victorian steampunk fun with a heroine that is both intelligent and charming. Truly packed with entertainment as we enter a school of espionage amidst vampires, werewolves and more - total re-read material, this a fantastic!
The Parasol Protectorate # 1: Soulless
The Parasol Protectorate # 2: Changless
The Parasol Protectorate # 3: Blameless
The Parasol Protectorate # 4: Heartless
The Parasol Protectorate # 5: Timeless all by Gail Carriger
Set later in the same alt-Victorian world of Curtsies & Conspiracies, The Parasol Protectorate is an adult series rather than YA as the above. Full of romance, humor, and cleverness up to your eyeballs – this is pure awesome fun! Nothing like worrying about the polite society etiquette rules after accidentally killing an errant vampire during a ball!
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
This is the first book in the Thursday Next series – an out-there conglomeration of goodness! First of all it takes place in an alternative version of 1980s London – the Crimean War is ongoing, there’s time travel and the resurgence of extinct species, such as the dodo. Our main character, Thursday, is an operative the in the Literary Detection agency – in which they spend their time investigating crime against literature! Already sounds too good, huh?! Well, believe me there is so much more – a crazy awesome start to what looks to be a series that gets better and better!!!
The Rising by Kelley Armstrong
As the final book in the Darkness Rising trilogy, which ties into my beloved trilogy Darkest Powers, this one is bittersweet. I felt it was a great ending to a great series – and yet again provided a fresh romantic perspective amidst some truly excellent power and abilities and suspense!
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
I have a feeling you are going to start seeing Mr. Fforde’s name on these lists a lot in the future! This is a YA novel – the first in a quirky, yet heartfelt, Chronicles of Kazam series. With wordy, sharp humor, silly fun and a fascinating world in which magic seems to be fading until word of a dragon hits the streets, this is yet another diverting read!
Miss Mabel’s School for Girls by Katie Cross
When a teen girl slips amongst the ranks of one of the toughest magical boarding schools EVER, she makes it her mission to win an early competition that allows her to be tutored directly by the powerful Miss Mabel. Her intentions, however, are not honorable and she has alternative motives – she wants to take Miss Mabel down. This was a totally different, mesmerizing book that was very suspenseful and felt dangerous – I look forward to reading book two!
The Lynburn Legacy # 3: Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan
Ooooh boy, can’t say much as this is the third book in a trilogy that is AWESOME. I love, love, love this YA book and love, love, love this trilogy! Creepy, funny, romantic, quirky and beautiful, I am now a full-fledged fan of Sarah Rees Brennan and want more from her!
The Raven Cycle # 3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Again, tough to say much when it is the third book in a quartet – but Stiefvater is convincing me more and more that she is one of the best YA authors out there with a truly lovely, atmospheric tone and gorgeous writing. An astounding contemporary magical fantasy that is dark and rich with character development.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Placing a contemporary American teen girl in an English boarding school and adding in super creepy supernatural activity – such as they apparent return of Jack the Ripper – creates an awesome book! Especially when there is humor and suspense and all together great writing. I’m happy there are more books to come!
The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist
Though there is a strong fantasy/fairy-tale vibe to this book, it does not feature any magic or clear fantasy elements. It does, however, provide an original, effective court intrigue story and a swap between two damaged girls. I was surprised just how much I loved this book – it is done very, very well with great suspense and excellent psychological character development. Again – yay, there’s a sequel!
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
When a girl with a blocked memory of one pivotal summer begins to face the truth, well – let’s just say there’s a lot of twists and turns here. I wouldn’t say I NEVER guessed anything correctly here, yet it is the taut writing and well-drawn characters that help to make this stirring, disquieting novel so very affecting.
Starstruck by Rachel Shuckert
A start to a series, this book focuses on starlets in the 1930s – those who have the fame, those who want it, those who are losing it and those who are thrust into it. Soapy, suspenseful, romantic and mixed in with some mystery, this was a fascinating, undeniably addictive read that was a ton of fun but also had some decent substance to it!
Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
A follow-up to the awesome series and fantastic movie – need I say more? I’m always ready for more mystery, drama and romance with this little blonde private detective!
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Tugging on the heartstrings and managing to, yet again, create some of the most realistic, believably flawed human beings in contemporary YA literature, this novel really stuck with me. Dealing with the betrayal of a parent’s unfaithfulness, the splitting of a family and the desire to recreate oneself – this is a great book about family and identity.
Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce
If you like your fairytale retellings more Grimm than Disney, this is a Snow Queen retelling for you! Combining excellent character development, romance and magic with suspense and nerve-wracking danger, Jackson Pearce convinced me yet again that she is one of my favorites when it comes to this genre.
The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson
Okay, I will not say I am that familiar with the Ballad of Tam Lin – but this is a retelling of that, apparently. All I know is that this is a searing Civil War era novel that creates great characters and mixes in forbidden romance and voodoo – a page turner with substance.
Of Beast and Beauty by Stacy Jay
A bloody, dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Stacy Jay turns the story I love into a mash-up of war, hate and deep, overcoming romance. I loved the lack of superficiality here!
Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson
A hauntingly written final book in the Jenna Fox Chronicles, this is a futuristic masterpiece, asking just what defines a human. Lovely prose, excellent thought provoking plot and a bit of a tear jerker.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Some people want to compare it to The Hunger Games – I don’t feel they’re all that similar, so don’t let that dissuade you! In fact, I felt this was an original page turner, full of suspense, character development and awesome intrigue. I was addicted very quickly and quite consumed by it!
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
A cinematic, truly scary post-alien invasion survival story! Well-written characters, great atmosphere and just enough humor from our strong female lead to not fall too far into hopelessness. Happily, there is a book two!!!
Burn by Julianna Baggott
Oh golly – this was a post-apocalyptic trilogy for the ages! Gory, creepy, frightening – this is a dark tale of what happens after all the “end of the world” events. Complex, intricate and absorbing, this finale pulls everything together for a final epic conclusion.
Neverwas by Kelly Moore, Amber Reed & Tucker Reed
The second book in the Amber House trilogy, this was one of the smartest books I read this year! It’s rare that someone can really dive into alternate futures and realities in such an interesting, diverse way, but this family of writers did! Following up from the end of Amber House in a brilliant way, I was floored by the intellect, detail and suspense involved in this awesome story – and I am breathless for the final book!
The Colors of Madeline # 1: A Corner of White
The Colors of Madeline # 2: The Cracks in the Kingdom both by Jaclyn Moriarty
I am a full-fledged fan of Australian author Moriarty – no qualms about it!!! These two books stunningly combine alternate universes with parallel storytelling – one involving the ordinary world we know and the other a world very different – but somehow, despite the many fantasy elements, just as grounded in reality – and realistic, wonderful characters. One moment it can be hilarious, the next it can break your heart. They are books of their own caliber in creativity and astounding writing – I cannot say enough!!!
Persuasion by Jane Austen
What a gorgeous, gorgeous book! Full of melancholy, maturity and lost romance – Austen has painted a beautiful portrait of a woman who regrets choices she made when influenced by others and the painful ache of acknowledging she can never remedy it… or can she? As always, Austen swept me away with prose that is quotable, searing and just simply unforgettable!
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diane Peterfreund
So, take Persuasion and turn it into a YA futuristic sci-fi novel? Sounds like sacrilege, right?! If it hadn’t been Peterfreund (who has proven her stunning writing skills in prior novels such as Rampant and Ascendant), I don’t know if I would have even tried it. THANK GOODNESS I DID!!! Somehow, she perfectly retold Persuasion with original, unique perspective of the future and made a lovely, memorable read of romance and sci-fi! Not to be missed.
Okay then, you book loving geniuses!!! There are 44 books to fill your shelves with, chat about and (hopefully) recommend madly to everyone you know!
I sincerely appreciate the ongoing readership that the Bibliophile Support Group has, despite my no longer featuring author interviews or giveaways!!! I feel that you awesome bookworms understand that life can become busier and it’s more important to focus on what we’re truly about: BOOKS
It’s been fantastic mixing in older titles with the new releases this year in an effort to return to pure bibliophile enjoyment – I hope you’ve also had fun possibly discovering some new titles that aren’t exactly “new.”
Have a wonderful New Year’s – and let’s meet back here in 2015, eh?