Best Books of 2014

As this year comes to a close I think its time to chat about our favorite books of the year. For me, this was a tough reading year. There were definitely some books I LOVED, but it feels like there was less that totally blew me away. Because of this I spent a megaton of time re-reading books (okay, I always do that, but still). This year I found myself more lost in love with certain classics, or certain series and stand alones I’ve read multiple times, and those books—ones like Jellicoe Road, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, Princess in Love, To Kill A Mockingbird, and the Jenny Han Summer series—often took center stage.

 

But fear not. I read some good new (or new to me) ones too.

 

The Stand Alones/ First in a Series

Better off friends

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

It was sold as a YA When Harry Met Sally and it really is all that and more. This was one of those books I wanted to start reading again immediately after finishing it.

 We were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

In a word, breathtaking.

 

To All the BoysTo All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (#1) by Jenny Han

This book was so cute, so fun, and something in it just resonated with me. I read it and adored it and then, within months, read it again and loved it just the same.

More Than ThisMore Than This by Patrick Ness

You really can’t go wrong with Patrick Ness. The big question here is why on earth did I wait so long to read this?

 wonder

Wonder by RJ Palacio

I avoided this book forever because I worried that as a mommy it would be unbelievably difficult to read. And you know what? It was every bit as amazing as I’d heard and more. Yes, there were tears, but there was so much joy, so much warmth. This one dug a hole deep in my heart. I think it should be required reading for all kids.

these broken starsThese Broken Stars ( Starbound #1) by Aimee Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

I loved this book from the first pages. It was unique and intriguing, and it took me on an entirely different journey than the one I’d expected. And the swoons were pretty excellent. Like, really good.

 

The Sequels

 

Blue lilyBlue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Boys #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

I can’t get enough of the gorgeous prose, of these characters, or of the crazy bananapants problems they encounter. After the fourth and final installment I’m certain to be grieving their loss.

Gods and MonstersDreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

Oh, this series. See what I wrote above about grieving? All the feels. I can’t even explain it.

 

Ignite MeIgnite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi

Oh sweet holy moly, these books. And Warner, setting panties aflame across the nation. This was a good journey and though it was technically the end (and a good, solid end), Mafi wrote it in a way that left a whole new world of possibilities to explore.

 

Just Call My NameJust Call My Name (I’ll Be There #2) by Holly Goldberg Sloan

These characters slay me. Even though the first book ended so perfectly, I like that Sloan chose to explore some of the difficulties that follow Sam, Riddle, and Emily as they adjust to their new lives. Even happy endings take work.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Since You've Been GoneSince You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson- So adorably cute that I’ll be reading it again soon. It gave me happy feelings.

 

Second Chanc SummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson- Another case of why did I wait so long?

Biggest FlirtsBiggest Flirts (The Superlatives #1) by Jennifer Echols- All. The. Banter. I was into this book all the way, hook, line and sinker.

 

Happy Reading! If you’ve read something that knocked your socks off, please share it with me!

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Top Ten Tuesday- Best Books So Far This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

toptentuesday

This week we are discussing our favorite books we’ve read in 2014…so far. Big problem for me since I’ve probably spent more time re-reading books this year than I have reading new books. And honestly, there have been few that have blown me away. Here are a few that i really, really enjoyed:

 

We were Liars1. We Were Liars By e. Lockhart- I am a huge Lockhart fan. This is different for her, but I loved it. It stayed with me for days. And yeah, the big secret may not be a shocker, but the way she tells the story and conveys the pain is so good it doesn’t matter.

 

Better off friends2. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg- Books don’t get cuter than this one.

 

Ignite Me3. Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi- Good lord, the steam. I love Warner. Love him. Though this is the end of the series, it feel like the beginning of so much more.

 

these broken stars4. These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner- A sci-fi, a Titanic vibe, a rock-solid romance and a strange, spooky twist.

 

More Than This5. More Than This by Patrick Ness- Melancholy and odd, Ness never, ever fails to disappoint. His worlds are painful and strange, but the characters are so human, so much like ourselves, it’s impossible not to relate.

 

What I thought Was true6. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick- The epitome of a summer book. Good story, sweet romance, but substance as well.

 

Biggest flirts7. Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols- This one was cute and highly addictive. Is it life changing? No. But it’s not meant to be. It’s fun and I couldn’t put it down.

 

Scandal8. #scandal by Sarah Ockler- Different than her other books, but compelling and fun. I loved the cast of characters and how timely it is that they struggle with the weight of stupid decisions made in the spotlight of social media.

 

husbands secret9. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty- This was a book club pick, Adult fic at its finest. I really enjoyed it. The epilogue is the best part.

 

That’s all for now. Have a great Tuesday!

 

 

 

The LA Times Festival of Books…a week later

screenshotSo, not last weekend, but the weekend before, some of my book club buddies and I drove out to the beautiful USC campus and attended the amazing event they host, The LA Times Festival of Books. It’s nerd heaven, you guys. In fact, as we waited in line for different events, we were noting that some of the people there were so odd and quirky that we felt  cooler than we once thought ourselves to be.

But only a little.

The funny thing is, I took this huge backpack that was killing me to carry around all day (because, people, there were books to get signed. This is serious business). I was feeling a little dorky about it (who am I kidding? I did the same thing last year, too), but then we noticed that there were people carrying two and three reusable grocery bags of books, and rolling suitcases full of books, so again, I felt a little less nerdy by comparison.

The festival itself is huge. There are tons of publishers, independent bookstores, book groups (Jane Austen Society of North America, rock on with your I Heart Mr. Darcy bags), author panels and book signings. Not to mention food trucks. And crepes, you guys, which made me think of St. Clair and Anna and that is never a bad thing.

The big event this year was John Green. I goofed up and was not able to get tickets for his Q&A, so we decided to attend his book signing afterward. Along with every other person at the festival.

JGCROWD1

Yeah. But that’s only part of the line. It wrapped around.

JGCROWD2

And around…

JGCROWD3

Aaaaaand around

JGCROWD5

So, as much as I LOVE John Green and was dying to meet him, we did this instead:

WINE

And then we all felt much better about the whole thing. Line? What line?

Along the way, we met Rainbow Rowell (finally!), who was so sweet. It was fun to chat with her a little about the Eleanor & Park movie and how exciting it is that she’s writing the screenplay. She also had the cutest manicure that was Fangirl themed. So you think I remembered to snap a picture? Nope, sorry.RR ME

 

Then I got to met E. Lockhart, where she finally signed my copy of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks, as well as the copy of her forthcoming book, We Were Liars (which we’ll be reviewing next month with The Selective Collective). You can’t see it in the picture, but she was wearing green tights. So funky. I loved it.

ELOCKHART

We also attended a panel with Tahereh Mafi. She is so cute a tiny with the warmest, spunkiest personality. Her hubby, Ransom Riggs was there in the audience, and then sitting right beside her during her book signings. They are such a super-cute couple (sorry, I know I’m using that word a lot, but THEY ARE!).

STALKERS

Thanks to a mutual friend, our book club now refers to him as Handsome Ransom because, hello.

And, just so you know, this is what happens when you’re dying to meet an author FOREVER, and you finally get to take a picture with them:

MAFIIn fact, it was really funny because she made a comment just before the picture about how she always sees awkward shots of herself online. Nope, that would be me this time. Whatever! I’m still so psyched I got to meet her.

The day ended with a bang because we were literally the last people in line to meet Laini Taylor. Honestly, I think we were the last people at the entire festival, but it was worth it. Laini was so gracious, even though I’m sure she was exhausted. She had on bright pink tights to match her hair, and she couldn’t have been nicer.

LAINITAYLOR

There were so many authors there the next day: Elizabeth Eulberg, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Leigh Bardugo, and Tamara Ireland Stone (who was so sweet on Saturday and was e-mailing back and forth with me so we could meet up and get my books signed), but we didn’t make it out on Sunday because we were so wiped out from our big day.

Oh, well, there’s always next year!

 

Catching Up (For reals, I swear)

I’ve barely posted anything lately because my wonderful children were still on Christmas vacation. That is,  until this week. Now, as life returns to normal I’m realizing that I a) have about a billion reviews to write  and b) have about ten billion books to read and c) this is seriously going to put a dent in my Once Upon a Time viewing.

Anyhoo, since I’m feeling a little procrastinatory (this is a real world. I declare it), I thought it would be fun to fill you in on some things that I am currently loving:

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green–  Well, yeah, I know, I mean, of course it’s good. But still, I’m really enjoying in. In fact, I’m savoring it because this is my bathtub book, which means it’s going to take me forever to read because I will only let myself read it in the tub (otherwise I run out of books because I have things on my Nook and since I can’t take that in the tub I end up grabbing a book I’ve read repeatedly and find myself rereading an entire series because I just can’t stop and then I still have a million books on my Nook that go unread. It’s hard to be me).

enhanced-buzz-15123-1389464957-24This adorable Pride and Prejudice themed engagement because…you guys. Just look at it. Read the article. It will make you smile.

The Outlander trailer is out and oh em gee. Have you read that book? I love it. I’ve read it a couple of times and it’s steamy steamy with a smart heroine, a swoony hero, time travel…everything. I hope the show lives up to it. I think the trailer is gorgeous.

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak–  It’s been a couple of years since I first read this and now I get to reread it and –be still my heart–discuss it with some dear bookish friends because this is our January book club selection. Yay!

I loved this fantastic article about Jane Austen swag. Can we just agree that everyone needs a little Jane in their life?  I especially adored the Captain Wentworth quote tee because OMG his letter. To die for. Like, I need to do a Persuasion reread pronto.

And finally, the new GOT trailer is out. The images. All of them. It’s an awesomeness overload. Holy crap.

Book Club Pick: Gone Girl

Some of you may know that I am in a fantastic book club with some of my lovely, wine-lovin, bookworm friends.  As with most books clubs, we take turns choosing books and hosting. Sometimes we spend tons of time dissecting the book and other times we spend five minutes talking about it and the rest eating/drinking/having girl time.  I love these ladies for a plethora of reasons–for going to see City of Bones with me so we can cringe at JCB’s hair, for loving the LA Times Festival of Books as much as me, for sharing that intense need to talk about a book immediately after–but one of the things I most appreciate is that they help me expand my horizons. I’m a YA girl by nature (no, really) and I rarely read an Adult fiction unless it’s one I know I’ll love or unless I need to see the movie. But my book club has YA and Adult Fiction fans.  And they have fabulous taste in books.

Over the past couple of years we’ve read books like Nefertiti, The Middle Place, Defending Jacob, The Sky Is Everywhere (guess who picked that), and Unravel Me (um, chapter 62. You know you were thinking the same thing), to name a few.  These have been fabulous books, and while this is normally a YA blog, it seems such a waste not to share the great books I’m discovering because of these awesome ladies.  So each month–unless it’s a book I’ve already reviewed–I’ll share our latest pick and my thoughts with you.

And this month, holy crap, it’s a doozy.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? (Goodreads)

The Story:

Nick is that guy. He’s handsome, has a gorgeous wife–the works. And he and Amy, his charming wife, are totally in love until gradually, piece by piece, they lose their grip on their marriage. Nick loses his job as a writer in NY, Amy’s job and most of her trust fund soon follow. The two relocate from their brownstone to a cookie cutter mini mansion in Missouri, where Nick grew up. His mother is dying of cancer and his horrendous, verbally abusive father is now in an adult care facility. Nick borrows the last of Amy’s money to open up a bar with his twin sister, Go, to try to start a new life after dragging her to that town, away from her beloved family, friends and city life.

When we meet Nick, he and Amy are preparing the celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. She’s planned a treasure hunt for him–something she does every year–and he doesn’t have the heart to tell her he doesn’t love her anymore. He goes to work as usual, only to come home hours later to find that the house is in shambles and Amy has gone missing, most likely abducted by an intruder. As the story unravels, more and more clues point to Nick as the perpetrator, and the series of lies he keeps telling the police aren’t helping his case. Meanwhile, we get to know Amy through the diary entries she’s made over the course of her relationship with Nick. It paints a dark picture of their marriage.

And then the second portion of the book comes and you, along with me, go, um, excuse me but WHAT THE HELL????

But that’s all I can tell you because I don’t want to ruin anything.

My Thoughts:

This book was excellent. It was crazy, which I’d heard, but crazy in a different way than I expected. I was waiting for a big DUM DA DUM DUM crazy, a Bruce Willis Has Been Dead The Whole Time And You Never Saw The Signs kind of shocker.  That’s not what happened at all. Part of the craziness is revealed quite early on (at the end of the first third of the book). The rest is just an absolutely brilliantly masterminded story of total insanity. Before that, I was completely sucked into the book. I mean the first pages are of Nick describing his wife’s skull and the contents of her brain. Hello, creepytown, right? And Amy hasn’t even disappeared at that point.  The first portion is all about describing the undoing of this couple, a normal, happy, blissfully in love twosome, whose relationship begins to crumble. If you’re like me, you’ll get enveloped in some of these sweet moments they have and sadly, you’ll enjoy watching it fall apart. And then some serious sh*t goes down.

Amy’s disappearance is a mystery and there are so many moments I wanted to absolutely punch Nick. He makes such bad decisions, he lies, he does stupidly inappropriate things, but I found myself wanting to believe in his innocence, wanting to find that person out there just crazy enough to kidnap his poor, sweet wife and exonerate the anti-hero I found in Nick. And Amy, well, there just aren’t words for her and her sad little diary.

Warning: There are lots of people who love the book but hate the ending. I will admit that I was stumbling, wondering if my Nook was acting up, when I realized there were no more pages. For a little while that ruined it for me. Then, hours later, I had this revelation and I decided the ending was sort of brilliant.

Crush Intensity: 4.5/5 You should read this book. I’m so glad I did. If my book club hadn’t chosen it, I would never have picked it up. It was a great read.

Source: I bought this for my Nook for $4.99. Score!