Thursday, January 1, 2015

JoLee's Favorite Reads of 2014

I love seeing all the favorite and best book posts that come out at the end of the year. I read an almost embarrassing number of books this year, so I had a good number to pick through as I compiled my list.

Of the favorites:
3 are contemporaries
2 are non-fiction
7 are fantasy or science fiction
7 were consumed as audiobooks

Favorite New (to me) Series: The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas
I devoured books one and two in The Elemental Trilogy. They are full of everything I love most about the fantasy genre: a colliding of two worlds, girls masquerading as boys, complex political intrigue, prophecy, cool training facilities, and a terrifying villain. Book three, please. (featured here and here)

Favorite Retelling: Love, Lucy by April Lindner
This may be a bit of a cheat because the book doesn't come out until January 2015, but I loved it so much that I couldn't leave Love, Lucy out of this line up. Room With a View makes me smile with lots of wistful, happy thoughts, and April Lindner's retelling gave me all those same good feelings.

Favorite work of Nonfiction: The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough
Granted this book is totally up my alley, but wow, did I love this one. McCullough's book is about Americans who went to Paris in the 19th century, the seat of intellectual and artistic culture at the time, in order to further their careers. I had been wanting to read this book for years, and it exceeded my expectations.

Favorite Work of Speculative Fiction: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
This is one of the most interesting time travel books I've ever read. Harry August is one of a small group of individuals known as kalachakra. These are people who live and die and then are reborn into their same lives with all the memories of their previous lives intact. Across these lives Harry must pursue a villain for centuries in order to save the world. (featured here)

Favorite Contemporary: The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt
The Chapel Wars is my favorite of Lindsey Leavitt's books. This Romeo and Juliet story of two Las Vegas wedding chapel kids, is a deceiving little book. You think that it's going to all light and cute, but it deals with so much and so many emotions. (featured here)

Favorite New Books by a Beloved Author: Sinner and Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
I'm going to sneak two books into this category because it was such a good year for Maggie Stiefvater fans, and I just can't chose one. Don't make me do it! Blue Lily, Lily Blue is everything we've come to expect from The Raven Cycle. And Sinner was so unexpectedly perfect. (featured here)


Favorite Sequel: Cress by Marissa Meyer
I have the Lunar Chronicles on the brain. I'm just so eager to read more of this series. Meyer weaves the fairy tales, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and now Rapunzel together so brilliantly. Putting Rapunzel in a satellite was pure genius.

Favorite Audio Book: The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton
The Lost Sun is not going to be a 5-star book for everyone. In fact, the book itself probably won't work for a lot of people, but, for me, it just hit some sweet spot, and I fell hard for Tessa Gratton's melding of Norse mythology and the modern world. (featured here

Favorite Book Club book: Quiet by Susan Cain
The discussion for this book club pick about "the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking" was very interesting and gave all of us introverts the opportunity to talk about ourselves. I think, at this point, I am pretty accepting of my introvertedness so much of the book was very affirming for me.

Favorite Series Finale: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
There was absolutely no doubt about the winner of this category.  Laini Taylor's trilogy is sweeping, majestic, engrossing, and it's among the best fantasy series I've ever read. This final book in the series lived up to all my expectations. Wow and loud applause.

Favorite Fantasy: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
I was so completely enchanted by this fantasy. The world that Rachel Hartman created is so interesting and utterly captivating. I have not been able to stop thinking about this book, nor do I want to. Seraphina belongs way up there on my list of favorite fantasies. If I had to pick one favorite from this year, it would be this book.
Biggest Author Crush: Kasie West
I read three of Kasie West's books this year, The Distance Between Us, Split Second, and On the Fence. Reading one of her books is like giving yourself a little reward. (featured here, here, and here)

Here's to a great year of reading!

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