Monday, January 12, 2015

Paige's Favorite Reads of 2014

We're back with another favorite reads of the year post. Really, you can never have too many of these. Here are all of Paige's favorites.

Favorite New (to me) Author: Kasie West of Pivot Point and The Distance Between Us
Kasie West completely captured me in Pivot Point. She went back and forth between the two realities with a beautiful seamlessness. I loved it from start to finish, but The Distance Between Us really cemented my fanhood. This contemporary romance was lovely and sweet and I read it twice in three days. I am impressed with Ms. West's ability to create amazing worlds in both the science fiction and contemporary genres. Featured here and here (and here and here).

Favorite Setting: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Anyone who knows what I read, knows I love dragons. The dragons in Seraphina were unlike any dragons I have ever read about. They have the ability to shape shift to a human form. And the world Rachel Hartman created! It was rich with politics, prejudices, and unspeakables. I found the book beautiful and fascinating, from Seraphina with her music and garden, to the kingdom and the politics between the dragons. I am anxiously awaiting the sequel which comes out this year.

Favorite Book Club Book: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
The Forgotten Garden tells the story of three women: Cassandra, Nell, and Eliza. After Cassandra's grandmother, Nell, dies, she learns of the mystery surrounding her grandmother's origins and she begins to follow in Nell's footsteps, trying, as her grandmother did, to discover her family. I liked the way Kate Morton intertwined the stories instead of telling them chronologically. It kept me engaged in trying to work out the mystery myself. I also loved the fairy tales woven throughout (I am a storyteller, after all) and felt they enhanced our understanding of Eliza beautifully. The book was complex, lovely, and inspired a great discussion in our book group. Featured here. 

Favorite Scallywag: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Sage is taken from his orphanage one day by a wealthy man named Connor. Along with three other boys, Sage is trained to act as the king's long lost son. In The False Prince, Jennifer A. Nielsen created a world on the brink of war, both civil and with neighboring countries. The story is told from Sage's perspective, and he is a rich and interesting character. Sage is no boy scout. He is constantly trying to foil Connor's plans and he sneaks around the manor to find Connor's weaknesses. But there is a depth to him that makes him my favorite scallywag. Featured here.

Favorite Classical Retelling: Across a Star-Swept Sea  by Diana Peterfreund
This companion novel to For Darkness Shows the Stars is a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and I loved it! The setting from the first novel is expanded here as we find ourselves across the sea. Persis is hilarious and intelligent and interesting. I loved the spy aspect of the book and the thoughts on social class (both in this one and its companion). Across a Star-Swept Sea is an excellent retelling because it stays true to original while creating a unique setting and rich characters. The Scarlet Pimpernel has always been one of my favorite stories and Diana Peterfreund has brought it to a new generation. Featured here.

Favorite Non-Fiction: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin decided she wanted to be happier. She researched happiness and made a plan. She devoted a year of her life to being happier and focused on different elements affecting happiness each month of the year. It was interesting to read the research her project was based on and to see some of her ideas for improving those aspects in her life. It did not inspire me to do a full-blown happiness project, but I have found myself recognizing and repeating things that make me happier. 

Most Beautiful Read: A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman
Veda has dance inside her. From her first visit to the Temple of the Dancing God, she knew she wanted to dance. At a moment of triumph, tragedy strikes and she finds herself an amputee with only one leg. Her only desire is to dance again. Will she make it? This beautiful story by Padma Venkatraman touched me deeply. The book is written in verse, giving the whole thing the feeling of rhythm and movement. It was magical. I truly appreciated the hopeful tone of A Time to Dance. Even when Veda was depressed and scared, a family member or friend was feeling hopeful for her. A Time to Dance is beautiful and powerful. Feature upcoming.

Favorite Sequel: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stievater
The Raven Cycle was my favorite new series last year and I impatiently awaited the third installment. In Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Blue's mother has disappeared, the gang is closer to Glendower than ever, and a new villain has arrived to thwart them. I am impressed with Maggie Stiefvater's ability to tie details together along with her rich settings. The relationships are becoming more complex, the tension building. Basically, I'm not sure I can wait a whole year for the next one. Featured here.

 Favorite Girl Disguised as a Boy: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Iolanthe Seabourne is an elemental mage with no idea of her true potential. But when she calls down lightning, her whole world is turned upside down. She is rescued by Prince Titus and finds herself disguised as a boy attending Eton in the non-magical world. Sherry Thomas has created a beautiful marriage of the real world and a world of magic. Both are rich and interesting settings. The Crucible has to be one of the most interesting magical objects I have ever read about. I loved Iolanthe's alter-ego, Archer Fairfax, and the way "he" wins over the boys at Eton. She is a truly believable boy which makes her time at Eton so fun to read. Featured here.

Favorite Audio Book: A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
It has been more than sixty years since Rosalinda Fitzroy last entered her stasis tube. She awakens to find that everyone she knew and loved is dead. Anna Sheenan created a fascinating world in A Long, Long Sleep. I really enjoyed the technologies of the world as well as the characters. Her alien friend was my favorite. Sheenan also dealt with weighty topics with poise and delicacy. The reader, Angela Dawe, was a perfect choice. She has a soothing voice and captured Rosalinda's character perfectly. Feature upcoming.

Favorite Fairy Tale Retelling: Cinder by Marissa Meyers
Cinder lives in the distant future where androids are used as servants, magic Lunars live on the moon, a plague is taking the lives of many and cyborgian technology can save lives at the expense of a person's dignity and possibly their humanity. The world Marissa Meyer has imagined is brilliant. It's rich and truly feels real. The politics between the "countries" on earth and the Lunars is complex and so well done. I love Prince Kai and Doctor Erland. I am fascinated by the Lunars and their powers. The Cinderella elements are a seamless part of the book and only enhanced the read for me. Featured here.

My 2014 Book Stats: Thanks to Intellectual Recreation, I kept track of my reading better this year than any in my past. I read 57 books this year.

Out of the 57 books:
8 received a 5-star rating
34 received a 4-star rating
 4 were audiobooks
15 were read for a book group
2 were nonfiction
40 were young adult or middle grade fiction
4 were classics

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you had a good reading year! I just read Cinder and loved it. I'm def. going to have to check out Seraphina.


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