Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Favorite Books of 2014

In 2014, I managed to read 129 books, which is the most I've ever read in a year!  Some of them were rereads, but the majority of them were new.

Out of those first-time reads, some were not so impressive and others quickly became favorites.  I want to share my top 10 favorite books of 2014 with you.  These are in no particular order except for number one, which was my favorite book of the year.

Number Ten

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This is my favorite Rowell novel.  Cath is such a unique character in that she's a true introvert.  But she's also totally relatable and nerdy cool.

I loved the dynamic between the two sisters, especially since I have a younger sister who is really close to me.  There was a lot of truth in that relationship.

Of course, the Harry Potter, er, I mean, Simon and Snow fan fiction didn't hurt either.

I did an author spotlight on all of Rainbow Rowell's books, including Fangirl, if you want to see more of what I thought.

Number Nine

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis

This is the only nonfiction book that has made it onto my list, but it absolutely deserves to be here.  It's written by a young woman who went to Africa for a mission's trip and ended up moving there, adopting a dozen children, and starting an organization that ministers to children in poverty.

It's a really powerful story about saying yes to whatever God has for your life, even if it means not living up to the expectations set before you.  And it also shows what one person's love can do to change the world.

Reading this has made me think differently about missions and helping those in poverty.  It's also put a desire in my heart to adopt.

 Excellent read, and I highly recommend it.

Number Eight

Jerusalem by Boaz Yakin

2014 was definitely the year of the comic and graphic novel for me, and it all started with this graphic novel about Jerusalem becoming a nation in the 1940s.

It follows one family as each member finds their place in the tumultuous politics of the time.  It's gritty and gripping, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction or graphic novels.

I did a full review on it, so check that out if you're interested.

Number Seven


Watchmen by Alan Moore

I finally read the king of all graphic novels.  This has been hailed as one of the best graphic novels of all time, and I finally understand why.

I have never read a book like this before.  There were so many layers, and each of the characters was dynamic and mysterious.  I wasn't ever quite sure where the story was going or who the villain was, and it caught me completely off guard.

The art is rough, which fits the story completely, enhancing the tone of it all.

Definitely a must-read if you like graphic novels.

Number Six

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I know that I am ridiculously behind on this, but I finally started A Song of Ice and Fire, and this first book was AMAZING.  Honestly, I was nervous about reading it because, even though I've heard universal praise for this series, I've also read some really critical reviews, and I wasn't sure if it would be something I would like,

Well, it turned out to be something I loved, and I will definitely be plodding my way through this series.

Number Five

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This is the only children's book to make this year's list, and it was my favorite children's/middlegrade book this year.

The art, the story, the's an excellent story that traverses all ages.  I wrote a full review of it if you want to know more of my thoughts.

Number Four

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles by CLAMP

I adore manga, and I read a few series this year, but this one stood out above all of the others.

It's a shonen manga, so it has a lot of action in it, but it's also about relationships, romantic and platonic.  

The four main characters are some of my favorite characters in all of literature.  I love their complexities and how each of them interacts with the group.  And each one of them has an amazing and tragic back story.  

This series made me feel ALL of the feels.

If you haven't read this manga yet, and you don't mind really complicated plots, definitely pick this one up.  I wrote a review on the entire series, as well.

Number Three

Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte

I'm not quite sure how I escaped reading this in high school, but I did.  So, I finally picked it up this year as a book club read, and I am so happy that I did because I adored every second of it.

Heathcliff is an absolute scoundrel of a character, but I love him for it.  I was completely transfixed by him and all of his foulness.  At the same time, however, I felt so much compassion for him over his broken heart.  

If you haven't read this, and you love passionate romance and revenge tales, I can't recommend this enough.

Number Two

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

This book wasn't on my radar to read at all, but one of my book clubs ended up reading it so I decided to try it even though I didn't think I would be into it.

Holy moly!  This book is genius.  

Faulkner wrote it in such an intelligent and creative way.  Even though it can be confusing, I really like that this book makes the reader work.  A lot of times we just want a book that we can coast on auto-pilot with for an hour.  Not so with this book.  It gave me some mental exercise, and I was so grateful for it.

Set in the south during the early 1900's, it gives the portrait of a family falling apart as society around them changes.  The entire novel revolves around one character, but she isn't even the main character.  Instead, it's divided into four parts from four characters' points of view, and it shows how their lives have been affected.  

This is definitely not for the intellectually lazy, but if you're up for a challenge, check it out.

Number One

Absent by Sherri Vanderveen

This should be absolutely no surprise if you read my blog regularly.  I have raved about this book all year long.

It shows what happens to a family when the father abandons them, taking place over many years and involving several different character perspectives.

It's such a gorgeous novel, and it captures the truth so eloquently without being preachy.  If you want to see my full review, you can check it out here.

So, those are my top 10 books of 2014.  I'm glad that I was able to explore the world of comics and graphic novels, and I hope to continue to do so in 2015, as well.

What were your favorite books this year?  What would you recommend to me?  Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Historical Books

Time for another top 5 Wednesday. If you are interested in joining in, please check out the Goodreads group.

This week's topic is favorite historical books. 

Because it makes it into every list and I want to highlight different favorites of mine, I am excluding Pride and Prejudice. It goes without saying that I love it.

With that, let's get started.

Number Five

Guernica by Dave Boling

I have heard very little about this book, but I originally picked it up because Benedict Cumberbatch did a review on it. (That is a perfectly legitimate reason to read a book, right?)

I'm glad that I did because I really enjoyed it. I knew nothing about the Spanish Civil War going into it, and it really moved me. I connected to the main characters and was really invested in their lives.

This book is heartbreaking but beautiful.

Number Four

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Who doesn't love this book? Dorian is such a despicable character, but I still love him. And Wilde's writing is witty and hilarious.

Number Three

A Free Life by Ha Jin

One of my favorite book settings is in China during or after The Great Leap Forward. I am really interested in the lives of the people during this time.

This book explores this period and one family trying to escape from it really beautifully.

Number Two

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

I fell in love with this book earlier this year, reading it twice in row.

Not everyone likes the style and organization, which I understand, but I felt like it added so much and was so creative.

Number One

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

This book is not for everyone, but it is one of my absolute favorites. Wharton's writing is so subtle and clever. Her characters are full and likeable, even the stupid ones. And I love the setting of old New York.

What are your favorite historical books?  Tell me in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bout of Books 12

I have been on a major reading slump for the past few months.  I mean, I haven't even been averaging one book a month.

I think that this is partly because I was reading so quickly that I burnt myself out.  However, with the school year starting, a lot of my reading time is now dedicated to teaching and lesson prep.  And when I'm not doing that, I'm just so tired from the day that I end up watching YouTube videos during the time when I could be reading.

I miss reading, though.  I miss getting so absorbed in a story that I forget how tired I am.  That's why I am looking forward to Bout of Books 12.  It's at the tail end of my Christmas break, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to spend all day every day with a book, but I am hoping that it will break me out of my book coma and set a solid pace for 2015.

If you want to know more about the Bout of Books read-a-thon, here is a blurb from their blog:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 5th and runs through Sunday, January 11th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 12 information and updates, be sure to visit thBout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

You should definitely sign up and participate in this reading event. It doesn't matter how much time you have or how many books you can finish in a week. It's not about competition. Rather, it's about community. We all read anyway, so it's awesome to be able to connect with other readers around the world to discuss, recommend, and debate the books we love, as well as encourage each other in our personal reading goals.

I'll be keeping track of my progress, as well as participating in the various challenges, on this blog. You can hold me accountable!

Are you planning on joining Bout of Books 12?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Rereads

I am actually not much of a rereader.  There are very few books that I like enough to want to experience again or that I feel have more to teach me.

That being said, this list is comprised of a few of the books that I find myself returning to over and over again.  I've also snuck in a few honorable mentions.

Let's get started.

Number Five

I really love this book, and I have since I was a young teen.  The tone of it, the writing, and the tortured character of Louis have brought me back to this book at least three times since the first time I read it.  I enjoy it every time.

Number Four

I don't reread this very often just because I like to take my time with it.  With the language, each of the characters, and in the world that Austen created.  But it's one of my favorite books of all time, just as it is to many others.  Every few years I reread it and fall in love with Darcy all over again and hope that I am a little like Lizzie.

Number Three

The first time I read Peter Pan, I felt like I had found something that I had forgotten.  I first read it as an adult, and it awakened the sleeping child in me.  There is a real magic found within these pages, and that is the ability to connect adults with the children they used to be.  Whenever I feel myself getting too old, I reread this book.

Number Two

This book is in the same vein as Peter Pan, and I like to read it to remind myself not to take the "serious" things in life too seriously.  Again, I first read this children's story as a young adult, and I was so enchanted.  I was at a point in my life where I was just overwhelmed by the transition into adulthood and responsibility, and I was just about losing my grasp on things.  But when I picked up The Little Prince, it helped to put everything into perspective.

Number One

How could this not be on my list?  This series defines more than half of my life.  The first book came out when I was in the 4th grade, and the last one was released my freshman year of college.  I grew up and changed and learned so much alongside these characters, just as many others did.  It was truly something special being a part of the Harry Potter generation, and it is still something that ties a lot of people around the world together.  I will reread these books until I die.

Honorable Mentions

I have said many times before in my blog posts that Siddhartha is a book I read when I'm in transition.  I've read it many many times.  The only reason that this isn't making my top five is because the last time I read it, I realized that I may have outgrown it.  So, I don't see myself rereading it in the future.

I have praised this book non-stop ever since I read it earlier this year.  I definitely want to reread it in 2015 because it is my favorite book of the year and of all time.

So those are my top five rereads!  Did Harry Potter make your list?  Which books do you find yourself going back to?  Tell me in the comments below.

And if you want to join in on Top 5 Wednesdays, just check out the Goodreads Group.

Happy reading!