Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Favorite Books Read in 2014

What a great year in reading for me! This year I:
* Wrote 86 blog posts, including 52 book reviews
* Completed 5 reading challenges (TBR, A-Z, Library Books, 40 x2, and Audiobooks)
* Beat my goal of 12 Classics by finishing 15 books on my Classics List
* Had real physical ARCs arrive at my doorstep (!)
* Read more books than ever (165!)

I rated 32 books as 5 stars this year, so it was really hard to choose only the top 10, but here are my favorite books that I read in 2014. They are not ordered by rank, but by the date that I completed them.

Sand by Hugh Howey (read 1.18.2014)
This is one of two adult books on the list. I've read everything Hugh has ever written. He is definitely my favorite adult sci-fi author. This is his newest novel and I pre-ordered a signed copy. Set in a future world that is so dry that everything is constantly being buried by blowing sand, this book really highlights Hugh Howey's world-building skills and his ability to write a seriously intense plot. I loved WOOL, but I think this might be his best work yet.

The Animal Book by Steve Jenkins (read 1.20.2014)
This is the only nonfiction book on my list. I love every Steve Jenkins book, but this was not what I was expecting at all. I figured each page would be about a different animal. Nope! This book is organized by animal characteristics including animal defenses, predators, and evolution. I learned some really fascinating stuff and, as always, the artwork was incredible.

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (read 1.23.2014)
This is the 4th book in the Thief of Eddis series. Chock full of sneaky maneuvering and palace intrigue. An excellent series!

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier (read 4.10.2014)
Oh man this book is terrific! The creepiness builds steadily until the unbelievably dark seems totally plausible. Wonderfully written, beautifully paced, and populated by a cast of richly interesting characters, The Night Gardener kept me totally glued to the page.

Starcross by Phillip Reeve (read 4.21.2014)
The first book in this series is Larklight, which I loved, but Starcross (book 2) is even better. These are Victorian space-pirate adventures. Not really steampunk, though. They take place entirely in space, traveling to different planets, encountering aliens, and trying to save the universe. But they are set in the 1800s. In this world, Darwin figured out space travel. I also love these books for their sophisticated, witty dialogue and humor.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (read 5.3.2014)
This is one of two adult novels on the list. I love Brandon Sanderson's work and I've been desperate to read this one, his debut novel, for years. It definitely lived up to the billing - complex, beautifully paced world development and a creative, yet believable system of magic.

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier (read 5.16.2014)
Somehow both whimsical and scary at the same time. I loved this creative, wonderfully imagined story with a broad cast of rich characters. Jonathan Auxier is a super-talented writer and this one may become a modern classic.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (read 6.29.2014)
This is the story of two British women during World War 2, one a spy and the other a pilot. Code Name Verity is a powerful story. It starts with the premise that one character has been captured by the Gestapo, and then tells her story up to that point. How did she get captured? How did she end up in the war at all? Interspersed with this narrative we hear about the treatment of the prisoners, how she and others are being tortured.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (read 7.6.2014)
This fantasy novel has a complete compelling world, with the most interesting and unique dragons ever! The main character, Seraphina, is torn between her loyalties to the humans and dragons at a time when dragon-hatred is reaching a fever pitch and a human prince has been murdered. I loved the way Rachel Hartman wove this world, with questionable morals on both sides, and how she made music such an integral component. Wonderful!

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (read 11.29.2014)
I enjoyed book one, but this one was even better! Imagine having the ability to manifest your dream-objects into reality. So cool! I loved how crazy-supernatural it was. And so dark.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (read 12.22.2014)
A heavy dose of Palace Intrigue, a fantasy genre I love. Like many books of this time, Finnikin of the Rock begins slowly and develops over the entire course of the story. There are secrets on top of secrets, schemes among schemes, and well-placed reveals. The character development was perfectly done, even if the world could have used a bit more fleshing out.

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