Top 10 Books of 2014

It’s that time of year again! Picking my favorite books of the year has always been my favorite part of book blogging. I love talking with everyone about the best books they’ve read! For the record – my list is based on everything I read this year, not just what was released in 2014. Make sure and let me know if you agree or disagree with any of my choices!


10. I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre Goodreads

This was an off year for me when it comes to reading romance – I didn’t come across very many titles in the genre that I loved. This one was a clear exception – I became so emotionally invested so quickly! There was laughing and crying and warm fuzzies and all the best things reading a great love story can bring. I might have picked it up because I thought the song lyric inspired title was hilarious, but that definitely isn’t what makes it memorable in the end.

9. Bag of Bones by Stephen King Goodreads

This is definitely one of my favorites of the SK books I’ve read! Ghost stories don’t often hook me in, but this one definitely did. The small town setting and creepy characters kept the pages turning. Also, there was one specific scene that creeped me out more than any other I can remember. I got the shivers and then laughed at myself for being such a wuss…then I turned all the lights on.

8. Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon Goodreads / My Review

This is such a weird and original and wonderful little book! My copy is full of post it flags because of all the passages I marked. If the concept of an absolutely hilarious, swashbuckling adventure story grabs you, then this is a must-read!


7. Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull Goodreads

I listened to a record number (for me) of audiobooks this year, and this is the one I keep coming back to as my favorite of the bunch. I absolutely loved the inside look at Pixar – and Disney – and the way their creative process works. Equally interesting was the history of the founders and the decades of hard work it took them to find success. I know this is most often considered a business book, but I definitely recommend it for anyone that would enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of Pixar!

6. Under the Poppy by Kathe Koja Goodreads

This is an out-there weird book in a lot of ways, and not one I’d recommend to everyone. It’s a historical novel involving puppets and brothels (go ahead and imagine all the horrifying ways those two things could be combined) and spies and love triangles and betrayal and war. Basically, if the whole naughty puppets concept didn’t scare you away? Pick this up, because it’s a knock-out.

5. Everybody’s Baby by Lydia Netzer Goodreads

I’m pretty sure this is the world’s most perfect novella. Hilarious and spoofy and ridiculous, while still packing an emotional punch – not an easy feat in less than 150 pages. The thought of a “Kickstarter baby” sounds like a horrifying train wreck of a concept…while at the same time sounding like something we could all be reading about on the news tomorrow. Prepare to laugh, wince and cry in all the right ways! I’m always ready to poke fun at social media, and it’s never been done better.


4. Night Film by Marisha Pessl Goodreads

I don’t have a lot to say about this one, because it’s so creepy and atmospheric! Talking about it beforehand ruins the experience. Just prepare to dive in to the shadier side of horror film-making.

3. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin Goodreads / My Review

This is the most precious story! I know a lot of people that have read it, and only a couple that didn’t love it (and I no longer associate with them). When the book begins, you meet a miserable, lonely bookseller. By the time you finish, absolutely everything has changed. And you’ve probably gone through an entire box of Kleenex.

2. Delicious! by Ruth Reichl Goodreads / My Review

I got so wrapped up in this story – it switches between present day and WWII before merging toward the end. Love, war, food, hidden libraries filled with fascinating letters – there is a little of everything and I fell for every bit of it hook, line and sinker.

The Martian

1. The Martian by Andy Weir Goodreads / My Review

I don’t think a week has gone by since I read this book in January that I haven’t raved about it to someone. I recommend it to absolutely everyone – it it just so good. Adventure and tension and survival and space and humor…it’s about as close to perfect as you can get, folks.



My October 2014 Readathon Progress

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You guys know how much I love the Dewey Readathon! I haven’t missed it once since I began blogging in 2010. As always, I’ve tried to choose a pretty wide variety of things to choose from throughout the day – from short stories to classics to essays to romance (and basically every novella I could find on my Kindle!). Let me know what you think I should pick first – and good luck to everybody participating!



the stack:
The Running Man by Stephen King
Freya of the Seven Isles by Joseph Conrad
Two or Three Things I Know For Sure by Dorothy Allison
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
Maps & Legends by Michael Chabon
The Traveling Death & Resurrection Show by Ariel Gore
Jigs & Reels: Stories by Joanne Harris
All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky by Joe Lansdale

Bonfire Night by Deanna Raybourn
An Heiress For All Seasons by Sophie Jordan
Emma Tupper’s Diary by Peter Dickinson
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman
Mile 81 by Stephen King
Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee
The Bridesmaid by Julia London
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll


Books Read:

Bonfire Night by Deanna Raybourn (61 pages)
Two or Three Things I Know For Sure by Dorothy Allison (94 pages)
The Bridesmaid by Julia London (160 pages)
Mile 81 by Stephen King (80 pages)
An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde (160 pages)
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson (131 pages)
An Heiress For All Seasons by Sophie Jordan (100 pages)
Maps & Legends by Michael Chabon (210 pages)


From Egypt To The Virgin Islands…

land of love and drowningThe Visitors by Sally Beauman Goodreads / Amazon

I had high hopes for this one, which might have unfairly colored my opinion…but still, I was totally let down. The story is based on the true story of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb (hello, Amelia Peabody feels!). The narrator is a young girl who travels to Egypt to recover from typhoid and finds herself on the periphery of the discovery team.

As her life unfolds, various events occur that tie back into that time in 1920s Egypt. There is (weird) family drama, mysterious reports sniffing around her and her story as an old woman and just…a lot. Lots and lots of stuff packed into the book. Some of it makes sense, some of it is bizarre…ultimately though, it was boring. I was not invested in the characters or their stories – I love reading things set in historical Egypt, so I know it wasn’t just me!

Basically what I’m saying is that if you’re just curious about the time period, you should totally check out Amelia Peabody instead. If you’re already a fan? Definitely pick this up and see if your opinion differs from mine!

Land of Love & Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique Goodreads / Amazon

I’ve got a lot of thoughts about this one, you guys.

To start with, there are some icky family relationship issues that tie into the story. That isn’t something that especially bothers me when it isn’t overly graphic (other than said ick factor), but I’m just saying, fair warning. This story? It’s a weird one.

That being said, dude. The writing/storytelling is pretty phenomenal. The story, set on the Virgin Islands in the early 1900s, is so incredibly atmospheric. To the best of my recollection, I’ve never read anything set there before. Now I want more! All the Caribbean folklore and witchiness weaved into the story were fantastic. I also loved seeing bits and pieces of how the locals started trying to fit into life as newly minted Americans, and the part they played in WWII. Basically I’m saying that both the local and more national aspects to the story were fascinating.

The different ways all the characters connect is complicated, interesting, coincidental, fated…lots of words. In fact, the main relationship that the story kinda revolves around was so engaging that I pretty much ended up forgetting to be grossed out by the fact that they were siblings. (To be fair, they didn’t know – not a spoiler, there’s lots of heavy foreshadowing.)

Basically, if you aren’t afraid to tackle a story that’s a little…out there, shall we say? Pick this book up ASAP! The beautiful writing and atmospheric setting will wrap you up into the narrative so quickly that you won’t even realize how sucked in you are until the story spits you back out once you’ve finished.


The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

all souls trilogy deborah harkness

Witches, vampires, libraries, mysterious manuscripts, rich historical details, romance, family drama…did I mention libraries and mysterious manuscripts? This is a really fun, complex and romantic trilogy, you guys!

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness Goodreads / Amazon

This trilogy is always being referred to as “Twilight for adults,” but I think that, of the three, the only book that applies to in the slightest is this one. As the various mysteries and plotlines are being introduced, everything ties back in so heavily with the main romance between Diana and Matthew (who, yes, is a vampire). If you’re willing to pay attention though, the plot basically explodes as the series continues and this trilogy becomes so much more than just another paranormal romance trilogy!

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness Goodreads / Amazon

I love historical fantasy – adore it, even. The fact that this book is so markedly different from the first is just cool. Most of the secondary characters we know and love from the first book get set aside here for a whole new cast to meet from Elizabethan England. I think the decision to set basically this entire book in the past was so gutsy and smart. The mystery surrounding the Ashmole manuscript deepens and we learn a lot more about Matthew’s fascinating family.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness Goodreads / Amazon

I was so impressed with this conclusion to the trilogy, you guys. The plot got so fascinatingly complex and twisty! So many dangling plot threads – from small to large – get picked back up in the most interesting ways. Characters from both the first and second books all come together and…man, it’s just so great. The payoff of following this story to the conclusion is as grand as it is satisfying! I won’t spoil anything for you, but seriously. If you are at all a fan of paranormal romance with a rich, engaging plotline that isn’t just window dressing? This trilogy is worth your time!


Let’s Swashbuckle, Shall We?

It’s been over a month, but I’m still coming down off the high I’ve been on since watching the fabulous season finale of Once Upon a Time. Since then, I’ve been reading a lot more fairy tale retellings – I’ll start talking more about those soon! But, I also picked out a stack of pirate novels to tackle. For Captain Hook reasons.

Reading to get through the Once Upon a Time hiatus. It should be a thing.

pirate novels

The Sea-Hawk by Rafael Sabatini Goodreads / Amazon

Women and revenge. The downfall of pirates everywhere, y’all.

So, this is a legit old-school adventure novel, you guys. A guy gets tricked by someone he trusted into taking the blame for a murder and ends up slaving on a ship. He eventually rises into fame by becoming the Sea Hawk, a feared pirate captain and vows to take revenge on the people that wronged him. Plus, there’s a girl. And some Muslims. And treacherous women that try to kill  him.

Sometimes the characters got on my nerves – especially the women. But come on, reading this was fun! Plus, the language is so fantastic. Check out some of these great lines:

“‘Thou dog,’ I cried, ‘thou shalt be made to suffer!'”


“His thwarted desires of yesterday were the despots of his wits.”


“‘Unsay thy words, thou offal. Pronounce thyself a liar and a dog.'”

Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates by David Cordingly Goodreads / Amazon

Reading non-fiction books about pirates can be kind of a downer, because it’s the time when you have to face the fact that pirates aren’t actually romantic heroes. They’re, you know…actual raping, pillaging douchebags. Still though, this was a fascinating read! I admit that I did a little skimming when the topic wasn’t something that particularly interested me, but for the most part I enjoyed as I learned. From the different flags they used to women pirates to the sometimes fine line between the sanctioned privateers vs. actual pirates. Plus, now I really wanna reread Treasure Island…

“The fact is that we want to believe in the world of the pirates as it has been portrayed in the adventure stories, the plays, and the films over the years. We want the myths, the treasure maps, the buried treasure, the walking the plank, the resolute pirates captins with their cutlasses and earrings, and the seamen with their wooden legs and parrots. We prefer to forget the barbaric tortures and the hangings, and the desperate plight of men shipwrecked on hostile coasts. For most of us the pirates will always be romantic outlaws living far from civilization on some distant sunny shore.”

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon Goodreads / Amazon

This book was recommended on the Book Riot Podcast for fans of pirate novels even though the characters practice their thieving traveling from town to town via mountains and roadways. It’s the spirit of the thing that matters, right?

Basically, I loved this story to pieces. It’s takes place around the year 950. A skinny Jew and an African giant, loyal to each other beyond all reason, go from thieves and bamboozlers to accidental leaders of a revolution. Tell me that doesn’t sound awesome! The somewhat dry sounding synopsis I saw is so misleading, because believe it or not – this book is hilarious.

The characterization and the dialogue were just so breathtakingly good that I found myself giddy at times. One thing I loved was that the characters did have a kind of code they followed (good form, shall we say?). Take a look at one of my favorite bookmarked passages (both for the writing style and the interesting moral declaration):

“‘I am not overly encumbered by principle, as you know,’ Zelikman continued. ‘I am a gentleman of the road, an apostate from the faith of my fathers, a renegade, a brigand, a hired blade, a thief, but on this one small principle of economy, damn you, and damn that troublemaking little stripling, and damn every one of those men out there, living men, in full possession, for the most part, of all their limbs and humors, I have to hold firm: if we can only save them one man at a time, then by God we must only kill them one man at a time.'”



In Which I Read Short Story Collections…

For the most part, experimenting with short story collections has gone really well! Some of these were for review and some of them I picked up because they came highly recommended. Check out my thoughts…

short stories one

Redeployment by Phil Klay Goodreads / Amazon

I tried to imagine what it would be like if a perpetually optimistic, happy-go-lucky type of person read this. The only image I could summon was watching someone kick a puppy. This is a really gritty and raw look at the war and the effects it has on people, and I can only assume it is incredibly realistic. It certainly feels so. None of the stories end on what I’d call a happy note – some worse than others. All that being said, I loved reading it! I got pretty invested in almost every single story, both the language and characters made a pretty lasting impression on me. If this sounds at all like something you would be interested in, I highly recommend it!

Thunderstruck and Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken Goodreads / Amazon

This is the only collection that I didn’t really connect with. The stories and characters were all just okay for me – I didn’t dislike anything, but for the most part nothing really stuck out to me either. One exception – the writing. GOOD LORD YOU GUYS, THE WRITING. I already have another of McCracken’s books to pick up because of how much I loved the writing. If you’re the type of reader that values style above all else? You should probably kick the elderly out of the way if it means getting to the bookstore faster. Otherwise…maybe skip it.

“It was one of the reasons they belonged together: they were flea market people, put together out of odd parts.”


“She clutched a book in her hand in such a way that it looked like a knife she was prepared to use on herself…”


short stories two

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories by Carson McCullers Goodreads / Amazon

I enjoyed every story in this collection, but the title story was far and away my favorite. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe was touching and weird and sad and lonely and hopeful and ALL THE THINGS! This was my first exposure to Carson McCullers, but it will absolutely not be my last. If you like reading historical stories set in the rural South, this should be a must-read on your list.

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri Goodreads / Amazon

I love reading books – both fiction and nonfiction – set in India, so it’s a little bit of a crime I haven’t picked up Jhumpa Lahiri sooner. These stories, set in both India and in the United States, all have something memorable about them. Whether the narrators are young or old, men or women – they have all stuck with me ever since I finished reading. Some of the characters face the same problems everyone in the world faces, some of them face problems slightly more specific to their home country of India. Regardless, all the stories celebrate and underline humanity in the best and worst ways and I absolutely can’t wait to pick up my next book by Lahiri!