Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 14 of 2014

The end of the calendar year is always a happy time for me. I'm in between semesters and have minimal work to do, I'm at my grandparents' house in New York, and I get the satisfied feeling of reflecting on the past 12 months and planning the next. Of course, I love looking back on my reading and blogging most of all.

2014 was not as milestone-packed as 2013, which saw my blog's first birthday, the launch of Lit Up Review, and my first book convention. However, in 2014, I did attend another convention and celebrate my blog's second birthday.

Most importantly, I read 105 new books—possibly 106 by the end of the year—which made compiling this list nearly impossible. But, as I did in 2012 and 2013, I triumphed over my indecision. Without further ado, here are the best 14 novels I read in 2014 in the order that I read them.

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This book was on my to-read list for ages, but I kept putting it off, worried it would not be as good as everyone said. I read it. It was as good as everyone said. Now I want to read Zusak's other books, but I keep putting it off, worried they will not be as good as The Book Thief.

2. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
With John Green-esque writing and a cleverly bittersweet plot, this novel is one of the most thought-provoking contemporaries I read this year.

3. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
This book gets points for its unique concept, but the real reason I loved it was that, despite its fantastical elements, it drew me in and immersed me in its world. After turning the last page, I could not read anything else until finishing the sequel.

4. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs-Waller
This book about the women's suffrage movement in London has history, feminism, and England, which are three of my favorite things. Need I say more?

5. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
This not-quite love story between a girl with cerebral palsy and a boy with OCD takes countless turns before reaching a satisfying, realistic ending. Throughout it all, McGovern writes with compassion and empathy, crafting an exquisitely emotional story.

6. Conversion by Katherine Howe
This book was absolutely made for me. Not only does it tell the real story of the Salem Witch Trials, but it draws parallels between the 1600s hysteria and a more recent historical event.

7. Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Reading this book was love at first sight. I knew I would adore it from the moment I read the blurb, and I ended up praising it even more than I thought I would.

8. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
I love reading books that take place in offbeat historical settings (i.e. not Nazi Germany or a turn-of the century mansion), and I love reading books that make me angry and horrified. As a result, this book that spotlights a brutal school integration in the 1950s was perfect for me.

9. The Archived by Victoria Schwab
A creative concept (a library that shelves the souls of the dead and a girl who helps maintain it by recapturing runaway spirits) collides with Schwab's rich, gorgeous writing to produce a 2014 favorite.

10. Like No Other by Una LaMarche
I loved the diversity and the New York setting in this romance between a Hasidic girl and a West Indian boy, but most of all I loved the ending.

11. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Easily the most terrifying book I have ever read, this part murder mystery, part courtroom drama kept me up hours past my bedtime.

12. Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
I loved this book for the same reasons that I loved Lies We Tell Ourselves. It tells the story of a girl who is thrown into an insane asylum for not conforming to gender stereotypes in her Victorian society (which, as this story taught me, was a common occurrence).

13. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
I was going to make an exclusively YA list, but I had to include this middle grade title. The clever plotting and brilliant cast work together to form one of the smartest novels I have ever read.

14. Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Sometimes I finish a book and am left with an overwhelming sense of awe simply at how well the story was told—the plot had no clich├ęs, the characters had to work insanely hard to escape danger and overcome problems, and overall the writer was never lazy with the storytelling. Salt & Storm was that kind of book.

What books were your favorites of 2014? I hope you read just as many wonderful ones as I did. Have a fantastic New Year's Eve tomorrow night, and I'll see you in 2015.

7 comments:

  1. I've been contemplating about reading both Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Salt & Storm and now I can't wait to drop by the bookstore and get them. I haven't read any of these but I have half of them on my TBR. Awesome list! :)

    czai @ the Blacksheep Project

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  2. The only one I've read on your list is The Archived and I loved it!! I devoured The Unbound right after too haha. Love how unique the story is and crossing my fingers for a third book! I really want to read The Book Thief, A Mad Wicked Folly and Dangerous Girls. Lovely picks :D

    Eileen @ BookCatPin

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  3. I own The Archived, but I still need to read it! I need to read EVERYTHING by this author really, because her books sound amazing.

    I did really love Dangerous Girls too. Such a fascinating novel. :)

    -Lauren

    p.s. I know you do some fun discussion posts on here sometimes, so if you'd like to check out my current giveaway, I'd really appreciate it! :)

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  4. I love end of years as well. I like reflecting back on my year but most of all I like having a fresh start. I'm a little obsessed with the idea of a fresh start even though a lot of that is a constructed reality because technically I can have a fresh start any time I want. But there's something about new year's that's just really alluring to me! So yeah, I'm definitely on the same page with you on that.

    But also on the same page as you on a ton of these books! The Book Thief is amazing and I've been meaning to reread it for such a long time. But I haven't read any of his other books either though I've heard they're good. Mostly out of a lack of interest but also partly due to fear that it won't be as good because The Book Thief literally BLEW MY MIND.

    I also really enjoyed A Mad Wicked Folly & The Archived as well as Dangerous Girls and Mysterious Benedict Society though I didn't read them this year. But re: Mysterious Benedict Society, wasn't it amazing? Honestly one of the best middle grade books I've ever read. That was the one book that I probably loved the most during my fourth grade and fifth grade years. I actually want to reread it again haha because it was just so enjoyable.

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  5. The Book Thief, Lies We Tell Ourselves and A Mad Wicked Folley are examples of what historical fiction should be written as. The evident research put into them and the atmosphere in each of them make for 3 really unique and eye-opening reads.

    And Dangerous Girls! OMG. Such a mind-blowing and twisted book in the best possible way. The writing style and placement of the red herrings are just picture-perfect. I think virtually everyone who read it probably ended the story with their jaw dropped!

    And The Mysterious Benedict Society! Not only one of my favorite middle grade books, but one of my favorite books of all time. I think the best part about it was going alongside Reynie, Sticky, Kate & Constance and trying to see if I could solve the riddles for myself.

    Thanks for sharing Emily, and great choices! Happy New Year! *throws confetti* :)

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  6. Salt and Storm! The Book Thief! Those 2 were such brilliant reads!

    I realllllly want to get my hands on Everything Leads To You, Lies We Tell Ourselves, and DANGEROUS GIRLS!!!!!!!!!! Eeek, I really need Dangerous Girls. ;)

    Great choices! :) I need these books more then ever now!! :)

    New GFC follower! :D

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  7. All of these books are great! I have read The Mysterious Benedict Society, Dangerous Girls, The Book Thief, and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. All phenomenal novels. I am so lucky to have picked up Lies We Tell Ourselves absentmindedly because I loved it!

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Thank you so much for leaving a comment! I love to hear your thoughts, and I read every one. You just became one of my favorite people, so I will try to visit your blog in return.