Top Ten Books I Read in 2014 (Top Ten Tuesday)

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This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their blog and join in the TOP TEN TUESDAY FUN!

This week, we’re sharing our Top Ten Books Read in 2014—a perfect Top Ten Tuesday for this 16th of December. I can’t believe it’s almost the end of 2014. I don’t know about you, but I love the Christmas season—time to bake, relax by the fire, spend time with family and friends, celebrate, give gifts, and especially…read! I have grading to finish up for a literature course I teach online, and I’m going to appreciate the time off I as soon as the term is officially over.

Then, it’s time for me to squeeze in a few more 2014 reads…

So here’s my list of my very favorite books read in 2014. I’m not going to overlap titles from New to Me Authors Read in 2014, so you will see some of my favorites missing from this list to make room for others—simply because I already mentioned them in another post.

Code Name Verity

By Elizabeth Wein code03,200_

So I had owned this book for awhile and read it while on holiday this summer at the ocean and oh my goodness….THIS BOOK! It’s amazing historical fiction, researched beautifully, and depicts an amazing female friendship that may leave you weeping by the end of the book, but let me tell you, it’s worth it! This is one of those books I will recommend to EVERY PERSON I MEET!

Rose Under Fire

By Elizabeth Wein

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I just read this book on a cross-country flight and I never put it down the whole five hours—except to maybe eat something. It’s a companion novel to CODE NAME VERITY, and this book is just as fantastic and may be even better than CNV. I love all of Elizabeth Wein’s books, and I cannot wait for her 2015 release! I need to read a book by her at least once a month! This one sees its protagonist caught by the Germans and sent to the concentration camp, Ravensbruck.

The Winner’s Curse

By Marie Rutkoski winner-curse1-624x936

If you read my review of this gorgeous fantasy, you will understand why I love it so much and why I can’t wait for the sequel to be released. These characters are dear to my heart and I love Rutkoski’s world building.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye

By Rachel Joyce harold frye

This book has been out for awhile and I can’t believe I waited so long to read it. It is worth all the awards it has won, and here is yet another story that I think every adult reader needs to know about.

Dorothy Must Die

By Danielle Paige

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Again, with this one, all you need to do is review my thoughts about it. Love the Oz reworking, and am so excited about what is in store in the sequel!

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

By Kate DiCamillo flora

It was no surprise to me that this most recent book of DiCamillo’s won the Newbery. You can find my review here to see why this humorous and heartwarming story was so chock full of moments that engaged my heart on many different levels.

The Assassin’s Blade

By Sarah J. Maas

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I discovered Sarah J. Maas for the first time in 2014, and though a lot of readers have chosen Heir of Fire (because they started reading the series before 2014), I’m going to have to go with the first book I read of hers—The Assassin’s Blade. I loved all the novellas in this collection, and they really stirred my interest in the story of Celaena, the young assassin who is center stage in The Throne of Glass books. These novellas serve as a prequel to Throne of Glass and I was so glad I read these first!

The 5th Wave

By Rick Yancey

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This was one of my first reads of 2014, and let me tell you—I was on the edge of my seat with this one. All I have to say is…the Aliens are coming

The Madman’s Daughter

By Megan Shepherd

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This was another early read in 2014 and this book solidified my love of Shepherd’s series and now I am avidly awaiting the third book! You can read my review here.

The Tragedy Paper

By Elizabeth Laban TRAGEDY PAPER cover

Finally, another early read in 2014 that I still think about from time to time. Thought provoking and a story that wasn’t predictable. I was invested in the characters, and would have loved a sequel, but my feeling is that we probably won’t see one.

Are any of these books on your top ten list for 2014? Which 2014 reads should I make sure to jump into before the year is out??

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Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait to Read! (Top Ten Tuesday)

It’s Top Ten Tuesday again with the Broke & Bookish!

This week, we’re sharing upcoming sequels we REALLY want to read!

As you may know, many books in the world of YA (and even Middle Grade) are series books. There might be two or three or four or even more books in one series. Take Inkheart, for example. Girl of Fire and Thorns. The list goes on. So when you start a novel, you may not be saying goodbye to its characters at the end. That can be a good thing.

But it can also be a bad thing.

It can be frustrating to wait for the sequel to a book you absolutely love.

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Seriously. A year is a long time to wait.

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I can relate to this with the first two books I share below. I’m DYING to get to these sequels by Marie Rutkoski and Danielle Paige.

And those are just the beginning….read on to find out what other sequels I’m most excited about reading!

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The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

(The Winner’s Curse #2)

The Winner’s Curse was one of my favorite reads of 2014, and probably my favorite high fantasy read of the year.

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The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige

(Dorothy Must Die #2)

Dorothy Must Die was one of my favorite debut reads of 2014!

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Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (Seraphina #2)

I just got the first book, Seraphina, and am already excited about the sequel!

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Winter by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles #4)

I just finished Cress a few weeks ago and I CAN’T WAIT for this to be out. The world needs Winter now!!! Reworked fairy tales are some of my favorite kinds of stories and I adore the Lunar Chronicles. Can’t wait for this one. We’re in trouble though. This isn’t coming out until November 2015. What is to be done??!?

 This is almost too much, so I’m not going to think about it.

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fairest2Fairest by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles 3.5)

Of course I can’t wait for this one too, which is out sooner than Winter, so that’s a good thing.

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Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

by Anne Blankman (Prisoner of Night and Fog #2)

The first book in this series was FABULOUS!! YA Historical fiction at its finest, in my opinion. This one is coming out soon so I will be jumping up and down when I get a hold of it.

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The Stars of Summer (All Four Stars #2)

by Tara Dairman

If you read my post about Tara’s book from The Midnight Garden’s Blog Tour, you will remember how much I loved All Four Stars #1! An ARC of this will be coming my way soon so I’m VERY EXCITED!

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And now for a few of the coverless sequels!

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The Ninja Librarians #2

by Jennifer Swann Downey

Ok, so there isn’t even a GoodReads entry for a sequel for this middle grade fantasy, but there must be one soon!! I loved the first installment in what I expect is going to be a series, so we need #2!!! Time traveling Librarians who are ninjas. That’s all I need to say.

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The Time Traveler’s Wife #2 by Audrey Niffenegger

Somewhere out there, Niffenegger has said something about a follow up to TTTW in which we find out more about Henry and Clare’s daughter, Alba. I need this!! But I may not be getting it anytime soon because GoodReads doesn’t even have an entry and my only evidence was a segment of the book that was published in a special edition of TTTW.

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The 5th Wave #3 (The 5th Wave Series)

This is coming out in August 2015. I just finished the second book in the series, but I really can’t wait to find out what happens to Cassie and her band of friends and whether they survive the alien invasion.

What sequels are you most looking forward to? Share your links as I want to know!

This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their fabulous blog if you haven’t yet.

Here’s what they have to say about Top Ten Tuesday: “Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly link-up in the community where we provide a prompt and other lovers of listmaking join in on it with their own top ten list. Feel free to have less than 10 or more if you need to at times and put a spin on the topic if you need to! Just please link back to us if you are participating :)”

**Thanks to What Sarah Read for reminding me how much I enjoy using gifs in my posts!

 

 

The World of the “Possible”: The Fourteenth Goldfish (2014) by Jennifer L. Holm

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm (2014)

Suggested age range: 10 and up (Random House Books for Kids, 208 pages)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Source: e-ARC from Net Galley

Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction

I received an e-ARC of this book from Net Galley & Random House Kids in exchange for an honest review.

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The Book: Ellie is eleven and in middle school. Transition is difficult in itself but throw in the sudden arrival of her grandfather at her home, and things are even more complicated. That’s because he’s thirteen years old! As a famous scientist, Melvin has successfully reversed the aging process through his discovery of a jellyfish compound, dubbed T. melvinus. So Ellie is essentially going to school with a teenager who has a 76 year old brain. Ellie and her friend Raj decide to help Melvin break into his lab in order to safeguard the compound, and if they accomplish this, perhaps the world will finally have its “fountain of youth.” What ensues is a humorous adventure in which Ellie discovers more about herself,  the changing nature of friendships, and the value of love from family and friends in the midst of growing up.

Spirituality in The Fourteenth Goldfish: The book’s ability to make the reader consider the realm of the “possibles” in the world of science is one of its highlights. I, for one, think that the relationship between spirituality and science is a relevant one. Especially when you get into quantum physics. I’ll save that for another post though. What I want to say is that some points and themes in the story leave gaps for spiritual ideas to poke through. For example, the cycle of life is important and the way that cycle runs is significant—if we have the power, should we be able to alter that? Should we play God? Such questions raise what could be heavy issues with readers.

Who Should Read This Book: Fans of When You Reach Me or A Tangle of Knots would get this title as a reading option from me (were you in my 6th grade classroom). The journey of a girl navigating the beginnings of middle school and also harboring a great secret (her grandfather who has discovered how to reverse aging is a teenager living in her home) is one that I think many readers of fantasy or science fiction would enjoy. I also think there are some cool events that could coincide with this text—jellyfish research and fountain of youth creations and even lunch at a Chinese restaurant where segments of dialogue could be read from the book in a reader’s theatre presentation. Don’t ignore the ‘possibles’ with this one!

The Final Word: Jennifer L. Holm is a three time Newbery honor winner, and this novel’s unique premise is reason alone to delve into the world of middle grade science fiction, if that’s not your normal cup of tea. If you found a fountain of youth, would you take advantage of it? If you could have your grandparent live with you, but as a teenager, would you say yes? You might never have to answer either of these questions in reality, but they’re amusing to think about. This story is charming, but it also gives science nerds something meatier to read as well. Readers that aren’t as interested in science might get a little bogged down at times, and there were a few points where I wanted more to happen faster, but all in all, I enjoyed the story and was satisfied with its conclusion. I’m especially drawn to middle grade novels that highlight enduring themes like this one: “Never ignore a possible.” Challenge accepted.

What did you think of The Fourteenth Goldfish? Are there other middle grade science fiction titles this reminds you of?

The Half Life of Molly Pierce (2014) by Katrina Leo

The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leo (2014)

Suggested age range: 15 and up (Harper Teen, 256 pages)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Source: Library

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

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The Book: It’s mystery, it’s contemporary, it’s young adult. It’s The Half Life of Molly Pierce. Seventeen year-old Molly feels like she’s missing part of her life. There’s the boy who claims he knows her, but she doesn’t recognize him or know where (or when) she met him. Then there’s his brother who also knows her name, and with whom she senses a significant connection. Was (is?) there something between them? Love? Friendship? Slowly, memories start to come back, and Molly begins to put the pieces together. What is her secret life everyone else seems to know about but her? Will she ever have a whole life instead of just half of one?

Spirituality in The Half Life of Molly Pierce: So, you’ve probably heard me talk about the idea that the relationship to the self is one area of spirituality we can think about out of the four major connections (self, others, natural world, Divine [God]). Looking at this novel through a spiritual lens highlights that idea of our connectedness to the self, and it definitely made me think about how this idea of being “whole” is tied to our spirituality. Mental illness is something a lot of people deal with in today’s world, and it shouldn’t be ignored. The more we can understand it and support people who deal with it, the better. When we see brokenness, we want to fix it. I want to see un-whole people become whole, and Molly’s story reminded me of that even more.

Hope and expectation for the good to come were two other dimensions of the story that engaged my own spirituality.

I wasn’t expecting this because I honestly wasn’t sure what the book was going to be about! So I’m immensely glad I picked it up.

Who Should Read This Book: If you enjoy psychological reads that have a bit of mystery, like We Were Liars, you’ll probably enjoy this. Readers interested in issues surrounding mental illness, or writers interested in ways they can represent mental illness in a story would definitely find this book relevant. It will make you think, and is ideal for reading and discussing with others. I found myself telling my friends about it, even though they weren’t reading it at the time. Oh, and it’s pretty addictive. You might even drop friends off to shop and wait in the car so you can finish the book. (Note: There is some strong language and mature content in the book.)

The Final Word: I wasn’t sure what to think of Molly Pierce at first. I hadn’t read many of the reviews of the book before I plunged in, which I found out afterwards, was a good thing. There is a bit of a twist, and I’m certainly not going to give any hints what that twist entails, but readers who like puzzles and uncertainty—this might be a good choice for you.

I was wondering how Leo was going to wrap the story ends up and resolve the plot, and I was surprised at how satisfying the ending was to me.

The beginning of the book was very jarring (and I think it’s supposed to be) but its conclusion left you with a far different feeling.

Have you read The Half Life of Molly Pierce? What did you think? What other books did it remind you of?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Want to Re-Read

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This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—you can check out their blog here.

This week, it’s the Top Ten Books I Want to Re-Read! Some of these are favorites, and they’re books I will probably be re-reading until kingdom come. They are from a mixture of genres—children’s, young adult, and adult, so enjoy…

anne box set

1. Anne of Green Gables Series

Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite books of all times, and I never get tired of L.M. Montgomery’s series about Anne Shirley. There’s always something new I take away with every reading. With the approach of fall, I think I might have to pick up with Anne of Windy Poplars right away though (the fourth in the series).

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2. Little House on the Prairie Series

I have the yellow boxed set of these books and have been planning a re-read FOREVER! It’s time I sat down with Little House in the Big Woods and started.

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3. The Time Traveler’s Wife

Another one of my favorites, and a well-loved fantasy I never get tired of.  Definitely easy to pick this as one of my top ten.

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4. Her Fearful Symmetry

I didn’t like this title as much as Time Traveler’s Wife, and there were very strong reactions to this one, but ever since I finished it, I have known I would need to read it again. There were points in the story I found myself asking: What just happened? Why did she do that? How can this be? In order to get some answers, perhaps a re-read is in order.

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5. I Capture the Castle

Another one of my favorites—the book and the film! I adore Dodie Smith’s style in this book. There are laugh aloud moments that no fan of Anne of Green Gables should miss. A classic that will always be on my favorites shelf and is such a fun one to read!

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6. The Invisible Bridge

I love historical fiction, and I read a lot of it. This one, set during WWII, is so good! If you haven’t read it, please check it out! I haven’t re-read it since the first time I finished it, so it’s about time I enjoyed it again. Loved it.

Historiancover

7. The Historian

The suspense and intrigue in this one is fantastic. Some readers loved this, and other didn’t like it so much. I couldn’t put it down and ate the book up over several days. I especially enjoyed the geography covered in the book—it also might make you do a bit of research on Vlad the Impaler. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out.

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8. Hitty, Her First Hundred Years

This was a favorite of mine as a young reader, and a book I’ve been longing to return to again. I have several paperback copies of this one, and it’s definitely a classic of children’s literature that earns a spot in my top ten re-reads.

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9. Our Mutual Friend

I love Charles Dickens, and though there are other novels I’m equally in love with, I have been wanting to read this one again. I have a fond memory of reading this for a 19th century British lit. undergraduate course, and I remember our discussion was so enthralling and my reading of it was so enjoyable, I am definitely ready for a re-read.

woman in white

10. The Woman in White

I admit it. I’m a fan of Wilkie Collins’s sensationalist fiction. I first read The Woman in White while studying in London for the first time, and I remember not leaving my room in South Kensington for a few days. I accidentally stumbled up on the book at a bookstore on Charing Cross Road, picked it up, and have been thankful for this serendipitous book meeting that came my way one London afternoon. I also have the graphic novel of The Woman in White, and never get tired of the story.

Are any of these on your re-read list? How did you come up with your titles? How many of these do you think I’ll get to in the next three months??