2014 Year in Review – Final Thoughts and Best Books (better late than never I suppose…)

Wow, it was a crazy year.  The end came quicker than I ever could have imagined and I’m still trying to play catch-up.  As many of you know, I set a goal of reading 150 books in 2014.  I truly thought it would be a struggle, but surprisingly it wasn’t as hard as I had anticipated.  What was hard, was keeping up with all my reviews.  I’m sorry to say I’m at least 50 books behind in posting reviews for everything I read.  That little issue was a big surprise and one I couldn’t seem to recover from as the end came to an end.  As hard as I would try, I just couldn’t seem to get caught up.  But never fear, I’m going to complete my back log and stay on top of this year.  That’s the goal at least.  Just don’t ask if I’ve written any for the seven books I’ve read already this year.

As I sit here and look through all the books I read in the past year, I’m impressed with some of my stats.  I surpassed my 150 book goal on December 13th.  And finished the year off with 158 books under my belt.  According to Goodreads, I read 48,112 pages.  Yes, the competitor in me is annoyed that I didn’t look at that stat sooner and shoot for an even 50,000 pages.  Overall, here is how I ranked my 2014 reads:  35 books received 5 star ratings,  73 books received 4 star ratings, 36 books received 3 star ratings, 13 books received 2 star ratings and sadly 3 books received 1 star ratings.

I read 34 nonfiction books and 124 fiction titles.  The fiction titles included both adult and young adult books.  Most of my nonfiction was completed by listening to them in audio book format and all the fiction was read in print format.  For my reviews of nonfiction titles I checked out the print version of the books so I could peruse the book and see any photos or diagrams I didn’t have access to when I listened to the audio.

Overall, I’d say it was a successful year in reading.  I set out to read more books than I had ever read before, I succeeded.  I wanted to read more nonfiction and did so by using a medium I had never taken advantage of before.   I understand now why so many people like audio books.  I was never sold on them but now I am and recommend them to everyone. I found that listening to nonfiction wasn’t much different from listing to Ted Talks or other types of recorded information.  It felt like I was being taught something by an expert and I absorbed information easily, quickly and found it highly entertaining.  I should mention that not once did I crash my car or end up at the completely wrong destination whilst listening to my audios.  (I feel I need to mention this since it’s the first thing most people say when I tell them to give audio books a try.)

Since I’m a librarian a very common question at the beginning of a new year is what was my favorite book for the year.  It’s often hard to pick just one.  I have favorite genres.  I red different types of books.  And even books within the same genre or type there can be more than one.  Books all leave a different impression and ignite different responses depending on when I read them, what was going on in my life, how much time I had to savor the book, etc.  But, none the less I try to answer this question anyways.  So here goes…My top picks for 2014.

Best Nonfiction Book

Unbroken - Hillenbrand

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This book was unbelievably amazing.  I fairly certain I experienced every emotion imaginable while listening to this book.  I laughed, I cried, I cheered, I suffered, and ultimately I was humbled.  The story of Louis Zamperini is inspirational, heartwarming, and gut wrenching.  It will make you believe in the power of the human spirit and will teach you a thing or two about love and forgiveness.  It’s most definitely the best nonfiction book I encountered this year.  I recommended this book to no less than 100 people.  Yes, I saw the movie.  It was good.  It focused on a portion of the book but left out so much.  If you enjoyed the movie, read the book.  You’ll be glad you took the time to get a more rounded story.  And if you are interested in the audio, the narrator is awesome!

Best Fiction Book(s)

This was a hard one and ultimately I just couldn’t pick one.  I’ve picked the top three.  Mostly because these books were all epic to me and just couldn’t not be chosen.

Red Rising - Brown

Red Rising and Golden Son by Pierce Brown

If you haven’t read Red Rising, you have been seriously missing out.  You absolutely must go and get this book now.  And while you are there, you should pickup Golden Son the second book in the trilogy that appeared on shelves just last week (yes, I managed to get my hands on a pre-pub – Thank You NetGalley and Random House).  Having been compared to the Hunger Games series, Red Rising will keep you on your toes and it’s sure to get you hooked on this series.  It’s original and will thrill you till the very last page.  In a word…this book ROCKED!!! Golden Son (my actual review is still forthcoming) was equally amazing but was less Hunger Games and more Ender’s Game meets Star Wars.  It was

Golden Son - Brown

AMAZING!!!  And that’s saying something coming from someone who doesn’t typically go near science fiction works.  Even if you aren’t a fan of traditional science fiction, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the book.  Far from being a bridge book, this book contains as much if not more action than the first book.  It’s going to make you wish the third and final book was already out so you could get to the exciting conclusion of this thrilling trilogy.  Did I recommend Red Rising to people?  Absolutely!!  I recommended the two library copies so much that they now need to be replaced.  Check these two books out!!!  I guarantee that Pierce Brown will become one of your new favorite authors.  He pretty much rocks in my eyes right now.

Checkout my review of Red Rising here:


Checkout my review of Golden Son here:


Blood Blood - Lyga

 Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga

This is the third book and final book in the Jasper Dent trilogy by Barry Lyga.  The first two books in the series are I Hunt Killers and Game.  This isn’t your typical YA series.  It’s dark, twisted and deals with subject matter that very much borders on Adult.  Blood of My Blood is the thrilling, high-paced, breath-stopping conclusion to this absolutely brilliant series.  Very much fitting into the mystery/thriller genre it’s a unique gem amongst the paranormal/romance that is the YA genre today.  I couldn’t put this book down.  And when I did, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  So much happens in this book.  I so want to know what happens next for these characters.  I’ve thought that Barry Lyga was pure genius for some time now and this book sealed the deal.

Checkout my review of Blood of My Blood here:


Best Series

So I’m ranking series that concluded this year or full series that I completed during the year.  It seems like everything is a series these days and often they lose a bit of steam as they progress.  I’ve featured two series here that proved worth the time of completing them.

hunt killers - Lyga

Game - Lyga

Blood Blood - Lyga
The Jasper Dent Trilogy by Barry Lyga is by far one of my favorite series of all time.  I’ve read the print books and then made the decision to go out and purchase the e-books so I’ll be able to read them again anytime I want.  Frankly, I’m tempted to by the print versions too.  Why?  Because not only are is the story phenomenal, but the covers are amazing.  They fit perfectly with the crazy, messed up story of Jasper Dent.  This series delivered over and and over and over.  Never did I say, “hmm this series seems to be losing steam.”  No, in fact, I was glued to my seat from page one of each of these books.  I just can’t say enough great things about this series.  If you haven’t checked it out you need to do it.  Just do it!!!  If you aren’t a YA reader, don’t worry, you are going to enjoy this story.  Lyga will leave you creeped out, on edge and thoroughly enthralled with Jasper and his crazy, messed up life.

Wither - DeStefanoFever - DeStefano

Sever - DeStefano

Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden Trilogy creeped me out to no end.  Not in the same way the Jasper Dent series.  While Barry Lyga’s series consisted of characters that left me with chills, Lauren DeStefano’s world itself is what left me with the heebie-jeebies.  The circumstances the characters have to live in and the world itself was tough for me to handle.  DeStefano does such an amazing job of exploring the world and circumstances the characters are put in that these books just can’t be put down.  It’s a series that’s been out for some time, but worth the read if you haven’t checked them out.  It’s a YA series but honestly the content is worthy of adult readers.  Often compared to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, this series is a good starter for this subject.  I thoroughly enjoyed this series and highly recommend to readers.
You can read my reviews Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy here:

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