My Favorite Books of 2014

2014 Reading Challenge


2014 Reading Challenge
Claire has read 85 books toward her goal of 80 books.





Every year I set a goal at Goodreads where I log and track my books read. I don’t review or rate books EXCEPT for my annual top ten reads. Here are 2014’s top ten with a few thoughts about what I loved about each one, in reverse order of completion.

Claire’s Annual Top Ten 2014

5 of 5 starsWhatever It Takes by Cat Kelly

Whatever It Takes I’m a fan of this author, more for her historical writings under different pen names, but always for her wit and compelling characters. I can’t say the plot of this story was terribly memorable…mostly because I don’t remember it that well barely two months after finishing it. I do know that it was a favorite because it was full of the writing I’ve come to love from this author.

5 of 5 stars Christmas at Copper Mountain by Jane Porter
Christmas at Copper Mountain I met Jane Porter’s writing this year. I liked Jane Porter. I will read more Jane Porter. Though a Christmas story read in the summer as a Kindle Prime loaner, this low risk reading investment paid off in spades. An easy writing style, crisply drawn characters who can tug at your heart won me over.

5 of 5 starsScarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet The Lunar Chronicles just get better and better. As much as I loved Cinder, Scarlet raised the bar even higher. The world building is fantastic. The loosely drawn associations with popular fairy tales adds a tongue in cheek delight. This book’s heroine a bit more of a badass than a pitiful princess like Cinder, but lovely tie ins to its predecessor and the hint of a nice romance made it a winner with me. I’m ready for Cress now!

5 of 5 starsLast Night in Ghosttown by Kathryn McKade

Last Night in Ghosttown This is a relatively unknown science fiction gem by an author friend of mine. I emailed her after I finished beta reading, raving about it. My friends know that I don’t usually rave. I’m hyper-critical, which is one reason why I don’t review. But this…this novella was amazing. What really hurts however, is not long after it was released, the publisher closed shop and Ghosttown was effectively unpublished. I hope my good friend, Kathryn, will find a way to put it back out there so more people will have a shot at reading this lovely story.

5 of 5 starsOn the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

On the Jellicoe Road Jellicoe Road is one of those books you never seem to be able to forget. I often reflect on this story pondering a long series of “what-ifs”. There are some gut-wrenching and tragic twists of fate in this book about two groups of friends in two different generations.

5 of 5 starsBeyond Repair by Charlotte Stein

Beyond Repair I adore 99.9% of everything I read of Charlotte Stein’s. She’s got this stream of consciousness style of writing that is so incisive and so dead on accurate in describing thoughts, emotions, sensations, it’s truly a gift. She’s not everyone’s cuppa, but she certainly is mine. I adore introspective damaged heroines who are trying to figure out the equally damaged men in their lives and how together they might just be the cure the other needs.

5 of 5 starsThe Good King by Dale R. Long

The Good King Another excellent book by a good writer friend. I’ve long been a fan of Dale’s darker writings–he’s a true horror writer and a talented one–for many years since our monthly blog chain exercises together. This monster-free, lovely Christmas tale has the makings of a classic. My only gripe is how difficult it is to get a copy if you aren’t Canadian. I was fortunate enough to be able to barter for my copy (my book for his) and I think I came out on the winning end of that swap. Dale, if you’re reading this, I hope you’ll get this into Amazon or Barnes & Noble or in digital format some day soon.

5 of 5 stars A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare

A Week to Be Wicked Long time fan of Ms. Dare’s, this historical romance did not disappoint. I’m always a sucker for a road trip romance in which hijinks ensue and the hero and heroine ally against a common threat while slowly falling in love. You’ve read ’em before, seen the movies (The Sure Thing comes to mind) probably. This tale from that classic trope was full of Tessa’s trademark wit and fun.

5 of 5 stars Memoirs of a Gigolo Volume Four by Livia Ellis

Memoirs of a Gigolo Volume Four I listed volume 4 but the review is for all the collective installments of the serial I have read so far. The more I read, the more I fall deeper under the spell of the destitute, but upper crust Oliver. You have to keep reading to really appreciate the deeper waters running through this, gently guiding you along a much larger arc. Though it’s full of sex, both M/F and M/M and all variations in between, the sex is not the story, despite Oliver’s being a prostitute. The characters, who on the surface should be reprehensible, are subtly engaging and sympathetic and memorable.

5 of 5 starsThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Scorpio Races Creepy, compelling, mystical… Honestly, I had not previously read a book with water horses or kelpies in them, so I must confess to some wide-eyed wonder over the beasts. Ms. Stiefvater’s water horses are wild, man-eating creatures, almost zombie-like in their inevitability. They are pitted against man’s arrogance in dominating them once a year in a show of bravado. This is the backdrop of a how two lonely and desperate teens meet and bond. It’s Sea Biscuit with very sharp teeth, and I loved it.

So, that’s it for 2014. I’ll return in a year with another crop of ten books! Happy Reading!

My Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2013

TopTenBooksof2013I don’t normally review or star books. As an author myself, this is just a choice I’ve made because publishing is such a fickle, prickly business for both writers and reviewers. I read purely for enjoyment and escape and prefer to focus only on the best of the best.

I choose TEN favorite reads each year. To each of them, and only them, I give five stars on Goodreads. That simply means relative to all the books I read that year, those books occupied the top ten slots. Without this system, I might have given any of this year’s books less than five stars or last year’s eleventh (and higher) books five stars, so first caveat is there’s no comparison between years.

But here are the ten that impressed me the most of the 84 books I read in 2013, listed in reverse order of my reading:

1.  Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith (Science fiction meets Outlander. I loved the epic-ness of the story, partly due to its very long length, but mostly due to the amazing world-building and the lizard-guy hero.)

2.  The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers (Such beautiful writing and because of and despite the unlikely premise, it flowed with all sorts of emotional loveliness.)

3.  Tangled by Emma Chase (Drew—the character who voices what most men are probably thinking and yet we still loved him BECAUSE he was so real—eye-rolling but noble.)

4.  Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (An award-winning YA from a few years back, the heroine giving the hero the finger in the restaurant at the beginning sold me on this one at the get go. The rest did not disappoint.)

5.  After Hours by Cara McKenna (Loved the big, scary hero who knew what he wanted at the very beginning.)

6.  Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend by Cassie Mae (Funny, sweet, humble and poignant—my favorite type of YA story.)

7.  Painted Faces by L. H. Cosway (Never in a million years thought I’d love a book about a man-whore, cross-dresser. The witty heroine was a huge factor in this one.)

8.  Hopeless by Colleen Hoover (Captivating writing style and an unforgettable hero. The title of the book is clever too.)

9.  On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves (I love shipwrecked—or planewrecked in this case—stories and this one did not disappoint. Throw in a May – December romance and some adventure and I was sold.)

10.  Ride With Me by Ruthie Knox (Cross-country bicycling with a grouchy, wounded bear of a man and slowly falling in love…sigh…loved it.)

I’ll end by stating this was an extremely difficult choice and there were many others that were strong contenders, so I’ll give them Honorable Mention (no particular order):  Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren, Run to You by Charlotte Stein, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Beautiful Bad Man by Ellen O’Connell, Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare and Escorted by Claire Kent. One of this group I had to unstar because in re-evaluating my top ten list, I had eleven. They were ALL so good! And there were other fabulous ones I didn’t even mention.

2013 was an amazing year for reading!

Happy New Year and happy reading in 2014!