I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
2014 has been a great book year for me! I exceeded my goal of 100 books, finishing out the year with either 106 or 107 books read (I'm still reading one so I may or may not finish it before midnight tonight). I fully expect my rate to be higher next year, as I have to read 60+ books for school by April alone. I'm really happy because the quality of books that I've read this year has been great, too! I've encountered my share of duds, but overall, this has been a really great book year for me.
I'll start off with my least favorite books of the year, and save the best for last.
5. Legacy by Cayla Kluver
This book had a lot of potential. The premise definitely interested me and it's set in a medieval type of world, which usually is my favorite kind of setting to read about. But it was written by a teenage author, and while I absolutely commend Cayla Kluver for having the dedication to write books at such a young age, I think that she could have benefited from waiting a bit longer for her writing skills to mature and from hiring an editor - self-editing with her mother's help was just not a good way to go.
4. Ashfall by Mike Mullin
I was also interested by the premise of this book, but was disappointed by the way it was written. The story focuses on the consequences of a massive volcano eruption (I think - may have been a geyser at Yellowstone or a similar national park? I read it a long time ago and clearly didn't like it enough to remember details, haha). At the time when I read it, one of my issues with the book was that I was very doubtful as to whether a natural disaster could actually cause this extent of damage - we're talking ash covering the vast majority of the continental United States. It just seemed a bit too extreme to be real. A fellow reader on Leafmarks who came across my review has since enlightened me to the fact that this is actually a very real, if improbable, possibility, so Mullin's book isn't quite as far-fetched as I had thought. It is, however, so dry and boring that I abandoned it about halfway through. This one was not for me!
3. The Beet Fields by Gary Paulsen
I read this over the summer as a part of the US of YA book challenge that I've put on hold until after grad school. I've never been a Gary Paulsen fan and unfortunately this book didn't change that. I didn't really see a point to it and it bored me. There's not much more to my thoughts on the book than that!
2. Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly
This was a book that I read very recently for my Resources for Young Adults class. Like some of my other least favorites, I found the book incredibly boring. This is supposed to be a romance novel, but the main characters seemed so indifferent to each other that it was difficult to believe that they were dating! Additionally, the main character was so stupid that at various points while reading this I wanted to throw this book out the window. I didn't because it was a library book. But still - this book is definitely one of the worst I read this year.
1. The Fog by James Herbert
And the absolute worst book that I read this year was... The Fog by James Herbert! This book was basically everything that I don't like. I read it for one of my book club's reading lists (I'm pretty sure it was our horror list, but it may have been the sci-fi one...) and I was not a fan. This book was completely disturbing and I absolutely hated reading it. I've read some pretty gross stuff lately, thanks to my book club's horror novel list, but few passages have grossed me out as much as the ones found in this book did, and the quality of the rest of the book wasn't high enough to counter that.
While there were books that I read that I disliked, I loved some of the books I read even more than I disliked the ones listed above. Here are my top five favorite books of 2014:
5. Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
I liked this book so much because it was so different from anything that I've read before. It was historical fiction, and I've definitely read my fair share of those, but it was about an Asian American family and some of the struggles that they experienced due to their race and I haven't had the opportunity to read very many books about that specific topic. It was also simply well-written and my eyes were glued to the page while I was reading! Very glad that I read this.
4. Persuasion by Jane Austen
I read this for my tumblr book club. We'd decided to read all of Jane Austen's books over the summer, and this was the last that we read. I was very nervous about this one, as I always am with Jane Austen novels - I like Jane Austen a lot, but sometimes her books are really difficult for me to get into. That was not the case with this one. This book is different from all of Austen's other works because the characters are older and therefore have different problems than her other characters encounter. I found it really easy to connect with the characters - not because their problems resembled my own, but because they were just so well-written. This was Austen's last work, and I believe that it's one of her finest. I'm so glad that I was able to read it!
3. The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki
This book was SO good. It's about the wife of Benedict Arnold, but it's told through the voice of her maid. Pataki made so many brilliant storytelling decisions when writing this. The research and care that she put into her work shines through and I loved every minute of reading it. Her portrait of Peggy Shippen Arnold is wonderful - she showcases Peggy's flaws, but also shows that even with her negative qualities, Peggy was human and had some good qualities (not many, but some). Loved reading this!
2 & 1. Outlander and Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
I had to include these together because they were absolutely my favorite books of the year, but I couldn't choose between them to decide which I liked better! These are the first and third books of the Outlander series and I honestly think that this series may be surpassing Harry Potter as my favorite of all time. Gabaldon's books are so well-thought-out and well-written and they have something for everyone. I loved reading these and I can't wait to continue with the series... but unfortunately I probably won't get to it until I graduate in August.
This has been a wonderful reading year! Thanks for joining me in my literary adventures here on booklikes - I'm looking forward to interacting with you all more in 2015! My goals for the new year will be posted tomorrow. Hope you all have a very happy new year!