Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Favorite books of 2014

One of my favorite ways to sum up my year - sharing my favorite books from 2014. I clocked in at 58 books read this year, plus five re-reads. Here's the top 13 (I could not limit myself to just 10!) Almost all of my favorite books were a variation on my favorite theme: a character having to confront a different "world" and learning something about themselves in the process. Almost all of my favorite books were written in 3rd person, except for a couple that were written in first 1st person, dual point of view, and only one in 1st person, one point of view: Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. My next post will be a breakdown of genre and type and how I did on my reading goals for 2014.



Alienated
The Graveyard Book
Fangirl
Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Sailing Between the Stars: Musings on the Mysteries of Faith
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
The Left Hand of Darkness
Ruin and Rising
Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling
Salvage
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
The Winner's Curse
How to Save a Life


1) Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
This is in my ALL TIME favorites list. Absolutely funny, sad, true, hopeful, heart-lifting. I read a lot of books with diverse characters this year and this one will make keep reading more and more and more. 14 year old Junior, leaving the Rez school (but not the Rez itself) to broaden his horizons, is in my heart forever. My favorite quote:

I realized that, sure, I was a Spokane Indian. I belonged to that tribe. But I also belonged to the tribe of American immigrants. And the tribe of basketball players. And to the tribe of bookworms. And the tribe of cartoonists.

2) The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula Le Guin.
1969. After falling in love with Le Guin's Earthsea series in high school, and being deeply influenced in them, I never got around to reading more of her books. So thankful I finally picked up another book of hers in my goal to read more classic SF. This book is many things, but above all, it is a beautiful story of a friendship between two people (Genly and Therem) from entirely different worlds, who struggle to understand each other: and succeed, though at great costs. The world-building is absolutely phenomenal.  My favorite quote:

To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.

3) Dreams of Gods and Monsters, by Laini Taylor
2014. This series is, for me, the closest I have ever come to the magic of Middle Earth. It's very different of course. Instead of the noble Westernesse otherwordliness that makes the Lord of the Rings so magical, this series' magic is more raw, passionate, and dark, but also laugh-out-loud funny at times. And oh, sooooo romantic. Karou and Akiva's story makes Aragorn and Arwen's story pale in comparison. My favorite quote (but oh there were SOOOO many!!!)

It was the first time either of them had ever held another's hand, and for them alone, the immensity of what unfolded that night was overshadowed by the perfect wonderment of fingers intertwined - as though this was what hands had always been for, and not for holding weapons at all.

4) Alienated, by Melissa Landers
2014 (debut). An alien exchange student - BEST PREMISE EVER. This book also has some laugh-out-loud moments, and some deadly serious ones. The second half of this book, about where Aelyx (the alien) starts thinkin of Cara (the human) as Elire - the whole tone of the book shifted from "interesting and fun" into something far more serious and heart-wrenching. The love story is also riveting, too. My favorite quote:

How can we understand what we’ve never experienced and adapt without making mistakes?

5) The Winner's Curse, by Marie Rutkoski
2014. complicated, thoughtful story about slavery, set in a fantasy world with close parallels to ancient history. This story packs a powerful punch with a role reversal that I can't even hint at, and a forbidden love story (Kestrel, Arin) that tore at my heart.  My favorite quote (so hard to pick! so many good ones!)

Isn’t that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?

6) Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell
2013. This is an interesting case; I loved this book when I read early in 2014, but I didn't expect to be one that kept popping back into my mind throughout the year, along with serious temptations to re-read it! But here it is nearly 10 month later and I keep smiling when I think about this book and planning to buy a copy for myself for Christmas so I can re-read it whenever the mood hits me. I love it because it's about a girl, Cath, who's a writer, like me, even though I'm not into writing fan fiction like she is, I could still totally get her. All the other characters in this book are amazing, too (Levi, Reagan, Wren, the dad). My favorite quote:

“Just... isn't giving up allowed sometimes? Isn't it okay to say, ‘This really hurts, so I’m going to stop trying’?”
“It sets a dangerous precedent.”
“For avoiding pain?”
“For avoiding life.”

7) The Disrpetuable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart
2008.I loved the way this story is told, with an omniscient narrator with her own distinct voice. I loved Frankie, how she thought about everything before she said anything, how she'd consider all sorts of possibilities and consequences in a matter of seconds and then (almost always) come up with a response that keeps people guessing about her. I loved how she out-smarted the boys and their exclusive secret society (though I kinda ended up liking Alpha), and the price she was willing to pay to show herself a respectable equal, not just a pretty ornament. This is serious girl-power book. Ra!  My favorite quotes:
It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can't see who you are.
And
She will not be what people tell her to be.
8) The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
2008. Just a warning: the first chapter starts out ruthless, but the story quickly turns improbably sweet: the only survivor of a murdered family, the baby, toddles his way to the graveyard and  how strange and whimsical and charming that is, a baby toddling its way into a graveyard, to be rescued and adopted by a bunch of graveyard ghosts? And what a loveable bunch of ghosts! Loved Silas and Liza and Caius... all of them. My favorite quote:

"Are they happier?"
"Mostly, no. It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Where ever you go, you take yourself with you."

9) How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr
2011. Beautiful dual point-of-view story from two very different girls: Jill, who had everything (a beautiful home, loving family and boyfriend) and Mandy, a pregnant teen, who has never had anything or anyone to love her. They're forced to live together in a very bizarre but compelling circumstance. A deeply thoughtful and beautiful story.

“The kind of life I want is to be a person who would get a personal note every day.”

10) Ruin and Rising, by Leigh Bardugo
2014. I've got mixed feelings about this end to the Grisha trilogy, because at first I didn't like it much. But something about that ending, as much as it bothered me, also kept drawing me back. I've re-read the last 100 pages several times now. I'm still not sure exactly why, but there you go; perhaps there's something about myself I don't understand yet, but it understands the controversial ending of this grand fantasy and how the tangle of Alina, Mal, Nikolai and the Darkling plays out. My favorite quote:

They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things - if love can ever be called that.

11) Salvage, by Alexandra Duncan
2014.  I have mixed feelings about this one, too, mostly because I despised, absolutely HATED the first 8 chapters where Ava simply accepts her handmaiden, repressed status (she can't even read!) on her family's spaceship. But then she's forced to run for her life, and Perpetue rescues her, and Miyole teaches her to read, and Rushil teaches her to trust. A deeply satisfying and rich story. My favorite quote:

All this suffering.” Perpetue looks deep and unblinking at me. “It doesn't make us saints, fi. It only makes us human. You understand? .... There's a balance....there's what you're forced to do, there's what you choose, and everything else – most things – are a mix. At best, you'll spend your life trying not to get hurt, but trying not to do the hurting, either. You won't always come through....

12) Sailing Between the Stars, by Steven James.
2006. Subtitled "Musing on the mysteries of faith" this is a non-fiction that reminded me very much of C.S. Lewis' writings (my absolute favorite writer). I haven't had a chance to put together my favorite quotes from this book yet, but the summary does it beautiful justice:

The foundation of Christian belief is paradox: death is the beginning of life, foolishness is the pathway to wisdom, the meek conquer the strong. Everywhere we look we see mysteries piled upon mysteries, and for all our efforts to fit God into a box that makes sense, Christianity is not founded on common sense. 

13) Writing 21st Century Fiction, by Donald Maass
2012. Subtitled "High impact techniques for exceptional storytelling." I didn't think this could be as good as his last book, The Fire in Fiction, but it is EVEN better. There are no easy formulas in this book; in fact, that's really the point: there is no easy short cut to great fiction. A great book demands everything of you. I put together a list of no less than SIXTY things I need to fix/incorporate into my story based on this book, half of which I am still at loss as to how to implement, but I'm convinced, no matter how long it takes, how much it challenges me, it will be worthwhile.  Favorite quote:

For me, where genre ends and literature begins doesn’t matter. What matters is whether a given novel hits me with high impact. If it does, it probably is fulfilling the purpose of fiction. It has drawn me into a story world, held me captive, taken me on a journey with characters like none I’ve ever met, revealed truths I’ve somehow always known and insights that rock my brain. It’s filled me with awe, which is to say it’s made me see the familiar in a wholly new way and made the unfamiliar a foundational part of me. It both entertains and matters. It both captures our age and becomes timelessly great. 

What are your favorite books read this year, the ones with the greatest impact?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Peace in my heart

This Christmas season I've been struggling with my Christmas spirit, for various reasons, the most important one being the loss of a dear family member earlier this year. This will be our first Christmas without her. It also turned out because of job commitments that it's the first year that we aren't able to visit our extended family for either Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years, so I'm feeling a bit sad and isolated. 

But while this year isn't standing out as one of the especially "fun" Christmases, I've just been reminded (via this wonderful Christmas song by Casting Crowns... see the lyrics below)  that one of the even more important parts of Christmas than "fun and giving" is that Christmas is about the hope for "peace on Earth."


Mary and Joseph probably felt very isolated, once upon time this time of year, too. It's very likely that they couldn't find "room at the inn" because they were late arriving; more likely no one wanted them because of the scandal surrounding Mary's pre-marriage pregnancy. There were no decorations, there was no family gathering and games and a fancy dinner and presents to open (the wise men probaly didn't arrive with their gifts that first night).

But there was a baby born, and a star shining in the sky, and angels proclaiming the great news of hope for peace on Earth.

These lyrics put that peace in my heart for this Christmas. Peace and blessings to you, too, whoever reads this!

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, lyrics adapted by Casting Crowns:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men

And the bells are ringing (Peace on Earth)
Like a choir they're singing (Peace on Earth)
In my heart I hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing (Peace on Earth)
Like a choir singing (Peace on Earth)
Does anybody hear them?
Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep (Peace on Earth, peace on Earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way

The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they're ringing (Peace on Earth)
Like a choir they're singing (Peace on Earth)
And with our hearts we'll hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they're ringing? (Peace on Earth)
The life the angels singing (Peace on Earth)
Open up your heart and hear them (Peace on Earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace on earth, Peace on earth
Peace on earth, Good will to men

Friday, December 19, 2014

Deja Vu blogfest



Here's where we get to re-post our favorite blog offering from earlier in the year and share it with a bunch of other bloggers. Thanks to D.L. Hammons and Nicole Zoltack for hosting! Here's more details and the sign-up 

Here's my Insecure Writers Support Group for June (with an update following) and links to my top 5 favorite other posts this year: 

I have queries out - sitting in the limbo of several agents' inboxes or "for later" folders, so of course I am wildly insecure.  I'm so insecure that I'm afraid if I start writing about it here, all my emotions will splatter across this screen like rotten fruit.

To try to keep my current emotions under check, I'm attempting have fun with this whole query letter thing.  

The query writing process (especially the pitch part of the query, the part that's supposed to read like the jacket copy of a book) is quite the adventure. The first time I tried it, four years ago, I dreaded it. I wrote some drivel, did some research, had an epiphany. I had long philosophical discussions with myself about what my novel was really about... what the heart of it was.

 I ended up shelving that novel (I definitely plan to return to it, but it needed more time to marinate). 

Then I moved on to another novel. The query pitch seemed to write itself. I was so proud of myself! I'm getting the hang of this thing! 


I submitted my lovely query to an online contest, and an agent ripped it to sheds. Direct quote: "Playing coy with agents on this point isn't going to incite most to want to read further."

Cue sobbing.

After I got over being crushed, I admitted the agent was probably dead on right, and I put on my studious glasses and looked at a bunch more query examples (WriteOnCon forums and the Pitch Wars and Writer's Voice events at Brenda Drake's website are a great source). 


I came up with a fresh query that was straightforward and not coy and had the requisite three C's (character, conflict, choice) and put it up for critique at Matt Rush's wonderful blog, the Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment. I got some positive feedback. It seemed I was on the right track, just needed some tweaking and a little more voice. 


So I tweaked and added a phrase with a little more voice, and sent that query off for reals (not just a contest). 

And got form rejections.  This time I didn't sob, because I kind of had a gut feeling that despite my tweaking and attempt at voice, I still hadn't nailed it. When I read my own query, it kind of made me feel like this: 


Instead of like this:

So, went back to searching for more query examples and dissecting the ones I really loved. The queries I really love are ones with characters that grab you with some specific details and voice. (of course, queries, like novels, are also very subjective: some will love it, some won't. You hope for a majority in your favor). 
hhhhhmmm, which one shall I use?
My current version of the query is now rich on character, but maybe too long. It will probably evolve into yet another version, but I feel happy enough about it (for now) to send it out again. 

What I'm still really unsure about is the personalization to the agent part. The part that goes something like "I read in a recent interview you are looking for a YA romance layered with big stakes" or "I loved so-and-so book that you represented." I wish all agents were like Janet Reid, the Query Shark, who thinks that the personalization is a waste of time, just get to the story, please. 

Sigh... just another thing to be insecure about.

I won't even start on the sample pages that come after the query....
"I just don't know about that..."
But ultimately I guess my determination outweighs my insecurity, because I keep trying, I keep writing, I keep putting things out there and taking the feedback and fixing and trying again.
determination

Because I LOVE writing, I love learning, I love the whole long messy process. Even if Miranda, my favorite character from the Devil Wears Prada, would probably say this about me: 

Update:  so, that query that I felt was "getting close" in June? Got entirely revamped again in September, after I got some WONDERFUL query help from my Pitchwars mentor, Veronica Bartles. We went back and forth over probably a dozen variations; then she wrote her version of a query for my book, which I LOVED.  (I've heard of this before, where getting someone else to write your query has really been successful). Because Veronica wasn't so close to my story, she was able to strip the pitch down to its essential elements. I was too close to the story, and still cluttering my query up with too much plot. I ended up using her query, changing only two lines to personalize it.... and since then have gotten a few more requests.

But... yup. I'm still insecure about it. About the query, and the sample pages, the synopsis, the whole story. That lurking question is always in the back of my mind: is it good enough?

But on nights like this... cozy by my fire, with a Christmas tree, my kids, a good book to read and to inspire me with new writing ideas... it's all good. 

But on nights like this... it's all good
Some of my other favorite posts this year:

Diverse also means disabled: a collection of great books with diverse characters

Unconventional, complicated female heros: a collection of great books featuring girls who kick butt, but in unconventional ways

Top ten girl friendships:  a collection of great books where the main focus is friendship, not romance

Ten crazy ways to fall in love: my Valentine's Day post, with a collection of recent books with some great romance

Top ten reasons why I love being a reader and a blogger

Thanks for letting me share (again!) 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Class of 2014 YA books: popularity contest




The Class of 2014: YA Superlative Blogfest will run Monday, December 15th – Thursday, December 18th and will highlight favorite YA books published in 2014Join us in celebrating great books of 2014 - sign up at any of the hosts' blogs: Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller or Katy Upperman

Today is my favorite part of this blogfest, the character popularity contest!

Villain I Love to Hate

Stitching SnowOkay, this was a tough one this year. The Darkling from Ruin and Rising was my favorite villain, but I couldn't hate him (though I could hate some of the terrible things he did). But most of the books I read didn't have a hateful villain that really stood out, except the king and evil stepmom queen in Stitching Snow, R.C. Lewis. This is "a retelling of Snow White in space, where Snow is a cage-fighting tech-head with daddy issues" and oh man is her daddy twisted.   


Most Likely to Become a Rock Star
The Unbound (The Archived, #2)Wesley, from The Unbound, by Victoria Schwab. There's just something about this guy, both bright and dark at the same time, full of quips but also seriousness (see my review for more Wesley love). I'm thrilled that there will be a free short, Leave the Window Open, coming in 2015 from Wesley's POV.


Favorite Parental Figure
SalvagePerpetue, from Salvage, by Alexandra Duncan. She saves Ava when Ava is running away from her repressors; she flies her own space ship, carries a knife and a wicked knife scar on her face, lives in a floating city in the Pacific, and she's tough and smart but kind. 



Favorite Parental Figure (runner up)
Audrey's mom: she's President of the United States! from When Audrey Met Alice, by Rebecca Behrens.


Gates of Thread and Stone (Gates of Thread and Stone #1)Favorite Sibling Figure (my own category)
Reev, Kai's adopted brother in Gates of Thread and Stone, by Lori M. Lee. The ties between Kai and Reev run deep and strong through out the story, and explode at the ending into something breath taking and heart breaking.


Most Likely to Start a Riot
A Creature of MoonlightMarni in Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn. This girl doesn't care what anyone thinks of her and she can resist some serious male attention and charm. Marni learns the price to pay to escape expectations, the price to resist manipulation, the price to having a mind of your own, and the price of vengeance. And she's willing to pay those prices. She'd be willing to start a riot, this girl. 


Biggest Flirt
Prince Nikolai, Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. He adds so much charm to this dark conclusion to the series... though he also adds quite a bit more than charm, too, though I can't drop any more hints without spoilers. Also, I can't resist sharing this lovely image of three aspects of the story, from Leigh Bardugo's Tumblr. 

Alienated (Alienated, #1)
Biggest Anti-Flirt (or, the cold, withdrawn type who has a hidden heart of gold) 
Aelyx, from Alienated, by Melissa Landers. Here's some of the reasons why I love Aelyx:  that thing with the pulse rate (I'm re-reading it, right now). And the part where he was chanting the periodic table... (I have a whole new appreciation for chemistry now). Oh, and he has his own get-away-space shuttle parked out back. 


DangerousCoolest Nerd
Maisie, from Dangerous, by Shannon Hale: I loved how she wants to be astronaut even though she's born with a disability (a missing hand); and here's a little excerpt that pretty much sums up her incredibly nerdiness that I loved, DEEPLY LOVED: "Luther and I had discovered a Japanese website that appeared to promote teeth whitening. It had a message board no one ever used, because honestly, who sits around discussing white teeth? So we colonized it.  MAIZ: Greetings, friend of Wookies everywhere. How's the weather?"

Fashion King and/or Queen
When Audrey Met AliceAlice, the daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, whose fictional diary plays a big role in When Audrey Met Alice, by Rebecca Behrens. This girl is really more headstrong than fashionable, but she just seem to fit this category. Teddy's famous quote about her: "I can either run the country or I can attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both."


Artistic soul (my own category)
Color Song (Passion Blue, #2)Guilia in Color Song, by Victoria Strauss (YA historical): Guilia flees a convent and disguises herself as a boy so she can apprentice to a famous painter in medieval Venice. This definitely a character (and a book) for anyone with an artist's soul that demands everything from you. 


Character I’d Most Want For a BFF
Alienated (Alienated, #1)Cara, in Alienated, by Melissa Landers. I loved Cara's courage (and at the same time I ached for her) as she doggedly sticks by Aelyx when anti-alien sentiment continues to rise at their school, in the town, and even globally. This girl has a big heart, and I just love to see how she cracks open Aelyx's well-bred coldness. 



Character I’d Most Want For a BFF (runner up)
She Is Not InvisibleLaureth in She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick. She's incredibly determined and resourceful and smart AND she's blind. “I am scared, almost all the time. But I never tell anyone. I can’t afford to. I have to go on pretending I’m this confident person, because if I don’t, if I’m quiet, I become invisible. People treat me as if I’m not there.”  LOVED HER. 

Like No OtherCharacter I Wish I’d Dated in High School
Jaxon in Like No Other, by Una LaMarche.  Because he's black, and he reminded me of a crush I was never brave enough to act on in high school; he's smart and funny (see my review for a sample of being in Jaxon's head) and he'll do crazy things for the girl he loves. 

Most Likely to Become President
Maisie, in Dangerous, by Shannon Hale. See Coolest Nerd, above for more about Maisie.

Quirkiest Character (and Class Clown)
Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)Zuzana, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, by Laini Taylor.  Described by her BFF Karou as a tiny terror. Stormhunter rider. Puppet-maker. Lover of cakes and pastries. Writer of unique personal ads. Willing to become a samurai for her BFF and follow her everywhere. 



Bonus; Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell, was published in 2013, but I didn't read it until 2014, but it would have totally made my character lists last year.  Cath, Levi, Reagan, Simon and Baz probably all would have made my list!

Who was your favorite character from 2014?



Monday, December 15, 2014

Best of 2014: my favorite young adult books




The Class of 2014: YA Superlative Blogfest will run Monday, December 15th – Thursday, December 18th and will highlight favorite YA books published in 2014Join us in celebrating great books of 2014 - sign up at any of the hosts' blogs: Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller or Katy Upperman


Favorite Dystopian: Salvage, Alexandra Duncan 
Salvage
Vivid story of a spaceship handmaiden finding freedom in a strange new world: future Earth

Favorite Science Fiction:  Alienated, by Melissa Landers
Alienated (Alienated, #1)
Love, love, loved the premise and the dialogue and spockish alien Aleyx and spunky Cara and their slow burn love. Leave me a comment if you've read this book and if "Elire" made your heart melt...


Favorite Fantasy: Dreams of Gods and Monsters, by Laini Taylor 
Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3)
My favorite book of 2o14.  I've already re-read it in entirity, the whole trilogy. I cannot even explain how much I love this parallel world full of unique mythical creatures, and how much I love Karou and Akiva and Liraz and Ziri and Zuzana and Mik and Brimstone and I could keep going....

Favorite Fantasy runner up: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)
The final book in this wonderful trilogy set in a Tsarist-Russian-type fantasy world. I've re-read the last 70 pages three times already; wow, wow, wow.

Favorite Contemporary: When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens
When Audrey Met Alice
Audrey is the daughter of the President of the United States, and it's a tough role to adjust to, but the journal of Teddy Roosevelt's daughter Alice are a big help: I love books that have a contemporary/historical parallel!

Favorite Action/Adventure: Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee
Gates of Thread and Stone (Gates of Thread and Stone #1)
A quest, an adopted brother, scary and adorable gargoyles, and an ability to slow time: this book is packed full of action, adventure, twists and turns

Favorite Historical Fiction: The Winter Horses, by Philip Kerr 
The Winter Horses

Set during World War II, a Jewish refugee rescues two rare horses from the Nazis, embarking on an incredible and terrifying journey acorss war-torn Ukraine

Favorite Comedy: Prom Impossible, by Laura Pauling
Prom Impossible










"I wanted to use Zeke to make Jasper jealous to make Michael jealous so I could have my dream prom date." Cue: disaster. A modern Shakespearean comedy.

Favorite Mystery: She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

She Is Not Invisible
Billed as an intricate puzzle of a novel, this is a fantasic but believable journy of a blind girl trying to solve the mystery of her father's disappearance (and one way-cool little brother)

Favorite Romance: Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Like No Other
A young black man in Brooklyn falls in love with a Jewish girl from one of the strictest Hasidic sects. Couldn't put this one down. 

Favorite Paranormal:  The Unbound, by Victoria Schwab 
The Unbound (The Archived, #2)
Even though I didn't get as much time in the Archive, that super spooky but cool library of the dead, this was a completely worthy follow up to the Archived and featured much more of Wesley. Yuuuummmm, Wesley.

Favorite Paranormal runner up: The Fire Wish, by Amber Lough
The Fire Wish (The Jinni Wars, #1)
Star-crossed lovers from the human and djinn worlds that have long been at war.  Fantastic settings and characters and premise.

Favorite Genre Bender: Otherbound , Corrine Duyvis
Otherbound
A contemporary with connections to a parallel world with a slight steampunk feel and a very interesting connection between the two worlds.

My own categories...

Favorite strange new world: Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen
Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)
A spooky but beautiful underground world ruled by trolls - who aren't exactly trolls - who kidnap a human girl to break a curse

Favorite friendship book: My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter
My Best Friend, Maybe
Amazing writing, a complicated friendship between two girls, thoughtful handling of religious issues, and wonderful setting on the Greek island of Santorini 

Favorite diverse main character: Played, by Liz Fichera
Played (Hooked, #2)












Sam is a Native American in a love-hate relationship with a white suburban princess; I loved the reverse love triangle in this book.

Favorite novel I HAVEN'T READ YET!!!  This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
This Shattered World (Starbound, #2)
It doesn't come out for another 6 days (yes I am counting!!!) The first book in this series, These Broken Stars, was one of my favorites last year. 


What was your favorite 2014 book? 

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