Friday, January 2, 2015

My favorite books read in 2014, and my yearly books read goal

Today, I'm going to be sharing with you all my favorite books that I read this year. These are books that I gave a 5 star review on Goodreads that I read in 2014, which I don't give out a lot of. I give out a lot of four star reviews, admittedly, but the 5 star review I save for the books that will stay with me, that I'll recommend to everyone I know. They're the books I shout about from the rooftops.

This Star Won't Go Out by Esther Earl

This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl by Esther Earl with Lori and Wayne Earl

A collection of the journals, fiction, letters, and sketches of the late Esther Grace Earl, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 16. Photographs and essays by family and friends will help to tell Esther’s story along with an introduction by award-winning author John Green who dedicated his #1 bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars to her.

Why I Loved It: You can read my review here. It was the first book I logged as read in 2014, and I am still thinking about it.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

Why I Loved It: You can read my review here. But it begins with "Oh, my heart."

Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts

Shadow Spell (Book Two of the Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy) by Nora Roberts

With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken…

A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss.

Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle.

Plenty of women have found their way to Connor’s bed, but none to his heart until now. Frustratingly, Meara is okay with just the heat, afraid to lose herself—and their friendship—to something more. But soon, Connor will see the full force and fury of what runs in his blood. And he will need his family and friends around him when his past rolls in like the fog, threatening an end to all he loves…

Why I Loved It: You can read my review here. I believe it was better than both the first and third books in the series.

The Vacationers Emma Straub

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole.

Why I Loved It: It's the perfect summer read. You can read my review here.

Leaving Time
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish.

Why I Loved It: I didn't guess the twist. It was engaging from the beginning, and I loved everything about it.

I definitely didn't meet my goal. I was on track, but then I got side tracked with Fall TV and "morning sickness". I read 38 books, and I had my goal set for 50.

This year I have my goal set for 30. I think that it's doable, especially considering I'll be off work for awhile. Granted, a portion of that time, I will also have a newborn. So, we'll see! 

FTC: All books were either purchased by me, borrowed from the library, or provided by NetGalley for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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