I did a post like this last year, and I think it’s a fun and/or useful tradition, so I’m doing it again! (Once again, I’m not including re-reads.)
So here, without any further ado, are the best of the books I read in 2014. 😀
Top Ten Novels
1. The Crown of Dalemark – Diana Wynne Jones (The Dalemark Quartet, #4)
Ohhhhhh my goodness. I CANNOT EVEN WORD WITH THE AMAZINGNESS OF THIS THING’S CONCLUSION. So it’s book 4 in a series, wrapping up The Dalemark Quartet… Which means I’m sort of including all four books when I say this is the best, because part of the amazing was how the separate storylines of the first three books came together so epically in this one. BUT STILL. It was just… I CAN’T, OKAY.
When I finished it I was literally incapacitated for several minutes. All I could do was some combination of sitting there in awesome-book-ending-shock, and flail around and babble incoherently at my sister who had to put up with me. 😄
BUT BUT FANTASY WORLD, WITH MUSKETS, BUT ALSO QUITE MEDIEVAL, BUT ALSO MODERN-ISH BECAUSE TRAINS. AND TIME TRAVEL. IN A FANTASY WORLD. WHY DOES THIS NOT HAPPEN MORE OFTEN? IT WAS ALSKDJFLKJDFL POSITIVELY BRILLIANT. AND THE CHARACTERS WHO I LOVED WHO WERE AWESOME. <3<3 AND THE HUMOR. AND EVERYTHING. AND DIANA WYNNE JONES. And. Just. I CAN’T EVENNNNNN.
THAT. ENDING. *flaiiiil*
So I reviewed this last Wednesday in this post. Which means it is hopefully fresh in your memory… But if not, go read that review. Or better yet, READ THE BOOK!!! But this book was so awesome. Christian Fantasy done RIGHT… An awesome fantasy world… Characters who were 100% human and 100,000% loveable… And the SONG… And the WRITING… And Birdie and Ky and Amos and Cade and Carhartan! This was an epic story and I’m itching to read the next one. ❤
3. The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer
YES. This book. It was recommended to me by several online friends, so I just had to give it a try. I’M SO GLAD I DID. I feel like this is what Jane Austen was trying to do… It’s like Jane Austen with spunk! I enjoy Austen’s works very much, don’t get me wrong! But they are rather… quiet. The Grand Sophy has an AWESOME heroine… I don’t usually love the heroine this much! Sophy is grand indeed, and full of spark and wit. I love her! The story and incidents were all HILARIOUS. And CHARLES RIVENHALL! ❤ Possible one of my top 2 favorite characters this year… I feel like he’s a perfect mix of Mr. Darcy and what I think Mr. Knightly is like (I haven’t read Emma yet, sorry, but I did see a film). Charles Rivenhall is the ultimate dark, kind of furious, strong-willed hero, who is up against the most whirl-wind-ish female he’s ever encountered… Who’s going to tame who? The resulting story is just perfect.
4. Entwined – Heather Dixon
Eeeeeeeeeeeee. This was so good! A retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (which, as you may know, I am obsessed with…) it was just fantastic! If it wasn’t for a certain slightly disappointing thing, this might have made it higher on my list. BUT IT WAS AWESOME ANYWAY. And it’s really neat how the twelve girls are named alphabetically after flowers. I can actually remember them! And… just… It’s beautiful. And all the characters are fabulous. I LOVE THEM ALL. ❤
5. The Boggart and the Monster – Susan Cooper
The sequel to “The Boggart”. (Which when I made my list last year, I put as #12 in my top-favorites of 2013… but if I were to do it over again, it would be wayyyy higher up. I LOVE THE BOGGART.) It was just as good as the first and I absolutely adored it! So much, that as soon as I finished reading it, I started rereading it the same day, aloud to my younger siblings. Many books that I love, I daydream about rereading the moment I’m done, but this might be the only one I’ve ACTUALLY carried that out for… Scotland! Humor! Loch Ness Monster! Fun! Fantasy! Soooo good.
I reviewed this awhile back… It was just delightful! Falling into a book and becoming one of the characters… Perfectly carried out Christian Fantasy element… KYRIN of course…! ❤ And just an overall awesome story! I JUST LOVED IT. I highly recommend it!! (And that on the left is a new cover for it!! Isn’t it simply gorgeous?? SO MUCH BEAUTIFUL! I can’t get over it! <3)
I reviewed this one in a blogtour… It was fairly awesome! Especially every. single. moment. with. Cazien. CAZIEN. He might have to be one of my top 2 favorite characters of the year… O_O Maybe. Just. EVERY TIME HE OPENED HIS MOUTH. So much hilarious awesomeness. He is definitely one awesome pirate. Aaand The Seahorse Legacy cut off right when I was waiting for the most interesting thing to happen. 😄 The second half of the story, The Sunken Realm, is supposed to come out sometime this summer. Can I just say… I NEED IT NOWWWW!!!
This was an AWESOME conclusion to the Merlin Spiral trilogy. (My review is here.) It was rather epic, and the young Arthur up-and-coming toward his destiny of being king, mixed in with Merlin’s own story… it was just awesome. Lots of exciting adventure and humor, too! But my favorite thing about it just had to be Arthur himself. It’s hard to do a King Arthur who lives up to that name — but Mr. Treskillard’s Arthur was perfection! I loved that character so much. ❤ I can’t wait for the second trilogy to start coming out so we can continue to follow Arthur’s adventures!
I also reviewed this… Exciting story, beautiful setting, and I loved the characters so much! Margaretha was a fun heroine, Colin was awesome, and they were a very cute couple. ^_^ It wasn’t much of a fairytale retelling, I didn’t think, but it was an AWESOME book. Melanie Dickerson always writes awesome books… 😉
I’m not sure if this quite counts since it’s a novella and not a novel… But I simply HAD to include this rolick of a Cinderella retelling that had me laughing hysterically but was also rather epic and beautiful. Such fun! So funny, so mysterious, full of witty writing… and the characters were just absolute delights. I loved it a lot! ❤
Things That Are Category-less But Must Go On This List
Prince Valiant, Vol 1: 1937-1938 – Hal Foster
Prince Valiant, Vol 2: 1939-1940 – Hal Foster
So they’re not exactly novels. Or nonfiction. Or picture books. Or really comic-books because they’re not like most. But when I say that the Prince Valiant comic-strip saga is basically my favorite thing ever, I hope you understand how much I really mean that. I’ve loved Prince Valiant ever since my earliest memory of being read it from the comics-page in the newspaper, and on into reading collections of it in book form. So when I discovered that my library had these two earliest collections, I sort of went crazy and checked them out and read them before you could have said “crazy fangirl”. PRINCE VALIANT. So much epic.
The Green and Burning Tree: On the Writing and Enjoyment of Children’s Books – Eleanor Cameron
Reflections: On the Magic of Writing – Diana Wynne Jones
Both of these were basically collections of essays by two of my favorite authors ever, about two of my favorite things ever: books and writing. Specifically, children’s books and fantasy, mainly, which are others of my favorite things.
I always say that J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexandar are my 3 favorite authors. But I’ve been fans of them for almost as long as I can remember — I grew up with their books. Eleanor Cameron and Diana Wynne Jones come right after them in my list of top 5 favorite authors, and THEY are the ones who I DISCOVERED. So getting to read their thoughts and see how much I agree with them and how brilliant they were… it was just an absolute joy!
Some people, I suppose, find fiction they like by finding out if they like the author’s opinions. I find fiction I like, and then because I like it, I find nonfiction that I agree with… 😉
They don’t quite belong in my top ten/twelve/whatever because they’re not my normal thing and there were other books that are not on the list that I liked better, overall, but there was just something about these, so I have to mention them.
This is here because it is the best Christian book I read all year. I read about a dozen of them, and some were good — some are even up there in my top ten. But there was something about Never that affected me more than any of the other Christian books I read this year; plus it was a good mystery, and it makes me want to read more westerns because I never do, and I loved both of the main characters a ton. But the Christian aspect may have been done the best I’ve seen, and it was not preachy but at the same time was more real than in many books I’ve read. It just hit me with a very strong feeling.
The Mysterious Benedict Society – Trenton Lee Stewart
While I enjoyed it wayyy more than I thought I would and it was a good book, it’s only here because of one particular moment that was one of those explosive things that gave such a FEELING that affected me in that moment way more than any other book this year besides the ending of The Crown of Dalemark and basically the whole of Orphan’s Song. But if you’ve ever heard of Tolkien’s “eucatastrophe”, this was the best example I can think of and just aaaaahhhhh. That feeling of explosive elation and excitement and happifulness right after the moment when you think all is lost; plus mixed in with resolving a mystery I’d been suspecting, and just– I can’t explain it!! It’s weird, too, because other than that moment, it would have been a really enjoyable book but I wouldn’t be too excited about it. But just. Wow. I don’t even know if anyone else would think that way but it really got me and was awesome. So this can’t even go in a category, but it gets mentioned because of the moment. 🙂
Favorite Picture Book
Saint George and the Dragon – retold by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
This is just such a beautiful, awesome, picture book! I love Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations… she may be my favorite artist… So much expression in the characters, and so much beauty and detail! And this story was just so cool. Actually, the look of this book very much influenced some of the feel of my own story Heartseeker. Which may be one of the reasons I’m so attached to this book. But it’s just… perfect. ❤
Favorite Short Stories
I didn’t read as many short stories as the year before, but two stood out as my VERY favorites, both from the collection “Book of Enchantments” by Patricia C. Wrede.
The Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn (short story) – Patricia C. Wrede
This was just ADORABLE and perfect — it’s set in the Enchanted Forest (of Wrede’s awesome four-book series) and it has a princess and a cat and a unicorn. …Er, well, I suppose you could tell that. BUT IT WAS AWESOME. There need to be more short stories like this.
Utensile Strength (short story) – Patricia C. Wrede
This. THIIIS. It’s probably the closest we get to a “sequel” to the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Because it takes place after book 4 AND WE GET TO SEE DAYSTAR ETC AS A HAPPY FAMILY AND JUST ALKDJFLKDJFLKF. I loved it to death. I LOVE CIMORENE AND MENDANBAR AND THE ENCHANTED FOREST AND DAYSTAR AND ALL OF IT SO MUUUUCH. ^_^ So yes, this is absolutely a favorite of the year. Anyone who’s read the Enchanted Forest Chronicles: get ahold of this one and read it!!
So there are some of my favorite new reads of 2014! Have you read any of them? What did you think?
What about you? What are your favorite reads of 2014? 🙂