Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 Book List

Last year I constructed a 2013 book list, populated mainly by books I read while over in France. I thought I would continue this trend this year!

To call it a 2014 book list is slightly misleading, these are mainly books I've read since August of this year. As I have a good number of very talented English-major friends, I'm staying far away from critical reviews or academic insight of these books. Mainly I just want to share some great books I've enjoyed recently, and try to convince you to read some if you haven't already. If I magically convince you to read one of these novels please tell me so I can earn bragging rights, as that is not a feat I believe I've ever accomplished before.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
8 out of 10

I found this title on a book list I wrote on my phone ages ago, I'm not sure where I heard about it. It's a short novel written during the turn of the century. It tells the struggle of one women as she tries to reconcile herself with her role in society as a woman. I loved how Chopin portrayed the main character as she chafes under restricting societal norms, as she searches for love and happiness, while trying to define what those things mean to her. It was surprisingly interesting, given that early 1900s literature isn't my forte.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
9.5 out of 10 

I finally broke down and read this classic, mostly because I felt like I should. However, from the first page I was hooked and really enjoyed the novel. Not only was it surprisingly funny in parts, the characters were fully fleshed out, and the story was captivating. It also breaks the glass on some of those cutsy love quotes you see on Pinterest taken from this novel, which turn out to have not so cutsy back stories.

The Faithful Place by Tana French
10 out of 10

I am in love with this author. If I wrote fan mail, I would send her letters, gushing about how much I adore her writing. She writes detective mysteries set in Dublin, Ireland, and is well known for her skill in character development. On top of multidimensional characters, her plots are twisting and haunting. Throw in her poetic skill with words and you'll see why I read anything that she writes. This is actually the 3rd book in a (loosely associated) series. While you can read them out of order, you should probably start with Into the Woods first, which is one of my all time favorite novels.

American Gods by Neil Gaimen
8.5  out of 10

Another classic, though not in the same sense as Wuthering Heights. American Gods is a classic, as it has influenced the entire genre of modern magic novels. This novel twist to magic and mythology was captivating from page one. Gaimen is already a giant in literature, and this book proves why. The main character was likeable and easy to root for, which is something I always love in a book. 


Neverwhere by Neil Gaimen
8 out of 10

This is the first Gaimen book I've read and I loved it. It's a fascinating story set in London featuring a really unique modern day magic system. It's not as well known as American Gods, and is not as massive in its undertaking, but I really enjoyed this little book.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
7 out of 10

Guaranteed by Buzzfeed to change my life, I pinned this title on Pinterest and finally got around to reading it. This light sci-fi novel is written like a memoir, a style that I was not expecting. It portrays one woman's life in a future with a dsytopian sheen; not all encompassing like 1984, but the type of dsytopian which does such a good job of passing itself off as normal you almost don't see it. After reading the novel I spent the better part of an hour ranting and raving to my poor roommates; it's a good, but frustrating novel.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Kowal
6.5 out of 10

I'm pretty sure that this novel was recommended in one of Hank Green's vlogs. It's a light fantasy set in Victorian England. While the magic system set up is quite unique, I went away feeling like I had read a watered down Jane Austen novel. The main love interests could easily be plotted on a Darcy at the beginning of Pride and Prejudice vs Darcy at the end of the novel graph. All of their main characteristics being traced back to classical underpinnings, like the close connection between the Darcy-look-a-like and his sister; or the gruff, arrogant demeanor of Darcy-look-a-like-number-2. It felt a little artless at times-- which isn't a fatal flaw, I just wanted a bit more poetry in the words. Regardless, it was a fun, short read.

Don't Breathe A Word by McMahon
6 out of 10
I found this title on Pinterest, promised some high title like best books of 2014! or best mystery books ever, as per usual on Pinterest. This book is a quick modern fantasy read. The plot seems straight forward at first, but the more you read, the more convoluted and twisting everything becomes. Allegiances shift with every page until you don't know who is real, and who you can trust. That part I felt was done well. The reason why it has such a low rating, then, is because towards the end the plot reached critical capacities of convoluted-ness. I'm still not entirely sure what happened on a couple plot points. At the end the novel began to resemble Dreams and Shadows by Cargill mainly in the surprising dark and hopeless events. Even if I'm still bitter at the ending, it was a page-turner, and worth the read. 

So that's it! Just a little list of some great books that I've enjoyed reading. I hope that maybe I've inspired you to pick up one of these novels. If so, I would love to hear what you thought about it! 

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back to see more crafting adventures!

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