Favorite Reads of 2014

Some how, quite by accident I've started turning our home into a pretty fantastic place to read.

We now have another place for guests to sit- a cozy chair from Ikea! Smashleigh and I went last week and I've been lusting after this chair after sitting in it at Saremy's. I keep it next to our wall heater and piled with quilts and shawls. 

A few weeks ago I was talking to Chop about this little wall in between our bedroom, spare bedroom and bath room. I thought I could hang one of my grandmother's watercolors on the wall and maybe put a shelf below it. Just do something cute with it because it's wasted space. A few hours later, he built me a perfect little book case! I still have to pick out trim and stain it but I'm so happy with it! It's bright and sunny and warm in here.

Our new house is less than a mile away from all the essentials: the post office, the bank, Chop's office, Starbucks (!!!) and best of all...THE LIBRARY! It's literally on the same street! I can't wait to get a bike helmet so I can ride my bike there in the afternoons.

2014 was an excellent year for reading. I read a total of 153 books which is the most I've read in a year before! Towards late summer I could no longer knit/sew/stitch as frequently as I used to so during that time, I really found comfort in reading. I stopped letting amazon help me decide which books I should read (mantra: stop clicking suggested for you Amanda! it's not a real person suggesting it! It's an algorithm!) and instead I started lurking around the bookish internet! I listened obsessively to BookRiot & Books on the Nightstand. I really love EpicReads (That 365 graphic!!!) and I started talking more about books with friends! I realized I don't really share how much I enjoy reading mostly because I don't know *how* to talk about books. I just sort of say things like "I liked that book!" or "this book was great!" I started an instagram account just for books and my stuffed boar- Boarish, rates books in terms of beets. One beet = bad book! Five beets = best book! I've been fortunate that I met Saremy this year, she listens to a lot of audiobooks and reads a lot. I've finally been able to have a conversation about a book and explain WHY I like it! 

So here are my very favorite books of 2014!

All The Light We Cannot See! I think this is the first book that got me actually talking about books with Chop. He's well aware that I read a lot, he asks "how are you liking that book" or "did you finish that book already" but I never specifically talk to him about what I'm reading. 

This is because I really love three genres of books: cozy mysteries (murder, but not scary. adorable towns. snippy women. sometimes involves food, crafts or pets. or all three!). paranormal romance (secret skills. loooove. intimate scenes. vampires. werewolves!). scandanavian crime thillers (gory. dramatic. winter. disenfranchised hero. all the serious!). For some reason I felt embarrassed explaining what I was reading which is super silly! I'm absolutely over that now. I will talk anyone's ear off about whatever I'm reading. ;)

So with this book, I was stepping out of my comfort zone. I'll leave it to you to read the premise of these books on your own but it does not fall into those three genres. Not even remotely. It's graphic. It's heartbreaking. It's beautiful. It's war.

And it was an awesome read. It is written so incredibly beautifully that you want to devour the book but the subject matter is so heartwrenching, I had to pace myself. In the evenings during our walks I'd explain to Chop this story and how I didn't understand how something could be so amazing and awful all at once. I read somewhere that Mr. Doerr took ten years to write this book and that doesn't surprise me. It's a story full of hurt and suffering but also hope. I'm not sure I'll be able to re-read it, I'm not much of a re-reader and this was genuinely hard (emotionally) to read but as you can tell by the crumpled jacket- I've been lending it to lots of friends! 

I'd suggest this book to anyone who enjoys books who take place in Europe during WW2!

To All The Boys I've Loved Before!

This was a book I knew nothing about, except that it was supposed to be excellent and that Jenny Han was a good writer. I saw it on EpicReads, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. I'll completely admit that I picked it up at my local bookshop because I loved the cover. It looks like it was written on with a sharpie.

I'm not particularly interested in things involving teenage drama. I was a teenager once and that was plenty for me. But one afternoon I decided to read it, I tossed it into my bag and was hooked. Totally hooked. One particularly great afternoon I brought it with me to the river and sat with my chair in the water and read while Chop fished. I like that I loved this book so much that I can tell you when and where I was reading it. I feel bad looking back and thinking it was just a book about teenage life. 

It's so much more than that! It's a story about friendship. It's a story about sisters. It's a story that had me saying NOOOO LARA JEAN WHAT ARE YOU THINKING and definitely laughing out loud. I also found it refreshing to read a book about a character who is 1/2 Korean and learning about their traditions.

I'd suggest this book to anyone who likes YA and wants a little more substance while still being light! And I just recently learned that it's the first in a series! woo woo!


Fangirl! Oh Fangirl!

Fact: I owned three copies of this book before I even read it.

Have you ever read a blurb for a book and just known that it was going to be amazing? That's how I felt with this but as time went on, the longer I went without reading it, the more panicked I was that it would let me down!


Here's the thing about this book: it's quirky. And if you read this blog, chances are you are quirky too. The story captures the struggles of life after a parent leaves, the reality of online life vs real life, fandom, college, love, ethics, relationships, depression, social anxiety, how to navigate real life, etc. But it's all told in Rainbow's amazingly down to earth and clever way. You don't feel lectured to, you just love her characters. I texted Smash multiple times begging her to design a web comic with me. Cath is just so great. And Levi!!! <3

I'd suggest this book to anyone who wants to laugh/cry/have all the feels. Also: Simon Snow! October 2015! (at the time this post goes live it looks like the kindle version of fangirl is $4.99!)

Throne of Glass Series!

Ok, full confession.

I had ZERO desire to read this series. I think because everyone I knew was trying to shove it down my throat every five minutes. "It's like Hunger Games meets Divergent meets Game of Thrones!!!" Nooooooo! Not interested!!!!

Then late one night I didn't have a book and couldn't sleep. I saw my friend Glenda was reading it and I realized there are novellas. One novella can't hurt. I'll try it. Next thing I know Chop is getting ready for work and I'm still awake reading. I then binge read the entire series (so far!).

Yes, some parts are eye roll worthy and some parts drag BUT I really like the world building and the characters! I think what made me love the series more was reading the novellas first. It sets up the story perfectly. It's not Hunger Games. It's not Divergent. And it's not GoT. It has a spunky and fierce heroine, politics, romance, action and adventure. It's also a long series in terms of pages. I am a big fan of books I can sink into. I think they average around 400+ pages each which is great! I can imagine this would be a good spring break or summer vacation kind of read. Or if you are like me, read all night even though you know you have to drive to a meeting at 7:30 in the morning kind of read. #bookhangover!

I'd suggest this to anyone who likes binge reading, adventure stories and picking romantic teams! Also she has a new book coming out this spring that I'm so excited for that I have an alarm set on my phone. 

I am saving the best for last!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm about to make a very bold claim.

The Raven Boys series *might* become just as beloved as Harry Potter to me. 


Ok here's the deal. I love Maggie Stiefvater's love of the English language. She is so dang brilliant with words and writing and using all the words to describe all the things. 

This story kills me. Ignore the blurb about the girl killing a boy with her kiss. Just erase it from your head. Instead think about friendship, loyalty, dead kings, ley lines, all the adventures, all the dreams, all the craziness everrrrrrr. What you imagined probably doesn't come close to this series.

I've mentioned that I'm not a re-reader but this series I've reread more times than I can count. I just finished listening to the audiobooks with Chop. WHO LIKED THEM TOO! And Chop isn't really into books! We listened to them together over the course of a month. If you tried reading this series and had a hard time with it, try the audiobooks! They are narrated by Will Patton and he does a fantastic job. Saremy suggested the audio to me and it's a totally different dimension to the story! He growls the name "Rooooonan" and it's pretty beautiful. Also his accent on the W in BMW kills me.

There are scenes in this book that just kill me- Blue Lily especially. Blue & Gansey in the camero. Blue's conversations with Mr. Gray. Mr. Gray & Piper's banter. Ronan doing things for Adam. It's just GOOD. I've seen a bunch of reviews of folks not liking this book but it's necessary and it makes so much sense!

Hopefully you now have a list of books to request at your library or if you have gift cards left over from Christmas! My goal this year is 75 GREAT books- quality over quantity. 

And I want to read a book that takes place in Russia. I'm all about Russia lately. And I'd like to read more library books. I decided to help my library book reading goal I needed new bookmarks (obviously I'll justify kawaii in any manner possible) and I found craft'ed on etsy! I got three of them. Can you guess which three? Here's a hint!

Also on a totally unrelated note, how bad do I want this candle? That sounds delicious right? I got their peppermint bark tarts and our home smells like a vanilla minty candy. I'm into it.


(this post contains affiliate links to amazon. all thoughts are my own. based on books I personally purchased and loved!)