Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best of 2014

2014 was a rough year for me. In more ways than one. I spent 11 months of the year either in severe back pain, or recovering from back surgery (in fact I'm still recovering). I didn't get as much reading done as I'd like, and I'm sure I've left a lot of good books sit on the shelf for longer than they deserve.

I think this year's Best of list is going to be shorter than normal, but there were a few amazingly stand-out books for me. Because the books list is going to be a bit shorter I think I'll include some of the excellent movies that have stuck with me, too.


Here are the book stats: (Through The Caller)
83 Read Books
39 Re-Read Books
44 New-to-Me Books

Of those 46 New-to-Me Books, there were:
11 Five-Star Reads
6 Four-Star Reads
12 Three-Star Reads
4 Two-Star Reads
11 One-Star Reads (8 of which were DNFs)

This was an incredibly slow reading year for me. I'm used to reading twice this number. And though the majority of the four and five star reads came from favorite authors there were a few surprises, too. A couple of new authors even jumped onto my auto-buy/favorite list...

These are in no real particular order.

The Emperor's Blades (Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne, Book 1) by Brian Staveley

This first one I had on my list last year, because that's when I read it originally (for review), however it was released in 2014...it should really be on this list (and honestly deserves to be on both as I haven't stopped thinking about it).

Full review here.

Providence of Fire (Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne, Book 2) by Brian Staveley

Okay, so perhaps it's cheating. I don't even care. I just finished this book and am so blown away that I can't even think, can't form coherent enough words to explain...so here it is - and it'll be on next years, too, I'm sure.

Full review here

Red Rising (Red Rising, Book 1) by Pierce Brown

I'm currently reading the sequel, Golden Son, and am just as much - if not more - in love with Pierce Brown's world and characters as I was when I read Red Rising. This is an amazing story that I can't get enough of. I'm excited to see what he does next!

Full review here.

Golden Son (Red Rising, Book 2) by Pierce Brown

I can't even help it. In January Pierce Brown blew my mind with Red Rising, in Golden Son he did it again. I can't wait for Morning Star.

Full review here.

Trial by Fire (World Walker Trilogy, Book 1) by Josephine Angelini

SALEM WITCHES. How could I resist? This was one of my most surprising reads of 2014. Amazing world, characters, and on top of all that it made me think. The villain is one of the best I've read in ages. I am dying for the next book in this series.

Full review here

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels, Book 7) by Ilona Andrews

One of my most anticipated books of 2014 - as Kate Daniels always is. The end of this book blew me away. World. Changing. I love Kate and Co. more than ever*, and can't wait to see what happens next.

*In fact I loved it so much I still haven't been able to write my thoughts out in a review. I think I should re-read and get that done.

Archangel's Shadows (Guild Hunter, Book 7) by Nalini Singh

I've been waiting for more Janvier and Ashwini since we first met them in Angels' Pawn, and Nalini Singh did *not* disappoint. What's more is that she made me fall in love with a character I'd previously known nearly nothing about. I'm always excited for the next Guild Hunter book, but this book just ramped that up.

Full review here.

The Caller (Shadowfell, Book 3) by Juliet Marillier

Neryn first grabbed my heart in Shadowfell, but by the time I was finished with Raven's Flight I was positively anxious to find out how this could end and if the characters I'd come to love would make it out alive. The Caller was a wonderful ending to the series - even if I did wish we could have spent a bit more time at the end wrapping things up and seeing how everyone fares in the aftermath.

Full review here.

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews

The writing duo that is Ilona Andrews continuously gives me books and series that I love. Here's just one more that they've thoroughly addicted me to. These characters are amazing, the sci-fi/fantasy aspect blows my mind, and the trademark humour is woven expertly throughout.

Full review here.

Shield of Winter (Psy/Changeling, Book 13) by Nalini Singh

After the amazing book that was Heart of Obsidian I didn't expect to love Shield of Winter so much. Nothing will ever compare to HoO, but that doesn't mean that this isn't a great book, because it truly is amazing. I love the characters, their individual personalities, and the continuation of the storyline that came to such a violent climax in the previous book.

I'm still gathering my thoughts for a full review and will probably end up re-reading the series to do it. An enjoyable couple of weeks, for sure.

Shifting Shadows (Mercyverse Novella Anthologies) by Patricia Briggs

I always enjoy visiting the side characters in a world that I love, but Ben, Asil and Bran's stories in this book alone would have put it on this list. It is amazing to get more in some of these characters' heads and get a few more viewpoints than just Mercy and Charles/Anna. All I can say is that I want MORE!

Full review here.

Eleven is going to have to be the magic number...


Beyond this first one, which is my favorite find of 2014, these are in no particular order.

Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)

I discovered this series at the urging of my girlfriend. Finally all her badgering paid off and I started watching on Netflix (unfortunately it's not there anymore), and got absolutely addicted. It has quickly became my favorite television series of all-time.

When an old enemy, the Cylons, resurfaces and obliterate the 12 colonies, the crew of the aged Galactica protects a small civilian fleet - the last of humanity - as they journey toward the fabled 13th colony of Earth.

Don't let the overly geeky title scare you off, this series is well worth every moment you devote to it. One thing - don't spoil yourself. At all. No Google searches, no anything. Just watch it first. Trust me.

Maleficent (2014)

I thought I knew the story. I was wrong. Disney did great things with this retelling.

A vengeful fairy is driven to curse an infant princess, only to discover that the child may be the one person who can restore peace to their troubled land.

Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)

Marvel's Avenger movies have been some of my favorites in the last couple of years. This Captain America sequel is even better than the first.

Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.

Divergent (2014)

Okay, I'll admit it, I haven't read the book yet. Though I'll admit that this movie makes me want to.

In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she's Divergent and won't fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it's too late.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Once upon a time I loved Tom Cruise movies, then ... well, I don't know what happened. But for a long time the movies he was making just weren't my cup of tea. This movie, however, was AMAZING. I loved every minute of it.

Big Hero 6 (2014)

What an amazingly cute, funny, and poignant movie. We took the kids to go see and I expected mildly cute, but I got a movie that the whole family wanted to watch again - immediately.

The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

I know, I'm hopelessly behind in seeing this movie, and I wish I'd seen it earlier because Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely amazing in it! I loved the story, loved the acting.

After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Having loved the final book in the series, I think I was always going to love the movie - especially considering how well done they've consistently been - but this movie's emotion and heart destroyed me...in the best possible way.

When Katniss destroys the games, she goes to District 13 after District 12 is destroyed. She meets President Coin who convinces her to be the symbol of rebellion, while trying to save Peeta from the Capitol.

Tell me. What are some of your favorites? What surprised you the most? What let you down?

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