Journal

A Few of my 2014 Favorites (Part I)

It is hard to believe that 2014 is nearly over. This has been a wonderful year for me in a number of ways. I’ve felt blessed with a number of new friendships, I have found a hobby that I love (reviewing books), and I’ve made a wonderful amount of progress in my road to writing a novel. But this blog post is meant to focus on the book review part of all of those fabulous things.

I’ve always been an avid reader, but in the spring of this year, I learned that publishers and authors will send you books for free and all you need to do is agree to write reviews of them. How great is that? I had reached a point where the library I borrowed my books from was running out of new-to-me books in my favorite genres. So I started looking into reviewing books, and it has been a wonderful experience. Since I have read so many books this year, I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at which ones were my favorites.

For the most part, I picked one or two novels that were among my favorites for that category/genre. Because I didn’t read very many in some categories, I may only list one or two books. If you want to see more books that I’ve reviewed on my blog from a category/genre, you can click on the option from the menu. There is also a list of novels I’ve reviewed that is alphabetical by author and another list that is all the books I reviewed by month in 2014.

Here are my favorite novels from 2014 (although I wish I could include many more):

The links will take you to my review of a particular book.

Christian Living/Inspirational Books/Devotionals:

If you haven’t picked up one of Shaunti’s books, I highly recommend them. They are filled with so much wonderful information about marriage, and practical advice on improving your marriage. Many things are just simple ways to understand your spouse a bit better. The Good News about Marriage focuses on the state of marriages today. Divorce is apparently not as common as we are told and in this book she shares the statistics to prove it as well as sharing where that misconception has come from.

The One Year Women in Christian History Devotional is a fascinating book. The world we live in today has been shaped by those who come before, and that holds true to Christian history as well. The women in this book all had an impact somehow. A bonus is that each day focuses on a different woman, explaining who she was and what her impact was. I was impressed by the broad spectrum of women within the pages of this book.

Cookbooks:

I’m really not sure if there is anything much better than Tex Mex or store bought junk food. These two cookbooks focus on those two things respectively.

The Homesick Texan’s Family Table is filled with cheese, peppers, and spice. Even better, everything in the book has fairly common ingredients (or at least easy to find) and doesn’t take any super special culinary expertise. Each recipe even comes with an anecdote from the other.

Treat Yourself is a wonderful idea of a cookbook. The author figured out some wonderfully accurate (where taste is concerned more than appearance or texture) of our favorite junk food items. What I love about this, is that I can enjoy some favorites and not worry about what is going into it!

History and Auto/Biography:

Here is Where is a fascinating book. Going all across the United States, Andrew Carroll stopped and visited a number of places that the majority didn’t even know played a role in history or that we had forgotten about. Starting at a railroad station that involves a moment between John Wilkes Booth’s brother and Abraham Lincoln’s son, this book captured my interest with so many fascinating little known moments in history.

Novellas and Short Stories:

I have to admit that I was primarily interested in Where Treetops Glisten for the novella by Sarah Sundin. However, as a whole, the three stories that comprise this book were a wonderful way to start the Christmas season. The stories flow together really well and are written by three very talented ladies. This is a unique collection of stories, that I found to be one of the best holiday collections I read this year.

Appalachian Serenade was a wonderful start to debut author Sarah Loudin Thomas’s new series of novels starting with Miracle in a Dry Season. The books are all set in Appalachia and are truly unique stories. If you haven’t had a chance to sample her work, they are worth looking into. And this particular story is still free on Amazon that last time I looked.

Suspense, Thrillers and Mystery:

Shadows of the Past was a novel that became a bit more intense with every turn of the page. I can appreciate that in a good suspense novel. I found the same to be true for Patricia Bradley’s second suspense novel in the Logan Point series. I was impressed with her as an author, and that is why her novel is one of my two top picks of the year in this category.

Irene Hannon’s novel had the characters as a strong point. While the mystery was an interesting puzzle, my reactions to particular characters surprised me greatly while I was reading it. The story was also intense and overall it was quite difficult to put this book down.

Fantasy:

I don’t read a lot of fantasy, but when I do, I enjoy a good novel that will blend fantastical elements with everyday. T.C. Slonaker did this with Amity of Angelmen. Her YA novel about a race of human/angels was enthralling and well done. It was also laced with Scripture and shared a wonderful message.

Contemporary:

From page one, Katie Ganshert had me hooked with this beautiful story. It dove in and really felt with the main character, Ivy. This was one of the first novels in awhile that really hooked me emotionally and it held my heart until the end. I can emphasize enough the beauty of this story.

Dear Mr. Knightley was a truly unique novel. If you read my review, you read how much I struggled with reading the book at the beginning. But let me tell you, I was so disappointed to finish the book. This was a wonderful novel about a girl finding her own identity. As hard as she was to relate to in the beginning, I felt quite connected to her by the end.

Historical Fiction:

This was perhaps the hardest genre for me to choose from, since the majority of the books I review fall into this category. It is also my favorite genre. But there have been a few that have stood out to me:

If you’ve been paying attention to the Christian fiction world since Kristi Cambron’s novel was released, you would know that this book was a hit. The cover of the book was beautiful, and the story between the covers even more stunning. I imagine it is a challenge to write a novel about hope set in the despair of auswitch, but this book is exactly that.

I might be a bit biased with selecting Jody Hedlund’s Captured by Love as one of my top pics, but it truly was one of my favorites. The book is set on historic Mackinac Island during the War of 1812. The book blends so much history was a powerful love story. I adored every page as I knew I would, and it is a book I can’t highly recommend enough!

That about sums up my favorite novels based on their genres that I’ve read this year. Please, share with me some of your favorites in the comments section.

Please come back by tomorrow, where I will be sharing some more favorite books 🙂

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4 thoughts on “A Few of my 2014 Favorites (Part I)

  1. That’s a great list of favorites! I can’t believe you haven’t been reviewing books longer. I’m not sure why I assumed you’ve been at it for a couple of years. It is neat to know that I started following not long after you got started. 🙂 I’m most eager to read the Butterfly and the Violin. The cover is stunning!

    Like

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