Happy New Year’s Eve, my friends!! It’s that time of year again!! Time to scroll through all of my favorite 2014 reads and choose my absolute favorites out of the bunch! And you KNOW that’s gonna be hard for me, considering the fact that, if I’ve 4.5 to 5-starred it, I thought it was FANTASTIC!! So it’s already a favorite, ya know?
But I’m gonna try and consolidate. The keyword is TRY. I’m going to list them by those that I remember the most, in detail… still, without even having to backtrack over my review or the synopsis. Generally, all 5-star (and many 4.5 star) books have that effect on me, so make sure to check them all out, as I highly recommend EACH one). But… these just really stand out in my head loud and clear.
After I Do: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid <— This one…. I think is my #1 of my #1′s this year. It BLEW me away. The incredible writing, that SAD beginning… the journey, the letters… just WOW. Brilliant. Nothing too out there, but such a realistic read. I loved these characters and I felt as if they were truly real, and each moment played out authentically. Perfection. I said: “Pure reading entertainment for those of us that love a good love story, but that enjoy working for it, every step of the way. And I don’t mean that in an arduous or hard read kind of way. Working for this love story isn’t going to exhaust you. It will exhilarate you. Adrenalize you. Excite you and devastate you, and back again (and not necessarily in that order). It is laden in realistic moments. Moments that you can feeeeeel deep inside your heart, and your stomach, along with the characters.“ In fact I loved it SO much that I immediately started her other standalone book and loved it almost just as much. This is my new *wow* author. Can’t wait for more! (Read the rest of my book review here).
Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan <— An early 2014 STANDOUT and absolute favorite that everything read after had to measure up to. LOL!!! Well… no, I mean every 5-star read was it’s own awesomeness, this year, but this one was just so good for me, had such an “old school” indie feel from back when I first started reading those pure, angsty, daring indies from back in 2011, and WOW. I was so excited about this!! He’s a recluse, she’s new in town, she can’t help but try and make friends with him, and he wants nothing to do with it. At first. What I loved? Is that the author allowed us to live the entire “meet cute” to disinterest, to eventual friends to… so much more. What I said in my review? “I loved these people, and I absolutely loved the pacing. Gradual and tentative, but constantly progressing and always had me brimming with anticipation. Everything made sense. It was EXACTLY as I think it would play out in real life.” Yep!!! She let it play out in it’s entirety and I was SO attached to these characters by the end, I could never forget this book. MUST READ!!! Check out my review here.
Ugly Love: A Novel by Colleen Hoover <— One of my forever favorite authors of all time, each book she releases steals me away, breaks my heart… MAKES my heart and drops me back off at home all melancholy and happy at the same time. Missing her world. Her characters. Her gorgeous stories. And this one ROCKED MY WORLD!!! Heartbreaking pasts, trust issues, falling in love… everything. But SO much more. I said: “This book felt normal. Totally connectable. Totally relatable, and a fun start, even though it was intense and super-tragic at times. It had all of Colleen’s writing charm, her relatable characters and profound (yet often lighthearted, too) feel to it. And yes!! It’s got its very poetic moments, but by that, I mean… thoughts and feelings, comparisons… so eloquently put together (but so raw in their words) that… that was poetic, to me.” and I’m still right there! (read the rest of my review here).
Forever, Interrupted: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid <— The one I read right after… “After I Do” and I loved it almost as much. Both are standalones and have nothing to do with each other… other than… they are both fabulously written by the same author, chock-full of realistic emotion and angst and they will both make you cry. Especially this one. Okay… this one? Maybe “cry” is not the right word. More like… *sob*. Just to give you an idea, here is a bit from my review: “And WHAT. AN. ENDING!!! I was blown away by that last line, but don’t you dare go look!!!!!! I was just… moved beyond belief, stunned into silence as big fat tears plopped off my cheeks, soaking my pajama top. And then I backed up, and re-read that last chapter again. And sobbed some more. Yep. Sob-inducing, I think I cried during at least 4 different parts. And not just a few tears either. Had to put down the book, hug my pillow and cry into it.” WOW. THAT. ENDING!!!!!!!!! *whoooooooo* one of the best endings ever. I’d almost liken it to the awesome ending of “The Sea of Tranquility“. Not in what it means per se… but in that depth. That pure genius. That *oomph* and impact. She is my new/latest favorite author! UNFORGETTABLE!!!!! Read my review.
Loving Mr. Daniels by Brittainy Cherry <— One of my absolute favorite teacher-student romances out there (er… next to Slammed, of course. THAT was my favorite. And maybe even my first of the genre). BUT!!! THIS one gave me that feeling, you know? Not too sordid, not too easy, delicious angst and lots and lots of emotion. Everything I crave in a forbidden romance book with not too much “forbidden” that I am constantly trying to justify my love for it, ya know? But! Just enough forbidden to keep me on my toes and the butterflies fluttering. A bit from my review: “I haven’t read all of ‘em, so I might be missing out on another one, but last night? This morning? THIS!!!!!! This has been the one that has brought me all of those delicious “Slammed” feels. This was the one that made me tear up, over and over again (and for various reasons). Yes. I was that connected! This is the one that made me cry real tears. Twice.“ See my review.
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma <— Speaking of forbidden, I gotta put this one on the list. Oh sure, it’s not one from 2014, but I read it for the first tie this year so it counts! And I KNEW… I JUST KNEW this was going to be a 5-star read a few years ago when it was first recommended to me. Over and over again. A bit from my review: “I purchased this one, in all of it’s full-priced glory (oh wow, I paid even more for it, back then!!) just on the recommendations alone (intense, insistent, adamant, emotional recommendations came my way every single time this book was mentioned).“ Once we all came out of the forbidden closet, this ranked at the top of our eeeeeeeeep!!!!-list. This!! THIS will take you out of your comfort zone and never let you go back. THIS is that read that has you questioning what exactly you’re “rooting” for. THIS will have you swooning and sobbing and face-palming as your logic kicks and and says WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!??? And you heart kicks in… and well… kicks your logic in the butt. LOL!!! PURE emotional attachment/angst/love/extreme-discomfort. It took me years to read i ’cause I knew… oh yes. I knew. BUT i finally read it this year and THIS is UNFORGETTABLE. I can tell you from start to finish every single detail, and I read it months ago. See my review.
Play (Stage Dive Series Book 2) by Kylie Scott <— Here’s my PURE GUILTY ROCK STAR PLEASURE of the bunch. No. Wait. I have two. But this is the first one I’m going to talk about ’cause I was so sure Mal would not be “my guy”. Too funny, too silly, too laid back. You know me and the intense, brooding bad boy heroes. Mal was a rock star, yesssss, but too much of a clown for the brooding. But I loved him like CRAZY! A bit from my review: “This book is a must read, for those that love good ol’ fashion rock-star infatuation romance. Lots of sweeeeeeet laughs, a HUGE crush, and boy is it steeeeeeeamy (even though it’s kind of a slow burn at first <— which makes it THAT much better the whole way through). Oh. And plenty of angst in so MANY ways. I’m telling you, my heart felt it all.” Check out the rest of my review here.
Lovely Trigger (Tristan & Danika Book 3) by R.K. Lilley <— Actually this WHOLE Tristan & Danika Series rocks my world and turned into a whole 5-star fun-fest, but since this was the last of the series and the one I 5-starred, I’m featuring it. BUT! I’ll be posting my review only for book #1 (so as not to spoil it for any new readers). Rock star romance and pure drama and angst and breakups and misunderstandings and OH NO HE DIDN’T moments and everything in between! A bit from my review of this book (non-spoilerish): “This truly is one of those “old-school” indie bad-boy series the likes of those we fell in love with way back when. I’ve been on a search ever since and have successfully found more, but believable angsty love-story treasures like this are kind of rare, ya know? And even more so, when the first book hooks you (and keeps you) from the start, the second book is even better (and turns your world upside down for hours on end) and the final book proves to be the best one of ‘em all. As was the case (for me) with this one!” And here is my review of book #1.
Love, in English by Karina Halle <— One that was pure contemporary romance, but with a forbidden romance twist that made many squirm. A beautiful and exciting (and hilarious) summer trip to Spain, where it was a sort of english immersion program for the spaniards that wanted to learn the language. And SHE… was one of the teachers. A story of strangers that become friends, of friendships forming in a different country, bonds formed that are stronger than the expiration threatening to end their time together… and yet. Heartache. Loved it! And… Karina introduced me to Lana Del Rey with this gorgeous, bittersweet story. GOD THAT SCENE. *sob* A bit from my review: “That slow and steady climb (aka “slow burn”), the anticipation, the delicious nervousness fluttering in your stomach, as the wistful yearning to satisfy your hearts newfound desire builds. You tell yourself it won’t be that bad. You’ve got a handle on this. Even though you know better. You’re fooling yourself and the fact that your heart is skipping beats solidifies that knowledge.” (Read the rest of my review here).
Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher <— Pure Tarryn Fisher!!!! Dark, crazy, scary, and purely emotional. An intense love story that made so many of us cry. Crazy twists, I swear it gave me a panic attack at a certain point, but one thing is for sure… I could NOT put this one down. One full-on straight thriller-romance read for me. Romance? I dunno. Yes. No. YES. But a la “Tarryn”. Love is never pretty, never easy, with her. It’s raw, it hurts, and it may or may not have a happily ever after. A bit from my review? “I… ache. My stomach aches. My chest aches. My back aches. My overly-clenched jaw aches. It’s the bad kind of ache (but a good one, too). And I cherish every bit of the pain I’m in. Wow. What an unforgettable way to spend a Sunday.” Read the rest of my review, here.
Bright Side by Kim Holden <— And one that I 4.5 starred. An honorable mention that really feels like a 5-star to me, today… so I’m moving it up. MADE ME SOB!!!!! That’s all I’m saying. No dry eyes in our bunch. I’m certain of it! “ Y’all wanted me to drown in my own tears, didn’t you? Well I can’t say you didn’t warn me. Bunch of meanies. *shakes head* P.S. I glare at y’all with love. And thanks. And rainbows and unicorns. ” (Read the rest of my review here).
So these are the ones that made me react BIG time this year, but they aren’t the only ones. I absolutely LOVED these, too:
- Book Review – Deeper by Robin York <— Pure romance angst and a total guilty-pleasure read! A bit from my review: “The heartwarming scenes, the kindle-throwing moments, the realizations. The despair, the strength. The growth. I experienced it all, and I “got” them.“
- Book Review – Push by Claire Wallis <— A romance thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. And then… WHOA!!!! A bit from my review: ”Excuse me, while I pick my jaw up off the floor. I’m just sitting here. Stunned. Dying for the next one. DYING!!!!“
- Book Review – 53 Letters For My Lover by Leylah Attar <— Forbidden love! A bit from my review: ”With it’s gorgeous writing, exquisite detail and a thoughtful, cautious yet raw exploration of something that is absolutely illicit. I say “gentle” in it’s approach compared to other books of this genre, but not so gentle that you don’t actually feel it. You feel it. BIG TIME.”
- Book Review – Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick <— More forbidden love! Student-teacher romance! A bit from my review: ”But as in all of these “types” of stories… there is so much more to them than what is first presented. Secrets. Struggles. Suspicions. Saviors.”
- Book Review – Black Lies by Alessandra Torre <— TWISTY TURNY and gasp-worthy!!!! Love triangle that will blow your mind! A bit from my review: ”Now I’m just going to say… go in BLIND with this one, please!!! If you’re in the mood for a crazy, twisty romance story, then don’t even bother reading the rest of this review (for now). I gave it 4.5 stars (leaning on 5 stars), so just know that I loved it, so many fellow readers loved it, and it has a few *gasp-worthy* twists that most don’t even see coming.“
- Book Review – Rainfall by Melissa Delport <— Another fantastic twisty-turns read!! Pure surprise. It twisted a few times and even when I thought I “knew” there was SO much more to know… A bit from my review: ”…twists and turns and I was right for some, and wrong for others but… no matter what I managed to guess, I was on the edge of my seat for the entire second half, and couldn’t put it down. WOW what a ride!!!“
- Book Review – Changing Course by Aly Martinez <— One of the most unique “normal” love stories this year! Hilarious, has an awesome cast of characters, and totally intense! A bit from my review: ”It had EVERYTHING!!! While there was an incredible heart wrenching depth to the main part of this heartbreaking love story, there was plenty of humor to keep it from getting too heavy. It had all of that “emotionally dark” potential, but it never drowned us in it.“
- Book Review – Crazy Good by Rachel Robinson <— Perfect title for this book!!! Military romance that had me in tears. A bit from my review: ”I LOVED it. Almost every single second of it (with maybe a tiny slow-ish “lull” in the “comfort zone” in the middle). But I promise you. You don’t stay comfortable for long.”
- Book Review – Hard Time by Cara McKenna <— She works in the prison… and falls for a prisoner. A bit from my review: ”I love a book that makes me think. Doubt it. Doubt myself. Doubt my sanity. And maybe even change my mind, even if it’s just temporary. Like… for instance, this book.“
- Book Review – Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover <— another unique, yet pure Colleen Hoover treasure!! Love triangle, funny friends, grumpy friends. It’s SO good! A bit from my review: ”Sweeeeeeeeet!!!! But… daring. Not CRAZY daring… but she definitely took ‘em somewhere that surprised the heck out of me.“
- Book Review – The Plan by Qwen Salsbury <— One of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE romantic comedies. Her internal dialogue had me rolling, laughing!!! SHE IS AWESOME! And he was SO not into her. *snort* A bit from my review: ”OMG you guys. Seriously. I’m not usually THAT into “romantic comedies” but this one just did it for me. It made me work for the “potential” romance (’cause you know… maybe HE’S not the one… I won’t say, you never know… *lips sealed*), but it had me laughing so often, and had me feeling so often, that it just felt like fun. The perfect Sunday afternoon read. The perfect anytime read.“
- Book Review – Transcendence by Shay Savage <— most unique love story of the year! Falling in love with a caveman? ME? Yep! A bit from my review: ”An unconventional, delightfully weird love story. Weird… but not quirky or corny, you know? Just… right up our alley, and I loved it!“
- Book Review – Come to Me Quietly by A.L. Jackson <— Has that “old-school-indie” damaged and brooding bad-boy feel!! A bit from my review: ”Fantastic angsty potential love story, that had just enough of everything to keep me guessing, torturing me just right. You know I love it when it hurts, and this one stung real nice!“
- Book Review – Remembering Us by Stacey Lynn <— Memory loss and she’s trying to piece her life back together… my heart!!! A bit from my review: ”That’s part of what made this an exciting, unputtdownable read. It’s secrets were gradually revealed which kept me guessing to the very end. Well paced, and it kept me emotionally invested. Oh yes, this one is not just “mystery” and secrets. It’s about emotion and love.“