My Top Five Books of 2014

I read 43 books in 2014 - and they were a very eclectic group of books. I can say there was only one in the group of 43 that I disliked immensely and I probably won't pick up another book by that author ever. The other 42 kept me entertained and I'm glad I decided to read them. Some of them I read in hours, some took a little longer, but overall I can say I enjoyed 42 of the 43 books I read this year. It was very hard to pinpoint my top five, but here they are - in no particular order.

Top Five Books of 2014

Removed and Released by S.J. Pajonas: Duty knows no family. Love has no price. Secrets can cost you everything.

REMOVED and RELEASED are the first two books in a captivating post-apocalyptic series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them into the future between Earth and a faraway land.

OK, so right away, I know I'm cheating by listing two books here - but I honestly can't choose between them and as they're part of a series, I feel like I can get away with it. I was so engrossed in these books, I read them one right after the other. I wished they'd all been done at the time so I could have continued with the story. It was so compelling, that when I finished Book 2 - I was literally in a Book Funk for days. I just found out, as I was coding the links for the books and author page, that the third book, REUNITED, has been went straight onto my TBR list and once I'm finished with the two books I'm currently reading, I will be cracking this one wide open...I may even re-read REMOVED & RELEASED before REUNITED just to refresh my memory! Have you ever done that with a good series?

Let's Be Frank by Brea Brown: Nate Bingham’s successful career as a pediatric nurse provides plenty of personal satisfaction (and an endless supply of lollipops), but at the end of every day, he comes home to an empty house. He claims he wants domestic bliss—a wife, some adorable booger-munchers, and a pooch—but so far, a picket-fence existence has eluded him. Is finding The One really that difficult, or is Nate sabotaging his own chance at happiness?

When his obnoxiously perfect older brother, Nick, announces his engagement to the only woman Nate ever came close to marrying, Nate decides he’s ready to do just about anything to secure his own happily-ever-after… even if that means sliding on some skinny jeans and a pair of fake specs and tricking the chick lit reading public into believing he’s their latest overnight success. It thrills his new high-maintenance girlfriend, the real writer of the books, but her interests soon become Nate’s smallest motivator in the venture. And that’s a major complication that doesn’t fit into Nate’s tidy five-year plan.

This was the first book I read by Ms. Brown and reading this story has made me add all her other works to my TBR pile. This book had it all for me, some romance, humor, drama. I bought the book as soon as it was available and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it. Yes, it was That Good! If you've never read anything by Ms. Brown, I would highly recommend reading this book and then picking up all the rest of her stuff. You won't be disappointed!

The Golden Dice by Elisabeth Storrs: In The Golden Dice, sequel to The Wedding Shroud, three women follow very different paths to survive a ten year siege between Rome and the Etruscan city of Veii:

Caecilia forsakes Rome to return to her Etruscan husband, Vel Mastarna, exposing herself to the enmity of his people and the hatred of the Romans who consider her a traitoress…

Semni, a reckless Etruscan girl, becomes a servant in the House of Mastarna, embroiling herself in schemes that threaten Caecilia's children and her own chance for romance…

Pinna, a tomb whore, uses coercion to escape her grim life and gain the attention of Camillus, Rome's greatest general, choosing between her love for him and her loyalty to another…

Where do I even start with this book? This is the second book in the series and it was just as good as the first. I spent a couple nights reading into the wee hours of the morning. I'm a huge fan of history and books like this just scratch so many itches for me. I fell in love with these characters almost immediately in the first book and Ms. Storrs does an excellent job of continuing not only the story, but the love you feel for the characters into the second book. I liked meeting the new characters and figuring out how they all intertwine and relate to each other...and I can't wait for Book 3 to be released. I did just pick up her published short story that goes with this series and I'm looking forward to reading it soon. If you like history, if you like forbidden romance, if you like Latin history - or if you're just looking for something different - this is the series for you!

I'm Still Here by Kathryn R. Biel: It started out as an ordinary day for Esther Comely-Cox, if you consider simultaneously totaling your car, smashing a Ho Ho in your face and meeting a handsome doctor ordinary.
Estranged from her family over her sister's mental illness and death, Esther can't help but feel alone. And when Esther hears the voice of her twin sister who committed suicide seven years ago, she begins to question her own sanity, leading her to wonder if anything is what it seems. Searching for answers, Esther must confront her past while looking towards a new future—one in which she is finally accepted.
Through humor and heartbreak, Esther learns that blood does not mean family, that absence does not make the heart grow fonder and that silence can speak volumes.

This book. Oh my goodness. I read an early version of this book, before it was published and I fell in love with it then. Reading it again, with the changes Ms. Biel made, made me love it even more. Esther is a girl after my own heart and I love her story. Ms. Biel does an incredible job developing all the characters, holding back vital information until the absolute last moment, keeping you in suspense and telling the right story for Esther. This book had me laughing and crying and it's definitely one of my favorite books of all time, not just 2014.

Divergent by Veronica Roth: One choice can transform you. Beatrice Prior's society is divided into five factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions. Her choice will shock her community and herself. But the newly christened Tris also has a secret, one she's determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different makes you dangerous.

I avoided reading this series for a long time. I'm not taken in by hype and I figured with all the hype it had gotten, it was just another one of those series that wasn't really worth my time. Then I saw the preview for the movie and I was hooked. One, because Theo James was starring in the movie and two, because it looked really interesting - almost Hunger Games like. So I decided to read the series before I watched the movie and I'm glad I did. The first book was by far my favorite of the three and kept me reading - again - until the wee hours of the morning.

Honorable Mentions: Because I love to read and I really had a hard time narrowing the 43 books down to five, I have to include my second top 5 reads of 2014...the Honorable Mentions. These books were among my favorite reads, and I feel my list really isn't complete without them. Maybe I should have made this my Top 10 books of 2014?!?!

Finding Lucas by Samantha Stroh Bailey: Can you ever really go back to the past?

After five long years of living with Derek, her former bad-boy-turned-metrosexual boyfriend, Jamie Ross finally reaches her breaking point. She's had enough of his sneering disdain for her second hand wardrobe, unusual family and low-paying job as the associate producer of Chicago's sleaziest daytime talk show. When her new boss plans a segment on reuniting lost loves, Jamie remembers Lucas, her first love and the boy she'd lost ten years earlier. Spurred on by her gang of quirky friends, Jamie goes on a hilarious, disastrous and life changing hunt to track Lucas down. But are some loves best left behind?

So good. This book had me from the first sentence and I had a hard time putting it down. There was humor, love, romance, face-palm moments and overall - just a really fabulous read. This author has been added to my follow list and I can't wait until she releases her next book!

Face Time by S.J. Pajonas: After the best first date ever, Lee thought Laura was funny, intelligent, and impulsive; a whirlwind of bright laughter and happiness. Laura loved Lee's sweet smile and the way he expertly filled in every awkward pause. He held her hand and then pulled her in for the most perfect kiss she’s had in years. What could possibly be wrong? Just the 7000 miles that separates them the next day.

Even though Lee has gone home to Seoul, Laura can't stop thinking about him. What starts as an innocent text thanking him for their dinner date becomes something much more: someone either of them can't live without. But Laura's got a live-in mother going through a midlife crisis, and Lee's stressful traveling schedule means they'll be apart for some time. Life, family, and a complicated past also get in the way, and they're both going to need actual face time to figure it out.

This is another book that I had the privilege of beta reading and another one I loved more after the changes. This book's unique voice kept the story interesting and allowed me, the reader, to get the most out of the story. You learn a lot about Laura and Lee because they each have their own turn to speak. I think, in this day and age, stories like this are relevant and can show the reader that distance doesn't have to be the end of relationships - not when you really care and put forth the effort to make it work. A great read and I'm looking forward to the next book in this series.

Miss Adventure by Geralyn Corcillo: When a freak fast-food accident almost kills dayreaming city girl Lisa Flyte, she decides it's time to get a backbone and really start living out loud. But how is a shrinking violet like Lisa supposed to get tough all of a sudden after a lifetime of watching from the couch? Jack Hawkins, that's how. When Lisa finds out that the outdoor extremist needs a clueless urbanite to test his top-secret line of idiot-proof adventure gear, she gets the most outlandish idea of her life: she will be his undercover test dummy if he helps her become brave on their adventures in the wild.

They strike a deal. Lisa survives the treks, jumps, and dives (barely!) But can she use her bumbling...uh, blossoming outdoor moxie to become the alpha hero of her everyday life? Will she find the grit to pursue a career she really wants or the nerve to stand up to her bullying family? And will she get gutsy enough to go after Jack? He's a man who's not afraid of anything...except maybe falling for Lisa.

I read this book when it was originally titled SHE LIKES IT ROUGH, but I love the new title for it. I think it really captures the heart of the book and the main character, Lisa, much better. This book is hilarious - from the first page to the last - it will have you in stitches. The adventures that Lisa and Jack get into are so real, so probable and you can put yourself into their places so easily and if you're anything like me - you laugh just thinking about being in their place at the moment. It's worth the time, worth the read and trust me, you'll be glad you read it!

Thirty-Three Going on Girlfriend? by Becky Monson: Julia Dorning thought she would die a lonely spinster. That was until nine months ago, when her world was turned upside down. Now she’s got a dream career as a bakery owner, and a relationship with handsome Jared Moody—a life she never thought possible.

Just as she’s starting to feel comfortable in her new life, Julia is invited to battle it out on national television making cupcakes. An amazing opportunity, if she can muster up the confidence to do it, that is. Then, out of the blue, Jared goes and throws a rather large wrench in their relationship causing Julia to have to make some big decisions. With her two trusted confidants off in wedding la la land, Julia is on her own to figure everything out.

Left to her own devices, will Julia be able to work things out for herself? Or will she make a disaster of it all?

I read the first book of this series and couldn't wait until the second book came out. When it was released, I snatched it up and read it too fast. The characters are endearing, the obstacles are fun to read through and truly have you cheering them on. I hope there is a third book in the series - I'd love to see Julie and Jared get their final happy ever after!

How Do You Know? by Meredith Schorr: What if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach?

On the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday, Maggie Piper doesn't look, act, or feel much different than she did at twenty-nine, but with her fortieth birthday speeding toward her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary "break" from her live-in boyfriend results in a "break-up," Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn't always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.

This was a Meredith Schorr year for me - I read all FOUR of her books and enjoyed every single one of them. This book, HOW DO YOU KNOW?, is her fourth and latest book. I immediately bought it and began reading it. I'm married, with children, yet this book still spoke to me. Maybe because I married and had children later than my younger siblings, I could understand a lot of what Maggie was going through. Not to mention the fact that I'm closing in, faster than I'd like, on the big 4-0 myself. This was a great book and, in my opinion, the best of her books to date!

**And there you have it -- my top picks of 2014. I hope you enjoyed my list and I hope you'll take some time to read some of these gems...if you haven't already!



Thanks girl! xoxoxoxoxo

Heather, I am thrilled to the core to make your list of Top Books of 2014!!!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!!!! Yay!!!!! Such an amazing nod from such a great writer!!! Thank you! I am glad the book brought you joy :)

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