Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2014

Since everyone's posting about their favorite books of the year today via the Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), this seems as good a time as any to share my list! :) I'm going to cheat a little, though, and give the top 14 for 2014. I've read over 80 stories this year, so while I've tried to give an order to this list, just the fact that they're on the list makes them fabulous! The ones near the end were just especially awesome to me for one reason or another.

#14 Dash and Cinder by Bridget Ladd

This is a very recent read for me, and I was totally impressed by the novella! I learned about it from Anne Elisabeth Stengl's blog, when she shared about some of the other Cinderella retellings that didn't make it into the Five Glass Slippers anthology but had gone on to be indie-published. This particular retelling is very vivid and packs such an epic feel into so few pages. I went on to purchase The Lotus Effect and very much look forward to reading a full novel by this author.

#13 Awakening by Tracy Higley

I've been a fan of Tracy's historicals for years now, and this fascinating blend of genres was so mysterious and enthralling. I ended up reading it all one Saturday afternoon/night!

#12 Five Glass Slippers (Anthology)

I had the pleasure of working with Anne Elisabeth Stengl (editor/publisher) and the five authors of this anthology to promote this book via a blog tour. It was a blast! And happily, I very much enjoyed reading the collection of winning retellings. Each one was very creative, and a few in particular swept me away. You can read my full review of the book HERE.

#11 Dinosaur Boy by Cory Putman Oakes

My lips are sealed on this one, as it releases February 3, 2015, and that's when my review will be posted. But let's just say this middle-grade story is awesome! And this is coming from a girl who mostly reads romance novels.

#10 Pilgrimage of Promise by Cathy Bryant

This story wasn't so much a favorite on the "fun" side of the list. But as far as emotional impact goes, it had to be included. Such a poignant romance! You can read my full review HERE.

#9 A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

Kara of Flowers of Quiet Happiness brought this book to my attention, and I'm so glad she did! It's an enchanting middle-grade read. I read it around the time of a big life transition (moving, taking a new job, etc.), and its sweetness and cleverness offered such happy and comforting moments of reading.

#8 Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

This fantasy romance is another one that blogging friends really put on my radar, and wow. What an intense, intriguing romance! I wouldn't say it's for everyone due to the premise of the story and the darker elements, but I found it to be a completely engaging and thought-provoking read. I can't wait for Rosamund's next release!

#7 Cress by Marissa Meyer

This futuristic sci-fi (?)/fantasy series continues to delight me! I believe Scarlet remains my favorite of the series, but I've thoroughly enjoyed each installment, and I'm psyched for the two Lunar Chronicles books releasing in 2015. You can read my snack size review of Cress HERE.

#6 The Thief by Stephanie Landsem

Absolutely wonderful biblical fiction. From the setting descriptions to the characterization to the unfolding of the plot... It's really, really good. I'm eager to see how Stephanie's next release turns out. You can read my full review of The Thief HERE.

For me, this book is right up there with Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz. Rich, romantic, and epic historical fiction. You can read my full review HERE

#4 This Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof

Joanne's novella has so much heart and soul - but in an understated, quietly poignant style. This historical tale is unflinching, honest, and beautiful. You can read my full review HERE.

#3 The Seahorse Legacy by Serena Chase

So...this is the kind of book that makes you want to curl up into the fetal position when you finish because you know you have to wait way too long for the conclusion. I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that Book 4 of this fantasy romance series releases in early 2015, because I am SO ready to find out what happens to these characters! And you can never have too many pirates...or too much of Serena's writing. ;) You can read my full review HERE

#2 Thorn by Intisar Khanani 

Like Cruel Beauty, I wouldn't recommend this book to all of my blog readers due to its darker nature. But man - what a story! Thought-provoking, powerful, unique, raw. You can read my snack size review HERE.

#1 This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

I read a lot of really wonderful, creative stories this year. So why did I list this as #1? While it's hard to say for sure what really stood out as my favorite, I'm naming This Is What Happy Looks Like because...well...it made me happy! It wasn't a "wow" book, but rather an "aww" story that offers such a great blend of authenticity and whimsy. This style is kind of the direction my own writing is taking in the contemporary realm, and Jennifer E. Smith is a fab example of how to rock the YA/NA contemporary romance genre. I still need to finish reading her latest novel, but I have no doubt it will be an enjoyable experience once I really give it my attention. You can read my full review of this book HERE.

* * * 

This has been a great year for books! Seven of the titles I listed were indie-published, and I love that a combo of traditional and indie avenues produces such a grand variety of stories for us to enjoy. I'm totally looking forward to what 2015 has in store on the publishing front!

If you're curious about some of the other books I read in 2014, you can see my Goodreads stats or view my "I've read" shelf on Shelfari.

Tell me, what books made your favorites list for 2014?


Aiko said...

*adding books to my wishlist*

Ella said...

I haven't heard of some of this books before. I will have to check them out.

Anonymous said...

What a great list! I haven't read any of these and have only heard of a few! Will have to check some of these out! :)

Joanne Bischof said...

What a fun list, Amber! I love all the variety! I'm so honored for TQS to be on your list. And now I see some that I need to add to my own!

Intisar Khanani said...

What an honor to see Thorn on your list! And now I am busily jotting down more books to read. I really enjoyed Cruel Beauty as well--it's kind of fantastic for me to see Thorn grouped with such great reads. Thank you!

Serena said...

Thank you so much! I am honored to have THE SEAHORSE LEGACY included on your list! So honored! ((Hugs))

Rissi said...

Loved this list, Amber! Very few I've read/loved or enjoyed, but definitely titles I *want* to read. Loved Joanne's. I didn't realize some of the Cinderella contest participants self-published their novellas! That's awesome. Thanks for this. It was fun to go through. Makes me all the more anxious to get mine done. :)

Courtney Clark (The Green Mockingbird Blog) said...

What a fun post! Somehow I've missed a few of these reviews, now I need to go back and add to my TBR. By the way, I love your book tree in the header!

Now, like Rissi said, I must ponder my 2014 list some more....
Happy reading!

Unknown said...

Rissi, I'm looking forward to your book! :)

Unknown said...

Lovely list, Amber! Have read some. And for those that I have, I completely agree. :)

Amber Holcomb said...


Yay! Happy reading. :)


Amber Holcomb said...


So glad I could introduce you to some new titles/authors! Hope you discover some new favorites. :)


Amber Holcomb said...


Oooh, then you're in for some good reading! :) Hope you love 'em!


Amber Holcomb said...


I think the whole Kindle phenomenon has helped me branch out even more in my reading - not to mention just growing up and appreciating new things. :) Glad you like the variety! And yes, of course I had to include This Quiet Sky. A beautiful story, my friend!


Amber Holcomb said...


Thorn is the kind of story that sucks you in and makes you think. Very intriguing and engaging - and I was glad to include it on the list!

Thanks for checking out the other titles I included, and I hope you find some new favorites. :) Cruel Beauty was great, wasn't it? So looking forward to Crimson Bound!


Amber Holcomb said...


You're very welcome! The Seahorse Legacy was fabulous - although you know I'm desperate for Book 4! Will look forward to that one whenever it's release date arrives. :)


Amber Holcomb said...


Thanks for checking out my list! Joanne's was wonderful. And I greatly enjoyed the self-published Cinderella stories! You probably saw the link in the post, but here it is again, just in case:

Cinderella, Cinderella

Dash and Cinder, Corral Nocturne, and Cursed Beauty were all quite enjoyable! And I just love a good novella that can be enjoyed in one evening. :)

Excited for your Top 10-ish, my friend!


Amber Holcomb said...


Glad you enjoyed the post, and I hope you enjoy whichever of these titles you decide to read. :)

And thanks for the compliment regarding my little book tree! It was fun to make, and there are some great stories that went into it. :)

Looking forward to seeing your list!


Amber Holcomb said...


I'm with you - will look forward to reading Rissi's fiction someday! :)

And glad you agree with some of my choices on this list. This was a great year for books! Will you be doing a Top 10-ish list, as well?


Stephanie Landsem said...

Sorry I'm late to the party, Amber, but thanks for including The Thief in your round-up of favorites. What an honor :)

Amber Holcomb said...


Never too late to join a book party! ;) I loved The Thief and was happy to include it on my list. Very much anticipating The Tomb! Keep up the great work, and have a wonderful New Year. :)


Kara said...

What a great list, Amber! So many awesome stories. (And thanks for the shout out. I'm so pleased you enjoyed Natalie's story as much as I! :)

I didn't realize that some of the other writers had published their Cinderella stories. I'll go check them out!

Ah, Cruel Beauty. SUCH a wonderful story. I need to do a reread soon!

And Cress and The Pursuit of Tamsin Littlejohn, so great!

I skimmed enough of The Seahorse Legacy to realize that it had a humdinger of a cliffhanger! Hence I've been waiting to read it until the next book comes out. WHICH I AM SO READY TO HAPPEN. I'm tired of waiting already! ;)

Amber Holcomb said...


Thank you! And yes, so many awesome stories, for sure!! Happy to send you a S/O for introducing me to the sweetness of A Snicker of Magic. :) Thanks again!

Yes, so cool that other Five Glass Slippers entrants released their Cinderella stories into the wild! Gotta love all of the incredibly unique takes on the traditional story.

Yes, yes, to Cruel Beauty! I do believe I'd enjoy re-reading that one, too. :) Cannot wait for Crimson Bound!

Glad you agree with some of my other choices. :) As for The Seahorse Legacy...yep, there's definitely a massive cliffhanger! It's exciting and enticing, but something that makes the wait for Book 4 all the longer. I think I recall Serena mentioning something about this summer? I sure hope we won't have to wait TOO long! We've gotta know what happens!! ;)