Best Books of 2014 So Far

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This is (once again) a tag borrowed from Cait at Notebook Sisters! Here are my top 9 books that were published this year. Sidenote: these are ones that I feel have universal merit – I have a few more that I personally thought were fab but I know don’t resonate with other people.

Best Books 1

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller. I haven’t yet published my review, but HOLY CRAP WOW THAT WAS A GOOD BOOK. I really don’t know how I’m going to put my thoughts into words. It was everything that I love about science fiction: speculative, questioning humanity, defining evil, the power of technology – all the things from Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 that I fell in love with. Seriously, read this book. [Edit: July 28 – I’ve now published my review, and you can read the flailing here]

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour. See how beautiful that cover is? Doesn’t it make you so happy and fuzzy and warm inside? Yes? Okay, now imagine that feeling times ten. That’s what ELtY will make you feel. It’s very realistic – not just fluff, but it made me so happy that I think everyone needs to read this book.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski. FANTASSSYYYYY. TWC took me to an entirely different world of slaves and class and politics and secrets. It was so well put together that I was wailing when it finished – I didn’t want to go back to the real world!

Best Books 2

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. Dreams of Blood and Starlight would be on here too, if it were published this year. I’ll admit that the first book didn’t have me convinced, but books two and three were just perfect and left me absolutely awestruck. I loved every single bit of this book, and could put it down – despite the intimidating size.

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens. What’s odd is that I only rated this one four stars, but I think about it ALL the time. It may not have been one of those “OH MY GOD YES THIS BOOK” reactions, but it’s a slow burn that won’t die. The message is so inspiring, and this book is truly touching.

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. This is such a feel-good summer book with an amazing romance AND friendship. I’ve read some reviews saying that it’s too cliche, but I don’t care one bit. Everything about Emery’s writing oozes with awesome sauce, and while I was perusing my copy (because sometimes I just need to hold my books), and I had all the feels again.

Best Books 3

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi. I think my essay-length discussion about sums up how seriously I take this series. I’ll be the first to admit that the first two books are a bit whiny and insta-lovey and maybe creepy, but Ignite Me is beyond worth all of that! It’s like all of a sudden BOOM this amazing book just bursts into the room. The themes are what really sold me, and I’ll rant and rave to anyone who even mentions this book.

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas. What really stood out to me was that this was a bunch of novellas – and I hate novellas with a passion. I actually consider it more of a prequel novel, and wow what a backstory to my favorite assassin. Maas develops the entire world of her series, while getting into the nuances of Celaena’s character, and to be honest I think TAB is my favorite so far in this series. Though I haven’t read Heir of Fire yet, and that’s been receiving high praise from many of my friends!

Far From You by Tess Sharpe. This is similar to Faking Normal in that it hit me long after I finished it. This is a very quiet story, but very powerful after you’ve read the last page. The mystery wasn’t my favorite, but that wasn’t the important part, and I ignored it almost entirely.

I wrote this a few weeks ago, and I need to add three more: (the July 28 addition)

Best Books 4

There Will Come a Time by Carrie Arcos. Another that I haven’t published my review for quite yet, but oh my god you guys. Oh. My. God. This is a must read if you’re into books about grief; heck, it’s a must read for everyone. It’s an overlooked book from this year that needs MORE ATTENTION!

Sway by Kat Spears. I may be cheating by adding a book that hasn’t been published yet, but oh well. Y’all can pick up your copies on September 16th and find out exactly why Sway deserves a spot on this list 😉 If you like male narrators, contemporary stories, unlikeable characters that need to grow up and break your heart in the process due to touching character development, and a wee bit of romance – this book is for you!

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. Okay, also not published yet, but September 2nd isn’t THAT far away (I tell myself as I cry in the corner of BN because HoF isn’t on the shelf yet). But whenever it’s published – it deserves a spot on this list. There is NOTHING that can change my mind about Heir of Fire possibly being one of the best books of the entire year. Holy shenanigans you guys – holy shenanigans.

What do you think are the best books published in 2014? Feel free to do the tag yourself!

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Top Ten Characters To Keep Me Company While Deserted

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Check out their blog here!

Today’s TTT topic is: Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island (pick based on however you want…skills they would bring, their company…or pure hotness factor :P) I actually think I’ll stick with those three categories! As long as this doesn’t go Lord of the Flies, I think I could be quite happy stuck on an island with these ten characters. I tried to get fanart for all of these characters, but some I just couldn’t find, so I put the covers instead. All art is sourced to their creators 🙂

For… skills they would bring

1. Karou from Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. Even without the magic, Karou is intelligent and quick, and she would take charge and handle things in a crisis easily.

2. Sturmhond from Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a privateer with them? Not just for the hotness factor, I mean. He’s probably used to surviving in harsher conditions, and he could make any tough situation a bit lighter with his sarcasm and wit. 

3. Celaena Sardothian from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. Of course I want an assassin on my side! But she’d also be nice to have for company – I mean, she loves chocolate cake. I don’t think I could hate any person who loves chocolate cake.

So. Many. Feels.
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For… their company

4. Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Oh Peeta ❤ My one true love and first book boyfriend. I’m pretty sure I could be happy just by seeing him smile every day. That’s all I’d need to survive a deserted island.

 5. Josie from Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan. We could sit on the beach and complain about sock seams and shirt tags all day, and then talk about linguistics and syntax together. The time would fly by and we might actually cry when the rescue teams pick us up!

6. Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Josie may be just like me, but Cath is my soulmate. It’s been several months since I read Fangirl, and I still can’t even properly word how much that book means to me, and how much it helped me understand myself. If I could just be with Cath for five minutes, my life would be made.

7. Emi from Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour. She’s got big ideas – maybe even too big sometimes – but I love the fact that she’s a dreamer. And she pays attention to the little details; the important parts of what makes someone unique.

For… pure hotness factor

8. North from Free to Fall by Lauren Miller. I mean, he’s a bit unconventional, but I’m a sucker for forearm tattoos. And when they reference literature? *swoon* Plus, he’s the most respectful character I’ve read about in a while. World is ending and girl is throwing herself at you? Nah, son, let’s save the sexy times for when we’re not acting out of fear. *swooning again*

9. Raffe from Angelfall by Susan Ee. *fans self* Let’s not get me started. This snarky asshole is the bane of my existence.

Yeah, I don’t like you either.
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10. Matt Finch from Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. He could serenade us while we all watch the sunset. Now tell me that isn’t a beautiful, beautiful dream…

11. Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I need a Levi. Seriously, someone make one for me. Or buy one. I’m not too concerned about ethics in this situation.

THIS SCENE
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I just have to make a note here that while I’ve never read the Heroes of Olympus (just a few more months till the boxed set is released… patience, my love), y’all need to see this art. Oh lawd.

That’s my list for this week – link me yours below!

Review: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Title: Everything Leads to You
Author: Nina LaCour
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Dutton / May 15, 2014
How Did I Get It? Gifted
Format? Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads: A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

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Okay, let me take a minute and compose myself. *deep breaths* Disclaimer for this entire review: I’m writing this at 11:45PM, after being up since 5:45AM, I’ve got a kink in my neck that’s been giving me headaches (got it fixed today, thank God), and I’ve started the Paleo diet and my body is screaming for bread and other stuff that I’ve cut out. So I’m a wee bit loopy. You’ve been warned. And now I start with this: fjkaljfksd;jfkdsajfs;. <– That’s how I feel about this book. It was just… magical. ELtY was one of those books that from the very first page – from that first paragraph – you jus know you’re going to fall in love with. By page 20, I was hooked. There isn’t anything negative I can say about this book, so this is going to be less of a review and more of a time for me to talk out all my feelings.

1) I hesitate to call this a romance book. There is a romance, and I really did love that bit (that last line? TEARS. HAPPY, JOYOUS TEARS), but it’s so much more than just a romance. It’s about seeing people for who they are, who they truly are inside, and not the images or expectations that people place on themselves or have projected onto them by others. About seeing past all the exteriors and just loving someone at their most basic level. And I think that’s why I love this book so much: when Emi stopped seeing things as they “should be cinematographically” (I just need to let you all know that I spelled that right the first try, and at this late at night *not a speller*) and just started seeing life and people as it is, I just had this huge sigh of relief (followed by happy tears), because YES she got it.

2) The setting and background stuff. Set decorating – I never even KNEW there was this whole world like that. I mean, it makes sense now, but I just hadn’t considered it before. Emi’s talent was so unique and so vividly described that even in her picking out a couch, I learned more about her character. LaCour infused every part of Emi’s personality into her hobby and job that it never felt forced or cliche at all.

3) The friendships. Everything starts as a friendship, even the ones that later blossom to romance. It was so organic and I never questioned it at all. And – they were healthy relationships. Charlotte was the best – she straight up told Emi when she was being an idiot, and didn’t hold back from the truth. If there was something Emi needed to hear, Charlotte said it. But it was in the most loving way possible – not in spite or anger but in the purest love.

I could go on and on about this book and nitpick each little thing and go on for paragraphs about why I loved it, but I think I can sum up my adoration in one sentence: Everything Leads to You made me believe that magic can exist in the world – even in the quietest moments. Like not everything is hopeless, no matter how it seems in that moment. That there’s something really important about living, and grabbing life with both hands and just running ahead until you find yourself somewhere you’ve never been before.

I plan on buying both of LaCour’s novels and reading them very soon, but I’m pretty sure I can say that she’s become one of my auto-buy authors. Everything Leads to You was that good.

My Final Rating:

Six stars