The Year In Review! Books – 2014 edition

Continuing the tradition from last year, I recount the books I’ve read over the course of 2014. While last year I read a ridiculous 141 books, this year I did not come that far. I did read quite a lot, though, and many of them due to graduate school. I mean seriously. The two courses I took this year were filled with books, and many of them I completely enjoyed. So let’s review, shall we?

Total books read: 128

Not bad considering my original goal was 110, but I fell behind so I dropped it back to 100!

First book of the year: Souvenir Boys by David-Matthew Barnes

I had forgotten about this one! This is why I love this process. This is a book of poetry by fellow Bold Strokes Books author David-Matthew Barnes who has some amazing YA novels that I’ve reviewed here before. I enjoyed this book of poetry as well. My favorite poem was “Dear Mr. Sanchez” from this collection. It even inspired me to write some of my own poems, one of which I submitted for publication but which was rejected. Sad face. You can read my review right here on this site!

Last book of the year: In His Arena #1: Slave Eternal by Nasia Maksima

What a great end to the year! I reviewed this book for The Novel Approach Reviews, which I was recently accepted to as a reviewer. This book was fantastic. As a fan of Spartacus I enjoy stories with gladiators, and since I love Agron and Nasir, I thought this would be perfect. While totally different because it has fantasy elements, I adored this book. At this moment the review isn’t posted for The Novel Approach Reviews, however you can read my review on Goodreads here.

Adult books read: 47 (I think. Mature graphic novels and classic fiction not included.)

Favorite: This is a tough call. I really enjoyed Valerie Bronwen’s Slash and Burn, but I ended the year on such a strong note with Slave Eternal. I guess I’ll stick with both of those!

Teen books read: 6 (not including manga, of which there was a lot).

Favorite: I feel like this number should be higher. Oh well. But my favorite was definitely I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora. It’s the book I wish I had written. Not only is it about students who are obsessed with To Kill a Mockingbird, but it takes place in Connecticut! And the author is also a Bristol native, like me!

Children’s books read: 6 (More were read to my younger students, however many of them are not listed online so I didn’t include them.)

Favorite: Definitely One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia. Having gotten into recycling plastic bags and turning them into useful products, this book was awesome. I did an environmental project for my school based on plastic bags, so this was fantastic.

Manga read: 42

Favorite: Attack on Titan series by Hajime Isayama

I completely blame my students on this one. They kept talking about this series and begging me to get it for them so I reluctantly agreed to buy the first one to preview for myself as I knew it was a violent series.

FOURTEEN VOLUMES LATER I’m all caught up. WHAT AN EMOTIONAL RIDE! Characters die left and write, it’s incredibly gruesome, but I love the characters! Jean and Levi have grown to be my favorites. Volume fourteen left on such a cliffhanger I freaked out because the next volume doesn’t come out until APRIL. My student who is reading it keeps bothering me about the book, even though there’s nothing I can do to make it come faster.

Graphic Novels read: 2

Favorite: I only read two and while both were good, they weren’t favorites I suppose. Sisters by Raina Telgemeier was cute and a graphic novel memoir. Soppy by Philippa Rice was cute and simple in it’s drawings, but enjoyable.

LGBT books read (adult and teen, not including manga): 48

Favorites: Why do I do this to myself? So many of the books I read over the year were great. I ended strong with Slave Eternal, and Sweetwater by Lisa Henry was pretty phenomenal as well. And really interesting and different was Pet to the Tentacle Monsters! by Lilia Ford. Really great year for LGBT books!

Nonfiction books read: 14

Favorite: More tough decisions as each of the books had something great to offer. I think maybe my favorite would be Why Is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality by Jared Diamond. I read it for my Spring semester course and it was a fascinating look at how human sexuality has evolved since our earliest ancestors and what drives humans today. It really was fascinating.

Books read for Graduate school: 16

Favorite: Hard to choose as both of my courses offered fantastic books. I loved Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Not only was the edition amazing, but I was so obsessed with the book I read every single annotation and then watched the miniseries. I also adored Maurice by EM Forster which I had read and enjoyed before. For my Fall course I really enjoyed The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, and I renewed my love for The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I cannot wait for my next course!

 

The Year In Review! Books

2013 was a great year for reading. Despite being busy at the beginning of the year at my new teaching job, and this fall starting grad school, I read a lot.

And by a lot I mean a RIDICULOUS amount of books. My goal on the Goodreads site was for 100 books. The same I’ve had for the last several years. Usually I beat the record by a few. Maybe a dozen at most. But this year I read 141 books.

Umm…when did I have time? Seriously? There was so much work I did, including an editing FRENZY of Meeting Chance in three days due to deadlines outside of the control of my editor.

So, let me take a look back, and take a trip down memory lane.

First book of the year: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Ahh! I remember this now! Wow, how long ago this was. I started the book on January 1 and finished it the next day. I started reading it because of the movie, and I was curious to see how the two matched up. I read the book first, and then received free tickets to see the preview of the film. Both excellent, even if different. What a great start to the year!

Last book of the year: Gardens Where No One Will See by T.C. Mill

An interesting story with a m/m romance at the center of the fantasy story. It was short and I think it would have been better as a longer novel, but still worth the read.

Adult books read: 53 (not including more mature manga)

Favorite: Letters from a Murder by John Matthews. I reviewed it here as well. I just really enjoyed it, despite there being no LGBT content, which is my typical fair. Either way, I can’t wait for a sequel because the characters are phenomenal.

Teen books read: 23 (although this might be a bit subjective, as some books might be considered younger readers)

Favorite: Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry. My students and I were waiting for this book since last year, and it did not disappoint. The last book in the Benny Imura series and it goes out with a bang. I was literally screaming and cheering at one point it was so crazy.

Children’s books read: 20

Favorite: 43 Old Cemetery Road: The Phantom of the Post Office by Kate Klise. I loved this book. As the fourth installment of the series, it was not only my favorite of the bunch, but my favorite children’s book of the year. Old and new characters, all of them great, and this book is all about writing letters and enjoying writing. Perfect!

Manga read: 44 (unless I miscounted by one)

Favorite: This is almost impossible, like the others. But I enjoyed every single Sailor Moon volume I read. I think of them, the best is Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon volume 12. Sure, it’s the last one, but it was great because I got to see some forms of the senshi that aren’t available in the anime. I also enjoyed seeing how things ended between Usagi and Mamoru, and the beginning of Chibi Usa. Ahh…my childhood.

Graphic Novels read: 5

Favorite: Even though there were only five, it was still really hard to choose. Each of them had their merit. Possibly Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. I enjoyed the art and the way the narrator “draws” her own story. I also know that my students read it quite a few times each.

LGBT books read (adult and teen): 50

Favorites: I had to split it between adults and teens, and even then it’s pretty impossible to choose. Most of them were excellent. For adults, I think I’d have to say For Want of a Fiend by Barbara Ann Wright. It’s the sequel to The Pyramid Waltz, and I was waiting for it since I finished the first book! A review can be found on my site here.

For teens, another tough decision, but I’m going with Night Creatures by Jeremy Jordan King. I also reviewed this book on my site. And like the last book, it’s a sequel to a series I love. Technically it’s more New Adult than teen, but whatever. It’s still a great book that follows my favorite supporting character from the first book as the main character in this one.

Nonfiction books read: 7

Favorite: This might sound surprising, but this one is actually tough for me. I enjoyed all the nonfiction books I read, even if there weren’t many, and they were all vastly different. That said, I think the one that stuck with me the longest is Compact Houses: 50 Creative Floor Plans for Well-Designed Small Homes. I know, it probably sounds strange, but I actually did enjoy the book and read it cover to cover. I was given a copy to review on NetGalley and I became obsessed with it. I even found what I hope will be my future home in that book, and for that reason I must obtain a physical copy. The book has beautiful homes, each one unique. Not only are they compact in size, but they have wonderful, green features to make the housing more affordable. I learned a lot about lighting and space-saving designs as well, and have decided that my future home will have a central atrium and built in bookshelves.