Reviews

BEST BOOKS OF 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, the feeling is very bittersweet. I’m already looking forward to another year of awesome books but without a doubt, I will miss the reading and blogging experiences from this past year. Without further ado, here’s my ‘Best Books of 2014’ list!
As a preface I have to warn you that I did not base my list off of how high I rated these books. Some of these are not 5 star reads. In fact, some of my 5 star reads didn’t even make it onto the list. Regardless of rating, what every book on here has in common is that they’re unputdownable when I read them and unforgettable long after I finish them. Out of 268 books I read this year, a total of 37 books made it onto my favorites list. Here they all are!Note: If I loved a book from the same author, I bundled them together so there’s 27 listings but a total of 37 books mentioned. They are listed in the order I read them in.

1. Awaken by Nina Lane. This was one of my highly anticipated books of the year and an early bird, 6 star favorite!! What started out as an ordinary student/teacher romance soon transformed into a brilliantly written trilogy. Here’s what I had to say in my review: As a voracious reader whose acquired tastes constantly changes, my feelings for Dean and Liv, however, have never wavered. This married couple’s journey was emotionally tumultuous, intensely passionate, and their love is one of those rare, special, incomparable loves that lasts for an eternity.”2. Her Master’s Courtesan by Lily White. This dark read almost made me pee my pants. Like, woah!! It was 100% messed up and a total mindfuck and I remember being speechless for days over this one. Another 6 star read and this is what I had to say: “When you’re a voracious dark reader and you’ve tried out so many books within the genre, stories start to sound the same and the original appeal of dark romance/erotica fades away. However, it is so not the case with this book as it has exceeded every expectation I have for dark reads and delivers a chilling mindfuck between the pages. To have this book stand out in such a way is nothing short of extraordinary and completely deserves the 6 stars.”

3. Lovely Trigger by RK Lilley. Another one of my highly anticipated reads and the epic finale that concluded Tristan & Danika’s intense and passionate love story. First love, second chances, and a third time to get things right. This trilogy was like watching a trainwreck in slow motion and not being able to look away. LOVED!! What I had to say: To be honest, I almost didn’t read this book. After the emotionally devastating (and that’s really an understatement) events from book 2 I didn’t think I was strong enough to read more of Tristan and Danika’s pain and regrets. Rock Bottom actually made me believe that these two would never get their HEA because of past tragedies and I justcouldn’t accept that if it were the case in book 3. But holy flying cow! Guys, this book…it definitely wasn’t perfect, and as the reader looking in from the outside I disagreed with some of the character’s actions, but hell, it was perfect for Tristan and Danika. It was their beautifully broken story of how they slowly started to heal and entertained the idea of giving their love a second chance.”

4. Then There Was You by Melanie Dawn. This one’s unique to me and has a special place in my heart because I just really didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I have a ton of reasons for that mentality but #1 being I wasn’t too big of a fan of the first book (just being honest here, not trying to offend anyone). But let me tell you, I am 200% grateful that this book got on my radar because holy friggin hell guys!! I pulled an all nighter for this one and because I didn’t want to wake my family with my crying, I read this book in the bathroom at 6 AM. AND!! “I’m going to lay it out here…this flashback scene is one of the most powerfully written scenes I have ever read!!!”

5. Reclaiming the Sand by A. Meredith Walters. One of the most emotional and heartbreaking books I’ve read this year! Like, I. could. not. stop. CRYING!! In fact, I think I labeled my review headline as ‘5 It’s Going to Hurt Like a Motherf**ker Stars.’ Even when I read this back in March, I already knew it was going to be a favorite: “No doubt or second guessing about it, Reclaiming the Sand just earned a “best book of 2014” nomination from me. Three words come to mind when I was asked to describe the story: get-your-tissues-ready, OMG-the-writing-is-phenomenal, and Flynn-will-steal-your-heart. Technically three words right?”

6. The Resurrection of Aubrey Miller by LB Simmons. One of the most uplifting NA romances I’ve read all year and I finished it with my heart feeling full and a big smile on my face! Here’s what I said: “Never before have I read a story where the depressing and humorous are so delightfully balanced and set in a NA background! Witty dialogue, endearing characters, and high-quality writing, this book completely charmed me and evoked a wide range of emotions! This is a story that other NA books should strive to achieve.”

7. All Lined Up (#1) and All Broke Down (#2) by Cora Carmack. Hands down, this author is the queen of writing some of the best awkward stuff to go down in the history of NA romance. What I had to say: “Anyways, I. Loved. This. Book. Simply put, this story is just too cute, sweet, humorous, and sexy to resist…”

8. The Deep End of the Sea by Heather Lyons. This one was out of my comfort zone but I loved it anyway. A friend recommended it to me and I can’t thank her enough for introducing me to the Heather Lyons world where fantasy, mythology, and epic romance are blended together and become a beautiful retelling. ‘Cuz this author rocks at writing retellings 😉 Here’s what I had to say: “…they are such a strong team; in fact they shined and I don’t think anyone can resist that kind of love or power, certainly not me. So for the author to give me such a unique and different story and for portraying that kind of epic love that made me teary-eyed every so often, I can’t give this book less than 5 stars – my heart won’t allow it.”

9. Five Ways to Fall by KA Tucker. My favorite ‘lighthearted’ read of the year!! K.A. Tucker is such a versatile writer, going from emotional and angsty with the first few books in this series and ending on such a light and FUN note. What I had to say about this gem: “…after I finished this book I realized K.A. Tucker doesn’t need to find five ways for me to fall in love with this story. I only had to read a few chapters to recognize brilliance.”

10. Inferno by Adriana Noir. This was in my top 5 highly anticipated reads of the year. I was literally dying for this book and after waiting what seemed like forever, Adriana delivered and hit HARD with this one to end this wild ride of a series. What I said: “I’ve waited 9 months and 22 days for this book – for more Sebastian. That kind of anticipation has the power to hype up the book and skyrocket my expectations…and Adriana Noir met every single one of them. SKALS – just hearing the name gives me goosebumps and yet I can’t stop craving more. LOVE that this book and series epitomizes the whole “it’s so wrong but feels so right” sentiment. This book is one kickass ending to a kickass dark romance series!”

11. Wife Number Seven by Melissa Brown. Without a doubt, one of the most unique stories I’ve ever read! It was both a love story and a life story weaved into one and I loved getting an inside look into a community that practiced polygamy. What I had to say: “Just WOW!!! Saying I loved this book would seriously be an understatement…It’s hard to find words to describe such an inspirational and breathtaking story.”

12. Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson. A short book that packed one helluva punch! Possibly one of the best novellas I’ve ever read. Amber’s writing style is so refreshing and this story was well-paced, sweet, and completely heartwarming. What did I say about this gem? “How the author packed so much in so little pages truly astounds me. I think this is one of the few times I can say I loved this book from cover to cover: Qwen Salsbury’s quote on the front gave me shivers and the dedication and acknowledgments had me tearing up all over again. The story itself is like a diamond of the first water. Strip away all the drama and other unnecessary plot twists and you get this book – the most heartfelt, touching, and purest kind of romance all girls dream of and boys roll their eyes at.”

13. After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid. GAH! This book KILLED me with emotions!! I truly believe everyone who read this book will take away something from it, whether it be an important life lesson or just empathy for being able to relate to these characters so easily. You can’t find a book more realistically written than this gem here! What I had to say: I am in awe of this book. This is the kind of story that makes me think, makes me feel, and stays with me long after the last page is flipped. It doesn’t just become another book on the ‘read-shelf.’ It’s in a league of its own, and no matter how much time passes, the profound impact it’s made on me won’t diminish. This is one of THOSE books: the kind that will get you out of a book rut, continue your book roll, and is filled with the most meaningful quotes you won’t be able to stop highlighting.”

14. Divergent by Veronica Roth. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but the only reason I read this book was after drooling over Theo James in the movie and wanting to picture him as the real Four….don’t laugh!!! Anyways, this book was pure fun and total escapism. I love being sucked into the world authors create and yup, I was totally mesmerized by the dystopian atmosphere Veronica created. What I said: “Thought-provoking and action-packed, Divergent is unforgettable and unputdownable. There will always be a commonality among dystopian reads, but I really think this book has something different and worthwhile to offer for a change.”

15. Thin Love (#1) and My Beloved (#1.5) by Eden Butler. ANGST!! Pure, delicious angst that I just lapped up hehe! I’ll just let part of my review attest to how awesome this book was for me: You know how sometimes you open a book and read just a few lines but you already know that it’ll be good for you? Thin Love was that kind of book for me. As a reader who tries to avoid angst and all kinds of drama, I expected this book to be a complete turnoff but instead, the story & the characters hit me hard. It’s difficult to read this book and not be reminded of myself…and just how impetuous and uninhibited young hearts are. Unflinchingly honest and emotionally raw, Thin Love is a heart-pounding story…” And the follow up novella was the perfect wrap up to the main novel too!

16. With the Father by Jenni Moen. Another book that KILLED me with emotions by the time I finished. It’s a very introspective story that was thought-provoking and so much more than just a forbidden romance with a priest. Even in my review I couldn’t say much plot-wise because the story needs to be experienced first-hand: “Because of how ambitious and intricate this storyline is, I can only review the book in this vague way, sorry! It’s pure torture because my fingers are itching to spoil everything but my brain is saying to let everyone experience it on their own. Literally every word has a double meaning, and I think it’s the most wonderful feeling to be armed with the knowledge of what the book premise is truly about and then go back and find out where the author dropped hints in the story. I already know this is a book that will evoke different opinions from readers but I can guarantee that whether or not you end up enjoying the book, you’ll be thinking about it for days to come.”

17. City of Bones (#1), City of Ashes (#2), City of Glass (#3), City of Fallen Angels (#4), City of Lost Souls (#5),and City of Heavenly Fire (#6) by Cassandra Clare. OMFG!!! I must’ve been living under a rock all these years for not reading this series sooner. Like, what the f**k was I thinking back then?! If you asked me to recommend a paranormal/urban fantasy series, this would be it. If you asked me what are some of the best books that’ll make you FEEL, this would be it. It’s a series that has it all (just like the Infernal Devices trilogy I’ll talk about later) and one of my 6 star series! Okay, this is pure laziness on my part, but besides the first book, I could NOT bring myself to review the other books. I’m just stunned speechless by these characters, the world building, the story, the romance, just…EVERYTHING! All I have to say is, just read these already! 

18. Seeds of Iniquity by JA Redmerski. This book (and the others in this series) are some of the best romantic suspense books + dark elements I’ve ever read! Here’s what I said: “Normally I don’t pull this line BUT if you haven’t read at least one book in this series, dear lord you are missing out on some of the best romantic suspense (with dark elements) books out there! Seeds of Iniquity marks the second book in the series that has gotten a 6 star rating from me. With a blend of flawless & brilliant writing, complex & intense characters, and exhilarating & amazeballs twists, this story was one unputdownable, giant thrill ride that didn’t end until I got to the last page. So many themes from previous books will be explored, loyalties will be tested, rules will be broken, and love will be questioned.”

19. Clockwork Angel (#1), Clockwork Prince (#2), and Clockwork Princess (#3) by Cassandra Clare. Another flawlessly written, 6 star trilogy from the talented Cassandra Clare that made me UGLY cry. I’m talking the kind with snot and boogers flowing and loud sobs. I’ll just let part of my review for this series as a whole speak for me: “No matter how much I thought I was emotionally prepared to take on this series, I wasn’t. My puny heart just wasn’t made to process a story so epic and grand such as this one. It is both a blessing and a curse to have read these books for I will always have this eternal ache in my heart that can never be soothed, names such as Tessa, Will, and Jem will immediately remind me of these characters and the tears will well fast. Yet it’s not a reading experience I would ever change. It’s true these books broke my heart, but in the best way possible: not by wearing it down but by filling it with so much love for these characters it bursts. After such an emotional reading journey, how can I possibly pick up another book and expect to move on? I can’t, and there is no book that can save me from this book hangover. “

20. Love Like Crazy by Megan Squires. Just thinking about this book is giving me the tingles! Ain’t that cover cute? This was a book that surprised me in the best way possible. So endearing, so sweet, and yet….so heartbreaking all at the same time. What I said: “This is a book I would recommend to those looking for a sweet, deep, and motivational romance with two unforgettable main characters and supportive side characters. It was humorous, satirical, at times emotional, and provided a unique reading experience in the YA genre.”

21. Made by JM Darhower. Simply perfection, both the man behind the cover and the story. I was in a hangover for days because of this gem. JM took us deep into Corrado’s past and beyond his infamous namesake as a notorious killer. Hmmm, what did I say about this one? “Reading this book hit me hard with the feels. Since this was literally a record of Corrado’s life story, I felt as if I lived through 40 years myself. To go through his childhood, his turbulent teenage years and his rise in the mafia underground and his enduring relationship with Celia, it was like reading a saga. Once I finished the book, I felt an immediate sense of loss and heavily contemplated the legacy of a man who gave nothing and everything, who had to be cruel in order to be kind, and a dozen other contradictions to live the life that chose him.”

22. Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn. Can I please get a round of applause for this book and author?? This is my #1 unputdownable book of the year, and I simply cannot stop thinking about the story and the characters from time to time. Here’s what I said: “If there can only be one book you can get this month, heck, even this year, it HAS to be this one. This is going to sound cheesy, but I felt so alive when I was reading this book. It’s a story that evoked visceral reactions, put me in a book frenzy, and made me feel like I was taking caffeine shots. This book was 200% unputdownable for me. I’m a very paranoid and picky reader and unless a book has positive reviews from my friends (because we know each other’s tastes well) I won’t pick it up. However, this book’s synopsis had my attention and for the rest of the day I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I read a sample which was the engrossing prologue that gave me goosebumps and after that I was a goner. Putting down the book just simply wasn’t an option. Pages were flipped, tears were shed, and 2 hours later I was done.”

23. The King by Tiffany Reisz. If you’ve been following me for a time, you’ll know that my #1 favorite series of all time is this lady’s Original Sinners series. In fact, her books have ruined all erotica for me which is why you don’t see me posting reviews about erotica at all. This next paragraph pretty much sums up my thoughts for this book and the series as a whole: “One of my very best book decisions was choosing to read this series a year ago. Erotica has never been the same for me and any and all erotica books I read I hold to the standard of this series. Excellent, phenomenal writing became synonymous with Tiffany Reisz’s writing. And top-notch storybuilding will always be compared with the intricate plotline of this series. Reading these books truly make me feel like I’m coming home, and no matter what, I can always trust and count on Tiffany Reisz’s stories to be winners for me again and again.”

24. Last Will & Testament by Dahlia Adler. What a hidden gem this one was! If there’s ever a time where you ask me what NA romance book is completely underrated and deserves more attention, it’s this one right here. The humor and witty dialogue was so refreshing and all of the characters (both main and side characters) tugged at my heartstrings. What I said: “This book ranks high on my list of favorite NA romances. Though it has clichéd tropes (what NA book doesn’t?), the approach and execution was done very well and with ethnically diverse and easy to love main characters, an engaging storyline, and side characters that were both comical and warmed my heart, Last Will and Testament was a big winner for me!”

25. Extinguish by J.M. Darhower. Woot! Another engaging, addicting paranormal read for the win and from one of my favorite authors too! The hero is, um, the Devil! How cool of a character is that? After seeing that, I had to read it  What I said: “You know that feeling where you’re reading a book and it just sucks you right in from the start, into the world the author created, and though you tell yourself to slow down, you just can’t stop yourself from flipping the pages fast to see what happens…but at the same time you went to slowly savor it all? Yeah…that’s how I felt while reading this gripping forbidden romance that I just could NOT put down.”26. Dear Emily (#1) and Dear Tabitha (#2) by Trudy Stiles. Both of these are emotional powerhouses!! A few friends recommended these books to me last year and I regret not starting them earlier. What I said: I’m amazed by how invested I was (still am) in both Carly and Tabitha’s lives, even when they hadn’t met each other yet. The author’s writing style is simplistic in an alluring and captivating way, gripping me from the VERY first page and ended the book with such a bang that I need to dive into the next one asap.” P.S. There are two female leads and they each have their own individual romance…so it’s kinda neat to see both of these stories collide when they do 😉

27. Sweet Fall by Tillie Cole. Another one of those rare books that made me UGLY cry. It’s definitely one of the most emotional NA romances I’ve read this year with characters who literally would never ever end up together but fate really has a tricky way of dealing its cards right? 😉 What I said: “I’m not even going to sugarcoat it – I felt overwhelmed. Reading about Lexi’s anorexia hurt, like in my chest kinda hurt, and it was all portrayed in such a raw and gritty manner I couldn’t help but be moved. Reading about Austin’s poor home life, his very real and heartbreaking struggle to keep his family together while trying so hard to make his football dream come true…all of that combined was a lot to process and emotionally digest down. And as mentioned before, all of this culminated and completely exploded in the last 20% of the book, leaving me a sobbing mess.”