TOP 14 BOOKS OF 2014

There are more than a few releases to look forward to in the upcoming year. In our Top 10 Monday post on the subject, we've each shared our ten most anticipated books due to come out in 2015. But not acknowledging what an amazing year 2014 has been would be impossible. As many readers out there, we've discovered new favorites and learned new things. We've each tried our hand in serious writing for the first time. We've dissected and analyzed our favorites in hopes of bottling their brilliance for our own use, but we've also just let go and immersed ourselves in stories with abandon. We've learned, in short, just how many new worlds 365 days can hold. And spoiler alert: it's a lot.

2014 has been the year we started blogging.
2014 has been the year we've met and become friends.
2014 has been a year of grand achievements.
2014 has been a year of great literature.

2014, we salute you. And we share our favorite reads of the year below. Not all of these have been written in the past year - but all of them have turned up on our radar in the past year - and done a remarkable job inspiring, moving and motivating us. Choosing a handful was difficult, and choosing an order would have been impossible. So consider the order random and the placement accidental. These are the pages that have brightened our 365 days of 2014. And for that, they'll hold a special place in our heart - and on our favorites shelves for a long, long time to come. 




LEXIE'S TOP 14



1. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater




Despite having left me with many new favorites, for me 2014 will always be the year I fell in love with Maggie Stiefvater. This is where I should probably clarify that it was Maggie Stiefvater's writing that I really love. But the truth of the matter is, it's her interviews, her blog and her overall writing philosophy that impacted me every bit as much as her actual writing has done. Maggie Stiefvater is extraordinary.
It's downright painful for me to think of how long I dutifully avoided The Raven Cycle series before finally picking it up - at the incentive of my co-blogger Natalie, who bought me the book despite never having read it herself. The Raven Cycle is in essence everything I love in a book, combined. As the author herself would put it - it pushes all my buttons at once. It's excessively clever, it's unique, it is a kind of love affair with nature, it's based on legends of old Welsh kings, it features psychics, and it features people rather than characters. (Also featuring street racing, hitmen, private schools, actual ravens, lucid dreaming, caves, mountains, helicopters and suspicious dogs).

MY REVIEW: THE RAVEN BOYS (THE RAVEN CYCLE #1)
MY REVIEW: THE DREAM THIEVES (THE RAVEN CYCLE #2)




2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor




Daughter of Smoke and Bone had me writing poetry again. I'm not a terribly talented poet, granted, nor do I have any aspirations to become one. But the beautiful, lyrical flow to Laini Taylor's work had me itching for an outlet of my very own. In the end, this need for a creative outlet was finally properly met when I reimmersed myself in digital art. And I believe these are the greatest accolades I could ever bestow upon Laini's fantastical masterpiece: it has achieved such a level of creativity that it breeds new creativity wherever it appears. 
Having only just returned from Prague when I picked this series up, and having been in love with many of the places the protagonist visits throughout the series for a considerable while, I don't think it would have been humanly possible for a book to enchant me more. It's fantasy, it's art, it's travel and it's hope. I can only hope to find another fantasy book that measures up to this one in some future period.






3. The Archived by Victoria Schwab





Victoria Schwab's masterpiece is what kicked off my reading line-up in 2014, and I could not have dreamt of a better start to an all-around incredible year that followed. Before this blog and before many of the books featured on this list, there was Mackenzie Bishop, and there was Wesley Ayers. There was the intricate, nuanced world of The Archive, and a story which married darkness and lyricism in a way I never could have imagined possible.  The Archived stayed with me long after I turned the final page, and it became not only a staple among my favorites, but also a great influence on my own attempts at writing. And the subsequent sequel - The Unbound - only served to strengthen this influence. With a novella only days away at this point, you can find my fangirl heart up on the ceiling, reeling with excitement.





4. Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin





Having only just ended (with a bang, a gasp and an awed stillness in the air), the Mara Dyer series had been the talk of the YA community recently. But my love for Mara Dyer goes back almost a full year at this point. If our Top 10 Mondays haven't made it abundantly clear (many of which feature one or more books from this series), I'd taken the series to heart in more ways than one. Mara's plight - while supernatural - has taught me a lot about the kind of listening ear I want to be, and the kind of listening ear that is toxic more than truly invaluable. It is my favorite not only due to the amazing story, but also due to a personal impact it's had on my own beliefs. It takes prodigious skill to get a world to sympathize with a mentally unstable girl with a propensity for leaving death in her wake. And yet it was thousands of fans - myself among them - who cheered and cried for Mara on her journey, and who learned to embrace flawed, damaged psyches over pristine, untainted souls, when the situations warrants it. Mara Dyer has done us a world of good by doing herself a world of bad.


MY REVIEW: THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER (MARA DYER #1)
MY REVIEW: THE EVOLUTION OF MARA DYER (MARA DYER #2)




5. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi




There is a way with words. There is lyricism and eloquence. There is poetic storytelling. And then there is Tahereh Mafi. If ever there was a book series told not through words, but through song and movement and image and feeling, it is Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me.
On a foundation of some of the most beautiful writing I've seen in YA fiction, Tahereh builds characters so complex, they all but come alive on a page. Shatter Me has defined characterization and narratives in my little slice of reader's heaven, and will remain an untouched gem of character development for a long time to come. From Juliette's unique blend of self-deprecation and self-actualization, to Warner's ceaseless, hopeful determination, to Adam's torn loyalties and a love of family, Shatter Me had no shortage of vastly different voices adding to the story in layers upon layers of depth. Tahereh has shown that not only can each book in a series improve upon the last, but that a novella can be as crucial to the overall story arc as any of the novels. (It doesn't hurt that these novellas are so exquisitely written, either.)
Also, chapter sixty-two.




6. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater





The only reason The Scorpio Races isn't topping this list is because - yes - Maggie Stiefvater gets two spots, and we're making a show of diversity here. 
From dream-ravens to killer race horses, from the Virginia countryside to a fictional British island, Maggie tackles legend after legend and untold story after untold story. Guided by the philosophy of "Write the book you wish you could read, but can't find on the shelves," she delivers new material with fresh insight which floors me time and time again. If it can be said differently, Maggie Stiefvater will say it. If it can't be said differently, Maggie Stiefvater will do it anyway. And if The Raven Cycle series has taught me to expect the unexpected, The Scorpio Races has embodied the unexpected. It was everything I never thought I'd read. It was clever and insightful, and filled to the brim with people and lives rather than characters and stories.

MY REVIEW: THE SCORPIO RACES




7. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson




In 2014, I've lived a thousand lives. I've crossed borders and continents, I've embodied children and elders. I've traveled to far-off places and I've been to distant lands. But it was so seldom that I got to explore those lands as thoroughly and as effortlessly as I did in Amy & Roger's Epic Detour.
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour isn't a story about a road trip. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour is a road trip. One many of us are long overdue for, and one I didn't think I'd ever get to take. But last summer I photographed the Loneliest Road in America and then the trees in Utah. I sculpted the hedges in Kentucky and munched on derby pie in out-of-the-way restaurants. I spoke to Elvis in Graceland and I fell in love somewhere along the way. And all thanks to Morgan Matson's incredible storytelling.

MY REVIEW: AMY & ROGER'S EPIC DETOUR




8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins




The Hunger Games is a party I joined incredibly late. By the time I pulled up into the driveway and rang the doorbell, most of the guests had already scattered all over the house, then the town, and finally the world. And I might have turned right back and left had my co-blogger Natalie not convinced me to stick around. The Hunger Games was a series worth my time, she said, regardless of how late I am in discovering it.
Natalie, of course, was right.
Had I had any expectations at all, the series would surely have exceeded them. But my expectations were all but non-existent, which only made the discovery of this gem all the more momentous. Katniss's journey wasn't one that made it easy to tag along for the ride. The ride, in fact, was so unpleasant that I considered jumping ship more than once. But through every bad decision made, through every casualty of fate, and through the trials and the tribulations, Katniss has defined a rebellion for a new age. In her own macrocosmos, Katniss has served as a reminder to stand up for ourselves in our numerous microcosmoses, and to be the protagonists of our own lives, rather than supporting characters. And for this, the series will always have a spot on my lists of favorites.



9. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart




In many ways, We Were Liars was a whim that shaped my year, and one which is very likely to shape many years to come. When my friend Dennis and I chose to read the book together, the only novel experience I expected to get out of it was a read-a-long with a friend. Instead, I stumbled upon a modern classic in the making - a story I expect will live on long after 2014.
If the synopsis is vague, that's the way it's supposed to be. And if you're promised a shocking twist at the end, don't believe it. Go into the book knowing as little as possible, and expect to be told a story. That's all anyone needs to know about E. Lockhart's latest.


MY REVIEW: WE WERE LIARS




10. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge





Having grown up on a healthy dose of worship for Beauty And The Beast (at least how Disney adapted it), this darker retelling of the familiar story had me hopeful and apprehensive in equal parts. Anyone who has ever picked up original versions of the Disneyfied fairytales will know that these are not necessarily the tales of singing birds who dress the bride on her wedding day at the happy ending to a happy tale. More often than not, the happy ending is entirely absent. And some of us twisted ones like this original darkness.
In many ways, Cruel Beauty was the embodiment of this darkness, without ever going overboard, or falling prey to that trap of miserable-endings-for-the-shock-effect. Cruel Beauty set a foreboding, atmospheric undertone which remained consistent throughout. And in the midst of this dark, twisted story, it bred love and hope, it spoke of good and evil and - most importantly - it made it okay to not be a morally pristine character in order to be a captivating one.
I love my protagonists in shades of grey. The darker the shade, the more intrigued I am. Cruel Beauty, with a Beast-tyrant and a Beauty-murderer, was therefore entirely my sort of read.




11. Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover




Maybe Someday has to be the only story where the biggest and most shocking plot twist (in the history of New Adult) happens around the 13% mark. It also has to be the only story where one can howl with laughter and then sob within the length of a page, then revert to laughter at the turn of the next one. But Colleen Hoover is no novice to tugging at the heartstrings, nor is she inexperienced in weaving all manner of life's hardships into beautiful, heartfelt stories. The story of Ridge and Sydney is at the same time a story of a remarkable collaboration between an author and a musician. Because - yes - this book came with its own soundtrack. And what a soundtrack it is. Don't think I'm not listening to Griffin Peterson's Living A Lie every single time I'm in the car (which might not be advisable given the lyrics, but hey - that's as close to living on the edge as I get).
Also, I do think this is arguably the most influential New Adult book out there. No big deal or anything.



12. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion





Here's something I never thought I'd be caught dead saying: this zombie book is such a profound, captivating read.
Following a kind of apocalypse where zombies took over the world and destroyed nearly all of humanity, Warm Bodies is told from the perspective of a zombie named R who can remember precious little about himself. He must have been human once, but he can't recall it. He must have liked pasta once, but now he's more of a brain guy. And he must have been able to speak (after all, he can still do it in his head), but out loud, he does little but groan. If he's particularly pleased with himself, he'll grunt. That's about the extent of it. That is, until Julie comes along.
What I found particularly unique about Warm Bodies was the way it has of taking the reader by surprise. R's narrative is oftentimes hilarious, even in all his self-deprecation. His train of thought is at times stomach-cramps sort of funny. But then R will have a thought - no more than a line - that will throw all of the previously humorous thoughts into sharp relief and result in an observation about our society that's so profound, I found myself talking to this book. (And taking notes. Lots and lots of notes.)
I found the movie adaptation to be quite good, too. But no movie could translate these thought processes as well as the book can. So I heartily recommend the book beforehand.




13. Angelfall by Susan Ee





As with Cruel Beauty above, what I loved most about Angelfall is the shades of grey which the protagonists come in. In a post-apocalyptic scenario where entire cities and nations were obliterated by angels, the story follows Penryn, one of the human survivors on the quest to save her family, and Raffe, a fallen angel on a quest to retrieve his wings. Akin to Daughter of Smoke and Bone and some of the more recent angel-themed books, Angelfall reverts angels to their original Biblical image - an image of warriors and at times destroyers rather than the peace-loving souls intent on serving humans. Which makes both Penryn and Raffe suspect at best (and cruel at worst), and which makes my twisted, twisted heart love them all the more. Angelfall is a story cloaked in all manner of darkness and evil, and it's one where the good guys are those who learn to maneuver it without becoming too vicious. Those kinds of good guys are my kind of thing.
Not to mention, Angelfall features a sassy sword. Sassy inanimate objects are also my kind of thing.


MY REVIEW: ANGELFALL (PENRYN AND THE END OF DAYS #1)




14. The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel





The Book of Ivy really came out of left field. ("What do you mean, duology?" I cried after I got to the final page, "I just assumed this was a standalone!") The first morale of the story, therefore, is - do your research.
The second morale of the story is something along these lines: don't poison your assigned-husband just for the heck of it. And this right there (well, maybe not so much this as the synopsis on the back cover) had me hooked. Again, morally ambiguous protagonists are my great love.
The third morale of the story? Read the back covers of random books and give them a chance from time to time. They might surprise you enough to make it to your best-of-the-year list.







NATALIE'S TOP 14



1. Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand


One of my favourite book series I read last year - such an amazing series! Cynthia Hand tells a wonderful and magical story about angels, bringing us some fantastic characters and a continually interesting journey with many plot twists and revelations.
It's fast paced and certainly something I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys YA books. I've recommended this book to people that I didn't think would enjoy it as much as me, and ended up loving it. 
Definitely give it a try!


MY REVIEW: UNEARTHLY



2. Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover


It's no secret that we love Colleen Hoover books - but this one is definitely one of my favourites! She released a couple of books last year but, in my opinion, Ugly Love was the best one. Twists and turns, an interesting writing style, and we got different POVs as well as different timelines, and some lovable yet messed up characters.
It's sad, so if you do decide to read this one, get some tissues handy. It's no surprise, though. It is a Colleen Hoover book.

MY REVIEW: UGLY LOVE




3. Geek Girl series by Holly Smale


This book was so much fun! It made me smile, made me laugh and made me cringe. Harriet Manners, our protagonist, is one clumsy yet lucky girl! It's a light-hearted read for anyone that loves a main character who is pretty much us, she's very relatable, adorkable and... well, geeky. She's a nerd, she loves reading and hates being the centre of attention. She's me
Highly recommended.

MY REVIEW: GEEK GIRL


4. Easy by Tammara Webber


This one's emotional, just a warning. I learnt a lot from this book in many ways, and I love how the herione in the story grew. She started out as a regular girl who had no idea how to look after herself in some situations, and at the end of the book, she was a strong, independent and happy woman. She's inspiring and the male protagonist in this story was also fantastic - he's not clingy or over-protective to the point where the girl can't blossom - and he's not a total jackass.
Kudos to Tammara Webber for her great writing skills, not just how she wrote it but what she wrote - strong characters in an NA book. 

MY REVIEW: EASY


5. The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings


I went out of my comfort zone with this one, as I'm not a fan of horror/thriller. It's a YA book that was just enough blood and gore for me, and the way Lindsay Cummings wrote the story flowed so easily. She has a great way with words and I enjoyed every page of this book. I'm very much looking forward to book two.

MY REVIEW: THE MURDER COMPLEX




6. Lobsters by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison


Cute, fun and quirky. This is the first novel from Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison and it was a damn good one! I loved this book, I found it on a whim as the cover intrigued me and couldn't put it down. I laughed from start to finish so I definitely recommend you try this book. It's set in the UK too, which is refreshing!

MY REVIEW: LOBSTERS



7. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins


I'm a huge fan of the Anna and the French Kiss series, so obviously when I heard that there was going to be a third book - I was there. I had to read it and it was amazing! I was very impressed, Ms Perkins kept up the quirky characters and the stunning setting of Paris, as well as keeping the charming elements that we loved about the first book.
Wonderful series.

MY REVIEW: ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER



8. Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker


I was surprised about this book. I'm usually the last person to read all the popular books, so when I picked this one up, I said 'finally!' to myself. I actually met K.A Tucker at a book signing in Toronto a year or so ago, and having got her autograph, I thought it was about time I read it. 
It's very well written, emotional yet not overdone, the characters were interesting and I couldn't not love them and grow attached to them so quickly.
I still need to read the next books so I'll have to get going with that! Great writing from Ms. Tucker.




9. Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin


My co-blogger, Lexie, suggested that I read the Mara Dyer series, but I was reluctant. It's not usually my kind of story, it sounded a bit too dark for me. Boy, was I wrong. I absolutely adored this book! The series is only getting better and better, I have book three, the Retribution of Mara Dyer so I'd better get reading!




10. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


I finally got 'round to reading this one in 2014! I have to say, I wish I was as brilliant as Celaena. She was badass! Headstrong, fierce, independent and a real tough cookie. The strong female protagonists are on the rise in YA and that makes me so happy. Celaena is an assassin so I obviously don't think girls should aim to be a killer, but to be someone who can be her own person and stand up for herself like she does - yes.
Recommended for everyone.

LEXIE'S REVIEW: THRONE OF GLASS



11. The Selection series by Kiera Cass


I was late to the Selection series but better late than never! There are people that think this book series is ridiculous, maybe because it's not written what they wanted or even written that well, but I loved it. I loved the easy writing style, the idea of the story and the characters were fun. Of course the love triangle did get annoying but I managed to overlook that. I'm used to it as a YA reader
Book one, The Selection, is the best, so give it a go!

MY REVIEW: THE SELECTION



12. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley



We got this book sent to us from the author, Robin Talley, and we loved every page. It was such a unique book, with its horrific real-life situations from 1959, and truly inspiring characters. Main characters with a heart and a real backbone, ones that will stand up for themselves and be as ambitious as they wanted, through a time of such limited opportunities. 

Everyone should try this book. It's wonderful and heartbreaking.

OUR REVIEW: LIES WE TELL OURSELVES




13. Left Drowning by Jessica Park


I got this book randomly as I saw it was on sale, I've heard so much about it and decided to finally get reading. It was such a good book! Jessica Park's writing is marvelous, the way she brings these truly great characters to life were admirable and although NA stories tend to be quite similar, this one really stood out to me as one of the best ones.

MY REVIEW: LEFT DROWNING




14. The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan



I usually read these kind of books I get from Amazon for 50p and forget them a week later. This one, I loved more than the rest. I grew attached to the characters, I loved the way they grew and bonded with each other, their banter and relationship very fun yet sometimes emotional, and the story was well written.

I think a re-read of this one is in order. If you like NA, you'll really love this one

MY REVIEW: THE HOOK UP













And that would be it from us! If you have a video/blog post/facebook post/screencapped text message of your favorite books you've read in 2014, by all means link it to us and let us know. We'd love to see all of them. You can find us all over the internet. We'll read it and reply wherever you let us know.


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TOP 14 BOOKS OF 2014
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