My Favourite Reads of 2014

happy-new-years-cat

As a new year approaches I like to take a look back on what books I’ve devoured over the last year. These are my top 3 favorite reads, for both fiction and non-fiction, that I read in 2014:

*Click on the links to see my reviews of each of these

Fiction Top 3

3) Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell: One of the mostly beautifully written modern stories I’ve ever read. The novel’s tone is dark and lurking but is balanced with the fierceness of  Ree, the female protagonist. A quick and awesome read.

2) All The Light We Cannot See By Anthony Doerr:  Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award 2014 for Best Historical Fiction! This novel is one of the most popular published books of 2014 and it’s worth all the attention. Following the lives of two young people who are on opposing sides of World War II, the novel explores humanity at one of its worst times in history. This book has all the feels! Worth the read.

1) Stupid Children by Lenore Zion: I can’t say enough good things about this book. I came across this small-time publication through The Next Best Book Club on Goodreads and I was lucky enough to be apart of a group discussion with the author (see my review for some insight into this discussion). This book has a strange but amazing concept. After Jane’s father attempts to commit suicide, he is institutionalized and she is sent to the foster care system. The family she is adopted by is apart of the Second Day Believers cult. The novel depicts Jane’s upbringing with this family and the ordeals of living within a cult. This book is funny, creepy and extremely thought provoking and is the kind of book I almost want to read again. Support small press and buy this book!

Non-Fiction Top 3

3) The Romanov Sisters by Helene Rappaport: This novel won the Goodreads Choice Award 2014 for Best History & Biography! Lucky for me, I was able to read this book through Netgalley.  For those that have never explored non-fiction or even a history piece, I’d recommend this one for you. This informative book reads so much like a fiction and it gives a massive insight to the lives and personalities of the Romanov family.

2) Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop by Annette PasternakThis book is a bit personal but it was so immensely helpful that I have to include it. For anyone suffering from a BFRB (body-focused repetitive behavior), please read this book! It’s informative and has real exercises and practices that will dramatically help you get a handle on your condition. Life changer!

1) Diet Cults by Matt FitzgeraldWe are constantly bombarded with information of what to eat and what not to eat. Tragically, all of this information often times contradicts itself depending on the source and whatever died fad is currently being endorsed making being healthy quite confusing. Matt Fitzgerald, a professional coach and athlete, makes food simple again with this book and breaks down the data that many diet cults perpetuate. He never bashes diet fads but explains why they appeal to people, why they work for a short time, why our bodies can adapt to eat anything and how to get back to the basics and stop stressing over food! This was a game changers for me with my approach to food.

The Tyrant’s Daughter – J.C. Carleson

4/5 stars.
(ARC) ebook, 304 pages.
Read from January 20 to 29, 2014.

Thank you Netgalley for inviting me to read this novel, as I may not have come across it otherwise. This book is a gem in the YA genre and one that every young person living in this post 9/11 world needs to read. With all the hype that has come with America’s war on terror it’s easy to forget that there are two-sides to every story and while this novel is fiction it depicts the emotional side of the other story.

Laila is a teenage girl who was living like royalty in a middle-eastern country run by her father, that is, until he is assassinated.  Overnight Laila becomes a nobody and she is moved with her family to the USA which, is a world and a lifestyle none of them are familiar with. Laila has more worries and concerns than most US teenage girls do and while she does her best to fit in, her past has left her with unanswered questions. Her mother is up to something, scheming with people that they would not normally associate with and Laila wants answers. She is afraid of the truth but she has to know if the way her family is being portrayed in the American media is true and if she knows her family as well as she thought she did.

This book is riveting and, on an emotional level, so realistically depicted. It makes you take a look at the war that is being waged and the consequences it has for the people who are suffering through the ordeal first hand. It makes you wonder if we are really ever able to grasp what living in a world like the middle-east would be like? We are so unbelievably safe here and have practically all of our basic needs met. How could any of us possibly understand the culture and times of countries that have none of these things? Laila offers us an inside to this world and her struggles in coming to terms with who she is and where she is.

I think the only compliant I have with this book is that I highly doubt that the American teenagers depicted in this book would be as kind as they are described to Lalia, knowing her origin. I think in the real world, if these kids knew who she was and where she came from they would be unrelentingly cruel to her. I would suspect violence from teenagers and potentially other adults. Despite this potential falsity, the emotions felt and portrayed by Lalia in the book make up for this fact. Her inner turmoil and bravery are truly what make this book great.

A highly recommended read for any North American.

Control by Charlotte Stein

4/5 stars.
(ARC) ebook, 238 pages.
Read from January 02 to 13, 2014

Well out of all the Erotica I’ve read so far, this one, surprisingly, has been my favourite. Ms. Stein has found the perfect balance of smut, character and plot. She was able to provide the reader just enough information about the characters for you to invest into them but didn’t divert so far that you forgot you were reading a piece of Erotica. The story plays with the idea of both female and male dominance and the author was very effective in showing both of these stances in the same story.

Madison, the main female in the story, which seems to be a popular name to use in Erotica as it’s the second piece I’ve read that has used the name for their main female character, owns a bookstore. Not just any bookstore but one that specifically sells Romance and Erotica. In her pursuit to find some help running her store she encounters Andy and Gabriel. While she doesn’t hire Andy, she has rough dirty sex with him on a regular basis. Andy himself, is rough and takes great pleasure in taking control of any sexual encounter. She hires Gabriel because she is enthralled by his passive and quiet nature. Gabriel is the exact opposite of Andy, in every aspect, and what Madison will end up discovering through the many sexual adventures between and with both of them (at the same time) is a side of her she didn’t know about and a pleasure and a love she didn’t know existed.

This book has some immensely erotic scenes that would get just about anyone’s heart racing. I would highly recommend this book to any Erotica lovers or new comers into the genre who aren’t afraid of something new and a little adventure.