Best Reads of 2014

I’m a little late getting my Best Reads list up this year. I was reading right down to the wire trying to finish my Goodreads challenge (missed it by four books). Aside from a numerical goal of 52 books this year, my main reading goal was to finish all my ‘half-reads,’ a goal I also missed, although I did take a big chunk out of that list, and I feel good about it.

I had to take a reading break in the summer – a really difficult first trimester of my current pregnancy made the words on a page swim and left me seasick. Almost four months of reading nothing longer than a Facebook status. And I missed it so much. Now, as that pregnancy nears its completion, I’m trying to cram in as much reading as possible because I know that with a newborn and toddler, I’ll have considerably less time for reading in just a few short weeks.

I’ll have my 2015 reading list and my plan of attack through the tiny months in the next day or so.

The following five books were my favourites in 2014. They are listed in the order I read them.

Best Reads of 2014

Annabel – Kathleen Winters

Annabel is beautiful and haunting, it builds tension in all the right places and characters that are each as deeply layered as the next. It tells the story of a young hermaphrodite, raised as a little boy, who spends most of his life trying to figure out who he is, and how he self-identifies. I love the resolution of this struggle. A perfect example of Newfoundland gothic.

Effigy – Alyssa York

Late in 2013, I read Fauna, York’s latest novel and loved it so much I spent the first part of 2014 in her backlist. Effigy is the reason I love Alissa York. A beautiful story told from multiple points of view over multiple time periods laced together and exploding at the end. It’s what she does, and she’s great at it. It’s a story of Mormons, taxidermy and Western expansion; half a dozen lonely people all living together. I read it in two days.

Pursue the Intentional Life – Jean Fleming

“The truth is that everyone, regardless of age, is already setting patterns for the shape of his or her life.”

Filled with ruminations on living life fully, this book encourages women to reflect on their lives and consciously decide how to live now, in preparation for the future. Beautifully written and poetic, this book is a love letter to life and eternity.

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake – Sarah MacLean

This was the very first romance novel I have ever read, and I loved it so much I was determined to see what else the genre had to offer. This book inspired reading eight more romances back to back. Sarah MacLean is a master storyteller. I rushed through, dying to see what would happen next, even though everyone knows how every romance novel is going to end, I was still excited to get there and see how the story unfolded.

And the sexy scenes were SUPER sexy. I think that’s all you really need in a great romance novel – a compelling story and fabulous sexual chemistry between the two leads. I’m not even ashamed to admit that I have a bit of a crush on the Marquess of Ralston.

419 – Will Ferguson

Marvellous. But I’m not surprised. I’ve been a fan of Will Ferguson forever, though this is the first novel he’s written that I’ve read. There are enough whispers of the travel writer I know him for in this book to make it familiar. The characters are wonderful and real. The story is beautifully executed, and the storylines weave and converge seamlessly. I want to read it again. I did think it wrapped up too quickly – the conclusion was jarring and head-spinning after the long, slow lyricism of the rest of the plot, but I can really overlook that.

Incidentally, none of these were part of the ‘half-reads’ goal, and only one was on my planned reading list. Three are by Canadian authors. Only one is non-fiction, and only one is written by a man. This is not representative of my reading year, but I think it’s interesting. If you’d like to see everything I read this year, check out my 2014 shelf on Goodreads, or my Pinterest board.

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