Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Best Books of 2014

Have you ever made a reading goal?

I went several years with young kids where I was lucky to read more than 5 books in a year, but after going back to school, my reading speed jumped. Rather than taking 3 days to finish a novel, it only took 4 to 8 hours--AND I remembered that I LOVED reading. I used to stockpile books for the summer and read for days! (Because who wouldn't do that, given the option?)

So that was it. I was going to read what I wanted, whenever I could.

The next year I burned through 30 books, and I felt great. The year after that it was more like 40, and I was super proud of myself. Then I made it through a whopping 50, and I thought, I can do better than that.

So I set a goal for 100 books. (Yes, two a week.)

I finished with two weeks to spare, and that included reviewing most of those books. It was a fabulous year of reading, and so it's with great joy I present my 2014 favorites (SUPER favorites in italics):

Worth the Effort: Ella's Story (Kai Strand)
Sun & Moon (Lee Strauss)
Not Until Tonight (Jessica Sankiewics)
Third Daughter (Susan Quinn)
Hurricane Crimes (Chrys Fey)

Run (Jolyn Brown)
Counting to D (Kate Scott)

Fantasy (Urban too): 
Violet Storm (Anna Soliveres)
Sleeper (S.M. Johnston)
Perception (Lee Strauss)
The Labyrinth Wall (Emilyann Girdner)
Butterman (Time) Travel (P.K. Hrezo)

Middle Grade: 
Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin (Liesl Shurtliff)
The Real Boy (Anne Ursu)

The Caged Graves (Dianne Salerni)
Becoming Lady Lockwood (Jennifer Moore)

Ghosts of Innocence (Ian Bott)

Anna Dressed in Blood & Girl of Nightmares (Kendare Blake)

You can see my full 2014 list and the reviews HERE.

Do you have a reading goal?

Now let's give away some reading joy!

Last week Kitsy Clare shared PRIVATE INTERNSHIP with us, along with two lies and one truth. Those who guessed the truth correctly were entered into a random drawing for the chance to win an eBook 

Kitsy's game: 

1. She had a lively discussion with Blues musician Buddy Guy, where he talked about getting musical inspiration from listening to rain on his tin roof.
2. She hung out with Marilyn Manson at one of his after-parties and munched on black marshmallows. 
3. She met all of the 2014 top ten Idol singers and took selfies backstage after the concert. 

And the lie is:

#2. Kitsy IS going to see Marilyn this month with her son, and she would love to meet him. He’s really a very misunderstood musician—a performance artist and NOT into Satan, just into exposing hypocrisy.

(Hanging with the American Idol champs of 2014)

Way to guess everyone who got it right! And the winner is:


Congrats Theresa! 

And now to today's feature...

Maci Might's sixteenth birthday is supposed to be the day she's awarded Hero status. But thanks to a tiny anger problem and a questionable family tree, King City's elders think it's best if she doesn't join the Hero ranks. Determined to change their minds, Maci will break whatever rule it takes to prove she's Hero material. As her hair darkens and her anger grows, everyone turns against her except Evan; a childhood friend turned scientist who may be able to unlock the secrets hidden in her DNA. 

When a villain attacks King City and her dad is held prisoner, Maci discovers a truth she refuses to believe. She may not be a Hero after all—but this time the Heroes of King City need her more than she needs them. And she won't let them down. 

Powered is the first in a trilogy.

Get your copy HERE.

Cheyanne is a native Texan with a fear of cold weather and a coffee addiction that probably needs an intervention. She loves books, sarcasm, nail polish and paid holidays. She lives near the beach with her family, one spoiled rotten puppy and a cat that is plotting to take over the world, one scratched up welcome mat at a time.

She's a cubicle dweller and all around sarcastic weirdo by day. But at night, Cheyanne can be found furiously typing on her computer, probably complaining on Twitter about how she should be writing. When she’s not honing her procrastination skills, she’s writing books for teenagers. She is the author of several books for teens and recently turned her love of superheroes and writing for teens into books about teenage superheroes. POWERED is her first superhero book but it won't be her last. Because POWERED is a trilogy. Duh.

You might run across her snacking on sharp cheddar while walking the street, hanging at a convention, or while grating it over a 7 layer dip.
Cheyanne gave me two truths and one lie to test your "lie detector" skills. Those who figure out the lie will go into my magic hat for the chance to win a signed paperback of POWDERED and Powered swag!!! (****USA only****)

You have until Tuesday, January 20 at 1 p.m. EDT to guess. Be sure to come back for the answer on January 21.


1. One time Cheyanne won a $10,000 lottery scratch off ticket and promptly went on a shopping spree, charging it to her credit card. Then, she lost the ticket (and has never found it).

2. She has 50% of the kidneys that a normal person has but she makes up for it by being at least 13% cooler than the average person.

3. She and her best friend once randomly accepted a dinner invitation from a guy they didn't know at a superhero convention. He ended up being the planner of the entire event and they got to spend the entire night with three of the visiting actors who were all in the Harry Potter movies.
So which is the lie? Do you have a reading goal? What were your favorite reads from 2014?


  1. Congrats on reading 100 books this past year! That's so impressive. I'm especially blown away that you can finish a novel in just 4-8 hours. Wow! I don't think I could ever pull that off regularly, heh.

    And ooh, love the sound of Powered. Such a cool premise! As for the lie...I think I'm going to guess #2...

  2. The Real Boy is wonderful. Have you read her book, Breadcrumbs? It's awesome.
    This is a great list!

  3. Wow on the 100 books! I set that as a goal two years ago - I made it but barely. In 2014, I went for 85 and made that one more easily, more relaxed. Doing the same this year. Yeh for reading! :)

  4. 100 books?!?! That's awesome, Crystal! I would love to read that many (my TBR list is probably 3 times that), but I just don't have the time, I'm afraid -- too many other things competing for my attention and time. If I get 10 books in a year these days, I'm doing good. :)

    And I'm guessing #1 is Cheyanne's lie. At least I HOPE it is -- $10k? OUCH!

  5. Awesome you're reading so much. I had been too, but this year I'm finding I need to watch more TV at night to relax and read less. But I am still reading. Loved seeing your list of books. Some were books I've read and enjoyed too.

  6. Awesome! You and I have the same reading goal. I managed to read just over 100 last year, but I'm off to a slow start this year. As for the like, I'm going to guess #1. Because I want #3 to be true so I can be very jealous! :)

  7. 100 books in 2014?
    Wow! That's a LOT of reading! Congrats!
    I pledged 35 books last year, and 40 this year.
    Now I'm wondering, where did you find the time to write...?

  8. I have a goal to read at least 60 books by the end of 2015. I've already read 4! Which surprised me. But I guess it's good. It'll catch up to me on the weeks I don't feel like reading or I'm too busy. Thanks for sharing your favorite books (:

  9. I'm on your list? Holy cheese! :P I definitely did not expected to see my name here. Thank you!! There are so many good books here. I know two of my favorites was Butterman (Time) Travel Inc and Moonless. I'll be starting Soulless in a few days. :D

    My goal this year is to read 75. Last year it was 50 and I passed it by 93, but I decided to up the number by a quarter than to go for 100. Next year I'll test my reading limits with that. ;)

  10. I really hope the first two aren't real! I'll guess the second one.
    I have Ian's book and plan to read it this year.

  11. Nice choices. Some of these went under my radar, so I'm glad you showed them here. And many congratulations to Cheyanne! :)

  12. I have to read Ghosts of Innocence, been on my Kindle for a while now ... Love the cover of Powers, congratulations Cheyanne!

  13. I have a number of the books on your list on my TBR pile. I don't make a reading goal but I seldom go a day without reading for at least 30 minutes.
    I really hope #1 wasn't true for Cheyanne.

  14. I'm hoping losing the lottery ticket was the lie.

    And wow. That's a lot of books!

  15. I try to read 100 books, but as my kiddo gives up naps that number has been getting smaller and smaller. I'm going to guess number 1 is a lie, simply because that'd be awful!

  16. I've never kept track of my reading for a whole year, but I usually read 1-2 books a week, depending on the type of book. I can plow through middle grades really fast, but adult books take me a little longer. Love your recs--you've got some great titles I haven't heard of.
    I'm guessing #2 is a lie, and that's only because I randomly picked it.

  17. Great job on the reading goals! :) I use the Goodreads challenge to keep track of mine.

  18. Oh, yay! I didn't know I was going to be on the list when I started reading your post. What a nice surprise!

  19. No reading goals for me. I just read whenever I get the chance, assuming I'm not close enough to the computer to work on my manuscript. :)

  20. I still haven't read Anna Dressed in Blood, but it's one I keep meaning to get to.

  21. Anna Dressed in Blood was SO creepy! And The Caged Graves was SO good! =) Great cover for Powered, love the wild hair.

  22. Wow!!!! I'm going to start off with a smaller goal like you did and work my way up. I've been putting too much pressure on myself. I'm going to go in Goodreads and set a goal for myself. Feeling inspired now. ^_^

    Oh my gosh, I hope #1 isn't true!! I'm going with #3 for the lie. I'm thinking it must have been some other actors, being that it was a superhero convention and all. I think she's trying to trick us. :)

  23. 100 books is awesome. I never set a reading goal.

  24. Powered sounds amazing! Loved the pitch. I think the lie is #2...

  25. Oh! I just tried to comment and I think Blogspot ate it, so trying again. Now I have to try and remember how clever I was. Ah! I mentioned how incredible it is that not only had you not read any books on my list, but I hadn't read any on yours! But the two MG books are on my list, and I'm adding the two historicals on right now, so thanks for those. Also, attempting to leave you some Gruyere. Let's see if it sticks this time. :-)

  26. Okay, I have to know, are you a Ninja, too!?! How did you read all those books? Congratulations! You've inspired me to set some goals. I may not get to 100, but I'm going to give it a shot.

  27. Well, you beat me, but I bet I had better cheese.

  28. I'll guess #1 is the lie.

    I need to read faster.

  29. I'm super impressed by your reading. I wish I was a faster reader so I could get through more books. The fastest I've ever read a book was a day... and that was lightning for me and definitely not the norm.

  30. Wow, I don't know how you can get through two books a week, plus write, plus blog, and homeschool, and be a mom, wife, etc. etc. That's awesome! Okay, I think I will make a reading goal for this year. :)

    I'll guess the lie is #1. I'm loving the cover for Powered!

  31. #1 is the lie. I love reading, too! I read between 80 and 100 books a year, but I decided to keep my Goodreads goal low because I actually love to re-read about 40 books a year . . . which is crazy, but I like to go back and moon over my favorite pages. :)

  32. Congrats, Cheyanne!!

    I need to keep better track of what I've read. I have NO idea how many books I read in a year, so therefore I have no idea what kind of goals to set. But I like the idea of doing it, so it's time to keep track! There, that's my goal: to keep track of what I read so that I can set some goals for the number to read next year :)

  33. I don't have a reading goal. Right now I don't have any goals other than survive. Before kids I used to read around 150 books a year. Maybe more. Now I'm probably around 65. Also, my attention span isn't as long so I'm reading easy stuff, less classics. It has to be something I can slip in and out of quickly and read in 5 minute increments.

  34. PS, Congrats on powdered, I'm guessing 1 is the lie.

  35. I'm going to guess the third one because I think it's the second one and I'm never right.

    Congratulations to Cheyanne on Powered.

  36. I think the lie is #1. Yay for native Texans!
    I wish I could read half as fast as you do, Crystal.
    Congrats to Theresa!

  37. You're unbelievable!!! You rocked it, woman. I loved a lot of the books on your list too. I might try that this year. *fingers crossed* Congrats to Theresa. WOOHOOO!!

    Cheyanne, your book looks wonderful. I say the lie is #1????

  38. Congrats on not only reading so many books, but besting your record, and reviewing them too. You're an inspiration. Have a great week!

  39. Wow Crystal that is awesome... 100 books in a year.. I used to be a voracious reader, I would get lost in a book and had to have another one to read before that was finished... then along came my Valentina and I lost that desire... You have given me hope that I will get that back.. I will be happy to read 20 books in a year to begin with ... xox Have a great day and yes, I am surprised with how far I have come...

  40. You are one super reader, Crystal! Trying for two a week? I'm lucky to manage one every two weeks. Must eat more cheese :)

    And thanks so much for the mention of GoI, glad you enjoyed it.

  41. I don't do reading goals. Reading is my time for relaxation, and I don't need to add stress to that equation.


  42. Great list of titles! Love so many of them :)

    And I'm going with #1 as the lie. Mainly because I rather hope the story turned out better than that!

  43. fingers were scrolling too fast on your blog and I commented on the wrong blog. LOL!! I'm lethargic from my giant dinner, I suppose. Thank you so much for the praise for VIOLET STORM. I'm so grateful you enjoyed it!! Biggest hugs! <3

  44. Hey Crystal! I've been on a blogging break but have enjoyed your updates on fb. Hope you're feeling well and very pregnant!

    Glad to know I'm not alone in my lusting after books. I achieved over 100+ on my Goodreads Reading Challenge in 2014! This year I expect to do more. In January I've already read an indecent amount. I will try to take the time to review more books this year--trouble is, if you review on Goodreads, Amazon etc etc it takes so much time. More effective than reviewing on the blog though so I really must try.

    I can devour print books by the dozen but I struggle to finish an e-book. Maybe it's psychological. I'll try to do better.

    Best book I read in 2014. No idea. I read too many. I loved re-reading Gone Girl after seeing the movie. I'll remember a lot more when I sign off. I'm going to post about all the books I've already devoured in January in next week's blog post.

    Lie? N#1. Be well. :-)

  45. Wow, you read a lot of books! And I think #1 is the lie :)

  46. I'm at the young-children-5-a-year stage, so I am wary to set a goal, because I know I'll beat myself up if I don't make it. But I am working toward reading more than I did last year. :)

    Was there a special trick that enabled you to read faster?

    1. Doing it a ton, under pressure? ;) I started snatching time, like while waiting at stop lights and in grocery lines.

    2. I will have to keep a better eye on those opportunities!

  47. Great choices there. I've increased by 2015 goal over 2014. *crosses fingers*

  48. Those are some great books! I never set reading goals because I read for fun and don't want to put pressure on myself!

  49. I actually read 100 books a year when my kids were young. I don't read nearly that much now. But I write a lot more. There's a definite connection. And I really, really hope #1 is the lie. Although I've heard about so much misfortune among lottery winners.

  50. I love to read but I can't imagine finding time to read that many in a year! That's awesome for you :D

    Going with #2 as the lie . . . though #1 would really suck if it was true too lol

  51. I don't have a reading goal other than to read every day, which I mostly do. Same thing happened with me when my children were younger . . . I traded in reading my novels for children's books and then back in 2009, my sisters made me read the Twilight books (I know, I know) . . . but it did remind me of how much I enjoy reading a love story. And I haven't stopped since!

    I think #2 is the lie.

  52. Wow, you are a speedy reader! You are an inspiration. :) I haven't kept track of how many books I've read, but maybe I should. I think you will still win with your total!

  53. Oh wow, awesome reading goal. I might have to start in on something like that. I used to read at a ridiculous rate, now... not so much. But I'm working on it.

  54. I think #1 is the lie.

    Congrats to Theresa.

    I haven't read all those books. I can't remember my favorites from 2014. I'd have to look at my list.

  55. ooh Powered sounds so good! congrats on reading so many great books! I feel like I was super slow with reading this year. Loved Violet Storm!! I'll say #3 is the lie.

  56. Holy cow! 100 books in a year?! Yeah, no. I'm proud of my 16 and I super envy your speed to read. I can't even think that fast... Good for you!! Oh, and I've heard so many good things of Anna Dressed in Blood, I think I'll read it this year.

    Thanks for sharing!

  57. I read a lot, but most of it is unpublished (slush of one form or another) so I never get to count it in my 'books I read this year' list. Really, I should keep track of it though, so I can brag in a blog post... the problem is, that sounds too much like work LOL

    Also, I think #1 is the lie :)

  58. No reading goals for me. I already have enough writing and blogging goals to be able to keep up with everything :) But I do try to read books that help me with my current projects.

  59. I don't have a reading goal. I'm just trying to find time to get through all the books I'm supposed to review. I think I have at least twenty waiting to be read.

  60. After the holidays, I have a stack of thirteen books that's over a foot high. My only goal is to get through all of them this year. I'm already on the second one, so I think I'm doing all right so far. ^_^

  61. I just finished posting on Michael's blog. Like you, I read all the time. I don't set goals, but I can't even eat cereal for breakfast without reading the box. Good for you!

  62. Holy cow, that's a lot! My goal is thirty books this year. I'm looking forward to all the great stories ahead! :)

  63. A hundred books is an awesome achievement. I'm all over the map with how many I manage every year. I don't stress about a specific number, though, because I'm also writing, reading and editing my own work and that of my critique partners.

  64. Congrats on getting all that reading done. 100 books- wow! I also read The Real Boy and loved it. If you haven't read Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu- I highly recommend that one too! I need to read Rump!

    I am guessing the lie is #3- but if it is true that is awesome!

  65. Hey Crystal,

    I have some very slow cheese happening. My computer's ability to chuck cheese is crappy. A very slow computer I have.

    I couldn't possibly even envisage reading that many books. I'm too busy trying to read blogs after they actually load on this silly computer of mine.

    Either number 3 or 4 is a lie :)


  66. Wow! So many great books and you read all! Well done, you!

  67. Anna Dressed in Blood was a great book. Will you email me Teresa's email addy so I can gift her my ebook?

  68. Great list! It was fun recognizing so many blogger folks in there, too. I really need to get through my books on Kindle better.

    Erm, the lie. #3?

  69. Thanks for the lovely list of recommendations! I will be checking these out. ♥

  70. I've made a goal last year but I was not able to reach it. I guess I made it too high. Now I'm just taking it easy. January and I'm still on book 1. Thanks for this recommendations. I think I'll add a few to my reading list. #1 is The Real Boy. I'm juvenile like that. :)

  71. I'll guess the lie is #2.

    In elementary school, I was that kid who read way more books than anyone else. When we did Book It, I was constantly going back and forth across the map of the U.S. and raking up all these imaginary miles for Pizza Hut and other prizes. I also won some big contest from one of the local libraries when I was nine, again for reading the most books over the summer. My parents made me choose the $200 scholarship over the bike.

  72. I'll guess 3 as the lie.

    Manson is playing at the Casino near me at the end of the month. I love his version of Tainted Love.

    Wow, that's a cool reading goal! I tend to have several books going at once. Last year, it wasn't until the middle of the year that I started keeping track of what I read and when. (Also known as... when I really started USING Goodreads website.) I'm getting better at leaving reviews and ratings, so that has made me happy.

  73. I do not set reading goals, but always have two or three in the process. Need to think about your 100.....holy moly, that's a lot!!!

  74. Hello there.
    Thanks for sharing. Just stopping by briefly before the next A-Z Challenge. Visiting from the 2014 A-Z Road Trip!

    Entrepreneurial Goddess

  75. Crystal, I'm so excited to see The Labyrinth Wall on your list. What an honor :) I'm on a blogging break still (though hopefully not much longer). I will for sure mention this in one of my posts when I return to blogging and will link to you. Many, many thanks. I hope 2014 has been wonderful for you so far.


Hit me with your cheese!