Ok, so I’m a little late to the top five of 2014 game, since it’s already 2015, but better late than never.  So, here are my favorite books I read last year.

5. The Golem and the Jinni

This book was awesomely creative and different from most things I read.  Largely about Muslim culture in the early 1900s in New York City, I was fascinated by the way Helene Wecker was able to weave real world problems like clashing cultures, poverty and the like with fantastical characters.  My only complaint was how quickly the book wrapped up.  She spent over 400 pages building to this phenomenal climax, and wrapped up in about 20 pages.  I wanted more, but that’s the mark of a good book!

Synopsis:

In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinniweaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

Buy it here.

4. The Firebird 

Anything by Suzanna Kearsly is amazing.  I had trouble with this one, because it had been so long since I read the first one in this series, but with some refreshing I loved it.  Kearsly’s settings are lovely, the kind that make you want to go there immediately.  Who doesn’t love something with a little romance, some time travel, and a magical setting like Russia!

Synopsis:

Authentic historic detail, a touch of the paranormal, and romance come together with a synergistic effect in versatile Kearsley’s (The Rose Garden, 2011) lovely and memorable novel. Nicola Marter works for a London gallery. She not only holds master’s degrees in Russian studies and art history; she also has the secret ability to hold an object and see past events. When a woman comes in with a small carved bird, Nicola has a vision of the Empress Catherine giving it to a young woman named Anna. With no documented provenance, the carving is worthless to collectors, and Nicola feels impelled to authenticate it. Impulsively, she heads to Scotland and enlists the assistance of Rob McMorran, to whom she was attracted when she met him in a psychic study. Even though Nicola can practice psychometry, she knows that Rob’s much stronger psychic powers will be invaluable. Together they embark on a journey that takes them to Ypres and Saint Petersburg and opens a window onto the early eighteenth century and the plight of Jacobites as they unravel Anna’s story.

By it here.

3. Under Different Stars

Ok, this book completely rocked my world.  Amy Bartol’s writing is seamless, and that’s rare among indie authors. I love how she drops tidbits of huge information among the details, like how Kricket’s hair turns to ash when it falls out. You read over that like it’s normal, then you’re like wait, what? Holy cow!

The story itself is one of the most inventive and creative that I’ve read in awhile. There are too many books following the same storyline anymore, but this one breaks the mold, and it does so beautifully. Combining elements of all different genres – romance, adventure, sci-fi, etc – it weaves together a tale of forbidden love, fantastical magic (for lack of a better term), and at it’s core, is a tale of survival.

Be sure to check this one out, because the next one comes out in March and let me tell you I CAN’T FREAKING WAIT!

Synopsis:

Kricket Hollowell never wished upon stars. She was too busy hiding in plain sight, eluding Chicago’s foster care system. As her eighteenth birthday approaches, she now eagerly anticipates the day she’ll stop running and finally find her place in the world.

That day comes when she meets a young Etharian soldier named Trey Allairis, who has been charged with coming to Earth to find Kricket and transport her to her true home. As danger draws close, he must protect her until she can wield the powers she cannot use on Earth…and he soon realizes that counting a galaxy of stars would be easier than losing this extraordinary girl.

Kyon knows the powerful depths of Kricket’s gifts—gifts he’ll control when he takes her for his tribe and leads the forces that will claim Ethar and destroy his enemies, starting with Trey Allairis. Now, Kricket faces the most difficult choice of her life: whether to wage a battle for survival or a fight for love.

Buy it here.

Preorder book 2 (Sea of Stars) here.

2. Cress

Can we talk about how amazing Marissa Meyer is?  The latest installment in the Lunar Chronicles, Cress, has almost 800 reviews, and is holding on to a 4.8 star rating.  This is one you can’t ignore.  Meyer’s series follows different versions of well known fairy tails.  Cress is no different, following the story of Rapunzel and her dramatic rescue, while at the same time balancing the stories of Cinder (Cinderella) and Scarlet (Red Riding Hood).  The new book, Fairest is supposed to be Levana’s story, but I’m not sure I’m excited about that, since I kind of hate her.  I want Winter, and I want it now.

Anyway, if you haven’t read The Lunar Chronicles, you are seriously missing out.

Synopsis:

In this third book in Marissa Meyer’s bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she’s just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she’d ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Buy it here.
Buy Scarlet (book 2) here.
Buy Cinder (book 1) here.
1. These Broken Stars
This book was ah-freaking-mazing.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I’d read it.  The amount of world-building was astounding, and the obstacles the characters had to overcome made me want to cry all the way through the book.  To be clear, I am not an emotional person, but there was definitely one point where I cried my eyes out.  I was sad to leave the characters when I finished reading, and often go back to the book, just to look at it on my shelf and feel some camaraderie with it.
Set in space, with a huge indestructible ship, the book has a Titanic feel to it.  Marooned on a distant planet and left to survive on their own, the two main characters must adapt, and learn to get along if they want to live.  What’s not to love?
I got the new one, This Shattered World for Christmas and CAN’T WAIT to start reading it! AND I just discovered there’s a FREE short story linking book 1 and 2 called This Night so Dark.  I’m going to read that tonight!
Seriously, if you read nothing else this year, check out this one.
Synopsis:
It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever? Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it. The first in a sweeping science fiction trilogy, These Broken Stars is a timeless love story about hope and survival in the face of unthinkable odds.
Buy it here.
Buy This Shattered World here.
Buy This Night So Dark here.
Well, that’s it.  My top 5!  Happy reading guys!  🙂