Archive | January, 2015

Teaser…

18 Jan

2015/01/img_1384.jpg

Friday 56, 16-January-2015

16 Jan

Welcome to the three day weekend edition of The Friday 56 hosted by Freda on Freda’s Voice. Head on over there and check out the other participating blogs.

Friday 56

The way this meme works is pretty simple. If you want to join in, head over to Freda’s blog and add your link.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book (I grab the one I’m currently reading)
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.

I guess I read this book so fast it didn’t have a chance to be part of my Friday 56, so I’ll be featuring Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, which I reviewed yesterday. Go check that out if you think this one sounds good.

I know you devour the Sports section, so you’ve probably already read how the North High Vikings trounced the Southeast Bunnies Friday night. The only thing missing from our coverage was the way the Viking defense rallied when the band played “Whoomp! (There it is).”

Yay Rainbow Rowell. I love her lighthearted humor and the way the characters have sarcastic conversations that actually happen between people. It’s very refreshing. Anyway, this is a great little book, a very light and fun read that I think could appeal to all audiences.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (5/5)

15 Jan

Have you ever been walking through a big box store and you accidentally-on-purpose pass by the bargain books section on your way to the bananas? Finding a copy of Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments for $6 proves to me that this is a good practice and I’m proud to admit to always looking for a steal on this table. Granted, it doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. I’ve had this copy sitting on my shelf for a while and my work book club was looking for something more upbeat, so I suggested it. So far, it’s gone over really well and we’ll be discussing it later this week.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

 Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Summary from Goodreads:

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

This was perfect for our group. We’ve read some depressing titles for the past few choices and this was a great pick-me-up where no one was orphaned or died. Rowell is a great spirit-lifter and I really enjoyed this story. Her characters seem so real. You could go have coffee with them because they have small little quirks that you or your friends have and you want to hang out with them. She’s the John Green of 20-somethings. The story was a little dated because of the Y2K scare, but it was still relatable and there was nothing that dated it too much that it seemed at all historical.

Beth and Jennifer seemed a bit flat to me, but only because we saw them through letters for most of the book. Lincoln leaped off the page. I have a few friends who are career students so I could picture him well. Once we got to know Beth in the flesh, I really liked her. When it was just her emails she seemed like the pretty girl with ‘problems,’ but in person, she was humanized and became a pretty girl with emotions and suffering and problems. She always had a witty remark or quip in her emails but in person, she was much more real.

Lincoln was a great character. He was very much a man-child for most of the book and really came into himself in the end. Maybe he didn’t handle it in the best way possible, but he still grew up and was finally able to move on from something that had been haunting him for years. I was sad that his ex’s name was Sam; I’m rather fond of that name. But his relationship with her was very unhealthy, which seemed obvious to me and apparently to everyone around him. So many years later, he was still that same boy. I liked how he grew up and I thought it was well paced.

Of all the characters, I related most to Lincoln. I remember how rough it was for me to tell my parents I wanted to move out and my husband moving out of his parent’s home. I could relate to that. I think that between Beth, Lincoln, and Jennifer, there was someone who most readers could sympathize with. They were all very different people with different background and problems and I think that gives Rowell such a wide appeal. She has very different people come together and the relationships between them don’t seem forced.

I liked the scenes where Lincoln interacted with his mother. That relationship was such a weird power dynamic that it fascinated me. I was curious how each scene would play out and if Lincoln would submit or rebel. I wish he was a bit stronger in a few scenes, but it was very in character for him to be weaker.

The emails where Beth thought Lincoln had a kid made me laugh out loud. It was so perfect because as women, we jump to conclusions like “He’s married with children!” when “It’s his nephew” is as plausible and even more likely. I enjoyed seeing a character freak out about something the way I would.

Rainbow Rowell Image via the author's website

Rainbow Rowell
Image via the author’s website

I didn’t like how Lincoln went to look at Beth’s desk when she wasn’t there. To me, that crossed a creepy line or at least towed it too closely. I really liked Lincoln despite that scene, but I wish it had been skipped because it made me wonder if he was one of those guys who seems really nice and sweet and then watches you a little bit too closely. I’m glad it didn’t come to that.

I wonder what would have happened to Lincoln if he’d been honest with Beth and Jennifer. What if he’d reprimanded them for their emails? What if he’d told Beth who he was and that he knew what she’d been saying? I don’t think it would have worked out for him. But I refuse to believe that the message of this book is that it’s okay to lie about who you are. I think it’s saying that we all grow up in our own ways and that there’s no one way that’s better than others. Maybe Lincoln had to know Beth thought he was cute and Jennifer thought he was nice to be able to resist Sam. And maybe he needed a boring job doing almost nothing to know he was capable of more. To each his own.

Writer’s Takeaway: Rowell’s dialogue is amazing. It’s so genuine and feels like a conversation you would overhear, not one someone would write. John Green captures the teenage mind and Rowell captures the 20-something conversation. I’m continually impressed with her and I’m really excited to see how she does with fantasy when her next novel comes out. I’m also going to try to squeeze Eleanor and Park onto my list ASAP!

Fun, quick read that I’d recommend to anyone who likes YA. Five out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Book Review: “Attachments” by Rainbow Rowell | Scribbles & Wanderlust
Attachments – Rainbow Rowell | mrsmamfa
Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell | prettybooks
Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell | The Book Stop

Why have you quit a book club?

14 Jan

So the title is pretty self-explanatory: I’m curious what would cause a person to quit (or not join) a book club. Yes, this is slightly self-serving because I’m hosting an on-line book club read-along, but I also want to know because I’m thinking of quitting one of my book clubs. I seriously doubt I’ll lack the umph to do it, but maybe this will help.

I’ve run into a few reasons people don’t want to be in a book club: don’t like the book, don’t have enough time, worry about falling behind or not finishing the text, don’t like the other people participating, etc. But I want to know what finally pushed you over the edge.

Here’s my situation. I’m in four book clubs; two through my library, one that I run at work, and one I run online. So that’s a lot of books that are more-or-less dictated to me. I don’t get a lot of time to read books I choose, unless they’re audiobooks. One of my book clubs just isn’t doing it for me consistently. There have been a good number of duds from this group. But, on the bright side, a lot of hits. I read The Art of Fielding in this group, the book I choose as my #1 read of 2014, and it’s with this group that I had the discussion on The Light Between Oceans that led to my top page of all time. But more recently, I’ve been let down by the selections. The group isn’t well-organized and the discussion always seems to go to someone’s medical problems or something that was on PBS. A little side-tracking is fine, but this group can be too much.

So, as a way to remedy this disappointment a bit, I started my Read-Along with Me series. I could (kinda) pick the books and hoped to find a group of like-minded people who were excited to talk about books. And I think Read-Along 1 (The Maze Runner) went well. Read-Along 2 (The Space Between Us) shrunk to 2 other participants, but we had a lot of fun. It was a great discussion and we ended up loving the book. So I decided to go ahead and do Read-Along #3 (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) which began this past weekend and after several people having to decline, there are only two of us left: me and Nicole. So I’m trying to find out; why don’t  you join a book club? Then I’ll do the opposite of that.

So Reader, help a girl out. What would turn you off to a book club? What would turn you on to one? What would make you quit? And, if you will, should I quit my book club and strike it off on my own? I’m not sure I’m brave enough! What is your opinion on themed book clubs?  That would be something like a YA club, or a SciFi club or a historical fiction club.

And, if after all this, you want to join Nicole and I for Read-Along #3, please send me an email. We’d love the company.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (2/5)

13 Jan

If you’ve read my blog, you’ve seen the ups and downs of Book Club selections. Well, this is a down. This book club is more hit-or-miss than some other ones I’m involved in but this book was rough to get through, though the ending redeemed it a bit. Almost.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Summary from Goodreads:

Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning a letter arrives, addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl, from a woman he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. But before Harold mails off a quick reply, a chance encounter convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. In his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold Fry embarks on an urgent quest. Determined to walk six hundred miles to the hospice, Harold believes that as long as he walks, Queenie will live.

I don’t think I’m the target audience for this book. It didn’t appeal to me at all and I had trouble relating to any of the characters, which made for a very forced read. I was happy when I finished it only because I could start something else. I think this book would appeal to people older than myself, maybe 40+, who have more experience with marriage and children growing up, but I’m not at a point in my life where this book appealed to me.

I thought Harold and Maureen were just a bit off. Harold didn’t seem to have any common sense at times and other moments, he would seem completely sane. Maureen admitted to talking to herself on a regular basis. I felt like they were cartoons of real people at times and it felt odd to me as a reader. I was caught between laughing and feeling bad for them at the same time and it was somewhat uncomfortable.

I liked Harold enough for the first half of the book, but I started feeling bad for him in the last bit of the book and it made me like Maureen more. I felt bad for Harold and I liked Maureen for her concern and care. I don’t think either character was likable for the entirety of the book and there are very few other characters from which to pick a favorite.

Part of why I disliked this book so much was that the characters are so far removed from myself. I’ve never lost someone close to me and I don’t know how it feels to nurse a memory for twenty years. I felt bad for them, but I couldn’t relate.

Rachel Joyce Image via The Guardian

Rachel Joyce
Image via The Guardian

I liked the ending. I thought it was fitting and brought the book together nicely. I liked that Queenie wasn’t what Harold had imagined all that time and I liked how much of a struggle he had to go through to get to her. It was appropriate and nothing felt contrived. However, I don’t think it made up for how rough it was for me to get through this book.

The middle dragged too much in my opinion. Harold was walking and meeting people and that was great, but I didn’t see where it was going. Did every person he met move him or change him? I don’t really think so. I think it could have been shortened or cut. The beginning was interesting because he was doing something so unusual and the end was interesting because there was action and resolution. But the middle? It took some effort for me to get through it.

Harold’s story was one about new beginnings, forgiveness, and thanks. He and Maureen were able to re-kindle their marriage in a way it desperately needed. They had suffered a great tragedy and it had torn them apart in a way that only something drastic could save. It’s odd that that drastic measure had to be walking across the country, but I’m glad they could reconcile. Harold had to forgive himself for the kind of father he had been. It seemed to me that he wasn’t that bad of a father, but he didn’t know how to be a great one while Maureen seemed to know what to do to be a great mother. If Maureen was a great mother and something went wrong for David, it had to be Harold’s fault. I don’t exactly agree with this, but I believe this is how Harold felt. The purpose of the whole walk was to say thank you to Queenie. She had lost her job for Harold and he’d never had the chance to say thank you, something he obviously let eat away at him for a long time. His walk was a physical act of thanks as he felt the sacrifice and toll on his body that he was going through would keep her alive and even heal her. When he arrived, he was able to thank her in person. I think arriving at his destination was a baptism for Harold that washed him free of his past guilt.

Writer’s Takeaway: I think this book was well written for its audience; I just happen to not be that audience. The book tells a very specific story that has a lot of universal appeal. Harold has regrets, as does Maureen, and wants to atone for them. That’s a universal problem. It’s a shame that this book wasn’t for me at this point in my life because I’m really unable to point to anything flawed in the story or writing style. Well, except the slow middle. That’s really all I could say against it.

This was a rough go for me because I was uninterested in the characters. Two out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Book Review: ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce | Hynd’s Blog
Novel Review: “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce | Ana’ Fiches de Lectures
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce | time2tome

Read-Along #3 has begun!

12 Jan

In case you missed it before, I’m beginning the third installment of my Read-Along With Me series here on Taking on a World of Words. Our book this time is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.

Read Along 3

There are two other lovely ladies besides myself participating so far and we’d enjoy more company if you’re interested. The reading has only just begun so you wouldn’t be behind much at all. Please send me an email so I can include you in our notes. You can read more about my Read Alongs and see the budding hub page for this event if you’d like more information.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Friday 56, 9-January-2015

9 Jan

Welcome to the below 0 degrees edition of The Friday 56 hosted by Freda on Freda’s Voice. Head on over there and check out the other participating blogs.

Friday 56

The way this meme works is pretty simple. If you want to join in, head over to Freda’s blog and add your link.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book (I grab the one I’m currently reading)
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.

I’ve finally gotten my ebook back! So now I want to share a quote from that selection, The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

Kivrin looked at Lady Yvolde’s priedieu longingly, thinking of the plastic kneeling pads that hung on the backs of the chairs in St. Mary’s.

I choose this passage because it helps highlight how out of her element Kivrin is after having traveled back in time almost 1000 years. She thought she’d studied enough and had practiced ‘going without’ modern conveniences, but she still misses the comforts of home. I can’t wait to see where her journey takes her.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (5/5)

8 Jan

I saw a positive review of this book from a fellow book blogger and when it was available on my library ecollection (and nothing I’d previously wanted was), I grabbed it. Now, I usually take a few months to read an ebook because I never really focus on it until it’s near its climax. But this book? Nine days. Yeah, I fell in love with this book and devoured it.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Summary from Goodreads:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

Well, that’s a long enough summary. Anyway, the idea of this book didn’t really turn me on to it, but the review of it I read did. I absolutely loved this book. I’m looking out for a physical copy to send to my husband’s seventh graders because I think this is a great book for kids. And hey, I enjoyed the heck out of it. I thought the future that Cline drew was realistic though it made me sad to see how far people would go to avoid their own lives. I think this is something our culture is heading toward, even without a global energy crisis. I’m thinking of people I know who are more active on Facebook and Twitter than they are when out with friends. I’m talking about going to dinner with friends and all of us being on our smart phones until the food arrives. This future isn’t as far away as I’d like to think it is.

Wade was a slightly stereotypical YA hero. By that, I mean that he was very smart, almost too smart, and was able to do things that should be impossible. It didn’t really bother me, though, because it made for a good story. If Wade hadn’t been smart or able to afford things that were extravagant, then the story would have been non-existent. Did it seem a bit of a stretch at times? Yes. However, I never even thought of it until I started writing this review.

Aech was my favorite character, especially after the big reveal at the end. I liked how he was nice to Wade despite their economic differences, which limited some of the things they could do together. Their friendship was based on their shared interest in gunter culture and that’s all Aech ever wanted from it. I don’t want to talk about the big reveal at the end, but it made me really happy (that’s all I’ll say).

I related to the struggle to connect online that Wade and his friends went through. When I started blogging, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a community online. I’d never gotten very involved in an online group where I formed friendships that were strictly online. I have an internal conflict to share enough about myself to be personable, but not so much that you could find out where I live. Wade wanted to keep his identity secret for different reasons, but the desire for privacy was still important. I’ve ended up forming some solid friendships through blogging like Wade was able to through the Oasis. The only difference is that I have other friends as well, who I’m not afraid to meet face-to-face. But I liked that this idea was brought up.

Ernest Cline Image via G4TV.com

Ernest Cline
Image via G4TV.com

I liked how Cline wove in the scene of the perfect PacMan game. Right away, I knew it was important and was trying to figure out how. I won’t say any more because I don’t want to ruin this for anyone who wants to read this book, but I knew an author wouldn’t put that scene in the book for no reason and it had me wondering until the end.

I didn’t like the scene where Wade’s house was blown up. Mostly, I didn’t like how little reaction there was to it. I know he didn’t like his aunt, but he felt absolutely nothing for the death of so many people that it was ridiculous. I grew to later see Wade as a caring person, but this scene at the beginning made me hesitant to like him at all. It was a bad first impression of him.

The message about being online too much was a bit overdone, but I liked what Cline was saying about integrity and doing things for the right reason. IOI wanted power and control but Wade and the other gunters wanted the solve the Easter Egg for the sake of the puzzle.  They were honest in following the intent of the contest, as Ogden says toward the end. You should do things that are meant to be fun because they are fun and not always worry about turning them into a competition.

Writer’s Takeaway: I think Cline’s use of popular culture as such a central point in his plot was part of what made it so intriguing. I’m a bit young for all the references, but I still got a good number of them and really enjoyed seeing movies (I didn’t recognize the games as much) used as clues and puzzles. I think a lot of people will enjoy these in the same way. While it dates the book and somewhat limits the audience, it also makes it popular end engaging.

As I said before, this book was awesome and I really flew through it when I read. A full Five out of Five stars.

This book fulfills Oklahoma for the 2014 Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline | Book Journey
Review | Ready Player One by Ernest Cline | Short Story Long
A Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline | Definitely Not for the Birds
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Review | Neon Yeti Reads

My 2015 Challenges

7 Jan

I’ve decided to only do two challenges this year. With the Read Along With Me events I host along with hosting my own challenge, I think this will be enough. And I’m bad at biting off more than I can chew. With school on my plate now, I don’t want to over-commit. And I like being able to read whatever I want. Anyway.

when are you reading 2015

2015 When Are You Reading Challenge?

I host this one! It’s a challenge to read a book from each of 12 different time periods. If you’re a fan of historical fiction like myself, this is perfect for getting yourself to read something other than WWII novels or stories about English kings. I loved doing it last year and I’m excited to do it again.

Goodreads Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge
Sam has
read 0 books toward her goal of 50 books.
hide

I know everyone does it, but I might as well put it here. I wanted to read 35 last year and came back at 62. This year, I’m going for 50. We’ll see what happens! I think I’ve got this one.

I have some other personal reading goals. I want to finish one book in Spanish and I’ve already begun La Sombra del Viento so that will likely be the one. I’m also hoping to make a dent in some of the books on my TBR that aren’t in my personal collection and use the library a bit more. I hope I can do that.

In non-reading news, I have an athletic goal for myself this year. I want to finish two sprint triathlons (again) and run a 10K this year. I’ll get to that half-Ironman one day, just you wait and see!

What are your reading goals? What are your 2015 goals? Leave a comment and let me know!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

2014 Reading Year End Review: Top 10 Reads

6 Jan

I read some amazing books in 2014. Yes, there were some duds mixed in, but I want to concentrate here on the awesomely amazing ones that I think  you all should read. So I’ve decided to do a Top 10 list for the books I read and say a few words about their amazingness. I’ve given age/gender recommendations for all of them, but in reality, I enjoyed them and I think anyone can.

10. Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This was a solid book club selection. The character progression was great. Strayed seemed whiny and self-centered at first, but by the end of her trip, she was very self-sufficient and ready to get on with her life. Kudos to her. I recommend this for women 20+.

9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. For the way this one screwed with my mind alone it’s on this list. Flynn wrote in such an engaging way that I ignored house chores for two days to finish it. This is really a great thriller, which is a genre I don’t read very often, though this made me want to. I recommend this for anyone over 16.

8. A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. I was that weird kid in school who loved Waiting for Godot and to me, that’s the closest thing I can compare this book to. It was so true to life that the characters were just kind of floating along. I’m not sure if I’ll see the movie of this that’s promised next year, but it was a great book. I recommend this for men 30+.

7. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Wow, this book. It was so full of action and moving characters that really amazed me. It’s a great example of historical fiction and a book I know has been recommended me to a number of times. The only daunting thing is its length, which is why it’s not closer to the top of this list. I recommend this for any historical fiction lover, ages 18+.

6. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. I love books written in diary or letter formats so this was perfect for me. It was a quick read and it was so much fun to read because of the story and how it talked about words and letters. I mean, is there anything better for a book lover? My book club adored it. I recommend it to anyone (though I think women would prefer it) 14+.

5. Looking for Alaska by John Green. If I hadn’t been in the car with someone while I listened to this, I might have cried. John Green is great at making me want to cry and I think he would be proud of that. A really great story about how to deal with changes in life and how to move on from tragedy. Great for teenagers (13-17) but anyone who likes well written YA would enjoy it.

4. These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner. Once I got past the beginning where the narrator couldn’t use proper grammar, I really enjoyed the fast paced events of this novel. Turner brought the old west to life in a way I haven’t seen before. I would hesitate to call this a Western, but it had parts of that to it. Great historical fiction would be a better way to classify it. I’d recommend this to women 20+.

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Having some distance from this novel has made me like it more. I could relate to the characters Rowell created so much that it scared me. She did a great job of exploring a college student’s insecurities and giving nerd-girls a character to root for. I recommend this for any woman who writes or has written fan fiction and women 18-30.

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I did not expect to like this book so much but wow. It really stole my breath away. A great story that I’d compare to Ender’s Game in awesomeness. I recommend this for boys 13-18.

AND my #1 book of 2014

1. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. This book… wow. Because of this book, I always finish book club books. I never know how much one can surprise me because this one was so good. This is the book I recommend to people who are ‘looking for something good’ to read. I recommend it to everyone reading this. It’s not a sports book and you don’t have to know anything about baseball to enjoy it. This is a great story about life. While I think everyone should read it, I’d say especially those in college, 18-25 males.

What were your favorite books of 2014? Are you surprised by anything on my list? I hope to find an equally good crop in 2015 to fill out another great list. Have a great year and happy reading!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!