Monday, January 12, 2015

Top Reads of 2014 Plus Fake (and Ridiculous) Awards

"My kids can't eat awards." - Pitbull

I don't know about you, but I thought 2014 was a great year for reading. To be fair, most of the books I picked up weren't published in 2014, as I have a strong preference for paperbacks (weak wrists, amongst other made-up problems). Although a few were, usually ones that I've been impatiently waiting to see published.

This year I read 50 books (I know because Goodreads told me), and I wanted to share my favorites with you. In fact, I liked these books so much I've invented completely arbitrary awards to show my pleasure. So well done, books! (err, I mean, authors)




Amazing Adult Fiction:



11/23/63 by Stephen King

Award: Best Book by A Repeat Writer (aka I read everything you write, but not in a stalker way—I know you don’t like that, I read that book, too.)



Notable Non-Fiction:



Critical Care by Theresa Brown

Award: Most "Oh my gosh that is disgusting--how are humans even alive! I can't believe I'm reading this...please continue" moments.




Young-Adult Fantastic Fiction:



The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

Award: Most Fun You’ll Have While Sobbing Uncontrollably




Powerful Poetry:



Tell Me by Kim Addonizio

Award: Most Pleasant Way to Get Your Heart Broken




Memorable Middle Grade:




Nightmares! By Jason Segel

Award: Spookiest without being 2spooky4me




Favorite Fantasy:



A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin

Award: Best Use of Beheadings




Best Book by A Friend:



How to Date Dead Guys by Ann Noser

Award: Creepiest Use of a Smiley Face, or, Most Likely to Make You Consider Necrophilia (I'm looking at you, Jake!). 





Moving Memoir:



The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

Award: Most inspiring to make me turn off Netflix and be a more productive person--after one more episode. 




Stupendous Series:



The Prydain Series by Lloyd Alexander

Award: I've already read this series 10 times and I still get goosebumps because Taran and Eilonwy forever.




Ten Additional Recommendations That I Enjoyed in 2014 For Various Reasons That are Too Long-Winded (kind of like this title...) to Easily Categorize Here:

Paint it Black by Janet Fitch
Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail by Suzanne Roberts
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Doll Bones by Holly Black
Pines by Blake Crouch
Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis
Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Happy Hallow-Reading!

Halloween is my Christmas. I wait all year for it. Nothing makes me happier than the sound of fake skeleton bones clicking in the breeze, light up ghosts hanging from porches, and little witches and ghouls grabbing for candy out of plastic pumpkins. 

Halloween 2013,
Red-headed Katniss
(the wig was itchy)
I gravitate towards the light-hearted parts of Halloween. Not the serial-killer-slasher-guts-blood-torture horror that seems to be popular with the theme-park turned gore-fest crowd. 

What gets me excited about Halloween are the subtle scares, the heartbroken and lonely ghosts, the misunderstood monsters. This, combined with my passion for reading, means I end up devouring a lot of middle grade and YA books around Halloween.


So for those of you who want to be spooked but not disgusted (at least, only occasionally), and who value plot over body count, here are my top 5 spook-tastic recommendations (in no particular order and pictures link to amazon).


 

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

A group of friends are led by the spirit of Halloween to discover the spooky holidays true meaning and to save their friend. 

Confession: I have an irrational, unexplainable love for this book, and the movie made after it. To me, this is quintessential Halloween. I know I said these books were in no particular order, but I'm a dirty liar, in this particular case. If you only read one book to your children this October, Bradbury's tale is an unbeatable choice. 

“When you reach the stars, boy, yes, and live there forever, all the fears will go, and Death himself will die.” 



 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

A young boy is raised by ghosts and starts to wonder what's beyond the graveyard. 

Spoiler alert: Danger. 

Need I go on?

 

Doll Bones by Holly Black

Is growing up as scary as a haunted China doll?

From experience, yes. 

Scare level on this one is low, creepy level medium-low. Great for kids who may not be ready for spookier tales but want to get in the Halloween spirit. 

 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A lonely kid discovers an island full of strange and gifted children, emphasis on the strange. 

Fair warning: the pictures are pretty creepy. I can't look at them in the dark (and I'm an adult...kind of). 

 

The Witches by Roald Dahl

Child-hating witches try to turn them into mice using spell-laden soup.

My take: would've worked better with candy.

Sorry, the description is kind of lousy. I read this as a kid and never re-read it because it scared the bajingles out of me. I have a distinct memory of loving it though, so into the recommendation pile it goes. 




Bonus book (aka currently reading and haven't finished but enjoying):


Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kristen Miller

A witch threatens to escape a grieving boy's nightmares and enter his real life. 

Truth: I'm only 75 pages into this one, as its my Halloween read this year, but so far it is creeptitilating.