Whew! Let me start by saying I can’t believe 2014 is almost over! It seems like just yesterday we were starting 2014 with many plans and good intentions (AND a TBR list a mile long). It has been a crazy and tough year for me personally. All of that aside, this is a post about what’s happened on the blog this year, like book review, challenges, and memes. I have read some WONDERFUL books this year!
I started out this year with joining in the “Empty Shelf Challenge“, hoping to fill one of my shelves with books I read all year. My goal was 40 books. As of right now, I’m working on book number 50 and counting (print and some ebooks)!
This year has also seen some enjoyable author interviews here on the blog (Lynne Gentry, Rebecca DeMarino, Dawn Crandall, Amber Stokes).
This spring, I was privileged to participate as a judge in the INSPY awards. Jody Hedlund’s A Noble Groom won in the historical romance category I and fellow bloggers were judging (It’s not on this list, but it was fabulous!) It was a fun experience! (Nominations are now open for the 2015 INSPYs, so go check that out here.)
I started participating in a few memes, like the Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday, my own Wednesday Wonderings, and continued a few Fun Find Fridays.
I’m listing 11 of my favorite reads from this year. You may have heard me gush about these at one time or another, but this is the year-end review…. so prepare yourself. I want to give a quick shout-out to all of the authors, publishers, and blogger review programs out there. THANK YOU! If it weren’t for you all, we wouldn’t take such pleasure in reading (and writing about it!).
* in no particular order *
1. The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton
This one was just perfect. Beautiful setting, realistic characters, great writing style. I could go on, but I’m just going to say if you’re a historical fiction fan, get this one now!!! (I’m still waiting for the mini-series adaptation to become a reality)
2. The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall
My favorite so far of the Everstone Chronicles series, Meredyth and Lawry’s stories were so heartfelt.
3. The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron
SO GOOD. Expertly intertwining historical and contemporary stories consecutively. And did I mention I’m becoming a huge WWII-era fan?
4. A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge
An awesome contemporary. About a chef. With actual RECIPES included. Just my style!
5. Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg
This one was sweet, comical, and really made me laugh. AND it challenges your faith. If you ever visit Melissa’s fab blog, you’ll see that she is just as sweet and funny in real life.
6. It Had to Be You by Susan May Warren
Susan is fast becoming a favorite author. This one was great and kept me turning the pages quickly. The others (so far) in the Christiansen family series are fantastic, too!
7. Duchess by Susan May Warren
ANOTHER favorite from Susan! You know those golden-age-of-Hollywood epic stories with a bit of romance? Maybe like Gone With the Wind or Roman Holiday? This one totally reminds me of them – plus it actually follows the story of Roxy, an actress from that era. (I know, I haven’t reviewed this one on the blog yet, but I will. Soon.)
8. The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot
Probably one of my top 3 favorites this year, if someone forced me to say it out loud. This one is a historical fiction game-changer. Inspiring, fantastic characters who jump of the page, and an enlightening history lesson all in one.
9. Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay
Another one I’ve yet to review. It’s fabulous, though, with raw characters and a unique storyline full on unexpected-ness. Just what I’ve come to expect from Katherine.
10. Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter
It’s by Denise Hunter. What more can I say? Seriously though, this one had bright characters, lessons of love and sacrifice, and a big family to tie it all together.
11. The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd
Mystery, romance, redemption, and a beautiful setting combine in this Jane Eyre-esque portrayal of the Regency er
Well, that’s my recap of 2014! What do you think of my favorites – agree, disagree? Have you read any of these books/authors before?
Love this post, Courtney. Yay for Hillary’s, Melissa’s (what you said about reading her blog, so true) and Katherine’s. All fabulous books.
Thanks very much for the INSPYs shout-out. Appreciate it. 🙂
Hi Rissi! Thanks for commenting! Yes, those were all so, so good. I can’t wait to get in on the INSPYs fun this year! I’m hoping to apply as a judge, again. That was such a cool experience!
As usual, I am way behind on my WP reading/commenting. Perhaps that should be a 2015 goal thing for me. Though I don’t usually make any. 😉
No matter how you participate in the INSPYs, we’d love to have you. Your support and possible judging application would be awesome. 🙂
Thank you, Courtney, so much for including Lizzy & Jane on this fantastic list. 🙂
Hey, Katherine! I was happy to! I’m hoping I’ll finally finish my full review of it soon, I just have so many thoughts & feelings to organize! Thanks for dropping by!
Loving your year-end post! I have a few favorites in common with you- Melissa’s, Lori’s, Katherine’s, and Kristy’s. And I’m still on board with you for the mini-series of Lori’s book– that would be fabulous!
Thanks, Cassie! Yay for common favorites! Those we have in common were exceptional, for sure. I vote we still lobby Hallmark for that mini-series 🙂 I’d be glad to help cast it! hehe
Oooh! We could totally pitch the idea to them! Not that I would even know how, lol. But I totally got your back if you ever did something like that!!!
The Headmistress of Rosemere – I actually tried to read this one a while back. More like skimmed it, but maybe I should give it another true chance… I’ve been seeing it on many of the blogs I visit.
A Table By the Window – I have it. Hearing that it’s good piques my curiosity.
Happy New Year, Courtney!
Oooh, you should give “Headmistress” another try. It was memorable and unique. And I do hope you enjoy A Table By the Window if/when you get to it! Thanks for stopping by, Ganise! It’s always great to “see” you visit!
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