5-Star Books I Read in 2014 (So Far!)

Sometime during the next month, you may have to shop – for yourself or someone else. I have some suggestions, so here are the books I rated 5 stars in 2014 (so far!). Of course, this by no means guarantees you or your people will find them worthy of 5 stars ;-) Listed in order from most recently read and working backward through time. The title links should take you to my reviews of the books:

Jodi Picoult, Leaving Time: A Bookworld Top Pick for Christmas. General/mainstream fiction.

Laura Wiess, Leftovers: YA suspense.

Laura Wiess, Such a Pretty Girl: YA suspense.

Maggie Stiefvater, The Dream Thieves: YA urban fantasy. (Book 2 in a series.)

Tiffany Reisz, The Mistress: Erotic fiction. (Book 4 in a series.)

M. D. Waters, Archetype: Futuristic.

Laura Wiess, Me Since You: YA general/mainstream fiction.

Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half: Illustrated memoirs.

This post was supported by Bookworld.

25th November 2014 Releases

Happy Release Day to:

Mira Grant
Symbiont (Parasitology, Book 2)
Hachette Orbit (US, UK, & AU: 25th November 2014)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

The SymboGen-designed tapeworms were created to relieve humanity of disease and sickness. But the implants in the majority of the world’s population began attacking their hosts, turning them into a ravenous horde. Now those who do not appear to be afflicted are being gathered for quarantine as panic spreads, but Sal and her companions must discover how the tapeworms are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is, and how they can be stopped.

Megan Hart
Lovely Wild
Harlequin MIRA (US: 25th November 2014)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Brought up in the savage captivity of her unstable grandmother’s rural Pennsylvania home, Mari Calder once yearned for rescue. Now she struggles every day to function as an adult in the confines of normal society. Left with only a foggy recollection of her childhood, she’s consumed with being a dutiful wife to her husband, Ryan, and mother to their two children. But an unexpected twist of events returns her to that long-forgotten house in the woods. Soon, Mari is greeted with reminders of a past life, the clarified memories only inviting a new level of strangeness into her fragile world. To protect her family, she must find the beautiful, powerful strength hidden in her inner chaos. Because someone is bent on exploiting Mari’s trauma, and as normal and wild begin to blend, a string of devastating truths force Mari to question all she thought she knew.

Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
These Broken Stars (Starbound, Book 1)
Disney-Hyperion (US: 25th November 2014)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

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.

Tiffany Reisz
The King (Original Sinners: White Years, Book 2)
Harlequin MIRA (US: 25th November 2014)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Bouncing from bed to bed on the Upper East Side – handsomely paid in both bills and blackmail fodder – Kingsley Edge is brilliant, beautiful and utterly debauched. No carnal act or chemical compound can relieve his self-destructive apathy – only Søren, the one person he loves without limit or regret. A man he can never have, but in whose hands Kingsley is reborn to attain even greater heights of sin. He plans to open the ultimate BDSM club: a dungeon playground for New York’s A-list that’ll change the scene forever. The club becomes Kingsley’s obsession – and he’s enlisted some tough-as-nails help. His new assistant Sam is smart, secretive and totally immune to seduction (by men, at least). She and Kingsley make a wicked team. Still, their combined – and considerable – expertise in domination can’t subdue the man who would kill their dream. The enigmatic Reverend Fuller won’t rest until King’s dream is destroyed. It’s one man’s sacred mission against another’s…

[REVIEW] The Jewel – Amy Ewing

Amy Ewing
The Jewel (The Jewel, Book 1)
HarperCollins Teen (CA: 25th August 2014; US: 2nd September 2014); Walker (UK & AU: 4th Septemebr 2014)
Buy (US Kindle Edition) Buy (US Hardcover) Buy (UK Kindle Edition) Buy (UK Paperback) Buy (CA Kindle Edition) Buy (CA Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide Paperback)

TRIGGER WARNINGS: This book contains human selling, eugenics, prostitution, sexual abuse, and miscarriage – thus they may also be referenced in this review.

SPOILER WARNINGS: If reading this review via Goodreads, the spoilers are marked. If reading this elsewhere, they are unmarked.

For the most part, The Jewel is quite enjoyable: It’s Gothic, with secrets among the wealthy, and weird science – just my kind of fun read. The first half of the book drew me in, and it was a great time.

I calculated the pages to give myself permission to quit the book exactly halfway through. But the first part was intriguing, so I continued…and in the very next chapter, the love interest is introduced.

I’m not necessarily against romance in fiction, but this one doesn’t work for me because:

-Before meeting Ash Lockwood, Violet Lasting’s priority concern is the wellbeing of her best friend, and those of the other surrogates. While Violet continues to worry about them, it’s diluted because she’s distracted with thoughts of Ash, kissing Ash, and boning Ash.

-Violet becomes jealous of the duchess’s niece, for whom Ash was hired as a “royal companion” (to teach her how to become more attractive to men, or whatever). But as we’re constantly told, Carnelian Silver is not beautiful – she’s either plain or hideous, and has no skills that men like, so there’s no way Ash will fancy her. Also, Violet picks on Carnelian’s name, which seems a bit hypocritical because EVERY CHARACTER in this book has a special snowflake name. (And yes, this is one of those novels wherein not being beautiful means people are supposedly justified in treating you unkindly.)

-Violet Continue reading

24th November 2014 Releases

Happy Release Day to:

Colleen Hoover
Maybe Not (Maybe Someday, Novella)
Simon & Schuster Atria (US, UK, CA, & AU: 24nd November 2014)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA)

When Warren has the opportunity to live with a female roommate, he instantly agrees. It could be an exciting change. Or maybe not. Especially when that roommate is the cold and seemingly calculating Bridgette. Tensions run high and tempers flare as the two can hardly stand to be in the same room together. But Warren has a theory about Bridgette: anyone who can hate with that much passion should also have the capability to love with that much passion. And he wants to be the one to test this theory. Will Bridgette find it in herself to warm her heart to Warren and finally learn to love? Maybe. Maybe not.

[REVIEW] The Broken – Tamar Cohen

Tamar Cohen
The Broken
Random House Transworld (UK: 22nd May 2014; AU: 1st August 2014)
Buy (UK Kindle Edition) Buy (UK Hardcover) Buy (UK Paperback) Buy (Worldwide Hardcover) Buy (Worldwide Paperback)

No one writes psychological suspense quite like the British. They’re the kind of books that fly under your radar, you give them a half-hearted attempt, and they complete surprise with their insidious greatness. (It shouldn’t surprise me, but I can be pessimistic.) This happened earlier this year with Samantha Hayes’s Until You’re Mine, and has done it again now with Tamar Cohen’s The Broken.

It starts off simply enough: Dan confesses to Josh that he’s thinking of leaving his wife, Sasha. Told from the points of view of Josh and his wife, Hannah, the situation keeps escalating and twisting until you’re not sure who’s more annoying – Sasha or Dan. Meanwhile, Hannah and Josh, though they don’t really want to, keep defending their friends. And, of course, it’s the children who suffer the most.

In true psych-suspense form, there’s a twist saved for the very end. I love twists! The author’s biography says that The Broken is the first in a series of psychological suspenses, but I hope they each stand alone. Tamar Cohen ends the story perfectly – giving enough detail to wrap everything up, but leaving a bit of mystery about the future. But if there was a second story with these characters, I doubt it would have the same impact.

Which could be why I’m wary of reading Samantha Hayes’s second novel. Until You’re Mine is fabulous as a standalone, but apparently it’s the first in a series starring the same investigators. The power in Until You’re Mine is the main focus on Claudia and the nanny – not the police, so I’m worried Book 2 won’t be as powerful.

That said, I’m interested to check up on Tamar Cohen’s next books, too. This year I’ve developed a fondness for psychological suspense novels, so bring ‘em on!

10 New Covers (Braun, Haig, Heathfield, Koch, Morgan, Plum, Priest, Stolarz, Tremblay)

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Now Available for US Pre-Order

Keri Arthur: WICKED EMBERS: 7th July 2015: Buy (US)
Abigail Barnette: THE EX: 22nd November 2014: Buy (US)
Holly Black: THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST: 13th January 2015: Buy (US)
Megan Crewe: THOSE WHO LIVED: 2nd December 2014: Buy (US)
Mira Grant: SYMBIONT: 25th November 2014: Buy (US)
Erica Hayes: UNFORGIVEN: 16th November 2014: Buy (US)
Colleen Hoover: MAYBE NOT: 24th November 2014: Buy (US)
Herman Koch: SUMMER HOUSE WITH SWIMMING POOL (paperback): 28th April 2015: Buy (US)
Kass Morgan: HOMECOMING: 24th February 2015: Buy (US)
Kat Richardson: REVENANT (paperback): 4th August 2015: Buy (US)
Jennifer Rush: REBORN: 6th January 2015: Buy (US)