My Favorite and Least Favorite Books of 2014 (So Far)

10.23.2014

I'm linking up with Kiki again for another round of "The Circle." This month's topic is: books. Hurrah for books!

So far this year I've read 23 books out of my goal of 24. Hit me up on Goodreads if you want to follow my reviews! I'll spare you the extended list of all 23 and just share my favorites and least favorites of the year so far.

Stiff
Nonfiction book about cadavers and what they're used for. Super weird but also really interesting. Plus the author is funny, so you end up laughing more than being grossed out. I think this goes down as one of the strangest books I've ever read.

Shadows of the Workhorse
Book 2 in Jennifer Worth's series that the PBS show Call the Midwife is based on. These are her real-life stories, and she's a really good writer. If you love the show, check out the books!

The Wise Man's Fear
Book 2 in the trilogy. The first book, Name of the Wind, is fantastic. You will like these if you like fantasy, adventure, and coming of age. I compare these to the Game of Thrones books except without all the sex and cursing.

Quiet
This nonfiction book is all about introverts. I read it because Jordan is a huge introvert, and I, as an extrovert, wanted to understand how he operates. This book is well written and very interesting. (On that subject, those of you extroverts out there might enjoy my post "Why Extroverts Are Misunderstood and Introverts Talk Too Much")

The Secret Keeper
I love all of Kate Morton's books. Her stories are well written with great plot twists. I suppose I should have seen the ending coming, but I am terrible at guessing plots, so I loved it. The Secret Keeper is my second favorite of her books (The Forgotten Garden was my favorite).

I hope I don't lose any friends over this. 

I'm sorry, but you guys I did not like either of these books.* You can read my full reviews on Goodreads, but here's the gist:

Outlander
There is way too much sex in this book. Not to sound like a prude, but seriously. And I've read all five Game of Thrones books, so you can't say I haven't read books with sex in them. From a writing standpoint, I thought the author did a great job with her research, her characters, and the setting. The book is overall very well written, so no complaints there. But I hated the plot on pretty much every level and just couldn't get past it.

Divergent
I think a huge problem was that I waited too long to read this and therefore was too hyped up for it to be the best book ever. But besides that, I didn't think the writing was good, and I hated all the characters. I mean all of them. The story is creative, but the plot was too rushed and fell flat for me. This is a rare book that I actually think might make a better movie.

*In light of a post I recently read on Jenny's blog, I am adding a disclaimer: please do not think that just because I didn't like a book that you loved, your opinion isn't valid. I know I have books I love that other people didn't like. We all have our own opinions, and I think too sometimes we can really connect (or not connect) with a book based on what's going on in our lives at the time we read a certain book. That said, I would love to hear from anyone who hated Outlander and Divergent, because I feel like I'm all alone over here!

Currently Reading: Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman

Up Next: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. After that, I'm going to reread Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand in preparation for the movie this winter!

P.S. You might also want to check out My Top Ten Books of All Time.

In Its Time

48 comments:

  1. The Secret Keeper is on my list! Glad to hear you liked it!

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  2. I did not totally hate Divergent but it also was in no way a top contender in the genre. I skimmed the next two in the series because they library had them and why not but I would not recommend them to anyone that is for sure.
    I really want to get Stiff for Fredrik this year for Christmas. I think he will love it especially as a student nurse he is on a list for viewing an autopsy.

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  3. So glad Kate Morton is getting all this book love. I love everything by her.

    Also, we are book twins. I can feeeeeel it.

    Hated Outlander for the exact reason you did...loved the Author's writing and research and characters, but the sheer fact that this book was on rotation with all the church ladies made me a little queasy.

    Divergent - I don't get the fuss. It's basically Harry Potter meets Hunger Games. I'm getting tired of all the books with these separated groups of young people - I'm getting cranky now; sorry!

    On to good things: Shadows of the Workhouse - I REEEALLLY want to read this. So glad you wrote about it. Call the Midwife is my absolute favorite.

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    1. YES.
      I am so happy you didn't like either of those too. When I got done with Outlander, I was shocked that so many of my friends liked it. Way way too much sex. Good grief. Plus no one seems to care that she was cheating on her husband the entire time! I don't care that it was in the past so "technically" he wasn't born yet and therefore she wasn't cheating. Um, no.

      Jennifer Worth is such a good writer. I want to read book 3 in the series now. I just can't believe all of that happened to one person!

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  4. Shadows of the Workhorse (well, book 1) is now on my list. I adore Call the Midwife, and knew it was based on true stories, but didn't know the title of the books.

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  5. Reading Gone Girl now!! We'll have to compare notes :)

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  6. Ooh, I just started Gone Girl! I'll have to check out some of your favorites!

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  7. Divergent is truly horrible in my opinion. I seriously had to FORCE myself to finish it. I felt like the author was hitting me over the head with the plot. Poor man's Hunger Games in my opinion. Now, Gone Girl, I absolutely loved it!

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  8. I enjoyed the first two books in the Divergent series, but I'm with you- the writing was not great. I think this was one of those popular series (thinking also of Twilight) that totally doesn't live up to the hype.

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  9. Ahhhh I've been putting off divergent for a while. I'm not sure if I'll ever pick it up.
    GONE GIRL is freaking amazing. I actually listened to it on a 13 hour car drive - most suspenseful car drive EVER. And random note, but did you read "we were liars" by e. lockhart. I saw it on the photo and was curious as to your thoughts on it. I read it and have no clue what my opinion is.

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    1. I did read it! Just finished it last week. I had no idea what it was about going in, and it definitely blew my mind a little bit. People said they predicted the ending, but I didn't at all. I am TERRIBLE at predicting endings of books.

      I can't think of anything specific that I didn't like, but I don't know if i would say I liked it. If that even makes sense. I don't really know why they were called the "liars" as a group originally, so that confused me. But I read it in 2 days, so it was a quick read.

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  10. i've just started Gone Girl!!! i've heard that the first half is really slow but then it picks up & you can't put it down! i'm hoping it's not too slow though!

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  11. Oh I LOVED The Secret Keeper! I forgot about that one! I just added The Forgotten Garden to my holds queue at the library, and I can't wait to read it. I enjoyed Divergent, but I do agree that the writing wasn't stellar. But Outlander, that one is a favorite of mine! I'm not mad at you for not liking it though :)

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    1. Oh good. Glad you're not mad :) A ton of my friends liked it too, so I think I'm the odd one out on this. I just couldn't suspend my disbelief in the plot enough to really get into it.

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  12. I did like the movie Divergent better than the book. And I kept reading the Outlander series, but I only got through book 2. I wish there was like a Cliff's Notes somewhere where I could find out what happens in the next book without reading all 800 pages because I don't care THAT much. Loved The Forgotten Garden, so Secret Keeper is also on my list. And I think I'm one of the weirdos who didn't like Gone Girl. It was very well-written, but I just hated every minute of it.

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  13. I'm actually surprised that I loved all three of the Divergent books. I saw the movie first, then read the books, and I had heard that they weren't that well written AND they got worse. I loved all of them (except the ending of the third book, but that's a personal preference).

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  14. Despite the fact that you did not like Divergent, we can still be friends. Just putting that out there.

    Also, I loved the next two books you have on tap, Gone Girl and Unbroken. I can't wait to see Unbroken in the theater!

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  15. I am so glad to see someone else admitting they don't like Outlander! I remember reading and enjoying about the first half, and then there was a dramatic switch where it got really dark, and I didn't understand why the author would do that. My biggest turn-away is gore or torture scenes, so while I love Game of Thrones, there are certain parts that are really hard to get through.

    I don't think I'll like Divergent, but I think I have to read it anyway, just so I can make an informed opinion. The Wise Man's Fear sounds interesting!

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  16. I didn't hate divergent, but I hated allegiant which made me hate the whole series. outlander is on my list, i don't mind sex and whatnot, its the way its worded that makes me love or hate it. Secret Keeper is on my list!

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  17. So fun to read your list - I always like recommendations and also anti-recommendations... there are way too many books out there and way too little time, so this is helpful information. Though I admit I did waste my time on the whole Divergent series... not very well written but once I had started I kept going (they actually get slightly better if that helps). I also admit I couldn't quite make it through Stiff. I adore Kate Morton though, and I've been wanting to read Quiet for quite a while (looking for affirmation of my introversion, ha).

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  18. Prudes unite! :) I can't take books that are loaded with language or sex either. It's hard to know which of the books that everyone is raving about are worth my while. Take the Outlander series, for example...Everyone has been talking about it and I would have gotten to it eventually, but then people like you come along and warn me. Thank you!!!

    You'll have to keep me posted on Gone Girl! I've been wanting to read it, but I don't want to be disappointed, so I keep putting it off. :)

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    1. If you like suspenseful and twisted (like the movie Psycho kind-of-twisted), then you will love Gone Girl. I was hesitant to read it because everyone was raving about it, but I really enjoyed it.

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  19. You're like the person I've always wanted to be.... a reader and a runner... haha! This is a rad post. Look at you! 23 books?! GET IT. I really want to read Stiff. I've heard good things! And I kind of agree with you on Divergent. My husband and I have been listening to the audiobooks on out long road trips to and from Texas this year. Although they held my attention for the most party and kept me mildly intrigued, there were a few things about the characters that really bothered me...couldn't tell you exactly what they were, but they existed. I really liked the movie though! haha

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  20. I am so impressed that you are ahead of your goal! I am in the middle of reading several books (that's bad, I know) that when I finish, will make me caught up. I am so excited that you are reading Gone Girl next! I got really excited (again) when you mentioned that the movie Unbroken will be out this winter. I really hope it does Louis justice. I REALLY hope. Also, your disclaimer made me smile. :))

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  21. Uh oh - I'm reading Divergent right now...

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  22. The only book I've read of these is Gone Girl, which I can't wait to see what you thought. It's been a year since I finished it and I still can't decide whether I like the ending or not. However, the entire book is brilliant so it wins for me.

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  23. Okay, I get that you hate Outlander, but you can't discount the fact that she really did try to get back to Frank. Many times. And she failed every time. And you can't really say their marriage was a huge success either. She didn't want to marry Jamie, but she did because it was that or get raped and/or killed by Jack Randall. Life isn't always fuzzy, you know. And also, as a married lady yourself, can't you appreciate the sexiness of the sex and file it away for yourself as something to try later? Wink wink. Plus, the rest of the novels are really incredible. They're so well researched and so well written. The series just gets better. I think you're hung up on one insignificant aspect of a really complex story that spans several books. But that's just my opinion. You're entitled to miss out on whatever you want. ;

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    1. I think we'll just have to agree to disagree, Callie. There's a lot more I didn't like about the book than just that there were sex scenes. And from an editorial standpoint, it was less about the fact that there WAS sex and more about the fact that it didn't need to be there to add to the plot. I think if I tried to read the rest of the series now, I would be predisposed to not like it, so I'll just take your word for it :) I'm glad all you guys liked them, though! I know I'm the odd one out on this.

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    2. I'll agree that they are well researched and well written, though. She did her homework for sure.

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  24. I read Quiet last year and being 100% introverted, I absolutely loved it. Glad you read it :-)
    I'm on book 25 of my goal of 30 this year!

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  25. I actually got to hear Susan Cain speak about that book just a few months ago at the Global Leadership Summit and have been wanting to actually read the book! As you know I share your love of Kate Morton. She needs to put out something new ASAP! Love your book reviews. Thanks for sharing!

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  26. I'm saving this post so I can come back to it for when i'm wandering around at the library wondering what next. Almost all your top ones looked appealing especially stiff and quiet (quiet for the same reasons as you; hubby is an introvert, i'm an extrovert and sometimes I just.don't.get.it. haha)

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  27. i haven't read not even as close to as many books as i wanted to this year!
    youv'e picked some really, really good ones! i'm hoping that with winter coming up i'll hunker down and get some real reading done!

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  28. I love the Rothfuss series! I'm looking forward to the next one. It is almost Game of Thrones/Harry Potter. I still have not picked up Divergent despite the hype, I'm just not sure about that one. I've read the Outlander series, a million years ago and I think one more came out after the last one I read. I love the premise of the story and loved the history, especially the descriptions of when they move to America and imagining how different the landscape was. I'm a prude too and thought it would be just as good of a story minus the sex, but that didn't take away from the overall plot for me.

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  29. I definitely enjoyed Divergent, but I also read it right after it came out so it didn't have all the hype yet. I know what you mean - I do that often. Where if a book or movie (especially a movie) has a lot of hype about it, I'm just a little bit let down when I actually read/see it. So that's definitely understandable.

    I've never heard of Stiff, but oh my goodness, that book sounds super creepy. But I'm also super curious now. I might just have to check it out! :)

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  30. Wow, your reading this year puts me to shame! I need to put down my laptop and pick up a book!

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  31. I fel the same way about Divergent! It's the only book I read on your list, though I had started to listen to Quiet on audio. I found it interesting, but I don't think I relate well to listening to non-fiction audiobooks.

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  32. Okay, so I am SO glad you said something about Divergent. I don't like coming across as a hater, but I really couldn't get into the series, either! I was actually just talking about it with my mom (she started reading it, too). I finished the first book and actually have the entire series but never read the last two in the series. I keep comparing it to The Hunger Games (which I love) so it's been so hard for me to really get into Divergent for some reason. End rant. :)

    And I've heard of The Secret Keeper but have never read it. It sounds good, though (I'm all about plot twists!).

    Thanks for linking up!

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  33. Stopping by from Beka's blog (SS2SI), and saw your post about books and had to comment!!!! Just the cover of Stiff looks creepy, but I guess that's an interesting topic to read about, hah. And Kate Morton... I've heard so much about her books, I'm going to try to read one soon. I've been wanting to watch Call the Midwife, so I'm curious about the actual real-life stories! And, like the book nerd I am, I'm adding you on Goodreads!

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  34. I'm about to read Unbroken too! Hope you enjoy it :) x

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  35. Adore the Secret Keeper and literally have the Forgotten Garden on the table next to me and ready to curl up and read it!

    XO Chloe
    A Latte Lipstick

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  36. How have I only read one of the books on your list?! (And, of course, it's Divergent.) I've got some work to do!!

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  37. i've only read 2 books from your list. hha! i'll check them out when i hit the book store.

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  38. Quiet sounds really interesting. The Secret Keeper was way to long for me and it ended up being a DNF for me. :( Glad you liked it though. I agree sometimes we like or don't like books based on how we are feeling at the time.

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  39. I have Outlander out from the library now...and I'm debating whether or not to read it. Not because of this post, but it did put a point in the "Don't Read" category, because I also did not care for Divergent. Which means we have identical taste in books, obviously. I dunno - Outlander just seems trashy and I feel like I have better things to read at this stage.... I really liked Quiet. And I think I have The Secret Keeper on my to-read list. But I need to confirm. I think you'll like Gone Girl. I hated it at first finish, but now I kinda want to read it again because it has some great dimension to it.

    -Amy

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  40. I 100% agree with your review of Divergent! So disappointed! I am not sure if I compared it too much to the Hunger Games but it was just horribly unrealistic and just not a good story line. And I, also, believe it is the only movie I have seen after reading the booking when I enjoyed the movie SO MUCH better. Until I read Bonnie's from Life of Bon's review, I was wondering what I was missing. Still glad to see I am not the only one:)

    Cheers,
    Alyson

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  41. I'm a little late to the party, but I wanted to say that I also loved Quiet and also hated Divergent.

    It's so tough when someone suggests a book to me, and I read it, and then I didn't like it but they did. Gone Girl, for example, is one that I was just 'eh,' about and the person who lent it to me was over the moon about it. I guess I need to find a diplomatic way to say, "it wasn't my taste," like you did here.

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  42. I haven't read OUTLANDER, but the only negative things I hear about it are that there's too much sex. (Everything else I hear about it seems to be good?) And I see what you mean about the DIVERGENT series. I loved the idea, but the characters were starting to get on my nerves, especially Tris in the last book. Ah well.

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