2014 Books of the Year // 2015 Reading Challenges & Goals

Hello!  To kick off the New Year, I am here today to talk about my favorite books of 2014.  It's going to be a fairly short list, but that doesn't mean the books I talk about are the only books I enjoyed in 2014.  I enjoyed a lot of books last year, but only a few made it to my favorites list.  Also, I didn't read as many books last year as I could have.  I started the blog in August, and that sort of kicked off my reading obsession, but in the months prior, I didn't get into too many books.  For 2015, I plan on setting goals to keep me reading and I'll share those at the end of this post.  Now, drumroll please...
If you read my review of this book, this one was a no-brainer.  Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy was by far my favorite book last year.  It's a historical nonfiction book about four women who were spies during the Civil War.  I honestly do not have anything bad to say about it – it was an amazing book that I won't soon forget.  If you would like to read my long-winded rant about it, you can go here for the full review.
My second favorite book of this year is Let's All Be Brave.  It was the book that made me all passionate about bravery, especially when I read Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.  These two books are  my favorites this year because they made a big impression on me.  They changed the way I think about bravery and made me notice bravery around me.  I can see myself rereading both of them this year.  To read my full thoughts on Let's All Be Brave, check out the full post here.
My third book of the year is The Secret Rooms, another historical nonfiction book.  This one is about a duke and his mysterious castle and death – it reads like a historical mystery and it's fascinating.  I only remember getting bored once, but other than that, it was great.  You can read the full review here.

Now technically, those three books are my favorites from last year.  Yep, only three.  I thought I would be able to find a lot more, but as I looked at all the books I read in 2014, I realized that while I really enjoyed a lot of them, most weren't true favorites.  Also, I have to laugh that all of these are nonfiction.  But, I do want to share some of the new series I discovered this year that will hopefully become favorites, even though I wouldn't consider the books I read in the series favorites (does that even make sense?).  
First up, The Baker Street Letters series.  This was new discovery last year, and I have really enjoyed it.  Some of the books I liked more than others – I believe I've read three of the four books in the series – but I think the premise of the series is brilliant and I enjoy the plots most of the time.  I reviewed one book in the series and you can find that review here

I'm really excited about this next series.  The Lady Emily series is set in Victorian London and the heroine is a scholarly amateur detective with a taste for Greek and sleuthing.  She moves in the circles of London's high society and she is fun, unconventional, and witty.  I liked her from the beginning.  (Side note: I have read two books from the series, #2 and #7)  She is not a hard-core detective like Sherlock Holmes or Hercules Poirot, she is more of an amateur detective who takes on cases that fall into her lap (#2) and helps her husband, who works for Britain's government, with his (#7).  So far I've enjoyed the series and I'm looking forward to reading more of it.  

I have spoken about the series by Rhys Bowen before, but she is another author I discovered last year as well as her enjoyable mysteries.  I prefer the Royal Spyness series to her Molly Murphy series, for minor superficial reasons, so I thought I would share it here.  The 12 Clues of Christmas was my favorite book of the two I read from that series last year.  The "royal spyness" is Georgie Rannoch, who is number 30-something in line to the throne of England, but her penchant for solving murders makes her an unusual member of the distantly-royal Rannoch family.  She is a lot of fun – spunky, smart, and gifted with highly entertaining relatives who are a pleasure to have in the story.  I am taking a break from the series for now because my to-be-read list is about a mile high (more like 2 feet), but I look forward to reading some new ones this year.  

I got back into Agatha Christie last year, and the ABC Murders was by far my favorite from the ones I read.  It was through that book I discovered Hercules Poirot, of whom I am now an ardent fan, so aside from the brilliant plot twists, that was a big reason for my love of it.  I am definitely going to continue reading Agatha Christie this year – she is just the best!

And that rounds up my favorite books of 2014!  Later this week I will be sharing my favorite movies and music from last year as well.  

For the second part of this post, I am going to share my reading goals and the reading challenges I decided to do this year.  I will link to the blogs hosting the challenges; go check them out if you're interested in joining!  

The first challenge I decided to do is called Snagged at the Library and it is hosted by the Book Nympho and the Geeky Blogger.  The challenge is to read at least 12 books from the library in 2015, but there are four levels to choose from.  I chose to do the Thrifty Reader, so I have to read 24 books.  I already haunt my library, so checking out a couple books a month shouldn't be difficult at all.  I'm excited about it!  I may decide to chart my progress somehow on the blog or dedicate a shelf on Goodreads, so keep an eye out for that!  Check the links to the hosting blogs above to sign up for the challenge.

The second challenge I signed up for is the What's in a Name challenge, hosted by The Worm Hole.
There are six categories from which you must choose a book to read.  Specifically, the title must include a word with 'ing' in it, the title must include a color, a familiar relation, a body or water, a city, and an animal.  I'm excited about this one because it will make read books I maybe wouldn't normally check out.  Check out the link above to sign up!  

Finally, I've made out a little challenge for myself this year, too.  I'm hoping it will get me out of my comfort zone as far as reading goes and keep me reading all year long.  Maybe I should come up with a reward for myself at the end of the year...  :)

Ella's Reading Resolutions/Goals:
  • Keep track of every book I read in 2015 in Goodreads
  • Discover 5 new authors I enjoy
  • Read 5 books that challenge me personally – whether in the difficulty of the material (writing style/vocabulary) or mentally/spiritually
  • Read 5 books that teach me something
  • Read 2 books from genres I am not familiar with
  • Read War & Peace before 2016
  • Read 3-5 books written in 2015
  • Read 2-3 literary criticisms
  • Read Grapes of Wrath, The Hobbit, Persuasion, Sense and Sensability, Middlesex, Tess of the D'Urbervilles (inspiration here)
  • Read 2 books that were reviewed on other blogs
And those are my reading challenges for 2015!  I am excited for this year – it's going to be great.  I hope you had a fantastic New Year's celebration and that 2015 got off to a great start.  As always, thanks for reading – I really appreciate it!  xo, Ella

1 comment:

Charlie (The Worm Hole) said...

Best of luck with your challenges, Ella! Glad to have found your blog :)

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