The Sunday Salon – January 4, 2015

sundaysalon2I thought that my first Salon post of 2015 was a good time to do Melissa’s End-of-year book survey for 2014 – looking back before looking forward, I guess.

Number of books read in 2014: 126 – my lowest total since 2007!

    1. Best Book You Read In 2014? (by genre)

ClassicsThe Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Historical FictionEvergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen
MysteryThe Secret Place by Tana French
Contemporary fictionA Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
NonfictionThe Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming
FantasyThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Science FictionThe Martian by Andy Weir
YAGoing Over by Beth Kephart
Graphic NovelAbove the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics edited by Chris Duffy

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield – Loved The Thirteenth Tale and was so excited for her follow-up novel, but it fell flat for me.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2014?
The Humans by Matt Haig – I read it after I did my best-of lists, but it would have been on it. Also We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler.

4. Book you read in 2014 that you recommended to people most in 2014?
The Martian by Andy Weir

5. Best series you discovered in 2014?
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
Ann Patchett

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I tried reading it a few years back, and couldn’t get past the first chapter (the thought of it still makes me shudder). This time I loved it.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2014?
The entire Jasper Dent trilogy of YA thrillers by Barry Lyga

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read?
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
I did an entire post dedicated to this. If I had to pick one, it would be:


11. Most memorable character in 2014?
Jasper Dent in Barry Lyga’s YA thriller series: I Hunt Killers, Game, and Blood of My Blood

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Going Over by Beth Kephart

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2014?
I’m drawing a blank on this one.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
The Lord of the Rings

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

I imagine the dead waking, dazed, into a shadowless light in which they know themselves altogether for the first time. It is a light that is merciless until they can accept its mercy; by it they are at once condemned and redeemed. It is Hell until it is Heaven. Seeing themselves in that light, if they are willing, they see how far they have failed the only justice of loving one another; it punishes them by their own judgment. And yet, in suffering that light’s awful clarity, in seeing themselves within it, they see its forgiveness and its beauty, and are consoled. In it they are loved completely, even as they have been, and so are changed into what they could not have been but what, if they could have imagined it, they would have wished to be.

That light can come into this world only as love, and love can enter only by suffering. Not enough light has ever reached us here among the shadows, and yet I think it has never been entirely absent. ~from A World Lost by Wendell Berry

16.Shortest and Longest Book You Read In 2014?
Probably The Lord of the Rings was the longest, and one of the Newsflesh series novellas was the shortest, but I’m not taking the time to look up page counts.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It?
Probably the Barry Lyga thrillers again, since I read them right after Natalie, and we couldn’t stop talking about them.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2014 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
The friendship between Owen and Johnny in A Prayer for Owen Meany

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?
Tie between Us by David Nicholls and One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

20. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY on a Recommendation From Somebody Else:
The Humans by Matt Haig – though I can’t remember which blogger recommended it. Maybe Michelle?

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2014?
Contemporary fiction

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Can’t think of a new one. Still crushing on Jamie from the Outlander series, even though this latest that I’m listening to is NOT my favorite in the series.

23. Best debut book you read?
Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2014?
The Martian by Andy Weir

25. Book That Was the Most Fun To Read in 2014?
The Humans by Matt Haig – I laughed out loud so much while reading this one!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
I sobbed like a baby at the end of A Prayer for Owen Meany

27. Book You Read in 2014 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom. I might be a bit biased as it is set in the part of Eastern Washington where I live, but I thought this would be a huge hit!

28. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I finished my own I Always Meant to Read That Book! Challenge

29. Bookish Events on your blog in 2014?
Same as last question.

30. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

31. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
The new Nick Hornby

32. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2015?
Change everything up!

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The Sunday Salon – December 28, 2014

sundaysalon2I don’t have a lot of time, but wanted to say thank you for all the kind thoughts on last week’s Salon post. We had a really good Christmas in spite of the stress – probably because I simply refused to think about what lies ahead after the 1st! I hope that all of you who celebrate had a blessed, joyful Christmas.

I did manage to write my last two official reviews these past two weeks: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber and A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison. From this point on, any review I write will be by choice, simply because I felt I had something to say about a book I read.

I also managed to post two “best-of” posts for 2014: Best fiction I read in 2014 and The best of the rest. I have so enjoyed reading all of your end-of-year lists.

I did finish The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty this week, and while not as mind-blowing as The Husband’s Secret or Big Little Lies, it was still a terrific read. I gave up on Lisey’s Story by Stephen King. I’m already listening to one of his books on audio right now, so decided to go for something else – The Perfect Paragon: An Agatha Raisin Mystery by M.C. Beaton.

This week is another vacation week for us. Thanks to a gift card for the movie theater, given by wonderful friends from church who joined us for Christmas dinner, I am taking the boys to see the last Hobbit movie tomorrow – but first Jonathan gets his braces off! After three years, he is more than ready. On New Year’s Eve, Kevin and I are hosting a party at church: board games and finger foods. I doubt anyone will stay until midnight, but we’ll have fun for as long as people hold out. :)

I am working on plans for changing the blog in the New Year. Don’t be surprised if one day there is a new name and layout – and maybe a redirected url. We’ll see. I’m trying to get inspired with some design ideas to pass on to Kevin to at least give him a starting place.

My wish for all of you in the New Year is lots of time for family and friends, for health and contentment, and for peace and love. Happy New Year!

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The best of the rest 2014

Favorite audio


Favorite read-aloud



Favorite thriller


Favorite non-fiction


Favorite poetry


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