Now that 2014 has drawn to a close and 2015 is here and upon us, I wanted to take some time this month to reflect on the best of what I read this past year. I read way more than I ever have in a single year (306 books!) and while a few of them were not ones I’d recommend, most books were compelling and engaging reads. While everything I’d recommend is either already here on the blog or still to come (I’ve some reviews already queued out into March), I’m going to highlight the 10 books I read in 2014 that I rated a whopping 5 stars.
Note: These are books I read in 2014, not necessarily published in 2014.
#4 – Something Like Winter by Jay Bell
Tim and Ben’s story is told quite well in Something Like Summer. This follow-up gives readers the story from Tim’s perspective, filling in the holes about what happened in Tim’s life when he and Ben were apart and then continues the story beyond the first book. And it’s masterfully written, incredibly engaging, and beyond moving. I do think that reading the first book helps make this one more poignant, but it can also be read as a stand-alone if one is so inclined. See my full review of Something Like Winter.
#3 – Love Comes Home by Andrew Grey
Gregory Hampton is a single father dealing with the knowledge that his 10-year-old son is slowly going blind. All he wants is to find a way for his son to be happy, and that may mean having to put his own happiness on hold. But when Tom Spangler shows up in their lives, he learns that both might be closer than he expected. See my full review of Love Comes Home.
Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Title: Something Like Winter
Author: Jay Bell
Publication Date: July 25, 2012
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Review: One word: Incredible. I feel like I pretty much ate this book up. This is so much more than just a rehash of the first book from Tim’s perspective. It provides insights and dimensions to the story that make the characters so much more real. The parallel narrative is distinct and adds many layers to the story of Tim and Ben (and everyone else in their lives). This book also continues the story past the first book, giving readers a glimpse into life after ‘summer’ and ‘winter’.
This installment is more angst-ridden than the first and definitely has some utterly heart-wrenching moments, but it is definitely worth reading. This is one of those books that can truly move you.
Part of what makes this book so great is the way it relates to the first book, and Jay Bell has done an incredible job here. The world he has created is one I’m excited to go back to in the rest of this series – I expect more laughing and crying in my future.
Title: Something Like Summer
Author: Jay Bell
Publication Date: January 5, 2011
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review: When I started this, I thought it was going to be another run-of-the-mill ‘nerdy high school guy crushes on apparently straight jock guy and they start a clandestine relationship and then it gets tested by external pressure for the straight guy to come out’ novel. I’ve certainly read a fair number of those recently. But there’s so much more to this. Yes, it starts out the way I described, but Jay Bell brings life to the characters and builds the relationship in a way that just seems so much more authentic. And the story goes well beyond high school, following the characters into college and beyond. It’s very easy to connect to this story and to find yourself laughing, crying, and loving right along with them…