Book Blogger Top Picks 2014 – Open Voting

October 25, 2014 2014, book blogging, book events 1

Book Blogger Top Picks 2014


As the Goodreads Choice Awards roll around near the end of each year, I’m always curious what voting might look like from a pool of book bloggers. There are some fantastic awards for specific genres, like the Cybils (Children and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards) and the INSPY’s (Blogger’s Award for Excellence in Faith Driven Literature), but as far as I know there isn’t anything that polls bloggers on titles across the board.

So, let’s give it a shot! Rather than putting together an “award”, I’m aiming for something more informal—just a look at the 2014 titles book bloggers loved the most. I’ll keep track of the choices using Google Forms, which will be narrowed down to the top ten in each category when open voting closes on November 8th. A final round of voting from the top five will take place starting on November 22nd to determine a top pick for each category by December 6th.

I’m not collecting any information other than your picks and your blog name, which is just to make sure everyone taking part is active in the community and not voting more than once. I know many of us still have stacks of 2014 books left to read, so the form is set to allow edits for that incredible last-minute read. Give it a go! Or…you know, finish what you’re reading first.

Open Voting for Book Blogger Top Picks 2014



Can I Get Another (Book)?

October 23, 2014 2014, discussion, lists 49



I regularly find myself browsing my shelves or running into favorite books and desperately wishing for a second (or third or fourth) book to dig into. In some cases it hasn’t been long since I read the author’s last work while others have made me wait a few years. Here are a few books that have me (not so) patiently waiting for the author’s next book.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Chad Harbach threw together two of my favorite things (baseball and a small academic setting) in the best way possible with 2012’s The Art of Fielding and has had me waiting for a follow-up since. He reappeared earlier this year with the essay collection MFA vs. NYC, but I’m still anxious for another great story.

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

I absolutely adored the incredibly unique scrapbook style of 2012’s Girlchild and have recommended it ever since. I have to admit that I’ve done my fair share of checking Edelweiss for Hassman’s name in hopes that she has another book in the works. Hopefully soon!

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Not long after writing 2011’s Rules of Civility, Amor Towles released an e-book companion that followed one of the novel’s secondary characters. That’s all great and good, but I’d love to see what else he has cooking.

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock

This is one of my top five books ever. It’s disturbing and twisted in all the right ways and I absolutely need more. Sadly, there hasn’t been any signs of something else to come from Donald Ray Pollock.

The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin

I’m not big on series reading and maybe this is why. Where is the last book in this trilogy, Mr. Cronin? When I saw him speak at the National Book Festival last year, he mentioned that the third book should be out “next year”, but I don’t even see it on the horizon through mid-2015. I’m getting sad. And beyond forgetting details.

The Blood of Heaven by Kent Wascom

It’s only been a year since Kent Wascom’s debut and I’m already itching for more. That’s the sign of a great writer, right? The Blood of Heaven was one of the most intricately written books I’ve read in a long time and I can’t wait to see where Kent Wascom goes next.

Which authors have you on the edge of your seat waiting for another book?



Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

October 22, 2014 2014, reviews 17

Brutal Youth by Anthony BreznicanBrutal Youth by Anthony Breznican
Published by Macmillan on 6/10/2014
Source: BE Books Consulting
Pages: 416
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads


On the day students and staff at St. Michael’s High School should be impressing the visiting prospective students, Colin “Clink” Vickler sets off a chain of events as he begins hauling glasses of preserved animals off the building’s roof. Over the course of the next year, a circle of freshman who witnessed Clink’s violent outcry attempt to navigate the brutal waters of St. Michael’s and work together to break down its perpetually ignored hazing system.

Breznican populates St. Michael’s with wonderfully flawed characters full of layers that take the course of the story to be revealed. But as the novel expands from the brilliance of its opening sequence, the sheer number of personalities makes it difficult to stay invested in one before abruptly shifting to another. Despite my interest in Brutal Youth‘s plot, I regularly found myself wishing I could combine the close lens of its first pages with the great character development demonstrated throughout.

Still, Breznican is extremely successful in crafting a story that will spark discussion and open dialogue, which would make it a great pick for book clubs. There’s much to turn over regarding the prevalence of bullying, it’s impact, and how school culture itself has changed since the novel’s early 90’s setting. In Brutal Youth, Anthony Breznican dives deep into the darkest corners of high school life and reappears with an intriguing tale well worth checking out.



How Spoiled Brats Can Make You Love Short Stories

October 21, 2014 2014, ARC, reviews 20

How Spoiled Brats Can Make You Love Short StoriesSpoiled Brats by Simon Rich
Published by Little, Brown on 10/14/2014
Source: Publisher
Pages: 224
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads


I’ve long been a person who enjoys a short story here and there, but rarely goes hunting for collections (and I don’t think I’m alone). The exception to that rule is Simon Rich. After hearing raves over his 2013 collection, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, I picked it up and immediately fell in love with Rich’s quick, offbeat humor. With his fourth collection Spoiled Brats, Rich not only proves that love wasn’t just a fluke—he turns it up a notch.

It’s funny AND smart

It should come as no surprise that a former writer for Saturday Night Live knows how to craft a well-written joke, but Simon Rich does it with a keen sense of both his audience and the specific, timely world we’re living in. At just 30, Rich is deeply immersed in the generation he questions, embraces and critiques in each of his stories. Though I loved The Last Girlfriend on Earth, Rich has completely outdone himself with the smart and perfectly ironic social commentary in Spoiled Brats.

There’s a distinct theme

That commentary—the concept of Spoiled Brats themselves—becomes the thread that weaves the stories in the collection together without ever feeling blatant or forced. Readers who struggle with far-flung or haphazardly gathered story collections will appreciate the cohesiveness.

With tons of variety

Without a doubt, the collection’s masterpiece is the 74 page near-novella Sell Out, which tells the tale of Rich’s great-great-grandfather returning to Brooklyn after 100 years accidentally brined in a pickle vat. Yet, Spoiled Brats is sprinkled with vastly shorter pieces that play with time and reality in incredible ways without losing touch with Rich’s central theme. From the opening story, told from the perspective of a classroom hamster, to the play on an old joke that turned into a viral hit earlier this year, Rich has a firm grasp on both classic and quirky humor.



It’s Monday October 20th, What Are You Reading?

October 20, 2014 2014, it's monday, what are you reading? 40


Are we all ready for another week? I managed to catch up on a bit of rest after finishing three books during Saturday’s Readathon and was able to wrap up the rest of Sara Levine’s Treasure Island!!!, too. I have a tiny bit of Brutal Youth left and then I’m jumping into Dr. Mutter’s Marvels and Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, which is my book club’s pick for the month. It’s hard to believe we’re so far into October already, especially when we’re keep having an 80 degree day pop up, but I can’t complain about the Fall reading!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?


Readathon Mini-Challenge: A Dream Cast For Your Book

October 19, 2014 2014 20



This is the final stretch, Readathoners! I think I have a challenge that will get your brain going just enough to keep you awake. I seems like I can’t open a website without catching news of the latest book to movie adaptation—they’re everywhere! This is your chance to imagine the perfect cast for one of the books you read during the Readathon. Pick a character (or two or three) and pair them up with the perfect actor to make your dream cast. You can leave your pairings (or a link to your blog with your list and maybe some pictures if you want to get fancy!) in the comments to enter. I’ll randomly choose one person to win their choice of $15 to Amazon, Book Depository or Book Outlet when the Readathon is up! (You do not have to create a Disqus account to comment – you can post as a guest with just your name and e-mail!)

Looking for an example? I recently interviewed Megan Abbott about The Fever and she chose Kiernan Shipka, Kyle Chandler and Tye Sheridan to star in her dream cast.

the fever

So, take your pick. Who would star in the film version of your book?

Thank you for participating – the giveaway is closed!