book reviews

Top 10 Book Reviews in 2014

There are two parts to this post:

  • my top ten favorite books that I read in 2014
  • your (as reader) top ten favorite book reviews I wrote in 2014

My Top Ten Favorite Books

I read 156 books according to my Goodreads list.

goodreads books read this yearI love reading and would prefer to do that than watch TV, go to the gym, floss my teeth, pay bills, or do the laundry. I review a lot of the books I read, usually as part of my Amazon Vine gig, but not all. The book reviews on WordDreams are only one collection. Most of them have to do with the craft of writing or fiction in my genre (loosely including, tech, mystery, thrillers). I also review books on education, the military, and general for my other blogs. I collect all of my book reviews here, but it isn’t always up to date.

I try.

When I read for fun, I often read thrillers, mysteries, historic fiction so you’ll see a lot of those on the top ten list.

My ten favorite books that I read in 2014 (in no particular order) are as follows:

  1. Russell Blake’s Jet series
  2. Lee Child’s Personal (Jack Reacher)
  3. Tom Clancy’s Threat Vector (written with Mark Greaney)
  4. Jeffrey Deaver’s Skin Collector
  5. Mari Hannah’s Kate Daniels series
  6. Mai Jia’s Decoded
  7. David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series
  8. Steven Saylor’s series on Ancient Rome
  9. Jeff Shaara’s WWII trilogy
  10. Wilbur Smith’s Taita series (about ancient Egypt)

Top Ten Book Reviews

I reviewed 48 books in 2014, everything from American Sniper to Writing From A to Z. Overall, book reviews’ is a popular topic on WordDreams. I understand that because I love reading reviews of books by other writers. Here are the top ten book reviews based on hits in 2014 (Note: this isn’t just book reviews written in 2014. It’s based on visits to all reviews from the last five years):

  1. Book Review: Killing Lincoln (anyone surprised by this?)
  2. Book Review: Killing Patton
  3. Book Review: The Tree Where Man Was Born
  4. Book Review: The Catch
  5. Book Review: No Easy Day
  6. Book Review: Self-editing for Fiction Writers
  7. Book Review: American Sniper
  8. Book Review: Elements of Style
  9. Book Review: Killer Angels
  10. Book Review: Bones Never Lie

Since I read about three books a week, I’m always eager for new material. What’s your favorite book from 2014?

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into education, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. 

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30 thoughts on “Top 10 Book Reviews in 2014

  1. Jacqui!~ Great post… yes I was surprised to see Killing Lincoln on top… O Reilly is truly intelligent I think -even when I don’t share some of his points of views- he does a great job as a huoster. So I am not surprised for those 5 stars!~~
    Best wishes, Aquileana😀


  2. I know you read much more than the average person but to see that number here – 156 – I’m swaying from dizziness. I can’t read that much, can’t read that fast, and am so jealous! I don’t keep count of the books I read each year though I’ve started to keep a list of titles. Favorite book this year? Not sure, though I’ve read many I enjoyed. So, what’s next on your list? And what are you reading now?


    • I’ll often read two books in a weekend. Well, at times. And, a fun fact, with Kindle not displaying page count, books are getting shorter so it’s easier to complete them. I hate when I complete a book in a day–that’s just too short.


      • And then there are the books I read for my book review group, often selected by our (retired) male readers, therefore, often history books. This month’s selection is The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, the story of the Washington crew team that competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and proved to the Nazis how superior American men were. At the outset the book seems to be only 370 pages but a glance reveals that each page is dense with text, about 700 – 850 words per page, so in reality, a nearly 800 page book. OK, I’m whining, and it is a well written and researched tome, but repetitive, and much more info about crew racing than I really wanted to know. This one will keep you in your seat a long while should you choose to take it on for your next reading pleasure.
        My question: Do I get extra points for such a long read? 😀
        BTW, what are you reading this minute? I have to ask about this minute because in the next minute, you are likely to be reading something else!


  3. I haven’t read Tom Claney yet. I find this strange because I used to see his books in my high school library all the time–this was back in the day when there was no YA and we all read adult books. I read just about everyone else except for a few big names.


  4. I love to read and do not watch TV much, prefer a good book Jacqui. My you have had a busy year. I tried to read 50 books in the goodreads challenge and failed. This year I set the bar at a more achievable goal thirty books. Happy reading Jacqui.


    • TV is too slow. I swear even the CSI-type shows are written for an average education of 8th grade (statistically the reading level for enjoyment reading). That with incessant commercials means I must multitask or I go nuts!


  5. This piece addressed the “precision in language” issue I noted in the title. That is, whether the top ten referred to the books, or to the reviews! Then, to my delight, you did both. My top book of the past year… hmmmm that’s tough. I loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s “The Signature of All Things,” which was incredibly well crafted and rich with detail. I was also wild about Barbar Kingsolver’s “La Lacuna” (in a Zelig kind of way.) For guilty pleasure, I discovered Louise Penny’s series of Gamache mysteries–which I found a tad weak in the mystery department but rich in atmosphere and character–enough so that they made me homesick for French Canadian culture and deep snow.


    • Haha–I had the same squeamishness over the title as you. Instead of trying to clarify it, I decided they were both good topics.

      Barbara Kingsolver has written some wonderful books. I read a few and got away from her–must try the one you mentioned.


  6. Posted a comment from a tablet this morning and here it isn’t. I believe Lincoln conceded that the southern states had a legal right to secede, so taking them on was not a lawyerly thing to do and it resulted in huge numbers of dead and injured – not to mention the first attack upon a ship by a submarine.

    I can never remember the year I read a book in, or when a book was published, but one I read again this year was Look at Me, by Jennifer Egan.


    • I saw your comment–under Killing Lincoln. It sent me to Google to research! Secession is legal, but there are hurdles that must be crossed first–as there is to add a state to the Union–which the South didn’t even try to do. I suppose (but don’t really know) that would be similar to Scotland’s effort to secede from the UK (feel free to correct me. It’s amazing what gets confused when crossing national lines!) America’s Civil War was more about freeing the slaves–the South didn’t want that because they were the core labor in the cotton business, the North and Abraham Lincoln wanted it because it was the humane thing to do.

      You’re right about the huge numbers of dead and wounded–more than any other war America has ever been in. Which statistically makes sense: They were all Americans. That submarine attack is fascinating too. My WIP includes submarines so I did some research on their history and that fun fact popped up.


      • Hi Jacqui, thanks for your reply. I don’t have the time to research this right now (fighting technology on all fronts!) but somewhere on my shelf is evidence that the main motive in the north was not the freeing of slaves, though that was indeed a factor. If memory serves, this is somewhat attested to by events when the war was over. BUT I am far from expert in this.

        I was in the States at the time of the Vietnam War and, while there, visited Valley Forge. Many years later I read that the second continental congress had sold supplies to the British. I was absolutely cornswaggled!

        I suppose I’m getting to the stage where I assume that things may not be as they appear now or have appeared to be in the historical record.


  7. I think I need a nap. Did you say 156 books? The most I’ve ever read is 84 and that was before I started blogging and writing. This past year I’ve only read 48 and that was pushing it.

    You are one amazing woman, Jacqui. I couldn’t accomplish 1% of what you do even if I gave up sleeping. I’m much too worn out to even think about which book was my favorite this year…maybe The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison, or, Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. Must have that nap.😀


    • To most of the people who know me, I’m fairly boring. I’m too focused to be spontaneous, which works for writing, but not for developing a good circle of friends. I’m glad to have found you out there, Tess.


      • Me too. I think you’re interesting. You’re smart, focused, multi-task like a 5-disc CD player and run farther than the Energizer Bunny before a recharge. What’s dull about that. For starters, I wish I had some of your energy… 😀 😀 😀


      • My husband and daughter have both told me I’m too intense. When I hear a comment most people would let slide, they say I get a focus in my eye that intimidates listeners. All I’m trying to do is learn from a different opinion and it comes out all wrong!


  8. 156 books in a year? Astonishing! How do you??
    To answer one of the questions in yr post, I liked “The City of Djinns” by William Dalrymple. Have put a review on my Goodreads page.


    • I read a couple of hours a day, as well as while I’m watching TV, brushing my teeth, and anything else I find boring.

      I’m going to check out Dalrymple’s book. I’ve heard of him, just never searched him out.


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