In my head I have a bunch of posts that I want to write down and get out there. One of my unofficial new year resolutions, if I still did that kind of thing, which I don’t, because, seriously, who needs that kind of pressure … is to post more. Not just blog more, but, you know, try to get myself out there a little more. I like to write these little ditties and share this little bit about me, but the truth is, I don’t. It’s scary. So I don’t share my posts socially (well, I do, but only on Twitter and Google+, where I have about 30 followers total). I “discourage” search engines from crawling me (that sounds a lot creepier than it is). And why? Because while I like to blog, I don’t want people reading my blog posts?
I’m like the anti-blog blogger. Who’s ever heard of such a thing.
I hate rejection. I hate attention. I am bad at individual sports, prefer the team thing. But you know what, who doesn’t like a little encouragement from others every once in a while. A little validation that you are a-ok. A few “likes” on their FB pics, or a “+1” in that work email … So let’s change it up, shall we? Just for a little bit, let’s see if anything detrimental comes up if I let you in on the secret that’s not really secret, I like writing. In the meantime, you’ve caught me on a good night. I’m finally writing about the best books I read in 2014.
The only book I gave 5 stars to on Goodreads in 2014 is this first one. Not because I read a lot of crap books last year (although I did read some crap books, starting with the first book I finished in January 2014, “Allegiant” aka “Don’t Bother”). I think it’s more because I rate books very hard. I am a difficult reviewer, of books, of things, of surveys, of people. So, Jojo Moyes, congratulations. You received the sole 5 stars for Me Before You.
Let’s face it. I’m a sucker for romance books. I like the funny ones (See: Kristan Higgins). I indulge in some of the regency on occasion, and I’ve read a few Nora Roberts when I just needed to get through a plane ride. Me Before You (2012), which I read in gloomy October, is like the anti-romance, in the same way I am the anti-blogger. You root for the main characters, that they both get to accomplish what they want to, and all the while you know, in the back of your mind, there’s a very good chance it is not going to end well. And then the tears. Plus, she’s British. I love her colloquialisms. Oh, and I’ve already slammed the gauntlet down in 2015 with this writer. Her latest novel? One Plus One, the first book I read in 2015? 5 stars. So, get to it, other books. Who’s going to join Jojo?
By the way, when I read other people’s reviews, be they on Amazon or Goodreads, one of my least favorite types of reviewers are the ones who provide a summary before getting into their review. If I want a summary, I will read the summary provided by the publisher. I don’t need you to waste your time providing one. That is why I’m not providing one. If you’d like to learn more about these books that are obviously quite good, click on the links and learn a little more. Otherwise, just deal with my broad, general strokes about these novels.
2014 was the year of Rainbow Rowell. I finally got around to reading Eleanor and Park (2013) in April, soon after it was announced that DreamWorks had bought the film rights to this book. When I finish a young adult book that is so emotional, gripping, beautifully written, something that bring me to tears (hmm. more crying), I often wish I had these books when I was a teen. I read a lot of crap back then. I wish I had something of more substance, that spoke to me. The scene that had me bawling into my pajama shirt (because this was most definitely a stay-up-late-to read book) was centered around Park’s mother, a Korean immigrant who, in the middle of a grocery store, suddenly realizes who Park’s girlfriend is. What she is. And is so affected by it she can’t continue her trip. I’m not spoiling anything by explaining this scene. Maybe it takes experience and maturity for it to hit you and that’s why, at 39, I’m overwhelmed. I wonder, what scenes are overwhelming to the younger set?
Why is it the year of Rainbow? Because I also read Fangirl, Attachments and Landline this year, and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. She does adult romance/fiction/relationshippy stuff just as good as the YA stuff. It’s not often I can read that many books by the same author and feel good about all of them. Excited to see what comes from this movie, and will try my best not to put it up on some pedastal only to be somewhat disappointed because it doesn’t live up to my higher-than-high expectations as a film (see: TFIOS)
I’m sort of cheating here, because while I planned to limit my list to four or five books, I’m actually bringing up a lot of titles that I enjoyed last year. So that’s why it’s okay, for this next selection, to include the entire trilogy. I was at first leery of receiving this recommendation, because the person who recommended it, well, I just don’t see us having the same taste in books. But then he told me that he read this series because so-and-so recommended it to him, and I DO see eye-to-eye with so-and-so, and plus the premise was just one I couldn’t resist, so I picked it up (or, rather, I put the digital copy on hold at the Library, then clicked and downloaded it when it was finally ready).
The Last Policeman (2012) takes a murder mystery concept and places it during a time, not too far in the future than today, when everyone on Earth is well aware of when the world will end. That’s all I’ll say. The series has a very satisfying ending, which does not happen all that often, in my opinion. It takes a simple premise and turns it on its head with the setting and environment. Love it. (The first two I read in late August/early September, and the final one, released this year, I read in October, only because the waiting list at the library was so darn long).
I have a few others in mind, but I think I’ll end this list with a couple of authors I know I mentioned last year. About five years ago my work spouse introduced me to a few urban fantasy writers to help get the taste of Twilight out of my brain, and I’ve never looked back. For serial novels (is that what they call them?), it’s always fun when you enjoy something so much you go back and reread previous books in the series. I remember when I was reading Harry Potter as they were being published, I loved the books so much I would reread the previous books in the series because I couldn’t get a big enough Potter fix.
And so with the Kate Daniels series. Magic Breaks came out this year, and immediately after finishing it (August), I reread one of my favorite books in the series, and then, last week, once I had finished my Goodreads Challenge, I reread Magic Breaks. The writing duo of Ilona Andrews loves their fans (see: Clean Sweep, which I also read this year, and enjoyed, and paid for, even though they offered it on the Interwebs for free, because they are awesome). After a buildup of 6 prior books, MB is the one when the main character meets her creator, so to speak. I’ll probably add this series to the list next year, too. It’s that good. (Here’s my one complaint this time … I can have one, right … the unnecessary sex scene that was tacked on near the end. Seriously, really could have gone the entire book without it, but it was almost as if the editors said, no you need it and so you just kind of pinned it on. Really?)
Speaking of writers who love their fans, and somewhat related, fans who love their writers, but not in that Misery kind of way … I would be omitting another favorite if I didn’t mention Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs. Mercy Thompson is another urban fantasy series I love (Night Broken came out this year and I would add it to the list but I didn’t do the reread like I did with Kate Daniels and so it gets the mention not the picture and listing) and Shifting Shadows is a series of short stories that take place in the “world of Mercy Thompson” … meaning our fearless writer has provided background and additional insight into side characters and stories that didn’t get the attention in a books original setting though you wished it could. So fans of the series geek out and devour every morsel handed to them. It’s like DVD extras, only way better. Thank you, for allowing me to geek out.
To sum up the last three paragraphs: If you looking for something weird and different I would definitely recommend one of these series, start with the first one and just go from there: Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews, Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (hello! Local author alert! The series takes place in the Tri-Cities!). I may re-recommend these next year too, along with The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.
Here are the 2014 honorable mentions: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie S. King (I read a lot in this genre, female protaganist, historical times, with or without a husband/partner of some sort. Point of Honour was also good one in this genre, and I can thank my work spouse for introducing me to these as well); Slow Getting Up by Nate Jackson (not going to win awards, but was fun to read during post-nfl withdrawal), The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
And here are a couple of ones I wished I hadn’t: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The One and Only by Emily Griffin, The Giver by Lois Lowry. Life would have been just fine had I not picked up any of these.
This was a long post. I don’t think I’ve written a post this long since my last best books of the year post. I think it counts as two posts. I’m going to take it easy, then.
Join me on Goodreads, where you can check on my annual Reading Challenge to read 60 books in 2015.