Saturday, January 10, 2015

2014: Top Books of the Year

My 2014 Top Books of the Year post is late! Unfortunately it could not be helped. I always say, better late than never. :) In 2014, my reading was not as prolific as it has been in previous years. Fortunately, I read many memorable books, particularly during the first half of the year and during the summer.

Below, you will notice that my favorite books fall under three different headings: Science Fiction/Fantasy, Romance, and Honorable Mentions. Out of 114 books read during the year, I have chosen the most memorable from those rated A/A- (5.0/4.75), and a few "honorable mentions" from books rated B+ (4.5). These are books that were highly recommended and quite memorable despite the lower grade.

SFF: (Click on titles to read reviews)

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Fantasy (2014, Tor Books)

I loved this stand-alone fantasy and ended up reading it more than once this past year. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison stands out from the rest with a hopeful outlook and an unforgettable central character.

Ancillary Justice* & Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
Science Fiction Space Opera (2014, Orbit)


Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie are, without a doubt, my favorite science fiction books of 2014, with Ancillary Justice (*2013, Orbit) read in January 2014, taking the top spot. I also reread these books throughout the year. I love the unique world-building and characters, and was particularly taken with the characterization and emotional impact that Leckie achieved in this a science fiction opera with an AI as central character.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Speculative Fiction (2014, FSG Original)


With its nameless characters and truly mysterious Area X, VanderMeer's Annihilation drew me into the mind of a biologist whose skewed perspective and detached narrative took me away from reality. This is a book I could not stop reading.

The Girl with All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
Speculative Fiction Thriller/Horror (2014, Orbit)


Post-apocalyptic zombies? We've heard of those before and I am not a fan. But The Girl with All The Gifts is not that typical a book, and after having read the first 10 chapters, I was hooked by a little girl named Melanie. This book is a fantastic read that I devoured as soon as it was released. A keeper!

World of Trouble (The Last Policeman III) by Ben H. Winters
Science Fiction Pre-Apocalyptic Mystery (2014, Quirk Books)


World of Trouble is the last book in Ben H. Winters The Last Policeman pre-apocalyptic mystery trilogy. Hank Palace's actions may seem obsolete to some, but he is one of my favorite, most memorable characters of the year. This is a trilogy that makes readers ask questions of themselves, and with World of Trouble, Winters ended Palace's journey just the way it should.

The Winter Long (October Daye #8) by Seanan McGuire
Urban Fantasy (2014, DAW)


In 2013 I read the entire October Daye UF series and it took me a while to warm up to the main character Toby and to the series as a whole. So it was a surprise to me when The Winter Long turned out to be my favorite UF read of the year. McGuire's execution is particularly notable. She opens up this series, drives it forward, while revealing some long-held secrets and closing up threads. A fabulous read!

ROMANCE:

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James
Contemporary Romance (2014, Jove)


I loved this contemporary romance by Julie James with its snappy dialog, sense of humor, and narrow focus on the main couple. It is fun and sexy, with an oblivious couple whose love grows from one fantastic hostile meeting that is used to build heat between the two, until surprise! They are in love. This romance is the perfect example of an up-to-the moment, sexy, fun, read.

Now and Forever (A Last Past Romance, Part 2) by Logan Belle
Contemporary Romance  (2014, Moxie Books)


Now and Forever is Part 2 of Logan Belle's A Last Chance Romance. I love that this two-part series is all about an adult woman's journey. She finds love with the right man while dealing with real-life conflicts. With a sexy, erotic romance, and pertinent, relatable conflicts to today's woman, Now and Forever is one of my favorite reads of the year.

Always to Remember by Lorraine Heath
Historical Romance (Kindle Ed. 2010, Harper Collins)


Always to Remember came as a complete surprise to me! I read it up for Wendy's TBR Challenge as it had been in my Kindle for a long time. This book is also the only historical romance to have received an A grade from me in 2014. A fantastic American post-civil war romance set in Texas, this RITA Award winner is exquisitely executed by Lorraine Heath. With both a memorable plot and characters, there is no question that it belongs right here. A classic!

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine
YA/Historical Fantasy-based Fiction (2014, Atria Books)

The Paradox Trilogy by Rachel Bach 
Science Fiction Space Opera (2014, Orbit)

Seduced (Into the Wild #1) by Molly O'Keefe
Historical Romance Western (2014, Molly Fader) 

In Want of a Wife by Jo Goodman
Historical Romance Western (2014, Berkley)

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Some interesting facts:
  • Of the 114 books read (I did not count rereads or DNFs), most of the favorite reads on this list are SFF (Science Fiction / Fantasy).
  • I read few historical romances in 2014. Regardless, it is interesting to note that my top 3 are all western historical romances.
  • I read more westerns than usual, across the board: romance (historical, contemporary, YA, m/m), mystery, young adult fiction, LGBT.
  • Mysteries take the top spot though. Even some of my science fiction and fantasy books had a mystery as the core plot. Lots of mystery mash-ups in 2014!
  • As in previous years, I read some fantastic LGBT books. My favorites are listed on a separate post. You can see them here.

10 comments:

  1. Hilcia, such an eccletic list. It seems your taste is moving towards more fiction lately...I mean, from the books you review it's the idea that I get.
    I think we all evolve...some titles are interesting, and it's better to post late than never!
    Hugs,
    sonia

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    1. Oh no! I actually read very few straight fiction books in 2014. My numbers show that I read (in order) lots of LGBT (including m/m romance & fiction), main stream romance and (30) science fiction/fantasy. The thing is that the majority of my favorite reads fell under science fiction/fantasy and LGBT (speculative fiction/fiction/romance) this year, not main stream romance. BUT, as always quite a few books on my list that fall under those other categories have romances!

      Example: The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire is an UF series with a fantastic romance! The Paradox Trilogy by Rachel Bach is a science fiction opera BUT it has a romance! And, yes, The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine is based on a fairy tale, but it also has a romance, although it is not as central as the rest of the books I mentioned above.

      But you are absolutely right. My reading habits have always cycled, and presently I seem to be moving toward mysteries (mash-ups or not), science fiction/fantasy, always my LGBT. :) But, I have never moved away from romances. I won't now. :)

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    2. I can see that with your explanation. Lol, not that changing habits would be bad, but I imagine you reading romances and it seemed that went down. I do hope you keep up with the romances. Sometimes the escape they provide is so helpful to us...

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    3. Sonia, I've always kept up with romances. I've been reading them steadily since age 10, that won't change any time soon. :)

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  2. We obviously agreed on Logan Belle, Lorraine Heath and Molly O'Keefe :) I still need to read the Jo Goodman. It's been buried on the Kindle for a while now....

    Great list! Very eclectic!

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    1. Wendy, the Goodman was great last year (with a couple of caveats for me). I hope you enjoy it. I HAD to include the Lorraine Heath! It was my favorite historical romance of the year.

      And yeah, my list is always a genre hodgepodge. I loved every single one of them.

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  3. Annihilation made my list too. Great book. I've read one and 2/3 of the Rachel Bach trilogy and am loving it. So much fun.

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    1. Carl, I believe Annihilation was the first 2014 new release in the SFF category that I really loved. I still need to finish the trilogy. And I believe that the Paradox trilogy is the most fun I've had reading a space opera. I recommend those books to everybody.

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  4. I'm seeing THE GIRLS AT THE KINGFISHER CLUB popping up all over the place... intrigued now.

    I umm... still haven't read Ann Leckie, even though her first book is on my Kindle. Maybe I'll get around to reading her by the time her third book comes out... Good to know that you think her sophomore book is just as strong though.

    Li

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    1. Li, I'm surprised The Girls at the Kingfisher Club wasn't in your radar before. It's a great book. Don't miss it.

      As far as the Ancillary books go, you know I loved Ancillary Justice. Ancillary Sword was strong in my opinion, although not as fantastic as the Justice. Having said that, if you wait for the third book to release, you can have the pleasure of reading them all at once. Lucky you, I'm waiting anxiously for the third one to release!

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