My Year In Books- 2014

Written By: Dawn - Dec• 24•14

For me 2014 was the year of the book. I read 30 titles this year in part because so many of my favorite authors published new books and also because I opened myself up to discovery in a way I don’t normally do. As someone who works in a library, my greatest joy is placing a book in the hand of a reader. Here’s my unconventional review of books from my year.

Best Discovery Author/Series- Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden 

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Friends have been telling me about Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series for years but until now, I never took a look. Butcher’s newest book released in early summer and he was all anyone could talk about at both Phoenix Comic-Con and San Diego Comic-Con.

Harry is a PI and a wizard in modern Chicago. The series is a mashup of the true detective genre with a dash of Harry Potter thrown in. But Chicago isn’t tame Hogwarts, it’s an adult city with adult-level supernatural problems.

Harry’s voice draws you in immediately but it’s Butcher’s world building that keeps me coming back. It’s nearly impossible to do something with vampires that hasn’t been done before, yet he does. This is a series that is deep, often dark and always surprising. Butcher even blends magic and faith in a way that gives both the reverence and respect they deserve.

Author Everyone Should Read Even If You Don’t Think You Like Science Fiction- John Scalzi

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Believe it or not, I don’t read a lot of SciFi, as TV is my preferred consumption method for the genre. I’d heard about Scalzi from my geek friends, but until I saw him in person at Phoenix Comic-Con two years ago, I wasn’t interested in his work. He impressed me so much at his author panel (hard to get the most out of those when you haven’t read anything by the author) I immediately bought his most famous work, Old Man’s War, which I devoured in two days.

His latest, Lock In, is set in the near future around a government sponsored industry for one population- those affected with the disorder Haden’s syndrome. As our own health care system is changing rapidly, Lock In is timely, tense and terrifying.

I also have to shout out to Old Man’s War, which I reread this year (and got my father-in-law to read). I think it may be one of the best books I’ve ever read as well as a standard classic in the genre.

Scalzi draws you in with character voice, and you’ll follow his characters across galaxies. Trust me.

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Books I Never Planned On Reading But Ended Up Loving- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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You know the books I’m talking about because you see them everywhere- Target, Costco, perhaps even the grocery store. There’s buzz in magazines and even among your friends. Everyone, it seems, is talking about these books and you can’t figure out why because they sound boring, or depressing or uninteresting to you.

I’m here to say that sometimes best sellers are best sellers because they really are that good.

Me Before You is story of a quadriplegic and his female care giver. I doubt I could come up with a worse situation for a novel. But I reached a  point in early summer when the paperback’s dominance on shelf space was so impressive, even I could no longer ignore the book. So I read it.

And loved it.

I loved it so much, I went to the author’s book signing for her new book (which I also enjoyed).

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They’re making a movie for Me Before You and I look forward to seeing it. The book is not a feel-good in the traditional sense, can’t lie, but you will care about the characters and be glad you’re there.

Gone Girl is so huge right now I’m not even going to show a picture of it. If you haven’t noticed the book or the movie, you’ve been living in a cave.

Naturally I knew about the book when it came out. I wrote it off as a true crime tale and I never read those. I can’t even stand to watch Nancy Grace on TV. I had no intention of reading the book thank-you-very-much.

Last month The Better Half and I saw the movie because I couldn’t quite ignore all the attention it generated. Ten minutes into the film all I could think about was how fucked up all these people were and that I was dying to read the book so I could spend more time with them.

I’m kicking myself now for not taking the book seriously two years ago, but the movie to book experience hasn’t disappointed me at all. It’s well worth your time, even if you know the ending from the movie.

 

Thank You To My Favorite Authors For Great Books In 2014-

Since I write Women’s Fiction, it is my favorite genre. Some people still call it Chick Lit and in all honesty, that’s not a moniker I find offensive. The lone exception to the following list is Philippa Gregory, who writes amazing historical fiction. Please follow the links I’ve provide if you’re looking for a good read with relatable characters in all kinds of life situations.

Mary Kay Andrews (Southern and sassy, need I say more?)

Stacey Ballis (Foodie fiction with a lot of humor and recipes!)

Claire Cook (Both fiction and nonfiction this year!)

Jane Green (OMG- two books a year now! Next one drops on Dec. 30)

Philippa Gregory (Of The Other Boleyn Girl fame. Tudors! Drama!)

Beth Kendrick (Rom-Com at its best a la Lifetime TV movie.)

Jennifer Wiener (Always good and she champions women writers.)

 

Best Book of 2014 For Me- Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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Somehow I missed the buzz on this book when it released in 2013, but the paperback (shown above) kept catching my eye. The real hook- a reviewer  compared it to a Jane Austen novel. I am a sucker for anything that plays homage to my favorite author!

Crazy Rich Asians delivers exactly what is says- a sharp study into the super wealthy lifestyle of both old and new monied Asians from Singapore. Part Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, part Austen in its deep look into the social paradigms within the upper and “lesser” classes when they are thrown together in one ballroom, and part love story. It delighted me from start to finish.

E-book readers beware- the family trees are quite detailed here and as when I read Tolkien or Game of Thrones, I constantly referred to the genealogy maps to help track the who’s who. I’m not sure how those translate in e-formats.

Kwan has a sequel planned for June 2015 and I am counting the days!

 

Happy Reading for 2015 Friends!

 

 

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