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Old 12-08-2014, 12:50 AM   #1
Dazrin
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What were your favorite books of 2014?

Since we now have our 2015 challenges up and running and we're reviewing what we've read this year and deciding on what we want to challenge ourselves with next year, I thought this would be a good time to chime in on what we enjoyed last year.

What were your favorite books of 2014?

Anything goes from favorite classics, guilty pleasures, new obsessions, thought provoking works, unexpectedly charming stories, etc. These may be 5-star, award winning (or at least should be award winning!) books or the type of book that exemplifies the "self-published for a reason" stereotype but for some reason really struck a chord with you.

Help us increase our TBR piles* as we start the new year and share your favorites from last year!

*Note for those who have "reduce my TBR pile" in their 2015 goal, add these now so they don't count against you in 2015...
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Old 12-08-2014, 12:59 AM   #2
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Since I started this thread, I should probably contribute.

The first book I really want to recommend is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I rated this as excellent meaning "GREAT read, I would read again." While I expected to enjoy the book based on all of the reviews I had read I didn't expect to like it as much as I do. For anyone who grew up in the 80s and started playing video games on an Atari (or earlier) and has continued to play in some fashion or for people who have some weird obsession with the 80s this book should hit a lot of high points. Rated high for nostalgia in addition to having a fun, action packed plot, this book was one of my top 5 reads for 2014.

As a bonus there is a review by Patrick Rothfuss (author of the The Name of the Wind series) that made me laugh.
Spoiler:
Patrick:
Quote:
I got to read an ARC of this, and it appealed to every geeky part of me.

I'll probably write a blog about it later, but for now, a brief review:

Simply said? This book was ****ing awesome.

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Old 12-08-2014, 01:56 AM   #3
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So far this year, I've really enjoyed the following authors/series who were new to me (linkage to my 2014 list* which links to my comments in the What Are We Reading? thread):
  • Jo Nesbø's Norwegian crime thrillers, especially several of the books in his Harry Hole series of police procedurals, which can get rather grim so they're an acquired taste, but are often entertaining and well put-together.

    #3-6 & #8 were the best of the lot, and so was Headhunters, a standalone thriller of his which got turned into a very entertaining film as well.

    Conversely, his standalone crime thriller The Son was one of the more disappointingly "meh" books I read.
  • Agatha Christie's books, which I acquired almost the entire lot of due to HarperCollins holding a 99 cent sale on her works in Canada, having only previously read only a handful of her novels and seen a couple of TV adaptations.

    Best of the lot so far were Ordeal by Innocence, Endless Night, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Peril at End House, Murder on the Orient Express, and Cards on the Table.

    However, her quality was rather uneven for the ones that I read, and there were some that I would not consider worth the Gentle Reader's time unless they were Christie-reading completionists.
  • Ian Hamilton's Ava Lee series of non-murder investigative mysteries, starring a Chinese-Canadian Catholic lesbian forensic accountant who tracks down and retrieves stolen money was almost-pure delight (there were some particular violent scenes and character-traumatizing developments I could have lived without).
  • James R. Benn's Billy Boyle series of WWII action adventure mysteries starring a Boston cop-turned-lieutenant who investigates crimes and goes on undercover missions for his "Uncle Ike" Eisenhower is technically not new, since I got the 1st book as a freebie years ago and read and liked it then.

    But I didn't get around to reading the rest of them until now and enjoyed them enough to mainline the entire series right up to the latest, and will be buying the ones I missed when they go on deep-discount sale. They're a bit like the Foyle's War TV series, if those happened mainly on the war-front and had a more international cast.
  • The AmazonCrossing imprint's translated Nordic literature works (I have this inordinate fondness for books involving cultures which produce dragon boats, hence my for the Ava Lee series above, as well) which I've been buying as they drop to sale prices:

    Leena Lehtolainen's Maria Kallio series of Finnish police procedurals were interesting and are on my wishlist for further installments.

    Martin Jensen's The King's Hounds series of Danish-occupied England-set medieval murder mysteries is quite entertaining so far.

    Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson's Reykjavik police detective series was also enjoyable, moreso in the 2nd book than the 1st.

    Arni Thorarinsson's standalone northern Iceland-set mystery was also interesting, and I wouldn't mind seeing another book with the reporter character who was the amateur sleuth.
  • Danny Peary's Cult Cinema series of informative and entertaining film essays, the 1st of which is still a freebie which I enjoyed enough to scoop up the other currently-available low-priced volumes with coupons.
I also caught up with new installments in favourite existing series, such as Charles Stross' The Laundry Files of Lovecraftian bureaucracy-filled urban fantasy, and Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January series starring an ex-slave surgeon-turned-musician set in antebellum New Orleans, which were both good-quality additions to the overall story, as well as Ruth Downie's Gaius Ruso series of British Roman Empire medical murder mysteries, which were also decent continuations I liked seeing more of the characters in (even if the storylines were a little flawed for my tastes).

And I read a new Peter David standalone Arthurian comedy which was very light and silly, but fun and appealed to the making-fun-of-Arthuriana instincts I've acquired after years of more conventional fantasy reading.

* At some point I'll get around to putting in my usual numerical ratings but for now the ticks and hearts are up for stuff I really liked and/or recommend, which are not necessarily the same thing.

Last edited by ATDrake; 12-08-2014 at 02:16 AM. Reason: I haven't actually read the entire lot of Christie yet, just a selected dozen or two.
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Old 12-08-2014, 04:35 AM   #4
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Witcher series by Sapkowski. I've read them all, and it was amazing.
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Old 12-08-2014, 06:16 AM   #5
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I'm listing all the books that gained 5/5 scores from me during 2014. The following books are the top four, the absolute best books of 2014 that I've read.

Night Fall (John Corey #3) by Nelson DeMille
As the Crow Flies by Jeffrey Archer
Hush Now, Don't You Cry (Molly Murphy Mysteries #11) by Rhys Bowen
Be Careful What You Wish For (The Clifton Chronicles #4) by Jeffrey Archer


The next part of my list contains quite a few cozy mysteries. I've forgotten all of their stories, due to the confusion from reading their series in bulk.

Mother's Day Murder (A Lucy Stone Mystery #15) by Leslie Meier
Father's Day Murder (A Lucy Stone Mystery #10) by Leslie Meier
Birthday Party Murder (A Lucy Stone Mystery #9) by Leslie Meier
Dirty Rotten Tendrils (A Flower Shop Mystery #10) by Kate Collins
The Fatal Funnel Cake (Fresh-Baked Mystery #8) by Livia J. Washburn
The Pumpkin Muffin Murder (Fresh-Baked Mystery #5) by Livia J. Washburn


These two books were surprisingly good reads. One of them is a re read. The Moral Landscape remains the only book I've re read since I got an ereader.

Big Trouble by Dave Barry
The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris


These are all David Baldacci books. They've made me a fan of the author and a couple of them could have crept into my top four books depending on my mood. Very hard to separate and rate them according to preference. They are all great reads and I recommend them without hesitation.

The Target (Will Robie #3) by David Baldacci
The Innocent (Will Robie #1) by David Baldacci
Hell's Corner (Camel Club #5) by David Baldacci
Stone Cold (Camel Club #3) by David Baldacci
The Collectors (Camel Club #2) by David Baldacci


It has been a delightful year and I hope the upcoming 2015 gives me more 5 star books. I have hopefully learned from choosing what to read and I wish that will show in my scores and in my reading choices.
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Old 12-08-2014, 07:29 AM   #6
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Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge hit the sweet spot for me. Definitely a page turner without being dumb down. Somehow both character and plot-driven. (Avoid synopsis and cover-text before reading it, there are spoilers!) Rightfully a Nebula finalist in 2002.

I also liked Ancillary Justice and -Sword a lot. Apart from that I my most prefered novels were re-reads.
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Old 12-08-2014, 09:48 AM   #7
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Station 11, by Hillary St. James Mandel
The City & The City, by China Mieville
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
Island Beneath the Sea, by Isabel Allende
North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell
The House Cat, by Takashi Hiraide
Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs (Miss Perigrine's Peculiar Children #2)
The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey
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Old 12-08-2014, 10:07 AM   #8
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Well, it's early, but I'll contribute. Since my challenge this year was geography based I will include the country as well.

Uruguay - Genesis: Memory of Fire by Eduardo Galeano
Poland - The Pianist by Władysław Szpilman
Indonesia - The Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata
Algeria - The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
Bulgaria - Natural Novel by Georgi Gospodinov
Norway - The Transformation by Mette Newth
Syria - Damascus Nights by Rafik Schami
Russia - Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky
Finland - The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna

and while I haven't quite finished it, unless it goes south badly, the first 350 pages of this one have been spectacular:

Japan - Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Last edited by HomeInMyShoes; Today at 01:04 PM.
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Old 12-08-2014, 10:14 AM   #9
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There are still a few books left to read in 2014, but these were the best so far.

Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander #8) by Diana Gabaldon
The Lady Julia Series by Deanna Raybourn
The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith
Burn For Me (Hidden Legacy #1) by Ilona Andrews
The Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot #4) by Agatha Christie
God of the Hive (Mary Russell #10) by Laurie R. King
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Fool's Assassin (Fitz and the Fool Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb
The Martian by Andy Weir

Last edited by treadlightly; 12-12-2014 at 09:13 AM. Reason: Added a late entry!
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Old 12-10-2014, 06:13 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeInMyShoes View Post
Well, it's early, but I'll contribute. Since my challenge this year was geography based I will include the country as well.

Uruguay - Genesis: Memory of Fire by Eduardo Galeano
Poland - The Pianist by Władysław Szpilman
Indonesia - The Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata
Algeria - The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
Bulgaria - Natural Novel by Georgi Gospodinov
Norway - The Transformation by Mette Newth
Syria - Damascus Nights by Rafik Schami
Russia - Roadside Picnis by Arkady Strugatsky
Finland - The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna

and while I haven't quite finished it, unless it goes south badly, the first 350 pages of this one have been spectacular:

Japan - Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Wow, that sounds really cool. A geography challenge just screams: utter amazingness. I want to try that too! (Sooner than expected, hopefully). I have heard a lot of great feedback from Haruki Murakami so maybe I could start with him next year.
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Old 12-10-2014, 09:45 AM   #11
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And I can't believe I didn't add this one to the list of favorites this year:

Belize - Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell
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Old 12-10-2014, 12:47 PM   #12
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I see a number of books which are still on my TBR list, so the endorsements here will help move them up and increases the probability that I'll read them in 2015.
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Hush Now, Don't You Cry (Molly Murphy Mysteries #11) by Rhys Bowen
I read almost all of the Molly Murphy books in 2013, finishing up the series in 2014. It's definitely one of my favorite series.
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Stone Cold (Camel Club #3) by David Baldacci
Stone Cold was the very first book I read on my very first Kindle (and therefore the first eReader I owned) back in February 2008. I had finished reading The Collectors just a day before unpacking the new Kindle, so I bought the next book in the series using the Kindle to execute the purchase.
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Old 12-10-2014, 01:11 PM   #13
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What I'd like to know is what are your favorite books that were published in 2014?
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Old 12-10-2014, 08:36 PM   #14
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Here are my top five:
Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
The Martian by Andy Weir
Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
The Science of Interstellar by Kip Thorne
Ready Player One by Earnest Cline
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Old 12-10-2014, 09:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
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What I'd like to know is what are your favorite books that were published in 2014?
I only read six books/stories that were published this year, but a couple were very good.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss which was excellent but is definitely a change of pace from most books. It follows Auri through her life for a short period of time and has virtually no action and has no dialog at all but was still captivating for me. I mean, how often has anyone included a 5+ page passage in a fantasy story where the main character is just making soap? It was very different, but I loved it. This is one my favorite stories read this year, not just my favorite that was published this year. I am fairly sure it is not your type of book though JSWolf; I would recommend trying a preview before purchasing if you consider it.

Sand (Omnibus) by Hugh Howey which is a grittier post-apocalyptic tale than his Silo series. I enjoyed enough to read any sequels (not that any are announced) but I didn't enjoy it as much as the Silo series.

I am not sure if this counts, but The Martian by Andy Weir was re-published this year by a traditional publisher. It was still excellent and only slightly different than the self-published version from 2012. I would skip it if you read the original version previously.

Last edited by Dazrin; 12-10-2014 at 09:11 PM. Reason: added a link
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