I wanted to get a post in about my 2014 reading before we got too far into 2015. So…I read 42 books in 2014. Which is more than 2013. But I’d like to reach at least 50 books a year.
More than half the books were romance (24), 12 were science fiction and fantasy, 4 mystery, 2 historical fiction, 1 mainstream fiction and 1 non-fiction. Obviously romance and sff were my focus. It’s a little deceptive, in that sff reads are longer so while they were half the number of romance books, they were probably not half the amount of reading time.
Series reading this year:
CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner series, namely Foreigner, Invader, Inheritor. An interesting premise, whereby lost humans stumble upon a planet inhabited by aliens, though of course humans are the aliens. A lot of thoughtful writing here, although I seemed to alternate between being riveted and finding it a slog. The series continues on for more than ten books, but I don’t know that I’ll continue. On the other hand, I may find myself missing Bren and Jago and picking up the next in the series after all. I am quite taken by the characters.
Sarina Bowen’s The Ivy Years: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year and Blonde Date. These may have been the most readable set of books of the year. I’d start a book and simply not put it down. Or get up in the middle of the night to finish it. These are NA, romances, college-set and centered around hockey players or ex-hockey players (for the most part). Bowen has a tremendously engaging voice. I preferred books 1 and 3. The Year We Hid Away, while compelling, had a little too much going on. And Blonde Date just didn’t do as much for me. Whether it was the premise or the shorter length, I don’t know.
Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice/Ancillary Sword. Everything about this science fiction series works for me. Space opera, ships, AIs, multiple points of view, main protagonist struggling to do the best for the greatest number of people while demonstrating their own flaws. I can’t wait for book 3.
Standout reads of the year:
1. Ancillary Justice/Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie. See above.
2. Crazy Thing Called Love by Molly O’Keefe. I kinda picked this up out of a feeling of duty. In that O’Keefe’s name had been mentioned enough that I felt I should try one of her books. Beyond that I wasn’t particularly interested and this style of cover doesn’t especially speak to me, but I was hooked by page one. Engaging voice, messy emotions, and a depth of character kept me turning the pages.
3. Fire Logic by Laurie J. Marks. An older fantasy that is beloved by many. I bought it when it became available in ebook. The opening is dark, the main character goes through a terrible ordeal, but comes to be rescued the woman who will some day be her lover. It’s really an amazing slow-burn romance for us romance readers. But the secondary characters, the world-building and the triumphs are also really well done. Some beautiful writing.
4. The Game and the Governess by Kate Noble. I love watching character growth. And if the opening scenes, in which the setup is created, are a little shaky, it’s worth watching the hero discover who he really is and who he wants to be. I love the take on this character—he’s not intrinsically noble because of his station in life and he needs to figure out how to be better. I was thankful to Janine’s review at DA that spurred me to read this.
5. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. A fantasy with elves, goblins and steampunk elements that was surprisingly moving. After being banished by his father during his childhood years, Maya is suddenly emperor and completely out of his depth. It’s a dangerous situation. But it’s his strength of character, his desire to do what’s right, and the support of those who want to help and support him, that get him through a difficult time where politics are intricate, intrigue is not always understood, and the difference between friends and enemies is less than clear.
6. Lady Elizabeth’s Comet by Sheila Simonson. I haven’t read many regency romances from earlier days. I came to romance past their heyday. I’ve read most of Heyer’s romances but not much beyond that, in terms of older books. So LEC was a complete delight. The heroine is a scientist who is also responsible for the care of her fourteen-year-old sisters and has to deal with the arrival of the new earl—a distant cousin—after her father’s death. She’s prickly, she doesn’t always deal well with people, but she does want to do what’s right. The tension between the hero and heroine is just terrific.
7. A Minor Inconvenience by Sarah Granger*. One of my sleeper favorites. HIstorical m/m is a favorite subgenre of mine, even though it takes a careful hand to create a world and a happy ending for our heroes. In this I get a favorite trope: the emotionally oblivious hero who throttles his emotions (romantic and sexual) in order to get through life—and of course he falls in love while he’s not entirely sure what is going on. (This is admittedly also a trope that can Go Very Wrong, but in this case, I found it effectively heart-tugging and understated.) There was also a a mystery to uncover, which went hand in hand with the developing romance.
8. Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon. Where would my end-of-year list be without a Josh Lanyon book? I loved the mystery in this one; I thought it was really well constructed and rolled out. I’m always happy when I get my hands on a longer work of Lanyon’s and can sink into his story and characters. Excellent read.
9. The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen. In some ways this is simply a standin for the entire Ivy Years series (see above), but it was my favorite, edging out The Year We Fell Down. I even had to get up in the middle of the night to make sure the two heroes would be okay in the end. (Spoiler: they are.)
10. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. My one mainstream read, and very rewarding. There’s a big reveal about 1/4 of the way through, and not everyone was happy with it, I guess. But I found this to be a page-turning family drama with some really astute observations about how families work. Admittedly it’s more than that.
*A Samhain book. I often don’t write about Samhain books given my association with the publisher. But it’s hard not to say something when, after all, I had nothing to do with the book and I was so very fond of it.
[The shorter writeups only indicates that either I’ve already talked too much about the book or I don’t want to reveal spoilers. I did love all the above.]
Other interesting (to me) observations:
- 36 of the books I read were published in 2010 or later. I had the impression I was reading fewer newer books but clearly that’s not the case. Not that I feel I need to change this particularly. I do want some older books in the mix, but I get a lot of enjoyment from current books
- I read more m/f than m/m by a fair bit
- I read more contemporary romances than anything else, but historical romance was a close second