March 23, 2015

Because It's Never Too Late: My Favorite Books of 2014

Image description: two open books one on top of the other on the foreground and a stack of books on the background.
Image Credit: Abhi Sharma

I don’t know about you, but I always thought that January  February  March needed more “Best of” lists. I mean, why so greedy, December?  Why do you hoard all the lists? Since I’m contrary like that (and didn’t have time to write this thing in December when I should have and then the months kept passing and it became The Beast to Be Defeated! GAH!!!) and because it’s never too late to annoy people with my choices, today I present you with my The Most Memorable List of Bestest Books that Ever Booked in 2014. It’s not going to be predictable or repetitive at all, so get ready to be blown away by so much awesomeness!

On a more serious note I must say that I always have good reading years, so you won’t hear me complain about having a hard time finding good books or coming up with ten titles to put on the list, but this year my productivity was so lacking and my reading so scattered, that even now, after I’ve had time to think about what I read, what I loved and why, I can’t even find the energy to remember. So memorable is a good way to describe these books, because they were the ones that first came to mind when I was having a hard time mustering the enthusiasm to blog.

 I usually break the list down in sub-genres, but this year I’m just listing them in no particular order.

The Kraken King, Cover Description: Illustration of a Victorian building and a rainy sky; a hot air balloon can be seen floating on the back.I loved The Karaken King so much that I didn’t even care (much) that it was originally published as a serial. As you know, I never met a Meljean Brook book I didn’t adore, so it’s no surprise to see this one made the list, but my inability to not fan-girl aside, it’s hard not to be charmed by a main character whose dream is to become the heroine of her own adventure, and when adventure happens, she rescues herself and it’s glorious.

Also, this:
“You are my queen,” he told her, and clasped her hand to his overfilled heart. Though emotion roughened his voice, he spoke quietly. This was only for her. “I am your sword and your shield. I am your wolf and your steed. Mountains will tremble at my approach, for they know I will tear them apart if ever they stand between us. But you need not be afraid, Zenobia Fox, because my heart is iron and my will is steel, and before the new moon rises, I will come for you.”
Quick, someone fetch me my hot pink fainting couch, because I’m about to swoon! (Reviews: here and here; purchase: here)

Cover description, Backwoods: Close-up of a shirtless man. He's in a lake and on the background there's a forest.Backwoods by Jill Sorenson was my favorite Romantic Suspense of the year (disclosure, Jill and I are Twitter friends and she's been a guest on the blog a bunch of times).  Why? Because the character with the boob job was the heroine instead of the villain; because the other woman was allowed to be human without having her flaws held against her by the narrative; and because the teenagers behaved as such, and all that messy glory made their story as compelling and interesting as the adults’. (Purchase: here)

Cover description, Between the Sheets: A man and a woman embrace naked and they are covered by bed sheets
Reading Molly O’Keefe’s Between the Sheets was an intense and beautiful experience. It had a lovely romance at its core, yes, but the characters and themes were what made it shine. I loved the wonderful, complex heroine who used sex to relieve some of the pressure in her life, and the gentle, hard-working hero fumbling with his newfound parenthood. But most of all, I loved how the story was about complex parent-child relationships, about childhood shaping our adult lives, and about building and joining communities in order to share burdens and find companionship and help. (Purchase: here)

Cover description, Satisfaction: Close up of a shirtless man, we can only see his torso, he's wearing jeans and has a tattoo down his arm and on his stomach.
Satisfaction by Sarah Mayberry featured a familiar story with an obnoxious trope, and yet nothing about it felt trite. I loved reading this book and talking about it, but ultimately it was such a comforting, happy reading experience that just thinking about it makes me smile. (Review: here; purchase: here)

Cover description, Gunpowder Alchemy: foggy picture of a Chinese boat with a golden dragon. On the foreground a woman dressed in red looks at the boat, her back is to us.

Finally, I was pleasantly surprised by Jeannie Lin’s Gunpowder Alchemy. I was expecting a fabulous Romance and instead I got an even better coming of age story where the potential romance was a part of the main character’s journey, but didn’t take over the plot. It was surprising, lovely, and challenged my expectations. And hey, it’s 100% a heroine-centric adventure, so how could I resist? (Purchase: here)


  1. I saw so many "Best Of" lists in December and I started getting twitchy. I've always reserved my Best Of for January because hey - what if I read something fabulous on December 31?!?! So hey, a Best Of list in March? I say roll on with your bad self.

    I literally just started the Jill Sorenson (OMG, SO BEHIND!) and what you said. I just got to the boob job stuff and I'm liking how "the other woman" isn't automatically painted as a total skank. Sorenson has always done messy personal relationships well though, so I'd expect nothing less.

    And in more OMG SO BEHIND, I've still got to read that Jeannie Lin and you make me want to drop everything and start it right now. You had me at "heroine-centric adventure."

    1. I love (and sometimes love to hate) "best of" lists, so they are one of the reasons why I love December blogland, but I'm most definitely embracing my bad self, mostly because it's either that or quitting altogether, and I really don't want to quit blogging.

      The other woman isn't painted as a bad person, just a hurt, lonely one. I don't condone infidelity, but I liked how their marriage ending was just on her. I also really liked the subplot with the two teens.

  2. I loved both Jill and Molly's books, too! I've been meaning to read both the Mayberry book and Gunpowder Alchemy and haven't gotten to either.

    I'm so happy you posted this!!!

    1. I'm so happy I posted it! Now I can move on ;-)

  3. I, too, loved Between the Sheets. It was the first of hers that really worked for me, and it worked exceedingly well. :)

    1. Did you read the next one, Indecent Proposal? I feel like those two books put spins on beloved, sometimes hated, genre tropes: BtS was secret baby, and IP is marriage of convenience (in a contemporary setting! And it works!). It has a similar tone, although where I'd call BtS melancholic, I'd say IP is more angry, but I can see it working for you, even if her previous books didn't.

  4. I have to read Backwoods now! I just listened to a book where the "hero" has a decided disdain for "fake cans" and his attitude was so rage-inducing I got a bit stabby. This sounds like it could be the antidote!

    1. Ha! There's none of that here. In fact, I don't even remember the hero commenting on her boobs (in non-sexual ways, otherwise it would be weird if he hadn't *grins*). It's all about her reaction and relationship to them, so we see them as a good thing from her POV, and that made it even better for me.

  5. I love having a best of list in March

    If I don't read Between the Sheets soon, I need to be punished. MUST get to it!


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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.