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2014 is nearly in the books, so to say, and as this time of year is all about lists, it's time to think back through all the wonderful books you've read in 2014 and share your "best of."
My list includes (in no particular order):
Honorable Mention to:
ETA: I'm reading The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd right now and if I get it finished by the end of the year, it will go on my 2014 'Best of' list. If not, expect to see it this time next year for 2015. SMK is a gifted writer and this book is wonderful!
Last Edited on: 12/28/14 11:51 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Best books I read this year:
I'm reading SKP's A King's Ransom right now, and it will probably be my best read of the year if I finish it before 2015.
I didn't read many books this year, and whole I haven't read any duds, the only one to make my Best Of list would be Written in my Own Hearts Blood by Diana Gabaldon. I have 200 pages to go, but it's already made the list.
I was lucky enough to have a lot of great reads this year. My top ones for 2014 are:
The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
A King's Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman
Circle of Shadows by Imogen Robertson
The Proud Villeins by Valerie Anand
Lisa Kleypas- The Hathaway series, especially Book #5, Love in the Afternoon
Elizabeth Hoyt- The MaidenLane series- especially Book #1 Wicked Intentions and # 4 Thief of Shadows
Jodi Taylor- The entire Chronicles of St Mary series
Laura Kinsale- Flowers from the Storm
Courtney Milan- The Brothers Sinister series, especially #3, The Countess Conspiracy
Charlotte Bronte- Jane Eyre
Bryce Courtenay- Four Fires
Norah Lofts- House series- Town House, House at Old Vine, House at Sunset
and the number one book of the year.......
Shay Savage- Transcendence
What is missing from my list is Written in My Own Heart's Blood. It was good, but not great. I'm beginning to think I put way too much hype and my expecations are way too high for her books.
Last Edited on: 12/29/14 12:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Maybe I should sub-title this as "best of" from a series. Some of my favorites include several titles from a single series. I finished Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series this past year, #13 thru #21 and loved them all because I love Sharpe and Harper, but found that the last one was the weakest of the series. I read and loved Cornwell's The Pagan Lord; only criticism was that it should have been longer, not enough Uhtrid.
I read the final two books of Winston Graham's Poldark series. I have loved every book in that series beginning to end.
Still reading the Morland Dynasty series by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. I'm invested in the Morland family. Read twelve more of that series during 2014 and really enjoyed most of them. I find the later novels get a bit tedious with (IMO) too much historical involvement in the women's suffrage movement and then endless descriptions of the failed British offensives of WWI.
Phillip Rock's Passing Bells trilogy: book one was a favorite last year; book two is a favorite this year; number three was a disappointment.
A 'best of" is the 4-book Rome series by M.C. Scott. Her series about Boudica were favorites of 2011.
Favorite mystery series is Sebastian St. Cyr by C. S. Harris - loved Why Kings Confess, the latest one.
Favorite HF novels, 2014
In Falling Snow, Mary Rose McColl
Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd
Unmentionables, Laurie Lowenstein
May the Road Rise Up to Meet You, Peter Troy
Firelord, Parke Godwin
My Notorious Life, Kate Manning
Someone Knows My Name, Lawrence Hill
Read a wonderful non-fiction: Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne, about Quanah Parker and the Comanches. One of last year's favorites was a HF novel, Ride the Wind, about Cynthia Ann Parker (Quanah's mother).
Even though my reading slowed down this year, I read some great hf. At the top of my list are:
The Josephine B. trilogy - Sandra Guiland
Arundel - Kenneth Roberts
A Place of Greater Safety - Hilary Mantel
The Chalice - Nancy Bilyeau
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches - Alan Bradley
I also read some great nonfiction history, including these favorites:
The Age of Radiance - Craig Nelson
Below the Peacock Fan: Ladies of the Raj - Marion Fowler
Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters - Elizabeth Brown Pryor
Happy New Year and Happy Reading everyone!
Last Edited on: 12/31/14 10:33 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Best HF that I read in 2014:
Non-HF but too good not to mention:
Best HF in 2014:
Paranormal - Written in Red Anne Bishop
Paranormal Romance - Celtic Moon Jan DeLima
Cozy -Off Kilter by Hanna Reed
HF - Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley (Lavendar Garden is very close 2nd by her)
Historical Mystery - Paris Affair by Teresa Grant
Romance - Forgotten Sins by Rebecca Zanetti
YA - Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
I read across genres so I thought I would share my favorite in each genre
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The Daring Ladies of Lowell, Kate Alcott
The Dressmaker, Kate Alcott
Murder as Fine Art, David Morrell
The Yard, Alex Grecian
Bishop Street, Rene Schultz
Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline
These are some I especially enjoyed in 2014.
As I look at my list, it is interesting that I almost solely read historical fiction nowadays. Since David's death I no longer have to provide books for two readers, so I have come to indulge my passion almost completely. Before when we travelled there was a lot of Vince Flynn, David Baldacci, Greg Isles, etc. that we would both read and share. Changes occur one does not really consider as life begins a new journey.
I didn't read a lot of HF this year, but I did enjoy:
The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult
I Always Loved You, Robin Oliveria
Fatal Enquiry, Will Thomas
11/22/63, Stephen King (Not HF to ME, of course...)
... Changes occur one does not really consider as life begins a new journey. ... Very true words, Becky!
Kristin, I really liked Whiskey Rebels when I read it. And this reminds me that I think I have another book by David Liss on the shelves. I need to pull it and get it on the short list!
And, Aubree, delighted to see Dollface on your list! I received this book from my Secret Santa and can't wait to get read it!
I was in a big funk in 2014 and very little tripped my trigger.
By far the best of the year was Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, author of another fabulous book, Code Name Verity, which I read a couple of years ago. RUF was not really a follow up to CNV, but Maddie, one of the main character from CNV is a minor character in RUF. I listened to it on Audible, and I really, really enjoyed it.
I also liked Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd, which is probably not surprise as Rutherfurd is one of my favorite authors. However, I didn't love Sarum like I loved London or Paris. Perhaps because it took me so long to listen to it. There were spans of weeks that I didn't listen, and perhaps that made it harder for me to make all the connections between generations that are staples of Rutherfurd's books.
Others I enjoyed were These is My Words by Nancy Turner and The Widows War and Bound, both by Sally Gunning.
Last Edited on: 1/2/15 10:11 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
This year, this thread is easy, easy, easy. Hands down best books:
HF--Someone Knows My Name (also published as The Book of Negroes) by Lawrence Hill. Top notch historical fiction that seems just not to be all that well known. Details an African girl's journey from free in Africa, through her capture and transport on a slave ship to Charleston, to her years on a plantation there, to NY, to Canada, to England and finally to her return to Africa. Excellent authentic details and the kind of book you forget is fiction. Edited to add: This is in production by BET as a mini-series set to be released this spring, and the trailers look good, very very good.
Edited to add a link to the trailer: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/15/the-book-of-negroes-miniseries-premiere-bet-february_n_5991466.html
You'll need to cut it and paste it, but it's fantastic, and I can't wait for it to air.
NF-Coincidentally on the same subject, my best NF is Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball. The author is a white descendant of one of the largest plantation-holding families in the Charleston area. His book is his search back through his roots, not just for his white ancestry, which of course is well-recorded, but for the family's slaves. He does a great job in contrasting the lives of the two families, outlines the difficulties blacks have in researching their roots, and actually goes out and meets current descendants. He's a good storyteller, so it reads well and easily. I happened to find this title after reading Someone Knows My Name as I searched for more reading material on the subject of slave history/records/accounts, etc.
A close second for me was Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, his account as an escaped convict in 1980's India. It is a fantastic if HUGE read, and I read it because we traveled to India in March 2014. I've since learned of some controversy over his account as told in the book, so no one's quite sure if it's fiction or not, which tarnished it a little in my view, but still an incredible read about an incredible and vibrant culture and country.
Last Edited on: 1/2/15 1:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Colleen, Someone Knows My Name was one of my favorites, too.
ETA: (from) Linda. Kelly has not read it yet, but will get to it this year!
Last Edited on: 1/2/15 3:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1