Category Archives: 2014 Books

The Best Books Of 2014 (Part 2)

These are the books that I read this year that came out in a different year (some are 2015; most are earlier releases).  These are listed in chronological order.

1) RecruitZ by Karice Bolton

2)  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (a reread but still amazing)

3)  Hound at the Gate by Darby Karchut (one of my books at SHP, but still excellent)

4)  The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

5)  Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

6)  Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty (a re-read but still amazing)

7)  The Obsidian Pebble by Rhys Jones

8)  Kingston’s Project by Carrie Beckort

9)  Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

10)  The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (out 2015)

11)  All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (out 2015)

12)  Hunt for Valamon by DK Mok (out 2015; it’s one of my books from SHP but still excellent)

13)  The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel (out 2015)

14)  Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

15)  The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds (out 2015)

16) The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (out 2015)

17) A Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy (out 2015)

18)  I Was Here by Gayle Forman (out 2015)

19) Hush Hush by Laura Lippman (out 2015)

19) Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys) by Amy Spalding (out 2015)

The Best Books Of 2014 (Part 1)

These are the best 2014 releases that I read this year.  These are listed in chronological order.

Honorable mention first must go to The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner, which I read last year.  It’s amazing; you need to read it.

1)  Archetype by M.D. Waters

2)  Prototype by M.D. Waters

3)  Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

4)  After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

5)  Gideon’s Spear by Darby Karchut

6)  The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

7)  We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

8)  Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook

9)  The Memory Child by Steena Holmes

10)  Desperate by Daniel Palmer

11) Elements of Mind by Walter H. Hunt (one of my books at SHP, but still excellent)

12)  The Stag Lord by Darby Karchut (one of my books at SHP, but still excellent)

13)  Court by Cat Patrick

14)  The Bear by Claire Cameron

15)  Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

16)  Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

17)  Learning Not to Drown by Anna Shinoda

18)  To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

19)  Siren’s Song by Heather McCollum (one of my books at SHP, but still excellent)

20)  Into the Night by Suzy Rigdon (one of my books at SHP, but still excellent)

21)  Divinity by Michelle L. Johnson (one of my books at SHP, but still excellent)

22)  Night after Night by Lauren Blakely

23)  Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

24)  The Merciless by Danielle Vega

25)  Call Me By My Name by Ed Bradley

26)  Landline by Rainbow Rowell

27)  All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

28)  Like No Other by Una LaMarche

29)  The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

30)  Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

31)  Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

32)  Conversion by Katherine Howe

33)  Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

34)  Those Who Wish me Dead by Michael Koryta

35)  Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

36)  Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

37)  The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

38)  Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

39)  Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

40)  Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

41)  Naliyah by Shauna Kelley

42)  My Real Children by Jo Walton

43)  Mahalas Lane by Marianne Cushing

44)  Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

45)  Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

46)  The Beast of Seabourne by Rhys A. Jones (one of my books at SHP; still excellent)

47)  Vision by Lisa Amowitz

48) Stars in their Eyes by Lauren Blakely

49)  All Broke Down by Cora Carmack

50)  I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

51)  The Camp Boyfriend series by JK Rock

52)  AlibiZ by Karice Bolton

53)  Nights With Him by Lauren Blakely

54)  Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

55)  Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

56)  The Burning Room by Michael Connelly

57)  Small Victories by Anne Lamott

58)  Revival by Stephen King

59) Saving Grace by Jane Green

60) You by Caroline Kepnes

Niles Wormwart: Accidental Villain

Finished Niles Wormwart: Accidental Villain by D.M. Cunningham.  I received a copy from the publisher.  (Note: I work for Spencer Hill but have had nothing to do with this book.)

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the science fair world of ketchup-spewing volcanoes and potato clocks, one boy, Niles Wormwart, plans to alter the history of science fairs with his time travel wristwatch based on Nicola Tesla’s work. Unfortunately, history has different plans for Niles. After Niles blows up his school’s science wing with his project, his father, deciding his son needs to man up, make some friends, and take a break from his constant experiments, sends unsuspecting Niles off to the mysterious Camp Mayhem. The only problem is that Niles’ father thinks it’s a role-playing camp. Well, it’s not. Headed up by the ominous Red Czechmark, Camp Mayhem is ground zero for training the future villains of today. A place for real kids to realize the real villain inside them. Niles sharpens his focus on escaping the camp while everyone inside wants him to sharpen his focus on discovering his own dark powers. There’s a sinister plot brewing, and Niles is dead in the middle of it. Thrust into a world he only thought existed in comic books. Niles discovers his true potential inside the walls of Camp Mayhem–the potential to become the darkest of evils or stay true to his good-hearted roots.”

This book would be the perfect present for most middlegrade readers.  It’s absolutely laugh-out-loud funny, but there’s a lot of heart in there, too.

And if you’re into science, there’s some great information here, too.  In case you still haven’t heard of Tesla, you need to read this book now.

I think most adults would love this book but I am most excited to get it for my godson.  He’s going to have an absolute blast.

Highly recommended.

 

Into the Night

Into the Night by Suzanne Rigdon releases Dec. 2.  You can see her Twitter here.

INTO THE NIGHT cover with quote

This is one of my favorite books from this year.  (To be completely honest, I should point out that I’m Suzy’s publicist…but all that means is that it’s been my favorite for longer than it otherwise could have been.  This book is so incredibly fun, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it.)

When Selina Baker, a coordinator for a Boston non-profit, goes out on the town with her friend Jess, she never expects to meet the man of her dreams. And she certainly never expects him to be undead.

When things go from flirty to majorly flawed on her first date with James Lawton, he is forced to save her the only way he can–by killing her. Selina suddenly finds herself in the mix with the creatures she thought were made up solely for late-night TV. Into the Night follows Selina’s transformation from a wallflower into an impulsive and dangerous new vampire. With no choice in the matter, Selina becomes trapped between a new man, his wary brothers, and his cruel and controlling Queen, who wants nothing more than to watch her suffer. Selina must walk the fine line between adjusting to her new powers, life after death, and following the rules–all while avoiding disaster.

Revival

Finished Revival by Stephen King.

Summary (from Goodreads):

A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs — including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties — addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate — Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe.”

Oh, you guys, this book.

This is my favorite of his since 11/22/63, and probably his scariest book in a long time.

If you read this book, you’ll read that sentence above and think, “Kelly, WHAT are you talking about? This book isn’t scary at all!”  And you’ll continue thinking that way until the last few chapters.

This book will lull you into a false sense of security and then it will slap you in the face repeatedly until you’re in the fetal position and unable/unwilling to move.

Stephen King has certain themes that he returns to over and over and this book hits two of them pretty hard.  The first, of course, is addiction (and that’s what you’ll hear about the most with reviews of this book).  The second is grief.  You don’t hear about that one as much, but it’s just as present in this book (probably moreso).

I don’t want to discuss too much more of it because of spoilers.  But get this book and read it.  But don’t finish it at night.

Highly recommended.

The Stag Lord

The Stag Lord by Darby Kaye is out Dec. 2.  You can see Darby’s Twitter here (and please talk to her on there, because I bullied her into getting a Twitter account.)

Stag Lord full jacket

You can request it on Netgalley by clicking here.

This is one of my first books as a publicist, and I’m so excited that it’s almost out.  I absolutely love this book and I know you will, too.  It’s fun and creepy.  (And it makes great presents.)

Synopsis: “On the run across America from a vengeful shape-shifter, Bannerman “Bann” Boru has only one thing on his mind: keeping himself and his young son, Cor, alive.

At any cost.

Until he meets Shay Doyle, healer and member of a secret group of immortal Celtic warriors, the Tuatha de Danaan, living in modern-day Colorado. When Cor is injured, Bannerman is forced to accept her help. He quickly realizes that the golden-haired healer is shield-maiden tough and can hold her own onthe field of battle with the big boys. And Shay soon discovers that there is more to Bann than meets the eye.

Now, with the shape-shifter Cernunnos teaming up with the local pack of Fir Bolgs (Bronze Age creatures with a nasty taste for children), Bannerman, Shay, her wolf-dog Max, and the rest of the Doyle clan must figure out how to battle one insane god.”

You will learn more about this series soon; I am featuring the sequel in my end-of-year feature (which is starting very, very soon).

Small Victories

Finished Small Victories by Anne Lamott.

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the bestselling author of Stitches and Help, Thanks, Wow comes her long-awaited collection of new and selected essays on hope, joy, and grace.

Anne Lamott writes about faith, family, and community in essays that are both wise and irreverent. It’s an approach that has become her trademark. Now in Small Victories, Lamott offers a new message of hope that celebrates the triumph of light over the darkness in our lives. Our victories over hardship and pain may seem small, she writes, but they change us—our perceptions, our perspectives, and our lives. Lamott writes of forgiveness, restoration, and transformation, how we can turn toward love even in the most hopeless situations, how we find the joy in getting lost and our amazement in finally being found.

Profound and hilarious, honest and unexpected, the stories in Small Victories are proof that the human spirit is irrepressible.”

I am a huge fan of Anne Lamott.  There are a ton of reasons for this, but they can generally be boiled down to this: she makes me want to be a better person (especially a kinder person) and she makes me feel like it’s incredibly possible for that to happen.

She’s very open about the fact that she’s not always a kind person herself, but she continually strives to do better (and from where I sit, it seems like she’s succeeded).

I’m loving her recent books, all slim volumes on faith (this is the third; it started with Help, Thanks, Wow, which I cannot recommend hard enough).

These are books for people who are a little leery of Christianity and who think that maybe every Christian is only a little bit kinder than the Westboro Baptist people.  They make me smile and cry and have faith that maybe at some point we’ll start to get it right.  And that maybe if the human race as a whole gets it right, we as individuals can, too.

Highly recommended.

Dark Places

Finished Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she had been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?”

I read Gillian Flynn’s first novel (Sharp Objects) and obviously read (and loved) Gone Girl, but somehow I had managed to completely miss this one.  Fortunately, I had to read it for my online book club.

I think most people would agree that Gone Girl is her masterpiece (at least so far) but there are a lot of similarities between the two.  Both feature protagonists that are not at all likable and both have a lot of twists and turns (A LOT) and both are nearly impossible to put down.

I admired Amy almost against my will, but I didn’t feel drawn to Libby as much.  (Which is definitely interesting, because there are obviously reasons for Libby to be an unlikable mess; there are no such handicaps for Amy.)

I absolutely love Gillian Flynn’s novels and the way they always catch me off guard.  I don’t think there’s another author who does what she does as well as she does it.

Highly recommended.

Tiny Beautiful Things

Finished Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.

Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond.  Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.

As you know, I don’t read very much nonfiction and I don’t read books that tend toward self-help at all—I’m not sure if you can count a collection of advice columns as self-help, but if you can, know that I generally don’t read them.  But a friend suggested I read this, and as it is a friend whose literary taste I trust, I thought, well, fine.

And then I started reading this.  Holy crap, you guys.  THIS BOOK.

Even if the questions didn’t apply to me, odds were that the answer would in some ways.  Her answers were always full of love and honesty and compassion.  She’s basically the kind of person I would like to be friends with.  (As I said on Facebook, I would pay good money to get periodic emails of advice and assurances that things would work out.  And, as she said in a column after I posted that—and I’m paraphrasing—chances are that things will end up all right because we pretty much all end up all right in the end anyway.)

Odds are really high that this book is going to become a Christmas present for a lot of people.

Highly recommended.

The Burning Room

Finished The Burning Room by Michael Connelly.  I received a copy from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Detective Harry Bosch tackles a cold case unlike any he’s ever worked, in the new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly.

In the LAPD’s Open-Unsolved Unit, not many murder victims die almost a decade after the crime. So when a man succumbs to complications from being shot by a stray bullet nine years earlier, Bosch catches a case in which the body is still fresh, but any other evidence is virtually nonexistent.

Now Bosch and his new partner, rookie Detective Lucia Soto, are tasked with solving what turns out to be a highly charged, politically sensitive case. Starting with the bullet that’s been lodged for years in the victim’s spine, they must pull new leads from years-old information, which soon reveals that this shooting may have been anything but random.

In this gripping new thriller, Michael Connelly shows once again why Harry Bosch is “one of the greats of crime fiction” (New York Daily News).”

I don’t read many mysteries anymore, but Michael Connelly is always a must-buy for me.  I have enjoyed all his books, but the Harry Bosch ones are my favorite.  (I feel a little guilty, actually, because whenever I read a Mickey Haller installment, I always love them but I also always think, “I’d rather it were Harry Bosch instead…”)

I also know that these books are drawing to a close (Harry is approaching retirement) and I know that will be a sad, sad day for me.

But we don’t have to think about that yet.

So anyway, Harry has a new partner: Lucia Sota, who’s new and is a bit of a media superstar.  (Her last partner died in a shootout and she was able to hold the gunmen at bay until reinforcements arrived.)  I wasn’t completely sold on her at first, but I ended up really liking her, and I hope that she will show up in more books.  I’m not ready to lose Harry, but more books with Lucy in them would be really good.

This is a cold case and Harry quickly gets sucked into it.  He even uses his current catchphrase (“Everybody counts or nobody counts”), which is basically every value I have distilled into one sentence.  The best part is that a politician overhears and appropriates it and Harry is just completely horrified (because he actually means it and it’s so obvious that the politician is trying to score votes.

If you’re a fan of police procedurals, you owe it to yourself to read Harry Bosch.

Highly recommended.