Monday, January 5, 2015

Lady C's Best Books of 2014

I've kept a book journal since 2006; it's always interesting for me to look back over the year and reflect on what I've read. I only note the new books, which I guess is misleading because I do a ton of rereading. But I won't forget the rereads, whereas if I didn't keep track of the new stuff I read, it would be gone forever — I have the memory of a sieve. I rate each book from 1 to 4 stars. Of the 88 new books I read last year, here are the ones that I gave 3.5–4 stars:
  • Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies, and An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs mysteries; of Revenge I wrote, "After a slowish start, the story took on surprising depth, and I was moved to weep. My favorite Maisie yet, possibly." I must admit that I remember nothing about this one!! But apparently I loved it)
  • W Is for Wasted by Sue Grafton
  • Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando (LOVED! Read in one sitting)
  • Eight Keys by Suzanne LeFleur (middle grade – so sad and sweet)
  • The Minister's Daughter by Julie Hearn (kept thinking about this one for days)
  • Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters (YA)
  • Best Foot Forward by Joan Bauer (YA)
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (simply magnificent — I never wanted it to end)
  • The Thief of Always by Clive Barker (YA)
  • Dreamsleeves by Coleen Murtagh Paratore (charming YA recommended by my daughter)
  • In the Blood by Lisa Unger
  • Glitter  and Glue by Kelly Corrigan (for a book that's ostensibly a tribute it's a little light on Mom, but I enjoyed the story, though it wasn't as good as The Middle Place)
  • No Saints Around Here by Susan Allen Toth (recommended by Inspirational Kathy; I read it as my dad was dying, and it was the perfect book at that time)
  • Delancey by Molly Wizenberg (yes, she elected not to be my new best friend, but her book was delightful despite this clear lapse in judgment on her part) 
  • Inside Out Girl by Tish Cohen (another excellent YA recommended by my smarty daughter)
  • Night Film by Marisha Pessl
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio (YA)
  • The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
  • Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth (YA)
  • Inexcusable by Chris Lynch (YA)
  • Down the Rabbit Hole, Behind the Curtain, and Into the Dark by Peter Abrahams (charming middle-grade mysteries)
  • All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry (YA)
  • Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (YA)
  • Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (YA)
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (YA)
  • Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s by Matthew Kennedy
  • I Don't Know What You Know Me From by Judy Greer
  • Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (YA)
  • Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey (LOVED. Could not put it down!!)
  • Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican (YA)
  • Don't Try to Find Me by Holly Brown (YA)
  • Help for the Haunted by John Searles (I was absurdly disappointed by the ending — I wanted to believe.  But oh! what a fun creepy story!)
  • Eyes On You by Kate White
  • Squashed by Joan Bauer (YA)
  • The Dead Will Tell by Linda Castillo
  • The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills
  • Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern (YA; I wrote, "OMG!! Loved! Loved! LOVED!!! So sad, though")
  • Small Blessings by Martha Woodruff
  • Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (YA)
  • Half-Baked: A Memoir by Alexa Stevenson
  • The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
  • Wildlife by Fiona Wood (YA)
  • Jennifer, Gwyneth, and Me by Rachel Bertsche
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
  • All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner
  • Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang (YA)
  • Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
  • Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
  • The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah
  • My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall
Two "qualified" books made the list; I gave parts of them three and a half stars and parts of them only two stars:
  • One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullally Hunt: I'm so torn! I loved this one and gobbled it up — and HATED how it ended!!!!"
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: I was completely engaged, and the BIG TWIST ending worked for me. But what was the significance of the "liars," and how come nobody is talking about this????
And my worst, one-star books of 2014:
  • So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman: So much words words words. So little to care about. And yet I hung on to the bitter end to find out who killed Wendy White . . . which, maybe? you do? sort of? Ugh. BAD book.
  • As Simple as Snow by Gregory Galloway: Acckkk!! It's skillfully written, so I kept reading — but that "ending"!!! UGH. Give me those hours back!!!!
  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth: UGH. Disliked the alternating voices, found the overall 'point" confusing and weak, HATED the resolution of Tris's story. Why the f--- did I just waste my time reading and investing??
And there you have it.

Here's to lots of reading time in 2015!

 — Lady C


  1. OK, that does it. THIS year I AM going to keep a book journal! I have just the little blank book for it. (What do you write in?)
    Friends have recommended Goodbooks (Goodreads?) but spare me from another online account.

    1. Yay! I never thought about doing it until someone gave me a blank book journal (hee! The "someone" in question is my dear BF Kelly, who wrote the comment below), and the first year I kept forgetting to record books -- but no big deal, it's just for me, right? And now I love having a record. And yes, I know exactly what you mean by another online account! I was on GoodReads for about five minutes, which was long enough to get a dozen e-mails. ENOUGH!!

      I write in a big blank journal; I found a picture of it here:

      Have fun! Happy reading!

  2. We Were Liars just came up at my library so I am picking it up tomorrow. I will let you know what I think!

    I think I counted 5 overlapping books: Big Little Lies, Divergent & Insurgent (I choose not to read the final book because I didn't like book 2), Life After Life, Roadshow, The House We Grew Up In and Orphan Train. Whoops, that's 7!

    Looking for a new best friend, huh? Hmph! ;-)

    1. I predict that you're not going to like it. Let me know if I'm right.

      I LOVED Big Little Lies!!! You liked it too, right? I really loved Life After Life and Orphan Train too -- all 4-star books for me.

      Alas, Molly W wanted nothing to do with me; your position is secure. :-)


  3. Good news, just in (to my life, anyway):
    Upcoming novel A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, due out this spring I gather, is based in the same world as Life After Life but focuses on a different character.
    I love Kate Atkinson, and tho Life After Life is not my favorite of hers, I still welcome another volume in that world.

    1. I love Kate Atkinson too and will definitely look for that book. I am so bad at remembering details of things after I've read them; "a different character" from that book might as well be an entirely new person in an entirely new world. But I always enjoy her writing.

  4. A-ha! So that's another book we have in common (besides Betsy-Tacy & Stet).

    I also read No Saints Around Here by Susan Allen Toth but found it too humorless. Not that Parkinson's is a funny topic, but I thought it was just too...unleavened. Still, a brave book in its way, and I can imagine it being helpful at the right time (a father's final illness... sadly).

    You read a lot of YA---have you read Rainbow Rowell?
    I adored her Fangirl, and thought Eleanor and Park was very good, though I'm way too old to relate personally to the story (unlike Fangirl, which touched my writer/internet fan self deeply--no kidding).

    1. I LOVED those two Rainbow Rowell books!!!!! And I was so excited to learn that RR wrote "Fangirl" during National Novel Writing Month -- I hoped a similar miracle would happen for me.

      Alas. No miracle.

      RR's first book, "Attachments," I liked okay -- and the premise of her most recent one makes me leery, so I haven't checked it out. But those two are definitely gems!!