Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Favorite Books in 2014

This year I did something new. I started a Pinterest board to keep track of all the books I've read. Last January, I didn't truly expect to be pinning to the board in December, but here I am, still at it. (Jump HERE to take a look at my board.) There are 117 pins, and while last summer I didn't think I'd ever be able to come up with a list of ten favorites, it seems that having a little time and distance from the stories made it possible.

I'm not going to write full-on reviews here - just record a couple thoughts about why I liked the books. As you read through my choices, you'll likely notice a couple things. I'm not much into the literary fiction, and none of my favorites fell very far from the romance tree. Most of them are from the m/m (queer/lgbt) romance subgenre, and while the interwebs are full of opinions about middle aged straight women who read and write about gay men, it's what's working for me right now.

So here's my top ten list for 2014 - all books I loved, most of them I read at least a couple times, and all books I'd recommend in a heartbeat.

10. The Great Sex Olympics of 221B by Eli Easton.
This was a bit of a departure for me - first time reading Eli Easton and first time reading fanfic. It's about Sherlock & Watson, specifically the version of the characters created by the BBC, and lordy was it entertaining. This one was a free download, but I've got a couple other things by Ms. Easton on the kindle now.

9. This Rough Magic by Josh Lanyon
I love a good historical, and this one pretty much nailed it. It's a mystery with a sidecar of romance, and Mr. Lanyon totally sold me on the early 20th century San Francisco setting.

8. Glitterland by Alexis Hall
I think Alexis Hall is doing some of the most imaginative work of any writer, any genre, anywhere. He made me like Ash, who's really kind of a jerk. ;) Here's a link to my review from last February.

7. Love Hacked by Penny Reid
So...mea culpa...when I reviewed this book last April (HERE), I said I liked it, but it wouldn't make my top ten list.
Wrong about that.
Smart and funny and sexy, this one stayed with me. It's hard to do contemporary romance well - I mean, come on, how many reasons can you come up with that a couple of healthy heterosexuals WOULDN'T get together? - but the conflict felt real and the characters rang true.

6. The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles
I don't even know where to begin with this one. It's the first in a trilogy. It's romantic fantasy, the kind of re-imagined history I eat up with a spoon. It's a heckuva lot of fun, and I hope you skip on over to the ebook retailer of your choice and grab a copy!

5. Hold on Tight by Serena Bell
I'm not one for the angst, but a friend (ahem, Amanda) INSISTED I read this one, and I'm so glad she did. The raw honesty in this story of what happens when life tears a couple apart, then throws them back together made for a "stay up way late after a night shift because I can't put the book down" kind of read.

4. Hainted by Jordan L. Hawk
Ms. Hawk has a couple other very popular series, and while I've read parts of them (and liked them a lot), this is the book that grabbed me. I love the combination of mythology and setting and characters (Dan! and Leif!). I can't even tell you how many times I've re-read this one, and every time, I like it even more.

3. Enlightenment (trilogy) by Joanna Chambers
I'm counting these three (Provoked, Beguiled, and Enlightened) as a single entry because the endings of the first two are sort of cliffhangerish, or at least unresolved, so they really can be read as one. The sample of the first book absolutely gutted me, and I knew I had to read the rest. When I think of Ms. Chambers' writing, words like elegant and restrained come to mind (although her naughty bits are fun, too), and I'm absolutely in love with the way she handled the historical setting. Brilliant!

2. Prosperity by Alexis Hall
Yeah, Mr. Hall made my list twice, because he's really that good. HERE's my review of Prosperity, but just to recap, this is one of the boldest, most imaginative books I've read all year. It's a demanding book - all in dialect - but SO worth the effort. Even better, there are a bunch of stories set in the same world that'll be coming out soon!

1. Think of England by KJ Charles
The thing that set this book apart for me was the subtle, unapologetic understanding of it's period, as well as the connection to it's heritage. And yeah, since that heritage is Victorian pulp fiction, specifically King Solomon's Mines, you know you're in for a good time. In the interest of saving us both from embarrassment, I'm going to spare you the fangirl squeeing. Just read it. It's really, really good.
(Here's a link to my Goodreads review.)

Best Anthology - I read a number of anthologies this year - a couple of great holiday sets from Carina, another rather unfortunately called Butt Ninjas from Hell that was way better than it's title, but it was Another Place In Time that resonated most with me. The stories are consistently good, and confirmed my love of historical fiction, especially the m/m variety.

Apparently the only way I could come up with a top-ten list was to let myself go wild with the honorable mentions. Here they are (in no discernible order)...
Hot HeadThe QuickSpecial Delivery, Liesmith, Circus of the Damned, The Theory of Attraction, Dangerously Happy, Catch A Ghost/ Long Time Gone/ Daylight Again, Snowball in Hell, The Haunting of Maddie Clare, Bad Boys Do, A Companion to Wolves, Cold Copper

Thanks so much for hanging out with me this year, whether on Facebook or twitter, over here on blogspot or on my website blog. It's been an adventure, one I'm happy to have shared with you. Happy New Year!


  1. You're most welcome, Jordan. Thank you for adding so much to my year!

  2. So glad you posted this - it's very interesting to see what made your top ten and what didn't... (for me there's an author glaringly absent, and I'm surprised!).

    I have read some of these, as you know, and some blew my socks off, although not all did. I shall look at some of the others I haven't read a bit more closely...

    I'll be posting my top 10 in the next few days - stay tuned! Some of these may feature. I'm almost certain Think of England will at least -- I saw the new year in with that one last night. :-D

  3. Ellen - I know the author of whom you speak, and while she might have topped my list in 2013, nothing I read from her this year had the same impact. Can't wait to see your list!