Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Favorites of 2014

The end of the year means time to mention my favorite books of 2014, although most of them appeared on Kaye Wilkinson Barley's blog, Meanderings and Muses, when I did a guest post for her a few weeks ago. As I've always said, these are my favorites, not a list of "Best of" 2014.

Probably my favorite book of the year was Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. It's hard to resist this story of an island bookstore, its eccentric owner, the little girl whose left at the bookstore, and the sales rep who grows to know his interests over the years. And, the police chief! The book clubs. It's just a wonderful book for anyone who loves independent bookstores and books.

There's one juvenile book on my list, A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. It's a debut novel about a town that once had magic, and lost it. A young girl who loves words, and has a gift of words, brings magic back to the town.

Barbara O'Neal's The All You Can Dream Buffet spoke to me. It's the story of four bloggers, all women, who find the strength they need through their friendship. And, it does take strength for some of them to change their lives, moving on from their familiar, if not comfortable, lives.

How about another story about a bookstore? Sarah Jio's Goodnight June was a charming story about a workaholic who inherit's her aunt's children's bookstore. While trying to decide if she should sell or save the store, she finds treasures; her aunt's correspondence with Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon. The book is a romance, a story about secrets, and, of course, children's books.

Linda Francis Lee's The Glass Kitchen was magical. It's filled with food, family, and love. It's the story of a young woman from Texas who moves to New York City, and refuses to acknowledge her gift, the ability to know what food people need.

There are a few mysteries on my list, beginning with Linda Castillo's The Dead Will Tell. Her latest Kate Burkholder thriller involves a cold case. A thirty-five-year-old case comes to light when people are murdered. And, each person seems to have had a connection with the slaughter of an Amish family years earlier.

Do you notice a pattern here? Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof is a story about a college professor and the academic community whose lives are changed forever by a new bookstore employee. This is a book involving mental illness, substance abuse, a child, misunderstandings, and, yet it's uplifting and wonderful.

In recent years, there's always been a Louise Penny book on the list, and this year is no exception. In The Long Way Home, Armand Gamache and a small group of friends travel to the far reaches of Quebec in search of Peter Morrow.

I was torn between two of Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire books for this list, Wait for Signs or Any Other Name. In the end, I went for the story collection, Wait for Signs. It brings together all the characters we've grown to love. Some stories are Christmas ones. These are the stories of what's happening to Walt in between the novels. I can't do any better than to rewrite a paragraph in my original book review. "Wait for Signs should be added to so many collections. Consider it as a gift for those who love, and miss, Westerns. It's a perfect companion to Johnson's Spirit of Steamboat. I'm buying a copy for myself to keep with my favorite Christmas books, even though not all the stories are set at Christmastime. It's for all of us who want to know what Walt Longmire is up to in between his larger adventures. And, it's for all of us who love Craig Johnson's beautiful writing, his stories about Walt and his friends. In fact, Craig Johnson's Wait for Signs is just right, for so many reasons."

And, the tenth book is historical fiction, Daisy Goodwin's The Fortune Hunter. It's the story of a love triangle between cavalry captain Bay Middleton, Charlotte Baird, and Elizabeth, the Empress of Austria. It was so riveting that I raced through it, and looked up all the people in the book to find out what really happened to them.

I reviewed, and loved, all of these books in 2014. Longer reviews are available on my blog. But, I just wanted to look back one more time. These are the books that I vividly remember out of the 165 books I read this year.


Melanie Edens said...

I loved Small Blessings and Dead Will Tell, and I'm reading the wonderful Louise Penney series (up to book four). I just bought The Storied Life as a treat and I'm so excited! Lots of great books, Lesa!

Lesa said...

Not quite as many mysteries on the list as you expected, is my guess, Melanie. I hope you enjoy The Storied Life.

Jen Forbus said...

Lesa, you're one of numerous people who raved about The Storied Life. I got the audiobook and am looking forward to listening to it.

And you know I completely concur with you on Wait for Signs. The stories in that collection just never get old for me. Some I've read three or four times already and I still just adore each and every one. Petunia was a wonderful addition in this collection!

Happy New Year, my friend!

Lesa said...

Librarians picked a The Storied Life as their favorite of 2014, Jen. I hope you like it! And, thank you for introducing me to Craig ajohnson's work. Yes, I loved Wait for Signs. Happy, and a safe, New a Year! Hugs!

Reine said...

I loved The Long Way Home and had an extra enjoyment as I realized the Charlevoix region Louise Penny was writing about was the area where many of my Québécois ancestors settled including one who lived on Anticosti Island. I remember learning about him and looking at a map to see where he lived. I wondered how they could do that. It looks very isolated in much of that area, even today—at least on maps.

Lesa said...

Reine, Your family has lived under very unusual living conditions, haven't they? Including you and your children.

Reine said...

Lesa, seen over the generations, yes. I never thought my own was very unusual but was difficult as a child. That one side of my family has been very adventurous, though, and made up of strings of "spares." Everyone's family has unending stories of all types. I just know about some of mine.

Kaye Barley said...

I have not read all of these (yet!), but, as usual, we are in agreement. Thank you, Lesa, for keeping me informed about so many books I wouldn't hear about if it weren't for you.
Hugs, my friend!

Reine said...

Echoing Kaye to say thank you. I look forward to reading your page each day, Lesa. You have introduced me to more books than any other resource! Happy new year!

Lesa said...

Thank you to both of you, Kaye and Reine, for your continuing online friendship, comments., and your interest in sharing and discussing books. Hugs to both of you!