My Fave Reads of 2014

I’m back (more on that in another post) and the first thing I want to do, before it gets too late in the month, is a quick recap of the books I read last year. I was able to complete my Goodreads Challenge of 50 books (even surpassing my goal by ONE, wow!), which, as you all should know by now, is really important to my emotional well-being. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order. Check me out on Goodreads to follow all my reviews.

  1. Night Film by Marisha Pessl – Man, I sure started the year off right with this one. Night Film was the first novel I read in 2014 and I awarded it five stars. In fact, it was so good, here is my entire review, “Beautifully eerie through and through with just a hint of a bittersweet ending. There’s nothing more I can say besides this is a 5-star read.” Guys, it was indescribably good. For real.
  2. Hammett Unwritten by Owen Fitzstephen – After trudging through Dashner’s Mazerunner series, followed by Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, I received an email from a publisher requesting that I read and review Hammett Unwritten. This novel completely pulled me out of my reading funk. Another five-star read, I had this to say about it, “This novel takes the reader through the decades following the events of the Maltese Falcon, enveloping Hammett, the main character here, in the mythical intrigue surrounding the falcon figurine. The twists at the end of this novel were mind-boggling enough, but when you get to the Afterward, you’re left reeling at the possibilities, the line between fact and fiction completely blurred.”
  3. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith – After reading this, I had no doubts about Hollywood’s decision to bring this story to the big screen. I found it to be a solid historical thriller, and gave it four stars as such.
  4. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – As I wrote in my review, at first I felt I had been tricked into reading a chick-lit novel, but The Husband’s Secret turned out to be an intriguing character study full of suspense.
  5. Sand by Hugh Howey – Of course my end-of-the-year reading recap wouldn’t be complete without me gushing about something written by Hugh Howey. My review of last year’s selection begins like this, “Honestly, Hugh Howey is god. He is the be all, end all for me when it comes to books.” Enough said. (And I can’t wait to read The Shell Collector later this year!)
  6. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – If Hugh Howey is god, then Gillian Flynn is goddess. I just wish she had more books available for me to devour (but at least I have the movie adaptation of Dark Places to look forward to!)
  7. The Cuckoo’s Calling by “Robert Galbraith” – If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect to enjoy this novel, which made it that much more enjoyable. I look forward to reading the next installment later this year. Keep ’em coming, JK Rowling, I mean, Mr Galbraith…
  8. Sister by Rosamund Lupton – This was one of the best books I’ve ever read, right up there with Gone Girl for me. Here’s a snippet from my review, “Written in the form of a letter to the main character’s missing/deceased sister, the format was unique and it perfectly set up the multiple plot twists at the end, which were emotionally taxing to say the least.” Dude, it was amaze-balls.
  9. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – See above goddess comment about Gillian Flynn. Even the movie adaptation part applies. Yay!
  10. The Son by Jo Nesbo – My favorite Nesbo book yet!
  11. Bird Box by Josh Malerman – This was one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read. If M. Night Shyamalan has some free time, he should adapt this one for the big screen.
  12. After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman – Ms. Lippman is quickly reaching Gillian Flynn status. I mean, I didn’t even guess the ending, which is hard for me because, well, I’m a writer too. Here’s part of my review, “The alternating timelines took some getting used to, especially with the one set in the past being told from several different POVs, however I really enjoyed the different perspectives and the opportunity to piece together the mystery and subplots for myself.”
  13. Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh – This was such an awesome blend of noir and thriller and sci-fi. Highly recommend.
  14. The Accident by Chris Pavone – I almost didn’t read this because I found The Expats so detestable, but I’m glad I gave it a chance because I ended up giving it five stars!
  15. Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson – The movie adaptation of this novel released late last year and I heard it was terrible. My advice is to read the book and skip the movie.
  16. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica – One of the best books I read last year with a completely unexpected outcome. A fine psychological thriller, and I know psychological thrillers. 😉
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Jerks & Irks LVII: I Wish I Had Time To Make Lists

It’s that time of year when blogs and websites are rolling out their “Best of” and “Worst of” lists like so many enumerated red carpets. I want so badly to participate as more than a spectator, but I’m a bit busy at the moment. First, I cooked my annual Christmas dinner for the in-laws. That took several days of preparation, followed by several days of decompression. Not to mention I’m doing that whole writing thing I do. I know I’ve been relatively quiet on that front, but I swear I’m still doing it. Blood in the Paint is currently with my editor and I’m working on two short stories for two separate anthologies due out in 2014. But if I had the time to TP the internet with fluffy, bouncing rolls of lists, here’s where I would start:

  • Ten things I learned about publishing. Notice I didn’t say self-publishing or independent publishing or traditional publishing exclusively. As an author, I feel it’s my duty to research all the facets of my industry to make the best possible informed decisions. I learned a lot. Most of it I’ve already blogged about along the way, but I wish I could put it one central location for my readers. Perhaps when I publish Blood in the Paint, I’ll do a Then and Now post, defining the differences between when I published Blood in the Past and what I know now.
  • Ten bizarre real-life crimes I wish I would have thought of first. We’ve all heard that truth is often stranger than fiction. It really is when it comes to crime. And sometimes I get so JEALOUS that I didn’t write about said crimes first in one of my books or stories. Grrr! (Although, I won’t be writing this list, I’ll still be composing it for a local appearance I have scheduled this spring. Be sure to check the events page often!)
  • Ten songs that made my brain bleed and ooze out of my ears. I don’t listen to the radio much anymore because of this, which means, I probably don’t even know the titles of the songs I would include on this list, if I had the time to write it. However, I’m pretty sure I could look up recent songs by Kanye West and be half there.
  • Ten books I didn’t have a chance to read in 2013. According to Goodreads, I’ve only read 59 books this year. I’m finishing up my 60th now. My original goal was 75, but that wasn’t gonna happen unless I downloaded 15 short stories, so I updated the damn goal. Don’t judge me. I might still create and post this list if I can find the time this week. Fingers crossed.
  • Ten things I hope to do in 2014. This one would be fun, because if I phrase it like this, I can take “hopeful” liberties and not worry about actually being able to do them. I hope to make the best sellers list. I hope to go back to Tahiti. I hope to wake up 30 pounds lighter. You get the idea…
  • Ten movie characters I absolutely loved/loathed. This one would be so much fun! Hubby-pants and I go to the movies quite often. The only problem is I tend to completely forget a movie the moment I leave the theater. Like, I can’t even hold an intelligent conversation about it during the car ride home. It’s scary. Even if I had the time, I’d need quite a bit of memory-jogging for this one. Yikes.
  • Ten television series of 2013. I know I seem to be an anomaly–an author who watches quite a bit of TV–so I wish I had the time to let everyone in on the types of television shows I indulge in. How I used to love Homeland, but I thought it was a letdown this year. How I also felt Scandal was a letdown this season until the very last episodes. Or how much I enjoyed The Walking Dead. Or how I had no idea how many people watched Duck Dynasty until very recently…
  • Ten nifty writing tools I hope to acquire in 2014. There’s that word “hope” again. I don’t necessary need anything, but who doesn’t love new gadgets? This is another list that would take a bit of poking around on the internet, so it’s probably not gonna happen. Maybe I can live vicariously through someone else’s list.
  • Ten non-writing projects to complete in 2014. Of course I’d have to come up with ten projects first, but sometimes it’s nice to do something outside of writing. Last summer I acquired a jug-like vase from the in-laws’ shore house before they put it in on the market and I’ve been drawing Picasso-inspired images on it. I intend to paint them and coat the vase in a protective gloss. This is the only such project I have going on right now, but I’m sure if I trolled my Pinterest boards I could find a few things.
  • Top ten favorite reads of 2013. This one goes without saying. All of us writerly/bookworm types do one. I did one last year. And I’ll be doing one this year. I’ll find the time. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find the time for all of the above ideas and pepper your January with Top Ten lists! Be afraid. Be very afraid…

*Disclaimer: No, the irony is not lost on me that this is a list and I made time to write it and post it. 😉