Thursday, 1 January 2015

My Top 14 Books for 2014

I finished 2014 with nine 5-star books, so rather than do a Top 10 I decided to do a Top 14. There are probably five of the four-star books that are notably better than the others, right? Let's see.

First of all, here is Goodreads' handy graphic of my 2014 reading:

You'll notice that the bulk of the books, 70 out of 104, got four stars. Four stars means I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't quite amazing enough for five stars. I've got very good at filtering this year, and haven't been doing reviews by request, so haven't felt obliged to continue with books I wasn't enjoying.

Actually, that's not quite true. I have felt more-or-less obliged to continue with books from Netgalley that I've said I'll review, and that accounts for 8 out of the 23 3-star books (and one of the two 2-star books).

Anyway, let's start the top 14.

14. Engines of Empathy, by Paul Mannering. In a bizarre world where machines are driven by emotion, things are not as they seem. Full review.

13. Derelict, by L.J. Cohen. Angry young people in space have to learn to get over themselves and work together. Full review.

12. A Cold Wind, by C.J. Brightley. The direct opposite of grimdark, and emotionally beautiful. Full review.

11. Judgement Night, by C.L. Moore. Destroying science fiction since the 1940s. Full review.

10. The Secret History of Fantasy, by Peter S. Beagle (editor). This is what else was happening while generic commercial fantasy took centre stage. Full review.

9. Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman. I love dragons, and this is a wonderful take on them. Full review.

8. Redemption in Indigo, by Karen Lord. African-style storytelling at its best. Full review.

7. Night Broken, by Patricia Briggs. The insight into manipulative relationships was what got this one its fifth star. Full review.

6. Dreams of the Golden Age, by Carrie Vaughn. Superhero novels need to be about the relationships, not the fights, and this one gets that. Full review.

5. Orison, by Daniel Swensen. Sword and sorcery done right, but never grimdark. Full review.

4. Random, by Alma Alexander. This is what YA can be, and should be, and, I'm glad to say, frequently is. Full review.

3. Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, by David G. Hartwell and Patrick Neilsen Hayden (editors). A wonderful collection that shows that SF is in good hands. Full review.

2. Ancillary Justice, by Anne Leckie. Fully deserved its many awards; a fine piece of craft. Full review.

1. The Just City, by Jo Walton. It's a tough contest for the top spot, but Walton gets it for taking on a massive premise (time-travelling Greek gods experiment with Plato's Republic) and winning. Full review.

I could easily have made it 20, and I look forward to another year of excellent books in 2015. Enjoy!

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