According to Goodreads I read about 42 books – not bad for someone taking 6 graduate school credits a semester! Like I said last year, this roundup isn’t going to include any of the journal articles I read for class.
Best Audio book: Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis
Remember Rider Strong who played Shawn Hunter, the bad boy best friend of Corey Matthews on the 90’s sitcom Boy Meets World? He narrated my favorite audio book of the year: Scar Tissue by Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis. While the book was published back in 2004, I just got around to it this year and I’m kicking myself for not listening to it, or reading it sooner.
Scar Tissue is Kiedis’ memoir detailing his birth, life, addiction and recovery along with how The Red Hot Chili Peppers got started. This was the perfect 2014 read after Superbowl 2014’s half time show with Bruno Mars and The Red Hot Chili Peppers and it reminded me of my (probably unhealthy) obsession with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and their guitarist John Frusciate (but that’s another post entirely). Rider does a fantastic job, he is unflinching in his reading of Kiedis’ life, even in scenes that are downright depressing and discuss drug use or drug related deaths.
He also does a really good impression of Sinead O’Connor. It seems like a really odd combination but reading it was like a high school flashback. Considering that 2014 was the year of my 10th high school reunion it worked out really well. Plus you know, we’ll always love Shawn Hunter’s hair.
Best Book (Physical): Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Anyone who knows me, or has been reading this blog for any amount of time knows that while I love Stephen King, I have a fundamental problem with the way he writes characters of color and women. That being said, when King is good, he’s GOOD. The long awaited sequel to The Shining made me remember why I like King. The story is just creepy enough, it’s long but because of the pacing and the tension it’s easy to lose an afternoon (or several) in the pages.
Doctor Sleep is the story of grown up Danny Torrance (Dan), the young survivor from the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. He still sees dead people but numbs himself with drugs and alcohol until after one particularly depressing encounter with cocaine and a small child he decides to get clean. While he is getting sober he makes mental contact with a young girl named Abra, who also has the shining, but much stronger than Dan’s.
The two realize that they have a common foe, a woman named Rose The Hat, the leader of a group of “immortals” who are killing children like Abra, who have the shining for their life essence (called Steam). King paints a particularly chilling, creepy image of Rose the Hat and her band of ghouls that stuck with me for days. While it’s not free of King’s standard “magical negro” cliche, I fee like since the book is about magical people, Dick Hallorann gets a slight pass. Only slight though. That being said, it was a great, great read and reminded me of why people love Stephen King.
Best Book (ebook): Unexpected Stories by Octavia E. Butler
I honestly don’t think this choice should surprise anyone who knows me well! I literally was shaking and crying with joy when I head that unreleased Octavia E. Butler novellas would be released. While not my favorite Butler overall, I really liked the feel and pacing of Childfinder and I feel saddened that it wasn’t released sooner because it was honestly fantastic.
This year if a book was really bad I was smart and didn’t finish it. That’s why this year there’s no “The Ugly” category. However, there’s some books I just plain didn’t enjoy.
Escape and Triumph by Carolyn Jessop
While I don’t doubt the bravery and strength it took for Carolyn Jessop to escape the Fundamentalist sect of the Church of Latter Day Saints, these books were pretty bad. If you want a good read try The Witness Wore Red by Rebecca Musser (which I also read this year) or Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall. Both of Jessop’s books had the same problem for me, the timeline. She jumps around and one moment she’s a teenager, and the next she’s talking about her youngest children. Just back and forth, it’s awful.
Spark and Flame by Amy Kathleen Ryan
These are the last two books in Ryan’s Skychaser’s trilogy and follow Kieran, Waverly and Seth on their space adventure. The problem is, I hated all three of them. These were my “hate reads” for the year. You know, when you realize you dislike a series of books but you are halfway through the second one and you want to know how it ends? Yep, that was Flame. It’s hard to read a book when both of the male main characters seem like sociopaths. Kieran really comes across as a narcissistic megalomaniac and it bugged me.
The Honorable Mentions
Horns by Joe Hill
In the Age of Love and Chocolate and Because it is my Blood by Gabrielle Zevin
Fangirl, Landline and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson