Books I enjoyed in 2014



I’ve been thinking about what to write at the beginning of a new year. I could talk about projects, about plans and characters that I love … but there is plenty of time to do so later.

So I decided to make a list of books that really touched me in 2014. That’s not going to be easy because I don’t usually take notes about books. (Here’s a thought: A book journal, jotting down a few ideas about every book I read…)

I’m excluding non-fiction (of which I read a lot, being a coach and therapist in my other life), since this is the blog of a fiction writer.

Anyway, here we go, in no particular order as I dig through my Kindle:

The Mage Winds Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey

Reading these books early in 2014 was like revisiting an old friend, with new adventures. I enjoy Valdemar a lot, and these tales were nice, entertaining and soothing. There was some brooding, but not near as much as in the Vanyel trilogy. Also, much less heartbreak. ( And it was kind of nice to learn something new about Vanyel, too.) I was at a point where I needed soothing and entertaining more than dark.

Emperor’s Edge  by Lindsay Buroker

And then I discovered Lindsay Buroker. I started with Emperor’s Edge because it’s free, and I wanted something new and fresh.

What I found was steampunk with likable characters, delightful snark, non-stop action, amazing plot twists and a fun read. Having said that, I didn’t continue with the series. It’s still on my list, and I got the Collection with the first three books of the series to go through.

However, in the last days of 2014, I discovered another one of her series, and was immediately hooked:

Dragon’s Blood Series by Lindsay Buroker

This one is set in a similar universe as the Emperor’s Edge, but it feels lighter and more romantic – while still having the same snark and action. This is totally what I wanted when recovering from burnout and overextension. I just got book #3, but that’s for the 2015 list.

Xaman by Simone Beaudelaire and Edwin Stark

This is something different. I don’t usually buy romance. However, this is also more than your normal romance: It’s set in modern South America, and yet it also borrows from centuries before. I love how those two stories got connected, and I also enjoyed the mystery around the ancient gods of the region.

The Murder Prophet by Sherry D. Ramsey

Oh, I loved this one. It’s full of fun and absurd twists. And I’d like to call it Science Fantasy – it is set in a future with amazing developments, plus a smattering of magic. On the surface, it’s a murder mystery. Behind that front, however, it’s just awesome fun with everything one can come up while going “what if?”. I hand you a talking goose, magical interwebs and an AI concierge with a personalty. Oh, and there is a murderer in there, as well. Or two.

Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue by Hugh Howey

After reading his blog and learning so much from Hugh, I really wanted to read some of his books. And since I don’t deal well with dystopias, I chose his YA series. Slight warning: Non-stop action. It’s very hard to put down, because this book doesn’t give you time to catch your breath.  I wouldn’t have minded a slightly slower pace. Having said that, I’m amazed at what Hugh can pull out of his sleeve. Awesome SF.

Tantamount by Thomas J. Radford

Another story that vacillates between SF and something else, in this case Naval Fiction along the lines of Captain Hornblower. I enjoyed the female MC, the banter among the crew and the mystery surrounding a ship-wrecked (space-wrecked) character called “Smith”. The resolution of the mystery was … different and added another dimension to the whole story. Well done, but I’m not sure I’ll continue in the series.

So Fell the Sparrow by Katie Jennings

I don’t read horror. I really don’t. Except this one didn’t feel like horror, even though it had the ghosts and the nastiness. That was just so well balanced with a bit of romance and a spiritual element that I really enjoyed the read. The story also had a very nice resolution that still allows for sequels.

(Let it be known that I very much dislike stories that have no ending in order to force me to buy a sequel. I fly into a rage and cross that author off my list.)

Lady of Horses by Judith Tarr

I adored this story. It develops slowly. It takes its time to show all the twists and connections. And it goes deep into horse lore, religion, society, women’s rights and shifts of power. It is magical in a way that is not fantasy, and it’s enlightening in a way that is not history. The action is deliberate, more discovery than fighting, with quiet heroism. This is a book for a slow weekend, for blankets and tea, for starting into space between chapters and letting it sink in.

Feyland Trilogy by Anthea Sharp

And now for something completely different.
This trilogy is about elves in the classic tradition of Scotland and Ireland – kinda obvious. But their land is entered through a computer game, and it is two teenagers who have to keep the elven queen from entering this world.
The story is set slightly in the future, where gaming can be truly immersive. I really enjoyed the premise and the idea of connecting the fantastic (and classic) world of elves with modern humans. And of course, I loved the elements of romance and rebellion.

Wind Chime Café by Sophie Moss

Pure romance, and very well done. I was drawn to this also because of the different kinds of traumas that Sophie explores – an element that deepends the romance of this story. I love how the two MCs come together and find happiness despite all the misunderstandings and obstacles. (Yes, I know. Classic romance tale.) It’s a very well written story with no “unbelievable” surprises. Very much my kind of book.

Of course, there were many more. Some will not be mentioned because I could not even finish them. Some I finished and found lacking, and I will spare that mention, as well.

And now I’ll go and start that journal.

Your turn:
Which book did you enjoy most last year?

About Hannah Steenbock

Hannah Steenbock is an author, dreamer, and coach. She has published several short stories in English and German, as well as one novel in German. In 2013 she started self-publishing her work. In 2014, she has won two awards for her short story "Sequoia".
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2 Responses to Books I enjoyed in 2014

  1. Kate Sparkes says:

    I need to stop reading these lists. My TBR list is big enough as it is! Great recommendations, though. I’ve been looking for a place to start with a few of these writers (and jumped into the Dragon Blood series at book 2, so now I have to go back to book one).

    • Glad you’re enjoying the Dragon Blood series and the rest of the recommendations.
      (Book one of the Dragon Blood Series is free, so that’s not a problem at all.)

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