Each January, I look over my Goodreads list and pick out a few books that really stood out to me over the past year. I read all genres, although obviously as a romance author, I tend to favor stories that involve a relationship between two characters, even if it isn't the central plot. And while I've had a new release come out each year I've done this, including this summer's DIVINE FALL, I leave my own books out of the running, for obvious reasons! Here's a look at a few of my favorite reads of 2014, along with links to my 2012 and 2013 lists.
Historical Fiction: A tie-- River God, by Wilbur Smith and The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom.
The other historical fiction novel I enjoyed, The Kitchen House, is set on a Virginia plantation in the late 1700s. It's a compelling contrast between the life of the slaves and the life of the plantation owners, reminiscent, to me at least, of The Help. Two narrators, an orphaned white girl brought to work as an indentured servant, and a half-black, half-white slave with ties to "the Big House" (ie, the plantation mansion), provide complementary looks at the struggles facing those with limited or no freedom during this time period.
Biography: Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand
Nonfiction is rarely something I choose, but even before all the hype surrounding this book reached me, one of my friends recommended it to me. I knew I had to read this incredible true story, and I began recommending it to others before I was even halfway through. At this point, almost everyone has heard of Louis Zamperini, and either read the book or seen the movie. I've done both, and I do think the movie did a good job within the obvious constraints of fitting an amazing, full life into a two-hour time-frame. But I don't think the movie comes close to conveying the magnitude of the events--so I highly recommend reading the book if you haven't.
Literary Fiction/Suspense: two novels by Tawni O'Dell, Fragile Beasts and One of Us.
Legal Thriller: Defending Jacob, by William Landay
Another recommendation from a friend (everyone knows how much I like to read!). Legal thrillers aren't my thing lately, but this one was an out-and-out page-turner that I literally could not put down. I brought my Kindle to my son's baseball games so I could read a few pages between innings. This one's about a lawyer defending his son against murder while not entirely convinced of his innocence. The level of tension and uncertainty reminded me of Gone Girl.
Young Adult - Historical Fantasy: The Kingdom of Little Wounds, by Susann Cokal
Well, there you have it...my most memorable reads of 2014. What were yours? I'm always looking for my next great book!