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My favorite novels read in 2014:

1. Lady of Devices
Author: Shelley Adina
Reviewed here.

2. Murphy’s Law
Author: Rhys Bowen
Reviewed here.

3. Ice Cold
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Summary from the author’s website found here.

This is the 7th book in the series, but the savy ready could probably still pick this one up and follow along. It is by far my favorite of the Rizzoli and Isles books, possibly because reading it overlapped with our own burst of winter weather, upping the creepy factor. The cult, the abandoned houses, the mysterious characters that pop up–this book was absolutely chilling (pardon the pun).

 

My favorite new-to-me authors of 2014:

1. Rhys Bowen
Books: The Molly Murphy mysteries
Genre: Historical, mystery

I’ve already talked quite a bit about this series, but it has definitely wound up on my favorite’s list. I’ve gone through four books so far, and each one has been just as compelling, funny, and sweet as the last. The author has done a wonderful job of creating a voice for a woman who is still finding her place in 1910 America, but who grows a little more confident with every step. Molly is honest, stubborn, and real, the type of character that makes you wish you could sit down with over lunch or a cup of tea.

2. Diana Gabaldon
Books: Outlander series
Genre: Historical, romance

Yes, that’s right. I got on the Outlander train after the TV show came out. These books had been recommended to me by others, but I always disregarded them because of the source of the recommendations. It turns out, I should have given them a shot the first time they came up, because they are excellent and they’re just the type of thing to make a history buff with a love of strong women giddy.

3. Sharon Cameron
Books: The Dark Unwinding duology
Genre: Steampunk, historical fantasy/sci-fi, romance

This is an excellent two-book series set in the north of England and in France. It’s your typical rag-to-riches Cinderella story, provided Cinderella is of questionable sanity and she mus defender herself not from evil step mothers but from government espionage on both sides of the pond, who falls not for a prince but for the household help, and her freedom depends not on a glass slipper but on keeping her insane uncle out of the hands of the above government agents.

I accidentally listened to this series out of order, but it was quite good nonetheless; I enjoyed the second book enough that I sought out the first. Ms. Cameron also has a dystopian novel set in Paris out that I would like to get my hands on.

4. Rachel Hawkins
Books: Hex Hall series, School Spirits
Genre: Young Adult, paranormal, urban fantasy

Both Hex Hall and School Spirits take place int he same world, though they are separate series. On the one hand, we have a family of Prodigium (vampires, werewolves, etc) hunters, bound to protect the world from their dangers. On the other, the Prodigium themselves, struggling to control burgeoning powers in an increasingly dangerous world, where no one is what they seem. Both books are witty and inventive, both making fun of common tropes found in YA fantasy and turning them on their heads (blond, lesbian vampire. That’s all I’m going to say.)

5. Maureen Jennings
Books: The Murdoch Mysteries
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery

I’ve waxed poetic more than once about the Murdoch Mysteries television series (and the mini series, both on Netflix), so this year I decided to give the books that inspired them a go. While very different from the televised version, the books do not disappoint in the least. While the story lines and characters may be drastically different, it is clear that both shows have the core of the story at heart (less so for the current tv series; it is drastically different from the books especially in the latter seasons).

Set in 1890s Toronto, interim detective Murdoch is not the closet genius with a gift for mechanical objects, but rather a slightly disillusioned police officer who is unlikely to be promoted to full detective due to budget cuts and his Catholic faith. Still, he is dedicated to his work and feels a duty to the people of Toronto to keep them safe from the unsavory elements in the city, even when those elements reside in plush mansions and control the power in the city.