#1: Sorry I’ve been behind on Friday posts. I’m still floundering after NaNoWriMo!
#2: 2014 is drawing to a close, which means it is time for Ampersand Read’s First Annual Year End Book Awards!
*sets off a party popper*
Without further ado, here are my completely made up categories, and choices for the winners of said categories…(all of these books were not necessarily released this year, I just read them in 2014)
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
I have no doubt that this quirky cover has made this book not only very recognizable in stores, but sold the heck out of it to people. “The cover has a picture of a woman with big glasses” I heard a few times this year, from customers unsure of the title (which could be a little unwieldy – so many words!), but who received the recommendation from a friend. As an added bonus, the story lives up to its quirky cover: collections of letters, e-mails, and other correspondences that detail the idiosyncrasies of a dysfunctional family and the matriarch that goes missing.
The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero
A twisty ride of a book, this one is centered on “A,” and his mute, yet very capable companion, who inherit a family mansion filled with secrets both dark and fascinating. It all leads up to a tense climax, which then spirals into quick horror and discovery. Obviously I can’t say more about twists, as they are spoiler-y territory, but in this novel, the last few scenes are particularly thrilling. My review here.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
This book almost swept a couple categories (“Most Impactful” and nearly “Best Book”), but in the interest of diversity I gave it this one. I closed this book in awe of the story, and at a glance, it sounds absurd: the tale of a missionary in outer space, attempting to convert the local alien species. When I gush about this book, people go “Wait, what?!” but I loved this one. It’s so subtly moving. The tragedy is quiet and total, and it the relationships affected me personally in a way that only very good literature can. My review here.
The Forever Watch by David Ramirez
Ah, the book that made me cry at the end! The ending to this story is gripping and powerful. From the climax and through the falling action (anybody else picturing the “story mountain” we all learned in grade school?!), this book keeps you in its grasp. The story of a population living on a ship in space, and centered around a woman solving murders onboard, while uncovering a much darker, heavier secret about the society, the whole thing broke my heart and made me want to read more. My review here.
Best Book I Read This Year
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
The sequel is out in two weeks, everybody!! I was so pleasantly surprised to have my mind changed about the narrator’s voice shortly through the novel. I disliked Darrow’s angry, black-and-white views of the world and what felt like rote the-government-is-evil-and-must-be-stopped theme, and then I found myself…unable to put it down. Darrow and the world Rising is set in is so immersive. It has a wonderful setting for story, and the changing allegiances of characters kept it interesting. I very must look forward to Golden Son, out on January 13th! My review here.
California by Edan Lepucki (review here)
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (review here)
Both superb dystopian books (yet both classified as regular fiction…?) that came out this year. I have seen fan art set in both worlds circling around the Internet, and a new book by either one of these authors would be an auto-read for me!
Lexicon by Max Barry
I think I so love this one because it reminds me so much of The Magicians by Lev Grossman, a book that has a permanent spot on my bookshelf. And this one is a wonderful arc of a novel, even if there is a slightly smushy/fluffy ending. Words used as weaponry is a fascinating concept, and this one plays it out well. My review here.