Monday, December 1, 2014

My Favorite Fiction of 2014

What were some of my favorite fiction books of the past year? 

Back in December 2011, I started a blog column, Authors, Alcohol & Accolades, which asked some of my favorite authors about their preferred drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic. There have been 11 editions of this column so far, with more to come in the future. The inspiration for this series is that I am a voracious reader, of both fiction and nonfiction, and I wanted to combine that interest with my love of food & drink. The series has proven popular and it has been fascinating to explore what authors enjoy drinking.

As a special year-end addendum to that series, I'm posting a list of my Favorite Fiction Books of 2014. This list will include books of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Mystery/Thriller. During the past year so far, I've read over 240 books, both fiction and non-fiction, which provides a large pool for my choices. Most of the books on these lists were published in 2014, though there are a couple exceptions for books which were published in prior years but which I didn't read until this year. The books are not listed in any specific order of preference, simply by alphabetical order by the author's last name, except for the anthologies which are just listed in a random order.

Top Ten Novels For 2014
1) City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
2) Red Rising by Pierce Brown
3) Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell
4) The Detainee by Peter Liney
5) The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan
6) Maplecroft: The Borden Dispatches by Cherie Priest
7) Veil of the Deserters by Jeff Salyards
8) The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley
9) The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler
10) The Tower Broken by Mazarkis Williams

When analyzing my list, you'll see that the Fantasy genre dominated, taking 7 spots. Though I might have read a slight more fantasy this year than other genres, some of the fantasy novels I read were very strong so they took the most spots  In addition, 4 spots were taken by 2nd or 3rd books in a series, and a couple of those books were even better than the first books in the series. Nearly all of the books on this list will have at least one sequel, many which will be out in 2015 so it will be interesting to see how they fare on my lists next year. All of the books on this list garner my highest recommendation.

To winnow my list down to only ten novels was very difficult, and tough cuts had to be made. However, there are still novels which didn't make my Top Ten but which are more than worthy of my hearty recommendation. To give them some well-deserved recognition, I am awarding ten of those novels Honorable Mention status. These are all books which should please most readers and you need to check them out.

Top Ten Honorable Mention Novels Of 2014
1) PerditionHavoc by Ann Aguirre (a book & its sequel)
2) Blood Always Tells by Hilary Davidson
3) Phoenix Island by John Dixon
4) Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick
5) Tokyo Kill by Barry Lancet
6) Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence
7) Code Zero by Jonathan Maberry
8) Blood & Iron by Jon Sprunk
9) The Younger Gods by Michael R. Underwood
10) Night Terrors by Tim Waggoner

As you can see, this list is more diverse than my Top Ten, with less fantasy novels. The diversity here is probably more indicative of my usual reading habits, an eclectic mix of genres. There is also a mix of first novels and sequels, with all of the first novels having sequels in the works.

I also want to give some raves to my favorite short story collections of the past year, Anthologies often don't seem to get enough credit but they can be quite compelling books, with an interesting mix of stories, often based around a specific theme.

My Top Ten Favorite Anthologies Of 2014:
1) Dangerous Women edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
2) Kaiju Rising edited by Tim Marquitz & Nickolas Sharps
3) Lovecraft’s Monsters edited by Ellen Datlow
4) The Dark Rites of Cthulhu edited by Brian Sammons
5) Dead Man’s Hand edited by John Joseph Adams
6) The Lizard Ardent Uniform edited by David Cranmer
7) Equilbirum Overturned edited by Anthony Rivera & Sharon Lawson
8) World War Cthulhu edited by Brian M. Sammons
9) The Book of 1000 Sins by Wrath James White
10) SNAFU: An anthology of Military Horror edited by G.N. Braun

As you will note, horror anthologies occupy the most spots on this list, with Cthulhu-themed collections the most prevalent. And there is only a single anthology that was written by a sole author, a horrific anthology of disturbing tales.

Finally, I want to give some recommendations for some of my favorite novellas of the past year, those long form stories which just don't reach the length of a novel. Most of these are horror, with some fantasy tossed in as well.

My Top Seven Favorite Novellas Of 2014
1) Chiliad: A Meditation by Clive Barker 
2) The Broken Road by Teresa Frohock
3) Servant Of The Crown by Brian McClellan
4) Murder At The Kinnen Hotel by Brian McClellan
5) Biters by Harry Shannon
6) Reborn by Brett Talley
7) The Last Mile by Tim Waggoner

All of the books on these lists would make great holiday gifts for others, or even yourself. Support author, who are small, independent business people, and buy more books. And if you read and enjoy a book, please leave a review of that book online and also tell your friends about it. The author would greatly appreciate your efforts.


Brian M. Sammons said...

I'm so happy you liked Dark Rites of Cthulhu and World War Cthulhu. Wait to you see what's coming, including, maybe, possibly, sequels to one (or maybe both) of those books. :)

Jeff Salyards said...

Thanks, Richard. I'm thrilled to have made the cut.

NJ Baker said...

Delighted that you enjoyed The Dark Rites of Cthulhu, the first publication from my little company! We have great things in store - thanks for reading and enjoying what we've produced so far!