2014 Reading List

2014 was also a slow year for me. I think I'd almost go so far as to say that 2014 was my Annus Horribilis; certainly I didn't seem to be particularly productive with anything. My heart just wasn't in it. Neither were my kidneys.

Books completed in 2014
1 Feed Mira Grant 2010 01-01-14
2 Deadline Mira Grant 2011 12-01-14
3 Blackout Mira Grant 2012 26-01-14
4 Midnight Blue-Light Special Seanan McGuire 2013 28-01-14
5 A Local Habitation Seanan McGuire 2010 08-02-14
6 An Artificial Night Seanan McGuire 2010 11-02-14
7 Late Eclipses Seanan McGuire 2011 16-02-14
8 One Salt Sea Seanan McGuire 2011 23-02-14
9 Ashes of Honor Seanan McGuire 2012 01-03-14
10 Chimes at Midnight Seanan McGuire 2013 04-03-14
11 My Life as a White Trash Zombie Diana Rowland 2011 10-03-14
12 Touched By An Alien Gini Koch 2010 12-03-14
13 Disappearing Nightly Laura Resnick 2011 14-03-14
14 The Cold Dish Craig Johnson 2004 05-04-14
15 Half-Off Ragnarok Seanan McGuire 2014 05-04-14
16 A Study in Silks Emma Jane Holloway 2013 29-06-14
17 A Study in Darkness Emma Jane Holloway 2013 13-08-14
18 A Study in Ashes Emma Jane Holloway 2013 19-08-14
19 Death Troopers Joe Schreiber 2009 23-08-14
20 Red Harvest Joe Schreiber 2010 30-08-14
21 Working Stiff Rachel Caine 2011 20-09-14
22 Everyday Sexism Laura Bates 2014 22-12-14
23 Ancillary Justice Ann Leckie 2013 26-12-14
24 The Great Zoo of China Matthew Reilly 2014 28-12-14
25 Rivers of London Ben Aaronovitch 2011 30-12-14

by Mira Grant

Following on from the Seanan McGuire books I read at the end of 2013, I moved to the NewsFlesh trilogy by McGuire under her Mira Grant alias. Because zombies!

I loved the development she did, the science behind the virus that practically overnight turned the world into a zombie-haunted wasteland with a few scattered populations of human survivors. And not only the virus, but every aspect of a society built up in the 30+ years following that fateful day, the reality of living in a world irrevocably altered by the man-made (but entirely accidental) Kellis-Amberlee virus that infects every living thing, and reanimates the dead.

The trilogy follows Georgia and Shaun Mason, a brother-sister team of bloggers who are hired to cover the Presidential campaign of a senator—and who ultimately uncover a world-spanning conspiracy.

Midnight Blue-Light Special
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses
One Salt Sea
Ashes of Honor
Chimes at Midnight
by Seanan McGuire

More Urban Fantasy by Seanan McGuire.

Midnight Blue-Light Special continues the adventures of Verity Price as she fights to keep the Cryptid population of Manhattan—and her family—safe from the forces of the Covenant. Can she convince them to leave her city alone, while pursuing her career as a dancer?

The rest of these books are from the October Daye series. There's no rest for our heroine Toby Daye—and no escape from the machinations of the Faerie realm—as she seeks to find her place in the world, and perhaps discover who she really is.

I look forward to many more books to come in both of these series!

My Life as a White Trash Zombie
by Diana Rowland

Seriously, who could resist a title like that?! This was the first of four books I read while on a week away (I took about six with me!)

Angel Crawford has not had a great life, and so waking up dead after a horrific car crash, while a little surprising, is pretty much more of the same. However, Angel now has a mysterious benefactor; she is given a job in the local mortuary, and a gross but necessary supply of the brains she now craves—in fact, that she requires to keep from falling apart. Literally. Apart from dealing with her deadbeat dad, Angel also has to solve the mystery of the serial killer who is decapitating his prey—and while she's at it, figuring out what the hell is going on would be nice too.

What's a white trash zombie to do?

Touched By An Alien
by Gini Koch

Of all the new series I tried this year, Touched By An Alien appealed to me the least. Katherine "Kitty" Katt feels just a little too good to be true, and she's—I hesitate to use the term, but it's too appropriate here—such a Mary-Sue! Caught in the middle of an attack by a giant winged monster, Kitty throws herself into the fray and kills the beast with a pen. This brings her to the attention of a group of gorgeous humanoid aliens who take her with them; I guess the intent was to wipe her memory of the event, but she proves herself an invaluable part of the ongoing war. When she takes all this in without so much as blinking hard, and then proves to have a better grasp of tactics, strategies, and general ability than the superhuman beings who have been fighting this war for decades, it all seems a bit much to swallow...

Disappearing Nightly
by Laura Resnick

Esther Diamond is a struggling actress pursuing a career on the stage. People are disappearing under mysterious, magical circumstances—but the show must go on. Esther is dragged into a world of the supernatural that she never knew existed. Between her new BFF, a 350-year old mage, a troupe of odd individuals, and a sexy detective, Esther has to figure out what is happening, find the missing people, and hopefully make it to opening night. (Or, y'know, words to that effect.)

The Cold Dish
by Craig Johnson

I started watching the Longmire series sometime in 2013, and it got me intrigued enough to check out the books. The Cold Dish is the first of these—and the story is the same as the first episode of the series. It was very interesting to read this and compare it with my memories of the episode, seeing what was kept and what was changed.

Half-Off Ragnarok
by Seanan McGuire

The third in the Incryptid series. Since Verity's story was resolved (one way or the other) in Book 2, this book introduces us to her brother, Alex Price and the new lady in his life, an entirely too curious Australian zookeeper. Alex prefers the non-urban areas, and he splits his time between hunting dangerous cryptids in the marshlands of Ohio, and solving the mystery of an even more dangerous cryptid which is turning people to stone, while still hoping to spend a few quality minutes with his new lady friend.

A Study in Silks
A Study in Darkness
A Study in Ashes
by Emma Jane Holloway

These three novels form the Baskerville Affair trilogy—and if that, plus the titles, isn't enough to give it away, they are set in the world of Sherlock Holmes. A world not entirely familiar, though; this is a world ruled by the steam barons, a world in which clockwork is everything and magic is outlawed. Evelina Cooper is Holmes' niece; she has some of her famous uncle's gift for detection, and enough magic in her blood to have her burnt at the stake (or worse) if discovered. Her childhood sweetheart has come back into her life just as things are looking promising between her and her best friend's brother, but Evelina has bigger things to deal with than a messy love triangle. Murders, magic and mayhem stalk the streets—and the game is most assuredly afoot.

Death Troopers
Red Harvest
by Joe Schreiber

Star Wars and zombies! How can you go wrong?

Unfortunately, I never really felt that the first book lived up to its potential. I think the biggest problem was the inclusion of a certain Corellian smuggler and his Wookiee companion; while I understand the inclination to include a known character, their presence drained the novel of any sense of urgency. We all know that Han and Chewie are going to escape, and while they were included as somewhat secondary characters, they stole the spotlight the moment they appeared.

Red Harvest was a prequel; set in the times of the Old Republic, when Sith Lords were much more of a menace, it tells the story of the origin of the zombie plague. It worked better, I think, because it didn't have any known characters—well, none that I'm familiar with, anyway, although I hardly claim to be aware of the entirety of the Star Wars EU.

Working Stiff
by Rachel Caine

A zombie protagonist, a job in a mortuary, the requirement of a daily fix to keep from falling apart, and a mystery to solve. Sound familiar? Yup, we've all been there ... er, I mean, it sounds much like White Trash Zombie. That's where the similarities end, though. In Working Stiff, first of the Revivalist series, Bryn Davis—fresh out of the military—takes a job at the local mortuary. On her first day, she stumbles over an unfortunate secret, and is murdered by her boss.

Then she wakes up. Revived by a mysterious government agency, and requiring a shot of (expensive) high-tech nanites every day to keep her from going off, Bryn is put to work tracking down the illegal nanite trade that got her killed. Can she solve the mystery, and manage to convince her bosses that she is worth keeping alive once the job is done?

Everyday Sexism
by Laura Bates

Wait, you say, what is a non-fiction book doing on this list? Well, I do read them. Occasionally. This one is a review of the casual abuse and street harassment experienced by many women of all cultures, all across the world; it should be read by anyone who doesn't think such things are a problem...

Ancillary Justice
by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice is the story of a woman(?) who used to be a ship. Set in the world of the Radchaai—a Galactic Empire who no longer distinguish people by their gender, a detail conveyed by pervasive use of feminine pronouns, and some gender-confusion on Breq's part when she is speaking a language which still uses such archaic distinctions (she is prone to guessing wrongly, which tends to reveal her Radch origins.)

Breq was once a ship, the Justice of Toren, with a small army of ancillaries, human bodies captured in war and converted for control by the ship's AI. When the ship was destroyed, a lone ancillary survived. Cut off from her controlling AI, Breq embarks on a mission of revenge. We get her current story interspersed by flashbacks to the time before she was destroyed...

The whole thing was a challenging read—and a lesson in how much we are programmed to pigeonhole people into their "correct" gender boxes; I was forever trying to sift through clues to determine whether any particular character was male or female, and most of the time it only mattered for the picture in my head. I suspect this novel will go down in history as an important work! I doubt we humans will abolish gendered thinking any time soon, but it certainly makes you think!

The Great Zoo of China
by Matthew Reilly

Jurassic Park with dragons!

Really, do I need to say more? This book was on my Christmas list, despite being a hardcover (because I usually prefer to wait for the paperback) because the idea of Matthew Reilly writing Jurassic Park with DRAGONS was just too exciting to pass up!

It was, as always, a thrilling read.

Rivers of London
by Ben Aaronovitch

Also on my Christmas list, because I saw it in the store while hunting for books to put on my Christmas list and it intrigued me!

Rivers of London, first in the Rivers series, is the story of London Metropolitan Police Officer Peter Grant, who discovers he can see dead people right around the time he takes a statement from a ghost. He is promptly drafted into the Economic and Special Crimes unit, a catch-all branch that is effectively the London equivalent of the X-Files. He has a murder to solve, involving a mystery that is older than he realises, but at the same time he must broker a truce between two warring factions; the Mother Thames and the Father Thames. Oh yes, a whole world of magic lies just beneath the surface of London, waiting to break free, and it is up to the combined forces of his unit—there's Peter, and there's his boss—to keep the supernatural peace.

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