Kristina’s Top Reads of 2014
If there is one thing I couldn't live without, it's books. (Ruby, you didn't hear that I hope?) I get anxious if I don't have one on the go, and unless I'm dead tired, it's my favourite way to unwind and prepare for sleep.
That said, my top reads of the year are hardly snoozers. Give me intrigue, deception, murder and blood-sucking vampires and I’m a happy girl. Page turners one and all, here are my top picks of 2014.
Probably my favourite book of the year, I’ve been recommending it to all my fellow bookworms. Almost as dark as Koch’s previous bestseller, The Dinner, Summer House with Swimming Pool is the story of the Schlosser family’s summer vacation. But the “ain’t Europe grand” ethos of The Vacationers this is not. Full of multi-faceted characters with questionable morals and many unexpected twists, this one will have you wondering what your neighbours and even best friends are really thinking, let alone doing.
The Martian by Andy Weir
It’s difficult to believe that Weir couldn’t get this book published through traditional avenues and had to self-publish it as an e-book before it got picked up. (Take heart aspiring authors!) This is the story of astronaut Mark Watney, one of the first people to walk on Mars. That’s the good news. The bad news is that as a result of a sandstorm, the rest of the crew takes off, literally, thinking Watney is dead. With his scientific know-how and a healthy dose of humour, he’s forced to eke out an existence on this lonely planet. No little green men, but a suspenseful adventure nonetheless. Matt Damon is set to play Watney in the film, I suggest reading the book before the movie comes out next year.
This is the third installment of the All Souls Trilogy, and not a book based on the animated movie of the same name. If you are into witches and vampires, this is an excellent fantasy series geared towards adults. Love, magic, suspense, time travel, demons, literature and kings, you name it, Harkness has woven it in. This is more of a recommendation for the entire trilogy and I definitely recommend starting at the beginning or you will be quite lost.
This the second detective novel by J.K. Rowling (still writing under a pseudonym, not sure why since everyone now knows it’s her) featuring down and out detective Cormoran Strike and his plucky assistant and detective-in-training. Robin. (Why do so many crime fighters have side-kicks name Robin??) Strike is investigating the disappearance of a writer who’s crafted a novel that’s ruffling the feathers of London’s literati. Well-written with plenty of suspicious characters and an equally interesting B storyline (relationship focused, of course), I found this novel much more riveting that “Cuckoo’s Calling,” Rowling’s first foray into the genre. She promises there are many more installments to come.
Oh what a romp! The Intern’s Handbook the story of a group of professional assassins who infiltrate companies as interns in order to pursue and destroy their prey. Things get a tad more complicated when top gun John Lago decides he’s getting out of the biz, after one more case. Famous last words! Think Mr. and Mrs. Smith and a classic case of who’s stalking whom. Apparently this one is in development in Hollywood, with Dave Franco set to star. (James’s younger brother.) No surprise here since author Kuhn is also a director/producer with a clear grasp of movie-style pacing.
I had some sort of mental block about this Pulitzer prize winning book, unwilling to pick it up for the first three-quarters of the year. (Maybe because it’s 770 pages!) But once I dove in, I was enrapt. Tartt is a wordsmith of the finest order (what a creative mind!), weaving a dense but immensely readable story of a young boy who survives an explosion at a New York City museum. His mother dies in the blast but Theo Decker makes it out, with a 17th century masterpiece painting in tow. His resulting journey is at times life-affirming and at others abject, full of unique characters, memorable settings and surprising twists. Wonderfully paced and suspenseful, I had to force myself to go to sleep at night and leave the next chapter for another day.
I’m half way through Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, something I’m going to recommend to all my mommy friends. (You thought school politics were bad in your neck of the woods??) I’m coming up with my holiday reading list right now so do send along any 2014 releases you can recommend.