Mini Reviews of 2014 Favorites

Looking back at the books I read this year, I realized that there are a few books I really loved but never got around to writing about. I can’t let the year end without giving them some love, so I give you mini reviews of four 2014 favorites!

The Silkworm by J.K. Rowling

Mulholland Books | Jun. 24, 2014

The Silkworm by J.K. Rowling

Private detective Cormoran Strike is back with a new mystery. In the second installation of the series, Cormoran sets out to solve the grisly murder of an author named Owen Quine, whose body is found in a truly bizarre setting. There are a lot of people who wouldn’t want Quine’s book to be published — but who wanted it badly enough to kill him?

I thought this story got a little bit convoluted, but I still loved it nearly as much as The Cuckoo’s Calling. It’s a great, creepy mystery, and it was so much fun to see Cormoran and his ambitious assistant Robin develop as characters.

The Fever by Megan Abbott

Little, Brown | Jun. 17, 2014

The Fever by Megan Abbott

One day, Deenie’s best friend collapses and has a seizure during class. Her mysterious illness sparks a wave of strange symptoms among her female classmates. As the teenage girls drop like flies, confusion and hysteria pervade the town as parents search for answers; is the illness caused by something environmental, by the HPV vaccines the girls were required to receive, or by something else entirely? At the center of the mystery are Deenie, her chick magnet brother Eli, and her father Tom, a teacher at the high school.

No one can write teen girls like Megan Abbott does. She is a master at conveying their complicated relationships, burgeoning sexuality, and need to fit in. The Fever is a gripping, unique novel about the stresses young women feel and the way society silences them.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Knopf | Aug. 12, 2014

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage

In high school, Tsukuru Tazaki belonged to a group of five best friends, each of whom had a name with a color in it. However, Tsukuru’s name is colorless, and he feels his personality lacks color, too. When his friends suddenly and inexplicably cut off contact with Tsukuru during college, he nearly loses the will to live but doesn’t press the matter. Decades later, a new girlfriend suggests that he find closure by seeking out his old friends to solve the mystery of why he lost them.

This book is everything I love about Murakami (the banal and the exquisite sitting side by side, the strange dream sequences and mysterious women, the quiet tone, and the narrator who isn’t nearly as boring as he thinks he is) and a few of the things I could live without (the weird sex scenes, mainly). It would make an excellent entry point for readers who haven’t read Murakami before; it gives readers a good idea of his themes and writing style without the pure what-the-fuck-ery of his more surreal books.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Random House | Sep. 2, 2014

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

In 1985, 15-year-old Holly Sykes runs away from home after a fight with her parents. While on the road, Holly, who has a history of psychic perception, witnesses a deadly battle that she can’t understand — and that is soon erased from her memory. That same night, her little brother vanishes. This unsolved mystery echoes through the decades and has great ramifications in the war between two opposing factions of immortal souls.

As those who have read Cloud Atlas might expect, this book has a unique structure. The Bone Clocks is broken into five sections, and only the first and last are written from Holly’s perspective. The three middle sections span decades and follow a Cambridge scholarship boy pursuing a life of wealth and power, a war reporter who feels conflicted about often being away from his wife and young daughter, and an aging writer who is slipping down the best-seller charts. Each of these vividly imagined characters has a connection to Holly and the mystical war that is happening in secret.

This is just such an incredible book. It’s funny, profound, and more ambitious than I can even comprehend.

 

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7 thoughts on “Mini Reviews of 2014 Favorites

  1. I loved The Fever too – it was my first Megan Abbott and the fact that it was loosely based on a true story made it that much more intriguing. I was not a fan of the Murakami…I loved 1Q84, so was really looking forward to Colorless Tsukuru, but I was left with more of a “what-the-fuckery” feeling than with 1Q84, even though 1Q84 was much more out there. After seeing The Bone Clocks on so many Best of 14 lists…I think I need to try that one!

  2. I was surprised by how much I liked The Fever, too. It was a fun, intriguing crossover read that had some great layers to it. I was just looking back through what I read this year and realized that there were a few I let go without reviewing, too (like Fourth of July Creek!).

  3. Good grief. I haven’t read a single one of these, lol. Thanks ever so much for making my mental tbr list longer 😉 I especially want to get to The Bone Clocks. I’m so interested in how it’s put together and haven’t heard a bad word about it.

  4. I really loved The Silkworm and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki! You’re right, too, it was my first Murakami and completely drew me in to his writing!

  5. Pingback: Why You Should Read The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen Immediately - Books Speak Volumes

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