From the Booking Desk:

It is that time of year again. Various review outlets and fans have been posting their listings of the best novels of last year. Since I have not read every book published, I prefer to call my list, Top Reads.

This year was a particularly bountiful year, so the narrowing down of the list was not easy. In the end, however, I think I am presenting you with the most accurate list I can compile of my favorite books read last year. Titles are presented in alphabetical order and in no way reflect any other ranking beyond that.

In case you missed them the first time around, click on the pull-quote link to open a new window with the full book review. Thanks to all those writers this year who made my job in picking favorites even harder than normal.

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman

After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

“Laura Lippman keeps the reader on their toes by jumping around in the narrative timeline, but long-time fans will know that this is less about manipulating the reader and more about reflecting the realistic notion that no one person has knowledge of all the parts of a story.”


The Day She Died

The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson

“With her contemporary stand-alone novels, Catriona McPherson clearly wants to try new things and experiment with the various forms of crime writing.”


The Fever

The Fever by Megan Abbott

“Megan Abbott’s The Fever is about so much more than just the tragic medical mystery that grips the town. By showing readers one family in which two children are negotiating the throes of adolescence in the shadows of this much larger crisis, Abbott is able to make some profound observations about the act (and art) of growing up in our modern society.”


I Am Pilgrim

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

“The best way to describe Terry Hayes’ I Am Pilgrim is to say that it is like a Jack Higgins novel by way of John Le Carré with more than a dash of Charles Dickens.”


In the Blood

In the Blood by Lisa Unger

“This is easily Lisa Unger most complex novel yet as she examines the lives of troubled youth and the effects their treatment – both medically and socially – can have on their long-term development. The old adage of nature versus nurture can be discarded as readers realize that it is often the combination of these two forces that determine who we are as humans.”


The Killer Next Door

The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood

“The Killer Next Door moves along at a perfect pace, culminating in a dénouement that is at once, both completely unexpected and inevitably obvious. It is the skill with which Alex Marwood spins her tale that allows her to obfuscate this ending from the reader and ultimately cause surprise with this logical conclusion.”


The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

“The journey – physical, mental, and emotional – that each character takes in their efforts to locate Peter Morrow weave and interconnect to create a tapestry of longing and regret, passion and hopefulness. And it is only by facing this work of art called “life,” that true healing can begin.”


Someone Else's Skin

Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary

“Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary is a debut novel, but you would never know it from the reading experience.”


Truth Be Told

Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan

“Truth Be Told is the third book in Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Jane Ryland series and while there is little doubt that readers have always been in very capable hands, this book cements the ideal of what a Hank Phillippi Ryan novel is.”



You by Caroline Kepnes

“It is impossible to explain the insidious nature of Caroline Kepnes’ story. You is very much a novel of today. Joe uses every social media technique available to taunt and terrorize Beck – but it is just good old-fashioned storytelling that is this author’s true weapon.”



From the Booking Desk:

There you have it folks – my 2014 top reads list. Not to be left out, however, I have a few other favorites I want to mention. These titles didn’t exactly fit the main list for various reasons which will be explained. 

My favorite book read in 2014, which was not released in 2014:

Rage Against the Dying

Rage Against The Dying by Becky Masterman

“…this novel which features an unusual heroine, a gritty plot, and a deep understanding of human nature – not to mention, a few good shocks along the way.”


My favorite book that isn’t really a mystery/thriller:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

“The messages within the novel may appear to be trite and Pollyanna-ish – things like: don’t sleepwalk through life; love your family and tell them often; avoid obsessing over things, technology, and power; and take nothing for granted – but the weight of the book resides in the elegiac prose Emily St. John Mandel utilizes to tell this haunting story.”


My favorite contemporary Young Adult novel:


Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

“While this is the perfect book for English majors, Sylvia Plath fans, and journal aficionados, what it really is is a book for all people. For anyone struggling to find their place in the world, struggling to understand the world, struggling to BE – and isn’t that everyone?  Allow the book to embrace you and feel its healing powers.”


My favorite non-contemporary Young Adult:


Conquest by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard

“Conquest is over-flowing with originality, adventure and damn fine writing – fans and newcomers alike should be clamoring for it.”


A book that should have been on the list in 2013, except that it came out on Christmas Day after that year’s list was compiled:

Burglar Spoons

The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons by Lawrence Block

“Readers will know that they are in the hands of a master after just a few sentences and what follows is delightful, thoughtful, and thoroughly enjoyable.”

From the Booking Desk:

Hey, I know that was cheating, but in the end it’s you the reader who benefits because you now have 15 titles to check out instead of just 10.

It is worth noting that this list includes: 13 female authors, 3 male authors, a healthy mix of new-comers and established authors, both traditional mysteries and thrillers, and some great cover design.


Let me know what you think of the list!