My top ten books I read in 2014.
1. Animosity by James Newman -- A fantastically tense non-supernatural tale reminiscent of I Am Legend A writer of horror finds a dead body and his community can't separate him from his work. Best read of the year for me.
2. Burden Kansas by Alan Ryker -- I would never have read this had it not been recommended so highly. I was expecting Cowboys vs. Vampires and got a contemporary tale of redemption that I could not put down.
3. The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale -- An early 20th century period western with a typically Lansdale line-up of wacky characters. Humorous and heartbreaking. Lansdale seldom disappoints.
4. Blue World by Robert R. McCammon -- I read much of this in 2013, but I finished it in 2014, so I'm counting it. A collection of short stories and one novella. All of the stories are good and some are fantastic. "Night Calls the Green Falcon" is a contender for the best short story I have ever read.
5. Needful Things by Stephen King -- It's hard to believe I had never read this one, but I had not. My SK reading has been all over the place, and now that I realize the extent of the self referencing in King's work, I am reading those I have not read before in order of publication. After what has proven to be a weak streak with the exception of misery, I was not really looking forward to this weighty novel, but I was pleasantly surprised. A wonderfully interwoven plot with a huge cast of characters. I don't know how he kept it all straight honestly, but he pulled it off magnificently. Gerald's Game is next...should I be worried?
6. Ugly as Sin by James Newman -- This was the first I read of the two James Newman titles on this list. This story of an ex wrestler and his quest to help his estranged daughter was beautiful and heartfelt while being gritty and raw. Newman has the touch. Don't miss him.
7. The Five by Robert R. McCammon -- It's McCammon. It must be good, right? This is the story of a rock band on the road while being pursued by a killer. Just great characters and the compelling writing for which McCammon is known.
8. It's So Easy and Other Lies by Duff McKagan -- This is the only non-fiction on the list. I read about as much non-fiction as I do fiction, but seldom is the non-fiction a compelling must-read. What makes this book stand out among rock star autobiographies is that it comes off as very honest. Many suffer from the star's own legend he has created of himself. Not the case here. A mostly honest look at the tumultuous life of Guns N Roses and beyond.
9. Snow by Ronald Malfi -- I have a love/hate relationship with this book. The story is delightfully creepy. Strangers stranded in an abandoned town in a snowstorm realize they are not alone. I found the style of writing to be a little frustrating, though. In particular was the overuse of adverbs in dialog attribution. Everyone said or did something _____ly. So, it lost some points for that, but overall I really loved the story and the premise.
10. Ancient Enemy by Michael McBride -- This is a story set against the backdrop of the Anasazi/Ancestral Pueblo of the Mesa Verde area. This happens to be a pet subject of mine as I spent a good deal of my college life researching these ancient people, though I was focused on the Chaco era, not the cliff-dweller era. Regardless, the subject matter appealed to me greatly. The writing was good but not great. Had the prose been a bit more compelling this might have been at the top of my list, but the story fell a little flat.
Here's to reading more in 2015.