It’s that time of year again, when everyone makes their Best-Of lists, and who am I to buck a trend? So here are some of my favorite discoveries from the many hours I spent reading, listening to podcasts, or watching TV this year. Note that they’re not necessarily from 2014–I’m always behind on my TBR or belatedly jumping on a TV bandwagon–but they’re all still available for download and waiting to become your 2015 discovery!
My 5 Favorite Romance Reads
The Stolen Luck (Shawna Reppert, 2013) – m/m fantasy romance with excellent character development and world-building.
The Lucky Charm (Beth Bolden, 2014) – a fun sports romance that won my fangirl heart by getting the baseball right.
Sweet Disorder (Rose Lerner, 2014) – wherein my awesome critique partner Rose writes the freshest, most different historical romance I’ve read in ages.
Eleanor and Park (Rainbow Rowell, 2014) – I don’t think I can say anything about this amazing YA that hasn’t already been said. Go read it.
The Sharing Spoon (Kathleen Eagle, 2013) – IMHO nobody writes Native American romance better. If you’ve never read Eagle before, this holiday anthology is a great place to start.
5 Favorite Fiction Reads from Other Genres
Hild (Nicola Griffith, 2013) – Usually books that everyone and their book club is reading don’t work for me, but this was a huge exception.
Boxers & Saints (Gene Luen Yang, 2013) – If my 10-year-old daughter weren’t so into graphic novels, I doubt I would’ve ever started reading them myself…and I never would’ve discovered this poignant, lyrical look at both sides of the Boxer Rebellion.
Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein, 2012) – Another book that’s already received wide praise. So, yeah, I loved it too.
Sparrow Hill Road (Seanan McGuire, 2014) – At the time I read it I didn’t expect this fantasy ghost story to make my best-of list–it didn’t feel big enough, somehow–but it’s stayed with me better than most of what I read this year.
Rilla of Ingleside (LM Montgomery, 1921) – A re-read that felt like the perfect way to mark the centennial of WWI.
5 Favorite Nonfiction Reads
Marathon: The Battle that Changed Western Civilization (Richard Billows, 2011) – Since I’m completely fascinated by the Greco-Persian Wars AND inclined to think that Athens and the Battles of Marathon and Salamis should get some of the attention usually reserved for Sparta and Thermopylae, this book was my catnip.
An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America (Nick Bunker, 2014) – The three years leading up the the outbreak of the American Revolution, told mostly from the British perspective. If you’re interested in the era, I recommend this look from another angle.
Time Warped (Claudia Hammond, 2013) – A compelling, well-written popular science book on how the human brain conceptualizes time.
Thank You For Your Service (David Finkel, 2013) – A tough but important read about the lives and struggles of soldiers trying to reintegrate into American society after deployment to Iraq.
Hyperbole and a Half (Allie Brosh, 2013) – An illustrated memoir that manages to both be hilarious and contain the most visceral and informative description of depression I’ve ever read.
5 Podcasts I love
The DBSA Podcast – Intelligent, insightful, and often hilarious discussion of the romance genre from Sarah of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and Jane of Dear Author.
Pop Culture Happy Hour – Pop culture analysis, NPR-style.
Revolutions – History’s great revolutions. So far Mike Duncan has covered the English Civil War and the American Revolution, and he’s in the midst of the French Revolution. Witty and informative.
The History of Rome – A delightfully long podcast series covering Rome from Romulus & Remus to Romulus Augustulus, also by Mike Duncan.
Inquiring Minds – Science and what it means for you.
Before this year I barely listened to podcasts. Now I depend upon them to keep my brain occupied while doing housework and when there’s nothing good on NPR during my commute.
5 TV Shows I Don’t Miss
Sleepy Hollow has stumbled a bit in its sophomore season (in my opinion, but I’m by no means alone in it). It’s still all kinds of crazy fun, and Tom Mison is easy on the eyes…
Miss Fraser and I are enjoying the Twelfth Doctor and looking forward to the Doctor Who Christmas special.
And she and I will mourn together after we watch the series finale of The Legend of Korra tonight.
One show I do NOT watch with my daughter is Game of Thrones…
And last but far from least, I never miss a new episode of Chopped.
What about you? What are the favorite things you’ve read, watched, and heard in 2014?
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