Here we go!
The Castle Crime was a book I'd been waiting for... and one that I completely missed for a while after it was released. I'd been hoping to hear something about a planned sixth book since the publication of the fifth, The New Year Dragon Dilemma, and yet somehow utterly failed to hear anything about any upcoming books in the A to Z Mysteries series until I checked the series' Goodreads page sometime after The Castle Crime was published.
Anyway, I can't lie here: The Castle Crime gets its gold star (five stars on GR) rating by standing on the shoulders of its predecessors, which were the first books I can ever recall considering "favorites". I adore the A to Z Mysteries series, so it's kind of a given that I'm going to love any new ones that come out, whether or not they truly earn all the stars I'm giving them.
But that's not to say that The Castle Crime wasn't a good book. It was a fun mystery and a milestone for the series, being the first book to take place in a real country outside the U.S. (The Yellow Yacht took place in a fictional country in Asia.)
You Have to Fucking Eat by Adam Mansbach
This is actually not a book I read, but one I listened to in 2014. Here is the recording I heard, in which the story is read by Stephen Fry, and Audible has a version read by Bryan Cranston.
The Christmas Pony by Sylvia Green
This wasn't by any means a spectacular book. It was a mildly endearing story about a group of astoundingly motivated children trying to raise enough money to adopt a pony before Christmas in spite of the main character's less than supportive parents.
I read this one as part of the Ho Ho Ho Read-a-Thon earlier in November, so it's still fresh in my mind; if I'd read it earlier in the year, I'm sure I would have forgotten it by now. It's not amazing... but its presence on this list certainly does go to show exactly how many new books I read this year! (Hint: it's too few to fill this list up with books I loved instead of books I enjoyed.)
The Butt Book and Bleches, Burps, and Farts--Oh My! by Artie Bennett
Both of these are nonfiction picture books that mix information with potty humor in hopes of teaching kids about some of the more taboo aspects of their bodies. Both books are endearingly cute, informational, and humorous with interesting art styles (I prefer the art in Belches, though!)
If you've read Everybody Poops or even are familiar with the concept of it, you should get what these are trying to do. And if you've got a potty humor loving child, they're probably a great way to get them interested in reading and learning!
This one took me a shamefully long time to read, but I love it. I love the cover, I'm always interested in the Mythos, and I really enjoyed a lot of the stories included in this anthology. Some were disappointing, of course, but others were truly delightful, and I'm looking forward to picking up The Book of Cthulhu at some point in the future--not to mention other Lovecraftian anthologies!
If you're interested in post-Lovecraft Mythos stories, The Book of Cthulhu II is as good a place as any to start.
Animal Teachers is a super simple and straightforward picture book that'll help any kid get through their animal obsession phase with some extra knowledge to boot. The art is cute, the concept is cute (animal babies, yay!), and it delivers some simple facts to its intended audience of young readers.
I read a lot of these little chapter books as a kid, but not The Secrets of Droon. I started rectifying this in 2014 with The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet, and I'm glad; it's an endearing universe and I'm interested to see where the story goes. I'm not in love with the characters or the plot yet, but I'm definitely intrigued.
Depending on where the series goes from here, The Secrets of Droon could be another new favorite. And at the very least, it's several leagues better than goddamn Beast Quest.
These are two LGB picture books focusing on gay and lesbian parents, respectively. They're told from the perspective of the daughter and son (also respectively) being raised by the same-sex parents, and these narrating kids teach their kids that having same-sex parents is just about the same as having opposite-sex parents.
If you're looking for gender and sex minority (GSM) positive books to read to your kids, A Tale of Two Daddies and A Tale of Two Mommies are a great place to start.