Monday, 29 December 2014

My Favourite Books of 2014

2014 has been somewhat of a mixed reading year for me.  I've come across some absolutely wonderful books but at the same time I've read quite a few which really didn't blow me away.  Still, there were quite a few titles that were automatic inclusions on my favourite books of the year list and I have high hopes for 2015 which already has me pretty excited.    

Here's my 2014 top ten list.  These are in no particular order and have not necessarily been published this year.

1. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury
This is one of my favourite series of the last few years.  I think that Sarah J. Maas's writing is incredible and her stories are mind-blowing.  I'm totally captivated by Celaena's adventure, am in love with Chaol, Captain of the Guards and can't wait to see what happens in the next book (which yes, I haven't read yet!).   

2. Far From You by Tess Sharpe
Published by Indigo
I said -  "'Far From You' was a real treat to read.  It shows the unquenchable desire of first love as well as presenting an intriguing mystery with lots of twists and turns.  It's one of those books which is sure to cement itself into the hearts of readers everywhere."   
 3. Cress by Marissa Meyer
Published by Puffin
I said - "'Cress' weaves fantasy together with adventure and romance to create a thrilling story which gripped me from start to finish.  I thought the book was absolutely amazing and brilliantly constructed and I loved every second of it."
 4. Bad For You by Abbi Glines
Published by Simon and Schuster
I said - "I never want to leave Sea Breeze - I adore the characters and their stories and I could go on reading about them forever!  Abbi Glines never disappoints me with her truly fantastic books and 'Bad For You' has shot right to the top of my best reads of 2014." 
 5. Love, Lies and Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon
Published by Stripes
I said - "Like Lottie and co, when I'm baking, I forget about everything else that I have to do and just focus on the mixing, beating, measuring and stirring.  This is captured perfectly in the pages of the story and was something I loved about the overall book which was truly as sweet and delicious as a cupcake!"
 6. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Entangled
I can't believe it took me so long to get around to reading this series.  As soon as I did I was utterly hooked.  Kat and Daemon are one of my favourite book couples and although I've included the first book in the series in my top ten, I'm going to cheat a little and say that I'd really include all of them!
 7. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Published by Harper Collins
I said - "Fans of Oz MUST get their hands on this book.  I can't recommend it highly enough.  The writing is lush and original and the narrative just carried me away.  I now have a desire to dye my hair pink and get a plucky rat sidekick.  Sheer brilliance in a book!"
 8. Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington
Published by Orchard Books
I said - "I loved this book!  It's hands down the best thing I've ever read by Jessica Shirvington.  Gut wrenchingly emotional, packed full of suspense and heartbreaking to the extreme, I devoured every single word of it and can't wait to go back and read it all over again."   
 9. Searching For Someday by Jennifer Probst
Published by Pocket Books
I said - "'Searching for Someday' is a sparkling romance with a slight touch of the paranormal.  I absolutely loved it and it made for the perfect weekend read.  It's the first in a new series which I will definitely be following."
 10. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Published by Abacus
This isn't a Young Adult book but I'm including it because my top ten favourite books of the year list definitely would not be complete without it.  I was blown away by 'The Goldfinch' which reminded me of Charles Dickens's 'Great Expectations' in it's sheer scope and the way that it follows the main character Theo from childhood to adulthood; his whole life being influenced by an event which was outside of his control.  It's over 800 pages long, so it's a whopper of a book but it's also one that I loved and will be recommending to everyone.   
Comment and let me know if you've read any of these and what your personal favourites of 2014 were.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Review: The Walled City - Ryan Graudin

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin, published by Indigo on 6th November 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible....

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister....

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She's about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window.....

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  I hadn't heard much about it before it fell into my hands and I wasn't sure which genre it fit into but I loved the fusion of historical fiction and fantasy.  This was mixed with a thrilling plot which takes the reader on an amazing journey featuring brilliant characters who fight against the odds to achieve freedom and independence.  It's always wonderful when you find a book which you know little about but ends up surpassing your expectations!

The story is inspired by the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong which is a world of extreme lawlessness.  Danger lurks around every corner and if you don't have your wits about you and your instincts for survival honed then you won't last.  I am a big fan of stories which take place in Asia as I find the culture absolutely fascinating, so this was right up my alley.

There are three distinct character viewpoints in the book: Jin Ling, who is searching for her sister; Dai, who is on a dangerous mission and Mei Yee, who is trapped in a world not of her choosing.  Each chapter alternates between them until their individual situations begin to collide and come together.  It would spoil it to tell you much about the plot as this is a book which is best read with little prior knowledge of what it is about.  Needless to say though you won't be disappointed and at times you will literally be on the edge of your seat. 

I loved the epilogue which tied everything together properly and which left me beautifully satisfied with the outcome.    

I thought that Ryan Graudin's debut was a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing read.  Her writing is gloriously atmospheric and I was intrigued and captivated by the characters, their relationships and their journeys.  I'm excited to see what subject she decides to write about next. 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Review: Cursed - Jennifer L. Armentrout

Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout, published by Hodder on 17th July 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he's a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she's more than interested. There's just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she's willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't?

But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not've been an accident at all, she's not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life.

I'm obsessed with Jennifer L. Armentrout's Lux series and I've recently become addicted to her Covenant books too.  This is one of my main reasons for seeking out this standalone title which sounded fantastic.  I really want to read everything that Armentrout's written because her stories are beyond brilliant.  Sadly, 'Cursed' didn't live up to my passion for Kat and Daemon which is a shame because I was so looking forward to reading it. 

The main character Ember has been changed since the accident in which her father was killed.  She's now unable to touch anything without it dying.  While she believes she's cursed, her younger sister Olivia is able to bring things back to life. 

I thought that Ember was a great character because she came across as totally selfless.  She always puts her little sister first, even though Olivia is frankly, quite a brat at times.  She's held her family together all on her own and has had to shoulder a lot of responsibility which means that she has had to grow up fast.  There is a love interest in the form of the handsome Hayden, but as Ember can't touch anyone properly it was a very slow building romance.   

The plot itself was okay but didn't wow me.  There were a couple of unexpected twists and turns but it didn't consume my every thought like I thought it would and I could easily put this down without obsessing endlessly over what was going to happen next.  I found some elements of the story pretty predictable too and although the second half of the book was better than the first, I was left feeling like I wanted more. 

I'm such a big fan of Jennifer L. Armentrout's books that I'm going to pass this one off as just not for me and move onto some of her other titles.  I'm sure this is only a minor blip on my reading radar. 

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