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Happy nearly Christmas folks! I hope you are having a amazing December so far, and have nearly got all your Xmas shopping done! Today I am counting down ten of my favourite books that I first read this year. Without further ado, let’s get started:
1) Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Published: January 28th 2014
“A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.
Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia’s help.
As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy’s own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.
A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.”
I spent all of Christmas last year yearning for this book and when I finally got my hands on it, it definitely didn’t disappoint. OPHELIA & THE MARVELOUS BOY is a magical, whimsical story that is perfect for fans of middle grade, quirk and a hell of a lot of charm.
2) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Published February 6th 2012
“Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.
When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?
A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.”
This book. Oh my goodness, it is very VERY good. If you like historical fiction you need to read this. If you like realistic, positive portrayals of women and female friendship you need to read this. If you like a sharp, compelling plot with AMAZING and unexpected twists you need to read this. Basically, this is a great book and you need to read it.
3) Cress by Marissa Meyer ( The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
Published February 4th 2014
“In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.”
I love fairytale re-tellings, but I have to say The Lunar Chronicles is probably my favourite just because the twist is so unique. Not only is it unique, but the writing is engaging, the characters are complex and relatable and the guys are hot. Perfect for YA fantasy lovers and wannabe-Cinderellas.
4) A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Published: February 25th 2014
“Introducing an extraordinary new voice—a magical debut that will make your skin tingle, your eyes glisten . . .and your heart sing.
Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.
But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck’s about to change. A “word collector,” Felicity sees words everywhere—shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog’s floppy ears—but Midnight Gulch is the first place she’s ever seen the word “home.” And then there’s Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity’s never seen before, words that make Felicity’s heart beat a little faster.
Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart.”
This book is a love letter to words. The writing is BEAUTIFUL! This book is magic from start to end and will make your heart happy. Perfect for magical realism lovers, and anyone that has a heart.
5) Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
Published: May 1st 2014
“Women are standing up and #shoutingback. In a culture that’s driven by social media, for the first time women are using this online space (@EverydaySexism www.everydaysexism.com) to come together, share their stories and encourage a new generation to recognise the problems that women face. This book is a call to arms in a new wave of feminism and it proves sexism is endemic – socially, politically and economically. But women won’t stand for it. The Everyday Sexism Project is grounded in reality; packed with substance, validity and integrity it shows that women will no longer tolerate a society that ignores the dangers and endless effects of sexism.
In 2012 after being sexually harassed on London public transport Laura Bates, a young journalist, started a project called Everyday Sexism to collect stories for a piece she was writing on the issue. Astounded by the response she received and the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, she quickly realised that the situation was far worse than she’d initially thought. Enough was enough. From being leered at and wolf-whistled on the street, to aggravation in the work place and serious sexual assault, it was clear that sexism had been normalised. Bates decided it was time for change.
This bold, jaunty and ultimately intelligent book is the first to give a collective online voice to the protest against sexism. This game changing book is a juggernaut of stories, often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant – it is a must read for every inquisitive, no-nonsense modern woman.”
This book was massively different to what I normally read, but I have to say it was one of my favourites this year. This is just a massive eye-opener for me, and it has really opened my eyes and developed my views in terms of feminism. This is a must read for everybody, regardless of gender. I have definitely picked up more feminist literature since Everyday Sexism and I cannot wait to read more – it really is a fascinating, if horrifying subject.
6) Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne
Published: May 2014
“Ten-year-old Jack Foster has stepped through a doorway and into quite a different London.
Londinium is a smoky, dark, and dangerous place, home to mischievous metal fairies and fearsome clockwork dragons that breathe scalding steam. The people wear goggles to protect their eyes, brass grill insets in their nostrils to filter air, or mechanical limbs to replace missing ones.
Over it all rules the Lady, and the Lady has demanded a new son—a perfect flesh-and-blood child. She has chosen Jack.
Jack’s wonder at the magic and steam-powered marvels in Londinium lasts until he learns he is the pawn in a very dangerous game. The consequences are deadly, and his only hope of escape, of returning home, lies with a legendary clockwork bird.
The Gearwing grants wishes—or it did, before it was broken—before it was killed. But some things don’t stay dead forever.”
Again, this is another one of those magical, whimsical, gorgeously written middle grade books. The world in this book is just MARVELOUS. It’s so well developed, and the characters are lovely and Emma is such a great writer. Definitely a new favourite.
7) The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness
Published: May 5th 2008
“Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.
But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?”
This whole series is just incredible. I don’t even have the words to describe how good this book is. So many people told me how amazing Patrick Ness is, and I am so glad I listened to them, because he is a great author and this book series is testament to that greatness.
8) Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 17th 2014
“The capital has fallen.
The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.”
An epic conclusion to an truly stand out YA series. This book had everything I wanted in a conclusion – it was satisfying, dramatic and surprising. Definitely one of my most anticipated reads for 2014, and one that lived up to the hype.
9) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Published April 22nd 2014
“On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?”
YUP. I jumped on the hype train. And I liked it. Completely different to what I normally read, but so SO good. I’m not saying it was my most intellectual read of the year, but it was so entertaining, and I devoured it. I am definitely going to check out Gillian Flynn’s other books.
10) The Blood of Olympus ( The Heroes of Olympus #5) by Rick Riordan
Published: October 7th 2014
“Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.
The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it “might” be able to stop a war between the two camps.
The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over”
FSHJCNKDJFFKNSMSP. That is an accurate description of my feelings towards this book. I LOVE this entire series, world and mythology that Rick Riordan has created. It is perfect for nervous readers, anybody that likes Greek mythology, excellently crafted characters and endlessly entertaining plots.
So those are my top ten books that I read this year. I think I’ve read a lot more widely, and I love that I’ve done that this year! Have a lovely Christmas (I hope you get lots of books in your stocking) and a very bookish 2015!