Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Top Ten Reads from 2014

These are the books that I could not get out of my head. 
These are the books that I found myself recommending over and over again.
Most of these titles were published in 2013-14, but a few of them were just new to me.  
All of them are well-worth a read.

 She is Not Invisible, by Marcus Sedgwick

One hot day in August, 16 year old Laureth and her little brother Benjamin board a plane for New York City.  They are on a quest to find their father, who has gone missing; after receiving a blackmailing email, Laureth suspects foul play. Two problems:  No one knows where they are going, and Laureth is blind.   Both mystery and thriller, this unusual novel explores the idea of coincidence.    Is it a matter of mathematical probability, or something more significant?  Let the reader decide.

 We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

The beautiful Sinclair family have their very own island off the coast of Massachusetts.  Every summer they go there to swim, play games and mess about in boats with their cousins -- until the fifteenth summer, when something unimaginable and tragic happens.   Even as the reader is led to an understanding of the tragedy, along with the amnesiac narrator, it still manages to be surprising and completely devastating.  Beautifully written and impossible to put down.

 Just One Day, by Gayle Forman

 Allyson didn’t really expect a summer trip to Europe would change her life, but when she makes an impetuous decision to visit Paris with a near stranger there are far-reaching consequences.  Much more than a summer romance novel, this engaging story explores how one crucial day can spin a life into a whole new direction.  The coming-of-age theme gets an emotionally complex treatment in this novel for older YA readers.

 Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

18 year old Cath:  first year university student, twin, and fan fiction writer with reclusive tendencies.  Cath has family problems and love interest problems, and spends way too much time in a Harry Potteresque fantasy world, but she also possesses a dry sense of humour and a strong sense of self.   Fangirl describes the seductive power of a fictional world, and it creates that, too.

 Liar and Spy, by Rebecca Stead

This memorable book about friendship will appeal to younger readers, or anyone who appreciates excellent writing and a well-told story.   When the book begins, main character Georges is having a hard time.  His family has had to move, his mother is never at home and he is being bullied at school.   Georges’ only potential new friend is a home-schooled spy called Safer – who never leaves their apartment building.   Full of humour and quirky details, this book will surprise and thoroughly engage its readers.

Winger, by Andrew Smith

Ryan Dean West:  gifted student, excellent athlete, lover of women, genius cartoonist. 
Ryan Dean West:  14 year old self-described “loser.” Hyperactive and prone to social gaffes.
Ryan Dean West:  two years younger than everyone else, but looking for a level playing field.
RDW punches above his weight and so does this humorous novel, with unexpected serious and touching moments.  The quantity of excellent cartoons edges this novel into graphic territory.


 Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein

 Two young British women, both of them trapped in Nazi-occupied France in 1943.  Two friends, one a pilot and the other a spy.  Nazi interrogation will force one girl to give up her secrets, but how much of her story is truth – and how much lies?  This compelling story of friendship and bravery combines a wealth of historical research with a thrilling plot.

 Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein

This gripping sequel to Code Name Verity tells the story of a young American pilot named Rose Justice.  When a risky flight manoeuvre results in Rose’s capture by the Germans, she finds herself in Ravensbrück– one of the notorious Nazi concentration camps. There, Rose is befriended by a group of political prisoners who have survived unimaginable atrocities.  Together, they will use the power of stories, poetry and friendship to overcome the horror and despair of their situation.

Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

Lady Katsa is the best fighter in the realm – and the tool of her uncle, a cruel and corrupt king.  Graced by extraordinary skills, Katsa rejects her role of royal thug and dedicates her protection to a vulnerable young princess instead.  This original fantasy, the first in a trilogy, will be particularly appreciated by readers seeking strong female characters.  Author Kristin Cashore skilfully blends romance and adventure in this emotionally satisfying novel. 

The Girl with all the Gifts, by M.R. Carey

Melanie is the smartest girl in the class, but she doesn’t understand why she and her fellow students are kept locked in their wheelchairs all the time.  She doesn’t know why they never go out into the world they read about in books.  Dr. Caldwell sees Melanie as the key to saving what is left of a ruined world, but she expects to find her truths on an operating table – and Melanie has other ideas.  This post-apocalyptic thriller was written for adults, but mature teen readers will find it an exciting, engrossing read.

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1 comment:

  1. I've read half of these books: We Were Liars, Just One Day, Fangirl, and the Wein novels and they were unforgettable. I love how you distilled them to their core. I just received the galley of Wein upcoming historical novel, also about female pilots. Now I want to check out the other books on your list, especially Winger, which I dismissed due to the gross cover.