Thursday, January 1, 2015

Best Books of 2014

I cannot believe today is the first day of 2015! Where has 2014 gone? Seriously, this was one crazy, busy year. I’m so glad I had so many great books to make my year that much better. Next week, I’m planning on a Best Books of 2014 Giveaway too, so come back soon.
There were a lot of great books this year. My rules for this list is how they have always been:
1) Each book listed has come out this past year
2) Each book is either YA or middle grade
3) I have read the book in 2014 (not later or earlier). And it doesn’t matter if other books in the series have come out earlier.
I am going to start at the top with number 1, and make my way down to my number 10 book of the year. And of course because I’m me and have so much trouble making up my mind, there will also be three honorable mentions at the bottom. Happy New year! I hope 2015 brings just as many, if not more, wonderful books to talk about.
1) Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (Review / Rating: 10/10)

This was one of the smartest books I have ever read. Really, it was pure genius. It was a book about the YA universe, and I’ve never read a book (YA or adult) that has dealt with this before. I only really see it blowing the minds of other people immersed in the YA world, but this is a list from me, and I’m in that world, and this blew my mind. I loved the interwoven stories. I loved the characters, the setting, and the coming of age feel. But, mostly the topic, the satire, and scope of its concept is what really won so many points from me. I’m so glad I have this one signed.
2) I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Review / Rating: 10/10)

This book was so good I was practically crying when it was over because there was nothing else to read. Seriously, I remember giving it a big book hug before I let it go. The writing was unique and loaded with beautiful metaphors. The concept of art in this book was so interesting and beautiful. The topics of family, grief, and first love just pulled all the pieces together in one amazing YA package.
3) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (Review / Rating: 10/10)

Reading a book by Stephanie Perkins is like becoming a teenager again. She just gets it. She gets what those crazy/long-lasting crushes are like. She gets the mystery, the drama, and the importance of it all. And her characters are so real that I feel like I know them. When characters from books past showed up, I was practically hyperventilating. And then there’s Isla, the introvert I connected to on so many levels. With the Parisian setting, the exquisite romance of it all, and the wonderful characters, you can just not go wrong. If you have not read this author’s books yet, what are you waiting for?
4) Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater (Review / Rating: 10/10)

Cole and Isabel! They were my two favorite characters from Stiefvater’s first series, and then they got their own book! Can all authors do this?  To quote myself, “I thought it would be hard remembering things because it has been so long since I’ve said goodbye to this werewolf series. But, I guess with excellent characters, it’s not hard to remember things. They speak, they live, they feel, and it’s like I was never apart from them. Maggie Stiefvater writes characters in a way that makes you feel like you are never really apart from them. I feel like I know them. I wish I knew them for real. And I certainly feel everything they feel.” What else can I say?
5) Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Review / Rating: 10/10)

I only just finished this book (the day I’m writing this post!). I already had my list planned and then this wonder of a book happened and changed my whole list. This is certainly the most unique book I’ve read this year. And it’s probably the most beautiful. I literally stopped to re-read passages out loud to myself because of how beautiful and powerful they were. It’s won the National Book Award. What other motivation do you need to read it? Go, read it now. Please.
6) Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally (Review / Rating: 10/10)
This was such a great contemporary! I remember feeling, “Finally, an author who really understands grief.” It’s the story of a girl learning to survive through her grief of her recently passed away boyfriend. Part of her recovery process is running in the marathon he would have run in. There was a lot about the running community the main character finds herself in. It’s about finding love again after you lost it. And it’s about living through and overcoming the bad. It’s the kind of book you finish with a huge smile on your face.
7) Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (Review / Rating: 10/10)

To quote myself again (I’m so quotable…), “
Throughout the series is this metaphor of beginnings and I loved how it came to play here. Also, I love how Taylor combines darkness with light. There’s torture and pain, but there’s also violins and wish police, and so much humor. I was literally biting my nails in worry one moment, laughing out loud another, and then gasping in shock a few minutes after that. It’s truly only the best writers that can span all of a person’s emotions in one book (or in this case, even a few minutes).” This was definitely another huggable book. The whole series is really quite remarkable, and I’m so glad the ending was epic.
8) Cress by Marissa Meyer (Review / Rating: 10/10)

So, I think the whole world needs to take a moment right now just to bask in this author’s ability to write action/suspense. Also amazing is her ability to combine so many elements into one book and not only have it not be overwhelming, but have it be overly incredible. This one is a sci-fi Cinderella story with the sci-fi Red Riding Hood (of book 2), and now with the sci-fi version of Rapunzel of this book 3. Add royal weddings, kidnappings, crashing satellites, plenty of revenge, a subplot about the plague, and well, you get the idea that there is a lot of awesome going down. I cannot wait for the next installment. This is such an imaginative, action-packed series.
9) Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (Review / Rating: 10/10)

I don’t believe I’ve ever had another series make it to the Best Of Lists every year. Seriously, book 1 was my favorite book of 2012 (#1). Book 2 was technically an honorable mention of 2013 (but still, it was there!). And now the last book is on my 2014 list. What an amazing series. These are some of the snarkiest, wittiest, and, full of sarcasm books I’ve ever come across. I love them. This conclusion did not disappoint. Added bonus, the romance was sizzling. But seriously, if you like a little humor with your books (or a lot), and or fantastic dialog you must read these. Must.
10) Falling into Place by Amy Zhang (Review / Rating: 10/10)

I remember this book shocking me. I was not expecting to fall for it as hard as I did. It was different, interesting take on teen suicide. It’s in the perspective of a mystery character (who’s identity you don’t discover till the very end), and it tells the story of how one teen girl comes to be in a place where she doesn’t feel like she can continue. It was unique, gripping, and un-put-downable.
Honorable Mention 1: The One by Kiera Cass (Review / Rating: 10/10)

As far as dystopias go, these books tend to be a little fluffier and more on the romance side than I tend to like. But, in the case of this series (and in particular, this last book), I absolutely love it! This one has a lot of action too. There’s rebels and caste systems and giant economic divides. But it’s also kind of like an episode of the Bachelorette. Think it’s an interesting mixture? Go read them. This last one was a great finish to a truly fun series.
Honorable Mention 2: Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King (Review  / Rating: 10/10)

This was a feminist book at its core. And frankly, where are all the YA feminist books? I want more. I loved the contemporary style mixed with magical realism. The idea of developing the ability to see people’s futures and pasts was different. The terrible future that was being mapped out for women was terrifying. And I loved that the main character decided she needed to do something about it, prevent it from happening. This was unlike any story I’ve read before and this would definitely be a great book to show people who doubt that YA literature can as good as the adult stuff.
Honorable Mention 3:  The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith (Review / Rating: 10/10)

Smith writes the quintessential teen romance. There was something magical about this one. How the whole story erupts from this one singular moment, during a blackout in NYC. The setting spans states and countries. Some of their story is told in postcards. And while the whole notion of meeting your soul mate in an elevator, during a blackout is romantic, the majority of the book takes place with the two main characters apart, growing up apart from each other. Yet, it still remained romantic. I loved this one.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic list Nori - I ADORED Cress and DoG&M too ♥ So.Freaking.GOOD! I still need to get to Afterworlds, Sinner and Unmade though but seeing them here is very, very encouraging! I hope you had wonderful holidays Nori and I wish you nothing but the best in 2015 - bookish and otherwise :) xx