Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Faves of 2014 ~ Part Two: The Characters (& Random awards)

Heya! Welcome to Part Two of my fave reads of 2014 series :)

I have three posts celebrating my favourite reads of 2014. Part One has a stack of fave books in all genres and Part Three will be me (finally) narrowing down my top ten picks. I really wanted to take the time do do these first two parts so that I could highlight so many more awesome reads than just my personal top ten. 

Part Two: The Characters

1. Favourite female main character

Gaby from Shimmer, Kestrel from The Winner's Curse, Rebecca from The Road Home

I really love what Paula Weston is doing with Gaby and how she is coming into her own and I've loved seeing her character arc over the three books so far. Kestrel is just fab, she has so many awesome qualities and is really likeable. And Rebecca Phillips, wow, she's tough and likeable and made me ache in so many ways, I loved her so much.

2. Favourite male main character

Elliot! from Cracks in the Kingdom by jaclyn Moriarty

I promise I am not going to choose this book for all my answers, haha. But Elliot is truly completely awesome. He's charming in this perfectly wry way, he is effortlessly likeable and appealing, loyal and smart with the right amount of vulnerability, and he's loads fun (argh, everything sounds cliche and bland, but trust me, he is awesome!). To borrow a quote from the book, here's how Madeleine describes him: " the boy who knew exactly how to make a girl feel like some kind of carbonated sugar drink was running through her veins" (p.382) I get that feeling, too, lol! 

3. Best couple <3

Karou & Akiva, Gaby and Rafa, Red and Sorcha, Liadan and Bran

So this really was hard. And I have definitely picked four couples who have these epic, complicated love stories. I am so for all these couples and all of their love stories really beat strong at the hearts of their (respective) books. (This is really weird writing about them in plural). Major swoon for all these books.

4. Who I so want to be best friends with

The Cello crew!

Elliot and Princess Ko and their special group of teens. Oh my gosh ~ if only I could join them, haha. I would die of laughing and it would be a good death (Laughing in fun times and hilarity together). I just said I wasn't going to pick this book over and over...

5. Who I fell completely in love with (new literary crush)

Well, obviously I am crushing hard on those boys from above (Q3 best couples: Rafa and Bran and Akiva and Red) and they are my fave picks -- but for this question I'll choose some fun contemporary YA swoon. Not as epic as the boys above, but if you're looking for swoony and fun and smiley try out these four books:

The Art of Lainey, Confessions of an Angry girl, Open Road Summer, and On The Fence

Confessions of an angry girl: complicated bad boy angsty sexy swoon in the form of jamie Forta

On The Fence: Boy next door friendship (one of my fave coupling scenarios) = lots of late night fence talking and swooning

The Art of Lainey: Micah is tattoed and artsy-cool chef-boy who gets caught up with Lainey in a fake-date scenario. Very fun. Definitely a swoony set-up that majorly delivers :)

Open Road Summer: Matt Finch ~ super cute musician type. Definite highlight of the book (just FYI)

7. Best character twist (who you loved then hated or vice versa)

To All the Boys I've Loved Before and Trouble

Not sure if it was intentional but, mate, I considered abandoning both these books due to not clicking with the MC's. One too whiny and childish (The Jenny Han book, very painful initially) and one really wild and off-putting (Non Pratt's Trouble) which didn't seem like it would be my kind of read BUT am I ever glad I persevered. Out of these, Trouble was a definite highlight, it turned really good and I so recommend it. I ended up loving the second half of the Han book but am still perplexed as to why the MC was so immature and ridiculous at the beginning? ...

8. Best kick-arse female

Not A Drop to Drink and Head of the River

Lynn (Not a Drop to Drink) is really tough and relentless in guarding her home, which makes her vulnerabilities really achey. She's fierce and independent and completely admirable.

Leni (Head of the River) is determined and committed and so disciplined. She's fierce and gutsy and I loved bit-by-bit getting under that tough exterior. Really admire her as a character and all Harry did with her.

9. Best kick-arse male

Bran from Son of the Shadows

Oh, hello, Bran! haha. This guys is fierce and kick-arse to the point of being completely intimidating and terrifying. He is the ultimate kick-arse leader and the first to come to mind (even though there are other contenders for this role from books I have read this year) 

10. Broke your heart the most

Lieutenant Rebecca Phillips from The Road Home, also Jewel from Bird

Both broke my heart in different ways (although the Road Home had a profound affect on me overall)

12. Best YA parents award

On the Fence by Kasie West and Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy

Both not conventional parents but I love the family vibe so much I couldn't go past these two
On The Fence is a single dad and older brothers set-up and I loved their interactions, so awesomely done.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone ~ love Karou's family with Brimstone and the Chimaeras ~ Taylor created such a great family vibe from a non-conventional family <3

13. Favourite sibling relationship

Gaby and Jude, obviously from Paula Weston's Rephaim series

These two have the best vibe and connection and I love watching their relationship unfold and their memories reveal different sides to their love for each other.

...moving on from character-focus to some random book awards to highlight a few more fave reads:

14. Best first chapter

The Girl With All the Gifts by M R Carey
I love thinking about first chapters and I really felt instantly engaged with The Girl With All The Gifts. The voice was captivating and the premise intriguing from the very beginning. Plus it was also easy to read and get into :)

15. Best climax

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Liane's book had brilliant pacing all the way through but it just came together so spectacularly I was on the edge of my seat and it did not let me down. Another brilliant book!

16. Best plot twist/revelation (no spoilers!)

Charm & Strange, We Were Liars & Dark Horse

All three of these teased really well and the reveal was great. 
We Were Liars was eerie and sad
Charm & Strange had me unsure and intrigued the whole way through
Dark Horse was riveting and so very well done, with atmosphere and not knowing who to trust and what was going on. Even after some reveals, the next stage of the novel was just as complex and had me wondering how it was all play out.

17. Fave book title 

Six titles I love: Night of Cake and Puppets, The Girl With All the Gifts, Big Little Lies, Cooper Bartholomew is Dead, And All the Stars, Charm & Strange

18. Can’t believe you waited this long to read the book (!)

Laini Taylor's series, Confessions series & Sevenwaters, 

Well here's three series that have been out for a while and I've seen around and had no idea I woul love them so! All three of them came highly recommended but i ignored due to thinking they were not my genre or my kind of book. On the upside ~ it was so awesome to just read Laini's books back to back (so I did not have to struggle to remember all that had come before).

19. Book that lived up to (or superseded the hype)

The Winner's Curse, Daughter of Smoke and Bone & Daughter of the Forest

I haven't said much about The Winner's Curse. For me it was definitely a case of perfect book at the perfect time. I read it after a string of books I had trudged through and it was awesome having a book that I constantly wanted to get back to, reminding me of those perfect reading experiences of being sucked in and addicted. The other two books here are really top quality in their genre and deserving of all the praise.
20. Killer cliffhanger award

Shimmer, The Winner's Curse

Shimmer because now I am desperate for #4 (the final book in the series). It left off right where I want to be with the series! So so excited for the last instalment (understatement).
The Winner's Curse because so much has come to pass and I am so desperate to see where the series heads now.

That's it for Part Two. On a separate note: thanks for all the lovely comments. it is so good hearing from you guys after my blogging break. I really appreciate every comment and feel likeI'm catching up with old friends. I am short on time to visit blogs and reply to my comments atm* but plan to do so in the next couple of days 

x Nomes

*due to many (lengthy) hospital visits and I will be having an overnight stay tomorrow with my daughter while she has surgery on her arm. I plan on getting some solid hours of reading in and hopefully finding another fave book before the year closes out :)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Faves of 2014 ~ Part One

Faves of 2014: Part One

I love looking back over my reading year and seeing so many good books read (which is especially awesome to see when I am in a slump ~ reminds me it has been an excellent reading year with a bunch of new fave authors and series to follow). Instead of just launching with my top ten fave* I wanted to showcase so many more books I read and loved and recommend by nominating them for some different categories. I liked every single book featured here and happily recommend them all :)

*If I limited it to my top ten there would be so many other good books that I wouldn't get a chance to mention. But I will be posting my top ten in a few days (still finalising the final three picks, it's so hard...)

Books here were all read in 2014 and are a mix of backlist and new release.

1. Favourite book read in 2014

Hands down absolutely The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty

I love this series so much. It's coming together so brilliantly and unexpectedly and it has so much heart and humour and endearingness alongside crazy-wild creativity and hilarious dialogue and happenings. So excited for the final book (understatement).

2. Most powerful book

The Road Home by Ellen Emerson White, The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult & Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Nominating three. Liane's book is brilliant and funny and the funniest-serious book I've ever read (it handles some serious issues in a powerful way even while being hilarious). Best Picoult I've read in a while, even though I've read a couple of holocaust books that didn't detract from a really powerfully written story with a brilliant ending. And The Road Home was AMAZING and will stay with me for always ~ so recommended!
3. Brilliantly funny

The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty, Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor

Night of Cake and Puppets is a short stand-alone story which was swoony and fun and funny and sparkling ~ and Cracks in the Kingdom definitely gave me the most grins and smiles and laughs of my reading year :)
4. Best ache-y, heart-breaking, tear-jerker read

The Protected by Claire Zorn and the first two Sevenwaters books by Juliet Marillier

The Protected is the only book I cried a few actual physical tears *sniff* and the Sevenwaters books have pretty much the whole spectrum of emotion from beloved romance to sorrow, both beautifully told tales.

5. Most beautiful story

Laini Taylor's books

As a series and a world, these books are amazing (pictures are out of order due to blogger being obstinate).
6. Delicious rainy day comfort read

Nearly a Lady by Alissa Johnson, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

I really enjoyed curling up with these two and just relaxing into the story

7. Adrenalin-fuelled, unputdownable award

Dark Horse by Honey Brown, Through the Cracks by Honey Brown

Honey Brown is an amazing talent! My fave of these was definitely Dark Horse, but Through the Cracks was also amazingly addictive and startling. If you like psychological thrillers you MUST check her out! 

8. The beautiful prose award

Laini Taylor, As Stars Fall & The Bridge From Me To You

Laini Taylor's writing is lush and evocative, also funny (a really great combo!). Lisa Schroder is amazing (although I prefer her verse, this novel is half verse, half prose). As Stars Fall (Aussie YA) was really gorgeously written!

9. Most atmospheric and vivid setting

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Runners Up: Laini Taylor, Sevenwaters, The Road Home

Set in Iceland in the 1800's ~ I was totally transported vividly with all my senses. The story was hauntingly brought to life. I also have runners up: two fantasy worlds that you sink right into and The Road Home which brought me a spectacularly real portrayal of Vietnam during the war -- amazing book.

10. i-so-want-to-go-there award


Haha ~ would love to hang with the gang and go exploring about.
11. Most original and imaginative

Jaclyn Moriarty/ Also imginative: Laini Taylor

I am trying hard not to choose Jaclyn Moriarty for everything, so I've also included Laini Taylor. I don't think anyone can beat Jaclyn for being original but Laini's world is also amazing and vivid.

12. Best under-appreciated, hidden gem book

Confessions of an Angry Girl 
Runner Up: Better Off Friends & Head of the River

I really really liked and so recommend Confessions of an Angry girl to contemporary YA fans. I didn't try it for a long time, thinking it would be too angsty/high school drama for me. But it turned out really great, lots of heart and emotion and Rose is so readable and relateable. Also a bonus: Jamie Forta (bad boy angsty swoon material). 

Better Off Friends was just a book I picked up from the library by chance and I had no idea how perfect it would be for my reading mood ~ charming and breezy and with plenty of depth and heart. 

Head of the River is not exactly under-appreciated as I have only ever seen great reviews for it but I would love for it to have a higher profile. It's a stand-out Aussie YA book, brilliantly written with so much heart and soul and real, achey teen characters. I really recommend it (and I have a review in my frafts ready to post soon).

13. i-had-no-idea-i-would-love this-so award
The Winner's Curse, The Darkest Minds, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

None of these are my fave genre. I'm burnt out on paranormal, dystopia and covers with girls in fancy dresses (ha!). But all these three took my by surprise and I am so glad I gave them all a chance :)
14. Most haunting story

The Girl With All the Gifts

That ending guys! Beautiful but haunting...

15. Series (still in progress) that I’m loving

Confessions, The Rephaim, Cracks in the Kingdom

Three series I am insanely excited for and can't wait to get my hands on the next instalments!

16.  Always recommending this book award

Paula Weston's series

Major love for these books <3
17. Completely awesome premise award

The Caged Graves, Disruption by Jessica Shirvington

I love Shirvington's writing and her new duology (Disruption is the first) really pulls off a complicated but totally imaginable dystopianish high-tech future. The Caged Graves is just a beautiful and haunting idea.

18.  Would make the best movie

We Were Liars & The Girl With All the Gifts

Man, We Were Liars would make a stunning movie (can't say 'in the vein of' for fear of spoilers but it would be an awesome kind of psychological thriller/drama). The Girl With All the Gifts reads like a movie ~ vivid and action-y and awesome.

That's it for today but I'll be back with Round Two soon ~ choosing fave characters, couples, scenes and other random awards for my fave reads of 2014.

x Nomes