Top Five of 2018

I made a good decision last year to add all the books I thought worthy of my top five into a list as I finished them. It worked out well because I didn’t have to scramble and try and remember anything I had read or try to recall plot points and emotional responses come December. I ended the year with 5 books on that list, perfect, easy, ready to go and then there came an 11th hour addition on 31st December which made me rethink the entire thing and kick one of my books out. In the end, I think I chose the right books.

This year I have brought back the Honourable Mentions because a couple really do need mentioning. I have also started a Top Five Picture Books because they were remarkable as well and didn’t want to crowd my list. If I was really enthusiastic I might make it a top ten and just merge them together but that is a lot of pressure for next time. This way I can highlight some amazing picture books as well. Click the title to read my review.

 

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews

This was the first book I added to my list as soon as I finished it back in May. I patiently waited for this to publish and was not disappointed at how spectacular it was.

 

 

 

 

 

Ready Player One (#1) by Ernest Cline

I adored this book. If you love cleverness, video games and are forgiving about having the 80s shoved down your throat then you will love this. There is a sequel coming after the popularity of the movie. I’m not sure I agree but I am willing to give it a go.

 

 

 

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I could not put this book down. I listened to the audio and literally had it in my ears from dawn till dusk. It is amazing and so well planned out.

 

 

 

 

Loving Lakyn by Charlotte Reagan

Technically a prequel, technically a sequel but it can be read on its own. Either way, it is amazing and I fell hard and fast for these characters. The emotional journey I went on with these boys was incredible and heartbreaking. If I could read about them forever I would.

 

 

 

What If? by Randall Munroe

I had been reading this book on and off for weeks, piece by piece at night before I went to sleep. I finally finished it on NYE and something about it made me instantly decide to add it to my list. It was clever, funny, creative, fascinating. All of these wonderful things the entire time but it was upon finishing it I realised how much I genuinely loved this book. Therefore I had to bump another contender and rise this up the ranks.

 

 

Top Five Picture Books

A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Eric the Postie by Matt Shanks

Naughty Kitty by Adam Stower

A Boy, a Bear, and a Balloon by Brittany Rubiano

What’s Up Top? by Marc Martin

 

Honourable Mentions

Soulless (#1) by Gail Carriger

Truly Devious (#1) by Maureen Johnson

Boys Will Be Boys by Clementine Ford

What the Fluffy Bunny Said to the Growly Bear by P. Crumble

Penguin Problems by Jory John

 

Top Five of 2017

Top 5 2014There were some books that immediately made their way on this list and some that I had to think about whether they made the cut. The problem is if it’s months later the emotional experience lessons and I’m not sure how I felt about a book. This is why reviews are very handy when I actually write them! It also helps to create a list through the year, which normally I am very good at, but while three books stuck out as clear winners, it was hard finding the other two books to add to the list. I think I have chosen well though,  there is a mixture of non-fiction, YA, and different genres. It’s a nice little diverse list actually which was a surprise.

La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman

I HAVE to include this because this has been on my TBR pile for about 5 years while I waited for it to even be written and I am so excited that I have had a chance to read it finally! Not that I wouldn’t include it otherwise this book was 100% worth the wait of the last few years, it was beautiful, important, magical and all the things that make HDM brilliant 20 years before. If you are going to read it, I suggest you have read the original three first. The surprises in HDM aren’t surprises in this book and it will ruin your experience.

The Martian by Andy Weir

I have been planning on reading this book ever since it came out, I had a feeling I would love it and I was totally right. Ever since I read it I find myself thinking about it all the time. I could easily reread it and I would love it all over again. I want to give it to people and make them read it. Also, while the book is super hilarious and amazing, the movie is actually very close, but not nearly as funny.

Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford

I don’t normally read a lot of non-fiction but this is a book we all need to read: women, men, all genders and all ages. There are so many moments in this book where you realise the same thing has happened in your life or someone you know, or even just when Ford opens your eyes to things you already knew but now have confirmation. It’s an amazing read as a female and it is important to read for men.

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

I was so surprised by this book. It draws you in, it’s fascinating, engaging, then Watson turns it on its head and throws another twist at you. I implore that if you love thrillers, and love to be surprised and enthralled, that you should read this book.  This also has a movie adaptation, which is very good, but the book is still a better experience in my opinion.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

I have been reading Maureen Johnson’s books for a few years and I have to say this one might be my favourite. This series anyway. It is a mystery and a ghost story wrapped up together and it has you not only enthralled by these characters and Johnson’s writing, but it will have you on the edge of your seat, frantically turning pages and immediately making you pick up the second book upon completion.

Top Five of 2016

Top 5 2014I had The Sidekicks picked as my favourite book of 2016 in March, and when I mentioned this to Mr Kostakis  he told me that I would find something better by the end of the year. I told him that wasn’t possible, and by December I hadn’t, but I did find one that was its equal in The Yearbook Committee. This was such a great year for books. I discovered so many new authors and some amazing new stories I will love for years to come. Two were from my book club, two were from the Penguin YA Squad, and one was chosen because there was a Melina Marchetta quote on the cover.

1. The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis/ The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

The Sidekicks

“If I could shove this book into the hands of everyone I passed on the street I would be happy. This isn’t a book that will automatically change your world or your opinion or try to teach you anything. It may do that, I don’t know, but this book is a fantastic and invigorating experience. You become so invested in every little aspect of this book and these three guys and their lives.”

I was left an emotional mess by the time I had finished The Sidekicks. I was barely able to finish it for the all the Emotions I was having. This is a brilliant book, one you must read if you haven’t yet. The three boys who tell their story are so different, yet they have one thing in common, their friend Isaac. This connection brings them together and each of their lives will break your heart in so many ways. It’s beautiful.

The Yearbook Committee

“I knew a Melina Marchetta recommendation wouldn’t let me down and a reading binge until 4am proves me right. The Yearbook Committee is a beautiful story that encapsulates how people from different situations can come together (albeit unwilling) and can have their lives changed forever.”

This is a tie for first place because what Ayoub has done is create a beautifully tragic story that is almost too realistic with its unapologetic honesty. It is a story that shows how important peers can be and the effects these peers can have one people and how that influences their actions. The Yearbook Committee is a brilliant story because there are no heroes, just ordinary kids with their own problematic lives trying their best and sometimes failing.

2. Yellow by Megan Jacobson

“To quote a line from an incredibly wise author by the name of Megan Jacobson, ‘this is the kind of book that makes you stop and just rest the pages on your chest from the truth of it’. Yellow is a brilliant, emotionally charged book that reveals so much about the various struggles in people’s lives. There is an incredible amount of beauty and honesty and raw strength in this story; Jacobson captures so much from so many angles and connects them together into this life of a fourteen-year-old.”

I loved this book, it is sweet, honest, complicated, and relatable. Kirra’s story is one that will stay with you long after you have finished it and will continue to break your heart as you read it. When you finish it you can feel you have had an experience and one that has changed you in a small way. Kirra will forever be my hero. I love her so much.

3. Time and Time Again by Ben Elton

Time travel and history is always a wonderful combo. This story is based on the premise that if you could go back and change one thing in history what would it be. Elton plays on this and it is perfect the way he weighs up the pros and cons of tampering with history. It isn’t as simple as that either, there are some incredible moments that come out of nowhere and after a while you just go along for the ride because you never know what is going to happen next. It is a thrilling story that continually keeps you guessing right up until the last page.

4. The Midnight Watch by David Dwyer

For those who love the story of the Titanic are going to adore this book. Dwyer looks at the tragedy of April 1912 with a new focus. He tells the story of The Californian, the ship that saw the Titanic sink and could have saved it but didn’t. While it is fiction, it’s a story based on true accounts, court transcripts and real people and real mistakes. I didn’t even know this ship existed until I read this book. It was a fascinating and sad story about how close the Titanic came to being rescued if it weren’t for a few key details.

5. Wish List by Belinda Williams

“For me this is the best and most wonderful ending to a series and a book I’ve read. The continual surprises and little bits of joy and intensity are an emotional ride but I wouldn’t change a thing. As I read my heart was pounding, I had knots in my stomach, a smile on my face, continually holding in gasps and squeals as my eyes flew across the page trying to read faster and possibly physically immerse myself in the story.”

This is the final novel in the City Love series and Williams goes out with style. Having read the other three accounts I was eager to get into the fourth and final story. There is love and independence in this story, it is all about working out who you are and what you want from life. Williams’ writing draws you in, surprises you, lulls you into safety then springs on you out of nowhere. It’s a beautifully complicated story that is the perfect ending to the series.

 

Top Five of 2015

Top 5 2014This year trying to determine a Top Five was a bit harder than in the past. There were a few standouts but there were also so many that could have made the list based on a five star rating but I felt lacked the right feeling. After a lot of thinking and contemplating I finally settled on my Top Five books of the year.

Many of these books were amazing from start to finish, they grab you from the beginning and don’t let go, others draw you in slowly and tighten the hold as you reach the climactic and emotional conclusions. I recommend you read each book on this list, some of these are sequels and funnily enough the first books in the series made my Top Five list last year. If that isn’t a sign I don’t know what is.

For the first time every one of these books was technically a review request book, or offered to reviewers who had reviewed previous books by the author. These authors are amazing writers and are people I would never have read if I hadn’t started this blog so for that alone I am so grateful I finally took the plunge and started doing this.

Broken by Heather McCollum

This is the second book in the Guardians series and is just as fantastic as Siren’s Song. It deals with the consequences and outcomes of the first book and offers a deeper insight into the strange and magical world of Guardians and the cursed. McCollum captures the transition and consequences of the previous book wonderfully, the writing is expressive and intriguing, and there is suspense and mystery that draws you in and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Saltwater Secrets Series by Jade Varden (Song of the Sea + Death and the Deep)

This series is an absolute joy to read. There’s mythology and suspense, and characters that are flawed and complicated and trying their best. I am being a bit sneaky and adding both books in here but when you read them you will understand. Song of the Sea drags you unexpectedly into this hidden underwater world with this ongoing war, complicating the lives of those above land and below. Death and the Deep deals with the consequences and the aftermath and the creation of bigger problems for all involved. Varden balances the mythology and the real beautifully and brings a touch of reality to the fantasy seamlessly. I almost put Death and the Deep on here alone but realised both books have great stories to tell.

The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey

This is a book people tend to love or are not too fussed about. Personally I loved it and I eagerly await the sequel. The story is creative and the world Grey has created is divine. Echo is a wonderful character that you can’t help but love and Grey leaves you wanting the next one as soon as you finish. There is magic and fantasy and drama and suspense that keep you turning the pages and gets your heart racing.

Death Wish by Megan Tayte

There is a touch of paranormal with this book, it simmers in the background nicely though and doesn’t take over completely. Tayte’s characters are complicated and whole, and the way she uses the words to bring them to life is stunning. The story is told very much through the characters and their actions and Tayte is a master at simple complexity where it seems simple on the surface but is actual filled with depth and intricacy the further you read.

Animal by Nikki Rae

Despite featuring characters from The Sunshine Series, this story isn’t really a prequel and isn’t presented one. While it does deal with events before those in the series, it’s more a completely new story about one of the minor characters. Rae’s writing is captivating and I could not stop once I started reading this. Her words pull you along, and with characters that come to life on the page it is an absolute joy to read.

Honourable Mentions

I had to have a few because these were also excellent books with fantastic stories that were beautifully and creatively told.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth

The Darkest Part Forest by Holly Black

Top Five of 2014

Top 5 2014After a little searching and hard decisions I have created the new list for Top Five books of 2014. The books read last year were a mix of review requests, book club books, and personal choices. Something from all three categories made it into the list this time around and I included a few honourable mentions as well that were pretty spectacular reads as well but just missed the cut.

In the past some books have stood out from the start. They are immediate choices and they have been books that had a strong impact on me in some form or another, they were amazing reads that blew my mind while I was, and when I had finished, reading them. This time I picked books again that stayed with me in some way or that were really wonderful to read but 2014 did not have many books that truly stood out like the past. But I am a strong believer in that not all 5 star books are the same, and the reason for giving one book five starts can and often is totally different than the reason you gave them to another.

Many of the books on the list (both lists really) I think were very profound. They demonstrated so many remarkable things about its characters that say so much about people in general and each of these authors told a brilliant story. Superbly written each of these books were a joy to read, and while not always overly exciting or adventurous, they offered instead a wonderfully told story that astounds you in the writer’s capabilities and results in a complete admiration for their ability to tell such a story that you very rarely were expecting when you picked up the book.

1. The Weight of a Human Heart by Ryan O’Neill

This is the book of short stories that resulted in me tweeting the author after the reading the first two stories to tell him how much his book had already changed my life. These are not your usual stories; O’Neill tells his brilliant stories in so many unique ways. He tells many of his stories with graphs, diagrams, and peculiar layouts BUT IT WORKS! And once you adore him and are astounded by his creativity of making such a strange writing system make sense, you have to admire him for the truly heartbreaking and heart-warming and gorgeous stories that he tells with so few (sometimes barely any) words. He is a master at challenging how a short story, or any story really, needs to be presented.

2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The reason this book made it on to the list this year is because it is such a beautiful story. It is simple but it is astonishingly gorgeous in how Gaiman presents it. He uses Bod beautifully as a character and the characters tell this story as much as the narrative does. There is such honesty and simplicity, and such love and sincerity that even when the everyday is happening it remains a wonderful story.

3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

I was not sure what to expect from this book but it was not long before I realised just how magical this book is. What Haddon has done in a magnificent fashion, is that he has managed to explain and describe what it is like to be a person who has behavioural difficulties. But this is in no way the focus of the book, set as a mystery Haddon explores how 15 year old Christopher sees and explores the world while trying to solve the mystery about the curious incident of the dog in the night-time. It is a beautiful book and one that needs to be read because it opens your eyes but also gives you a fantastic story with a mystery, humour, and compelling characters.

4. Tears of the River by Gordon Rottman

This was one of the books I was asked to review and I was amazed and captivated early on and in love with it by the end. Rottman tells an amazing story, one that is real and unforgiving at times, and demonstrates the power of determination and just what humans are capable when they have no other choice. It is filled with adventure, the unknown, and drama that comes from being in impossible situations, with language barriers, and no one but your wit and your knowledge to rely on to make sure everyone comes out the other side.

5. Siren’s Song by Heather McCollum

What I loved about this book is a combination of the characters, the story, and the way McCollum writes. The characters are complete and determined, and fascinating in their own way, and the balance and expression of the real and the paranormal is ideal and they interact really well. The story grips you and you cannot put the book down once you start, always wanting to find out what is going to happen, eager and excited to see where the story could possible go next. It is a story filled with suspense, secrets, and a bit of magic for good measure.

Honourable Mentions

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Nocturnes by John Connolly

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

The Sunshine Series by Nikki Rae

 

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