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

Song of the Sea (#1) by Jade Varden

Published: 24th December 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Self Published
Pages: 198
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

I always knew who my mother was. I always knew where I belonged. And I always knew I wanted to be on the water, like my dad.

…Until I was forced to go out into the water, anyway. Out there, you feel really lonely. But you’re never alone. There is more life and emotion under the waves than most humans will ever see, more than I could have ever imagined. Down there, it’s an entire world of rage and hate, love and hope. It’s a world of fear.

It’s a world of war.

Once, my mother told me she would sing me a song of the sea. But under the waves, the only music I ever heard was the sound of screams.

 Note: I was provided a copy of this book for review.

This story captivated me from the early pages and held my attention until the final pages. I stayed up late to finish reading this book because I did not want to put it down. Varden has created a story that is simple but beautiful and one that tells a new story but still captures the familiar mystery of the ocean and the underwater world as well as the creatures that live there.

The plot is fast but not rushed, with the ideal balance of adventure, action, and suspense, while Brenna is a narrator who keeps the story flowing naturally with narration that is light and easy to read. Her determination and enthusiasm makes her a wonderful narrator and she adds a nice level of emotion to the story as she tells it. Varden balances the teenage voice without having it shallow or stereotypical, but she also manages to capture the tone and experiences of being fifteen and discovering love, losing a parent, and trying to work out a place in the world.

Brenna is a great character, she has a strong affinity with the sea and she is confident about what she wants and her bravery and ingenuity are assists in her goals. I enjoyed the relationship Brenna has with the people around her and each person brings out a different side of her in a way.

With mermaids, selkies, and humans all to deal with, the combination of worlds is wonderful. Varden is imaginative and creative with her description of the underwater environment, both physically and socially, and Brenna’s adaptation to this world is handled fittingly. The story is realistic as it can be given the nature of it and everything Brenna experiences makes you believe it is possible.

Brenna’s friendship with Dylan was done extremely well and Varden plays them off one another with ease, making their connection seem natural. The intense situations they find themselves in bring them together but it doesn’t alter who they are with both strong personalities remaining. Dylan teaches Brenna all about the underwater life she has immersed herself in while Brenna coaches Dylan above the sea, their support for one another beautifully adding to their friendship and only adds to the mythical world Varden aims to establish.

They way Varden has approached this story is a refreshing change compared to other stories with similar themes. I loved Varden’s approach to the underwater world and especially Brenna’s place in it. The underwater war was a thrilling addition and it adds another level to the story that manages to change everything you were expecting from this story and turn it into something much better. I loved that the underwater world is not made out to be perfect or ideal; instead it has conflicts and problems like the land does. This makes the story not just about Brenna and her mother and makes it a lot more complicated and made it so much more enjoyable.

This truly is an enchanting tale filled with new love, searching for what’s lost, and discovering who you truly are. There is suspense and surprises, and tiny moments of joy that make this a fantastic fantasy adventure and one that will manage to warm and break your heart at the same time. This book is a brilliant start to a series and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

You can purchase Song of the Sea via the following

Amazon

Amazon Aust

Amazon UK

Kobo

Smashwords

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