Friday, December 26, 2014

Favourites of 2014

GUYS! 2014 is like, over!
This is nuts.

I lovelovelove favourites lists, in fact, one may even say that favourites lists are my favourite lists. I love to see what books resonated with readers at the end of the year, and which books seem to be a consensus favourite so I can pick them up with higher expectations (heh), as well as to see if I've missed out on books I've been meaning to read.

Unsurprisingly, I didn't actually meet my meager goal of 35 books this year-- same old excuses: university, homework, work, life, time, money, TV shows, passive hobbies... but that doesn't mean I didn't read any fan-effing-tastic ones that I'm eager to share. As per the last few years, I'll be copying the same format (see 2011, 2012, 2013 or just look in the sidebar) that was originally adapted from the lovely Nomes at Inkcrush (it's been years now, Nomes! Wowza.)



BOOKS



1. favourite book read in 2014!!!


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

This book. THIS BOOK!!! It's released in 2012 and it's won a slew of well-deserved prizes. I can't believe it took me so long to get around to reading it, and when I finally did, it was like the universe had finally calmed down for a moment long enough to let me enjoy the simplicity and beauty of words on a page. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me feel so full of heart and love for these characters that I just want to write jibberish to convey my feelings.

I have so much love for Ari and Dante, and this is the most beautiful book I've read this year.





2. book you were excited about but didn't live up to your expectations

Raging Star by Moira Young. This book makes me a bit angry because I was so emotionally invested and in love with this series (the first book blew me away, the second was a brilliant shocker) and this last one was just frustrating and unengaging and horribly unenjoyable. *frowny face*
There's a handful of other books that could have made this list as well, but this one is the unlucky stand-out.






3. best ache-y, heart-breaking, tear-jerker read

ache-y:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Did you not read what I just wrote above? I ached for these wonderfully realized characters, and their wonderfully realized lives

heart-breaking:
All the Rage by Courtney Summers
This is released in 2015, but boy, did my heart hurt for Romy and boy, did I want to strangle a lot of people. 

tearjerker:
Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (The Lynburn Legacy, book 3)
I unashamedly adore SRB and she put readers through a very specific and literary hell for this one





4. delicious, rainy day comfort read

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
This was just such a fluffy, predictable, but still incredibly charming read. Very cute, definitely recommended. 






5. adrenalin-filled, unputdownable read

Catalyst by SJ Kincaid
I want to bring some more attention to Kincaid's Insignia series, Catalyst is book 3 (read my review) and this series is just a bundle of fun, fast-paced action with witty retorts and a fantastic protagonist (that I feel Kincaid gleefully put readers through HELL in this last book).




6. the beautiful prose award

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Is this getting unfair yet? 







7. most atmospheric and vivid setting

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Another book published in 2012, this time it's an immersing fantasy book about dragons. Dragons! 



8. best under-appreciated, hidden-gem book

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
This is a high fantasy adventure that was marketed as Ocean's Eleven meets Robin Hood. It is neither of these things, but it is still fantastic -- great pacing, sympathetic characters, excellent action, shocking twists... give this one a go.





9. i-had-no-idea-i-would-love-this-so award
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski 
I distinctly remember my friend Eden holding a giveaway for this book and I had no clue what it was about-- she mentioned how it had been super popular in the blogosphere (again, something I was completely oblivious to) but I poked around the interwebs and decided to trust the reviews and picked it up for myself. It was SO much better than I had expected-- I thought it'd be a 3-4 star read, but I think it's like a 4-5 star read, because I was thoroughly entertained and engrossed in the world and the chemistry between the characters.  



10. outside my comfort zone but gosh how i loved liked it

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
This is a mix of a memoir/nonfiction story, and I gave it a rating of 7.7/10 (so not "loved", but still enjoyed). I'm putting this on my list mostly because I didn't really read anything outside of my comfort zone (does journal articles for school count?) and this is pretty much the only non-YA, non-fiction book I read this year. I do encourage you to watch her TED talk (here), or, while we are on the topic, Brene Brown's TED talk (here).


11. an unfinished series that i'm loving 

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer 
Same as last year! I finished Cress in 2013 (so now I've gone an entire year without a Marissa Meyer book.. *sniff*.. it was fantastic.
Fairest is a companion novel about Queen Levana, and is released in January 2015, while the conclusion, Winter, is released in November. And I am beyond excited.

Honourable Mentions:
The Winner's Curse Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski (I've read book 2 already... so I've got a pretty long wait til the last one)
The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss (not holding my breath here, though)





12. can't believe i waited so long to read this

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I can't believe I'm 2 years late to this delightful party.







13. book that lived up to (or superseded) the hype

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
I expected a solid 4-star read, and I got the solid 4-star read. LaCour is a talented author and I've read and enjoyed (and given 4 stars to) all of her books :) Emmi's job was the coolest!
Also, I didn't want to put Ari & Dante on this list again





14. want to re-read already

Aristotle and Dante....  

Yeah, no ragrets.




MOMENTS



1. best plot-twist (no spoilers!)

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
A mild spoiler: "NOOOOOOOOOO HOW COULD YOU" that is all, Mr Lynch, that is all. Not really. You bastard (I say this lovingly).

Honourable Mentions:
Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan-- the above comment works for you, too.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart -- admittedly the hype kind of killed my enjoyment (and memory) for this book, but I apparently really liked it when I first read it (I gave it an 8.5/10). Anywho, great twist. 



2. best swoon-worthy moment


"I love swimming - and you." 
-this is from a book you can probably guess. I'm not sure if the quote is 100% accurate because I don't own the book (*cries*)... but you get the gist.




3. best cliffhanger

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Not gonna say any more, it's released in 2015.





4. best ending for a stand-alone

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
This one is a re-read.
I get a little choked up when I read "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman, and a ride home." (which like a dork, is something I've memorized, and is why I noticed that it's misquoted in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and that bugged me to no end. Why am I even telling you this?) 


5. best ending for a series

Catalyst by S. J. Kincaid (The Insignia trilogy). I didn't finish too many series this year, but oh gosh, Catalyst was so satisfying. Not perfect, but definitely loved the darker tone and the resolution for such an action-packed trilogy.





CHARACTERS

1. most memorable female character

Kestrel - The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Loved her.



2. most memorable male character

Dante - Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Or maybe Ari? Is anyone surprised by my lists anymore? 



3. favourite friendship
Kami and Angela - Untold/Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan. 
They were pretty kick-ass-- a sassy, headstrong detective coupled with a secretly-caring but outwardly apathetic bff. They're sisters, really.


4. favourite relationship 

I DARE YOU TO GUESS 

I don't really want to spoil it? But like, it should be pretty obvious by now.. 

5. new literary crush

Probably Dante's parents, or something. I should retire this category, I don't seem to crush on literary characters very much anymore. 


6. favourite sibling relationship

Angela and Rusty - Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan
SRB, you sure are making a lot of appearances on this list!


7. best villain

~society~
BECAUSE SOCIETY KIND OF SUCKS SOMETIMES.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers (released April 2015)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski



OTHER

1. favourite cover (of a book i read)



It's just so pretty!!



2. book you're looking forward to the most in 2015

This year's list: The Howling Boy by Cath Crowley, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, Winter by Marissa Meyer, Minders by Michele Jaffe, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Also, any type of book and/or grocery list by Melina Marchetta.

Several debut authors, and a book I've been holding out for for a few years.

Last year's list (strike-outs mean I read them): The Howling Boy by Cath Crowley, Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, Raging Star by Moira Young, Catalyst by S.J. KincaidThe Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey.

And to Markus Zusak, WHEN DOES THE BRIDGE OF CLAY COME OUT?!?!??!??!! (just kidding, take your time) <-- pretty sure this comment has been here for the last three years


**


And that's it! Kind of long, kind of repetitive, just like my internal monologues.

Thanks to all of you who have stuck around and read my singular blog post each month (even then, not always). I really appreciated your comments, and I hope to keep it up next year, since I love to set hazardously low bars for myself.

I hope you all read wonderful books and explored worlds and fell in love with characters and prose. Please let me know what your favourite read was this year, I'd love to know!

I'll be posting my favourite movies in the upcoming days, so stay tuned.

Lastly, have a wonderful new year, and an extraordinary 2015. Here's to you! xx

-Audrey

12.26.2014

15 comments:

  1. The Winner's Curse was SO GOOD! I thought Kestrel was an awesome, awesome character and I can't wait to read the sequel!!

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  2. I loved reading through all this (and it finally inspired me to make my own post of fave reads of the year).

    I haven't read your fave book but have seen it at the library so I will def check it out :) You have totally convinced me.

    I was surprised how much I loved the Winner's curse too! I have already reread it (still waiting on #2 ~ I am certain I will love it just as much). Totally didnt look or sound like a me book (that cover??!?)

    And youve read the new Courtney Summers! Argh! So hanging out for that (but I dont mind the wait... it makes it more exciting.)

    Totally need to check out Nina lacour. I loved her debut but havent read her since for some reason?

    Have an awesome holiday (if you are on one? We are in Australia for summer break) and I hope you find many more awesome books in 2015 :) x

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    1. I'm about to go comment on yours! I really hope you get a chance to read Ari & Dante, it left me breathless.

      Yes for The Winner's Curse-- I ended up rereading it a week or two after as well, totally unexpected (agreed with you on that cover!).

      Happy New Year Nomes, hope your summer (still bizarre for me to say that) is going well! :)

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  3. Now you've totally persuaded me to read Aristotle & Dante... just debating buying it or taking it from the library. I kind of shied away from The Winner's Curse because I don't always like fantasy, but seeing that you liked it so much, I might have to give it a try. Glad to hear you read some awesome books this year, and all the best in 2015! :)

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    1. YAY mission accomplished! I hope you end up writing a best-of list, I'd love to know what your favourite reads are.

      Happy new year, Chloe! Hope your break is going well :)

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  4. I haven't read Aristotle and Dante yet but now it looks like I must! And so glad you enjoyed The Winner's Curse. That ending for Winner's Crime though. I NEED that 3rd book and the wait is going to be killer.

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    1. I'm pretty sure we need a club to commiserate the ending of The Winner's Crime. I hope you do read Ari & Dante, it's so good :D

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  5. I want to read all the rage SO BAD . She always knows how to pull on all the right strings. I think I'm gonna go to my local bookstore and see if they have it. Happy new year darling! :)

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    1. It's out in April! Also, there's a novella sequel to This is Not A Test omgomgomgomgogmg remember how good that book was?!

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  6. Is it bad that I have read virtually none of these? Clearly I have some catching up to do. I got The Winner's Curse for Christmas (one of my most highly anticipated from my book wishlist!) so I'm really excited to dig into that (whenever I get around to reading it, lol). The Lies of Locke Lamora also sounds really cool – not my usual style perhaps when it comes to fantasy, but I've been seeing good things about it.

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  7. I think 2014 was a rough year for everyone when it came to reading. I know I wouldn't have made my Goodreads Challenge without children's books, graphic novels, and audiobooks. I was really pushing myself to hit the numbers I wanted which I'm hoping to avoid today. Hopefully 2015 is better for everyone.

    I'm a huge fan of Seraphina too! I'm looking forward to trying to sneak in a reread sometime early this year so that I can tackle the sequel with the world fresh in my mind.

    And I'm really starting to think that The Winner's Curse is the must read book of 2014. It's shown up on almost every list I've seen which is making me think I need to get it off my TBR as soon as I possibly can.

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    1. I hope I get the chance to read the Seraphina sequel, I know what you mean about needing a reread. Yes, read The Winner's Curse! :D

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DFTBA :)
for those who are confused, it means "Don't forget to be AWESOME". *hugs*