Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Best read of 2013 - Happy New Years!!

We have arrived at the last day of 2013. It has been a mixed year with some truly joyful moments and I am looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings. This year has been full of reading. I managed to surpass my goal of reading 60 books and read 70 which I was super chuffed with. The majority of these were young adult fiction and I have enjoyed them all to varying degrees. I hope to read 80 books next year and have set myself a goal of half of them being new authors! I noticed after looking over my books of this year that I have got very stuck in which authors I am reading and I want to branch out a bit further. Having said that I have a lot of final installments to read of several series so I will be reading a few familiar ones as well.

It was really hard to pick which book I had enjoyed the most this year. I have discovered some really superb stories and authors in my reading journey. So after much thought I decided that my most enjoyed read of this year was...

Gone by Michael Grant

I loved this book so much. I was hooked from the very first chapter due to the superb plot construction, characters and pace. I have also enjoyed reading the rest of the series and am really excited to read the final book Light next year. I loved this series so much that I have bought copies so that I can re-read it at another point and also lend it to my friends and family (I am desperately trying to convince my hubby to give it a go). I reviewed this book earlier in the year and to my utmost joy the author himself commented on it which was a real blogging highlight. 

Wishing you all a happy new year!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Book Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

With the release of the film this year I jumped on the bandwagon and opened up City of Bones. I haven't actually seen the film so I do not know how accurate it is to the story but I can imagine this was an exciting book to film translation if it has been done properly.

I was pretty surprised with how much I got into this story. I really liked the quick pace it started with and managed to maintain throughout the book.  I really loved the character of Clary even if it took me to hear a colleague say her name for me to be sure I was pronouncing it correctly. She reacts exactly how I would expect someone to react when their entire world is revealed to be a lie and you discover that supernatural beings really do exits.

For a teen fiction story I think this has a more mature theme and is definitely for your older readers, although some more grown up elements of the story may be missed by younger readers. I was particularly absorbed with the themes Clare address, some which you rarely see in teen fiction let alone in young adult fiction. Unfortunately it would be a bit of spoiler to say what those themes are but if you read it you will know what I am on about.

I also felt that this story redeemed the vampire! I am a traditional Bram Stoker based Vampire kind of girl. I think Vampires should really scare you and should not be treated as frivolously as I think some vampire teen fiction has done. I mean they drink human blood that shouldn't be glossed over with glitter. I found the scene with Raphael pretty creepy and I was biting my nails wondering what would happen. I also like the introduction of other supernatural beings not just werewolves and vampires. It includes some overlooked creatures plus a few Clare brilliantly creates.

I am literally on tenterhooks waiting to find out what on earth is going to happen. The story revolves around Clary whose mother is kidnapped and in one fell swoop Clary's understanding of the world changes. She discovers that she is part Shadowhunter which introduces her to a world of demon hunting and Downworlders. Furthermore, she discover family she never knew she had and the direction this leads her is enthralling. She must, with Jace, Alec, Isabella and Simon, seek out the Mortal Cup before the traitorously charismatic Valentine gains it and in doing so gains control of the demonic races. All the while she must resolve her mixed up feelings and cope with the disappearance of her mother. She is a strong female lead and the story is just carried by her feisty nature. I have already powered through the second story and I am about to start City of Glass.

A must read for supernatural fiction fans!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013

I am back on the blog this week after an unexpected hiatus due to my job unfortunately being made redundant. I thought I would reappear with a familiar friend in the form of a Top Ten Tuesday!

I love this one as I have had the luxury of reading a few new others this year and hope I can read some more books by them in 2014. It was quite an eye opener to how many new authors I have encountered this year but also showed me how much I have stuck to familiar authors this year so I think as part of my reading goal for 2014 I might try challenge myself to read some more new authors.

1. Michael Grant - Gone Series

I am still making my way through the Gone series (2 to go) and I have been thoroughly impressed with the 4 I have read so far. Each one amps up the tension and keeps you guessing. I am still trying to work out what is going to happen and I really hope Fear and Light tie up all the loose ends. Michael Grant has also released a new series called Bzrk series which I think I might give a whirl.

2. Cassandra Clare

I have officially jumped on the bandwagon of the Mortal Instruments series. I raced through City of Bones and City of Ashes and have recently got my hands on City of Glass and I am really looking forward to what happens. I think this series does a great job of repairing the damage to vampire reputations. No sparkly vampires here but some genuinely chilling supernatural beings. Another unique series and worth a read for fans of vampire/supernatural fiction. Cassandra Clare has written a prequel and sequel trilogy for this series and I am debating getting my hands on these.

3. Veronica Roth

Another series here but I am hooked on the Divergent trilogy and I am eagerly waiting to read the final instalment when I finally manage to get a copy.  I was so impressed with the first two that I bought my sister in law copies for her birthday as I just knew she would enjoy them. I reviewed Divergent early on the blog. Roth has written some additional books from the point of view of Four and I think i need to give them a read next year.

4.  Elizabeth Wein

As part of the Carnegie Award I read Code Name Verity and was seriously gripped and surprised by the clever twists the plot took. This was a really different book for me to read as it wasn't fantasy or science fiction. I love reading books on book award shortlists as I think it helps you discover new authors you wouldn't have read before. Wein released Rose Under Fire not long ago and I have wondered about reading this.

5. Marcus Sedgwick

Midwinterblood was also shortlisted for the Carnegie award and I really was rooting for this one to win. I was so impressed with the way Sedgwick wrote the story and found myself captivated to the point that I just couldn't put the book down. I have got a fair few copies of other books by Sedgwick to read next year. I really want to read My Sword Hand is Singing.

6. Linda Castillo

Ok so I admit that this is not a Young Adult book and I would not recommend this at all for teenagers but for those who like crime fiction Castillo was an interesting discovery.  Castillo creates realistic characters who are featured throughout the series. I have a new on to read called Her Last Breath which has recently been released.

7. Sophie McKenzie

I really enjoyed Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie. The storyline was particularly clever for a young adult crime story. I haven't yet read the rest of the series but I often recommend this book as a starting point for you crime/mystery fans.

8. Kiera Cass

As I have mentioned before I was not sure about reading The Selection series. I had mistakenly judged the books by the covers and assumed they would be slushy romance but I was very wrong and think this is a wonderful introduction to dystopian stories for young adults. The final in the series The One is out next year and I will definitely be reading this treat.

9. C.J Flood

I loved Infinite Sky when I read it earlier this year and apparently there is to be a second instalment in 2014 (if goodreads is to be believed). For Flood this was a debut novel and I was really impressed with the quality of the writing and again considering the genre is not normally by cup of tea it really moved me and I would happily recommend this to students.

10. Sarah Crossan

I really enjoyed Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan which I read again as part of Carnegie. I had convinced myself I had read Breathe by her as well but realised recently that although I own a copy I haven't yet read it. As this featured on the Carnegie long list for 2014 I am going to make sure I get this one read. I love the style of Weight of Water and the brilliance of a story constructed with so few words. Breathe looks right up my street so I am sure I will enjoy it.