Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Top 14 Books of 2014

I'm guessing that most people are going to do a top ten, but I want to go for the full fourteen, as this is being typed before I've decided the whole list and I don't think I can stick to just ten. Also I know that this pile looks like it's going to fall over - thankfully it didn't, but it took such a long time to take a photo.

#1 - Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Yes, out of nearly 100 books - Fangirl is the best book I read in 2014.  I read this in February, but nothing beat it in the 10 months that followed. Maybe it's because it's got a Harry Potter parody within the book. Maybe it's because Cath sounds exactly like me - I write Harry Potter fanfiction, have anxiety/ OCD tendencies, and I want to do creative writing at University. But Fangirl is potentially my favourite book of all time. The writing was sweet and humorous, whilst dealing with serious matters as well. This made Mel feel even more passionate about my dream to become an author. Being my book of the year, I have done a full review of this in my previous post. (Read in February)


#2 - Landline by Rainbow Rowell

I know, another Rainbow Rowell, but this was very close to succeeding Fangirl as my favourite book. The way Rowell incorporated magical realism into the story was phenomenal, and I felt like every word had to be considered sacred as it was just beautiful. So many things in this book could be quoted, but I'd go on forever. Everything with this book was just so perfect, that if I continue talking I won't stop. (Read in July)


#3 - Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This was the last book I ever expected to be in my top 3 books of the year - but this is the first time I think I've ever properly experienced THE FEELS. I expected this to be cheesy and fluffy - things I didn't like at the time. This completely changed my opinions, and I couldn't stop thinking about Anna and St Clair for days on end. (Read in January)


#4 - We Were Liars by E Lockhart

It's really hard to describe this book without going into spoilers, but We Were Liars was the most unusual, mysterious book I read all year. You would read 10 pages and it felt like 50. Everything was so vague and the twist was shocking even if I almost got it right. The main reason that this is so special is because it created a sense of paranoia in me, and the most bizarre psychological effects that I've ever experienced - books don't do that, but We Were Liars did. (Read in August)


#5 - Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I go back and forth as to which out of this and ANNA I prefer, but I like this a little less. There are so many passages in this book that I just want to cut out and stick on my walls. Such beautiful writing and a gripping tale. (Read in June)


#6 You're the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher

Originally, I wanted to read this book because I'm obsessed with McFly and Giovanna is married to the lead singer, but You're the One That I Want blew me away. The plot wasn't exactly groundbreaking, but it was wonderfully simplistic and heartwarming.
 (Read in November)


#7 - Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

People have been comparing this to The Perks of Being A Wallflower since before it's release, and yes, it does have Wallflower-esque elements, but I felt this to be more to my taste than what it's allegedly based on. The prose was just gorgeous and I couldn't help but fall in love with the characters - especially Laurel and Sky. (Read in May)


#8 - Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

My favourite quote from the review I wrote of this is "This is historical fiction. If you don't like Historical Fiction, then read this book."  Taken out of context, that doesn't make sense but the reality is that this book made me change my opinion on Historical fiction. Talley combines themes of Racism, sexism and LGBT perfectly and I haven't stopped recommending this since finishing the book. (Read in October)


#9 - Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Not as high on the list as it's predecessors because it wasn't as great... But still - so fluffy and sweet and really, really charming. Probably on this list for the cameo appearances, vivid passages, and THE THING that happens near the end - you'll know what I'm talking about if you read this! (Read in August)


#10 - The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

It's really difficult to tell you about this book as my feelings on it are just confusing. I could get my copy, cut out any sentence from the entire book - and that sentence can be guaranteed to be beautiful. The ending destroyed me and provided Ava Lavender nightmares, so prepare yourself. (Read in October)


#11 - Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium is probably the only dystopian series that I've actually loved. Yes, the books do go downhill after book 1 but I was just gripped from the very beginning. The concept of love being a disease and people just not feeling emotions is so intriguing. (Read in April)


#12 - The Jewel by Amy Ewing

So many people dislike this book but in my opinion it was amazing. The Jewel is the start of a new series and was a brilliant debut for Ewing. The day I read this, I went in hoping to read 10 pages; I looked up and realised I'd read 150 - that's how brilliant this was. The ending too! I cannot wait for the next book! (Read in November)


#13 - Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt

I received this for review from Electric Monkey and was blown away by it's content. Skin Deep is about a girl who was seriously burnt and is now under the belief that "Ugly people don't have feelings." The character development was done so well and the main twist in the story was utterly heartbreaking. (Read in April)


#14 - Finding Cherokee Brown by Siobhan Curham

Finally, we have reached my number 14 spot. FUN FACT: Yes, this is the real writer of Girl Online too. Finding Cherokee Brown reminded me of what it's like to be bullied and was such an inspiring story of daring to dream and pulling through. The writing wasn't my normal taste but it really worked in this book.


So those are my top 14 books of 2014! Have you read any of these? What was your favourite book of 2014? Please let me know in the comments.

Thank you for sticking with me throughout 2014, here's to another year packed with bookish posts!

Holly x

Friday, 26 December 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell:: Book of 2014

FangirlCath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible ...
.

As weird as it sounds, I'm pretty sure that when I read this back in February that I knew that this may be my favourite book of 2014. Although that was my 6th book of the year, there was definitely something that made me believe that I wouldn't read anything better than this throughout the rest of the year. Needless to say, now in December, I've read 85 books since, and nothing has succeeded Fangirl.

2 months before reading Fangirl, I had read Eleanor and Park - that being the first time I'd ever heard of Rainbow Rowell. Eleanor and Park was a 5 star book in my eyes and so I had high hopes for Fangirl  - which of course, the book reached. Fangirl was an incredible book, and I feel one of the reasons I felt this is because of the Simon Snow links. Simon Snow is a fan take on Harry Potter - a series which has been my life for the past 4 years. Simon Snow mirrored the Harry Potter fandom so well, the way that people queued up for the midnight releases etc - it was just perfect.

I always consider Hermione Granger my favourite fictional character because I've always felt that I could somewhat relate to her, as with Luna Lovegood. Cath Avery has certainly made it into my top 3 characters of all time, and this is probably because she is exactly like me. I suffer from Anxiety, want to do Creative Writing at University, and I also write fanfiction - specifically Harry Potter fanfiction. I could completely understand her actions and her thoughts behind what was happening, which is a connection I rarely find with main characters.

So many plots ran through this book too - Cath's relationship with her twin, Wren, the romance between her and Levi, and the story of Cath's first year of University, not to forget the snippets of Simon Snow here and there. It was great that all of these different plots felt equally covered, and although all entwined, none of the themes necessarily dominated, and I really loved that.

I could go on forever about this book and I know this isn't exactly a great review, but I really can't do, what I now consider my favourite book, justice. Fangirl just left me feeling warm and fuzzy with happiness - I was literally fangirling for Fangirl.


Holly x

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Letters to Winter




Dear Winter,

I’ve been waiting for you. 12 months have passed by and yet it feels like you never went away. I’m so glad that you’re back though, because this year hasn’t been the greatest of years. It has been a whirlwind of enormous amounts of pain and the occasional bits of happiness, but mainly pain. It’s painful to write that. It is December now, and it is by far my favourite month, my birthday and Christmas are nearly here - this is what I've been waiting for.

You, are my season of reflection. When nostalgia kicks in and as much as I’m desperate to move on at some points there will be brief moments where I feel like I don’t want to let go. But I need to. I have to.


Love, Holly


As inspired by Carrie Hope Fletcher.

Friday, 19 December 2014

#TBSecretSanta




Last month I had an idea. 

A lot of you who read this blog I consider close friends. It may be over the internet but I honestly feel like I've found great friends through blogging. However, the difficult thing about having friends scattered across the country is that if you want to send them all Christmas presents, it's going to cost a lot of money. So I had the idea - a small secret santa between a group of bloggers I'm involved with. Orli, said why not, and so we decided to work on the project together. We've all agreed to share what we got and so onwards! I got Sophie from A Day Dreamer's World as my secret santa to send a package to, definitely check out her blog!

From the moment that I opened the parcel it was obvious from the beautiful handwriting that the lovely Ruby from Feed Me Books Now, had got me for the secret Santa, and the thing that caught my eye first was the beautiful drawing of Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series that she had done herself. Hermione is my favourite book character of all time and so this started everything off on a high. Hermione's drawing is now stuck proudly to my wall of stuff above my bed. Ruby had also made a hand-drawn card for me with "Deck the halls with Boughs of Holly" on, because my name is Holly - and it's just. so. perfect. 

Speaking of all things Potter, she also sent me these lovely pencils from PopCult Pencils - an Etsy shop that prints all fandom related things onto pencils. It surprises me how well Ruby knows me, there being a Hermione Quote "It's LeviOsa, not Leviosar" on the first. A Doctor Who quote (I'm obsessed with Doctor Who) "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor," on the second. And finally a third pencil saying "I'm kind of a big deal on my blog". These pencils just reflect some of the things I love so well, and I'm kind of scared to use them as they're so pretty...

The final thing I want to talk about is the book I received - The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer. In the process of the secret Santa, we all had to list three of our top wishlist books. The Shock of the Fall was not in that list, but it was a book that I have meant to buy for a long time. The blurb is very ambiguous and I'm really looking forward to reading this sometime in the new year.

Thank you so much to Ruby for the wonderful parcel! Thank you to Orli, for organising the Secret Santa with me. And thank you to Rita, Cat, Sabrina, Hawwa, Sophie, Charli, Holly and Zoe for participating!

Holly x

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The Jewel (The Lone City, #1)Sold for six million diamantes, Violet is now Surrogate of the House of the Lake in the centre of the Lone City, the Jewel. Her sole purpose is to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess – a woman Violet fears and despises. Violet is trapped in a living death, her name and body no longer her own. She fights to hold on to her own identity and sanity, uncertain of the fate of her friends, isolated and at the mercy of the Duchess.

What surprised me about this book was how much I enjoyed it. This is of a genre I never thought I'd appreciate, but actually really, really did.

The Jewel surrounds Violet, who has been diagnosed as a surrogate and is auctioned off to give birth to the child of the wealthy citizens of the Lone City who live in it's centre - The Jewel. The Duchess of the Lake is the lady who she is sold to, a manipulative woman who Violet sees straight through, and slowly she decides that she wants to break free from the power she is under.

This is meant to be a crossover between The Selection (Keira Cass) and The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood) - two books that prior to reading The Jewel, I had no intention of ever reading. It is amazing how a single book can change your perspective. Every word seemed to float of the page, enchanting and entrancing. The writing flowed beautifully from one chapter to the next, leaving me dying to read on.  It's incredible how Ewing managed to describe the city and all it's levels of status into a single book because this creation is a masterpiece. 

Violet was such an interesting character, her position means that you see ever aspect of being a surrogate - particularly the darker side to this auction. It seems like such a disgusting thing - to auction off teenagers who are fertile so that richer people do not have to go through the process of pregnancy and birth themselves -  but the reality is that it is something that could potentially happen in the future. Every character felt so detailed and deep. I felt captivated and like I'd known these people for far longer than 300 pages. Something that gripped me from the very beginning was the way that Violet's emotions were described and how scared she was surrounding the prospect of never seeing her family again and loosing her identity to become Lot 197.

Plot wise, this was fast paced and entertaining, causing me to be hooked straight away. Becoming immersed in The Jewel is incredibly easy, - one minute it is 1pm and the next it's 2:30 and you've read 200 pages. It was just brilliant. Shocks lay around every. single. corner. and the beauty is that none of them seem to be expected, they just take you back for a second before you're urged to read on.

This was brilliant and I honestly cannot recommend The Jewel highly enough to you.

Holly x

Friday, 12 December 2014

Top Ten: Christmas Wishlist

1:: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Everybody raves about this book, and admittedly, it does sound amazing, so I cannot wait to read this!

2:: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
I've actually read the first few chapters of Daughter of Smoke and Bone in Waterstones and it was amazing, but I've never gotten round to picking it up again, so maybe I should...

3:: Shatter Me by Tahareh Mafi
Erm.... it sounds great (?)

4:: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johanssen
Two words: Emma. Watson.
She raved about this and is going to be in the film so not to take celebrity opinions but she is queen so ... you know... I NEED THIS.

5:: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
A fantasy about a place where humans and dragons live together - that sounds pretty good to me :)


6:: Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher
I read You're the One that I Want (Fletcher's second novel) back in November and adored it, so it's probably about time that I get round to reading Billy and Me. 

7:: The Year of the Rat by Claire Furniss
The Year of a Rat is a book that I've wanted ever since it's release - but it is in hardback meaning that it is unreasonably expensive. So I either wait god knows how long for it to be in paperback, or ask for it for Christmas.

8:: Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
Ask the Passengers comes as rather an embarrassment, since this has been on my Goodreads To-read shelf since November 2013, and because it's a US book it's only on Amazon and I've just not had the chance to read or buy it yet. If anything THIS should be number 1 on this Top Ten.

9:: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
The only book of Rainbow Rowell's I haven't read yet - I've been trying to ration her books out, and I think Christmas would be the perfect time to read Attachments (I don't know why???)

10:: The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop
Artsy, unique and quirky. The Isobel Journal glares at me every time I pass it penniless in Waterstones. Cannot wait to finally read it!

So these are the books on my Christmas Wishlist! Let me know what your Christmas wishlist books are in the comments! 


Holly x

Sunday, 7 December 2014

November Book Haul





Only 5 books. I'm actually rather impressed.

I may have counted wrongly, but there was a significant reduction in the number of books I bought this month - which is good Christmas-Shopping-Wise. I also started to buying more books in Charity Shops too, leading to me saving a lot of money. The fact is that the charity shops near me don't have a lot of books targeted at a Young Adult market, but they did have some adult books that I'd been dying to read, so those are the ones I'll talk about first.

You're the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher was £1 in Scope, and was in perfect condition aside from the cracked spine. This was my first read of November and I adored it. Given that this was released only this year, I was so pleased to get this so cheap. Fletcher's other book, Billy and Me, was my last purchase of the month in the British Heart Foundation when I got into town too early when meeting my friend. If you didn't know already I'm a huge fan of McFly, and Giovanna is Tom Fletcher's wife, so I've felt the need to read these two books for a LONG time now.

 The final charity shop book is One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner which I found in Oxfam Books. This is about 3 different people whose lives become changed and connected when a man dies on their commute into London. One Moment, One Morning is a book that I've had on my Goodreads to-read shelf for 2 years now and had never seen it in a single bookshop, so although it's not in an excellent condition, I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote is the first Penguin Modern Classic I've ever bought, and it was purchased in a moment of desperate need to find something to read. After talking to Ruby from Feed Me Books Now about recommended short classics, she suggested a few titles, including this book. Breakfast at Tiffany's is about Holly Golightly (played by Audrey Hepburn in the film), an eccentric, wild young woman with a mysterious past living in New York - sounds a little odd I know, and I didn't particularly enjoy the book, but I feel like this is something I'll appreciate far more when I'm older than 15.

Finally I have Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Afterworlds is split into two interweaving parts - Darcy's story of publishing her first novel entitled Afterworlds, and Lizzie, the main character in Darcy's novel. At 600 pages, this is an incredibly long book and only for those with a great amount of patience. and a lot of time on their hands. 

So that is November's book haul! I try and maintain some sort of continuity in my book haul photos but the location in which I normally photograph them was rather dark today, but I think for now my sunny window sill will do.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments!

Holly x