Last year I split this into three posts. This year, I'm just doing one big long one, so strap yourself in, make sure you have the drink of your choice to hand, and check out my favourite books from the year. They weren't all published this year, but of the 132 books I read this year, these were the ones that stuck with me.
Where I've reviewed the title the link takes you to my review (here or on Reading Lark), otherwise they to go Goodreads.
Happy reading, and I'd love to hear about your favourites this year!
Cooper Bartholemew is Dead (click for full review) was the first book I read this year and I loved it. It broke my heart. Even though you know from the beginning that Cooper dies, I spent the whole book willing something to change and it not to be true.
I read both the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series back to back in January. It was my first experience with both, and while I enjoyed Vampire Academy, I absolutely loved Sydney's story and these remain some of my favourite reads this year.
Another heart breaker. You could see where this was going from early on, but that didn't make it any less heartbreaking when the inevitable happened. Violet and Finch stole my heart. You can see my review on Reading Lark for my thoughts in more depth.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is another one I reviewed in full on Reading Lark. I can't believe I read this all the way back in February. Sarah J Maas' second series also boasts a strong female protagonist who does what needs to be done to protect those she loves. I can't wait for A Court of Mist and Fury next year.
Pearl Jam, politics and Melbourne. This book could have been written for me. Frankie's mum is standing for election as Premier and she and the family are in the media spotlight. The Australian media is not kind to female politicians, and as the election draws near, tensions arise. And the person Frankie has started trusting the most might be about to sell her out.
We All Looked Up is The Breakfast Club meets Armageddon and The Stand. This book really surprised me with its depth. The multiple protagonists were originally presented as stereotypes, but became so much more. If you haven't seen this one yet, it really is worth seeking it out.
Avery manages to survive the plane crash that kills almost everyone on board, but that's only the start of her problems. Stranded in the mountains with the boy she's been avoiding for months, she must find a way to survive until they are rescued.
Avery was a really enjoyable fantasy. Ava poses as a man to avenge her slain lover, Avery. A great adventure that doesn't pull its punches. Kayans die in pairs, but when Ava's lover died, she didn't. Forced out of her community she goes to find his killer and take revenge, but things don't go to plan. This was a real surprise and I enjoyed it greatly.
Weightless is such a good read. The first person plural viewpoint and unnamed narrator implicates us, the readers, in the culture of internet bullying that leads to tragedy in Adamsville, Alabama. Everyone who has anything to do with teenagers should read this book. This type of thing happens a lot, and we need to be aware of it.
I read these back to back and thoroughly enjoyed this series about Rachel Watts and her best friend, James Mycroft. The chemistry between these characters is sizzling hot and the mystery will keep you turning pages until the wee small hours. You can see my stop on the US/Can blog tour for Every Word on Reading Lark.
I loved both books in this series by Jessica Shirvington. Set in a near-future society where technology, in the form of M-Bands, controls people's lives. Maggie Stevens is ready to take down M-Corp and find out what happened to her father, but she's not prepared for her traitorous feelings. My review of Disruption is on Reading Lark.
The second installment in Julie Kagawa's Talon Trilogy continues the story of Dragon twins Ember and Dante, St George soldier Garret and rogue dragon Riley. Ember's dragon side is still attracted to Riley, but her human side is equally attracted to Garret. St George are after them and won't stop until they're captured, and Talon are also looking for them, using Dante to help find his twin. This is a great series and I'm looking forward to Soldier in 2016.
I would read Katie McGarry's shopping lists if she published them. I love her characters, the situations they face and obstacles they must overcome, and the heart-wrenching romances they find themselves in. The Thunder Road series is tangentially related to the Pushing the Limits series. Emily and Oz start out hating each other, but we know it's not going to stay that way. Great romance.
If you forced me to pick only 3 books for my review of the year, this would be one of them. It explores the potential dangers young people face when chatting online, and how easy it is for predators to target young people. It manages to do this without being preachy or overbearing, and even offers ways to keep yourself safe online. Every teenager, and every parent and teacher, should read this book.
I read this back in May, although it wasn't published until July. This book was such a pleasant surprise. I was expecting a contemporary, and what I got was science fiction. The bromance between the two protagonists was brilliant and Ollie and Moritz stole my heart. Well worth a read.
I loved this book so much I reviewed it twice, both here and on Reading Lark. Minnow Bly has been raised in a cult. Now she's out, the cult leader is dead, and she is in juvenile detention. Told through flashback and present day, we discover how Minnow found herself in detention and how the cult formed and dissolved. And did I mention, Minnow has no hands? A very different fairy tale retelling that will stay with you long after you read the final page.
This first book in Trudi Canavan's latest series was released in paperback this year, and followed later in the year by Angel of Storms, the second in the series. Rielle and Tyen are magicians from different worlds, with very different views of magic use. Tyen is obsessed with Vella, the ensorcelled book he finds, and Rielle is trying to avoid the sin of stealing magic from the angels. Their stories don't collide in this book, but they will in the future.
Best friends Dave and Julia set up the list of Nevers in order to avoid becoming high school cliches, but as graduation approaches, they start to feel they might have missed something along the way. A different take on the friend to love trope, it reminded me a lot of such John Hughes movies as Some Kind of Wonderful and Pretty in Pink.
A beautiful portrait of life in a small Australian country town. Sometimes the end of high school feels like the end of the world, and in this case, it actually might be. as those believing the end of the world is coming descend on their little town, a group of friends will have to examine their relationships, what they want out of life, and what they'll have to let go to get it. Great read.
In the Quiet is told from the point of view of a character who has died. She follows her family in their grief, always observing, never able to interfere. This book is so, so beautiful and poignant. There are moments that will break your heart, and it deals with grief in such a real way.
The second bookaction in the Spark trilogy dials up the action and thrills. Evie can no longer hide from Affinity, and her actions could put them all in danger. So. Many. Feels.
I read quite a bit of chicklit, but I don't often review it, so this one adds a bit of variety to the list. Jenny is still best friends with her ex-husband, and his new wife. When this comes to be too much she moves upstate to her home town and sets up a designer bridal dress store there. Escaping the city helps with her ex, but now she has her sister, mother and a grumpy landlord to deal with. And the grumpy landlord just happens to be gorgeous. This is a moving exploration of grief, love and family relationships.
Mim travels across country to find her mother. She ends up finding herself. I really enjoyed this, although I know it's been controversial and has divided readers. Check it out and decide for yourself.
This series just keeps getting better. I loved every bit of this book, but especially Rowan. More Rowan, please!
No one does epic fantasy better than Robin Hobb. She broke our hearts with Fool's Assassin and just as we were stitching them back together, she rips them out again and stomps on them. These characters may go through an epic amount of pain, but there is always hope, a door left open, an old friend reappearing. If you're not familiar with her work, then go find the Farseer trilogy and start there.
I joined the library in September and this is one of the first books I borrowed from their online service. A group of beauty pageant contestants crash on a deserted island. Or so it seems. This is a hilarious satirical look at the pageant industry, the way big business controls governments and media, and our obsession with reality TV. I loved it. It also explores LGBT+ issues.
I started with the audio book of this, but didn't enjoy the narration, so bought the book instead. This is my first Marchetta experience, but it definitely won't be the last. I loved the parallel stories of the present and past generations and how they intertwined. Beautiful and heartbreaking.
Between the Lives (One Past Midnight - US)
Jessica Shirvington makes the list again. I loved and adored this. It was so clever and so well done. Sabine lives each day of her life twice. At midnight she flicks between lives, with whatever she's doing suspended until the replay is over and she returns. One life is lived in poverty in a rough part of Boston, the other as part of a wealthy family and a seemingly perfect life. When the possibility of choosing one life over the other arises, Sabine is keen to try it, but which should she choose, the perfect life, or the life with her perfect match? I cried buckets at the end of this one.
I read the trilogy very quickly and enjoyed all of them. This could be described as The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games. America is not interested in Maxon at first, she is still in love with Aspen, her boyfriend back home, but Maxon is different to how America imagined, and she finds herself falling for him despite her misgivings. But the final choice is his. Will he choose or, or send her home? Or will the rebels attacking the castle kill them all before he gets the chance?
Another book that was so good I reviewed it both here and on Reading Lark. This one takes the award for my favourite book of the year. Art and words combine to create a unique reading experience. Illuminae pays homage to many sci fi greats, but it takes the genre and makes it its own. I have been recommending this book to everyone. It's brilliant.
This is one of the prettiest books I've read this year. Parallel universes exist, and with the Firebird, travel between them is possible. Marguerite follows her father's killer through multiple worlds to get revenge, but all is not what it seems. They might just prove that destiny exists, but can they change it?
The Starbound Trilogy came to a close with this one, and while These Broken Stars is still my favourite, this comes a close second. Tarver, Lilac, Lee and Flynn all make an appearance, but this story focuses on Sofia and Gideon as they set out separately to bring down LaRoux Industries. This one kept me reading all night. If you haven't discovered this series yet then it's well worth a look.
I haven't had a chance to review this yet, but I really enjoyed it. Clancy lives in a small town where being different is not really tolerated. When Clancy's dad is involved in a traffic accident that takes the lives of two local kids, Clancy finds herself ostracised even further. Infatuated with Sasha, the coolest girl in town, Clancy is flattered when she starts taking an interest, but what are her real motives? Clancy of the Undertow deals brilliantly with the pain of first love, the prejudices of a small town, and family relationships. I loved the way Clancy interacted with her brothers. This book is so very Australian. I loved it.
Meticulously researched, this book can be described as Buffy meets Pride and Prejudice. Lady Helen starts out concerned with propriety. After all, a Lady in the Regency period is only worth what she can bring to a marriage. Lady Helen's mother was considered a traitor to the crown, and that shadow hangs over Helen as she enters her first presentation season. She soon learns that she possesses gifts that allow her to harvest demons. However, fighting anything is not the done thing for a Lady of Helen's status. She will need to leave propriety behind if she's to help save the world.