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Aly’s Top Reads of 2014

2014 was a good book year. Not only did I finally get round to reading books that ultimately made it on my “favourites” list, but I also found gems that don’t get nearly enough praise. I found books that made me laugh and others that made me cry, some that made me dream and others that had me clutching the edge of my seat, heart pounding. It was a good year for books — old and new.

Young Adult

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Meet Meda. She eats people.

Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.

They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her ‘kind’ is.

“Cracked” is one of those books that don’t get as much recognition as they should. We’re presented with a snarky, kick-ass main character and her loyal group of comrades, a plot to die for thanks to its originality and witty comebacks we can easily use in real life (thank you, Eliza Crewe, for helping me win more arguments than I should). It is one of those books I discovered early on in the year -it gripped me from page one and I raced through it with my heart pounding and my palms sweaty. It is one of those books that you just have to know what happens next.

 

New Adult

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Maise O’Malley just turned eighteen, but she’s felt like a grown-up her entire life. The summer before senior year, she has plans: get into a great film school, convince her mom to go into rehab, and absolutely do not, under any circumstances, screw up her own future.

But life has a way of throwing her plans into free-fall.

When Maise meets Evan at a carnival one night, their chemistry is immediate, intense, and short-lived. Which is exactly how she likes it: no strings. But afterward, she can’t get Evan out of her head. He’s taught her that a hookup can be something more. It can be an unexpected connection with someone who truly understands her. Someone who sees beyond her bravado to the scared but strong girl inside.

That someone turns out to be her new film class teacher, Mr. Evan Wilke.

New Adult seems to be one of those hit-or-miss genres. Either a book is amazingly good or it’s shockingly awful and there seems to be no middle ground. Unteachable, a new adult contemporary romance by Leah Raeder, is the former. Raeder gives us relateable characters, a relateable plot (all of us have had a major crush on at least one of our teachers, come on) and a heart-warming and heart-breaking romance all in one. Although the “purple” prose can be too much in some books, it only added to the beautiful atmosphere represented in this story.

 

Mystery & Thriller

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As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

In the Woods was one of my first mysteries of the year, and nothing has quite come close to it since then. Tana French shows you what lack of closure can do to a person and how it can rule their life, long after a case has gone cold; it shows that even if a city or country can forget, those involved never will. We’re faced with doubt and an incredibly complex plot that grips you from the very first page.

 

Fantasy

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In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

Laini Taylor is the queen of lyrical prose. Her writing is just so beautiful, not to mention the worlds she creates. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a unique spin on the “angels and demons” trope, and she weaved a story within a story that stole my breath away. In 2014, the final instalment of the trilogy came out, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, so for those of you who don’t like starting a series before it’s done, you have nothing to worry about and I highly recommend this book to fans of fantasy, romance and beautiful writing.

 

Series

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When MacKayla’s sister was murdered, she left a single clue to her death, a cryptic message on Mac’s cel phone. Journeying to Ireland in search of answers, Mac is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to master a power she had no idea she possessed – a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysteriou Jericho…while at the same time, the ruthless V’lane – an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women – closes in on her. As the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: to find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book – because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control both worlds in their hands.

I read the first five books of the Fever series in four days. Ms Moning gives us kick-ass characters, a mind-blowing plot and a romance to die for all centred around Dublin, Ireland. If that’s not enough to convince you to pick this series up, I don’t know what is. Mac is quirky and funny, yet where she starts off as a childish woman, she quickly grows up and begins to understand that, in this world, nothing is what it seems. I loved the character developments shown in the books, the romance that took its time to grow and the budding friendships that resemble so much the ones you may have in real life. The Fever Series is my favourite series of 2014, and I cannot wait to pick up the seventh instalment at the end of the month.

Aly's Top Reads of 2014

Filed Under: Book ReviewsOther Reviews

About the Author: 21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

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