There’s nothing like a good list is there? Especially a ‘recommended’ book list!
Without further ado, here are my top reads out of 117 I’ve read so far this year that have really stood out. Not all of them were published in 2012, but they are all ones I have read since January. I’ll be doing a much longer list at the end of the year, but these are, as they say, the creme de la creme.
Easy by Tammara Webber
I loved Easy. This is a self published novel but it is miles ahead of so many books I’ve read that have been traditionally published. Easy falls into the New Adult category and it was so good to read about protagonist closer to my own age.
If you’re looking for some hot moments, tension and a healthy, respectful, romance than this is the book for you. Easy isn’t just a romance, however, as it has a darker storyline and does include some well-written but unsettling scenes of sexual assault. Don’t let that put you off as Webber balances the two out nicely.
Another self published novel and one that very quickly became popular through word of mouth on Goodreads and across the blogs. Angelfall has done so well that Amazon will be publishing Ee’s novel in paperback, which is out in August and you can be certain I’ve already ordered my copy.
This is one paranormal YA that I absolutely adore and there are very few out there that I have liked. But I was gripped by Angelfall and couldn’t put it down. The mythology was great, the world-building strong and the romance just right. Best of all, Ee knows how to write a leading man who isn’t a jerk and a heroine who can take care of herself, who is compassionate but kick-ass if the situation calls for it. The really great news is that there are several more books already planned for what could become one of my favourite series!
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
This book shattered my heart. It’s everything I look for when I pick up a book. Everything I want to say about Code Name Verity is summed up in my review and I just hope you give this book a chance if you haven’t already. A few parts in the first half may be a little slow for some people (especially if, unlike me, you have no interest in World War II planes) – but it’s worth the build up when everything clicks into place.
One of my highlights this year was having Wein on the blog where she agreed to give an in-depth spoiler-free interview about the book, which you can read here.
If I wanted to, I could pick out several things that would normally prevent me from rating this so high – the plot was a little too thin on the ground, Gisbourne strayed a bit into pantomime villain town, I would have liked to have seen more merry men and I hated John with a passion. However. This book was so much fun! I fell in love with the character of Scarlet and the last third of the book simply exploded, that the other stuff didn’t bother me as much as it usually would. Yes, this is your somewhat worn, tried and tested formula of the feisty girl dressed as a boy who isn’t ‘ladylike’ and prefers doing ‘boy’ things like stealing and climbing trees and is handy with a knife. But for all that I loved it anyway.
This book came along just at the right time and I was gripped from the first page. It’s atmospheric, unnerving and I loved that Johnson clearly did her Jack the Ripper research. There’s a great balance between the dark, sinister and creepy and some genuine laugh out loud moments. I grew really quite fond of all the characters, in particular Rory, whose voice just stood out. Rory possesses a dry wit, is kind, outgoing and confident and I found it incredibly refreshing to have a young heroine who wasn’t angsty, obsessing over some boy or agonising over her own looks or perceived defects. She is confident in her own skin, with an openness and friendliness that made me like her instantly.
If, like me you have a bit of a morbid fascination with Jack the Ripper, you should definitely check this out. You can read my full review here.
This is one of those quiet, no fuss books that tend to get lost amongst the popular, hyped titles. If I saw this book on the shelf I would, in all honestly, be put of by the cover and probably carry on by. But this is a heartfelt, intelligent book and I simply cannot praise it highly enough. Words in the Dust, written by former soldier Trent Reedy, tells the story of Zulaikha, a young girl living in worn-torn Afghanistan. The Taliban may be defeated, but Zulaikha is bullied daily and often shunned because of her cleft lip, until the day the American’s arrive and offer her a surgery that will transform her life. Words in the Dust is such a rich novel and just flows so beautifully, giving an insightful, non-judgmental glimpse into very different culture and way of life. It was heartening to watch Zulaikha grow in confidence and choose her own future. The authors note at the end is also well worth a read. An excellent book for younger and older readers.
This is a great book to pick up if you’re fan of the infamous Tudor king, no matter what your age. VIII tells the story of Henry from a young prince through to his death and Castor really succeeds in bringing the prince to life, giving emotion and motivation to her carefully crafted character, while staying true to history. There is a hint of the paranormal in VIII but it works well, Castor is ambiguous enough to leave it up to the reader to decide whether Henry really was haunted, whether his upbringing and religious beliefs led to his visions or whether he is a fragile young man slowly going crazy. This is an engaging story that I’d highly recommend for anyone with a love of history.
Princess Academy surprised me. I was expected a very girly book, what I got was a strong, intelligent young girl struggling to find her place in the world with a strong emphasis on the importance of education and choice. Princess Academy is what I would call a ‘light’ fantasy but it’s perfect for young readers and an enjoyable, inoffensive escape for older ones. Check out my full review here.