My Year in Books: 2014

2014 has been both a great and disappointing year for my reading. In many ways, it’s a year of quality over quantity, which is pleasing; yet I was hoping I could complete more than the 28 I did. I suppose completing my A Levels and working on a big theatre project didn’t help!

This year I notably also started a fair few books I didn’t finish, not because I don’t think I’ll like them but because I just didn’t get on with them at the time (I’m a firm believer in right place/right time for my reading; sometimes a narrative just won’t click with me when I first attempt it but I’ll love it another time). Amongst these books were Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant and Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light by Derek Landy, two books I was HUGELY excited about; as well as sci-fi Conquest by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard and sort-of-paranormal Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve.

All cover images link to my reviews (if published).


Burn by Julianna Baggott cover How They Met by David Levithan cover Salvage Keren David cover Hollow City by Ransom Riggs cover Burn by Julianna Baggott, How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan, Salvage by Keren David and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs.

January began with a bang as I feasted on Burn by Julianna Baggott – the third and final instalment in the Pure Trilogy which has become one of my favourite dystopian/post-apocalyptic series. Baggott has a knack for great characterisation coupled with unbelievably good prose. I continued with short story collection How They Met by David Levithan – lovely, sweet and tender if you’re up for a few cute stories about blossoming relationships. And, of course, there are plenty of LGBT characters; a definite plus! The month ended with the human story of Salvage and the fantasy elements of Hollow City, which was a nice contrast.


The Things We Did for Love Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith cover The Things We Did For Love by Natasha Farrant, Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

The Things We Did for Love was a book I picked up after meeting Natasha Farrant (the author); it’s not one I reviewed for several reasons, mainly because I was away from home at the time and never got around to it (shame). February was a slow month thanks in part to exam mocks; but I did manage to devour the superbly fantastic Grasshopper Jungle which is my favourite book of 2014; it’s truly astounding and here to stay, I think, as Andrew Smith’s reputation as a genius writer blossoms in the new year with further releases and the hope of developments of the film adaptation.


Half-Bad-Sally-Green Trouble by Non Pratt cover Two Boy Kissing by David Levithan cover I Predict a Riot by Catherine Bruton cover Half Bad by Sally Green, Trouble by Non Pratt, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, I Predict a Riot by Catherine Bruton.

My luck didn’t change after finishing Grasshopper Jungle because I subsequently read Half Bad by Sally Green, a marvellous witchy tale that would have made J.K. Rowling jealous (yes I went there!) Also experimental 2nd person; big thumbs up. Trouble was up next which, apart from being the debut novel of my buddy Non Pratt also revolved around a Juno-esque teenage pregnancy; this time with a twist, so that was good. March was also the month in which David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing was finally published in the UK; I couldn’t get away with not reading it! It was lovely to end the month with Catherine Bruton’s I Predict a Riot; I’m a fan of her writing and her third novel is a lovely/tragic exploration of the London Riots.


Raging Star by Moira Young cover Raging Star by Moira Young

Just one book this month, and I can’t quite remember why. I managed to read the finale of Young’s epic dystopian trilogy early and was able to ask her lots of questions in my interview with her.


Blues for Zoey by Robert Paul Weston cover Winger by Andrew Smith cover Ciao for Now Crazy European Chick Blues for Zoey by Robert Paul Weston, Winger by Andrew Smith, Ciao for Now by Joe Schreiber.

I couldn’t not read Smith’s Winger having loved Grasshopper Jungle so much in February. And yes, Smith deserves punishment for what he did to my emotions.


We Were Liars by E.Lockhart cover Prince of the Icemark by Stuart Hill cover We Were Liars by E Lockhart, Prince of the Icemark by Stuart Hill.

Exam season begins so I’m back to just a couple of books; this time We Were Liars, which got so much hype that I read it just to see what all the (largely deserved) fuss was about. Then a brief throwback to my early teenagehood with the prequel to one of my favourite high-fantasy series, The Chronicles of the Icemark.


Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid cover Sand by Hugh Howey UK cover department-19-zero-hour-will-hill Replica Jack Heath UK cover Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid, Sand by Hugh Howey, Zero Hour by Will Hill, Replica by Jack Heath.

Sand and Zero Hour are undoubtedly standouts here; lost worlds in the former and vampires in the latter.


Lobsters book cover by Lucy Ivision and Tom Ellen The Case of the Pistol Packing Widows by Caroline Lawrence UK cover Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison, P.K.Pinkerton and the Pistol Packing Widows by Caroline Lawrence

My theatre project took over my life at this point but I still managed to get through the raucously British rom-com Lobsters and catch up with one of my favourite middle-grade series about a young detective in the Wild West.


Red Rising by Pierce Brown book cover The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud cover Red Rising by Pierce Brown, The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud.

I normally love to read whilst travelling but it just didn’t click as I worked my way from Prague to Istanbul with some friends. Red Rising finally managed to pull me out of that lull with its off-world dystopian plot; I quickly followed it up with the ghost-busting sequel from Stroud’s Lockwood & Co series. Then my kindle broke and I was marooned and all hope was lost. Sob.


Nothing here…oops.


Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami cover Norwegian Wood by Haruki Marukami

After a long while of nothing (and trying various books), I eventually got back into the groove with a recommendation from M.G.Harris: Japanese modern classic Norwegian Wood, which you could easily describe as the Japanese version of Catcher in the Rye, except it’s less whiny, more sexed-up and generally better…(controversial, I know!)


Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell cover All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven cover Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli cover The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

I managed to whizz through these three phenomenal contemporary/coming-of-age novels in a jiffy. All three deal with serious issues, though Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is arguably the lightest of the three; Last Leaves Falling and All the Bright Places both deal with mortality and are both tragically sad (in a good way). It was nice to end 2014 with three books that would kick off the YA scene for 2015 – especially as they’re all so good.


About Rhys

Rhys is a 19 year old with roots in the UK and Germany. Aside from reading and blogging, he also produces theatre, loves Kate Bush and hopes to pursue a career in publishing. His reviews have been widely quoted in books such as Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines Quartet, Catherine Bruton’s Pop!, James Treadwell’s Advent and Anarchy and he has presented at such events as Book Expo America.

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