I have read a lot of books over the last two years when I started using Goodreads as a way of tracking my progress. Over the past two + years, I have cultivated a list of my all-time favourite books. I think this a good thing to include early on in my blog as it gives you all an idea of the kinds of books I read and love. This is an ever-expanding list so I will always mention in my reviews whether this book makes it to my list or not and I will probably do another wrap up later on next year. So let’s get going, in no particular order…
- Title: Alice
- Author: Christina Henry
- Series: The Chronicles of Alice (Book 1 of 2)
- Genre: Fantasy, Re-telling
- Date Read: Feb 6th – 16th 2017
Plot: The story centers around Alice who was committed to a mental institute for insanity after her trip to “Wonderland”. All she can remember years later, is a tea party, long ears and a lot of blood, leaving her with a long scar on her cheek. One night the institute burns down and she escapes to find out what happened all those years ago.
Reasons why I loved it: It started my love of re-tellings, which has now become one of my favourite genres. I loved how dark the book was, the original Alice in Wonderland is known for its whimsical and quirky world but this book did a complete 180 and made it dark and dangerous. The themes explored in this book are not for the faint-hearted and can possibly be distressing to some people. Personally, that’s what made me like the book so much because it was so drastically different to the original and I liked seeing how Henry would twist certain original elements or characters to fit her new and dark world. All the characters were exceptional, these characters were not always black and white, some were incredibly evil and some were morally ambiguous. This is what made the story so compelling to read because you never knew the intentions of any characters Alice would meet. One thing Henry did capture from the original story was the high level of imagination, the world was so incredibly rich with originality and wonder but in a terribly dark way. The plot was incredibly interesting, full of mystery, horror and magic. The plot allowed us to meet a variety of characters, explore various parts of the world and see elements of magic both terrible and good. Christina Henry has become one of my favourite authors.
- Title: And Then There Were None
- Author: Agatha Christie
- Series: Standalone
- Genre: Murder Mystery, Thriller
- Date Read: March 4th – 7th 2017
Plot: Ten people get invited to a Devon manor by a host who never arrives. Each character has been involved in a murder and this is their reason for being invited. As one by one they begin to die before the weekend is out there will be none. And all have the motive to do it.
Reasons why I loved it: The characters were so rich and flawed so when they were all slowly being killed off one by one you had a plethora of characters who it could possibly be which makes you want to read to the end. The nursery rhyme played at the beginning telling the characters how they will die was quite scary, while most of Christie’s work is cosy murder mysteries this book had the added edge of thriller to it which I really liked. The ending was really satisfying and I really like the reasoning behind inviting everyone to the manor and killing them off. The book was incredibly smart and it makes you want to applaud Christie’s writing because it was so well done!
- Title: Battle Royale
- Author: Koushun Takami
- Series: Standalone
- Genre: Dystopian, Thriller, Action
- Date Read: March 14th – June 13th 2018
Plot: Every year a high school class is chosen to be part of the Battle Royale program as part of an Authoritarian scheme to oppress the people of Japan. This year, a class is taken to a deserted island, handed a map, bread roll, water bottle and a weapon and must kill each other until one person is left standing.
Reasons why I loved it: The characterisation in this book was exceptional. Takami structured the book so at least a chapter or two was dedicated to each student, it sounds overwhelming as this class is very big but it is done really well so each student gets a moment to be in the forefront of the story. This is also incredibly heartbreaking, we connect more with the students as we read about their lives before the game and then see them die horrible deaths. We also so see a variety of relationships; platonic friendships, romantic relationships, unrequited love and friendships that fell apart. All of these relationships are explored thoroughly and I liked how all the students were connected in one way or another and again it made it more heartbreaking when they have to kill each other. Overall this book showed a lot of humanity and makes you look deep inside yourself.
- Title: Caraval
- Author: Stephanie Garber
- Series: Caraval (Book 1 of 3)
- Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, YA
- Date Read: Feb 13th- 16th 2018
Plot: Scarlett has always wanted to visit Caraval, a travelling performance show where the audience gets to participate. Stuck on the Isle of Trisda with a horrible father, Scarlett and her sister Donnatella finally receive the long-awaited invitations but no sooner do they arrive Donnatella is kidnapped by the Master Legend (shocking name) the owner of Caraval. Scarlett must find her sister before Caraval ends and Donnatella is lost to her forever.
Reasons why I loved it: The world of Caraval was so beautiful and magical and full of so much imagination from the colours to the rules of the game. Everything is so well thought out and I didn’t feel overwhelmed with the description of things and the immensity of the world. The plot had loads of twists and turns and the ending was a lot more shocking than I thought it was going to be. Garber’s writing is the kind of writing I try to stay away from, overly flowery and not very logical, focusing on imagery, but I felt that it worked really well with the world she has created.
- Title: Circe
- Author: Madeline Miller
- Series: Standalone
- Genre: Fantasy, Mythological, Historical, Re-telling
- Dates Read: Nov 10th -25th 2018
Plot: (Taken from my review last week)
Circe is all about the life of the famous witch of Greek mythology. The book details her life from her birth to the end. You see her life intertwine with other well-known characters and myths and you see another side to the somewhat evil witch.
Reasons why I loved it: Circe as a character has a very strong character arc starting off as weak and naïve and ending as an all-powerful witch who can do as she pleases. The writing was really well done I felt it added a level of magic to the story. The description of places whisks you away so you felt like you were there with her. I loved the episodic structure of the book focusing on 10 key moments in her life in detail and giving you an insight into how it changed her. I also loved how her story intertwined with so many well-known myths!
- Title: The Five People You Meet In Heaven
- Author: Mitch Albom
- Series: TFPYMIH Duology (Book 1 of 2)
- Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Historical
- Date Read: Aug 1st – 3rd 2016
Plot: Eddie, a wounded war veteran, is killed in a tragic accident trying to save a little girl. He awakes to find he is in heaven and proceeds to have the meaning of his time on earth spoken to him by five of the most important people in his life. But they aren’t who you think they are.
Reasons why I loved it: It was an incredibly inspirational story about the mark you leave on the world that made me so incredibly upset but also happy. Eddie was an amazing character that could be anyone, he hads his flaws, his doubts, his great moments and his worst moments.
- Title: Gemina
- Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
- Series: The Illuminae Files (Book 2 of 3)
- Genre: Sci-fi, Action, Romance
- Dates Read: Apr 30th – May 12th 2018
Plot: The story follows Hanna and Nik. Hanna and Nik live on space station called the Heimdall, Hannah is the captain’s daughter highly pampered with a great life while Nik is a reluctant member of a crime family. Due to the events of the first book, a strike team lands on the space station and begins to kill everyone on it and it’s up to Hanna and Nik to defend their home before it’s too late.
Reasons why I loved it: One of the stand out things about the series is the fact that the story is presented through files, so text messages, transcriptions of scenes etc. This was done really well and I was still just as drawn into the story with this style as I am with normal prose. The comedy in this is done really well, the transcription guy and Nik were stand out performers. Nik was a brilliant character that I warmed to immediately and while initially, I wasn’t sure on Hanna she came through and ended up being a strong female character. The story was a lot more interesting and compelling compared to the first book.
- Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Author: J.K. Rowling
- Series: Harry Potter (Book 2 of 7)
- Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
- Dates Read: May 31st – June 18th 2018
Plot: Harry Potter heads back to Hogwarts for his 2nd year even after the ominous warning from the House Elf Dobby about terrible things about to happend. Harry thinks nothing of it until the warning start to ring true as students begin to get attacked but “The Heir of Slytherin”.
Reasons why I loved it: I loved the mystery element of this, it was kid’s murder mystery and it was done extremely well. It made me realise that while I painted the first 3 books off as the lighter of the series this is wrong because I was shocked by how dark this book was. We see the introduction of blood supremacy, Ginny being taken over by Voldemort, Harry’s relationship with Voldemort and Slytherin. I am so glad I re-read this.
- Title: The Last Days of Jack Sparks
- Author: Jason Arnopp
- Series: Standalone
- Genre: Paranormal, Thriller
- Date Read: June 14th -18th 2017
Plot: In 2014, Jack Sparks, a controversial journalist dies in mysterious circumstances. Everyone knows his next book was on the occult when a tweet went viral after he took the mick out of an exorcism. Nobody knows what happened to him until now, this book details the last moments of Jack’s life and they are horrifying.
Reasons why I loved it: Jack was an incredibly charismatic character which even though he might have annoyed you, you can’t help but love him. I found his character incredibly interesting to read. The paranormal elements of the book were fantastic I was hooked from the beginning with this book. The last third of the book I couldn’t put down because it was so crazy and the pacing made it feel as if I was being chased by something horrible.
- Title: Lost Boy
- Author: Christina Henry
- Series: Standalone
- Genre: Re-telling, Fantasy, Horror
- Dates Read: Feb 11th -12th 2018
Plot: This book is the origin story to Captain Hook and how he went from Peter Pan’s right-hand man and best friend to his worst enemy.
Reasons why I loved it: This the first book I have ever cried over. I loved James as a character he was so kind and didn’t deserve all the stuff he was put through. Peter Pan was an amazing character I loved how twisted he was it was, in a weird way, refreshing to read a character so opposite to stuff I normally read. Like I said with Alice, Neverland is a beautiful and magical world but in this story, Henry turns it into a nightmare and I love to see how she takes well-known parts of Neverland and twists it. This book was so heartbreaking to read and I felt completely drained when I finishhd it.
- Title: Sycthe
- Author: Neal Shusterman
- Series: Arc of A Sycthe (Book 1 of 3)
- Genre: Dystopian, Sci Fi
- Dates Read: July 10th -14th 2018
Plot: In this story, the world we live in has evolved. It has solved world hunger, cured all illnesses and learent how to reverse death so that no one can die. To keep the population size under control certain people known as Scythes must randomly choose people to die and are the only ones who can kill. Our main two chacrters Citra and ROwan are apprentices under orders to become the next Sycthe under Scythe Faraday, but their is a catch only one of them will be chosen and the person who sin’t chosen will be killed instantly by the other.
Reasons why I loved it: In this novel we see many different way a scythe can kill somone and this is automatically linked with their philosophy on death which was really interesting to read about. Rowan was my favourite of the two apprencticeships, because he is given a better character growth. The world building was really good and set up the premise of the story really well.
- Title: Senlin Ascends
- Author: Josiah Bancroft
- Series: The Tower of Babel (Book 1 of 4)
- Genre: Steampunk, Action, Adventure
- Dates Read: March 16th – April 9th 2018
MY FAVOURITE BOOK OF ALL TIME!
Plot: Thomas Senlin and his wife Marya are on their way to the Tower of Babel for their honeymoon, a place that Senlin has been researching for a long time. It’s a marvel, where each level of the tower is drastically different to the level below and above it. On their arrival Senlin loses Marya in the busy streets, after hearing rumours that once you lose someone in the Tower you may never see them again. Senlin sets of in search of his missing bride.
Reasons why I loved it: The tower is so original and imaginative and I remember being blown away by the vastness of it. I loved how different each “ringdom” as they are called are. Each character that Senlin meets is important or impacts him and his quest in a certain way and no character feels unnecessary to the plot at all. The pacing was really good I never felt the story lull in any way. There was a good mixture of keeping on track about finding Marya and also exploring the ringdom he is in. Each level is like a small episode and it bring new characters and new hints to Marya’s whereabouts and about the mystery of the Tower. The story gets more and more intense as it goes on and allows enough wonder to make you want to read the next book.
- Title: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
- Author: Stuart Turton
- Series: Standalone
- Genre: Murder Mystery
- Dates Read: July 17th -21st 2018
Plot: Aiden Bishop must find out who killed Evelyn Hardcastle, a murder than no-one was able to solve. He has 8 days to find out who did it but here’s the catch. Each day he wakes up in a different body of someone who was at the party where she died and each day is repeated on loop. He must find out who did it or else his brain will be wiped and he must start again.
Reasons why I loved it: Aiden Bishop was the character I was waiting for, I wanted to see him succeed so badly through this book. I felt that the entire premise of switching bodies and repeating the days was executed really well, I never got confused by the large cast of characters or their different opinions or reasons. I felt that Turton managed to leave something of interest in each chapter so it would keep you reading. The final quarter of the book just drops in it and I couldn’t believe what I was reading, i devoured the pgaes.
I am really excited to see what 2019 brings and to see what books will be added to this ever expanding list.