Top 5 Books Next on My TBR

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This year, I’ve been doing pretty well as far as reading goes, but I still like to round-up a collection of books I want to get to in the next few months. So here are the top five books on my TBR pile.

These books are in no particular order.

1.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

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Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price – from Goodreads.com

I got on okay with Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass series, so I’m looking forward to seeing how A Court of Thorns and Roses fairs in my estimations. Ever since the first Throne of Glass book was released 2012, Maas’s books have been incredibly hyped upon their release and the A Court of… books have been the same!

2.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

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Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried. Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book – he thinks he’s made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor… never to Eleanor. – from Goodreads.com

The first Rainbow Rowell book I ever read was Fangirl that was released in 2013, and I somehow missed the release of Eleanor and Park which was also released in the same year. Never the less, I absolutely love Rainbow Rowell’s writing, considering I’m not much of a contemporary fan! So I can’t wait to get my teeth into the YA beauty.

3.

Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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Her throne awaits . . . if she can live long enough to take it. It was on her nineteenth birthday that the soldiers came for Kelsea Glynn. They’d come to escort her back to the place of her birth – and to ensure she survives long enough to be able to take possession of what is rightfully hers. – from Goodreads.com

I first heard of this book when Sasha Alsberg and Ben Alderson spoke about it in their Scotland Vlogs. It sounded like a really cool story, so I’ve picked up a copy to satisfy my fantasy craving!

4.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

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This is a thrilling ghost-hunting teen mystery as modern-day London is plagued by a sudden outbreak of brutal murders that mimic the horrific crimes of Jack the Ripper. – from Goodreads.com

I heard about Maureen Johnson through her affiliation with the Green brothers, and I actually met Maureen at The Fault in Our Stars Tour. As you know, I love retellings and I love crime thrillers, so this combination is perfect for me, and I can’t wait to read it!

5.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. – from Goodreads.com

This book has been on my radar for a while now, and with the sequel coming out in September, I need to hop to it and read the first one so I can get on with the series. If you know me, you know I love fantasy, and also magic, so I’m guessing this book is going to be getting a good review from me!

So this concludes my top five books that are at the top of my TBR. Have you read any of these? Would you recommend them to me? Or are these books at the top of your TBR too? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 15 Favourite Books

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At the age of (almost) 25, I have read a lot of books. I have read books I’ve loved, books I’ve hated, books that left me feeling ‘meh’, and books that I’ve abandoned. In my first quarter of a century, I’ve accumulated many books that I declare among my favourites, but these are the fifteen most loved ones that I want to share with you.

These books are in no particular order.

1

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis

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I’m seven years old, accompanying Lucy Pevensie through the wardrobe and into the Western Wood. I try to reason with Edmund as we walk towards the Witch’s castle. I sharpen my blade with Peter as we prepare for battle, and I fight alongside Susan, shooting my arrow through the hearts of Narnian traitors. As I grow older, I ride alongside Shasta and Aravis as we made the journey across the desert into Archenland. I’ll see Narnia come to life, hearing the sweet sound of Aslan’s song, singing the world into creation with Digory and Polly.

2

The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

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I’m eleven years old, getting my Hogwarts letter with Harry in the cupboard under the stairs. We get the train together at 11 o’clock on the 1st September, and meet Ron and Hermione along the way. I defeat Voldemort with Harry, once, twice and three times. I escape to the Burrow with the Weasley’s way too often, and tag along to the Quidditch World Cup. I stand by Harry through the rise of Voldemort and fight along side him in the Battle of Hogwarts.

3

Looking for Alaska by John Green

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It’s 2011 and I’m in Treehugger Dan’s bookshop in Budapest, Hungary. I’m 19 years old, nearly no longer a teenager, my childhood soon to be over, marked by an epic InterRail experience before university. I’m in the sale section, I see a book called Looking for Alaska by John Green for 200F, equivalent to about 50p. What draws me in is… well, everything about it. I buy it and head back to my hostel, a cute, quirky loft converted from an old town house. I sit in the bay window and devour Looking for Alaska in one sitting. I realise why I want to be a writer. I realise that grief will never leave me. I continue to seek my Great Perhaps.

4

The Phantom of Manhattan by Frederick Forsyth

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I have now “become” an adult. I’m twenty years old. I’m in my first semester of university and I have just been exposed to The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, both of which I’ve read. Somewhere online, I find that the Phantom of Manhattan is the unofficial sequel to Gaston Leroux’s original novel and I fly through it in one sitting. It becomes my guilty pleasure, and much to my enjoyment, enables the musical-sequel Love Never Dies to come to fruition.

5

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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It’s the summer of 2012 and I’ve just completed my first year at university so I head into Waterstones to celebrate. I browse the shelves, when this book catches my eye. I’ve heard it’s being made into a movie, and once I read the synopsis I’m sold. I buy this in a two for one deal along with Fifty Shades of Grey, which I soon regret, but this novel serves as a reminder why picking Creative Writing as my degree is a good decision.

6

Paper Towns by John Green

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After I realise John Green has written not one, but four other books, I head to Amazon and go on a book binge buy spree. I buy An Abundance of Katherine’s, Paper Towns, Will Grayson, Will Grayson and The Fault in Our Stars, his latest novel. Paper Towns arrives first, and on that first page, John Green becomes my second Auto-Buy author. Sitting in my porch/bedroom, as Spring turns to Summer in 2013, I delve into Q’s world, sitting next to him in the mini van as we make our way along the East Coast to find Margo.

7

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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It’s Christmas 2013 and I’m in New York. I head into Barnes and Noble on 5th Avenue and browse the shelves aimlessly. Outside it’s snowing, and I know we have to get the Croton-Harmon train back before peak times but I can’t tear myself away. Most people are gazing up at the Christmas Tree at the Rockefeller Center, but I’m gazing up at the rows of books before me. I’ve always wanted to read The Bell Jar, and so I buy it there and then before I could talk myself out of it. I read it on the train all the way to Tarrytown.

8

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

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It’s 2014 and I’m in my final semester of university. In our Creative Visions module, we’re exploring futuristic words and thus my love for dystopian fiction is born. I spend my time trying to escape the pain of assignments and dissertation talk by curling up with this book, finding a whole new definition of the word escapism. As I read, Tally and I hover board along the skyline, wondering what exactly it is that makes a person “pretty”.

9

Flowers in the Attic and the Dollanganger Saga by VC Andrews

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Despite trying to escape talk of my pending dissertation, I can’t, but I find respite in “reading for research”. Flowers in the Attic is the first book in the Dollanganger Saga, and fills my head with rich, luxurious, gothic mansions, plot twists and betrayal. I lap it up, and am reminded that my final piece for my degree is MINE, and take notes on delicious description from Ms Andrews.

10

The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

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I’ve finally left university. My dissertation is handed in and now I’m waiting on my results. Now I can read whatever books I choose, and the thought of that alone is so liberating. When I hear that Divergent is to be made into a movie, I figure it’s just another book series jumping on the coat tails of The Hunger Games, but after I decide to read the series, I realise it’s so much more. Tris goes on a journey unlike any other. She questions what it means to be selfless and brave, and questions her identity along the way. The ending to the Divergent series is heartbreaking, but proves it’s not just another book series. It’s a social commentary on human nature.

11

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

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Three years worth of assigned reading stopped me from buying any new books, so as my graduation fast approaches in the Autumn of 2014, I look for exciting books to catch my eye. Rediscovering authors seems to be a habit of mine. Many years ago when I was in secondary school I read a booked called The Boyfriend List, now nearly ten years later I find We Were Liars by the very same E Lockhart. It’s my first trip into psychological thrillers and I LOVE it. I don’t realise the twist and it blows my mind.

12

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

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I’m at my very first Writing Weekend as an alumni of the University of Winchester, and Belzhar has been my most anticipated read of 2014. A YA novel, inspired by The Bell Jar, set at boarding school, and it’s right up my street. Sometimes I wish I could go back to school, just so that I could choose to go to boarding school. Or sometimes I wish I could move back into Halls of Residence, where life was much more simple.

13

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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My graduation has come and gone. I really am a full fledged graduate, so I retreat to a place that makes me feel safe. I’ve spent much of the past ten years online. Not just online but ONLINE, participating in forums and chat rooms, writing in online journals, and writing, writing, writing. I never thought anyone would understand my “life online”, and I didn’t know how to communicate to anyone what that time in my life meant to me, but Rainbow Rowell does it with one swift novel: Fangirl.

14

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks… by Jack Kerouac and William S Burroughs

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It’s almost Christmas again and I’ve just finished watching Kill Your Darlings with Daniel Radcliffe. I quickly become obsessed with the Beat Generation and haul a tonne of books from that era. This book is the fictional account, similar to the Kill Your Darlings, of the murder of David Krammerer and the Beat Poets growing up in the underbelly of New York City. I adore this book the moment I read the first page and the moment I read the last.

15

Cinder and The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

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I’m twenty three going on ten years old again. I’m scouting the scrapyard for junk metal with Cinder and Peony when she gets taken. I’m running with Cinder to warn Prince Kai about Levana. I’m sitting in the cell with Dr Erland when he tells her she’s the lost Princess Selene. I’m reminded that you’re never too old for fairy tales.

Did I mention any books in this list that you love too? Let me know in the comments.

Top 10 Young Adult Standalones

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I have read many fantastic young adult books over my time, and many not so fantastic, but today we’re going to focus on the positives and examine my top ten favourite young adult books I’ve read so far.

These books are in no particular order.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. – from Goodreads.com

Both Stephen Chbosky’s book and film are very near and dear to my heart. He manages to sum up perfectly what in England we call an “inbetween-er” and express feelings I couldn’t find the words to say myself.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

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Miles “Pudge” Halter is abandoning his safe-okay, boring-life. Fascinated by the last words of famous people, Pudge leaves for boarding school to seek what a dying Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Pudge becomes encircled by friends whose lives are everything but safe and boring. Their nucleus is razor-sharp, sexy, and self-destructive Alaska, who has perfected the arts of pranking and evading school rules. Pudge falls impossibly in love. When tragedy strikes the close-knit group, it is only in coming face-to-face with death that Pudge discovers the value of living and loving unconditionally. – from Goodreads.com

In May 2011 I picked this book up second-hand in Budapest for less than a British pound. I read it practically in one sitting and fell in love. I had been yearning for something to express all the feelings and unanswered questions I had surrounding the death of my father, and reading this book felt like coming home. It has become my holy grail YA, my go-to recommendation and what made me realise WHY I wanted to be a writer. I can’t sing it’s praises enough.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids. But Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? – from Goodreads.com

I didn’t know I needed this book until I read it. I needed Rainbow Rowell to write a book detailing my life in online Fandom, how it laid the foundations for my writing career, allowed me to talk to others about the books/films that I loved, and how it gave me more confidence to be myself and not be ashamed of my obsessions. A must-read for anyone who has spent time online, written fan fiction, and ship-ed characters into OTP-dom.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. – from Goodreads.com

 I don’t think I’ve met someone who hasn’t read The Fault in Our Stars (commonly shortened to TFioS). If you want a tear-jerking story that will fill your heart with sadness and happiness in equal measure then this is the book for you. I felt physically hungover after reading this book, but don’t let that stop you from immersing yourself in the delectable story of  Hazel and Augustus.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. – from Goodreads.com

This is one of the most important books I’ve read on rape culture. (Don’t shout at me. (Not) Asking for It by Louise O’Neill is on my TBR!) Written lyrically and beautifully, we are taken on Mel’s journey as she narrates her own internal monologue and eventually has to face up to the truth of that night. 

Paper Towns by John Green

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Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew… – from Goodreads.com

 A cat and mouse chase-type road trip full of fun and friendships. This novel poses some really important questions, especially since the rise in popularity of social media, and the lines between virtual reality are becoming more and more blurred.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and illustrated by Maira Kalman

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Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped. – from Goodreads.com

Poetic, vivid and expertly written, this novel, complete with beautiful illustrations by Maira Kalman, narrates Min’s journey as she details all the reasons why she broke up with charismatic jock Ed.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. – from Goodreads.com

Thrilling, exciting and completely engaging. This breakout novel from Jay Asher makes it’s mark on the young adult genre and is a must-read for any readers looking for a book full of mystery and intrigue.

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

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A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. – from Goodreads.com

Another gripping read from one of my almost-auto-buy authors E Lockhart. With a massive twist at the end that is set to make your head spin, it’s impossible not to envision this as a film in the coming years.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

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Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way. – from Goodreads.com

This book is as electrifying as it sounds. It breaks the mould of the dystopian genre and a becomes one-of-a-kind book that leaves you wondering about the future of our world, and draws you into a love story as delicious as the idyllic farm where Daisy and Ed’s romance is born.

That concludes my top ten young adult standalone books. Are there any you’ve read that missed the short list? Which books do you agree are worthy of a recommendation? Let me know in the comments.