Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Counting Down til 2015: Katie's Top Ten of 2014

Katie is an old hand at our top tens, so she can introduce herself:

This is my fifth year-end YA superlatives list, which I think means I can officially declare it a favorite holiday tradition. It’s interesting to look back at my 2010 list and realize how very little my reading tastes have evolved (Hello Anna, Meet Isla). I still can’t resist kissing and fantasy and mystery and adventure and more kissing.

So cheers to the end of favorite series and the beginning of new ones. Cheers to delicious writing, romance, suspense, cliffhangers, and happy endings. Cheers to reading, year-end superlatives, and 2014! Let’s do this.

Most Artistic
One of my very best friends was voted Most Artistic in high school, which is to say I have a soft spot for the quirky, crazy-talented kid in class. I also have a soft spot for Jandy Nelson books. Combine Jandy’s poetic language with the stories of two artistically-gifted twins whose relationship and lives have fallen apart, throw in two thrilling love stories and a dash of mystery, and what you get is just electric. This book has all the feels. Totally worth the wait.

Favorite New Series
The Winner’s Curse, Marie Rutkoski
I don’t remember a first book in a fantasy series pulling me in like this since Finnikin. The kickoff of Kestrel and Arin’s story jumps right in and never lets up. More happens in this first book, than happens over the course of entire trilogies sometimes. The romance never compromises the action or the suspense. My only warning is to make sure you wait to pick it up until you have a large chunk of time at your disposal, because once you start, you won’t want to stop.

Best Historical Fiction
I’ve worked this book into more than one TATAL post this year already. So at the risk of sounding like a broken record: I loved it. If ever a book was written just for me, it’s this gorgeous tale of life and love in a divided 1980s Berlin. You’ll probably love it, too. (And don’t stop there, also pick up Kephart’s Small Damages, a favorite from a few years ago.)

(Still) Most Likely to Make You Wish You Were in Paris
When I say I’ve been waiting years for Josh and Isla’s story, it’s not an exaggeration. (Full disclosure: My friend works at this publishing house and I would regularly send him on recon missions to find out when it would be available.) This was the book I wanted the moment I finished Anna and the French Kiss. Usually Stephanie Perkins is the queen of the “slow burn” in romance, but there is nothing slow about Josh and Isla’s story or their romance. We’re knee-deep in swoon by page 2 and by the time they slip out of Paris and head to Barcelona… well, let’s just say if you are in need of a winter vacation romance, look no further.

Most Hollywood
As a huge Raymond Chandler/Philip Marlowe fan, I firmly believe that L.A. and mysteries are a match made in heaven. And in Nina LaCour’s more than capable hands, the story of Emi Price, her friends, and a mysterious letter found at an estate sale set against the backdrop of Hollywood and the film industry doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.

Favorite Summer Vacation Read
Morgan Matson knows summer. Don’t believe me? There are drive-in theatres, beaches, amazing playlists, a cheesy summer job, new friends, a road trip, a quirky family, and a very cute boy. And somewhere in between the kissing of strangers, sneaking around, and dancing until dawn, there’s a beautiful story about taking risks and expanding your world, perfect for warding off the darkness of long winter nights.

Most Magical
A mashup novel, part fantasy, part roadtrip? Yes! This journey from the watery edge of Wales to London is like no other--the cast of characters met along the way, the horrors of 1940s England caught up in a war set against the backdrop of an entirely different set of horrors posed by the murderous wights, and the internal struggles Jacob must face about abandoning his parents and his own time and his feelings for the fiery Emma. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen next, I turned the page to discover yet another surprise.

Tie-Best Series Conclusion
Mortal Heart, Robin LaFevers
If you were starting to feel like the assassin nun thing has run its course, Robin LaFevers is here to remind you that she has all the tricks up her sleeve. I’ve been dazzled by the uniqueness of each of the books in this series. Beth has been awaiting her moment to serve Death for longer than anyone, but the thing about Death is you never know quite when or where He’ll turn up… the resulting tale is every bit as intriguing and far more romantic than you might expect.

Tie-Best Series Conclusion
The House of Hades, Rick Riordan
There is something you need to know about me: I could read the phone book (do those even still exist?) if you promised me a Percy Jackson-narrated chapter every hundred pages or so. And here is another thing: There are no Percy chapters in the thrilling conclusion to this series. So why read it, you ask? Because of everything and everyone else. But mainly because if you’ve spent the last few years just wanting to see the Son of Hades get what he deserves, then your wait is over in the most satisfying of ways.

Newest Holiday Classic/Favorite Middle Grade
Greenglass House, Kate Milford
The minute I start eating Thanksgiving leftovers, I’m ready for all things Christmas-tastic. And much like the radio stations, I rely on a lot of old classics to get through, which is what’s so great about this book. It’s a new insta-holiday classic. Imagine a smuggler’s inn (i.e., an inn for smugglers) the week of Christmas, an adopted boy, so much snow, a handful of mysterious strangers, a series of thefts, a puzzle to be solved, and all the cozy, snowy nights spent ‘round the fire and gifts exchanged. And if that’s not enough, the cover is just absurdly gorgeous, a bit like curling up with a snow globe in book form.

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