Saturday, 31 January 2015

Perpetual Page Turner Year-End Survey 2014

Really pleased to be taking part in the Perpetual Page-Turner's Year-End Survey for the first time! The questions are brilliant - thanks Jamie!


Number Of Books You Read: 

I have no idea...

Number of Re-Reads:

About a dozen, I think. Mainly from Lawrence Block's Burglar series!

Genre You Read The Most From:

Probably just about YA contemporary. (Most started, at least. Not sure how many I finished!)


1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
Bone Jack by Sara Crowe, just ahead of Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders. Other ones I loved can be found in my awards posts.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

I absolutely loved Dash & Lily's Book of Dares when I read it a couple of years ago and was excited to see the other two David Levithan and Rachel Cohn books released in the UK; sadly neither ended up being to my tastes.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?

I haven't read any of Carrie Ryan's YA but her MG novel with husband John Parke Davis, The Map To Everywhere, was utterly spectacular.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014? 

Got to be Have A Little Faith - I think I gave about a dozen copies away this year; most people seemed to love it. Girl With A White Dog by Anne Booth was one I bought three copies of to lend out to people, while Mel Salisbury's fabulous debut fantasy The Sin Eater's Daughter has been slowly working its way around my book club before its official 5th February release, and I've bought four copies (in hardback!) of Lisa Williamson's amazing The Art of Being Normal, so I can give them to people.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

Series I started - A huge amount of fantastic ones. I'm going to go with the two piracy/
magic books which I'm going to be mentioning a lot here, Magic Marks The Spot and The Map To Everywhere, and three stunning Egmont MG series, Jason Rohan's Sword of Kuromori, Jane Hardstaff's Executioner's Daughter, and Sophia McDougall's Mars Evacuees.

Best sequel - Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater is gorgeously written, while Will Hill's Department 19: Zero Hour is spectacularly action-packed. Both of this pair have a huge amount of brilliant characters. Also, Gail Carriger's steampunk Finishing School series is becoming a real favourite of mine so Waistcoats and Weaponry definitely needs a mention here. (Thanks for giving me this, Faye!)

Series ender - YA and adult - I can't think of much that's finished this year; I may be forgetting something. However, whatever I forget, it's unlikely to be as incredible as Leigh Bardugo's Ruin and Rising or Tom Pollock's Our Lady Of The Streets, so no real harm done. MG - Has to be Susie Day's Pea's Book of Holidays; gorgeous!

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Non-debuts, or debuts? Non-debuts, I finally got round to Melina Marchetta (thanks Caitlin for the rec!) and OMG JELLICOE ROAD IS INCREDIBLE.

Debuts - Sara Crowe, of course. Not sure if I 'discovered' Non Pratt in 2014 as I already knew her so I was convinced Trouble would be amazing, but it was good to read it and find out that it definitely was. Duo Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen were brilliant with Lobsters as well.

As for 2015 debuts - let's just say that I will be AMAZED if Sarah Benwell and Lisa Williamson aren't staggeringly hugely well-known authors in 12 months time. Two of the most outstanding YA books I've read for a long, long time. There are also brilliant fantasy books coming from Melinda Salisbury and Abi Elphinstone - get ready to fall in love with The Sin Eater's Daughter and The Dreamsnatcher, respectively.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Not a sci-fi fan at all, but Sophia McDougall was kind enough to give me a copy of Mars Evacuees and I thought it was awesome! Another sci-fi I absolutely loved was Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. I'm not that big of an NA fan generally but Molli Moran's One Song Away was briliant, with great chemistry between the two leads, Jake and Sophie-Claire.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Lots of great, exciting reads, with most of them being MG, I think. Again, pirate and magic combinations The Map To Everywhere and Magic Marks The Spot feature highly in this category. However the most exciting of them all was a YA book, the fourth Department 19: Zero Hour; this is a staggeringly good series.

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I absolutely adored The Art Of Being Normal, as I may have mentioned on Twitter a few hundred times, and will be reading one of my finished copies very very soon!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

I was thrilled to be involved in the The Art of Being Normal cover reveal, partly because it was brilliant to see so many people come together to promote a favourite book of mine and partly because it's a stunning cover. The Map To Everywhere and Bone Jack are both featuring ridiculously heavily here but they ARE gorgeous covers as well as being great reads. Given the often justified!) criticism of a lot of self-published books for having covers that look cheap, I thought Zero Sum Game by SL Huang, Glaze by Kim Curran and The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf by Nick Bryan were outstanding - none of them look out of place compared to books from much bigger publishers. (The three of them were also the three best self-published books I read all year, which is possibly not a coincidence.)

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

Bringing Kat Stephenson back, even for a novella (Courting Magic) rather than a novel, guaranteed Stephanie Burgis had this - my favourite heroine ever. I also loved the way Kate Saunders developed E Nesbit's Psammead into a much darker character in Five Children on the Western Front.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

Jellicoe Road is up there, as is Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Can't quite pick between them!

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

Girl With A White Dog by Anne Booth, a stunningly powerful read.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

I FINALLY got round to reading Anne of Green Gables after it was recommended by my friend Stacey and loved it - definitely want to read more by LM Montgomery next year.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

The passage from the prologue to Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders which starts
"'Happy ending?' the Professor echoed dreamily, as if talking to himself. 'Yes, there were still happy endings in those days.'"
and ends
"Far away in 1930, in his empty room, the old professor was crying."
had me in absolute floods of tears. Hugely emotional.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

I have no clue as I don't really keep records! I'd say The Last Of The Spirits may well be the shortest; longest I'm not sure of at all. Possibly Department 19:Zero Hour.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
I've seen a few people describe the ending to The Iron Trial as obvious; it took me completely by surprise.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Sophie and Mina in Tess Sharpe's Far From You were OMG incredible. Most of the other pairings that stood out for me were non-romantic ones, although there were a couple I really loved in anthology My True Love Gave To Me - particularly Sophie and Russell in Gayle Forman’s “What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” and Maria and Ben in “Welcome to Christmas, CA.”

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

A huge amount here! See my best pairings section of the year-end awards for more, but as a start - the lead characters and their mums in Clare Furniss's The Year of the Rat and Sarah Crossan's Apple and Rain, friendships between Billy D and Dane in Dead Ends and Marrill and Fin in The Map To Everywhere, and the rivalry between Caitlin and Stella in Stella.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Lots of favourite authors had great releases this year, but Keris Stainton's Starring Kitty was her best yet, as much as I'd enjoyed her first three. Similarly, Catherine Bruton's I Predict A Riot was even better than her We Can Be Heroes, and Alan Gibbons's Hate was the best novel yet in a career packed with lots of brilliant books. (Also, of course, everything mentioned in my answers to the second and third parts of question five!)

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure?

I think the Sesame Seade trilogy, pushed on #aryaclub by Cait, which we pretty much all fell in love with, fits the bill here. Apple and Rain was one I only really got around to because Debbie was a huge fan but I adored this one as well. I've had Anne of Green Gables on my radar for quite a long time without it ever really getting close to the top of my TBR pile, but Stacey's fabulous guest post on my blog made me read it and I LOVED it. The Map To Everywhere is one I would probably have meant to get around to without actually picking up (it came out at a busy time!) but I was incredibly grateful that Charlie shoved it into my hands and said "READ THIS!" (Given she also recommended The Art of Being Normal and The Last Leaves Falling, it's fairly clear who had the biggest influence on this survey!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

I absolutely adored Hilary's governess in Magic Marks The Spot. Sophie-Claire in One Song Away by Molli Moran was great as well. Also, murder suspect Fleet in Antonia Hodgson's The Devil in the Marshalsea is an incredible character.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

So many amazing ones! Far From You was utterly superb while in the UK in addition to Sara Crowe's Bone Jack (as mentioned above, my overall book of the year) I'll go with Non Pratt's Trouble, as living up to the massive expectations we all had of her was tough, but it ABSOLUTELY did. Also wonderful - Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen's hilarious Lobsters, Anne Booth's incredibly powerful MG novel Girl With A White Dog, and back in the US Robin Talley's Civil Rights era LGBT love story Lies We Tell Ourselves was another hard-hitting but brilliant book.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Again, a huge amount of great contenders. (The Map To Everywhere could be my answer to about a dozen of these, to be honest.) I loved the post-apocalyptic setting in Allan Boroughs's Ironheart, though (and the sequel, Bloodstone, is even better!), while Stephanie Burgis, as ever, married Regency England to a world of magic superbly in Courting Magic. And, of course, speaking of historical/magical mash-ups I have to mention Magic Marks The Spot yet again!

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Map To Everywhere is up there towards the top of this list, as is Magic Marks The Spot. (Surprised?!) YA-wise, Grasshopper Jungle is more enjoyable than anything featuring giant praying mantises overrunning the world eating people has any right to be.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

Everything made me cry! Most notably, Far From You, which had me in tears for about six hours on New Year's Day, and Five Children On The Western Front by Kate Saunders, which rather remarkably had me crying before chapter one - it has a seriously emotional prologue. (And many, many more, but that most of all!)

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Stella - Gossip Girl meets Great Expectations - by Helen Eve was a really underrated one, I think, as was RJ Morgan's Fifteen Bones.

Hard to call anything which has been as much loved by UK bloggers as TS Easton's Boys Don't Knit a 'hidden gem' but I wanted to mention it for US readers as it's out there fairly early this year - if you like hilarious reads with great narrators and strong friendships, this will blow your socks off. (And then lead characters Ben will knit you a new pair.)

Also I really rarely recommend self-published stuff but a few well worth mentioning (other than GLAZE by Kim Curran, which is superb but which a lot of people who follow me will already be aware of.) SL Huang's Zero Sum Game is an adult thriller but one which I think has HUGE appeal to YA fans, it's incredibly pacy, really good fun, and raises some interesting moral questions about protagnist Cas's actions - while the sequel Half Life is even better. Mollie Moran's NA One Song Away is a delight, a sweet country-tinged romance. Nick Bryan's The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf is a great comic crime caper; looking forward to reading book 2, Rush Jobs, very soon.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Last Leaves Falling. In a good way, but STILL.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

I never realised the one thing that would make a coming-of-age story even better would be praying mantises and the potential end of the world, but Andrew Smith showed in Grasshopper Jungle that it absolutely did. I also thought Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield was excellent, although for me the contemporary sections were stronger than the paranormal romance Darcy was writing.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

There was a particular moment in Leigh Bardugo's Ruin and Rising which would have had me throwing the book across the room in anguish if I wasn't about to meet her - as it was, I wanted to get it signed without explaining any mysterious damage, so restrained myself. But only just! (The book is BRILLIANT, though.)


1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014?

It's a fairly new blog, but I'm loving Tales of Yesterday. I think This Fleeting Dream is one I only really started reading last year although I already knew Julianne from Twitter, because it takes me ages to manage to check out links - I was definitely missing out! Oh, The Books!, run by Asti and Kelley, is becoming a huge favourite,particularly for their staggeringly comprehensive weekly round-ups.  Of the older blogs, I didn't discover The Book Smugglers last year - I was already a fan - but started reading it much more often, fell in love with their publishing, and was massively thrilled to be invited to guest post there for Smugglivus. Also, a combination of getting to know Caroline through #aryaclub and starting to read much more MG, which hasn't been as well-represented blogging wise as YA, meant I went from being an occasional reader of Big Book Little Book to a much more regular one. (Speaking of MG generally not having as many great blogs, I can't WAIT for MG Strikes Back to launch tomorrow!)

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?

I quite liked my Girl Online review. Also, sneaking a 2015 one in to take advantage of my lateness in posting this, I was pleased with my Siena review.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I had a fab discussion with hybrid authors Laura Lam, Kim Curran, Keris Stainton and Siobhan Curham for UKYA Day! Twenty Authors You Should Be Following On Twitter was huge fun to do, as well.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Has to be YALC, I think! Really hope it goes ahead in 2015.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

YALC was fantastic, the Divergent premiere was an amazing experience - I never dreamed of having an opportunity like that when I started blogging - and it still amazes and delights me that so many wonderful people have come to #DrinkYA events that I've organised with Louie Stowell. As well, I got lovely mentions in the acknowledgements of my favourite books yet by two of my favourite authors, Susie Day's Pea's Book of Holidays and Keris Stainton's Starring Kitty. Best of all, though, has got to be the formation of #aryaclub and getting to know some of the nicest people I've met since moving down to London. A huge shout-out to all of them, and a special thank you to Daphne for hosting so many fantastic afternoons/evenings. (Also, Asti, we miss you already!)

6. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

I was lucky enough to have Michael Grant posting about the GONE TV show and my views were through the roof!

7. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

There were so many fab guest posts in Indie Advent that I wish more people had read them ALL!

8. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

The gorgeous Tales On Moon Lane became one of my favourite ever shops as soon as I set foot in it, but I loved it even more once my friend Jen started working there! I have become pretty much a weekly visitor now and the staff there are all amazing. Lots of other brilliant bookshops which I hadn't visited before as well, with this year being one when I really started trying to purchase from indies more. Special mentions to Gay's The Word for having some great books and wonderful events - loved the Writing LGBTQ Books for Children event with BJ Epstein where I first met my friend Charlie in person, and Big Green Bookshop, which has amazingly good staff and a ferociously brilliant social media presence, as well as stocking a superb range of books.

9.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

No, although I honestly can't remember if I set myself any!


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

I finally got my hands on a physical copy of Now You See Me by Emma Haughton in the goodie bag at the YA Book Prize #DrinkYA, and while I've had it on Kindle for ages without getting to it, hopefully seeing it on my TBR pile will remind me that I really want to read - it looks brilliant! (And I'm hosting Emma for the UKYA Extravaganza blog tour, so would be rude not to!)

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black sounds sensationally good and Charlie recommends it highly, which is always a good sign. Dahlia Adler's Under The Lights sounds fabulous as well; I love contemporary LGBT and given Dahlia's an expert on great QUILTBAG books then I'm assuming she'll be a stunning writer of them.

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I have a feeling I've already read the two best debuts of the year; it's REALLY hard to believe there's anything out there as good as The Art Of Being Normal and The Last Leaves Falling. That said, I'm always hopeful, and there's a ton of others that look potentially fantastic! I did a blog post a few weeks with my most anticipated contemporary ones, of which Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda was probably top (I've read it since then and it's BRILLIANT!), while moving away from contemporary, Tatum Flynn's D'Evil Diaries looks like an absolutely brilliant MG fantasy.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

The three I am REALLY desperate for are Will Hill's Darkest Night, the climax of the Department 19 series, the fourth in Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle, and the final book in Daniel Abraham's magnificent adult fantasy sequence The Dagger and the Coin.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

Get less stressed about it!

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Sarah Benwell's The Last Leaves Falling is a staggering book; beautiful and hugely moving. Don't miss it! Similarly, Lisa Williamson's The Art Of Being Normal is phenomenally good and deserves to be on everyone's TBR pile.

Thank you, Jamie, for such brilliant and thought-provoking questions!

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