This is a list of my personally book recommendations. These may not all be ‘current’ novels, but there are ten novels you should definitely pick up and devour with vigour and joy, and possibly some tears.
- The Color Purple – Alice Walker
This is a book I urge everyone who hasn’t read it to read, and those that have, to read it again. I first came across this book when studying A level English Literature and absolutely fell in love with it, and since then I’ve read it at least 12+ times. It’s a novel filled with hard-to-swallow issues, just to name a few: rape, incest, race, child abuse and forced pregnancy, with those just being a few off the top of my head.
The Color Purple is written from multiple points of view and writing forms, although primarily written within the epistolary (letter writing) structure, which makes the book feel real and engages the reader so much better than a simple prose technique, making the overall read so much more enjoyable. The use of the epistolary style also makes the book feel much more fast-paced than it actually is, which is a bonus if you’re a fan of quick reads.
2. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Moving on to another novel which deals with hard hitting subject matters, but this time with a more paranormal twist. The Lovely Bones features the protagonist as a ghost looking back on her life, and viewing the lives of those she left behind as they carry on without her. The main message of this book is death isn’t the end, and even though someone you love may have died, you will always carry them with you as long as you remember the lives they lived, and not the way they died.
Alice Sebold has a talent for writing this kind of novel. This book has also been made into a movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed, although I recommend reading the book and then watching the movie, as they are poles apart, I did it in the reverse order and was surprised they were even the same thing (they are that different).
3, Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park is a fresh new take on the used and abused genre of teenage romance. If you are reading this and you’ve never read anything by Rainbow Rowell – do it now! I hadn’t even heard of her until I was introduced to Booktube, and this was the first one of her 5 novels I picked up. To be honest, I was just expecting another fluffy yet disappointing teen romance. Boy, was I wrong. This totally blew my mind.
Rainbow Rowell’s writing style is almost poetical. If you could feel words, her’s would be smooth and soft. After finishing this I went on to read all of her other novels, which I have never done with an author before. This book is told from the duel perspectives of Eleanor & Park. Eleanor’s chapters are filled with all the worries and anxieties every teenage girl has and some they shouldn’t, whereas in contrast Park’s chapter are filled with music, booze, and sex. Overall this novel is definitely a good read for girls and boys, surprisingly.
4. Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas
When you think of fantasy/action books you think tough guys, battles, bloodshed and maybe a little romance with a major heartbreak, to drive the protagonist on. Well if you’re nodding along with that summary – Stop! The protagonist of Throne of Glass is a female assassin, Celena, who was caught and thrown into a ‘prison’ where she is forced to work and is regularly beaten to within inches of her life. When the Royal Captain of the Guard comes to her with a deal- she must choose to represent the Crowned Prince in a fight to the death tournament in a pact to earn her freedom. She doesn’t have much of a choice, as the alternatives are death or return to the salt mines which are her prison.
This novel is action packed, fast-paced and filled to the brim with some brutal combat scenes, as well as containing some paranormal and fantasy elements. Also for the girls it had a pretty amazing romance and love triangle scenario. This is one of my most recommended reads. It’s the first instalment in the Throne of Glass series containing 3 other books and a bind up of novels. Sarah J Maas has also written the Court of Thorns and Roses series which I am going to be starting soon – fingered crossed.
5. Warbreaker – Brandon Sanderson
All is not what it seems in Hallandren, Sanderson’s highly imagined Kingdom has been on the brink of war with its neighbour, Indris for generations. A Princess of Indris’s hand in marriage has been promised to the God-King of Hallandren by treaty, in order to avert or at least stay the war for a time. From the get go Warbreaker twists and turns all expectations on their head with its tightly woven plotline, with a reversal of roles reoccuring again and again. Intricate politics, lazy gods, zombie-like soldiers, a magical sword with blood lust, and a damn-fine love story elevate Warbreaker into Epic Fantasy with an intimate feel.
This is my first Sanderson read, but it certainly will not be the last. Sanderson has managed the amazing feat of making classic-style Epic Fantasy new to me again. Although written as a standalone, Sanderson has left the well open for much more and he has indicated he is probably not done with this world. A follow-up may be years off since he has to finish WOT, and he just signed a 5 book deal for his next big Epic Fantasy series. Warbreaker is Epic Fantasy at its finest and I’ll be there for a second helping when it is served.
6. Delirium – Lauren Oliver
In the futuristic, dystopian world of Delirium, love has been ruled a disease and outlawed. People are cured of this terrible affliction and predisposition at the age of 18 via partial lobotomy, these cured individuals then go on to live pleasant and unremarkable lives. They marry someone chosen from a list of appropriate, potential partners provided to them by the government. They have the appropriate number of children, a number that is again determined by the government. Adults who remain uncured are called Invalids and are cast out from society.
This is one of the most intriguing dystopian novels I’ve read in a while. It focuses on something we all take for granted and completely turn on its head, making you paranoid and checking for signs of Delirium, and at the same time not caring at all about the little things that can shatter a relationship, as the love in this story makes us see. I can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy and if you haven’t started it yet pick it up now.
7. Anna dressed in blood – Kendare Blake
Someone please pass me the glue. My heart just needs a little piecing back together. Anna Dressed in Blood was exactly what I expected it to be. Filled with blood, action, ghosts and romance, what’s not to love? I mean, blood and ghosts are really attractive.
I absolutely loved this book! It’s the best horror/romance novel I’ve read in a long time. Most authors can’t seamlessly stitch together the two genres without it being cliché or, to be honest, horrible but Kendare Blake does it so well. I can’t wait to get my hands on Girl of Nightmares and devour that one as well.
8. Shatter me – Tahereh Mafi
When I first heard of Shatter Me, I knew instantly that it would be a series I would love. A fast-paced dystopian adventure with a kick-butt female protagonist, who also happens to possess lethal powers that enable her to try and stop the actions of a corrupt government… I was hooked! Soon after hearing about the series I nabbed a copy of Shatter Me and dove straight into the story. After hearing all the hype and rave reviews surrounding this series as a whole, I was pretty sad to admit that I didn’t love Shatter Me at first. I wasn’t completely in love with it, like everyone who had read it seemed to be, and I just did not understand why it was so well-loved. Before you question why I still gave it such a high rating despite being upset with the story, let me break down my main annoyance in regards to this book:
Juliette -at the beginning of Shatter Me, I found her to be extremely annoying. She continued to make wrong choices for all the wrong reasons, and it led her absolutely nowhere. Her blatant insecurities rubbed off on me the wrong way, and made me feel just as anxious and worrisome as her. Reading this book was a bit stressful because of this, and I found myself simply trying to push through the story rather than savouring and enjoying it.
But by the end I was absolutely hooked, the character and plot development took me as a reader on a journey that I wasn’t expecting, I was expecting to say it was ok, but after a few plot twists and reveals, I’d give it 10/10 every time.
9. A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness
The book centres on Conor O’Malley, a thirteen year old boy whose mother is suffering from cancer. Conor and his mother live in the UK, but his parents are divorced, and his dad, remarried and father to a new baby, now lives in America. Conor has a grandmother who sometimes comes to visit, but she is atypical of grandmothers in ways that irritate Conor. For the most part, it is just Conor and his mum and that’s the way Conor likes it. As the book begins, a monster comes to visit Conor seven minutes after midnight. Conor doesn’t believe in monsters, which are for babies, yet the monster seems perfectly real and very frightening. It resembles a yew tree that grows behind Conor’s house, a yew tree whose berries are poisonous. A tree Conor’s mother is fascinated with. You’re hooked already right!
The result of the book as a whole was that I feel this book was not written to cross over to older teens and adults, the way say, books like Jellicoe Road or The Hunger Games are. Of course, a lot of adults are loving this book, so I may be off my rocker to feel this way, but speaking from my own adult perspective (the only one I can bring to a book), it didn’t read as if it were aimed at me.
10. Antigoddess – Kendare Blake
I’ll start out by making an admittance: the main thing that drew my attention to Antigoddess, the first installment in Kendare Blake’s new series The Goddess War, was its title. The book didn’t really look like my cup of tea, but, hmm, an Antigoddess… Sounds intriguing, right? Sometimes a good title can be a very effective hook all by itself.
Antigoddess is the story of two separate groups of characters, told in alternating chapters. On one side, you have Athena and Hermes, two gods you may recognize from Greek mythology. (If not, there’s always Homer, or if all else fails, Wikipedia.) These gods are still alive in our present day, but Athena is ill: feathers keep growing inside her body and working their way out. Hermes is also wasting away. Clearly, some big changes are afoot in the world of the gods. Impossible as it seems, someone or something is threatening the lives of these seemingly immortal beings.
This is absolutely not my usual fare, and I started off being sceptical about the whole thing, but somehow, chapter by chapter, I found myself getting more and more intrigued. This opening volume is a bit too heavy on setup, and again it’s really not my usual cup of tea, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this series turns out to be a huge success.