Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Best YA Books Of 2014


 2015? 2015?!

Where on earth did 2014 go?! 

I can't believe another year has passed, and that too so quickly! This year has been absolutely incredible what with The Dark Dictator being born and finally being a part of the amazing blogosphere! But aside from blogging (which I absolutely love), there have been some great Young Adult titles that were released this year and I'm going to take you through my favourites! 

Though there have been many 2014 releases, unfortunately I didn't have the time to read them all so I'm pretty sure there are dozens of other YA titles I have missed that deserve to fall under this category!

The selection of books I have listed below are only 2014 releases that I have read. Of course I read way more but I thought I would focus on the mind-blowing titles this year had to offer that blew me away!

Let's start with UKYA!

#1 - Banished by Liz De Jager


Released: February 27th
Goodreads: Here

The beginning of a fantastic urban fantasy trilogy filled with witty kick-ass characters and faerie lore, monsters and magic galore! Liz has been on fire with releasing not one, but two books this year with the sequel Vowed recently published in early November by Tor UK. I absolutely love the setting and plot that takes place in modern day and age. The charming characters, especially female protagonist Kit were a delight to read about! A sensational debut for Fantasy fans - this is a must read for you! (Then again, it's a must read for everyone.)


#2 - Horrors/Thrillers

I think my interest in the Horror/Thriller genre has increased this year. There were just so many great titles but I managed to narrow down to four.

Say Her Name by James Dawson
Released: June 5th 
Goodreads: Here

A retelling of the Blood Mary myth in a contemporary setting. Terrifying? Yes. But it is an incredible novel by our Queen of Teen and one worth reading! Loved it!

Now You See Me by Emma Haughton
Released: May 1st
Goodreads: Here

A chilling debut from Emma Haughton circling around the disappearance of a young boy whose best friend frantically tries to find him only to uncover certain truths that will change her life. It definitely captured my attention so I look forward to reading more from Emma!

Night School Resistance by C.J. Daugherty
Released: June 5th
Goodreads: Here

The fourth installment in my new all-time favourite series! This series just gets better and better and I absolutely cannot wait for the final book that is due to release in 2015!
This series follows the life of Allie Sheridan who is sent to a secret reform school to shape up her act. But the secrets she uncovers there soon change everything. There is a definite sense of thrill in these books!

Shattered by Teri Terry
Released: March 6th
Goodreads: Here

The final book in the Slated trilogy. The best YA dystopian trilogy I have read till-date with incredible thrilling elements. It was a definite favourite of mine this year with a more-than-satisfying conclusion!

UKYA is just incredible. Here's a few debuts that made it onto my favourites!


Solitaire by Alice Oseman
Released: July 31st
Goodreads: Here

One of the best debut's I have read this year. A honest and humorous contemporary that is on-point about today's teenage society. It was certainly entertaining and one of those books everyone should read at least twice in their lifetime. Yes. Twice. Or more actually.

Trouble by Non Pratt
Released: March 6th
Goodreads: Here

A popular favourite and for good reason! Non's staggering debut deals with teenage pregnancy like you wouldn't believe! Her writing is unrivaled and just so heart-warming, I fell in love with Trouble during the first few pages. I'm so excited for her next novel!

The 100 Society by Carla Spradbery
Released: September 4th
Goodreads: Here

This book definitely deserves more credit than it's given. This is one I am desperate to see on-screen because it's one of those twisted horror books done correctly with all appropriate elements. That means gore, mystery and scenes that will make you feel as if your brain is being torn apart. There's even a romance that actually works and doesn't overtake the plot. This book took me by surprise and I ended up loving it.

Though this next book is set to release in January 2015, I couldn't help but add it in to my 2014 favourites because it is the best book I've read during 2014!


Vendetta by Catherine Doyle
Release: January 1st 2015
Goodreads: Here

A Romeo and Juliet inspired tale with a modern twist! I've never read a book involving mafia which is something that interests me. It really does. So when I first heard about this book, I knew I had to read it and was lucky to win a copy. Turns out I loved it! Everything about this book screams flawless and perfection. I am desperate to read the next book.
(This cover has the most beautiful sprayed edges EVER!)

Of course we have non UKYA titles too!

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Released: May 15th
Goodreads: Here

One of 2014's most popular novel's with the buzz surrounding it and spreading even today! With the vague reviews and comments, I was eager to read about this special contemporary and why there was so much fuss. I was not prepared for what was coming. Threw me off balance. And for that, it's a 2014 favourite.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Released: October 14th
Goodreads: Here

The best YA Fantasy (not including urban Fantasy) I have read this year! A phenomenal debut with a stunning female protagonist and impeccable world building! With a diverse range of characters and a heart-stopping plot with fierce action, it looks like it's going to be one of my all-time favourite trilogies once complete!

Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira
Released: May 1st
Goodreads: Here

This one really tugged at my heartstrings. It was beautiful and intense based on a young girl's strive to live through the hardships of her life after her sister's tragic death. This is now one of my favourite contemporaries and I highly recommend it if you haven't read it!

What were your favourite YA 2014 releases? I'd love to know!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

REVIEW: Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

22317508Author: Catherine Doyle
Published by: Chicken House Ltd. on 1st January 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Series: Blood for Blood #1
Source: Author
Links: Goodreads | Wordery | Hive | B&N

Summary:

Blood will spill and hearts will break...

For Sophie. it's a long, dull summer in the Chicago suburbs, until five mysterious brothers move into her neighbourhood.

A chance encounter with one of them leaves her breathless.

But as the secrets of Nic's Sicilian heritage emerge, Sophie's new world shatters. Now she realizes that the choice between love and family come at a deadly price.



Though technically this book isn't officially released until January 2015 - which, by the way, is mere days away! - I can solely say that this is the best book I've read this year in 2014. With weeks of anticipation built up, I was extremely lucky to have won a beautiful finished copy days before the publication date, so thank you Cat for the giveaway!

My first initial thoughts from the cover and synopsis of this book blankly pointed out that this is a very Romeo & Juliet themed story, what with the family fued implications and forbidden love. Don't be swayed by this detail, you'd be surprised! It's like a Shakespearean tale with a modern twist involving the mafia.

I was left breathless by the end of the story, a shamble of broken feelings and suffering from emotional turmoil. It is difficult for me to put into words of how this book made me feel, and I'm sure people don't wish to read an essay about my cluster of emotions! 
It was such a thrilling experience throughout the entirety of this book. There is never a single dull moment as we are constantly kept drawn in by the main protagonist's - Sophie - witty and endearing personality. Here is a female protagonist written right. I absolutely adored Sophie as I find her someone I can easily compare myself to, or people I know and speak to for that matter. She kept this book alive and had me glued to the story, eager to continue.

The characters in this book are sensational. They are written to absolute perfection with their diverse personality traits - especially the five Sicilian brothers who will sweep you off your feet! Prepare to be swooned! 
What was incredible was they were so well developed and fleshed out, each adding to the story and making it more exciting and mysterious!

There were moments I laughed. Moments I gasped. Moments I felt like I was about to tip over the edge of my seat (or bed in my case). This is the type of romantic contemporary I yearn and thirst for because it is everything a romantic and thrilling contemporary should be. I have never felt such exhilaration in turning the pages in a book as I felt during Vendetta. I am now anxiously awaiting for the next book in this series because this was a phenomenal read and one I shan't be forgetting for a very long time!

I will be recommending this to everyone because this is one book you don't want to miss!

(Note: Just to clarify, I am on Team Luca!)

Rating:
This book takes the golden crown.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014


Hey everyone!

It's been absolute ages since I've posted anything and I apologise for that but I had good reason which is the main topic of today's post.

Last month, as most would know, it was NaNoWriMo also known as National Novel Writing Month! If you don't already know, then here is a break down of what it is about. During the month of November, you are given the challenge to write 50 thousand words in 30 days.

Crazy! I know! Who has the time to write so much?! But it certainly is rewarding. The month isn't about completing the target goal of 50k, but to actually get a start or even continue those dreading manuscripts and get some of those words written among hundreds and thousands of other aspiring or published writers! 

For me, I saw this as a big motivation playing card and decided to take on this challenge and finally work on a manuscript for a novel idea I have had lingering in my mind for a month or so now, and just have been itching to write up! This was also my first time taking part in NaNoWriMo so I was super excited with all the wonderful support from the official NaNoWriMo team and even the hundreds of authors supporting aspiring writers! I love the bookish community!

I can honestly say that November, for me, had been one of the most stressful months but also the most exciting month I have ever experienced in my life! I love challenges that relate to my passion and I absolutely love to write. I now have a very special bond with my NaNo novel characters that I don't really have with any of my other novel characters and I think it's because of the effort I put in and how passionate I was about writing during the month.

I never thought I would be able to complete such a huge target word count in such little time but guess what?


I DID!

Yes! I am a NaNoWriMo 2014 WINNER! I powered through that final day and managed to complete the target with minutes to spare. I collapsed from exhaustion afterwards. Obviously.
But it was worth it. So worth it. I am so proud of myself mainly for staying committed and believing in myself that I could go on writing, even if I didn't win. I was happy to have more words than I started with! To actually win was overwhelming and such an incredible milestone for me. The journey was definitely one I will never forget!

I couldn't have done this alone of course. I've had loads of friends from both online and my real life supporting me throughout the month, pushing me to go on and write like the wind. Without them, I am confident I would never have been able to achieve the status of a NaNoWriMo 2014 winner. So thank you everyone who had pushed me to not give up and carry on! Even if it was one tiny message, it meant the world to me and I love you all for it!

I'll definitely be taking part every year from now on if I can!


But aside from all that, I do want to share a little about my story, not that it's anything special or interesting in the least. My account on the NaNoWriMo website has a very vague description of what my book is about, mostly because I don't really have a solid summary, and also because I wanted to keep as much of my story as secret as possible! But today, I thought why not reveal a little?

I'll tell you what I won't reveal. 

The title. It's a work in progress but I feel like it gives too much away at the moment!

Anyway. Before I ramble about nothing, here's a little debrief of my WIP #2.

It is a YA Futuristic Paranormal book and the first in a 'planned' duology. (I have no idea if it will be a standalone or duology yet, but for now it seems to be heading for the duology route.)
There are monsters. There is madness.
It is centered around three main characters and takes place in my most favorite city!
(So if you know me well enough, you'll know which city I'm talking about!)

It's plain weirdness, insanity and... bloody. I guess.

And that's all I can say really. The summary I had written doesn't even include their names!

So I've gotten a huge jump start on this book, and I'm actually really pumped up about it and plan to complete my first draft before finally revising and sending out the manuscript! SO EXCITING!! (I'm not sure how long this process will take, but I'm hoping within the next 6 months or so!)

But really, NaNoWriMo has helped me to push forwards with my ambition to become a writer and I'm hugely grateful for it. I look forward to next year! Huge congratulations if you took part and won this year, but also a pat on the back for those who managed to get some words written at the end anyway!

So that's all for today. Feel free to add me as a buddy on the NaNoWriMo website!
TheDarkDictator

If you took part in NaNoWriMo, feel free to comment below or tweet me how it went for you! I'd love to know!