I don't think that there are many surprises here, I feel like I've been quite vocal about my love for each of these books. Some though, I've really struggled to find the words to express that, and for that I'm sorry. On with the list though... (in no particular order!)
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta - The Piper's Son absolutely blew me away. Melina Marchetta just blows my mind with the amount of emotion and fantastic characters that she writes. It's no mistake that TWO books by the same author is on my favourites list this year. I'm such a huge of her, especially after reading the incredible The Piper's Son.
It's a sequel to Saving Francesca, but told from a different perspective. Instead of it being Francesca's story, everything shifts over the Thomas Mackee as he struggles both with his family, with himself, and with his feelings for Tara Finke. It's a fantastic book, one that broke my heart into teeny tiny little pieces. A book that once finished reading it meant that I would never be the same again. Incredible.
Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck - I really wanted to include all three books that I've read so far in this series onto this list, Tiger's Curse, Tiger's Voyage and Tiger's Quest, but I felt like that would be cheating. But just know that they are all worthy of this list. It's been a really long since I've come across a series of books like this, in which I'm so addicted and captivated by that I would consider putting my life on hold until the end of the book.
With each book, I felt myself falling more in love with these characters, with the world that Houck has created and the story she's telling. It's a really wonderful series, one that I'm super excited to continue. I love these books with my whole heart.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd - Writing about A Monster Calls makes me nervous, because I know that I'll never find the right words to tell you exactly how I feel about this one. It's a book I loved so much that I never reviewed it. It's such a beautiful and heartbreaking story about a young boy trying to deal with his mother's illness.
Not only is it a gorgeous story, but it is also gorgeous in the way that is presented, with the pretty illustrations. If I could bear to part with it, the book would make a really lovely present for people of any age.
Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott - I read this book on holiday and I loved it so, but it probably wasn't the best book to read when I was away. This book is really a book to read when you have plenty of time to lose yourself completely in the story and the characters and the setting. It is truly a beautiful book - from the outside cover art to the beautiful story inside.
A retelling of Cinderella, set in a fantasy feudal Japan, this book takes a really familiar story and makes it entirely unique. Suzume is a wonderfully drawn character, who is both strong and vulnerable as she struggles with the grief that comes with witnessing her father and cousin's deaths. In order to survive some of life's cruelties, Suzume, with the help of some wonderful friends, transforms herself into different people in order to focus herself on avenging her family's deaths. I absolutely love the characters of this book from Suzume to Akira and Youta, and especially, especially the lovely Otieno. I think if I were to pick a book that I'd like to live in, Shadows on the Moon would be right up there on my list!
Going Bovine by Libba Bray - What a wonderful, wonderful book Going Bovine is. This is the first book of Libba Bray's that I've read and already I can feel her becoming one of my favourite ever authors. And Going Bovine would count not only on my list of favourite books read this year, but read ever. It's really that good of a book.
Going Bovine is so much more than just a crazy road trip story. It's emotional, hilarious, sad and beautiful story about a boy trying to come to terms with both his life and his death. It's one of the most intelligent books I've read in awhile as well as the most downright weird. There is a talking yard gnome and a punk rocker angel and a hypochondriac dwarf. There's sarcasm and music and a big dose of poking fun at popular culture. Going Bovine had me laughing on one page and crying the next. Outstanding book.
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - Yes, you did read that correctly. There ARE two books by Melina Marchetta on my list of favourite books read in 2011. What can I say? I'm a huge fan of Melina Marchetta's. I think she's genius. Which is why I'm not quite sure why it took me so long to pick up and read Jellicoe Road. Everyone raves about it, and for good reason. It's amazing.
I really love the depth of this story, how it combines the lives of two sets of friends in two different time periods and also how the two stories overlap and intertwine. I loved unwrapped that little mystery and discovering these relationships and friendships for myself. I love how real it all felt, how emotional and sad and beautiful it is. Everything feels a little broken and I love that about this book. I thought all of the characters felt so life-like to me and I especially adore Taylor and Jonah. Melina Marchetta, I love you.
Divergent by Veronica Roth - Ahhhh! What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said? It's hugely exciting and feels like a fresh and unique dystopian book. I started reading it while on the train and I had daydreams about being in Dauntless and jumping off and on the moving train I was on.
I loved the idea of the different factions and wondering to which faction I'd belong... I loved the action and the training involved with Tris in Dauntless, I loved the growing attraction between Tris and Four. I loved that this book is incredibly addictive reading, that it's by a debut author. I love that it's the first in a series. There's so much to love about this book that I could talk about it all day if I could!
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley - This is the most recent book that I've read to appear on this list. What I love so much about this book is how addictive this book was to read. On the night I read it, I had no intention of reading. I had fully planned an evening of vegging out in front of the television. But I'd been having problems charging my Kindle and decided to check out one of the books on it just to make sure that my problem had been solved. And it just so happened that I clicked on Graffiti Moon that night.
And that was it. After the first page, my plans for that night changed entirely. I knew straight away that that night was only for falling in love with Graffiti Moon. So that's what I did. I did nothing until I'd finished it. I really adored the characters of this story. I loved how everything occurs over one eventful night. I love how much art is central to the story and how inspired I was while reading it to find out more about the artists and poets that inspired the characters. I love that this book is so sweet and romantic, and I especially love discovering a new author whose other books I shall soon be reading!
Where She Went by Gayle Forman - I absolutely adored If I Stay by Gayle Forman, so when I first heard of this sequel, I was instantly wary that it wouldn't live up to the first book - especially in terms of emotion. How can anybody top the heart-rending reading experience of Teddy?! I didn't think it possible, but I felt even more emotional and drawn into the character and story during Where She Went.
If I were to describe Where She Went in as few words as I could, I'd probably choose 'heartbreaking, beautiful and hopeful.' It's such a great story about what happens to Adam and Mia after the horrific car accident that took Mia's family. It's several years after, and despite it being Adam who asks Mia to stay, the two have broken up and are no longer speaking to each other. That is, until this one fateful night, in which the two catch up in New York and begin asking each other all the questions that have been building up over the years in which they have been apart. The anticipation of the 'why?' that builds up as the story goes along is almost unbelievable.
This book is so filled with grief and confusion and tension and love that I almost can't stand it. Such a beautiful, beautiful book.
Wood Angel by Erin Bow - And finally, I think it fitting to end this list with a book that I read and loved at the beginning of the year. Wood Angel really touches on something that really means a lot to me and which I strive for and yearn for in my own life - belonging. It's such a huge part of this book that I couldn't help but be won over by this beautiful little book.
But it isn't just the belonging aspect that made me fall in love with this book. It's Erin Bow's wonderful and magical writing style, it's the flawed characters and the melancholy that seems to surround our main character, Plain Kate. I found her search for family and a place to belong absolutely heartbreaking. Plus I absolutely ADORE Taggle, her gorgeous talking cat. This is such a beautiful book and I felt so incredibly emotional whilst reading it. A very worthy entry in my favourite books, both of this year and in general!
What books were your favourite in 2011?