Last year I wrote a post recommending some great books that you could buy as Christmas gifts. Now that November is well underway, it seemed like a good time to share a few recommendations for this year.
These books are all some of the best or most inventive novels I’ve come across in 2014.
Includes affiliate links.
For the one who loves a good story
Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel
After a flu pandemic wipes out 99% of the world’s population, the remaining people live in disparate settlements, getting by as best they can without the benefits of modern technology. In this post-apocalyptic world, a band of travelling actors and musicians trek from town to town, performing Shakespeare and symphonies.
This has to be one of my books of the year and I can’t recommend it enough. Even though I have a review copy from NetGalley, I’m asking for this for Christmas too!
Longbourn, by Jo Baker
This novel is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, but from the perspective of the servants. Instead of being in the background as the Bennett girls search for love, their maids and footmen are brought to the fore and given their own lives, romances and challenges.
Boy, Snow, Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi
Boy Novak escapes her violent father by catching a bus out of 1950s New York. She ends up in a small town, working in a bookshop and soon marries widower Arturo Whitman, father of the beautiful Snow.
But when Boy gives birth to another girl, she discovers that life in small town Flax Hill wasn’t what she thought.
Oyeyemi writes fabulously unusual stories based on fairy tales and magic realism, full of the uncanny. This is one of her more accessible novels and makes for an interesting read.
For the one who loves a challenge
Look Who’s Back, by Timur Vermes
Adolf Hitler wakes up in modern day Berlin with no memory of how he got there or what he’s been doing for the last few decades.
After being discovered by a television producer, he becomes the popular star of a satire show.
For the one who likes to be thrilled
The first two books in Smythe’s Anomaly Quartet are psychological thrillers set in space, following a pioneering mission to explore previously uncharted territory.
Full of twists and shocking moments, these are riveting novels. Plus James Smythe is one of my new favourite authors – I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this series.
Read my review – The Explorer
Read my review – The Echo
The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike), by Robert Galbraith
I was a huge fan of J.K. Rowling’s first Cormoran Strike novel – written under the Galbraith pseudonym – and I thought the second book in the series was just as exciting.
The detective is drawn in to the disappearance of a writer, known to be an unpleasant and arrogant man. As he searches for the missing author, he uncovers a disturbing side to the literary establishment.
The Three, by Sarah Lotz
When four commercial planes crash on the same day, the world is shaken. But when it emerges that the only survivors were three young children – who all seem strangely unscathed – rumours and claims of apocalypse begin to circulate.
Told through a series of interviews, diary entries and news articles, this is an exhilarating and sometimes chilling story.
Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy), by Jeff VanderMeer
The first book in the Southern Reach trilogy is a story steeped in the uncanny.
For years, Area X has been abandoned, sealed off from the world after some mysterious environmental disaster. A shadowy government agency investigates the place, sending expeditions of scientists to take samples and explore. But most fail to return; those that do quickly fall victim to a form of cancer.
Expedition 12 are about to enter Area X; who knows what might be waiting for them.
This book doesn’t fit neatly into a genre: it’s a little bit science fiction, a little bit psychological horror, a little bit adventure. It’s a story that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.
For the one who enjoys YA
The Fever, by Megan Abbott
When sixteen-year-old Deenie’s best friend has a seizure at school, she’s upset and scared. But things get worse, as her friend’s condition worsens and she is admitted to hospital in a coma.
Soon other girls begin to fall ill with the same mysterious symptoms, and their parents begin to panic. Desperate for an explanation, they blame anything that might affect the girls, from vaccines to pollution.
Deenie finds herself at the centre of a storm as she tries to make sense of what is happening around her.
We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart
Cadence Sinclair comes from a wealthy family. She spends every summer on a private island in the Hamptons with her mother and extended family, including her cousins – The Liars.
But a mysterious accident alienates Cady from her family, and she can’t quite remember why.
This is one of those books that sucks you in completely and makes you want to stay up all night reading. I downloaded it on a whim in the Kindle sale and couldn’t put it down.
Disclaimer: I received advance copies of a number of these books from the publisher, but all opinions and reviews are my own.