2014 Book Reviews

I decided to do a review of all the books I read in 2014 with a rating of each book. Note: there are spoilers throughout. I’m using my own rating system which is as follows:

10/10: Absolute classic/ Mind blowing/ life changing.

9/10: Amazing/ Superb.

8/10: Excellent/ Fantastic.

7/10: Great/ Enjoyable.

6/10: Good/ Solid.

5/10: Average/ Ok.

4/10: Disliked it.

3/10: Detested it.

2/10: Hated it with a passion.

1/10: Shouldn’t have been written/ Absolute Garbage.

I have included some novels I read University but excluded things like Anthologies. Although the list isn’t in order, you can find a full list of all the books I’ve read here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/27288351

Anyway, here are the books I read in 2014 by date:

1. Clockwork Prince (2011) – Cassandra Clare.

Rating: 8/10.

The second book in The Infernal Devices trilogyI read this prior to finding out about all the horrible things surrounding Ms. Clare and her books. I must say I did enjoy the book. The Victorian setting is what drew me to the series in the first place. The prose and descriptions are well written. I really fell in love with Will in this books and I was rooting for Tessa to pick him. But at the same time I was crushed by the news of the curse that was inflicted upon Will that kept him from loving anyone because it would result in their death. Great themes a sacrifice and philosophy.

2. Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy (2013) – Helen Fielding.

Rating: 7/10.

The third Bridget Jones book. I was highly anticipating it, as she is my spirit animal. I was saddened by Mark Darcy’s death. He was the perfect man and made the series. The book follows Bridget’s struggles with parenthood and work and her love life which includes younger men in their late 20’s/ early 30’s (She’s now in her 50’s). It is a humorous book but nothing like the previous texts. There’s still the weight obsession and alcohol is abound to make the journey all the bit more enjoyable!

3. The Scorch Trials (2010) – James Dashner.

Rating: 8/10.

The second book in The Maze Runner trilogy. This is best book of the trilogy. I enjoyed its predecessor and this really surpassed it in terms of world building, action, character interaction and suspense. So the gladers made it out of the maze and now find themselves in the desert. I love plots where the characters must journey through a desert, so this really did it for me. The pacing is different to that of The Maze Runner (2009) as the characters are constantly on the move now. I do enjoy it when characters have to physical journey in a story. The changing landscape from desert to city to mountain was good. I like how this stories seemed to have elements of many different genres like action, zombie and dystopian. A really enjoyable read full of excitement.

4. Clockwork Princess (2013) – Cassandra Clare.

Rating: 7/10.

The third and final book in The Infernal Devices trilogy. I think this series is less offensive than her other books but obviously is still problematic. It’s the last book of hers I read which I didn’t out right hate. I did like the philosophical ideas it brought up and some of the scenes are beautiful like when Will thinks of Jem and about life after death. I did have problems with it though like how at the end everyone is paired up and they’re all happy and it all works out. That’s the one thing I hate most of all about Clare’s novels. There’s no great loss in them and everything works out for everyone. I hate the idea of people being paired up because it suggests that being single and happy isn’t possible. It really makes me angry. The twist with Jem coming back to life is one of the most horrible things she’s ever done. You can further read my problems about him here: https://thelonewolf12.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/on-james-carstairs/ . She shouldn’t have brought him back to life and she ruined his character by doing so.

5. The Great Gatsby (1925) – F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

Rating: 10/10.

An American classic, I had to read it. It really is pure gold. I loved it. I’ll definitely be reading more Fitzgerald. The 1920’s is one of my favourite time periods and if you know me, you’ll know that I have a love for jazz. So this really interested me. Big parties, flowing alcohol, corrupt politics, extreme wealth, love affairs. It’s all very rambunctious. I love the character interactions and how everyone had their secrets. Nothing was what it appeared. It was very much to keep up appearances. I love the line: “Neither of them can stand the person they’re married to.” You just think, well what’s the point of it all? Everyone appeared to be happy but were internally unsatisfied with their lot. I likes Jay’s obsession with the past. It was so compelling how corrupt every character was. A classic book that was a quick read.

6. City of Heavenly Fire (2014) – Cassandra Clare.

Rating: 4/10.

The sixth and final book in The Mortal Instruments series. I read the first five books years before I read this. I really didn’t like this books. I feel as though I had grown out of them and could now see the problems behind her books. Firstly it’s way too long at 700 pages. It’s all style, no substance. The climax is a let down, the fight scenes aren’t great. The villains aren’t bad-ass, everything works out in the end, and she was plugging her next series for a lot of the book. I felt myself not caring a lot. What pissed me off was that Helen & Aline (who happen to lesbian, and whom I was really interested in reading about) had like one or two scenes and ended up getting banished. I just have had enough with Cassadra Clare at this stage. You can read my review here: https://thelonewolf12.wordpress.com/2014/09/14/city-of-heavenly-fire-review/

7. The Death Cure (2011) – James Dashner.

Rating: 7/10.

The third and final book in The Maze Runner trilogy. (Yes, I realise I was reading a lot of series during the first part of the year. But after this book, I only read once off books). This wasn’t as good as its predecessor, The Scorch Trials (2010). I had more sci-fi elements and the characters mostly found themselves in a city. This book should have answered all of the questions that were brought up during the series. It only brought up more and left things unanswered. The death of Teresa made no sense. Also, one thing I came up which no one seems to notice: If some people were immune, why not use their blood as a vaccine to protect other people. I mean clearly the technology is their. I didn’t understand all that variable nonsense and really there wasn’t a good conclusion. Exciting in parts, it had its moments.

8. The Book Thief (2005) – Mark Zusak.

Rating: 8/10.

A poignant tale about a small town living during WWII under the Nazi regime. It tells the story of Catholic German citizens which is a different perspective than that which has been seen before. I thought having death as the narrator was really refreshing. The perspective of the children gave it a certain innocence. I enjoyed Liesel’s love of books and her gradually friendship of Max. The story really showed how devastated the German citizens were by the war too.

9. Death on the Nile (1937) – Agatha Christie. 

Rating: 8/10.

My first Agatha Christie novel. I’m definitely converted and I can’t wait to pick up another on of her books. A great and interesting cast of characters, the back stories create great interactions and paranoia ensues follwoing the murders. Our setting is in Egypt amid the backdrop of the Nile and the ruins of Karnak. I did have a slight inclination of who carried out the murders which turned out to be right. 😛 Great novel though, big new fan of Christie.

10. The City and the Pillar (1948) – Gore Vidal.

Rating: 6/10.

Noted as “The first serious American homosexual novel.” I do have to take my hat off to Gore Vidal for writing a novel which involves romantic relationships between males at a time when it was less acceptable. The writing, however, is cold and Jim, the protagonist, does not exhibit any warmth towards any of his lovers after his first encounter with a childhood friend. At times, the book is slightly condescending towards homosexuals and groups them all into one stereotypical group. Definitely a pioneer for its time, it doesn’t fully work nowadays.

11. Ghostwritten (1999) – David Mitchell.

Rating: 10/10.

David Mitchell’s debut novel, which established his status as my favourite author. It has themes of existentialism and metaphysics which are some of my favourite philosophical ideas. You can read an essay I wrote on these ideas here.

The novel follows the lives of a multitude of individual characters all over the world who are all connected in some way by certain events. It is broken up into a number of narratives which work in and of themselves but are all interconnected. Characters from one narrative turn up in others and there are references to other characters and events from other narratives. There are a lot of themes that arise throughout the novel including fate and chance, good and evil, truth and illusion, etc.

My personal favourite chapter is “Mongolia,” which tells the tale of a noncorpum which is a non-physical being which inhabits the bodies of others without them knowing. It gains knowledge off of the person it inhabits and can influence their behaviour. It transfers to many different people and is on the search for the origin of its creation. It begins on a train journey through Mongolia. I enjoy stories about train journeys and travel. They’re quite metaphysical in nature and there’s a juxtaposition of people and their own individual stories.  The being tries to find the origin of the tale of the three animals who ponder over the fate of the world. The ideas of life and death really come through in this chapter.

A brilliant book with many great philosophical ideas and a diverse cast characters who you can relate to. I’ll always hold this story close to my heart.

12. The Tales of Beedle The Bard (2008) – J.K. Rowling.

Rating: 7/10.

A great companion piece to the main Harry Potter series. It has five short tales which are magical in nature but each of which has a moral which can be applied to the real world. The most famous (for most people anyone) of which is “The Tale of The Three Brothers.” It is good to read these stories and find the moral of each. It’s an easy read as they are simple yet they have great meanings. My favourite is probably “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” where the four protagonists go on a quest to reach the fountain and its magical qualities. After they reach it, they learn things about themselves and are content with what they have. They find that they no longer need the fountain and in fact it had no magic at all. A great read.

13. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (2001) – J.K. Rowling.

Rating: 6/10.

A nice encyclopaedia of the various creatures found throughout the Harry Potter universe. It gives details on each creature and also gives a history of of Magical Law Enforcement. Great for die-hard fans of Harry Potter.

14. Quidditch Through the Ages (2001) – J.K. Rowling.

Rating: 6/10.

Finishing off the trilogy of Harry Potter book supplements, this book details the history of the sport of quidditch in terms of the equipment, its spread internationally and local teams of Britain and Ireland.

15. The Tracey Fragments (1998) – Maureen Medved.

Rating: 8/10.

I loved the movie so I had to read the original material. It tells the story of Tracey, a seemingly psychotic character, who is looking for her brother. She’s on of my favourite characters of all time. She’s so insightful and real. She just tells things how they are. Her depression is refreshing and attractive. I really related to her. I love the line “happy people depress me.” She goes on to say “I have this medical condition. Makes me want to kill and fuck all the time.” A character who sees how fucked up the world is and knows how damaged she is by it, I’ll always remember her insightful monologues.

16. The Long Walk (1979) – Richard Bachman (Aka Stephen King).  

Rating: 7/10.

My first Stephen King novel, it was a good read. It is a dystopian novel where each year 100 boys take part in this walk for a prize of their own choosing. They must stay above 4 mph or else they get a warning. After 3 warnings they are shot dead. The last one still standing is the winner. The thing is, is that this event is purely of ones own free will. They enter into it of their own accord. For that reason, it made me wander why on earth would they enter into it? Throughout the novel we get accounts of boys blistering up, getting cramps, cuts and even going insane from the extremity of the walk. It does have excruciating descriptions and well developed characters, but that idea one thing kept nagging at me: why would they enter such an impossible task?

17. More Than This (2013) – Patrick Ness. 

Rating: 9/10.

Such a good book. What makes it good is that it’s such a modest story. It doesn’t try to hard and it ends up being a really rewarding read with a meaningful story. It follows the story of Seth who wakes up in this mysterious place and has the find out what has happened to him. It skips from the present and past through flashbacks. It has slight dystopian elements but not that much. It is more of a journey to discover yourself and to find forgiveness in yourself. It explores the realm of good and evil and how everyone has a mixture of both. That’s what I loved, all the characters were real. They made mistakes, they did stupid things yet they had good in their hearts. The characters were well developed and contrasted greatly. We had to innocent yet intelligent Tomasz, the stubborn and strong will Regine and of course Seth who is plagued by his past. He feels guilty about the disappearance of his brother and torn for his forbidden love for Gudmund. I really take my hat off to Patrick Ness, not only for having a gay protagonist but also for not having the story revolve around the romance of Seth and Gudmund. Obviously it is part of the story, and I did enjoy the romance scenes, but what’s great about them is their rarity. By doing so, we can truly appreciate their beauty. What was really great was the ending. It didn’t end up all resolved. We didn’t find out what happened. Of course I would have liked to know. The novel raised issues over what was real and not but in the end it didn’t matter. What was important was what you did with what you had. How you got on with things and treated the people around you. And I think that shows how strong the novel was.

18. Proxy (2013) – Alex London.

Rating: 8/10.

The first book in the Proxy trilogy? I think it’s going to be a trilogy. Anyway, it’s a dystopian novel (I can hear the sighs but bear with me) that isn’t about trials, or games or going through tasks or what ever. This is dystopian novel that is set in an external world terrain. It’s not enclosed in a stadium for people to watch, it’s about a guy, Syd,  who is trying to escape the enforcers of the law. Syd is a proxy who is punished for the mistakes and misbehaviour of the wealthy Knox. So Syd is a sort of scapegoat. Good metaphor eh? It’s a fast paced novel about escaping persecution and Syd happens to be gay, which I have to give Alex London credit for. Like above, in More Than This (2013), the protagonist happens to be gay but it’s not all about his romantic endeavours. In fact, I don’t even think there is a romance but I forget to be honest. Also Syd has dark skin which is quite refreshing for a protagonist. Great character development. Can’t wait for the next book.

19. Bertram; or The Castle of St. Aldobrand (1816) – Charles Maturin.

Rating: 6/10.

I had to read this in university for my Gothic Literature module. Firstly, it’s a play about a woman who loves one guy but is married to another and the chaos that ensues when both turn up. I have to admit, some of the descriptions of the landscape were utterly breath taking. But the characters are really annoying. The woman, lady something or other, I can’t be bothered looking for her name, spends the whole play as this whole “woe is me” character crying and complaining. Just pick a guy and get over it. Thank God Bertram comes in with a sword and people die cause the play was such a drag. All in all it was a solid tragedy, but I just want to forget about it.

20. Castle Rackrent (1800) – Maria Edgeworth.    

Rating: 6/10.

Another uni novel for Gothic Lit. This one just told the tale of a piece of land and how it was inherited through the ages and who was the best landlord. Short and sweet, bit of a bore really.

21. The Vampyre (1819) – John Polidori.

Rating: 7/10.

I had to read it for a Romanticism & Sensibility module. More of a novella really. I did enjoy it. It was said to be the first vampire novel. It had good themes of vampirism and folklore and really established the figure of the modern vampire as an aristocratic, intriguing figure. The protagonist ends up going mad, always good fun!

22. The Bane Chronicles (2014) – Cassandra Clare.

Rating: 1/10.

And the award for Worst Novel of the Year goes to… The Bane Chronicles! Seriously, I’m done with Cassandra Clare. I thought I’d read this because a lot of people had problems with Magnus Bane. I wanted to see how awful a character he was and I really wish I hadn’t. A terrible book that adopted a trope I love: narratives in different time periods which are connected (See Cloud Atlas). Too bad this idea is wasted on a God awful prick like Magnus fucking Bane. Seriously, this “book” is a piece of shit and he is the most offensive character I’ve ever read, who by a matter of fact has blinded some people into actually liking him. It’s so problematic. It’s racist, idiotic, has inappropriate subject matter (cocaine in a YA novel), throws around love like it’s nothing, extreme standards of beauty, condescending, not credible, objectifying, degrading, immature, paedophilic, plagiarises The Great Gatsby, manipulative, sexist and arrogant. Terrible, shouldn’t have been written.

23. The Culling (2013) – Steven dos Santos.   

Rating: 6/10.

This is the first book in The Torch Keeper trilogy. It’s a dystopian novel. Ok you can sigh this time. I read part of this in October but didn’t get around to finishing it until December – I found other books :L. Anyway, it was an alright book. I usually finish series but I doubt I’ll continue this trilogy. It is a novel about trials and is like The Hunger Games except it doesn’t have that same impact or political interest that THG has. For about the first 40% of book, the pacing is slow but really picks up after that, to the point where it skips scenes. The protagonist, Lucian, is gay and has a kind of romance with Digory. Now hats off to Steven dos Santos for that, but they spend they whole novel being hot and cold, mostly because Lucian is annoying as fuck. I really didn’t like him. The reason for that was because this is written in 1st person. Now I don’t like 1st person narratives. I didn’t mind it for a lot of this novel but I soon began to get sick and tired of Lucian’s internal monologue. He went on and on and he was so fucking annoying. I wanted to get out of his head. The novel is full of suspense but it really doesn’t seem credible. I mean what is the purpose of all of the trials? I don’t get it. What’s the purpose of all the killing and I’m sure they cost a lot to hold these trials. Plus there doesn’t seem to be a lot of money in the society. And the people just support the trials even though their loved ones are being killed? It doesn’t make sense. The homo-normalcy was nice- weird but nice. The heavy descriptions get very tiring to read, as do all the action and internal monologues. Overall, I don’t think I’ll be returning to this series any time soon.

And that’s it! All the books I read this year. Hope you enjoyed it, and pick up some of the books I read (the good ones mind you)!

Authors by gender are as follows:

Male: 12.

Female: 11.

Nice to see that it’s almost an even divide.

Authors by country are as follows:

USA: 11.

UK: 8 (England: 5, Scotland: 3).

Ireland: 2.

Australia: 1.

Canada: 1.

One comment on “2014 Book Reviews

  1. […] awards given to the books I read in 2014, not necessarily published in 2014. You can see the list here. Five nominations are given per category, followed by the winner below. So here we […]

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