Here members of the Guardian children’s books site community, from Book Elves to site members, offer their recommendations for best book of 2014.
The Guardian children’s books team
The Book Doctor
Oliver Jeffers’ Once Upon An Alphabet – A is for… will never be dull again. Oliver Jeffers induces each letter of the alphabet in a snippet of a story that spins effortlessly around the single letter. C is a cup that makes an adventurous journey out of a cupboard with disastrous results. Every story is an adventure and for each of them Oliver Jeffers’s witty illustrations are a delight.
Emily, Chief Book Elf
This Book Is Gay. I can’t believe I’m going for a non-fiction title as my best book of 2014, but James Dawson’s book knocked me off my feet. I laughed (so much), I cried, I got angry and I want to propose a rule that every school library should have at least 10 copies of this book on their shelves and make homophobia a thing of the past. Read it, and read it now!
Charlotte, Book Elf
I Predict a Riot by Catherine Bruton (cue Kaiser Chiefs theme tune!). Inspired by the 2011 riots, this is a massively important book in our current social/political climate – if reading is all about putting yourself in other people’s shoes, then every teenager needs to read this book about class, race, gang culture and inner city life. And I defy anyone who does to maintain that politics is irrelevant and voting a waste of time.
Wow, which book to chose?! There have been so many amazing books out this year (Magisterium, This Book Is Gay, Say Her Name, We Were Liars, Ruin and Rising), but I think I have to stick with the book I was most excited about all year, one that was written by one of my very favourite authors and was the last book in one of my very favourite series. And that book is Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout, the final book in the Lux series, which is more addictive than chocolate. Opposition had everything I’ve come to expect from the Lux series and more: hot aliens, bundles of laugh, even more suspense, action, fighting, kisses, twists and turns and, of course, Daemon Black, AKA my favourite book boyfriend. I’m absolutely devastated that the Lux series has finished now, but it really went out with a bang, thanks to Opposition. And, of course, I have all of JLA’s other amazing books to look forward to in the future (even if the future is Daemon Black-less)!
My fave 2014 book is The Incomplete Book of Dragons by Cressida Cowell.
Favourite book of the year has to City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare. Everything about it was perfect.
The Manifesto on How To Be Interesting by Holly Bourne, because whenever I was feeling low, or if a day was too dark, I would pick it up, hear Bree’s voice in my head, and learn to laugh again.
My favourite book of the year is probably Cat Clarke’s A Kiss in the Dark. You – just – have – to – read – on!
Best book of 2014 would HAVE TO BE Louder than Words by Laura Jarratt – just mesmerising.
Best book of 2014 has to be We Were Liars. Moving, suspenseful and incredible all round!
Oh, goodness. This is such a hard question – there’s so many excellent books that I’ve read over the past year… But I’m going to go with I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. It was a great read in many ways instead of just one (members of the site get sent a lot of proofs – this book isn’t actually out until next year but we’ve let it slip into this list!)
My best book of the year is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.
Darcy Burdock: Hi So Much by Laura Dockrill. This was definitely my best book of the year – there are now three Darcy books out as Sorry About Me has just arrived – I love them all so much because they are so funny and Darcy feels like she’s real and actually my friend
My favourite book of 2014 is Lockwood & Co: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud which I have just finished, it was great, really gripping. I was going to pick The Mute Button by Ellie Irving which was a terrific book too but Stroud just pipped it, really close run thing, hard to choose between them!
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. This novel embodies everything I want and will try to be in my life; to stand tall even if I’m stood all on my own, to rise above others’ expectations of me and break every fear which tries to shackle me back. For the living and the dead, I want to make a reckoning. But will I rise? Ruin and Rising, the third and final book in the Grisha trilogy, was unavoidably the honest winner as it was probably the most anticipated book of the year for me and many others. Concluding an epic YA fantasy saga is a huge feat, but Leigh managed it in the most incredibly heartbreaking, flawlessly broken way which left me weak in the knees and sobbing into my pillowcase. No series since Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead has left me so satisfied but also desperately craving for more, so its kinda good Leigh is writing a spin off series still set in the Ravkan world huh?
Still, nothing will ever compare to my utter adoration of the simply compelling story of the Boy who held too much power, and let himself rot his scarlet heart just for the pleasure of ruling forever. Of the Prince, who risked everything good inside of himself to become the man his country needed him to be. Of the Tailor, who’s beauty was always just a mask which hid the true grace trapped inside. Of the Soldiers, of the Summoners, of the Corrupt and the Followers. Of the darkness which dwells inside of every one of us, and of the saintly light which may have never been ours to keep forever in the first place. Of the Power and Passion and violent Anger. Of the Dangerous paths and long buried secrets which will one day see the light of day, making things never quite the same as it was before. Of that pale, gaunt mapmaker who never thought she’d matter, never thought she could make a change, when in fact she was the most important piece of the puzzle in a messed up, complicated game. Alina Starkov, thank you for your story.
My recommendation for 2014 is Endgame by James Frey and my reason is because it’s a book similar to a book from the past, it’s a great storyline and it could work out very nicely for you if you win the $3million prize!
Mine is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I could talk for four hours about that book. Just give me some poor, unsuspecting member of the public and some chairs and off I’ll go. Can I just ask you all to stop and bow down to the incredible force of literary genius that is E. Lockhart.
My best book of the year is Toby Ibbotson’s Mountwood School for Ghosts.
Darcy Burdock: Hi So Much by Laura Dockrill. What I have in common with Darcy is her personality. First we have the same hair – my mum describes mine as a rats nest! Also, I am a tomboy and I absolutely hate wearing a school uniform and clumpy school shoes. I also love writing when I am in the mood, I most like writing ghost tales… I give this book 5 out of 5, I LOVED it!
Black Ice – Becca Fitzpatrick.
It was a very hard pick since so many amazing books have come out this year, but if I am completely honest with myself, I would have to say The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan was my favourite read. I am sure this book has already been mentioned by many other people since it was so highly anticipated, but my personal love for it comes from the fact that it gave such a satisfying ending to such a brilliant series
My favourite book of 2014 would have to be… Half Bad by Sally Green! The reason for this is because this cover itself is astounding! Anyway the plot is prodigious yet cunning. The way it is written so intriguing and my favourite part of the book would have to be the beginning because the short sentences/phrases used caught my attention straight away. As usual I couldn’t step reading it.
Phoenix by SF Said without a doubt! Phoenix shot to the top of my favourite book list and may stay there for ever! Since I read this book I have gone to sleep each night listening for the music of the stars.
My favourite book this year is Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan.
I think that the best book released in 2014 that I’ve read has to be The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black! It’s by two of my favourite authors and I can’t wait for the second book in the series to be released.
My best book of the year is RUBY REDFORT: FEEL THE FEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Favourite book of the year? Now that is a hard one…umm. I guess I’m not allowed to give two so… The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil. So very funny. And amazing. And just… wow.
Teri and Mya
This was easy! We have not stopped reading and laughing at Max and The Won’t Go To Bed Show by Mark Sperring and Sarah Warburton. Such a brilliantly funny and enjoyable book.
Emma and Reilly (3)
The Funny Fingers are Having a Party by Nikalas Catlow, David Sinden and Matthew Morgan.
It’s a tough one but I might have to pick Shirley Hughes’ A Year of Stories and Things to Do. Such a lovely book. Not sure if picking an anthology is cheating. If it had to be a single book, I would have a hard time choosing between On Sudden Hill (Linda Sarah, Benji Davies) and There’s a Dinosaur in my Bathtub (Catalina Echeverri).
Amy and Leila (20 months)
This is a really hard one but I think it’s My Dad’s Beard by Zanib Mian and Laura Ewing. I think mainly because my daughter could relate to the pictures.
The Whiteheath Book Ninjas have had a fabulous November reading loads of great comic books and graphic novels but the surprise hit has been the wonderful El Deafo by Cece Bell – we all loved it and one even said it was the best book she’d ever read!
We love The Girl Who Walked on Air by Emma Carroll.
Because there are a lot of us in our book group we have broken the one book rule, but there is no more than one book recommended per member!
Web of Darkness by Bali Rai
This was one of my favourite books this year because it’s the only book I’ve read this year that has stood out from every mystery book I have ever read. It’s a modern mystery that is unique as there is not really any justice or happy ending and that is what excited me the most about this book. I chose Web of Darkness because it is so darkly disturbing, brilliantly exciting and just an absolutely thrilling read which I haven’t come across in quite some time.
More Than This by Patrick Ness
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It was such a good dystopian novel, it had no clichés and I found it really original. The plot twist in the middle of the book was so epic and mind-blowing that I had to put the book down and think about it for a while before picking it back up. The characters were strong, diverse and very well written. The universe was deep and well structured, the descriptions making the story feel very real It is all together such an amazing book!
Shadowplay by Laura Lam
I absolutely loved this book. It is so cute!! I loved Pantomime when we read this for the North East Teenage Book Awards and it was my favourite choice. When I read Shadowplay I found it to be just as gripping and great to read. The characters are just amazing!
Allies and Assassins by Justin Somper
This book is just brilliant. It is so well written weaving the historical element with a very good exciting mystery. I loved the characters and how they make you feel about them. I loved it!
Half a Creature from the Sea by David Almond
I really enjoyed this book. There are different tales in the book and it reminded me so much of when I was younger, bringing back great memories of the North East. The stories are wonderful and it is just a lovely book.
The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks
I am recommending this book because of its unique plotline. It has so much hope in it which I have never come across in any book, TV show or movie. It was so well written with a host of great characters. The anonymity of the abductor kept the whole story powerful and full of suspense. The ending was perfect and leaves you with so many questions which makes the story stay in your mind for a long time after you finish it.
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
This is absolutely one of my favourite series of books ever. This book is such a fantastic finale and is my favourite book of the whole series. I love the characters especially Jace and Magnus. The story is really interesting and I raced through every book. I have read all of the other series by this author now as well because I love her writing!
A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond
This book left me with so many feelings and so much emotion as the writing is just so magical. It flows like poetry while you are reading it and you feel exactly what the characters feel while reading their story. You cannot possibly guess how the book will end and it is written in such a way that you don’t really mind how it will end because you just enjoy immersing yourself in the story so much. A stunning book which I will definitely read again.
Armageddon Outta Here by Derek Landy
This book of short stories is absolutely unique, funny, witty and just so unusual. The way the stories link to the actual Skulduggery series is just genius and the amazing characters just make the book so enjoyable to read. I am not actually a hug fan of short story books but found this so hard to put down until I had finished the very last page. My favourite of all the stories was Get Thee Behind Me Bubba Moon as it was quite disturbing, exciting and had such a brilliant ending.