The Dragonslayer Series - Jasper Fforde : The Last Dragonslayer (2012), The Song of the Quarkbeast (2013), The Eye of Zoltar (2014) | Jasper Fforde's most prolific work to date is his Thursday Next novels, but I picked up the Dragonslayer series from him first. What drew me to read the novels was my impartial feeling to fantasy novels and dragons, in particular. It seems like an enjoyable read, and I've been following the adventures of Jennifer Strange ever since. The first book explains how she earned her title as dragonslayer, with the following two books becoming the aftermath of the events in the first book. Another entry would join the ranks this year; hopefully it would be as adventurous as the first three.
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen - Lucy Knisley | Two Lucy Knisley graphic novels made my list this year. They're memoirs, with this part talking mostly about her childhood and how she found love for food. What makes her memoirs great is that it's all illustrated like a free form comic book strip. It's a great manner for her to express herself, and at the same time, it feels like she is simply narrating without it being too formal or wordy. It's funny and fun, and it carries personality. It feels like she's really beside you, chatting you up with vigor and passion (probably throwing her hands in the air kind of thing).
French Milk - Lucy Knisley | French Milk uses the same format, but this time her story was set in Paris when she and her mother lived there for a few months. She talked about her adventures in food mostly, and just like Relish, it feels like you're in conversation with her. You don't have to think twice about what she means because she illustrates everything - from the comic details of food (with comments), and the people she meets. She even adds in an occasional photograph so we can see what she's talking about. It was a fun memoir, and I'm looking forward to more of her work.
Daytripper - Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba | This was a depressing graphic novel about life, as the authors convey different stories of living using one character and the different dimensions of how his life can turn out. There were many events - some stem out from accidents, or incidents, with each story ending in his death. Despite its sad tone, it's such a beautiful read. The beauty of the last chapter was worth it to read all the accounts.
The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles - Katherine Pancol | Translated from French, the novel talks about two sisters whose lives differ so much from each other. While both are married, one is in the midst of a divorce and financial problems, while the other is living in luxury but has no fulfillment. Events in their lives change when one gets offered a book deal, but has her sister write the book for her. There's a lot of factors happening as it tackles the different problems that both women were facing in their lives. It's a great read, and I've been wishing for more of her books to be translated in the English language (this is the only one so far).
I Am Having So Much Fun Without You - Courtney Maum | This fantastic and well-written novel discusses the woe of a man who cuckolded his wife and if love between them could ever happen again. I love reading novels like this, and there were some beautifully written passages. This is my favorite read of the year, and I can't wait to re-read it again this year.
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn | Gone Girl is an excellent novel about the intricacies of marriage. Told in the perspective of both characters, this gives a glimpse of what happens between Nick and Amy that spawns Amy's disappearance. This gives a rich background to the characters that I consider it a complimentary for the film. The book gives more insight to the characters of Nick and Amy, and is a well-written novel.
Dorothy Must Die - Danielle Paige | Stories that also win me over are those that present a retelling of classics - such as The Wizard of Oz. In this case, another girl from Kansas was blown to Oz, this time to put an end to Dorothy's ruling. Apparently she had found a way to go back to Oz, and is now ruling the land, along with The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and The Lion as her minions. It's an interesting read, as it also incorporates the lesser-known Oz novels (I only say lesser known because the first thing that comes to mind is The Wizard of Oz story).
The Giver - Lois Lowry | I only read this because I was curious about the movie adaptation that everyone was criticizing. After reading the book, it gave me the will not to see the movie. It's a beautiful, but sad story (why it leaves an open-ending I would not know) but it gives thoughtful lessons about life. I would not want to live in a world like that, no matter how organized it seemed.
The DUFF - Kody Keplinger | I also read this because of the upcoming movie adaptation. Why they're adapting this into a movie that completely deviates from the story, I would not know. It's cute, and the book tries to tackle some deeper ends like alcoholism and abandonment. I might have more thoughts about this when the movie comes out; Mae Whitman plays the lead character (though with her Parenthood skills, she should be trying to hit dramatic roles) so I might see this one just for her.
Raw: A Love Story - Mark Haskell Smith | I read somewhere that this was a satirical novel about a man traveling in a tour bus for love. I don't really remember much about it, except that it was funny and crazy at the same time. I remember having a 'what the hell am I reading' face at certain parts. It might have been the experience of reading the book that lands it a spot, but it's deserved.
Shopgirl - Steve Martin | When I was younger, there was a Steve Martin phase around here, and this was one of the movies I sat through parts of but didn't really understand. I came across the novella at a used bookstore and I just had to snag it! It tells the story of a girl who was pursued by an older gentleman who wasn't ready to commit, and a man her age who hasn't grown up. If you've seen the movie version, it was faithful to the novella. It was written well, and it feels like Steve Martin is narrating to you as you read.
Office Girl - Joe Meno | This was one novel I stumbled upon to, read, and liked. It's about two artists doing artist things together. I read some reviews and most of what I've skimmed through classified this as a hipster book, adding that the lead female is a member of the manic pixie dream girl trope. I liked the illustrations in the book, and it was well-written.
The Descendants - Kaui Hart Hemmings | Another novel whose adaptation was faithful to the source, it tells the story of a man whose wife was in a coma, and has to deal with the repercussions of his wife's actions, as well as his family. This too was a good read, and made me want to watch the movie afterwards.
Helen and Troy's Epic Road Quest - A. Lee Martinez | This was a fun, colorful read, as a minotaur and a nice boy were chosen by a minor god to bring him back to life. This was an imaginative read, as it gives insights to the mythological creatures that the characters encounter in their quest. It puts magical elements in a realistic setting, that even if these things are magical, it's very normal in their world. I'm currently reading his other works of the same nature, hopefully they'd be as imaginative as this one.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage - Haruki Murakami | Murakami has written endless works that always talks about the plights of human beings, and seems to border on existentialism at times. I have read two of his works, and was blown away with this one. It was so straightforward that even if his character ponders endlessly, it never feels out of place; rather it is in sync with the character. From what I've read from his works, he is inclined to writing characters that are cold and detached, but the way he weaves their stories into words is enough to continue reading.
Those are my favorite books of the year. Have you read any of them, and what books have you read in 2014 that became your favorites?