Earlier this year Penguin Random House UK worked with The Guardian and children’s marketing agency SuperAwesome to help find the UK’s best young blogger as one of the sponsors of the inaugural Future8 awards. As a bonafide bookworm and seasoned reviewer, we’re very excited to welcome Future8 Blogger category winner, Amber Kirk-Ford of The Mile Long Bookshelf  to guest blog for us as part of her prize. In the first of three guest posts, Amber will be sharing her top Young Adult books of 2014, and letting us know what she’s most looking forward to in 2015. Over to Amber…

I was probably around seven years old when I first started reading Young Adult books and at sixteen, I still love them. Why? YA speaks to us all. It covers such a massive spectrum that it’s impossible to find a book you can’t relate to, even if it’s only in a very small way. Okay, so maybe we haven’t all been in a televised fight to the death like The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen or received our letter inviting us to magic school at age eleven but the point still stands.

If you’re yet to discover the world of YA, or are simply looking for some good books to curl up with this Christmas, take a look at my favourite reads of 2014.

My True Love Gave to meMy True Love Gave to Me, Twelve Winter Romances, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Matt de la Peña, Myra McEntire, Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Kiersten White, Jenny Han, Gayle Forman and Ally Carter- Macmillan Children’s Books.

This book is pure Christmas. It’s so wintry, festive and gorgeous, and with twelve short stories to pick from, you don’t have to read the entire thing at once. It’s like a lucky dip of bookish goodness and there’s bound to be one, or two, or twelve of them that find their way into your heart.

A Boy Called HopeA Boy Called Hope, Lara Williamson- Usborne Publishing.

A Boy Called Hope will tug at your heartstrings and probably make your eyes all leaky, but it’s such a great book for huddling under a blanket with. After reading it, you might want to go and tell everyone closest to you how much you appreciate them.

Amy and MatthewAmy & Matthew, Cammie McGovern- Macmillan Children’s Books.

Amy & Matthew features OCD and Cerebral Palsy, and I know that this book will be hugely helpful to anyone going through these things, or even to anyone who wants to educate themselves on either illness/disability. It is truly inspiring and if you decide to read it, I think you’ll love it just as much as I do.

Anna and the French KissAnna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins- Usborne Publishing.

This is one of my favourite books of all time, as are the other two in the trilogy. If you need to escape from whatever life may be throwing at you, sit down with a mug of hot chocolate and read this. You will instantly be transported to the beautiful surroundings of Paris, France, a place where it feels like anything is possible. Some books are filled with tension – this one is completely relaxing.

Don't Even Think About ItDon’t Even Think About It, Sarah Mlynowski- Orchard Books.

If you’re looking for something more fun than serious, you need to pick up Don’t Even Think About It. If you’ve read a book by Sarah Mlynowski before, you will know that she has a unique and incredibly awesome way of storytelling, never failing to put her own twist on things. For example, this book is about teenagers becoming telepathic through flu jabs. You have to admit that is pretty cool, and I personally had a lot of fun reading it!

Far From You- IndigoFar From You, Tess Sharpe- Indigo Books.

Ooh, a murder mystery… who killed who? That would be telling – I suppose you’ll have to find out for yourself. What I can tell you is that you’ll be on the edge of your seat from the minute you open it and get reading. You’ll gasp, you’ll cry, you’ll laugh, you’ll wish you could help in some way; most of all, you’ll enjoy it. This is another book that includes mental illness, and is also LGBT.

Popular PenguinPopular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, Maya Van Wagenen- Penguin. 

In the couple of hours it took me to read this book, it succeeded in changing my entire perspective on life. It’s non-fiction and absolutely fascinating whatever age you are, just imagine what would happen if you applied the guidance from a 1950’s manual to life today? That’s exactly what Maya did in her social experiment, and the results are breathtaking. To make this book even more amazing, the author was only fifteen when published. I’d say she’ll go far, but she’s already gone miles and miles. In fact, she’s gone global!

SalvageSalvage, Keren David, ATOM. 

Keren David has been a favourite author of mine for years now, and I know by now that picking up one of her books will never disappoint me. Salvage was published at the beginning of this year, and the thing I love most is that the characters all have huge personalities, especially Will Hughes – bright, bouncy and full of life. All of them give that extra sparkle to an already gleaming book, and Salvage is completely brilliant.

She is Not InvisibleShe Is Not Invisible, Marcus Sedgwick, Indigo. 

Not only does this book tackle weighty issues like discrimination, the main character is also blind. As readers we’re used to reading books and seeing the world through the eyes of the main character, so this was so interesting to read. I would also like to point out that I am a typical teenager who prefers the indoors (with WiFi) to the outdoors, yet this book had me lying in the grass for three hours until I’d read the entire thing. If that doesn’t tell you this is a good book, I don’t know what does!

The Year of the RatThe Year of the Rat, Clare Furniss- Simon and Schuster. 

The Year of the Rat’s remarkable, dramatic and terrifyingly realistic plot will draw you in like cheese luring a mouse to a trap, and once you’re immersed in the story, you can’t escape. It’s gritty, empathic and thought-provoking and will throw you straight into cruel reality.

We were liars- Hot KeyWe Were Liars, E. Lockhart- Hot Key Books. 

The less said about this one the better, and I don’t mean that in a bad way- I just don’t want to spoil it! We Were Liars is mysterious, eerie, and full of twists and turns that you won’t see coming in a million years. You need to go into this one blind. All I’m going to tell you is the writing is stunning, as is the surprise at the end…

These are all easily my favourite books of 2014, but what about next year? There are lots of books I’m looking forward to in 2015, but number one on my list is…

Love, Tanya, Tanya Burr- Michael Joseph. 

Tanya Burr is one of the most popular vloggers in the world, and is publishing her first book in February 2015. Love, Tanya will include her beauty tips and tricks, recipes, friendship advice and more. I think this will be like an extended version of her gorgeous videos and a great companion for any avid follower.

Amber is guest blogging for the Penguin Blog as part of her Future8 prize. Read her interview on the SuperAwesome blog, and take a read of her brilliant blog, The Mile Long Bookshelf.

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