Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve read so far in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly list meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week we’re listing our top ten books of 2015 so far. I’m not even going to put mine in order; I’d try, but it’s summertime and I don’t feel like stressing out about it.

8301077Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory

We’ll start off with my new favorite, ongoing comic book series about a world where an avian flu has made chicken consumption illegal and the crime solving agent with the power to see the history of absolutely anything (emphasis on the anything) he eats. Chew has all the hallmarks of a great crime drama: almost unbelievably creative, socially commentary with empathetic and complex characters. And then it’s hilarious. And then you read it again and you find new, even funnier things in the background.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas16096824

I’m a fan of the Throne of Glass series, so I was expecting to like this, especially after hearing lots of glowing reviews, but I managed to keep my expectations at a pretty reasonable level and was pleasantly surprised by this. It’s definitely a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but it takes place in a different, well-crafted fantasy world and takes some turns that are harder to expect. Definitely a must read if you’re looking for fairy tales, tales with actual fairies, and/or some pretty steamy fantasy romance.

15704459Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

This second book in the Reckoners series was a sequel that kept the pulse pounding, action packed fun of the first novel, but raised the stakes and developed the characters without missing a beat. Granted, I’d probably read Brandon Sanderson’s shopping lists and love them, but this was particularly entertaining.

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski20443207

Another sequel done spectacularly, the Winner’s Curse series is smart and unpredictable. More political drama then fantasy, set in a made up place without magic, it deftly explores an unstable empire, the ways in which the conquered and the conquerers interact. The Winner’s Crime in particular didn’t stall and didn’t flinch in the way so many mid-series books do. It was intense and addictive to read

10964Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

It feels weird to say this series is fun, because it’s often very dark, but then I don’t know what word I’m looking for. Engrossing, perhaps. Transportative is great too. The series gets rather large in scope, covering lots of time and very many places, but Outlander is still my favorite of the series so far as a woman from the past settles into the even more distant past and explores all the little details of historical Highland life. Romance, history, politics, and a lot of drama, it’s got something for every mood and I’m having so much fun with it.

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin17288631

I’ve started adding a few more literary fiction works to my reading list, and this foray into Baldwin’s work happened this February. I was amazed by this book. Incredulous I hadn’t heard of it before getting into watching booktube and reading blogs regularly because it felt so universal for all that it is hailed primarily as a hallmark of LGBT fiction.

18755048S by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams

S. was time consuming and challenging, but definitely very fun. It completely redefines the phrase “engaging read” with it’s found object quality and interactive text. The novel at its heart is solid literature on its own account, and the characters that study it in the margins are fully formed. I fell in love with them and loved the mystery and the hunt. It was hard work, but it was extremely satisfying.

On Immunity by Eula Biss20613511

Only one of two non fiction books I’ve read this year so far and for such a short little book, it packs a lot of insight. It’s very thoughtful, examining the cultural perception of vaccines and public health. It takes a position, but isn’t particularly argumentative, which is rare in the vaccine fiasco. Just a well composed, thought provoking little gem of a read.

18460392All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Everyone was talking about this a few months ago and I went in with some skepticism, but I thought this was a masterpiece of emotional manipulation. It was very engaging, felt very real and I highly recommend it.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein16250900

So unique in concept and so excellently executed. To have a female friendship at the forefront was so lovely, and the World War II setting was fascinating as well. I felt the world-ending urgency of Europe at war against dictatorship through the intimate tale of two friends and both stories worked so well together.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who…

This was actually a really tough one, so I’m sure it will be super interesting. I look forward to checking out other responses sometime later this evening. (Work is so busy right now, I definitely won’t be able to sneak a peak at lunchtime like I usually do!)

Top FIVE YA Books which feature characters who have active parents

Ever notice how many YA books–especially YA fantasy books–have lead characters with dead or absent parents? I set out to make a list of books where the character’s relationship with his/her parent is a major plot point. Bonus points if the lead character was involved with something magical or paranormal and the parent is more of a muggle but loves/supports their children anyway. I didn’t want to pepper this list with watered down versions of the kind of relationship I was going for, so I shortened it to five:

1.  The Lynburn Legacy Trilogy (Unspoken, Untold, Unmade) by Sarah Rees Brennan

The kids are at the center of this story, but the whole town is involved and the parents have to fight the good fight as well, even sometimes stepping aside and letting their more powerful children lead the way.

2.  The Young Wizards series by Diane Duane

Kit and Nita’s parents aren’t the type to let their 11-13 year old kids stay out long past their curfew without giving them some grief about it, even if they are just trying to save the known universe from destruction and decay. And, later, when the cat’s out of the bag about their magic and their important missions, they have an even harder task: coming to grips with their pre-teens putting themselves in mortal danger.

3.  The Archived by Victoria (V.E.) Schwab

MacKenzie’s relationship with her parents comes into play in this series as the entire family mourns the loss of a child. It would have been easy to make the relationship completely distant, but instead its strained anyway, made even more strained by her constant absence and sneaking out. If it weren’t for the library of the dead, this has many of the makings of a contemporary YA family drama

4.  The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater

I love a lot of things about The Raven Cycle, but one of the things I love most is the various family dynamics. Blue and the boys make their own family in a way, but everyone is centered in where they come from. Ronan Lynch wouldn’t be Ronan Lynch if his parents weren’t who they are. Blue grew up in a quirky, female-rich household and relies heavily on her mother and aunts as the adventure progresses. Gansey and Adam have absent parents, but the trappings of their disparate raisings are evident in their outlook.

5.  The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski

A little less strong of a parent presence in this one than some of the others, but the first volume of this series in particular struck me with it’s complex father/daughter relationship. It gets paralleled in book 2, between the emperor and his heir, but Kestral’s love for her father is evident even as she struggles to define her own course of action so very different from everything he stands for and the book would be much weaker without that conflict.

So to make this top ten a true top ten, let’s list some topic ideas that I came up with and really wanted to do, but had to reject because I could only come up with one or two books. Please, please, please, leave a comment and give me some recommendations of books that fall into these categories that I missed

Top FIVE lists I wanted to do, but I haven’t read enough diverse stuff yet

Top ten books which feature characters who are transgendered

  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Top ten books which feature characters who are asexual

  • ???

Top ten books which feature characters who are not as perfectly nice looking (too tall, too short, ugly, fat, etc.)

  • A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
  • Dark Triumph by Robin LeFevers

Top ten books which feature characters who are “incidentally” people of color 

This one is hard to title. Basically, I mean, books where the characters are POCs, but that fact isn’t completely central to their story. Some examples:

  • Legend by Marie Lu
  • The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan

Top Ten books which feature (main) characters who are not romantically linked at all

  • The Chronicles of Narnia (?-I’m pretty sure, but can’t remember)

Leave your recommendations; I’m in desperate need and would love it if we could come up with a list of ten for each. Some of you maybe even did on your own. If so, most definitely leave a link. And, of course, I’m fascinated to see what everyone else choose to list that I didn’t even fathom.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR

More and more I find my reading tastes changing with the seasons, though spring is usually a pretty transitional time from the darker and more serious reads of the wintertime to the light contemporary mixed paradoxically with epic, high fantasy fare I tend to favor in the summertime, so here’s a mixed bag of stuff I plan on reading between now and May or so…when I can be certain the snow is gone for good. Springtime in the Rockies and all…

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1. Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges

I often pick up non-fiction in the springtime, don’t ask me why, and I’ve been interested in this book since watching The Imitation Game back in January. I picked up the audiobook cheap on Audible and am really enjoying the slight dent I’ve made in it so far (it’s 30 hours long!).

2. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

I’ve heard some of the buzz around this book and snagged it from the library. I imagine I’ll pick this one up this coming weekend before it has to go back and see what all the fuss is about.

3. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve been meaning to read this forever and one of my friends really loves this series so it’s high time I started it.

4. I Was Here by Gayle Foreman

My birthday was a few weeks ago and I got a bunch of books that I really desperately wanted and just haven’t gotten to yet. This is one…

5. These Broken Stars by Amy Kaufman and Megan Spooner

This is another one.

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6. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

I reread Garden Spells almost every spring anyway, and this year I have acquired a few more of her books that I haven’t read that would be perfect to go along after.

7. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

A series with more of an autumnal mood, but I just recently read the Miss Peregrine’s graphic novel and got back into the world, and I need to read this before the third book and the Miss P movie come out later this year (I think? Hopefully that’s right!)

8. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

A recent release I haven’t sunk my teeth into yet. I’ve always had a hit and miss experience with Holly Black’s stuff, but I’m hoping this one’s a hit.

9. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

One more 2015 release. Vicious was one of my favorite books last year and I only held off on buying this the week it came out because I was holding out hope someone else would buy it for my birthday. They didn’t, and I’m trying to read down the pile of stuff I did acquire before I run out and get it myself, but I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out before picking this one up.

10. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I bought this one back in February when I went through my TBR looking for black authors to read in honor of Black History Month and came up pitifully empty and keep pushing this aside in favor of some other things, but it’s definitely a goal of mine to keep reading diversely all year and I’ve heard nothing but glowing things about this book in particular.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten All Time Favorites from the Past Three Years

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we’re listing our favorite books out of the ones we’ve read in the last 3 years:IMG_20150303_203137

1. The Fault in Our Stars-I had to whittle this list down from a first pass of fifteen and I still cheated to keep this on it because it’s technically been 37 months, not 36, since I first read it. I knew back then it would be a favorite for a long time to come and I was right.

2. The Way of Kings-I almost hesitated to add this to “all time” favorites lists because there is so much left in the series, but I just adored this world and these characters so much, I had to include it. There’s another particularly popular Sanderson series that would have made this list too, but one per author seemed the best way to go and I love this series even more than Mistborn.

3. Giovanni’s Room-I read this in February, so it’s a little early to have it on a favorites list, but I was so completely in awe of this work that I had to include it. I don’t know any good reasons why I never read James Baldwin in school, but I’m so glad I have started now.

4. Eleanor and Park-This is such a perfect YA romance. Simple and sweet and totally unexpected. I don’t pick it up all the time, but when I do I get completely caught up in it all over again.

5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe-I read this like a year ago and I still can not wrap my head around how this book did so much with such simple prose in such a short space. It’s the story equivalent of Hermoine’s little beaded bag from Deathly Hallows.

6. The Girl of Fire and Thorns-Everyone and their grandmother is raving about Throne of Glass in the last year or so. And Throne of Glass is awesome, but if you love it and you haven’t read Fire and Thorns you need to jump on it. Strong characters, the most angsty, swoon-inducing romance you’ve ever seen, tight political drama. It has everything you could ever want in a fantasy novel. Read it. Please.

7. Saga-This opened new doors for me. I ventured into a comic book store for the first time so I could get the single issues of this series because I absolutely had to know what happened next at the first opportunity. This merges art and action and striking family drama all into one and it just keeps getting better.

8. The Infernal Devices-The Mortal Instruments series has its share of detractors and its share of rough patches, but this trilogy was all but perfect. Steampunk was on trend at the time it was releasing, but this was still so creative, combining its magic system with another era, and creating one of the best and most interesting romantic plotlines I’ve ever read.

9. Dark Triumph-The first and last books in this trilogy were, in the grand scheme of things, pretty forgettable for me, but this installment will stick with me. Sybella’s story was so compelling and her romance really broke the typical YA and fantasy molds.

10. The Name of the Wind-Patrick Rothfuss does beautiful things with the English language, not surprising, considering he’s building a beautiful world too. The storytelling nature of this series is brilliant and the scope of the world is awesome too. Everybody talks about this with good reason. Scenes in this book and it’s sequel have stuck with me in the two and a half years since I first neglected my homework to fly through them.

Top Ten Books I Read in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week we’re to list our favorite books of 2014, which was exceedingly difficult (as always):

72355331. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The kickoff to this fantasy epic and its sequel, Words of Radiance, gave me the book-hangover to end all book-hangovers. I finished Words of Radiance in the first week of July and to this day, I still pick up one of them pretty much every day. I love the world that much. And I love Sanderson’s writing so much that I took a quote from this book and painted it on a canvas and stuck it on my living room wall. (proof). I’m just a tad obsessed.

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2. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Yes, Brandon Sanderson again. The Mistborn trilogy is a masterpiece. If you like fantasy even a little bit, you need to check it out, especially since I think it’s probably easier to get into this than it is The Way of Kings. Also, if you’re a dystopian fan, this is a must read as it explores a dictatorship, a rebellion and what comes after it.  It also doesn’t hurt that this has one of my favorite romance plot-lines of the year. It has everything I at least could ever want in a story and executes extremely well.

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3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

So spectacular. This book is written in such a simplistic style, and yet it conveys so much. It’s a diverse book, with a solidly formed, relatable main character. Reading Ari made me remember what it felt like to be a teenager, for all that my actual life and experiences were so different from his.

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4. Saga (I think Vol. 2 was my favorite, but it’s all good) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

I heard people heaping praise on Saga and decided, somewhat skeptically, to check it out. I hadn’t read a graphic novel or comic book series ever before and Saga was truly a wonderful introduction. Fiona Staples’ art is gorgeous and expressive; I was in awe of her talent. The world of the story is expansive and imaginative and the characters are as varied as the settings they roam in. It’s space opera at its finest, pictures and all.

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5. Legend by Marie Lu

I think this is my favorite YA dystopian book. Ever. The Hunger Games is great, Divergent with its action was fun (until it decidedly wasn’t) but this had a solid political story in with the action, multi-layered characters, complicated romances, friendships and family relationships. It explored a lot, and it still delivered a wildly entertaining, action-packed ride.

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6. Rosewater (Then They Came for Me) by Maziar Bahari

This one surprised me. I didn’t love it right away, but after I was done reading it I felt the weight of its importance to me. It’s part a true to life story of political activism in an oppressive place and that alone was fascinating. But it’s also a story of personal fortitude and the bonds of one family. Highly, highly recommended.

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7. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

This book was a lot of things (can you tell that I value complexity?) It was really funny and really thoughtful. It was morally ambiguous: you change your mind about which characters are good and which are evil. You think deeply about what good and evil mean in a world where everyone everywhere is a mix of both.  And  you explore what power does to the human psyche.

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8. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Couldn’t make this list without including at least one A.S. King book. I discovered her this year, and I think her books are some of the best YA literature out there today. I read Everybody Sees the Ants and Ask the Passengers this year as well, but I think Vera was my favorite of her characters and the pagoda the funniest of her magical elements, so this one makes the list. I love the way King writes teenagers; and that she’s writing teenagers that are quite diverse; not only in terms of race or sexuality, but in economic and social status. I think she’s excellent, and I’m secretly glad I have at least two more of her books to read before I’ve caught up to her publishing schedule.

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9. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This was one of several audiobooks I listened to this year and I don’t know if it was WIl Wheaton that made this so much fun, or if it was just the book itself. But I’m thinking it’s both. The premise was great, the puzzle of the hunt was so much fun to follow and the awkward, snarky main character was  a joy to read.

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10. Stolen by Lucy Christopher

I went into this book expecting one thing and got another. It is composed so well with its single, unreliable narrator and striking setting. I really got absorbed into this story, it was interesting and intense and it really makes you consider complicated and sometimes uncomfortable ideas.