Best of 2015

January has been unbelievably hectic, so I’m still playing catch-up from the beginning of the month. My streak of lackluster blogging marches proudly into 2016! I wanted to do a post of the absolute best books I read in 2015. I’m sure they’ve been in plenty of GE posts, and will continue to make appearances, but I wanted a moment to celebrate how much I loved them. On we go!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Gift Me These

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. This week we’re discussing books we would like as gifts this holiday season. Usually when I ask for a specific book as a gift, it’s because I read it from the library and loved it, so now I need to own it. But for the sake of this TTT, I did five books I read and want to own, then five books I want but haven’t read.

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1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: This book was great, but also it’s such a pretty book. Those black-edged pages slay me.

2.Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta: Can you believe I don’t own this? Can you believe there are any Marchetta books I don’t own? (To be honest, I read them all from the library so I only own about half of them)

3. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart: One of my favorite reads of the year, and one I definitely need to own.

4. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente: Do you ever have books you go back to when you’re feeling uninspired? This would be one of those books for me.

5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Yeah, yeah. I’m always talking about the same books. Let’s move on.

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6. Ferragost by Melina Marchetta: Remember about seven months ago when I was like “Everybody loves Ferragost and I can buy the ebook for super cheap, so I’m just going to bite the bullet and buy it”? Yeah, I still haven’t done that.

7. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith: My library doesn’t have this ebook yet. And seeing as I’ve basically stopped going there ever since I figured out how to borrow my library system’s ebooks from the comfort of my apartment, I’m not reading this unless they get the ebook or someone literally delivers it to my door.

8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: People love this book and I’ve wanted to read it for ages, but my library database only carries this in audio-book form, which isn’t my style. My mind wanders too much for audio-books to be effective.

9. Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente: How great is this cover? How great is this woman?

10. Cress by Marissa Meyer: I’m on the wait-list to download this ebook, but I love this series so far and I would like to read this book now please.

 

Happy holidays, everyone!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Book Recommendations of 2015

Do your blogs ever get cannibalized by Top Ten Tuesday? I love these weekly posts and reading other people’s takes on a theme, but sometimes I’m planning on writing a post only to see that it’s the TTT for next week.

So because I want to post a Top Ten Books of 2015 post later (once I’m done reading for the year), I thought I would tweak this topic. This week I’m doing my Top Book Recommendations of 2015 (which could also double as a gift-giving guide for your friends, you’re welcome).

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For your inner child: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
I will never stop recommending this silly, clever book. I’ve always joked that I don’t have an inner child, but my love for this book may prove otherwise.

For when you’ve run out of Gaiman to read: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This was so Gaiman-esque. It reminded me a lot of Coraline.

For the optimist: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Sometimes we all need a life-affirming essay to get us feeling perked up again.

For the pessimist: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
It’s grim enough to appeal to any pessimist, but with a nice note of hope.

For the person complaining that Ocean’s Eleven needs more women/magic: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
I would like for this to have started a heist trend. That should be the next big thing in YA, if you ask me.

For people who read a book for the character development: Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
Josephine Alibrandi goes through such drastic changes. Queen Marchetta always comes through.

For people who read a book for the action: An Ember in the Ashes by Sahaa Tahir
A book with a cutthroat competition is always a solid bet if you’re looking to read something tense and aggressive.

For people who read a book for the description: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Is there any other book I could possibly have suggested for this category? Sure. Was it reasonable to expect me to suggest a different book? No.

TTT is hosted as always by the Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-me Authors of 2015

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. I am, once again, doing an abridged version of a topic. Ten authors I read and loved for the first time this year is a lot, so I’m just doing five.

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E. Lockhart: This is such a difficult pick. I loved The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks almost as much as I hated We Were Liars, both of which I read this year. But she still makes it onto this list because Frankie was so amazing.

Leigh Bardugo: None of her books got 5 stars from me (all the others on this list did), but she might be my favorite author for the year just because I want to be her. I want to be able to world-build like Leigh Bardugo. How can anyone resist the perfect details and richness of her books?

Erin  Morgenstern: I feel like I talk about these next 3 books/authors at least once a month, but they’re totally worth my constant praise (Although, who am I kidding? I talk about every author in this post at least once a week. No shame). The Night Circus was almost too good and how has Morgenstern not written another book yet?

BJ Novak: I never expected to love his book of short stories as much as I did. I’m sorry I underestimated you, Mr. Novak.

Catherynne M. Valente: Like Morgenstern, Valente was all about lush descriptions and I was really feeling it. I need to read more of her work. That whimsy, though.

 

Share your favorite authors of 2015 with me! I could use some suggestions for my favorites of 2016.

Top Ten Tuesday: Quotes from the Past Year

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish). This week we’re listing our favorite quotes from books we’ve read in the past year. This was both easy (because I’ve read so many good books in 2015) and hard (because I’ve read so many good books in 2015 that I had too many quotes to choose from). In no particular order:

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1. “Once, last year, I started going through my sins and Father Stephen said, “Oh, it’s you, Josie.” Can you believe it? He recognized me by my sins. I’m so boring that I can’t even change my sins from term to term.”

-Melina Marchetta, Looking for Alibrandi [Josie is an absolute queen and this quote was too funny to pass over.]

2. “What Frankie did that was unusual was to imagine herself in control… She asked herself: If I were in charge, how could I have done it better?”

-E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks [This moment defined the book for me. I love how unapologetically ambitious Frankie is.]

3. “Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.”

-Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making [Honestly, there’s not a single page in this book without an amazing quote on it.]

4. “I was sad that summer was over. But I was happy that it was over for my enemies, too.”

– B.J. Novak, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories [None of us will ever be one-tenth as funny as B.J. Novak.]

5. “I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”

-Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles [Had to include this because I’ve been in a relationship for a few years and being in love makes you soft.]

6. “The summer sun was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.”

-Benjamin Alire Saenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe [I’m a girl, but I definitely belong to the rain. I was gleeful when it rained on my birthday this year.]

7. “I wish you the best that can be hoped for, and no worse than can be expected.”

-Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making [This. Book. Though.]

8. “Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon… Is not the dragon the hero of his own story?”

-Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus [I loved this book but had a hard time finding good standalone quotes from it.]

9. “It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can’t see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people. She will not be simple and sweet. She will not be what people tell her to be. That Bunny Rabbit is dead.”

-E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks [More Frankie. We all need more Frankie in our lives.]

10. “Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.”

-Maggie Stiefvater, Blue Lily, Lily Blue [I’m begrudgingly adding this quote because while I’m not a particular fan of Stiefvater or even this series, this was the quote that convinced me to read these books and I love love love it.]

A bonus quote from 2014 because it is probably my all-time favorite and I can’t help myself:

“It’s a weird smile, but it reaches his eyes and I bottle it. And I put it in my ammo pack that’s kept right next to my soul and Justine’s spirit and Siobhan’s hope and Tara’s passions. Because if I’m going to wake up one morning and not be able to get out of bed, I’m going to need everything I’ve got to fight this disease that could be sleeping inside of me.”

-Melina Marchetta, Saving Francesca [Sometimes I get this feeling like a moment is so happy and perfect that I need to squirrel the memory away, like when all of my best friends are in the same place at the same time, or when my parents are playing music and dancing around their kitchen. This quote reminds me of that.]


I love that two people can read the same book and have completely different bits speak to them. I’m so eager to see what quotes other people chose for their TTTs!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Debut Authors

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, with our topic provided as always by the Broke and the Bookish. This week we’re discussing debut authors. The prompt said we could mention debut authors we loved whose sophomore novels we’re excited for or sophomore novels that were as good as the first. I did a mix of both.

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Erin Morgenstern: When I find out that a book I love is the author’s debut novel, I usually get mad. It’s a combination of “That book was so good, why don’t you have more stuff for me to read?” and “You’re too talented, how can I become you using science or magic?” This was my exact reaction after finishing The Night Circus.

Madeline Miller: The above scenario was also my reaction when I finished reading The Song of Achilles.

Stephanie Oakes: That was also my reaction to The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. It would seem I’m rather predictable.

Marina Keegan: This is a sad entry to this list, but it fits. I read The Opposite of Loneliness on a plane yesterday and adored it, but this book of essays and stories was put together after Marina Keegan died in a car accident. She was an impressive writer at a young age, and I’m sure she would have gone on to write amazing things.

Leigh Bardugo: She’s not a new writer anymore, but I’m counting her because I kept expecting her stuff to get worse and it never did. I was surprised when the Grisha trilogy stayed so consistently good throughout. I don’t think Bardugo even knows what a sophomore slump is.

Do you get as mad as I do when you finish an amazing debut novel? Or is that a weird and unwarranted reaction?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Author Collaborations

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday. This week’s topic from The Broke and the Bookish is “Top Ten Author Collaborations.” While I don’t have anything against collaborative works, I don’t think I’m particularly drawn to them. It’s probably the control freak in me; I love to work alone. So I only came up with three collaborations, but I tried to make them good ones. Read on to see my ideas.

Melina Marchetta and JK Rowling: They’re both absolute queens with absurd amounts of talent, but I mostly lumped them together because they’re genre jumpers. They both went from YA and/or fantasy to mystery and I would be keen to read their collaborations in any genre. I’d love to read something with Marchetta’s amazing character development and Rowling’s eye for detail.

Erin Morgenstern and Catherynne M. Valente: Both of these authors have such rich description, anything they write together would be unbelievably lush. Their book would have such great atmosphere. Add in a bit of Morgenstern’s darkness and Valente’s whimsy and you have my ideal book.

Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker: These two have a ton in common already, but if they were to collaborate, I think they would push each other to new levels of creepy and unsettling. A really eery and clever children’s book between Gaiman and Barker would be amazing.

What do you think of my picks? I wanted to squeeze Leigh Bardugo in there somewhere, since I just finished a bunch of her books and I adore her, but I don’t think I’m good at this author matchmaking game. Be sure to share your TTTs with me in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall Books

I’m the person who starts wearing sweaters on the first day of September. I live for cold breezes and cloudy skies, so I’m more than a little disappointed that we’re still going to have warm weather this week. To get excited for my favorite season, I decided to do Fall Books for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday freebie topic. It turned out to be harder than I anticipated (so many books take place around Christmas or in the summer?) so I used a loose definition of “fall.” Some of these books actually take place in the fall, some feature a bit about starting school in September, and some are just spooky-feeling.

9151. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente: The main character’s name is September and most of the book has a very autumnal feel, but there’s one part where they get to a forest that experiences eternal autumn. My eyes just about popped out of my head, those descriptions were so amazing.

2. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen: I felt like including Dessen on this list, even though her books are usually summer-y, just because her books remind me so much of being in high school. This was one of my favorite of her books and I’m pretty sure it starts out in the fall.

3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: This is one of the spooky ones. I adore this book and it’s such a good Halloween read.

4. Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman: This is one of the books that actually takes place in the fall. It’s got forests, fairy tales, boarding schools, lots of stuff that feels autumnal to me.

5. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray: I’ve already said that schools, especially boarding schools, remind me of the fall, but this book also has a richness that I associate with this season.

6. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: My friends go on a yearly trip to Salem in October and last year, I read some chapters from Good Omens aloud while we drove. It felt appropriate.

7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Circuses are super autumnal (I’m so sorry I’ve used this word about a hundred times, I have no good alternatives!), but this book also has a richness like I mentioned with A Great and Terrible Beauty.

8. Harry Potter by JK Rowling: So Halloween-y, but moreover, Harry Potter is always about starting school in September! Even in Deathly Hallows when the trio doesn’t go back to school, there are great quotes like “Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”

What did you do for your Top Ten Tuesday freebie? And let me know what books remind you of autumn, since I didn’t even make it to ten!

Top 5 Books So Far: 2015

A few weeks ago, Kristina Horner on YouTube made a video of her Top Five Books So Far and I’ve decided to give it a go! She talks about the best books she read in the first half of 2015, which I thought was super fun. Why wait to make your lists until the end of the year, right?

  1. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta: I tackled my last two unread Marchetta books in the first half of 2015, so clearly they’re both on here. I read The Piper’s Son back in February and it has stayed with me. I feared I wouldn’t like it as much as its companion novel Saving Francesca, but Tom’s story is just as wonderful as Frankie’s. Everyone please read it so the Mackees can become your new favorite family.
  2. One More Thing by BJ Novak: This book was so unexpected but so so good. I’m really glad I happened to see it at the library. The stories are witty and clever, but still human and sentimental. The title story, about a lady-robot, absolutely wrecked me.
  3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: Is it possible to read this book without falling in love with it? The Night Circus is luscious, all rich description creating a beautiful atmosphere. While some people complained about the lack of plot, I loved the loose storytelling and how it all tied together at the end.
  4. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: While most books I read feature romance as just one part of the plot, this is one of the few books I have read (and loved) that I would call a true love story. This is a gorgeous retelling of The Illiad, and definitely worth a read even if you know how it ends.
  5. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta: I squeezed this book in right at the end of June, so it barely made the cut. Despite the ten-year gap between Alibrandi and Francesca, Marchetta is stunning in both novels. Josephine is newly one of my favorite heroines. She’s delightfully opinionated and vocal, with such great growth during the story.

That wraps up my five! I’ll be keen to see whether these books stay at the top of my list at the end of the year, or if the rest of the year outdoes the beginning. If anyone has any favorite books from this year so far, be sure to share them. I would love to get recommendations for the second part of 2015.

2015 Reading Challenge: Books 10-12

On to the last of my blurb reviews!

Book 10 of this year was Blue Lily Lily Blue, the most recent from The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater. Much like the first 2 books, this one failed to grab me. I wasn’t going to seek this book out and only read it because I saw it at the library, which is quickly becoming a running theme on this blog. It was a quick read, despite being a hefty book, and it was entertaining enough, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone. And I still don’t know what Blue Lily Lily Blue is. I was hoping the title would have some greater significance. The one thing I loved about this book was the new villain that emerges in the last hundred pages or so. It was a nice variation from the antagonists of the first two (and a half) books. I like her so much that she’s probably my favorite character.

My next book was The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood, yet another library find. This book features two women who committed a crime as kids and have been separated and given new identities for about twenty-five years. Despite what the title implies, these girls were never really wicked, and more just victims of a situation in which they didn’t have a ton of control. It was okay. Read it if you like narratives where everything spirals out of the main character’s control.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is one of my favorite 2015 books so far. I’m purposely lumping it in with the previous two books because I wouldn’t even know where to start with writing a full review. The atmosphere in this book was just beautiful and so descriptive without feeling bogged down. The description didn’t impede the story because the description was the story. I loved so many thing about this book, from the characters, to the color scheme (I’m not one for bright colors, or any colors at all really), to the love story (I got really invested, guys).

And we’re now up to speed with my books of 2015! I’m currently at 17, so my next 5 books (is it that many?) will all be posted on here with longer reviews of about 500 words. My review of We Were Liars has already been posted.