Honourable Mentions for 2015

To come tomorrow, a post containing my favourite books that I read in 2015, (minus any that I had for judging as I can’t discuss them just yet.) These shall be listed by arthur,

Books due out in 2016 (but read in 2015)

No books here! Either all the books I’ve read early after excellent and will be discussed tomorrow, or I haven’t been doing much review reading lately – all will be revealed tomorrow!

Books read and published in 2015

AbductiCon by Alma Alexander

This is all about a few hundred people attending a geeky convention, only for the hotel they’re staying in to be kidnapped by time traveling androids. Highly appealing premise to someone who attends 3-4 of those types of conventions myself each year, and also for it to happen directly to a group of people who read science fiction novels almost religiously.

This isn’t entirely well written, like, it’s not exactly going to win a Hugo – but it is very fun, and very geeky, and that’s what you need to come to the table in order to read this one. Why aren’t there more books like this?

As I Was Saying . . . by Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson. Bit of a wanker, but overall I do enjoy his work, and Top Gear in general. Originally Clarkson is a journalist – he wrote for his high school and/or college paper, and he certainly has a way with words and a certain eloquence if you give him a chance. Sometimes what he says is problematic, and sometimes he certainly suffers from the media twisting his words for click bait, but if you give his books a go you might be surprised to see how well thought out his opinions are given his own space. This book was particularly good, and discusses the recent dramas that went on in his life recently, such as the issues in the other country and his parting from the BBC. On those topics, Jeremy certainly has my vote.

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor

In my humble opinion, this wasn’t as good as the podcast. It’s so much easier to accept weird when it surrounds you, with Cecil’s voice making it work. There are many things about Night Vale that faithful listeners can repeat in the same tone and infliction. Cecil is a favourite, and without him while this is enjoyable, it isn’t as good. And that’s why it’s on this list rather than tomorrow’s. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this is still fun. It’s just not as amazing as I hoped it would be.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

I found this all incredibly interesting. While I’ve mostly liked what I’ve seen of Felicia’s work, I wouldn’t call myself a fan – I don’t keep an eye out for what she does and make sure I inhale it all – she’s decent, I enjoy what I see and that’s about it. This memoir was both accessible and perked my interest in everything else she’s done and I found she wrote everything in an easy manner, utterly truthful throughout with a good eye for what it was literally like, such as being in World of Warcraft early on. This was a really enjoyable memoir, accessible to both fans of Felicia and geeks in general.

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

This is an odd book. Most reactions after I and everyone else I knew read it was confusion at what to say about it in review or even how to rate it. It’s an odd, frazzled book that’s a bit horrific and has a result no one really expects. You can’t put the book down, and you kinda want to shake yourself off once you’ve read it, but there’s no doubt that it’s pretty amazing.

Every Move (Every #3) by Ellie Marney

Though this series is a pale parallel to Sherlock Holmes, and the second book was stronger than the first and third (or I just enjoyed them in England more than anywhere else), what’s really strong in this book is how Rachel and James both deal with what they’ve gone through – it’s interesting to see their thought processes. James tends to throw himself even deeper in his work until he collapses or explodes, and Rachel tunes out coldly into PTSD, unable to cope or react. I found them both realistic and heartfelt, and love that they helped each other through it in the end.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University – an amazing place of study that has a human population of 5%. To say that leaving her family and her people behind is hard is an understatement, it simply isn’t done and there’s little chance of going back thanks to the shame she’s now brought her family for leaving, and utterly ruining her marriage prospects. This is soon the least of her worries though, as the journey to the uni takes a turn for the worst no one could have expected…

At 100 pages, this piece packed a heck of a punch for so few pages. Superbly written, this was highly enjoyable and really very well done.

Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson

In this book we see David becoming more and more of an individual, a guy he is as himself when he’s not devoting every waking minute to revenge for his father. All the characters in this are varied and interesting, most you can’t guess at with what they’ll do next, and this book packs a few surprising wallops too for good measure. All of the characters are coming together really nicely, in a style that Sanderson is known for. Certainly better than the first in this series, this is shaping up to be really very decent.

Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5) by Brandon Sanderson

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson was excellent. Wax and Wayne are amazing characters, and I loved seeing a lot more of Marasi and especially Steris who is easily my favourite character, just for her deadpan nature and off-balanced sense of humour and outlook on life – I adore her. Plot-wise I could take it or leave it, but the end result was quite a surprise and packed a decent punch… but really, I read this for the characters and banter. The plot of this particular series is shrug-worthy.

Books read in 2015 (yet published 2014 and earlier)

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

I originally read this in 2012, but re-read it recently so I could remember who everyone was and what had happened in order to read the third book. Originally of this I said it was a grand, rich world that’s set in a Russia-inspired fantasy, with excellent and fun characters that you can’t help but care for. The main character Alina is excellent, and both Mal and the Darkling have their strong points that make you want more of both of them in different ways. My favourite character however, is Genya.

Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Like above! Originally I said that this one was interesting to see how the characters have matured and grown believably from one book to the next. Alina in particular has had to come out of her shell as she struggles to accept who and what she is, which of course leads to her taking a more active role in things. No longer satisfied to run away, she has to turn against her pursuers and grow up to stand any chance of getting what she wants. This is one of the few strong second novels of a trilogy, so a round of applause for this one.

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman

You have to be in the right kinda mood for a Gayle Forman novel. They’re all kinda the same, and you can devour them in a few hours, and they’ll always pack an emotional punch – so if that’s what you’re here for, you’re in luck!

This one was a hit hard hitting for me – not that I’ve been as stupid as Allyson has, but being part of long-distance relationships myself and seeing others in online relationships – I could so easily see this happen, and there’s something so deeply personal and embarrassing about being stuffed around like that. Eugh. Poor thing.

The Stepsister Scheme (Princess #1) by Jim C. Hines

This is another one of those wacky fairytale spec fic books that are just a bit cracky but ultimately feel comforting because it’s taking something we know and have been raised on, and taking it to a different place. This one works really well, but it’s so satisfying that I don’t really feel the need to read the others in the series, which is a bit sad. Ultimately, this is a fun introduction to Jim’s work if you haven’t yet read anything else.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

I read this in a day amongst other things – I just couldn’t put it down. It’s so good to have such an interesting protagonist, and this story is going to last with me for a while. I’d love to see what she accomplishes when she’s older! (Even by a few months, she’s not going to be held back by much.)

The MC – Frankie is really quite fun in this – she’s witty, she thinks things through, she’s a geek for all kinds of facts, and she’s not afraid to stand up for herself. I felt the interactions between her and other characters were excellently realistic, capturing frustrating conversations and reactions without making them over-angsty or simplified. It also unfolded a balanced discussion on gender perception with a range of attitudes for and against and somewhere in-between. This isn’t a black and white book – it shows all the shades in between.

Black Powder War (Temeraire #3) by Naomi Novik

I found this one a bit slower than the previous two somehow – I found it a bit more confusing as to what was going on war-wise, probably because my own knowledge of history is truly woeful. At the same time, I’m looking forward to what happens next! I do really love how different each book is from the last, all due to setting. It keeps the entire series fresh but means we get to stick with our favourite characters.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

So this was the very first book I read in 2015, and was a book recommended to me by a stranger on Goodreads when I asked for books set in Japan that give a good view of Japanese everyday life. This book is pretty good at that, and also has a kinda magical realism element that I must confess I mostly skim-read. It was good, but I was much more interested in the characters and other elements, rather than those that took this out of a realistic setting. Highly recommended if you want something a bit different, or have an interest in Japan.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

This was an interesting book that seemed like it had been written a long time ago and was making all these amazing leaps to what the future could be like – but then in checking, it was only written in 1992. While technology has made leaps and bounds since then, it had a feeling to it of being written in like, the 50s. Props to making Y. T. an excellent and engaging character, and if only Hiro had remained as interesting as he was initially.

Emilie and the Hollow World (Emilie #1) by Martha Wells

I love books for younger readers that feature younger main characters who are intelligent and witty and manage to Get Stuff Done without adults – it’s empowering, and as a kid I remember getting annoyed at books being too easy and ‘speaking down’ to me as the reader, or the children in the book itself. This book would have been amazing to read when I was younger, though I of course still really enjoyed it now – it’s a rollicking ride and huge fun, and basically anything Martha Wells writes is excellent.

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