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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top Ten Books of 2015

Well.  Hello.

It's time for the annual Top Ten post, and list of 5-star books for 2015 is painfully short.  Of course, I read less than fifty books, so it makes sense that I would have fewer.  But still, something seems off.  Are my standards just higher?  Probably.  Is taking longer to read each book having a negative impact on my enjoyment of it?  Probably.  Did I use some of my limited reading time to reread old Patrick Ness favorites that don't count for this list?  Definitely.

We're going ahead with this list anyway.  Here are my top ten novels* of 2015:

10. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

It's weird, it's unsettling, it's nonsensical...which is exactly what I expect of Andrew Smith.  Luckily for him, I'm interested in his particular brand of weird, unsettling and nonsensical, so I enjoyed this, both in its humor and its darkness.

9. The Martian by Andy Weir

The astronomy nerd in me loved this.  The writer part of me was bothered by the narration, but the story won me over in this one.  It's funny, but it's frighteningly believable.

8. Inferno (Robert Langdon #4) by Dan Brown

I've never read any other Dan Brown, and normally I would never start with #4, but this was handed to me as something I would specifically be interested in.  Because a) Florence b) terrifyingly real villain c) complex thriller d) my boyfriend had just talked me into watching Angels & Demons with him and it was awesome.  And so, Inferno.  It turns out that it doesn't matter where in the series you jump in.

7. The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh

I expected this to disappoint me by turning into a cliche YA romance that just happens to have a cool Middle Eastern setting.  While it was romance-focused, it pleasantly surprised me with how believable the love story's development was, and it never abandoned its core story for the romance.

6. Rook by Sharon Cameron

I picked this one up blindly.  Nothing that I'd heard about it made it stand out, but I am so, so glad I didn't miss out on this.  It has such a unique setting and a cast of memorable characters, and it's refreshing to read a standalone that is unlike anything else I've seen come out recently.

5. The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

Ah, Patrick Ness.  I promise this is not a Patrick Ness fanblog.  While it has a different feel than my other Ness favorites, it has his signature subtle (and not-so-subtle) emotion-packed ending, and lovely writing.

4. A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray

Multiverse theory.  That's all you really need to know about this one.  The settings are all over the place in the best way possible, with so much variety.  Plus, it's pretty.

3. Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo did it again.  It has enough of our beloved Grisha trilogy universe to keep fans happy, but it's also completely different, showing us another side of the world.  It might actually be better than the Grisha trilogy.  Get back to me on that one.  I haven't made up my mind.

2. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

And (surprise!) here's more Patrick Ness.  The Rest of Us Just Live Here fills a niche in YA that nobody realized needed to be filled until this came out.  It asks the question: While all of this paranormal/fantastical/world-saving stuff is happening, what does everyone else do?

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Gorgeous prose, deeply explored characters, a rich plot...yeah, this one deserves all its awards.  As does Anthony Doerr in general.  It's long, but it's worth it.

2015 Reading Statistics (as of 12/28/15)
Books read: 46 (down 26 from last year)
Average rating: 3.7 (up 0.2)
Total pages read: 27,490 (down 10,740)
Average pages per book: 364.1 (down 17.7)
Average pages read per day: 46.1 (down 30)
Average number of days to read one book: 7.9 (up 2.9)

*I'm specifying novels because I picked up some nonfiction that was also awesome, but it feels weird to count it here.

Here's to another year of reading!  I didn't read anywhere near as much as in previous years, but I've also taken the pressure to review off myself, and that has helped significantly.  I've also given myself the freedom to put down books without finishing them, which means I'm no longer putting excessive amounts of time into books I hate.  While I still wish I could read more, I'm happy with the amount I've been able to finish, and I assume next year will be similar.

What were your favorites of 2015?

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

One-Line Book Reviews: Fall/Winter 2015

I'm back with another round of one-line book reviewing.  This time, it's the Fall/Winter 2015 Edition.  It's an eclectic mix that includes books read for class, some personal picks outside my typical range, and, of course, the usual haunts.  Oh, and Patrick Ness.  Because we get a little excited about Patrick Ness around here.  

Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type by Isabel Briggs Myers

Yes, I read the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator classic.  Yes, this INTJ nerd loved it.

Rating: 4/5

Inferno (Robert Langdon #4) by Dan Brown

This one was handed to me (quite literally) with no explanation other than "Italy.  Terrifyingly real villain."  While the writing style leaves something to be desired, the plot is fascinating.

Rating: 4/5

Read this for my Fiction Writing class.  It's unlike every other writing book I've ever read (in a good way).

Rating: 4/5

City of a Thousand Dolls (Bhinian Empire #1) by Miriam Forster

Flat characters and halfhearted worldbuilding make this one to pass over.

Rating: 3/5

Letter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in Libraries by Ander Monson

It's possibly the most pretentious thing I've ever read, but also strangely compelling.  Also, I met Ander Monson in September, and he gave a great reading of excerpts of this.

Rating: 4/5

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo lives up to the standards she set in her Grisha trilogy, and might have even surpassed them.

Rating: 4/5

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russel

Read this for my Writing Fiction class.  It's strange and whimsical, yet each story gets darker and darker.

Rating: 3/5

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

While it didn't slam me with feels like Ness' other books, it's innovative and poignant and, of course, proves once again that Patrick Ness knows how I think.

Rating: 4.5/5

Intentional Dating by John R. Buri

I'm not one for self-help books, especially dating ones, but there's a story behind why I read this particular one that won't fit in a mini-mini-review.  I will say this: it's a complete game-changer and eye-opener in the best way possible.

Rating: 5/5

Soundless by Richelle Mead

I have little to criticize, but nothing about this story compelled me to immerse myself in it, either.

Rating: 3/5

What have you been reading lately?  What have you loved/hated lately?
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