My Favorite Reads of 2015 Part 2

Goodreads 2015

Goodreads 2015

Since I have so many books I loved from 2015, I had to split the list in half. If you missed Part 1, don’t worry! It’s the internet and you can read that after!

Here then are more of my favorite reads from 2015 in no particular order. As before, I consolidated series into a single entry and links will be Amazon affiliate links to the first book in the series. For the first half of the list, please click here.

11) Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling – Hilarious. Wise. Moving. But mostly, I want to be Kaling. And if not that, be her friend. A worthy followup to her first book of essays, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

12) The Human Division and The End of All Things by John Scalzi – Scalzi continues the story in The Old Man’s War‘s Universe – which seriously, if you love science fiction and you haven’t read this series yet, WHY HAVEN’T YOU?

The Old Man’s War series is thrilling with lots of fighting and stomping and Starship Trooper stuff. But ultimately what you find is a very human story. A story of a man who loved his wife – and still does even after her death. Those are the moments that feel most true. Scalzi does witty banter so well. But his moments of truth about love (whether for lovers or children) are the most moving.

As for the two books I actually listed, it is a continuation of that world and deals with the consequences at the end of The Last Colony and Zoe’s TaleAlthough you do not need to have read the previous books and they are certainly self-contained enough that Scalzi provides all the necessary information, I do think you will enjoy it much better after reading the first four books. (I know, I know. I look like I’m finally only recommending two books and really, it’s six.)

13) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Set in the world of The Grisha, you don’t need to read the other books at all (although I highly recommend them). I always love a good heist and this story was exciting, fun, and always skirting the edge of grim.

14) The Brothers Sinister Series and The Turner Series by Courtney Milan – Regency romances that are a cut above the rest. Milan writes stories that are highly intelligent with a lot of detailed science that doesn’t sound dumbed down or fake. I appreciate how Milan includes people we often don’t see included in Regencies. She also tends to have excellent stories without resorting to ridiculous tropes. When you have read as many Regency romances as I have (at least 375), that is really impressive!

15) The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss – Set in the world of his Kingkiller Chronicles, this story is beautiful, lyrical, and wistful. The homonyms and rhythm of this book is lovely and sweet and poetic. Like a rolling brook. There is still an ever present sliver of dread in the background, but overall, a joyful and keen book. Lovely.

Oh, and it’s about a girl making soap.

Seriously, give it a shot.

16) Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne – God, I love spies. I also love Regency Romances. Perfect! Bourne is excellent as always. Her words and rhythm and humor infuse her books throughout. Part of her The Spymaster Series, I highly recommend you check out the other books.

17) The Jane Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – Utterly charming and delightful. The book is set in an alternate 1985 where time travel, police states, and jumping in and out of books is normal. The names are hilarious (I can’t believe it took me almost the entire book to catch Paige Turner) and the book rewards a person with a wide background in classics. The ending is somewhat spoiled if you are at all familiar with Jane Eyre, but it is so worth it. I cannot wait to read the rest of this series.

Also, the series is quintessentially British in the sense that it feels familiar and homey. It reminds me a lot of The Rook or Ben Aaronovitch’s series. Highly recommend. I cannot believe it took me this long to discover!

18) Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas – Ok, I’m going to cheat here. Technically, I didn’t read/finish this book until this year. But since it was released last year and it was SO FUCKING AWESOME, I am including the book on the list. You’re welcome.

I stayed up until 5:30am reading this and I felt like I was hungover all day and it was SO WORTH IT. This book is violent, sexy, and violently sexy. So good.

Yes, it’s Book 4 out of a projected series of 6 (the other two won’t be out until late 2016 and 2017 – sorrynotsorry), so you do have to start with Throne of Glass (which again, is the weakest in the series). But come on! Super girly assassin who is a BAMF and is really a stone cold killer with a mysterious back story, several love triangles/squares/pentagons.

After you read the first, the rest just get better and better and don’t stop being awesome. Read in publication order to get the full effect: Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of FireThe Assassin’s Blade: The Throne of Glass Novellas (set before Throne of Glass but is best read after ToG but before QoS due to QoS being further enriched by the info in TAB), Queen of Shadows.

Can you tell I LURV this series? Of course, it is also likely due to the fact that I just finished this book on the 3rd so it’s fresh in my mind.

Alright. Hapa Papa is going to be so annoyed with me that I stayed up until 3:30am to write this series, but you know what? These books were awesome and totally worth it. Now go read! (Or go buy or borrow, whatever the case may be.) Happy Wednesday!

My Favorite Reads of 2015 Part 1

Apparently, I haven’t posted about books (not including Chinese readers, obviously) since May 2015. May 2015!! (Ok, I did post about graphic novels a few weeks ago, but there were only two.) So, since I read 140 books last year (humblebrag), I think I read enough to give some qualified recommendations.

So, here then are my favorite reads from 2015 in no particular order. For brevity, I consolidated series into a single entry and links will be Amazon affiliate links to the first book in the series. Also, this is only part 1 because otherwise, the list would be even more overwhelming.

1) Black Wolves by Kate Elliott – Set in the same universe as her Crossroads Trilogy, this fantasy novel is awesome for the following reasons: people of color as the main POV characters; older women and men as the main POV characters; intrigue; betrayal; and heartbreaking story. So excellent.

Since The Very Best of Kate Elliott by Kate Elliott is by the same author and has several short stories that will flesh out this world, I also highly recommend this particular book. It will also give you glimpses in the worlds of her other series and includes several of her essays that I have found illuminating in terms of discussing culture, women, gender, and people of color (among other things) in world-building and why that is important.

2) The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson – What happens when your nation is conquered and destroyed by an Empire?Destroy it from within, of course. And through accounting! This book was utter perfection. I’m sure I’ve missed at least half of the clues and tells, but dammit all if it doesn’t make me love this book more.

Brutal. Heartbreaking. Fantastic.

Also? POC main characters. (You’ll note this is a theme for many of my favorites for 2015.)

3) The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – It’s the end of the world. Again. The first of a new series, I sobbed. Sweeping and epic. There are “mutants” and slavery and all sorts of heartbreak. The style might take some getting used to, but it is totally worth it. Again, POC main characters (as well as a WOC author).

4) The Martian by Andy Weiss – One of the rare occasions where I watch the movie before reading the book. The book was every bit as hilarious as the movie – and I LOVED the movie. Botanist/astronaut gets stuck on Mars. This is the story of how he survives.

5) The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu – Epic new series based on the Chinese Warring States period, it was so weirdly awesome to read of characters that had cultural touchstones that were familiar to me in a deeply Chinese way. I would have preferred more women and a different ending, but loved it all the same. The book was a slow build, but I did love the vast array of characters and plots and intrigues. I was sad by the way a lot of the story went, but I think it was realistic in terms of how people would react and behave.

In case it wasn’t clear from the description, POC everywhere! and POC author.

6) The Broken Empire Trilogy by Mark Lawrence – Full disclosure. I almost threw away the first book after reading only about 15 pages or so because the main character, Jorg, is so despicable and casual about rape. However, since there are no graphic descriptions of rape or violence, I was able to push my initial revulsion aside.

The first book, Prince of Thorns, is the weakest in the series and I thought it was just okay enough for me to want to know what happens next. King of Thorns and Emperor of Thorns are SO GOOD. Totally worth wading through the first book to reach the conclusion.

Lawrence wrote a companion trilogy, The Red Queen’s War, that is 2/3 of the way done and is worth reading, too. Knowledge of the first trilogy isn’t necessary, but it is definitely fun to see how things connect.

7) The Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory – I review this series more fully here. The series features a Chinese American cop who gets psychic impressions from the things he eats. Full of violence, absurdity, and lots of profanity and sex, Tony Chu is a BAMF and really entertaining to read.

8) The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi – A near future tale that at its heart, is a murder mystery/thriller. Bacigalupi paints an extremely bleak view of the future and drought conditions of the West. However, his writing is fantastic and you guessed it: more POC and WOC characters.

An excellent companion book to this novel is Bacigalupi’s Pump Six and Other Stories. Full of short stories in his various worlds, they give you a good glimpse into his writing. Also, prepare to be utterly disillusioned with life. (But totally a great collection of stories. Really!)

9) The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett – A series of five (the last one is supposed to be published in 2017) that begins with The Warded Man. Again, the first book is the weakest in the series, but was interesting enough for me to continue. (Granted, it’s quite a long book to wade through, but it is satisfying enough.)

The Desert Spear, book two, is really where Brett takes off and it just doesn’t stop. Also, the endings just get more and more WTF in a “Wait, I have to WAIT HOW LONG UNTIL THE NEXT BOOK??” kind of way. I’m just grateful most of the books were out so I could just plow through them one after the other. I’m pretty sure I lost a week or two to this series.

10) The First Law Series by Joe Abercrombie – Though many people do not enjoy how the series ended, I ultimately think the books are all still worth reading. The fight scenes are exhilarating, the characters are not so much lovable – but I still loved them. Gritty and full of bite.

Ok. That should be enough for now. Never fear, book lovers. I will have more on Wednesday. Now get to reading these books! (And all at once!!)