Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best Books of 2015, Part 2

First of all, happy New Year's Eve, everyone! Strange to think that 2015 is at an end; I feel like at least a year has gone by in the last five months. You may remember that back in June, I did a post about the best books of 2015 so far, hoping to take some of the stress off myself when the time came for the end-of-year roundup.

Well. The time has now come. And the task falls to me to pick my favorite books of the second half of 2015 . . . or die trying.

Just kidding. I won't die. Hopefully.

Best New-To-Me Books of 2015 (the second half)

 1. Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson.
Oh my thrice-baked honey buttered pumpernickel. This book. This book, guys. Sanderson's writing is reliably amazing, and he proves it again in Shadows of Self. I mean, that ending. I can't say a whole lot because of spoilers, but . . . mind. blown. Also, kandra! They're in there! And Wax and Steris are adorable and I can't wait for Bands of Mourning.

 2. The King's Scrolls by Jaye L. Knight. 
This one should be no surprise, since it was the winner for Best Book of 2015 in the Blogger Book Awards. As I said then, the stakes rise from Resistance- which means it was a lot harder on the emotions but also a lot more powerful. Also, new characters were introduced and old minor characters got some time in the spotlight, both of which I loved.

 3. Draven's Light by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.
This is a beautiful, incredible book. Dark, yes, and full of sorrow . . . but also full of light, as the title suggests. It takes place in an older Time than those we've visited before, which is fascinating- and which also means that the brothers Ashuin, particularly Akilun, get more time on-screen (so to speak). The parallel stories (one a frame for the other) still belong to Draven and his sister and to the young girl to whom Akilun tells their tale- but I loved getting to see Akilun and Etanun more all the same.

 4. Winter by Marissa Meyer. 
Ahhhhhhh I love this book. Winter- the character- is my new favorite Lunar Chronicles character, ok? She's so sweet and adorable and lovely and in need of protection . . . and she's a little crazy, but she's also absolutely brilliant and uses that crazy and the way people expect her to act to be awesome. And she and Jacin are lovely together; definitely my favorite TLC couple. Of course, all the other characters are amazing too . . . especially Cress and Thorne. (Admittedly, as some have pointed out, they're not very good tacticians, which is why this book is enormous . . . but I love them anyway. And hey. They're good improvisers, at least.) I can't believe the series over . . . but at least there's still Stars Above.
 5. Illusionarium by Heather Dixon.
I'd been eagerly awaiting this book for years- literally. Ever since I finished Entwined, I wanted more from Heather Dixon, and I would literally have read just about anything she wrote. And Illusionarium, though disliked by some people, definitely didn't disappoint my hopes! It's steampunk! And twisty and kind of dark and creepy but still awesome! And Jonathan is a chemistry geek (yay!) and Lockwood is snarky with a heart of gold. And there's also little footnotes in the book, which is a small thing but I love it.
 6. Reflections: on the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones. 
It's really rare for me to read nonfiction, let alone love it- but this? This is amazing. Diana Wynne Jones' essays range in topic from writing (most of them) to other people's books ("The Narrative Shape of The Lord of the Rings" was terribly fascinating) to her own life. She has a chatty, conversational style that makes her essays a true pleasure to read- in fact, they were so enjoyable that I nearly forgot to work on my own writing.

 7. Out of Darkness Rising by Gillian Bronte Adams.
Like Draven's Light, this is a super short book- but its small size doesn't make it any less powerful. Gillian weaves a beautiful allegory similar to Chuck Black's Kingdom Series, but far, far better. She perfectly captures the struggle between Light and Darkness and rebellion and love in a tale that will not be quickly forgotten.

 8.  Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.
I didn't get to read a whole lot of Pratchett in the second half of 2015, sadly. However, among the few I did read were the first two in the Moist van Lipwig mini-series, which were amazing, especially Going Postal. Discworld books are reliably funny, and this was no exception- and Moist's character development was phenomenal.
 9.  Beastly Bones by William Ritter. 
I literally jumped up and down when I saw this book was finally out and available to request. Jackaby, Abigail, and Charlie continue to be awesome in another awesome (and funny) fantasy-mystery. We meet some new, very interesting friends as well, who only add to the awesome. And then there's the chameleomorphs, which would make a certain real-life thing make so much more sense if they were real, and which are the reason why I'd owe Jackaby five bucks if he were real.
10. Pendragon's Heir by Suzannah Rowntree. 
Pendragon's Heir is a book I wasn't actually planning to read at the start of the year (or even after I heard about it when it first came out, to be honest), but I am glad I ended up giving it a try. I loved getting to revisit the Arthurian legends, and especially loved getting to know Perceval. But what really set this story apart for me was the voice- half modern, half classic, all timeless.
11. Chime by Franny Billingsley. 
Chime is an . . . interesting book. It's fascinating, written in a very unusual voice, and quite entrancing much of the time. It's filled with mystery, with endless questions. It's also quite dark at times, and some parts made me a touch uncomfortable- yet it's still an excellent book that I'm glad I read.

12. Water Princess, Fire Prince by Kendra E. Ardnek.
I reviewed this back in August, but to recap: Water Princess, Fire Prince is a very unique and fun addition to the portal fantasy genre. (And no, I'm not just saying that because I was a beta reader and I'm therefore biased . . .) I love Laura and Andrew, and the worldbuilding of Rizkaland is super creative.

13. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson.  
So this is not as much fantasy as I expected- it's more historical fiction with the slightest hint of fantasy. However, it's still an amazing book. The western expansion- whether to California, Oregon, or some other state slightly less far west- is one of my favorite time periods in American history, so that made Walk on Earth a Stranger really fun to read. And I liked Leah/Lee's character, as well as many of the other people she encounters on her journey.
What were your favorite books this year? Please tell me in the comments!
 -Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

14 comments:

  1. Wow, that's a great list! and I've only read one of them. One. I must change that, and soon!

    My favourite books this year were Lynn Austin's Chronicles of Kings and Restoration Chronicles books. Historical fiction set in biblical times, excellently written!

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    1. Which one have you read?

      Sounds interesting! I'll have to look into them.

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    2. I read going postal, which was my introduction to Terry Pratchett.
      I hope you can find Lynn Austin's books, I can't recommend them enough!

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    3. Oh, awesome! Have you read more Pratchett since then?
      I hope I can too. :)

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  2. I haven't read any of these books so far! They all look quite interesting, though. :D

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    1. I strongly recommend all of them. :D

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  3. Winter and Walk on Earth a Stranger were two of my favorite books of the year too. :) Glad to hear you enjoyed them as much as I did Sarah!

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage

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    1. That's awesome!
      Thanks for commenting!

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  4. Ooo, I saw a lot of books up there that I have read or I want to read :). The King's Scrolls was one of my favorite books this year, too (along with about two dozen others :D).

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    1. TKS was awesome. :D
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  5. I absolutely adored Walk on Earth a Stranger too! Rae Caron is like THE BEST. I need 39839 of her books asap basically. XD And you read such a wide range of books and genres...omg, you clearly are awesome. ;D I loved Winter too (!! can Marissa Meyer do no wrong?!) and I'd love to read more Brandon Sanderson this year. The size of his book totally freaks me out. Buuut I really enjoyed The Final Empire despite that! :D
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

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    1. I know, right? She is amazing!
      This year was a rather unusual year- most of the time, my list is FANTASYFANTASYFANTASYsci-fiFANTASYFANTASYdystopianFANTASY. :D
      Even the largest books can be conquered one page at a time . . . and even Words of Radiance goes by fast, once you get into it. Trust me.

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  6. Hi, Sarah! I'm so thrilled Pendragon's Heir won you over. That's an amazing vote of confidence ^_^

    I very much want to try some Brandon Sanderson eventually; the problem is knowing where to begin. Everyone seems to swear by a different book/series!

    Hey, I couldn't find a way to contact you elsewise, but I wondered if you'd maybe be up for a review copy of The Bells of Paradise? If so, shoot me an email to rosa[dot]gaudea[at]gmail[dot]com. :)

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    1. You're welcome! :D

      I love pretty much everything Sanderson writes. But if you want my suggestion: start with either Mistborn or Steelheart. Of his books, they feel to me to be the best balance of non-intimidating and awesome.

      Thanks for the offer. I'll look up the book and see what I think.

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