Friday, 1 January 2016

Top 15 Books of 2015

2015 has been a good reading year for me, 67 books read. So I thought I'd share with you the top 15 books I've read in 2015.

15. Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she's never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life. She couldn't stick out more if she tried. 
Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful, and in Eleanor's eyes, impossibly cool, Park's worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by. 

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mixed tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're 16, and have nothing and everything to lose ...

Although it came last in this list, I fell in love with this Rainbow Rowell book. It was just an adorable read that made me fall in love with Park along with Eleanor. And as someone who was always a bit of an outsider I really related to this book. It was so good.

14. The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton 
On an autumn day in 1656, eighteen year old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of the illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift; a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real life counterparts in unexpected ways. 

Nella is a first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realises the escalating dangers that awaits them all. 

Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

This was such a unique read. I used to be obsessed with historical fiction but it has been so long since I last read anything in this genre. Yet when I was reading this I was completely enchanted. It was such a captivating story that I know I could go back and read time and time again.

13. Alice in Zombieland, by Gena Showalter
If anyone had told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heart beat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that's all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone. 

Her father was right. The monsters are real. 

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, and must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn't careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies. 

Although this wasn't really a retelling of Alice in Wonderland it was still an amazing read. Completely different to most things I read in 2015 actually.

12. Legend, by Marie Lu
What was once the Western United States, is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbours. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen year old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen year old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. 

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metais, is murdered and Day becomes the Prime suspect. 

Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metais' death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what bought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. 

This was apparently a retelling of Les Miserable by Victor Huge. But I did not see that at all. Maybe it is clear once I've read the rest of the trilogy but not at the moment. Despite that, it was a very good book that kept me gripped till the very end.

11. A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas. 
When nineteen year old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that he captor is not an animal, but Tamlin - one of the lethal, immortal Faes who once ruled their world. 

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every like and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. 

But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the Faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it .... or doom Tamlin - and his world - forever. 

This was an amazing retelling of Beauty and the Beast which I devoured very quickly and I really can't wait till this next book is released!

10. The Colour of Magic, by Terry Pratchett
Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on the Discworld. Tourist, Rincewind decided, meant idiot. 

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but certainly looks completely different. It plays by different rules. Certainly, it refuses to succumb to the quaint notion that universes are ruled by pure logic and the harmony of numbers. 

But, just because the Disc is different doesn't mean that some things don't stay the same. Its very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the arrival of the first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. But if the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard, a little logic might turn out to be a very good idea. 

I absolutely adore the world of the Disc and The Colour of Magic had to be on here somewhere, it is such an amazing read. Hence why this classic is number ten on my top 15 books of 2015.

9. Cress, by Marissa Meyer
In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 
Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens for company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she's just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplish. 

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. 
Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they maybe the only hope the world has. 

Marissa Meyer certainly did not disappoint when she wrote this book and I know that this series is going to be one of my favourites for a very long time. It was as spectacular as ever.

8. Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs
This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine's island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

This series is so different compared to anything else I have read and this book was something I devoured in a matter of days. It was so addictive. And that plot twist! OMG! I cannot wait to read the Library of Lost Souls.

7. Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas
After serving out a year of hard labour in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18 year old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Price. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. 

Her oppontents are men; thieves, assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then will be granted her freedom. 
Even though she adore's her training sessions with Captain Westfall, she is bored stiff of court life. However things begin to get interesting when the Prince starts to show interest in her ... 

Then one of the contestants turns up dead.... shortly followed by another. 
Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes the next victim?

I had my doubts about this series but it turns out that I completely adore it! A unique idea that I want to dissolve thoroughly .... even if it does contain a cheesy love interest.

6. Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer.    
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. 

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

I adored this series and in my opinion this is one of the best sequels written. A lot of sequels lose the feelings that the first book and can be a bit poor. Since they are sometimes rushed. Not Scarlet! Oh god I loved it!!!!!!

5. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.
A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. 

This book was unlike anything I had read and I devoured it in one sitting. It was the first book I read in 2015 and I do think it helped me get into good reading run for the year. It was fabulous! 

4. All I Know Now: Wonderings and Reflections on Growing Up Gracefully, by Carrie Hope Fletcher
We all know that growing up is hard to do, and sometimes the only thing that makes it better are the reassuring words of someone who has walked that bumpy road just a few steps ahead of you and somehow ended up as a fully-functioning adult. Carrie Hope Fletcher is that person.* Thanks to her phenomenally popular YouTube videos, Carrie has become an 'honorary big sister' to hundreds of thousands of young people who turn to her for advice, friendship and, most of all, the knowledge that things will get better.

Carrie has created a safe and positive space for young people to connect and share their hopes and concerns online, and now she will share her most personal thoughts and experiences in her first book, ALL I KNOW NOW. Part memoir, part advice guide, it will include Carrie's thoughts on some of the topics she's asked about most regularly: bullying, body image, relationships and perhaps the scariest question of all: what does the future hold for me? With warmth, wit and a sprinkling of hard-won wisdom, Carrie will provide the essential tools for growing up gracefully . . . most of the time.

*Although she did recently post a video about how to pee in a onesie. So the definition of 'adult' is a bit flexible here . . .

This is the only non-fiction book to enter my top 15 and rightfully so. As a teen I struggled to fit in with people around me and I ended up getting bullied a lot. If only I had had this book a few years ago. It has a unique writing style to it that reminded me of a letter and the little illustrations throughout made me smile. It is truly a helpful book for any hopeful out there. 

3. The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, by Caroline Smailes
Arthur Braxton runs away from school.
He hides out in an abandoned building, an old Edwardian bathhouse.
He discovers a naked woman swimming in the pool.
From this point on, nothing will ever be the same.

The Drowning of Arthur Braxton is an unflinching account of the pain and trauma of adolescence and of how first love can transform the most unhappy of lives into something miraculous. It is a dark and brooding modern fairy tale from one of our most gifted writers.

This urban fairy tale was breathtaking and opened my eyes to many things that I hadn't previously considered. It was heartwarming and highly addictive. 

2. Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I really have had a thing for fairy tales, either a retelling or new, which I think is obvious from the above books. But this book really had to battle to not be my top read and I think it would have been if not for a book I read in November. 
This was so amazing as most fairy tales are set in the past, but this was in the future and it wasn't glaringly obvious that it was a retelling either. Yes the names were there but it was subtle at the same time as being obvious .... if that makes any sense. 

But I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new read this year that will hook them as deeply as the Harry Potter books. Trust me it is brilliant!

1. Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

OH MY GOD! This book was phenomenal and written in a way unlike anything else. It was made up of transcripts and emails and reports and it was so unique. I've seen things that have tried this but failed miserably but not Illuminae. Christ this book was maddeningly good! And that twist! 

So that's it, my top reads of 2015. Time to go off and read some new books for 2016 I think. 
Happy New Year everybody!

Book Total of 2016 - 0