The Final 2015 Book List

If I share it with you on January 4 of 2016, it’s not THAT late. Plus, I squeezed one in there on that last day of the year, so here we go!  You can see the first two installments of 2015’s books here and here.

Remember! These are not all recommendations. In fact, it was a pretty blah year of books for me in general. But I’m going to the effort of finding links for the books I think you ought to check out. The others get a passing mention…

  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – Well-written and pretty interesting read. Contemporary sort of YA, with a nice look at a complicated mother/daughter relationship and ultimately at being exceptional in an ordinary world. Didn’t change my world, but I enjoyed reading it.
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer – Not bad. YA distopian Cinderella story. Pretty interesting world, pretty solid characters. But somehow I just never did get into it. Maybe someday I’ll read the rest of the series? But it wasn’t compelling enough to hunt them down.
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – This is as good as everyone says it is. It’s just not my thing. Historical fiction of the serious, war-torn Europe variety. I forced myself to finish it out of respect for the wonderful characters and the tapestry he wove with them. It had some lovely moments, but still somehow didn’t lodge in my heart. Probably a me problem.
  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee – This is better than you’ve been told. You have to think of it as a totally different novel than Mockingbird and just enjoy it for what it is. It’s not the best book ever written (That’s probably Mockingbird.) but it’s got its own genius. I absolutely LOVED the first half, one of the best coming home accounts I’ve ever read. The second half gets lost in a lot of talk about people’s thoughts, but it sheds some interesting light on how people actually thought. I was glad I had the chance to read it.
  • 24 Girls in 7 Days by Alex Bradley – Ridiculous contemporary YA about your typical geek boy trying to figure out life and also score a date. The main character was like able enough that I read the whole book. The plot was barely worthy of the word, but I don’t think it was meant to be. There’s really nothing else to say about this book.
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clark – This book is genius. Seriously, it’s a massive commitment, but you should make it. A book about the 18th Century, written in the 21st Century, but in a style that makes you feel like you’re reading Dickens. Almost. Because it’s so much better. Real magicians. Real magic. Real history. Except not, obviously, because magic. Its tone is delightfully playful, and Jonathan Strange is the most wonderful character I’ve met in years. After you’ve read it, watch the miniseries. It’s a lovingly accurate rendition.
  • The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzzati (readers’ guide by Lemony Snicket) – This is apparently an actual old book originally written in Italian. It is about exactly what the title says it is about, and therefore is the most wonderfully weird little book you can imagine. It only takes about an hour to read, and it’s worth it for the poems and the illustrations alone. The whole thing is absurd and funny, and if you can find it, you should spend an hour on it. You won’t be sorry.
  • The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde – Super fun and clean YA about an alternate version of magical England and a girl who is NOT magical, but rather a manger of magicians. I listened to the audio book, which I think was the best way to ingest this. I’m afraid some of the jokes wouldn’t have been funny if they hadn’t been read in the proper way. As it was, it was hilarious and fun, and you should check it out for your kids. There are sequels I haven’t read. Mostly because I’m waiting to find the audiobooks. 
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – I wanted to like this book. I sort of did. Strong female lead. Interesting world with some mysterious connection to the real world. I wanted to find out more about that. So I finished the book and started on the sequel. But then it just kept getting darker and weirder, and I just didn’t want to read it anymore. So. Sadly, not a recommend.
  • Ross Poldark by Winston Graham – My dip into historical fiction of the slightly more romantic variety. Still more history than romance, thankfully. I liked it. The main characters were contrary and the author manages to keep out a lot of the modern day sensibility that usually makes these things boring or irritating. It has a full complement of interesting characters, and is about a point in history I knew nothing about, so that was a bonus. I plan to look into more by the author.
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – Contemporary YA about a girl raised in a bubble due to her medical condition. All the expected yearning for a real life, and then the new neighbor boy next door.  Nothing world-changing, but not bad as the genre goes. The end was a cheat, though. I don’t know how I wanted it to end, but what the author did robbed the rest of the book. So, this one goes on the No pile.
  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – an alternate rebelling of Beauty and the Beast. Sort of interesting main character and sort of interesting world. Ultimately not all that, though, and just enough sexy stuff that I wouldn’t give it to my daughter. Which was disappointing. I’m always looking for good fairytale rebelling a for my kids. This one didn’t make the cut.
  • Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier – I’m a big fan of Marillier, have read most of her stuff. This one is strictly mystery solving in her usual old Celtic world. I really liked it. It was different and interesting, and though I’m not a huge fan of mystery, the development of the (strictly platonic) relationship between the two main characters was enough to keep me hooked.
  • The Court of Fives by Kate Elliot – YA fantasy. Pretty good. I’ll probably eventually read the sequels because I like the genre and it was decently well written. Otherwise, though, not much to say about it. 
  • The Empress Game by Rhonda Mason – Sci-fi, strong female lead, spaceships, other planets, alien politics, and a tournament in which women fight women. So. Yeah. It was alright. I read most of it on the NY subway, so it now has a weird place in my heart, but as a book, it’s not much.
  • Defy and Ignite by Sara B Larson – More YA fantasy, this time about a girl who has pretended to be a boy and is one of the Prince’s guards. You get the idea. I read both books, but honestly, though they’re readable, they were a bit boring. I haven’t picked up the third book yet.
  • Lost Stars by Claudia Gray – This is a YA novel set in the Star Wars universe. I read it for obvious reasons. It was a little overly simplistic, but I was really excited for the new movie, so it was fun to read. It did have a little sex in it, though it wasn’t the main focus, so I didn’t pass it on to my kids.
  • My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins – A collection of short stories by a lot of romance authors, all little love stories set around the holidays. It’s not my usual thing, but after such a long string of mediocre YA fantasy/scifi stuff, it was a really nice read. Just what I needed in the rush of the last few weeks.
  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman – This is straight up end-of-the-world horror, but it’s not as graphic as most, and it is eery and thoughtful and really cool. It’s short. I read it in only a couple of days, and I really enjoyed it. It had creepy elements but wasn’t that scary to me because it felt more like a study in what-if than an actually plausible scenario. Not a bad way to end the year.

2 thoughts on “The Final 2015 Book List

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