Top 10 Books of 2015

Although I read over 50 books in 2015, but putting together a top ten list was rather difficult. On the whole, I had a decent reading year, but few crossed that “Best of” threshold.

But after a lot of thought, I was able to come up with 8 really great novels/graphic novels, and 2 all-time favourites. Here’s what I picked!

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Although this certainly wasn’t my all-time-favourite Carter book, it is an amazing start to an engaging series. It fills the shoes left by the Gallagher Girls, while also setting its own path. Though if there is no crossover, I may go nuts!! Read full review here.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

No surprise here – I adore Novik, and that hasn’t changed. But Uprooted was a supremely unique novel, set in a universe I can guarantee you’ve never been to. If you’re suffering from genre fatigue, Uprooted will leave you uplifted. Read full review here.

Legends of the Ferengi by Ira Steven Behr

A book with a cover this ugly should NOT be on a top ten favourites list… and yet. I listened to the audio rendition of this Star Trek novel and was floored by how much I adored it. The Ferengi are one of my favourite Star Trek species (for comedy alone) and this book got their culture just right. SO much fun.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

This is a weird fav, because there were a lot of things about this book I wasn’t a fan of (the mahoot story, in particular, made me want to stop reading). But the vast majority of this book was incredibly atmospheric, rich in history and actually took a very progressive view on the rights of animals. Add to that the fact I read the book while in India, and it is certainly an unforgettable read of 2015.

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Ms Marvel by G. Willow Wilson

Vol. 2 Generation Why
Vol. 3 Crushed

This series continues to get better and better with each book! This was the one-and-only series I read issue-to-issue, and I really, really looked forward to them each month. Alas, I am not completely caught up with the series now (as I took a comic break while waiting for Secret Wars to come to Marvel Unlimited) but – now that it has – it means I can finally read the last few issues of this first series, and then catch up with the new Ms Marvel book that is out! The new series has me psyched – it will be really interesting to see how Kamala handles the Big Leagues.

Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More
Vol. 2: Stay Fly

I read the first volume of DeConnick’s Captain Marvel last year and, while I liked it, I wasn’t in love. But WOW. The 2014-2015 series, collected in 3 volumes, is just so friggin’ amazing. Unlike the previous series, Carol is dealing with all new villains in all new settings (i.e. planets), and she is super awesome while doing it. These books made me a card-carrying Carol Corps member – go pick them up!

 

The Top Two

Drumroll please! Here are my two favourite books of 2015!

Winter by Marissa Meyer

I really, really need to review this book – because my feelings about it are way too long and complex to put into a few sentences. Let’s just say this: Amazing. Addictive. Lived up to the hype.

This Shattered World by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman

Gah, this book. I can’t… it was just so amazing. In my review I described it as: “pure science fiction with a well- incorporated romantic plot, that just happens to be aimed at young adults.” I highly recommend it. Read full review here.

Let me know your favourite reads of 2015!

New Year, New Resolutions

2014 resolutions

Another year, another set of bookish resolutions. I must say, I did rather well with my 2013 resolutions: I changed over to wordpress, completed the vast majority of my bookish challenges, and even read a lot of favourites. Let’s hope 2014 goes just as well!

1. Read more adult fiction

2013 was my year for YA. And while I adore the genre, I feel like I’ve been really neglecting my urban fantasy shelves. I KNOW this is because I am tempted by the quicker YA reads… but I need to think beyond that! I am missing out on lots of amazing books which, when they are good, take just as “long” to read as YA.

In short: THERE’S NO EXCUSE KAY!

2. Find a Blog Layout I LOVE

Ever since moving to wordpress, I’ve become very fickle with my blog design. I have yet to come up with a layout that I absolutely adore and it is bugging the bejeezus out of me. I have another new one in mind that may work… maybe? Gosh I hope so. Changing layouts is so much work!

3. Keep better track of my series

I read and own a whole tonne of series – so many, that I am starting to get rather confused about which ones I own and which I don’t! So, I have a super-top-secret project in the works to help me keep track… more on that soon!

4. Read some more out-of-my-comfort-zone books

I have shelves and shelves of wonderful novels purchased prior to blogging – most of them literary fiction, non-fiction and classics – that have been neglected since I found my favourite genres. I want to try to read at least ONE of them this year!

5. Finish my bloody goodreads challenge!

Another year has passed without me completing my goodreads challenge… never again!!

2013 End of Year Survey

2013 Bookish Survey

Another year, another bookish survey! I love the questions that The Perpetual Page Turner has put together… let’s all take a look at the best in books of 2013!

Best in Books 2013

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

GAH. Ok… this is a tough one. I REALLY want to say Outpost by Ann Aguirre… but then I think about Scarlet by Marissa Meyer and Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner… and suddenly I’ve forgotten the question.

Outpost by Ann Aguirre Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Probably Blue-Blooded Vamp (Sabina Kane, #5) by Jaye Wells. I adored the first 4 books in the series, but the finale was a let down… not bad, but not as kick-ass as the first books. Oh, also The Rising by Kelley Armstrong. I had been looking forward to that book for THREE YEARS and it just didn’t live up to any of my expectations.

Blue-Blooded Vamp by Jaye Wells The Rising by Kelley Armstrong

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2) by Katie McGarry for sure. I REALLY didn’t expect to enjoy this book – I thought it would be too New Adulty and would get my feminist hackles raised. So glad it didn’t and SO GLAD I picked it up!

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2) by Katie McGarry The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

Probably The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I really loved this book (of course) but the reason I recced it so much was visibility. It is on so many 3-for-2 tables and display windows, it is always easy to point out to people for a recommendation.

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Again, GAH. I loved the Heist Society series by Ally Carter and the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry… but I am going to have to go for Susan Ee’s Penryn and the End of Days (Angelfall). Love Love Love her take on the angelic apocalypse!

HeistSociety Angelfall by Susan Ee

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

The lovely Ally Carter gets this honour. This year, I’ve read a whopping SIX of her novels, interviewed her on the blog and met her in person… so needless to say, I have very quickly become a big fan!

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks was my very first pure comic book. I had read graphic novel adaptations before, but those don’t really count as you already know the character. The Adventures of Superhero Girl was completely out of my comfort zone but I adored it. It gave me a whole new respect for the genre.

The Adventures of Superhero Girl

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Hmm… no book really comes to mind when I think  “thrilling”… but for “unputdownable” I am going again with Dare You To by Katie McGarry. I read that thing in a single 6 hour sitting!

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I am not a good re-reader. I always WANT to but… there are so many good books out there! So: none. 🙂

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Gorgeous doesn’t even BEGIN to describe this cover. I mean, I normally hate prom dress covers but this one is so stunning (and relevant to the plot!) that I am willing to be forgiving.

11. Most memorable character in 2013?

I am going to go with my name sake: the star of Ally Carter’s Heist Society novels, Kat! She’s one of the smartest characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading and certainly deserves a nod in this survey.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

I’d have to say Alice Hoffman’s Survival Lessons. This is a beautiful non-fiction book that probably won’t appeal to everyone… but if you’ve recently had a struggle with health issues or perhaps suffered a loss of some sort, you will appreciate it. It’s a beautifully constructed little life saver.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

Hmm… I stepped away from this question for a good two days as I had no idea how to answer… but then I thought of Jackson Pearce’s Sweetly. I had been so vehemently opposed to her book Sisters Red, it had rather put me off of fairytale retellings altogether. But Sweetly was beautiful and completely changed my mind. So, biggest impact? I’d say so!

Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman  Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

Endgame by Ann Aguirre, for sure! I read a lot of last-in-the-series books this year, but this one? OMG it was amazing. I can’t believe I waited so long!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

Ahem, I’m going to have to say…

The fault in our stars - venn diagram

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Longest: Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead – 594 pages

Shortest: Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman – 83 pages

Endgame by Ann Aguirre Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

This is going to win as the weirdest answer ever, but the overwhelming amount of sexism and racism in the Sherlock Holmes novel The Sign of Four had me ranting at everyone. I was going around quoting bits of it to people in shock, waiting for them to share their disgust with me… which never happened. Apparently I’m not supposed to get worked up about these things in books over 100 years old. I’ll tell you what I told them: Jane Austen never resorted to these stereotypes. And neither did Oscar bloody Wilde. For shame, ACD, for shame.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Wolf and Scarlet (Scarlet by Marissa Meyer) win this award. Yes, Katie McGarry would be an obvious choice for relationships but Meyer’s take on these two just hit home for me. I was clutching this book to my chest and swooning, I kid you not.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously.

Outpost by Ann Aguirre! It had been over 2 years since I’d read the first book in her AMAZING Razorland trilogy, but I walked right back into the verse like it was yesterday.

The Sign of Four by ACD Cross my Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman – I never, ever would have picked this up had I not been so convincingly pitched it at BEA. Blogger + Blogger + Word of Mouth Rec = Must Read.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

YA!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Zach from Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl series. I’m only 3 books in but… eep! He’s completely crushworthy, and I can totally see why everyone loves him.

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

I’ll go with Amanda Sun’s Ink for this one. It was a really lovely to see a completely different culture portrayed so faithfully in a mainstream YA novel. Very unique.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman wins this one! I ADORED the verse: it was like Doctor Who meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For such a short children’s novel, it packed a big punch.

Ink by Amanda Sun Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

Heist Society wins again! This book was an absolute treat. It was like Ocean’s Eleven only with more adorableness.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

I am so boring: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green made me cry about, er, 10 times? It was glorious torture.

outpost by ann aguirre - banner

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

I think Ann Aguirre’s Razorland Series – Enclave, Outpost and Horde – doesn’t get anywhere near enough recognition. READ IT PEOPLE!

Happy Christmas!

A Christmas Tree of Books

A Christmas Tree of Books via mediatinker

I hope you are all having a very very Happy Christmas today. I, for one, am at my mother’s for the holiday, enjoying some homemade mulled wine with her and sharing my Christmas lunch with my hounds! Wherever you are, I hope you’re enjoying the holiday just as much.

In bookish news: I seem to have stumbled into a Gallager Girl marathon (Ally Carter)! I may just finish the entire series this month… *gasp*

Lots of love,

Kay

Virtual Advent Tour: A Bavarian Winter Wonderland

Munich Market © Tourismusamt München

Munich Market © Tourismusamt München

Taking part in the annual Virtual Advent tour is an absolute joy; it gives people around the world to share their Christmas experiences and traditions. When I last took part, I shared one of my greatest Christmas memories: watching the classic Bing Crosby/Bob Hope Road movies. This year, I thought I’d take you to the Christmas heartland and the home of the Advent Calendar… Central Europe.

Christmas Market in Salzburg © Dead Book Darling 2013

Christmas Market in Salzburg © Dead Book Darling 2013

Central Europe – Germany in particular – is the home of Christmas. Most of our modern Christmas traditions were exported from the Germanic principalities in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Christmas trees? Wreaths? Advent Calendars? Thank the Germans for those! So, of course, it would make sense for Germany to have the “purest” interpretations of our modern Christmas traditions.

In much of Central Europe, Christmas means Christmas markets, hot mulled wine, meeting friends out in the cold and kitsch-to-some-I-just-call-it-lovely decorations. Throughout my childhood, my mother did her very best to recreate this environment wherever we were in the world. Her family is from Bavaria and it is the definition of Christmas she (and I) grew up with. But as wonderful as at-home decorations can be, nothing beats the “real thing”. So this year, we went to Bavaria and Austria for the Christmas season.

Let me just say this: Munich is the very definition of Christmas. The city is covered in Christmas markets – dozens, literally – that are open every single day of the week, starting in late November and ending at the end of the year. Their Christmas markets date back to the fifteenth century and are as popular now as they were then. They are magical places: happy environments were you’ll find people of every generation. They are where you go with your friends, with your parents, with your children… These markets truly embody the Christmas spirit.

Wonderful Christmas Decorations in Salzburg.

Wonderful Christmas Decorations in Salzburg © Dead Book Darling

While I love Christmas all over the world, I really do think there is something special in the air in Bavaria. As Germanic Christmas traditions have been exported to the rest of the world, visiting the country this time of the year feels rather like stepping into the Christmasland! They capture the Christmas spirit in such a genuine way. It doesn’t feel commercialized or over the top… it’s just people celebrating the turn of the season with the people they love.

Christmas Tree in Marienplatz, Munich  © Dead Book Darling 2013

Christmas Tree in Marienplatz, Munich © Dead Book Darling 2013

I hope this post has introduced a few of you to the magic of Christmas Markets and of Bavarian Christmas. If you can’t jump on a plane, I’d recommend checking out the Virtual Christmas Market tour on the Bavarian tourism site. It’s quite a treat!

#PublisherFail: Spoiler summaries

The back of "Days of Blood and Starlight" by Laini Taylor is perfectly non-spoilerific. Other summaries, though? They can be pretty bad.

The back of “Days of Blood and Starlight” by Laini Taylor is perfectly non-spoilerific. Other summaries, though? They can be pretty bad.

I’ve been reading long enough to know that there are a lot of bad summaries out there: be they in the form of an incorrect literary reference (“It’s just like the Hunger Games except it’s not!”) or by adding in a romantic triangle that doesn’t exist (“Dru can’t choose between the boys… because she doesn’t care!”).

But last week I have had the displeasure of reading a book whose summary has committed the worst of sins: spoilers.

The offending summary can be found on the back of the UK edition of Patricia Briggs’ Hunting Ground – an absolutely amazing book, but one in which the action on the back cover did not take place until 2/3rds the way through the book. To make matters even worse, the summary spoils a major character death from the book*. WTF?

Here’s the offending summary (hidden to protect those of you who wish to remain pure):

View Spoiler »

Of course summaries are, by their very nature, bound to give away a certain amount of the plot. I understand that. I mean, even saying “Harry Potter is a wizard” is technically a spoiler for the first 4 chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. But that is to be expected. Saying “Harry meets Voldemort in this first book!”, however, is a spoiler I do not expect to find in my summary. And that’s what happens in Hunting Ground.

Spotting this offender made me look back at the summaries for some other books I’ve read recently… and I found another sinner in the pack. This summary for Scarlet by Marissa Meyer not only manages to spoil the ending of Scarlet, it also sets up the plot of the third book, Cress!

View Spoiler »

Exactly what drugs were these publishers on when they thought these summaries were a good idea… and how can we get them to rehab?

 * It is worth noting that although this summary was on my edition, the US edition seems to have a much better one

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