Hi there! I’m Kay: an opinionated book blogger enamoured with the world of novels. Reader of Speculative Fiction (the posh word for Sci-Fi/Fantasy) and Young Adult novels. Believer in the many uses of the towel, the science of deduction and other fandom in-jokes.
This blog has been closed since early 2016. To the publishers and writers: thanks for all the support over the years. To my readers and fellow bloggers: keep in touch!
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.
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!
Image comic-book-buying madness
Did you see the massive IMAGE COMICS sale? Because I sure did! And… I made have gone a little cray-cray.
But whatever – it is hard NOT to buy comics from IMAGE, for many reasons. Here, I made a list:
- They are creator owned. In other words, the money flow is more direct and the rights stay with the creators.
- You get a DRM-free file!! Image even puts a “save to dropbox” button right by your comic book after you’ve bought it! Just, wow… I wish every publisher did that!
- If you buy straight from their website, you can avoid comixology (aka Amazon!). Huzzah!!
Anyhow, here’s what I got:
- Paper Girls #2 and #3
- Kaptara #1
- Trees #1
- Saints #1
- Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars
- ODY-C, Vol. 1: Off to far Ithicca
- Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery
No idea how much I’m going to enjoy these, though they all have great reviews and great creators. Oh, but I have read the first issue of PAPER GIRLS and OMG. It is SO GOOD you guuuuuuuys! DON’T WAIT FOR THE TRADE – GET IT NOW!
Anyhow: great books, Image Comics!
Review: Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #2
Published by Penguin on April 1st 2008
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Magic Bites
As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels knows how waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta's paramilitary clan of shape shifters, she quickly realizes much more is at stake. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug of war between two gods hoping for rebirth, and if Kate can't stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive.
Thoughts: The Kate Daniels series has so many fans, it’s ridiculous. It’s one of the top-selling, most anticipated Urban Fantasy series out there. But, after reading Magic Burns, all I can think is: the books must get a hell of a lot better than this if they’re still so popular.
Don’t get me wrong, Magic Burns is a good book. It’s solidly written, with interesting world building and high-stakes action. There were some elements here that, even as a relatively seasoned UF fan, really stood out: namely, I loved the idea of the central city park over growing to become a hub of witchcraft, complete with a giant turtle into whose belly you crawled. I have such a clear mental image of it – and it’s really stuck with me.
I also really enjoyed a number of the secondary characters: I’d read a series starring Kate’s were-shadow, Derek. He’s a sweetie in that silent-but-observant-and-may-also-kill-you sort of way. I also thought it was pretty awesome how quickly Kate latched onto Julie – the orphan introduced in this book. I was expecting her to be written out by the end of the novel, but colour me surprised.
That being said, there was a lot in this book that just made me roll my eyes: Kate is a special flower, but no one can know – except, of course, until she really needs to use that power. What even. Then there was the senseless dog death – how does having the main character kill a dog help endear her to me? Oh, and Curran? I’m sorry, but he was really creepy in this book. Some of his “famed” “seductive” lines just came off very assault-y. If Adam (from the Mercy books) had said this crap, Mercy would have had his butt kicked. And I would have helped.
Bottom line? Technically a good book, but there were things in it I just found abhorrent. I’ll be reading on, as it can only go up from here… right?
Did someone say Library book sale?
Twice a year, the English Library has a massive, huge, gigantic book sale. It’s the talk of the town for at least a week, as very very little happens in Switzerland.
This year, I managed not only to: 1) align the stars in order to be in town for the sale, 2) remembered the sale early enough to invite people to join me! We held our ground and fought the crowds – and we all came back with bags of books.
I tried not to go too crazy, though, and only picked up books I knew I was going to read:
- Living with Books by Alan Powers – This coffee table book is so friggin perfect. It is basically just pages and pages of photographs of book shelves. Very meta.
- Blood Red Road by Moira Young – I’ve had this on my wishlist since before it came out… but I think the series is over now? Whatever. I hope it is great!
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – I’ll be honest: I don’t really want to read this book. I know it is extremely important and essential, but… I don’t know if I will be able to handle it. I do, however, want to try. Some day.
- The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien – I love this super retro edition. Wait, maybe I shouldn’t call it retro, as it is a first printing from the 70s. 🙂
- Run by Ann Patchett – I love, love this book and didn’t have it in hardcover. I am especially happy to find this particular cover, as the UK cover is horribly white-washed.
Anyhow, there you have it. A quick peak at the books that have recently joined my shelves. Any recommendations about where to start?
Review: Aurelia by Anne Osterlund
Published by Penguin on 2008-04-17
Genres: Fantasy YA, Young Adult
Source: Purchased myself
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An impressive debut, equal parts commercial appeal and literary prowess.
Princess Aurelia is next in line to rule the kingdom of Tyralt, but she would rather be one of the common folk, free to learn and roam and . . . not marry the next tyrannical prince that comes courting. Naturally, the king wants Aurelia to marry for political power. Aurelia wants to marry for love. And someone in the kingdom wants her . . . dead. Assigned to investigate and protect Aurelia is Robert, the son of the king's former royal spy and one of Aurelia's oldest friends. As Aurelia and Robert slowly uncover clues as to who is threatening her, their friendship turns to romance. With everything possible on the line, her life, her kingdom, her heart, Aurelia is forced to take matters into her own hands, no matter the cost.
Thoughts: I adored Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund when I read it back in… many years ago. She immediately went onto my list of “why-must-they-be-so-perfect” authors and I hoped my next foray into Osterlund-land would be just as impressive. Years later and – at last! – I finally got the chance to read her debut novel, Aurelia. And it was good. Very good, even. But it’s no Academy 7.
Let’s start out with the good: the characters. Aurelia features a POC heroine who is doing her best to cope with a very complicated life. Boys and her hair are not her priority – but she isn’t oblivious to those things, nor is she dismissive of girls who do make that the centre of their world. Meanwhile, Robert, he book’s male protagonist, is a genuinely good human being. He may be trying to protect Aurelia, but certainly doesn’t believe he has a “right” to her. All in all: big thumbs up.
The bad: Aurelia is far, far too short. Sure, there was drama and intrigue and whatnot – but it didn’t build long enough for me to truly care about its resolution. And the ending? Rushed and unsatisfying. Of course, I know there is a sequel, and many of the outstanding issues should be resolved in the next book, but… I want some kind of real conclusion. Not just a big “TO BE CONTINUED…”. Not cute. But, then again:
- this is Osterlund’s first book,
- I’m sure it was heavily edited to fit the publishing world’s many-sequel model, and
- despite #1 and #2 it is still very entertaining.
Bottom line? In spite of the not-so-great aspects, Aurelia is worth a read – especially if you are into good historical YA novels. But, for God’s sake, go read Academy 7 already!