Best books of 2015 (so far!)

I was trying to think of the best way to do this. Do I only talk about my favorite books published in 2015 or do I just talk about all the books I’ve read this year? Because with that qualification my lists change. So because this is my blog…my rules and I can do whatever I want.

2015 Books

  • Sunstone Vol 1 and Vol 2 by Stjepan Šejić. I can’t talk about one without the other. Šejić is crafting a beautiful love story that is wonderfully written and has gorgeous artwork. I will probably be adding Vol 3 on the next best of the year list.
  • How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz. I feel like this one is a bit of a gimme. It takes place in Santa Cruz (my town!) among other locations and it’s an interesting story about a friendship between three women that starts in college (UCSC!) and goes through some rocky times. I loved it.
  • Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski. This list is actually in no particular order, but if it was, this book would have been at the top. Right from the introduction I was impressed. There is so much information that I’m thinking I’m going to definitely go back to it. I wanted to buy a pallet of these books and hand them off to not only every woman I know, but also the straight men. Pick up this book NOW!
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. This was a fun book. It had shades (heh) of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman for me and I loved that book. I want the sequel in my hands now!
  • Half Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older. I read a lot of urban fantasy and this was such a great addition to the genre. I love that it is a blend of UF and also noir. The world building was richly developed and the characters were fully realized. I am looking forward to Shadowshaper, his YA book that takes place in the same world while I wait for the second book in the series.

Total favorite books by the month.

  • January – Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I had a wonderful time reading this.
  • February – Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I generally am not into poetry, but this one blew my mind. I need to buy a copy for my house.
  • March – Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. Mind blown with this. My first Butler and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Definitely need to add more of her to my life.
  • April – Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King. This was the YA book I would have wanted to read when I was a teenager. Real characters going through emotions that I went through. I like the fantasy stuff, don’t get me wrong, but to get such a perfect bit of what we go through, is important. I’m looking forward to holding this one for my boys to read when they’re old enough.
  • May – I can’t pick just one. May was a great month for reading.
    • No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay. Remember what I said about poetry before? I saw Kay’s TedTalk and was so moved that I immediately bought her book and devoured it. Look her up! “Hiroshima” and “B” are amazeballs.
    • Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans. Oh man. I have so many hopes for short stories and often just can’t get them. This is not one of them. I checked it out at the library and now want my own copy.
  • June – I held off from publishing this until almost the last minute just in case I was going to find a better June book. I like to keep my options open. Alas, I was right, and my weekend in San Francisco for PRIDE resulted in ZERO reading. I did buy a book, but did not read more than a couple pages while we were waiting for the parade to start. However, Come As You Are wins which I technically finished in the first part of June. See above for the reasons why.

What are the best books you’ve read so far this year? Ones written this year or just that you’ve read, back list or not count. It’s your choice! Did anything surprise you?

May Wrap Up

May was a good month for reading both in quality and quantity.

  • God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (print, library)
  • I am not a Slut by Leora Tanenbaum (ebook, own)
  • A Kiss at Midnight by Eloise James (ebook, Scribd)
  • When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James (ebook, Scribd)
  • The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James (ebook, Scribd)
  • Insatiable by Asa Akira (ebook, Oyster)
  • Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick (print, galley)
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (print, own)
  • Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente (print, own)
  • The Ugly Duchess by Eloise James (ebook, Scribd)
  • The Duchess War by Courtney Milan (ebook, Scribd)
  • Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James (ebook, Scribd)
  • Blankets by Craig Thompson (print, borrowed)
  • Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole (print, library)
  • The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan (ebook, Scribd)
  • The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan (ebook, Scribd)
  • How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran (print, library)
  • The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs (print, own)
  • Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner (print, own)
  • Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans (print, library)
  • Redefining Realness by Janet Mock (print, own)
  • Inferno by Dan Brown (print, own)
  • No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay (ebook, own)

My diversity count could have been better this month. I managed only 26%. It was all those romance novels that did me in so that’s to be expected. I did have 86% female count so there’s that. I managed five non fiction which is higher than my usual number and one book of poetry!

Some of my favorites were

  • No Matter the Wreckage: I haven’t been moved by poetry in a long time. After seeing Sarah Kay’s TedTalk I quickly picked up this book. It’s so great. The poems she does in her talk are also in the book!
  • Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self: What I said about poetry I also feel about short stories. More often than not, I read them feeling dissatisfied. Not so with this collection. I need to pick this one up for my own library.
  • How to Build a Girl: This one reminds me of my sister. Not that she’s a sixteen year old Lady Sex Adventurer, but she could have been. I had to recommend this book to her as soon as possible.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic: Such a fun book. I look forward to the next one. Actually I really want it now.

There was only one miss on the list and I don’t really want to call it out because I feel like the author’s followers would troll me. It was pretty bad and could have used an editor…or maybe a ghost writer. I finished it because for some reason I kept hoping it would get worse. It didn’t. No, it wasn’t the Toni Morrison.

What books did you read in May? Any favorites? Any letdowns?

 

Review at a Glance: The Woman Who Would Be King

Title: The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt
Author: Kara Cooney
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Source: LibraryThing

Let me say, Hatshepsut should have had Cleopatra’s publicist. She needs the press that Cleo has received throughout the years. Not to tear Cleopatra down at all. They both are deserving of the attention so Cleo should have shared. There is not nearly enough out there about Hatshepsut. I vaguely knew her as a ruler who had her statues and such destroyed by the pharaoh after her. No details of her rise to rule or her reign.

I have a keen interest in Ancient Egypt. I have been since 6th grade and reading The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw and learning the ways of the Egyptians.  I even went on to read McGraw’s other book on Egypt Mara, Daughter of the Nile. Through the years I have picked up a few Cleopatra historical fictions, glanced at a few non fiction books about the era, but somehow missed the deets on King Hatshepsut. Recently I did a little unintentional theme reading when I started a historical fiction about Cleopatra’s daughter then was recommended a book based on Hatshepsut Daughter of the Nile by Stephanie Thornton. After I finished that, I realized I’d had another series on my e-reader by L.M. Ironside that focused on Hatshepsut’s life before and even after her rule. Then The Woman Who Would Be King showed up on my radar. It was kismet.

In The Woman Who Would Be King Kara Cooney thoughtfully and meticulously lays out Hatshepsut’s life and even what happens after her unprecedented rule. I felt like Cooney did a masterful job of painting what life might have been like for not only Hatshepsut, but the people who would have been around her and their relationships with her. Hatshepsut is not portrayed as manipulative or as completely selfless, but as a human being who was ambitious and from all accounts a shrewd ruler who had her faults. It is too bad there was not a lot of diary writing back in those days. It seemed the Egyptians weren’t much for the drama parts of life because it would have been interesting to know more about not only her motivations, but also the motivations of the the people around her, like her steward, Senenmut; her daughter, Neferure; or her nephew Thutmose III. I usually consume non fiction as audiobooks and this one would have been perfect.