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Top Ten Books I’ve read in the first half of 2015

I have been, at best, a sporadic participate in Top Ten Tuesday at the Broke and the Bookish… But I am particularly excited for this week’s, topic, which is an opportunity to think about the reading since starting this blog and pick my favourite ten reads.

Some comments: the top three were very easy for this – they are not only three of the best books I’ve read so far this year, but three of the best books I’ve read, period. If I gave star ratings, they would be 5/5 perfect scores.

After the top three, things get a little dicey, and I’m not as confident about the specific order, which might be a little different if I were to make the list tomorrow. Or even an hour from now! I am confident, though, that the books below are a fantastic testament to all the amazingness I’ve been reading since I started blogging this year.

I’ve also refrained from selecting multiple books from the same series, in the interest of variety. So without further ado, the top ten books I’ve read so far in 2015 – titles link to my reviews for further elaboration on why I enjoyed them!


 

creature of moonlight cover10.  A Creature of Moonlight, Rebecca Hahn 

An example of a wonderful Young Adult fantasy novel with feminist themes… If you are emotionally invested in young women’s agency and empowerment or grandparent/grandchild love, then this will be an especially moving read for you, as it was for me.

golem and jinni9.  The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker

The story of two unusual (and fantastical) immigrants and their journeys of self-discovery, set in New York City at the turn of the century.

palace of illusions8.  The Palace of Illusions, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 

A retelling of the Sanskrit epic the Mabharata from the point of view of Princess Panchaali, the woman who married five husbands and whose desire for revenge started a war.

orleans cover7.  Orleans, Sherri L. Smith

This is my go-to recommendation for Young Adult fiction since I read it: an original, well written, romance-free novel with a fascinating urban post-apocalyptic setting and a great protagonist.

shining girls cover6.  The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes

The story of a time-traveling serial killer who selects his victims (the “shining girls”) from across time, and of the survivor who is trying to hunt him down.  A violent, unique, genre-bending crime thriller that kept me glued to the page.

his majesty's dragon5.  His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik

This book was just so much fun. If you are looking for fantastical entertainment and the idea of an alternate history where the Napoleonic Wars were fought with (super lovable) dragons sounds appealing, then may I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

bone dolls twin4.  The Bone Doll’s Twin, Lynn Flewelling

A prophecy says that the country of Skala can only be ruled by daughters, and so a jealous king murders the women and girls in his line to ensure his son’s place on the throne – except for one niece, who grows up in disguise and believing she is a boy in this first book of the creepy and addictive Tamir Triad.

station eleven3.  Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

This haunting, post-apocalyptic book is about what humanity has lost and how they continue to derive meaning from their lives after the end of civilization as we know it. Not your typical piece of sci-fi, this  elegant and tragic piece of art has stayed with me long after finishing it.

left hand of darkness2.  The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin’s masterpiece is full of astonishingly beautiful writing from its first sentence (“I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination,”) to its last. Everything about The Left Hand of Darkness lived up to what I have heard about it, and I found the experience of reading it profoundly moving.

ancillary justice cover1.  Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie

Sometimes you read a book and all you can think is, where has this book been all my life.  Unique ideas, challenging concepts, and themes that I care deeply about, all handled in an intelligent and meaningful way. A multibodied protagonist, a genderless society, artificial intelligence, social and class commentary… spaceships, explosions, personal vendettas, firefights. Ancillary Justice is everything that I ever wanted out of science fiction in one badass package.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 books I’d like to see as movies/tv shows

It’s Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and Bookish: be sure to check out the master list of blog posts on books that would make great movies/tv shows!  Here are my picks:

  1. Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay

Vengeance, love, sympathetic villains, secret assassins, epic battles, a country whose very name has been wiped from history… Kay’s story would make for a very dramatic, interesting, and highly cinematic miniseries, I think.

  1. Orleans, Sherri L. Smith

I would love to see Smith’s post-apocalyptic New Orleans on a big screen, and I would especially love seeing Fen de la Guerre as a protagonist.

  1. The Kingkiller Chronicles, Patrick Rothfuss

Given their popularity, I will be shocked – shocked – if they don’t end up onscreen in the next few years.

  1. Nightrunner Series, Lynn Flewelling

The Nightrunner series would provide plenty of excellent fodder for a fantastical television series, or several movies. What makes me want to see it particularly more than other  fantasy adventure books, though, is the fact it has a same-sex romance at its heart – something that isn’t represented enough in the fantasy/sci-fi that makes it to the screen.

  1. The Imperial Radch Trilogy, Ann Leckie

I haven’t got a clue how they would go about doing it – a multi-bodied protagonist! Alternating timelines! And oh but I do worry deeply about how the agender society would be handled – it is so rarely done well in film and TV. But all the same, I really want to see Breq the glorious spaceship-cyborg protagonist being an absolute badass, I really do.

  1. Sabriel, Garth Nix

The sound design would be so exciting – a book with a necromancer protagonist who uses bells to lay the dead to rest is just incredibly exciting to the sound geek in me. Plus, it’s has both young adult and adult appeal, a badass female protagonist, and zombies – it would be perfect for today’s TV or film markets!

  1. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer

I’ve been waiting for my Artemis Fowl movies for YEARS. Years I tell you. It would be hilarious and action packed and really I just want to see a movie about an indignant technophiliac centaur, a badass gun-toting fairy girl and a snarky Irish preteen crimelord.

  1. The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes

It’s probably all the Hannibal I’ve been watching lately, but I can’t stop thinking that Bryan Fuller would do a fantastic TV series based on this book. Though that said, I’d be worried with most other people at the helm – it would be way too easy to have it turn into a crime procedural with some time travel thrown in, and I fear it would lose some of its feminist message in the hands of a less capable and thoughtful showrunner.

  1. Neuromancer, William Gibson

I had this on the brain after listing it in Heists for Tough Traveling. A heist story, plenty of gadgets, and a team of misfits, what’s not to love? (Mostly I really want to see Molly Millions character design, with her retractable razor claws and mirrored eyes.)

  1. Mistborn, Brandon Sanderson

This tops my list without a doubt, and for one reason only: the fight scenes. Can you imagine how awesome the fight scenes would be in a Mistborn movie??? SO AWESOME, that’s how awesome they would be.

 

Book Review: Orleans (Sherri L. Smith)

Review: Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
Young Adult/Post-Apocalyptic – Putnam Juvenile – Standalone

Hurricane Katrina was only the beginning for New Orleans in this alternate future, where the city has been struck by a string of hurricanes. The storms culminate in the devastating Hurricane Jesus, which brings with it a bloodborn virus – the Delta Fever – presumed to have wiped out all life in the city.

In reality, though, survivors carry on, divided into tribes by their blood types. The O types do not suffer the effects of Delta Fever as the others do, and consequently are the target of hunts and raids by the other tribes, who are in constant need of fresh infusions to stay alive. It’s sort of like a futuristic vampire story, with blood stolen through needles and IVs instead of fangs, and set in lush, swampy, post-apocalyptic former New Orleans – now just called Orleans. Continue reading Book Review: Orleans (Sherri L. Smith)