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Sunday 24 January 2016

My Top 'Ten' of 2015

After looking at all the books I read in 2015, that I rated at 4.5-5 stars (I wish Goodreads had a distinction)...I found out I've read a LOT of Fantasy. I shouldn't have been surprised by that, but I thought I'd have rated some other genre's as highly. It has been a case to sticking to what I know I love.

This year I read three new Urban Fantasy series; one may only have had three books compared to another's thirteen, but I read them all. Two of these series made it to my Top Ten, and I am counting books that follow the story of the same main character as one spot on the list. This actually applies to three other book series on the list. In one case, a trilogy I read in the Summer, plus the first three books in a Young Adult High Fantasy I began this year (there have been two more books in this series released but I haven't read them yet).

These books aren't in any particular order, but I will start with the stand alone's or books that may be part of a series, but I have only read one book of this year.

Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy, #3)
1. Unmade (The Lyburn Legacy book 3) by Sarah Rees Brennan
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Sarah is a hilarious author. There has not been a single book that she's written that I have not laughed out loud reading. I guess our sense of humours kind of match (think Cassandra Clare - who she is good friends with - plus British sarcasm). However, these books are not comedies. They are Young Adult fantasy set in the village of Sorry-in-the-Vale, in the Cotswolds (a very traditional, idyllic area of England). One of the things that drew me to this trilogy (because obviously I have read the two in the series before this), apart from the fact I know I enjoy Sarah's writing style, is the fact it has been set in England. There are more and more 'British' YA fantasy books on the shelves than their used to be, but they still are less common than the US based ones...which is fine because obviously more people in the US, and therefore more authors. I do enjoy, though, actually knowing where a book is set, even if it is a fictional village. I get the quaint, sleepy village life, because I have lived it.

What also makes this trilogy great (*no spoilers*) is that fact that the characters aren't all straight and white. Kami, the main character, is half Japanese. I can't recall anyone outside of Kami's family who are non-white, however Kami's family are hugely important and involved in the entire story. I don't want to give too much away as I don't want to post spoilers, but there are also non-straight characters. I'll leave it at that.

Anyway, I loved all the sass and the drama and the teen angst in this trilogy. I finished reading it a very happy bunny indeed.

Quotes that I enjoyed (I found them all on Goodreads because I do not graffiti my books):

“I hear girls like bad boys. I hope that's true. Because, baby, I'm bad at practically everything.” 

“Bros before hoes," said Jared. "By which of course I mean gardening tools, because I hold all the fine ladies of Sorry-in-the-Vale in the highest regard.”

“Lucky for you, I have another scheme. First I need a hundred ducks, but after that it will be pretty simple."
"What do you need the ducks for?"
"I´m going to put a whole bunch of them in a giant catapult and launch them over Aurimere," Kami said. "This will create a distraction. My message will be: Look at all the ducks I give.”

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, #7)
2. Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson book 7) by Patricia Briggs
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Quick note on the covers - why do they keep giving Mercy so many tattoos, that change with every cover? Mercy does have a tattoo, but not an entire sleeve? It would be cool if she did, but some book-to-cover continuity would be nice.

I am a big fan of the Mercy Thompson series, which is why it's so funny to me that this is only book 7. Compared to lots of other UF series (that I have read some of this year) that's a relatively small amount. Anyway, I love Mercy and I love the route this series has taken. I can't reveal too much, because it is book seven, so that would involve giving away the previous 6 books. Mercy is witty and funny, and I love the other characters in this series. There is a certain something I am waiting to happen in this series (I may not be the only person) that could change how much everyone enjoys reading it, but I am crossing my fingers that it will be fab. There isn't much more to write here, without giving the plot away, but I can say, like with The Lyburn Legacy, that I like how this isn't focusing on the stereotypical white, straight characters. Yes, a lot of the characters are white and straight, but the issues of discrimination against others are addressed in the books, and Mercy herself is Native American.


“I was going to fight vampires, and my name wasn't Buffy--I was so screwed.”

“We're the good guys. That we're scary doesn't mean we're the villains.”

3. Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander book 2) by Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Who knows. Time travel fantasy?

Yup, I plowed through all bar the most recent of the Outlander books last year. The original book (which I read in 2014) is still my favourite but book 2 comes up in second place. I think I like these books more when there are less point-of-view characters? I also like it when Claire and Jamie are younger, as I have less dread of them suddenly dying horrifically, or, shock horror, of old age. I'm not going to waffle on too much about this book, as, to be honest, I read it so long ago, and then followed that reading up with the 10,000 other pages of books in the Outlander series, that it's a bit of a blur. I enjoy Jamie and Claire, I enjoy historical fiction, and I enjoy time travel. Winner.


“...sitting and waiting is one of the most miserable occupations known to man - not that it usually is known to men; women do it much more often.” 

“Jamie," I said, "how, exactly, do you decide whether you're drunk?"
Aroused by my voice, he swayed alarmingly to one side, but caught himself on the edge of the mantelpiece. His eyes drifted around the room, then fixed on my face. For an instant, they blazed clear and pellucid with intelligence.
"Och, easy, Sassenach, If ye can stand up, you're not drunk." He let go of the mantelpiece, took a step toward me, and crumpled slowly onto the hearth, eyes blank, and a wide, sweet smile on his dreaming face.” 

The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century
4. The Time Travellers Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer
Genre: Non-fiction, historical, humour

Oh look a non-fiction book! Ian Mortimer had me snorting at his retelling of the lives of people in the fourteenth century. Looking at history from the perspective of a time travelling tourist is cool, and I like being able to compare then with now. I was made happy because lots of towns and places he used as examples are places I have been and know well, so the revelation of what street names meant and just how old the town I studied in was, was brilliant. If you're a fan of history, with a lump of humour thrown in, you'll enjoy this.


“While the traditional image of knights in armour is accurate and widely accepted, the equally representative image of knights wearing corsets and suspender belts is perhaps less well known.” 

“W H. Auden once suggested that to understand your own country you need to have lived in at least two others. One can say something similar for periods of time: to understand your own century you need to have come to terms with at least two others. The key to learning something about the past might be a ruin or an archive but the means whereby we may understand it is—and always will be—ourselves.”

“As you travel around medieval England you will come across a sport described by some contemporaries as 'abominable ... more common, undignified and worthless than any other game, rarely ending but with some loss, accident or disadvantage to the players themselves'. This is football.” 

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)
5. The Raven Cycle current releases (The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily Lily Blue) by Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Uuuuuuuuuugh this series. THIS SERIES. If you have a tumblr, I'm sure you've seen thousands of edits and quotes from The Raven Cycle, and know it has a bit of a cult following. I was a bit hesitant when I started, because I had read Maggie's other series a few years ago, and whilst I enjoyed her writing I didn't care much for the stories themselves. I needn't have worried because THIS SERIES.

The plot itself is definite fantasy, but that is not why I love it (although I probably wouldn't have gotten round to reading it yet). It is the atmosphere that gets you. The plot revolves around Blue, a non-psychic teen from a family of psychic ladies, so she feels a bit like the odd one out (understandably). Early on in the first book she meets 'The Raven Boys'. No they are not shapeshifters. They are a group of 4 teens the same age as Blue who attend the towns private school, and the emblem of their school is what has given all the boys that nickname. Throughout the books, the plot follows ley lines and dead welsh kings, and dreams, and latin magic, but it doesn't rush. To be honest, if there wasn't so much atmosphere I imagine the plot could be done in two books. The thing is, you don't want the plot to be done. At no point was I bored. Reading these books I felt like I knew the characters so well, which is why it is so fantastic, and is why tumblr is covered in images of Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah. It is their friendship and personalities that really make this book incredible, and the dreamy, relaxed atmosphere the writing creates.


“She wasn't interested in telling other people's futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.” 

“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”

“Aglionby Academy was the number one reason Blue had developed her two rules: One, stay away from boys because they were trouble. And two, stay away from Aglionby boys, because they were bastards.”

“In that moment, Blue was a little in love with all of them. Their magic. Their quest. Their awfulness and strangeness. Her raven boys.”

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2)End of Days (Penryn and the End of Days, #3)
6. Penryn and the End of Days Trilogy (Angelfall, World After, End of Days) by Susan Ee
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

I had been intrigued by this trilogy for a while, but also a little reluctant. Mainly, I suppose, because the idea of Angels being in a fantasy book was a little odd. Not the fairy tale creatures that you normally find. But after loving the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, I added these to my to read list.

The story starts with the 'Apocalypse' having already happened. Angels turned up and everything went batshit. Penryn is somewhat trapped with her mentally ill mother (who's medication has of course run out, as there are no longer doctors) and her disabled sister, and is desperately looking for a way to get to safety. The story is action packed and also packed full of sarcastic humour. Penryn is, understandably, extremely pissed by her situation and the way events have affected her life, and that makes her a brilliant protagonist for this story.


“I never thought about it before, but I'm proud to be human. We're ever so flawed. We're frail, confused, violent, and we struggle with so many issues. But all in all, I'm proud to be a Daughter of Man.” 

“I never kid about my warrior demigod status." 
"Oh. My. God." I lower my voice, having forgotten to whisper. "You are nothing but a bird with an attitude. Okay, so you have a few muscles, I’ll grant you that. But you know, a bird is nothing but a barely evolved lizard. That’s what you are.” 

“I look up to say something but he puts his finger to my lips and whispers, “Don’t talk. You’ll just spoil my fantasy of rescuing an innocent damsel in distress as soon as you open your mouth.” 

7. Charley Davidson series books 6,7 and 8 (Sixth Grave on the Edge, Seventh Grave and No Body, Eight Grave After Dark
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Oh Charley, you sassy sassy kick ass queen. Another set of books I can't review properly because they are not at the beginning of the series, and that would definitely give you spoilers. I will say that I still love Charley's come backs, and the plot is very entertaining. She is a great protag, with flaws but not annoying. Relatable, funny, and kick ass. She is a Private Investigator who's jobs vary between those involving missing people, and the supernatural.


“On a scale of one to stepping on a LEGO, how much pain are you in?”

“He turned the corner and flipped me off at the same time. See? Men could multitask. I was so proud of him.” 

“Why can’t we have one of those quick pregnancies like Bella and Edward? Gwen from Torchwood. Scully. Deanna Troi. Or even Cordelia when that demon impregnated her. Twenty-four hours later bam! Demon child.” 

8. Kate Daniels series currently released books(8 books) by Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Another Urban Fantasy I can't review because I read the entire thing. Another Urban Fantasy with a kick ass, smart mouthed, bit of a menace protagonist. And, coincidentally, another one were she is a Private Investigator, of sorts. However, Kate is living in a world where the supernatural is very much 'out of the closet'. Following an explosive revelation of magic a generation ago, this is a world were a type of apocalypse has already taken place. Magical 'waves' hit the world semiregularly, disrupting life and causing chaos. Kate is one of many individuals who investigate and 'deal with' supernatural problems. Kate is slightly more arsey, and seems slightly more dangerous (at least to begin with) than the other UF ladies I love, but she is awesome.


“You know anything about investigative work?"
"Sure. Annoy the people involved until the guilt party tries to make you go away.” 

“Please, Kate. Suspend your dislike of me for a few moments and listen to what I have to say. It makes sense."
"I don't dislike you. It's an oversimplification.” 

“Oh, it's you," Curran's voice said quietly. "I thought it was an elephant.” 

9. The Hollows series (I read 11 of the 13 books) by Kim Harrison
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Okay I too am definitely convinced of a theme. Urban Fantasy. Lady protag who is sarcastic, acts before she thinks and involved in the supernatural. This lady is also a form of Private Investigator - at least we can see which jobs will still be popular when the world has ended. Rachel is a witch in a world where witches, vampires, fey and demons are all known to exist. In the 1950s a genetically engineered tomato released a virus into the world that killed a huge proportion of the population. This 'end of the world' scenario was only halted by the emergence of those who had been secretly supernatural, and since then the world has been at an uneasy truce. The two 'sides' (human and non-human) work alongside each other, but the truce is often uneasy. Humans can study magic, but there is still a fear that one side will harm the other. In this series, I loved the character development and the relationships, especially between Rachel (a witch), Ivy (a living vamp) and Jenks (a pixie).


“What are you?" I rasped.
It smiled. "Whatever scares you.”

“I really didn’t have a choice. It wasn’t as if Kotex made a pad for this kind of a thing.” 

10. Erm ok I lied. This is my top nine. I spent so long making this post, and so long thinking about the number of ten, that finally I gave up. I read a lot of books in 2015, but these are my top nine. I enjoyed many more books, but none of them stood out above the rest, so I am going to leave it here :)

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