I saw Booktuber Shannon from leaninglights do this tag which was created by Chami and Ely at A Book So Fathomless. It seems like a fun way to take stock of the year so far and reflect on some great books I’ve read. Thankfully most of what I have read this year so far has been brilliant so it makes reflections like these positive – thank goodness – but difficult to narrow down when it comes to favourites. There are much worse problems to have…
1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2015.
And with this very first question comes one of the only drawbacks for reading so many wonderful books already this year. For the sake of not being repetitive Ithink what I’ll do is reserve some of what I would like to mention here for future questions, and in doing so I can narrow down my favourites to: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.
2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2015.
The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon. It might be the only sequel I’ve read (if we’re not counting re-reads), and I was very pleasantly surprised with the direction this story took given its change of setting (reversion of setting technically, I suppose) and with how well it worked as a sequel, especially considering how invested I’d become in the setting/environment of The Bone Season and the quirks of that.
3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Booktube has completely hyped this up for me but I must admit the premise still remains intriguing to me – an ancient Rome inspired YA dystopian fantasy book… yes one of that much done genre, but the Rome thing is something I’ve yet to read. Given my headspace currently is completely filled with Shakespeare’s Coriolanus it seems oddly fitting to allow myself a distraction that’s an interpretation of ancient Rome which is precisely what Shakespeare’s Roman plays also offer, admittedly in a very different genre.
4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.
Possibly The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness? I have not read a single book, not even a single word, written by Patrick Ness and yet the premise of this book is at least moderately intriguing – what if you’re not the Chosen One, the one picked to save the world from vampires, werewolves, aliens, whatever, and fulfil your destiny as saviour of all mankind? So it seems to be a parody of the whole Chosen One narrative arc and to comment (hopefully) on the remarkable in the everyday and the mundane. So I’m definitely keeping an eye out for this one and, considering how it seems to take me a couple of months to even realise books have been released, I might get around to this in like December or something.
5. Biggest disappointment.
Nothing has been hugely disappointing for me so I’ve had to be a bit picky with this question to choose something. I’d say A Game of Thrones was possibly a bit disappointing and that isn’t George R.R. Martin’s fault in the slightest, it’s 100% assuredly my own. I watched Season 1 of the TV show and then finally got around to reading this and, yes, it’s nice to have a more sustained narrative from each characters’ perspective but overall I didn’t really feel that this book added anything more to what I already knew, I felt like I was essentially just reading the TV show – which is probably less a disappointment and more of a testament to how well the first book was adapted for television, but even so I suppose that was a minor disappointment?
6. Biggest surprise.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I didn’t expect to hate this book at all, not in the least, since I think it’s well accepted that a Gaiman book is always a delight. What surprised me, however, was that this “children’s book” (yes I would dispute that categorisation to be honest) was honestly one of the best things I’ve read all year. It was so much more than what it purports to be and I found myself sad when I’d finished it because the story was over. Easily sneaked into my favourite books of all time and that did surprise me.
7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)
V.E. Schwab I think fits this nicely. I’ve recently read A Darker Shade of Magic which I enjoyed immensely and which has persuaded me to pick Vicious back up after I had to abandon it because of university work. A lot of the reason I’ve come to like Victoria, however, is because of her Twitter which shows her amazing capacity for multitasking – I’ve never seen someone with such a workload consistently manage to motivate herself to simultaneously write her novels, edit her novels, promote her books, read others’ books, and complete grad school. Wow, just wow.
8. Newest fictional crush.
Maybe Warden from The Bone Season? I’m such a predictable girl, it’s ridiculous. I find myself simultaneously unsurprised and disappointed in myself for this answer. For reasons why… should we start with the fact he’s not human? Also Gansey from The Raven Boys but, I mean, that’s a given, isn’t it? Private school boy, well-spoken, articulate, witty, searching the world for the ley lines which will lead him to the resting place of the sleeping ancient Welsh king Glendower (aka Owain Glyndŵr, I know my Welsh friend Sarah would kill me for using the Anglicisation)… um, yeah that’s the ideal list of qualities for me – sign me up (apparently).
9. Newest favourite character.
Can I just say all of the characters in A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab? Kell with his fantastic coat, the thief Lila with her pirate aspirations, a prince who is (in Schwab’s words) “equal parts Prince Harry and Jack Harkness”, how could I possibly pick just one of the ADSOM gang? I even liked the villains with all their lovely/terrifying sadistic natures.
10. Book that made you cry.
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. I cried at the titular first essay so… there was no way I wasn’t going to continue to weep or, at the very least, have that lump-in-throat feeling. A lot of what Marina had to say about being in college and the scary unknowable country that is “the real world” and “the future” really hit home in a really simple and honest and real way.
11. Book that made you happy.
Against my better judgement, Soulless by Gail Carriger. It’s full of “British” stereotypes and turns of phrase that would ordinarily make me gag on reflex at how non-English people think English people speak – lots of “oh I say old chap” and “jolly good” etc. – but I mean it’s a book set in steampunk Victorian England populated by werewolves and vampires so I think at some point you have to just let it go and let it take you along for the ride, no matter how ridiculous it might be. And it is – this book is so ridiculous and fangirly and fanfiction-esque but you know what? I don’t care, I bloody enjoyed it.
12. Favourite book to film adaptation you saw this year.
I’ve been a loner this year after all my university friends cruelly decided to move on with their lives and not lurk around Lancaster for another year of study, which has meant very little (to no) cinema trips. So I think the only book adaptation I’ve seen this year was the miniseries of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy and I was very very pleasantly surprised, by both the book and what a good job they did translating it to the miniseries. Things were changed, characters cut, plot lines eradicated, but overall I thought it really captured the tone and point of the book and its diverse cast of characters (the casting was spot on).
13. Favourite review you’ve written this year.
If I ever take the time to post a review on here rather than leaving it on Goodreads, chances are that I’m vaguely pleased with how it turned out. In that vein, I’m pleased with my review of Aristotle and Dante, other vastly different contenders are my reviews of Richard III, The Raven Boys, and The Wide Window.
14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year
I’ve only purchased it yesterday and it hasn’t arrived yet but All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr which looks like this. Also I am really fond of the reissued covers of the A Song of Ice and Fire series which look like this, so much so I went and bought the entire set without having even finished the first book.
15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
Apart from wanting to make a considerable dent in my TBR of books I physically own, I also want to clear some classics that I’m meant to have read; I’ve been saving the longer “project books” and my Dickens collection for wintery months and after I’ve graduated so I can devote all this looming unemployment to reading and crying about my lack of employability. Fun times ahead!
And that’s the end of the tag, phew. That was a lot more fun than just going through and listing my goals for this year and comparing where I’m at to where I ought to be – it’s also a lot more positive than that would probably be! Anyone else done this tag? Link me if so, I’m curious/nosy as ever. And as always if you haven’t done it but would like to consider yourself tagged by me.