10 favourite reads in 2015

Posted: January 6, 2016 in Book Reviews

Note: these are books I’ve read in 2015, not books published in 2015.

In 2015 I read over 75 books. A little short of 2014’s 85 books, but still decent. The following is in no particular order.

  1. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

Yes, I know I’m about ten years late with this one. In my defense I did start it last year. On the advice of one of my many writing courses I decided to analyse this book, focusing mainly on character choice within scenes.

This is a LONG book to analyse. On the plus side I learned a lot and it was great fun. So yay! The characters were chosen so well. The scenes have great structure to them. This is such a rich book with a nice fast pace. It kept me hooked from start to finish. Even if you’re not a fan of epic fantasies, you need to give this a try.

Goodreads link.

2)  Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

This has so many things I love to see in a novel: dead people, creepy monsters, humorous banter, a romance where the pair are first and foremost best buddies. Odd is a short order cook who can see dead people. He can also see when something big is about to come up that will make a lot more people dead.

Cue a fight against time to figure out what is going to happen in time to stop it. I loved this one. It kept me engaged throughout, the humor was nice, and there were loads of edge of the seat moments. The film by the same name is very good as well.

Goodreads link.

3) All Our Yesterdays

Such a pretty book. This could be me geeking out on the science behind time travel, but I loved how this book weaved together the science bits with all the other bits. It was beautiful.

Anyways. This is a sci fi thriller. Our protags are Marina and Em. Marina is young, innocent, and in love with the guy next door. Em is a cold girl, hardened by years of imprisionment and torture. She travels from her dystopian future, back to Em’s time. Her mission? To stop the time machine from being built and destroying the future. The problem with that? A note in her handwriting tells her she’s failed to do that 15 times, and there’s only one solution left.

I loved this book so much. It’s heart wrenching. It’s packed with tension. It raises serious ethical dilemas that I’m still not sure how to answer. Just go read it.

Goodreads link.

4) Broken Skies

This one is a lot easier on the brain cells than the one above. It’s a good old fashioned YA dystopian romance. It was published in april 2014, and considering how good it is, I’m surprised that more people haven’t heard about it.

Our dystopia is a post civilization world after the human race was mostly wiped out by a virus. Said virus killed more females than males, so females are a rare commodity. Our herorine Jax is a member of one of the few communities considered safe for females. Safe meaning they’re married off as soon as possible and expected only to yern for a life of making babies.

Jax doesn’t want that. She’s lived out in the forest with her twin brother for all her life. She is a self sufficient badass, and has more than one issue with being around other people. Oh, and there are aliens who live in one of the abandoned cities nearby. They stay away from humans, and make the humans stay away from them via cool forcefield technology. Not very neighbourly.

Then they go and kidnap Jax’s twin brother. Also not very neighbourly. And Jax has to team up with a stranded alien boy to get her brother back.

This is a book with a cool plot, a nice dose of sarcastic banter, a sweet slow build romance, and a main character with mental health issues (ptsd) who is in no way a victim. If you like YA dystopian romance, you should love this book.

Goodreads link.

5) Divergent by Veronica Roth

This one you’d have to have hidden under a rock for the past three years not to recognize. Another YA dystopian romance. I like them, OK?

For those who haven’t gotten around to this one yet (I know some of you are out there), this book is worth the hype. We’ve got action, we’ve got mystery, we’ve got serious things to think about. Which faction would we be? Which faction would we choose? Would we survive initiation? And then there’s the romance. Also a surprisieng amout of humor. I watched the movie first, so was surpired at how funny parts of the book were. Drunk Four, you are wonderful.

Our protagonist Tris has to choose one of five factions. Now usually you take a test which tells you which one you fit into. Only her test says she’s sutable for multiple factions, which is so not usuful in helping her make up her mind. It’s also very dangerous. I feel the movie put that across better than the book in the beginning. We learn how dangerous it is throughout the book, but at the start I got the impression it was more deeply weird than life threatening. Maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat, and the romance will make your heart flutter if that’s your kind of thing. My favourite part of the book was the character development. Tris at the end is very very different to Tris at the beginning. I rarely see such well crafted character development, so I’m a little in love with that aspect of this book. In short, read it.

Goodreads link.

6) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Another dystopian with a bit of romance. Not as much romance as the above books.

Our dystopian world is an ugly place. Mass pollution, lots of poverty, and big companies who essentially turn you into a slave if you don’t keep up payments. Though they wouldn’t call it slavery. They’d spill out some legal mumbo jumbo, then bury you in paperwork. Which for me made this dystopia so much more scary than others I’ve read, because it’s frightenly plausiable.

People turn away from their ugly world to the virtual utopia known as OASIS. People live most of their lives on OASIS. They go to school there. They go to work there. They make friends. And of course they play games, destroy monsters, and level up.

Before he died, the game creator hid an easter egg in OASIS. Whoever tracks it down inherits the guy’s giant fortune and the game. Our protagonist is one of our determined hunters. And he’s a dedicated expert of era of history the game creator was known to be obsessed with: the 80s.

So many 80s references, so many. This book is full of geek humor. It’s also pretty exciting. A lot of people want the egg, and not everyone will stay in the confines of the game to get it. We’ve got some high life and death stakes for our teenage protagonist to handle.

I’d say, if you like geek humor you’ll love this book.

Goodreads link.

7) The Girl With All The Gifts by M R Carey

Every morning Melanie is strapped into a chair by a soldier who holds a gun to her head. The soldiers wheel her to a classroom where she hopes it’s her favorite teacher today.

In some ways Melanie is your average child. She loves school. She loves stories. And in other ways she’s as far from your average child as you can get. I won’t spoil the surprise and say exactly what Melanie is (though the blurb has heavy hints) but this is a sci fi/ horror book set in a dystopian future. Expect something not your average human.

The science in this book is wonderful. The author has clearly thought through a unique way for this to happen. Yet it’s not bogged down by heavy explanation. The science is easy enough to understand but detailed enough to be interesting.

There are strong themes of horror here. We see some pretty gruesome things happen to kids. It’s not all like that, but there are parts that made my heart hurt. The plot is great. The character development is awesome. The story raises interesting thoughts about life and our right to it vs other creatures. And I don’t think you’ll expect the twist at the end.

A neat book if you like horror/dystopian. Go read it.

Goodreads link.

8)Write. Publish. Repeat.

This one will only be relevant if you’re a writer like me. If you’re not, feel free to skip to the next one.

Still here? Then if you’re a writer (particularly a indie writer) you NEED to read this book. No ifs, buts, or maybes. Go read it. You’ll thank me.

I’ve read quite a few books on craft. This only has a little of that. Mostly it’s about the business side of writing. There are so many useful chunks of information here. Seriously, this is a life changing book for most indie writers.

Goodreads link.

9) The War of Art

This one I think you’ll like if you’re passionate about anything creative. Writing? Painting? Making sock puppets? Whatever it is, this is a good read for you.

It’s a non fiction book about breaking through creative blocks, getting your butt in that chair and working. There are some good tactics here. A must read for anyone who depends on something creative to make their living, or would like to.

Goodreads link.

10) Getting Things Done

I am a self confessed productivity junkie. Occasionally I’ll come across a book that changes my life. This is one of those books.

I think it was aimed at people running businesses, but this book will boost your productivity no matter what you want to be more productive at. The author openly acknowledges this and takes the time to explain how  some of the more business seeming suggestions can work for anyone.

What I wasn’t expecting is the book methods impact on my anxiety. I’ve made more progress getting my anxiety in check using this book than any of the therapy I’ve done. For those interested in this side of things, I used all the basic methods in the book. Then once a day I download my thoughts, identify worries and what I could do to fix them. Then I plug any goals or tasks created from all this into the lists detailed in this book.

Awesome stuff. I modified a few things to make it more digitally based since I hate the clutter of paper. This modified version is working really well for me. My efficiency has increased and best of all my anxiety is the lowest it’s been in ages.

Productivity junkies, go read this book.

Goodreads link.

Honorable mentions = Hero by Perry Moore, Room by Emily Donoghue, and A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie.

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