There are some really great books coming out this year, and I can’t wait to read them. Continue reading
I read significantly less in February than I have in the last few months, but I’m okay with that. February was a much busier month for me, and I still managed to read some great books. I also managed to go to a book signing where I met Melissa Landers, Carey Corp, and Lorie Langdon. I rarely get a chance to go to book signings, so that was exciting.
Short Synopsis: An anthology of short stories set in the Unwind universe.
Thoughts: Some of these stories were really good, but others I didn’t really care for. For this reason, I’m not going to give it a rating, but left me wanting more books set in this world.
Short Synopsis: Final book in the red rising trilogy.
Thoughts: Of the books I read in February this was my favorite. See my full review here.
Short Synopsis: Final book in Brandon Sanderson’s YA trilogy about superheros.
Thoughts: This was the series that introduced me to Brandon Sanderson’s work, and I am very grateful for that. All the same, I think the second book in this series was the best. The pacing at the end of this book felt very rushed though as a whole this was still a good, fun read.
Short Synopsis: Second book in a series about traveling between parallel world versions of London.
Thoughts: This was quite addictive, and I read it in an extremely short period of time. The character development was also great.
That said, I felt like the plot didn’t develop much in this book. I was hoping to learn a lot more about a certain parallel world than I got to. Hopefully more will be explained in the sequel.
Short Synopsis: A group of rabbits struggle to survive surrounded by enemies who take the form of everything from foxes, to humans, to rabbits themselves.
Thoughts: Listened to this one in audio book format. My favorite part was the world building surrounding the rabbit’s culture, but I also felt like the world building sometimes went to far and took away from the story. This book probably could have been much shorter, but it was still very interesting to read from rabbits’ point of views.
I didn’t blog much in February as what little free time I had went to reading new releases, but I did post two reviews.
I finally started writing again in February. It went pretty slowly, but I did manage to make it past the 25,000 word mark in the story I’m rewriting. This month I’m participating in the twitter challenge #MarWritingChallenge. The official website for which is writingchallenge.org. The goal of which is to write at least 500 words every day in March. I apologize to my twitter followers about the sudden increase in writing tweets, but it’s been really motivating.
I was planning to make a top ten list, but was having too much trouble narrowing it down in a way that didn’t make just about every book fall into a particular category written by a particular author. Instead I will be listing my favorite in each category.
Note that this is a list of favorite books I read in 2015. Not all were published in 2015.
Young Adult Fantasy
In the end I chose Six of Crows because it has so many different elements that were well executed as discussed in my review.
Words of Radiance is the second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series which is part of the Cosmere, which is the larger fictional universe in which Sanderson’s adult fantasy novels take place.
I read just about all of Sanderson’s currently published Cosmere works this year, and I am now a huge fan. It was hard to chose only one, but this is my favorite Cosmere book so far.
I would not, however, recommend readers start with Words of Radiance, not just because its the second book in a series, but also because it’s hard to get through books in the Stormlight Archive for readers not used to long books. Starting with Mistborn: The Final Empire or Warbreaker might make Sanderson’s work easier to get into.
I have not yet reviewed Words of Radiance, but I have reviewed the first book, The Way of Kings.
Middle Grade Fantasy
I have always loved books about dragons, and look for novels with nonhuman narrators. For these reasons, this book written from the perspective of a young dragon was almost exactly what I was looking for.
If I had read this book while I was part of the intended age group it would probably have become one of my favorite books ever. As it was, I still enjoyed it enough to make it my favorite for this category, and I plan to continue with this series.
Young Adult Sci-Fi
Choosing a favorite for this category was hard. In the end I chose Illuminae in spite of the fact that I had a little trouble getting used to the formatting at the beginning because the second half makes up for the first. I have not yet written a review, but hope to soon.
Middle Grade Sci-Fi
This book is in the hazy area between YA and MG, but for the purpose of this list I will consider it middle grade. This book was very thought provoking, and I think it would be a great novel for discussion in a book club or classroom. It’s also the only book I’ve read set in Mexico, even if it is called something else in this novel.
This book is unlike anything else I’ve read. So different that I haven’t been able to compose my thoughts into a review. It’s hard to adjust to the disjointed way the story is told at first, but once I adjusted this book was heartbreaking and thought provoking.
I’ll admit that I don’t enjoy classics as much as some people seem to, but I really enjoyed reading and learning about the symbolism involved in this one. The fact that a large canvas painting/picture of myself I’d forgotten about arrived soon after I’d finished was a coincidence that finalized making this one of my favorite classics.
This book was shocking for me because I had no idea any of what it discussed was taking place in the medical community. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks explores the ethical questions of who owns body parts after they have been removed for medical reasons though the true story of Henrietta Lacks and her decedents.
This month I read six books. Many of the books I read this month were some of my favorite books of the year so far. I also read the longest book I had read so far in 2015 (The Well of Ascension).
Short Synopsis: A girl writes love letters to all the boys she has ever loved and hides them in her room until one day they are sent in the mail.
Thoughts: This book was fun to read. It was lighthearted and had an intriguing plot with well developed characters. However, it was my least favorite book of the month not because there is anything wrong with it, but because some of the other books I’ve read this month will probably become some of my favorite books of all time.
Short Synopsis: Caden descends into the depths of the Marianas Trench and his own mind.
Thoughts: This is a hard book to get into as it has a unique writing style of very short chapter alternating between two purposefully confusing story lines. After adjusting this book is unique and thought provoking.
Short Synopsis: When the wolf Fayre killed in the woods turns out to have been a faerie in disguise she must chose between paying with her life and a lifetime trapped in a faerie’s house.
Thoughts: Though there were some elements at the end that confused me, I really liked this book. For my full thoughts see my review.
Short Synopsis: Third book in the Angelfall Trilogy in which angels invade the Earth.
Thoughts: Although I enjoyed this book, particularly the first three fourths, I felt the ending was rushed and left the story feeling incomplete. For my full thoughts see my series review.
Short Synopsis: A group of thieves with magical abilities gained through consuming metals plot to overthrow an immortal dictator.
Thoughts: This was a great read. The “overthrowing dictator” plot has been done a lot in fantasy, but Sanderson makes it feel original and fresh. For my full thoughts see my review.
Short Synopsis: Sequel to Mistborn: The Final Empire. This shows the aftermath of the heist in book one.
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, and liked that I could hardly ever predict what would happen next. However, the story just didn’t feel as complete to me as book one which I preferred over the sequel.
Note: I’m probably going to stop reading Invaded and The Assassin’s Blade for a while. It’s not that either is a bad book (neither is). It’s just that I had to return one to the library, and as for the other, I’m just distracted by everything else I want to read and not in the mood for a human-alien romance story.
Titles: Unwind, UnWholly, UnSouled, UnDivided
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publication dates: 2007-2014
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian
Synopsis: The second us civil war over reproductive rights ended in a stalemate. The verdict: “The Bill of life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen.
“However, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent my chose to retroactively “abort” a child . . .
“. . . on the condition that the child’s life does not “technically” end.”
—Unwind, Neal Shusterman
Review: I started reading this series in my freshmen year of high school, and finished it a few months ago. It has taken me so long to write this review because there is so much I want to say that I’m having a hard time putting into words. This series forces its reader to think and consider difficult issues about the real world through usage of science fiction elements.
The writing style of this series is rather unusual, and while I found it enjoyable I know there are many people who will find the series harder to get into as a result of the constantly changing point of view. If I remember correctly even an airplane got a perspective chapter at one point. Neal Shusterman is extremely good at giving all of his characters individual personalities when writing from all of their separate perspectives.
The practice of “unwinding”– which is essentially an extreme form of organ donating in which every part of the donor’s body skin, eye, brain, and everything else can be transferred to someone else– is an extremely chilling and almost inconceivable concept. What makes the story believable and relatable despite it’s outrageous premise are all the details Shusterman puts into making his society. Adding to the believably are all of the links and quotes to real events and news stories contained throughout the pages of the series. This includes stories about organ transplants, “feral” (aka rebellious) teenagers, and other medical advancements. The first book doesn’t introduce many details of this fictional future’s history which might make it difficult for some readers to understand the world, but I did not have this problem at all.
The first book can be read as a standalone, or all four books can be read continuously. Book one is in essence an introduction to the world, while book two expands upon it by exploring the organizations behind unwinding’s several hundred million dollar industry. Book three, my least favorite, is essentially the first half of the conclusion. The fourth and final book, Undivided, explores the world’s chilling black market that trades extensively in body parts taken from then perfectly healthy humans.
Book one follows three main characters: Connor, Risa, and Lev. All three of them are being unwound for various reasons– Connor due to disciplinary issues, Risa due to budget cuts, and Lev for religious reasons. With varying levels of enthusiasm these characters are brought together quite by accident and go “AWOL” (meaning they flee from their unwinding, which is illegal as unwinds are government property and no longer hold citizenship status). These three remain narrators throughout the series, and new ones are also added.
The series’ most impactful scenes were the ones involving unwinding. The author did an amazing job writing these scenes without them being terribly horrific. Rather than make these scenes gory the author took an emotional approach that I would argue is far more influential on the reader than blood everywhere. In my sophomore year of high school I read one of these scenes aloud to my speech and debate class who declared the scene “weird and creepy”.
This series has made me think about the state of the medical system. An infinite amount of money could be spent trying to keep people well, but everyone will eventually die. This series explores the concept of how society values some individuals more than others. It is ironic in the sense that unwanted children in this series are sacrificed to for the ones parents would do anything to save. Other issues this series explores include what it means to be alive and whether anyone truly deserves horrific fates.
This book can be enjoyed by people of almost any political stance or religious background which is astonishingly rare for a book with such a deep subject matter.
What Readers Should Know: While this series explores difficult issues including death and the afterlife it remains neutral on these issues. The premise of this series does involve abortion, but this is not about abortion. Abortion is a mere springboard for the world building of the story making it that much more realistic.
There is some cursing although it is not heavy in this regard. Some minor teenage characters get pregnant in the later books, but details are not included.
Rating: This is one of my favorite series ever. I highly recommend to anyone who can get past the writing style and somewhat heavy subject matter.