I generally hand out five star ratings very sparingly, so when I went to pull the five-star books of 2015 up, I was shocked at how much I’d enjoyed reading this year.
(BTW – I decided to change the date read on all the re-reads that I’d logged, so I’m way over my 150 book goal for the year; I didn’t even log all my rereads. I am a reading machine! Someone should hire me to do that for them.)
I’m not doing full (or even partial) reviews. Click the book covers for a synopsis of the books if you want. Or even if you don’t want. Do it. Buy them all.
This year’s five-star books, in no particular order:
You’d never think a book with a taxidermied raccoon on the cover would be so brilliant, but Jenny Lawson not only gets what it’s like to live with mental illness (because she lives with at-times-crippling mental illness) but she describes it in a way that is poignant, funny, and makes you realize you’re not alone.
Sonia Sotomayor is a fascinating person and her memoir was equally fascinating. If you’re interested in learning what it takes to go from the Puerto Rican ‘hood in New York to the highest judicial bench in the country, this might be the book for you. She is honest about how many things had to fall in place for her to get to where she was and doesn’t shy away from the things she did poorly.
I have been reading this series forever and kinda have a crush on Kate. And on Curran. This was the eighth installment of the series and it took a different path than the previous ones had, but with stellar results. Everything I learn about Kate and how she rolls with the punches (sometimes literally) make me love her (and the husband/wife author team) more. (You may want to read my review of this, linked above, for a fabulous cocktail recipe.)
The fact that I’m reading Penny Reid at all is 100% Cat’s fault. I did not EVER read contemporary romance, and she kept going on about the Knitting in the City series, so to
shut her up satisfy my own curiosity, I picked up the first in that series. OMG. If you at all like romance and you haven’t read the Knitting in the City Series, do it. This book is a spin off of one of those, but you wouldn’t need the background to make this still so much fun.
My love for Elizabeth Hunter is well known. In fact, due to how freaking prolific she is, you may see her again on the list.
This book was well written, hit a few of my favorite characters, and showed that there are strong women in the fantasy world. Elizabeth is a master world-builder which is why everything she’s written is just so amazing, no matter the subject matter.
Marking Time, and the sequel Tempting Fate both got five star ratings from me. (There’s a third published already and a fourth coming out soon. I’m not double checking that fact, so I hope it’s true.) These are more YA, but the world building (I’m a sucker for good world building) was magnificent. A young woman is forced to moved to England from California when her mother disappears and then learns that she is part of a group of supernatural people, and her talent is moving through time. It’s well written, suspenseful, and sweet.
No lie: Totally ugly cried while reading this one. Also, I started doing brain checks on myself. Dementia is an ugly thing but to know you’re slowly slipping into it at the height of your career…that’s terrifying.
You may or may not remember my review of this book. I basically proved that except for the fame and the part where she’s touched Nathan Fillion and I sadly have not, Felicia Day and I are the same person. Also, when I tweeted that book review, Ms. Day actually favorited my tweet. FOR REAL. I am so famous you guys.
10. This is the third in a series and I’m very much looking forward to the fourth’s release (March!). Another fantasy series with excellent world building. Anne Bishop is an excellent model for what world building should look like – more than just taking downtown Peoria and dropping in some monsters. It also has an element that isn’t typical of your urban fantasy – the blood prophets. Those who can tell the future by the deliberate (or not) letting of blood. So fascinating.
Speaking of world building – holy crap you guys. Grace Draven is the queen of world building. This book, in addition to being magnificently constructed, is beautifully written. Ms. Draven can do things with the English language that I can only dream of. (Ech. Preposition!) This is the first in a series. The second is coming out in about a month, and I seriously cannot wait. EEE!
I told you Elizabeth’d be back. This is a different series with a completely different set of protagonists. It was the third (and final-ish, at least for the main characters) in the series and I loved each of them. The Irin Chronicles were my introduction to Elizabeth Hunter (again, due to my PSM, who is an excellent influence on me in all matters). This is more than love story and more than a battle between the forces of good (more or less) and evil (for the most part) – it’s friendship and compromise and having to think through how pure your motivations are and whether your ideals are so ideal. Of course, since it is Elizabeth Hunter (and because I gave it five stars), you know the world is well built and the words well crafted.
This was another book club offering that made me ugly cry. I won’t tell you why (SPOILERS!) but I sent a sternly worded text to Cat when I got to the ugly cry part. It’s a lovely fiction piece that will make you laugh (a bit) and cry (already covered that). It was thoroughly enjoyable.
I have loved Margaret Atwood since I first read “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I’ve read almost everything she’s written and when I came across this one I hadn’t read, I was intrigued. I was even more intrigued when I realized it was a book about writing. One of my favorite all time books is Stephen King’s “On Writing,” and I was hoping for the same level of wonderfulness from this one. Although it won’t replace King’s book in my heart, it was brilliant and quotable, and I immediately went out and bought it in hardcover because I was ready to really commit to Ms. Atwood at that point. If you enjoy books on writing and have already King’s book, pick this one up.
We’ll end with the best book of the year. Madeleine Motherfucking Albright. This was seriously the best Memoir – not just of the year – but that I’ve ever read. It was fascinating – both the political stuff (who doesn’t love the political stuff?) but the personal stuff. She didn’t spend too much time on the growing up bits, but she was still a woman who married right out of college and had kids and still managed to get her PhD and then, as a divorced woman, become Secretary of State. The years she was involved with the Clinton presidency – first at the UN and then as Secretary of State – were some crazy ass years and she handled it all with humor, diplomacy, and a bit of sass.
Honorable Mentions to two books I’m reading right now that are really, really good and will probably make it into the five star ratings in 2015:
So now – tell me what to read next? My TBR pile is getting dangerously low. On Goodreads, I only have 318 in the to-read pile!
What was your favorite can’t miss book of the year?