Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s prompt is Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015. I’ve narrowed it down to the best books I’ve read this year that were released in 2015 (I read some good ones that are at least a year old!).

Each one is linked to my review (the first three are in order).

  1. Every Word – Ellie Marney
  2. The Hollow Boy – Jonathan Stroud
  3. The Wondrous and the Wicked – Page Morgan
  4. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertali
  5. Nimona – Noelle Stevenson
  6. Mad Miss Mimic – Sarah Henstra
  7. The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath / The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl – Ishbelle Bee
  8. Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
  9. Library of Souls – Ransom Riggs
  10. Alice Takes Back Wonderland – David D. Hammons

BONUS
Here are another five books that I rated 5 interrobangs that weren’t released in 2015 (and that don’t include any re-reads!):

  1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor (review coming soon!)
  2. The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extence
  3. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen – Susin Nielsen
  4. Soulless – Gail Carriger
  5. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

What were your top ten books this year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s prompt is Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015. I’ve read a lot of great books so far this year, so it was hard to pick 10, but here we go (as always, it’s not in any particular order). Most are linked to my reviews, but the Ellie Marney ones link to Goodreads.

1) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertali
2) Nimona – Noelle Stevenson
3) The Lovely and the Lost – Page Morgan
4) The Wondrous and the Wicked – Page Morgan
5) Every Word – Ellie Marney
6) Every Move – Ellie Marney
7) Mad Miss Mimic – Sarah Henstra
8) The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches – Alan Bradley
9) The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen – Susin Nielsen
10) The Little Prince – Antoine de St-Euxpéry

What are some of your favourite books that you’ve read in 2015 (so far)?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who…Have Great Sibling Relationships

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s prompt was: Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who _____ (are musically inclined, have lost someone, have depression, who grow up poor, etc.)

I stared at my bookshelves all weekend until a random thought popped into my head: a YA protagonist is often an only child. Sometimes they have siblings, but if they do, most of the time those siblings are tragically killed/sacrificed/missing for half the novel or are kept secret until the BIG CLIMACTIC SCENE (I’m not mocking the “secret sibling” plot line, I’m totally guilty of doing it in my own writing). So, as the youngest of four children myself, I thought I’d look at books where the characters have siblings who play an important role. Because family is important.

stitch

1) The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June – Robin Benway

First of all – heck yeah to the Oxford (or serial) comma in the title. This is my second favourite Robin Benway book, and I absolutely love the relationships between these three very different sisters. May is my preferred sister because she’s sassy/snarky, but the other two have their own sass-filled moments too.

2) A Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket

Obviously the Baudelaire orphans are on this list. They’re loyal and supportive and genuinely loving toward each other. Even when they have moments of frustration, they would never think of betraying/leaving each other. They’re the true definition of “ohana” (nobody gets left behind or forgotten).

baudelaires

3) Every series – Ellie Marney

Come for the ridiculous chemistry between Rachel Watts and James Mycroft, stay for the best brother-sister relationship ever between Rachel and Mike. Mike quickly became one of my favourite secondary characters; he constantly has Rachel’s back, even when he thinks she’s about to do something stupid/crazy (i.e. when she flies to London in Every Word). He’s also great comedic relief and you can’t help getting attached to him.

4) The Dispossessed series – Page Morgan

Okay, fine, I’m more than a little obsessed with this series right now, but since it revolves around twins (Grayson and Ingrid), and their younger sister (Gabby), it makes sense for them to be on this list. The relationship between Grayson and Ingrid is the reason I cried while reading the third book.

5) Flavia de Luce series – Alan Bradley

I’ve read the first three books so far (I’m working on the fourth), and Flavia’s relationship with her older sisters (Ophelia and Daphne) is the stuff of legends. While Feely and Daffy tend to be absolutely horrid and Flavia spends a lot of time plotting her revenge, there’s still a certain amount of love behind all their actions. Plus they’re just hilarious in general.

6) Vampirates series – Justin Somper

I realize that saying “vampire pirates” makes people go “WHAAAAT?” but seriously, this was such a good series. Again, it focused on twins – Connor and Grace – who, even though they are separated for at least the first book (I can’t remember when they meet up again), their affection for each other literally spans across the seas.

7) Sisterhood series – Ann Brashares

On the one hand, these books are about the bonds of friendship. On the other, if Lena didn’t have a slightly jealous younger sister (Effie), the last half of the fourth book would not have happened. It’s also interesting to see how Lena interacts with her sister-like friends compared to her relationship with Effie (sometimes you feel sorry for Effie, who was often pushed aside in favour of Bridget/Carmen/Tibby).

8) The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen – Susin Nielsen

Technically this falls into the “sibling who tragically dies” category, but since the plot is based on Jessie’s death, it’s fascinating (and so sad) to see how his actions affected his younger brother, Henry. I’ve now read all of Susin Nielsen’s books, and I’d have to say this one is my favourite. It’s also the most emotionally draining.

9) The Two Princesses of Bamarre – Gail Carson Levine

I desperately need to re-read this one (my niece just read it for the first time and every time she mentioned it, I was like “AWW, SUCH A GOOD BOOK”), but Addie and Meryl’s dependence on each other is so sweet, especially once Meryl gets sick. I remember being heartbroken near the end, but it all wrapped up so beautifully. They were like the original Anna and Elsa – self-sacrificing and all.

10) Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling

Did you really think I could make a list like this and not mention the Weasleys? They’re one of the best fictional families to ever exist!! And while they may have their own problems (i.e. lack of money), they were nothing but loving toward each other (for the most part…*cough PERCY cough*) and always made sure to include Harry. I love how in later books, the boys all recognize that Ginny is more powerful/talented than they are, but they continue to treat her like their baby sister.

the weasleys

My biggest issue with the movies is that we never see Charlie Weasley :(

BONUS:

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Because the Bennet sisters are surprisingly well-rounded, considering most of them are supporting characters.

Lydia, Kitty, Elizabeth, Jane, Mary

Lydia, Kitty, Elizabeth, Jane, and Mary

Who makes it on your list of favourite fictional siblings?

Word Nerd // The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen – Susin Nielsen

Can someone please explain to me how I managed to live for 24.5 years without reading a Susin Nielsen book? Like, I realize it’s been a while since I was actually in the middle grade range, but when has that ever stopped me from reading a good MG novel? Never, that’s when.

Anyway, I read two of Susin’s books this week and I loved both of them.

Word Nerd

Ambrose is a twelve-year-old, self-described nerd with an overprotective mother. Despite his mother’s warnings, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with their landlords’ ex-con son, Cosmo, through a shared love of Scrabble: Ambrolse learned to play with is mother, Cosmo learned to play in prison.

In this brilliantly observed novel, author Susin Nielsen transports the reader to the world of competitive Scrabble as seen from the honest yet funny viewpoint of a boy who’s searching for acceptance and for a place to call home.

I’m not a fantastic Scrabble player, but after reading this, I want to lug my Scrabble board out of my closet and just play forever or at least until I’m as good as Ambrose (which could probably take forever).

It’s written from Ambrose’s perspective; I’m not sure how Susin does it, but she manages to capture the voice of a twelve-year-old boy pretty much perfectly (or, at least, she portrays him the way I imagine a twelve-year-old boy would behave, since I’ve never been a boy). He’s funny and quirky and a genuinely engaging narrator. You have to feel for the guy sometimes, with his somewhat overbearing mother, and his friendship with Cosmo is really sweet.

I just realized how I’ve been picturing them:

Except Cosmo thankfully doesn’t end up with Ambrose’s mom (it would have been weird). Plus, I liked how charming Cosmo became once he met Amanda.

When the protagonist almost dies in the first chapter after being fed a peanut by the school bully, you know you’re in for a good time. Word Nerd did not disappoint.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen

Thirteen-year-old Henry’s happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father’s hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry’s family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry’s therapist suggests he keeps a journal, at first he is resistant. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night.

Darker than her previous novels, Susin peoples this novel about the ultimate cost of bullying with a cast of fabulous characters, dark humour, and a lovable, difficult protagonist struggling to come to terms with the horrible crime his brother has committed.

I keep saying this, but it deserves repeating: the next time someone tries to argue that MG/YA novels don’t deal with “important issues”, I’m going to throw a copy of this book in their face.

Not only does it deal with suicide as a result of bullying, but it also touches on school shootings and the aftermath, especially for the victims’ families. It was inspired by an article Susin read about the Columbine shootings; it’s also reminiscent of that really sad One Tree Hill episode (you know the one I’m talking about).

This was a powerful and poignant read. Henry’s feelings are so well described, I actually felt emotional when he finally revealed what Jesse had done. The events leading up to Jesse’s decision to take the gun to school are horrifying and, sadly, representative of the type of bullying kids these days really do experience. You genuinely feel sorry for the Larsen family and, like Henry, you can’t help but wish you could go back and change the outcome.

I don’t know how many other MG novels talk about school shootings or suicide, but I think it’s a really important discussion to have – the earlier the better.

On a happier note, Susin is one of those authors who mentions characters from previous novels: in this case, Ambrose (from Word Nerd) pops up in a cute cameo appearance. I love it when authors build worlds like this, don’t you?