Top Reads of 2015

Top2015

Apologies for my lack of posting in the last couple of weeks! Although I am back in Australia, the holiday season has swallowed me whole with roadtrips, daytrips, and numerous end of year meetups. I promise to be a more consistent blogger when the new year rolls around and life gets back into its usual pace.

For now, I want to send off 2015 with a list of my favourite books this year! Thanks to book blogging, I read a lot more than I usually would – but it also made picking out my favourites extremely hard. Here are my top 12 this year in no particular order:

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton: I recently finished this one and immediately kicked myself for taking so long to pick it up. The proses in book is exemplary of the lyrical, evocative writing style that I love so much. Walton mixes her hypnotic writing with a tragic yet hopeful tale about strangely beautiful women and the folly of love. It left me in a daze for days! My review.

Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace: In this dark and brutal tale, our heroine confronts her identity and helps a listless ghost in finding his purpose. Archivist Wasp defy genre boundaries, bringing to the table a post-apocalyptic dystopia, a trip to the underworld, and questions about what it means to be human.  My review.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: I don’t usually read contemporary, in fact – Fangirl is one of about 4-5 I read this year. Nonetheless, the sincerity of its characters won it a space in my heart. It captures the emotional roller coaster that is college perfectly, never forgetting humour, family and love. My review.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby: Magical realism is quickly becoming one of my favourite genres, and books like Bone Gap is wholly responsible for it! In this strange modern fairy tale, we explore societal judgement of humans – especially of women. My review.

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The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin: In this unique fantasy, apocalypse are dime a dozen thanks to the ever changing tectonic plates. Themes of oppression and free will are examined as we follow the perspective of three orogene female. The proses are beautiful, the stakes are sky high, and the reveals are startling. My review.

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey: This is one of those books that are best experienced when you know absolutely nothing about it. Hence, I won’t elaborate. Go in blind, trust me, it’s amazing!  My review.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: Possibly my favourite young adult book of the year!  Six of Crows with its charismatic and dangerous cast, along with whip smart dialogue and engaging world, is a book to be remembered! My review.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown: While I had some issues with Red Rising, Golden Son blows everything out of the water by raising the stakes, introducing a host of intriguing females, and being completely unputdownable. Watch as Darrow navigates through planets and wage war against both armies and his own heart. My review.

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab: This was my first Victoria Schwab book and I quickly fell in love with her insane creativity. ADSOM features four Londons, two tortured magicians, a charming prince and the best leading lady of all time. Lila pretty much stole my heart! I loved going along with her and Kell’s adventures through worlds. My review.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas: In the space of one week, I went from a non-believer to a rabid Throne of Glass fangirl – mostly thanks to the latest two books in the series. I loved seeing the added complexity each novel brings to its world and the characters. My review.

Vicious by V. E. Schwab: The amazing Victoria Schwab appears once more- I love how each of her novel are so different to the last. Vicious features one of fiction’s most compelling frenemy, and a truly grey cast of characters. Although I yearned for more depth into Eli, Victor and his gang made this book memorable.  My review.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Hoerr: I read this book thanks Jenna‘s ringing endorsement, and she did not lead me astray. There’s poetry in every sentence and beautiful symmetry to every chapter. Moving, devastating and hopeful, this is a WWII story to savour.  Review to come soon!


Have you read any of my favourites this year? What were your picks? Please link me to your post if you have a similar one up on your blog 😀

Fairy Tale Retelling Masterpost: PART 2

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Find Part 1 (Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Red Riding Hood) HERE.


Cinderella

Cinderella
From The Art of Cinderella

One of the most popular fairy tale of all time. Of course it would be: who doesn’t love a rags-to-riches and make over story!

  • Ash by Malinda Lo:  Cinderella falls in love with the Prince’s Huntress instead of the Prince.
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer:  The first of the Lunar Chronicles series:  Linh lives in a futuristic world called New Beijing, and she’s half a cyborg! Highly recommended.
  • Bound by Donna Jo Napoli:  The story is retold in a new setting: ancient China.
  • Ash and Brambles by Sarah Prineas:  Pin is a seamstress, forced by the fairy godmother to create ball gowns worthy of those fairy tales. A story on agency and freedom, released in September 2015.
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine:  A classic, Ella is cursed into obedience, but she still finds ways to rebel.
  • Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George: Part of her Twelve Dancing Princesses series. Poppy is the main character, and she finds herself in the middle of a plot schemed by the Fairy Godmother.
  • Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge: A dark novella from the author of Cruel Beauty.  Neither the Cinderella or her prince believes in love. Maia had to pretend to be happy her whole life, as her dead mother made a terrible bargain with the kingdom’s most evil force: any who hurts Maia will be punished by this curse.
  • Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott:  Apparently marketed as Cinderella meets Memoirs of a Geisha. Suzume is trained in the art of shadow-weaving and assumes multiple identities.

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The Fairy Tale Retelling Masterpost: PART 1

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I’ve always been a great fan of fairy tales, whether it be in told through books or Disney movies or comics.  These stories have always been ubiquitous, inspiring generations of writers time and again.  I love a well-done retelling as it refreshes the classic theme to capture a modern audience. However, 2015 is particularly swept up with this fairy tale retelling charm, I can barely keep track of my to-be-read/to-be-watched list.  Below is a list of all the books I have read or hope to read, sorted by tales for your perusal!  I hope someone else also finds this helpful.

Note:  I was inspired to make this post after reading Mishma’s post on book trends on Chasing Faerytales.  I thought that fairy tales, like other trends, aren’t just a passing phase.  They’ve always been around, but it’s our luck that they’re extra prolific on this year’s catalogue of books!

EDIT:  This turned out a longer post than I anticipated, so I will use my authority as blogmistress to declare this Part One of Many.  Featured today are the tales of Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood and The Little Mermaid.


Snow White

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Art by James Jean, Fables Comic.

I’ve always been a little bit creeped out by the tale of Snow White.  I blame this primarily on the dwarves in the Disney version.  It’s also due to the idea of a prince falling in love with a corpse he sees in the forest.  The way the evil queen hounds her in the original version was also dark and twisted – what with poisoned comb and suffocating ribbons.

  • Nameless by Lili St. Crow: An urban fantasy revolving around Cami, the adopted daughter of a mafia lord in a magic-ridden world.  Not sure how this is related to Snow White, but it’s been marketed as such. Plus, bonus pretty cover!
  • Fairest by Gail Carson Levine:  This Snow White isn’t physically beautiful, it’s her magical voice that captivates the prince and enrages the evil Queen.
  • Fairest & Winter by Marissa Meyer:  The Lunar Chronicles series is one big fairy tale story, connecting many beloved princesses. Fairest is a novella that zones in on Queen Levana, whereas we will see Winter feature our dark-skinned Snow White.
  • The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman:  This one mixes Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.  I want it because i) Neil Gaiman! ii) promises of princesses who rescue themselves and iii) the illustrations (by Chris Riddell) that have been floating around the internet are drop dead gorgeous.
  • The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman:   Nag’s End, Rowan’s tranquil village, is thrown into chaos and confusion when five horsemen rides off into the forest and are later found dead.  The book has very polarising reviews, but I’m still interested in checking it out as it seems like a creepy, dark fantasy.
  • Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne Valente:  The protagonist is labelled ‘Snow White’ by her stepmother as an insult, she’s half-native American, so her skin will never be the colour of snow.  This is a mix between Western + fantasy, I do not like Westerns but I do love Catherynne Valente, so I’m very interested in this title.
  • Mirrored by Alex Flinn:  Tbh I was not impressed by Alex Flinn’s take on Beauty & the Beast.  Nonetheless, this version of Snow White focus on the protege of the witch – I love baddies as protagonist so I might have to give this a whirl.
  • Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi:  This book is narrated by the stepmother, her stepdaughter, and her biological daughter.  It’s set in a world without magic and brings up questions about race and identity using the familiar mirror as a symbol.  Again, it has mixed reviews, but it sounds very intriguing!
  • Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis:  Snow White in space, fixing drones in sub-zero temperature.  Where do I sign up?
  • Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Macguire: I confess to never having read any of his books, but I thought he should be included as he’s such a prolific writer of these retellings. It appears to be a cross between historical fiction starring the Borgias & Snow White.
  • Snow, Glass, Apple by Neil Gaiman: A fun short story from the stepmother’s POV, with Snow White as a vampire.
  • White as Snow by Tanith Lee:  A dark retelling of Snow White, with elements of Demeter & Persephone from beloved Greek myths.  Thanks to Glaiza of Paper Wanderer for this recommendation.

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