So, we’re halfway through the year. I know, I didn’t realise either until I saw a spate of Top 5 of 2015 So Far videos and blog posts making the rounds. Because in my own little bubble of delusion it is not 2015, let alone July 2015, it’s just not, all the calendars in the world are lying to me. However, I’ll go along with this frankly ridiculous “fact” for long enough to me to jump on this bandwagon and talk about some of my favourite books of the year so far. These five books (or should I say “five”, you’ll see) were all highly enjoyable reads for me and scored 4-5 out of 5 stars so, you know, I liked them well enough to gush a little about them via Goodreads.
1 – We Were Liars by E. Lockhart [Review]
If I recall correctly in my review for this book I used the words “beautiful” and “devastating” and I’d say that just about sums up this book and the experience of reading this book. Because within 200 pages E. Lockhart managed to grab hold of my heart and ruthlessly wrench it out of my chest. That’s a disgusting image, I know, so you should go read this to see a more worthy use of language to express emotion. Seriously though, this was a complete surprise and, truth be told, I was expecting it to be an overhyped disappointment. It was not.
2 – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz [Review 1 and 2]
Much like We Were Liars the only reason I didn’t read this sooner was because I was so incredibly worried it was going to fall flat. It didn’t. I really ought to learn from this same pattern happening twice now. This book was a breath of fresh air, because I actually believed that the narrator was a teenage boy 100%, all whiny drama and actually-not-complicated complications included. It was simple yet kind of wonderful in its simplicity, just a beautiful and fun coming-of-age story that had be from the start.
3 – Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor [Review 1 and 2]
Evocative – that’s the one, and the most operative, word I would use to describe Laini Taylor’s prose. There was a particularly beautiful moment of her initial description of Prague which was just wonderful, I felt myself feeling at home in a place I’ve never really seen, let alone actually been to. What follows is… more complicated to explain but it was fantastical and magical and I found myself enjoying the journey Karou was taking me on. Such a fun read, and I really need to get my hands on the sequels.
4 – Ghostwritten by David Mitchell [Review]
Confession time – I “read” Cloud Atlas a couple of years ago. I say “read”, I started, I got about halfway through, and then for some unknown reason (probably a ridiculous one) I put it down and didn’t think about it for the ensuing months. But I bought this, Mitchell’s debut novel, used in an Oxfam shop, and when I saw Mercy’s author exploration, I knew I had to read this one (despite the fact she recommended starting elsewhere). If you know anything about Mitchell it’s probably that he weaves together various strands of seemingly unrelated narratives and people, and yeah, his debut is not an exception. I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed this; the pacing was excellent and the fact I enjoyed each and every perspective in this book is a testament to how compelling of a writer I found Mitchell to be.
5 – The Bone Season & The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon [Bone Season Review | Mime Order Review]
This is my somewhat cheating pick. Even though I gave Mime Order 0.5 less than The Bone Season, I couldn’t in all good conscience not include both of these books on my top 5, so here we are. Samantha Shannon managed, somehow, to create a young adult fantasy dystopia that feels unique. I know, I was surprised as you are. I’m not much of one for fantasy series, I’m terrible at keeping up with publications and with getting up the energy to start a series when it already has multiple books I need to catch up on, but this might just have converted me. Half of that is Shannon’s amazing world-building, The Mime Order in particularly creates an alternate dystopian London that is dark and wonderful and she has such a compelling narrative voice that I just couldn’t stop reading and absolutely devoured both of these books. I now am impatiently awaiting the sequel – see, that’s the other problem of reading series; getting invested.
So, despite university reading (and procrastination from university reading e.g. re-watching The Thick of It for the billionth time and playing 2048 every day al day), I think I’ve still managed to read a decent amount of books so far in 2015 and I’ve had a really nice reading year so far. Very pleasantly surprising is, I’d say, a theme of this list and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the year will bring.