Five Favorite: Books I Read in 2015

“Five Favorite” is a feature on thewasofshall where I lay out my five favorite “x”. Sometimes they’re relevant to a season or holiday, mostly they’re not. It’s an all-around fun excuse to give my 100% amazingly awesome opinion. To see previous (and future) topics, click here. To participate, scroll all the way down.

I read about 30 books in 2015 – a lot of them good and a lot of them bad – but only a handful were absolute re-read favorites. Here are my top five.

BetweenTheWorldAndMe

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

TheMartian

The Martian by Andy Weir

MsMarvelVol1

Ms. Marvel, vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

TheRoyalWe

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

StationEleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Have your own five favorite 2015 reads? Share them! Post them to your blog, link back to this post, and then comment letting me know!

Five Favorite: Novels with Multiple POVs

“Five Favorite” is a feature on thewasofshall where I lay out my five favorite “x”. Sometimes they’re relevant to a season or holiday, mostly they’re not. It’s an all-around fun excuse to give my 100% amazingly awesome opinion. To see previous (and future) topics, click here. To participate, scroll all the way down.

Done right, novels with a plethora of main characters featuring a multitude of voices are my absolute favorites. Here are my top five!

2666

2666 by Roberto Bolaño

Blackout

Blackout by Connie Willis

BrokenMonsters

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

GoneGirl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

StationEleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Have your own five favorite multi-POV novels? Share them! Post them to your blog, link back to this post, and then comment letting me know!

Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

StationElevenTitle: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Rating: ★★★★★
Summary: An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse post flu endemic, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty and tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.


Here’s the thing: I really loved Station Eleven (to the point where my review notes included such helpful phrases as “ZOMG” and “more, please”). After being completely underwhelmed by another post-apocalyptic foray (which was a complete dud), Station Eleven felt like a breath of fresh air. (Yes, I did just cringe writing that.) Although Emily St. John Mandel’s premise is par for the course (shreds of humanity post viral pandemic!!!), her narrative capabilities are incredible – and, to that effect, so was her novel.

Instead of splitting her novel into two parts, or focusing singularly on the Georgia Flu and its repercussions, or even alerting us to when a specific section takes place or where or about whom, Mandel spins Station Eleven around Arthur Leander, each chapter and character slowing unraveling from the novel’s opening scene where Leander dies and we meet all our supporting players in an ensemble piece wrapped tightly around performance (both figuratively and literally). A synopsis of the novel is easy to find, and it helps flesh out the details – but only a little bit and then not really. Because that first chapter told from Leander’s perspective? After he had just died spectacularly? That threw me completely for a loop. Mandel doesn’t use the pandemic as her novel’s climax or even its rising action; it’s just there, sitting unobtrusively in the summary, lurking in Jeevan’s future and Kirsten’s past, weaving its tendrils into every nook and cranny until “he/she/they would be dead within the week” becomes just another throw-away line nudging the story forward.

Like I keep mentioning – have I mentioned it enough? I’m going to mention it again – Mandel’s ear for language is magnificent. She builds completely fleshed out back-stories, teasing details until you’re able to create a half-dozen timelines in your head and juggle them all while reading. And then those stories intertwine – and knot, and split – as paths cross and details intersect and you remember that subtle hint dropped fifty pages prior (and perhaps twenty years ago) and you have one of those moments where your eyes widen in silent shock but you just keep reading and you don’t really process anything because the story is so engrossing and you just have to finish and oh my god what a novel.

Seriously.

If only there were more – more words, more story, more anything, really – so that this beautiful wonderful story didn’t have to end.

Top Ten: Books on My Summer TBR List

logo-TopTenTuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme was top ten books on my summer to-be-read list.

I actually mapped out my 2015 TBR list back in December while preparing for the Book Riot #ReadHarder challenge – and then decided to read different books just ’cause I wanted to. Here are the ten I hope to finish by September 22nd.

Fiction

ttt_SummerTBR2

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Martian by Andy Weir

ttt_SummerTBR1

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

Ms. Marvel, vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

 

 

Non-Fiction

ttt_SummerTBR3Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

So, Anyway… by John Cleese

Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner

Top Ten: Goals for 2015

logo-TopTenTuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme was book & blogging goals/resolutions for 2015.

My goals:

  1. Participate in and finish the BookRiot #ReadHarder campaign
  2. Read Deborah Harkness’ All Souls trilogy
  3. Read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Andy Weir’s The Martian
  4. Read George Eliot’s Middlemarch in order to fully understand Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch
  5. Read John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In so that I can then watch its two film adaptations, Let the Right One In and Let Me In
  6. Read Lois Lowry’s The Giver series
  7. Read all of Rainbow Rowell‘s books (except Attachments, which I actually read in 2012 and got a like from Rainbow herself on Tumblr after posting a quote – like, oh my god, whoa #nojoke)
  8. Read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Complete Sherlock Holmes, vols. 1 & 2
  9. Read the following YA series that I completely missed over the past 5 years: Anna and the French Kiss, Divergent, If I Stay, Just One Day, and Shatter Me
  10. And blog at least once per week