Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2015

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As is traditional (last year’s is here) it’s time for a list of the best books I read in 2015! YAY! Because lists and books and favorites are all the best things ever. ❤

I read some gems this year, and though it was super painful trying to pick favorites, these (especially the ones near the top) make my heart explode in happiness just from looking at the titles, so I think they’re some good ones! My list is roughly in order of amount of loving them, and doesn’t include rereads. So here we go! (Prepare for much squealing…)

My top 15 reads of 2015

1. Broken Glass – Emma Clifton (in Five Glass Slippers)

brokenglasscoverSo… I spontaneously reviewed this awhile back. And it’s made it to the very top of my list this year. IT’S JUST SO PERFECT AND MY FIRST STEAMPUNK FANTASY AND ALL THE CHARACTERRRRRRRRRRRS!!!! Ahem. I just really really love this story! I want to read it again (and I’ve already read it twice). It’s just perfection and bursting with humor and snark and great dialog and plots and sooo many characters I love, especially Marius and Darcy and Henry, and it’s FUN but then it gets epic at the end and it’s so British AND I JUST LOVE IIIIIIIT! ❤ It makes me grin and keep grinning and unable to STOP grinning, whenever I think of it. GAAAHH! *tackle-hugs story* ALL OF THE LOVE! *gives Darcy and Marius an extra hug*

2. Archer’s Goon – Diana Wynne Jones

HOW. DO. I. DESCRIBE. THIS. BOOK. Ummm… I can’t! *flails around* It was Diana Wynne Jones which means it was pure distilled BRILLIANCE mixed up with total uniqueness, absolutely FANTASTIC humor, and just ALL OF THE PLOT TWISTS. Mind. Blown. I can’t get over it and it’s amazing and I think I need to read it again right now. I still love Howl’s Moving Castle the best of Diana Wynne Jones’ books (I mean… it’s my favorite book EVER besides The Lord of the Rings) BUT I THINK ARCHER’S GOON MIGHT BE SECOND. Maybe. Ahem. All of the characters are fantastic and the dialog and the humor and it’s timey-wimey and sci-fi and fantasy and modern and super confusing and I just love it a lot. Ack. ❤

3. The Ordinary Princess – M. M. Kaye

This was, in a word, PERFECT. ^_^ It just makes me so happy. I can’t. *beams and huggles book* It’s a sort of original fairytale type of thing, feeling like it has some hints of Sleeping Beauty and maybe a couple others, but mostly its own thing. It was just a quick read that was ADORABLE and sweet and perfect, and I loved the illustrations, and the character of the Ordinary Princess herself was awesome, and Peregrine who I loved a ton, and they were so cute together and just alskdjljlsjk it makes me happy and is a perfect little book. ^_^ ❤

4. Illusionarium – Heather Dixon

I’ve been dying to read this ever since reading Entwined. Needless to say, I pounced on it. The internet is probably still reeling with the incoherent fangirling babbles I shared on this blog about Illusionarium… Ahem. So suffice it to say, despite the creepiness, that I LOVED THIS BOOK AND THE DIALOG AND HUMOR AND EPIC STEAMPUNKNESS AND ESPECIALLY LOCKWOOD. LOCKWOOOOD!!!!! *flails around forever and a day* Basically, Lockwood. ❤ I just can’t get over that indescribable airguardsman snarky fiery epic trigger-happy roguish awesome Lieutenant Lockwood. (And he and Jonathan are a great pair. XD I love themmm.) (BUT LOCKWOOD. SO MUCH. ❤ ❤ ❤ )

5. The Pinhoe Egg – Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones books are always wonderful, but this one’s one of my top, like… four? of hers? (Howl’s Moving Castle, Archer’s Goon, The Crown of Dalemark, and this, are my favorites.) This was the conclusion to the Chrestomanci series, which I started late in 2014, and read most of this year. AAAHHH I LOVED THIS BOOK. It returned to the hero of the first book, Cat (who is great), and there were shenanigans and it had sooo much more of Chrestomanci himself than a lot of the others (which is pretty much my one complaint usually, since he usually only shows up a little in the midst of other people’s adventures). THERE WAS ALSO A GRIFFIN. AND CHRESTOMANCI AND AND AND ASLKDJFLK I just really really really love Chrestomanci and I need some fancy dressing gowns to wear around the house like he does. Except he has a castle… BASICALLY I WANT TO LIVE AT CHRESTOMANCI CASTLE AND READ ABOUT CHRESTOMANCI FOREVER. Because CHRESTOMANCI!!!!! ❤ ❤ Ahem.

6. Frederica – Georgette Heyer

After reading and loving The Grand Sophy in 2014, I wanted to try another Georgette Heyer, so this happened. I LOVED IT. The characters, just… aaagh! I loved them. LORD ALVERSTOKE. He’s one of those kind of awful fellows who’s sort of vain/spoiled, a lot like Howl actually, and yet he ends up being all noble too and just alskdjflklaskdj I love Alverstoke, he’s wonderful. And his relationship with the heroine and with her younger brothers — just YES! I don’t actually read a lot of regency historical romance sorts of things but this one was great. There’s also an airballoon and a crash and all of the DIALOG, my goodness it’s wonderful.

7. The Penderwicks in Spring – Jeanne Birdsall

AAAAHHHHH. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I read the first three Penderwick books (I even reread them this year!) and it was amazing. I was actually surprised because in a way it was so SAD but also the usual hilarious and just… I love the Penderwicks, okay. I LOVE THEMMMM. This family. Just. THEY ARE PRECIOUS. *gathers them in a hug* It was a little strange because it’s years after the previous ones and the three older girls are like TEENS and Batty’s 11 and… yes. o.o And I should have been upset, especially with all the sad, but I just LOVED. IT. SO. MUCH. Also there were like ten billion characters and the author juggled them all SO well and the writing is golden and ALL OF THE FEELS. I wish I could write like that. Basically I waited a long time for it and it did NOT disappoint. ❤

8. Conrad’s Fate – Diana Wynne Jones

This was a sort of Chrestomanci prequel because it involves him (Christopher) when he was a teen. LET ME FLAIL. Like Illusionarium, it was a great buddy-movie story (as I call them; even when they’re not movies… *cough*) and… Chrestomanci and the hero are so much fun together and I DON’T EVEN KNOW. But it was Diana Wynne Jones and I remember having so much fun and just really ENJOYING this! *flail* Chrestomanci as a youngster is just fabulous to read about, so sneaky but refined but clever and just brilliant and the dialog and I just loved it. ❤

9. Power of Three – Diana Wynne Jones

How. I. What. It. SOMETHING! *flailing* This was totally not what I was expecting and it was so DIFFERENT (something Diana Wynne Jones excels at) and PLOT TWIST! Wow. Also I loved all of the characters, especially the two who were like the hero (you’ll understand if you’ve read it), and it just had a lot of brilliance going on! It was epic. It felt rather different than her other stuff–a bit more like the Dalemark books than her “fun” ones… But I still adored it. Plus, the flashback where the fellows were drunk and met Titch was sheer gold. *dies of laughter*

10. Plenilune – Jennifer Freitag

This is here basically because DAMMERUNG!!!!! It was EXHAUSTING to read and took me from Christmas till August to read… like really heavy chocolate cake. Or the ocean. It was a little much, kind of too rich if you know what I mean, but it was totally worth it for Dammerung. He’s, like, possibly my favorite character this year. Possibly one of my top favorite characters of EVER. Like… HE’S UP THERE WITH HOWL, OKAY? Dammerung is just AMAZING and this monster of a 600+ page book of exhaustingly gorgeous poetical prose is totally worth it just for him. (And Rupert was amazing too. I have very complex feels about Rupert. Which makes me super glad that Dammerung is there to cancel those out because he just blows everything away with his amazingness). Like… he’s funny and powerful and heroic and epic and just… HE’S LIKE THE COOLEST EVER. Dammerung has a very special place in my heart. ^____^ ❤ ❤ ❤

11. The Skin Map – Stephen R. Lawhead

This was an AMAZING book. Contemporary/time-travel/fantasy/sci-fi-ish/historical… it has a little bit of everything. The writing and setting and just the entire thing is STUNNINGLY well done, not to mention the cast of characters, each of whom I love to bits! Arthur, Cosimo, Kit, Etzel, Wilhemina! (I even love the heroine!) Just. Gaaahh. It was a fantastic book, and would have been much higher up the list if it weren’t for something that happened in the last twenty pages… *cough cough* But I’ve actually gotten over that (mostly) and all I can think of is how amazing this book was and how much I want to read the sequels! *huggles all the characters* It was just a DELIGHT to read!

stonecurse12. Stone Curse – Jenelle Schmidt (in Five Enchanted Roses)

I reviewed this one on the blog and just YES. Beauty and the Beast retelling, which I ALWAYS love… And RITTER! ❤ Ritter and his heroicness and humor and just aaaahh I love him so much! And the setting and the fairytale feel and BAREND the Beast, down to loving the heroine, Karyna, a ton as well. I just… Gaaah. ^_^ *huggles all of them* The whole cast of characters and their relationships… just fantastic. SUCH A GREAT READ! ❤

13. Corroded Thorns – Emma Clifton

Aaand I also reviewed this one (more Beauty and the Beast, yay!) and it’s the sequel to my top favorite of the year, Broken Glass, and I sort of consider them one book because it’s so interconnected, sooo I couldn’t resist putting this on the list too! DARCY!!! Eeep. I just looooved this story and the characters AND THE ENDING WAS PERFECTION OH MY GOODNESS SO MUCH LOVE FOR THAT. ❤

14. Tahn – L. A. Kelly

This was the VERY first book I read in 2015, so it’s possibly a little hazy in my memory… But I know it was an exciting adventuresome read, with some good stuff, and was a little grittier than I usually like but still fabulous. And, like with Plenilune, it’s mostly here for one of my favorite characters of the year, namely the title character himself, Tahn. Tahn is the absolute epitome of my favorite archetype of characters, what I call the “dark guy”. (I’ve heard “anti-hero” used as well.) But I really really love him and his story and it was awesome.

15. The Book of Sight – Deborah Dunlevy

This book… I don’t know. It just made me happy. It was one of my first “random” ebooks I tried, since it was free on Kindle at the time and sounded interesting. I got so addicted that I’ve since bought all three of the sequels which are currently out (looking forward to reading The Poisoned Cure soon!) and already hoping the fifth/final book will come out soon! It’s a modern fantasy story, and it just… somehow kind of reminds me of the sort of stories I’m writing with my Kedran’s Wood series. I just enjoy it and it’s about these kids, a group of friends, in a little modern town, and their dealings with fantastical stuff that they start running into. Also, I really love Dominic. But it’s just a fun read, so… yes. It makes me think of sunshine. 🙂

***

You mayyy notice a trend*, which is that books are much likelier to be extremely loved/high on my list when there’s a particular character I really like in the story… What can I say. I’m evidently extremely attached to fictional people. But I’d say that Dammerung, Lockwood, and Chrestomanci are my favorite characters this year. THEY’RE THE BESSST!

(*Whaaat, you thought I was going to say that the trend was Howl? HAHAHA. Fooled you. XD Ahem. Sorry. Howl does whatever he likes, and apparently that includes stealing the show in a blogpost that doesn’t even involve him… *cough*)

So there’s my list! Have you read any of these? (You totally should!) Do you have any favorite reads of 2015? TELL ALL IN THE COMMENTS! ^_^

Hopefully this next year of 2016 will hold some wonderful reads in it for all of us! ❤

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Corroded Thorns

ctcoverCorroded Thorns
by Emma Clifton

5 stars!

Young Adult / Fantasy / Steampunk / Fairy Tale Re-Telling / Beauty and the Beast / Novella

Sequel to Broken Glass (review here) in Five Glass Slippers

I received an e-copy of this book from the author in return from my honest review; I was not required to be positive; these opinions are entirely my own.


As the sequel to BROKEN GLASS (found in the FIVE GLASS SLIPPERS anthology), I was so excited to read CORRODED THORNS to experience the rest of Darcy’s story! And boy does it ever not disappoint!

I loved this book so much that I read it twice in one week. I have an occasional urge to do that with other books, but almost never follow through. But this time I just couldn’t help myself! Fortunately it’s a novella so I was able to read it in a sitting, and it’s one of those perfect novellas that feels exactly the right size.

As a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I so enjoyed watching the plot unfold and picking out the similarities and twists. It’s a favorite fairytale of mine, particularly that it shows how even really horrid characters can find redemption. I LOVE fairytale retellings, and this has to be one of my favorite versions of Beauty and the Beast! I simply adored it.

The plot behind the normal Beauty and the Beast part of the story was so awesome — I loved that there was so much more going on under the surface than meets the eye and it TOTALLY made sense for the story; plus, fascinating fairy godmother politics! Isn’t that just cool? It was all so interesting to read about!

It was a gorgeous world, the settings felt so alive and real and everything was extremely vivid in my mind, despite the relative shortness of the tale. I really felt like I was in that old dark castle on the lake! The touch of steampunkness was SO cool and original (steampunk Beauty and the Beast? Yes please!), and I don’t usually notice this but I LOVED the magic in this story! It was just… I can’t describe it but it was perfect and seamless and interesting. Just… really well done.

In the interests of being fair and looking at both sides… Complaints? Umm, it took me a moment to think of any. There’s hardly anything wrong with this book! I did sometimes have a hard time visualizing exactly what the Beast looked like. I wished there had been a little more description on that, since my mental image kept changing. That being said, it was still an extremely awesome idea the way he was done!

At first as I started out, I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t feel just like the first one, BROKEN GLASS, which was hilarious and mad-dash and there were so many characters running around making a mess and being fabulous. But that’s only a partial complaint, because I quickly grew to love CORRODED THORNS just as much, despite its different feeling, and perhaps more because this one was much more straightforward of a plot, mostly following the one storyline, so I ended up more invested and just loved watching Darcy and Madeline’s story unfolding!

So don’t expect CORRODED THORNS to have exactly the same feel as BROKEN GLASS. This one is a little less whimsical and has a darker, more serious and epic feel to it (but there are still fabulous characters and some hilarious parts, never fear!). But I ended up loving that about it. They’re just different stories but you can still feel that they’re connected as well.

And now we get to the best part. The characters! I LOVED THEM.

  • Madeline is such a sweet, insecure, mousey thing and I found myself really really liking her. She’s so used to being a failure and yet she KEEPS TRYING and I love that about her. I can’t even quite describe it but… Madeline’s just so likeable. (Also tea and cucumber sandwiches.)
  • Young Niles was an unexpected but splendid (and rather important) addition, the one servant who stayed behind for the Beast. Gaahh, I just adored him! He was such an original, cheerful, stubborn, friendly fellow and was just fabulous! Yes, yes and yes. His role in the story really surprised me and I thought it was so cool!
  • Darcy… Ah, Darcy. What does one even say about him? DARCY. That is all. Despite his somewhat beastly tendencies, you still love him and it’s just incredible watching his story-arc leading from BROKEN GLASS and progressing through this one. It was amazing to read about, quite believable, awesome, and extremely well done. DARCY IS MY FAVORITE. I just loved loved loved reading this story about him! Especially his snark. So much fun.

Darcy, Niles, and Madeline make for a splendid main cast. Their interactions are just the best! The humor, the gems of hilarious lines… I loved it all! The other characters were interesting as well. Basically look forward to a great cast of characters in this book.

The ending. THE ENDING! There was one of those moments near the end where I suddenly stopped reading and went oh no — it’s about to be over — I don’t want it to END!! But then it stayed just the right extra amount of time to wrap up the things I wanted addressed and it felt… I don’t know… like a reward and it was just PERFECT! AAAHH. I loved it so much! Also, the glimpse of some characters from the first at the end totally made the book!! It made me so very very happy!

And not to give anything away, but this book contains my favorite proposal scene EVER. Yes, it was that good. ❤

Gaahh, how can I say enough wonderful things about this wonderful book? I feel like I’m falling woefully short! For such a small tale, it was packed to bursting with fabulousness. There was much incoherent squealing and babbling about its awesomeness on my part after finishing it. EEEK! ❤ And then I had to reread it only a few days later because I couldn’t help myself — I had to enjoy its loveliness again!

Basically it was glorious, epic, funny and full of characters I loved a ton, plus a setting I was completely immersed in (I want to live there!), and of course Beauty and the Beast! What more can you want?

I adore it and love it to bits and it just made me indescribably happy!

Back Cover Copy

From Goodreads:

A fairy godmother—in prison? Madeline can’t remember even being a fairy godmother, let alone doing something bad enough to land her in a cell. When a mysterious lady sends her back to her old village with cryptic instructions and no answers to her many questions, Madeline must find a way to free her father, who has been imprisoned in a tower by a terrible beast.

First banished by his father the king, then cursed by an angry fairy, Prince Darcy will do anything to escape this fate and achieve revenge and power. Just when he thinks his chance has arrived, by some cruel trick of fate a girl from his past returns and once again wreaks havoc on his life. Worse still, he begins to question what he truly desires.

Published July 14, 2015.

Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author

Emma Clifton has been thinking up stories before she knew how to type them out. Reading books such as the Chronicles of Narnia, The Door Within Trilogy, and Redwall inspired her to take her writing more seriously. Though her rigorous homeschool education keeps her busy, she also enjoys sewing, reading, and spending time with her family in beautiful Northern Virginia.

Emma won a place in the bestselling Five Glass Slippers anthology of Cinderella retellings with her enormously popular novella, “Broken Glass.”

To find out more about Emma and her work, visit:

www.PeppermintandProse.wordpress.com

(You can also find her on Goodreads.)

Glorious Broken Glass!

5gsTo my delight, I was recently asked to review the just-released Corroded Thorns which is the sequel to Broken Glass, Emma Clifton’s contribution to the Five Glass Slippers anthology. Said collection had been languishing on my Kindle app, collecting pixel-dust for longer than it deserved, so needing to read Broken Glass in order to read and review the sequel was the perfect excuse to actually start reading it!

Below you will (hopefully) find some semblance of a review for Broken Glass (if you can successfully read between the lines of fangirling… Ahem).


Broken Glass

by Emma Clifton

(in the Five Glass Slippers anthology)

5 soaring stars!

brokenglasscoverThough I was not actually required to review Broken Glass (and in fact don’t tend to review books on my blog unless I’m “supposed” to), I found I loved it so much that I simply HAD to review it and tell the world about its amazingness because OH MY GOODNESS, SO MUCH LOVE. ❤

It may tell you something to say that I adored it so much that I read it aloud to my younger siblings after reading it the first time, just to have an excuse to read it again. (Not to mention the immense fun of getting to narrate such a delicious cast of characters and witty lines aloud! Scrumptious.)

I had not a single complaint about this story. Which, lately, is indeed a rare find among the books I read! I loved everything.

As a novella, it was a quick read that I devoured in a sitting (both times). A nice bite-sized story that held SO much in it, despite its relative smallness. It felt neither too short nor too long; neither stretched nor squished. It was just perfect!

The writing was amazing, brilliant, and witty — every word was intricately yet effortlessly woven together with its neighbors, creating sentences that packed a punch and I was just staring in awe half the time because of how simply fabulous it was.

The characters. THE CHARACTERS!!! They were such a glorious bunch who often had me hysterical with laughter! All the humor and snark and banter and gaaah I loved these characters so much! The three princes were so awesome to read about, different as they were! I just loved reading about that entire messed-up family. It was a delight! Spoiled, full-of-himself Marius, dark and shadowy Darcy, endearing and wonderful Henry… All favorite characters in their own right! (Despite certain failings on the part of some… ;)) Rosalind and the cinder-girl and the (quite surprising!) fairy godmother were all great too! Each were distinct and fully real. I LOVE THEM ALL. The whole story was bursting at the seams with this spontaneous crackling cast of characters. I can’t even EXPRESS how much I loved the characters and the humor and their interactions!

The story itself was awesome. I loved how it feels like a Cinderella retelling, and yet at the same time like its own tale, especially how it starts in an unusual place — when the slipper is being tried on . . . and fits the wrong girl! The twists were wonderful. I was just amazed at how many different story threads were going on, weaving together seamlessly. It was fantastic!

I loved the setting! It’s fantasy with a dose of magic and some fabulous steampunk — surprising, but actually incredibly well fitted to the tale! It just all felt so awesome and I loved feeling a part of this lovely world.

The story and characters had a “British” feel to me, which is basically the highest compliment I’m capable of giving a book, and I really can’t describe it any other way. (If that makes sense to not a single person in the world besides me, I do apologize…) But something about the writing and style and dialog reminded me in some indefinable way of beloved books like Entwined and Howl’s Moving Castle.

Between a twisty retelling, a beautimous setting of steampunk and magic, a cast of colorful characters that you’ll find yourself falling in love with despite their bickering, some mad schemes and uproarious disasters, a touch of superb EPICNESS by the end, hoards of humor and wit and snarky dialog that just begs to be quoted aloud, not to mention the tea and cucumber sandwiches — why, what is not to love about this, quite simply, incredibly fabulous, rollicking, hilarious tale?

I have yet to read the other four Cinderella tales that share space with Broken Glass in the Five Glass Slippers collection (though I look forward to hopefully enjoying them as well), so I don’t know if they’re any good or not . . . But I can tell you that the collection is well worth grabbing a copy of if only for this one story.

Keep an eye out for my review of the sequel, Corroded Thorns, in a day or two!

Summer 2015 Books!

Earlier this year I did a post about the books coming out in the spring that I was excited about… Well, since the books I showcased in that post have all released now (*gasp!*) and summer is in the air, it’s time for another post of upcoming books!

Here are 8 books being published sometime this summer that look interesting to me, in some vague semblance of the order they should release…


A Dream Not Imagined Cover

A Dream Not Imagined – Shantelle Mary Hannu

May 28

I reviewed this recently — a fun, sweet retelling of Cinderella. I’ve read it already, but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited for it to release! 🙂


corrodedthorns

Corroded Thorns – Emma Clifton

June

So perhaps I’m not qualified to look forward to this, yet, as from what I can tell it seems to be a sequel (I think?) to one of the tales in the “Five Glass Slippers” collection, which I haven’t actually read yet… But it sounds awesome anyways, (Beauty and the Beast? Yes please and thank you.) and just look at that cover!


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00026]

Half Blood – Jaye L. Knight

July 1

Again, not I’m that qualified, as I need to actually get around to reading Resistance and The King’s Scrolls… But this is a prequel to the Ilyon Chronicles, all about Jace… who, despite my not having read about him yet, I already know from hearing about him that I’ll love him. 😉 And it just sounds super awesome. Plus, prequels are cool!


inkandbone

Ink and Bone – Rachel Caine

July 7

So I know basically nothing about this and have no idea if it will be good or not, but the blurb sounds interesting, and seriously, alternate history where the library of Alexandria survived? Well if that doesn’t sound intriguing, I don’t know what does… (Plus, pretty cover. Yes, I am that shallow. Shush.)


silverintheblood

Silver in the Blood – Jessica Day George

July 7

I just like Jessica Day George. And it sounds fairly intriguing. So.


findingthemagic

Finding the Magic – Jack Lewis Baillot

July 17

More Beauty-and-the-Beast-ness! (Is it just me, or is there a lot of that going on? Anne Elisabeth Stengl seems to be crafting the flow of fairytales these days. Not that you’ll find me complaining. No, no, not at all. Bring ’em on, I say!) I’m not into WWII era stuff, but I’m going to have to make an exception for this one, which I have heard good things about and generally sounds amazing.


fiveenchantedroses

Five Enchanted Roses – by Kaycee Browning, Savannah Jezowski, Jenelle Schmidt, Dorian Tsukioka, Hayden Wand. Edited by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

summer

Aaaaall the retold Beauty and the Beast stories! Yes. I’m especially looking forward to Jenelle Schmidt’s entry! It just sounds the coolest. Plus, this cover is probably the most positively gorgeous one in the history of EVER. So yeah. There’s that.


AWishMadeofGlassFinal

A Wish Made of Glass – Ashlee Willis

summer

The cover was just revealed last week and you probably still remember my excitement from then… BUT I AM SO EXCITED. A Cinderella retelling by an awesome author – yes. please. I can’t wait!


Are you excited about any of these?

Any other books coming out this summer that you’re excited about?

Share in the comments — I’d love to hear about them! 🙂