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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Ishness of a September Variety {2015}

It’s time for another foray into Ishness…

ChasingShadowsCoverBut first! A note…

Ashley Townsend is having an awesome giveaway running from this Sunday (Oct 4) to the 16th, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Chasing Shadows having been released. So make sure to stop by her blog for the details! It’s going to be epic, there’s signed books and giftcards, and you’re not going want to miss it! #TeamHood, everyone! 🙂

And another note…

I was interviewed by Abi Pearson on her blog!

Go check it out, do! 🙂

ishness

I sort of blinked and then September was over. It was basically a whirlwind of me being busy and somehow not getting the things done I wanted to but still doing lots of stuff.

Highlights of the Month

Library Book Sale. I went to a library sale, where I got a stack of books and old videos. (Now I must just find more time…)

BookHome

My room will eventually look like this.

Vacationing. I was gone on vacation for a few days — road trips and English Country Dancing and kayaking, huzzah! (I’d never kayaked before. I found out that it’s tremendous fun.)

My first interviews! I was interviewed by Jenelle Schmidt on her website, as I mentioned way back when it happened, and also yesterday by Abi Pearson on her blog, as I said above. So exciting! I’d never been interviewed, and then it happens twice in one month. 🙂

I had my 2 year blogoversary!

That was exciting. I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for two years! Last month I also hit 10,000 hits, 2,000 comments (techinically half of the comments are probably me replying, since I always do that… But still. 😉 ), and over 220 followers. Thanks so much, everyone!! Readers and commenters are the absolute BEST thing about blogging! You make it worth it and are all awesome and make me happy. ❤

2 Years of Blogging! Happy Day!

Writing

August was a big writerly month for me… September, not so much. Life was so busy and hectic that I couldn’t really focus on writing much. Plus, I’d finished Darkling Reflections and hit a roadblock on The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2). So I wasn’t really working directly on anything…

…And then I randomly started writing The Rose and the Raven.

R&R

What happens . . .

. . . when both the princess and the prince who’s supposed to kiss her . . .

. . . fall asleep . . .

. . . half way across the country from each other?

I may have mentioned it a few times, but basically it’s a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and I haven’t decided yet if it might be a candidate for entering the Rooglewood Press contest or not. That would depend on a.) if I finish it, b.) if it’s short enough, c.) if I like it enough, and d.) if I actually have time to finish writing it before the deadline… which, considering the madness that is NaNo prep and NaNo, I actually rather doubt. Regardless, it’s an idea I’ve had for quite some time (parts of it… Other parts “clicked” a couple months ago) that I’ve really been wanting to write.

I’m going back and forth between being in love with it and thinking it’s stupid/loathing it with the loathing of a hundred seasons.

Sigh.

#Writerproblems

Anyways, I’m hoping it will be a novella and I wrote 3500 words of it in September and will be continuing if I can untangle myself from the writer’s block I seem to have run into at a million miles an hour (i.e., I’m kind of stuck).

But it has a number of twists that I’m very excited about, including the fact that the curse is kind of skewed differently than the fairy who cast it planned, and the thing in question to be pricked on is not actually a spindle. It also involves a prince and princess being adorable as they grow up together and (hopefully) fall in love (I wouldn’t know; I haven’t gotten that far…); forbidden love; a fairy and her evil twin; and lots and lots of outlawed roses.

Anyway, despite typical writer problems of loathing and writer’s block, I’m “enjoying” setting foot tentatively in The Rose and the Raven and getting to know Prince Derrick and Princess Brie (a.k.a. Brier-Rose, which is awkward considering roses were banned soon after she was born. So now she’s just Princess Brier, or Brie to her friends) and the fairy Ev (who some may remember from my Blogoversary post…).

I’ve also thrown myself into planning for NaNo. Not REAL NaNo planning, like actual plotting for the story I’m actally going to write (only a little of that so far). No. Nothing so extreme. That’s what October’s for, right? …Right? But rather pre-NaNo-prep prep, like schedules and to-do lists and lots and lots of scheming regarding my NaNo region involving what I plan to do as an ML (NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison).

nanostuff

(A glimpse at prepping for my ML life. Look at all that NaNo stuff! I didn’t even plan that picture, I was just doing stuff with all the NaNo things, and suddenly realized it was all spread out for a perfect photo opportunity. Ta-da!)

Read

I was mostly too busy to read… Insanity, right?

I did finish The Scarlet Pimpernel and really enjoyed it! Plus, the Scarlet Pimpernel himself was AWESOME, naturally, and not in this book enough. Fortunately, I hear there are sequels. *schemes to read several of the sequels because some are free on gutenberg.org and some are also at my library so mwahaha*

And because I was starving for books and hadn’t read in a few weeks, I randomly up and read a Diana Wynne Jones books I had around and (miraculously) hadn’t read yet — Power of Three. I LOVED IT SO MUCH OH MY GOODNESS. ❤ The twist. The characters. The world. The epicness. The humor (of course). Classic Diana Wynne Jones. It was stupendous!

Sept2015Books

And that’s it. Yup. I read 2 books this last month. That’s a new low for me this year. *dies a little inside because neeeeeeed booooooks*

Oh, and it doesn’t count as a “book” exactly, more of an essay, but I also just last night finished a delightful little book (can one call it a pamphlet if it’s an ebook…?) of 60-ish pages from 1908 called “How to Live on 24 Hours a Day” by Arnold Bennett. I heard about it I believe from some random NaNo pep-talk or news email or something… Chris Baty or some person with a high position at NaNo randomly mentioned it (wish I could remember where!) and linked to it being free on kindle or gutenberg.org, so I randomly downloaded it at the time and promptly didn’t read it for a year or so. I finally did. And I found to be fascinating, hilarious, well-written, with some good tips, and basically awesome. No, I don’t in fact know how to live on 24 hours a day now, but still, it has great ides and I’ll hopefully put some of it to use eventually. Regardless, it’s a splendid read (and short!) and I’m just amazed how brilliant and articulate and funny people from back then were — think the authors of Holmes and Bertie Wooster and Around the World in 80 Days. I’ve rarely if ever read non-fiction that was as hilarious but also useful as this little pamphlet. Lots of fun and also enlightening! I kept reading bits of it aloud for the wit and wisdom. 😀 (Find it on Goodreads too.)

I’m not doing a Nightstand Books/Upcoming Reads for this month, because while I do have a few ebooks I hope to read before NaNo, and a stack of other books that I would love to read the first chance I get, I really don’t know how much I’ll get to this month. For the record, I AM starving to read some books, so I hope I’ll get to do some of that this month. Because BOOOOKS. There’s at least one that I’m VERRRY much looking forward to reading, and you should see a review for it later this month if I can get through it on time… I can’t wait!

Watched

Well, since I wasn’t reading much, I had to get my story fix from somewhere. So I’ve been watching films and shows a little more than I usually do. Normally I’m not a big watcher, not because I’m against watching things or anything, I just normally have more books to read than things to see and I’d normally rather spend my time reading; but these happened this month:

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  • Yes, I finally saw Mulan and The Lion King. I know, I know, everyone’s shocked I hadn’t before… They were fairly adorbz.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel from the ’30s was fun to see, just to see the story on screen (but honestly it got rid of most of the tension, and all of the ingenious stuff the Scarlet Pimpernel himself did at the end).
  • I’ll be honest: I only watched Little Women because of Christian Bale. I didn’t remember the story much except to know that I dislike it. *more heart attacks from the audience* Yeah, sorry; it seems it’s my fate in life to shock my blog readers beyond repair. (But the whole story is depressing; and you-know-who died which was NOT okay; and Laurie married the wrong girl. Just sayin’. I guess Jo maybe started the whole “just friends” thing… *cough*)
  • I’m also re-watching the Hunger Games movies before the new one (one down; one and a half to go…).
  • And re-watching some Sherlock. Because Sherlock.

Kanan

One of the best things I’ve seen this year is Star Wars: Rebels (Season 1). Asdflksjdflkjdf. It is just SO much fun!!! *flails around* I’m not the most enormous Star Wars fan in the world — I enjoy it a lot but I’m not obsessed. And I never really liked the Clone Wars animated show, what little I’ve seen of it. But the Rebels show, set about fifteen years after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (and so a few years before Episode IV: A New Hope), is hilarious and fun and I just love the characters, especially Ezra (the hero) and Kanan. They are quite simply AWESOME. Just sayin’. And the rest are super cool and fun too Seriously, I’ve rarely come across such a wonderful dynamic crew of characters — I just love them all and their hilarious interactions. So much awesome and fun!!! It may be a little simple to some, but I just ENJOY it. Lots. Sometimes you just want to laugh, you know? It’s just so awesome. I can’t flail enough. ^_^ ❤

ezra

Ezra Bridger

And of course, I saw Beyond the Mask again, now that it’s on DVD! Love that movie!! ❤ Also one of the best things I’ve seen this year. SO. GOOD.

beyondthemaskDVDshelf

(I know, the camera flash masked his face even better than his mask does. Of course I did it on purpose…)

(This is also a good excuse to go: LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL BOOKS I NEED TO READ. Ahem.)

October Plans?

October is going to be insane for me. I have lots of catching up to do, lots of NaNo prep that must be done, a whole NaNo novel to plan, several writing events and things I need to go to, a lot of planning still to be done relating to my position as a NaNo ML, and I wouldn’t say no to finishing my Sleeping Beauty novella if I possibly could. Not to mention the daily insanity of every-day life.

I have a massive, exhaustive, comprehensive to-do list that is currently running at 5 pages, of stuff I would like to get done before November 1st brings with it the storm that is NaNoWriMo. …Yeah, probably not happening. *cough cough*

Oh, and I have some upcoming bookish posts and writerly posts (NaNo prep, huzzah!) so watch for that!

So. That’s my September. How was yours? Do you have October plans?