Favorite Books of 2015

These are the best of the new (to me) books I read in each month of 2015.

January: Ordinary Magic (Caitlin Rubino-Bradway); City of Bones (Martha Wells) because it’s such an unusual world

February: The Goblin Emperor (Katherine Addison) because the culture is fascinating; Justice series (Radclyffe) because Jason and Jasmine are just that awesome, even if the relationships in the series got annoying

March: The Siren Depths (Martha Wells) because the Raksura are amazing and the main character, Moon, is wonderful (I read the first two books in 2014); Hard Magic (Laura Anne Gilman) because Bonnie is unabashedly bi(or pan)sexual and the premise of the books is pretty great

April: The rest of the Hard Magic quartet was pretty good, and The Pyramids of London (Andrea K Höst) was pretty good, but I didn’t actually read very many new-to-me books in April

May: Stories of the Raksura (Martha Wells) was excellent

June: The Voyage of the Basilisk (Marie Brennan) because of a hilarious gender and marriage discussion; Pure Magic (Rachel Neumeier) was intense; Prudence (Gail Carriger) was great fun

July: The Parasol Protectorate series (Gail Carriger) was also great fun; Taking Flight (Michaela DePrince); Ellie’s Chance to Dance (Alexandra Moss) because it’s cute, and about the Royal Ballet School; Unbound (Jim C. Hines); Jinx’s Fire (Sage Blackwood)

August: I don’t know, nothing stands out. A Discovery of Witches (Deborah Harkness) was good, but apparently not good enough that I continued with the series.

September: No Way Home (Carlos Acosta) showed me a very different life; Harry Potter’s Bookshelf (John Granger) was interesting.

October: Shadow on the Mountain (Margi Preus) is about a young main involved in the resistance in Norway during WWII

November: Written in Red (Anne Bishop) is set in a world where humans are not the dominant species/top predator, and I found it fascinating. I still haven’t decided if I like the world, or the non-human dominant species. The Berlin Boxing Club (Robert Sharenow) was set in WWII Berlin, and had a surprising amount of diversity.

December: A Seditious Affair (KJ Charles) was exactly the book I hoped it would be; FreakBoy (Kristin Elizabeth Clark) – I’ve never read a novel in poetry before;  Manners & Mutiny (Gail Carriger) was a satisfying end to the series; Rebel Mechanics (Shanna Swendson) was fun.

 

I actually struggled with reading a lot this Fall. I had trouble finding new books I was interested in, and didn’t entirely enjoy many of the new books I did read. Many of the new releases I’m interested in aren’t available at the library yet. I started watching Youtube videos a lot more, and listening to some podcasts, which has been great fun, but does distract from reading. So far I’m okay with that — I am still reading plenty.

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National Coming Out Day

Coming out is scary. It doesn’t matter if you know that the person you’re coming out to is going to be fine with it; there’s still the worry of “what if,” because really, how can you know? It’s still revealing something very personal, something you’ve probably been keeping hidden inside for a long time and thinking about a lot. What if coming out changes everything?

Coming out is personal. It’s not about the person you’re coming out to. It’s not because they “deserve to know.” It’s because you want to share this part of yourself with them, you want to not have to hide yourself around them. It’s because you want to be visible, you want to be who you are – not because the world thinks you should be visible, not because the queer community wants you to be visible.

Coming out is a relief. It’s a lifting of pressure, internal and external.

Coming out is never over. There are always new people to come out to. At some point, perhaps coming out becomes a thing you can do casually, and then perhaps it becomes being out.

Being out is a mystery to me, but it’s one I’d like to figure out. How can I be out when talking about sexuality and attraction isn’t a thing I do? Is it not a thing I do because I’m pretty much in the closet? Are there other ways to be out? Being out is about being who you are, but who am I?

I am asexual. I am hovering somewhere in the realm of greyromantic and aromantic. Sometimes I’m attracted to people, and those people are of any gender.

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Ballet Obsession

I’ve been wanting to read more non-fiction for a while, but I find it hard to get into. I start a book, but then get distracted by other reading and never return to it. Some time ago I had the idea that I should pick one non-fiction topic per year (or other appropriate time unit) to focus on. It seems like this might take the pressure off, and allow me to explore a topic without having to read things from start to finish without interrupting myself with other books.

Well, that was an excellent idea, but I didn’t get very far in actually picking a topic. It’s also difficult to read non-fiction during the school year, because I just want relaxing reading. So I thought maybe I could pick a topic just for the summer, and not worry about the school year.

Then in May this year, I had a sudden attack of ballet obsession—specifically the Royal Ballet in London. I came across a performance clip of theirs on facebook, and then discovered that they have a video of their full hour and a quarter morning class on youtube. I very quickly got sucked in. Last summer and over winter break I took a few adult ballet classes with my mom, taught by a friend of ours (through Scottish dance), and I was excited to recognize some of the names and movements from those classes.

The Royal Ballet has a lot of really excellent videos on youtube, and so I spent about a month watching all of them and finding a few favorite dancers and productions. At some point I realized that I was having an experience similar to reading an intense series of books, where the world and lives of a few fictional people take over my mind for a period of time—except these were real people! Shortly thereafter it occurred to me to make ballet my non-fiction topic for this summer, and I started looking for books about ballet. Even better, I can incorporate videos, news articles, DVDs (there are several ballets I really want to get on DVD!), and going to ballet class.

I did wait until the semester was over, but now I’ve read quite a few books about ballet (mostly children’s books, so they’re quick reads.) I’m intending to review them here, and I think this topic might just have to continue into the school year. On that note, starting topics at the beginning of summer seems a good way to do it. That way I am well invested in the topic by the time school starts, and can continue at a slower reading rate.

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Diversity in YA Giveway

In the past couple of years I’ve been seeking out diversity in my reading. I started out looking for more books with queer characters, and quickly expanded from there to all types of diversity. I hope to post more on this topic soon.

The Diversity in YA website and tumbler does great work in getting the word out about all of the latest diverse books of all kind, and I urge you to check out the site if you are at all interested (and even if you’re not). They’re also hosting a gigantic giveaway in honor of their anniversary. The giveway is open until April 10th, so you’ve got plenty of time to enter!

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Top Ten ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the past 3 years

I’m considering only books I read for the first time within the past three years (2012-2014), but ones which I either read a lot of times in those three years or which I think are likely to become long-time favorites to return to. I’ve listed the years and the number of times read (if greater than one) in that year after each book.

The Far West, Patricia C Wrede (12,13,14) and sequels: a delightful trilogy set in an alternate US frontier
Libriomancer, Jim C. Hines (12,13) and sequels: magicians pull objects out of books and secret organizations reach forward out of times past
Roller Coaster, Karin Kallmaker (12,13, 14×2): I love the characters in this one

Pantomime, Laura Lam (13,14): Again, I love the characters, and the world is intriguing
Quicksilver, R.J. Anderson (13): a contemporary asexual character; need I say more?
Crown of Vengeance, Mercedes Lackey (13×2): a fascinating world; I love the language in this one
Etiquette and Espionage, Gail Carriger (13×2) and sequels: just pure fluffy fun
Broken Trails, D Jordan Redhawk (13,14×2): set in Alaska; a slow-building romance

Shadowplay, Laura Lam (14×2): sequel to Pantomime; a beautiful developing relationship
Magpie Lord, K J Charles (14×3) and sequels: gay romance in Victorian England, and magic

 

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Top Ten Books I Read In 2014

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson has an awesome math-based magical system (geometry in particular), and I can’t wait for the next one.

The Giant Slayers by Iain Lawrence is an excellent piece of story-telling, and really brought the time when polio was a problem alive to me.

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier might be the only vampire/werewolf book I’ve read, and it was great. It’s not your typical teen paranormal romance at all.

Magic worked through honey makes Chalice by Robin McKinley one of the most unusual and interesting books I’ve read.

I wasn’t sure about including Magpie Lord by KJ Charles, until I realized that I just read it for the third time since I bought it… in June. (I re-read books a lot, but usually not that frequently.)

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan features an asexual character!

Fire Logic by Laure J. Marks is full of non-standard sexualities, relationships, and family structures–that is, in the world of the book they are completely normal, but in this world they would not be. The magic system is also fascinating.

Eleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany by Eleanor Ramrath Garner was an intense read, and also brought a particular period in history to life for me.

Jack by LC Cate featured cross-dressing/genderqueer characters in the Wild West, and it was great.

Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley is a lovely, dreamy fairy tale re-telling, set in a fascinating world.

Notice that four of these books were also on my “Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far This Year” list in June. Since I pulled together this list in order, starting at the beginning of the year and working forwards, they’re at the top.

 Discover more about Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish.

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Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

Laure J. Marks (Fire Logic)

Andrea K Höst (Champion of the Rose)

Elizabeth Wein (The Lion Hunter)

K J Charles (Magpie Lord)

Melissa Scott (Astrieant series)

Dorothy Gilman (Mrs. Pollifax)

Judeth Merkle Riley (A Vision of Light)

Nnedi Okorafor (Akata Witch)

Miriam Forster (City of a Thousand Dolls)

Jordan L. Hawk (Whyborne & Griffin series)

Learn more about Top Ten Tuesdays here.

 

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