Here are my top 10 books for 2015, out of the 260+ books I read this year. Actually most of what I read this year was just ‘ok’. There were a few great mystery series – Susan Wittig Albert’s Darling Dahlias series, the Jussi Adler Olsen’s Department Q series, and a few others- and the usual Andre Nortons, Louis L’Amours, and Clive Cusslers, but very few specific novels that were amazing enough to really stand out from the rest. These 10, though, were really good, and well worth reading if you haven’t yet.
- Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, by Anya von Bremzen – I was sent a free copy of this book through a publisher’s book blogger program. This is an excellent memoir in which the author gives a personal perspective on the past century of history in Russia and the USSR. She writes about her food adventures with her mother, making foods typical of each era of Russian/Soviet culture, starting with the decadence of imperial Russia and ending with modern, post Communist, perpetually in-transition Russia. She provides recipes, as well, in case you want to make a fancy fish pie or authentic borscht, to eat while you reread this book.
- The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison – I checked this book out from my local public library. I grew up on fantasy and sci-fi, practically ever since I started reading full sentences. So, I’ve read a lot of books about elves and goblins and magic kingdoms. For a stand-alone fantasy novel, this one was particularly memorable. This story is about a young man who is the 4th son of the Emperor, half elf, half goblin, and the son of a wife the Emperor only married to satisfy a treaty. To everyone’s shock and surprise, his father and all his older brothers are killed in a single terrorist attack and the 4th son, who has never been trained, at all, in court etiquette, let alone how to manage a kingdom, is now Emperor over the elves.
- The History of Danish Dreams, by Peter Hoeg – My sister and I bought a used copy of this book at Goodwill. I am not sure I understood all of it, nor am I sure that readers are meant to understand it all. Still, this was a lovely book, with an otherworldly, dreamlike quality that sticks with you even when you can’t really explain to your sister what is going on in the pages you just read. Space and time shift as needed to make room for the story and the imagery of the story as Hoeg wanders from Denmark’s misty feudal past into modern times.
- Rosehead, by Knesia Anske – I won a free copy of this novel through a Goodreads giveaway. This lovely fantasy book works for middle-grade and YA readers, as well as for adults, especially adults who like to read C.S. Lewis, Rick Riordan, or Lemony Snicket. In Rosehead, a girl goes to stay at her family’s ancestral home, a nifty old house with nooks and crannies and cool stuff in the attic, secret rooms, and a big rose garden in the backyard. Strange things start happening, that somehow all lead back to the rose garden.
- The Resurrection Casket, by Justin Richards – I listened to the audiobook of this novel on youtube. I read or listened to a lot of Doctor Who books this year, and this one is by far my favorite, still. The Doctor and Rose get themselves stuck in a strange place where nothing that uses electricity works, unfortunately including the TARDIS. The only way they are going to get free of the system is by finding some way to physically move the TARDIS out of the affected area, and in trying to find someone to tow them out, they become stuck in the middle of a mysterious pirate’s curse. There is a big, scary monster named Kevin, who is really quite pleasant, and a series of steam-powered robot action figures that may have something to do with missing treasure.
- The Devil’s Detective, by Simon Kurt Unsworth – I won a free copy of this novel through a Goodreads giveaway. If you like Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, or the zombie detective series by Kevin J. Anderson, you will probably love this book too. In this story, a detective is brought in to investigate a murder or sorts in Hell, an out of place one that is part of a pattern of unsanctioned and potentially problematic events in Hell. Something is throwing off the balance between deceased humans and demons, that may threaten all of Hell, but if the source of these problems is found, Hell can get back to its usual, highly bureaucratic order.
- feed, by M.T. Anderson – I checked out this book from my local public library. In this modern sci-fi story, Anderson imagines what life is like for teenagers in a world in our not too distant future, when people have ‘feeds’, like facebook or twitter, but streamed directly into their brains, no screen required. This book was shelved as YA, and is a fairly fast read, if you are looking for a novel that won’t take too long to finish.
- Eragon, by Christopher Paolini – I borrowed this book from my brother. Yeah, I know, this is hardly a new release, but I only just got started reading this series this year. And, I actually really enjoyed this first book. I have the rest of the series on my stacks for 2016, too, so I can hopefully read the rest soon. In this book a young man discovers a dragon egg in the woods, and it changes his life completely, ultimately pitting him against the most powerful wizard in the world, and he doesn’t have much time to learn the forbidden arts of dragon riding and magic before he’ll have to use these skills to survive and to protect everyone and everything he loves.
- Paganini’s Ghost, by Paul Adam – I checked this book out from my local public library. This is a murder mystery/crime drama set in Italy, and centered around the theme of Paganini- his life, his violin, and his music. Somehow the solution to the sudden disappearance of a young violin master seems to hinge on a pretty gold box that once belonged to Paganini. If you like soaking in a bit of cultural and historical trivia with your murder mysteries, this is a great book to try out.
- The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins – I borrowed these books from my sister. I really like all the maneuvering that goes on among the characters in this story as the world all around Katniss starts rumbling towards civil war, and yes, the games have some pretty cool imagery too. I put off reading them because they were sooooo popular that I wanted to let the hype die down a bit first. I doubt I’ll reread them any time soon, but this was still a very good fantasy trilogy.
What were your top 10 favorite books that you read in 2015?