Sunday, January 03, 2016

Melanie's Favourite books of 2015

I have read quite a few books in 2015 but I am going to share with you my top 5. This year I couldn't decide an order so these are in no particular order.

UK Cover
Book 1 of my favourites for 2015 was The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. I reviewed this book back in March and declared it one of my favourite books just a few months into the new year. For me, this book had almost every element that I enjoy in a book - a strong female lead, a richly textured world, the right amount of action and a great mystery. I loved the steampunky world where the main part of the story was set and Cogman sets up the Invisible Library as virtual cornucopia of future plots. Cogman cracked it with this fantastic debut.

Another of my favourites is Ilona Andrews' serial novel Sweep in Peace. While I read this book over many months, it was released as a complete novel in November. I am a big fan of Andrews and have read everything the writing duo have released. I do however have a special love of the Innkeeper Chronicles. Dina is another great female lead with some pretty cool powers. She is strong and smart and she doesn't have to get pummeled every instalment to prove it. She does seem to have a predilection for near death experiences though. This instalment had crossover characters from The Edge series and I felt this worked well even though that is my least favourite Andrews series. It could have been a hit or miss and it was a big hit for me. There were a couple of mini stories threaded throughout the main plot which kept my interest as Andrews continued to develop Dina as a character. Overall, this a great read with beautiful illustrations.

Patrick Weekes is a lucky author this year by getting 2 books of the same series into my top 5 with The Prophecy Con and the The Paladin Caper. I would have included book 1 - The Palace Job but I read that last year. I am a big fan of the Dragon Age series of video games which Weekes writes for. Many of the characters in this series reminded me of my favourite characters in the game which just made these two books even more enjoyable. You will notice a theme in my favourite books - strong female leads which both of these books have in spades. The strong female characters are supported by veritable cast of interesting characters - even the baddies. Weekes has bundled great characters, with amusing dialogue with a fantastic plot arc. There were so many twists and turns and double crosses that I almost got whiplash. This is a must read for anyone who likes fantasy, great characters and witty dialogue.

UK Cover
The final book to make my top 5 is Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Again, another book with a strong female character this time in the form of the rather 'plain Jane' Agnieszka. Uprooted has a real folklory feel to it and I was gripped from page one through to the final sentence with Agnieszka's story of being taken away from her family and everything she holds dear to live in a tower as the companion to a rather reclusive dragon. Novik has a wonderful imagination and very skilled at characterization. This was a story I just didn't want to end.

As you know I read A LOT of books so to pick only 5 was difficult. I urge you to pick up one of these great books and looking forward to finding out what 2016 has in store.

US Cover
The Invisible Library
The Invisible Library 1
Roc, June 14, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author.

One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…

Published in the UK by Pan.

Sweep in Peace
Innkeeper Chronicles 2
NYLA, November 13, 2015
eBook, 237 pages

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina's door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn...and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it's all in the day's work for an Innkeeper…

The Prophecy Con
Rogues of the Republic 2
47North, September 23, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 512 pages

Book Two in the Rogues of the Republic series.

Who would have thought a book of naughty poems by elves could mean the difference between war and peace? But if stealing the precious volume will keep the Republic and the Empire from tearing out each other’s throats, rogue soldier Isafesira de Lochenville—“Loch” to friends and foes alike—is willing to do the dishonest honors. With her motley crew of magic-makers, law-breakers, and a talking warhammer, she’ll match wits and weapons with dutiful dwarves, mercenary knights, golems, daemons, an arrogant elf, and a sorcerous princess.

But getting their hands on the prize—while keeping their heads attached to their necks—means Loch and company must battle their way from a booby-trapped museum to a monster-infested library, and from a temple full of furious monks to a speeding train besieged by assassins. And for what? Are a few pages of bawdy verse worth waging war over? Or does something far more sinister lurk between the lines?

The Paladin Caper
Rogues of the Republic 3
47 North, October 27, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 480 pages

A thief’s good deeds are never done.

Loch and her crew are determined to stop the ancients from returning to reclaim the world they once ruled, but the kidnapping of a friend throws their plans awry. When a desperate rescue turns into a shocking reunion, the ancients return and seize power. Determined to stop them, Loch and the group look for a way to close the gate to the ancients’ world, but this time, they find themselves up against an enemy that has insinuated itself into the highest ranks of the Republic. Cruel, cunning, and connected, the ancients target the crew’s families and histories, threatening to tear friendships apart.

If that weren’t bad enough, Loch must deal with her treacherous assassin sister, her turncoat ancient friend, and a daemon who has sworn to hunt her to the ends of the earth. In order to save the Republic and pull off her largest con ever, Loch will need her friends…and maybe her enemies too.

North America Cover
Del Rey, May 19, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Naomi Novik, author of the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“Every so often you come upon a story that seems like a lost tale of Grimm newly come to light. Uprooted is such a novel. Its narrative spell is confidently wrought and sympathetically cast. I might even call it bewitching.”—Gregory Maguire, bestselling author of Wicked and Egg & Spoon

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Published in the UK by Macmillan.


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