Thursday, July 2, 2015

Best of 2015 (So Far)

Friends! My birthday is here!

In my world, birthdays are for doing happy-making things and celebrating the good times. I'm visiting the magical land of North Dakota today, and y'all know I'm gonna take advantage of America's large number of Mexican restaurants in my never-ending quest for tacos. One of the restaurants in this here town gives you a free meal on your birthday, so guess where I'm going for lunch.

Tiny Deadpool is with me, and I shall photograph him beside every taco (or taco platter) I eat on this trip. You can follow my progress on Instagram

On the blogging front, I want to step away from our regularly scheduled programming to highlight my Best of 2015 (So Far). July 2nd is as close to the middle of the year as you can get, so it’s an appropriate time for that sort of undertaking. Yes?

In the order I read them, excluding rereads and with links to my reviews where such things exist, my 4.5- and 5-star reads for the first half of 2015 are:

Cover of Saga Volume Four
Saga Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - 5 stars

I guess it’s possible Vaughan and Staples will someday craft a SAGA arc to which I do not experience a strong emotional reaction, but it’s hard to believe it. You know?

I feel so much for these characters, y’all. So. Frickin’. Much. SAGA is the comic and the hold-outs among you must rush out and read it.

Cover of The Girls At the Kingfisher Club
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine - 5 stars

I cried my way through this whole damned book because it was TOO BEAUTIFUL TO READ IN SILENCE. This upset Murchie, but he got over it.

Cover of Young Avengers: Alternative Culture
Alternative Culture by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie - 4.5 stars

Listen, I’m never gonna stop telling you to read YOUNG AVENGERS, so you might as well give in. Don’t start with this one, though; it’s painfully awesome, but it’s the second volume of Gillen & McKelvie’s run. You’ll enjoy it more if you already know who the Young Avengers are.

Cover of Beautiful Darkness
Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlman and Kerascoet - 4.5 stars

BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS is not a nice book. It is painful and vicious and I will never, ever be over the thing that happens to the small person who climbs into the bird’s nest. But it’s also excellent, if you like dark stuff.

Cover of The Faust Act
The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie - 4.5 stars

Everyone was like, “You should read THE WICKED + THE DIVINE because it’s basically perfect, and it’s also by the guys who did that YOUNG AVENGERS thing you love so much.” I listened to them, and now I’m the one telling people to read WicDiv because it’s basically perfect.

Read it, friends. It's basically perfect.

Cover of L.A. Woman
L.A. Woman by Matt Fraction, Annie Wu, and Javier Pullido - 4.5 stars

Kate Bishop is the light of my heart and the breath in my lungs, and this is her book. Read it, please. (But maybe read the first two volumes of HAWKEYE first.)

And let's all pause to appreciate how Kate embraces tropes but rolls with it when she learns that sometimes tropes aren't enough to get you through life. I don't believe I've highlighted this aspect of her personality in any of my previous gushes, and that's a bloody shame. Kate's conscious attempt to become a plucky girl detective who slowly erodes a frazzled policeman's gruff demeanor is a thing of beauty.

Cover of Mad About the Boy
Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding - 4.5 stars

I waited ages to read the third Bridget Jones book because I thought the inciting incident--Mark Darcy’s death--was just a cheap way to make Bridget single again. It’s not. It’s important, and Fielding does a fabulous, heartfelt job of showing how Bridget comes back from it.

Cover of Bone Gap
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby - 4.5 stars

BONE GAP began as nothing I ever wanted, but by the end I was sobbing my heart out because OMGROZAOMG.

I love it when that happens.

Cover of The Virgin
The Virgin by Tiffany Reisz - 4.5 stars

Nora and Kingley have a large number of emotionally resonant sexytimes with people other than each other, and that’s pretty well all you need to know.

Unless you have no idea who Nora and Kingsley are, in which case you need to back up and read THE SIREN.

Cover of The Martian
The Martian by Andy Weir - 5 stars

So I read THE MARTIAN on audio, and I reached the dramatic conclusion while I was out for a walk, and I came THIS CLOSE to BAWLING MY FUCKING EYES OUT IN THE STREET.

I recommend it.

Cover of the first Skip Beat omnibus
Skip Beat by Yoshiki Nakamura - 5 stars

You really want me to start gushing about SKIP BEAT again? That’s a thing you’re gonna unleash upon the world?

No. I cannot. If I start, I will never, ever stop.

Except I’ve just gotta say, real quick, that I love Kyoko Mogami every bit as much as I love Kate Bishop, and you can maybe guess how much I love Kate Bishop from the whole "light of my heart, breath in my lungs" schtick.

Cover of Prophecies, Libels, & Dreams
Prophecies, Libels, & Dreams by Ysabeau S. Wilce - 4.5 stars

As if I wasn’t gonna geek the hell out over all Ysabeau S. Wilce’s Califa stories in one place, with scholarly commentary. Come on.

Cover of Isla and the Happily Ever After
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - 4.5 stars

ISLA has travel and comics and a deep emotional connection and a bunch of self discovery and oh my god I loved it so frickin’ much.

Cover of The Gathering Storm
The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson - 5 stars

If you’d told Past Memory she’d love a late-in-the-game volume of the Wheel of Time so much she didn’t even want to analyze it, she’d have screwed up her face at you. If you’d told her a ridiculously large percentage of that love came down to Egwene and Rand, she’d have been like

Gif of Jennifer Lawrence mouthing 'okay' and giving a sarcastic thumbs up as she shakes her head slightly to indicate she's scornful of whatever has just been proposed to her.

But here we are in mid-2015, and both those things are true.

Cover of Towers of Midnight
Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson - 4.5 stars

Hey, look! I loved the hell out of TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, too! What a happy-making occurrence!

When I'm really into a book or a TV show or whatever, I talk to it. I spent a lot of the latter chunk of this book shouting, "Don't be a cocky little shit!" at my Kobo. Guess how much attention everyone paid me.

Cover of A Memory of Light
A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson - 5 stars


I mean, there was a slower bit in the middle, but then the ending picked up in such a huge way that I can't even think of giving it less than five stars. I sobbed my heart out over one thing in particular, but I shan't tell you what because it's hardcore spoilerish.

Also, I have this superstition about June Books. Every year, I read at least one painfully awesome thing in June. My inner twelve-year-old is really, really happy the last three volumes of the Wheel of Time were this year's June Books. The series meant a lot to me when I was a kid, and it turns out it's still got a place in my heart despite its rough patches.

Thank you, Robert Jordan. This was a marvelous journey.

Now, since it's my birthday and I'm into non-material presents, I'd like you to fulfill my fondest birthday wish and tell me your top books of 2015 (so far).

(Unless you're made of money. Then I'd like you to buy yourself a Kindle Fire or other similarly expensive thing through my Amazon affiliate link so I can take my resulting gift card and start my digital SKIP BEAT collection. Or you can buy some smaller stuff for yourself. Whichever. I ain't picky, just so long as you get something nice.)


  1. I LOVE your idea of what birthdays are for!!! And I hope you do all the happy-making things you can imagine!!! HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!
    And since I'm not made of money (but if I was, I'd totally just buy you all the Skip•Beat volumes), I'll tell you a few of my faves so far this year: Bad Feminist, Brown Girl Dreaming, The Scorpio Races, Young Avengers. And while I probably can't put Skip•Beat on that list quite yet, it totally worms its way deeper into my heart with every volume. And I've only read 6 so far, so I imagine it will get pretty entrenched by the time I get to 34.

    1. HURRAY FOR THE YOUNG AVENGERS! I'm so, so happy so many of my friends have discovered them this year. <3

      For me, Skip Beat went from "wow, this is great!" to "ZOMGWAHTHEATHEH" around volume 11. You've got so much great reading ahead of you, m'dear.

  2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, dear Memory! *hugs and confetti*

    I think my absolute favourites of the year are Shadow Scale and The Just City, but I read a lot of awesome stuff in 2015 (including some of the ones you list). May the awesomeness long continue.

  3. Happy Birthday, Memory! Hope it is a day of fun, excellent books, and tacos!

    My top book of 2015 so far is Uprooted by Naomi Novik. After that, my favorites are The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman and Tainted Blood (Generation V #3) by M.L. Brennan.

    1. I'm looking forward to UPROOTED! Only twenty-five other library patrons stand between me and my chance to read it.

  4. The Martian was such a great read. I was fortunate enough to discover it before all the hype, which made it even more of a pleasant surprise.

    I like Gathering Storm, and actually thought Sanderson did a brilliant job of emulating Jordan's voice and style, but Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light should have been condensed into one book, as Jordan intended. Some good stuff, but it felt too drawn out for me.

    1. Somehow, I managed to miss most of the Martian-related discussion beyond, "It's about a guy who's stuck on Mars, and it's great," so there were plenty of surprises along the way. I'm so glad I read it.

      I suspect I'll feel the same way about the Wheel of Time's conclusion it comes time to reread the series, but for now I'm gonna bask in it.

  5. Happy happy birthday awesome lady!! I hope you are eating all the tacos you can get your face near. I too have been loving WicDiv this year, and I finished reading Touch the day before yesterday and that was great. And I am pleased with myself for having read 119 books this year so far already and HALF of them are not by Americans. Hooray! Bring on the back half of the year!

    1. I ate seven tacos, two of which were double the length of regular tacos. IT WAS INTENSE.

      Hurray for geographic diversity! I worried mine would suffer when I started focusing on ethnic diversity, but it turns out my numbers are stronger than ever because I'm reading a ton of work by Japanese and South Asian writers and artists.

  6. HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIIIIIIIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Love this post! Saga! Wicked and Divine! ISLA!!! The Martian! GENEVIEVE VALENTINE!!!! Great list. Great great list.

    As for favorite books, Nimona is super super high on the list, Hyperbole and a Half, Seconds by Brian Lee O'Malley, and more. So many more.

    1. Hurray for NIMONA! I have a no-rereads policy for Best Of lists, so I'm bummed I can't put it on any of mine. (I read it in its original webcomic form.) You can bet I'll be talking it up to everyone who so much as hints they're into comics, though.