5 Best Books of 2015

The 5 Best Books I Read in 2015

  1. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
  3. Paper Towns by John Green
  4. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Red Queen generated a lot of buzz this year, so naturally, I had to check it out. It’s a debut novel and I was curious to see why it was insanely popular in YA circles. I’m still reading it, but it’s really good so far. It tells the story of an underclass girl, a “Red”, navigating the oppressive upper class of her society, the “Silvers”. There’s a love triangle between her and two brothers, the princes, but trust me, it’s not your typical love triangle: it’s much more interesting. Mare, the protagonist, is tough and likeable, and I really enjoy reading from her point of view. If you’re wondering whether Red Queen is really as good as everybody seems to say it is, rest assured that yes, it is.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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I’ll admit I slept on this wonderful series for too long. I finally got around to reading the first book, Throne of Glass, and I’m ecstatic I did. It’s similar to the Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, with a kick ass heroine I adore.  Celaena, the protagonist, is clever, feisty, and tough as nails. She’s in a love triangle between a prince and the captain of the guard, and I can see her with both of them. That’s good story telling. The plot is immensely fascinating, and follows Celaena as she competes to be the King’s “Champion”.  Filled with suspense and mystery, this book is a must read! It’s a page turner for sure.

Paper Towns by John Green

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I read Paper Towns because the movie was coming out, and I firmly believe in reading the book before the movie. The story captured me with the idea of loving an idea more than loving an actual person. I was struck by how quotable this book was. One of my favorite quotes is: ‘What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.’ The social commentary is profound and pensive. John Green’s writing ensconced me.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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What I loved about this book is that the narrator was very relatable. I could really relate to Lara Jean’s sheltered life and her strong crushes. I rooted for her to finally find true love. I really enjoyed the sisterhood between her and her two sisters, Margot and Kitty. I also really liked how Jenny Han infused her Korean culture into the story, as Lara Jean and her sisters were half-Korean, half-white. I can’t wait till I finally get around to reading the sequel, (PS, I Still Love You)!

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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I’m Nigerian-American, and prefer to be socially aware on issues affecting African-Americans in America. Between the World and Me was so lauded this year, I had to grab a copy. I devoured it. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ writing is so rich, enthralling, and beautiful. His bold take on race in America was a delight to read. I admire his dauntlessness.

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Teaser Tuesday: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Published: January 3, 2012

Series: The Lunar Chronicles

Pages: 387

Genres: Fantasy, Young-adult fiction, Novel, Fairy tale, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance novel, Utopian and dystopian fiction

Find it on: Amazon, Goodreads

Synopsis

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Teaser

Cinder is one of those books that I am constantly told to read while never actually getting around to reading it. It’s been highly recommended to me and I finally got a hold of a copy. I purchased it from my local book store, Wellesley Books, which is just down the street from my university, Wellesley College.

I must admit it has been a slow read so far, and I am still waiting for the story to pick up. Hopefully, it will deliver, as I have high expectations for such a widely-praised book.

The fantasy story follows Cinder, a cyborg, who falls in love with Prince Kai, as far as I can tell right now. What I find compelling about is that it’s supposed to be a sci-fi retelling of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella. I’m a big fan of modern twists to ancient fairy tale stories, such as Once Upon A Time, A Cinderella Story, Beastly, and Snow White & The Huntsman.

Here’s a teaser (page 6):

“She shoved back from the desk, her scowl landing first on a lifeless android that sat squat on her worktable and then on the man behind it. She was met with startled copper brown eyes and black hair that hung past his ears and lips that every girl in the country had admired a thousand times.

Her scowl vanished.”

Want to know what happens next? Well, you’ll simply have to get the book!

Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

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Title: Paper Towns

Author: John Green

Published: October 2008

Read: June – July 2015

Where to find it: Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis

Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew..

My Thoughts

Oh, the disenchantment of adolescence.

Paper Towns is a quintessential coming-of-age story that deals with romance, identity, and, above all, teenage angst. Our hero, Quentin Jacobs aka Q, is graduating from high school as a straight-laced student who loves routine and doesn’t find monotony boring, only to have the end of his senior year disrupted by his manic pixie dream girl, his next door neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman, and her elaborate hijinks.

I must confess: I didn’t really think much of Margo. Her character didn’t particularly interest me and I didn’t care for her when I was seeing her through Q’s adoring eyes. Was she worthy of Q’s adulation? Maybe. Did I care for her? No.

I did enjoy the sharp contrast between their characters during the first part of the book, when Margo had her night of vengeance to those who had wronged her. Q’s anxiety, worry, and need to “play by the rules” complemented Margo’s caprice, impetuousness, and desire to “throw caution to the wind”. Their character dynamic explored the nature between the head and the heart.

Something I found really compelling in the book was the difference between loving the idea of someone and actually getting to know said person. It really explored the way we tend to elevate certain people to god-like status and idealize them without really knowing them at all. It’s dangerous to put someone up on a pedestal because they can never actually live up to those expectations. Margo’s friends and classmates imprinted their ideas of the perfect, mysterious, popular girl onto Margo, and she struggled under the weight of that. Q, in particular, fell for the image he had of her as this fearless dream girl. The twist ending humanized her.

Q’s monologue at the end about really seeing a person who was once an idea was so profound to me. We see each other through out cracks in which we let the other person in and show them our vulnerabilities. He’d spent the whole book trying to picture the real Margo, but ultimately failed until he discovered the true reason she ran away. And then. the entire book made sense. She wasn’t just escaping a “paper town”, but she was escaping being a “paper girl”.

I like how John Green embeds literature into his books, like Imperial Affliction in TFIOS and now Leaves of Grass in Paper Towns. I find it interesting how the literature makes the reader connect more with the characters, like it’s a window into their souls or something.

Anyway, Paper Towns was great at the beginning, dragged on a bit in the middle, and had an excellent ending. I enjoyed having the mystery finally solved in a way that I least expected it. If you’re looking for a fun summer read that isn’t riddled with cliches, look no further than Paper Towns.

Favorite Quotes

“Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that she loved mysteries so much that she became one.”

“What a treacherous thing it is to believe that a person is more than a person.”

“”Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.”

“All that wild charisma and wanderlust.” (on Margo Roth Spiegelman)

“All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm.”

“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.”

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Rating: 4/5