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.

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!

Teaser Tuesday: Paper Towns by John Green

With the movie coming up, I figured that I would finally read Paper Towns by John Green.

It’s a coming of age book that serves to contrast the personalities of the anxious thinkers, like the protagonist Quentin Jacobsen, and the capricious doers, like his object of affection Margo Roth Spiegelman.

I’m about two-thirds through, and I’m really enjoying the mystery surrounding Margo’s disappearance and the various reactions from the different characters towards the enigma that is her character. I also noticed how John Green uses literature in the form of poetry by Walt Whitman as the backbone of his novel, similarly to the use of a made-up novel in The Fault in Our Stars.

Here’s a teaser, extracting an excerpt from a mini-speech by Margo that includes the title of the book itself:

“It’s a paper town. I mean, look at it, Q: look at all those cul-de-sacs, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm.”

What she’s talking about? Well, you’ll have to read Paper Towns to find out.

Book Review: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Jenny Han

Published April 2014

Read April 2015

Find it on: Amazon Goodreads Barnes and Noble Simon and Schuster

Synopsis

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

My Thoughts

Where, oh where do I begin with this book? I bought it as a sort of bubble gum-fluffy-cutesy-quick breeze through read, and I wasn’t disappointed on that front. But my problem with this book is, was it really about all the boys she loved before?

I picked up this book hoping to nostalgically reconnect with the sort of crushes my younger self used to have. Instead, I got a heaping of sisterhood. Sisterhood is great and all, and I’ve always enjoyed books on that topic, but I was not expecting that in this book. Han packaged this book to be about cute young crushes when it was really about the protagonist, Lara Jean’s relationship with her older sister and said sister’s unattainable perfection.

Margot, Lara Jean’s big sister, is one of those characters who are supposed to be perfect and meticulous and fastidious and do everything correctly. I only ever got to see her through Lara Jean’s eyes, and Lara Jean basically worshiped the ground she walked for most of the book, which got really boring really fast. Lara Jean obviously idolized Margot and measured herself up against her big sister’s perfection.

I didn’t particularly like Lara Jean or Margot, but I loved their little sister, Kitty. Kitty had an acerbic tongue, which I really enjoyed. She was sharp witted, a little sassy, and a breath of fresh air in a book filled with such stuffy characters.

The actual romance aspect of the book was pretty predictable. However, I did enjoy some really cute parts between Lara Jean and two of the boys she’d loved before. Those gave me what I’d been looking for: adorable, sweet, young teenage crushes. I also liked the way Han developed the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter. I noticed how she basically recycled the camaraderie between Belly and her summer boys from her Summer Trilogy but basically switched the genders to end up with Josh and his Song girls. Somehow, it worked.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I’ll just tell you that if you’re looking for a fluffy bunny romance alone, you’ll be looking for a diamond in the rough.

Rating: 3/5

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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Title: We Were Liars

Author: Emily Lockhart

Published: May 13th 2014

Barnes and Noble

Goodreads

Amazon

 

 

 

Synopsis

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

My Thoughts

The Marketing

I didn’t know what to expect going into this book, just intrigued by the insistence that readers must lie about the ending. So, first off, I must say what a persuasive promotional campaign that was! I simply had to know what happened that was so unexpected that I couldn’t talk about without giving away too much information, as reviews had been constantly assuring me. And you know what? Everything I’d heard about this book was completely accurate.

The End

The twist at the end hit me like a ton of bricks. My heart stopped, dropped, and rolled in anguish in my chest. To me, atleast, it had been utterly unseeable. I had no idea, absolutely no clue what the truth was, and I think that really is what made We Were Liars such a magnificent book to me. Then when I was hit with the truth, all the pieces came together and everything that I’d read all made sense.

The Romance

Apart from the shocking twist, We Were Liars contained such a sweet romance. I adored Cadence Sinclair’s love interest, Gat Patil. He’s right up there as one of my fave YA boyfriends, right with Augustus from The Fault in our Stars and Levi from Fangirl. He represented everything a summer courtship should be: sugar sweet and ocean deep. I found myself “awwwing” way too much reading him with Cadence.

The Family

I really enjoyed reading about the dysfunction that was the Sinclairs. It’s always fun to read about rich people who couldn’t even be happy with all their wealth. I was really happy that Cadence kept on seeing more and more through the veneer that was her seemingly ‘perfect’ family. We Were Liars also touched on really touchy subjects like racism and social class, in an excellent way.

The Writing

Overall, I really enjoy books that make me think and ponder about the world and life in general, and We Were Liars did just that. In a way, the Liars’ escapades were really inspiring. E. Lockhart’s lyrical prose is an added bonus. It kind of reminds me of Tahereh Mafi’s in theShatter Me trilogy, which, by the way, I adore.

The Spoiler Effect

It’s fun that I can’t really discuss this book without spoiling it, but it still leaves an insatiable urge inside of me to spill. There’s so much I want to talk about! Now to get my friends to read it . . .

5-stars

kele

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Published: September 10th, 2013

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Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Synopsis

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Thoughts

Fangirl has been all the rage for the past year now, so I read it to see what all the fuss was about.

What I found really appealing about it was that the protagonist was very relatable to myself, because she, like me, is a fangirl.

Cath is off to college as a new freshman, and she likes to hole up in her dorm room and write fanfiction. The crazy thing about reading this story is that I felt like I was reading about myself in the future, fast forward a year and a half. I felt myself nodding along with her antisocial personality. Cath was actually living my dream: taking a creative writing class and being favored by the professor as being possibly the best writer there. She was also a serious inspiration for me to take up writing fanfiction again. This book just reminded me of the wonder of producing an entirely new storyline out of characters you love and have already enjoyed reading about.

Now, on to Levi, Cath’s love interest. I think that Levi has actually beat out Augustus Waters for me in being my favorite boy ever in a YA novel. He is everything I enjoy being around: outgoing, nice to everyone, charming, charismatic, and, to top it all off, a smiler. I was totally disagreeing with Cath when she was faulting him for being so nice at first. I loved it!

I feel like Cath and Levi’s relationship was the most real relationship I have actually read in a YA novel. It happened slowly, and not right off the bat. Levi just kind of grew on Cath, and their first kiss was literally the cutest thing I have ever read. I squealed out loud multiple times during the buildup to the kiss. The way Cath got to explore being in love with such a wonderful guy as Levi was heartwarming, and they had their very realistic ups and downs before they even got together.

If you’re looking for a relatable YA book with a very realistic romance, look no further: grab a copy of Fangirl right away!

5-stars

Kele
Kele

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

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Title: The Fault In Our Stars

Author: John Green

Genre: Young Adult Literature, Romance, Tragedy

Published: January 10th, 2012

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Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Goodreads

Synopsis:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

My Thoughts:

My friends basically pushed me to read this book, because of ‘the feels’. So, I decided to read it before the movie comes out in June.

Hazel, I think, is the most admirable character I have ever read in YA book. She doesn’t have paranormal abilities, she’s not a badass kickass fantasy heroine, and she’s been dying of cancer all her life. Yet, she is the most real girl I have ever read. I loved her witty comments and statements riddled throughout the book from the beginning. I love how she doesn’t try to hide from the truth, how she accepted the truth. I love honest she is about her cancer and her condition and her impending death. She is also so empathetic with other people and their plights. She thinks of the people in her life. I really liked how she was so obsessed with An Imperial Affliction and its ending. She is such a fangirl, lol.

Augustus Waters was such a hero. I just want him to know that, no matter what he thought, he is the most heroic character I’ve ever read. He made sacrifices for the people he loved. Not big sacrifices. Just the little things, the ones that matter, the ones that count. Him and his metaphorical resonances! Gosh, I loved those. He was so awesome. And those big words he always used! He always sounded so intelligent. He and Hazel were such an intellectual couple. They were both so smart, and clever. I really admire that about them.

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There were actually a lot of metaphorical resonances and symbolism in this book. It’s so erudite.

I don’t want to get into any of the other characters, or stuff I specifically adored from TFIOS, because I don’t want to give any spoilers. One thing remains, though: Hazel’s mom is the best fictional mom in the whole wide world. And Peter Van Houten was the best plot twist ever.

I just want to say that this book was not at all what I expected. It was 10000000x better. I’ve never read a book that are me think so much in my life. It’s incredibly quotable and ponderable and awe-inspiring. And another thing: this book literally made me cry buckets. Remember, if you haven’t read it and you finally do, to keep a box of tissues ready.

Favorite Quotes:

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“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

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“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

“The marks humans leave are too often scars.”

9.5/10

5-stars

kele