2015’s top #2

  • “Cam Girl” by L. Raeder

Published on November 3rd

camgirl-coverCam Girl is Elliot Finley Wake (aka Leah Raeder)’s latest book, and it seems to be to be an amplified version of his previous books. Unteachable was provoking, deep, realistic; Black Iris was entrancing, dark, confusing; now we get Cam Girl, a daring, very artistic book exploring the themes of sexuality, gender roles and forgiveness. The book begins when the protagonist has a car accident; you will notice right away the visual imagery, often relating to art, that makes this book stand out, associated with Wake’s already-poetic style. The tale that follows is one of a girl who lost everything. It is awfully eye-opening, casting criticism on social norms and expectations. When I closed this book, I felt an overwhelming love, hope, gratefulness and awe towards art and the universe around me, and these kinds of books, the kinds that make me see a different reality, that changed my world a little, they’re the ones I keep reading for.

“If you tell a story enough times, it sounds like fiction. You don’t feel that visceral throb of resonance with the person who is you, who did the things you did.”

2015’s top 10 #3

(… at last)

  • “Fuel the Fire” by K. and B. Ritchie

Published on April 2nd

Screenshot 2015-03-02 01.56.15

Fuel The Fire is the third book in the Calloway Sisters series, told through Connor and Rose’s points of view. What made this book stand out in my top 10 is mainly that the Ritchie sisters finally have representation, finally chose to tackle an lgbt+ issue, and very effectively so. If I wasn’t entirely charmed by Rose and Connor in Kiss the Sky, Fuel the Fire made me love them more than ever. The plot was unpredictable, the characters were as endearing as ever, and new additions to our gang made this book all the more enjoyable. At the end, putting this book in my top 3 is an absurdly emotional decision, and I don’t regret any of it, because I want to squeeze these characters into a giant hug.

“I’m attracted to people. To the words they speak, to the actions they take, to their full-bodied mannerisms and soulful gaits. I am attracted to people. To impassioned hearts that beat out of sync, the ones that skip a measure, heard in hushed places and violent spaces—I am attracted to people.”

2015’s top 10 #1

  • “The Winner’s Crime” by M. Rutkoski

Screenshot 2015-03-02 01.53.59The Winner’s Crime is the sequel to The Winner’s Curse. Before I go on about how wonderful the second book was, let me say that I mildly liked The Winner’s Curse but didn’t feel very emotionally involved. Paradoxically, my reasons for loving The Winner’s Crime seem to be entirely emotional. The writing is absolutely magnificent, the characters are awfully smart (we have here an intelligent, resilient female protagonist, whom I might love to death), the story is tense from beginning to end, and I don’t think I have ever been this stressed out about a fictional couple’s miscommunication before (and that is saying something, because I have read a lot of those). And finally, what I loved so much about this book, is a complex, captivating political intrigue. That is how high fantasy is done! Politics and doomed romances, well-written, smart characters with good intentions, trying to fight for what they believe, sometimes finding that what they believe might not be worth fighting for… I fell under the charm. This book whisked me away into a fascinating, outlandish world, and really, this is what I expect from fantasy.

“There was dishonor, she decided, in accepting someone else’s idea of honor without question.”

2015’s top 10 #4

  • “Black Iris” by Leah Raeder

Black IrisBlack Iris is a dark, twisted gem of a book, one told with a very poetic, elaborate writing. It’s about revenge, sexuality, mental illness, and a carefully crafted, mysterious story. I don’t want to reveal much about the plot, because the story is told during different spans of time, slowly adding pieces to the puzzle. I was intoxicated by the sensuality in this book, the cynical characters, the constant provocative tone. Reading this book is like dreaming a very dark dream, with all its confusion and venom.

 

“I am not the heroine of this story.

And I’m not trying to be cute. It’s the truth. I’m diagnosed borderline and seriously fucked-up. I hold grudges. I bottle my hate until it ferments into poison, and then I get high off the fumes. I’m completely dysfunctional and that’s the way I like it, so don’t expect a character arc where I finally find Redemption, Growth, and Change, or learn How to Forgive Myself and Others.”

2015’s top 10 #5

  • “Prince’s Gambit” by C. S. Pacat

I’m cheating, but the paperback came out in 2015

Screenshot 2015-04-22 18.37.59Prince’s Gambit is the second book in the Captive Prince trilogy. This trilogy is not for everyone : it contains graphic violence, including sexual violence. The plot revolves around the lives of two princes of two opposed kingdoms, one whom was sent to the other as a slave after having being betrayed by his brother. It’s a violent story, awfully messed-up to say the least, but surprisingly smart. If the first book didn’t have much of an intrigue and relied more on effects of surprise and on the introduction of the fantasy world, Prince’s Gambit finally focuses on plot and characters, revealing an outrageously cunning author pulling the strings. In this sequel, our whole vision of what is happening shifts from what we saw in the first novel, as the protagonist learns more about the ambiguous characters surrounding him, particularly the cold prince he is slowly falling in love with (the slow-burn might kill you). I couldn’t possibly finish this post without mentioning a fun fact about the series that makes me love it even more—the kingdom is homonormative (as opposed to heteronormative).

“I’m sorry,” said Damen.
Laurent gave him a strange look. “Why
would you apologise to me?”
He couldn’t answer. Not with the truth.
He said, “I didn’t understand what being
King meant to you.”
“What’s that?”
“An end to fighting.”

2015’s top 10 #6

  • “The Wrath and the Dawn” by R. Ahdieh

Published May 12th

The wrath and the dawn coverWe’re getting to my ultimate favorites, people. The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, and it is a delicious read. The protagonist, Shahrzad, is a woman who wishes to avenge her friend’s death by the hand of the Caliph of Khorasan by marrying him. Shahrzad is everything I ever wanted a female protagonist to be : strong, determined, smart, compassionate, experiencing moments of weakness, of helplessness. A woman does not have to meet men’s standards of strength to be strong, is something strongly reflected in this book. The setting, a ancient Persia-like world, makes the story all the more delightful : the book makes you travel. What did it for me, strangely, is the logical succession of events in this book : every character has particular weaknesses or strengths that influence the plot at one point or another, and even though these decisions might be ill-advised, you still get attached to the characters, because they always mean well, in their own way. Certainly, Ahdieh’s uncanny, mystical writing made the book all the more splendid.

“So you would have me throw Shazi to the wolves?”
“Shazi?” Jalal’s grin widened. “Honestly, I pity the wolves.”

2015’s top 10 #9

  • “Six of Crows” by L. Bardugo

six of crows coverSix of Crows is the first book in a new trilogy taking place in the Grisha world, soon after the Grisha trilogy. Although it takes place in the same world, in this first installment, we immediately understand that Leigh Bardugo has gone on a different path for this one. I enjoyed the Grisha trilogy, because of Bardugo’s elaborate writing and world, but never quite connected with the characters. In Six of Crows, we follow a diverse cast of 6 characters from different social and ethnical backgrounds, all of them outlaws. These characters are complex, and differ greatly from each other : we have here a large spectrum of morals, from the dutiful soldier to the ruthless murderer. In addition, the quick pace of the story makes Six of Crows a more exhilarating read than Shadow and Bone, and that combined with the different characters’ dynamics, made this book one of my favorite reads of 2015.

 

“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.”