Tuesday 5 January 2016

Pile Em Up // My Favourite Reads of 2015

Golly what a fab year for reading it was! I really got stuck in these last twelve months and was lucky enough to enjoy many of the novels that crossed my path. I'm pretty happy I made the time for my 'to read' list and managed to drag myself away from my dearest Netflix long enough to devour a good number of them. While that is great for my literary motivation, it sure didn't help when compiling this list! There were many I couldn't quite squish onto this post (if you're interested feel free to check out my goodreads page for all the details!), and as indecisive as ever, they are in no particular order, that would hurt many a books feelings, right? So let's just dive on in!

10. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel 4*

What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty. If civilisation was lost, what would you preserve and how far would you go to protect it?

From what is essentially a post apocalyptic 'what if' story, I found it such an original plot! I loved the entwining elements that run throughout, I enjoyed the pacing the whole way through and the focus on various characters as their individual stories merged into a whole. For me, this book provoked many thoughts and reflections over priorities and relevance when looking at life from a greater height. Highly recommend for anyone interested in a wonderfully modern and unique take on a classic 'end of the world' dynamic.

9. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 4*

Set against Iceland's stark landscape in 1829, Hannah Kent brings vivid life to the true story of Agnes, a young woman sent to an isolated farm to await her execution on the charge of the brutal murder of her former master.

Soft, enchanting, gentle paced story full of intrigue and emotion. Cleverly led and delicately delivered, I was captured by this touching story and felt submerged into this cold and desolate world.

8. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 4*

In the year 2044 reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the Oasis. Like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies hidden within this virtual world! The race is on and if Wade is going to survive, he'll have to win and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

If you're ready for some serious fun, peppered with a hearty dose of 80's pop culture and ultra nerdy action, then this book is for you! Fast paced, original story, a touch on the lengthy side but all in all I had a heck of a time reading this!

7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde 4*

Horror hides behind an attractive face in Oscar Wilde's notorious 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'. A scandalous tale of a Victorian libertine and his life of evil excesses. Though Dorian's hedonistic indulgences leave no blemish on his ageless features, the painted portrait imbued with his soul proves a living catalogue of corruption. A landmark of literature today and tale emblematic of it's time.

This book was magnificent and everything I was hoping for in Victorian gothic literature! I truly love this story with it's gruesome happenings and heavy moral undertones but had it not been written in Wilde's beautiful hand, then I am not so sure I would have enjoyed it quite as much. Oscar Wilde's writing is sumptuous, enveloping and indulgent and I was swept away on a tide of beauty. Full to the brim with delicious descriptions and pompous yet wonderful characters, I plead with you to pick this classic number up!

6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling 5*

As a fully grown adult I am finally finding time in my life to read these beauties, I may very well be the last human on earth who has yet to consume Hogwarts and all it's inhabitants, but I'ma making my way through the series and am loving them. Well duh. I won't bother adding a synopsis here, since I'm quite sure most people know the story by now, but I will say that this is one of my favourite books of Harry, so far! Loved the characters, loved the tense build up and love love love this entire world.

5. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn 5*

Twenty five years after surviving the mass murder of her family, testifying against her Satan worshipping brother and losing touch with society, Libby Day hopes to turn a profit from her tragic history, leading her to The Kill Club. Working together with this group of grisly crime groupies, she digs up dirt on her past and discovers an unimaginable truth, forcing her to face the killer once more.

Flynn knocks the ball way out of the park, once again, with this tightly wound thrill wide of a novel. From the first page I was pulled into this dark, twisted world of loss, deception and forgotten hope. A genuinely enthralling and totally original story that follows the now pitiful, hollow life of main character Libby Day, as she looks back and unfolds the story and mystery of her painful past, in order to clear the pathway for her future.

A book full of shadow and sadness, murder and corruption. Highly recommend to anyone in search of a perfectly written, unique tale that will grip you right to the very end.

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett 5*

Enter a vanished and unjust world: Jackson, Mississippi 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren't trusted not to steal the silver. Following the unlikely friendship of women from two very different walks of life, in the face of out dated, awful norms of society, who push the boundaries of kindness.

What a beautiful, heart wrenching and delicately honest book. I went into this one already knowing much of the story, having watched the film a few years ago, but even so I devoured every page. Each chapter of the book reads personally, tailored to the voice of each individual character, offering perspective and insight.

Although this is wonderfully written fiction, it speaks volumes of how ignorant and misinformed people really were, some to such an awful degree. I challenge anyone from any background to read this book cover to cover without a lump in your throat. I found myself going back and forth from feeling anger and loathing to admiration. Such an important story, with a hard hitting message but offered with humour and warmth. All that for the first novel from this author!

Sincerely recommend.

3. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton 5*

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen year old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household but as she uncovers its secrets she realises the escalating dangers that await them all. The miniature replica of their home, that she receives as a wedding gift, holds the key to unlocking her many unanswered questions; but will it be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Set in the hussle and bussle of a thriving Amsterdam in the late 1600s, this story is full of mystery and intrigue, injustice and darkness and a heart felt insight into a lonely and confusing period in history. Whilst reading this book, despite it's weighty size, I felt truly transported. I could almost hear the hectic buzz amongst the worlds busiest port, I could smell the damp old house and felt my heart collapse at several parts of this story.

Enjoyable escape and surprisingly emotional read. One that stirs my thoughts even months after finishing.

2. The Martian by Andy Weir 5*

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. Damaged machinery, starvation, unforgiving environment or plain old human error are all possible ways in which he could die. But Mark is not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills and a gallows sense of humour that proves to be his greatest source of strength- he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

To think I almost avoided this book because of the crazy hype that was surrounding it. Well, it goes without saying that this book surpassed all expectation, despite the build up, and hit the mark big time, for me. I loved it!

This guy is just the type of person you hope for, if stuck in a shitty situation. His life is hanging in the balance, odds are highly against him, yet his larger than life personality, incredible wit and down right lovable character drives this book from beginning to end. Jam packed with all the action and excitement from a lost in space novel, I mean, they couldn't wait to make a movie from it, that says a lot! Hilarious and bizarrely up lifting, a super fantastic book to pick up immediately!

1. Night Film by Marisha Pessl 5*

Night Film tells the haunting story of a journalist who becomes obsessed with the mysterious death of a troubled prodigy- the daughter of an iconic, reclusive filmmaker.

For investigative journalist McGrath, this death, another connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty, is more than just a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, McGrath is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova's eerie, hypnotic world.

What. A. Story. I was gripped the entire way through, felt like I couldn't put the book down and even found myself checking the dark shadows in my bedroom. This book was everything a great, thrilling, horrific mystery book should be. Interlocking characters, freakish dealings with dark powers, paranoid perspectives- all building and winding together creating the sticky web of this awesome tale. This book messes with your mind and pulls you down the rabbit hole, spitting you out at the end of one heck of a ride! I may even go as far as saying, my favourite book of the year!

So there we have it, 2015 top reads. The books I enjoyed that didn't make it to the list can be found on my goodreads page, if you're feeling particularly investigative. Would love to know what your favourite books were and what you are particularly excited to read this year!  I am super pumped for this brand shiny new year, and all the literature that awaits! I wish you all a fantastic new year and that you enjoy those beauties sitting on your shelf waiting to be opened!

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