2015 Reading Review

I read about 35 new books this year.  That’s fewer than normal, but I also didn’t read as many comics/manga this year, and I re-read a lot of books (including some long ones).

Here’s some highlights of 2015’s reading adventures:

Genre Fiction

Talion: Revenant
(Michael A. Stackpole)

talionThis fantasy stand-alone by X-wing author Stackpole is a perfectly plotted and paced book.  It’s standard fantasy in some ways, but very inventive in others.  If you liked Stackpole’s writing in his Star Wars books, I think you will like this one also.

Here’s my original review (in the middle).


Caliban’s War (James S. A. Corey)

calibanswarI liked this follow up to Leviathan Wakes as much if not more.  The characters are really excellent, and the pacing keeps you on the edge of your seat.  I’m in the middle of the next book, Abaddon’s Gate, right now, but I’ve gotten stuck because it kind of slows down in the middle.  But overall I highly recommend The Expanse series.

Here’s my original review (at the bottom).

Indie Books

An Ordinary Knight
(H. L. Burke)

27245120I came across this short book when it happened to be free on Amazon for a promotion, so I gave it a chance and I’m glad I did.  It follows Percy, our “ordinary knight,” on his quest to save the cursed Princess Matilda.  While it follows a traditional fairy tale format, there are some cute twists and deconstructions of tropes that make it fun and fresh.

I almost didn’t put the cover on here because I don’t think it fits the book well.  There is some romance, but it is clean, and it has a very quirky sense of humor–think The Princess Bride.  It would appeal to a wide age of readers.

(Luther M. Siler)

22907118If you liked that other Martian adventure novel this year, you might like this one, too.  It shares the same theme of using science to solve problems and help people.

Skylights follows the crew of the Tycho on the second manned mission to Mars, intent on finding out what happened to the first one.  It is enjoyably suspenseful, and joyfully tech-positive.

Here’s my original review.


Howl’s Moving Castle
(Diana Wynne Jones)

2294528How had I never read this book before?!  It is amazing.  The characters, especially protagonist Sophie and wizard Howl, are amazing, and the writing is beautiful and clever.

I had never watched the Miyazaki animated movie either; I loved that, too, though it is different from the book.  I highly recommend both!


I am Princess X
(Cherie Priest)

17408897A very creative novel-comic hybrid that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, with a little bit of adventure and suspense thrown in (but no romance at all).  It was original and captivating and great.

Here’s my original review.

Review: I am Princess X

17408897I am Princess X is the YA debut of steampunk author Cherie Priest.  I happened to stumble upon it at the library after seeing it recommended by some bloggers.

May is a young teenager living in Seattle with her parents when her best friend Libby dies in a tragic car accident.  Three years later she’s back in Seattle with her dad when she begins to notice street art featuring Princess X, a character that she created with Libby as children.  She becomes convinced that Libby is still alive and, what’s more, is sending her secret messages through the popular webcomic, I am Princess X.

This book is a fascinating mix of novel and graphic novel; it regularly features whole strips from the Princess X comic as May tries to dissect its secrets and discover Libby’s true fate.  The artwork is incredible and fits the story perfectly.  I felt like there was some manga influence in the drawing style and layout, which works thematically, considering that Libby originally conceived Princess X as looking like herself (half-Japanese) and wielding a katana.

The setting is contemporary and urban, but the Princess X comic features a lot of fantasy elements.  I loved the crossover between real-life Seattle and the fantasy world of Silverdale, home of Princess X.  It adds a layer of surrealness (surreality? someone help me out here) to the mystery/thriller aspect of the story.

This story is not long, and it’s so engaging that I read it straight through in one evening.  The plot unfolds beautifully, everything in its place, though perhaps a bit simple and convenient at times.  The “hacking” and other tech elements of the story are perhaps not perfect, but they’re not laughably bad either.

The characters are great, too (Jackdaw was my favorite).  Princess X’s antagonist, The Needle Man, is rather scary in his ruthlessness.  I liked that our teenage protagonists do their best to be brave and smart, but they do make mistakes; they don’t have any kind of special powers or training.  It was also refreshing to see a YA story with multiple female main characters and no romance subplots.

4/5 stars