One of the more thought-proving things I’ve been asked recently was to list the best books I read for the first time in 2015. They didn’t have to be published in 2015, just read by me during this calendar year. This year was so great that I’m going to split my list into two entries – one for various fiction genres and one for non-fiction. The nonfiction list will be up next week.
Here are my personal top ten favorite discoveries in fiction for 2015. Each one has a link to Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, where you can find a full-length review including more details about the plots.
- Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons
I’m convinced that this book was written specifically to reward me for having watched all those adaptations of Wuthering Heights when I wrote Pride, Prejudice and Popcorn: TV and Film Adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre. This parody of country melodrama misery books had me on the floor with laughter. “THERE’LL BE NO BUTTER IN HELL!”
- Lady Susan, by Jane Austen
Having read all Jane Austen’s major works multiple times, I’m ready to venture into the works that she didn’t finish or that she didn’t submit for publication. Lady Susan is far more wicked than any of her other books, with a main character that closely resembles a Disney villainess. At any minute I expected her to burst into song, like Ursula from the Little Mermaid, or turn into a dragon, like Maleficent. I will never think of Jane Austen in the same way again.
- Carmilla, by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
This is Victorian Lesbian Vampire Porn. I rest my case.
- Bitch Planet, by Kelly Sue DeConnick, which flips your expectations in almost every single panel.
- Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson. Muslim teenager in New Jersey kicks butt but tries to find ways to solve problems without violence. Her delight in meeting Wolverine is not to be missed. I regret that I did not write a full-lenght review of Ms. Marvel – I was too busy losing my shit. LOVE HER.
- Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run! Dark, sad, yet also funny and joyful. Pizza Dog! Trick arrows!
- The Highwayman, by Kerrigan Byrne
Another book that likes to flip our expectations. This is the kind of crazysauce historical that you don’t see much of anymore, but the sweet ingénue is quite wise to the ways of the world and fully in charge of her own sexuality, while the Highwayman, who tries to be a Byronic Brooding Alpha Dominant Hero, is not in touch with his sexuality at all. The results are very funny and very sweet. The review I’m linking to is by Redheadedgirl, who also loved the book.
- Trade Me, by Courtney Milan
Historical romance author Courtney Milan takes a crack at contemporaries with a billionaire hero and a broke college student – and I loved it. Milan is the queen of making her characters complex and bringing tons of emotional weight (and diversity) to a story.
- Forever Your Earl, by Eva Leigh
Another author who is switching things up. Eva Leigh writes steampunk and science fiction as Zoe Archer. Much as I long for more of her Chain of Command series, I adored her first historical, in which a Regency scandal sheet writer dresses as a man and explores the seedy side of the ton under the tutelage of an infamous rake who is not only aware of her identity, but who set the whole ploy up in the first place. Lots of witty banter, and I love witty banter.This is another review by Redheadedgirl.
- Only a Kiss, by Mary Balough
This one squeaks in under the wire. I was laid low with a migraine last week – so much so that I had to take to my bed like a victorian Lady with a case of the vapors. It wasn’t pretty. Based on a recommendation from Elyse (who wrote the review I’m linking to) I polished this off in a day in a fog of blissed out tears (also considerable migraine medication). This is a simply lovely historical and the hero’s manner of acquiring pets and attitude towards them perfectly mirrors my own.
Leave a comment and tell us – what were your reading highlights in 2015?