Monday, December 28, 2015

Top Tens in 2015: Teen Reviewer Mira's Starred Reviews

Our fab teen reviewer and volunteer Mira shares her faves:
December is a crazy month. Every year, it seems to approach faster and faster, charging full speed ahead into the holiday season and the new year. I’m always unprepared, scrambling at the list minute to buy gifts, write cards, and, of course, read. 2015 has been an exceptionally good year of reading for me, as I have ventured far out of my comfort zone of chick flick teen novels and into the beautiful territory of plays, fantasy, and ethnographies. This vast disparity can definitely be seen on my top 10 list! Hopefully something will appeal to everyone. Without further ado—my top 10 books of 2015! 
1. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
I pulled an all nighter to finish this book. Every sentence sucked me into the chaos and confusion of Laia and Elias’s world. I don’t have enough words in my brain to describe how much I loved it. Must read. 

2) Hapgood by Tom Stoppard
This extremely cleverly written play, which looks at the Soviet Union’s use of twins as spies during the Cold War, had me from the first line. Plays can be hard to read if you are not a visual person, but with the descriptive stage directions included in the beginning of each scene, I was able to picture the set, and see the characters interacting on it as I read the script. Stoppard was able to develop intricate relationships between the characters within the 77 pages, making it an engaging and fascinating read. 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that David Sedaris is one of the funniest writers around. I have loved everything I’ve ever read by him, and this was no exception. With a sharp wit and vast vocabulary, he hilariously describes his childhood experiences, and it never ceased to make me laugh. Perfect for a snow day! 

4) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I received this book as a present over the summer and I fell in love. The writing is beautifully descriptive, bringing to life 1940s France and Germany. I especially loved the ending (no spoilers, of course, but it is fantastic). 

5) Queen of the Tearlings by Erika Johansen
Another page turner! What I loved about this book was its combination of fantasy, love triangles, and politics. I just found out there is a second book in the series available and immediately put it on hold at the library. 

I’ll begin by noting that I did not find this book myself. We were reading it in my Anthropology class and I got so swept up in the story that I finished it just two days after receiving it. Hmong culture, which I didn’t know anything about a month ago, has become one of the most fascinating things I have ever studied. I find this in depth look at the Hmong culture totally absorbing. 

7) Maze Runner Series by James Dashner 
I know what this looks like—but I promise, I do not live under a rock. I just never got around to finishing the series! Last month, I reread the first book (The Maze Runner) and finished the second and third (The Scorch Trials and TheDeath Cure). They were great. So exciting, and the series didn’t slow down at the end, as fantasy/futuristic series tend to do. 

8) Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman (2014)
I am not usually a historical fiction person, but this book really spoke to me. I found Gretchen’s perspective of World War 2 so interesting, and thought the author captured the conflicting feelings Gretchen had about the world around her very well. 

I have loved every single one of Stephanie Perkins’ books, and this was no exception. Isla and Josh’s love story is every bit as entertaining as Anna and Ettienne’s or Lola and Cricket’s. This series will never get old for me. 

10) All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (see all our posts)
I reviewed this book for the blog a while back, and stick to what I said there—this book deals with pretty heavy themes and it definitely not uplifting, but it is very eye opening. I thought the dialogue between Violet and Finch felt very natural, and I enjoyed their adventures throughout the book. It made me want to get out and explore VA some more. 

That’s it for my top 10. See you in 2016, TATAL! 

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