Our 2015 Superlatives – Books Edition

It’s the end of 2015, which means it’s time for Best of Lists! Here at Tosche Station, we thought we’d break up our lists into categories, and post a different topic per day.

In this installment, we discuss our favorite books of 2015.

Nanci – My reading tends to go in cycles; some years I read a lot, and sometimes I only finish a handful of books per year. This year, most of my reading was focused on Star Wars, especially after September 4. My to-read list seems never ending, especially with Kindle sales, and I’ve resolved to read more in 2016. That said, there were a couple of books I read this year that really stood out.

  • Liesmith, by Alis Franklin – a queer urban fantasy set in Australia that tells a modern version of Norse mythology, focusing on Loki in particular. I’m not a huge fan of Loki, but I loved this story and especially the characters. Sigmund is an utter delight.
  • Under the Empyrean Sky, by Chuck Wendig – this is the novel that convinced Del Rey to hire him to write a Star Wars book, and I can definitely see why. Wendig has described it as John Steinbeck meets Star Wars. It’s the story of a young man named Cael who lives in the Heartland, which is ruled by the Empyrean, a totalitarian regime that floats overhead in flotillas in the sky. I really enjoyed the setting–cornpunk is definitely a different genre for me–and Wendig’s prose is a breeze to get through.

Saf – Boy, I’ve been so overwhelmed with Star Wars books this year that I’ve barely read outside of them, except for a few others. There were two I absolutely adored, both by my two favourite authors since high school.

  • Tigerman, by Nick Harkaway – a British sergeant is sent to the island of Mancreu, a place that is slowly ticking down to an apocalyptic event. It’s filled with Harkaway’s throwaway line worldbuilding and typical flare, and builds up a lovely, but sad story about a man who just needs a long, long rest.
  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness – in a world where young heroes save the world on the regular, the rest of the kids at their schools just want to survive their normal, drama-filled teen lives. Ness always tends to have two things in his stories: LGBT people, and a lot of feelings. The Rest of Us actually helped me get through some rough things in my life, just because Ness really seems to understand how young people think when writing his YA fiction, and I adore him for it.

Bria: THANK GOD FOR GOODREADS.  Look, I read a lot this year and can’t remember everything but there were some standouts. I’d also like to mention both Passenger by Alexandra Bracken and Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel which are both due out in 2016.  I was lucky enough to advanced copies of both and they were both AWESOME.

  • The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey hit all of the right notes for me that a Tamora Pierce book does while having its own vibe.  Lindsey created a neat fantasy world that simultaneously plays by the rules and break them.
  • Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger is about a finishing school for young ladies who are also assassins in a steampunk fantasy version of England.  Is it ridiculous?  Yes.  Is it delightful? Absolutely.
  • Lightless by CA Higgins was just plain neat.  It gave me Leviathan Wakes vibes at times.  I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about this science fiction book with its very contained cast at first but once it really kicked into another gear in the second half, I was completely enthralled.

Brian: Like Nanci, much of my reading was focused on Star Wars this year, especially with the Journey to TFA stuff taking up all of my post-September reading time. That said, I did have some time to read a couple books outside of the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

  • Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig. Nanci and I read this about the same time, and like her I really enjoyed this book. I thought I had burned out on post-apocalyptic YA, but this was really a fresh take on the genre. Set in what was once the heartland of the USA, Wendig self-describes this book as cornpunk. Read it and you’ll see why. I actually picked up this book because I wanted to get used to the third-person present writing style Wendig would be utilizing in Aftermath. Let’s say I got a whole lot more than just a style choice primer. This was an excellent read and one I’d encourage everyone to pick up.