Writer Tamago’s Ten Best Books of 2015

And here we are, another year gone, and another one hundred and some odd books read. True confession time: I read the entirety of His/Her Circumstances this year, which was about seventeen of these. There’s a few hours I won’t get back.

However, I don’t regret reading the following books. Remember, these books did not have to be written in 2015. They’re just books that I read and I thought you might enjoy too. I’m cross-posting this over at Unreliable Narrators.net, which you should go to to listen to our podcast where my fellow unreliables and I talk about the books we liked this year.

Here we go!

1. Lamb by Christopher Moore. Scratched two itches with this book. I’ve always wanted to read a Christopher Moore book, and I am a sucker for different literary discussions regarding Jesus. And this book did not disappoint. It is both reverent and irreverent at the same time. The book covers the adolescent years of Jesus and his best friend Biff, who travel off in search of the three wise men to understand Jesus’s role as the son of god. Jesus is referred to by his more historically accurate name Joshua, which was perhaps a wise and strategic move on Moore’s part. At any rate, a good read and an earnest one, and I am interested now in reading more Moore.

2. Midnight Riot. One of the books that totally immersed me this year. Like many urban fantasy books, I could see the underlying premise of the plot, but since most folks from the US might not get it (because I’m half British everyone!), this made me feel smart and validated when the key to the mystery came out. I love our hero, I love how learning magic is not easy, and I love the sheer British-ness of this book. Immediately, I went out, snapped up the other four, and will be following through on reading them as I reach each one in the giant book stack. You should read these too.

3. The Black Count by Tom Reiss. Hey, spend ten years writing an amazing book, accessing incredibly rare historical documents, and you too just might win a Pulitzer prize like Tom Reiss did. This is a book about The Count of Monte Cristo‘s author’s father Alexandre Dumas, a multi-racial soldier who served the French republic during the revolution at a unique time in France’s history when there was a seemingly blank spot in France’s racist history. Alas, for only the space of the revolution did this occur, but it gave Dumas senior unparalleled exceptional opportunity. He became a national hero, but he also became an enemy of Napoleon. Read this book. It’s important, and it’s a crime that General Dumas is not better known.

4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Thanks to Danielle Burkhart for sending this one my way. In Las Vegas at one of our retreats, she said I had to read this book about a girl named Cath who wrote Harry Potter-like fan fiction. Well, yes, of course. And it was wonderful, not only for its sheer geekiness and nods to the fan fiction community, but also because of Cath’s triumphs as she grows into her life as a young woman during her freshman year at college. Another must read from my list this year.

5. Immortal Muse by Stephen Leigh. Follow the Flamels as they live immortally through history. Perenelle feeds off artists’ souls. Nicolas feeds off Perenelle’s pain. See Stephen Leigh engage in some very interesting re-envisionment of historical events. It’s long, but it’s brilliantly executed. It’s hard to know who to root for. It’s complicated. I like that.

6. A Thousand Perfect Things by Kay Kenyon. What got me with this one was a beautiful cover, but the book is a rich, spiritual journey, questioning the nature of enlightenment, bringing the east and west into direct cultural conflict. This book is nuanced and complex, and I am disappointed that more people haven’t read it. It’s worthy of a Nebula and dares to address colonialism in ways that most books are afraid to.

7. The Comorant by Chuck Wendig. Well, this was the hardest Miriam Black book to read yet. Miriam changes substantially in this book, but the book is told in this detached style, like she’s watching herself change. We learn more about her background, an old enemy comes back to finish her, and in the end, Miriam discovers her limits, but more importantly, where she wants to go next. Gods, this was good.

8. Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton. If you could make really witty jokes about Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby, and history in general, and send them to the humanities majors in the world that would peal laughter over them, well, you’d get this. Hark! A Vagrant! is still available on the web, but lucky me has good friends who get her hardback collections for her birthday.

9. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Historical setting and folklore meet in this tale of early 20th century New York, where a jinni and a golem become unlikely friends across ethnic boundaries. Engaging prose and beautiful imagery make this book an important crossover. There are many reasons why it was one of the most talked about books of its publication year.

10. Copperhead by Tina Connolly. I know, I know. Why isn’t the best one the first book in the series? Well, I’m contrary like that. No, honestly, Iron Skin was Jane Eyre and I think I might be the one person on the planet who doesn’t care for Jane Eyre. But I did love Helen, one of the supporting characters from the first book, and could not resist her getting a story of her own and proving to be a much stronger person than she initially appears. It’s a terrific coming out story of an individual woman’s strength.

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