T. A. Hernandez
My Favorite 2015 Reads
Hello everyone! Today I wanted to talk about some of the best books I read in 2015 and why I loved them. Here they are (in no particular order).
1984 by George Orwell
This was one of those books I read because I kind of felt obligated to, but I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. It was very thought-provoking. The world George Orwell creates here resonates with some of the things we see in the world now, sometimes coming frighteningly close to present-day reality. Even though the year 1984 has come and gone, this is definitely a book that will remain relevant for decades to come.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
I had never read anything by Neil Gaiman before I picked up this book, which introduced me to a new favorite author. Of course, I then went and read a whole bunch of his work, and I had a hard time deciding between this and Neverwhere for this list. Neverwhere is a good, fun read, but American Gods was the book that stayed with me for months after I'd finished it. Shadow became one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. He was so easy to relate to and I became very emotionally invested in him and his story early on. The story itself is unlike anything else I've ever read. The ending--the whole book, arguably--was kind of sad, but I'm a sucker for bittersweet endings. I loved this book. It's one that I could read again and again and find something new each time.
The Alecto Initiative by Owen R. O'Neill and Jordan Leah Hunter
I picked this book up on a whim because it was free and looked interesting enough, but I honestly wasn't expecting much when I started reading. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the characters and the story. It's fast-paced and the protagonist, Loralynn Kennakris (Kris), is very engaging. The other characters are equally well-crafted and I ended up finishing the story in four days, despite being super busy with school at the time. I also read the second book in the series, The Morning Which Breaks, but I really liked the brisk and more to-the-point writing in The Alecto Initiative. I'm looking forward to reading the next books in the series in 2016.
Ronan by EJ Fisch
I'm a huge fan on the Ziva Payvan series, so I was super excited about the release of the third book this past summer. The events of this novel are even more intense than in the first two books as the stakes are higher than they've ever been before. As always, it's the characters that really make this series great. All the intricacies of various relationships that have been carefully woven together over the previous books really pay off here, especially when it comes to main characters Ziva and Aroska. I know I've recommended this series about a hundred times before, but seriously people - if you like exciting stories and great characters, you need to read these books.
On Writing by Stephen King
This was another book I read more out of a feeling of obligation than for enjoyment, but I did actually enjoy it more than I thought I would. It's constantly recommended to writers, and for good reason. It changed some of my perspectives as a writer and made me realize what things I might need to focus on more in order to improve my writing. Some of it was stuff I knew already and there were a few things I didn't necessarily agree with 100%, but I valued the information and could see how it might be useful nonetheless. One of the best pieces of advice I got out of this book was to read more, which I tried to do through the end of the year and will continue to work on in 2016.
Vertigo by GS Jennsen
This is another indie book series I've really come to enjoy. I've read the entire Aurora Rising trilogy, but this is easily my favorite of the three. The sci-fi/romance blend is something I haven't seen much of before (i.e. any), but it works here. It's interesting to see Alex and Caleb's relationship progress as the story goes on, and I liked how all of the secondary characters developed and became more important in this book, too. The plot was fast-paced and kept me turning pages as quickly as I could. I loved some of the ideas that were explored here and in the other books regarding aliens and artificial intelligence, and I'm looking forward to continuing the series next year.
Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick
I did a full review of this book on my old blog, so I won't go into too much detail here. This was kind of an odd choice for me since I don't usually read non-fiction, but this reads more like an actual story than a history or a textbook. The fact that it's not made up just makes it even more incredible. There were a lot of parallels to George Orwell's 1984 and the book talked about some interesting ideas surrounding North Korea, its history, and the people who live there. I'm a social work student, so I'm kind of a nerd about social issues and societal problems, which meant that this book was perfect for me.