Monday, January 25, 2016

January Round-Up: Part 1

I've been reading pretty well so far this year, mostly thanks to the Bout of Books read-a-thon which really kicked me into getting into the habit of reading in little odd moments throughout my day. It's crazy how those pages add up. So, I'm dividing my January Round-Up/ mini-reviews thingy into two parts!

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

I've read the odd Terry Pratchett book- I read Mort and Hogfather a few years ago, and I may have read a few others as a child- my brother had loads of Discworld books when he was younger, I'm sure I picked one or two up at one point... But the lack of Terry Pratchett in my life has always been an embarrassing oversight on my part, and I'm attempting to redress that. So I went back to the very beginning! Even I can see that this is really different from later books in the series- it's much more of a parody of tropes of fantasy novels, which I found hilarious. I really enjoyed this, and the consensus seems to be that this one isn't even among the best Discworld books, so I'm looking forward to continue the series. Maybe in order, maybe not. Libraries NI has a disappointing lack of Discworld books, so I'll just pick up whatever I can find!

Pretties by Scott Westerfield

I'll make this short: basically, I did not like this book. It's a shame- I liked Uglies enough that it held up on a re-read, but this was just didn't fire my imagination the same way. It's also kind of badly written and the plot just didn't work. I don't know if it's middle-book-syndrome but... I won't be continuing with the series. Bleh, disappointing.

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

This is one of those books I've had on my shelf for ages and knew I should have got around to earlier, and when I read it I still thought I should have got around to it earlier. Anyway. This is a great collection of Plath poetry- some of which I was already familiar with, some not. Pretty dark in places, but pretty diverse in themes. It's hard to talk about poetry because I feel like it doesn't really impact you until you've read it a few times, but yeah, this is a keeper.

Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson 

I'm a lifelong Jacqueline Wilson fan- I could talk for hours about how much of an impact Secrets and The Illustrated Mum had on me as a child- but I haven't read any of her books in quite a few years. So I found Opal Plumstead in the library- about a suffragette girl in 1913- and yep, that was me sold. Opal's a scholarship girl who's forced to leave school after her father goes to prison and has to go to work in a sweet factory, where she gets involved with the women's suffrage movement. I liked this a lot, but it was really heavy- despite being a children's book it's one of the saddest books I've read in a while. There's also class stuff and gender stuff and it's definitely worth a read if it sounds like your kind of thing.

What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton

So, I'm a big fan of Jo Walton in general. This is a collection of her blog posts on centered on the theme of re-reading. Few of the books she talks about are very well-known- many are obscure and out of print. I haven't read maybe 90% of the books she talks about, but this didn't bother me as much as I thought it might- Walton talks so engagingly about books, I ended up adding scores of them to my mental wishlist. What I love about Jo Walton is that she is such a reader, one of us, and she throws in little anecdotes like 'I first read this in a cafe while eating a poached egg' and 'I got this book out of the library just before Christmas in 1988' that just make everything so real. Most of the essays are dedicated to specific books, but there are more general ones too which I got more out of- everything from whether you 'sip' or 'gulp' books to how George Eliot would have been a terrific science fiction writer. So, I really enjoyed this. My love affair with Jo Walton continues!

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides 

This is actually a re-read- I first read it when it came out and I was in my first year of uni, but since it deals with post-college life I figured it was due for a re-read at this point. Also, I have now had the pleasure of being exposed to semiotics, so I get a lot more of the jokes now. Anyway. So, Madeleine is an English major, classical literature lover; her boyfriend Leonard is a biology major who struggles with bipolar disorder; and then there's Mitchell, a religious studies major with romantic history with Madeleine, who goes travelling after college and ends up in India. A lot of this really rang true to me- the characters resemble people I remember from uni, and the post-college oh-my-god-what-am-I-doing panic is spot on. Then there's Leonard's painful struggles with his illness, and Madeleine's struggles with dealing with it, and Mitchell's religious crisis... there's a lot in this book, and I think I liked it even better on a second reading. Also, this was literally my third audiobook ever (excepting when I was a child...) and I got on pretty well with it! So that's good. I'll be converted to audio format yet :)

Harry Potter: Film Wizardry by Brian Sibley/Warner Bros

So this isn't strictly a traditional book- it's a companion to the Harry Potter movies, with all the lovely pictures and design sketches that you'd expect. There's more writing than you'd think, too- explaining how they did this and that effect; interviews; random anecdotes. I love how generally speaking, the crew preferred making things to just using computer effects- things like Fawkes were mechanical instead of CGI, for example. Also, all the little cast notes that we love hearing about, like when Alfonso CuarĂ³n asked the Trio to write essays on their characters and each ended up approaching it like their character (Daniel Radclyffe wrote a page or two, Emma Watson wrote pages and pages, Rupert Grint never handed anything in). And that's not all! This book is also full of little removable facsimiles of things like the Marauder's Map and Umbridge's proclamation posters. All in all, this is a wonderful book if you're a HP nerd (and isn't half the internet?)

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Funny story: when I was in first year of uni it seemed like half the books we were assigned dealt with student/teacher (or lecturer) relationships- J M Coetzee's Disgrace, David Lodge's Changing Places, Zoe Heller's Notes on a Scandal... we used to wonder whether this was our lecturers' way of encouraging or discouraging us from dating them. So, I got pretty fatigued with this whole theme and actively avoided any book (movie, fanfic...) involving student/teacher relationships. So I nearly skipped Tampa, about a female teacher who has an affair with a fourteen-year-old male student- but I can't resist controversy, so I thought I'd give it a go. Turns out it was totally different than I'd assumed. This isn't about a student-teacher relationship so much as it is about a female paedophile (ephebophile, if we want to split hairs) who is deeply, deeply unpleasant. The book's told from her point of view and the whole thing is just... really uncomfortable. Fucked up stuff happens. I'll say that much without spoiling anything. So... I enjoyed this book, I think? In the same way that you can weirdly enjoy books that horrify you and make you very uncomfortable. I've definitely never read anything quite like this.

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

I have a lot of feelings about this book. Complicated feelings. So, I love books about depression, especially YA. I've had depression on and off since I was eleven and have a few people very close to me who are suffering/have suffered from very severe depression, and I like books that help me make sense of it all. I'd heard great things about this book, about an over-achieving teenager who nearly kills himself and spends five days in a mental hospital. I liked how Craig basically has it all- he doesn't seem to have any real problems, supportive parents, friends, goes to a good school, family is well-off, etc etc. Because sometimes depression does strike people with no simple 'explanation'- like I've seen in some books about depression. The book is really about Craig's time in the hospital, and the people he meets there, and doesn't really deal with Craig's depression as much as I would have liked. It's very much 'hey, look at all these quirky characters in the hospital!' and I'm not so sure I liked that. I especially didn't like the treatment of a transgender patient, and that really soured the book for me to be honest. Still, bits of the book were really good and really realistic depictions of depression, so I'm still glad I read it, even if it's not going to be one of those books I really love.

So, there's the nine books I read in the first fifteen days of January! January reading did not stop (and is not stopping there). Rest of January reading will hopefully be up in a prompt fashion at the start of February... although the university term starts up again by then, so, we'll see ;)

How's your month been for books?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bout of Books 15- Sunday

Reading: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, Harry Potter: Film Wizardry by Brian Sibley and Minalima Design, Tampa by Alissa Nutting, It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini



Pages read:  4 hours 41 of audio, 
Books finished: The Marriage Plot
Total pages read: 

Total books finished: 

Pages read so far: 4 hours 41 of audio, 105 pages

I finished The Marriage Plot, yay! That's my sixth book of the week which is unreal. Basically I was so tired yesterday/in the wee hours of this morning I spent anytime not working on my essay in bed, with my eyes closed and The Marriage Plot on. It's amazing how little of it I remembered- I seemed to have completely forgotten the entire second half- but it's a great book and contains one of the best depictions of mental illness I've ever seen in literature. Eugenides, you need to write more than one book every nine years, because you're amazing.

I've been dipping in and out of other books, just for variety. Harry Potter: Film Wizardry is a lovely big book about the making of the Harry Potter movies, with lots of pictures and even little removable facsimiles of things like Harry's Hogwarts letter and the Borgin and Burkes catalogue. I love it.

Tampa I have only read a few pages of, but I'm creeped out already. 

It's Kind of a Funny Story is a book that's been on my shelf for far too long. I love depictions of mental health, especially in YA. Also my girlfriend has already borrowed and loved this even though I haven't read it myself yet, so, that's long overdue.

This is probably about it for my reading for the week- I'm going to make dinner (or more likely, get takeaway tacos from across the street- ssh, I totally didn't do that already this week) and then get ready for my night shift. The last one for a while, thank god! 

I'll add my final stats later, but I'm pretty damn proud of myself. I normally aim to read three books a week, and rarely reach that target, so I figured finishing four, especially in such a busy week, was optimistic enough, but I've actually finished six and read from three others. Mostly just because I've been reading in little snatches throughout the day instead of being caught up browsing reddit or instagram. It's definitely given me a lot to think about!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Bout of Books 15- Saturday


Reading: What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides


Pages read:  88 and 5 hours 55 minutes of audio
Books finished: What Makes This Book So Great
Total pages read: 1178 plus 10h 50m of audio
Total books finished: 5

Pages read so far: 88 plus 3 hours 34 minutes of audio

I finished What Makes This Book So Great this morning before going to bed. I thought it was great- I've read hardly any of the books she talks about but I really enjoy the way she talks about books- little anecdotes like 'I first read this in the Easter holidays when I was twelve while eating mini eggs' and the importance of re-reading. It's just made me love Jo Walton even more.

I'm more than half-way through The Marriage Plot now. It's amazing how much I've forgotten about it- I remember the Leonard and Madeleine bits but seem to have completely forgotten Mitchell, although he's the one whose story interests me more. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Bout of Books 15- Friday


Reading: What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides


Pages read: 54 plus 1 hr 58 of audio
Books finished: none
Total pages read: 1090 plus 4 hr 55 m of audio
Total books finished: 4

Pages read so far: 7 plus 1 hr 30 of audio

It's my day off, finally! I went into town with my girlfriend early because of bus times and other general awkwardness, so I've only had a few hours of sleep. I was planning on having a nap when I got home, but one of my flatmates is having friends around so it's... not quite nap atmosphere there right now. So I'm in the library updating this and I'll head back when they've left for some much needed sleep.

I haven't read much today so far- I ended up reading fanfiction when I came in from work instead of my usual book before bed. Oops. I suppose I could count that in my page count... but nah, I'll not ;)

I have listened to a good chunk of The Marriage Plot between walking into town and just getting ready at home. Audiobooks are really great. I can't believe I never realised this. I can read anywhere and everywhere, any time! I'm even listening to it while writing this! The only problem is when I find myself giggling at bits and then I just look weird. Oh well. That's a risk I'm willing to take. 

So, after my nap I'm basically going to hole up and write essays all night, but I should get some reading in when I need a break from Virginia Woolf and transgender theory and all that jazz.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Bout of Books: Thursday


Reading: What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides


Pages read: 181 plus 1 hr 18 m of audio
Books finished: None today!
Total pages read: 1036 plus 3 hr 3 m of audio
Total books finished: 4

Pages read so far: 169 plus 1 hr 9 m of audio

I'm battling on valiantly between night shifts and working like hell on uni stuff. Tonight is my last shift before I'm off for two days- technically my weekend- and even though I'm planning to spend pretty much the entire of those two days writing essays, it still feels good to know I'm off work.

With Opal Plumstead behind me I'm back to normal sized pages, so my page count has slowed up a bit. The format of What Makes This Book So Great actually allows me to tear through it pretty well- all the essays are only a few pages long. So even when there's one about a book I don't care about, it's not long before the next one.

The Marriage Plot is kind of a revelation that I can actually follow audiobooks these days- I didn't used to. It's weirdly nice to be able to read when I'm walking to the library and making dinner. So, definitely good for read-a-thons!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Bout of Books 15- Wednesday


Reading: Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson, What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides


Pages read: 278, plus 1h 45m of audio
Books finished: Opal Plumstead
Total pages read: 867, 1h 45m of audio
Total books finished: 4

Pages read so far: 164
I brought my kindle into work to read on my break, which turned out to be a good idea as I ended up sitting with one of my co-workers who was watching a Donald Trump rally- without earphones- and banging on to anyone would listen about how he was the best thing to happen to American politics since Lincoln.

I seriously worry about my co-workers sometimes.

Anyway. Work wasn't so bad tonight as it was a bit busier and I actually got out on time, yay! Opal Plumstead is still good, though I accidentally stumbled upon a massive spoiler while looking for a cover image... *grumbles* Oh well, at least I don't know how the other plot lines resolve themselves.

Pages read so far: 277, plus 1 hour of audio

Another book down! Honestly, it's mostly thanks to Opal Plumstead's enormous print but I'm taking credit all the same. It turned out to be pretty great. Definitely not a happy book by any means- but I've always admired Jacqueline Wilson for not allowing a happy ending where one wouldn't be fitting. There's just enough hope at the end for reader satisfaction, though. I'll definitely be seeking out some more of Wilson's recent historical books.

I had to walk into town to go for an eye test, so I decided to use the time to listen to a library audiobook on the way- The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. I read it when it came out- I'm a huge Eugenides fan- but I felt it was due for a re-read, now that I'm a postgraduate English student and actually have to deal with semiotics in my daily life. No eyebrow-less students called Thurston, though, thankfully. Let's just say I'm firmly on Madeleine's side when it comes to studying English.

I popped into Tesco on the way home for some reduced Christmas chocolate - giant tubes of Smarties are now 50p, just spreading the word- and now I'm hoping to get cracking on my essay until it's time to make dinner and leave for work.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Bout of Books 15- Tuesday


Reading: Ariel by Sylvia Plath, Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson, What Makes This Book so Great by Jo Walton


Pages read: 348
Total pages read: 589
Books finished: Ariel
Total books finished: 3

Pages read so far: 231
Good afternoon! It's just getting dark outside which means it's breakfast time for Gemma. Oh, night shift, what have you done to me...

I forgot how boring night shift is during the week- there's basically no customers so we just clean the place from top to bottom and spend the rest of the time wandering around aimlessly. I was supposed to finish at 6 am but someone was late so I didn't get away until 6:45... bleh.

Anyway! On the reading front I've been pretty successful- I managed to finish Ariel when I got in, so that's a third book toppled! Now I'm reading Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson which I've substituted for Tampa as it's due back at the library first. I don't think I ever quite grew out of Jacqueline Wilson, though I haven't read any of her stuff in ages. This one's set in 1913, about a girl who becomes a suffragette- so I couldn't not read it, obviously. The print's huge so that's why my page count has skyrocketed!

I'm amazed at how well the read-a-thon's going so far, especially with being so busy. I've just been picking up a book in my spare moments instead of playing on my phone, and it's made such a difference. Lesson learned!

Pages read so far: 267
I've spent the past couple of hours in the library working on that dreaded essay- yeah, I'm stressing. I have so much to do! Which would normally be fine, but when you also work up to 40 hours a week it's difficult to find more than a couple of hours a day to do any uni work. I'm off Friday and Saturday and I was hoping to be able to meet up with my girlfriend or go see The Danish Girl but it's looking like I'm going to have to hide away in the library the entire weekend. Ugh. Seriously can't wait until these essays are done and submitted!

Alongside Opal Plumstead, which is still really good, I've started on What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton. It's a collection of essays about SF and reading and re-reading. I haven't read hardly any of the books she mentions, but that's not bothering me much so far. It's just making me add yet more books to my wishlist, which is not a bad thing at all.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Bout of Books 15- Sign up and Monday

It's back! For the uninitiated:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 4th and runs through Sunday, January 10th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 15 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

Low pressure is what I need right now. I've got a pretty stressful week ahead- five night shifts, plus I have an essay deadline the following week which is terrifying me. So, between all that I'm hoping to unwind with some decent books! 

Here's what I'm hoping to read:

  • First of all, not pictured is The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett on my Kindle. I'm about 100 pages from the end, so it's my priority to get read first.
  • Pretties by Scott Westerfield- I'm also about 100 pages from the end of this one. Unlike The Colour of Magic though I'm not really enjoying it- I liked the first book much more- so I'll hopefully get that one out of the way soon too.
  • Ariel by Sylvia Plath- Because there's nothing quite like poetry to bump up your word count. Seriously though, I've been meaning to read this for ages- The Bell Jar is one of my favourite books and I've liked other bits and pieces of Plath's that I've read. Also I seem to remember I bought this in Glasgow and I haven't been to Glasgow in probably something like three years. So. It's been on my shelf a bit too long...
  • Tampa by Alissa Nutting- Yep, That Book with That Cover. It's about a female teacher who preys on teenage boys and who's been referred to as the female Humbert Humbert. So, I'm sure this will be an interesting read. 

Reading: The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett, Pretties by Scott Westerfield, Ariel by Sylvia Plath, Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson
Pages read: 241
Books finished: The Colour of Magic, Pretties

2.51 am
Yeah, this might be an ungodly time of night to you, but it's chill-out-after-work time for me! I just had dinner and wrote up my goals and I'm hoping to get stuck into The Colour of Magic for a couple of hours before bed.

3.20 pm
Page count so far: 66
So I intended to stay up reading until about 6 or so but ended up falling asleep at about half past 4. Whoops. But between last night and breakfast today I finished The Colour of Magic! I'm making an effort to Get Into Terry Pratchett Properly- I've read a couple of Discworld books, but I'm going to try to read the series start to finish- and I've got off to a good start.

Now I have to go down town to the library before I enter Essay Writing Hell for the rest of the day before work at 10. Hopefully I'll manage to squeeze in a few pages though!

7.25 pm
Pages count so far: 155
Damn, I'm on a roll! I finished Pretties somehow, just from reading bits in my breaks from essay writing. I'm glad to get it read- I didn't really like it to tell the truth, and I was basically just reading it to get it done. I don't think I'll be continuing the series, which is a shame because I did like the first book in the series. Oh well, onward and upward!

I'm nearly done in the library- got one of my essays sort-of finished, woo! I'm going to swing by my favourite burrito place on my way home because fuck it, I deserve delicious Mexican food :P And on to Ariel next, I think. I might even get that finished today too!

2015 End of Year Book Survey

I've nicked this handy little survey dealy from Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, as I've seen it pop up everywhere and it seems like a good way to wrap up the year!

Number of Books You Read: 100 exactly. Sigh, this number is going down steadily every year. I used to hit 150! At least I'm in the 100s.
Number of re-reads: 18, mostly thanks to Bex's awesome re-read-a-thons!
Genre you read most from: General fiction/literary, I think. Though I do have to note that I read considerably more non-fiction this year than in previous years, for whatever reason.

1. Best book you read in 2015?
I'm going to go with My Real Children by Jo Walton. I totally fell in love with this book and it broke my heart. Between this and Among Others, Jo Walton has completely stolen me away, seriously.

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't?
Probably An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. It's not bad, but it didn't blow me away like his other books. It was kind of meh, actually.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
My Real Children, because I totally did not expect to love it like I did. Among Others is probably my favourite book ever, but the concept of this one didn't really grab me hugely so I was a bit hesitant... but I loved it so much.

4. Book you 'pushed' the most people to read (and they did)?
Honestly, I don't really push people to read books! Maybe my girlfriend, occasionally, since she's the only person I know IRL who reads extensively. But I haven't forced anything on her lately.

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best sequel of 2015? Best series ender of 2015?
I really don't read that many series, because I much prefer standalone novels. I did finally read Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood this year which is the first of a series, and I've got the next one ready to go which I'm excited about.
Sequel: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith, the third Cormoran Strike book. I seriously love these books! I still like The Silkworm best of all but this was really great.
Ender: I don't seem to have read any this year!

6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2015?
Definitely new to me as opposed to new, but on the strength of Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, I really want to read more Audre Lorde. That book was fantastic.

7. Best book from a genre you don't read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo was both an audiobook and a self-help book, both things I generally steer away from. But I actually found that I can follow audiobooks better than I remembered I can, and the book itself was actually great. I read it in August, and I'm still using bits of her philosophy, like emptying my bag everyday. So it works!

8. Most action packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Probably Career of Evil. I basically couldn't rest until I found out who the murderer was and it sort of took over my thought processes for a few days.

9. Book you read in 2015 that you are most likely to reread next year?
I'm already thinking about rereading Adam by Ariel Schrag. I loved that book so much!

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2015?
All my covers were pretty meh this year! Honestly guys, step it up :P I guess if I have to pick one...

Just because it's slightly creepy and sums up the book quiet nicely.

11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Gonna be lazy and stay on We Have Always Lived in the Castle- Merricat. If you've read the book you'll know what I'm talking about.

12. Most beautifully written book in 2015?
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng comes to mind. Maybe not typically beautiful writing, but damn good writing nonetheless.

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2015?
I'm gonna go back to My Real Children, but it was really thought-provoking. Something about seeing someone's entire life, the good and the bad, really made me want to live the best life I can.

14. Book you can't believe you waited until 2015 to read?
There's probably a few... Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood has been on my radar for absolutely years, I can't believe I waited this long! Also that it took me so long to read any Shirley Jackson.

15. Favourite quote/passage from a book you read in 2015?
I'm probably in the minority in that I rarely write down/remember quotes... so I'm going to pass, unfortunately. Because I know there've been some good ones!

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2015?
Longest is definitely going to be War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy... which was actually really good! I think my shortest is Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel. Which was also really good, but an entirely different ball game, obviously.

17. Book that shocked you the most
Injustice by Clive Stafford Smith, in a thinky-angry sort of way. It's non-fiction about the death penalty and how flawed the system is that makes it much, much easier than you'd like to think for people to be executed even though they're innocent. It was sort of terrifying, actually.

18. OTP of the year
I don't think I actually read that much in terms of ships to die for this year! Let's go with Beth and Lincoln in Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, because how can you not be rooting for them?

19. Favourite non-romantic relationship of the year
Again, I'm not sure. Let's just go with Cormoran and Robin in Career of Evil, because they're not romantic (at least not yet... potentially) and I'm really enjoying the development of their relationship in work and in their personal lives.

20. Favourite book you read in 2015 from an author you read previously
My Real Children, big surprise :P I'm even more anxious about reading her other books now, my expectations are so ridiculous.

21. Best book you read in 2015 that you read solely on a recommendation from someone else/peer pressure
I don't really do this! Books I read tend to be the result of multiple recommendations. I suppose the closest is The Monk which I read for Alice's read-a-long. It turned out to be kind of mad and kind of brilliant. Mostly mad.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Actually don't think there were any this year. Strange, I usually fall for at least one :P

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
Again, I got nothing for this. I rarely read books in the same year they're actually released, let alone debuts :P Let's cheat slightly- the best debut I read in 2015 was probably Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, although it was technically published in 2014. But ssh ;)

24. Best world-building/most vivid setting you read this year?
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I really need to read the other books in the series, it was awesome!

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read?
Kind of unexpectedly, "The Art of Ingeniously Tormenting" by Jane Collier. It's an essay published in 1753 that I read for uni, and it's a sort of mock conduct manual about how to annoy people around you. 18th century satire, you are the best. I'm still smiling thinking about it and that's even after I wrote a painful essay about it, so I think that's a good sign.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2015?
Not to keep banging on about it, but My Real Children, oh my god. Obviously when you see someone's entire life laid out there's going to be some devastating moments. I'm still not over some of them.

27. Hidden gem of the year
Right, I'm going with My Real Children again, purely because I've never really heard it mentioned, now that I think about it, even when people talk about Jo Walton. And more people should read it.

28. Book that crushed your soul
Moby-Dick. And not in a good way. Seriously, I went off reading for an entire week just because of that book. Oh, well, I'm still glad I read it, as painful as it was.

29. Most unique book you read in 2015?
Definitely Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein. I don't even know how to categorize it- part memoir, part diatribe against gender roles, and there's even a play thrown in there too. Seriously good though.

30. Book that made you the most mad
Probably Austerity Bites by Mary O'Hara, a look at how 'austerity measures' and cuts have affected the UK. Some seriously rage-inducing stuff in there; I definitely recommend it if that sort of thing's your cup of tea.

And just to round it all off, my top ten (in alphabetical order, because I can't rank things) books of 2015!