I was about to put together my favorite books of the year post, but since one or two (maybe THREE?) I read this month stand a chance of going on the list, I thought I should do the monthly roundup first! (For some yearly favorites, here's 2012, 2013 and 2014.)
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
This was SO worth the hype! I'm glad I got it in before the end of the year, because I'm pretty sure it's going on my best of 2015 list. Much like Cinder (on my 2014 list), this book is reminiscent of so many great stories - yet wholly original. If I had to pin it down, it's like Game of Thrones with Harry Potter, Romeo & Juliet and The Hunger Games thrown in. That narrows it down, right? The world building (complete with a map in the opening pages, which I love) is so vivid, as are the unforgettable (and bad-ass) characters. Following the story of Elias (a graduating soldier from Blackcliff Academy) and Laia (a scholar who's family has been killed by said soldiers) is complex, intense, romantic, engrossing and exhilarating. I CAN'T WAIT for the next book.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Oh man, I have a love/hate relationship with WWII novels, and try to read no more than one a year. Or in some cases, like after reading Sarah's Key, I needed a few years to recover. Having read All the Light We Cannot See back in January, I was able to squeak this one in before the end of the year. I'm having a hard time deciding if I like one better than the other (they were both outstanding) - and if one, or both, should be on my favorites for the year. This story of French sisters Vianne and Isabelle is heartbreaking, obviously in terms of their struggles during the war, but also in terms of their struggles as sisters. At the heart of the novel is a beautiful story about family, and what we do for love. Another book worthy of the hype.
Euphoria by Lily King
This book was EXCELLENT! It reminded me so much of one of my all time favorite books, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I also LOVE The Poisonwood Bible, so maybe there's something about missionaries, scientists, anthropologists in far flung lands trying to communicate and interact with natives that intrigues me. Probably because anything can happen, and usually does. And, of course, the drama of the stories revolve not around those being studied, but those doing the studying. As with the aforementioned novels, this book is equal parts disturbing and enlightening. The tension wrought between this love triangle of anthropologists studying tribes in New Guinea just builds and builds until the inevitable gut-punch conclusion.