Top 10 Books of 2015

The books I listed as my Top 10 are just some of many amazing books that I read this year.  The books I selected for my Top 10 are the ones that I am most likely to recommend to someone, or re-read myself in the future.  I tried to get a solid mix of genres into this list as well.

These aren’t listed in any kind of particular order:

The Winner’s Curse

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I loved Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse and can’t wait to continue reading this serious.  Kestrel is a wonderful and unique female protagonist.  I love that her weaknesses are often the strengths of protagonists in similar books.  The antagonistic relationship between Kestrel and Arin is not only super entertaining to read about, but it also is a great way to personalize the larger political unrest that is occurring throughout the book.

You can read my full review here.

None of the Above

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None of the Above is a novel that had me embarrassingly weeping in front of my family while I was on vacation.  It is such a heart-wrenching and necessary book.  Kristin’s tumultuous feelings after discovering she is intersex and the additional loss of control she faces when this information is shared with the community by someone other than herself, is written in a way that is intimate and immediately makes the reader sympathize with Kristin.  I applaud Gregorio on her handling of the facts, and the lack of embellishment or confusion in the story.  She manages this, while also boldly displaying the prejudice and discrimination that can occur to someone who is already trying to work through a very difficult issue.  If you like contemporary and haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend it.

The Game of Love and Death

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The personification of Love and Death in an epic never-ending challenge was what initially drew me to this story.  In this way, it is really similar to The Night Circus, which is one of my favorite novels.  The scenes when Love and Death interacted with each other were some of my favorite and helped tie a much larger story to the brief one depicted in Brockenbrough’s novel.  I feel like this is a book that didn’t get much attention this year, and I wish more people would read it.

You can read my full review here

Falling Kingdoms

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I am so glad I picked up this series after hearing about it from Lainey over at Gingerreadslainey Booktube channel! It is a great starter series for someone whose looking to begin reading fantasy.  Falling Kingdoms was a fantastic opener to this six book series.  Although I am excited to find out what happens next, I am definitely taking my time to get through these books because the fourth book has only just been released.

You can read my full review here.

Second Chance Summer

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This was another recommendation I found on Booktube. Shannon from Leaning Lights did a video about her favorite family depictions in YA literature and couldn’t get through this recommendation without tearing up.  I’m a bit of a sucker for a good tear jerker, and Second Chance Summer did not disappoint.  Although there is a romantic aspect to this book, you really read it for the family.  This one I managed to read right towards the end of the year and it was a great way to round things out.

Legacy of Kings

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I really appreciate when an author takes the time to research and really understand the world they are writing about, and Eleanor Herman excelled at this in Legacy of Kings.  The attention to detail was astounding in this book about Alexander the Great.  I am very ready to read the next installment from this series, that is set to be published in the Fall of 2016.

You can read my full review here.

Name of the Wind

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What a wonderful but super chunky book!  Although my copy of this book is upwards of 800 pages, it never felt bogged down and I was always caught up in Kvothe’s story.  I loved the storyteller narration in this novel, and appreciated the lyrical style of some of Rothfuss’ passages.  Like Falling Kingdoms, this is another unfinished series, so while I am very excited to dive back into Kvothe’s world, I’m taking my time getting to The Wise Man’s Fear.

Saint Anything

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Saint Anything really snuck up and surprised me.  I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, because the only other Dessen book I had read before this was This Lullaby and for some reason it didn’t grab me as much as it seems to other people.  But Holy Smokes! I loved this story! I loved the attention Dessen gives to all of the characters, and the plot is something that had my attention from the beginning.  I don’t often reread stories, but this is definitely one I want to pick up again.

You can read my full review here.

Six of Crows

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I would re-read this book again just for the awesome quotes!! The banter Bardugo creates between the characters is my favorite I read all year.  I loved the way the six lead characters fit together in this awkward amalgamated clan that should never really work together but manage to through Kaz’s leadership.  Everyone in this story has a really murky, gray characterization that made it difficult for me to decide how I felt about them, but there is no doubt that I am going to be continuing this series to find out what happens next.

A Step Toward Falling

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I will read anything that Cammie McGovern writes and A Step Toward Falling only solidified that claim.  This was a powerful contemporary, that has some breathtaking quotes. I loved how McGovern depicted and did justice for all of her characters, especially those shown with disabilities.  She didn’t shy away from portraying reality, but remained respectful in each scene.  This book provides great insight into a population that is just beginning to be featured more in YA fiction, and I can’t wait to see what McGovern writes next.

 

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A Step Towards Falling by Cammie McGovern

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“Friendships are complicated. Friends have power. Friends can break your heart.”

A Step Toward Falling

by Cammie McGovern

Rating: 5/5 Stars

     A Step Toward Falling is a contemporary dual perspective novel that chronicles the lives of two high school girls who have both been affected by a bullying incident.

     Emily is a high school student who witnesses Belinda, a student with developmental disabilities being assaulted and walks away without acting.  Now she and Lucas, another bystander who failed to act, must complete community service at a center that serves people with disabilities.  As time passes Emily begins to feel like she is making a difference in the class, but still feels guilty about the night of the attack.  When Belinda returns to school Emily makes a plan that she hopes will show Belinda how sorry she is and also give Belinda some positive attention that is long overdue.  As new information about the night of the attack comes to light however, Emily begins to second guess how to best help Belinda, and wonders if she is going to end up hurting her more in the end.

     Belinda has not returned to school since she was attacked.  She has fallen into a routine of watching Pride and Prejudice repeatedly hoping to rediscover the comfort she used to find in watching her favorite movie.  She used to believe that there were people like Mr. Darcy in the world but now she isn’t sure.  While her grandma and mom are very understanding and don’t mind that she is taking time off from school, Belinda knows she has to go back.  As Belinda tries to return to her school routine, she begins to understand that things have changed.  She needs to learn to adjust to new roles in her classroom and also finds that she may have some new friends to help her with all of these changes.

Review: This is McGovern’s second novel that I have fallen in love with.  She has a wonderful way of making people with disabilities her protagonists without making the conflict of the novel center around their disability.  Did Belinda’s disability play into how she recovered or reacted to her attack? Of course, but it wasn’t the only motive driving her actions or determining the next plot point.

     I loved the complexity of the feelings and people in this story.  This is seen best through the inaction of Emily and Lucas, despite neither of them being “bad kids”.  They froze, and despite their parents and peers telling them that it isn’t their fault or there is nothing they could have done, it’s not true.  Despite their mistakes at the beginning of the novel however, Emily and Lucas show great maturity in accepting their punishment and doing everything they can to improve the lives of the people they are meant to be serving.

    I cannot recommend this book enough! Whether to learn more about people with developmental disabilities, or just to read a YA book with great themes, character growth, and a heartwarming message.