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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The Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s Book Tag

I stumbled across the Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s Book Tag on the Bookshelves & Paperbacks blog and loved the idea instantly!  So here are my ice cream themed reads 🙂

Vanilla Caramel Fudge: Pick a light, fluffy contemporary

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Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally is a really cute, light contemporary read for days when you don’t want your book to drag your mood down.

Mint Chocolate Cookie: a new release that you wish everybody would read

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A Step Toward Falling is a book I can’t promote enough! It gives a super accurate depiction of people with disabilities, has a great storyline, and ends takes on tough issues while still being able to have light and sweet moments.

Karamel Sutra Core: a last book in a series that you were completely satisfied with

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The One is an example of over eating something super sweet.  Everything wrapped up so perfectly with little conflict that I was a little disappointed.  Even the love triangle ended up not really being a thing because one of the guy’s had one foot out the door.  This book is an example of overindulgence in this ice cream metaphor 🙂

Cherry Garcia: an ending that was bittersweet

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Harry Potter was “the series” of my childhood. I loved how it ended, but was sad to see it was all over.

Strawberry Shortcake: a book containing your OTP of OTPs

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Mac and Sydney’s relationship is one of my favorites. They don’t have instant chemistry that jumps off the page from the moment they meet and their relationship isn’t the sole focus in either of their lives.  I like how they look out for each other, and their relationship feels a lot more natural than some depicted in other YA novels.

Milk & Cookies: two authors that if they collaborated, they would go perfectly together

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If Laurie Halse Anderson and John Green wrote a book together, I would have that thing preordered months in advance.  I think their writing would compliment each other really well, and would love to see them work together someday.

Boston Cream Pie: a book that had you turning pages late into the night

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I’ll have a review of this book up soon! With the alternating chapters from different times and perspectives, I’ll Give You the Sun does a great job of keeping information from readers until the perfect moment, making this an ideal page turning read.

Chocolate Therapy: a book that makes you feel better after a long day of life

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Having read this before and knowing how things turn out, Ugly Love is the perfect book to make me laugh, cry, and just expel all my nonsense emotions after a long day 🙂

Coffee, Coffee, buzzbuzzbuzz!: a book not yet released that you can’t wait to get your hands on

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I read Ink and Bone earlier this fall and really enjoyed it.  I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens to these characters in Paper and Fire.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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Saint Anything

by Sarah Dessen

Rating: 4/5 stars

     Sydney has always lived in her brother, Peyton’s shadow.  When they were younger it was because of his charming personality, but as they grew up it had more to do with the trouble he was constantly in.  After finally getting help and staying clean of crime, drugs, and alcohol for a year, it looks like Peyton is finally back on track and Sydney’s life can get back to normal.  That is until Peyton paralyzes a boy while drunk driving.

     After Peyton is sentenced to prison, Sydney’s parents are less focused on her than ever and she begins branching out.  Seeking to escape her brother’s reputation, Sydney transfers schools and spontaneously starts spending her free time at a pizza shop owned by the Chatham family.  Here she finds total acceptance despite the family going through their own trials, including a mom that is battling Multiple Sclerosis.  She also meets Mac, a quiet, loyal, and protective boy who truly sees Sydney despite all the chaos in her life.

Review:  This book hit all the right chords for me.  Despite being about a very complex and heavy topic, Dessen finds a way to insert really heartwarming scenes throughout the novel that make me appreciate all the characters.  I loved that this book spent so much time on the Chatham family dynamic.  I mentioned this in my post about Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universebut it is a major pet peeve of mine when YA novels neglect to talk about the teenagers home life and parental interactions.  This is not a problem with Saint Anything.  The reader gets a super clear picture of the Chathams and Sydney’s family to make a pretty stark comparison.

Dessen also gets major points for the complexity of Peyton’s situation.  It would have been easy to paint him as a bad kid who was finally stopped when he hit a pedestrian while drunk driving.  But the fact that he was trying to get his life back on track, was applying for trade schools, and leaving his past behind, makes the reader empathize with his guilt and sadness so much more. Overall, this is a really well written YA contemporary that I would recommend to anyone 🙂