Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 favorites

Welcome to my 2015 wrap up post! Here I will list my favorite books of 2015, and talk a little bit about why I love them so much. I hope that you've enjoyed reading posts (even if you've only read one!) on here over the past year! I've had a lot of fun keeping this blog updated, and I can't wait to see what happens in 2016 on here. Thank you so much if you've visited, left comments, followed on bloglovin or twitter or anything, really! I love reading all of your posts, and I'm just very happy and grateful to be a part of this supportive community! Hope you all have amazing 2016s.

This list is in order of the date that I finished the book, and includes not only 2015 releases, but also any book that was new to me in the last year. I had a truly amazing reading year, so it was hard to pare this list down, but I truly adored every single title on this list! I can't imagine 2016 topping 2015  in terms of books read, but I am going to try to make it just as good!

1. The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller (review)

Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful— irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Something about this book touched me in a way that a book rarely has. It was very different from what I normally read, but I adore Greek and Roman mythology and I had heard a lot about this one, so I dove in. And I am SO glad that I did. This book is quiet and graceful, but there is power behind its words. I love the beauty of Miller's prose, and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for Greek Mythology retellings and LGBT+ novels. 

2. A Thousand Pieces of You – Claudia Gray (review)

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him. Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.
A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

This book was a 2014 release, but I just got around to it in early 2015. I also read the second installment of this trilogy a few days ago, but I think that the first book remains my favorite of the two. I think the reason for this is because of how much this book snuck up on me. I didn't expect to really enjoy it, it being a very science-centered topic, but it ended up being one of the most gorgeous books that I read all year. I think the idea is super original, and I can't wait for the final book to come out later this year! 

3. Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard (review)

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.
To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.
Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.
But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

I'm sure that this on a lot of people's 2015 wrap-up posts, because this was certainly a popular book on social media and goodreads this year, from what I saw. And I definitely think that the hype about this book is justified. It is a crazy thrill ride of a novel, with x-men powers mixed with Game of Thrones brutality and messed up families. I think its an incredible work, especially because it is a debut, and I can't wait for the next novel in the series! 

4. A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab (review)

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

I had never read anything by V.E. (or Victoria) Schwab before 2015, but I did read two of her books over the last year, and they both ended up on this list, so I think that she has officially become one of my favorite authors, especially because she has more than one book coming out this year as well! As for this book, it has to do with magic and dimension hopping and piracy and rakish princes, all of which are things that I look for in a favorite. And look at that cover, as well. Gorgeous.

5. Mosquitoland – David Arnold (review)

"I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange." After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the "wastelands" of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.
So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, "Mosquitoland" is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

This is for sure the best contemporary that I read all year, and definitely in my top three favorite contemporary novels ever, along with I'll Give You the Sun and Fangirl. I was completely entranced by David Arnold's writing style: it was endearing from the first, and I basically couldn't stop reading once I'd started. I can't even really put a finger on why its so incredible, except to say that there is evident magic in the pages of this novel, and I would recommend it to literally anyone. 

6. Vicious – V.E. Schwab (review)

A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?
In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

This is the second V.E. Schwab novel on this list, and I think this is my favorite of the two. Mostly because I love anything about superheroes, and this takes that whole concept and turns it on its head. Vicious is about the distinction, if there is one, between a villain and a hero, and the path that someone takes to get to one of those titles. I listened to this on audiobook, and that is something that I would HIGHLY recommend for you to do. This book already lends itself so well to the cinema, in my opinion, that listening to it made it that much easier to picture the events in a gritty, Watchmen-esque film. Huge fan of this novel.

7. Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli (review)

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

This is another book that surprised me, because I really wasn't expecting to like this one as much as I did. I knew that it would be a cute contemporary read, but the thing that snuck up on me was how authentic Simon's voice was. A lot of contemporaries are very idealized versions of reality to me: but I didn't feel that way with this book. The characters were realistic, and the way that Simon looked at the world was familiar to me. Honestly one of the best contemporaries I've read in a long time. 
8. An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir (review)

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and pulse-pounding read. Set in a rich, high-fantasy world with echoes of ancient Rome, it tells the story of a slave fighting for her family and a young soldier fighting for his freedom.
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

This is a super intense read, where you're thrown into an incredibly brutal world with no training wheels on– and it is quite a rush. I loved the intricacies of the worldbuilding in this novel, in the wider society to which these characters belong as well as the microcosm of the military academy where the majority of the plot takes place, all of it is very well brought about. The characters are deeply moving, because they are all in impossible situations, and any choice they make is the lesser of two evils, but also because, even in an incredibly different cultural setting, they are familiar, and that is what makes them so sympathetic.

9. A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas (review)

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever. Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Sarah J Maas can do no wrong, in my eyes. I would read literally anything that she writes, but it helps that her two series are both incredible. ACOTAR is the newer series, blending Beauty and the Beast and Fae folklore together into something simmering and sexy. I love the world here: especially the spring court, and I also love the palpable sparks between the characters in this novel, whether of attraction, hatred, or something in between. I absolutely cannot wait to see where the next installment in this series takes us, because it would be hard to top this one! 

10. The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh (review)

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

I guess this is the year of amazing worldbuilding, because I loved the setting of this novel as well. It will probably be unfamiliar to a lot of people– the influence of middle eastern culture– but I loved seeing it in a really creative way. Shazi and Despina are amazing and wonderful female characters, and the boys aren't so bad either (insert winking emoji here). I am so happy that this is a series, which I wasn't sure of when I first finished this novel, so panic ensued. The next installment is coming out later this year :)

11. The Start of Me and You – Emery Lord (review)

Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.
Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.
It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Emery Lord is my absolute favorite new-to-me author of 2015. I did an entire spotlight post about how much of an impact her books have had on me, which you can find here, and I just generally have a lot of admiration for her and her books. I read both of her novels over the summer, and I can honestly say that they were the most fun! This book is the only one that I read this year where I actually went back and read the entire thing over again once I finished it the first time. That is how much I fell in love with these characters and their stories. I love the emphasis that Emery Lord places on platonic friendships: that is something that I feel like a lot of contemporaries, and really, YA in general, are missing. The Start of Me and You slightly edges out Open Road Summer, but they are both amazing, five star reads. Particularly I loved the quality of nerdiness in this one: it totally endeared me to the characters in a way that few things can.

12. Open Road Summer – Emery Lord (review)

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.
Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.
This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.
A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

Emery Lord's first novel is this, Open Road Summer, and what a glorious debut it is. I thought that I wasn't going to like this one as much as I did The Start of Me and You, because I read that one first and becuase I'm not into country music at all... HOWEVER this book absolutely captured me, and I ended up not having to worry at all, because it is a fabulous book, no matter what your music preference is. Both the friendships and the relationships in this novel are incredible, and I would definitely recommend either one of Emery Lord's books to you at some point over this year.

13. Queen of Shadows – Sarah J Maas (review)

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

Hands down, my favorite book of 2015. Like, I don't even have to think about what could challenge it, because nothing even comes close. I know there were lots of mixed reviews about this book, which I think is bound to happen when you have a huge fanbase with HUGE expectations, but I was one of the people who just adored this addition to the series. I'll admit it wasn't perfect, but that didn't matter to me. I loved every single second that I spent reading this book, I love this series more than I love some people in my life, and absolutely nothing could keep me form continuing on with the fifth book. Thank you for creating these characters, Sarah J Maas: I will appreciate them forever. 
14. Vengeance Road– Erin Bowman (review)

Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.

I hadn't really ever read any westerns before 2015, but I did end up reading a couple in the fall, and I'm really glad that I did. I enjoyed all of the western novels that I read, but Vengeance Road is for sure my favorite. I loved how gritty and unflinching it was, and how it played with character development and plot twists throughout the story. I would definitely recommend it to you if you are looking for a western themed YA novel to read: it is accessible and fairly short, so you should fly through. 

15. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo (review)

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first

I have been reading Leigh Bardugo since her debut novel came out, years ago. Six of Crows was one of my most highly anticipated novels of the year. This book definitely lived up to the hype for me. I was on the edge of my seat throughout, and I got ridiculously attached to the characters and certain COUPLES in the book. (ahem. nina and matthias) Sad that this is only a duet, because this is a really interesting take on the Grishaverse.
16. Carry On – Rainbow Rowell (review)

Rainbow Rowell continues to break boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestseller Fangirl.

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

I think, like a lot of people, I was skeptical about this book when it was first announced. To me, Carry On and that world was something that existed only within Rainbow Rowell's book Fangirl, as a sort of parody on Harry Potter, and I wasn't sure that a standalone novel about this fictional world within a fictional world was something that could work. However, I love everything that Rainbow Rowell has ever written, so of course I wasn't going to not read it. And boy am I glad that I did. This was a crazy, super fun take on the "chosen one" narrative of Harry Potter, with all of the familiarity of a wizarding school, but with some really awesome twists. I loved the way that this was executed. 
17. First & Then – Emma Mills (review)

Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

Any book that is pitched as "Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights" is going to have my attention, and this book lived up to my expectations for something that is described as a hybrid of those two things. I loved the way that this was a book definitely centered around romance and the misadventures of two people who are attracted to each other, but it also centers on family life and figuring yourself out, which I really liked in addition to the fun romancey stuff too.

18. Winter – Marissa Meyer (review)

(spoilers!) Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

The Lunar Chronicles has been one of my favorite series for years, and I could not wait for this final installment to be released. I took a good long while to finish this one: it's a complete monster of a novel, but every single page is worth it. These are some of the greatest characters, I love their stories and how they entwined with one another: this is definitely a great series to dive into during the winter months, so if you haven't read any of them yet, I would definitely recommend that you do! 

That is all for my 2015 favorites!!! PLEASE link me if you guys have done a similar post, I really want to see what everyone has loved in the last year!



  1. I love these posts/videos as I always end up adding something to my TBR list! Mosquitoland, The Start of Me and You. and The Wrath and the Dawn are must reads for me this year, thanks!

    Yousra | Mystic Tales

    1. I totally agree! I'm always so fascinated by what other people read and why they like what they like! :) I'm so happy to have provided some suggestions!


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