Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Stand-Out Books of 2015!



It’s that time of year again, you fiendish book lovers!

As always, I hope you had a Christmas full of happiness, warmth and BOOKS. Whether those books were wrapped up under your tree or bought with some gift cards!

Hopefully you haven’t burned through ALL your disposable income, as this my sixth annual Stand-Out Books of the Year post! You know you’re going to want to check out my recommendations…

Each year that I post this wrap-up, I seem to be recording less and less reading. Well, that is MOST certainly the case for 2015. Now not only do I have that same full-time job, but I have been doing overtime, went on a work trip and started college courses in September.

In other words… yikes!

Yet we must face that as we get older and gain more responsibilities and goals, well – our free time sharply declines. So you shall see that reflected in my numbers. 

Also: I am only presenting 19 books as Stand-Out’s this year.

Standard rules apply – the books I post here do not have to have been released in 2015 – I’ll just have read and/or reviewed them in 2015. Another customary disclaimer: these 19 books are not the only books I liked/loved in 2015 – just the ones that particularly stood out when I look back over 2015.

Let’s do this!

How many books did I read?

60

That's 60 less than in 2014.

How many pages did I read?

21,683

That's 19,503 less than in 2014.

How many pages, on average, did I read per day?

59

That's 54 less than in 2014.

Don’t let the dwindling numbers fool you, I am a bibliophile through and through! You are just witnessing the results of being a slave to that wretchedly unforgiving beast: Time.

As you read through my list of Stand-Out Books of 2015, you can click on each title to be transported - almost magically you might say - to my original review of the book.

Crisp Contemporary Fiction:


A piercingly raw middle-grade novel putting a family relationship in the spotlight, this book takes those rough growing up and pulling away moments and adds an extra dose of spice with secrets. For me, it was a gripping story that hurt and healed – lovely.

Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger

Apparently I had a thing about fractured family tales this year. Believe me, this isn’t the last one. Here we have a YA novel by the author of the best-selling The Duff (which I have now bought but have not yet read) that takes on a story of a distant side character and puts her front and center. Sonny’s habit of lying becomes more problematic than ever when she inadvertently begins an online friendship with someone who thinks she is her beautiful best friend. It’s painful, hilarious and altogether a great read about mending and hope.

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Pretty much anything by Sarah Dessen is a winner, but to varying degrees. What I really felt stood out about this one was how we took a girl in a longstanding high school relationship that had gotten almost too comfortable and then added in a splash of a visiting city boy and the excitement it brings – if only temporarily. But the most important visitor to town is her biological father, with whom she has a strained relationship. Without going into too much detail, I thought the end to this one was really quite spectacular.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Here we embrace a girl who, essentially, lives in a hypoallergenic bubble in her own home. She’s attended by a nurse and her physician mother and is never allowed outside their specially designed home because the world, quite literally, can kill her. She’s accepted her fate in life, though, and looks at things with an inspiring positivity. Yet when an intriguing boy moves in next door, she dares to begin to want something more… This was a page-turner with a shocker I did not see coming!

Fractured Futures, Fantasies and Fairytales:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

A wholly unique take on Cinderella, Meyer thrusts us into a creepy, enticing futuristic world where Cinder is a cyborg – a human with robotic parts. It’s a shameful thing to be in New Beijing, where full androids are nothing but slaves. She uses her mechanical savvy to provide income to her stepfamily – and this is where she meets the striking Prince Kai and learns more about the impending potential war with the mad queen of Lunar. This was awesome and I need to read the rest of the books!


The Mistborn series are some serious high fantasy stuff, people. You have to commit to some HUGE novels with a TON of characters and COMPLEX plotting. If you’re willing to be patient and committed, there’s a huge payoff in these books. I was blown away by how it kept surprising me and how intricately put together these books were. Definitely recommended!!!

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

OMG, Jasper Fforde is officially one of my favorite authors now. Wordplay, insane cleverness and just overall AWESOMENESS. What is it about, you ask? This is a society based on a hierarchy of the color perception you have. Eddie hopes to increase his aristocratic level with a marriage to a color higher than he – but his plans are thwarted by a sudden trip to East Carmine where generally held strict rules and mannerisms seem more lax and he is intrigued by a Grey. A GREY! So difficult to convey the utter perfection of this book – all I will say is that you must trust me and have a grand ol’ time treating your brain if you read it.

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Along the same vein as her stunning For Darkness Shows the Stars, Diana here takes on a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel. It’s a follow-up of sorts, featuring a great female espionage and romance story. It beautifully renders a sci-fi, futuristic world where a revolution of the most horror is occurring. It’s an unusual, arresting story with suspense and the unsettling ugliness of revenge. Peterfreund is fantastic.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Twylla is the seventeen year old embodiment of the Goddess her society is centered on, which means that she is impervious to poison but can kill others simply by touching them. Due to this, she is under guard at the castle and has a position of a glorified executioner – but she tries to find solace in her faith in the Goddess. But when she gets a new, young guard who looks at her like a girl instead of a horrifying instrument of death, something stirs in her. She cannot lie to herself any longer. I cannot say more! This book ended up being SO MUCH MORE than I expected! Simply intoxicating with suspense, royal intrigue, romance and excellently drawn characters. There is supposed to be a follow-up and THERE BETTER BE!!!


This middle-grade trilogy is a fantastically new spin on fairy tales, heroes and villains, princes and princesses, love and friendship! When two best friends are thrust into the School for Good and Evil they are shocked to find that Agatha – plain and generally not people friendly – is enrolled in Good and Sophie – beautiful and perky – is enrolled in Evil. Not only is this puzzling to them but they find that they are supposed to now be enemies. Will their friendship overcome this error? These books encompass a lot more than what I wrote here but they are a mishmash of surprisingly matire character development and human insight in a world of fractured fairytales, romance and twists. Great trilogy!!


Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal

Anyone who has been a faithful reader of the Bibliophile Support Group knows that I am a HUGE FAN of Kowal’s Glamourist Histories series, which provides an alternate Jane Austen like Regency era and adds doses of naturalistic magic (a.k.a. glamour). Well, this is the final book and YES I LOVED IT. It’s huge and suspenseful and, as I wrote in my original review, gave me worse nerves than Mrs. Bennett! This an amazing end to an extraordinary series!!

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

Imagine this: It’s the 1930s and two immortal beings – Love and Death – have set their set pieces in play, who will win? Poor Henry and Flora have been selected and are in the midst of a planned game, one of many throughout the history of time. They both have dreams and goals and difficulties – and when they realize they are falling for each other all of these things only increase. Because one is white and one is black, and that is just not okay in 1937. Can they overcome the game they have been involuntarily made a part of? Gorgeously written and heartbreakingly presented, this book provided fully fleshed characters and a storyline that kept me hooked from start to finish.

Psychological Drama… or Ghost Story?

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

CREEPY. That pretty much sums up this one. More details? Okay fine. How about a girl with a split personality – but one where one personality comes out during the day and the other only at night, without fail. One where they are convinced it is not a split personality but rather two girls trapped in one body who call themselves sisters? What if one of them disappears? What if we know a deadly fire is going to happen and they will never find her? What then? YOU READ THE CRAP OUT OF THE STORY, THAT’S WHAT. Presented in interviews, news articles, mental health appointments and freaky diary entries this frightening novel is likely to leave you a bit unsettled!

Proof That We Should Read Books for ALL AGES

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Yes, I have seen the movie version of this – and it’s actually a pretty good adaption! But we know the truth of the matter – the book is always better! When young Coraline steps through a door in her home to find a mirror image of everything, except with weird button eye and creepier personalities, she realizes there is something sinister going on… Quite creepy and entrancing, I loved Coraline and its cleverness!

The Lost Track of Time by Paige Britt

What if we could quite LITERALLY die of boredom? What if you could ACTUALLY fall through a hole in your schedule? This middle-grade novel of wordplay and subtle lessons, like The Phantom Tollbooth, shines with intelligence and readability. It’s an excellent new addition to a genre of children’s books that expects their readers to be smart and get new revelations of double meaning with each read. Great!!

Okay, there you have it! A collection of different kinds of books that I found to “stand out” this year!

Happy Reading! See you next year!!!

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