Monday, January 4, 2016

Best of 2015

How did it get to be 2016 already? I don't know what I missed. There were so many books I was going to read that I haven't gotten around to yet! (Not to mention I was going to clean my room and rearrange my bookshelves and...I'm tired just thinking about my to-do list.) But I did read several books (187, actually), and many of them were published this year. SO you know what that means... Here are my top 15 books that I read in 2015--I tried to stick to the ones that were published in 2015, but some older ones might have gotten in there. They're in no particular order, of course, because I just could not choose.

1. Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
 Absolutely fantastic. I loved this story, as I've loved most Nick Hornby books I've read. This is the story of one woman in Britain who wants to be on a comedy show. It goes through her discovery, fame, and even years after the show has ended. I absolutely love books that follow the same group of characters for many years (The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer comes to mind), and this one was no exception.

2. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Look, I've heard the complaints about Mim putting on "war paint" being cultural appropriation or worse, but that's material for another (longer) post. This is on the list because I loved the story of a girl setting out on a road trip on her own to find her estranged mom and uncover secrets of her family's history. I loved the writing style, and I loved the characters. We'll get to the other parts later.

3. In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks
This is about a boy who can create alternate worlds and it completely blew my mind. I loved the "world-creating" that the main character could do--it was the perfect mix of realism and fantasy. And the plot twist! I couldn't stop thinking about this book. I'm still thinking about it!

4. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Here's a book by the author of one of my favorite series(es?). So I was definitely going to read it, and chances were I was going to love it. But that wasn't for sure, and I was kind of nervous for Sarah J. Maas. What if it didn't measure up? And while it wasn't as good as the Throne of Glass, what could be? This was still a fantastic start to a new series. It's a (loose) re-telling of Beauty and the Beast where the girl kills a wolf and, as punishment, is taken to live in a court with faeries and other creatures. (And, as she's not really punished much, and immediately falls in love with the immortal Tamlin, it's a rough situation. Look, it's not a perfect book. But it's pretty good).

5. Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier
Another book by an author I love! And the synopsis is so cool. Ready? There's this girl who's been having weird dreams about a group of boys performing rituals in a graveyard. Her family moves to a new area, so she starts attending a new school. Her classmates? The boys from her dreams. I cannot wait for the next one to be published.

6. Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor
 I talked about this one a while ago, in a post about the trope of smart girls who learn to loosen up in YA novels. While that one was problematic, there were other tropes as well--forming a band, foreign/sophisticated friends, separating parents... Pandering? Maybe. But I fell for it anyway.

7. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Okay, you get it by now. I love this series. It was a cold day in March when I read this (all in one night). The rest is history. (For more details, see my post about the series).

8. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
What a fantastic start to a new series. Last year, around Christmastime, one of my good friends begged me (and then threatened me) to read the Legend series, and it was wonderful. And it was halfway through January when I started wanting to re-read it, but it was way too soon, and I was still not over the emotional trauma of Champion. Luckily, a wonderful, wonderful thing called The Young Elites came into my life. It's about a girl named Adelina, who survived a plague that passed through the nation years ago, and now has strange powers. She's an anti-hero and it's a darker series than Legend, and I loved it. 

9. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Oh my goodness, I can't recommend this enough. I think I've told pretty much everyone I know to read it. It's a graphic novel that started out as a web comic. Nimona is a shapeshifter who becomes the villainous Ballister Blackheart's sidekick and mischief ensues. It's twisty and you're not sure who's good or bad, and maybe the most important theme is that most everyone falls into a gray area between the two.

10. George by Alex Gino
This is a children's book about a girl who's transgender. She knows she's a girl, but everyone else insists on treating her like a boy. Okay, so the book is very important and I'm all for representation for characters of all kinds, but it's also a really good book. The writing was perfect for children--explaining things without talking down to its audience.

11. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
This one's about a girl who's allergic to everything and has to stay inside, in her room, all the time. When she gets new neighbors, however, she starts wanting to leave her bubble. I had heard this book was good, but I didn't think it could be all that special. It sounded like a pretty simple plot with a pretty predictable ending. It was not. And I was so happy to admit I was wrong about it.

12. Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
Dave and Julia are best friends. Years ago, they made a list of cliches to never, ever do. And then, in their senior year, they decide to do them all. Here's a predictable one with a simple plot that still ended up being fantastic. I was so into the story and the characters and I didn't want it to end. 

13. Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen, and Maarta Laiho
These are comics (I read the first two compilations and am eagerly awaiting the third) about a camp for girls. Weird things are happening, though, like magic foxes, secret caves, etc. And Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are going to find out what's going on. This is so great--it's adorable, quirky, funny, smart, and features five fantastic female main characters.. What else could you want?

14. SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki
How do I even describe this? It's a graphic novel, but there are some non sequitor pages, and the plot doesn't follow a clear pattern. It's about a school for mutants, but it's not about their powers. It's about their lives. I found myself loving all the characters and wanting more and more from this book. I'd read anything set in this school--I'd read a graphic novel about the characters doing their homework. 

15. Violent Ends edited by Shaun David Hutchinson
This was one of those books that you don't want to keep reading, because the material is so dark. But, at the same time, you want to keep reading, because it's so good. It's a compilation novel about a school shooting, with each chapter written by a different YA author and told from a different point of view. It's so interesting to see the different sides of Kirby, the shooter, and how his actions affect everyone in the novel.

So there you have it--my 15 favorite books I read in 2015! There were others that I loved, so stay tuned for reviews, discussions, etc. Happy reading in 2016.

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