To celebrate the end of 2015, I’m sharing a few of my favorite reads from the past year. Some are older books that I just got around to reading, others actually came out during 2015. If you’re looking for a few great books to read in 2016, these are a great place to start!
I used to read 100+ books a year, but lately I haven’t had as much time as I’d like. Between an increased work load and spending time with my son, boyfriend and other family, I don’t get a lot of time to just sit and snuggle up with a book. In 2015, though, I made a more conscious effort to take some extra “me time” to unwind, so I did manage to get in a solid 30 books. I’m hoping to get that up to 40 for 2016. I don’t think I’ll ever be back up to my 100+ books a year lifestyle, at least not until I retire, but I love reading so making time for it is important to me. These are a few of my favorites from 2015.
Best Books of 2015: 9 Great Books to Add to your 2016 TBR Pile
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The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
The Here and Now is a beautiful combination of time-travel science fiction and star-crossed romance about a girl who travels from the future to try to save humanity from ruining itself. Prenna James comes from a very bleak future on the brink of complete annihilation. She and others like her arrive in the past with a mission and a set of Rules. Rules that, if followed, will prevent her from making things worse. The biggest rule? Don’t fall in love. Of course, that’s the hardest rule of all.
This could easily have been a trite story about a post-apocalyptic future or a boring love story about a selfish girl who would rather play footsie than save the world. It’s not. Ann crafts a hauntingly beautiful tale that stays with you for days after you finish the last page. Plus she manages to pull it off at a spit-fire pace that never leaves you snoozing through chapters.
No Ghouls Allowed: A Ghosthunter Mystery by Victoria Laurie
If you’re a fan of Victoria Laurie’s Ghost Hunter Mystery series, you’ll LOVE No Ghouls Allowed. If you’ve never read the series, I suggest starting with the first book, What’s a Ghoul to Do?, and going in order. This is one of my favorite series because it’s just so much fun to read. MJ is a medium turned ghost hunter. She hunts and traps some of the spookiest specters ever to escape from the other side, along with her also-medium boyfriend, Heath and assistance from her scaredy-cat BFF, Gilley.
In No Ghouls Allowed, author Laurie has finally taken us back to MJs roots and her hometown in Georgia. MJ has a strained relationship with her dad, but she makes the trip back home to attend his wedding. She’s supposed to be taking a break from ghostbusting, but when horrible things happen at the mansion her dad’s fiance is having renovated, MJ and her team step in to help. The spooky mystery is just one part of this story, though. To me, the real treat was getting a closer look at what makes MJ and Gilley tick.
A Gift of Ghosts (Tassamara Book 1) by Sarah Wynde
Keeping with the ghost story theme, next we have A Gift of Ghosts, the first book in the Tassamara series. Akira Malone is all science, no fiction, even though she has the ability to see ghosts. In her scientific mind, it’s just another aspect of science, leftover electromagnetic energy. Unfortunately, her colleagues don’t see it the same way, and Akira ends up an unemployed laughing stock. Then she gets a mysterious job offer from a strange company she’s never heard of in a town where everyone is a little more para than normal. Her new boss, Zane, believes that Akira can help save his dead loved ones who haven’t been able to move on.
A Gift of Ghosts is a paranormal romance, so yes it’s a bit sappy at times. But Wynde develops the town of Tassamara in such a way that you’ll want to move right in. If you like your ghost stories with a heavy dose of love story, or your love stories with a heavy dose or paranormal, you’ll definitely get lost in the pages of A Gift of Ghosts.
The Winter Long: October Daye Book #8 by Seanan McGuire
I anxiously await every new entry in the October Daye series, and McGuire never disappoints. In The Winter Long, she’s outdone herself. Throughout the series, October has discovered new things about herself around every corner. She’s never been just your average Changeling, but that fact gets driven home with each new entry. Now, though, just when she thought she knew it all, she’s thrown even more curve balls.
Reviewers on Amazon are calling The Winter Long THE sequel to Rosemary and Rue, and they couldn’t be more right. Yes, there were 6 other sequels to that first book, but this one is the book that answers the questions you’ve had since Toby first crawled out of the pond, transforming back from fish to Changeling. Questions are answered, new questions are raised. You’ll have closure, yet you’ll beg for more. Fortunately, A Red Rose Chain is also out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t answer as many of the new questions as I’d hoped it would. Fortunately, that means we’ll have a book 10.
If you’ve never read the October Daye series and you’re a fan of Faerie (or even just really awesome, strong female characters, witty writing and adventure), start with Rosemary and Rue, and don’t stop until you’ve finished A Red Rose Chain.
Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca
I bought Pandemic because I love books about viruses. Real viruses, not the over-done zombie virus genre. To me, the real thing is a million times scarier than a bunch of braindead, slow-moving, rotting walking corpses. Anyway, I bought Pandemic because of the virus angle, but that’s only one part of what makes it one of my favorite books of 2015.
The story of Pandemic is driven by a deadly flu outbreak, but it’s the main character Lilianna that gives it heart and substance. Lilianna has already dealt with more than any teenager should ever have to cope with, and it’s left her with a few issues that she’s yet to overcome. Lil is all alone at home when a deadly outbreak hits her home in New Jersey. Her mom is stuck on the other side of the world and her dad is just hours away, yet still can’t get back. She not only has to survive the outbreak- which is causing more panic and hysteria by the minute, but her own personal issues. Ily is a wonderfully drawn character, stronger than she knows with weaknesses that just make you feel for her even more.
The Testing Trilogy: by Joelle Charbonneau
While The Testing Trilogy isn’t new (the first book was released in 2013), it’s new to me. This was one of my favorite series that I read in 2015. In the first book, 16-year-old Cia Vale is graduating high school and hoping she’ll be chosen for the Testing, her one chance to get out of her tiny colony and actually do something with her life. Her father, who was once chosen, still has nightmares from his own Testing, so he’s relieved when his other children are passed over. Just when it seems like Cia won’t be chosen, word comes down that she’s in.
During The Testing, Cia faces horrible challenges designed to test her mental and physical skills, theoretically to determine which job she’d best be suited for to help rebuild a world ravaged by the Seven Stages of War. I don’t want to give too much away, but let me say that when you finish the first book, you’ll be glad that the entire series is already available. I read all three books in about three days. If you loved The Hunger Games, you’ll love The Testing Trilogy. While it definitely seems inspired by Suzanne Collins’ novels, it holds its own as a premiere entry into the world as dystopian fiction.
Panic by Lauren Oliver
Panic was an unexpected love for me, because it has no magic, no science fiction, no ghosts and no dystopian government. It’s just a story about a poor small town and what the high school graduates do for fun. Granted, what they do for fun is incredibly dangerous, but it’s still just a story about normal kids in a normal small town. Panic is a game in which the participants are called on to participate in crazy challenges. Heather never planned to participate, yet at the last minute, she jumped off a cliff and into the water, signalling her participation. While the game is the background for the story, the true tale is about discovering yourself and how far you would go to protect the people you love.
The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
I came across The Book of Ivy while following a string of “customers who bought this item also bought…” Sometimes when I can’t think of something to read, I go through those and look for books to add to my wish list. In this case, it was the name that drew me in, so simple and lovely. The story is about Ivy, a girl from Westfall (a town named after her grandfather), who is forced into an arranged marriage with the president’s son. The Westfalls and the Harringtons are at war with each other. The Harringtons hold all the power, but Ivy’s father wants to change that. Ivy has one mission: kill her new husband.
Yet Ivy isn’t a killer. When she learns that her new husband isn’t the monster her father and sister made him out to be, she has to make a decision: follow orders or follow her heart. Amy Engel developed amazingly rich and stunning characters in The Book of Ivy and its sequel, The Revolution of Ivy. The dystopian world she’s created is stark yet vivid, bleak yet hopeful, expertly written and imagined. This was one of my top 5 favorite books of 2015. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what Engel writes next.
Pawn (Blackcoat Rebellion) by Aimiee Carter
So far, I’ve only read Pawn, the first book in the Blackcoat Rebellion, but I’m definitely planning to read the others. Aimee Carter wrote one of my favorite series, the Goddess Test books, although the Blackcoat Rebellion is completely different. Kitty is a second child in a world where parents only get to keep one. She grew up in a group home, and her only chance at having a decent life is scoring high on the placement test that determines your place in society. Too bad she blows that test, despite the fact that she’s probably smarter than half the people in ranking positions.
Through a series of events, Kitty ends up sold to Prime Minister Daxton Hart, who transforms Kitty into a clone of his dead niece and makes her dance on his puppet strings. Kitty has to do what he says or she’ll lose the one love of her life, her best friend and boyfriend Benjy. Kitty discovers that her clone was actually trying to change the world, and that’s what got her killed. Will Kitty continue her work? And did her clone really die the way everyone thinks she did? The only way to find out is to read the book.
I really enjoyed all of these books in 2015! Want a peek at what’s on my TBR pile for 2016? Again, some are old, some are new and some aren’t even out yet.
2016 Book Wish List and TBR Pile
I got these for Christmas and am reading my way through them now:
- Spellman Six: The Next Generation (Spellman Novels) by Lisa Lutz
- Teardrop by Lauren Kate
- White Space by Ilsa J. Bick
Books available now on my Wish List (if you’ve read any of these, let me know if I should move any to the top of my list):
- Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
- All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
- Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
- The Short Life of Sparrows by Emm Cole
- The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien
- Sunder by AE Watson
- The Light of the World by Tara Brown
- The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins
Coming out in 2016:
Obviously, I haven’t fleshed out my “coming out in 2016” list very much yet. I need to browse around a bit, see what else is on tap for the year. If you have any recommendations for me, please share them in the comments!
What was your favorite book of 2015? What’s on your TBR pile for 2016?