I can’t believe that we’re nearing the end of 2015 already! But with the end of the year comes “best of” lists – something I’ve always looked forward to. I love looking to see which picks I agree with, and which ones I’ve yet to discover and when it comes to books, I always walk away with a list of titles to pick up on boxing day or add to my wishlist for Christmas.
I’m excited to do my own “best of” lists this year and perhaps inspire you to pick up something new that you might have missed in 2015.
Now, I’ll admit that while I read A LOT this year, I didn’t necessarily get a chance to read many new releases. However, that’s not to say that I’m walking away from 2015 without some new favourites, so without further ado…check out my choices for Best Books of 2015 below:
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A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab
Kell is one of the last Travelers-magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes, connected by one magical city.
There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad king-George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered-and where Kell was raised alongside Rhys Maresh, the rougish heir to a flourishing empire. White London-a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
I just finished reading this before I sat down to write this post. I was skeptical when I first started reading, as it’s not a genre I typically enjoy – but I’ve been noticing that this year I’ve found a lot of new favourites in the Fantasy genre so I gave it a shot.
As I read the book, there wasn’t one particular thing that I could put my finger on that kept me reading…all I knew was that I HAD to keep reading. and that’s a weird feeling that you don’t get from a lot of books.
If You Feel Too Much – Jamie Tworkowski
In 2006 Jamie Tworkowski wrote a story called “To Write Love on Her Arms” about helping a friend through her struggle with drug addiction, depression, and self-injury. The piece was so hauntingly beautiful that it quickly went viral, giving birth to a non-profit organization of the same name. Nine years later, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is an internationally-recognized leader in suicide prevention and a source of hope, encouragement, and resources for people worldwide.
Jamie’s words have been shared hundreds of thousands of times online. They’ve shown up on T-shirts and posters and even tattoos. Now, for the first time, Jamie’s writing is available in the form of a book. If You Feel Too Much is a celebration of hope, wonder, and what it means to be human. From personal stories of struggling on days most people celebrate to offering words of strength and encouragement in moments of loss, the essays in this book invite readers to believe that it’s okay to admit to pain and it’s okay to ask for help. If You Feel Too Much is an important book from one of this generation’s most important voices.
I have been a big supporter of To Write Love on Her Arms for many years now, and I’ve followed their blog for almost as long. I’ve always loved the posts that founder Jamie Tworkowski wrote, and so when it was announced that he would be releasing a collection of short essays (blog posts) I was very excited.
This book did not disappoint. It’s a collection of eye opening, uplifting and heartbreaking essays – a book I think EVERYONE will gain something from. Whether you’re familiar with Jamie or TWLOHA or not, this book will stick with you for years to come.
I have two posters on my bedroom wall that are quotes from essays that appear in this book (this one & this one). Two quotes that I plan to take with me into practice as an addictions counsellor; quotes that I want to remember. Everyone needs hope at some point or another, everyone needs words to remind them that they’re not alone – this book is exactly that.
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
I don’t think there’s a book out there that was talked about as much as The Girl on the Train, this year. While it’s rare for a book with that much hype around it to live up to it – this book definitely did.
I love a good thriller, but it’s a genre that’s very hit or miss with me. The Girl on the Train hit the mark in a way that for me, only Gillian Flynn’s novels Gone Girl, Sharp Objects and Dark Places have. I couldn’t put this book down, and I think I finished it in a day or two.
Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had. Except … her blood is Red.
To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.
There are a few books this year that I picked up solely because I’d seen them in so many pictures on book blogs and instagrams. I knew nothing about Red Queen when I started reading it – I didn’t even read the blurb on the dust jacket. A few chapters in I was still unsure about what I’d gotten into but the story escalated quickly and I was hooked.
I think this may be one of two books this year that I found myself having to put physical effort into putting down – like I was reading waaaay too late into the night because something always happened that made me
want need to keep going.
My one complaint? That I still have a few months to wait until the second book in the series is released Glass Sword.
A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas
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 over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it…or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
A Court of Thorns and Roses is another book I picked up on a whim thanks to tumblr and instagram. This one however, took me much longer to get into, and once I was finished the book I still wasn’t sure whether I enjoyed it or not. Which is an odd thing to say when a book is on your Best Books of 2015 list but I found it to be one of those books that you love once it’s finished. In the sense that you can appreciate the story and imagery more as a whole.
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) – Felicia Day
When Felicia Day was a girl, all she wanted was to connect with other kids (desperately). Growing up in the Deep South, where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons,” she looked online to find her tribe. The internet was in its infancy and she became an early adopter at every stage of its growth—finding joy and unlikely friendships in the emerging digital world. Her relative isolation meant that she could pursue passions like gaming, calculus, and 1930’s detective novels without shame. Because she had no idea how “uncool” she really was.
But if it hadn’t been for her strange background— the awkwardness continued when she started college at sixteen, with Mom driving her to campus every day—she might never have had the naive confidence to forge her own path. Like when she graduated as valedictorian with a math degree and then headed to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting despite having zero contacts. Or when she tired of being typecast as the crazy cat-lady secretary and decided to create her own web series before people in show business understood that online video could be more than just cats chasing laser pointers.
Felicia’s rags-to-riches rise to internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Ever candid, she opens up about the rough patches along the way, recounting battles with writer’s block, a full-blown gaming addiction, severe anxiety and depression—and how she reinvented herself when overachieving became overwhelming.
This may be at the top of my list – save the best for last, right? I’ve talked about this book before in a Fangirl Favourites but it’s SO GREAT. Whether you’re a fan of Felicia Day or not; this book is incredibly funny, and relateable. If you are a fan, you won’t be able to help but read this and hear Felicia’s voice in your head narrating. It really was a stand-out book for me in 2015.
What books made your “Best of” list for 2015? Let me know in the comments below.
I’ll be back with my Best Comics/Graphic Novels of 2015 post soon!