If reading more is one of your New Year’s resolutions, have we got the books to love from 2015 here! Maybe start with these — some of these novels standalone with others part of series expecting more books in the upcoming year. Either way, start 2016 off with your own fabulous list of titles.[lead]–Beth[/lead]
Adult Bestseller: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Compared to Gone Girl so many times and while yes, the hype over this book is definitely deserved; this comparison is unfair. The Girl on the Train triumphs all on its own. Mystery, tightly wound up in the anxiety and paranoia of the characters, there’s no doubting the hate between lovers and exes and who’s with whom… making for the best kind of sexual tension. Oh and it’s bound for the big screen. Gotta read it now!
YA Bestseller: The Rose Society by Marie Lu
A complete revelation of dark, messy characters who deserve so much love but are so easy to hate because of their actions. How can you root for such a psychopath? Hmmm… high functioning anyone? Brilliant plotting, daring adventures, allies and enemies, and secret societies — only Assassin’s Creed could possibly be more fun? Right?
Debut Novel: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
One of the cutest, sweetest, nicest reads I’ve read in a long time. Darling characters and a supportive family, this diverse cast of people make life wonderful. Grab a pack of Oreos, a glass of milk and the book… and find a little piece of heaven.
Book to Movie Novel: Scorch Trials by James Dashner
A surprisingly choice cast, who totally nailed it with this film. Maze Runner was good, but this film felt urgent and frantic in a way that made it spine-tingling watchable. Loved it.
Reader’s Choice: A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab
So, so good! There’s nothing skimpy about this world-building. Lush and detailed and gritty and urban — if I were going to be a great magician with a chip on my shoulder, this place is where I’d hang out. Frankly, I’m of the opinion, everyone should be reading Schwab.
YA Bestseller: Wendy Darling: Stars by Colleen Oakes
Wendy Darling: Stars, the first book in Colleen Oakes’ series, expresses a new, dark twist on the old tale of Peter Pan. Set in early 1800s London, Wendy Darling is just a normal, ambitious, young girl trying to make her way. She has a loving family — mum, dad, younger brother John, and baby brother Michael. She has a budding romance with Booth, the bookseller’s son, whom her parents do not approve of. Wendy’s heart dreams of a life on her own, but her head is pushing her to do what is right by her family. One night, when she plans to sneak off to find Booth, in comes Peter Pan! He’s dazzling, gorgeous, young, bold, brave, everything you would want for in a big adventure! But when they go to the enchanting island of Neverland, things go from amazing to terrifying. This book made my emotions go from up, down, and all around so many times. Oakes’s writing is very poetic, and I can’t wait for the sequel next year.
Debut Novel: Sing for Me by Gracie Madison
Gracie Madison’s debut novel Sing For Me was intense! I went from loving this novel, to hating it, to throwing it across my floor, back to feeling content with it. In general, I guess I can say I had a good time reading. I love a good novel that centers around angels vs. demons; good vs. evil; Heaven and Hell. It’s why I’m gravitated towards literatures such as The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, and J.M. Darhower’s Extinguish. The novel starts with Madeline who has flown from the Realm to the mortal world in hiding from Corinth, a demon who is out to destroy her. Madeline is a Choir, an angel created merely to entertain the Realm. Choirs aren’t given the power to use emotions, or allowed to interact with each other and never realize their true potential of their powers. With her guardian, Hunter Damascus, and his friends Shiloh and Tyre, and her mortal-turned-Prophet friend Natalie, they work together to outrun Corinth and his plan to capture and kill Madeline. All the while, Natalie and Madeline are planning the production of a famous play for the Eden Theater Company with prima donna, Danielle. Gracie Madison’s writing style is very poetic and flowing. Each sentence carves into one another and fit, like a professional Olympic ice skater flying on the surface. The second book, Divine Interlude, is due out soon next year, and I’ll be waiting at the gates for that one.
Book to Movie Novel: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games trilogy has finally come to an end with Mockingjay: Part 2, the second half of the last book. I thought it was fantastic!! I thought the whole movie was a brilliant way to end the series. Jennifer Lawrence played an excellent, reluctant serious form of the warrior Katniss Everdeen. Liam Hemsworth did good as Gale even though his character was very selfish. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta always wanted to cry or near tears, which is understandable because he just came off of the tracker-jacker venom and attacking Katniss, nearly choking her to death. I wanted to either shake him awake or give him a big hug. But all in all, with the good, bad, and sad, this truly was a very good ending to a very serious, revolutionary book and movie series, and I can’t wait to see it again on DVD!
Reader’s Choice: Discovering April by Sheena Hutchinson
I find myself rereading this book over and over again, only because Sheena Hutchinson has a talent for romance and comedic characters! This book was amazing! In the beginning, when April was still hung up on her breakup with Hunter, her personality was a bit childish and immature. I had to remind myself that she was in college-age and not high school, because her mentality was so of that nature. Especially since Hunter was a cheating, lying a–hole and she still kept going back to him! The first half of the book got on my nerves with April’s attitude. It got better when she started hanging out with Jared “Jare Bear” Hoffman, her next-door neighbor, who had been secretly in love with her since they were childhood friends. But they stopped hanging out after his parents died years before, leaving her to wonder what she did wrong. But it turned out, she didn’t do anything wrong; he just needed time to process their deaths and figure out how to take over his father’s construction business at the age of 16. I really liked April and Jared’s relationship from friends to lovers. Jared is the most confident without being cocky, and I loved that about him and it showed in how he treated April how much he really cared about her, unlike Hunter. I asked Sheena Hutchinson if there was going to be a sequel to Discovering April, but sadly, she said no. Bummer, because I’d love to see if April and Jared have kids and their story carry on.
Adult Bestseller: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This is not a book about war, or at least, not just a book about war. It’s a book about women in wartime, about finding strength in the unexpected places, about terror and pain and hard choices. It’s one of those books that makes you ugly-cry and, at the same time, feel better about the world in general. And, ultimately, it’s a book that even when I finished, stayed with me to the point that its name was the first one that came to mind when I read this category name. And that says a lot.
YA Bestseller: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
2015 was a good year for YA literature, and this was the hardest category to pick from. This is not the only good book of the year, not is it the only one who made me feel, but it is the one who provoked the strongest emotions. I remember throwing the book at the wall, at least two times. There was also repeated cursing and a very loud gasp when I go to the end. Because I want more. I need more. Preferably yesterday.
Debut Novel: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
This book has so much to say, and it says it all in a deep, dark and somewhat disturbing way. Which is actually a good thing. There are some subject matters you can’t treat without going a bit dark unless you want to run the risk of seeming disingenuous. This book is not that. It’s never that. If anything, this book might be considered a little too spot on. Maybe that’s why I loved it.
Book to Movie Novel: Room by Emma Donoghue
One of the movies of the year, from one of my favorite books of the last few years. I ugly-cried at the book, and boy, did the movie pull the same emotions from me. It might seem easy to make a good movie when you have good source material, but if the past has shown us anything is that it’s really, really not. A good adaptation requires understanding the words, the feel, and the emotions behind a book. It also requires amazing actors. Room has both of those things, and it also has something even more essential –heart.
Reader’s Choice: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
I love Neil Gaiman. You say his name, I buy the book, it doesn’t matter what it is. But I’ve got a special fascination with his short story collections. Maybe it’s because it just makes it easier to put the book down. Maybe it’s because he gets to tell me twenty different stories. Or maybe it’s because he’s the reason I discovered the genre. Either way, Gaiman is always, always my go-to writer.
YA Bestseller: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
The fourth installment of Sarah J. Maas’ bestselling Throne of Glass series was a much anticipated read this year. And Maas did not disappoint. The story is full of action, adventure, romance, and humor. It’s heartbreaking, swoon-worthy, and anxiety-inducing. It’s everything you love about Maas’ books and more. We get a lot of resolution in Queen of Shadows; battles are fought, characters die and others move on. However, we are also introduced to new characters and conflicts and relationships. Queen of Shadows marks a turning point in the Throne of Glass series–the story takes a new, exciting direction. I can’t wait for Book 5 to release next year!
Debut Novel: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
The Wrath and the Dawn is the first book in a YA Fantasy trilogy, and Renee Ahdieh’s debut novel. The story of Shazi, the “strong, fierce, capable beyond measure” protagonist and Khalid, the tortured “boy king” she seeks to ruin, is a captivating re-imagining of The Arabian Nights. But what I loved the most about this book was the world. The country of Khorasan’s culture and life is vivid and lush and diverse. And, of course, there is the enchanting touch of magic and mystery at the center of the story that keeps readers on their toes. I loved The Wrath and the Dawn and I’m excited to see what Ahdieh has in store for readers next year with The Rose and the Dagger (TWATD #2).
Book to Movie Novel: Paper Towns by John Green
Admittedly, Paper Towns is not my favorite book from John Green. However, I loved the movie. (I’m a little biased because I got to work on set as an extra. But, the movie is really great. I promise!) First and foremost, I really appreciated the fact that the director and writers kept the movie true to the book. Paper Towns wasn’t turned into a romance or a love story. The movie maintained the book’s central message: “What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.” The cinematography and acting are both really great. I was impressed with Cara Delevigne’s performance. She captured Margo’s essence perfectly. And, the movie soundtrack is also pretty amazing. Paper Towns is fun and nostalgic and wise. And, it’s definitely one of my favorite movies this year.
Reader’s Choice: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
One of my favorite books of 2015, which is also a debut, was Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. This is a witty and lighthearted YA Contemporary Romance about first love, familial love, and learning to love life (no matter what hand you’ve been dealt). But, it also hits on some more serious topics such as mental and physical illness, and domestic abuse. The book is filled with adorable drawings and doodles (illustrated by Yoon’s husband, David), giving the story character of its own. Yoon’s writing is marvelous and the story is inspirational. Highly recommend it!
Critic’s Choice: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Illuminae is a behemoth of a book, but it’s so incredibly unique that you must read it. It’s a story told through documents–emails, video transcriptions, reports, instant messages, pictures and other engaging forms. Plus, it’s an amazing story about a futuristic world where we live in outerspace. Illuminae is about love and hope and what it means to be human. I really enjoyed this one (althought it took me three months to read). I’ve never read anything like Illuminae and you probably haven’t either. So, go pick it up!
- More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
- Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
- The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
- Winter by Marissa Meyer
- Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
- Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
- Lock & Mori by Heather Petty
- Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
- Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles
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