Best of 2015: A Year in Reading and Reviewing

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: 2015 was an underwhelming year in books for me. Even though I read 101 books this year (a good number for me, these days!), my own reading choices left a lot to be desired. I think this is because I didn’t push myself to read outside my comfort zone as much as I have in years past. It’s been a crazy and hectic year in my non-blogging life (grad school…WHYYYY?) and as a result I primarily sought out comfort reads. As enjoyable as those were at the time, those nice little fluff balls didn’t leave much of an impression.

But despite all that, I read some real gems in 2015. I reviewed all these titles save the October Daye books. To see my reviews, just click on the image!

October Daye Banner
Heartstrikers Banner
The Others Banner
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book_covers_lamora
book_covers_sorcerer
book_covers_darkest
book_covers_nimona
book_covers_tower
book_covers_bitterblue
book_covers_livehere
book_covers_stranger

 

So clearly some conclusions can be drawn from this list. Numero uno is that books written by women were uhh, numero uno this year. The only books on my list written by male authors are THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE and THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA. The fact that I preferred books by women isn’t surprising to me, but I am surprised by how few books by dudes made it onto my list. The second thing that jumped out at me was how many of these books feature queer characters, either as protagonists or crucially-important secondary character. *triumphant fist-pump* And finally, Juliet Marillier has officially been crowned Queen of My Heart! She makes an appearance on this list with not one, but two separate series! How does she do it???

Things that I would like to see more of on my “best of” list in 2016: more queer representation, more POC representation, more science fiction (any science fiction…). The best way to make that happen is, of course, to read more books that feature these things. I plan to do so in 2016. #ReadingGoals

Well there it is, folks! The best of the best of 2015, as read and determined by me. *grins*

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  • Y’all definitely need to read Leviathan Wakes in 2016.

    • It’s on the list! I have a copy so it should be in the works fairly soon. 🙂

  • I find it interesting that in reading in your comfort zone you actually had a less satisfying year – I think it’s great that you recognize you need to challenge yourself! For myself, I actually think I need more fluff reads. Don’t get me wrong, I feel I had a pretty good 2015, some very cerebral, mind-blowing, perspective-altering reads by a diverse list of authors. But I think 2016 will see me trying harder to read books from my personal just-want-to-read-for-the-hell-of-it pile 🙂

    • Yeah, I thought that reading in my comfort zone would make for a great reading year, but that only ended up happening in a pretty superficial way. I think we’re in the opposite situation, haha! You can take some of my fluff, and I’ll get into some of those cerebral, mind-blowing, and perspective-altering reads. 😉

  • There are some books here I’ve just added to my TBR list. I can’t believe I’ve still not read The Darkest Part of the Forest, I’ve been excited about that book for a year. The year of 2016 is the year of me getting around to more books. Same for any and all Juliet Marillier books I need to get reading them immediately. You and Kaja have said good things and I just haven’t gotten around to it. Same goes for Lies of Locke Lamora, need to read like so bad. I meant to read it over the holidays and just haven’t. Oops?

    I have added The Others and the October Daye series to my to read list though. Hopefully I may stumble across some of these books at the library and I can get reading because they sound interesting. Good luck in reading more variety this year, I’m hoping the same so fingers crossed for us succeeding.

    • It was such a good book! Highly recommend the audio version too, if you like those. YES Juliet Marillier!!! I think you’ll really love her, but keep in mind that her books can be pretty heartbreaking…but in a good way. Not exactly “pick me up” books, haha. HA! That always happens to me, I say that I’ll read something impressive over the holiday and just end up gobbling down several historical romances.

      Oh man, I hope you love them! I will say of October Daye that it definitely builds – starts pretty good and then slowly but surely ramps up to epic. The Others series is just epic through and through, in my opinion! Thanks Becky, you too! 🙂

  • Maraia

    Juliet Marillier for the win! I’m going to answer your Marillier question from your ToT post in this comment, haha. I didn’t like the first two Shadowfell books at all, but I kept reading them because I want to read everything she writes, and I actually did like the third one. I know Wildwood Dancing is really popular, but I also didn’t like that one. And then there’s the second Sevenwaters trilogy, which I did still love (maybe for sentimental reasons), but it’s nowhere near as magical as the original trilogy. I think she sort of dumbs down her writing for a YA audience. But other than Shadowfell and Wildwood, I’ve loved everything else.

    Nice Dragons Finish Last is on my list for this year! I haven’t had much luck with urban fantasy yet, but I have high hopes for this one.

    I still need to re-read Bitterblue, since I didn’t get to it last year. I’m glad you loved it just as much.

    Btw, I was looking over my End of Year Survey yesterday for the millionth time and realized that I forgot Fine Print on my list of favorite new blogs! That is now remedied. 😛

    • Hahaha perfect! Hmmm okay, I may just end up marathoning the Shadowfell books in that case – that way I can quickly plough through to the best book, haha. What was it you didn’t like about Wildwood Dancing? I think you may be the first person I’ve heard say that they didn’t enjoy that one! Ugggh dumbed down YA is the worst, that’s unfortunate. I’m hoping to read everything she’s written too, so hopefully I will enjoy those more than you did!

      Ooooh no pressure! Haha. I really hope you like Nice Dragons Finish Last, it’s honestly the most original UF I’ve ever read. It’s really more of a hybrid UF/SF/Dytopian series.

      Bitterblue! So amazing. Kristin Cashore…please write more books! Please!

      HA! Well I’m happy to hear it! 😉 I was creeping your list and as a result I’ve now got a hold on Simon Vs. at the library. I’m sure I’ll love it! 😀

      • Maraia

        I know, everyone seems to love that one. I hardly remember, it was a while ago. I think I didn’t connect to the characters the same way? Or maybe it was because I’m not terribly fond of that fairy tale. I don’t know, there’s just something different about her YA books. Although I think I’ve given almost everything she’s written 5 stars, because a ‘bad’ Marillier book is usually still amazing. I can’t wait for you to read them all. 🙂

        Yayyyy, Simon vs. is so amazing. 😀

  • Rinn (Rinn Reads)

    Ahhh Nimona! I should really buy that, I love Noelle’s art and have been following her on Tumblr for a few years.

    • It was so good! Surprisingly deep, too. I was expecting a cute read – which I got – but there’s a lot more to it as well. I hope you love it! 🙂

  • This was an underwhelming year of books for me as well for a similar reason. Looks like you have quite a few great titles on your list though! I’m going to need The Rest of Use Just Live Here soon. It always catches my eye when I see it. I hope you have a great reading year in 2016.

    • Thankfully I did manage to read some really great books, but it was definitely a little underwhelming over all. 🙁 Oh man, I adored The Rest of Us Just Live Here! Such a thoughtful and hilarious book. Thanks Samantha, you too! 🙂

  • It was a bit of an underwhelming year for me, too, for much the same reason. (Not the grad school part, but the stress and going for the comfort reads.) But I love your list, especially since a number of those are books/series I hope to read or at least start this year: the Toby Daye series, Rachel Aaron’s books, the Graceling series, and I’m currently working on the Blackthorn and Grim series (and need to reread Daughter of the Forest so I can continue with the Sevenwaters series.) Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me!

    • Sorry to hear that you also had a bit of a lacklustre reading year, Lark! But despite some underwhelming reads, I really did come across some winners. I highly recommend all those series (obviously, haha), and if you like audiobooks then Rachel Aaron’s books and the Toby Daye series are both very well done in audio version. Good luck with your reading in 2016!

  • I will definitely have to be more selective in my reading in 2016, I read some great books but also had some real duds. I am glad you found some favourites this year, though! I just started Lies of Locke Lamora this week and I LOVE. I am also a huge fan of the October Daye series so I am glad you enjoyed it. And squeeee for all the Juliet Marillier love <3

    • Yeah, my sentiments exactly! I need to be a bit more choosy, I think. Ahhh yay, I’m so glad you’re loving Lies of Locke Lamora! Jean Tannen is one of my favourite characters of all time. ALL TIME. Three cheers for Marillier!

  • A big WORD to your first paragraph. Exactly describes my reading year as well – underwhelming. I also plan on pushing myself a little more this year and not always go for the comfort read no matter how much I’d like to. Your list of favorite books looks good though! I also read Nimona and The Darkest Part of the Forest and really liked them. They didn’t make my best of list but they convinced me to read more by those authors, for sure.

    • I think the initial push to read something more challenging can be difficult when you’re feeling drained or tired, but those books can also be so rewarding! Hopefully 2016 will be a year of good balance between comforting fluff reads and some more mind-altering reads.

      Ahhh yay! I highly recommend basically all of Holly Black’s books, and I really enjoyed the first volume in Noelle Stevenson’s graphic novel series Lumberjanes (she’s a writer for that series but not an illustrator).

  • Lynn Williams

    Well this is interesting! I love some of your choices but it’s a shame that your year overall was a little underwhelming! I think that your taste in books is probably changing slightly. For example, I used to read a lot of YA books but now only read a sprinkling – and that’s usually when I want something a bit lighter (or fluffier) or even a bit of romance (which I don’t tend to enjoy reading that often). It’s good when your book taste changes though, at least I think so, because you still retain your earlier likes and carry on picking up reads in the same vein but you also branch out into other areas which is good. (Not trying to say that your reading choices are narrow btw!!!!! In fact I’m probably not explaining myself very well at all!)
    Moving on…. Lovely to see Marillier on here – I’ve just picked up Tower of Thorns and I can’t wait to get to it. Also – the GBs – always makes me smile to see them on anybody’s list.
    Darkest Part of the Forest I still haven’t read and I love Holly Black and have had a copy for ages. This is a must backburn list book for this year!
    Anyway, Happy New Year to you. I hope you have a fantastic year and that by 2017 you will be so overwhelmed with great books that it’s impossible to make a list because they all need to be on it!
    Lynn 😀

    • I agree, I definitely think my reading tastes are changing! I know what I like and I enjoy those types of books (UF, YA fantasy, etc.) but they don’t always offer the greatest rewards! Haha no don’t worry, I get what you’re saying! Although it’s not my first instinct, branching out into other genres has led me to some of my favourite books of all time.

      YAY! Tower of Thorns…it was so damn good. I really hope you love it! The first GB book was fantastic, I really need to catch up with the rest of the series ASAP. The Darkest Part of the Forest was so lovely – Holly Black has a great, lyrical writing style that suits fairy tales perfectly.

      Happy new year to you as well, Lynn! Hahaha what a lovely thing to wish! Buried by a mountain of fantastic TBR books…perfection. 😀

  • Gah I completely missed this post. Your 2015 reading looks amazing! Several of these made it to my “best of” list as well. I mostly want to read more Marillier and catch up with the Nice Dragons series – I think the third book should be coming out this year? And I’ll be perusing your graphic novels feature for more ideas, of course. 🙂

    • I’m constantly behind on my blog commenting, too! It’s the gift that keeps on giving, haha. Despite some let downs I really did have a good reading year – my continued Marillier love was a huge part of that.

      YES, the third Heartstriker book is slated for 2016! I’m so glad you’re enjoying that series, Kaja. I know it’s a bit out there but I think it’s brilliant. Always happy to give out recommendations for graphic novels! 🙂 Definitely check out the website Women Read Comics, too. They have some amazing features over there.