Tuesday Top Ten – Favorite Books Read in 2015

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had an absolutely FABULOUSLY nerdy 2015, see full of books and all kinds of awesome. I know I did. 2015 was a GREAT year to be me and I’m stoked to see what 2016 brings me.

For now, information pills let’s count down the top ten (technically 12) books that I read this year. Keep in mind…I read 126 books this year so this was HARD

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Both of the Honorable Mention books are actually being published in 2016. I read both of them in 2015 as ARCs and absolutely loved them both, page so they make my list of best books I read this year :)

Click the book title for its GoodReads page, the author name for their website and the book cover for my review!

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima 

I was so excited when I got this ARC both digitally and in the mail. I absolutely adore Cinda Chima and I honestly think she’s one of the best fantasy authors I’ve ever read. She’s just so damn good. She’s going to be visiting in April, about two hours away, but I’m going. Hands down. This is the first in a new series, a spin off of my favorite series by her, the Seven Realms. It was great to be back in that realm, though I miss Raisa and Han, and it was just…ugh, so damn good. I can’t wait to read more!

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Confession Time: I’ve never read an Alex Bracken book before. I’ve heard The Darkest Minds series is good but I just haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I got this book in the mail as an ARC and I loved the cover and concept and immediately dove in. I can’t even begin to explain how much I ADORE this book. I’m a huge fan of Alex’s now and I can’t wait to make The Darkest Minds a priority in 2016.

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Unchanged by Jessica Brody

Its hard to believe that I read this book nearly a year ago! How insane is that! So weird. But god, what an amazing end to the trilogy. I had all these theories and expectations and this literally blew my mind. It is just…its not at all what I expected at all. She surprised me and shocked me and its really hard to genuinely surprise me and I was like like OMG. Jessica Brody got progressively better and better with this series and I just absolutely loved this series ender.

The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen

In all truthfulness, I read the entirety of this series this year, and I loved every single minute of it. I was hooked from book one and devoured the entire series and anxiously awaited the new releases. But by far, easily, my favorite is The Shameless Hour. I love both of the main characters and I love the story. I love Bella so much, I love that she’s not your typical virgin, which we see most of the time in NA series. I love that she owns who she is until things happen and she questions herself, but still ultimately comes out as confident in the person she is. I don’t know if that sentence made sense AT all but that’s how I felt. SUCH a good book.

All Played Out by Cora Carmack

Even though Carson is my favorite and will always have the special spot in my heart, I just loved loved loved All Played Out. Like I said about with Jessica, Cora just got better and better with these books as the series continued and I devoured APO in a matter of hours. Just blew me away. I adore Nell, her personality, her directness, everything and Torres is just…the kind of guy that would drive me absolutely insane in real life but causes me to swoon when I read. I am INSANELY excited about the release of the fourth book :)

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I had been hearing about this book for ages and I had actually bought it when I met Victoria at YALLWest back in April. Everyone said it was SO good, but I just wasn’t feeling it for awhile. But when I finally sat down to read it…it just blew my mind. The world building is incredible, absolutely incredible…it flows so well and is so believable. And the twists and turns in this book…I was incredibly shocked at the ending of this book, jaw dropping, for sure. That cliffhanger…is it time for book two yet?!

Stand Off by Andrew Smith

I love Winger. Its one of my favorite books of all time and when I heard there was going to be a sequel, I nearly peed my pants with excitement. Because I was going to get my Ryan Dean back and the antics that follow him, always. And yes, that is what happened in Stand Off. I laughed so hard, because Ryan Dean is hilarious and Andrew is hilarious and the brand new character of Sam Abernathy is so freakin’ hilarious. But the book surprised me and became so much more, just like Winger. It had a lot to say about post traumatic stress disorder, and panic attacks and was written so beautifully. Always a win with an Andrew Smith book.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

I had high anticipation for this book because I absolutely adore Aaron Hartzler. He’s a great writer and just an all around great person and I was so excited when I was able to get an ARC of this book. And my expectations were blown away. I loved his first book. I absolutely am obsessed with this one. Aaron Hartzler writes a compelling and incredibly emotional read and its beautiful and poignant and relevant and permanent. I read this months ago, and the story still is stuck with me, still sends chills through me. Its a must read for sure.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

The first book I ever read by Rainbow Rowell was her novel, Fangirl, which I’ve now read several times. One of my favorite books that I’ve ever read and one of the few characters that I’ve been able to identify with as much as I have with Cath…Cath is me. So when I heard Rainbow was putting out Carry On, a story of the fictional characters created in Fangirl…I had to. And its amazing how invested in these doubly fictional characters I was! I loved the story from beginning to end and I laughed so hard, so many times, and I will ship Simon and Baz until the end of time. One of the best Harry Potter fan fictions I’ve ever read in my life, and I’m so glad this became a real book.

Winter by Marissa Meyer

I honestly felt like this book was NEVER going to be released. It had been nearly TWO years since Cress and I was DYING to find out what happened next. I’ve been in a perpetual slump with reading the past few months but I knew I had to sit down and read this one and I’m so glad I made myself do it because I blew through it. Marissa Meyer has an EPIC end to the series, with so many throwbacks to the original fairytales but also keeping me hooked to the action and the surprise and the romance and all of it. I LOVED this book and this series, and I can’t get it out of my head.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I don’t think I’ve ever met an author as talented at writing this beautifully and creating these kind of worlds so intricately than Leigh Bardugo. Seriously. The kind of fantasy she creates, the characters, the worlds, the way they all weave together to create the story…it just completely hooks me. Its emotional and real and its gripping because you can feel everything in the story as if you stepped through the pages. Leigh takes the world she created in the Grisha trilogy and opens it up wider, further, and pulls us into a new story, and its not hard to fall into it. I loved each and every character, I loved the story and I feel like I’m never going to fail to be impressed by this lady.

Scorched by Jennifer L Armentrout

I didn’t expect for this book to be on this list. I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did. I love Jennifer Armentrout and I’ve learned this year to love love love her new adult books. I loved Frigid but I took it as what it was and was excited for Scorched. I was so unprepared for what that book would do to me. Scorched’s main character, Andrea, suffers through mental illness, mental illness that is very very similar to my own and it felt…so real, so raw, so emotional to read the point of view of someone who felt so much like I do. I cried a lot because I felt like JLA had given me a voice, when it felt too hard to describe how I felt…especially when she described a panic attack. I kept thinking, YES, that’s how it feels. So yes, I loved the story and the romance and all of that but I also loved Andrea, and her struggle and JLA’s ability to put my feelings into words.

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What were some of YOUR favorite reads of 2015? Don’t forget to sound off in the comments!

Top Anticipated September Releases!

Young Adult 

Stand Off by Andrew Smith

Winger #2

It’s his last year at Pine Mountain, this web and Ryan Dean should be focused on his future, but instead, he’s haunted by his past. His rugby coach expects him to fill the roles once played by his lost friend, Joey, as the rugby team’s stand-off and new captain. And somehow he’s stuck rooming with twelve-year-old freshman Sam Abernathy, a cooking whiz with extreme claustrophobia and a serious crush on Annie Altman—aka Ryan Dean’s girlfriend, for now, anyway.

Equally distressing, Ryan Dean’s doodles and drawings don’t offer the relief they used to. He’s convinced N.A.T.E. (the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) is lurking around every corner—and then he runs into Joey’s younger brother Nico, who makes Ryan Dean feel paranoid that he’s avoiding him. Will Ryan Dean ever regain his sanity?

Release Date: September 8th, 2015

My Thoughts: I am dying for this book. Ever since Andrew announced it, I’ve been dying to get my hands on it. I tried again and again to get an ARC but it seems fate was not in my hands. But that’s okay. Only a week more to go. AGH.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows #1

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Release Date: September 29th, 2015

My Thoughts: Anything by Leigh is bound to be a good book. Easily. She writes fantasy so well and her world building skills just absolutely blow my mind. Plus its the same universe as the Grisha trilogy so I’m already dying to read this.

Firewalker by Josephine Angelini

The Worldwalker Trilogy #2

Lily is back in her own universe, and she’s ready to start a new life with Rowan by her side. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fueled their escape from New Salem, and must hide her magic for the safety of everyone she cares about, but compared to fighting the Woven, the monstrous creatures inhabiting the alternate Salem, life is looking pretty good.

Unfortunately, Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily go that easily. If she can’t persuade Lily to return to her world, she will force her to come back by doing away with the ones she loves.

Release Date: September 1st, 2015

My Thoughts: I absolutely loved the first book of this series. It was dark and sexy and beautiful. Josie is one of the most beautiful writers I’ve ever read and she left off on such a cliffhanger so I can’t wait to read this book. That will probably leave off on a terrible cliffhanger…

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass #4

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

Release Date: September 1st, 2015

My Thoughts: I’ll admit it: I haven’t even read Heir of Fire yet. *Hangs head in shame* I even got an arc of that book too! I just wasn’t feeling fantasy too much and so I kept putting it off. Now that I’m back into that, I’m ready to dive into that book, which means I’m excited to get my hands on this book ASAP!

Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But she’s tired of being loyal to people who don’t appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.

Arden finds comfort in a blog she stumbles upon called “Tonight the Streets Are Ours,” the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.

During one crazy night out in NYC filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.

Release Date: September 15th, 2015

My Thoughts: I’ve already read this book. I was lucky enough to read the ARC and I absolutely loved it. It was unique and fun and emotional and it kept me addicted until the very end. A totally awesome release that you should get your hands on this month!

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

The Gold Seer #1

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

Release Date: September 22nd, 2015

My Thoughts: I’m convinced that everything Rae Carson does is absolute gold and I’m sure I’ll think so with this novel. Its been awhile since The Bitter Kingdom released so I’m so excited to have a brand new Rae release in my hands. She’s amazing, and writes such beautiful characters. I’m sure this book will be the same.

I Crawl Through It by AS King

Four talented teenagers are traumatized-coping with grief, surviving trauma, facing the anxiety of standardized tests and the neglect of self-absorbed adults—and they’ll do anything to escape the pressure. They’ll even build an invisible helicopter, to fly far away to a place where everyone will understand them… until they learn the only way to escape reality is to fly right into it.

Release Date: September 22nd, 2015

My Thoughts: AGH. A.S. King writes some of the weirdest stuff that I’ve ever read. Seriously. Her books make my brain go haywire trying to figure out what is going on. But seriously, that’s what I love about her books. They make me think. They’re absolutely incredible and even when they’re wacky as hell, they tell such human stories. UGH. I have the ARC of this and I NEED to make time to read it! Eek!

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #3

Time is running out for the Peculiar Children. With a dangerous madman on the loose and their beloved Miss Peregrine still in danger, Jacob Portman and Emma Bloom are forced to stage the most daring of rescue missions. They’ll travel through a war-torn landscape, meet new allies, and face greater dangers than ever. . . . Will Jacob come into his own as the hero his fellow Peculiars know him to be? This action-packed adventure features more than 50 all-new Peculiar photographs

Release Date: September 22nd, 2015

My Thoughts: This is another book where I need to read the second one as well. But this is the conclusion! So I’m hoping to power through the second book soon and then make my way through the third. Plus Ransom is just such a cool person and there’s going to be a movie and its all good stuff.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

Release Date: September 22nd, 2015

My Thoughts: I’ve already read this book, months ago actually. And it both broke my heart and gave me an immense amount of hope. Aaron Hartzler completely nails it in his first fiction release. I can’t even handle how much I absolutely loved this book. Ugh. I can still remember all the emotions. Get your hands on this book. Now.

New Adult 

Forever With You by Jennifer L Armentrout

Wait for You #5

Some things you just believe in, even if you’ve never experienced them. For Stephanie, that list includes love. It’s out there. Somewhere. Eventually. Meanwhile she’s got her job at the mixed martial arts training center and hot flings with gorgeous, temporary guys like Nick. Then a secret brings them closer, opening Steph’s eyes to a future she never knew she wanted—until tragedy rips it away.

Nick’s self-assured surface shields a past no one needs to know about. His mind-blowing connection with Steph changes all that. As fast as he’s knocking down the walls that have kept him commitment-free, she’s building them up again, determined to keep the hurt—and Nick—out. But he can’t walk away. Not when she’s the only one who’s ever made him wish for forever . . .

Release Date: September 29th, 2015

My Thoughts: So I was discussing this with my friends, since we got our hands on the ARC and apparently I’m the only one that loved it. But I loved it. I can’t even begin to express how much I connected with the main character, Stephanie. I loved it. I can’t wait to get that ARC back so I can hug it to my chest :) I think JLA continues to put out great books in this series and I can’t wait for book six.

Middle Grade

The Cooper Gauntlet by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

The Magisterium #2

Callum Hunt’s summer break isn’t like other kids’. His closest companion is a Chaos-ridden wolf, Havoc. His father suspects him of being secretly evil. And, of course, most kids aren’t heading back to the magical world of the Magisterium in the fall.

It’s not easy for Call . . . and it gets even harder after he checks out his basement and discovers that his dad might be trying to destroy both him and Havoc.

Call escapes to the Magisterium — but things only intensify there. The Alkahest — a copper gauntlet capable of separating certain magicians from their magic — has been stolen. And in their search to discover the culprit, Call and his friends Aaron and Tamara awaken the attention of some very dangerous foes — and get closer to an even more dangerous truth.

Release Date: September 1st, 2015

My Thoughts: I absolutely ADORED the first book in this series and I’m so sad I won’t be able to pick this up tomorrow. It was SUCH a great start to the series and Holly and Cassie have such a great writing dynamic. I can’t wait to see what else happens to Callum.

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What September releases are you looking forward to? Share in the comments!

Book Review: What We Saw (ARC) by Aaron Hartzler

20922826This review is based on an advanced reader’s copy of the novel obtained through Edelweiss at the permission of Harper Teen. This is in no way had an effect on the integrity of my review. Please note that published novel will differ from this ARC.

Genre: 

Young Adult, and Contemporary

Pages: 

336 pages

Part of a Series?:

Standalone Novel

Release Date: 

September 22nd, 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

iBooks

Author Website

GoodReads Summary: 

Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

This story—inspired by real events—from debut novelist Aaron Hartzler takes an unflinching look at silence as a form of complicity. It’s a book about the high stakes of speaking up, and the razor thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.

My Review:

I knew immediately that this was a book I needed to read. It sounded amazing for one thing, and I absolutely adore Aaron and his writing and his writing style. I knew that it would be good. I just didn’t know how good it was going to be.

This book completely blew my mind. As soon as I had downloaded it onto my Nook, I couldn’t stop reading. It was like a train wreck, you couldn’t look away. When it came down to it, I think the realism of this story, the fact that this is based on a true story and based on real events that happen all the time, I think that’s what drew me in and kept me there right away.

Kate is faced with an incredibly difficult obstacle. She was at the same party as Stacey. She was drunk, and yet she made it home and Stacey didn’t. Or so Stacey says. But she’s torn because the guys accused of raping Stacey are basketball royalty, the entire town worships the ground they walk on. There’s no way they did this…and even if they did, Stacey deserved it. She dressed provocatively. She’s from the “wrong” side of town. Its everything we face in the news, on Facebook, everywhere, all the time right now, and watching it through Kate’s eyes was hard to take.

This book was incredibly emotional for me. I felt so many different emotions at once. I felt sick and angry and anxious as hell. Its been awhile since I’ve had such a visceral reaction to a story and I felt this one all over. I cried, I got angry, I felt helpless, even though this is all fictional. But is it? I was so angry because this sort of thing happens and this sort of thinking-that a girl deserves it, that she should have taken care of herself, she shouldn’t dress that way or drink that much-exists all over the place and its WRONG. But because of the rape culture we have…people are confused. And Kate is confused. She’s torn between her feelings for Ben Cody, and for his friends and for the popularity they have.

I think the thing I had the most visceral reaction to was everyone’s thoughts about the boys and Stacey. The way they built up the boys, the way the boys acted like it was a joke, the way they tore apart Stacey…it made me feel awful every single time I read a line. People genuinely think this way! They do, and its just terrible and to read a book about something like this, something that actually really happened…it was hard to stomach.

But I think what makes this book as great as it is is that Aaron provides a beacon of hope about this. Sure, you feel hopeless at times, you realize how close to home this story hits because of how incredibly real it is. But at the same time, you have Kate. And Kate is the light in this story because you see her journey through uncertainty and confusion and determination and finally, resolution. She’s the light, she’s the hope. She’s the good. She gives you the hope that there are so many people out there that know to do the right thing. That’s what makes this book so beautiful. Kate. She’s an incredible character and you follow her through this book, experiencing the same emotions as her, wanting to reach into the pages and hold her hand and tell her its going to be okay, even if you’re unsure its going to be. She’s the beautiful bright spot of the novel and she’s what makes this book SO incredibly good.

This book doesn’t come out til September, and I’ll definitely repost the review closer to release day. I just wanted to share this now because I want to build up talk for this book NOW. It blew my mind. The writing, the characterization, everything…its just amazing. I already was impressed with Aaron from Rapture Practice and now I’m a complete convert. This is a one of a kind novel and I know that we will see more of this incredible talent in the future.

 

Rating: 

5 out of 5 Stars

April Book Wrap Up!

Books Pledged to Read in 2015:

150

Am I On Track: 

3 books behind (That being said, unhealthy I’m really proud that I didn’t get further behind. I was 7 books behind at one point. April was the most INSANE month so I’m stoked that its only 3 books)

Books Read So Far: 

46

Total Books For April: 

13

The Understatement of the Year

Understatement of the Year

Three Day Summer (ARC)

23232396

The Deal 

24504048

Royal Wedding (ARC)

23215471-1

What We Saw (ARC)

20922826

The Shameless Hour 

23346876

All Played Out (ARC)

22249707

Sweet (ARC)

Sweet

How to Love

22693175

Alienated (Re-Read)

13574417

This One Summer

18465634

The Mistake

25031450

Every Last Word (ARC)

23341894