Top Books of 2015

Now that another year has come to an end, it time to look back at all of the books I’ve read and pick my favorites. This is usually something I both eagerly anticipate and dread but to my complete surprise, I found it much easier this year. While I felt like this was a good reading year, full of good books, there ultimately weren’t as many great ones as I had expected. So this year, instead of doing my top fifteen of 2015, I’ll just be doing my top ten in absolutely no particular order.

22055262 A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: This was the first book by V.E. Schwab that I’d ever read and she did not disappoint. This book was everything I had hope for, a magical story with evil, betrayal, a many sided coat, parallel Londons and an aspiring pirate. There’s really no way that you could go wrong with that.  Review here.

18006496 Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas: I adore this series and while there was a lot of controversy surrounding this latest book and certain decisions made, I personally found it to be another strong addition. Sure, certain decisions made me want to cry and throw the book into the fire, but that’s a part of reading a series like this; it makes you feel the feels. What concerned me more was how to handle falling in love with Rowan Whitethorn, despite the fact that we have the same name. Awkward. Review here.

16148398 Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: I’ve been trying to branch out and read more graphic novels and I couldn’t have made a better choice than Saga. It is absolute perfection. Everything I could have hoped for. The art, the characters, the story, all of it continuously exceeds my expectations and blows my minds. If you like sci-fi and aren’t bothered by more adult themes, do yourself a favor and pick this up.

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Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes: I actually picked this series up for the first time this year and was fortunate enough to get my hands on all three books that were out at the time and I binge read this series like I was dying. I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked up the first book but it wasn’t the crazy ride that this series gave me. Each book just got better and better and the transformations that characters go through (Magnus, you conflicted beast) are some of the best and most complex that I’ve read in a very long time. But more than that, these were just so refreshing to read because it’s impossible to predict what happens next.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik: 22544764I actually got this book for Christmas and read it right at the end of this year. It made me unbearably happy to end the year on such a high note. This is one of those instances where I want to kick myself for putting a book off for so long because it genuinely saddens me that I went so long without having it in my life. It’s the grumpy mysterious withdrawn magician boys, they never fail to make me all gooey. Like a big mushy marshmallow of yearning and salty tears. Sigh.

16096824 A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: Am I showing a bit of favoritism by putting Sarah J. Maas on here twice? Maybe. Okay, definitely. But both of her books that came out this year were too amazing to leave off my list so I don’t even feel guilty. It was so refreshing to get a book by her that wasn’t part of her YA series and while it didn’t love it as much, it came pretty damn close. My greatest shame though is that I haven’t picked if I’m Team Rhysand or Tamlin yet… Can I make a Team Rhylin? Review here.

18798983 The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: This book promised me a tale of revenge that simply sounded too deliciously dark to turn down. Although it didn’t have as much revenge as I would have liked, I was surprised at how much I did enjoy it. It offered a bit more diversity that I usually get in my book choices, something that I’m horribly ashamed of. But it also presented us with a story we were familiar with but in a new way, with a hint of magic, conflicted characters and the power of love. I know, I know, that last part makes it sound like a big ball of cheese but it’s true. Review here.

 21457243 Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop: This is probably my favorite urban fantasy series right now and each book just delivers so much mystery and emotion and dark, gritty, evilness; I love it *evil laugh* Okay but really, the dark tones of this book are so fitting for the world and it feels so right. If humans did discover that vampires and werewolves and all the things that go bump in the night did exist, we would probably live in fear. And with each book, it becomes more and more evident that humans should fear them. But on a lighter note, CAN WE PLEASE GET SOME SMOOCHING?! This couple that I ship so goddamn hard just keep dancing around each other and I’m about to flip if they don’t get together soon. Why does the author feel the need to torture us?

23437156 Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: Since I hadn’t loved Leigh Bardugo’s other YA trilogy, I pre-ordered this book in a moment of brave hope. Although I knew that a pretty cover meant nothing about the quality of material inside, I comforted myself by knowing that at least if it stank, it would look quite nice on my shelf. So imagine my surprise when this turned out to be one of the best books I’d read all year. Let’s just say that there might have been some happy tears. And then real tear because this book you guys, this book. It hit me in the feels so hard that I got the wind knocked out of me.

13206900 Winter by Marissa Meyer: I actually went to the Lunar Ball launch party for this book but ended up putting this book off for a little while because I was so nervous and sad to read the conclusion of such a great series. Once I finally found the courage to read it though, I of course loved it. Winter and Jacin were both great additions to the story even though my OTP will forever remain Cress and Thorne (my poor babies). And I found that, despite a few small disappointments, which are always inevitable with final books in a series, I was immensely satisfied with how this book ended.

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I can’t believe 2015 is already over and how small of a dent it feels like I put in to my TBR pile. But I read some superb books during the year and I’m looking forward to so many new releases this one. What were some of your favorite books your read in 2015?

 

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My Favorite Books of 2015 So Far

We are only a little over halfway through 2015 and we’ve already been fortunate enough to get a whole bunch of amazing new releases, and here are a few of the best ones that I’ve read so far.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)   The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen, #1)   A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic, #1)   The Storyspinner (The Keepers' Chronicles, #1)   Shutter

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: I absolutely adored this book beyond words. Sarah J. Maas is a master at creating a beautiful story full of interesting and well developed characters, suspense and mystery, and romance that makes your toes curl. This book made me laugh and cry and swoon and bite my nails in suspense, I’m counting down the days until we get the sequel.

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows: Having never read any of Jodi Meadows’ other books, I didn’t know what to expect, but I ultimately ended up being impressed with this book. I found the fantasy world super intriguing and loved the idea of this “orphan queen” trying to reclaim her throne and save her people.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: This book blew my mind in the best way possible and I raced through the whole thing in one sitting. An intense and fascinating story of magic, mischief, evil, parallel worlds, aspiring pirates, multi-sided coats, and a black stone that’s far too clever for anyone’s good. Not to mention Kell, who won my heart almost immediately.

The Story Spinner by Becky Wallace: I completely judged this book by it’s less than attractive cover and assumed it wouldn’t be any good, but damn, was I wrong. Similar to Falling Kingdoms, this book has multiple lands and perspectives, events that don’t seem connected until they are. It was ten times more intense and intriguing than I had expected.

Shutter by Courtney Alameda: Normally, spooky YA books don’t really do it for me, having to tone down the creep factor for a younger audience kind of kills it for me. But this book was subtly chilling and refreshing in all of the right ways. No love triangle, no insta-love, a cast of fun characters, and a world full of creepy crawly monsters, I’m eagerly awaiting news of a sequel.

Crimson Bound   Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)   The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)   An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)   Vision in Silver (The Others, #3)

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge: A fairy tale retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with darker twists and a tormented heroine. Although the gorgeous cover initially drew me in, the story was so interesting and the characters so realistic that I found myself struggling to put it down.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: Another case of cover lust that ended well, this world and the struggle between classes is only made more awesome by the superpower elements. Mare was a heroine that I found myself really enjoying and that, mixed in with the unpredictability of just about everything in this book, made this one especially stand out.

The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: Having never read anything related to A Thousand and One Nights, I found this book to be super refreshing and unpredictable. I absolutely adored the romance between Shazi and Khalid, and their constant internal struggles over loving each other and what it meant. It was dark and depressing at times, but also beautifully sweet and hopeful.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: One of my favorite books so far this year, by far. I loved the Roman inspired fantasy land, every single character we get introduced to, even the evil ones, and I honestly cried when I finished it, knowing that I would have to wait a whole year for the next one. Sabaa Tahir is one of the most exciting new authors of this year and I can’t wait to see what else she delivers.

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop: This is the third book in my favorite urban fantasy series right now and I love each book more than the last. The thing about this series that really does it for me is that the world is so dark and realistic and like nothing I’ve ever really read before, in the best way possible.

What are some of your favorite books that you’ve read so far this year?

May Wrap Up!

I took it easy this month and only read 15 books but it was definitely a fun month. I read so many books that made their way onto the list of my favorites so far this year so I would definitely call May a reading win.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: This was one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year, if not my favorite. Sarah J. Maas has yet to disappoint me and this book was so amazing and made me feel all of the feels. 

Soulless by Gail Carriger: Steampunk, werewolves, vampires, parasols, and a snarky heroine… What more could I possibly ask for? Alexia’s constant wit and the steamy romance made me giggle through the whole book, making this one a super fun read. 

Changeless by Gail Carriger: The second book in the Parasol Protectorate series and it made me laugh just as much as the first one. Full of fun new characters and more mischief, I was really happy to see that the second book was still exciting and creative, building on this interesting and imaginative world. 

Blameless by Gail Carriger: This book was almost as good as the previous two, my only problem with it was that some characters were making stupid and bad choices which ended up making me rather annoyed. If it wasn’t for the lack of time spent together between certain people, this book would have have had a solid four hearts. 

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge: Although this book didn’t really seem to have much to do with Little Red Riding Hood, it was still a really unique and interesting book. I loved the complex story and all of the characters, who were flawed and very realistic, and I found it to be very refreshing compared to a lot of books I’ve read so far this year. 

18798983   6574102   Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society, #2)   13580928   9284655

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: Yet another refreshing and unique retelling that surprised me with how much I enjoyed. I loved the main characters in this book, from Shazi, with her stubborn natural and sharp tongue, to tortured Khalid. This was a beautifully written tale of sacrifice and revenge, of what it means to be a monster and what it takes to love one. 

Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals, and Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter: I’m clumping these three together because I gave them all the same rating and basically felt the same about all of them. I should have loved these books, they sounded right up my alley and were about heists, something I love reading and watching movies about. But ultimately, I didn’t connect with the characters and these books just didn’t really do it for me. 

Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck: I’ve heard so many ups and downs about this book that I put off reading it forever and was almost positive that I wouldn’t like it. To my surprise though, I thought this book was pretty fun and I really liked the Indian mythology. If only it wasn’t for the horrible, dramatic love issues in the last chunk of the book, I would have given this book a better rating. 

Deathnote Vol. 1 by Tsugumi Ohba   Death Note, Vol. 2 by Tsugumi Ohba   The Selection by Kiera Cass   The Elite by Kiera Cass   Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan

Deathnote Vol. 1 and 2 by Tsugumi Ohba: I’ve never watched the anime so I went into this not knowing a single thing about it and I was surprised and excited to find that I absolutely love this story. It’s dark and suspenseful, making you think and keeping you on your toes. I can’t wait to read the rest of this them watch the anime, I know that I won’t be disappointed. 

The Selection by Kiera Cass: Here’s another book that I’ve been putting off for a long time, and another one that I was sure I wouldn’t like but actually ended up enjoying more than I expected. This book was the kind where I’m not even one hundred percent sure why I liked it, but when I was reading it, I couldn’t put it down. 

The Elite by Kiera Cass: While I actually found myself enjoying the first book, this one was almost painful for me to read. The main problem for me was America. That girl was so weak, allowing herself to be tugged back and forth, jumping from boy to boy so quickly that it was making me sick. Her attitude and decisions single-handedly ruined this book for me. 

Saga Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan: I can’t even put into words just how ridiculously in love I am with this series. Every single time I read the next one, I want to cry and scream and punch someone in the face, all at the same time. If you haven’t read this series yet, you are clearly doing something wrong with your life. 

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn

Title: The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) 18798983

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: May 12, 2015

Summary: A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

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Going into this book, I knew absolutely nothing about A Thousand and One Nights, the story that this book is apparently based off of. To be honest, I think I remember watching a Scooby Doo episode called Arabian Nights, where Shaggy is disguised as a beautiful woman and tells the Caliph stories to postpone the wedding until Scooby can rescue him. That’s literally the only thing I knew about that story going into this book. So while I’ve heard some complaints about this book following the story too closely and not being original enough, I personally found it very interesting and not like anything I’ve really read before.

In this book, we get Shahrzad, a bold and brave young woman who volunteers to marry Khalid, the young Caliph who takes a new wife every day and kills her the next morning. No, Shazi doesn’t have a death wish, she just has a burning desire for revenge. With a plan to survive the night, she makes it her mission to find Khalid’s weaknesses and destroy him for killing her best friend and dozens of other young girls. Our heroine was one of the real shining points in this book. She was clever and witty, brave and daring, and a force to be reckoned with. I really respect a woman who holds her own in a time period mostly dominated by men, and does so in a way that feels natural. I loved her honesty and sharp tongue, and the way she constantly spoke her mind and stood up to people. Besides Shahrzad, Khalid really stood out in his own way and had a lot of depth and layers that I wasn’t expecting. The two of them were constantly bantering and challenging each other and I loved every second of it.

The romance in this book was definitely full of internal conflict and I loved that because there was real foundation behind Shazi and Khalid’s fears. Shazi comes to avenger her best friend, only to fall in love with the boy who killed her, along with countless other girls. He is, without a doubt, a murderer, and there’s no way to ignore that and possibly no way to ever forgive it. And for Khalid, Shazi is the only girl he has left alive, something he is very uncertain about and brings a whole new set of problems. I really felt sympathy for both of them because the situation seems hopeless. No matter how much Shazi might love him or suspect he had a reason for killing all the girls he did, it doesn’t change the fact that he still did it and part of her might always hate him for it.

The only reason that I didn’t give this book five stars was because I would have loved a bit more magic. In this world, magic seems to be rare, but possible. To be honest, I’m not one hundred percent sure because we don’t get to learn very much about it which was a bit of a disappointment. Magic obviously plays an important role in this story, yet is hardly ever directly addressed. The world as it is, is very interesting and beautiful but by incorporating magic, it was made just a little bit more exciting and mysterious. However, by not really bringing the magic into the world in an understandable way or even bothering to really explain the rules of it, it definitely feels lacking. One of my hopes for the next book is that the magic is really explored and developed more.

This was a beautifully written tale of sacrifice and revenge, of what it means to be a monster and what it takes to love one. This book felt so unique and refreshing compared to a lot of YA books I’ve read lately, with diverse characters, a gorgeous world, and a story that made me feel all the feels.

RATING: 

May New Releases

16096824  16071187  21570318  22561320

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: This book is definitely my most anticipated book this month, as well as one of my most anticipated of the year. The Throne of Glass series is one of my favorite series right now, so I have complete faith that Sarah J. Maas is going to have an amazing start to a new series. The fact that this book has faeries and aspects of Beauty and the Beast only makes it sound ten times better. I honestly can’t wait to read this book, I know I’m going to absolutely love it.

The Cage by Megan Shepherd: I’m really intrigued by the idea of this book. A mixture of teenagers being held captive in an alien zoo? Uhm, can you repeat that? But seriously, I’m not even sure where this book it going but I’m itchin’ to find out. I really enjoyed Megan Shepherd’s other series, The Madman’s Daughter, so I’m hoping she delivers another unique and gritty story. I am a little nervous however, because this book sounds like it’s going to be a little romance heavy.

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge: That cover. That summary. *sigh* I think I might be in love. One of my favorite things to read is a well written fairy tale retelling and this one has caught my attention because it sounds so interesting. I love the idea of this book having elements of Little Red Riding Hood because that’s one fairy tale that usually doesn’t get much action, so I can’t wait to see how it’s incorporated into this story. And to top it all off, the main character Rachelle, sounds like a bit of a monster slaying bad ass which gets me so pumped for some girl power.

Velvet by Temple West: Okay, so I’ll admit that it was originally the cover that drew me into this book. Then once I read the summary, I groaned internally and put it out of my mind. Another cliche YA vampire book? No thanks, I will definitely pass. But then, to my shock, it started getting five star reviews. As I looked into this strange phenomenon, I found that people are really enjoying this book. Apparently it has an abundance of witty banter (something I can never resist), fun characters, a steamy romance, and surprisingly good lore. Who would have guessed?

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The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: Everything about this book sounds so amazing. I love the idea of a twist on A Thousand and One Nights where the murderous husband isn’t all that he seems. Our heroine is going to have to be very clever and keep her wits about her in order to survive night after night, then use every chance she gets to figure out the mystery of how all the girls are dying. I just hope that the romance doesn’t overshadow the opportunity for a great story.

The Artisans by Julie Reece: While this cover definitely seems a little bland, the story sounds interesting enough to make up for it. The Artisans is another Beauty and the Beast retelling, but set in modern day with a paranormal twist. I’m really excited to read a retelling that focuses more on the horror aspect when most of the time, it’s the romance that gets all of the attention. My only concern is whether this book is going to stand out among all of the fairy tale retellings that have been coming out recently.

The Novice by Taran Matharu: I can sum up the reason I’m excited for this book in one word; battlemages. Oh, and demons. But mostly battlemages. Seriously, I absolutely love magic but one of my favorite things is duels and battles between magic wielders. While there is nothing wrong with a traditional battle with swords, the unpredictability of a battle involving magic makes it so much more exciting. But on top of a world with battlemages, we also get a main character with the ability to summon demons. This book has so much potential, I might die of anticipation.

Charmed by Michelle Krys: This is the sequel to Hexed, a book that I read last year and the thing is, I absolutely hated it. So why am I putting the second book on this list? Well that’s a great question guys, and to be honest, I’m not really sure. I saw that this book was coming out and suddenly had the urge to re-read Hexed. You know how sometimes you want to watch a really horrible movie, like a Syfy channel original movie, and you know it’s going to suck beyond words, but you get a weird sense of comfort out of watching it? That what this book feels like to me. Sometimes I want to curl up with a book that’s so bad, it’s funny, and just giggle my way through the pages of horrible dialogue and teenage drama.

There are definitely a few winners coming out in May and I can’t wait to get my hands on them. What new releases are you guys looking forward to reading next month?