Top 15 of 2015

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Hello everyone! Here is a very belated TOP 15 OF 2015. This was incredibly hard to narrow down and I revised the order many times.  I have ended up with 8 fantasy books, 3 contemporary, 2 science fiction, 1 non fiction and 1 graphic novel (which was a fantasy).  Hopefully, with my new TBR scheme in place, I will read a more varied variety of books this year and can have a more diverse TOP 16 OF 2016 at the end of the year. 10 of these books are YA, 4 of them are Adult and 1 of them is Middle Grade. Without further ado, let’s begin, from 15 to 1.

By the way, I didn’t count rereads, otherwise HP and the Philosopher’s Stone would be been number 15 (it is my second to least favourite in the series, other ones would’ve placed higher).

One last thing- the bullet points saying ‘best ____’ etc. are awards that the books have won in my Academy Book Awards. For those books which I reviewed, I have linked the review on the title of the book. Okay, actually last thing now: I limited this to one book per author.


 

#15: The Honor Code by Kwame Anthony Appiah

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Format: Paperback

Genre: Non-Fiction

Target Audience: Adult

Rating: 4.5 Stars

  • Best Non-Fiction Book

Synopsis:

Long neglected as an engine of reform, honour strikingly emerges at the centre of our modern world in Kwame Anthony Appiah’sThe Honor Code. Over the last few centuries, new democratic movements have led to the emancipation of women, slaves, and the oppressed. But what drove these modern changes, Appiah argues, was not imposing legislation from above, but harnessing the ancient power of honour from within. In gripping detail, he explores the end of the duel in aristocratic England, the tumultuous struggles over footbinding in nineteenth-century China, and the uprising of ordinary people against Atlantic slavery. Finally, he confronts the horrors of “honuor killing” in contemporary Pakistan, where rape victims are murdered by their relatives. He argues that honour, used to justify the practice, can also be the most effective weapon against it. Intertwining philosophy and historical narrative, Appiah has created a remarkably dramatic work, which demonstrates that honour is the driving force in the struggle against man’s inhumanity to man.

Explanation: 

I had to read this book for English in November and December and really enjoyed it! I liked the way it was written and the topics it covered were really interesting and it inspired me to finally finish the other non-fiction book I am currently reading.


#14: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

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Format: Paperback, Graphic Novel

Genre: Fantasy

Target Audience: Young Adult/Middle Grade- unknown???

Rating: 4.5 stars

  • Best Graphic Novel
  • Most Unique Plot

Synopsis:

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-colour graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realises that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

Explanation: 

This was the only graphic novel that I read last year and it really inspired me to read more of them this year. The artwork in this book was interesting and I loved the different relationship dynamics between characters.


#13: One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

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Format: Paperback

Genre: Contemporary

Target Audience: Adult

Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis:

Scandal has derailed journalist Kitty Logan’s career, a setback that is soon compounded by an even more devastating loss. Constance, the woman who taught Kitty everything she knew, is dying. At her mentor’s bedside, Kitty asks her, “What is the one story you always wanted to write?”

The answer lies in a single sheet of paper buried in Constance’s office—a list of one hundred names—with no notes or explanation. But before Kitty can ask her friend, it is too late.

Determined to unlock the mystery and rebuild her own shaky confidence, Kitty throws herself into the investigation, tracking down each of the names on the list and uncovering their connection. Meeting these ordinary people and learning their stories, Kitty begins to piece together an unexpected portrait of Constance’s life… and starts to understand her own.

Explanation: 

Now, this book didn’t win any awards. Why? Because I left out some categories that I want to put in for 2016, and this book might have won one or two of those categories.

I loved the character development in this book, the writing style and the way it flowed. It prompted me to go out and buy four more Cecelia Ahern books the next day, which I haven’t yet read but am hoping to enjoy just as much.


#12: The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 16.18.56Format: Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy

Target Audience: Young Adult

Rating: 5 Stars

  • Best Antagonist
  • Runner Up: Best Protagonist (Lia)

Synopsis (for first book in the series- The Kiss of Deception):

A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

Explanation: 

Well, I’m happy to say that a lot of books this month did not fall prone to second book syndrome. I read both the first book and this one during the year. However, I preferred this one simply because the antagonist was more developed and more interesting in terms of my personal tastes. I loved the character development and the way the relationships evolved in this book. This is book two in the Remnant Chronicles.


#11: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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Format: Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy

Target Audience: Young Adult

Rating: 5 Stars

  • Most Beautiful Book

Synopsis:

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

Explanation: 

Wow, I absolutely loved this book. I loved the romance, the magic system, the writing. It was beautifully constructed and very satisfying.


#10: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

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Format: Paperback

Genre: Contemporary

Target Audience: Young Adult

Rating: 5 Stars

  • Best Contemporary
  • Most Memorable Book
  • Runner Up: Best Protagonist (Jude)

Synopsis:

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realise is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

Explanation: 

This book made me cry, made me smile, made me laugh. It’s the book that got me back into reading. I absolutely loved every moment of it and I think that this book is special and important. I love how it centres more around family and siblings than around romance or abusive/ nasty parents, as some LGBTQIA+ books do and I loved how true and real the story was. I also love how this book is set up.


#9: Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

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Format: Paperback

Genre: Fantasy

Target Audience: Adults

Rating: 5 Stars

  • Most Atmosphere and World Building
  • Most Complicated Plot

Synopsis (this is the first book in the series):

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

Explanation: 

This book is filled with delights. I love the different characters, I love the complex political systems and backstabbery. It’s very difficult to explain why you love a book. I picked this book over the second one, because I found that whilst part of the book was better than this, the second book just took me too long to read and started to feel a bit like a chore. That being said, I did enjoy it.


#8: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

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Format: Paperback

Genre: Fantasy

Target Audience: Young Adult

Rating: 5 Stars

  • Character with the Best Hair (Kestrel)
  • Best Dressed Character (Kestrel)
  • Runner Up: Best Protagonist (Kestrel)

Synopsis (for the first book in the series- The Winner’s Curse):

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love…

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Explanation: 

Another sequel that I preferred to the original! Again, I loved the first book which I also read in 2015, but I preferred this one because of the more intense politics and the more complicated relationships between different characters.


#7: Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullay Hunt

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 22.15.30Format: Hardcover

Genre: Contemporary

Target Audience: Middle Grade

Rating: 5 Stars

  • Best Middle Grade Novel
  • Most Tear-Jerking Book

Synopsis:

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

Explanation: 

This book is about dyslexia and my sister has dyslexia and I saw a lot of her struggles in this book, so it really touched me on a deeply personal level and made it seem more real. The writing was gorgeous, I loved the relationships between brother and sister, teacher and student that were found in this book. I loved how much emotion it made me feel and how important the story is.


#6: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

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Format: Paperback

Genre: Fantasy

Target Audience: Adult

Rating: 5 stars

  • Best Adult Novel

Synopsis (this is the first book in the series):

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn’t like his job, and the immortal who’s still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.

Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.

By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.

Explanation: 

Well, the sequel to this can’t come fast enough. Honestly, this book was published in 2009 and there is still no sequel because it is ‘on the backburner’ according to Brandon Sanderson. As much as this annoys me, I loved this book. Again, I loved the characters, their relationships and I found the whole magic system really interesting and fascinating.


#5: The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell

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Format: Kindle

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Retelling

Target Audience: Middle Grade (but I think YA fits better)

Rating: 5 Stars

  • Best Standalone

Synopsis:

In the fifteenth-century kingdom of Sylvania, the prince offers a fabulous reward to anyone who cures the curse that forces the princesses to spend each night dancing to the point of exhaustion. Everyone who tries disappears or falls into an enchanted sleep.

Thirteen-year-old Reveka, a smart, courageous herbalist’s apprentice, decides to attempt to break the curse despite the danger. Unravelling the mystery behind the curse leads Reveka to the Underworld, and to save the princesses, Reveka will have to risk her soul.

Explanation: 

Well this is marketed as a Middle Grade novel and the main character is only 13 but I wouldn’t recommend this to a 9-11 year old. 12 year old sure. It reads more like YA than Middle Grade, especially towards the end and I absolutely loved it. I loved the fairytale retelling part (the synopsis on Goodreads mentioned Beauty and the Beast as well as the 12 Dancing Princesses, but I also got a definite hint of Persephone as well) and although this was an incredible standalone, if the author came out with a sequel of any type, I would love to read it. I need more of their relationship!!!! (I won’t say who their is because, spoilers.)


#4: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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Format: Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction

Target Audience: Young Adult

Rating: 5 Stars

  • Best Fantasy (tied)
  • Best Side Character (Andalie)
  • Runner Up: Best Protagonist (Kelsea)

Synopsis (for the first book in the series- The Queen of the Tearling):

An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.

Explanation: 

Yet another sequel I liked better than the first book (which I read this year and loved). I liked this book more because I found the relationships between characters more developed, the side characters stronger and the background story was coming into place, in a way that I thought was really interesting, unique and fitted well into the story in a way that avoided the dreaded info-dump that so often happens when the first book in a series lacks some background information.


#3: Cress and Winter by Marissa Meyer (I couldn’t choose so I went with both)

Format: Paperback, Kindle

Genre: Science Fiction, Fairytale Retellings (sometimes seems like Fantasy too, but any magical elements are explained through genetics)

Target Audience: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars (for both)

  • Best Science Fiction (Winter)
  • Best Series
  • Best Cover Typography (Cress)
  • Runner Up: Best Antagonist (Queen Levanna)

Synopsis (for the first book in the series- Cinder):

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Explanation: 

Well, I couldn’t really pick between these two books in this series because I love them so much for completely different reasons. I found the science fiction elements in Winter the best out of the series and really well developed and I loved the way all of the different characters interacted whereas Cress was my favourite book in the series in terms for the self-discovery and character development.


#2: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

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Format: Kindle

Genre: Fantasy

Target Audience: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars

  • Best Fantasy (tied)
  • Best Side Character (Lysandra)
  • Best Dressed Character (Aelin)
  • Best Protagonist (Manon)
  • Runner Up: Best Protagonist (Rowan, Aedion, Aelin)

Synopsis (for the first book in the series- Throne of Glass):

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Explanation: 

Now, this was incredible. The only reason it didn’t place first is… well, partially because Rook was slightly more incredible and perhaps a teensy bit because I HAVE TO WAIT ANOTHER FREAKING YEAR FOR MORE. Honestly though, this book was incredibly incredible. I know some people didn’t like it and said that the character development was off, but I actually thought it worked out pretty well. In Heir of Fire, I never really thought that SPOILER ALERT NOW, FOR THE WHOLE SERIES: I never really thought that Rowan and Aelin’s relationship was solely platonic. Also, some people think that Chaol’s personality flipped too much, but he had always struggled with her fae side and accepting that, so it made sense that he would be like he was when she came back with a fae and no longer as Celaena- he loved Celaena, not Aelin. Big difference. This could have possibly been done a tiny bit smoother, but hopefully it will get refining in the coming book. SPOILERY BIT OVER. Yeah, basically I loved this book.


#1: Rook by Sharon Cameron

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*A REVIEW WILL BE COMING FOR THIS BOOK SOON*

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Science Fiction (sometimes a bit like fantasy because of how different the world is as well)

Target Audience: Young Adult

Rating: 5 stars

  • Best YA Novel
  • Best Protagonist (Sophia)
  • Overall Best Book
  • Runner Up: Best Dressed Character (Sophia)

Synopsis:

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

Explanation: 

This was incredible. From the world building to the concept to the relationships, I loved it all. I don’t have a single complaint.


Well, that is it for a very belated TOP 15 OF 2015. I hope you enjoyed it. Did you agree with any of my picks? Or did you disagree? Is there a book I loved that you hated? Let me know!

Happy reading, Keira x

Twitter: Rogan Tallulah

Goodreads: Keira

 

 

 

 

 

 

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