Friday, January 1, 2016

Wrapup of 2015 and Best of 2015

My book goal for 2015 was 70 books and I finished 62, so almost met it. I did finish two more books than last year, so at least I am moving up! I finished 4 out of 10 challenges I signed up for and almost finished 2 others. I did get a bit more active on Twitter and commenting on other people's blogs, but I neglected my blog a bit, something I hope to change this year. Reviewing was a huge problem for me, so this is another area I hope to work on this year!

For my best of, I will look at books that may or may not have been reviewed, but ones that I did read and enjoy. A few of my favorites were ones I listened to for School Library Journal, so the reviews are in the there, but I have a terrible time rewording those reviews to include on the blog, so I seldom review those books on here.

Best Audio:
Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)
Knopf Books

The Best Audio that I reviewed for SLJ: This one was close, since there were two exceptional ones this year! Illuminae narrowly beats out A Court of Thorns and Roses! With a 20+ cast and perfect narration, I would be really surprised if Illuminae is not considered for the Odyssey Award this year. My first space opera/thriller and a captivating beginning to the series. I am not for sure how I lucked out getting this audio, but it was awesome!

My Favorite YAs:
A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

Even though this was a second for best audio, it was first in my YA choices. ACOTAR and more specifically Feyre still haunts me. I think about her choices and how I feel about her as a character quite a bit and Maas' beautiful writing sticks with me. I can't wait for the next in the series!

 An Extremely Close Second:
Seraphina (Seraphina, #1) Shadow Scale (Seraphina, #2)
                                Random House Publishing
 This series was just beautiful! I loved the twist on dragons and half dragons and Seraphina was a wonderful heroine and one of my favorite characters this year. I went back and forth on this one and ACOTAR as my favorite and it was a narrow victory for ACOTAR, which is why I put favorites for YA instead of best. I still like to revisit Hartman's world and this series will definitely be a reread for me at some point.

For this one, Illuminae was a close third, but there were a few aspects of Illuminae that bothered me rather than just haunted me.

Best Junior Fiction:
The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)

I loved the first book in this series of the same name, The School for Good and Evil. The power of friendship and the realization that dreams just like fairy tales are not what they seem made it a great read. I loved Agatha and was annoyed by Sophie and Prince Tedros. I hope to read World Without Princes and The Last Ever After in 2016!

Favorite Book Club read:
The Sound of Sleigh Bells (Apple Ridge #1)
Waterbrook Press

As Director, I have to read three books a month for our three different book clubs and almost every time the books are out of my comfort zone/normally read genres. There were several I enjoyed, but the one that surprised me the most was The Sound of Sleigh Bells. My mom reads every Amish fiction book I can find for her and I have avoided them until now. I loved the Amish Christmas books by Cindy Woodsmall and devoured all three of them. They are sweet and have just a bit of drama, but she creates wonderful characters with differing personalities.

Favorite Adult Fiction:
The Dovekeepers
Simon and Schuster

This could technically be favorite book club book too, but I would have read this one on my own. I love Hoffman's writing style and her attention to detail. This was a well researched historical fiction with beautifully created characters and heartbreaking moments that cut you to the quick. She is just phenomenal and her female characters are so strong!

Favorite Classic:
Brilliance Audio

I really hate that I did not get around to reviewing this one, because I loved it! Mina is one of the sweetest, most noble characters, who embraces her faith so strongly that she can forgive even one who would destroy her. Van Helsing is enjoyable and has some beautiful quotes in the story. The audio production was amazing and narrowly missed best audio and only because the two YA ones were phenomenal. Dracula is pure evil, but you feel drawn to him and Stoker has created a book that is as terrifying and mesmerizing now as when he first finished it. It is not an easy or quick read, but well worth the effort.

Best Ending to a Series:
The Girl with the Windup Heart (Steampunk Chronicles, #4)
Harlequin Teen

It was a neat and possibly sappy wrapup of the series, but it did have a few twists along the way. Finley Jayne is one of my favorite female characters and I loved seeing how all the couples ended up. I won't talk to much about it, because I don't want to spoil the series for anyone. My first steampunk reads and I can't wait to find more steampunk books to read!

I would love to see your best of posts and know your thoughts on any of the books I read this year. Good reading in 2016!

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