Finally! It’s time to reveal some of my favorite reads of 2015! 😀
Last year I almost twice as many books as I did the year before, and a fair number of those books were published before 2015. So, I’m going to share not one year-end Top 10 list, but two!
Today’s will focus on my favorite pre-2015 books I read last year. Each entry will include my reasons for its inclusion on this list and a link to the full review. Also, since I like to keep you all in suspense, the list will go in ascending order, from #10 to #1. 😉 Here they are:
10. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
So many readers I know loved Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and now I know why. This surreal, intelligent love story captivated me with its elegant prose, striking theatrics, and one of the most vividly imagined fictional settings I’ve ever visited. Honestly, if Le Cirque de Rêves was real, I would drop everything to go there and see it with my own eyes. Read my review here.
9. Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, Book #3) by Leigh Bardugo
It feels weird to be talking about a series finale before listing any of its predecessors, but that’s how this list played out. It also means that author Leigh Bardugo appears twice on today’s list, which says a lot about her work. Ruin and Rising shows how much her writing has matured since the trilogy began, combining evocative imagery with compelling character development. This book may be grim in spots, but its ending couldn’t have been more satisfying. Read my review here.
8. Ironskin (Ironskin, Book #1) by Tina Connolly
Tina Connolly’s Ironskin is one of my favorite books I’ve read so far for my ongoing “market research” project on novels with fairy characters. This Victorian-era steampunk take on Charlotte Bronte’s classic Jane Eyre is haunting, romantic, and atmospheric. There are nods to the original inspiration, but Jane Eliot is by no means a clone of Miss Eyre. Instead, she’s an angry, beautifully complicated heroine in her own right, and one of the reasons why Ironskin stuck with me long after I finished it. Read my review here.
7. Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters, Book #1) by Juliet Marillier
Another fairy story, Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest both warmed and broke my heart. This retelling of The Six Swans is infused with Irish-Briton history and Celtic spirituality. The true highlights, though, are Marillier’s simple yet earnest writing style; the gentle-hearted yet fiercely determined heroine Sorcha; and her stirring, slowly building romance with her British guardian. This is one of those rare fantasy novels that masters the charm and rich texture of folklore. Read my review here.
6. Blackbringer (Faeries of Dreamdark, Book #1) by Laini Taylor
This was so much FUN! Blackbringer gives the Tinkerbell concept a wild, spunky spin that I haven’t seen elsewhere in fairy stories. It was also my first Laini Taylor novel, and as I read it I found a wealth of reasons to read more of works. Her sweeping world-building, entertaining characters, and graceful, vivid writing enhanced my enjoyment of Blackbring tenfold. Read my review here.
5. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy, Book #1) by N.K. Jemisin
Not only did I met N.K. Jemisin and attend her (fantastic) world-building session at Writer’s Digest Conference in August, but I also read her stories for the first time. Well, did my first choice floor me. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms features gods enslaved by humans, political corruption, a familial power struggle doomed to end in blood and death – and that’s only scratching the surface. It’s raw and riveting, with deliciously intricate characters and an unexpected twist that elevated it from “great” to “brilliant.” Read my review here.
4. Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, Book #1) by Leigh Bardugo
OK, so NOW I can start the real Grisha fangirling. 😀 I devoured Shadow and Bone in five days – a freakishly fast pace for me, but in hindsight I know how I managed it. Leigh Bardugo takes the heroine-discovers-her-powers concept and sets it in a richly envisioned world inspired by tsarist Russia. Stir in an “elemental” magic system, an alluring antagonist with unclear motives, and a wonderfully lush yet sharp writing style, and you’ve got a true heartrender of a book. (Notice what I did there, fellow Grisha fans? *wink*) Read my review here.
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Yes, The Book Thief made me cry. But it also made me smile, cheer, and care. Anyone who reads World War II stories or historical fiction once in a while NEEDS to read this book at some point in their lives. Liesel Meminger is a force to be reckoned with, too. She’s kind, clever, and passionate about the written word. If there’s anything better than a book about a bookworm, it’s a book about a bookworm whose goodness brightens the lives of so many. Read my review here.
2. The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles, Book #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
Writing runner-up entries can be awkward. Their overall theme is often, “This would have been my favorite of the year had it not been for my #1 pick.” But seriously, The Name of the Wind was like listening to a young man’s life story, then swearing you witnessed it for yourself. It’s nostalgic, poetic, stunning detailed, and at times uproariously funny. I was completely immersed in young Kvothe’s world because Patrick Rothfuss let me see it through his character’s eyes and experience his triumphs and sorrows with him. Read my review here.
1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book #1) by Laini Taylor
No other fantasy book is quite like Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The writing breathes with lyricism and sorcery, the worldbuilding is layered and inventive, and Laini Taylor’s spin on the “angels and demons” concept transcends its stereotypes. This is a story where people of all races have the potential for compassion or violence, love or brutality – it all comes down to what they choose. I keep revisiting parts of this book (even the heartbreaking ending) because of how much it moved and bewitched me. Read my review here.
What were some of your favorite books you read in 2015 that were published in previous years? Have you read any of the books listed above?