Favorite Reads of 2015, Part 1: Books Published Before 2015

Fave Reads 2015 logo cropped

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:

Night Circus cover

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.

Ruin and Rising

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.

Ironskin cover cropped

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.

Daughter of the Forest cover

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.

Blackbringer cover

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.

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms cover

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.

Shadow and Bone cover

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.

Book Thief cover

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.

Name of the Wind cover

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.

Daughter Smoke Bone cover

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.

Honorable Mentions: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Tehran Moonlight by Azin Sametipour, and The Falconer (The Falconer, Book #1) by Elizabeth May

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?

31 thoughts on “Favorite Reads of 2015, Part 1: Books Published Before 2015

  1. Of your list, I’ve read four: Night Circus, The Name of the Wind, Smoke & Bone and The Book Thief. All fantastic books! I think I have a copy of Blackbringer, I’m a huge Laini Taylor fan as well:-)

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  2. Hi Sara – I’ve read The Name of the Wind, The Book Thief, Daughter of the Forest and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms – all superb books and I can see why they’d be your favourites. Though do track down Jemisin’s The Broken Kingdom, which is the second book in the Inheritance trilogy, as I think it is the best of all – it made me laugh and cry. But having read your lovely article, you have seriously tempted me to seek out Laini Taylor, who I haven’t yet encountered. I really enjoyed this – it’s always great fun reading about other people’s favourite books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, yes, yes! Definitely check out Juliet Marillier’s work when you have a chance. Bec has read more of her than I have, so I’ll defer to whatever she recommends as your first Marillier book. Daughter of the Forest isn’t a bad place to start, though. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! And I can’t wait to read more of her work in the future. 😀

      Um, yes, you have no excuse now for not reading The Book Thief. Get on that. Very. Soon. 😉 And, fair warning: You may want to have tissues handy for the final section.

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  3. You know I love “The Name of the Wind,” but I had to note that I have never read any Laini Taylor (bad llama, I know). The covers have scared me off for years, but I’ve heard so much positive stuff from other readers/bloggers that they’ve wormed their way onto my to-read list.

    And “The Book Thief” is one of the handful of books that actually made me cry. And the writing is so beautiful!
    Nice list, and I look forward to seeing the others 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was a mess at the end of “The Book Thief.” To the point that I was glad I had tissues handy for that final section. :’) So many people say they’re afraid to read it because they’ve heard it’s so sad – but it’s such a beautiful story, too. And a good story is supposed to make you FEEL, even if it makes you cry, right?

      I think you’d find Daughter of Smoke and Bone very interesting (I’m plowing through the rest of the trilogy now), and Blackbringer is just flipping adorable. Not everyone is a fan of Laini Taylor’s writing style, especially in DoSaB, since it tends to be more “literary” as opposed to “commercial” writing. But I thought it fell into place with the story’s whimsicality like jigsaw puzzle pieces. If it had been more commercial in style, I don’t think it would have had the same effect on me.

      Thanks again for stopping by, Rebekah. 🙂

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  4. I have only read two of those books, and I have to say, some of the others look like they will make it onto my to-read list right now! *pulls up Amazon*. Books six, seven, and eight on your list particularly grab my interest.

    I actually read The Book Thief and Name of the Wind a few years ago. Book Thief shattered my heart, but it was so BRILLIANT. I almost want to reread it again from a writer’s standpoint, but I’m afraid of the heartbreak all over again. (Although, I suppose that’s part of the reason!). I’ve heard the movie is also really good, but I’m afraid to watch it becaise, really, I bawled for like two weeks after finishing the book. Have you seen the movie?
    Name of the Wind I sadly don’t remember very well. Actually, the only thing I really remember are maybe a few characters (but not even names), and that the magic system fascinated me. If Rothfuss ever comes out with the third book in the series, I will probably have to reread all of the books, hehe…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awesome! 😀 I hope you get to check out the books that caught your interest. And interesting how you picked out the three consecutive fairy novels. 😉

      I’m almost afraid to re-read The Book Thief in its entirety for the same reason. It’s so beautifully written and emotional… But maybe I’ll go back and read small sections of it from time to time. Maybe that will be a (slightly) safer bet?

      I’ve seen parts of the Book Thief film on HBO, but not the whole thing, so I can’t make a judgment on it – yet. I would like to see the whole thing, so… If I do see it, I’ll probably write something quick about it in a future Time Flies (monthly wrap-up article).

      Rothfuss has said he’s working on the third and final book. He’s sort of like George R.R. Martin in the way that it takes him a long time to work on each book… It’s OK with me. I’ll pick up Doors of Stone whenever it’s out. Although I should probably read The Wise Man’s Fear (Book #2) first… *lol*

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      • Hehe, yeah. I love fairy tales, so I’m not really surprised I picked the fairy ones, hehe.

        In pieces might be manageable. I might try that!
        Oh okay, cool. That’d be nice to read if you do see it.

        Yeah. It’s taken quite a while, but, eh, I’d rather a slow, good book than a rushed, not-so-good book, right? Hehe, reading Wise Man’s Fear first is probably a good idea.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Did I tell you how awesome your list was? I mean it’s seriously awesome. I have to agree with you on Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Such a beautifully written story. Love it. I believe that I’ve read 4 out of the ten. I really need to get to Ruin and Rising and Night Circus. Especially, since they are on my shelf.

    Great list. So taking some of these book and adding to my tbr 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Shadow and Bone and Blackringer are ones I need to read, if not this year then next!
    I don’t think I dare read The Book Thief for fear it’ll put me in a depressed state for weeks. I watched the movie, and loved it though! For some reason I can handle sad movies better than I can reading the books. 🙂
    I didn’t get around to reading as many books as I would’ve liked in 2015, but of the few I did, City of Bones and Going Postal were my top fav.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice choices! I think you’d like both books, E. 😉 I’m not sure if I’ll get to Blackbringer’s sequel Silksinger this year, but I definitely want to read it at some point.

      City of Bones is the first book in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, right? What did you think of it? I’ve been hesitant to try it because paranormal stories (especially paranormal romance) doesn’t really appeal to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • City of Bones was among my favorite reads, even though I never read that genre. I really liked the writing style. And though there was a triangle-love thing going on, it didn’t bug me like it has with other books. You might like it. I need to read the 2nd book to know what I think of the series as a whole, but so far I like it.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Stacking The Shelves, Vol. 22: An Embarrassingly Huge Haul from Barnes & Noble | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

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