On Tuesday I shared my 10 favorite non-2015 books I read last year. Today, I share the other Top 10 list: the one for my favorite new books of 2015! 🙂
Like Tuesday’s list, this one will go in ascending order (suspense is the key, remember? *winks*) and will feature a brief explanation of why I included it on this list, as well as links to each review. I’ll also post my reading statistics for 2015, including how many books I read, which genres I read most, and a few random yet interesting bits I discovered along the way. Shall we begin?
10. The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo
Talk about getting back in touch. Alyssa and I had been writing pals about 10 years ago, then reconnected after her book deal for The Violinist of Venice was announced. I’m so glad it happened now. This beautifully written historical fiction debut weaves a passionate love affair with the opulence of 16th century Venice and a breathtaking, palpable love for music – both instruments and voice. Romance lovers and music fans alike will be swept away. Read my review here.
9. Shadow Study (Study Series, Book #4; Soulfinders, Book #1) by Maria V. Snyder
Not only is Shadow Study one of my favorite reads of 2015, but it’s also my new second-favorite novel by Maria V. Snyder (after Poison Study). This new installment to the Yelena Zaltana saga shines with Snyder’s signature blend of action, intrigue, romance, and sarcasm-edged humor while bringing back beloved characters from the original Study trilogy. And that bombshell ending – ohhhhhh, I’m already itching to see how its consequences will complicate things further for Yelena and her other half Valek. Read my review here.
8. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
I may have been late to the Uprooted party, but I’m there now! This glimmering concoction of magic, mystery, and romance stirs the girl-discovering-her-powers plot with a dark, malicious twist on the “enchanted forest” trope. It also highlights a strong, devoted friendship between female characters, which is something we rarely see in fantasy literature. Plus, when a book pulls you out of a reading slump, you can’t help but hug it. Or am I alone in thinking that way? (*blushes*) Read my review here.
7. Towers Fall (Towers Trilogy, Book #3) by Karina Sumner-Smith
I thought I had almost figured out this Top 10 list by mid-December. But no, Towers Fall had to shake things up. The finale to Karina Sumner-Smith’s ground-breaking trilogy brings destruction and hope to a truly unique world of fantasy, science fiction, and horror amalgam. Loose ends are tied up, surprises abound, and protagonists Xhea and Shai prove why they make such a strong team. If you haven’t checked out the Towers Trilogy yet – well, you ought to fix that in 2016. Read my review here.
6. Shadow Scale (Seraphina, Book #2) by Rachel Hartman
Shadow Scale is one of the rare times when I enjoyed a second book in a series more than the first one. Don’t get me wrong – Seraphina is a sweetheart of a story, but the sequel was a huge improvement, in my opinion. It was so much fun to journey with Seraphina through the lands beyond Goredd and meeting her half-dragon brethren. More importantly, I loved seeing Seraphina evolve into a more confident, empowered young woman without sacrificing her intellect or compassion. Read my review here.
5. The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes
This book would have slipped past my radar if I hadn’t listened to Kathryn Holmes’ podcast on DIY MFA back in February. The Distance Between Lost and Found follows 16-year-old Hallie as she and two other young campers are lost in the Smoky Mountains, and she’s forced to come to terms with a painful, humiliating past incident. Some readers might call this a survival story; I say it transcends that label by tackling the desire for friendship, religious and interpersonal faith, and the horrors of bullying. It’s also a lovely example of how setting can come to life by engaging the reader’s senses and allow place to be its own character. Read my review here.
4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I must be drawn to World War II stories. Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale was the third such book I’d read in just over a year (after Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief). Then again, great stories can come out of turbulent or extraordinary circumstances, and WWII is no exception. Neither is The Nightingale. Page after page, this tale of two sisters enduring Germany’s occupation in France tugged at me. It’s proof that courage can come in all shapes and forms, and has the power to motivate us to do what we had never dared to do before. Read my review here.
3. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
I should have had a Best Surprise of 2015 category for this Top 10 list, because Mackenzi Lee’s This Monstrous Thing would have earned it. This YA historical steampunk retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein features human “cyborgs,” Switzerland at Christmastime, and two brothers struggling with one’s decision to bring the other back from the dead. What I love most about this book, though, is its heart. Loyalty, ambition, humanity – This Monstrous Thing excels at delivering these and other themes naturally and subtly. Read my review here.
2. Six of Crows (The Dregs, Book #1) by Leigh Bardugo
As much as I enjoyed Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, none of those books come close to her latest accomplishment. This multi-POV heist story set in the same world as the Grisha books shows what a masterful craftswoman Bardugo has become. It’s electrifying, intense, and at times wildly funny; and each of the outcasts-turned-thieves are equally engaging while coming from diverse backgrounds (nationality, religion, etc.). Most of all, it shows how much Bardugo’s writing has matured since the Grisha Trilogy. I know I said something similar regarding Ruin and Rising earlier this week, but Six of Crows really shows R&R who’s boss in that department. Read my review here.
1. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, Book #1) by N.K. Jemisin
I’m still stunned that I managed to write a review for The Fifth Season. It pulverized my every expectation – which, given the concepts explored, is eerily fitting. The seismically active world, the Orogenes’ earth-warping powers, the gambles N.K. Jemisin took with structure and narration… This is not an easy book, though. It’s challenging, austere, and an acquired taste. But it’s also honest-to-goodness fantasy ingenuity, and something that all fans of the genre should give serious thought to reading. Read my review here.
Honorable Mentions: The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Maria McLemore, Ink and Bone (The Great Library, Book #1) by Rachel Caine, and The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, Book #1) by Renee Ahdieh
A Quick Rundown of 2015’s Reading Statistics
For time’s sake, I’ll list my reading statistics here instead of in a separate post. Here are the final numbers:
- Number of Books Read: 43 (up from 21 last year)*
- Longest Book: A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (959 pages, hardcover edition)
- Top 5 Genres Read (With Some Crossover): Fantasy (62%), Historical Fiction (15%), Steampunk (8%), Science Fiction / Dystopian (7%), Contemporary Fiction (5%)
- Target Age Groups of Novels Read: Young Adult (49%), Adult (46%), Middle Grade (5%)
- Author Gender of Novels Read: Female (86%), Male (14%)**
- Most Read Authors of 2015: Leigh Bardugo (4), Karina Sumner-Smith (2), Laini Taylor (2), and N.K. Jemisin (2)
- Random Facts That Caught My Attention:
- Out of the 37 different authors represented in my 2015 reading list, 10 of them (27%) were debut novelists and another 16 (43%) were “new-to-me” authors (meaning I read their work for the first time).
- 8 books (19%) featured artistically inclined protagonists (musicians, singers, artists, etc.).
- 7 books (16%) had the words “shadow,” “night,” or “black” in the title.
- 7 books (16%) featured or hinted at a flying creature (dragons, birds, fairies, etc.) in the title.
- 3 books (7%) featured bookworms as protagonists.
- 3 books (7%) were self-published.
*Yay for reading twice as many books than I did the year before!
**I need to work on making this ratio more even…
What were some of your favorite new books that you read in 2015? Did you read any of the books listed above?