Favorite Reads of 2015, Part 2: Books Published in 2015 + Reading Statistics

Fave Reads 2015 logo cropped

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?

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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:

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My Ten Favorite Screen Characters

Finally getting around to the first of a slew of tags and awards I was recently nominated for. This one came from fellow fantasy writer Angela B. Chrysler. Thanks Angela, and sorry it took me so long!

Making this list was a fun exercise! It made me realize that I look for three kinds of screen characters: those I can relate to, those I admire, and those who jangle my funny bone until I can’t breathe. Also, even though I had an easier time coming up with my 11 favorite literary heroines than the same number of literary heroes, most of the characters on this list are male. (*raises an eyebrow*)

Anyway, let’s go in alphabetical order, starting with…

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My Eleven Favorite Literary Heroes

After compiling a list of my favorite literary heroines back in March, it’s only fair to devote a post to their male counterparts. Except that, well, I forgot about it for a while, until Sarah J. Higbee recently shared her own list. Thank you for the reminder, Sarah!

Featuring the same number of heroes here as I did with heroines proved tough. It’s not that I don’t like or admire male protagonists. I just happen to be drawn more to stories with female leads. But once I took a close look at my bookshelves, the eleven male characters I eventually picked started jumping out at me. (Not literally, but you know what I mean.) And I’ll admit, some of them won’t surprise you at all. 😉

Here they are, in alphabetical order: Continue reading

My Eleven Favorite Literary Heroines

One of the recent Top Ten Tuesday topics sponsored by The Broke and The Bookish was “10 Favorite Literary Heroines.” After reading several lists by bloggers I follow, I thought I’d share my own. Though as you can tell from the title, I couldn’t stop at ten. 🙂

A number of things intrigued me as I worked on this list. Each character’s story, circumstances, personality, and set of struggles is unique. Despite those differences, these heroines share some common traits. See if you can pick out those similarities as you read along. (You might not even need to read the books to figure them out!)

Here are my eleven favorite literary heroines, listed in alphabetical order: Continue reading

My 10 Favorite Reads of 2014

It’s here finally: the list of my 10 favorite books I read in 2014! I held off on posting this as long as I could, thanks to a last-minute contender I flew through just before year’s end. Now I feel confident about which books made the final cut – and to be honest, my pick for #1 was a super-easy choice. 😉

With one exception, each entry contains a link to my full review and an excerpt from said review that best explains why I enjoyed the book. I was going to write a new paragraph for each entry, but then I realized I didn’t have anything new to add apart from what I had already said before. So, why repeat myself?

One important note: This list contains books I read this year, regardless of the year they were originally published. I didn’t read enough novels that were published this year to create a Top 10 solely of 2014 releases.

So, here they are, starting with…  Continue reading

My 10 Favorite Albums of 2014

If I could use one word to describe the music of 2014 for me, it would be “weird.” Firstly, it was a year of transition and rediscovery music-wise. In May, I left my music-reviewing post at Sonic Cathedral after 5½ years so I could concentrate on novel-writing and other creative pursuits. Suddenly I had more freedom – and time! – to listen to genres besides female-fronted rock and metal. That explains why this year’s Top 10 list features the most variety I’ve ever had in my end-of-year countdowns. Yay! 🙂

Secondly, the quality of 2014’s music took me on a bumpy rollercoaster ride. There were awesome surprises, huge disappointments, and an unusually high number of “in-betweens” that I needed to replay several times before knowing how I felt about them. And in some ways, my #1 pick summarizes my year of music: It tips its hat to my “head-banging” past while shocking the hell out of me – in the best way possible. In fact, I don’t think my SC colleagues would have seen this one coming (except for one – she knows who she is, because it’s all her fault *winks*).

Buckled in? Then let’s go! Continue reading

Top 10 Science Fiction & Fantasy Series I Want To Start

I don’t normally follow The Broke and The Bookish’s Top 10 Tuesday meme because I doubt I’d be able to keep up with it (thank you, busy writing schedule and offline life). But after reading Anya’s list at On Starships and Dragonwings, I knew I should do my own Top 10 list of science fiction and fantasy series I want to start reading. So, here we go!

NOTE: There may be a slight trend toward the fantasy side of the spectrum. 😉

1. Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising Sequence (YA Dark / Contemporary Fantasy)

Dark Is Rising boxset

I like to catch up on the classics as well as more recent books. Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising was written in the 1960s and 70s, which puts it up there in age with Ursula Le Guin’s earliest Earthsea novels. The first book in the sequence, Over Sea Under Stone, has been sitting on my shelf unread for… at least a couple years *lol* This article is serving as my reminder to dive into The Dark Is Rising soon.  Continue reading

Playing Harry Potter Spell Book Tag!

Sumaira at Hyper About Books recently shared her Harry Potter Spell Book Tag list and challenged anyone who read it to take part in the game. Well, I couldn’t resist – I mean, we’re talking about Harry Potter, folks! So, here are the ten books I’ve chosen for my round of Harry Potter Spell Book Tag.

1. Expecto Patronum — A childhood book connected to good memories

Magic Locket cover

Elizabeth Koda-Callan’s Magic Charm Books: Each story tells of a little girl’s struggle to believe in herself using examples such as learning to dance, being cast in the lead role of a school play, and coping with the birth of a new sibling. As a child, I felt connected to the main characters because they were about my age and I could relate to their experiences. What made the Magic Charm Books so special, though, were the necklaces that came with each book. Koda-Callan obviously knew that children often need something tangible to help them apply the lessons they learn. What better – and prettier! – way to help little girls remember the Magic Charm Books’ messages of courage and self-confidence than by offering a necklace with a charm that symbolizes each book’s unique story? Continue reading

The 10 Books That Have Stayed With Me

Recently I’d read Brian Klems’ article at Writer’s Digest about the 10 books that had stayed with him in some way after reading them. It inspired me to start thinking about my own list – and what good timing! Within days, two friends on Facebook tagged me on their top 10 lists and challenged me to share mine. Now that I’ve posted my list there, I thought I’d publish it here at the blog, along with the reasons why I chose each book – or in some cases, series.

LOTR book trilogy

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is probably cheating, because this and #2 would fill all 10 spots automatically. However, I have to give Tolkien and the Lords Of The Rings trilogy due credit for being my gateway to fantasy literature. I don’t know if I’d be writing the novel I’m working on today if I hadn’t picked up that series. Also, the LOTR trilogy was responsible for rekindling my love of reading in 2003. I went through a period in high school where I absolutely resented reading. Most of the assigned stories didn’t appeal to me; and with little time to read for pleasure, I lost interest in the activity altogether. It wasn’t until I saw the LOTR film trilogy and decided to read the source material that I finally enjoyed reading again. Now I can’t stop! So, thank you from the bottom of my heart, Tolkien. Continue reading