2015 has nearly drawn to a close, and it's been a rough one life-wise, but reading-wise it was certainly rewarding. I think what's funny about my favorites this year is that so few other people seem to have read them, at least the ones that were published this year. When I read great books published in the current year, it seems like they're never the same ones that everyone else is reading! On a positive note, though, that gives me a chance to tell you about a few great books that maybe you haven't heard about from everyone and their mother......right?
Anyhow, here is the top of the crop from my year of reading (in conjunction with a #AMonthofFaves).
In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks - This book gets awarded the "Ugly Cry of the Year" award. At first it's a strange little romance about a plane-crash survivor that can create worlds with his mind. In one, his dream girl is his girlfriend, but what happens when the worlds start to meld together? I never even saw it coming.
2. The Marauders by Tom Cooper - This one gets the "Surprise Hit" award. When it first arrived, I thought I'd made a severe ARC requesting misstep. However, this story of the hard luck people in a Louisiana bayou town turned out to be a hit for me because I've never been made to feel more sympathy for a bunch of less likeable characters, and I've never been so surprised at a book packing an unexpected emotional punch.
3. When She Woke by Hilary Jordan - I actually hate when I read a really great book at the beginning of the year because I know when it comes time to make this list, I'll nearly always forget to put it on the list because it seems like I read it an eon ago. I loved Jordan's dystopian world where Christian fundamentalists dominate and dyeing people the colors indicative of their crimes has replaced imprisoning them. Very believable world-building, very interesting retelling of The Scarlet Letter.
4. The Happy Christian by David Murray - Look! It's a non-fiction title on my best of list, and it's not a memoir or even narrative non-fiction. Be amazed! This was a great read from last winter/spring full of practical ways to let God's promises make us more happy on a daily basis. An ill-fit for my blog audience, perhaps, but a great fit for me as a human.
5. The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory by Stacy Wakefield - I fell in love with Sid, the narrator of this book, who is a girl caught up in the "romantic" idea of getting involved in the New York City squatter scene, which doesn't quite turn out like she expects. The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory is a perfect slice of life book that follows Sid in her highs and lows with a little friendship and a little romance, nights when everything is perfect and others when everything goes wrong, but there's always a chance for a little happily ever after.
6. Girl Underwater by Claire Kells - This one seems to have flown under the radar a bit, so all the more disappointed am I in myself for not having reviewed it. It's the story of girl and the guy that dared to tell her to be true to herself, their survival of a plane crash and the long wait for rescue (with three young, newly orphaned boys in tow), and the aftermath. I loved Avery and Colin and their reluctant love story that emerges from tragedy.
7. Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum - I never fail to be captivated by stories set in World War II Germany, and this one didn't disappoint. Those Who Save Us captures the moral ambiguities of surviving the war when a German woman, whose daughter is the product of her forbidden love affair with a Jew who has been taken away to a concentration camp, has an affair with a German officer to survive and to continue in the dangerous pursuit of supplying extra bread to the prisoners of the camp where her true lover is imprisoned.
8. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma - How to describe this book? Eerie. One ballerina in prison, one ballerina performing her final dance before she heads to Julliard, a prison haunted by a tragic event, guilt, innocence, and lots of lies. I won't spoil it by writing more words. It's way too good to be spoiled.
9. The Visitors by Sally Beauman - I was a little daunted by The Visitors when I started reading it, lots of pages, small print, but I was totally captivated by this story of 1920s Egypt where the the last of the undiscovered tombs are being excavated in the Valley of Kings. The narrator is a young girl who proves the perfect observer to the astonishing chain of events when Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon discovered King Tut's tomb. Beauman's story is the perfect blend of reality and fiction that left me feeling like I'd learned something and enjoyed every bit of it.
10. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson - I wrapped up my reading year with this one, and it was a fantastic choice. After a slow start, I was totally engaged in this story of a princess turned queen, chosen by God for some feat of service. I loved the narrator, Elisa, a young, pudgy princess who feels ill-suited to her role as queen and for whatever service may be required of her. Watching her come into her own amid desperate times made this book positively unputdownable.
Which books have been the highlights of your reading year?