Monday, February 22, 2016

Best Books of 2015

Listen, folks. Regular blogging might be a problem for me. It's true. In the world of Amazing Bloggers, I may or may not be a hit and miss in the dark... the twice-a-year-post kinda blogger... the person you've totally forgotten about because the moment I started raising a child, suddenly life was all "HOW DO PEOPLE HAVE TIME TO WRITE AND RAISE OFFSPRING??" and yoga pants and copious amounts of a caffeine...

BUT all those failed posts aside, getting my yearly "Five Best Books" post down has never been a problem. I guess I like hearing myself talk about favorites. Sue me. So although it's February, and long past the acceptable time frame for: I'm-so-late-but-I'm-doing-this-anyway, I give you, my 2015 All Stars (in no particular order):

1. All the Stars in the Sky, Sarah Lyons Fleming

Cassie Forrest has sworn she’ll never let the world get the best of her again. 

She’s chosen to believe everything will be all right. 

But on a journey filled with heartbreak and madness and zombies, Cassie and her friends must struggle to stay alive—and it’s hard to believe in a future when survival seems unlikely.

Speaking of STARS (hardy, har!)... All the Stars in the Sky totally rocks the zombie apocalypse universe, you guys. In fact, you might have noticed that Sarah was on my All Star Team for 2014 as well. What can I say? This chick-a-dee is like an oracle. I devoured this book... TWICE... and could easily pick it up for round three with no problems whatsoever. This story isn't just about zombies... it's got a cleaver and machete stompin' story line too! And I'm in love. If you're in for an apocalyptic book that you CAN'T put down, try out this series! 

2. An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
I'm in love with everything about this book. 

This book kinda makes me wish I lived in back-in-the-day Rome. But only if it was like this... Dark magic, a school for bloodthirsty soldiers, a rising resistance, and a mom that makes every other evil step mother look like a chump, schoolyard bully. I loved every page!!

3. Tiger Lily, Jodi Lynn Anderson

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair...

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Perhaps it's because I, too, found myself irrevocably in love as a tender teen, and had my heart broken into a million tiny shards, but this book savaged my soul. "It's not for lack of loyalty," Tink says, as she looks back on the memories of youth that still feel like yesterday, "It is just that she was fifteen once for the first time, and Peter walked across her heart, and left his footprints there." 


Readers beware... it's not a strictly happy ending... but it IS the best kind of sad resolution. This is for anyone who ever had a broken heart!

4. Uprooted, Naomi Novik

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I'm just gunna say it straight: Novik is basically the Queen of Poetic Writing. This book is so beautifully written, it kind of makes me sad I didn't write it. Magic, intrigue and a budding, unlikely romance, this story is flawless!

5. Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. 

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. 

Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

This one actually kind of reminded me of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn. It's like Ocean's 11 meets fantasy, and I loved it! Twists, turns and an intriguing multiple POV telling of the ultimate heist! But be warned: it's NOT a standalone. Yeah. Which is what I thought until the last page. At which point I almost lost it, knowing I'd have to wait for a sequel to find out what happens. Curse you, Leigh Bardugo! 

6. The Illuminae Files, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

What "Top Five" list of mine would be complete without an Honrable Mention!? I didn't specifically label it as such, however, on account of I couldn't decide WHICH of these should be demoted to a mere honorific status. So I guess that technically makes this my Top SIX Books of 2015, but tomato tomah-tow, right? HA!

I won't lie... I was totally skeptical about the Illuminae Files at first. The format is definitely unique, and I worried it'd turn me off the story.... Oh contrare! Just the opposite, my friends! The email/IM/text/photo format actually gave the story more of an impact. And FYI, it's  totally worth the hardcopy purchase, JUST for the visually stunning cover art. Just sayin'.

Don't be scared, you guys, give this one a try... you'll be glad you did!

And that's my list! 2015 was a fabulous year for reading, and 2016 is already keeping me busy, as I'm in the thick of things with Pierce Brown's Red Rising series. (Ohmyheart... AMAZING. You can bet it'll be on next year's list. Not even a question!) If you like these and wanna know what else I'm kickin' around, be sure to follow more of my reviews on Goodreads

So what about you, you perusers of my blog, you? What books totally knocked your socks off last year? I love a good recommend!