Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 15 Books of 2015 According to Moi

Now in years past with this blog feature as well as with some inspiration from Stephen King, I asked myself this question -- Did I have a great year pop culturally speaking? Instead this year I decided to focus on books as I wrote about latest releases, did book reviews, and read a lot more than usual this past year. Did I have a good reading year --  I would have to say yes.. Here is a list of 15 books that made me squee with bookworm fandom. So as the great John Dargo would say...enough of this palaver...let us get this ride started!

1: The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins:
My lovely boyfriend has gotten me hooked onto psychological thrillers with a true crime edge. So when I read the description for this, I had to get it. Plus it is called "Hitchcockian". Who can not love something that is compared to Hitchcock? This book was released on January 13, 2015 and it took me two days to read. I also hear it has been optioned for the big screen. Here is the book description: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

2: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falloff
Who does not enjoy a good mystery with some love and entitlement? This girl does! This book was released on January 27, 2015; I am currently reading it, and here is the book description: Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Spectacular Now. There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, Sam's best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you'll understand. To figure out what happened, Sam has to rely on the playlist and his own memory. But the more he listens, the more he realizes that his memory isn't as reliable as he thought. And it might only be by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he'll finally be able to piece together his best friend's story. And maybe have a chance to change his own. Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that's always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it's about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.

3: H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald
One of the many conversations my love and I have had is our love for birds of prey. Him -- its all about the red tailed hawk. Me -- its all about the owl. So when I saw this book in one of my many book blogs that I follow, I took it as a sign of fate. This book was released on March 3, 2015 and is optioned to become a movie! Here is the book description: When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald's humanity and changed her life. Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer's eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.

4: The Prom Goer's Interstellar Excursion by Chris McCoy
One of the many advanced reading copies I received at New York Comic Con in October of 2014 and I was very excited that this book saw the light of day. It is time travel that meets Spaceballs. SIGN ME UP. This book was released on April 14, 2015 and it took me one day to read; with breaks of course.Here is the book description: It’s Superbad meets Spaceballs in this hilarious extraterrestrial road trip! Just a few days before prom, Bennett pulls off something he never imagined possible: his dream girl, Sophie, agrees to be his date. Moments afterward, however, he watches Sophie get abducted by aliens in the middle of the New Mexico desert. Faced with a dateless prom (and likely kidnapping charges), Bennett does the only thing he can think of: he catches a ride into outer space with a band of extraterrestrial musicians to bring her back.
Can he navigate alien concert venues, an extraterrestrial reality show, and the band’s outlandish egos to rescue his date in time for the big dance?

5: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
A modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast? Sign me up...well since I am the living and breathing Belle and I am getting my library from my own Beast. This book was released in May. Here is the description: When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin-one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin-and his world-forever. Perfect for fans of Kristen Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

6: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Apparently this book is being touted as another version of Gone Girl, but instead the heroine is a teenager and not bat shit crazy like Amy in Gone Girl. I will admit, I was not a fan of Gone Girl at first but it grew on me, so upon reading the description of this I figured, yet again, lets give it a shot. Apparently that is my motto for my reading this year -- hey lets give a shot! This books was released on May 12, 2015 and it is being adapted for a movie. Here is the book description: HER PERFECT LIFE IS A PERFECT LIE. As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancĂ©, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve. But Ani has a secret. There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything. With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears. The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

7: A Field Guide to Awkward Silences by Alexandria Petri
Every girl in their teenage/early 20's have had their bouts with awkwardness and fear. Not this girl. She, in my opinion, is a role model for all of us awkward girls out there. Her memoir was released on June 2, 2015. Here is the book description: Most twentysomethings spend a lot of time avoiding awkwardness.Not Alexandra Petri. Afraid of rejection? Alexandra Petri has auditioned for America’s Next Top Model. Afraid of looking like an idiot? Alexandra Petri lost Jeopardy! by answering “Who is that dude?” on national TV. Afraid of bad jokes? Alexandra Petri won an international pun championship. Petri has been a debutante, reenacted the Civil War, and fended off suitors at a Star Wars convention while wearing a Jabba the Hutt suit. One time, she let some cult members she met on the street baptize her, just to be polite. She’s a connoisseur of the kind of awkwardness that most people spend whole lifetimes trying to avoid. If John Hodgman and Amy Sedaris had a baby…they would never let Petri babysit it. But Petri is here to tell you: Everything you fear is not so bad. Trust her. She’s tried it. And in the course of her misadventures, she’s learned that there are worse things out there than awkwardness—and that interesting things start to happen when you stop caring what people think.

8:The Bourbon Kings by JR Ward
I have never been so excited for a book in a long time and because of my excitement I received an ARC of this at Book Con in May. Just read the description below and hopefully it will pull you in too. This book is was released on July 28, 2015. Here is the book description: The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood delivers the first novel in an enthralling new series set amid the shifting dynamics of a Southern family defined by wealth and privilege—and compromised by secrets, deceit, and scandal.... For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets. As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

9:Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes
How can you go wrong with a title like that? This book was released on August 4, 2015. Here is the book description: A fresh, honest, and darkly funny debut collection about family, friends, and lovers, and the flaws that make us most human. Fearless, candid, and incredibly funny, Lauren Holmes is a newcomer who writes like a master. She tackles eros and intimacy with a deceptively light touch, a keen awareness of how their nervous systems tangle and sometimes short-circuit, and a genius for revealing our most vulnerable, spirited selves. In “Desert Hearts,” a woman takes a job selling sex toys in San Francisco rather than embark on the law career she pursued only for the sake of her father. In “Pearl and the Swiss Guy Fall in Love,” a woman realizes she much prefers the company of her pit bull—and herself—to the neurotic foreign fling who won’t decamp from her apartment. In “How Am I Supposed to Talk to You?” a daughter hauls a suitcase of lingerie to Mexico for her flighty, estranged mother to resell there, wondering whether her personal mission—to come out—is worth the same effort. And in “Barbara the Slut,” a young woman with an autistic brother, a Princeton acceptance letter, and a love of sex navigates her high school’s toxic, slut-shaming culture with open eyes. With heart, sass, and pitch-perfect characters, Barbara the Slut is a head-turning debut from a writer with a limitless career before her.

10: Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski
I scored an ARC of this back at BookCon in May and was so excited to get it as it reminded me of Wayward Pines. This book was released on September 22nd. Here is the description: A story where edge-of-your-seat horror meets post-apocalyptic thriller, perfect for fans of Lois Lowry and The Mazerunner --Night is coming. On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours--it comes every twenty-eight years. Each sunset, the townspeople sail to the south, where they wait out the long Night. None of the adults will tell Marin, Kana, or their friend Line exactly what happens when they leave the island, but when the three are accidentally left behind in the gathering dusk, they learn the truth: at Night, their town belongs to others, and those others want them gone. Fleeing through the now-alien landscape that used to be their home, the three confront shocking transformations and uncomfortable truths about themselves. They are challenged to trust one another or perish. Marin, Kana, and Line must find their way off the island . . . before the Night finds them.

11: The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
I first heard about this book from the YouTube channel The Peruse Project. I was able to find it on Amazon and dove right into it. Can relate a lot to it and it is a great read. This book was released on February 23, 2015. Here is the book description: David Smith is giving his life for his art―literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn't making it any easier! This is a story of desire taken to the edge of reason and beyond; of the frantic, clumsy dance steps of young love; and a gorgeous, street-level portrait of the world's greatest city. It's about the small, warm, human moments of everyday life…and the great surging forces that lie just under the surface. Scott McCloud wrote the book on how comics work; now he vaults into great fiction with a breathtaking, funny, and unforgettable new work.

12: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
It is set at the United Nations. SOLD. In case you have lived under a rock and do not really know me, one of my dream jobs was to work at the United Nations as a translator/lawyer. I wish I picked up this book at Book Con but it is all good as this book was released on September 22, 2015. Here is the book description: In the future, the UN has brought back an ancient way to keep the peace. The children of world leaders are held hostage—if a war begins, they pay with their lives. Greta is the Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, a superpower formed of modern-day Canada. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. The hostages are Talis’s strategy to keep the peace: if her country enters a war, Greta dies. The system has worked for centuries. Parents don’t want to see their children murdered. Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to die with dignity, if necessary. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture. He’s a hostage from a new American alliance, and he defies the machines that control every part of their lives—and is severely punished for it. Greta is furious that Elian has disrupted their quiet, structured world. But slowly, his rebellion opens her eyes to the brutality of the rules they live under, and to the subtle resistance of her companions. And Greta discovers her own quiet power. Then Elian’s country declares war on Greta’s and invades the prefecture, taking the hostages hostage. Now the great Talis is furious, and coming himself to mete out punishment. Which surely means that Greta and Elian will be killed...unless Greta can think of a way to save them.

13: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This book....this book was the talk of Book Expo America, BookCon, San Diego Comic Con and by me. I am so excited for this series! I haven't been this excited for a book since Neil Gaiman announced a prequel for The Sandman as well as Chuck Palahniuk announcing a graphic novel sequel for Fight Club. I pre-ordered this book back in August. This book was released on October 20, 2015. Here is the book description: For fans of Marie Lu and James Dashner comes the first book in an epic new series. “Brace yourself. You're about to be immersed in a mindscape that you'll never want to leave.” —Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of the Legend trilogy. 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 one of the 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.

14: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Another book that I was excited about. Eleanor and Park was so good and resonated a lot with me; especially with the kind of relationship I have with my symbiote so...I have to read everything from this author now! This book was released on October 6, 2015. Here is the book description: Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right. Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here -- it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up. Carry On - The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.

15: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles Book 4) by Marissa Meyer
The trend of reimagining/rewriting fairy tales for modern day is still alive and well. I, usually, do not like remakes when it comes to movies/television shows but with books I do not mind a new spin as long as it is original. This series just does that. This book was released on November 10, 2015. Here is the book description: Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long. Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer's national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.

Well there you have it. What books or pop culture did you enjoy in 2015?

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