*another obligatory flail about WHERE HAS THE YEAR GONE* We don't always eat books. When we do, however, we make sure to devour the...

TOP 10 BOOKS WE'VE READ IN 2015

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*another obligatory flail about WHERE HAS THE YEAR GONE*

We don't always eat books. When we do, however, we make sure to devour them whole in a span of few hours, then proceed to flail about their deliciousness for at least a year. Normally, Nutella and pizza are the sort of food groups we recognize and resort to in times of need for emotional comfort and support. But every now and then, a book goes a long way in demonstrating that a story is all you need.

Heads up, escapist enthusiasts. This one's for you.

This week we're featuring our favorite books of the past year. Not, perhaps, the ones released in 2015. We aren't that good about new releases. We're a disorganized bunch. (Sympathize with us and send us Nutella.) These are the books, however, which we have devoured in 2015 and which have made the less-than-intelligent choices worth it in the end. Not that we ever make less-than-intelligent choices. We're basically geniuses.

And these are the stories which tickled our genius minds.







1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


A band of six anti-hero criminal masterminds attempts to pull off the world's greatest heist in fantasy Europe. ANTI-HEROES. CRIMINAL MASTERMINDS. THE WORLD'S GREATEST HEIST. FANTASY EUROPE. That's really all the recommendation I needed. That's really all the recommendation anyone will ever need. Nevertheless, I've fawned over this book in my review and fawned again in various other posts, and I will continue to stroke, pet, hug and protect it from harm for a long, long time to come. In this unrelated Grisha spinoff, Leigh Bardugo married her exquisite worldbuilding with exquisite prose, weaved it together with an exquisite plot, and topped it all off with exquisite characters. And it was - you guessed it - exquisite. I love my anti-heroes entirely too much, and I'm thoroughly unapologetic about it. (Which is probably why their lack of apology appeals to me. Regular Freud, this one.)





2. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas


To anyone who has ever agonized over the choice of their first book of the year, here's a little fact. Mine was the first book in the Throne of Glass series. It's a completely stunning fantastical tale of almost dragons and fae and magic and a lack of magic and conquering kingdoms and glass castles and all the chocolate you can eat. I spent the rest of the year reading only stunning fantastical tales of almost dragons and fae and magic and a lack of magic and conquering kingdoms and glass castles and all the chocolate I could eat. I'm not saying that these two are necessarily related. But you might want to agonize some more. (You're welcome.) I've also professed my undying allegiance to this series in reviews, with fan art, in many a blog post and book haul and basically everywhere I could reach. And some places where I could not. So, you know. I kinda recommend it.


OUR REVIEW
MY THRONE OF GLASS FAN ART


3. Vicious by V.E. Schwab


Criminal masterminds make a reappearance on this list. And not for the last time. Of all the books Victoria Schwab has penned so far, this one is the closest to a blanket recommendation on my part. Though a sequel was recently announced, Vicious was originally a standalone paranormal story about good intentions with very, very bad consequences. Two brilliant college roommates want to become superheroes. A decade later, two brilliant former college roommates chase each other across New York City with possibly slightly homicidal intentions. Forget Dexter. Dexter was a regular human. These lovely, brilliant potential sociopaths are supervillains with superpowers that make it incredibly difficult to die... but also incredibly difficult to off each other without mass casualties.

They're also incredibly difficult not to love. Victor Vale is my homicidal baby and I will defend him to my death. Probably at his hand. Or similar.

REVIEW TO COME



4. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas


This book takes the singular blame for Natalie and I wasting half of 2015 away on Tumblr. That is what happens, you see, when you read a book practically as soon as it comes out and then proceed to develop many a theory about the incredibly soul-wrenching, mind-boggling, over-the-top dramatic things that are going to happen in the rest of the series. THERE WAS NO ONE WE COULD TALK TO BUT EACH OTHER! And Tumblr. Tumblr understands. Like Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series, this one, too, is a fantastically fantastic spin on Faeries and the Fae lore. Unlike the Throne of Glass series, however, it takes place in the fantasy version of the British Isles, it features a thoroughly displaced heroine whose mysterous thought processes are a riddle in itself, and a thoroughly delicious, complex, nuanced anti-hero who I just want to lay on a table, open up and dissect. Or make out with. One of the two.



OUR REVIEW



5. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer


Prior to The Lunar Chronicles, the Sci-Fi genre had been continuously trowing me lukewarm receptions. It was an unenthusiastic host. It wouldn't put arsenic in my food, that is, but it wouldn't break out into a chorus of Be Our Guest as cutlery danced a jig to its tune. Following The Lunar Chronicles, the Sci-Fi genre has become a proper Lumiere. Which (to de-Disneyfy this reference) means that The Lunar Chronicles is the world's most perfect gateway drug into YA Sci-Fi. This four-book series comprises four fairytale retellings in a futuristic society. Its action-action-character development-action formula is all kinds of uncharacteristic for fairytale retellings, and it hooked me from page one.









6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss



You wouldn't think it to be the case, but from time to time, a book that's hailed as one of the pillars of modern fantasy will turn out to be one of the pillars of modern fantasy. Mostly publishers just like to throw words around. "This titillating tale of a tenacious quest to find a man's best friend makes Where's Waldo one of the cornerstones of modern mystery." (I may be exaggerating slightly, but the point remains.) But when readers start to agree and surpass this publishing pitch, then you know you have a worthy book in your hands. The Name of The Wind being what it is - a life story of one of the greatest magicians and a notorious figure of legends - it both embraces and subverts tropes and expectations. It will throw you a bone to make your expectations nice and comfortable. This is fantasy after all! But then you'll inspect it and find the bone to be made of steel. Or copper. Or a magical, mystical substance that you'll spend the rest of the book deciphering. Is this the real life...?

OUR REVIEW



7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


In a not-too-distant future, humans spend the majority of their time plugged into a virtual reality world. What do you mean, that might well be the present day?! This is 2040. The situation is much more dire than you think. So when the shut-in creator of this virtual reality dies and leaves his entire legacy to whoever can complete a lengthy and arduous in-game quest, teenager Wade Watson joins hordes of others from all around the world set on seizing the ultimate prize... or kill trying. This is the book, guys. If you like video games, chances are you'll love it. If you don't play video games, chances are you'll love it. If you are indifferent about the whole ordeal, chances are you'll love it. Because ultimately, this is a puzzle. This is a brain-teaser. And this is action-packed and chockful of pop culture references and very, very familiar to all who didn't just spring into adulthood at the date of their birth. As someone who might have clocked some hours in MMORPGs in my teenage days, well... I was on the LOVE side of things.

REVIEW TO COME



8. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson


I am very purposely including the cover with all the award stamps on it. Very often awards are an exercise in pretentiousness. More than very often, they are thoroughly non-representative of the whole of whichever genre/period/territory they are meant to cover. But every now and then, there's a beautiful exception, where the award is both well-deserved and representative.

This is that beautiful exception.

This non-fiction memoir of an African-American family growing up during the Civil Rights movement is both poignant and beautiful. Given the subject, given that it's told in verse, and given that it's a stylized autobiography of sorts, there was ample opportunity for the book to tug at the heartstrings mercilessly and deliver an emotionally exhausting read. It didn't. This was uplifting. This was inspirational. This was educational. This was downright intriguing. This was just everything.

DUE TO MY UNWORTHINESS, I CANNOT FIND THE WORDS TO REVIEW THIS TITLE



9. I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson


Jandy Nelson is delightfully weird. Despite never crossing the line of magical realism, her each book nevertheless exudes magic. In a sea of thinking characters, Jandy's characters believe. They wait for their grandmothers' ghost to visit. They believe to have a telepathic link to a sibling. There is a plant that withers when they're sad and flourishes when they're happy. They are haunted by their mother. Their family has a hereditary condition of restlessness. Or, in the case of I'll Give You The Sun, they own the world and split it with a sibling. (The real question is - who gets the sun?) It's contemporary, it's whimsical, and it's an endangered species in the wild. Which is to say - it's a story about a family, about sibling rivalry and about some exceptionally demented artists, even by artistic standards. I repeat: quirky families. Quirky beliefs. Quirkier artists. And the quirkiest, most endearing plot known to man. (Also, LGBT representation.) All the yes.

REVIEW TO COME


10. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart



In many ways, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (try saying it three times fast!) explores similar themes to Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle. The latter being one of my favorite series, well... enough said. Except while Maggie Stiefvater weaves Welsh Kings, mythology, PTSD, racecars and ravens into the whole ordeal, E. Lockhart does Boys Behaving Badly in a contemporary setting... with a fantastically feminist twist. Sign me up. I'm there. On top of prep schools, secret societies and mayhem, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks reflects on the age-old battles of the haves vs. the have nots in today's world. But rather than beat you over the head with morals and messages, the point is made by tossing a large portion of morals and messages out the window - and having her characters cause as much mischief and debauchery as possible. This is the story, in short, of how one girl became a criminal mastermind. (I said they'd make a reappearance!)








1. Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J Maas
Are you surprised? Probably not. Although we've yet to review this (we were fangirling too much and couldn't string any words together to write one), this was probably my favourite book of the year. It was a close call between this and number 2, but I had to choose Queen of Shadows.

Everything about this book = EPIC. I couldn't stop reading it, and if you know me at all, you'll know how slow of a reader I am. And yet, I read this 645 page book in just over a week, and with a full-time work week. It was everything I wanted it to be and more, and I'm super stoked for the next book in the series. Anything Sarah writes is amazing, and if you've yet to pick up the Throne of Glass series -
go do it now, go! DO IT!
 



2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

This book was fantastic! It's the first book in the series, and it's a retelling of the story Beauty and the Beast. I'm telling you this and I will get a lot of stick for it (I do with people I know in real life) but as someone who... hasn't seen Beauty and the Beast yet *waits for the yelling*, I know the general gist of what happens, and this was a wonderful retelling.

It's enchanting, gripping, romantic and full of such awesome characters that you'll grow to love. Me and my co-blogger fangirl about the characters on a daily basis, even months after we've read it, and the second book is one of our most anticipated books of 2016.

So, yes. If anyone has an ARC of A Court of Mist and Fury, don't hesitate to send it our way! It's worth a shot!

OUR REVIEW | AMAZON US | AMAZON UK



3. Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi

If I could put the whole series, I would, but this one was my favourite out of all them. The epic finale of the Shatter Me series was exciting, gripping and so damn brilliant! Things that I wanted to happen had happened, the characters were as bad-ass as ever, and Warner.
WARNER. 
Be still, my beating heart.

If you've not yet read the series, I have to highly recommend them. I didn't find them hard to read, they weren't very long but it was written beautifully and there's constantly something happening. Definitely looking forward to any future books by Tahereh Mafi, who is a very talented author.



4. Thoughtful (Thoughtless #1.5) by S.C Stephens

I highly anticipated this book for so long. This is Thoughtless but told in Kellan's point of view. If you've read Thoughtless, you'll know that there's so much going on in his mind that he's not telling us. It was so very interesting to see what was going through his mind, and why he did the things he did in book 1. All the way though Thoughtless, even Kiera is wondering why he just changed his mood so suddenly, and why he says certain things, and now we know why. I understand this 'moody artist', but it's certainly a rollercoaster.

Kellan is still as amazing as he is in Thoughtless, just a bit more rude. Yeah, he tends to swear a lot in his head, but that was to be expected. It was funny, interesting yet emotional angsty. If you like Thoughtless, I do recommend this one!

He's also still one of my book boyfriends *dreamy sigh*

OUR REVIEW | AMAZON US | AMAZON UK



5. Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J Maas

It's obvious I'm a Sarah J Maas fangirl. 
I had to space them out a bit, but Heir of Fire was such a fantastic book! So many amazing characters were introduced to the story, including Manon and her wyvern Abraxos (so adorable, omg) and a particular Fae Prince who has stolen my heart. Yep, I'm talking about Rowan, who I recently named my new Kindle after because *swoon* Fae Bae. (Thank you Dennis, you incredible individual!)

Him alone should be a reason to read this series, but there's more. Such epicness and kickassery occur in this one! It's so jam-packed full of adventure and magic, you'd be missing out if you never gave this series a try. Maas is a fantastic storyteller and I'm super excited for book 5. Okay, more than excited. I'd do anything for the next one! *tries to remain calm*




6. Lucy in the Sky by Paige Toon

I know that not a lot of people who read this blog are chick lit fans, but my colleague is. I gave them the Anna and the French Kiss series to read (which is now one of her favourite book series), and she gave me this one.

I wasn't sure I'd like it, but honestly, it was lovely! It was a great 'in between' read, something to lighten the mood after reading something heavy.

It involves a lot of travel, which is good for me as I'm quite the traveler, but also it's a book you can just fly through (I had to)! Sweet, romantic and funny, it's a nice beach read. If this isn't your kind of thing, maybe recommend this to your sister, mother or anyone who likes anything cutesy. It's a book that'll cheer you up, so curl up in a blanket, have a hot drink and a cheeky read of this one. I recommend it!

OUR REVIEW | AMAZON US | AMAZON UK



7. To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

I finally picked up this book, one that I've heard so much about, and it didn't disappoint. It was so adorable, cute and enjoyable to read!
Although I wasn't a huge fan of the second book, as I found that it was kind of... pointless? The first, however, can still be enjoyed on its own.

Jenny Han brings a light read, the story is of a girl called Lara Jean who writes love letters to boys she's liked over the years. Cute, right? But wait... those letters get delivered to said boys. Uh ooooh.

It's a quick read for someone who wants something lighthearted. Lara Jean and her family are nice to read about, and the story flows nicely and it's easy to get lost in.





8. The Deal by Elle Kennedy

Don't let this horrible cover fool you, it's not what you think. Trust me. I read this as an ebook, so I didn't see this cover until I put it as 'currently reading' on GoodReads and cringed.

This book was so much better than I expected! Sadly, it was beaten by Confess (ugh) and Grey (EVEN WORSE) for the GR Choice Awards, but that's only because it's less known. If you like New Adult, though, this one is a good one. I tried to read a bit of everything this year, and this was one of the best New Adult books I found.

This book was funny and it didn't involve a lot of your typical annoying NA tropes. It was so much better than that.
So, don't bother reading those 'I'm broken, you can't fix me' books and want something better, then give this one a go.

AMAZON US | AMAZON UK



9.  Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops by Jen Campbell

This is the funniest book I've read in such a long time. The things people ask and do in a bookshop is amazing and astonishing, and you can't read this one with a straight face.

The illustrations in this are great too. It's quite a short book, so you can read it in an hour or so. But expect to want to go back to it every now and then and re-read. I already want to work in a bookshop, but this makes me want to work in one even more.

Highly recommend this for a quick read and a giggle!






10. Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger

This is a companion book to The DUFF, which is another book I recommend, and one of my personal favourites (just not one I read this year). Lying Out Loud is about Wesley Rush's sister, Amy and her friend Sonny. Sonny has this problem where she just cannot stop lying and she says things without thinking. A.K.A lie vomit. It shows us the downsides of her lying and why she should just be honest and talk to the people she cares about.

It's quite a fun book, really quick to read it and involves some recurring characters from the other book. Yep, that means Wesley Rush! *squee!*

A great companion to The DUFF and some nice new characters to meet at Hamilton High - very enjoyable book!

OUR REVIEW | AMAZON US | AMAZON UK







We have more than ten each. We may have a lot more than ten each. But too many books, not enough space. 'Tis a problem consummate readers know well. But the year is almost over, and the next one awaits, and though our TBRs are overflowing, we need book recommendations! So tell us your favorite books of the year in the comments below! A full TBR is an... anxiety-inducing TBR. But also a comforting one, at times. Bring it on, 2016!




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8 comments:

  1. I literally skipped this prompt because IT WAS TOO HARD. *collapses* So I shall send you nutella and condolences for being forced to pick only 10 each and say GOOD JOB ALSO. *pats your shoulders* Ermagerd I loooove so many of these books. :') I read I'll Give You the Sun last year but IT'S BASICALLY THE MOST AMAZING BOOK EVER MADE. It was so...visual. Like how do you write art so well that the reader can see it?!?! GAH I LIKE.

    And now I really want to read Name of the Wind. XD

    I KINDA LOVE VICIOUS AN AWFUL LOT TOO.

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    1. YOU'VE READ LIKE TEN BILLION BOOKS THIS YEAR! If I were Cait, I'd have skipped it, too! It's damn near IMPOSSIBLE to pick when you've read ~100. But YOU...!

      I LIKE JANDY NELSON. JANDY NELSON IS A WEIRD HUMAN. <3 She writes art! She writes art in sprawling standalones! Bless Jandy Nelson! *wraps her in a blanket and protects her from all harm* And Victoria Schwab is my, ah, longterm favorite. Because of, ah... MUUUUUUUUUURDER. VICIOUS IS EVERYTHING.

      The Name of the Wind review has JUST been posted! :D I don't know that it's very convincing, but STILL YAS. It's intimidating and a bit giant, and it's very character-driven as opposed to the usual plot-driven fantasy, but it's magniiiiiiiificent. <3

      - Lexie

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  2. AHH. So many great picks Natalie and Lexie! I absolutely adore all the books you've chosen. Throne of Glass, Ignite Me and Cinder are all incredible series, and I'm so glad you like them as much as I do. And I'll Give You the Sun, Vicious and Six of Crows are all incredible too. ♥ Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post! xx

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    1. YOU ARE BASICALLY OUR TWIN HUMAN, ZOE! ♥ We love all of those SO, SO MUCH! Six of Crows and Vicious are delightfully MURDEROUS (and since Vicious is getting a sequel, they're both murderous duologies now, too). And then when Throne of Glass and Shatter Me and Cinder stress us out, we can resort to I'll Give You The Sun for a bit of a breather and a reminder why life is good. EVEN WHEN AUTHORS MAKE IT HURT!

      - Lexie

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  3. EVERYONE LOVE SIX OF CROWS

    I have not read anything by Leigh Bardugo.

    I must buy it.

    THE BLACK PAGES!!

    Sorry this was incoherent. I'm caffeinated.

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    1. Caffeinated is the ONLY way to be, Stefanie! Natalie's addicted to (black) tea and I'm addicted to coffee, so we highly approve. We are frequently caffeincoherent.

      Much as I don't want to add to the hype, I really just ADORED Six of Crows. I HIGHLY recommend it. I've reviewed it here on the blog, if you're interested. The bottom line is: it's GLORIOUS, it's AN AESTHETIC MARVEL, it can be read on its own without the Grisha trilogy, and it's CHOCKFUL OF ANTI-HEROES! Doesn't that just sound good enough to EAT? Or at least... read? :)

      - Lexie

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  4. Yep, I have ACOTAR on my list too, but apparently it's a divisive choice because a lot of people told me in comments that they didn't like it. And if I'd read Six of Crows it would probably be on my list, but I haven't yet!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. I'm, ahem, somewhat biased (*cough cough* MANIACALLY ADICTED *cough*), but Six of Crows... y'know, I kinda mildly recommend it. ;)

      Y'know, I THOUGHT readers would be divided about ACOTAR, because I went through quite a few opinions myself as I was reading it (before I settled on AWESOMETACULAR). But we've only heard praise and a choir of angels singing softly in the background whenever someone mentioned it. :) Apparently, all the ACOTAR haters went to your blog and stayed there. They love the atmosphere. (Can't blame them. So do we.)

      - Lexie

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