Rachel’s Top 15 Books of 2015

Posted December 20, 2015 by Rachel Lightwood in Special Events / 19 Comments

top15Rachel

This is it guys. We’re at the closing point. I cannot believe that it is all pretty much over, blogging-wise, for the year. I’m not going to lie and pretend that it went by “all so fast”, because for me this has been a heck of a long, long year that dragged itself along. I think it was the thousands and thousands (seemingly) hours of school, the masses of homework, and the extra classes that all piled on top of this year, but it feels like a heck of an achievement to be able to say I made it. Apart from reading (of course!), the only thing that got me through was you guys – the online bookish community. I don’t know what I would have done without you guys to escape to everyday. And of course, a special thanks to Bee for letting me join her these last few months! They have been amazing, and I cannot wait to see what the year ahead brings us.

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*holds up glass* Here’s to Bee! Thanks for everything, and here’s to us as well. I wish us all the best next year!

The Fifteen of 2015

Here’s where we have to get a little serious. This has been such a surprisingly stressful post to write. I’ve got to be the least decisive person you’ll ever meet so narrowing this down to 15? It has taken me forever! I’ve changed my mind so many times. This year I was blessed with a really good reading year, and there are so many books I just need to talk to you about. But I think I’ve gotten it sorted… let’s give this a whirl!

Oh, and these are in absolutely no particular order. It was hard enough picking 15, let alone sorting them! 

#1 – Geek Girl series by Holly Smale

Geek Girl

You have probably seen my talking about this series a lot lately because I only recently finished it, but holy smokes has this quickly risen through the ranks to become one of my all-time favourite series. I love how simple the plotline is, how realistic and relatable the stories are. You feel like you are literally a part of Harriet’s journey, and she is just a believable character that you cannot help wishing it were real. Harriet is adorable, funny, smart, quirky, unique and always utterly herself, which I love. This story has a romance that will melt you heart into a sizable puddle. but it is never overpowering. This is a coming-of-age comedy, and never pretends to be anything else.

Favourite of the series: #2 – Model Mist

Recommend For: Contemporary fans with a quirky sense of humour that love character-driven plots and adorable romantic relationships.

#2 – Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan

Ranger's Apprentice

I cannot even begin to express the brilliancy that is the Ranger’s Apprentice series. I will never understand why it doesn’t get the hype it deserves! This series does start out as a middle grade historical series, but it quickly blossoms. It is addictive, and laugh-out-loud hilarious. There’s always action and drama (the good kind) to keep the stories going, no matter how long they get. The characters are phenomenal. It was a stroke of genius of the author to start the series at a young age so we could see them grow – like of like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson – but by the last book Will & Horace are grown men. The banter is some of the most hilarious I have ever read, ever. You’ll laugh out loud – I promise. And the relationship between our main characters, Will, Halt & Horace, will make you cry and laugh, gasp and scream with shock& worry – it’s brilliant.

Favourite of the series: #4 – The Battle for Skandia/Oakleaf Bearers, #7 – Erak’s Ransom & #12 – The Royal Ranger

Recommend For: Fans of middle grade fantasy that don’t mind a lack of magic and an emphasis on medieval knights, archers and warfare/espionage, with an added taste for humorous banter and appreciate well-crafted male friendships.

#3 – Mind Games duology by Kiersten White

Mind Games dulogy

Woah – that’s what comes to mind (lol, see what I did there!) when I think of this series. It was one of those lucky spare-of-the-moment, random-grab-as-I-am-leaving-the-library chances that got me to read this series. I had always meant to read a Kiertsen White book but, for some reason, it just never happened. Boy, am I glad I did though! Minds Games is one of those books that you need to go into it blind. It is heavily character-driven and the writing is what will capture your attention most, along with the complex and remarkable characters. I cannot say too much about this because I’m scared to spoil it, but please just give it a shot. It was incredible!

Favourite of the series: #1 – Mind Games

Recommend For: I wish I could say everyone, but readers that enjoy complex characters, and thrilling plotlines that make you question everything.

#4 – Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead

vampire academy

I feel like I’m cheating a little bit with this series because I haven’t read the last book in the series yet, Last Sacrifice, but I plan to by the end of the year so it counts, right? I was late to the bandwagon with this series. The hype has been and gone, but boy, does this series know how to pack a punch! It’s exciting, thrilling, emotional and completely addictive. The characters will quickly become you favourites – with feisty Rose, loyal Lissa, snarky Christian, witty, beautiful Adrian and the  strong, sexy, pure brilliancy that is Dimitri. It’s a cast you’ll never forget. On top of that, I love that the series isn’t afraid to do shocking things to make sure the audience is paying attention – there’s no sparing death, injury and heartbreak. You’ll literally gasp out loud a few times.

Favourite of the series: #3 – Shadow Kiss, #5 – Spirit Bound

Recommend For: Readers that are sick of the washed-up, cliches vampire stories who love feisty characters, emotional sub-storylines, action, mystery & suspense.

#5 – The Paper Magician & The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

paper magician series

This is honestly one of the most underrated series. I’ve only read the first two books, and while the first book is a little ‘weird’, it is an incredible story that I know a lot of people will love. The second book will blow you away, if you’re patient. This series follow a Victorian-London-esque land where magic is channeled through man-made elements (depending on your specialty). Our protagonist is, obviously, a paper magician but there’s glass, metal, rubber and other materials. The series is unique, wonderful written and led by one of my favourite protagonists, Ceony. There’s a mysterious element to the plots (especially the second one), and a romance also blooms that will melt your heart. I really wish more people would give this series a go. You need to push through the first book a little, but it gets so much better with the second book and just Emery! <3 Plus, Ceony has a pet dog that’s made entirely out of paper and he can fold down to nothing so she can take with her!

Favourite of the series: #2 – The Glass Magician

Recommend For: Readers looking for something a little different who love strong female protagonist that are realistic, romances that are slow-building and sweet, incredible magic systems, and historical settings.

#6 – Rebel Wing & Storm Fall by Tracy Banghart

Rebel Wing series

This series is another one that’s been underhyped. This is a dystopian, but it doesn’t cave to the cliches. It’s about a girl named Aris who is an incredible pilot but cannot join the air force because the military doesn’t allow women to fight… or can she? Aris was one of those characters that you couldn’t admit to loving at first, but throughout the story she is forced to grow in herself to survive her situation and you’ll find yourself getting caught up in her journey quickly and easily. The stories are fast-paced, and build to climatic action-packed scenes. The second book was a much better installment in the series, so don’t give up after the first book. I really loved the characters and plot in this series, and I know that if you love dystopians set during war with a wonderful female protagonist, you’ll love this series. Word of warning, the romance needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. It’s a little too Mulan for me.

Favourite of the series: #2 – Storm Fall

#7 – Until Beth – Lisa Anowitz

Until Beth

I feel like this is becoming a bit of a trend, but Lisa Anowitz is another author’s whose works have somehow slipped under the radar and shouldn’t have. Until Beth was a mysterious, alluring read about a strange academy – seemingly a cliched concept, but far from it. I loved our protagonist, Beth, and how she was smart, savvy and had a tonne of spunk. The story took many different twists and turns. I wish I could say more but I think going into this story relatively blind will make it stand out even more.

Recommend for: Fans of academy-based contemporary stories with blends of paranormal mysteries, fantastic characters and unexpected twists & turns.

#8 – Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

falling into place

This is one of those books that I cannot say much about other than the writing is gorgeous. This story broke my heart. It was just… phenomenal. I honestly just… *speechless*.

Recommended for: If you love hard hitting contemporaries with the most wonderful writing that will peel you apart slowly and expose your heart to the most hauntingly beautiful heart-wrenching story, pick up Falling Into Place.

#9 – A Work In Progress by Connor Franta

a work in progress

Speaking of gorgeous writing, this is what you need to pick up if you love books that make you happy, but are also inspirational and moving. Connor Franta is one of my favourite YouTubers, and the only non-bookish one that I can tolerate. His videos are sweet, funny and honest, the talk about life and just everyday stuff. It’s relatable and I love his open, honest way of speaking. And this is one of video in written form. You can feel that every single word is right from his heart, and it is broken up with his photography (which is stunning – check it out if you aren’t familiar with it). It is is a memoir so it’s a little hard to recommend if you aren’t a fan, but it was just beautiful.

#10 – Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

maybe someday

I feel terribly guilty adding this to my list, which I shouldn’t, but this s a bit of controversial book. I liked it. Obviously. But I do see where a lot of people come from when they say that it is appalling. I count this as a ‘guilty pleasure’ read. I know cheating is wrong, and I hate romances that have it… but I love Ridge & Sydney so bloody much. They belong together, and I loved this story. Sure, it was dramatic at times – too much. But the musical elements? They were spot on. And the diversity. And Ridge. Oh, Ridge.

#11 – Simon vs the Homo Sapien’s Agenda by Becky Albertalli

simon vs the homo sapiens aganeda

This should be no surprise, really. You all know how much Bee loves this book, so I had to pick it up this year and give it a go myself… and all I can say is thank you, Bee! I loved this story. I loved Simon and his friends & family. I loved the suspense, and the emphasis on friendship. I loved the email exchange between Simon & Blue. I freaking loved Blue! I loved that this made me laugh and cry. I definitely want to read more by this author.

#12 – Remember Me? by Sophia Kinsella

remember me

Again, this was one of those books that I had no idea what it was about going into it, and then got pleasantly surprised. I’m not going to pretend this book is literary gold, because it isn’t. But it was a lot of fun, a lot. It was hilarious and sweet. The protagonist was realistic and adorable. I could relate to her awkwardness and clumsy nature! I loved how this explored what it meant to be happy – what it took – and looked at materialism. But mostly, this book made me laugh and laugh and laugh. If you need a pick me up, check this one out. It will make you smile – I promise!

#14 – Dark Tide by Jennifer Donnelly

dark tide 2

I wish I could praise this series to the high heavens, but to be honest I didn’t enjoy the previous two books, Deep Blue and Rogue Wave, very much at all. Somehow though Dark Tide managed to overcome all the problems I had and dazzle me. This was a very character-driven story, but it was engaging and the writing style was beautiful. I loved seeing Selena grow, and that we got to follow the other characters too – not just Selena and Neela. Astrid is probably my favourite characters, and her storyline was probably my favourite too. I cannot wait to see where the story goes in Sea Spell. June please get here soon!

#15 – Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

nigth owls

I finished this book yesterday and… *bursts out sobbing*. This book was beautiful. It made me cry and laugh and swoon. I didn’t expect anything from this story. It was the only book I had at to read at my Granny’s house so I started it… and didn’t look up until I finished. Immediately – and this is the only time this has ever happened to me – I wanted to reread it. I need more Bex, more Jack, more art and gorgeous writing and graffiti and hidden messages and feels. It is taking every single inch of my free will not to reach over this desk and pick it up to read again… and it hasn’t even being 24-hours since I finished it. It is so bloody good. I know that it is going to stay with me for a very long time and honestly, at this moment this book is desperately trying to crown itself as my favoruite book of the year.

Honourable Mentions:

Oh, come on! Of course, I had to cheat and manage to slip a few more of my favourites in the mix. These were all fantastic reads too, but just didn’t make it into my top 15. You can see my full list here.

Round One

Round Two

Question of the Day: Well, what’s your favourite book of 2015?

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Rachel Lightwood

Rachel Lightwood

I'm an avid reader (obviously), Pinterest addict, history nerd, coffee drinker, feminist, couch potato, pianist, vegetarian, lover of crime shows, die-hard HP fan and Captain America-obsessed.

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19 responses to “Rachel’s Top 15 Books of 2015

  1. Like with Bieke’s list, there is only ONE of these that I have read! And that is Night Owls which I adored to pieces and I loved that book so much. I would basically hug it until it became part of me (so it might be just as well that I don’t have a physical copy of it). I will be reading some of your other books soon because some sound too good to pass up!

    Olivia Roach recently posted: 2015 Year Summary ~ Bookish Survey!
  2. Wow, loving how eclectic this list is! Those Paper and Glass Magician books look so cool – I love interesting magic systems. AND OMG Falling Into Place is so good, isn’t it?

    I’ve also been meaning to read the rest of the Geek Girl books – I have the second and third ones and keep forgetting to pick them up O_O

  3. I love that you couldn’t choose hahha. I am the worst at it too- I kept adding honorable mentions until I basically just forced myself to push “schedule” and walk away 😉 SO many of the books on your list are books I really want to read. Especially Simon, Night Owls (AS Night Owls- I love the cover so much more than the US one), and Saga. I have only read two of these- Looking for Alaska, which I really liked, and Falling Into Place which… I did not, but that was only because Liz just really made me mad- the writing was amazing!

    I am so glad that you joined Bieke too, you guys do such a great job here! I hope you enjoy your break and have a lovely holiday season!! <3

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted: This Week At Midnight (92)
    • That’s what I had to do too! Gosh, it’s such a bad trait to have. I can just never make up my mind. Simon is fantastic – if you listen to, Bee! 😉 – and Night Owls (not the other version of it!) is so bloody fantastic. I really hope you love it! And Saga is as good as the hype promises. I know what you mean about Falling Into Place. Liz was a hard character to empathize with… but the writing! *swoons*

      Thank you, Shannon! All the best to you and your family too. <3

      Rachel Lightwood recently posted: Rachel's Top 15 Books of 2015

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