One of my favorite things about the holidays
(besides Christmas) is the end of the year. Let me explain: I love the idea of New Year, New Me, yearly favorites and new year resolutions (although I never respect them).
In that spirit, I have decided to share with you today my favorite books of 2015. Some of them were published this year, but some of them I only discovered in 2015, even though they were released before. All of those books definitely deserved a five-star review, and here’s why.
The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
The Infernal Devices is the prequel to The Mortal Instruments. The trilogy follows the life of Tessa as she encounters the Shadow World and tries to save her brother. The story is set in Victorian London, and I think the author was able to capture that era perfectly. I’m amazed by her capacity to adapt the world she had created in TMI to it, which I honestly thought would be impossible when I first started reading.
I was really sceptic at first, but I soon fell in love, the way only Cassandra Clare is able to do. She has a special way of writing that always leave me craving more. The story she created is captivating and throws one plot twist after the other in your face. Just when you thought you had it all figured out, Clare surprises you with something entirely unexpected. And of course, she made me fall in love with yet another character.
Or should I say several of them.
The three books in that trilogy were the first one that I’ve read in 2015, and I devoured them in less than a week!
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
I’m going to start off by saying that this book isn’t for everyone: some love it, some hate it. There is no in-between. As you might be able to guess, I’m the former rather than the later. I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did when I first started reading it, but the author caught me completely off guard.
The storyline is simply genius. Mare, a Red, gets to go work for the Silvers, who are the highest on the social hierarchy, after a weird encounter one night. But things don’t go as planned, at all. She is thrown into this world so foreign to her, where everything is a game. She can’t trust anyone but herself. We follow the life of this young girl and see this amazingly constructed world through her eyes, and her view on things makes everything fall into place.
I went through the complete spectrum of emotions while reading this book. Joy, anger, sadness, fear, anxiety… I felt them all. The author just kept throwing plot twists into my face, each one more unexpected than the others. Every unexpected turn of events felt like a slap in the face, and I couldn’t stop reading. I had to force myself to put the book down a few times and process everything, because there was so much going on.
The characters are all so well written, I couldn’t decide which one was my favorite. Every single one of them is special. Even the one that turn out to deceive you in the end.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
This is one of the most unique, unexpected book I have ever read. It was hard for me to get into it at first, but once I was in, I was totally swept off my feet.
Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At the age of thirteen, Noah, an artist who draws constantly, is falling in love with the boy next door. Meanwhile, Jude is living her life to the fullest: she cliff-dives, wears red lipstick and talks enough for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets boy. The early years are told from Noah’s point of view, while the later are told from Jude’s.
For once, the characters are not what made me love this book so much. I couldn’t really relate to any of them, even though I did understand why they acted the way they did. I could understand them, but I didn’t identify to any of the characters.
What made me fall in love with this book is the writing. The author has such an amazing style. Somehow, she managed to completely reflect the twins’ personality through her writing. Noah’s part of the book was complex, full of metaphors and images. It was hard for me at first to decipher what was real and what was metaphoric, but I quickly took up the pace.
The story itself was so beautiful, I just don’t understand how the author could create something so perfect. Everything, in the end, was linked, even the things you thought didn’t matter. Every detail was important to the development and the continuation of the story and it is such a beautiful thing to see. I was so shocked by how the author was able to link everything to create one big masterpiece. The character development was also very well done. It was so good that it made me tear up towards the end.
This book is truly a work of art. Jandy Nelson created a masterpiece.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor is new to school. She has red hair, wears the wrong clothes and is a bit left out by her classmates. Park is quiet, but notices everything. These two aren’t meant to fall in love. But they do, in the most beautiful way.
I never thought I would love this book as much as I did. I had set expectations so high, since everyone around me seemed to have loved it, that I was afraid Rainbow Rowell wasn’t going to be able to fulfill them. God, was I wrong. Not only did I love it, but it is definitely one of my favorite books ever. I fell completely in love with the characters and the relationship they developed through the book.
It is a bit slow paced, so it was hard for me at first to get into it, but this allows us to see the beauty of evolution of the relationship between Eleanor and Park. We see them grow not only as individuals, but as one. We see them fall in love slowly, but fully. The character development is one of the things that amazed me in this book. Not do only the main characters evolve, but we see some minor characters change too. Eleanor had an impact on everyone’s life, not only Park’s. She changed everything about the way things used to be.
Once I was fully invested in reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. The author managed to put a bit of action without it seeming rushed and fake. As Eleanor and Park got to know each other, the pace of the story quickened and made it hard for me to stop reading. I was barely able to keep myself pulled together because Rowell took me on a roller coaster of emotions.
The ending is abrupt, it rips your heart from your chest. Not because it has a bad ending, but because you need to know what is going to happen next. The way Rowell decided to end the book was cruel, but so beautiful. I couldn’t help but smile when I finished reading it, even though my heart was broken into a million of pieces from the previous pages.
Saying that I loved it would be an understatement. There are no words to express how much I loved this book, that managed to be realistic yet made me fantasize about having someone who loves me as much as Park loves Eleanor. It deserves all the hype it got.
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
I have mentioned this book in my Favorite Books of the Summer post, so you already know just how much I loved this book. I’m not going to ramble again about how amazing this book is, but let me tell you this: reading it is one of the best decision that I have ever made. Not only is the concept unique and captivating, but the characters are almost amazingly written. This is the sort of book that you read in one sitting, no matter how fast you read. I am telling you, if you haven’t read this, do it now!
Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
This is another book that I’ve read over the summer and that I included i
n my Favorite Books of the Summer post, so, then again, I’m not going to go on forever about how perfect that book was. I’ve not read that many books that left me so wrecked. I cried ugly tears from the middle to the end. Colleen Hoover knows how to play with her reader’s emotions. I only have one warning : don’t read it if you don’t want to cry your heart out or get your heart broken. If, like me, you’re a bit of masochist, this book is perfect for you!
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
This is yet another book that I had included in my Favorite Books of the Summer post. I don’t think I have ever connected to a character as much as I did with the main character of this book. This story is about so much more than love or traveling. It’s about finding who you really are and figuring out what you want from life. The book will leave you wondering and wandering, and I definitely recommend it to all travel lovers! But even if you’re not too big about traveling, it’s still something I would recommend to all young women.
Angelfall by Susan Ee
I’m not that much into the biblical mythology, but I had read so many great reviews for Angelfall that I had to give it a try.
Angels have descended to destroy our world. It’s been six weeks since the apocalypse. When angel warriors kidnap a seven-year old girl, her older sister, Penryn, is willing to do anything to get her back. But in order to accomplish that, she needs the help of an angel. Raffe recently lost his wings and finds himself needing the help of that seventeen-year old girl, after being rescued by her.
At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I was having a hard time imagining the world Susan Ee had depicted and I had to reread certain sentences several times before I could understand them fully. Not that the style was really complex, but I just wasn’t really focused on the story.
Then, the book picked up. I don’t know at which point I started actually enjoying it, but once I was fully invested, I could hardly put it down. This book has everything: an action-packed post-apocalyptic story, two great main characters with chemistry, a strong-willed kick ass female narrator, a well-build and complex world… and the list goes on. Yes, the story could be a little predictable at times, but there were always a good plot twist to amaze me. And that ending! Don’t even get me started.
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
I wasn’t all that impressed with the first installment of the Throne of Glass series. Crown of Midnight is the sequel, and while there is a lot of hype revolving around that book, I didn’t set my expectations too high. I can now affirm that I completely understand the hype surrounding that series! The series kicked off to a weaker start, but it’s growing to be so much better than what I first thought it would be.
Not only was Crown of Midnight more thriving than Throne of Glass, the author also managed to throw many unexpected plot twists, thickening the intrigue. I was expecting most of them, but that’s only because I’ve been spoiled against my will. But that didn’t make me enjoy them any less!
The characters are starting to grow on me. I did like them in Throne of Glass, but now I love them! Celeana is finally growing to be the badass assassin that I was hoping for! She still gets on my nerves, but I’m growing to like her. As for Dorian, I like that he has is own storyline, independent of Celeana’s. As for Chaol… my heart aches for him. I think it’s needless to mention that he’s my favorite. I have a thing for tortured pretty boys, and Chaol definitely fits that description.
One thing I really like about this series is the variation of narrators. Most of the story is told from Celeana’s point of view, of course, but seeing little bribes of other characters and discovering their personality and what is inside of their head brings a different dynamic to the story.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
That book was the biggest surprise of all. I had heard many great things about it, but I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. The story takes place during WWII, in both France and Germany. Marie-Laure, who is blind since the age of six, is sixteen when the Nazis take hold of Saint-Malo, the small town in which she fled with her father. Werner is eighteen when the German troops, in which he is, invade Saint-Malo. The two of them aren’t supposed to meet. But they do. In the most beautiful, unexpected way.
Wow. Just wow. Where do I start? This book has it all: great writing, great characters, great story. It’s no wonder it has received so much praise, all of which is deserved!
I have to admit, for most of the book, I didn’t see where it was going. I knew the main characters were going to meet at some point
(because what would be the point if they didn’t?), but I just didn’t know when it would happen. And I was craving it. Still, I couldn’t stop myself from reading. So much happens, you just need to carry on reading. You don’t care, whether there is a point to this book or not, because it’s just so amazingly written. You can’t stop yourself from reading. You need to find out what will happen to those characters you’ve grown to love.
I loved the two main characters with all my soul. These two teenagers stole my heart and wreck me on so many levels. But they aren’t the only ones. The story is told from multiple points of view, and that alternation of narration brings it to an entirely other level. Madame Manec, Etienne, Jutta… all these characters had their place in my heart. Of course, there were characters that I despised, hated even. But every single one of them was interesting, complex and explored in depth. We could see multiple aspects of their personality through the story, and that made it all worth the while.
But what made me fall completely in love with the book is the picturesque writing of the author. Anthony Doerr masters the art of writing, without a doubt. The chapters of the book were short, but so much was contained in between those few pages. I think the length of the chapters brought a certain dynamic, a rhythm to the book. And of course, the mighty descriptions, with metaphors and all you could imagine made the story more vivid, more concrete.
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon is sixteen, and not-openly gay. When a email gets into the wrong hands, Simon’s secret is at risked of being exposed. He has to play wingman otherwise the email will become public. Simon is willing to do everything to keep his sexual orientation a secret, but also to keep Blue’s, Simon’s pen pal, privacy.
I didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading, and at first, I was a bit disappointed. It was a story just like any other. I mean, you follow the life of a sixteen-year old teenager. But somehow, I became engrossed with it. Not only did I wanted to find out who Blue was, but I also wanted to know how things would turn out for Simon. I became highly interested in what at first sight seemed like the everyday life of your typical high school teenage boy.
You have no idea how happy I was with the ending. I mean, could it get any better than that? Not only am I highly satisfied with Blue’s identity, but I’m also very happy how things turned out for other characters as well. Quite honestly, I haven’t read an ending that well handled in a while.
This book is a jewel for its characters. Not only are you offered a wide variety of characters, each more than different than the other, with its own personnality, but the general representation is great. LGBTQ+, people of color, religions… Becky Albertalli has dressed a great portrayal of today’s society. Each character has a purpose, they make the story evolve. They’re not just their to fill in blanks.
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Oh my, what a book! I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I first picked this up, but I’m so glad I did! Having expectations would probably have ruined it for me.
Every night, Khalid, the eighteen year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a bride, only to have her kill at dawn.
When Shahrzad’s best friend dies at the hands of the caliph, she vows to avenge her death and volunteer to be his next bride. She is determinated not only to stay alive, but also to kill Khalid with her own hands.
But what she didn’t expect was to find out that Khalid is not the monster he seemed to be.
This book is raw emotions splattered all around. Wrath, revenge, sadness, love… you name it, it has it. I would be lying if I told you that this book didn’t make me feel anything. It is so well written that you are ensure to breathe, hurt and love with the characters.
Lets start with those characters. While I highly enjoyed reading from multiple points of view, there are characters that I despised to the point of hate, which rarely ever happens to me. I usually just don’t like or care about certain characters, but this book was different. It has its highs and lows, and the characters are probably one of the best representations of both its strenghts and weaknesses.
As for the story itself, it was simply beautiful. I have never read The Arabian Nights, so I can’t really say if the retelling part is well-done, but I highly enjoyed reading this book. The story got me hooked within the first few chapters, and I couldn’t stop myself from reading it once I was started. It has action, a beautiful love story, untold secrets, revenge plots… and the list goes on. You will encounter unexpected plot twists (OMG, that ending!), and that just adds up to all the amazing things this story has to offer.
The setting is also greatly described. Ahdieh made me feel like I was in Rey with the characters, spying on their lives. I could imagine every single detail of the story, and it made me want to be apart of it too! She has done a good job at explaining Rey and its political situation, along with its culture. (although the vocabulary was a bit hard for me to understand at first).
I have never read A Thousand and One Nights, but after reading this retelling, I definitely want to!
What are your favorite books of 2015? Have you read any of those stated above?