I can’t believe it’s already the time of year to do a round up of my favorite reads from 2015. It feels like I just posted last year’s list (no link, on the old blog). It’s been a busy year between work, photography and beginning my brand new blog, and my reading took a bit of my back seat.
I didn’t set a goal for myself in 2015. In past years, I had planned for 100 books, but I knew 2015 was going to be busy. I’m right around 52 books for the year, and will hopefully finish the one I’m currently reading before 2016 arrives. Still a pretty solid number considering how busy I’ve been!
On to my favorite books from 2015!
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The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) – Deborah Harkness
Synopsis (from Goodreads): After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’ enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches —with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.
Verdict: This entire series was amazing. I tried really hard to spread them out throughout the year so they wouldn’t end. Thankfully, I was able to spread them out through 2014 & 2015. The books are long, but definitely worth the read. I’m pretty excited that she is coming out with another book in 2017!
Saddled – Susan Richards
Synopsis (from Goodreads): One day, at the age of thirty-one, Susan Richards realized that she was an alcoholic. She wrote it down in her journal, struck by the fact that it had taken nine years of waking up hung-over to name her illness. What had changed? This is a memoir about the power of animals to carry us through the toughest times of our lives—about the importance of constancy, the beauty of quiet, steadfast love, the way loving a good (and sometimes bad!) animal can keep you going. It’s a wonderful story for Susan’s (and Georgia’s) fans, and for anyone who has ever loved an animal enough to keep on living.
Verdict: As a life-long horseperson, I love reading a good horse story. This one was no exception. It was a beautiful story about the bond between this woman and her horse, and how she changed her life. If you are a horseperson, read it. You’ll appreciate the story. If you’re not a horseperson, read it. It will help you to understand the bond between a horse and their person much better.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.
Verdict: After reading some pretty deep books, I needed a light read. This was exactly what I needed. While it tackle mental illness, it did so in a quirky way. I really adored Bernadette’s character and her daughter Bee. It was a sweet read, and an easy read at that. If you’re looking for a quick, enjoyable read, I highly recommend Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Leaving Time – Jodi Picoult
Synopsis (from Goodreads): For over a decade, Jenna Metcalf obsesses on her vanished mom Alice. Jenna searches online, rereads journals of the scientist who studied grief among elephants. Two unlikely allies are Serenity Jones, psychic for missing people who doubts her gift, and Virgil Stanhope, jaded PI who originally investigated cases of Alice and her colleague. Hard questions and answers.
Verdict: If I read a Jodi Picoult book during the year, it’s almost a guarantee that it will end up on this list. I’ve always loved her books. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book by her that I didn’t enjoy. I love how she tackles really tough and controversial subjects, and weaves them into a beautiful story. This was a beautifully written story, and a bit different from her typical books. I had read mixed reviews, but it didn’t stop me. And I’m glad I read it. I loved every minute of it. If you’re a Jodi Picoult fan, don’t miss Leaving Time.
Life in Motion – Misty Copeland
Synopsis (from Goodreads): With an insider’s unique point of view, Misty opens a window into the life of a professional ballerina who lives life center stage: from behind the scenes at her first auditions to her triumphant roles in some of the most iconic ballets. But in this beautifully written memoir, she also delves deeper to reveal the desire and drive that made her dreams reality. Life in Motion is a story of passion and grace for anyone who has dared to dream of a different life.
Verdict: I have a fascination with ballerinas. I don’t know why. I’ve never been one. I’ve never been to a ballet. And yet, I love learning about them and reading about it. Black Swan is one of my favorite movies, and Life in Motion is now one of my favorite books. Maybe it’s because they are so graceful and always look like they are floating across the stage. But this book isn’t just about ballerinas; it’s about Misty Copeland’s rise to the top. It’s an incredible read. She is the epitome of strength, determination, and a wonderful example for all young girls and women out there.
The Good Girl – Mary Kubica
Synopsis (from Goodreads): One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life. An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems.
Verdict: I did everything in my power to not read this book until I went on vacation. I knew I wanted to have a really good book to read on the plane, and from everything I had heard about The Good Girl, it was the one. I was not disappointed. There was a point I was so close to finishing it, I was praying that the flight attendants were going to come around and tell me to put my Nook away. Thank god they didn’t. I finished it on the flight out to Vegas, and I was so thankful I had 4 hours of uninterrupted time to spend with it. It was a great thriller, and the twist at the end will shock you.
Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen
Synopsis (from Goodreads): The women of the Waverley family — whether they like it or not — are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them. As the sisters reconnect and learn to support one another, each finds romance where she least expects it, while Sydney’s child, Bay, discovers both the safe home she has longed for and her own surprising gifts. With the help of their elderly cousin Evanelle, endowed with her own uncanny skills, the Waverley women redeem the past, embrace the present, and take a joyful leap into the future.
Verdict: Sarah Addison Allen is another author I adore. Every book I’ve read, I’ve loved. Garden Spells had been on my wishlist for a long time, and I was thrilled when it came up as a Daily Deal. The story was beautifully written, and did not disappoint. I can’t wait to read First Frost (it will be a 2016 read for sure!)
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls – Anton DiSclafani
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Weaving provocatively between home and school, the narrative powerfully unfurls the true story behind Thea’s expulsion from her family, but it isn’t long before the mystery of her past is rivaled by the question of how it will shape her future. Part scandalous love story, part heartbreaking family drama, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is an immersive, transporting page-turner—a vivid, propulsive novel about sex, love, family, money, class, home, and horses, all set against the ominous threat of the Depression—and the major debut of an important new writer.
Verdict: While this sounds like it’s going to be a “horse” book, it was so much more. It was a heart-wrenching story of a girl sent away, and how this riding camp helped her to heal and turn her life around. It’s beautifully written and a book I had a hard time putting down. Let’s just say I’m anxiously awaiting DiSclafani’s next book “The After Party.”
The Girl Who Came Home – Hazel Gaynor
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again. Inspired by true events, The Girl Who Came Home poignantly blends fact and fiction to explore the Titanic tragedy’s impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.
Verdict: I love all things Titanic. It’s a moment in history I love learning and reading about. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but it quickly rose to the top of my favorite books of 2015. In fact, it might be the only book on Goodreads that I gave 5 stars to this year. Even if you don’t particularly like things involving the Titanic, the story is still incredible.
Waiting to Be Heard – Amanda Knox
Synopsis (from Goodreads): In the fall of 2007, twenty-year old college coed Amanda Knox left Seattle to study abroad in Perugia, Italy for one year. But that November 1, her life was shattered when her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher, was murdered in their apartment. Five days later, Amanda was taken into custody and charged by the Italian police; her arrest and the subsequent investigation ignited an international media firestorm. Overnight, this ordinary young American student became the subject of intense scrutiny, forced to endure a barrage of innuendo and speculation. Two years later, after an extremely controversial trial, Amanda was convicted and imprisoned. But in 2011 an appeals court overturned her conviction and vacated the charges. Free at last, she immediately returned home to the U.S., where she has remained silent, until now.
Verdict: I just recently posted about this one (you can read it here). If you’re interested in learning more about Amanda Knox and her case, it’s worth reading.
And a bonus book…
American Wife – Curtis Sittenfeld
Synopsis (from Goodreads): On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.” In Alice Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld has created her most dynamic and complex heroine yet. American Wife is a gorgeously written novel that weaves class, wealth, race, and the exigencies of fate into a brilliant tapestry–a novel in which the unexpected becomes inevitable, and the pleasures and pain of intimacy and love are laid bare.
Verdict: This is a bonus! I literally just finished this one and haven’t even posted about it yet on the blog. I love Curtis Sittenfeld. If you haven’t read Prep yet, you should. I wasn’t sure what to expect this book. And if you’re curious, it’s supposedly a fictionalized version of Laura Bush’s life. Curtis Sittenfeld was interviewed by NPR about the book, and there was a nice piece in The Atlantic too!
Well, there you have it! My top reads from 2015. Stay tuned for my last 2015 book round-up in early January.