Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Top Reads for 2015

The year of 2015 has been an amazing reading year for me. I read over 200 books and discovered my favorite book this year, as well as some others that I'm sure I'll continue to love for a long time. So since I read so many books I decided to give you my top 15 reads of the year. It was hard to narrow it down, but I feel pretty good about this list, so let's go. This does not include rereads. I'm working my way from 15th to 1st, so my favorite is at the bottom.

My Top 15 Reads for 2015
Swimming Through Clouds by Rajdeep Paulus is taking my 15th spot. I read and reviewed the entire trilogy this year and adored them all. They are emotionally charged, beautifully crafted, and heartwarming. There is an abusive family situation, so just make sure you're ready for that. And some talk of attempted suicide. Neither ever get particularly extreme, but it deals with the issues the main characters are having trying to get away from their abusive situation. 

All Fall Down, the fourth and final installment in the Lucy Kendall series by Stacy Green is the next on my list. This was an amazing conclusion to the series and possibly my favorite of them all. This is another series I've reviewed over the last year. It's about a woman who takes justice into her own hands to try and protect the innocent. And this installment had some crazy revelations. 

The High Priestess by P. D Kalnay, the second book in his Arros Chronicles was another great read. It's an upper middlegrade/lower YA fantasy series about six princesses trying to protect their kingdom and each other. Another series I've been reviewing this year. The first one was really good, but this one was even better. 

Another novel I reviewed and loved this year was Paladin by Sally Slater. Going into this I expected to be entertained but not enchanted, to have fun but not be addicted. I loved this. Every book has it's flaws, but this one was a solid YA fantasy that I feel in love with. The characters, the plot, the fact that, while there was a romance, it didn't seem to overshadow the story just made this fun.  

I'm honestly not sure what initially got me to read Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson. Maybe it was the idea of someone completing a list (I love lists and stories that revolve around lists), but I'm so glad I did. It's a story that grows as you read it. The main character, Emily really annoyed me in the beginning but I loved seeing her develop as the book progressed. It had some sweet moments, some sad moments, and is just overall great. 

The Forever Man by Eoin Colfer is the final book in the WARP trilogy. This middle grade science fiction series follows Chevie, a young FBI trained girl from modern day USA, and Riley, a boy trained to be both a magician and assassin in Victorian era London. Time travel ensues and the two are off on a grand adventure. And of course it's amazing because it's Eoin Colfer and the man doesn't know how to write anything that's not amazing. The whole trilogy is just plain fun. And I love time travel. It's one of my favorite things. 

This conclusion to Neal Shusterman's UnWind dystology is brilliant. UnDivided takes the political unrest to a new level as rebellions continue to rise, teens and children fight back for their rights, and parents realize that their easy "fix" might not have been the best choice after all. The characters continue to grow, new ones are introduced, and crazy goodness follows. The writing is captivating, characters believable, and plot outright thought provoking. Love the entire series. 

Six of Crows is the first book the The Dregs, a duology by Leigh Bardugo that follows six dangerous outcasts as they attempt an impossible heist. The writing is lyrical, the characters are incredible, the plot and world beautiful, and just...I loved this. I loved this oh so much. The next one is already on my TBR for next year when it comes out. 

I'm always worried when I pick up a horse book but Stay the Distance by Mara Dabrishus delivers. The racing scene is spot on, the characters are flawed and relatable, the romance is adorable, and the family dynamics insane. A beautiful blend that has me addicted. Literally. I keep going back to it again and again. 

I don't know what took me so long to read The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen, but once I did I could not put it down. The entire trilogy has become an absolute favorite. When I need to feel happy I think about these books. The main character is brilliant and I just adored this series. It's a middle grade trilogy that starts with a man trying to replace the missing prince with an impostor. And it's brilliant

If you know me then you know I'm a huge Brandon Sanderson fan. Firefight is the second book in the Reckoners trilogy and follows a world where super humans have been created... And they are all villains. This installment was another excellent read. David is one of my favorite characters ever. I'm eagerly waiting for the final book in February 2016.  

Saint Odd is the final installment in Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas series and I loved it. This has been a favorite series for a few years now and Odd's final journey was perfect. His story went full circle and his end was beautiful. Odd Thomas is perhaps by favorite fictional character of all time.  

Shadows of Self is the sequel to Brandon Sanderson's The Alloy of Law and follows Wax and Wayne in further adventures in the Mistborn world. This installment has some insane revelations and questions in the Cosmere and is fantastic. I adore the original Mistborn trilogy, but in some ways I enjoy these even more. I absolutely love the characters and the action scenes are brilliant, as usual. 

Words of Radiance is the second installment in The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson, what's planned to be a ten book series. I liked it so much that I read it twice. It's long, over 1,000 pages, and worth every single word. The cast of characters is large, which I love, the world is beautiful and complex and fascinating. This novel is gripping from beginning to end and I stayed up late into the night reading it. Both times.

When I read The Way of Kings, the first book in the Stormlight Archive, in February, I said that I was pretty sure it would be my favorite read of the year. And it is. It's also my favorite novel now. I've read it twice and each time I fall more in love with it. For many of the same reasons as the previous novel mentioned, since they are in the same series. Kaladin is one of my all time favorite characters. And the progression from beginning to end of this is incredible. The plot is complex and fascinating. 

I could go on about this book FOREVER. So instead I'll just say go read it. Right now. No matter what else you're doing. Just. Read. It. 

What are your favorite books of the year? Tell me in the comments below! 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Your Bookish Sites

Tuesday Talks is a weekly discussion group on goodreads that was created by Janie and Janelle. Each week there is a new topic which has been suggested by a member of the group. It's a great way to connect with other booktubers and bloggers and discuss bookish things, so check it out.

Do You Use Sites Other than Goodreads?
 Goodreads is my go to site for bookish things. I've been a member for a few years but only really started using it a lot in 2014. I have been trying to branch out into some other sites to see what they have to offer. I recently set up an account with LibraryThing. I haven't done much with it and I'm not sure that I will, but I though I might as well see what it's all about. 

For me it just becomes too time consuming trying to keep up with all the latest reading sites. I enjoy goodreads because it's what I started with and I've made some great friends through it. If you have any sites that you enjoy please let me know. 

Share your thoughts on the different bookish sites out there with me! I don't know much about it myself, so I could use some more opinions.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Saratoga Summers~Mara Dabrishus | Review

Title: Saratoga Summers (Stay the Distance #1.5)
Author: Mara Dabrishus
Genre: YA Equestrian
Length: 41 Pages
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

If you know me then you know I love horses. And if you've heard me talk about books this year then you might know that Stay the Distance is one of my favorite reads this year. This little short story tells about all of the summers that July and Beck spent together at the track. And I loved it. 

This was so incredibly perfect. It's short, fun, sweet. Horses, July, Beck. What more could you ask for? I love these two together and seeing their relationship as it developed over the years was perfect. There's also some of the family drama that made Stay the Distance so real, beautiful horses and racing. A great little story.

If you haven't read Stay the Distance yet...Do it! Right now! And then read this.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Nightmare Before Christmas Book Tag

This is one of my absolute favorite movies, and yes, I consider it a Christmas movie. So thank you to Hannah from TheDonkeyInvasion for tagging me! And now let's get straight into the tag.

Sally: A book with a character who loves someone so much and actually gets them in the end.

For this one, I have to go with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Warning for those who don't know the story, their might be spoilers. Mr Darcy ends up with Elizabeth who he's loved for much of the novel. He even learns to better himself when she points out some of his less becoming traits. It's beautiful.
Jack: A book with a character who longs for more. 
For this, I have to go with my favorite novel (and one of my favorite characters ever). The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. Kaladin is always longing for something more, sometimes this is good. Other times not so much.
Zero: A book with a loyal sidekick.

I have to choose two this time around. First Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. All of Bridge Four are extremely loyal to Kaladin. It's beautiful.  
And then there's The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson. Wayne is one of the most loyal people I've ever read about. He and Wax have the best relationship.
Oogie Boogie Man: A book with a wicked villain.
This time I'm going with the final book in the Lucy Kendal series by Stacy Green, All Fall Down. I can't say too much about the villain, but there was some crazy stuff here.
Halloween Town: A book with a weird or creepy theme. 
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This was very different than I expected. It was just kind of an odd jumble of crazy going on. A very interesting jumble of crazy.
Christmas Town: A book that left you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. 
This one is Stay the Distance by Mara Dabrishus. This book has so much going for it-family drama, horses, and a cute love story. It makes me so happy.
What's This? A Book that took you by surprise.
The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen. This middle grade book took me ages to pick up and I absolutely loved it! It's one of my all time favorites. The whole series is just amazing.

I'm not going to tag anybody, since it's the day before Christmas, but if you want to do this go for it. Let me know your answers in the comments, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Monthly Recommendations | What You Should Read in 2016

Monthly Recommendations is a goodreads group created by the booktubers Kayla Rayne and Trina (Between Chapters) that gets booktubers and bloggers together to recommend books to each other. There's a new topic every month, so visit the goodreads group to find out more.

Books to Read in 2016
 This month we're recommending books that we think others should add to their TBR piles for 2016 (great Christmas present ideas if you need to request any more). I could just spout out a gazillion books that I love and think everyone should read, but instead I'm going to recommend based on genre/category when possible, to try and give better recommendations for a variety of readers. 

My favorite genre, so obviously I have to give some recommendations here. 

The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson is my favorite novel and anyone who enjoys high fantasy should give it a read. It is around 1,000 pages though, so be sure to plan accordingly. 

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) by Brandon Sanderson is a great introduction to Sanderson if you're not sure about jumping right into one of his high fantasy worlds. This one is geared toward the young adult crowd and is much shorter. Also a lot of fun. 

The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson. I promise they won't all be Brandon Sanderson novels, but this is another great start if you want to read Sanderson/fantasy. Shorter than WoK and a lot of fun. 

Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) by Leigh Bardugo. See, I told you! This was a great fantasy adventure that deals with an impossible heist. It's set in the same world as Leigh's Grisha trilogy (which I also highly recommend), so having read that might give you a better experience as far as world building goes but is not crucial to enjoying this novel on its own.

 The Spiders of Halros (The Arros Chronicles #1) by P D Kalnay is a fun adventure about six princesses fighting to save their father and their kingdom. There is a newer cover that I really like, but I think this is the only one currently on goodreads so that's why I used it. It's fast, easy to read, and just a lot of fun. I loved it. And the second one was even better. 

**This is free for kindle on Amazon!**

I love reading classic novels, particularly British classics. So I'm going to recommend you a few of my favorites. 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of my favorite novels ever. I've loved it since I was around 13 or 14, maybe younger. Any of Jane Austen's novels are worth reading, but this and Persuasion are probably my favorites. If you haven't read an Austen novel this would be a good one to add to your reading list. 

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. I'm sure you've heard of Charlotte and Emily Bronte (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights), but have you heard of Anne? She was the youngest of the Bronte sisters and the lesser known of the three. I personally prefer her novels to those of her sisters. This one follows the story of a mysterious woman who has moved into an abandoned home with her young son. I really enjoyed it. 

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. A lot of people have probably already read this, but I hadn't until this year. It's set during the French Revolution and is a fascinating novel. I really enjoy Dickens and loved this book. 

All Good Deeds (Lucy Kendall #1) by Stacy Green. This entire four book series was fascinating and really made me think about life and justice. There's mystery, suspense, and a lot of crazy going on. 

 Odd Thomas (Odd Thomas #1) by Dean Koontz is one of my favorite books ever. The entire seven book series is a favorite of mine. It's slower paced than a lot of novels in the genre, but funny, interesting, and very well written. And Odd is an amazing character. 

Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz was my first venture into his novels and I loved it. This book, while filled with some horrible things and situations, made me laugh so hard I cried on multiple occasions. I've yet to read another author who can infuse their work with humor like Koontz can. No matter what's happening, he can find a way to lighten your mind. 

Delia's Shadow (Delia Martin #1) by Jaime Lee Moyer can also be classified as historical. It's set in early 1900s California and follows Delia as she deals with a connection she has with the paranormal, typically manifest by her ghost visitors. 

Contemporary/YA Romance
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson was a book that I decided to read because it sounded fun. And I adored it. I was very pleasantly surprised. If you like stories about completing lists and finding yourself then this is a tale for you.

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen. This was my first novel by Dessen and I really loved it. There's a complicated family dynamic, love, hate, just everything. And it works. Definitely my favorite Dessen novel (so far). 

Unwind (Unwind #1) by Neal Shusterman is one of my favorite dystopian stories. His writing style is amazing, his stories equal amounts disturbing, relevant, and unique. This entire four book series is excellent. 

Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu is another favorite. It's beautifully written and crafted with excellent characters. The series definitely gets better as it goes. Champion is my favorite of the three and I love the ending of the series. 

The Roar (The Roar #1) by Emma Clayton is a middle grade duology about children with special abilities living in a torn world. I devoured these books when I first read them. So much fun. 

Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson. When Calamity appears and ordinary people gain extraordinary abilities they become super villains, not heroes. This is David's story of learning to fight back. Even when they are supposedly immortal. 

Middle Grade
  The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen. I cannot believe it took me so long to finally read this book. I had it suggested to me but just kept putting it off. When I finally picked it up I could not put it down. I absolutely adore the main character, the writing is compulsively readable, and it's a lot of fun. 

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl #1) by Eoin Colfer. I've been reading this series since I was around 11 or 12 and have loved every book. He's a 12 year old criminal mastermind who kidnaps a fairy, has an awesome body guard, and doesn't like to get messy. What's not to like?

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. This isn't my favorite cover, but I loved this book. It's set in a Puritan town in the Connecticut Colony where the orphan Kit must learn new ways of life when she comes to live with her aunt. She's even accused of witchcraft. 

Stay the Distance (Stay the Distance #1) by Mara Dabrishus is set in the world of Thoroughbred horse racing in New York. The novel deals with not only horse related issues, but growing up, dealing with family issues, falling in love, and so much more. I absolutely love it. 

 Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. This is a non-fiction tale of the race horse that has stories, pictures, and newspaper accounts from his time on the track. Seabiscuit raced during the beginning of World War Two and was a national celebrity. I loved this book. 

Keeping Secrets (Timber Ridge Riders #1) by Maggie Dana. This is a middle grade series of horse books similar to Bonnie Bryant's Saddle Club, although I think these are better overall. If you're horse crazy or have horse crazy kids then you would probably enjoy this series. 

The Eighty-Dollar Horse by Elizabeth Letts. This is the story of Snowman, a "throwaway" horse who became a jumping champion and inspired millions. Another mostly non-fiction story. I absolutely loved it. 

There go my recommendations for now! Let me know if you've read any of these, if you're interested in any of them, or give me some recommendations in the comments!