My Top Ten Books of 2015


Top Ten TuesdayAs any bookworm can tell you, the final weeks of December can only mean one thing: the best books of the year discussions! I’ve loved sharing my annual favorites in The Broke and the Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday in years past, and 2015’s slew of good reads – on my own bookshelf and in the publishing industry as a whole – have me excited to partake once again. No need to dilly-dally, we’ll get right to the fun stuff: my recommendations {separated into categories, because this would be too difficult of a task otherwise}, from the past twelve months are below. Do we share any picks?

Bone GapLaura Ruby’s beautiful example of magical realism offers few clues to potential readers; the synopsis is vague, and it’s hard to relate the cover {though beautifully designed!} to the premise. Perhaps this is why, even in age where spoilers are casually shared across Twitter and I can find a book’s entire plot on Wikipedia, I was shocked and, consequently, fell in love with Bone Gap. I feel as though this has flown under the radar, so promise me you’ll check it out in the coming year. {review}

ConvictionCar rides are tough, but my family’s ten-hour trek to Virginia was made all the better with Kelly Loy Gilbert’s gut-wrenching debut, Conviction. It’s rare that a book leaves me speechless, but it’s even less frequent of an occurrence that I immediately declare it “one of the best of the year” upon finishing. Gilbert’s first novel had me doing both, drawing me into the emotional and complex story of its main character Braden, and leaving me with only one thing to say: you should read it too. {review}

Goodbye StrangerFor every book that surprises me, there’s a novel that I obsess over – not in the “fangirl” sense {I’ve never been that type of reader}, but in that I won”t put it down until I’m finished, and when I do, I have the strongest urge to read it again. Rebecca Stead’s middle grade release Goodbye Stranger is one such book, tying themes of identity, feminism, and relationships in a compelling narrative. I’ll do anything to get you to read it and meet Bridge, Sherm, Emily, and Tabitha as well.

Jason ReynoldsI listed ten “new-to-me” authors in last week’s Top Ten Tuesday, all of whom are worthy candidates for this category, but it was Jason Reynolds, author of The Boy in the Black Suit and co-author of All American Boys, who consistently impressed me. By taking multiple risks and crafting authentic characters in each of his novels, Reynolds has established a growing fanbase, myself included. While I wait for his next book to hit shelves, I have When I Was the Greatest waiting for me. Yes please. {review}

Murder is Bad MannersTo be fair, Robin Stevens’s first novel was published in the UK in 2014 as Murder Most Unladylike, but I, being an American reader, consider her a 2015 debut author all the same! :) Combining two of my favorite genres, Stevens proves herself a terrific crime fiction writer with the first Wells and Wongs mystery, Murder is Bad Manners. Young sleuths Hazel and Daisy had me laughing, cringing, and totally delighted as they solved the murder of their science teacher. Book Two couldn’t make its way over to the US soon enough. {review}

The Carnival at Bray“Backlist” may be a stretch when The Carnival at Bray was published a mere three months before January 2015, but it certainly deserves a spot on any and all best of the year lists. Author Jessie Ann Foley transports her readers to 1993 Dublin in the midst of the grunge movement and allows a natural coming of age story enfold. I was utterly enchanted by Foley’s lyrical prose and superb characterization when I read it in the spring, and I clearly wasn’t the only one by the looks of it! {review}

The Notorious Pagan JonesI’m somewhat of a picky historical fiction reader; years of reading from the genre have left me with high expectations! I knew The Notorious Pagan Jones was a favorite, then, when I finished it with nothing but praise. With an intriguing main character, rich historical drama, and a complex story arc to boot, it’s no wonder I enjoyed Nina Berry’s first Pagan Jones so much. Bonus points for bringing an oft-overlooked era, Berlin’s unrest in the 60’s, to the YA shelves. {review}

The Paper CowboyI had been eagerly awaiting the release of The Paper Cowboy ever since I devoured Kristin Levine’s novels, The Lions of Little Rock and The Best Bad Luck I’ve Ever Had, back in middle school, and I’m oh-so happy to say that she didn’t disappoint. Her third book shows the complexity of a “schoolyard bully” at the height of communist fear, illustrating once again her talent for historical fiction stories. I’m only angry with myself that I didn’t read it as soon as it was released last September! {review}

The Penderwicks in SpringA longtime reader of Ciao Bella will surely know of my adoration with The Penderwicks series; Jeanne Birdsall’s modern classics were staples of my childhood, and my love of Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty has only continued into my high school career. The fourth installment, The Penderwicks in Spring, returned me to their home on Gardam Street with just as much heart and charm as the three previous novels – I was grinning like a kid on Christmas the entire time. {review}

The Start of Me and YouFinally, I had a feeling Emery Lord would become a beloved author of mine when I read her debut, Open Road Summer, in 2014, but it was her sophomore release, The Start of Me and You, that confirmed her spot on my auto-buy list. I think I best stated my thoughts on the adorable contemporary in my review: “There are no flaws to list; this novel is utter perfection.” Does it get any better than that? I think not. {review}

Have a terrific Tuesday!


15 thoughts on “My Top Ten Books of 2015

    • Syd, you don’t know how happy that makes me to hear! :) Definitely grab The Start of Me and You when you can, and then we can anxiously await her third book together.


  1. Bone Gap is the only book on here I’ve read. *hides in shame* Obviously, I’m going to have to remedy that ASAP because all the other books you’ve listed here sound absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing Bella, and fabulous post! <3

    Liked by 1 person

    • No need to be ashamed – Bone Gap is all sorts of excellent, so I’m glad you’ve read it as well! I hope you enjoy a few of these if you ever get a change to read them {I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for your thoughts}. And thank YOU for stopping by! :)


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