2015 in Reading: A Review

Another reading year has come and gone and I’m pretty proud to say that I finished both of the reading challenges that I set out with in 2015. I met my goal of reading 40 books in the Goodreads.com Reading Challenge – so this year I am going to strive for 50 which feels crazy pants but there you go.

I also finished the 2015 Reading Challenge hosted by Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy. The goal was to read 12 books based off a series of themes that she established that might encourage you to read outside of your comfort zone or to simply think about your reading goals a little differently. I had a lot of fun with this so I’m planning to attempt her 2016 Reading Challenge as well.

These were the categories for 2015 and the books I read for each theme:

2015-Reading-Challenge

Here is a full list of the books I read in 2015:

  1. LIKED The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (January Book Club) – Finished January 13 – I’m a sucker for books about the Salem Witch Trials and I thought the concept for this story was really cool. I liked the contrast of the modern day story mixed with the historical stuff. Occasionally I felt the book bordered on unrealistic, not because of the mystical elements so much as the character’s reactions to things but overall I really enjoyed it. (full review)
  2. LIKED Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan – Finished January 28, 2015 – I love Jim Gaffigan and this collection of essays is hysterical and an accurate portrayal of parenting and life. I really enjoyed it – a lot of the essays are things he includes in his stand up act but it was still fun to read and there was plenty of new material I hadn’t heard already.
  3. ADORED Cinder by Marissa MeyerFinished February 2, 2015 – When you tell people you are reading a story about Cinderella as a Cyborg… you are going to get strange looks. When you tell them you are becoming rabidly obsessed about a story about Cinderella as a Cyborg… yeah. It doesn’t get much better, I’m afraid. But then curiosity might get the better of them, and they might read it, too. And when they become hooked, they will tell you – “I’m sorry I thought you were insane. This book is awesome. I’ve already bought books 2 and 3 and I’m not even done with book 1 yet.” True story. – full review
  4. LOVED Scarlet by Marissa MeyerFinished February 13, 2015 – It took a little while to get used to the new characters who told the majority of the story, but they quickly became just as endearing as Cinder and Prince Kai. I continue to be fascinated by this story and the world Meyer has created for her characters. Looking forward to book three. – full review
  5. LIKED The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (February Book Club) – Finished February 18, 2015 – My book club will be discussing at the end of the month. It’s a YA book about a geeky boy growing up on an Indian reservation who decides to go to school off the reservation – and isn’t very popular with either his old classmates or his new ones. It’s kind of part coming of age story, part frank and often depressing look at poverty and racial issues but it’s somehow filled with humor as well. I’d recommend this one to adults or emotionally mature teens.
  6. ADORED Cress by Marissa MeyerFinished February 25, 2015 – I really enjoyed book three. Now used to the rotating narrators, I wasn’t confused or surprised by the new characters being introduced. I really loved Cress’s character and her budding romance and enjoyed reading her story as well as the continuing story arcs of the other characters. Impatiently awaiting the next book! – full review
  7. LOVED Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky by Marissa Meyer – Finished March 4, 2015 – This is one of the free bridge books in the Lunar Chronicles. It was fun getting to read about Carswell ‘s back story from his POV. It actually made me like him a little more and was a nice return to the Lunar Chronicles while I wait for book 4 to come out. Very short short story so an easy, quick read.
  8. LIKED Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne CollinsFinished March 10, 2015 – When my 8 year old son insisted that I read this series, I couldn’t say no. It’s no surprise that Suzanne Collins has written another series that creates rabid fans. This story is adorable and inspiring and often gives ‘all the feels’ – It’s also a nice quick read for advanced readers and probably a challenging read for intermediate readers looking for a push. I’ll definitely be reading book two. – full review
  9. LIKED Glitches by Marissa MeyerFinished March 12, 2015 – This is a prequel short story to Cinder that gives the reader a look at Cinder’s back story and how she came to live with her step family. I enjoyed getting a peek at a younger Cinder and reading about her initial impressions of her family, her life as a cyborg and learning about her talents and abilities.
  10. LOVED The Goddess Test by Aimee CarterFinished March 28, 2015 – I got sucked into this story pretty much immediately and found myself reading it whenever I could which resulted into staying up all night to finish the second half of the book even though I had to get up early for work the next day. So, basically, it was pretty darn good. I’m not an expert in Greek mythology; I noticed a lot of reviewers were pretty bent that it didn’t follow mythology correctly. I guess they didn’t notice that it was supposed to be a modern retelling that gives the original story a completely different spin. I thought it was extremely well written and found that the characters really tug at your heart strings and make you care. Well done! – full review
  11. LIKED An Abundance of Katherines by John GreenFinished March 30, 2015 – Another great book by John Green. Told from the pov of a former child prodigy who has graduated high school and just gotten dumped by the 19th Katherine. He and his best friend go on a road trip to cheer him up and obviously epic adventures ensue. I loved the characters and the descriptions and basically everything. – full review
  12. LOVED The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (April Book Club) – Finished April 13, 2015 – This book was kind of amazing. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into with this book when I started and I loved how the story seemed to kind of unfold itself as I read. The author did a great job of giving you just as much information as she wanted you to have as the story progressed. The characters were wonderfully fleshed out and the story lingered in my mind constantly throughout the day and probably will continue to do so for quite some time.
  13. LOVED Yes Please by Amy PoehlerFinished May 3, 2015 – This book was all the things. Funny and insightful and also funny. Aside from being an awesome writer, comedian and actress, Amy Poeheler is also an amazing person with a lot of great stories to tell.
  14. LIKED The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins (May Book Club) – Finished May 13, 2015 – I had a love hate relationship with this book. It was fascinating and kept me compulsively reading it but the content is preeeettttty heavy and I mostly read in bed at night before going to sleep – I often thought, “Why am I reading this? I’m going to have horrible nightmares after this.” But like any good mystery, I had to know “whodunnit” – and I’ll admit, the ending surprised me. I think I must have suspected everybody in the book at some point, so I’d say that’s a sign that the author did a good job! – full review
  15. LOVED May B by Caroline Starr RoseFinished June 1, 2015 – I was captivated by this book. Written in verse, it manages to not be at all annoying the way books written in verse sometimes are. You will definitely find yourself rooting for May as you read her story.
  16. REALLY LIKED The DUFF by Kody Keplinger Finished June 12, 2015 – I guess it’s fitting that I read this book obsessively in basically one sitting. As the main character, Bianca, finds herself obsessed with “the wrong guy”, I found myself obsessed with the story. This is the kind of story I think a lot of girls can relate to – we’ve all felt like the DUFF (designated ugly fat friend) before, as Bianca eventually learns. Now the caveats: This book contains a lot of mature content – namely, sex. Far more than one would expect to find in a “young adult” novel – maybe I need to get with the times and acknowledge that this is realistic but I’d caution you not to recommend it to younger readers because I’m not sure the book sends an entirely healthy message in the long run. Everything works out well for the characters of the story, but even our main character will acknowledge that this is not always the case. – full review
  17. LIKED Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer (June Book Club) – Finished June 15, 2015 – This book was hard to get into at times but it was also fascinating and told a really interesting story. I think the author (or perhaps just her main character) bordered on repetitive often but then I think that might have just been her written way of expressing Sunny’s obsession with maintaining normalcy or perfection. Overall, I did like it.
  18. REALLY LIKED Fairest by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles Book 3.5)Finished June 18, 2015 – I’ll admit, I was reluctant to read this one because “ew, it’s about Levana!” but like all the books in the series, this one is definitely worth the read. I won’t say that it paints Levana as a suddenly sympathetic character but you will understand her a LOT better and you’ll understand Luna’s history better after reading this. And you’ll be even more anxious for Winter to come out this fall!
  19. LOVED To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanFinished June 21, 2015 – I really got into this book, to the point where I was already researching book two before finishing the first. Lara Jean is a character you will become attached to- her fears and anxieties are something I think a lot of people can relate to – and she’s the kind of girl I’d want my daughter to look up to. I was rooting for her to find the right guy, even when I wasn’t sure who that was. I loved her family and the dynamics between them and I’m very curious to see what happens next.
  20. REALLY LIKED Betsy Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace – Finished June 22, 2015 – We just finished reading the second Betsy-Tacy book, now with their new friend Tib. In this book the girls are all 9 years old – there is a lot of focus on the very different personalities of each girl and how they interact with each other. There are a lot of words in this book that might be difficult for young readers to understand simply because the words aren’t in use today, so I was glad to be reading it out loud to them so I could explain some of those things. My kids really enjoyed listening to this story – these girls are always up to some crazy kind of antics that made the kids laugh.
  21. REALLY LIKED The Heir by Kiera CassFinished June 24, 2015 – TBH I wasn’t crazy about Eadlyn at first. She has everything she could ask for and has been raised to be strong willed and determined, but she ends up taking this for granted and forgets about things like humility and graciousness, afraid that being humble will be seen as weakness … I was also kind of skeptical about the entire premise of the book to be honest. Why on earth would Maxon and America want to put their daughter through a Selection? But of course this is a novel by Keira Cass so it sucked me in anyway and I quickly found myself caring. Is Eadlyn a spoiled brat? Yup, but I still wanted her to find her happy ending and seeing her slowly grow as a person was so rewarding. I still am not entirely sure which of her selected boys (or other boys) I want her to end up with and I was more than a little ranty when I realized the story would not be tied up in one book and that I’d have to wait A YEAR to find out what happens next. Why does Kiera Cass like to torture me so? WHY? Is it 2016 yet? How about now?
  22. LIKED Paper Towns by John GreenFinished June 29, 2015 – You know I love a John Green book, but I have to say I liked this one a tiny bit less than FIOS and An Abundance of Katherines. I liked the characters and the writing was good, but sometimes the dialogue bordered on too much – too written out and planned, you know? And I felt the pacing was off – it felt like the plot line didn’t pick up until 75% through the book which I realize now was the book’s climax but it felt like the rest of the book was just setting the tone for that final quarter of a plot and left most of the story to feel like we were just stalling for time, which we were – but it’s fiction, so he could have chosen to write it differently. Yes, this is me finding fault with John Green’s writing. Deal with it. I’m still totally planning to read the rest of his books and will continue to adore him regardless.
  23. LIKED The Goddess Hunt (book 1.5) by Aimee CarterFinished June 30, 2015 – This was a short story to kind of bridge the gap between books 1 and 2. I read it in an hour. I liked it but it mostly just felt like stalling. Time for book 2!
  24. REALLY LIKED Goddess Interrupted (book 2) by Aimee CarterFinished July 3, 2015 – It took me a little while to ease back into the world of this story, just as it took the main character awhile to ease back into being in the Underworld with all the gods. This story quickly becomes action packed though and will have you on the seat of your pants waiting to see how it all turns out – and then ends on a major cliff hanger!
  25. REALLY LIKED The Geography of You and Me By Jennifer E. SmithFinished July 6, 2015 – This book was giving me a serious case of wanderlust in addition to being a really sweet, YA love story. I loved the main characters of this book, they were very easy for me to relate to and to root for and I loved all the descriptions of the places each character traveled to and their thoughts and musings throughout.
  26. LIKED The Goddess Inheritance (book 3) by Aimee CarterFinished July 10, 2015 – Everything has finally come to a head as we start book 3 and the book continues at a suspenseful pace. I was truly on the edge of my seat to see how everything would work out for the various characters. I thought it was all pulled together brilliantly.
  27. REALLY LIKED Normally, This Would be Cause for Concern: Tales of Calamity and Unrelenting Awkwardness by Danielle FishelFinished July 23, 2015 – I was a major Boy Meets World fan growing up and I loved getting to know the girl behind Topanga. Danielle is very funny and had a lot of good stories to tell, but I also loved that she seems to have remained pretty down to earth all told. I like to imagine that we’d be total BFFs if we ever met.
  28. REALLY LIKED Looking for Alaska by John GreenFinished August 1, 2015 – This book was a roller coaster of emotion, which I guess I should have seen coming after TFIOS. I liked this but I didn’t quite love it – While I love how John Green creates his characters and navigates his stories, parts of this one were just hard to sink into.
  29. REALLY LIKED The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (August Book Club) – Finished August 15, 2015 – I really enjoyed this. The POV was interesting and well done. I found the characters easy to root for, their family dynamic was both fascinating and believable. You’ll find yourself relating to all three of the sisters. I appreciated the moments that didn’t happen just as much as the moments that did.
  30. REALLY LIKED Remember When by T. TorrestFinished August 25, 2015 – I had mixed feelings towards this book. I could relate to the main character, Layla, in a lot of ways but felt alienated by her sometimes also. She is a very complex character who often seems to have characteristics that are at odds with each other, which I suppose makes her pretty realistic, but as a reader it was sometimes hard to tell where she was coming from. The love story is adorable and the concept for the book is pretty unique – I found myself quickly hooked on the plot and downloaded the 2nd book almost immediately after finishing the first – so there you go! Note: This is a fairly graphic story – the characters in the book are pretty realistic, flawed teenagers who make some less than stellar choices. Which is pretty typical for real life but I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to a young teen. I think it is actually probably more likely to be enjoyed by older readers anyway – half the fun of this book is the 80’s references anyway!
  31. LIKED Remember When 2 by T. TorrestFinished August 29, 2015 – This sequel picks up 10 years after the first books leaves off, so it’s now the year 2000 which should feel a lot more current and yet, if you think about it, it’s still 15 years ago! We were barely online back then! Layla has grown up a lot, but in my opinion she still has a lot of growing to do – she and Trip continue to make a lot of the same mistakes with each other and occasionally they were almost too frustrating, but I continue to root for them and you better believe I bought book three pretty much immediately after finishing this one.
  32. REALLY LIKED Giant Days #1 by John AllisonFinished September 4, 2015 – My first foray into graphic novels. Very funny – it just ended too soon! Need to get my hands on the 2nd one.
  33. REALLY LIKED The Wishing Spell (Land of Stories, Book 1) by Chris ColferFinished September 7, 2015 – I’ll admit, I was skeptical about reading this book – what are the odds that a kid on Glee would also be a decent writer? Apparently the odds were good. This was a well written, interesting story with characters that you can root for and surprise twists that you may not see coming (or maybe you will). I am probably a little old for his target audience and it did occasionally feel that way while reading it, but I think my son, age 9, will really love this one.
  34. REALLY LIKED Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (September Book Club) – Finished September 23, 2015 – This book was heartbreaking and inspiring and really well written. I did occasionally feel like the author was skipping around a bit, but I suspect that his transitions would have been clearer in written form. I’m not the most attentive audio book listener. Overall, I highly recommend.
  35. REALLY LIKED The Little Android by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles 0.6) – Finished September 27, 2015 – This was a fascinating take on The Little Mermaid. I really enjoyed it – I only wish it had been longer.
  36. REALLY LIKED The Summer Before (Babysitters Club #0) by Ann M. MartinFinished October 1, 2015 – It’s been a long time since I’ve read a Baby Sitters Club book so this was definitely a walk down memory lane! I thought the prequel concept was a great idea, it was cool to read about the girls before the BSC became a reality and before some of them had even met!
  37. LOVED All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (October Book Club) – Finished October 27, 2015 – This book has been getting a lot of hype and just this once I feel like the hype is deserved. Very well written with beautiful details that rarely felt excessive. I enjoyed the rotating narrators and was quickly captivated by the story. It took me a long time to read but it was worth the time.
  38. REALLY LIKED Nightmares! by Jason Segel Finished November 3, 2015 – I was really impressed with this story. I have to admit, I saw some plot points coming early on – but I think I am probably older than the intended audience. My nine year old LOVED the book and wants to read the second one.
  39. LIKED The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoFinished November 13, 2015 – I liked this book but I’m not sure I can say I loved it. I thought it was an interesting story and well executed but it definitely borders on preachy and parable-esque, too much in some ways. But it’s a short read and I definitely got something out of it so I’m glad I read it. I think this book would be better suited for YA readers who maybe haven’t thought about some of this stuff before.
  40. LOVED P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny HanFinished November 14, 2015 – I wasn’t sure if this book would hold up to the first but Han’s writing is addictive and this story might have been even better than the first. I am still not sure if I am Team Peter or not but I’m definitely Team Lara Jean and I loved the insight into the double standards between men and women and her thoughts on dating today versus dating back in the 1950’s and the cyber bullying plot line. I think this would be great food for thought for today’s teens. It definitely brought me back!
  41. REALLY LIKED Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (December Book Club) – Finished December 8, 2015 – I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of WWII books lately and I wonder if I would have liked this more if I didn’t have so many examples to compare it to – but that’s not to say I didn’t like this book, because I really did. I especially loved listening along to the audible upgrade because the narrators are amazing and have the best accents ever. This book will give you all the feels and it will upset you and make you irritable and it will occasionally make you laugh, too. Because it’s written like a diary, it feels very intimate but it also feels constrained with a lack of information from other perspectives. Although I suppose that is appropriate.
  42. REALLY LIKED The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Finished December 23, 2015 – I read this aloud with my kids over the course of a few months and we really enjoyed it. I think my nine year old was more into it than my six year old and the end of the story caught us all by surprise. It had moments that were really funny and moments that were really sweet and some sad moments as well. Very insightful and clever.
  43. LIKED Call The Midwife by Jennifer WorthFinished December 30, 2015 – There were things I really liked about this book – reading about childbirth in the 1940s and 50s was very interesting and a good way to make you feel fortunate about the advances in science today, but also to think about how much we were capable of back then. Some of the stories were very moving, some heartbreaking and others funny but on the whole the book was not perfect. Because it is written more like a series of short stories, it often felt like it was jumping around and never quite finishing stories that I would have liked to have seen further fleshed out. I’m definitely planning to watch the mini series and look forward to seeing how it compares to the book.

The Well of Abandoned Books

  1. MEH Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – I might come back to this book someday but 300 pages in and I still don’t really care how it ends – or rather, thanks to Wikipedia and book club I know how it ends. I didn’t really love or hate this one – it had a lot of great moments but it was very slow and plodding and often very heavy and sad.
  2. MEH Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen – This book had so much promise, but I had a really hard time getting into it. Despite her efforts to define words that non Soviet people wouldn’t understand, it still seemed to be riddled with phrases, words and ideas that meant nothing to me and made it hard to settle into and enjoy. Perhaps if I had time to sit and read it with a dictionary, encyclopedia and google at my side, I might have found a way to enjoy it, but that is unlikely to happen.

Books Read in: 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014

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