He Who Finds Mercy series

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2015

My Clean Indie Reads bookcase
If I've counted correctly, I read a total of 106 books in 2015, partly because during 5 months of chemo I couldn't concentrate on my own writing but thankfully could almost always read. Of those 106, 90 were indie, and 16 trad published. I wrote reviews of almost all of them, and compared to last year, this year it's going to be VERY difficult to choose the top ten. I read so many great ones this year! All but one of my top 10 books were written by authors who are members of the wonderful group Clean Indie Reads.

Here are my top ten, saving the #1 for last:

#10 Pride and Butterflies by Franky A. Brown

My review: "This is a laugh-out-loud, fun and funny romantic comedy that also has deeper, more poignant layers. When I first started reading, the first person present tense was almost too much to handle because the main character sounded so hyper and flaky. But actually it worked perfectly for this story and the many zany circumstances. I love the butterfly images, both literal and figurative, throughout this book, and the lovely cover perfectly captures the mood of the story. I'm so glad I bought the paperback so I can admire the artwork again and again. Oh, I almost forgot! This author deserves an award for Best Use of Turtles in a work of fiction! Highly recommended."

#9 Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon by H. L. Burke

My review: "This is a delightful read, for cat lovers, dragon lovers, and fairy tale enthusiasts of all ages. It would make a great read-aloud story for families to share together! Thaddeus is a purrfectly rendered "eternal kitten," and Grandious is one of my new favorite dragons. The twists and turns in this fun plot will keep you guessing until the conclusion, with just enough danger to be concerned for the main characters but not so much as to frighten children. The prose sparkles like the diamonds in the dragon's hoard."

#8 Carry Me Home by Valerie Howard

My review: "I normally don't read "quiet" books like this (preferring epic fantasy) but the lovely cover and the blurb drew me in, since I unexpectedly became a caregiver for my 86-year-old father-in-law last year. I thought this book might give me insights, and it gave MUCH more. I ached for Amanda, for the path her life had taken, both through choices others made, and poor choices she made. I wanted so much for things to work out for her that it was difficult to put this book down! Her crotchety patient was so believable; in fact, every character, major and minor, was imminently believable! The writing is superb, and the story touches your heart and will remain there forever."

#7 Finding Peace by Melanie D. Snitker

My review: "This was a lovely romance with an element of suspense and danger, too. Tuck the heartbroken cop is a new favorite character now, and how his relationship with Laurie the kind-hearted photographer develops was so realistic and wonderful, I could NOT stop reading this book until I finished it in less than a day. If you like clean romance with a spiritual bent, and loveable secondary characters, you must read this book"

#6 The Gypsy Pearl 3: Tye by Lia London

My review: "What a magnificent end to this series! I could NOT put it down! Tye is by far my favorite of the three worlds in this trilogy. This third and final installment not only continues Caz's perilous journey, revealing the third (and delightfully unexpected) gift, but introduces fascinating and thought-provoking new cultures. There is gentle wisdom along with tender moments and heart-stopping drama (or in Caz's case, paralyzing adrenaline spikes). This trilogy is a keeper to be re-read more than once, and this reader hopes Ms. London might decide this well-crafted universe has yet more stories to tell among the three worlds of the Granbo System."

#5 Pippa of Lauramore by Shari L. Tapscott

My review: "Romance! Chivalry! Dragons! Fairies! This story is so full of delightful surprises, from laugh-out-loud moments to gasp-inducing danger to heartbreaking encounters, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I love the spunky main character, the unorthodox Princess Pippa, and I felt so sorry for her not being able to choose who to marry. The tournament to determine which of the many competing princes and lords would win that honor was so well done, I can't wait to read it again. This definitely goes on my favorite books of all time list."

#4 The Collar and the Cavvarach by Annie Douglass Lima

My review: "I was excited to receive an advance review copy of Ms. Lima's The Collar and the Cavvarach, and once I began reading I couldn't put it down. The main character, fourteen-year-old Bensin, is a strong and sympathetic character. He's a slave in a modern empire with undertones of Ancient Rome. The collar on the stunning cover is like the one he has to wear. Benson's five-year-old sister does not yet have a collar, though she is also a slave, and his one goal is to free her. He goes to extraordinary measures to try to make that happen, even putting his own life at risk, because he knows the abuse his pretty sister can expect as a slave. The author does a great job of writing about the brutality of this culture without being graphic, so the stakes are extremely high, making the reader more and MORE anxious. This is a MUST read for anyone who likes YA urban fantasy. The way the cavvarach (the hooked sword on the cover) is used in this story, both literally and figuratively, is unforgettable. The other characters, both good guys and bad guys, are three-dimensional and add much to this powerful story of honor and determination against all odds."

#3 Joe: the Horse Nobody Loved by Vicky Kaseorg

My review: "Not since I first read The Diary of Anne Frank as a child have I been so moved by a true story. Several scenes reduced me to tears of joy and sorrow. I could so relate to the author's feelings of loneliness and lack of self-confidence. Her relationship with a lonely horse and how both of them are changed in wonderfully unexpected ways is a masterful triumph of storytelling. This book is one of my new forever favorites, and I recommend it to anyone who loves horses or has ever felt alone. Bravo, Ms. Kaseorg!"

#2 Shadow of the Hawk by K. S. Jones

My review: "This is a superb debut historical novel that reads like the finest of literary fiction. The details of the setting are richly drawn without distracting from the characters or plot and make you want to savor them, and yet the reader can't linger too long because the situation presses upon the characters with increasing urgency until you have to find out what happens to the narrator, Sooze, who is engaged to the wrong man because she wants to help her family, and to her family member who is falsely accused of murder. I feel like I've traveled back in time to 1932 Arkansas and experienced a poignant slice of a family's struggles to survive with dignity. I look forward to reading more from this author!"

#1 The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

My review: "This is one of the best fantasies I've ever read. Wish I'd discovered it sooner, but then I might not have appreciated it as much as I do now. The broken protagonist, Caz, is one of the most sympathetic, strong, and richly-drawn characters ever created. This is a masterpiece of character-building, world-building, and storytelling."

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So many of the books I read this year were fantastic, and many I gave 5 stars. Of those, several came SOOOO close to making the final cut, but these stood out as especially memorable and ones I plan to read again. What's the best book YOU read in 2015?

14 comments:

  1. awwww! i am so honored to be on your list!

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    1. I loved BOTH your horse books, Vicky, but decided to just put the first one, so hopefully others will discover them!

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  2. Yay! Thanks for the mention. I'm Eyeing the rest for later.

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    1. Even though I read Thaddeus early in the year, that story has stayed with me, which was only one reason it made it to the top 10. As soon as my granddaughter is a little older, I want to give her a paperback. :)

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  3. Woweee wow wow!!! Thanks for including Gypsy Pearl!!!

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    1. I just love the whole trilogy, but Tye was something extra special! :D

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  4. Wow! Thanks so much, Katy! so happy you enjoyed it

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    1. You're so welcome, Franky! It was a fun story with deeper meaning, which is why it "stuck" with me long after I read it. :)

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  5. I am so proud to see SHADOW OF THE HAWK in your top ten! Wow! Thank you!

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    1. You're welcome, Karen! Your book was superb, one of my favorites of all time!

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  6. I'm honored that The Collar and the Cavvarach made your list! So glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. It's a great book, Annie, one that keeps you thinking about it long after you finish it. :) That was one criteria for deciding which were in the top 10, since I read SO many good ones this year.

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  7. Some super books here, Katy.
    Hope your chemo has been a success.

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    1. Clean Indie Reads has some super authors! Just wish I could read faster! And yes, I'm back in remission, praise God! Thanks for asking. :)

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