I’ve asked some of my fav people and keen readers to share their favourite books of 2015. Like my fav people, these books are a jumble of ages, genres and lengths…I like my friends and my books DIVERSE :). First up is Trish, who I seem to have known forever but in fact I think it’s only about 12 years – Kristen and I employed her as our third teacher librarian at a previous school! Trish is an amazing reader and reviewer, far more accomplished than I by a long shot – connect with her here on Instagram. If you’ve read Trish’s reviews for me on the blog this year you’ll know she has a love of YA literature, so it will come as no surprise that her list is all YA books – which are utterly suitable for adults to read also!
Top 10 2015 Reads : Trish
(except maybe there are 12)
Facebook tells me I have been friends with Megan Daley for 8 years, so it must be true. Actually, we worked together 2003 and 2004, and when we left for newer schools, we found lots of techie ways to keep in touch. Our latest evolution is an Instagram hashtag #3libraryladies, and I also contribute to her blog with reviews of young adult novels. It has been such a pleasure to be (if only a small) part of her village. And when she asks for something, well, without a doubt, I provide. Here are my ten 12 favourite books of the year.
I have broken them in genres (Australian V international), and listed them in release date. The majority of the books I recommend include a diverse range of characters – It’s important readers see protagonists of different races, sexual orientation and, even better, to have positive representations of people with disability, including mental illness.
To purchase in print, audio or e-book where available, click on title links. To purchase on Kindle click image below or click here.
The Flywheel Erin Gough (February 2015)
I read this right back when it first came out and only gave it 4 stars on Goodreads. I suspect I didn’t want to think I had already found a 5 star read that early in the year. But 10 months on, this novel holds its own against the other highly rated Australian YA novels. Full of snark, reckless teenage behaviour, and an MC as bold as she is vulnerable, flawed, authentic and generous. Del leaves a lasting impression, as even better, do most of the minor characters, with strong (and mostly) positive traits.
A Single Stone Meg McKinlay (May 2015)
This quiet novel is sparse and stark. It’s dystopian, but in a way that scares readers into silence rather than anger. It’s disquieting. And somber. McKinlay presents a world controlled by women, so it offers a different sort of obedience, a different sort of acceptance. We experience Jena’s horrifying discoveries with her, and McKinlay never overplays her dramatic moments. There is power and control, offering young people a place to explore questions about how far people in power can go to protect their interests in the name of shielding those under their care.
Cloudwish Fiona Wood (September 2015)
Fiona Wood turns to an under-utilised and oft ignored protagonist in YA – the voice of a second generation migrant teenager, in this case Vietnamese girl Van Ouc, who dazzles us with her snarky, artistic inner dialogue – observing, commenting on, and yes, even judging those around her, with their superior casual privilege. Who better to represent what it means to be Australian in today’s contemporary society than a person discovering her parents’ horrifying past, and despite the weight of expectation for her future, following her own path, fiercely, but not without compromise and compassion. It’s sublime.
Burn Paula Weston (June 2015)
Burn successfully completes a series that has shown the world how well Australian authors can subvert and re-imagine a paranormal fantasy world. While it’s firmly in a romantic and emotional end of the genre, it doesn’t disappoint in terms of tense action scenes. Weston offers a complete world, built on super-hero mythology, but powered by human devotion. There’s a terrific amount of snark which contrasts nicely with its sensitivity, but it’s never cheesy or clichéd. A series worth devouring.
The Foretelling of Georgie Spider Ambelin Kwaymullina (August 2015)
My other favourite end to a series is this one. Kwaymullina has written about indigenous culture, set in a future that is both timely and relevant. It covers important issues – environmental sustainability, degradation of indigenous culture, mistreatment of underprivileged and marginalised groups, and of course, the depressing efforts of those in power to maintain their control. It’s all too familiar. Yet, Kwaymullina gives us self-sacrificing heroes, and a strong hope for the future, within the confines of an action-packed, romantic read. Full review of this series is here. Interview with Ambelin is here.
I’ll give you the sun Jandy Nelson (originally pub Sept 2014, Australian ed. April 2015)
Although this book was originally published in 2014, the Australian edition arrived in 2015, so I am calling it. I had it for ages, but only picked it up when it was announced as the 2015 Michael L Printz Winner (US award voted on by librarians). So of course, it’s bound to be good. And by good, I mean lyrical writing, complicated characters and emotionally engaging. Offering dual points of view of twins Noah (from the time the twins were 13) and Jude (from three years later) who become estranged during those intervening years because of family grief, Nelson relies heavily on artistic metaphor and symbolism. It’s a powerhouse of a novel.
Simon versus the homo sapiens agenda Becky Albertalli (April 2015)
Another book I read very early in the year – reviewed here. Received a digital version from Netgalley, and by the end, was disappointed I hadn’t read it as a print book. Epistolary narratives require a certain formatting easily disrupted on a small electronic device. I eventually shouted myself the paperback version and enjoyed it all over again. Simon’s journey is charming and positive. The fact he is gay is only part of the story. The flirty emails with Blue reflect any two teenagers discovering each other. His complex friendships with Nick and Leah, who he has known all his life, contrast nicely with his immediate connection to Abby after only a few months. His musings about trying to develop independence while dealing with over-involved parents really struck a chord with me, and the way I view my own children. Look, the publicist from Penguin Teen, Felicity, called this the most underrated novel of 2015. I hope many more people find it. It is amazing, and funny, and affectionate, and romantic, and heart-warming. So basically, it’s ALL THE THINGS.
Every Last Word Tamara Ireland Stone (June 2015)
Another one from Netgalley, Tamara Ireland Stone’s latest book is a coming-of-age novel, involving slam poetry and secrets. The harsher elements are bullying and an MC with OCD. I guess I wasn’t expecting to be sucker-punched full of emotions, and sometimes this is what makes a best book of the year – the one that surprised and challenged you when you weren’t looking for it. I wrote a poem review for this one on GR here if you’re interested. I love the way authors have really taken up the call for more diversity in YA. Stone tackles mental illness in a genuine and affecting way, and I highly recommend this book.
The darkest part of the forest Holly Black (January 2015)
Holly Black is a very versatile writer. She explores a range of genres, and crashes through stereotypes and expectations like a boss. With this standalone fantasy, Black returns to her faerie world – one in which I particularly like to spend time. Her fey are dark and seductive, and their places blend into real-life contemporary environments in a most alluring way. This small American town has existed alongside these wild and untamed creatures for centuries, and of course, stories are passed down, and on, and become tangled, and then obscure. The prince in the glass coffin, beautiful, mysterious and unconscious brings tourists and locals alike. Then he wakes up. It’s the beginning of a truly amazing journey for the four main characters. There’s danger and romance and bravery and sacrifice. I also love its unique blend of lyrical language and evocative mood.
Vision in Silver Anne Bishop (March 2015)
The third book in what seems to be a five book series (a new one appears every March. Thank goodness), Bishop’s world-building here is an interesting contrast of detail and mystery. Of course, she wants to keep her secrets, so we discover along with Meg. But what we know of the place so far is vast, and expanding with each new addition. In essence though, it’s pretty simple. The indigenous people of this planet let the humans co-exist because they provide a range of useful items. But when they start to be a threat to the original inhabitants, things begin to spiral. Meg, the human betrayed and exploited by other greedy people, comes under the protection of a group of strange and amazing ‘Others’, and their lives are the focus against the bigger backdrop. There’s a developing romance, and Meg is learning as well as teaching. The balance that can exist between the two groups is shown here, but there’s a long way to go before it will be reached on a global scale. The most interesting feature to me is the humans’ complete lack of understanding of how much they are at the mercy of their neighbours. Bishop shows us as arrogant and narrow-minded. Highly absorbing.
Stray Rachel Craw (September 2015)
Stray is the second book in a series by New Zealander, Rachel Craw. See my full review here. Combining action-packed power girl hero, with tech and futuristic elements, it’s well written and addictive. The first book, Spark, was a hit (helped along by a gorgeous appealing cover). Evie is tough, but vulnerable. She’s also very protective of her family and friends. When she meets her match in Jamie, of course there are many obstacles to their attraction. Stray continues Evie’s story, building with fast action sequences and offering a good dose of romance. Craw also pulls out a few secrets and surprises, giving us much to think about as we await the third book, Shield.
Carry on Rainbow Rowell (October 2015)
Carry On is probably the most highly creative book of the year. It’s certainly true that it can be likened to Harry Potter, but it’s also correct to say it’s nothing like Harry Potter. This wildly imaginative book is a story for 21st century teenagers. It’s cynical and snarky, references itself, and many pop cultural icons, and is itself a fictional book that was originally part of another fictional book wherein fictional characters wrote fanfiction about these characters. Confused? I over-explain it over here. This is possibly my most favourite of all my favourites of 2015. I will reread it often and with much enjoyment.
Thanks Megan for letting me share my thoughts. I hope you are all able to find the perfect book for your teenagers…and yourself.Booktopia. You can also compare prices on Fishpond and Bookworld for Australian purchases.If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here. Purchases clicked through from the Children’s Books Daily site result in a small commission. Commission is used in part to maintain Children’s Books Daily and to support community groups which connect children with books.