I enjoy searching for these “diamond in the rough” treasures. But, I know that doesn’t sounds like fun for everyone, so I thought it might be helpful to share my favorite finds in each of the genres (with links to my Goodreads reviews) so you can get right to the good stuff.
(Please note: not all of the books came out in 2015. That’s just when I read them.)
I hope within this list you can find YOUR next great read.
Best Sci-Fi Book
My favorite sci-fi book was Golden Sun by Pierce Brown. It’s part two of a planned trilogy, (The first book in the series is called Red Rising, which I talked about in an earlier blog post.) As I said in my review, this book kind of kicked me in the balls (in a good way.) And I don’t even HAVE balls.
Best YA Book
I’d have to say it was a tie between, Flat Out Love* by Jessica Park (a love story) and The Family by Marissa Kennerson (a behind the scenes account of a teen’s life in a Jonestown-like cult.) I also really enjoyed the sci-fi YA (which stands for “Young Adult”) book Alive by Scott Sigler, but I wouldn’t recommend reading it just yet. Wait until the next books in the planned trilogy come out, so you’re not left ending on a cliff hanger like I was.
Best Mystery/Thriller Book
I read a lot of these, so this is a hard pick. I think it’s a tie between The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney and Follow You Home by Mark Edwards. Gone is more of mystery, and a lovely one at that. Although I read it earlier in the year, it stuck with me for a long time. Home is more of twisty thriller with a reaaaaaallly bad “bad guy.” Not for the faint of heart.
Best Romance Book
If you like your romance of the Hollywood rom-com variety, check out Must Love Otters by Eliza Gordon. It’s pretty adorable. If you like your romance of the Fifty Shades of Grey variety, check out Sloth by Ella James. It is most certainly NOT a book about slow moving mammals who hang in trees.
Best Kind of Oprah-y Book
There are always people looking for that kind of book that would fit well in Oprah’s book club–well written, earnest and often chick-centric.** If that’s what you’re into, I’d recommend checking out, Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain.
Best Scary Book
This year I was on a quest to find the scariest book possible. I was ultimately unsuccessful, but I did find one that was very creepy and haunting. And that book was Bird Box by Josh Mallerman. Such a big pay off for such a simple premise. (And no, it’s not about birds.)
Best Book Series
I started out this year with no knowledge of K.R. Griffiths. But, by year’s end, I had read every single thing he’s written. Of those books, my favorite was his Wildfire Chronicles, a six book series about the zombie apocalypse, which I adored. It’s hard to find books with a novel take on a zombie outbreak (I’ve read A LOT of books about the topic) or a series that can sustain interest over multiple books, but he pulled off both feats.
The book that made me laugh the most was This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Touch It by David Wong. (Seriously, that’s the title.) I don’t really like books that feel like they’re trying to be funny. This one simply was. (It also totally was full of spiders, so if they freak you out, skip this one.)
I read three memoirs this year. Of the three, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein was the hands down favorite. Not only is Brownstein a talented musician, sketch comedian and actor, the girl can write like no one’s business. (This book made numerous Best Books of 2015 lists.)
Best Non-fiction Book
I’ll be honest. I don’t enjoy reading non-fiction. But I do it anyway, because I need to learn new things. Of the handful of non-fiction books I read this year, the most helpful was The Content Code by Mark Schaefer. I read it while I was stuck trying to solve a problem and it gave me the answers I needed.
Best Stephen King Book
I feel like I’m going to hell for saying this, but the best Stephen King book I read this year wasn’t by the big guy himself. It was by his son, Joe Hill. Nos4A2 was the kind of epic, scary yarn that King used to write in his early days. I still like the stuff he writes today, but Hill’s book make me awfully nostalgic for the King books I grew up with.
Best “Something Bad Goes Down On a Cruise Ship” Book
I read two books about this topic this year, Adrift and Day Four. Of the two, I’d give the edge to Adrift by K.R. Griffiths. Not great art by any means (and I wasn’t feeling the ending) but a highly entertaining/creepy read with more visceral thrills than Day Four.
Book Most Deserving of the “Next Gone Girl” Hype
These days the book industry is touting everything as the next Gone Girl–a runaway bestseller which had a dramatic twist. This year, everyone said that book was Girl on a Train (which I read, and enjoyed.) However, I found A Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson to be ultimately more deserving of the “Next Gone Girl” title, (Entertainment Weekly agreed with me.) There was a twist or two in this book I genuinely didn’t see coming.
Book Which Was Better Than the TV Show
Readers will often tell you that ANY book is usually better than the TV show or movie. But I think this year I’d have to give the prize to the Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch. While I think TV is a good medium for this book, I liked the ability to read the whole trilogy at once and get a sense of the bigger mystery (and it’s a whopper.)
Book Which Was Worse Than the TV show
The Outlander TV show on Starz is pretty great, with a decidedly feminist bent. Sadly, the parts of the TV show I thought were most progressive and interesting are totally absent from the book, replaced by rapey, “I’m your master,” sex-with-bruises kind of encounters. No thanks.
*Technically this book is NA (or New Adult)– a superfluous new genre book sellers recently invented. When you’re old like me, everyone under 25 seems like a young adult, so I’m leaving this book in the YA category.
**Book sellers sometimes label these books as “Women’s Fiction” which is just plain dumb unless you’re going to call all fiction with a male protagonist “Men’s Fiction.”