I’m an avid reader. I read something like 67 books in 2015, or so Goodreads tells me. Might be more. Probably is more because I didn’t do a good job keeping track this year. (Resolution #1: Keep better track of books read in 2016).
If you’re a reader too, here are the best of December, the best of 2015, and my first ever award for best Christian fiction of 2015!
December’s Reading Roundup
#1: ROOK by Sharon Cameron
Worldview: Secular but clean
Pros: The premise – that the earth’s magnetic pole reversed and played havoc with all the electronics. Now there’s a society who can’t function once technology is removed because they’ve be come so dependent on it. Love the characters and the romance. Definitely channels French Revolution.
Cons: Standalone, so I can’t look forward to a sequel. 😦
#2: SOARING THROUGH STARS by Rajdeep Paulus
Genre: Contemporary YA
Pros: Solid writing, empathetic characters, continuation of a heartfelt story.
Cons: The story didn’t go where I thought it would, which is both a positive and a negative. Positive in that I couldn’t predict it (bonus), but negative in that it didn’t really take me where I was hoping the story would go. I was surprised that there was a third book because originally I thought the story concluded after book 2. It didn’t focus or culminate in the trail as I expected. In fact, you never really get to the trial so there’s no more finality than there was at the end of book 2. Still worth reading.
#3. SHADOWED EDEN by Katie Clark
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Pros: Solid writing, the author knows how to tell a story. A gentle romantic line. Unique premise. Good main characters.
Cons: Secondary characters could have been better developed.
Books with spiritual warfare are hit or miss with me. I’m fairly picking when it comes to how biblical beings are portrayed. The concept of the Garden of Eden still existing somewhere on earth and what it might be like provided a unique storyline. I would have liked to know more, but I suspect that will come later in the series. All considered, the book kept my interest until the end without bothering my sensibilities.
#4. THE NETHERGRIM by Matthew Jobin
Genre: YA Fantasy – waking evil and the unsuspecting hero
Worldview: Secular, but clean
Pros: Nice fantasy story with interesting new creatures. Unconventional heroes, especially the female warrior. Rich fantasy world.
Cons: Story structure was off for me. Nothing really happened for the first half of the book (we were ushered along by the mystery), then when it did, it resolved too easily. I still enjoyed the story, and since this is a set up to a longer good vs. evil conflict, it served its purpose in introducing the stakes. I’m interested in reading the next book in the series.
#5. THE HESITANT HEIRESS by Dawn Crandall
Genre: Historical Romance
Pros: The mystery aspects of the book kept me interested. What was the deal with Bram Everstone? What happened with her dad? Her mom? If the point of a romance is just throwing obstacles up between the heroine and hero, then there isn’t enough to keep me reading. This book had enough going on with the story to keep me interested.
Cons: I hate it when tension is created by the protagonist having a secret/misunderstanding that could be cleared up by a simple conversation. There was a bit of this in the story. Because of the first person narrative, it didn’t seem historical to me, almost anachronistic.
#6. OUT OF DARKNESS RISING by Gillian Adams
Genre: Fantasy Allegory
Pros: I have a love/hate relationship with allegories. Since I like for stories to take me somewhere new, once I realize I’m reading an allegory, I know where the story is headed. Then it’s a matter of how well the author tells the story. That’s what we have here – one of the best told allegories I’ve read. It’s creative, clever, and imaginative all without being overdone. More straight allegory than something like CS Lewis or JRR Tolkien. I loved the imagery and story telling. The writing was vivid and worth reading all on its own.
Cons: It’s an allegory.
BEST OF 2015
#1. DARKNESS REIGNS by Jill Williamson
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pros: Worldbuilding, story weaving, characters, writing, everything. Plus it’s free on Amazon right now.
Cons: It ended.
#2. COUNTING BY 7s by
Genre: Contemporary YA
Pros: Heartwarming story with beautifully flawed, complex characters.
Cons: If only it had a spiritual thread it would be perfect.
#3. FAILSTATE by John Otte
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Superhero, YA
Pros: Clever and creative story. It doesn’t get any better than a reality TV show for superheroes. Wish I had thought of the idea myself.
Cons: Wish I had thought of the idea myself.
#4. A TIME TO SPEAK by Nadine Brandes
Pros: Love the premise of the story. Love Parvin and Hawke. In awe of how the spiritual thread is interwoven throughout these stories.
#5. AMISH ZOMBIES FROM SPACE by Kerry Nietz
Genre: Science Fiction
Pros: Creative. Plausible. Not campy. LOVE these books. The author does a great job with using the Amish portions of the book to organically weave in spiritual content. Everything is so deftly handled.
#6. BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE by Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Urban Fantasy, YA
Pros: Vivid writing (amazing), wonderful characters, complex storyline.
Cons: Language!!! and content. This is one of those books that I like in spite of itself. The language is appropriate to the characters, but so many f-bombs I wouldn’t want younger readers to read it. It also deals with fortunate-telling and magic, the type the Bible decries. While in this case, there is good and bad to these aspects of magic, it does promote fortune-telling as a positive. Reader beware.
AND THE FLYING ANGEL GOES TO…
Seems like if I’m going to spend all this time ranking and reviewing, I may as well give an award. 😉 This year, I’m inaugurating The Flying Angel, for the best Science Fiction/Fantasy I’ve read during the calendar year. It is particularly fitting that the first-ever Flying Angel goes to Jill Williamson for King’s Folly! Although, King’s Folly doesn’t release until March 2106, the first part, Darkness Reigns, is currently available for free on Amazon. Congratulations, Jill, and never stop writing. Please. 🙂
NOW YOU: WHAT WERE YOUR TOP READS OF 2015?