I’ve mentioned this on social media before but when I was looking back at my reading in 2015 I was left a bit disappointed. I say this because while I enjoyed several books, I also don’t have as many books that blew me away as I’ve had years before. Some may say this is because the more we read, the pickier we get. That may be true to a point. But I also feel that the quality of books is changing. This may be because of the publishing industry and the changes we see there, or maybe it’s the pressure of having to release X amount of books a year. Maybe it’s simply authors writing for the large number of new readers and their particular taste. Or maybe I’m just not finding the gems that are out there! I am not one for DNF a book and this year also saw my giving throwing in the towel on more books than I have ever done in my whole life! And that’s not counting that this was also the year I read the most under 3 stars books ever for me!
Nonetheless, here’s my list of the books that do stand out from what I read this year. You can’t go wrong with picking these up.
Best New Release: The Shadows by J.R. Ward
I haven’t had a book move me the way this one did in a long time. Yes, people will bitch about the path the author took with this book. Was it hard? Yes. Heartbreaking for me? Yes. But I think Ward is fearless for staying true to what she saw in the story and for giving it to us real. Because I am not sure I could’ve handled a miraculous resolution that would’ve been a cop out for the corner she wrote herself in. It made sense to me for it to happen. Even as it tore me apart. One of my ugliest cries, definitely in a while, but probably ever. The Shadows is gut-wrenching, intense, beautiful and full of love. Even hope. I can’t recommend this book enough!
Best New to Me: The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
I’ve been behind the times and hadn’t picked up this book even though I’ve seen it recommended everywhere. It was on my radar though, and when the audiobook came out I jumped on it. What a beautifully tragic story! I was enraptured in this novel from beginning to end. Falling in love with its characters. Through the hard times they faced, the mistakes the made, the sacrifices. And even their happy times. These are characters that stay with you and transcend time. This is not a book to be easily forgotten or to blend in with others. And some of its quotes will stay with me forever. <3
Best New Series: Off-Campus by Elle Kennedy
After all that heavy on the first two choices, here’s a fun one! I’ve read Elle Kennedy before, mainly her romantic suspense. When she first announced she was releasing a new adult college-sports themed book, THE DEAL, I was extremely curious to see what her voice would sound like in comparison to her other work. And I was taken on a fun and sexy ride from beginning to end. She has now released a second book in this series, which was fantastic as well and I’m left jumping up and down in excitement for more! Book boyfriend material!
Favorite Heroine: Claire from The Veil by Chloe Neill
I don’t think this book got enough attention. I LOVED IT. I loved everything about this book. But a lot of it has to do with the heroine. Claire carries this story very well. She knows just enough to about the paranormal and her own heritage to be dangerous. There’s a lot she needs to learn, but she’s got enough common sense to KNOW that she doesn’t know certain things. She’s kick ass without putting that in your face like some other heroines can easily do. And you just have to care about her. I am extremely excited to see where this new series by Ms. Neill will go and I may venture out and say this will be better than Chicagoland!
Favorite Hero: Leo from Nuts by Alice Clayton
This is always a hard category for me. As Suzanne always puts it, I’m a slut. j/k I do have a harem of book boyfriends and it’s hard to pick one to bring out and play with. I know you always hear me talk about the same authors in this category so while giving you the perfect book boyfriend here I also wanted to change it up a bit from years past. Leo is it. OMG this man is perfection. First of all, the looks. Bearded, lumberjack look. Totally does it for me. Second, his fun but mysterious persona. Fell for everything he had going on. And third, the man has moves. Just bend me over a barrel and call me Sugar Snap!
Best Cover: Hearts of Blue by L.H. Cosway
I love everything about this cover. The colors are the first thing that draws me in. But I love the tats, the handcuffs, the mix of sweet with bad boy that comes through while looking at this perfect cover. It just makes me all giddy. And the fact that the book was as awesome as its cover is also important to point out. Just like every L.H. Cosway book this year. She rocked it!
Biggest Letdown: Claimed by Elle Kennedy
As I mentioned before, I’ve enjoyed Ms. Kennedy’s writing before and I was really excited about CLAIMED. I don’t read blurbs anymore for favorite authors so I wasn’t prepared for a dystopian. Instead I was expecting romantic suspense. But once I figured out the theme I was EVEN MORE excited about it. And while it starts out really hot and I was very intrigued by the world, it quickly became clear that this was going to be highly sexed up and I feel like this book suffered from too much sex (yes, granted hot sex) and not enough story development. I hope that changes a bit in the next one because I am genuinely interested in seeing this world and all its characters fleshed out.
Best Couple: Cole and Summer from Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre
Well, there were a few contenders here but not one other one quite as perfect as Cole and Summer. This book was a complete surprise for me. I’m used to seeing Ms. Torre write darker stuff. More edgy, I guess. This was her lightest contemporary romance yet and I think this is where she needs to stay. This book rocked! Cole is a bit of jerk which is always a plus, and Summer is an every day kind of gal you just want to hang with. Together, they have some amazing chemistry. In and out of the bedroom. I couldn’t read this fast enough to gobble those two up!
Best Sex Scene: Call on Me by Roni Loren
When it comes to hot sex, not many can write it hotter than Roni Loren. Pike is a dirty talker, which is always a plus and although this book is less kinky than her previous ones, it doesn’t lack some serious steam. So it’s not just one scene, just every single sexual interaction between Oakley and Pike in this one! *whimpers*
Pike rubbed his thumbs along the steering wheel, trying to keep calm and focused on the road. “You like the idea of that? That we could be discovered?”
She was quiet for a moment, her fingers idly stroking his abdomen, the scritch-scritch of her nails against the coarse hair erotic in and of itself. “In the right situation, I think it could be exciting.”
He filed that knowledge away. “If I had been there, I would’ve turned you around, pushed up your skirt, and pressed you against the door with one hand over your mouth to keep you quiet and one between your legs to make you come.”
Author of the Year: Elle Kennedy
As I look back on this year and I look at some of the books I enjoyed the most, 3 authors stand out to me. L.H. Cosway, J.R. Ward and Elle Kennedy. But because the Ward is a staple around here and you all know she’s the Queen and always the best, and I usually can’t shut up singing L.H. Cosway’s praises, this year we are switching it up. My author of the year for 2015 is Elle Kennedy. Even though, yes, I know you’re thinking what about your biggest letdown book above? But aside from that book that wasn’t one of my favorites of hers, I fell in love with too many of her new books this year! First there was the Off Campus series I already mentioned above. THE DEAL and THE MISTAKE were both amazing and will steal your heart. Then going back to my fave Killer Instincts series, MIDNIGHT CAPTIVE rocked my socks off. I read that book in like one sitting and pulled an all nighter. And finally….HIM. She wrote this LGBT story with Sarina Bowen and made me fall in love with every word. I wanted to live in the pages of that book and they always made my favorite couple list above.
So there you have it! That’s the books that made my best of 2015 after reading over 250 books this year. Some honorable mentions that I couldn’t necessarily find a category to place them in but that I thought should be highlighted here are:
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for Angela’s Best of 2015!
Missed our previous posts:
ONE LUCKY WINNER WILL GET ALL THE FOLLOWING
SIGNED copy of SOULBOUND by Kristen Callihan
SIGNED copy of MIDNIGHT RIDE by Cat Johnson
SIGNED copy of FIRST DROP OF CRIMSON by Jeaniene Frost
THIS HEART OF MINE by Brenda Novak
BUSTED by Shiloh Walker
EDGE OF DANGER by Katie Reus
BROKEDOWN COWBOY by Maisey Yates
SHADOW’S END by Thea Harrison
8 BOOKS TOTAL (3 OF THEM SIGNED!)