The Year Behind, The Year Ahead: The 2015 Bookworm Awards

2015 was…a year.  There was a lot of things happening, both good and bad, and although there were a lot of tears, the year turned out to be a pretty good one.

And it ended with a bang.  Well, bangs.  And lots of shotguns.  Yay for living in the country.

But regardless of how crazy things became, I always had time to read.  It’s a habit that’s easily encouraged when you always carry a book with you, and it made my new experiment with literature—the monthly book review here on this blog and my mini-reviews on Pinterest—pretty easy.  Much easier than my experiments at school.

Books are much friendlier to work with than mice.

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Well, maybe not all mice.

Rodents aside, I made my way through a good number of books in 2015.  132 books, to be exact.  That’s a lot of reading, even for me.  11 books a month, a little more than a third of a book per day.  My scientific brain wanted to crunch the numbers a bit more, so I analyzed my list of books to produce the following stats:

  • New series started: 21
  • Old series finished: 6
  • Series binge read from beginning to end: 4
  • Fiction: 128 (97%) vs. Nonfiction: 4 (3%)
  • Authors read: 81
  • Rereads: 21

So what do these numbers tell me?  That I’m going to need a lot more room on my shelves for the next books in all the new series I got hooked on.  Also, that I could probably stand to live in the real world a little bit more.

What can I say?  I’m a fictionista.

And looking back at everything I’d read, I decided to follow the pattern of all the award show I’m so fond of ignoring and rank the most exciting, the most unexpected, and the best dressed books that I read this year.

And so, I present to you, the 2015 Bookworm Awards, brought to you by the great mind behind The Literary Laboratory!

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Favorite New Author: Tie: Victoria Aveyard & Jodi Meadows – Both of these ladies had debuts that totally blew me away.  Both books had intrigue and magic and snark and plenty of action to keep me on the edge of my seat.  And both had a fabulous twist at the end that still has me anxious for the next books.  These two authors know how to create amazing worlds and awesome characters that you can relate to and cheer for as they battle against the injustices in their world.

Favorite New to Me Author: Leigh Bardugo – I read two books by Leigh this year, and I was completely amazed by both of them.  The stories were familiar but still entirely unique, and I loved all the complexities and twists.  Both series were set in the same well-developed world with a wonderfully intricate magic system and a fascinating basis in Russian folklore.  

Best Beginning to a Series: Tie: “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard, “The Orphan Queen” by Jodi Meadows, “A Darker Shade of Magic” by V.E. Schwab, & “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo – Yeah, shame on me for settling for a massive tie, but I couldn’t bring myself to dismiss any of these books.  There was a similarly gritty feel to each of these stories—and a surprising amount of royalty—that immediately pulled me straight into the plot.  The characters were all so well developed, and the world-building was beyond amazing.  These are easily some of the best books I read this year, and they’re probably some of the best I’ve ever read.

Best Ending to a Series: Tie: “Ensnared” by A.G. Howard (Splintered series) & “Winter” by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles) – Oh, I was so sad for both of these series to end.  Both of these series were altered retellings of famous tales, and they seamlessly blended the familiar with the authors’ unique visions of the stories.  And the main heroines were all fantastic—smart, tough, sassy, talented, and willing to sacrifice it all for their families and friends.  I’m so glad that both of these amazing authors have graced us with novellas (with more to come, in the case of the Lunar Chronicles) to keep me in their amazing worlds a little longer.

Best Short Story Collection: “Untamed” by A.G. Howard (Splintered series) – As I mentioned just above, A.G. Howard recently released a trio of novellas set in her Splintered world, and they were wonderful.  These stories did a fantastic job of filling in some of the gaps between and after the books in the series, and for a series in which memories play such an important role, these novellas gave me some precious memories of my favorite Splintered characters.

Least Favorite Book: “Insanity” by Jace Cameron – This book was easily the weakest, most confusing book I read this year.  It had an interesting premise, but I’m still not convinced this was a finished book, as the story flowed about as well as a dammed river and the plot holes were big enough to fly a Star Destroyer through.

Favorite Classic: Tie: “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery & “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee – I had never read either of these books, and I’m disappointed in myself for letting these sit on my shelf for so long.  Both of these stories had great, interesting, and adorably curious heroines and a writing style that brought the settings to life.  There are some hard topics tackled here, but the lessons learned are what make these books classics.

Favorite Reread: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling – I’d forgotten how precious the Golden Trio were as first-years!  Reading this book again still held all the magic and wonder that it did the first time, and I found myself laughing and cheering just as hard as I ever did.  There’s no series like “Harry Potter,” and The Sorcerer’s Stone is a fantastic beginning.

Favorite Retelling: “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer – There are plenty of Cinderella retellings, but only one features a cyborg mechanic as the titular princess.  Cinder takes the classic tale and twists it in every direction, adding a futuristic setting, Lunar ‘magic,’ and an evil queen that makes any Disney evil queen look like Mary Poppins.  The final Cinderella payoff doesn’t come until the last book in the series, but this first book sets the stage for all the awesomeness to follow.

Favorite Modern Tale: “Lola and the Boy Next Door” by Stephanie Perkins – Lola was such an unexpectedly awesome and fun character!  Her independence and creativity were much admired, and her love story played out like a fairy tale romance dropped into the chaos and color of modern-day San Francisco.

Scariest Book: “Lair of Dream” by Libba Bray – This book played on one of the most basic human fears—sickness—and added a mystical twist that kicked it to the next level.  It also didn’t help that I visited NYC shortly after reading this book, and every time we rode the subway, I was afraid that dark, nightmare creatures would creep out of the tunnels and attack everyone.

Funniest Book: “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” by Mindy Kaling – Frankly, Mindy Kaling’s voice annoys me, but I do find her funny, so reading her book was the perfect compromise.  I appreciate Mindy’s awkwardness and her lack of a filter, and it’s heartening to be reminded that everyone’s kind of weird.

Most Unexpected Book: “Kiss of Deception” by Mary E. Pearson – I had always heard good things about this book, but the premise always seemed sort of ‘blah’ to me.  I’m happy to admit I was very wrong; Lia was a world away from most royals on the run, and the skillful way that the identities of the prince and the assassin were kept vague until later in the book kept me intrigued.  The discovery of Lia’s role in the prophecy at the end wasn’t that surprising, but it seems like her part in saving the world will be quite epic.  

Cover Lust: Tie: “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard, “Winter” by Marissa Meyer, & “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo – No explanations needed.  Just look at how beautiful these guys are:

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Also, the pages of “Six of Crows” are edged in black, which makes the book’s appearance infinitely more awesome.

Favorite Setting: “Ink and Bone” by Rachel Caine – As a book lover, I most definitely loved this world where the Library of Alexandria survived.  Yes, there were plenty of downsides to the world in this story, but the importance and secrecy given to the written word here made my heart smile.

Most Surprising Villain: Maven from “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard – Bad guys masquerading as friends and confidants always make for the best twists, and Maven was no exception.  His manipulations were expertly planned, and I don’t think anyone expected him to turn on Mare.  A wonderfully written villain with a desire for power and feelings for one of his greatest enemies—Maven is only going to get more interesting in Glass Sword.

Top 5 Couples:

  • Alyssa & Morpheus – Splintered series by A.G. Howard
  • America & Maxon – The Selection series by Kiera Cass
  • Cress & Thorne – The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
  • Lola & Cricket – Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
  • Nina & Matthias – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

The road to true love is never easy, and that’s certainly true for each of these couples.  But it’s the hard times—the bickering, the battles, the bloodshed—that show just how perfect these pairings are for one another.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of sweet moments and jokes and sass between these couples that make them wonderful, but it’s not until they’re facing the worst that their true feelings come to light and give us some squee-worthy moments.


So ring the bells! Clink the glasses! Throw the confetti!  Let the winners of the 2015 Bookworm Awards rejoice!

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Okay, so these are just my opinions, but that’s how everything stacked up in my mind over the past year.  These books were a ton of fun to read and imagine, and I can’t wait to see what these authors bring me next.

But what about 2016?  What about the new year that now dawns before us?  Well, along with my more mundane resolutions, I have a few related to this year’s reading list:

  1. Read at least 100 books
  2. Read at least 12 nonfiction books, preferably one per month
  3. Read more classics

And there you have it.  2015 was a veritable avalanche of good literature in the midst of all the excitement and anxiety, and I’m hoping 2016 brings just as much adventure, mystery, and romance.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and some of that will happen outside my books, but either way, I’ll be more than happy to keep exploring the worlds tucked between the pages of my books.


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