Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Ten of My Favorite Reads in 2015!

If you know me you know I'm an avid reader. I fell short of my dream of 100 books this year. Probably by about half. Oy. That's bad for me. I'm usually in the 60s, at least! (Or not, it's been a slow couple of years.)

But this year was a year of amazing reads. So many that I could barely keep up with them. Below you'll find my favorite reads of 2015. Consider picking up a copy for yourself if you have not read them yet. I wouldn't steer you wrong.

As always, all links are affiliate links. Just click the images or the book titles to get to Amazon for purchase. And if you use them to purchase books I'll get a few pennies towards my next book purchase. Then you'll love me more because I'll convince you to get them, too, and so on. It's a never-ending cycle!

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You must read this book. Pretty much everyone should read it. But I'll be more specific if you need me to be. If you're a parent, a teacher, a social worker, a doctor, a nurse, a therapist, anyone who works with children - you get the picture, right? George is a young girl who is living in the body of a boy. George can't figure out how to express this to the people that mean the most. Best friend Kelly is the only one open enough to be confided in. This step is huge. George is able to express the feelings that are floating around inside. Head. Heart. All of them. Kelly is awesome. As are George's mom and brother. Author Alex Gino is phenomenal. I was beyond moved reading this and think it's going to go down as one of the best books of this decade, let alone this year. Get yourself a copy. No thanks necessary.

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If you haven't heard of The Bloggess yet I'm going to have you stop right here and give you a minute to check out her site. But come back, okay? There - feel better now? Furiously Happy is her second book, and it's so so good. It's real, raw, hilarious, terrifying, sad, lovely, and pretty much anything else you can think of. If you haven't read her first book I might have to recommend you read it first, just so you get to know her better. Let's Pretend This Never Happened was a favorite read of mine when it came out. If you're struggling with mental health issues like anxiety or depression, Jenny is someone who gets it. There are sections of the book that might be triggering, but she does warn us of this upfront. And it's worth it, in my opinion, to know that there's someone out there who understands what you're experiencing. Knows what you're going through. And can stay strong, through the struggles, and laugh at it all, too. 

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This book. I can't stop thinking about this book and I read it months ago. I mean, seriously. It's crazy how amazing it was. Brown's debut novel was beyond exceptional. It's up there as one of the top three books I've read this year. Definitely the best 2015 release I've read. Just amazing. The story draws you in and gives you emotions that you don't expect to feel when reading. And then, when it ends? You go back and reread certain parts of it over and over again. Because - what? What just happened? Whoa. This is that kind of book. It's an emotional tale of a woman experiencing loss. Grieving. Aching. Hurting. And we watch her struggle through this loss. We watch her try to find her way out - make her way past the pain - with the support of her loved ones. And we hurt with her. We feel with her. And then, well, just read it. You need to.

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I've been a fan of Barbara Claypole White's work for many years now. This is, without question, her best yet. The Perfect Son is amazing. This story - the intricacies of the characters - the experiences they go through - the connections they have. Just. So. Good.

The family is held together by the mom. She's the glue. And then? She's not. Mom's health takes a turn and she can no longer be the go-between for her husband and her son. Husband Felix struggles with his role as father to Harry, a teen with Tourette's and other diagnoses that leave dad confused on how to interact with his son. Top that off with his own history and lack of connection with his own father and Felix is - shall we say - lacking.

Mom (Ella) has been the buffer for so long that nobody knows how to function without her. Even from her hospital bed mom tries to manage the family and maintain control, keep everyone calm, ensure her son is well taken care of.  It's just so much. But it's such a great read that it leaves you wanting more. I'll stop here and encourage you to go get your hands on this book. You'll thank me.

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I know that The Good Girl came out in 2014. I know it, I do. But apparently I was in a bubble and reading whatever else I had on-hand, because I missed Mary Kubica's debut. And I wasn't the only one - because over the course of this past year I've recommended this book to no less than 40 people, honestly, and none of them had read it, either. So, in case you've been in the dark and missed this release? And her new one, Pretty Baby, which is also phenomenal, but I'm trying to give everyone a shot at my list and so I'm only permitting myself to include one book per author and this one? THIS ONE WAS SO AMAZING. So, pick up a copy. Download a copy. Do whatever you need to do to get your hands on this book today.

And yes, I also realize I haven't really told you that much about the book. It's in the genre of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, but better. Is that enough information? If not, find me on social media or leave me a comment, I'll tell you more. And stay tuned - because Kubica has another release coming out in '16. You can pre-order Don't You Cry right now ... just because ... trust me.

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I'm really late on this one. It came out in 2013. But I don't care. It still lands on this list because I read it this year and it's my list, so there you go. But seriously, some people might be like me, you might not yet have picked up one of Moriarty's books. And so you need to start doing so, because she's just so so good. And this book is proof of that right off the bat. So get to it.

I devoured this book in one day. That should be all I need to say, but I'll tell you some more. The husband has a secret. Did you know that already? I kid - of course you did!

Cecilia finds a letter written to her by her husband that states it is to be opened in the event of his death. But ... he's alive. So she decides to talk to him about it. Rachel and Tess are the two other women in this story - and everyone is impacted by this secret. The way Moriarty intertwines their stories of is just so so good. It's like several books in one that culminate at some point in the same story. That probably doesn't make much sense - my descriptive writing is not quite as good as the authors. *wink* But the overlap and the ins and outs, all of it? Just fantastic writing. I even stopped and went back to make a few connections, from background sounds to the tiniest of moments. The story was so well written. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I played much of it over and over again in my head. So so good.

reading, am reading, goodreads, books, fiction, novel, literature
What I Remember Most is a book that has haunted me all year. There is a character in this book that is so disturbed it pains me to think of him. But Lamb's work at creating him and bringing us into his world and mind? Phenomenal writing. And our primary character, our leading lady (if this were to be turned into a film - which would be very cool!) Grenady is someone we take to right away. She has shattered memories of her youth and her parents, a nasty not-quite-ex that we want to smack really hard, and is finding her way into the comforts of a new life, in a new town, with new friends and a new man, Kade (ah, yes, Kade), with the potential to be more than a friend. 

I won't go on and on because I would probably wind up talking in circles and telling you repeatedly that it's quite a long book but absolutely worth the read. A definite go-to when I'm recommending books these days.

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Besides absolutely loving this cover, Secrets of a Charmed Life was one of my favorite reads in 2015. The story weaves between present day and a history that has never been shared. Isabel McFarland is our storyteller. She's lived a life of secrets and is ready to share them. Our interviewer Kendra is a young scholar whose appetite for intrigue and information makes her the perfect recipient of this information. This story - simply told - captured my mind and my heart. Isabel's life before she became Isabel was so so different. This story is one that would be categorized as historical fiction, and at the same time, offers us a genuine feel of characters connecting. Hearts breaking. Family pain. So so much more than mere words. A definite must read. 

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What You Can When You Can has become a bit of a motto for me. As someone indicated on Goodreads, it's a movement. I've mentioned this book over and over again throughout the year. It's a simple and quick read. It's straightforward. It's easy to understand. And it's the truth. Noone and Birnberg speak from experience. They talk about the importance of not giving up and not cheating yourself out of things because you don't have the time to do ENOUGH. 

There is no not enough. Whatever you CAN do? IS enough. 

I almost skipped including this book because I was so focused on novels and whatnot, but then I realized, well, any time I'm reminding myself or others of the mindset I mention what you can when you can. #wycwyc 

And THEN. Then I launch into a recommendation for the book. It's the movement and mindset that you truly benefit from. And I'm grateful for the reminder. 

Much like The Pocket Therapist, What You Can When You Can will be a book I find myself reading about once a year. I'm sure of it. 

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My last book recommendation isn't exactly a book in the regular sense. If you want to learn about Whole30 and read a full book about the program, the details, the specifics and way more? It Starts With Food is what you need to pick up. But that's not required reading. This book includes the essentials from that one, along with some incredible recipes. This book was pretty much my bible when I did my first round of Whole30 back in September/October. And doing it again now - I've already busted it open a handful of times and it's day five. So, yeah. If you're looking to change your eating habits, break cravings, learn more about how your body works and digests certain foods and ingredients, and find a new way for you? This book is it. And if you're not looking for all of these things? It's a really good cookbook, too. Promise!

So. There you have it. Ten of the best books to come into my life this year. I hope you find at least one of them interesting enough to check out. And stay tuned - my second annual list of books you need to read this year is coming soon!


  1. I have some more to add to my list!!! Yay! Thanks!

  2. Thanks- I added a few of these to my tbr list! :)

  3. NO WAY!!!!
    I immediately clicked to your post because you and Danielle Liss are my book people. And now I'm just blown away you mentioned our book. Thank you thank you thank you

  4. WOW! They all look so good! I don't know where to start! Thank you for sharing your insight! I'll especially remember this list when it's my turn to host wine/book club!

  5. Thank you! I'm familiar with a couple of these but not all, so will check out the others. Always love good book recommendations!

  6. We have such similar taste in books! The Good Girl is FANTASTIC and I've also recommended it to a million people. I love Liane Moriarty but thought What Alice Forgot and Big Little Lies were her best books. I can't wait to see what you're looking at for 2016!

  7. Great list Andrea. Come Away With Me and Secret s of a Charmed made my list, too (Moriarty's made last year's;)). While 30 got an honorable mention. I hadn't heard some of these. Thanks! I'm going to order What You Can.

  8. My great wishes for you blog. I had a such a wonderful reading effect from your blog. The post is good and you described the content well here

  9. These seem like some great books. I am want to start a book club and I think so of these books would be great to add!

  10. Nicely written piece, Andrea.

    This is really nice book list.

    We've just finished a guide on depression which we hope will help lots of people struggling with this illness. Mind if I send you the link?

  11. Great list, and I'm adding several to my "to read" list for the coming year. Thanks so much for sharing your favorites!

  12. I am totally pinning your list. Now you have me ITCHING to read a great book, just for the pure pleasure of it!


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