Wednesday, 30 December 2015

My Favorite Reads in 2015

It's no secret. I fell behind in my reading prior to 2015. But a number of published authors told me I must read more to write more. Man were they correct. So I plunged back into the reading world and found a number of books that peaked my interest.

*NOTE* this is not a blog to promote books that were published in 2015. Rather it is a list of books that are timeless, of which I was lucky enough to stumble across this past year.

Also - they are in chronological order of when they were read.

And this list does not include any e-arcs for 2016 releases (I'm saving those for next year)!

Number 1
Arthur Slade's DUST

Matthew is missing. Robert’s seven-year-old brother has vanished on a walk into town. Robert’s mother had asked him to accompany Matthew to Horshoe to buy some some gum, but Robert was miles away engrossed in a Martian adventure story, and certainly not home on his farm in Depression-era Saskatchewan. And when his younger brother disappears,Robert figures it is his fault and he has to find him.
He soon notices there is something sinister happening. The hens are laying eggs with blood in them; a broken jar found out on the prairie has a plaintive echo of a young girl’s voice; and most disturbingly, his parents are lost in a weird sort of daydream and have forgotten about their missing son.
It is up to Robert to discover where his brother has disappeared – along with the other boys and girls of Horshoe. He is led to an ivory-skinned stranger who suddenly appears and bewitches both parents and children with magical mirrors and a fantastic rainmaking machine.
In a style that has stomach muscles tightening right from the first sentence,Arthur Slade brings a new and sophisticated brand of psychological fear to the young-adult market. Dust is a story that will leave audiences breathless.

Number 2

When Claire Mallory's father leaves, her mom moves them to a new town and into a dilapidated Victorian house. The old house creaks and whistles, and smells . . . well, like it's been abandoned for years. But as the nights grow longer and the shadows take on substance, Claire wonders if the strange sounds and occurrences might be more than the house showing its age. Just as things start to pick up in Claire's love life, her mother becomes possessed. In an attempt to save her mother and their new home, Claire enlists the help of two boys, each of whom is interested in Claire for very different reasons. As she chooses one boy over the other, something dangerous is unleashed, and the spirits make their move. They aren’t content to moan and scream inside Claire’s house, or even control her mom. They want a taste of freedom, and they'll use Claire to get it. But is Claire strong enough to fight off the evil spirits, or will they claim her and her mom before it's all over?

Number 3
Dorothy Dreyer's MY SISTER'S REAPER

There's bragging, there's trying to impress a boy, and then there's 16-year-old Zadie. Her first mistake was telling the boy she's crushing on that she could bring her dead sister back to life. Her second mistake? Actually doing it! When Zadie accidentally messes with the reaper's rite that should have claimed her sister Mara, things go horribly wrong (you think?). Mara isn't the same anymore—Zadie isn't even sure she's completely human, and to top it off, a reaper is determined to collect Mara's soul no matter what. Now Zadie must figure out how to defeat her sister's reaper, intent on claiming both girls, or let Mara die . . . this time for good. This refreshing paranormal love story encloaks a deeper lesson about sisterhood, consequence, and facing one's responsibilities.

Number 4

From acclaimed, bestselling author Andrew Pyper, a suspenseful page-turner that explores the repercussions of that most dishonest of thefts: stealing another’s story and calling it your own.

Patrick Rush, a former bright light at the National Star now demoted to the reality TV beat, is still recovering from his wife’s death when he joins a writers’ group in Toronto. His goal: to write the book he’s always felt lived within him. Trouble is, Patrick has no story to tell. And while the circle’s members show similarly little literary promise, there is one exception: Angela. Her unsettling readings tell of a shadowy childhood tragedy and an unremitting fear of the Sandman, a “terrible man who does terrible things.” It’s the stuff of nightmares or horror films. Or is it? 

Over the weeks that follow, a string of unsolved murders seem increasingly connected to Patrick. And then the circle’s members start to go missing, one by one. Still haunted by loss–and by a crime only those in the circle could know of–Patrick finds himself in a fictional world made horrifically real. But nothing will put him in greater danger than that ancient curse of natural born readers: the need to know how the story ends.

At once a complex and compulsive read, The Killing Circle explores the side effects of an increasingly fame-mad culture, where even the staid realm of literature can fall prey to ravenous ambition and competition.

Number 5

Thirteen-year-old Stewart Inkster is academically brilliant but "ungifted" socially. Fourteen-year-old Ashley Anderson is the undisputed "It" girl of grade nine, but her marks stink. Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. "The Brady Bunch" it isn't. Stewart is trying to be 89.9% happy about it, but Ashley is 110% horrified. She already has to hide the truth behind her parents' divorce; "Spewart" could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder. They are complete opposites. And yet, no matter their differences, they share one thing in common: they--like the rest of us--are all made of molecules.
     Written in alternating voices, Susin Nielsen deftly explores family tragedy and family ties; sibling rivalry and union; and adolescent confusion and revelation.

Number 6
Brenda Baker's CAMP OUTLOOK

Shannon is thrilled when her mom becomes pregnant. After years of hoping and praying, Shannon will be a big sister. They will be a normal, happy family. Shannon likes being normal. But when her baby brother is born, things do not go according to plan. God does not seem to be following the rules. And Shannon does something that is so out of character, not even she can explain it. Sent away to Camp Outlook, Shannon has several bizarre experiences, crushes on the student minister, and starts to re-consider how important being "normal" really is.

Number 7


My New Year's resolution: I'm moving on from everything that's happened. I'm not going to talk about it, think about it, let the memory pounce upon me like a waiting tiger, nothing. 

All Sophie wants to do is forget. But it's not easy now that everything's changed. The house feels too big, school drags on for too long, lights are too bright, the room spins, and her hands get sweaty for no reason. And she can't remember why she was ever best friends with Abigail, who is obsessed with parties and boys. Only the new girl, Rosa-Leigh, with her prose poems and utter confidence, might understand. But talking to her seems impossible.

Lost in memories of the life she once had, Sophie retreats into herself. But there's only so long she can keep everything bottled up inside before she explodes. Maybe by confronting the tragedy of her past she'll figure out how to fix her future.


Number 8
Julie Reece's THE ARTISANS

They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Raven Weathersby gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands.

To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day.

Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad's drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.

But Raven's stepdad's drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she's ever known out of jail, or worse.

Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries' clothing line, signing over her creative rights.

Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can't imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.

But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?

Number 9

In a village of masked men, magic compels each man to love only one woman and to follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Seventeen-year-old Noll isn't in the mood to celebrate. Her childhood friends have paired off and her closest companion, Jurij, found his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever chosen her. 

Thus begins a dangerous game between the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither is willing to lose.

Number 10
Beck Nicholas's LIFER

The Bourne Identity meets Under the Never Sky in this intergalactic tale of love and deception from debut novelist Beck Nicholas.

Asher is a Lifer, a slave aboard the spaceship Pelican. A member of the lowest rung of society, she must serve the ship’s Officials and Astronauts as punishment for her grandparents' crimes back on Earth. The one thing that made life bearable was her illicit relationship with Samuai, a Fishie boy, but he died alongside her brother in a freak training accident. 

Still grieving for the loss of her loved ones, Asher is summoned to the upper levels to wait on Lady, the head Official’s wife and Samuai’s mother. It is the perfect opportunity to gather intel for the Lifer’s brewing rebellion. There’s just one problem—the last girl who went to the upper levels never came back.

On the other side of the universe, an alien attack has left Earth in shambles and a group called The Company has taken control. Blank wakes up in a pond completely naked and with no memory, not even his real name. So when a hot girl named Megs invites him to a black-market gaming warehouse where winning means information, he doesn’t think twice about playing. 

But sometimes the past is better left buried. As Asher and Blank’s worlds collide, the truth comes out—everyone has been lied to...

Here are my top 2 favorite surprises from a new publisher in Canada:

Number 11
Suzanne Costigan's EMPTY CUP

Mom’s new boyfriend is creepy.

On the night of her seventeenth birthday, Raven finds out he isn’t just creepy, he’s dangerous. He leaves Raven broken and bleeding, but Mom blames her for what happened. She kicks Raven out of the house with nothing but a blanket to protect her from a frigid winter night.




As Raven struggles with the aftermath of the ultimate betrayal, she seeks solace in her imagination and a teacher who seems to understand her situation. She ultimately discovers that her world won’t change if she relies upon someone else to do it. Real change begins within.

Number 12
Melinda Friesen's ENSLAVEMENT

"One world. One currency. One bright future." 

That's the promise made by OneEarth Bank after a global economic collapse--but only for those who accept the insertion of a commerce chip. 

When Rielle's parents refuse to comply, government officials tear her family apart. As punishment for her parent's crimes, Rielle is forced into a Community Service Contract--a legalized form of slavery--and sold to a wealthy, abusive banker.

The Banker's secrets hold the key to Rielle's freedom, but will she risk prison or even death to escape and search for her family?

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