Monday, January 11, 2016

Favorite Reads of 2015

Somehow, I thought I would get this list up earlier this year, but here it is the 11th of January and I'm finally listing my favorite reads of 2015.  These are the books that jumped out at me as I was going through the list of books I read and made me smile as I thought about them again.  There were plenty of other books I read that I loved this last year, but I had to narrow it down some.

I've divided this into two categories - Mysteries and Middle Grade.  I'll post a brief blurb about the book, but I will also link to my review if you want to read more.  The books are posted in the order I read them.


For Whom The Bluebell Tolls by Beverly Allen
Being a guy, flowers and especially bridal bouquets normally wouldn't appeal to me.  However, this series got such rave reviews I had to give it a try, and I'm glad I did.  The characters are strong and the mystery is complicated enough to keep us from figuring it out too early.  But really, the characters are great.  I'd love to become friends with them in real life.

Ghost in the Guacamole by Sue Ann Jaffarian
Sue Ann is one of my favorite authors, and I struggled a bit deciding which of her books I read this year would make the list.  I settled on this one because the plot was so strong.  It wasn't just the mystery but other elements that kept me turning the pages on this one.  I normally don't read any of the supernatural cozies, but I make an exception for this series, and it is well worth it.

The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly
One of two audio books this year that made my list.  So far, I prefer his Mickey Haller books to his longer running Bosche books.  This is the latest Mickey Haller legal thriller, and it has so many twists and turns it was hard to stop listening.  I love this cast of characters and how they've grown over the course of these five books.  I'm definitely ready to find out what the next chapter holds for all of them.

Wouldn’t It Be Deadly by D. E. Ireland
Historical mystery with Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins as the main characters.  That was all it took to sell me on the series.  I read both of the books this year, but I give this on the edge (and it was close) thanks to a few more tie ins to the original story with these characters and the wild climax.  But really, both books are wonderful.

The idea of a book club that focused on classic mysteries appealed to me, and the execution in this series debut was perfect.  All the main characters are strong, and they all contributed to the solution of the mystery.  If this town were at all real, I would join this book club in a minute.

This series is absolutely wonderful!  Combine a twisty mystery with another great batch of characters and, in this case, drizzle with chocolate.  It's a sure fire hit.

Murder on the Bucket List by Elizabeth Perona
This has got to be one of the biggest surprises to me on the list.  The main characters are a group of grannies who work together on knocking items off their bucket list.  It wounded like fun, but I was not prepared for just how much fun it would be.  The characters are great, there are plenty of laughs, and the mystery was very solid.  I'm very much looking forward to seeing what happens to these women next.

“B” is for Burglar by Sue Grafton
I've been rotating four different series for my audio listens, and I've really been enjoying finally "reading" the Kinsey Millhone books.  The way she creates characters with just a few sentences amazes me.  The plot in this one was very well done with twists and surprises along the way.  If, like me, you are one of the few people who hasn't read these books, I highly recommend them.

Dead with the Wind by Miranda James
I read both of the Southern Ladies Mysteries this year, and I thought they were both good.  This is the second in the series, and it was the stronger to me.  The tension and mystery were fantastic throughout the entire book, and the characters leapt off the page.  I'm very far behind in the author's Cat in the Stacks series, but this book convinced me I need to fix that.

Flipped by Murder by Maddie Day
This series is set at a country store that serves breakfast, and that appealed to me, so I was very much looking forward to reading the book.  However, the book grabbed me more than I was expecting.  The plot is strong and the characters were charming.  Again, this is a place I'd love to go visit.  Just one word of warning, it will have you craving breakfast food.

Going, Going Ganache by Jenn McKinlay
I read five of the books in the Cupcake Bakery series this year, but this one stuck out as a favorite.  There are a couple of comedic scenes to help lighten the tension, and you need it.  This is one of those books with tension just oozing out of the page so think you can cut it with a buttercream knife.  Plus, the main characters have grown so much it's hard not to love them.  I'm going to be very sorry when I get caught up and have to wait a year between books.

Suspendered Sentence by Laura Bradford
Another series I read multiple books from this year.  Each book really explores the characters, but I picked this one because of how it paid off some of the character arcs we've been watching since the series began.  That growth and a mystery that completely surprised me were what made this the highlight of the series so far for me.

Middle Grade

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
It's always hard to say goodbye to characters you love, and after 10 books with Percy Jackson and his friends, this is exactly how I feel.  But the series goes out with a bang.  This book is really the climax to the Heroes of Olympus series, and it moves along at a brisk pace that makes the pages just fly by.  Fans of the series will not be disappointed in the slightest.

The Buccaneers’ Code by Caroline Carlson
Actually, I have three series enders on my list this year.  This series involved pirates, magic, and the unlikeliest of main characters in Hilary Westfield, who has always dreamed of being a pirate.  There is plenty of humor along with the twists and turns and characters you just have to love.  And the gargoyle just steals the show.

The final chapter in a trilogy about four Prince Charmings who are trying to become true heroes.  It's filled with laughs, twists, a couple of surprises, and payoffs from characters we've come to love.  If you want alternative fairy tales, this is definitely a series to check out.

Big Game by Stuart Gibbs
Stuart Gibbs finds a way to put in information on an endangered species without slowing the plot of the book down at all.  And what a ride as Teddy works to find the person shooting at the rhinos in the FunJungle zoo.  A sub-plot adds quite a bit of humor to the story, and there are a couple of scenes that will get your heart racing.

Neverseen by Shannon Messenger
This fantasy series shows no signs of slowing down.  In fact, each book gets longer and the pages fly by that much quicker.  Those who have been following from the beginning will love some of the answers we get here, but the ending will leave you anxious for the next in the series.


  1. Great list and I'm sure many of these are on my TBR for next year because of you! I'm especially looking forward to reading the Laura DiSilverio. I can never resist classic mystery mentions!

    1. They discuss the book some in Laura's books, it's much more than a mention. You'll really enjoy it.

  2. I'll be honest that I'm not familiar with many on your list, only the Connelly, but I'll have to look for some of these, especailly since I know our library has a lot of cozies.

    It's also a good reminder for me, in the middle grade books, to get back to Percy Jackson. I enjoyed the first series, but haven't gotten into the other ones...yet.

    1. I tend to read many lesser well known authors, but I hope my reviews help change that.

      The Percy Jackson sequel series is just as good as the first series. A couple of misses, but I felt that way about Percy, too.

  3. So happy that my For Whom the Bluebell Tolls made the list!

  4. Wonderful list. Loved B is for Burglar too.

    1. I've got some serious catching up to do on that series, but I'm looking forward to it.

  5. Well, you convinced me. I've read quite a few of the mysteries, but I'm going to check out The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle, the first in the Hero's series. Thanks, Mark!

    1. There are a couple of books on that list as a direct result of your recommendations over the years, so thank you for that. Hope you enjoy the Hero's Guide books.

  6. One Y.A. series I really like is the Young Sherlock Holmes series by Andrew Lane. I just read Stone Cold. They come out first in the U.K. and we're a few books behind in the U.S., but they can be bought on Amazon or the Book Depository. Another one that seems promising is Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson. I won that on Good Reads but haven't read much in it yet. His special power is breaking things (he broke a chicken!) and his grandpa's is being late. There are also other books in the series.

    1. I read one of the Young Sherlock Holmes books, and I enjoyed it, but not enough to rush out and read more. Then again, I'm a marginal Holmes fan.

      I've listened to all four of the Alcatraz books, and they were wonderful! I hope he does finally write the fifth book some day.