YABC's Best Books of 2015

YABC's Best Books of 2015

Our mission at YABC is to connect readers with their next favorite book. All year long, our staff reviewers read early review copies of children's books, middle grade, and YA. They post reviews and recommend books for the audiences that will love those titles. In 2015, our reviewers posted over 400 reviews! I asked each staff member to compile a short list of the books that stood out to them the most in 2015, along with an explanation for why that book made their list. 

Here is YABC's Best of 2015 list: may you find your next favorite book among them!

 

STAFF MEMBER: Vi

GENRE FOCUS: Children's Books

BEST OF LIST:

 

The concept was cute as it’s true how we all think every minuscule thing a baby does is so awe-inspiring, even though anyone (like an older sibling) can do that and much more with ease. The illustrations are very adorable and comical. I can see this easily appealing to kids of all ages and my kids definitely got a kick out of it. (See more info about the book and Vi's full review HERE.)

 

The concept is cute and I like that the book also has a lesson in it for the kids. The illustrations are adorable and funny, with characters such as a bunny dressed as a ninja and a very large bear. The way it was presented was very appealing to kids and gender neutral, which is always a plus. There were a lot of laughs and giggles while reading this, both from the kids and from me.

 

I'm an avid lover of chubby things and that "kitty" is just too cute. I loved the illustrations in this book. Very colorful and appealing to the eye, adults and kids alike. The story is cute and fun, too. What kid doesn't want a pet? This book addresses that topic in an entertaining way and I really enjoyed reading this to the kids as much as they enjoyed listening.  (See more info about the book and Vi's full review HERE.)

 

STAFF MEMBER: Kayla

GENRE FOCUS: YA and Middle Grade

BEST OF LIST:

Salom’s narrative is lush and lyrical and so beautiful that even through the gritty nature of the story, the writing is still mesmerizing. Rosaura’s life is never glossed over, nor is her character. She is imperfect and flawed along with the other characters who reside in the Cake House. This is something that marks her as someone worth 336 pages of the reader’s time. (See more info about the book and Kayla's full review HERE.)

Jo Knowles seems to understand the pain of being misunderstood, the complete loneliness that comes from being in a group of friends who might not really know you. She recognizes the want to be understood and I think it's because that want doesn't ever really go away. There's this heightened need to fit in while roaming youth-filled halls, but it's just the same for everyone. I'm not sure anyone has had the same bullying experience as some of these characters, and maybe the author was never bullied like her characters, but she makes the reader feel as if she understands. (See more info about the book and Kayla's full review HERE.)
 

What begins as a comical meet and greet at a zoo, into an instantaneous crush, to an amazing friendship built on trust and understanding, is the summer that Carson Smith never imagined when he left his world behind. Bill Konigsberg brings a cast of flawed and damaged people trying to put the pieces of their lives back together without always knowing it. And he does so in a way that never feels forced, but rather, it’s filled with beautiful characterization and descriptions of life in all of its confusing, confounding, utterly amazing, truthfulness. (See more info about the book and Kayla's full review HERE.)

 

Maybe for some, this sequel is a risk that doesn't pay off. But for me, the risks that Starmer took were tactful and terrific and I can't wait to see how he ties up this complicated trilogy. We need more authors like Aaron Starmer to push the boundaries of storytelling. It may only be through words in a book that some of us learn about the possibilities of this world. These books taught me a lesson I'd forgotten; anything is possible! (See more info about the book and Kayla's full review HERE.)

 

STAFF MEMBER: Elizabeth

GENRE FOCUS: Middle Grade and YA

BEST OF LIST:

I have adored this series from the very beginning.  It features a lush and whimsical world with unforgettable characters.  While most fairy tales follow a love story from “love at first sight” to “happily ever after”, The School for Good and Evil series concerns itself much more with the friendship between Sophie and Agatha.  The girls search for their own happy endings while also discovering on which side of Good and Evil they belong.  With a magical school that reflects the whims of its owners and well known fairy tale characters peppering the plot, the series is sure to appeal to fans of all ages. (See more info about the book and Elizabeth's full review HERE.)

The Nowhere Emporium features a fantastic world of rooms within rooms, each more amazing than the last.  The writing is nothing short of magical with enchanting descriptions that paint each amazing scene.  The Emporium is filled with wonderful characters and surprises wait around every corner.  There are casualties lost during the battle, but the ending is very satisfying and we are left with a sweet and haunting close that is as magical as its opening. This novel promises that the Emporium is out there waiting and I am sure everyone who reads this book will spend the rest of their life looking for it. (See more info about the book and Elizabeth's full review HERE.)

DeStefano’s writing style is delightfully whimsical and perfect for a middle grade novel.  As a character, Pram is curious and sweet but cautious.  The first half of this novel is extremely charming, introducing us to Pram and her world.  We are also treated to a sweet, age appropriate romance budding between her and Clarence.  The second half of the novel is exciting and a little bit scary.  There are unexpected twists and a level of introspection that sets this book apart from many other middle grade novels. (See more info about the book and Elizabeth's full review HERE.)

Julie Murphy has created a cast of characters that are so real and well-developed that I often felt they could walk right off the page.  There is a sweet love story, but it in no way overthrows the plot through which we learn that everyone suffers with insecurities, no matter their shape or size.  The overwhelming message, however, is that we not allow the internal monologue of "not good enough" to hold you back from wonderful and important life experiences. (See more info about the book and Elizabeth's full review HERE.)

The Suffering takes place in Aokigahara - Japan's "Suicide Forest".  Shrouded in mystery, the forest makes for one of the scariest settings that I have ever read about.  There are terrifying ghosts, heart-pounding scenes, and a mystery which all add up to a read that you won't want to put down. (See more info about the book and Elizabeth's full review HERE.)

The Walls Around Us is easily the best mystery that I read this year, with a touch of the supernatural thrown in for good measure.  It features two big mysteries, interestingly enough, we learn the ending of both of them fairly early on and spend the rest of the novel discovering the how and why.  Through the story, we also glimpse a fascinating world of institutionalism and the impact that it can have on young people.  Of all the books published in 2015, this is the one whose ending will keep you thinking about it long past the last page. (See more info about the book and Elizabeth's full review HERE.)

 

STAFF MEMBER: Hannah

GENRE FOCUS: Children's, Middle Grade, YA

BEST OF LIST:

This book was a lighthearted romance with cross-dressing, stolen jewels, and crazy misunderstandings mixed in. The confusion and misplaced heroics made for an enjoyable story from start to finish. (See more info about the book and Hannah's full review HERE.)
 
 
This book is one of my all-time-favorite body positive books. Willowdean is a heroine that I can identify with and celebrate in every step of her journey to self-discovery. Each character brings a joyful amount of sass to the stage and it’s a delight to follow along on their journey. I couldn’t put this book down. (See more info about the book and Hannah's full review HERE.)
 
This is one of those books that stay with you long after reading. An examination of the coming of age story, following three children in varying circumstance, Tightrope Walkers is equal parts unsettling and curious. (See more info about the book and Hannah's full review HERE.)

This book was full of humor and heart. A story about celebrating diversity in all its forms while acknowledging the struggles in a respectful way. A small-town setting with lots of great characters and a moving plot, A Blind Guide to Stinkville was one of my favorites reads of 2015. (See more info about the book and Hannah's full review HERE.)
 
 
Roller Girl is one of the single best representations of growing up and learning to navigate friendships and new experiences that I’ve ever read. This graphic novel is a great way to present challenging life experiences to a wide range of readers while still providing tons of plot points. Learning that trying your best is sometimes more important than being the best was a great twist on the traditional underdog story. (See more info about the book and Hannah's full review HERE.)
 
 
This book is about women saving themselves and I can’t get enough of it. The illustrations are out-of-this-world-gorgeous, and the prose is lyrical and dark. It’s a stunning story in its entirety. (See more info about the book and Hannah's full review HERE.)
 
 
STAFF MEMBER: Karen

GENRE FOCUS: Middle Grade and YA

BEST OF LIST

World War II is a topic that still interests my students, but this book combined spies and World War II information in a fresh and exciting way. I loved that the main character was able to use knowledge of the German language to aid Britain, but it was also interesting that she wasn’t entirely sure where her loyalties should lie. (See more info about the book and Karen's full review HERE.)

What would you do if your brother was accused of being a terrorist, but you could tell from televised interviews that he was being held against his will? That’s what happens to Kamran, and the situation is even more complicated because his mother is from Iran. This was an intriguing tale of military action, and brotherly bonds that took many unexpected twists and turns! (See more info about the book and Karen's full review HERE.)

It was so exciting to see a Fear Street relaunch, especially since the author is still popular but it’s hard to find a copy of the books that aren’t in tatters. The Lost Girl showed that not only can Stine write creepy books, but he can give a great description of the 1950s as well. This is book #3; Party Games and Don’t Stay Up Late were also deliciously creepy! See more info about the book and Karen's full review HERE.)

Middle grade readers are very curious about how people who are not like them live, and the story of Alice’s move to a new town, and her struggles with vision problems, is one that is very interesting. Alice makes a new friend, gets involved with the Civil Rights history of her new community, and realizes that everyone has problems, even if the problems aren’t immediately apparent. While a lot of sad topics are covered, the book has an overall feeling of hope and of going forward that makes this story an appealing one(See more info about the book and Karen's full review HERE.)
 
 
Trenton loves tools and machinery, but in his futuristic, protected town of Cove "invention" is a dirty word, and Trenton finds plenty of exciting trouble as he pursues his passion in this great introduction to Steampunk for middle grade readers. There aren't a lot of books for readers who like machinery, and this combines gears and cogs with puzzles. (See more info about the book and Karen's full review HERE.)
 
 
It’s tough to find books about sports, especially books about soccer, so this new title from middle grade master Bowen was great to find. Not only does this story contain lots of descriptions of plays and some history of soccer, but it has great family connections and even a cookie recipe! (See more info about the book and Karen's full review HERE.)
 
 
STAFF MEMBER: Angela

GENRE FOCUS: Children's, Middle Grade and YA

BEST OF LIST:

“This book really stands out strongest among all of the kid-lit I’ve read this year. Not only are the illustrations gorgeous and fitting, but they add the perfect extra layer of comprehension. The educational value (both historic and scientific) is evident without being heavy-handed; the plot well-structured and keenly executed. It’s easy to forget this is a true historical account!” (See more info about the book and Angela's full review HERE.)

“A rootin’-tootin’ ride through the contemporary wilds of fourth and fifth grade. Mya is a flawed but loveable heroine, and the lessons she saunters away with are developmentally invaluable. This book manages to hit on universal topics like social status and bullying, while cannily challenging the labels society so readily thrusts upon us.” (See more info about the book and Angela's full review HERE.)

“A noteworthy addition to any Middle Grade shelf.  Gannon’s blend of endearing characterization and striking illustrations will appeal to young and old alike. Prepare to be transported to another era and into the active imaginings of a lonely boy, for whom adventures can only be a rightful inheritance. And come along as our young hero learns that friendship may be one of the greatest adventures of all.” (See more info about the book and Angela's full review HERE.)

“This was the most outright fun YA book I’ve read all year—a light speculative fiction treat. The heroine is savvy and sharp-witted, and her motivations wholly believable. Durango handles action scenes like a pro, offering readers a well conceived yet accessible cyber-fantasy world setting for a real-world rescue attempt. There’s even a little romance for those so inclined…” (See more info about the book and Angela's full review HERE.)

“A visually engaging and concise resource—sure to be of value to any young adult in the process of researching their future employment options. With the aid of color-coding, simple illustrations, and comprehensive descriptions, a rundown is given of 400 different professions from all manner of education and skill level. This book has the momentous potential for making the future seem a little less daunting.” (See more info about the book and Angela's full review HERE.)

 

STAFF MEMBER: Nanouk

GENRE FOCUS: YA

BEST OF LIST:

This book was released during the summer, and I never heard of the author. The blurb seemed really interesting and I loved the minimalist cover design.  I finished the book in one read and I was totally blown away by the plot twist at the end of the book. LOVE LOVE LOVED this book! (See more info about the book and Nanouk's full review HERE.)

Since Julie Kagawa is one of my FAV author ALL TIME, and I met her this year, it's no surprise this book is in my top 3. It's the final book in "The Iron Fey" series, and I just couldn't stop reading it. It was amazing, with new things added, but at the same time, the book looked back to the very first book in the series. So yeah, it was a ride. But this book really did end the series in a great way! (See more info about the book and Nanouk's full review HERE.)

     

I'd seen the cover so many times before, but never started on it because it wasn't really famous or reviewed in the Netherlands (that's where I'm from). But when I got the chance to read The White Rose, I bought The Jewel and read both books in two days. Man. SO GOOD. I mean: it's dystopian, but it seriously scared me to death. And it was so good.  And so realistic. Thumbs up Amy! I will be following you in the future! (See more info about the books and Nanouk's full reviews HERE.)

 

STAFF MEMBER: Kim

GENRE FOCUS: YA

BEST OF LIST:

PAINT MY BODY RED has gut-wrenching tragedy shown with unflinching honesty and where salvation is set behind a Wyoming backdrop.  Lots of wowza moments that addresses some sensitive topics. (See more info about the book and Kim's full review HERE.)

Loved the voice in this retelling of LES MISERABLES only told from Eponine's point of view. Bring tissues as this haunting tale is sure to touch you. I know it did for me! (See more info about the book and Kim's full review HERE.)

Bruchac shows us a post-apocalyptic world with a Native American protagonist who is strong, courageous, and very human. Love the voice of this series which is very authentic. Bruchac weaves in Native American folk lore in such a way that it's magical. (See more info about the book and Kim's full review HERE.)

I'm a huge fan of short story anthologies and this one delivers!  The Merry Sisters of Fate have complied a collection of short stories that are equally riveting, engaging, and magically.  Pure perfection! (See more info about the book and Kim's full review HERE.)

 

STAFF MEMBER: Deena

GENRE FOCUS: Children's, Middle Grade, and YA

BEST OF LIST:

There is no truer love than that of a pet. And there is no truer bond than that between a child and their pet. STAY! captures this bond between a boy and his dog in the most brilliant way. Humor, heart, and a tad bit of responsibility brings out this beautiful bond and is a pet lover must have. (See more info about the book and Deena's full review HERE.)

Not only is WHO WANTS BROCCOLI an endearing tale of a boy and a dog finding each other, but it is also a visually symbolic masterpiece. The use of color to bring together this heart-warming story of finding love and acceptance is brilliant. We all are perfect just the way we are. And no matter how different we are, we re all deserving of love. (See more info about the book and Deena's full review HERE.)

THE SANTA TRAP is absolutely hilarious and Bradley is the perfect anti-hero. Trying to outsmart and trap Santa so he gets better gifts is a plan that's doomed to failure. It's a perfectly poignant tale of how bad behavior will never reap rewards told in an amusing fashion. (See more info about the book and Deena's full review HERE.)

LILLIPUT is the perfect tale for introducing fantasy to younger readers. It's light on whimsy, but heavy on adventure. From a heroine with which all readers can relate, to true friendships, to a villain we all love to hate, readers are sure to be hooked from the first page. (See more info about the book and Deena's full review HERE.)

Believing in yourself and your friends is at the very core of THE SHRUNKEN HEAD. From a grand adventure to beautiful writing, I fell in love with this book from the first page. Readers are sure to enjoy reading how Sam, Thomas, Max, and Pippa learn to use their abilities together in order to save the only place they've known as home. (See more info about the book and Deena's full review HERE.)

Holy warp speed was this a fun book. THE NERDY DOZEN is a perfect blend of Goonies rag-tag adventure and the over-the-top stakes of a junior version of Mission Impossible. Despite the page-turning awesomeness, this book has a great moral lesson of being part of a team and how friendships can get you through anything. (See more info about the book and Deena's full review HERE.)

Disturbing and dark, KILLER WITHIN has the best YA anti-hero. Lane is beautifully flawed, and you can't help rooting for her. From the first page to the last, I could not put down this book. Even the down times had me flipping pages to find out if Lane could solve her copycat mystery and end the pointless killings. (See more info about the book and Deena's full review HERE.)

I cannot say enough about this book. As the second installment to the HALF BAD trilogy, we dive deeper into the horrid war between White and Black witches. Deeply disturbing, beautifully dark, and full of emotions of all kinds, HALF WILD keeps you on your toes as Nathan fights for his freedom and his humanity. (See more info about the book and Deena's full review HERE.)

The in-your-face voice of HOW TO WIN AT HIGH SCHOOL makes this book one of my faves. From the first page, I was hooked. It was almost like literally crawling inside the head of a deeply troubled teen boy. And I loved it. Adam Higgs is a perfect example of a misdirected teen full of flaws and a wonky moral compass. He's kind of a jerk, he's shallow, raunchy, and you can't pull your eyes away as he spirals out of control through his doomed plans for ultimate greatness. (See more info about the book and Deena's full review HERE.)

 

STAFF MEMBER: Joanne

GENRE FOCUS: Middle Grade and YA

BEST OF LIST:

     

Map Makers Triology Books 1 and 2 are the start to a great epic adventure for Middle School. The world building is incredible  allowing the reader to escape into a wondrous new, yet familiar world. The use of alliterative history and events adds to the interesting twists and turns that  never stop. (See more info about the book and Joanne's full review HERE.)

The Seventh Most Important Thing- Unique middle school novel about the hardships of growing up. Love the concept of weaving in facts about the eal life artist James Hampton's life and work. (See more info about the book and Joanne's full review HERE.)

Lunar Chronicle series. Incredible series mixing fairytales with science fiction. One of the best series of the year. Winter does not disappoint. (See more info about the book and Joanne's full review HERE.)

A timely YA novel touching upon important topics teenagers face. (See more info about the book and Joanne's full review HERE.)

Every Ugly Word leaves the reader with a lot of thinking and reflecting to do. Important for young adults to read, deals with bullying and acceptance of others. (See more info about the book and Joanne's full review HERE.)

 

STAFF MEMBER: Eden

GENRE FOCUS: Children's and YA

BEST OF LIST:

 

Joseph Kuefler's impressive debut picture book is, in one word, exceptional! With sparse, yet impeccably chosen words, BEYOND THE POND is fantastically imaginative. Opportunities for discussion and story-based activities leap from every page, making BEYOND THE POND a perfect choice for librarians and educators. (See more info about the book and Eden's full review HERE.)

The most children's nonfiction I've ever seen, THE QUEEN'S SHADOW is a wholly strange and individual take on the under-explored world of animals and vision. The characters are quirky, the dialogue is delightful and perfect for group read-alouds, and the informational content is fascinating. Highly recommended for young discoverers and fans of unique storytelling. (See more info about the book and Eden's full review HERE.)

This is the story of a wild, adventurous little girl and the world around her. The world is limitless when you have an imagination like Sadie's. With breathtaking, colorful, inspiring illustrations, THIS IS SADIE will take your mind to faraway places. 

Perfect for fans of Jon Klassen, PLEASE MR. PANDA is the story of a polite panda who would like to share his doughuts with friends. Readers will learn how to earn doughnuts by saying "Please" and "Thank you" according to the finicky Mr. Panda. 

The most well-written debut YA novel I've ever had the pleasure to experience, MOSQUITOLAND is the story of Mary "Mim" Malone's adventures across Kentucky and Ohio to find out what's happening with her mother. Mim Malone is not okay, and finding out why is an adventure all on its own. Superb writing and storytelling and wonderful characters make this one of the best books of 2015. (See more info about the book and Eden's full review HERE.)

The sequel to the incomparable WINGER, STAND-OFF tells the story of Ryan Dean West's final senior year at Pine Mountain Academy. Still not fully recovered from what happened at the end of the first story (neither am I!), Ryan Dean is struggling with all aspects of life, but especially his new roommate. With amazing dialogue, heart-wrenching storytelling, the most lovable characters, and a whole lot of laughs, STAND-OFF is one of my favorite books of the year. 

CUT BOTH WAYS has the most honest, realistic, and sad ending to a YA book I've ever read. Mesrobian's writing is so powerful that when it was over, when I turned the last page and then closed the book, I physically hurt with feeling. My chest ached with compassion for Will, and with a tainted hope for his open-ended future. I highly recommend CUT BOTH WAYS to adult and teen readers. Every library should have a copy - you need to have this book for teens who are questioning their own sexuality and decisions in life. (See more info about the book and Eden's full review HERE.)

This is the latest book in the incredible Raven Cycle series, which I just started reading this year. This series is life-changing - incredibly magical, so skillfully written, and with characters that you'll cry and laugh and ache for. THE RAVEN KING, the 4th book in the series, is my most anticipated book of 2016, and BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE was just amazing. (See more info about the book and Eden's full review HERE.)

 

STAFF MEMBER: Alison

GENRE FOCUS: Middle Grade and YA

BEST OF LIST:

Honestly, there is one quote I can say that could correctly and accurately cover all the thoughts I have on this book. And this is perhaps the most fitting. "Hello? It's Uncle Rick! Read it, read it, read it!" Anyway, it's nice to see the old characters (e.g. Annabeth Chase) from the PJO series come back. 

his is for the older YA crowd. Fans of "Beauty and the Beast" would definitely love this book, and there are hilarious moments mixed with very serious, very dangerous conflicts. Feyre is an excellent heroine, and she is tougher than nails. The stellar romance will have the cynics swooning. Plus, it's Sarah J. Maas. (See more info about the book and Alison's full review HERE.)

This is for the older YA crowd. I absolutely adore this book, and every time I read it, I realize how deep and complex the world of UPROOTED really is. It's totally amazing, and the subtleness of some characters is really amazing. Plus, I enjoy the relationship between the main character and her best friend. These two are tough heroines, who has hands in the soil and knows hardship. They endure so well, and for those looking for a little romance will be delighted by the slow and sneaky burn. (See more info about the book and Alison's full review HERE.)

 
A Fairy Tale retelling of the famous tale, "Snow White." This continues the crazy adventures of Cinder, Kai, Scarlet, Jacin, Wolf, Cress, and the Captain. There are 800 glorious pages I didn't mind reading, and even though my work suffered, I don't regret it. Not a single bit. It's excellent to watch the story progress and unfold. It's one of those stories where you, as the reader, just have to buckle up and read. (See more info about the book and Alison's full review HERE.)
 
 

STAFF MEMBER: Emily

GENRE FOCUS: YA

BEST OF LIST:

Damage Done by Amanda Panitch is a dark thriller with an obscure twist. If you like to be stumped and shocked, it’s a consuming read. I think the last time I was this disturbed and confused by a book was Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. IN THE BEST WAY! (See more info about the book and Emily's full review HERE.)

Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth is, at the center, a story about family. But it is so much more than that and I’m a better person for knowing it. Beautifully written and extraordinarily complex, this isn't a book to forget. An incredibly real and captivating novel full of adventure centered around two of my favorite characters in the book universe. This has been the book of 2015 that I have recommended to everyone I know since I read it. It’s so, so stunning. (See more info about the book and Emily's full review HERE.)

Tracked by Jenny Martin is about girl power! And racing. In outer space! It does not revolve around the romance, which I sincerely appreciated. (But having it there in the background was also appreciated!) It’s about family and loyalty and finding out what really matters in life. Staying true to yourself and fighting for what’s right.  An adrenaline fueled, character driven adventure of a novel. I can tell that this will be a series I impatiently anticipate. (See more info about the book and Emily's full review HERE.)

 

STAFF MEMBER: Samantha

GENRE FOCUS: Middle Grade and YA

BEST OF LIST:

This might be one of the most under-appreciated books of the year. The family interactions are sometimes as heartbreaking as the scenes with Lily's brother, Adam, and the dolphins are beautiful.  (See more info about the book and Samantha's full review HERE.)

 As someone who adores fairy tale retellings, this Rapunzel twist had to make my Best of 2015 list. The dialogue is both shockingly intuitive and hilariously funny, and I can't wait for the sequel. (See more info about the book and Samantha's full review HERE.)

 This book captures magical realism perfectly, along with the mixture of emotions that comes from watching a loved one act differently and be emotionally absent. Warning for tears!! (See more info about the book and Samantha's full review HERE.)

 I discovered a deep love for alternate histories this year, and it all started with A Riddle in Ruby. I stayed up reading this until my eyes wouldn't stay open anymore for the great characters, beautifully crafted world, and epic adventure. (See more info about the book and Samantha's full review HERE.)

Empire of Night left me in a book hangover for days. This action-packed sequel is hands down the book that I wanted to throw across the room the most times this year. (See more info about the book and Samantha's full review HERE.)

 Historical, romantic, adventurous, and all about girl power? Yes, please! Rook captured my heart in the first chapter, and I still think about the lovely writing months after reading. (See more info about the book and Samantha's full review HERE.)

 This is my most surprising read of the year. I hoped for a good story, but I was entirely blown away. The mechanical element is super fun, and the heroine feels like a close friend just pages into the book. (See more info about the book and Samantha's full review HERE.)

For anyone who has grown up in a small town with big scandals, this is the book for you. Though the names and places are different, I recognized so much of my own history in this beautifully absorbing novel. This also has a top notch portrayal of platonic soulmates. (See more info about the book and Samantha's full review HERE.)

 

 

STAFF MEMBER: Paige

GENRE FOCUS: YA

BEST OF LIST:

Almost half a year after reading Shadowshaper, I still remember it vividly! "Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean folklore" as a pitch utterly nails the kind of urban fantasy experience you're in for and the New York City that Older paints feels like the real city instead of a sanitized version of it. When I'm trying to explain to people the kind of diversity I want to see in characters' identities and worldbuilding at its very best, this is the novel I use as an example every single time. (See more info about the book and Paige's full review HERE.)

Reading about child pornographers and the like is hardly fun, but Maysonet's novel and its unreliable narrator Tera will make a better human being out of any reader. I love reading books that make your heart hurt, but few to no books are in the same league as A Work of Art. Even when you're rightfully angry about how Tera's father manipulated her and made her hate her own mother, you'll want to stay with Tera and watch her reclaim her art and her life. Absolutely one of the best dark contemporary novels of 2015. (See more info about the book and Paige's full review HERE.)

Are you a supporter of #WeNeedDiverseBooks and a fan of unreliable narrators? Meet Vanished's narrator Kalah, a bisexual Indian girl with OCD and an anxiety disorder. You'll be scribbling theories on the nearest scrap of paper and putting everything aside to keep reading because this is one book you won't want to put down. It's the good kind of life-ruiner. (See more info about the book and Paige's full review HERE.)

If you're scared to read Modern Monsters because it's a novel about a girl's rape told from her alleged rapist's point of view, don't be because Kelley York pulls it off so well that I couldn't not include it as one of my Best of 2015. It drops a lot of hard truths about how we treat and talk about rape, but it offers solutions as well and takes our Everyman narrator on an impressive journey toward being more than just a bystander. His slow-burn romance with the victim's best friend is far from a major focus of the novel, but it still lingers with me after reading another sixty of so novels since then. (See more info about the book and Paige's full review HERE.)

 

 

There you have it! Our staff picks for the best books we read in 2015. What books do you see on this list that you want to add to your TBR? What books would YOU nominate for your own best of 2015 list?

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What's New in YA--January 5, 2016
Diversify Your Shelves--January 4, 2016

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Celebrate the weird, wonderful, and the downright bizarre in this...
 
4.7
 
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The Next to Last Mistake
Tess Goodwin's life in rural Iowa is sheltered and uncomplicated....
 
5.0
 
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Pretty in Punxsutawney
A Groundhog Day meets Pretty in Pink mashup from author...
 
5.0
 
4.7 (1)
Emerge: The Captive: (Book 3)
A moment of distraction has cost him his freedom...
 
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5.0 (1)
Awakening of Fire (Dragon Born, #1)
Dragons are just legends from the past... Felicia’s life...
 
4.0
 
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The Penderwicks at Last
The finale you've all been waiting for: The Penderwicks...
 
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Over Raging Tides
The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by...
 
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Positively Izzy
Award-winning comics creator and author of the bestselling Invisible...
 
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Onyx and Ivory
They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate...
 
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The Dysasters
P.C. and Kristin Cast, the #1 New York Times bestselling...
 
3.7
 
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The Fontre | Best Books for Young Adults | YA Fiction New Release | Julien Jamar
Cassai is taken by Devilan, knowing she will be forced...
 
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You'd Be Mine
Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country...
 
4.0
 
4.0 (1)
99 Lies (100 Hours, #2)
Getting kidnapped over spring break was definitely memorable. But now...
 
4.3
 
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Wings of Olympus
Take flight with Pippa and her winged horse in this...
 
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"FIVE STARS for one of the most peculiar high school...
 
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Ocean Renegades! (Earth Before Us #2): Journey through the Paleozoic Era
When Ronnie’s parents go on a business trip and leave...
 
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"Victoria's R. Caine series made me long to return to high school. Seriously! Nothing like meddling gods with too much..."
 
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"When the Gods get bored they play games. What happens is yet to be seen. "
 
5.0
"You can tell this author loves what she does! Fantastic details, characters are well developed, all around a phenomenal read!..."
 
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"It’s been quite some time since I’ve read a YA series that kept my attention & had me wanting more..."
 
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"Victoria Danann has another hit series! Gods from diverse cultures strip their children (players) of their memories and withhold the..."
 
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"This is a really good story and that 1-3 are in it is great from a young person to an..."
Glamour of Midnight
 
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"Karis has been blind for as long as she can remember. However, when she sees through the smoke that stands..."
Who Are You Calling Weird?
 
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"This book is all kinds of wonderful. Actually, everything about it is pretty much spot on – starting with the..."
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1)
 
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""Forest of a Thousand Lanterns" was a slow-building and dark YA fantasy. Xifeng has been raised by her cruel aunt..."
 
5.0
"This was such a fun change from the normal Victoria books! I really felt like I was back roaming the..."
 
5.0
"I never like writing to much info in a review as I don’t want to give away things in the..."
 
5.0
"This books will keep you guessing and then trying to figure out what will happen next."
 
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"Love this series! Haven't read a YA series in a while that has grabbed my attention but this one did..."
 
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"This series is a departure into YA fantasy for this author. The Gods have devised a game using Odin and..."
 
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"R. Caine High School, book 1-3 is a great beginning to a new series. This book is aimed at YA..."
The Next to Last Mistake
 
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"'The Next to Last Mistake' by Amalie Jahn will have readers considering their own lives through a bittersweet lens as..."
Ink and Ivy
 
4.8
"Ink & Ivy is a timely story about a girl struggling to figure out what to do with the rest..."
Pretty in Punxsutawney
 
4.7
"Thank you to Blink and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy for my honest review. As..."
 
4.0
"Kass Bateman is the tough girl in school. Kass has had a rough childhood and it shows through her personality...."