January 4, 2016

Shera’s Top 10 Books of 2015

Ah, that magical time when one looks back on their reading year and reflects. Honestly I did well. Read mostly books 3 out of 5 and up. With 4 stars and 5 stars really dominating. So I can't complain.

My Most Read Author now is Nalini Singh. Which is no surprise. Ilona Andrews jumped up! Pretty sure when i catch up on the Edge series the writing duo will be dominating my Most Read Authors page.  (The one on Goodreads. It's a really nifty feature.)

***This top ten list is in no particular order and only one author’s book in a series can be picked. As usual this list is made up of books I read in 2015. The release date doesn't matter.***

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and RosesGet it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, book 1

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Despite my mixed feelings about Maas after my one book introduction, I was very excited for this book. It was one of my most anticipated books of 2015. Maas writing has a certain quality to it. And her new series definitely shows it off. Enough so that I will probably give her Throne of Glass series another try.

The world is unique, the fairies are fearsome. There's plenty of blurred lines between good and evil. Most importantly the romance  builds. Clearly a love triangle is being setup up, but with this cast of characters I couldn't care less.

Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole

Dead of WinterGet it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Paranormal/Dystopian Young Adult
Series: The Arcana Chronicles, book 3

Can Evie convince her rival loves to work together? Their survival depends on it in this third book of #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles, a nonstop action tale of rescue, redemption, and a revenge most wicked.

Heartbreaking decisions
Evie was almost seduced by the life of comfort that Death offered her—until Jack was threatened by two of the most horrific Arcana, the Lovers. She will do anything to save him, even escape Death’s uncanny prison, full of beautiful objects, material comforts…and stolen glances from a former love.

Uncertain victory
Despite leaving a part of her heart behind with Death, Evie sets out into a perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland to meet up with her allies and launch an attack on the Lovers. Such formidable enemies require a battle plan, and the only way to kill them may mean Evie, Jack, and Death allying. Evie doesn’t know what will prove more impossible: surviving slavers, plague, Bagmen and other Arcana—or convincing Jack and Death to work together.

Two heroes returned
There’s a thin line between love and hate, and Evie just doesn’t know where she stands with either Jack or Death. Will this unlikely trio be able to defeat The Lovers without killing one another first...?

Ah, another book off my Top 10 Anticipated Book of 2015. To be honest I gave the second book a higher rating, and I did read it in 2015. But this one takes the cake with one heck of a cliffhanger. If Cole really doesn't flip-flop on the plot twist, I'm going to be one happy (gruesome) reader.

Bravo for well executed cliffhanger. Damn you woman.

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

hunting groundGet it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Alpha & Omega, book 2

Anna Latham didn’t know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son — and enforcer — of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn’t know how dangerous it could be either...

Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran’s controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan — and it seems like someone else might be too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all — or risk losing everything...

I read a lot of Briggs and the reason Mercy didn't make this cut is beacuse I count spin-offs as part of a series. Especially since Alpha & Omega is an inbetween Mercy Thompson release. Why this one made the list? Because it brough back the magic of the short that kicked of the series. Cry Wolf didn't quite do it for me. Hunting Ground brought back my interest in both of the characters.

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Magic BreaksGet it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels, book 7

No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

Ah, who knew when I was just mildly entertained by book 1 and 2, that the Kate Daniels books would become one of my favorites. But it has and each new book is such a treat! I love how the world and characters keep developing.

The best part is that Roland and Hugh are very interesting bad guys. That's the real icing on the cake.

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

Sweep in PeaceGet it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Inkeeper Chronicles, book 2

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina's door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn...and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it's all in the day's work for an Innkeeper…

Yep. Ilona Andrews made the list again! However, this is a different series. And actually my favorite one from Andrews. It's a perfect blend of urban fantasy and science fiction. All of the great parts I love about Andrews' writing as well.

Especially since Sweep in Peace somehow manages to bring intergalactic politics to the Inn! Brilliant.

Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep

Tangled ThreadsGet it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Elemental Assassins, book 4

I’d rather face a dozen lethal assassins any night than deal with something as tricky, convoluted, and fragile as my feelings.

But here I am. Gin Blanco, the semi-retired assassin known as the Spider. Hovering outside sexy businessman Owen Grayson’s front door like a nervous teenage girl. One thing I like about Owen: he doesn’t shy away from my past—or my present. And right now I have a bull’s-eye on my forehead.

Cold-blooded Fire elemental Mab Monroe has hired one of the smartest assassins in the business to trap me. Elektra LaFleur is skilled and efficient, with deadly electrical elemental magic as potent as my own Ice and Stone powers. Which means there’s a fifty-fifty chance one of us won’t survive this battle. I intend to kill LaFleur—or die trying—because Mab wants the assassin to take out my baby sister, Detective Bria Coolidge, too.

The only problem is, Bria has no idea I’m her long-lost sibling . . . or that I’m the murderer she’s been chasing through Ashland for weeks. And what Bria doesn’t know just might get us both dead. . . .

People thought I was crazy waiting for so long just so there would be a lot of books out in this series. Not me, because I've enjoyed reading them at my leisure with out having to feel down about waiting for the next book. This is where I left off last year, and I have to say that each new book I read in the series gets better and better!

So yeah. I'm happy with how long I waited before reading past book one.

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

The Girl in the Clockwork CollarGet it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Young Adult Steampunk
Series: Steampunk Chronicles, book 2

In New York City, 1897, life has never been more thrilling-or dangerous Finley Jayne and her "straynge band of mysfits" have journeyed from London to America to rescue their friend Jasper from the clutches of a devious criminal demanding a trade-the dangerous device Jasper stole from him... for the life of the girl Jasper loves.

One false move from Jasper, and the strange clockwork collar around Mei's neck tightens and tightens. From the rough streets of lower Manhattan to elegant Fifth Avenue, the motley crew of teens follows Jasper's elusive trail. And they're about to discover how far they'll go for friendship.

More than ever, Finley must rely on powerful English duke Griffin King to balance her dark magic with her good side. Yet Griffin is at war with himself over his secret attraction to Finley... and will risk his life and reputation to save her.

Now, to help those she's come to care for so deeply, Finley must infiltrate the criminal gang. Only problem is, she might like the dark side a little too much...

Steampunk has been a really fun genre for me. When it's good, it's sooooooo good. But when it's bad . . . it's really bad. Jay Kristoff was the last good Steampunk I had read. So in 2015 I needed something to restore my faith!

This was that something, while many liked the first book in the Steampunk Chronicles more. I thought the Girl in the Clockwork Collar was the best yet! The world is wacky, the characters are cool. It was just the type of thing to restore my faith in Steampunk.

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane

Unholy GhostsGet it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Downside Ghosts, book 1


The world is not the way it was. The dead have risen, and the living are under attack. The powerful Church of Real Truth, in charge since the government fell, has sworn to reimburse citizens being harassed by the deceased. Enter Chess Putnam, a fully tattooed witch and freewheeling ghost hunter. She’s got a real talent for banishing the wicked dead. But Chess is keeping a dark secret: She owes a lot of money to a murderous drug lord named Bump, who wants immediate payback in the form of a dangerous job that involves black magic, human sacrifice, a nefarious demonic creature, and enough wicked energy to wipe out a city of souls. Toss in lust for a rival gang leader and a dangerous attraction to Bump’s ruthless enforcer, and Chess begins to wonder if the rush is really worth it. Hell, yeah.

This was a series I had heard so much about. It promised grit and blurred lines. Which is exactly—thankfully—what it delivered. Thank you Stacia Kane. Thank you.

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

Vision in SilverGet it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Others, book 3

The Others freed the  cassandra sangue  to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…

This has become an I-can't-wait-freaking-sold-my-soul-to-the-author kind of read for me. It's one of the most unique Urban Fantasy series out there. It's a different world, paranormal, and dynamics where humans are on the bottom. Not to mention that they're not who dun it types of reads. The story flows more like a High Fantasy. Which is the perfect kind of blend.

Trust me UF fans, you need to be reading this series.

Winter by Marissa Meyer

WinterGet it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, book 4

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Yes, I still have huge issues with the world building—lack of—with this series. However, Winter has been the first series ender I've read in YEARS that gave me this kind of satisfaction. Sheer awesomeness. This is why young adult titles need to be around 800 pages.

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