HELLO. And welcome to what Sana gently forced me to call How Much Emotional Damage Can I Do In One Survey. (Some of you might recall the Dead Gansey, Gansey Dead incident from last year. I would apologise but that would be even faker than the statement that Korra is not, in fact, the greatest avatar of all time.) This undertaking is better known as Jamie‘s Annual End of Year Survey, which I’m putting up in such a timely fashion. In my defence, according to the Romans the new year didn’t start until March, a factoid I’m invoking here because it’s convenient to my argument.
Personally, I think I’ve gone rather light on the whole thing this year, except for the word count (who is surprised, really), so I’m splitting this survey into two. Let’s go.
2015 READING STATS
Number of Books Read: 115 (officially the least I’ve read in the past three years but it’s been a busy year with a lot of slumps.)
Number of Re-reads: 14! I reread all the Marchetta, the entire Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins (school project, believe it or not), and kept on with my project of rereading firsts in a series and then binging all the sequels. This year I did that for Bass Ackwards and Belly Up by Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft, The Circle (Engelsfors #1) by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg, and The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot. My only regret is that I didn’t find/make the time to reread The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty.
Genre You Read the Most From: YA contemporary, which isn’t even remotely surprising considering how busy I’ve been the last year and a half. I tend to gravitate to YA contemporaries when I need to destress.
BEST IN BOOKS
1. Best Book You Read in 2015?
I could break this down by genre, but for once I’ll edit myself a little. (It won’t last.) So I’m going to go with the three books that gave me book hangovers for days and left me wanting more WHEN THERE WASN’T ANY (yet): I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios, The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson, and Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler.
2. Book You Weren’t Excited About and Thought You Were Going to Love More But Didn’t?
Unfortunately, these are almost all 2015 releases that I was looking forward to a lot. The most notable of them is The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey, which wasn’t bad at all, but it was my number one anticipated 2015 release (and the one I listed in my survey last year) and I expected so much more from it. (Review is forthcoming? I’m not sure. Check back in six months and it might have appeared on the blog.) That being said, I’m going to try and reread it this year in preparation of The Shadow Hour, which I’m still 100% reading.
Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas is in a similar boat, which makes me very sad. I enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh a lot in the beginning, but then got less invested the further I went along. Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge was decent but also pissed me off here and there. The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West and The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick were meh messes and made me doubt whether I’ll pick up anything by these authors in the future.
And then just the plain terrible: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I’m still not over the betrayal and refuse to read the sequel out of pure spite. (Though feel free to spoil me so I can have a good laugh.)
3. Most Surprising Book (in a Good Way or a Bad Way) You Read?
Let’s take the positive route here, especially after that last question. I’ll admit that The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler was 99% a cover buy for me but oh my god. Rarely have I read an author (aside from the queen of comedy-tragedy Melina Marchetta herself) who’s so good at making you burst out laughing one moment and trying to keep the book as far away as possible from your face so that you can save the pages from tear stains the next. Hard recommendation for everyone to pick this one up, if you haven’t yet.
4. Book You “Pushed” the Most People to Read (and They Did)?
HA. There was no “pushing” about it. I wasn’t even remotely subtle with the pressure in getting my faves to read my fave. Judith went super hard and read all the Marchetta, and is already in the process of rereading them, which is one of the many reasons why I love her so much. I would like to apologise for that Sunday in particular, but I really couldn’t find my phone. Ellice read Jellicoe Road and liveblogged it to both of us, which was honestly a top 5 moment of 2015. Angie, Sana, and Gillian lost their shit over The Lumatere Chronicles, as you’re supposed to. My personal favourite, though, is the people (Sana, Celine, Natalie, Judith) I got to break down over Saving Francesca/The Piper’s Son/page four in particular. I’m in no way claiming I was the only one responsible for acquainting them with the Marchetta pit, but I’d like to think I played somewhat of a role in it. You’re welcome, btw.
HOWEVER the books I want most people to read are the Engelsfors trilogy by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg, which is a YA series that’s hugely under the radar, but if you’re into queer girl gangs, magical shenanigans, and my opinion on things, this one is a must.
5. Best Series You Started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
Best series started: Radleigh University by Dahlia Adler because A+ female friendships and a heroine whose first reaction in half the scenarios she encounters is some variation on “what the fuck”, which is very relatable. The Young Elites by Marie Lu because Adelina Amouteru is the embodiment of your fave could never and also because this series restored my faith in Lu’s writing. I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You (Gallagher Girls #1) by Ally Carter because imagine the Age gang going to an all-girl spy school and you’ll get why I almost peed my pants reading it. (That’s a lie. I don’t wear pants.)
Best sequel: Fire by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg because my OTP reduced me to a shell of a human being and goddammit I will work in this series in as many of my answers as I can. Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews, which was some old school Kate Daniels goodness and was, frankly, TRAUMATISING towards the middle. (You know what you did.) Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan because tragedy prince Jared Lynburn and beautiful, precious Holly Prescott were at their messiest and most self-destructive. I think SRB might have actually dethroned me in the satan’s mistress department.
Best ender: Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta, which I appreciated so much more on the reread and deserves to be mentioned always, even though I should probably start getting more original in my answers. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson because Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza is my sunshine and also AWKWARD AND RIDICULOUS.
6. Favourite Author You’ve Discovered in 2015?
Quite a few. I will list them for you on a happiness-to-despair scale: Robin Benway, Becky Albertalli, Dahlia Adler, Ally Carter, Sarah Ockler, Kelley Armstrong, Shirley Marr, Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg, Heather Demetrios, Sarah Rees Brennan, actual death, Madeline Miller.
7. Best Book From a Genre You Don’t Typically Read/Was Out of Your Comfort Zone?
I don’t really have a comfort zone when it comes to genres, but it takes a lot before I’m even tempted to pick up a book with a vampire and/or zombie in it. Judith made me read Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead for the coblogger challenge, which was an excellent call. Meg sent me The Awesome by Eva Darrows for my birthday, which was the perfect gift. I also don’t think I’d have picked up Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett if it weren’t for Meg, and let me tell you, I enjoyed it a lot. Oh, and I read a bunch of Avatar: the Last Airbender comics, which isn’t my usual read but I HAD TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO AZULA and also these comics are a perfect continuation of the TV series. Case in point: Zutara is still the most “””not-canon””” canon.
8. Most Action-Packed/Thrilling/Unputdownable Book of the Year?
Coming out of left field a bit with this one, because it’s probably one of the last books you’d expect when hearing “action-packed” but I could. not. put. down. Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway, nor did I want to. As a matter of fact, I wish it was AT LEAST a duology.
9. Book You Read in 2015 That You’re Most Likely to Reread Next Year?
In preparation of hopefully explosive conclusions (and this may be taken quite literally): The Young Elites and The Rose Society by Marie Lu and The Raven Boys/The Dream Thieves/Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. (Didn’t read those in 2015 but shhhh).
Because I have to: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. SOB.
Because I really want to: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios.
10. Favourite Cover of a Book You Read in 2015?
11. Most Memorable Character of 2015?
I hope you’re ready for some ladies. And Josh Mitchell (I’ll Meet You There), currently in second place on my favourite-bookish-male-characters list, just under Tom Mackee. Guess what they have in common.
Show-stealing secondaries: Holly Prescott (The Lynburn Legacy) who(se coping mechanisms) reminded me so much of myself as a teenager — Briseis (The Song of Achilles) too good too pure too beautiful — my new queen Tanith (The Girl at Midnight) the perfect Azula-Liraz mash-up — Kitty Song (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before/P.S. I Still Love You) who deserves her own series — ruthless, unforgiving Thetis (The Song of Achilles) and her sister from another author Tesadora (The Lumatere Chronicles).
12. Most Beautifully Written Book Read in 2015?
Besides the expected answer that I’m not going to repeat once again, so I’m going to go with the slightly less unoriginal one: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Hands down.
13. Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2015?
A book I still thought about long after I finished was Fury by Shirley Marr. That story was just unsettling. I also love Bitten by Kelley Armstrong for this, because she frequently slips in small truth bombs about which women society prioritises in protecting and which groups it leaves vulnerable.
14. Book You Can’t Believe You Waited Until 2015 to Finally Read?
The sequels to The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. (I WAS SCARED OKAY. AND IF THIS BOOK PROVED ANYTHING IT’S THAT I WAS FULLY RIGHT TO BE SO.) Sister Mischief by Laura Goode. The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter and the first of the trillion Women of the Otherworld books by Kelley Armstrong.
15. Favourite Passage/Quote from a Book You Read in 2015?
“Hello?” Ida says shrilly. “Are you still there?”
“Yes, yes. I’m here. But listen, we need to concentrate on the trial now,” Minoo says. “We can’t fight two enemies at the same time.” A sound in the phone, almost a sob. “Is everything all right, Ida?” Minoo asks.
“What a fucking marvellous life!” Ida says. “How I simply adore my wonderful rich life! My family, my boyfriend and all my friends have joined a demonic sect!”
– Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg, Fire
And they lived happily ever after.
– Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles
My death will not be penciled in on someone’s calendar.
– Richelle Mead, Last Sacrifice
“You see, the mailman saw your husband during one of his walks.”
“He’s my fiancé,” I told her. “We are living in sin.”
Heather blinked, momentarily knocked off her stride, but recovered. “Oh, that’s nice.”
“It’s very nice. I highly recommend it.”
– Ilona Andrews, Magic Shifts
I’m so glad Macey finally admitted she’s in love with Bex, too.
– Ally Carter, Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover
“He definitely likes her,” Kitty agrees, her mouth full. “He…he looks at you a lot, Lara Jean. When you’re not paying attention. He looks at you, to see if you’re having a good time.”
– Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
“She killed her brothers and sisters and her father?”
“Well, in all fairness, he did execute the man she wanted to marry.”
“He was trying to check her power. She was becoming too popular with the army.”
I rested my chin on my fist. “That’s a heartwarming story, Dad.”
– Ilona Andrews, Magic Shifts
Echo grinned and said, “Finders, keepers, asshole.” (<33333)
– Melissa Grey, The Girl at Midnight
“Jimmy’s coming over for dinner tonight! Yes, Tara. Of course he’s bringing Siobhan.”
– Melina Marchetta, The Piper’s Son
“He has no right to threaten my boyfriends. I’m eighteen. An Adult. I don’t need his help. I can threaten my boyfriends myself.”
– Richelle Mead, Spirit Bound
[redacted: all Lumatere quotes because my screen suddenly became blurry]
Fun game for you: find the canon quotes.
16. Shortest and Longest Book You Read in 2015?
Emma by Gill Tavner: 64 pages. This rewriting of Jane Austen’s not-so-masterpiece was part of a series I discussed in my thesis last year. And let me tell you, the original might not have been the longest book I read in 2015, but it certainly felt that way.
The Key (Engelsfors #3) by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg: 864 pages, though these are easily the easiest 850+ pages I’ve ever read, because I flew through these books.
17. Book that Shocked You the Most?
Okay, I have two and neither of them were shocking for actually horrifying reasons. The first is Sister Mischief by Laura Goode, because she really went there in those first ten pages, letting Esmé and the-boy-whose-name-I’ve-already-forgotten get caught having sex in the backseat of his car by a soccer mom, who then calls the cops on them, who then are actual disgusting pigs, who then get the used condom thrown at their heads, courtesy of Esmé.
The other one is going to look so random, but it’s the French translation of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. It’s interesting for a book titled Anna et le French Kiss to remove every single French word and sentence Perkins wrote in the original, and replace it with, what I assume, they thought was actually correct French. But yeah, I’ve noticed some grammatical mistakes in Perkins’ French and apparently the translator was having none of it.
AND MAGIC SHIFTS TBH BUT I REFUSE TO TALK ABOUT THAT.
18. OTP of the Year?
Korra and myself, though I will not fight Asami for her because I will lose. Also: Bex Baxter and Macey McHenry (Gallagher Girls). I CAN’T HELP IT ALLY CARTER REFUSES TO SEE WHAT I SEE. But FINE if we’re talking canon OTPs it’s probably: Vanessa Dahl and Linnéa Wallin (Engelsfors), Josh Mitchell and Skylar Evans (I’ll Meet You There), Kate Daniels and Curran Lennard (Magic Shifts) who officially became the worried parents of the Pack, Esmé and Rowie (Sister Mischief) I still BELIEVE, Patroclus and Achilles (The Song of Achilles) WHO HAVE THE CUTEST HEA!!!! I’m also very into Elena Michaels and Clay Danvers (Bitten), but they’re more of a retrospect OTP because it didn’t totally happen for me until Stolen, which I technically didn’t read in 2015. (Then again, what is time really?)
In the category of semi-canon OTPs (read: the series isn’t over yet so really, anything can happen): Echo and Tanith (The Girl at Midnight) and Manon and Asterin Blackbeak (Queen of Shadows). Some call it crackshipping, I call it keeping the faith.
Round of applause for my relative restraint tbh.
NVM I JUST REMEMBERED RAFFY AND SANTANGELO (Jellicoe Road) DON’T EVEN TRY TO COME INTO MY HOUSE AND TELL ME THEY’RE NOT CANON.
19. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship of the Year.
I love this question because very often I love non-romantic relationships even more than romantic OTPs. So here we go. In the OT3 corner we have the Lizzie-Cait-Frankie OT3 that ties together the Radleigh University series by Dahlia Adler, as well as the semi-romantic Achilles-Patroclus-Briseis OT3 from Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, who are honestly family goals.
Favourite siblings: Angela and Rusty from Sarah Rees Brennan’s The Lynburn Legacy. Nope, we’re not talking about it. Favourite mother-daughter duo: Christina and Josie Alibrandi from Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi. Trust me, no one will ever love anyone as much as Christina Alibrandi does her daughter. Trust. Me. Favourite besties: Skylar and Dylan from I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios.
And then for the actual squads: the Kate Daniels Pack, the Engelsfors Circle of teenage witches, the women of Lumatere (and Charyn and everything inbetween), which also counts as a bunch of semi-romantic relationships to be honest, and the group that Judith and I have dubbed the Sebastian Gang, who originated in Saving Francesca and should adopt me immediately I promise I’ll be so cool and chill about it.
20. Favourite Book You Read in 2015 from an Author You’ve Read Previously?
21. Best Book You Read in 2015 Based Solely on a Recommendation from Somebody Else/Peer Pressure?
What a weird question. I never bow to peer pressure. I totally would have read Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy and Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns series without Judith (rightfully) yelling so hard about their protagonists. I absolutely would have found Eva Darrows’ The Awesome without Meg literally getting it delivered on my doorstep. I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios? Pff, as if I needed Ellice to put that in the co-blogger challenge for it to even get on my radar of interest. And if you think it took Lisa‘s edits for me to finally take Ally Carter’s first Gallagher Girls book off the shelves — where it’d been gathering dust for almost three years — you’re preposterous.
22. Newest Fictional Crush from a Book You Read in 2015?
Jared Lynburn (Unspoken) — the only male Lynburn worth anything tbh — and Josh Mitchell (I’ll Meet You There) were also new additions to my list of fictional loves. I also feel compelled to mention Ryke Meadows from the Addicted series by Becca and Krista Ritchie because I was so into him and wouldn’t have said no to re-enacting his favourite word, buuuut that ended when I finally got to his POV, because everything just had to be so earnest and over the top. And I’m rarely about that.
23. Best 2015 Debut You Read?
!!!! I can’t believe I waited this long to mention it because None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio was so amazing that upon finishing I immediately ordered a copy for my brother and stuffed it in his hands. And not only did he love it only slightly less than me, it’s also the book that got him reading again. WINNING.
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Over the year, I’ve frequently been impressed with how well authors designed and detailled their worlds, but I’ll be honest, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than in Lumatere. After the events of Quintana of Charyn, that is.
25. Best Book that Put a Smile on Your Face/Was the Most Fun to Read?
Okay, because everyone can use a small list of books that will get them through a rough day, here’s mine based on the books I’ve read in 2015: Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway, which is a comedic masterpiece — Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler because I still instantly smile whenever I think about it — Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally because MYA MCHENRY I DARE YOU NOT TO ADORE HER I. DARE. YOU. — and I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter because of the aforementioned peeing-my-pants-even-though-I’m-not-wearing-any-wait-I-did-not-think-this-mental-picture-through-oh-well scenario.
26. Book that Made You Cry or Nearly Cry in 2015?
What a preposterous question. I never cry over books. Especially not when they’re supposed to be happy books. People who can’t handle Josh Mitchell shutting down completely during crucial moments and Skylar Evans not knowing what the fuck is going on and feeling deeply mortified as a result are WEAK. People who wail at their screen when Korra becomes a giant spirit version of herself are LOSERS. People who lose it on the train over the, frankly, plain mean kissing scenes in Untold that followed that traumatising ending to Unspoken are RIDICULOUS. People who produce eye water over Kristin Lattimer being the bravest and kindest girl in the universe are NERDS. People who cry themselves to sleep over the off-the-charts OTP levels that Linnéa Wallin and Vanessa Dahl exude just by being in the same room together are an EMBARRASSMENT. People who can’t make it through page four of The Piper’s Son without tears leaking from their eyes should not be admitted to ANY brave-the-apocalypse team because they will die and take you with them. People who fall apart over Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky very obviously suppressing their feelings for each other should GET A GRIP. People who barely evaded destroying their kindle with water damage because they made the horrible decision of reading Madeline Miller’s demonic words have ISSUES. People who tried not to make any sound while getting to THAT THING in the middle of Magic Shifts because they didn’t want Judith, Gillian, and Gaby — who were in the other room at the time — to see them in tears should be ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES.*
But just in case you’re one or more of these people: emotion is good for you and you should let it all out. Though preferably not at a moment that will lead to your family berating you the next day on account of weird sounds coming from your room waking them up in the middle of the night.
*This is not an exhaustive list.
27. Hidden Gem of the Year?
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio. I’m still so confused as to why a lot of the hype died down almost immediately after its release, though I’m not exactly helping matters here considering my “””review””” is still in draft. Anyway. I would also like to take this moment to firmly recommend people pick up Sister Mischief by Laura Goode (though it has some problematic elements) and Fury by Shirley Marr. Especially Fury. I’ve never seen someone write continuous anger at the world so viscerally.
AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT I STAND FOR PLEASE PICK UP THE CIRCLE BY SARA B. ELGREN AND MATS STRANDBERG I SWEAR ITS CONTENTS WILL BE GOOD FOR YOU YOU WILL BE CURED OF ALL ILLNESSES
28. Book that Crushed Your Soul?
I fail to see where this question differs from 26 but Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son are quite adept at it. And I don’t know if yelling NOOOOOO at your book counts as soul-crushed behaviour but that may have happened once or twice during I’ll Meet You There. Good thing none of that was even remotely a problem during Sister Mischief and The Song of Achilles! Such happy, fun books!!
29. Most Unique Book You Read in 2015?
Let’s throw this all the way back to January 2015, when I read the Bass Ackwards and Belly Up duology by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fine. These books are about four friends who are either starting college or taking a gap year to realise their dreams before they do. What I really appreciate about it is that they regularly have to modify their dream(s) because life happens, which is something I really want to see more of. (Please feel free to point me to any books that do the same. This is a standing invitation.) Personally, my heart was crushed, because there was a thing I shipped a lot and the authors decided to make that particular subplot into a lesson on how not everything in life always works out the way you hope/want to, which I’m such a fan of, but ALSO JUST GIVE ME MY SHIP GODDAMMIT.
30. Book that Made You the Most Mad?
You know what. A Court of Thorns and Roses was a fucking disgrace. Fuck those fairies. Fuck describing going down on someone as “feasting on them”. Fuck the stupid masks and them suddenly not being a problem when the whole feasting (barf) scene happens like lol yeah realism. Fuck turning people without their consent. Fuck those pages that repeatedly detailed how Rhys roofied Feyre and then touched her all over while she was high as fuck, just to show the other useless love interest that he could. And fuck that fucking slave tattoo that is front and centre on every cover in particular. (Except for the UK A Court of Mist and Fury, it seems. At least they have some sense.)
And on that note, watch me spread cheer and positivity in part II, which should go up next Monday, because I like to cut it close, apparently.