My Year in Review: Part 1 – The Books

Hello, my lovelies!  It’s that time of year where we look back and reflect on everything that happened this year.  I thought I would break mine down into two posts – the books and my personal life.

But I don’t want to make this post like the 20,000+ Year in Review posts you’ll see on everyone else’s blog.  No, I’m going to do it my way.  I’m adding a Disney flair to mine!  I’ll match up some of my favorite books of the year to something Disney related.  Enjoy!

The Vanellope Award for Sweetest ReadEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

13132816This award goes to the book that was just adorable from the start and left me feeling good the whole time I was reading it.  And if Emmy & Oliver isn’t that book, I don’t know what is.  Oliver, after having been missing for 10 years, isn’t the Oliver Emmy remembers, but she’s still so optimistic that her old best friend is still there.  And she’s willing to wait for him to come back to her.  It’s simply adorable.

The Dory Award for Most Unforgettable ReadMade You Up by Francesca Zappia

91kwlrwzmhlThis is a debut novel that deserved to win that Goodreads Award I kept voting for.  It’s such a well-written story.  The plot seems simple (Alex suffers from schizophrenia and one day meets someone she thought she made up.  Real or not real?), but the writing is crafted so well that there are so many surprise twists I never saw coming.  One was so good that if I were standing when I read it, I’m pretty sure I would have fallen over.  READ THIS.

The Pocahontas Award for Best Diversity ReadWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

written-in-the-stars-aisha-saeedI’ve been big this year on trying to find diverse reads because they’re so interesting.  I’ve really been fascinated with stories about the Middle East, and this was the first one that really got to me.  Naila’s story is sad and gritty and definitely not for your little sister.  It’s dark.  It’s horrifying.  But it’s also scary real, as the author is quick to point out in her author’s note.  Still, it’s so worth the read.

The Cinderella Award for Most Surprising EndingIgnite Me (Shatter Me, #3) by Tahereh Mafi

ignitemefullFor whatever stupid reason, I put off reading this book for a while.  And when I finally got around to it, I was Blown Away.  I so did not expect, even in the slightest, the way this story would go.  It was kind of epic, and definitely different in the world of trilogies that have started becoming formulaic.  If you, like I was, are waiting for the perfect time to finish this series, the time is now.  ….Now.

The Gaston Award for Best Looks, But Most ShallowThe Elite (The Selection, #2) by Keira Cass

the-eliteThis series was hard for me to get through anyway, but this one was by far the most difficult.  I only even continued the series because you guys told me the next book was better.  I truly did want to like this book, with its gorgeous ball gowns and interesting premise, but I could not get past America’s selfishness and indecisive behavior.  Definitely a Gaston here.

The Merida Award for Bravest Hero/Heroine – Day in Champion (Legend, #3) by Marie Lu

champion_563x850I think it’s easy to say, hands down, that Day wins this.  I mean, holy crap on a cracker, the stuff he does in this book?  Even an Avenger would have a hard time saying they were braver than Day.  I gained a new serious respect for both Day and June after this book.  They went in a new direction that a lot of YA trilogies wouldn’t probably touch.

The Peter Pan Award for Best FantasyUnder the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1) by Veronica Rossi

unshiresI ate up this whole trilogy this year, so I just listed the first book here.  This series had basically everything I ever want in a book, let alone a fantasy: great characters, super evil baddies who actually think they’re doing the right thing, two very different worlds that crash together in a crisis, etc.  It was fun.  And Perry and Aria are simply great heroes for the story.

The Prince Eric Award for Best Adventure BookBlack Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

portada-revelada-black-ice-becca-fitzpatrick-l-dnvys0I know, I know, it’s not really an adventure story technically.  But there are people lost on a mountain in the middle of a massive snow storm!  That’s an adventure…right?  Right.  Filled with suspense and mystery, this book is hard to put down.  This is the book I keep recommending to people who love adult mystery/suspense books because it will totally keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Great Mouse Detective Award for Best MysteryA Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

23272028It’s possible you haven’t heard of this book because it’s not out yet.  (Official release is March 1, 2016.)  I got this as an ARC and it’s hands down the hardest-to-solve mystery I’ve read in a long time.  A modern retelling of the famous Sherlock Holmes stories with a twist, it’s definitely the same kind of thing you expect out of Arthur Conan Doyle or the Sherlock TV series.  Trust me, it’s that good.  Put this on your to-read list.

The Aladdin Award for Most Hopeful StoryThings We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

thingsweknowbyheartThis is the kind of story that is actually a feel-good story that just makes you happy in the end, even though it actually doesn’t look like one from the premise.  It deals a lot with grief and trying to move on after the death of a loved one, which may not seem very hopeful on the outside, but it gets there.  This is truly an awesome book.  I read it in basically one sitting.  Jessi Kirby is a master.

The Jasmine Award for Most Rebellious Heroine – Davy in Uninvited (Uninvited, #1) by Sophie Jordan

uninvitedDavy actually starts out as a reluctant heroine in all of this.  And true, she isn’t exactly Katniss in all of this, leading a revolution against the Capital, but she’s getting there.  I can see pieces of it already.  This whole series has to do with free will (or the lack thereof) and Davy is gearing up for a fight.  I’m so excited to see where the second book in this duology goes next year!

The Toy Story 3 Award for TearjerkerSaint Anything by Sarah Dessen

71gc13jc13lI can’t actually say for sure that I actually cried through this book, but then again, I didn’t cry through Toy Story 3 either.  This book will definitely pull at your heartstrings, at the very least.  It’s cute and real and a lot of adorableness.  Obviously, though, if it’s a tearjerker, it does have its dark moments.  But they are the kind of dark moments that we can all relate to/sympathize with.

The Buzz and Woody Award for Best Best-Friends Relationship – Reagan and Lilah, Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

openroadsummer_hires_covernoquoteThese two girls are like, the best that friendship can offer.  They know each other incredibly well, to the point where they basically know what the other is thinking.  And even though they are far from being the same person (which would make things boring, you have to admit), they are perfect complements of each other.  It’s really awesome.  And this story is just as much about their friendship as it is about anything else.

The Lion King Award for Best Retelling of a Famous StoryA Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1) by Sarah J. Maas

a-court-of-thorns-and-rosesEven though this isn’t officially a retelling (not in the same way that Splintered or Alice in Zombieland are clear retellings of Alice in Wonderland), it’s totally a twisted retelling of my all-time favorite fairytale, Beauty and the Beast.  And when am I not going to like that?  But it’s full of rich characters, delightful settings, and a totally gutsy plot.  As if that wasn’t enough of an endorsement, this book also was a Goodreads Choice Award nominee for Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction this year.

The Princess and the Frog Award for Best Magical ReadPrincess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

84c057cb67f07d3e4c808fee256b826cAh, another fairytale retelling!  How I love these.  And Stacey Jay is quickly rising in my ranks for awesome retellings.  This is a mash-up retelling that isn’t officially any fairytale, but has pieces of many.  It’s lovely.  The characters are awesome and hilarious.  If you like Mulan, Sleeping Beauty, and books with ogres and other mythical creatures, this is so up your alley.

The Rapunzel & Flynn Award for Best Love StoryShadows in the Silence (Angelfire, #3) by Courtney Moulton

9780062002396I was speechless upon finishing this series.  The love between Will and Ellie is just…it’s epic.  It’s the kind of love story that I aspire to having, but maybe without all the sword-fighting and, you know, death.  That I could do without, personally.  But this is the kind of series that doesn’t lose its sparkle with each reread.  I’ve done it.  They’re just as awesome every time.

The Mother Gothel Award for Best Villian – Queen Red, Ensnared (Splintered, #3) by A.G. Howard

ubb-ensnaredbyaghowardI’m basing this on all the books, really, not just this one.  But in all of book history, there have been few that have drawn me in more than the Queen of Hearts and her constant “Off with her head!”  Queen Red is just an extension/twist on that.  She’s insane (as everyone in Wonderland is), but she’s clever.  And that makes her incredibly dangerous.  It’s hard to outsmart those villains, when they are so unpredictable.

The Emperor’s New Groove Award for HumorMe and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

me-earl-the-dying-girl-jesse-andrewsThis was so hard for me to nominate because I didn’t actually like this book much for its plot.  But the humor in it was funny.  Greg and Earl are you typical teenage idiot who had no social skills and tend to blurt out whatever comes to mind.  Couple that with Earl’s disgusting habit of eating the nastiest thing he can find and you’ve got yourself something that’s actually pretty hilarious.

The Mushu Award for Best Sidekick – Kat, A Mad Zombie Party (White Rabbit Chronicles, #4) by Gena Showalter

24893241As soon as I came up with this award, I instantly knew I wanted this one to go to this series, even though I didn’t actually know who to give it to.  I decided on Kat over Frosty (though it killed me to do it) because Kat is the complete best friend/comic relief/moral support package.  And she has made it my life mission to make “That is so cake” a thing.  Therefore, Kat beat Frosty, even if Frosty’s moody temperament and amazing weaponry skills are kind of hot.

The Hercules Award for Best Historical FictionA Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier

adeathstruckyearDo you know hard this was to pick when I’ve read so many great historical fictions this year?  I decided on this because of how it has a little of everything: death (obviously), finding your own path, making new friends, finding hope in strange places, discovering love, and more.  It’s gritty and sometimes crosses the line into the gory and disgusting, but it’s real.  And it’s about the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918, a time that is generally overshadowed by World War I.  I loved it.

The Frozen Award for Best Family DramaWhere the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

wherethestarsstillshinecoverroseNothing creates more drama than a mother kidnapping her daughter, keeping her from her father for years, and then Mommy Dearest getting arrested and her daughter going to live with a father she doesn’t remember.  This is the kind of plot that just begs me to read it.  And it’s really well-done.  The characters are all relatable, even when you don’t necessarily want to like them.  You understand them.  And in a drama, that’s a necessity or it comes off as awkward and false.

The Snow White Award for Best ClassicA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

a-christmas-carolYou’d think for how much I love Christmas, I would have read this by now.  But no, not until this December.  It’s exactly the story you’ve seen in every movie retelling of it.  I wasn’t sure how similar it was going to be to the movies, but they’re all pretty much the same.  And I liked that, truly.  It brought back the magic of the story that I’ve come to expect in the movies but without having to decide which version to watch.  …As a lover of books, I can’t believe I just said that.

And finally…

The Belle Award for The Book Lover’s FavoriteThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

22840182This is the kind of book where you just want to sit down with a highlighter and a pad with a pencil and just take notes.  There’s a theme that runs all the way through the story, showing up in so many different and unexpected places.  It’s magic how well it all worked out.  I think that anyone who is quiet and introverted can easily relate to Elyse and how people react to her.

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