My Favorite Books of 2015

I know, I know. This post probably should have gone up sometime in December, but since I didn’t return to blogging until last week, I’m technically ‘on time.’ (not really, but that’s what I’m telling myself to keep from feeling bad, ha-ha).

Here are my TOP picks from 2015, along with each book’s blurb and cover from Goodreads, and my personal star rating.

Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Psst…Me Before You, the movie, is set to release on March 4, 2016. I highly recommend reading the book prior to seeing the movie.

 

After You by Jojo MoyesAfter You

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

After You is quintessential Jojo Moyes—a novel that will make you laugh, cry, and rejoice at being back in the world she creates. Here she does what few novelists can do—revisits beloved characters and takes them to places neither they nor we ever expected.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

The DrafterThe Drafter (The Peri Reed Chronicles #1) by Kim Harrison

Detroit 2030. Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run.

Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote.

When Peri discovers her name on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. She joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her final task, unable to trust even herself.

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

*Psst (again)… I received this as an ARC at RT 2015, so let me just say that having to wait over a year for book #2 is KILLING ME.

 

My Fight/Your Fight by Ronda RouseyMy Fight Your Fight

In this inspiring and moving book, Ronda Rousey, the Olympic medalist in judo, reigning UFC women’s bantamweight champion, and Hollywood star charts her difficult path to glory.

Marked by her signature charm, barbed wit, and undeniable power, Rousey’s account of the toughest fights of her life—in and outside the Octagon—reveals the painful loss of her father when she was eight years old, the intensity of her judo training, her battles with love, her meteoric rise to fame, the secret behind her undefeated UFC record, and what it takes to become the toughest woman on Earth. Rousey shares hard-won lessons on how to be the best at what you do, including how to find fulfillment in the sacrifices, how to turn limitations into opportunities, and how to be the best on your worst day.

Packed with raw emotion, drama, and wisdom this is an unforgettable book by one of the most remarkable women in the world.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth GilbertBig Magic

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Psst (last time)… THIS BOOK CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR ME. From my thought process to how I view my writing time and creativity, to the habits I need to build in order to ensure my creativity can flourish, and last but not least, how I should just give zero fucks about what other people think about me and my creativity (well, except for those ever important critique partners, lol).

If I push any of these books at you to read ASAP, it’s BIG MAGIC. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Big Magic Quote 1Big Magic Quote 2Big Magic Quote 3

Alrighty, your turn! What are some of your favorite books from 2015? PLEASE recommend some to me. I’ve upped my reading goal from 20 to 25, so I’ve got some work to do. 😉

Tune-In Tuesday: Magic by Coldplay

Today’s song was chosen because it’s on the soundtrack to the new WIP I’m working on… Where the sexy hero is from a magical realm of The Seven Kingdoms.

I can’t tell you how many times I listened to this song while writing the inciting incident and first plot point. I just love it that much. 🙂

Enjoy!

 

Tune-In Tuesday: Follow Me by Muse

Yes, I’ve been absent for quite a while. But I have a really great excuse. And I’m returning with music. 😉

I won MCRW’s Melody of Love Contest in the Paranormal category, and with that win I received a FULL manuscript request from an editor. SQUEE! So now I’m on an oh so damn tight deadline. So I’ll most likely continue to be in and out online for another few weeks.

So…now for the song of the week. 🙂

Enjoy!

 

 

Tune-In Tuesday: Unconditionally

Happy Tuesday!

The American Music Awards were this past Sunday night, and Katy Perry had the honor of opening the show with her new single, Unconditionally. The set, the dancers, the lyrics, her voice … all of it was fantastically top notch.

LOVE Kady, and every time I see her perform, she gives me hope and leaves me looking forward to what she’ll do next. And this video? Amazing. 😉

Enjoy!

 

 

Tune-In Tuesday: Demons by Imagine Dragons

Welcome back to Tune-In Tuesday!

I’m just now realizing how long it’s been since I’ve posted. *head desk* When the muse hits and demands you edit, edit, edit one project and write, write, write another project, you listen. And sometimes when we listen and obey we get so caught up in that work that everything else falls through the cracks. Agree?

Cool. Now onto today’s music. 😉

I’ve been loving on the band Imagine Dragons lately. As in, I’m listening to their album both on the way to work, and on the way home. And maybe a little in between around the office when it’s quiet. 🙂

So for today I’ve picked their song Demons. The moment I heard this song, I instantly thought of the hero and heroine in my novel, Retribution.

Hope you enjoy!

 

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

Tune-In Tuesday: Peace of Mind

We’re taking it back this week on Tune-In Tuesday to an old favorite by Boston: Peace of Mind.

The good thing about writing playlists is you can have such a variety of music–from Boston to Thirty Seconds to Mars, from The Beatles to Muse, from Madonna to Evanescence. I, for one, really enjoy the good vibes and inability to sit still when bands such as Boston, AC/DC, and Foreigner come on the radio.

Enjoy!

What about you? Are there any old tunes that you just have to have in your writing playlist? What are some of your favorite bands from “back in the day”?

Tine-In Tuesday: The 2nd Law–Isolated System

Welcome back to another installment of Tune-In Tuesday!

This week, we’re visited the world of my current work-in-progress, RETRIBUTION, with a song from Muse called “Isolated System”.

For those of us who’ve seen the movie World War Z, this song is going to sound eerily familiar. This song is not only the opening music for the zombie-flick, but it played throughout the film, mostly during transitional scenes.

Enjoy

 

 

Tune-In Tuesday: Hail to the King

Welcome to a new installment of Tune-In Tuesday!

This week’s song is the title track to the new album from Avenged Sevenfold (A7X)–“Hail to the King”. When I first heard this tune, I automatically thought about J.R. Ward’s BDB series. I mean, come on, the next book due out in this series is, “The King”.

BUT…

I then thought about my current WIP–you know, the one I’m sloooowly revising and editing but will have completely polished and ready for submission by December 1st? Yes, RETRIBUTION. When that story came to mind, I listened to this tune again … and again … and again, and this song gave me such fantastic inspiration that when I arrived home, I locked myself in my writing cave and began writing his scene. A scene where we first get to see him behind the mask he shows everyone else. A scene where my skin crawled and I had to take a break because I couldn’t keep myself inside his head for too long.

For me, that’s not only a fantastic antagonist to write, but “Hail to the King” is a fantastic song for writing inspiration. 🙂

Enjoy!