My Top 10 Books of 2015!

top books copy

I’ve read 167 books this year, which isn’t quite as many as I normally read but it’s not bad considering I had major surgery in the summer and didn’t read anything at all for quite a few weeks. It was still very hard to get it down to a top ten though as I have read so many great books this year. I only started blogging at the start of September and I’ve compiled my top ten from books I’ve read over the whole year so some of these books don’t have reviews.

The first nine books in my list are in no particular order as they were all fab, and are all books that are still swirling around in my mind. There was one book that I read this year that simply had to be number one, so I have made a top pick this time around!

Here goes…

(The books that I’ve reviewed have clickable links underneath the images)

My Top 10 books of 2015

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

 

Suicide Notes for Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

I read this book before I started my blog so I haven’t reviewed it but I’ve picked it for my top ten because I read it earlier this year and I can still remember the plot vividly and still think about the characters. Of all the thrillers I’ve read this year, this one was the best because it was so twisty that I just couldn’t work out who to trust or how it might end.


 

Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart by Jane St. Anthony

Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart by Jane St. Anthony

I requested this book on Net Galley soon after signing up as the title just jumped out at me. This is a YA/MG novel but, like all the best books written for young people, it explores things in a way that while seemingly simple, have a huge impact on the reader. This is a brilliant novel exploring loss and grief but is also an uplifting read.


 

Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh

Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh

This is another novel that I read before I started my blog so I haven’t reviewed it but even though it’s months after I read it, I still keep thinking about it and even though I know how it ends it’s definitely a book that I’d like to re-read at some point. This novel has one of the best endings, it’s so unsettling, but it works brilliantly.


 

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink

This is one of the most beautiful and heart-breaking books I have read in a really long time. Cathy’s love for her brother shines off the page and I could feel her devastation at what happened to him. It’s a very moving read.


 

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

I read this novel quite recently and it’s made my top ten because I still feel unsettled by it. The story and the characters really got under my skin and I’m still thinking about the book even now. It had a similar effect on me as Du Maurier’s Rebecca; it unnerved me and yet I want to read it again and again (even though I’m generally someone who doesn’t like to be unnerved to the degree these books make me feel!).


 

The Theseus Paradox by David Videcette

The Theseus Paradox by David Videcette

I only finished this book a week or two before Christmas but it made my list because when I compared it to other contenders for my top ten, it just kept jumping out at me. It’s so different to anything I’ve read in a really long time. It made me think, it was thrilling from the first page to the last, and I really hope it becomes the first in a series!


 

Asking For It by Louise O'Neill

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

This book is a prime example of why I never compile my top books of the year list until the very last day of the year. I only read this book over the last couple of days (and at the time of compiling this post I haven’t even finished writing my review of it!) but it had such an impact that it simply had to be in my list. This is a book I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. It raises such important issues around rape, consent and the social media age we live in. It’s a book I urge everyone to read. It’s a disturbing read but a must-read all the same.


 

normal by graeme cameron

Normal by Graeme Cameron

This was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down. I have never read a book before where I was in the mind of a serial killer and yet he seemed like an okay sort of man. He appears normal except for when he’s killing people, and that messes with your head in such a clever way that this book will stay with you for such a long time after you’ve read it.


 

 

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

I was offered the chance to review this book for a blog tour and I am so glad that I said yes. I devoured this novel and absolutely adored it. It’s a mystery novel set in 1920s London and I loved everything about it. The author really captures the period so well and she has such feisty, believable characters that it was impossible to put down. It was one of only two books to be added to my favourites this year and I already can’t wait for the next in the series. I highly recommend reading this.


 

and my top book of 2015 is…

 

 

*drum roll*

 

 

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

This book is incredible! It’s a very moving exploration of grief that will make you cry but by the end you feel such a sense of solace. Hogan looks at the different ways people grieve and the ways people try to move on; this novel is one that can be read on so many different levels. It’s a book that I know I will re-read many times in the future; I got so much comfort from it and it’s one I simply had to own in print so I could have it on my favourites book shelf where I could see it. I honestly can’t recommend this novel highly enough!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My September Reads

During September I read sixteen books and think I can safely say that I’ve got my reading mojo back! I read some absolutely brilliant books this month and honestly can’t pick a favourite. Here is a list of the books I read (in the order I read them), I’ve not reviewed all of these books but will link to the ones I have.

Blog September Reads

Sophie Someone by Hayley Long

Fragile and Perfectly Cracked: A Memoir of Loss and Infertility by Sophie Wyndham

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

Abroad by Katie Crouch

A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson

Somewhere in Between by Katie Li

Chronic Pain: The Mananagement Plan by Robert Lewin

Never Too Late by Amber Portwood

Sept Reads blog#PleaseRetweet by Emily Benet

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart by Jane St. Anthony

Bulletproof by Maci Bookout

Carefully Everywhere Descending by L. B. Bedford

Bright Stars by Sophie Duffy

Breaking Away by Anna Gavalda

It’s impossible for me to pick a favourite book from this list, I was lucky enough to read so many amazing books. I think honourable mentions have to go to A Parcel for Anna Browne and Christmas at Lilac Cottage because of the wonderful, magical powers these two books have to just make your day so much brighter and sparklier! I also want to mention #PleaseRetweet because it was the first book I’ve read in a really long time that had me full on laughing out loud. And finally I have to recommend Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart because it is such a beautiful, moving look at grief and yet remains uplifting. It’s a MG/YA book but I’d recommend it to everyone, especially people who have lost a loved one.

Review: Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart by Jane St. Anthony

Isabelle Day

Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart is the story of a young teenage girl whose world has been turned upside down. Isabelle’s dad died and then her mum decided they would move to Minneapolis for a new start, so Isabelle has not only lost her dad but also her home, her friends and the only life she had ever known.

Isabelle and her mum now rent a small apartment from two old ladies who live in the apartment downstairs. Flora and Dora immediately want to look after Isabelle and her mum. They start checking in on Isabelle when she’s on her own and they bring food for her. Isabelle just wants to be left alone though, she doesn’t want people fussing over her.

Isabelle is in eighth grade and at an age where she doesn’t want to be different from her peers, she just wants to make friends and feel normal. Once she starts her new school two girls, Margaret and Grace, befriend her but Isabelle has a hard time realising that these two girls really do like her.

Isabelle is desperately trying to find a way to hold on to her dad even though he has never been a part of the life she has now, he will never see their new home or meet her new friends and she’ll never again be able to tell him anything that happens to her. Isabelle’s pain is tangible at times.

This is a coming of age novel which is also about coming to terms with loss; it’s about how when someone dies you don’t just lose them but who you were to them. The writing in this novel is so subtle and beautiful, yet the small statements of grief feel like a punch in the gut. The simplicity of the writing belies the intensity of the grief. There are moments in this novel that took my breath away. Isabelle, who is only a young teenage girl, realising that nothing in her life will ever be as hard as finding her father dead; it’s such a powerful and sobering moment in the novel. The heartbreak that Flora and Dora have also gone through in their lives is first told so subtly that you could almost have missed it but when you realise what they are not saying, it just makes your heart ache.

Yet even though this is a novel about a bereaved girl, it’s in no way a depressing, downbeat novel. Isabelle is like any other teenage girl – she gets up to mischief and has fun with her friends. It’s a coming of age novel, it’s about how life can throw the worst things at you and yet you can still find yourself laughing at funny things and being silly with your friends. Isabelle slowly begins to understand that life moves on and while she still feels sad that her dad isn’t there, she realises that there is still a lot of happiness to be found in the world and that she won’t die of a broken heart.

This is a short novel but one to take your time reading, the subtly of the writing means so much of what is being said could easily be missed. This isn’t a fast-paced, action packed book, it’s a beautiful and moving account of one girl’s struggle to find a new normal. This book is for everyone but particularly good for a middle grade reader to help them understand grief and loss. It’s written in a way that doesn’t ever overwhelm, it’s a realistic but also very comforting read. It’s such a wonderful book though that whatever age you are, I highly recommend reading it.

I rate this book 10 out of 10.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review but I’m sure I’ll be buying my own copy of this in the future as I know I’ll want to re-read Isabelle’s story.

Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart is out now and available from Amazon