The best books I read in 2015, listed in no particular order:
Song of the Lioness
by Tamora Pierce
I read the first book in this series in an effort to acquaint myself with some 'classic' YA. I loved Alanna so much that I bought the rest of the series and read it over the next three days. The heroine was authentic and so tough she actually made me want to work out. And then there was a certain character named George who made me swoon.
The Wrath & the Dawn
by Renee Ahdieh
A lush atmosphere, a tough-as-nails yet glamorous heroine, and a love story that won me over. I can't wait to read the sequel.
Anna and the French Kiss
by Stephanie Perkins
Another effort I made this year was to read more YA that wasn't fantasy or sci-fi. I picked this because I've heard great things about Stephanie Perkins and because I love the paperback covers of her books. My favorite thing about the story was the authenticity. It felt exactly like what I imagine high school in Paris would be. The friendships, the romance, the homework, the parents, the teachers, the adult challenges of venturing outside one's comfort zone -- it all rang very true.
by Cath Crowley
A meet-cute story that takes place in the 24 hours after high school ends. It's romantic, authentic, and at times poetic. Absolutely loved it.
by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
As close to reading a movie as it gets. So exciting, fast-paced, a multi-layered story with danger, action, science, horror, romance, and a surprising amount of humor to meld it all together. I'd do pretty much anything to get my hands on the sequels right now.
by Marissa Meyer
The conclusion of the Lunar Chronicles series, and a worthy conclusion it was. It's Winter's story, but at this point it's a true ensemble cast, and the heroes from the previous books do not get left out. I think "sweeping" would be a good way to describe this one. The author has to manage so many characters and plotlines that it makes me dizzy wondering how she did it, but the conclusion is unarguably wonderful.
by Garth Nix
Another classic fantasy pic, although this book isn't actually as old as it feels. It feels old because the characters are kept at arm's length; we don't get to see too deeply into Sabriel's psyche. There's plenty else to love, though. The plot carries an impressive amount of tension and the settings and fantasy elements (a river of death?!) are enthralling.
Throne of Glass
by Sarah J. Maas
This series that just slays me with its new covers. I'm usually not one for people on covers because I think it robs the reader of the right to imagine the characters themselves, but in this case, I think they nailed Celaena. She looks like an assassin. She looks tough and scary and like she could beat most people up. It's a respectful depiction of a character who is indeed more than a pretty girl playing with danger. Sarah J. Maas's work reads like a sweeping epic fantasy, but it's devoid of sexist tropes, so much so that's it's jolting at times (in the best way possible). I can't wait to read the sequel.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns
by Rae Carson
It feels like classic fantasy but without the misogyny, which is refreshing. The heroine goes through genuine changes and you get to watch as she transforms from a kid into an adult. I know that happens in most YA books, but in this one, the growing up feel real.