It’s awards season. The literary world is still talking about the Caldecott and particularly this year’s surprising Newbery winner. I don’t have the clout of ALA, but I still want to highlight the books I’ve read this year that I think are the best. This list includes a few rereads and not all of these were published this year. I decided that any book that I’d read this year that had earned five stars from me, ought to be highlighted, because I love to spread the word about books that merit five stars. Of the 111 books that I’ve read and rated this year, though, only 27 of these were meant for an audience older than 8, so this list is a bit picture book heavy, and a bit light in the other categories (though well done, middle-grade authors).
This list refers only to the 103 books that I read and rated this year. There are another 8 that I read but never reviewed, and many of those probably ought to be rated five-stars, but they’ll have to wait to make this list till I write a proper review and sort out my feelings about them.
TODDLERS-KIDS (AGES 0-8)
Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups by Tadgh Bentley.
Little Elliot, Big Family by Mike Curato.
Waddle! Waddle! by James Proimos.
Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown.
Part-Time Princess by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Cambria Evans.
Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt.
An Elephant and Piggie Book: Waiting Is Not Easy! by Mo Willems.
An Elephant and Piggie Book: We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems.
MIDDLE GRADE-YOUNG READERS (AGES 8-12)
Pirate Queens: Notorious Women of the Sea by John Green (no, not that John Green). A coloring book, but with historical and biographical text intended for this age.
The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson and illustrated by Sue Porter.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3: The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan.
Fairyland, Book 1: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente and illustrated by Ana Juan.
TEENS (AGES 13-19)
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith.
ADULTS (AGE 20+)
*Five adult books from three authors came near five stars: Sharon Shinn’s The Twelve Houses, Book 1: Mystic and Rider and Book 3: Dark Moon Defender; Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2: The Wise Man’s Fear and the novella set in the same world, The Slow Regard for Silent Things, and George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5: A Dance with Dragons. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite among the five to name the best of the best of 2015. I think it would come down to a combat between The Wise Man’s Fear and Dark Moon Defender, both rereads (only Martin’s and Rothfuss’ novella were new books to me in 2015). Dark Moon Defender has on its side nostalgia. Both cover vast swaths of genre. Both display excellent world building. Rothfuss’ novel’s scope is larger, but Dark Moon Defender is tighter. Neither is my favorite of their respective series. I think if I had to choose only one to read again I’d read Rothfuss’ (for a third time), so I’ll give the title to Rothfuss this year.