2015 In Review

I am a grump who doesn’t really like the New Year holiday. It makes me unreasonably anxious. When it comes to books and music though, doing a round-up of what I enjoyed is fun and celebration enough. I’m terrible at picking favorites though so don’t really rank, but here are some things I liked this year!

Favorite Books
This was an excellent reading year for me. I’ve read the most I ever have (87 books) and generally enjoyed reading more. I was magically good at picking books I’d like and possibly a little less harsh with my criticisms. This all means I loved a lot of books. Tried to break this down into categories a bit, but.. yeah, it’s a little insane. The good news is there are lots of recs for you. (I probably won’t check this for mistakes so sorry. I am TIRED.)

Continuing Series

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  • The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
    This really kicked The Bone Season series up a notch with a lot more action.
  • The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson
    Definitely my favorite so far and my need for the next book is HIGH.
  • Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
    I put off the Throne of Glass series long enough and the latest is massively epic.
  • Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights? by Lemony Snicket
    This is a prequel series to A Series of Unfortunate Events that is so wonderful but my enjoyment is primarily fueled by nostalgia and how much I adore the Snicket humor.
  • The Rose Society by Marie Lu
    sdgsdgjsdhgjdsgg I waited so anxiously for this book and so much happened and arghhhhhhh.

New Series

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  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
    This was majorly hyped and lived up to expectations for me. Inspired by the Roman Empire? Kickass characters? Fights and games and romance? Yes, yes, and yes.
  • The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
    I didn’t expect this book to sweep me away and yet it did. Gorgeous writing and appeased my love of creative retellings.
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
    Wow wow wow! Possibly my top favorite of this year. The first I read by Bardugo and I ADORED the characters. Placing them in a heist story helped, too.
  • Lois Lane: Fall Out by Gwenda Bond
    A spin on the Superman story focusing on Lois Lane as a teenage hero is as fun as it sounds. Plus more probably.
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
    One of the most fun reads I’ve ever gotten my hands on. The creative formatting warrants you finding a copy, flipping through the pages, and seeing for yourself.

Debuts

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  • Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
    A highly stressful read that’s totally worth it.
  • Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee
    Zero. Gravity. Boxing. That is all.
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
    For when you want a punch in the gut.
  • Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
    I’m not typically one for Westerns but a first generation Chinese girl wanted for murder and a runaway slave escape West by pretending to be boys? Yes, I’m sold.  And Lee delivered.
  • None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio
    My knowledge of what being intersex meant was definitely limited before this book. I got to learn along with the main character and gain a perspective on what learning that about yourself can be like.
  • Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
    This book has drawings and instant message chats and is so sweet and consuming.
  • George by Alex Gino
    This tackles the topic of knowing you’re transgender at a young age so well and is also utterly adorable.
  • Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
    I didn’t expect to love this as much as I did, but it tugged on all my heartstrings. I cared so deeply for the main character and was grateful for a representation of mental illness that wasn’t a stereotype.

Non-Fiction

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  • M Train by Patti Smith
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith
    Sometimes famous people write memoirs despite not really being able to write. Patti Smith is not one of those people. She is a poet after all. I was captivated by both of her books. She’s a little bit of a hero.
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    Mandatory reading for all.
  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
    Roxane Gay is funny and smart and this book didn’t disappoint.
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
    Beautiful and got a zillion awards for a reason.

The Rest

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  • Serpentine by Cindy Pon
    Can’t go wrong with Chinese mythology and a strong female friendship.
  • The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
  • A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston
    Absolutely gorgeous writing and a complete reworking of an old tale.
  • All the Rage by Courtney Summers
    Lots of feelings. LOTS OF FEELINGS.
  • God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
    No one compares to Toni Morrison.
  • Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
    Finally got around to reading this series which is cute and fun. A less boring zombie-esque story with a precious romance.
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
    THIS BOOK. Mesmerizing and atmospheric and mostly indescribable.
  • Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
    The teenagers in this feel so real and it’s overall … refreshing? Let’s go with that.
  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
    Probably a favorite of Dessen’s. I got more pulled into this than some of her others.
  • Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler
    This does so much right!! And has a powerful female friendship at its core.
  • The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
    I thought this was going to be a cheesy romance but caught me off guard and ended up primarily being about one girl whose life completely changes.
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
    So adorable. Willowdean became a favorite character and the romance in this is A+.
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    I FINALLY READ THIS. I put it off forever afraid I’d hate it but I LOVED it. Bring on the tv show.
  • Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas
    Veronica Mars is my favorite show and got me to like tv again and I am completely loving these books.
  • Welcome to Night Vale by Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink
    Loved reading about characters that aren’t talked about a ton on the podcast and learning a little more about the Night Vale word.

You can also check out my Year in Books over at GoodReads. I probably forgot something important but I am done.

Top Concerts

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I beat my previous concert record of 57 in a year by one. Despite feeling like I had skipped more this year. Once again, I think I had a better year going to concerts. After years of doing this, I have a stronger idea of what I’ll actually enjoy going to and passed on shows I felt I might not enjoy. Maybe 2015 overall is marked by an improved understanding of what I like.

2/7 Kevin Devine / Laura Stevenson @ First Unitarian Church (Philly)
2/18 Emmy the Great @ Boot & Saddle (Philly)
2/25 The Twilight Sad @ Boot & Saddle (Philly)
4/17 Cartel / Hit The Lights @ TLA (Philly)
7/2 PINS  @ Boot & Saddle (Philly)
7/11 SOAK @ Boot & Saddle (Philly)
7/25-7/26 XPoNential Fest @ Wiggins Park (Camden)
7/27 George Ezra  @ 9:30 Club (DC)
9/18 Years & Years  @ Union Transfer (Philly)
9/26 – 9/27 Landmark Festival @ West Potomac Park (DC)
10/1 Chvrches @ The Electric Factory (Philly)
12/6 We Were Promised Jetpacks @ Underground Arts (Philly)
12/19 Foals / Circa Waves  @ Union Transfer (Philly)

You can see all my concerts here.

2015 Music Releases
Instead of listing albums, I like to do a massive playlist of songs from this past years’ releases. You can check it out on Spotify.

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