Five Favorite Reads of 2015

Dear Readers,

I enjoy this time of year for so many reasons: the magic and miracle that is Christmas, the hope and wonder that a new year brings, the glittering snow (that has finally arrived in the Chicago area!), and the laughter and new memories shared with friends and family.  Also, the end of the year lists and discussion about what was best in 2015.

Since I’m always on the lookout for another great read, I’m always excited to read my fellow bloggers’ “favorite books of the year” lists, so I thought I would share mine! If you’re searching for something to cuddle up with next to the fire when the kids are napping, look no further. 

My five most favorite books (in no particular order) that were released in 2015… 

1. All the Difference by Leah Ferguson (Contemporary Fiction/Women’s Fiction)

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In this well-written and page-turning work of women’s fiction, Molly finds herself unexpectedly pregnant.  On New Year’s Eve her boyfriend proposes marriage and what follows is Molly’s life if she says yes, or if she says no, in the style of the movie Sliding DoorsWhich will she choose in the end? The powerful and precise writing, the twists and turns, and your concern for Molly will have you turning the pages as quick as you can. 

My favorite aspect of the novel is how accurately and beautifully Leah describes pregnancy and motherhood—Yes, I said reading about Molly giving birth, and then again as she cares for her infant, yes, that’s exactly what it’s likeThe scenes come to life, the characters are authentic, and the plot is laid-out well, with everything coming together at the end in a realistic and hopeful way.

2. First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen (Women’s Fiction/Magical Realism)

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In her enchanting sequel to Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of the Waverly women as they anticipate the first frost– a restless, unbalanced time for them.  We are immersed in a small North Carolina town, where the Waverly magic is legendary and Claire sells her candies that can alter moods, her sister Sydney yearns for a baby, and Bay’s magical talent is making her teenage years even more difficult.  As change and a mysterious stranger with a secret sweep into town, the Waverly women must brace themselves and hold their family together.

Sarah captures the essence of autumn—you can smell that crisp air and feel the charm of that quaint town— and conveys a story with heart, mystery, and magic in a way only she can.  Even if you haven’t read any of the author’s previous work you will enjoy this one, I promise.

3. The Snow Globe by Judith Kinghorn (Historical Fiction)

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In this engrossing Downton Abbey-esque novel we meet the likable Daisy Forbes living a privileged life on a luxurious country estate in post-WWI England.  It’s Christmas 1926 when Daisy stumbles on the truth about the father she so admires—he has a mistress.  As Daisy attempts to grapple with how this affects her family she is also navigating her way through the Roaring Twenties, searching for a place to belong in the world and moving to London in hopes of finding it.

The chapters alternate between Daisy and her mother Mabel, and I enjoyed gaining the perspective of someone of the older generation who is in her situation.  This charming novel was the perfect read as I await the return of Downton Abbey—it has romance, strong female characters, and likeable supporting characters who do their job well.

4. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert (Women’s Fiction)

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First of all, what a cover! I was craving everything coconut after reading this novel.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is sprinkled with elements of my most favorite works of fiction (Pride & Prejudice) and movies (You’ve Got Mail), plus mouth-watering descriptions of food, and it takes place in a fun Midwestern city (Milwaukee)… What’s not to like?

Talented chef Lou finds herself heartbroken and, coincidentally, that’s also the night her restaurant is reviewed by the anonymous (and grumpy, and new-to-Milwaukee Brit) food critic, Al.  He writes a scathing review, and on the day the story runs they happen to be at the same pub and end up chatting.  Lou discusses how great the city is and Al, disbelieving, challenges her to prove it.  Their relationship grows from there as they eat their way through the city, and his career takes off while hers plummets.  Will they fall for each other? Will Lou go back to her ex? Can Lou forgive Al if he reveals his true identity? A lovely read! (And keep and eye out for Amy’s next novel in July 2016, Luck, Love & Lemon Pie)

5. Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica (Psychological Thriller/Suspense)

Pretty Baby

Just like with Mary’s debut novel, The Good Girl, I could not put Pretty Baby down.  In this psychological thriller, the main character Holly notices a teenage girl holding a baby one rainy afternoon as they stand waiting for a train.  Should Holly, a caring woman who has spent her life helping those in need, confront this stranger and attempt to help her? She invites Willow and her baby into her home and the story unfolds from there, told in chapters alternating among Heidi, Heidi’s husband, and Willow.

It is a fascinating read—elegantly written, suspenseful, with great twists, secrets, and a satisfying ending that will have you questioning everything you just read. (And keep an eye out for Mary’s next novel in May 2016, Don’t You Cry)

What were some of your favorite reads of 2015? Comment below!

Happy reading, and happy new year!

XO,

Mariana

P.S. My next post, in January, will be about books coming out in 2016—some I’ve already read, others I must wait for! Looks like it will be another great year of reading!

P.P.S. Check out my Goodreads page for all the books I read in 2015.

(**all photos above courtesy of authors’ websites; links provided in titles**)