2015 Midyear Review: Best in Books

image (7)

The first six months of 2015 have gone by, and there are already so many good books and stories that deserve some recognition, even before the year ends.

The Young Folks team has come together to list the best in Books for the first half of 2015: From Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Roses and Thorns to Sarah Dessen’s Saint Anything and more, check out our top picks on the next page!

Lauren Wengrovitz’s Top 5 Books

1. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen: Every time I put this book down, I could not stop thinking about it. Dessen has created a story that is so emotionally powerful and relatable. A must read for every young adult.

2. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: The worldbuilding in this novel is incredible. I could not put it down! Plus, the twist at the end has me dying for the sequel.

3. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord: An incredible contemporary YA. I cried and laughed and never wanted this book to end.


4. All Fall Down by Ally Carter: An intriguing mystery taking place in an awesome setting (Embassy Row). It kept me guessing the entire time, up until the twist at the end. A story of revenge and recovering from a tragic event.

5. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella: Tackles the difficult subject of mental health while keeping the reader interested in quirky characters and humorous situations. This is a book that will will make you smile, laugh, “Awww,” and root for the characters.

Gabrielle Bondi’s Top 5 Books


This is the year I really got into comics and graphic novels. I learned that I especially love comics centered around female heroines, and it’s great to see many new stories emerge with kickass and interesting female leads in that medium. For the most part, my list follows that theme of powerful females, mainly because these are the stories that I wanted to read this year and ended up enjoying the most.

  1. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  2. Ms. Marvel Vol. 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, & Adrian Alphona
  3. Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan
  4. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  5. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Honorable Mentions: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, Captain Marvel Vol. 2 Stay Fly by Kelly Sue DeConnick, and The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes.

Brooke Pawling Stennett’s Top 5 Books


All of these are Young Adult because that’s all that I’ve been reading, other than the occasional book I’ll find on Oyster that keeps my attention past the first twenty pages. All of these books have been amazing, and although I’m only a little ways into Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, I can already tell it’s going to be my favorite novel of the year.

  1. Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: Like I said, on its way to becoming my favorite novel of 2015 and I haven’t even finished it yet. We need more LGBT YA novels like this.
  2. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen: A beautiful book by the lovely Sarah Dessen that had me in tears, laughter, and cheers. My favorite Dessen book by far.
  3. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler: Super surprised with how much I enjoyed this! I am now in the middle of reading other work of Sarah’s, but this one kicked me in the face, so to speak. Extremely well done, and a lovely YA book for everyone to pick up over the summer if they already haven’t.
  4. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: The worldbuilding is insanely good, and the heroine is very well written. You’ll get lost in this book for sure. I’ve recommended it to many.
  5. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: I was so excited to read this, and it did not disappoint me one bit! Truly a treasure. I couldn’t stop thinking about it once I finished and turned the last page.

Joey Daniewicz’s Top 5 Books

  1. The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

Best known as the author of the greatest texts about comics, Scott McCloud finally made a book, and he applies his knowledge of the craft to what’s largely a contemplation about art and creation’s relationship to the world after the creators exit. Built around the premise of a young sculptor who makes a deal with Death to give up his life after 200 days for the power to effortlessly sculpt whatever he imagines, The Sculptor’s examination of the nature of art is worthy of Charlie Kaufman, while its story is as effortlessly tear-jerking as anything since Toy Story 3. This is the sort of book that can define a medium.

  1. Unflattening by Nick Sousanis

Nick Sousanis’ PhD dissertation was a comic called Unflattening that recalls Edwin A. Abbot’s Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions and similarly shifts its focus to the limitations of our perspective. In doing so, he spends Unflattening demonstrating and advocating for merging the written word with image and illustration to present ideas in ways that words alone, favored for millennia, cannot. It’s more like reading a philosophical essay than reading a book, but while writing on philosophy trips on itself, Sousanis’ merging of the written word with his illustrations allow us to better enjoy its wealth of ideas.

  1. In the Skin of a Jihadist: A Young Journalist Enters the ISIS Recruitment Network by Anna Erelle

Truth be told, I’m not that interested in ISIS. I’m convinced we’re only atwitter about them because brown terrorists are finally deciding to claim control of land, and I think our interest in them will only feed the cycle of Middle Eastern violence. What’s fascinating about this read, however, is the psuedonymous journalist Erelle’s relationship with her fake life as a young French woman who wants to trek to Syria with the help of an ISIS operative who professes his love for her over Skype. I think this book is best read as a crushing narrative of the mental burden of assuming another identity.

  1. SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

This is a comic book collecting Jillian Takami’s long-running webcomic that’s sort of like Harry Potter or X-Men in that a bunch of magical freaks are at the same school. Its draw? It cares way more about kids doing kid stuff at school than it cares about the magic.

  1. First Year Healthy by Michael DeForge

Maybe supplanting the wonderful Ant Colony as his defining work to date, the short comic book First Year Healthy is a little book about mental health, relationships, and the fragility of both, whose style will put the reader outside their comfort zone.

Bri Lockhart’s Top 5 Books

1. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Laura Ruby weaves together a fairy tale nightmare with intimate stories from the inhabitants of Bone Gap in this alluring novel. Her beautiful writing brings the small town and its characters to life, while the mystery keeps the pages turning like whoah.

2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Based on “Beauty and the Beast,” “Tamlin,” and “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” the start of Sarah Maas’s new fantasy series follows human Feyre as she navigates the tricky Fae court. A steamy romance, a morally grey rival, and a badass heroine make for a great read.

3. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
I never thought I’d see two books about fae on my best of list, but here we are! Black brings us a beautifully written tale of siblings, guilt, unreliable narration, and unexpected love.

4. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith
You never know what’s coming next from the author of Grasshopper Jungle–in this case, I ended up with the story of Ariel, a refugee from the Middle East who ends up at a tech detox camp, and a depressed bionic reincarnated crow. Ariel’s story packs an intense emotional punch that brings the novel together in an expected way.

5. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
This delight from The Fug Girls was extremely well-researched and way more fun than I was expecting. Bex, Nick, and Freddie’s stories will charm anyone willing to give it a whirl.

Honorable Mentions Read in 2014: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes, Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

Hannah Atkins’ Top 5 Books

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas: A vivid, richly-woven romantic read set in a fantasy world of curses, fiery beasts and exotic fey.

2. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids – Sarah Ockler: A wonderfully-written, diverse read that deals with a number of important issues while still being vastly entertaining.

3. Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda: An utterly delightful LGBT read involving secret love emails and coming to terms with one’s identity.

4. Delicate Monsters – Stephanie Kuehn: Another brilliant yet brutal offering from this author, who excels at psychological WTF-ery.

5. The Invasion of the Tearling – Erika Johansen: A superb sequel to a book which left many reviewers divided, this installment ups the ante and answers some of our burning questions.

Honorable Mentions:

The Mime Order – Samantha Shannon: Another sequel FTW–The Mime Order is an imaginative, action-packed adventure from start to finish, with some game-changing developments.

Half the World – Joe Abercrombie: A fantastic, feminist follow up to Half a King, this series deserves to be a YA fantasy staple.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye – Cynthia Hand: A real tear-jerker but so well written, this book really brings all the feels and handles its topic with sensitivity.

The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black: An unusual fantasy standalone that is nevertheless intriguing, enchanting, and utterly weird.

Crimson Bound – Rosamund Hodge: A dark, richly imaginative fairytale retelling, with conflicted characters and a slow-burn romance.

What are your favorite reads from 2015 so far?


Exit mobile version