End of Year Survey

By Jim Dean, January 1, 2016

I love this end of year survey! Thanks to Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner for the brilliant questions.

Number Of Books You Read: I don’t keep stats but maybe 60?
Number of Re-Reads: Only a couple
Genre You Read The Most From: Probably YA contemporary

tww1. Best Book You Read In 2015?    
The absolute best would have to be Katherine Rundell’s The Wolf Wilder! For other favourites, check out my recent top 12 post.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?    
Going to pass on this one…
3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
Love Hurts (edited by Malorie Blackman) surprised me, firstly because I hadn’t realised it was mainly extracts rather than original content so it took me ages to pick it up, but then on reading it was pleasantly stunned by just how amazing the originals were – particularly Susie Day’s lesbian romance Tumbling and Laura Dockrill’s Gentlewoman, about a trans main character, which were both incredibly good.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?    
Hard to know, but I think PROBABLY The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone!

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?    
I loved so many series starters this year! Lauren James’s debut The Next TogetherKathryn James’s amazing Gypsy Girl, and Holly Bourne’s Am I Normal Yet? were all stunning. For a spin-off from another series, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo was superb.

spacehostagesSequels – Lots of good ones, mainly MG! Bloodstone by Allan Boroughs, River Daughter by Jane Hardstaff, Space Hostages by Sophia McDougall and both of Robin Stevens’s 2015 releases, Arsenic For Tea and First Class Murder, were wonderful. Also I loved the not-yet-released The Shadow Keeper, sequel to the Dreamsnatcher, and Holly Bourne’s upcoming How Hard Can Love Be?, second in the Spinster Club trilogy.

Series Ender – I REALLY hope Leap of Faith by Candy Harper isn’t the last we see of this hilarious heroine; I have a feeling from the way it’s left that it might be. I would be sad not to see more from Faith and her friends, but what a fabulous ending it would be! Speaking of fabulous endings, Darkest Night – epic conclusion to Department 19 by Will Hill – lived up to my huge expectations of it.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?    
Despite having had them recommended to me on numerous occasions, I’d somehow never got to Frances Hardinge, Catherine Johnson, or Patrick Ness before!

bloodstone7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?    
I’m not much of a fan of post-apocalyptic books but enjoyed Allan Borough’s Ironheart in 2014. This year’s sequel, Bloodstone, was even better!

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?    
Darkest Night, Rebel of the Sands and Bloodstone all fitted this perfectly – sensationally thrilling reads.

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? 
I read Remix by Non Pratt twice this year and am probably likely to go back to it again in the middle of 2016 as it’s being rereleased. It is a FANTASTIC read. When rereading, it tends to be the lighter, funnier reads I go back to, so I think My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend by Eleanor Wood and Waiting For Callback by Perdita and Honor Cargill are both likely contenders. Additionally, next time I’m not feeling too good I’m just going to marathon the three Faith books by Candy Harper, one of my very favourite series!

birdy MonstersCaraboo

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?  
Jet Purdie of Hot Key is one of the most talented people around when it comes to cover design – he has perhaps my two favourites of the year, Jess Valance’s Birdy and Emerald Fennell’s Monsters. I also adored Laura Bird’s striking cover for The Curious Tale of Lady Caraboo, by Catherine Johnson – especially great to see a young WOC on a book.

Lie Tree

11. Most memorable character of 2015?    
A heroine who sets out on a journey through Russia, accompanied by wolves, is VERY hard to forget! Feo, the title character in Katherine Rundell’s The Wolf Wilder, was a truly wonderful lead. Two other main characters I loved shared a name – Faith from Candy Harper’s Leap of Faith, third in her fantastic series, has been a favourite of mine for years. Her namesake in Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree is a clever, loyal and brave heroine. I also loved the excellent portrayals of teens with mental health issues in Patrick Ness’s The Rest Of Us Just Live Here and Holly Bourne’s Am I Normal Yet? – Mikey and Evie, respectively, are superb. One more – the title character in The Curious Case of Lady Caraboo, by Catherine Johnson, a WOC who pretends to be a princess and fools a wealthy family, is brilliant.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?    
I was expecting Katherine Rundell’s The Wolf Wilder to be gorgeous and lyrical and she definitely didn’t disappoint! I’m not sure I was expecting Frances Hardinge’s writing style to be quite as wonderful as it was – part of me thought that given how hyped up she’d been by so many people The Lie Tree couldn’t possibly live up to my expectations – however it definitely exceeded them!

ainy13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?  
I would recommend Holly Bourne’s Am I Normal Yet? and Patrick Ness’s The Rest Of Us Just Live Here to ANYBODY with anxiety issues. I love this pair of novels for the calm and compassionate treatment of mental health, particularly the positive portrayals of medication and therapy.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?     
I borrowed Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan quite a long time ago from Debbie and have somehow only just read; probably because I’m a terrible person on rare occasions. It’s a WONDERFUL read though – a gorgeous girl/girl romance with a central pairing I was desperate to see get together – and I’m incredibly sad that it doesn’t have a UK publisher as far as I know!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?    
Katherine Rundell’s The Wolf Wilder starts off with a completely beguiling passage.
“Once upon a time, a hundred years ago, there was a dark and stormy girl. The girl was Russian, and although her hair and eyes and fingernails were dark all of the time, she was stormy only when she thought it absolutely necessary. Which was fairly often.”

lilyandthecw16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?    
I think the shortest is probably Keris Stainton’s Lily & The Christmas Wish, a really charming MG book, while the longest is almost certainly Will Hill’s Darkest Night, an epic conclusion to a gigantic series which has held my complete attention for the entire length of the five books.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most    
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, coming early 2016, is a breathtaking read with some incredible twists and turns. Birdy by Jess Vallance and Monsters by Emerald Fennell both started off darker than nearly any other YA book I’d read and somehow stunned me as they KEPT getting even darker again!

simonvs18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)    
I adored all four versions of Katherine and Matthew in Lauren James’s The Next Together! Simon and Blue, contacting each other anonymously over the internet, are a really lovely couple in Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda. My chosen pairing from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is awesome too, but might be slightly spoilery to say who it is!

bbt19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year    
Loads here – I tend to enjoy non-romantic relationships more than romantic ones. Best friends Mikey and Jared in Patrick Ness’s The Rest Of Us Just Live Here had a wonderful relationship, as did ‘dark and stormy girl’ Feo and boy soldier Ilya in Katherine Rundell’s The Wolf Wilder. (You could also add in Feo’s relationship with the wolves here as well!)

But for me, one of the best things about the year was the sheer number of strong and interesting friendships between teen girls. There seem to have been so many great ones recently – standing out, though, Kaz and Ruby in Non Pratt’s Remix, sisters Grace and Tippi in Sarah Crossan’s One, Faith and her friends Angharad, Megs and Lily in Leap of Faith. And two excellent trios, Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club – Evie, Amber and Lottie – in Am I Normal Yet?, which was awesome, and upcoming sequel How Hard Can Love Be? and the complex and changing relationship between Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne in Sara Barnard’s forthcoming debut Beautiful Broken Things.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously    
Definitely The Wolf Wilder!

summerlove21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure 
I wouldn’t even have heard of Summer Love, published by Duet Books, if Charlie hadn’t thrust it into my hands. This short story collection featuring characters from across the LGBTQ spectrum written by authors on the spectrum themselves is a really outstanding read, particularly Naomi Tajedler’s superb What The Heart Wants, one of the few stories I’ve read with an asexual character.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?    
I thought Kell in A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab was wonderful. (It’s an adult novel, but one that I’d be happy to recommend to older teens.)

taobnpaperback23. Best 2015 debut you read? 
I read The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell and The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone in 2014 so not sure if they’re eligible – but all are brilliant! Of books I actually read this year, three debuts stood out for me. Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a gorgeous romance between two boys, The Next Together by Lauren James is a unique novel with four versions of the main pair of characters – all of the four are distinctive and very well-written –  and My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend by Eleanor Wood is a hilarious read.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?    
From 2015 releases – Allan Boroughs’s world-building was the best thing about his 2014 debut Ironheart; in sequel Bloodstone his characters are outstanding as well while the setting is still just as good. Another MG author who moved from ‘good’ to ‘great’ with this year’s release was Jane Hardstaff; she brings Tudor England to life wonderfully in River Daughter! And to sneak in a 2016 book once more, Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands is a stunning Wild West-style adventure in a setting similar to that of A Thousand And One Nights. Superb!

emily sparkes

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?    
Ruth Fitzgerald’s Emily Sparkes books are really hilarious reads with a main character with a great voice, while the same can be said of Leap of Faith by Candy Harper.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?    
Sarah Crossan’s One was a massive tearjerker, while Mike Revell’s Stonebird was difficult to read because it brought back painful memories for me – but was a truly amazing book.

msrb27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?    
This has been the year of the MG mystery in many ways and it’s been great to see Robin Stevens release two superb novels and gain huge acclaim (as well as a possible TV series!) and to see the wonderful reception Katherine Woodfine’s received for The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow. Having said that, I’ve been sad that House of Eyes by Patricia Elliott and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry, two excellent books which are similar to Robin and Katherine’s work in many ways, haven’t been talked about more.

Looking at contemporary-set books, Eleanor Wood’s My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend is PERFECT for fans of Non Pratt’s Remix – I’ve been delighted to see how many people love Non’s awesome second book but wish more would pick up Eleanor’s debut! The Emily Sparkes series by Ruth Fitzgerald is at the younger end of MG and that age range doesn’t tend to get reviewed as much as slightly older books do; I’m not that big a fan myself usually but Emily’s voice is utterly outstanding and hooked me completely – she feels like a younger version of Candy Harper’s Faith in some ways.
And speaking of Faith, Leap of Faith, third in that series, came out yesterday and EVERYONE should read it. (Did I mention this above?!)

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? 
Asking For It by Louise O’Neill, unsurprisingly.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?  
Definitely the Summer Love anthology.

afi30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?    
Asking For It, as it was intended to do, made me FURIOUS. Well done, Louise O’Neill!

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?    
Cheating here as Grace is a blogger who writes about a lot of things for her blog Almost Amazing Grace and as a contributor to Oh No, Not Another Blogger. However the things do sometimes include books, and she’s INCREDIBLE, so I wanted to include her anyway.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?    
I really liked my Leap of Faith review. For a not-quite-review, maybe 10 Reasons To Read Six of Crows?

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? 
I’ve loved so many 5-4-3-2-1s that I can’t single one out! A huge thanks to all the authors who’ve contributed.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?    
Has to be YALC! I was super-thrilled to get the chance to do a workshop there.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?    
Too many to choose from – I was VERY lucky!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?    
I hit a massive reading slump a few months ago which I’m only just out of.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?    
Christmas Gift Guide has done well considering how recently it went up!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?    
I enjoyed setting this quiz on ‘most reviewed books amongst UK bloggers in 2015‘ and wish more people had played it!/

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?    
I’m a big fan of Twitter chats and the recent addition of Rachel’s #SundayYA to a thriving scene – with Lucy The Reader’s #ukyachat and Lorraine Gregory and Miriam Craig’s #ukmgchat as well as our own #CountdownML – has been awesome.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?    
No, didn’t set any.

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?    
I really should read Sophie Kinsella’s Finding Audrey as I’ve heard so many positive things about thehandling of mental health issues in this one too!

MysteryandMayhem2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?    
One of my aims is to read more short stories so I’m definitely looking forward to some anthologies – especially Mystery & Mayhem, coming from Egmont and led by Katherine Woodfine. The line-up for this – Katherine herself plus Clémentine Beauvais, Elen Caldecott, Susie Day, Julia Golding, Frances Hardinge, Caroline Lawrence, Helen Moss, Sally Nicholls, Kate Pankhurst, Harriet Whitehorn and Robin Stevens – reads like a who’s who of MG authors I love or want to read!

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?    
Heidi Heilig’s The Girl From Everywhere sounds truly outstanding and I’ve been desperate to read since first hearing about this book. Patrice Lawrence’s Orangeboy also sounds fantastic, while looking at non-fiction, I’m eager to see Notes on Being Teenage, the debut from one of my favourite bloggers, Rosalind Jana.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016? 
Having been lucky enough to read How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne, second in the Spinsters Club Trilogy, I am REALLY desperate for the third book which is out in August! And this year will see the release of The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvaterthe Raven Cycle is a truly outstanding series and I can’t wait to see how it ends. (Hopefully with happy fun times for Gansey, whatever earlier books in the series may have implied may happen…)

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?
Lots of things which I’m quite keen to do – including doing better with the @teensonmoonlane Instagram and Tumblr accounts! – but the HUGE one for me is to try and get less stressed and enjoy blogging more.

wfc6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:    
I’ve been lucky enough to read quite a few! The highlights – if you haven’t read Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne and The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone you should get on those two as soon as possible; respective sequels How Hard Can Love Be? and The Shadow Keeper are both even better than the first books in each series, as hard as that may be to believe! Perdita and Honor Cargill’s Waiting For Callback is absolutely hilarious and I think has the potential to be a truly massive success, as does Alwyn Hamilton’s pacy and exciting Rebel of the Sands. And Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard is an outstanding contemporary; as mentioned above the trio of main characters are some of my favourites of the year. Finally, Tales on Moon Lane bookseller Jennifer Bell’s The Crooked Sixpence is an amazing start to what I’m sure will be a fantastic fantasy series.

What do you think?