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Dec 30, 2015

Burton Book Review Best Reads of 2015 and What's Ahead for 2016

Every year I post a favorites list of books that I had read that year.
Best of 2009
Best of 2010
Best of 2011
Best of 2012
Best of 2013
Best of 2014

This is my seventh year of Best Of's! Which means there is a blogiversary coming up this week, yay me!
I was fortunate that this year I was able to read more titles that I wanted to read as opposed to adhering to a review schedule. As life evolves, so has the blog.. and less review books means less blogging and more real life stuff. I had a career change mid 2013 which derailed my reading, and more recently I have become a mommy chauffeur to the brats. Aside from a recent EF-4 tornado impacting about 1,000 homes nearby, before that hit I posted on facebook regarding the year in review: "2015 began with a hospital bill we are still paying for, my son was the pack 896 winner of Pinewood Derby, my hubby bought me a Kindle Voyage, I met Susanna Kearsley, the boys went camping during a tornado, mom & I went to Shakespeare in the Park, we all went to the Perot Museum in Dallas, I aced a stressful test going towards my TASBO certification, I became a Parish Council member" so it was really a pretty good year for me in general. I have been settling into a new position at my office (after a full year in the position, lol) and have been thankful for the blessings bestowed on me and the family.

I was able to read some books that I had sitting in the wings waiting for someday.. and I will continue to read books from my own library as opposed to new acquisitions. This means that 'best of 2015' did not have to be published in 2015 but almost all of them were. Here is the link to all the books I have read and reviewed this year.

These are my fave reads of 2015:
(Click the titles or images to go to my review, opens in a new window).

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot - The author's previous work made last year's Best Of list as well. A vivid voice shines through her writing that will suck you in and make you sigh with pleasure once you are through. This was a fascinating look at World War II in a very different character-driven perspective.

Watch The Lady by Elizabeth Fremantle - Even though Tudor/Elizabethan novels have overstayed their welcome for the most part, I absolutely loved this portrayal of Penelope Devereux whose mother has always fascinated me. This author has a wit about her writing that gives a new life to the Tudor-era novels.

Somebody I Used To Know by David Bell- There are days which call for unputdownable suspense, and this fits the bill perfectly. I read all 448 pages of this thriller in one day.

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz- Laura Frantz is well known in the Christian fiction genre, but this was the first one I had gotten around to reading. It was mesmerizing and full of hope and messages of faith, set after the American Revolution.

The entire Gifting trilogy by Katie Ganshert - Written under nom de plume K.E. Ganshert, this series was amazingly eye opening to me, who normally shies away from the alternate world type of Young Adult reads. I absolutely loved all three books and made my daughter read them too. Very well done and I sincerely hope there is more from this nom de plume!

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness - published in 2011, I had not received the book until the summer. I am definitely going to be continuing the series after I get tired of my current series binge of Philippa Carr. This novel was a pleasant surprise for me, as I had begun this with cold feet, and it was not until after the first fifty pages or so that I could get invested in the story of witches, vampires and demons. I raced through to the end though!

As you can see, my tastes have changed a bit over the previous years. What started out at mostly Tudor and Medieval reads have evolved into young adult, fantasy, and some Christian fiction. A little bit of everything just to keep me happy and engaged with reading.

Looking ahead to 2016, one wonders if I should bother blogging or not. It seems like no one is here sometimes.. but I know that not every review generates a need to actually comment. I am guilty of not clicking all the way through the many motions on other folks' reviews to simply say 'Thanks for the review, Looks Good.'  My simple reviews are not combative or mind boggling things that beg others to examine a question and answer them, hence, no comments.

There was a book I decided not to review last year simply because it was a reading for pleasure book. And writing reviews feels a lot like work, so I gave myself a break on it. Then, when I went back recently to look for my thoughts on that book -- it wasn't there. And that's when I reminded myself that I need to blog/review for me. This site is here for my pleasure - and for my purposes of cataloging and remembering my thoughts. Because let's face it: I'm getting older and my mind is pretty much a black hole! I barely remember what I did yesterday, so I am not going to remember every book I've read. That's why I have this nifty little blog so all I have to do is search my blog and I'll refresh my memory. I do NOT have delusions of becoming a writer someday and I am not using this blog to 'hone my craft' as others may be using theirs. I don't have the skills to professionally write reviews, and I never will. However, I like tinkering with design and graphics, and the blog itself allows me to do that as I update the look of it, and create cool little images like I have for this particular post, when I get the itch to do so.

I hope to read more Elizabeth Chadwick as I have kind of dropped the ball on that one this year, and I hope to read some old favorites from Georgette Heyer, Philippa Carr/Victoria Holt (not necessarily Plaidy), Susanna Kearsley and V.C. Andrews. If I add any more I'll just be over-extending and disappointment will rule.

Speaking of disappointment, for the first time in years I am not entering the self-imposed Goodreads challenge where you post a number of books you would like to read. For some stupid reason they changed the format and you can no longer tell how many pages you have read. I find that totally unhelpful. Comparing the number of books per user is crazy when you can't look at real numbers such as actual pages.

May 2016 be fruitful and full of wonderful reading.. if you're reading this, that is!! I'm reading it, so I will wish for myself a happy, chocolate filled loving life with my hubby and kids, and let's enjoy the cat and dogs, too.