Review recap: my top five books of 2015

In a happy coincidence, I gave five books 5 stars in 2015.

Top five books of 2015 Claire Huston

I reviewed 70 books on this blog this year. Only five of them got 5 stars. I don’t feel able to say any of them is “better” than the others. However, I will rank them according to how wide an audience I think would enjoy them (my total guess here… other opinions are available!).

Click on the book title for my full review. Click on the book cover to go to Goodreads.

So here we go. Counting down…

5. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (reviewed 21st December 2015)

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff book coverAlthough the original formatting is a little off-putting at first, you soon forget about it as this gripping, nail-biting story sweeps you away.

The only reason I’ve placed this last in terms of recommendability (I’m not sure that’s a word, oh hell, let’s just pretend it is) is that I suspect the formatting won’t appeal to everyone. Plus, some readers have problems getting along with sci-fi (I’ll come back to this when we get to The Martian).


4. Vicious by V.E. Schwab (reviewed 10th July 2015)

Vicious by V.E. Schwab book coverA good anti-hero, some serious moral dubiousness and a skillfully-handled plot make this dark tale an enthralling read. I was pleased to hear it will now be part of a series.

Again, only lower down the recommendability scale because if you can’t stand any supernatural shenanigans you might not rate this book.



3. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (reviewed 4th June 2015)

A Darker Shade of Magic book cover by V E SchwabFantastic world building, likeable central characters and no predictable romance to hold back the most gleeful and grim aspects of this blood-soaked adventure.

Middle of the recommendability scale because those who prefer not to read fantasy might not enjoy this as much as I did. And anyone with problems reading about blood. Seriously: if you have issues with blood, stay away.


2. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (reviewed 7th July 2015)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness book coverThis relatively short and deceptively simple story is as close to perfection as I’ve seen this year. Engaging, sympathetic characters, a strong plot with consistent themes, layers of complexity, real heart… It’s likely to make you cry, although hopefully cathartic tears.

Only not at the top of the recommendability scale because this book might not be a good idea if you’ve been (recently) bereaved or have dealt/are dealing with any of the health issues in the book. It might prove more traumatic than cathartic.


1. The Martian by Andy Weir (reviewed 18th August 2015)

The Martian by Andy Weir book cover

I think anyone who read The Martian would enjoy it. They might not give it the full five stars, but I can’t imagine anyone not finding this involving, funny and hopeful. It also makes you realize how hopeless you’d be if you were stranded anywhere, let alone Mars. And how useful duct tape is.



Those were my top 5 books of 2015! Did you read any of these? What did you make of them?

What were your favourite books this year? Let me know in the comments and leave me links to your “2015 in review” posts so I can check them out πŸ™‚

Β Claire Huston / Art and Soul

36 thoughts on “Review recap: my top five books of 2015

  1. Haven’t read any of them but I am compiling a list of 12 must reads for 2016 in a variety of genres because I tend to fall back on mysteries when looking for a good read. But not this year! Bring me erotica, Sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, speculative fiction, steam-punk – I want it all, but ONLY the very best. Any recommendations?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Apart from this list, I’d say the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. It’s technically “sci-fi”, but the futuristic/alien elements really aren’t very important because the characters are what make the books so wonderful. The first one is The Knife of Never Letting Go. Technically they are “YA”, but when books deal with issues such as terrorism, genocide, torture, and the philosophical question of what makes men monsters, I don’t think they can be classed as exclusively for older children.
      For historical fiction, I’ve always found Tracy Chevalier very reliable. Her best book is probably still Girl with a Pearl Earring, but I’ve enjoyed all of them.
      I hope that’s some help πŸ™‚


    • They are! πŸ™‚ And both of them are subtle about it. They sneak up on you slowly and all of a sudden you find you’re gripped and trying to do things like cook and read at the same time because you don’t want to put the book down πŸ™‚
      I hope you can get to The Martian next month.
      Thank you for visiting and Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great list! The Martian was fantastic and I stayed up till 6 am to finish Illuminae. I’m a pretty big fan of sci-fi, so those were definitely two of my favorites this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!
      I stayed up to 3am two nights in a row, reading under the covers with the light from my phone to finish The Martian without waking my son! haha! Took me back to when I used to sneakily read past my bedtime as a teenager!
      Luckily, I was able to read Illuminae at much more sociable times πŸ™‚ But it was so gripping I think I remember making a cup of tea while reading, risking scalding myself!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! πŸ™‚
      But this way you can wait and read ADSOM at the start of Feb just before the sequel comes out. I’ve forgotten all the finer details and don’t have time to reread it 😦
      Coming to a series a little late has its advantages, as I discovered this year with The Lunar Chronicles πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • Brilliant! I’ll be amazed if you don’t like Illuminae πŸ™‚
      I have managed to get my husband – who has no time time to read – to read The Martian. He’s only on page 60, and I feel excited for him! It’s a book I’ll be telling others to read for a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, me too! My hubby is not really a reader, but if I can find a Spanish version I’m going to try and convince him to read The Martian as well. And I will start Illuminae next monday. πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I received A Monster Calls as a Christmas present on your recommendation, so I’m looking forward to reading it even more now! Just need to finish A Game of Thrones first, so only a couple more months to go (haha)!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure I’ll love it, it sounds like the sort of thing I’d choose for myself. I’ll let you know my thoughts when I’ve got through it!
        I felt the same about A Game Of Thrones the first time I read it, but I’ve since got a bit into (or should I say, obsessed with) the TV show, which helps give faces to the characters and keep track of who belongs to which House!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: WWW Wednesday 24th February 2016 | Art and Soul

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