The Best Books of 2015


I hope everyone’s 2015 ended with some great reading, family, friends, and fantastic food.

Of those I read in the year 2015 — those published in 2015 and before — these are the best in these categories:

Best Series:

Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle (The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue)

Best Children’s Book: (TIE)

Best Memoir:

Displacement by Lucy Knisley

Best Nonfiction:

LOVE: A Philadelphia Affair by Beth Kephart

Best Short Story Collection:

The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War 

Best Young Adult Fiction:

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Best Reference:

How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids by Matthew Jervis

Best Women’s Fiction:

French Coast by Anita Hughes

Best Historical Fiction: (TIE)

Best Fiction:

Best Poetry: (TIE)

Here is the list of BEST BOOKS PUBLISHED in 2015:

  1. Wet Silence by Sweta Vikram
  2. The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton
  3. Vessel by Parneshia Jones
  4. LOVE: A Philadelphia Affair by Beth Kephart
  5. The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck
  6. The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy
  7. Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor
  8. One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart
  9. The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson
  10. The Sound of Glass by Karen White
  11. Mistaking Her Character by Maria Grace
  12. Earth Joy Writing by Cassie Premo Steele, PhD

What were your favorites in 2015?

How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids by Matthew Jervis

Source: Skyhorse Publishing
Hardcover, 192 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids by Matthew Jervis is a great little collection of ideas for busy parents who want to keep their kids active, curious, and helpful around the house.  Building a fort in the living room or redecorating their own rooms can be activities that not only bring out their own creativity, but also can keep them occupied for an hour or more.  As a mom working from home, these activities will come in handy, though many of them I’ve already been doing, such as building a fort in the living room.  One of our other favorites is going shopping, where she gathers her things for the shopping trip, like bags and her purse and her babies, sets them up in the kitchen chairs (aka her car) and she drives them to the market, and while there she pushes them around in the cart and picks up various empty boxes of food that she needs for home.

“Kids don’t always want us on top of them telling them which screwdriver to use or how to throw a football.  Sometimes they just want to do and learn along the way on their own.  In most cases, kids get bored because they’ve tapped their shallow ‘idea’ reserve, and they simply require new input, new ideas…” (pg. 14)

Another section that’s helpful, beyond the one of indoor activities for those rainy days, is the one in which kids are set to work with household chores, but those chores are made into competitions, such as speed trials for sock matching.  Jervis also carefully reminds parents that they should offer an incentive, which in most cases should remain unnamed until the tasks are complete because if it’s something kids don’t want, they’re less likely to complete the task.  One of the best chapters was on getting kids into the kitchen, something my daughter does already.  I love the idea of having her plan a menu, though I think I might wait until her menu will consist of more than chicken nuggets and mac and cheese, which is what she suggests every time.

How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids by Matthew Jervis is not just about creating a space in which you have free time to do work or other chores, it also is about allowing kids to explore within certain limits the household chores and fun around them without the mindless entertainment of screens.  These activities will help them learn to think outside the box, explore new ways of building, making, and being.  If there are more kids in the house than usual, they also can be great team-building activities.  There are indoor, outside, in the car, and elsewhere activities, and many of these can be combined into super-activities.

Mailbox Monday #334

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1.  The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton for review in September with TLC Book Tours.

Normandy, 1944. To cover the fighting in France, Jane, a reporter for the Nashville Banner, and Liv, an Associated Press photographer, have already had to endure enormous danger and frustrating obstacles—including strict military regulations limiting what women correspondents can do. Even so, Liv wants more.

Encouraged by her husband, the editor of a New York newspaper, she’s determined to be the first photographer to reach Paris with the Allies, and capture its freedom from the Nazis.

However, her Commanding Officer has other ideas about the role of women in the press corps. To fulfill her ambitions, Liv must go AWOL. She persuades Jane to join her, and the two women find a guardian angel in Fletcher, a British military photographer who reluctantly agrees to escort them. As they race for Paris across the perilous French countryside, Liv, Jane, and Fletcher forge an indelible emotional bond that will transform them and reverberate long after the war is over.

NotBlackWhite2.  Not Black and White by G.A. Beller, which arrived unexpectedly from Tandem Literary and one that will be passed onto someone who would enjoy this.

First time author G. A. Beller creates a fictionalized accounting of the characters and events surrounding this time in Chicago politics. His storytelling will place the reader inside the smoke-filled back rooms where political deals are made. Inspired by true events, Beller’s speculation of how these events played out leaves the reader to interpret fact from fiction.


3. Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons by Margaret Wise Brown for review from Sterling Children’s Books.

Fluffy clouds, butterflies, furry bunnies, and life from a bug’s-eye view: This stunning sequel to the New York Times bestseller Goodnight Songs celebrates the beauty and wonder of nature all year long. Once again, a treasure trove of Margaret Wise Brown’s newly uncovered verses receives loving treatment from 12 award-winning artists, including Floyd Cooper, Peter Brown, David Small, Molly Idle, and Bob Staake. From a little bear singing one morning in May to a soft snowfall, mysterious, deep, and glowing, each song is magical.

An accompanying CD, with lilting songs beautifully composed and sung by Emily Gary and Tom Proutt, makes this the perfect gift for children.

4.  How to Entertain, Distract, and Unplug Your Kids by Matthew Jervis for review from Skyhorse Publishing.

Face it. Your kids don’t want you around ALL the time! As much as you’d like to build that go-cart or that amazing tree house for them, you also need a little time for yourself!

Sure, we’d all like to hand our kids the phone when things get tough, but down deep we know that screen time will not build world leaders. So how does a parent like you keep those little rug rats entertained and engaged in a meaningful way while you get your own stuff done?

Well, this book is a good start! With these simple tricks, you will turn their boredom into fun, teachable, and productive (sometimes) moments in this irreverent yet practical guide.

From photo bombing magazines in the dentist’s office to sock matching speed trials to making bread, this book provides spontaneous activities that kids can do with or without you, leaving time for you to do parent stuff like making dinner, reading the paper, or enjoying a glass of wine.

5.  Piglet Bo Can Do Anything! by Geert De Kockere, illustrated by Tineke Van Hemeldonck for review from Sky Pony Press.

Piglet Bo finds friends on his journey—a whale, a pigeon, a bull—and they inspire and help him when they can, but ultimately it takes courage and daring for Piglet Bo to attempt the impossible. Piglet Bo is the bravest and most determined little piglet, with a heart set on adventure. There are no limits to what he can do, and young readers will fall in love with his sweet and endearing resolve. Geert De Kockere writes Piglet Bo’s adventures in simple, playful language, filled with light humor. Tineke Van Hemeldonck’s brilliant mixed-media illustrations bring the story to life, and even the littlest readers will have fun spotting the elusive, lucky four-leaf clover hidden on each page.

What did you receive?