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?

The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy

tlc tour host

Source:  TLC Book Tours
Hardcover, 320 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy is a dual narrative in which Eden and Sarah both deal with a personal dilemma.  Sarah lives during a time of turmoil for the United States, when the Underground Railroad has flourished and ensured the escape of slaves to the North and civil unrest has taken something most dear to her.  Eden lives in the modern day and she and her husband have moved into New Charlestown to start a family and slow life down a bit.  Unfortunately, their plans are sidetracked and disappointment and self-loathing are Eden’s dominant emotions, until one day she finds the head of a porcelain doll in her root cellar.

“The Old House on Apple Hill Lane shuddered against the weighty snow that burdened its pitch.  The ancient beams moaned their secret pains to the wintering doves in the attic.  The nesting duo pushed feathered bosoms together, blinked, and nodded quickly, as if to say, Yes-yes, we hear, yes-yes, we know, while down deep in the cellar, the metal within the doll’s porcelain skull grew crystals along its ridges.  Sharp as a knife.  The skull did all it could to hold steady against the shattering temperature for just one more minute of one more hour.” (pg. 1)

McCoy is a gifted story-teller who immediately captures the attention of her readers with detail and mood.  Her books always transport readers to another time and/or place, and her characters are strong and flawed, like most of us.  Readers can connect with their struggles because they too have struggled similarly or know someone who has.  Eden’s modern problem and Sarah’s are the same, but how they deal with it is very different.  Eden shuts down and tries to cocoon herself against the pain and the disappointment, while Sarah takes her time and accepts it, giving up the one she loves in the process for a greater cause. Eden looks within herself for far too long and has alienated her life, but Sarah seeks an outward cause to turn her energy toward.  And the mystery that ties these women together is well woven and readers will enjoy unraveling it with Eden.

The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy is wonderful, and beautifully written.  It had me reading into the late hours until I finished!  McCoy’s book is brilliantly told and chock full of research about the Underground Railroad.  But at its heart it’s about learning what family is and how much that one word can include, particularly outside of one’s immediate relations.

***Another contender for the Best of 2015 list!***

***If you are in Gaithersburg, Md., you’ll be able to catch Sarah McCoy live at the local book festival on May 16, 2015.






To win a copy, please leave a comment below by April 30, 2015, at 11:59 p.m. EST.  U.S. and Canadian residents only.

About the Author:

SARAH McCOY is the  New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Ricoand The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, May 5, 2015).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas. Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.

Mailbox Monday #319

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.  Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer by Lisa Pliscou from the author for review.

What was Jane Austen like as a child? What were her formative influences and experiences, her challenges and obstacles, that together set her on the path toward becoming a writer?

Drawing upon a wide array of sources, including Austen’s own books and correspondence, Lisa Pliscou has created a “speculative biography” that, along with 20 charming black-and-white illustrations, offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of young Jane Austen. Also included is a richly detailed, annotated version of the narrative and an overview of Austen’s life, legacy, and the era in which she lived, as well as a timeline of her key childhood events.

YOUNG JANE AUSTEN is sure to intrigue anyone interested in Jane Austen, in writing and the creative process, and in the triumph of the artistic spirit.

2.  Looking for Potholes by Joe Wenke from the publisher for review.

Poetry by Joe Wenke. Joe has written several books including: Human Agenda: Conversations about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (January 2015), The Talk Show: a Novel, Free Air: poems, Papal Bull: An Ex-Catholic Calls Out the Catholic Church, You Got Be Kidding! A Radical Satire of The Bible and Mailer’s America.


3.  The Sound of Glass by Karen White for review from the publisher.

It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.

Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.

Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.

4.  The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy for a TLC Book Tour.

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.  Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.

5.  One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart, my pre-ordered hardcover finally arrived!

Set in Florence, Italy, One Thing Stolen follows Nadia Cara as she mysteriously begins to change. She’s become a thief, she has secrets she can’t tell, and when she tries to speak, the words seem far away.

What did you receive this week?