Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Brainstorm 55: Top 10s of 2015 (Part 3 of 3)

I'm posting my last of the top 10s read in 2015 a little earlier than Friday in case anyone wants to check out some of these before Christmas break. Today features my top 10s for picture books and graphic novels. For fun, I've thrown in my top 10s of books I'm looking forward to reading in 2016 too. Click on the titles of books I've read to see my full review. Click on the titles of books I've yet to read to see more info about them on GoodReads.com.

Fiction Picture Books 
(To help myself, I had to narrow this list down to the top 10 of those published in 2015.)

  1. A Fine Dessert: four centuries, four families, one delicious treat by Emily Jenkins, ill. by Sophie Blackall
  2. If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t by Elise Parsley
  3. The Most Wonderful Thing in the World by Vivian French, ill. by Angela Barrett
  4. Have You Seen My Monster? by Steve Light
  5. Mama Seeton’s Whistle by Jerry Spinelli, ill. by LeUyen Pham
  6. My Pen by Christopher Myers
  7. Woflie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, ill. by Zachariah O’Hora
  8. The Day the Crayons Came Home (Crayons #2) by Drew Daywalt, ill. by Oliver Jeffers
  9. I Will Take a Nap (Elephant & Piggie #23) by Mo Willems
  10. Home by Carson Ellis

Graphic Novels/Comics 
(To help myself on this list, I only allowed one book per series.)

  1. Phoebe and Her Unicorn (Phoebe and her unicorn #1) by Dana Simpson
  2. The Underground Abductor (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #5) by Nathan Hale
  3. Case of the Toxic Mutants (Dragonbreath #9) by Ursula Vernon
  4. Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
  5. Dragons Beware (Chronicles of Claudette #2) by Jorge Aguirre, ill. by Rafael Rosado, colors by John Novak
  6. Target Practice (Cleopatra in Space #1) by Mike Maihack
  7. Binky the Space Cat (Binky the Space Cat #1) by Ashley Spires
  8. Escape from the Lizzarks (Nnewts #1) by Doug TenNapel
  9. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Power (Vol 1) by Ryan North, ill. by Erica Henderson
  10. Bird & Squirrel on the Run by James Burks

Books I Can’t Wait to Get Reading in 2016  - Fiction

Picture books
1. Max at Night (Max #2) by Ed Vere
2. Flora and the Peacocks (Flora #3) by Molly Idle

Lower grade
3. The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party (Princess in Black #2) by Shannon Hale

Middle grade
4. Of Mice and Magic (Hamster Princess #2) by Ursula Vernon
5. Mr Lemoncello’s Library Olympics (Mr Lemoncello’s Library #2) by Chris Grabenstein
6. The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd

7. Winter (Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyers
8. Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson

9. Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6) by Brandon Sanderson
10. Dressed for Death (Drew Farthering #4) by Julianna Deering

Books on the Top of My To-Read Pile for 2016  - Nonfiction

  1. The Fellowship: the literary lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip Zaleski & Carol Zaleski
  2. Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe
  3. Alamo All-Stars (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #6) by Nathan Hale
  4. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: a devout Muslim encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi
  5. Poisoner’s Handbook: murder and the birth of forensic medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum
  6. Dead Wake: the last crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
  7. Extreme Medicine: how exploration transformed medicine in the Twentieth Century by Kevin Fong
  8. Genius of Opposites: how introverts and extroverts achieve extraordinary results together by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler
  9. Undaunted: doing what God calls you to do (Student ed.) by Christine Caine
  10. On Immunity: an inoculation by Eulia Biss
  11. Inside Biosphere 2: Earth science under glass by Mary Kay Carson, photos by Tom Uhlman

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Brainstorm 54: Top 10s of 2015 (part 2 of 3)

I'm continuing my top 10s lists of books I read in 2015. Unless a list has a special note beside it, the books may have been published any time. Today's installment of these top 10s feature the nonfiction books I loved this year. Click on the titles to see my review of the book. Next week I'll post my top 10s for graphic novels and picture books.

Lower & Middle Grade Biographies/Autobiographies

  1. The Underground Abductor (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #5) by Nathan Hale 
  2. Everybody Paints: the lives and art of the Wyeth family by Susan Goldman Rubin
  3. The Right Word: Roget and his thesaurus by Jen Bryant, ill. by Melissa Sweet
  4. Zheng He: the great Chinese explorer by Li Jiang, translated by Yijin Wert
  5. Mr Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis, ill. by Gilbert Ford
  6. Finding Winnie: the true story of the world’s most famous bear by Lindsay Mattick, ill. by Sophie Blackall
  7. Winnie: the true story of the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker, ill. by Jonathan D. Vos
  8. To Dance: a ballerina’s graphic novel by Siena Cherson Siegel, ill. by Mark Siegel
  9. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  10. Father’s Chinese Opera by Rich Lo

Lower & Middle Grade Nonfiction

  1. Unusual Creatures: a mostly accurate account of some of Earth’s strangest animals by Michael Hearst, ill. by Arjen Noordeman, Christie Wright and Jelmer Noordeman
  2. Millions, Billions, & Trillions by David A. Adler, ill. by Edward Miller
  3. First Book of Japanese: an ABC rhyming book by Michelle Haney Brown, ill. by Aya Padron
  4. The Next Wave: the quest to harness the power of the oceans by Elizabeth Rusch
  5. Flowers are Calling by Rita Gray, ill. by Kenard Pak
  6. The Biggest Story: how the snake crusher brings us back to the garden by Kevin DeYoung, ill. by Don Clark
  7. Name That Style: all about isms in art by Bob Raczka
  8. An Egg Is Quiet by Diana Hutts Aston, ill. by Sylvia Long
  9. The World in Your Lunch Box by Claire Eamer, ill. by Sa Boothroyd
  10. Octopus Scientist (Scientists in the Field) by Sy Montgomery, ill. by Keith Ellenbogen

Adult Nonfiction

  1. Molecules: the elements and the architecture of everything by Theodore Gray, photos by Nick Mann
  2. Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain
  3. Spark: the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain by John J. Ratey with Eric Haggerman
  4. Elements: a visual exploration of every known atom in the universe by Theodore Gray, photos by Nick Mann
  5. Surprised by Hope: rethinking heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the Church by N.T. Wright
  6. Frozen in Time: an epic story of survival and a modern quest for lost heroes of WWII by Mitchell Zuckoff
  7. Saving Italy: the race to rescue a nation’s treasures from the Nazis by Robert M. Edsel
  8. The Lord and His Prayer by N.T. Wright
  9. Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman
  10. Farm Anatomy: curious parts and pieces of country life by Julia Rothman

Adult Biographies 
(I'm a few short on this list for 10, so I included one I'm currently reading and two I plan to read very soon. *currently reading, **on my very soon to read pile)

  1. Fierce Convictions: the extraordinary life of Hannah More – poet, reformer, abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior
  2. The Devil in the White City: murder, magic, and madness at the fair that changed America by Erik Larson
  3. The Case for Grace by Lee Strobel
  4. A Higher Call: an incredible true story of combat and chivalry in the war-torn skies of WWII by Adam Makos with Larry Alexander
  5. Unbroken: a World War II story of survival, resilience and redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  6. Where the Wind Leads: a refugee family’s miraculous story of loss, rescue and redemption by Vinh Chung with Tim Downs
  7. Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elisabeth Bisland’s history-making race around the world by Matthew Goodman
  8. *Seven Women: and the secret of their greatness by Eric Metaxas
  9. **The Fellowship: the literary lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip Zaleski & Carol Zaleski
  10. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: a devout Muslim encounters Christianity by Nabeel Quereshi

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Brainstorm 53: Top 10s of 2015 (part 1 of 3)

As Christmas break and New Year creep ever closer, I think it’s about time for my top tens of 2015. Picking just ten books might possibly drive me insane; I cannot narrow the 600+ books I've read this year down like that. So to help myself, I’m doing the top ten in various categories. The books included have been published over a broad range of years (unless otherwise noted). I’ve divided the books into Adult Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Lower Grade Fiction, Picture books, Juvenile Nonfiction, Juvenile Biographies, Adult Nonfiction, and Graphic Novels. To prevent information overload, I’m going to post the lists in three posts over the next week. Click on the title of the book to see my review and why it's on this list.

Top 10 Books of 2015 (by category) Part 1 of 3

Adult Fiction

  1. Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5) by Brandon Sanderson
  2. Rules of Murder (Drew Farthering #1) by Julianna Deering
  3. A Measure of Mercy (Home to Blessing #1) by Lauraine Snelling
  4. Rip Van Winkle & other stories by Washington Irving
  5. The Martian by Andy Weir  (*Make sure you read the content notes, not recommended for everyone.) 
  6. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley
  7. Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs #2) by Jacqueline Winspear
  8. The Invisible Library (Invisible Library #1) by Genevieve Cogman
  9. The Choosing (The Seer #1) by Rachelle Dekker
  10. Skin Deep (Legion #2) by Brandon Sanderson

Young Adult Fiction

  1. Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
  2. Rook by Sharon Cameron
  3. Jubilee Manor (Landry Park #2) by Bethany Hagen
  4. Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
  5. Eye of Zoltar (Last Dragonslayer #3) by Jasper Fforde
  6. Empire of Shadows (Bhinian Empire #2) by Miriam Forster
  7. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
  8. Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard
  9. Dark Mirror (Dark Mirror #1) by M.J. Putney
  10. *Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson (Technically I finished this Dec 31, 2014, but it’s so close and so good I had to count it.)

Middle Grade Fiction (I had so many options I limited this list to books published in 2015.)

  1. Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  2. Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
  3. Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
  4. Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
  5. Harriet the Invincible (Hamster Princess #1) by Ursula Vernon
  6. Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase #1) by Rick Riordan
  7. The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
  8. Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
  9. Good Ogre (Bad Unicorn #3) by Platte F. Clark
  10. The Mad Apprentice (Forbidden Library #2) by Django Wexler

Lower Grade Fiction

  1. Tales for Very Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider
  2. Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel
  3. Princess in Black (Princess in Black #1) by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, ill. by LeUyen Pham
  4. Bad Kitty for President by Nick Bruel
  5. Mercy Watson to the Rescue (Mercy Watson #1) by Kate DiCamillo, ill. by Chris Van Dusen
  6. Mercy Watson Fights Crime (Mercy Watson #3) by Kate DiCamillo, ill. by Chris Van Dusen
  7. For the Love of Autumn by Patricia Polacco
  8. Odd Duck by Cecil Castelluci, ill. by Sara Vernon
  9. The Invisible Cat (Squishy McFluff #1) by Pip Jones, ill. by Ella Okstad
  10. Dory Fantasmagory (Dory #1) by Abby Hanlon