2015 Reading Challenge & Favorite Reads

Well, here we are again. Another year has flown by and another Goodreads Reading Challenge has nearly come to an end. So, now it is time to reveal whether or not we met our 2015 Reading Challenge goal.

I set my goal at 300 books and much to my surprise, I have surpassed that goal by a good number of books.

2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge
Kathy has
completed her goal of reading 300 books in 2015!

(Please feel free to friend me).

Although I beat my goal by a wide margin, I am still going to play it safe and stick with 300 books for the 2016 Reading Challenge. You just never know what life has in store and I’d rather set the goal too low than too high.

Now for the hard part: picking my favorite reads from the past year.  It took A LOT of consideration, but I finally managed to narrow it down to:

Young Adult

what weTitle: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Fiction
Length: 336 pages


Critically acclaimed memoirist Aaron Hartzler, author of Rapture Practice, takes an unflinching look at what happens to a small town when some of its residents commit a terrible crime. This honest, authentic debut novel—inspired by the events in the Steubenville rape case—will resonate with readers who’ve ever walked that razor-thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.

The party at John Doone’s last Saturday night is a bit of a blur. Kate Weston can piece together most of the details: Stacey Stallard handing her shots, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early. . . . But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same questions: Who witnessed what happened to Stacey? And what responsibility do they have to speak up about what they saw?

National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti calls What We Saw “a smart, sensitive, and gripping story about the courage it takes to do what’s right.”

Read my review HERE.

Contemporary Novel

splendor ordinaryTitle: The Splendor of Ordinary Days by Jeff High
Watervalley Series Book Three
Publisher: NAL
Genre: Contemporary
Length: 432 pages


Readers of Jan Karon’s Mitford series and Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country series will fall in love with Jeff High’s funny, heartfelt Watervalley series.

The pastoral charm of small-town Watervalley, Tennesse, can be deceptive, as young Dr. Luke Bradford discovers when he’s caught in the fallout of a decades-old conflict…

After a rocky start as Watervalley’s only doctor, Luke Bradford has decided to stay in town, honoring the three-year commitment he made to pay off his medical school debts. But even as his friendships with the quirky townsfolk deepen, and he pursues a romance with lovely schoolteacher Christine Chambers, several military veterans’ emotional wounds trigger anger and unrest in Watervalley.

At the center of the clash is the curmudgeonly publisher of the local newspaper, Luther Whitmore. Luther grew up in Watervalley, but he returned from combat in Vietnam a changed man. He fenced in beautiful Moon Lake, posting “Keep Out” notices at the beloved spot, and provokes the townspeople with his incendiary newspaper.

As Luke struggles to understand Luther’s past, and restore harmony in Watervalley, an unforeseen crisis shatters a relationship he values dearly. Suddenly Luke must answer life’s toughest questions about service, courage, love, and sacrifice.

Read my review HERE.


all the thingsTitle: All the Things We Never Knew by Shelia Hamilton
Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness
Publisher: Seal Press
Genre: Contemporary, Non-Fiction, Memoir
Length: 312 pages


Even as a reporter, Sheila Hamilton missed the signs as her husband David’s mental illness unfolded before her. By the time she had pieced together the puzzle, it was too late. Her once brilliant and passionate partner was dead within six weeks of a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, leaving his young daughter and wife without so much as a note to explain his actions, a plan to help them recover from their profound grief, or a solution for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt that they would inherit from him.

All the Things We Never Knew takes readers on a breathtaking journey from David and Sheila’s romance through the last three months of their life together and into the year after his death. It details their unsettling spiral from ordinary life into the world of mental illness, examines the fragile line between reality and madness, and reveals the true power of love and forgiveness.

Read my review HERE.

Women’s Fiction

pretending to danceTitle: Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 400 pages


Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She lives in San Diego with a husband she adores, and they are trying to adopt a baby because they can’t have a child on their own. But the process of adoption brings to light many questions about Molly’s past and her family-the family she left behind in North Carolina twenty years before. The mother she says is dead but who is very much alive. The father she adored and whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison’s Ridge. Her own birth mother whose mysterious presence in her family raised so many issues that came to a head. The summer of twenty years ago changed everything for Molly and as the past weaves together with the present story, Molly discovers that she learned to lie in the very family that taught her about pretending. If she learns the truth about her beloved father’s death, can she find peace in the present to claim the life she really wants?

Read my review HERE.


life or deathTitle: Life or Death by Michael Robotham
Publisher: Mullholland Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 449 pages


Why would a man serving a long prison sentence escape the day before he’s due to be released?

Audie Palmer has spent ten years in a Texas prison after pleading guilty to a robbery in which four people died and seven million dollars went missing. During that time he has suffered repeated beatings, stabbings and threats by inmates and guards, all desperate to answer the same question: where’s the money?

On the day before Audie is due to be released, he suddenly vanishes. Now everybody is searching for him – the police, FBI, gangsters and other powerful figures – but Audie isn’t running to save his own life. Instead, he’s trying to save someone else’s.

Michael Robotham has created the ultimate underdog hero, an honorable criminal shrouded in mystery and ready to lead readers on a remarkable chase.

Read my review HERE.

Gay Romance

yesTitle: Yes by Brad Boney
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, M/M, Romance
Length: 220 pages


What if youth wasn’t wasted on the young?

On the eve of his fortieth birthday, Ian Parker is looking for a reboot. He may be the proud owner of a trendy coffee shop in Austin called La Tazza Magica, but his love life has been MIA for years. During a trip to Denver with his best friend, Mark, Ian buys an enchanted chocolate from a mysterious candy store—then wakes up from a nap two decades younger. After the initial shock, Ian realizes a quirk of the universe has given him a second chance and, with Mark’s help, he devises a plan to start over.

With a new lease on life, Ian sets his sights on handsome architect Bartley James, a regular customer at La Tazza. He pursues Bartley as Ian’s twenty-one-year-old alter ego, Ryan, with decidedly unexpected results. Joining Ryan on his adventures are Matthew, the dreamy new barista, Jeremy, the geeky high-school math teacher, and Sam, the pizza delivery boy. Even as misunderstandings and expectations collide, Ian remains determined to right his past mistakes and find his off-ramp to happiness.

Read my review HERE.

Contemporary Romance

Title: The Perfect Homecoming by Julia London
Pine River Series Book Three
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 320 page


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia London delivers another stand-alone, heartwarming love story in her Pine River series.

Emma Tyler’s cool exterior and penchant for sarcasm keep most people from getting too close…and an unusual compulsion drives her to steal from the few men who do. When her trophy-collecting habit goes too far, she quits her ritzy event-planning job in Los Angeles and runs away to Pine River, hiding with her estranged half-sisters at Homecoming Ranch and caring for Leo Kendrick, her ailing friend.

Thrillseekers Anonymous founder Cooper Jessup has his hands full with work and his brother’s looming prison release date. But when a client asks him to track down Emma Tyler to retrieve a stolen memento, Cooper can’t turn down the money…or the chance to see the beautiful Emma again.

When Cooper comes to collect the item, Emma refuses to admit the horrible truth. This handsome man may see right through her steely veneer, but can he get close enough to show her how love and honesty can heal a troubled heart?

Read my review HERE.


dandelion fieldTitle: The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer
Publisher: Zondervan
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Romance
Length: 352 pages


This handsome firefighter makes a living coming to the rescue, but Gin doesn’t need a man to fight her battles.

After Raine’s dad walked out, Ginevieve Lightly never lived in one place too long, a rambling lifestyle that defined her daughter’s youth. When their car dies in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises Raine they can stay until she finishes her senior year of high school. Gin will do anything to make sure her daughter has a bright future . . . a future that’s compromised when Raine reveals she’s pregnant.

Dan Moretti has only ever called Banister Falls home. After losing his best friend in a tragic accident, Dan devoted himself to responding to fires, rescuing the helpless, and guiding Cody Bennett, his best friend’s son, through life. With Cody being the epitome of the good kid, it was an easy job. Until he says four little words: “The baby is mine.”

Knowing gossip of Raine’s pregnancy will erupt sooner or later in the small town, Gin’s reflex is to grab the suitcase and escape to a new city, a new life. But with each passing day, Gin’s feet stay rooted in Banister Falls, and she falls a little more for this local firefighter who shows her not all men abandon women at the first sign of smoke.

As Gin and Dan do the best they can to guide the two teenagers through their early entry into adulthood, they discover together that romance can bloom in the rockiest of situations. And God can turn the pieces of a broken past into a beautiful new beginning.

Read my review HERE.

Historical Romance

hope rememberedTitle: A Hope Remembered by Stacy Henrie
Of Love and War Series Book Three
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical, Inspirational, Romance
Length: 384 pages



Nora Lewis just wants an escape after losing her fiance in the Great War. When she inherits property in England, she boldly packs up and leaves America for a fresh start. But, if not for her dashing new neighbor, Colin Ashby, she’d be lost. Even as their friendship deepens, Nora knows a British aristocrat would never be free to love an American orphan, no matter how much the war has changed the world …

After his brother’s death in the war and his own experiences as a pilot at the front, Colin returns home broken, only to discover his family’s estate is also in ruin. The pressure is now on him to save his home and the Ashbys’ place in society with a well-bred match to a wealthy heiress. Too bad he finds more of a kindred spirit in Nora, the beautiful American next door. She, too, has faced the rigors of war and survived. Now the ex-soldier will have one more battle to fight–this time for love.

Read my review HERE.

Honorable Mention

far endTitle: The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 368 pages


Ronnie’s husband is supposed to move out today. But when Jeff pulls into the driveway drunk, with a shotgun in the front seat, she realizes nothing about the day will go as planned.

The next few hours spiral down in a flash, unlike the slow disintegration of their marriage-and whatever part of that painful unraveling is Ronnie’s fault, not much else matters now but these moments. Her family’s lives depend on the choices she will make-but is what’s best for her best for everyone?

Based on a real event from the author’s life, The Far End of Happy is a chilling story of one troubled man, the family that loves him, and the suicide standoff that will change all of them forever.

Read my review HERE.

Most Surprising Read

I did not review this one, but it caught me so off guard that I HAD to mention it! I absolutely CANNOT wait for the next book in this delightful series.

subs clubTitle: The Subs Club by J.A. Rock
The Subs Club Series Book One
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, BDSM, Erotic, Romance
Length: 297 pages/Word Count: 74,400


A year ago, my best friend Hal died at the hands of an incompetent “dom.” So I started the Subs Club, a private blog where submissives can review doms and call out the douche bags.

A perfect example of the kind of arrogant asshole I mean? The Disciplinarian. He has a pornstache. He loves meat, stoicism, America, and real discipline. And he thinks subs exist to serve him.

But . . . not everything about him is awful. His Davy Crockett act just seems like a cover for his fear of intimacy, and part of me wants to show him it’s okay to get close to people. And, I mean, sue me, but I have fantasized about real discipline. Not role-play, but like, Dave, you’re gonna be thirty in four years and you still work in a mall; get your ass in gear or I’ll spank it.

Not that I’d ever trust anyone with that kind of control.

I’m gonna redefine “battle of wills” for the Disciplinarian. Or I’m gonna bone him. It’s hard to say.


Well, there you have it. My favorite reads of 2015 and my reading goals for 2016.

Now it’s your turn to ‘fess up. Did you hit your 2015 Reading Challenge goal? Are you participating in Goodread’s Reading Challenge 2016? What were your favorite books from 2015?

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5 Responses to 2015 Reading Challenge & Favorite Reads

  1. Timitra

    Yes, I hit my goal of 100 books! I’m currently at 109 books read so far this year! Yes, I will be participating in the 2016 challenge but not sure what my goal will be. Some of my fave books are
    Burned by Karen Marie Moning
    The Slayer by Kele Moon
    Last Kiss by Jen Frederick and Jessica Clare
    Ricochet by Keri Lake
    The Girl In 6E and Black Lies by Alessandra Torre
    The Deal by Elle Kennedy

  2. Book Reviews & More by Kathy

    Congratulations on hitting your goal, Timitra! Oohhh!! Some of your favorites are in Mt. TBR 🙂

    I’ll be sure to check and see what goal you decide to set for next the 2016 Reading Challenge

  3. Sherry

    I never make my goal. LOL! I’ll try again but life seems so crazy I may have to make a small goal this year. I did request a couple of your books you recommended from the library. Especially the one about the Steubenville Rape Case since I literally live 10 min from Steubenville and work in Steubenville. Can’t wait to read that one.

    • Book Reviews & More by Kathy

      That book is absolutely amazing. I had to look up the case after I read the book. Mindblowing that things like that happen.

      Good luck with next year’s challenge!

  4. Sue

    I set a target of 400 – currently at 366 so may make 370 BUT I did do a lot of rereads without changing date read to this year so I will be over target by a few!