Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone. I've raved so much about this book so that can hardly come as a surprise to anybody. I found this as a random netgalley pick - I knew nothing about it, but liked the cover - so came to it completely without expectations and it just blew me away. This is definitely one of the books I want to own as a physical book as well as an ebook - it belongs in my library! So I was thrilled when I found it under the Christmas tree. Thank you, Rebekka + family! :)
Best Christian Fiction
Where Are the Lions? by Claus Tondering. Some might claim I'm slightly biased, but I don't care ;) I really, really love this book, and am fascinated by the ideas set forth in it about Heaven. Some of them seem so blatantly obvious to me now that I can't understand why I'd never thought of it before. God gave us our hopes, dreams, interests and passions for a reason - why assume we won't use them in Heaven as well? Fascinating book that I've read three times already :)
The Martian by Andy Weir. One of the first books I read this year. I immediately claimed it the best book of the year... and I still think I might have been right. I love when I can dive right into a book, and feel absolutely delighted by each turning of the page, and "The Martian" was such a book to me. The kind of book I'd love to read more of.
Fortunately the movie didn't disappoint either :)
Best Childrens Book
Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This is either old children or young young adult, so by claiming it as the former I could add a new category and include it on the list! ;) Another semi-random discover. It suddenly turned up on podcasts everywhere, so when I found it at a library on our roadtrip, I thought I'd give it a shot. I couldn't put it down and found it incredibly moving and poignant.
Best Christian Non-Fiction
Cupid is a Procrastinator by Kate Hurley. I was surprised by how much I liked this book, and especially by how relateable I found it. As an "old married woman" one could perhaps claim that I am not the intended target audience of this book, but even so I discovered that Kate Hurley had words of wisdom for me as well, and I found myself highlighting passages all over the place. Because in the end, Kate Hurley's book is about "hope deferred" (Proverbs 13:12). For Kate Hurley, Cupid turned out to be a procrastinator. Others may be waiting on the stork, better health, a house, a job or any other milestone event. The "hopes" are different, but the way we can chose to respond and react really isn't, in the end.
Best Book in Retrospect
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I wasn't entirely sure what I thought of it while I read it, and parts of it were a real slog to get through, but when I thought back on it afterwards, I realized how brilliant it actually was, and that I'd probably want to reread it. It's not often that I like a book better in retrospect than when I actually read it (usually it's the other way around), and that charmed me.
A Dip in the Ocean by Sarah Outen. And thus began my love affair/fascination with Sarah Outen. I can't remember how I first heard about her, but this book has been standing on my shelves for ages. At the spring read-a-thon I finally got around to reading it, and I immediately found myself wanting to know more, more, more! Fortunately she has a strong presence online, so I was able to find her blog, and follow her then-current attempt at travelling around the world under her own steam -- another book in the making, I am sure, and one I know I'll buy as soon as it's published. She's an amazing and inspiring woman.
Best Graphic Memoir
Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto. I had three possible contenders for this category, but at the end of the day, I think Cancer Vixen wins. It's a touching account of the author's fight with cancer. I was very moved by it, and would recommend it to anybody who's been affected by cancer - either directly or by proxy.
S. by J.J. Abrams. This is one of those books I'd never have picked up if it hadn't been for a) it being recommended in one of my favourite podcasts. b) the bookstore having a store example to browse through. It was absolutely fascinating and I loved how the story was told through all sorts of different medias. It did have some unanswered questions near the end, but was definitely an instant love affair and a great surprise.
Nothing Lost by Drayton. A "Blackout / All Clear" fanfic. I love "Blackout" and "All Clear" by Connie Willis, but it has always frustrated me a bit by the things that are only hinted at, but never explained. I'm simply just not good enough at reading between the lines, and besides - I want to know! Not just guess.
This fanfic is the story of Colin during the events of those two books and did a great job at both catching Connie Willis' writing style, as well as answering pretty much all the questions those two books left me with. A great read that I'd highly recommend :)
Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've wanted to read this ever since I first heard of it. Ive always known that the "Little House" series wasn't 100% accurate, and have been intrigued by what actually happened. This provided me with just that, and included heaps of extra details to boot. Funny to see how some parts of Laura's story were described exactly as they happened, and others were changed beyond recognition.