5th annual 2015 Best Books of the Year Awards

Golden Stars

Each year I call out my favorites from among my recommended reads list and confer upon them the “Best Books of the Year” Award. Writing and story-telling can be objectively evaluated, but when it comes down to 4 v. 5 stars or very good v. the “best,” judging becomes subjective. For me, it rests largely on the way a book makes me feel as I’m reading it. Can I put it down–or do I have to keep reading until the end? Does it make me lose sleep?

I would recommend any of the books on my recommended reads list, and I hope you’ll check them out and give all the authors your consideration. They deserve it. All the books, in my opinion, rate at least 4 stars (I don’t finish reading 3 or less star books). Remember, my 4 stars may be your 5 stars.

My faves this year are in the sci-fi romance, sci-fi, dark erotica, and paranormal genres. Usually I read 60-70- books per year, but in 2015 I challenged myself to read 100. As of this morning, I have finished 102.

Before I announce the winners, let me remind you of the selection criteria.

  1. The book must be well-written, a dual combination of story-telling and wordsmithing. It does not need to be perfect, but a book has to have an intriguing solid plot and well-developed and motivated characters. The writing should be in active voice and flow nicely.
  2. The story must have legs. Some books are like cotton candy–enjoyable at the time, but they evaporate from memory quickly.
  3. The winning books weren’t necessarily written or published in 2015–that’s just when I read them.

Drum roll please….the awards are….

c791 lgFor getting me hooked on metal menC791 by Eve Langlais –The moment the shy, scared med tech is sent in to collect tissue samples from the big, bad cyborg prisoner, I was hooked. The opening chapter grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go until I read the entire More than Machines series. I went on to read cyborg SFR’s by other authors. It even inspired me to write my own!



deviantFor taking me to the dark side, even when I didn’t want to go thereDeviant by Natasha Knight. A gripping tale of an assassin beyond redemption, and the woman who thinks her love can save him. In real life, this kind of scenario should never happen, but in dark erotica it makes for a book you can’t stop reading. This is Natasha’s second award. She made the list last year, too.



HauntMyHeartFinal (533x800)For its wit and humor and because it didn’t get the recognition it deservedHaunt my Heart by Lisa Medley. A modern woman on a ghost hunt finds a ring and brings it home, not realizing she’s also bringing home the ghost of the civil war soldier it belongs to. Ghost stories seem to be the poor red-headed stepchildren of the paranormal family and don’t get near the respect that shifters and vamps do. Be assured, Haunt My Heart is funny, sexy, and erotic.


better worldFor dystopian done right…The Fractured Era series (Better World, Legacy Code, Paragon) by Autumn Kalquist. It’s Battlestar Gallactica meets Divergent meets Brave New World. Following a catastrophe, the last survivors of the human race are traveling on an aging starship desperately looking for a planet that supports life.  Compelling story with awesomely written characters—but***spoiler alert***don’t get too attached to them. Ahem. I read books one, two and three, bam, bam, bam. Do yourself a favor and buy the boxed set.


lindsey's rescueFor going beyond the trope…The World Beyond series (Torkel’s Chosen, Arak’s Love and Lindsey’s Rescue) by Michelle Howard. Earth women traveling to alien planets to find mates is a common trope in sci-fi romance, but author Michelle Howard develops it to its fullest potential with this series of well-plotted stories with interesting, unique characters. I especially liked the way she handled Lindsey’s Rescue, an M/F/M menage. I did not read the books in order, but I suggest you do.


initiationFor a heroine with heart and pluckInitiation (Warrior Book 1) by Rebecca Royce. I don’t generally read YA because I like older characters, and wolfshifters aren’t my thing either, but this YA wolfshifter paranormal proves that when a book is good, it’s good, and the genre doesn’t matter. When vampires and werewolves take over the world, humans are driven underground. When they need to go Upward, they send a Warrior who has the genes enabling him/her to kill monsters. Sixteen-year-old newbie Warrior Rachel is sent Upward to check on an outpost, and is immediately attacked by a vampire. She’s saved by a werewolf, calling into question everything she was taught about monsters. This is a paranormal written like dystopian sci-fi, but with humor.

Thank you winners and nominees for the entertainment you provided me this past year. All your books were wonderful.

Please visit the authors’ books on Amazon by clicking on the hyperlinks.

See the complete list of nominees here.

The Past Winners – 2014 | 2013| 2012| 2011

What were your “best books” of the year? Leave a comment!

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25 Responses to 5th annual 2015 Best Books of the Year Awards

  1. You have an awesome list and I’m thrilled Deviant made it too. Thank you for that and the recommendations.

  2. Michelle Howard says:

    Thank you, Cara for reading A World Beyond and selecting them as your top read this year 🙂 Great to wake up to such good news on a Monday or any day of the week.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      You’re welcome. I loved the way you handled the menage scene in Lindsey’s Rescue, that you took time to develop the relationship between the characters. And each book had a different story, yet was still connected.

  3. ooh, great list.
    Of these, I have only read Deviant, and absolutely loved it!
    It looks like I need to add some more to my tbr list.
    Thanks for sharing, and congrats on surpassing your reading goal.


    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thanks, Katherine. I do hope you’ll try some of these books. They’re not spanking books, but they have great stories and characters.

  4. Eve Langlais says:

    Oooh, I am so excited I got you hooked on metal men. They’re addictive lol. 😉

  5. Lisa Medley says:

    Wow! That is awesome! Thank you for including Haunt and believing in me 😀 Best award ever!

  6. Ginny Stokes-Young says:

    I love Lisa Medley’s books and completely agree that Haunt My Heart didn’t get enough attention!

  7. Shea Malloy says:

    Thanks for this, Cara! I’m on the list as well, but under a different a name. I’m honoured to be among veterans of the genre. 😀

  8. Awesome list! I just downloaded Haunt My Heart…It’s in KU, so that made me extra happy. Deviant is waiting on my kindle too.

    Always informative and thought provoking. Thanks!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thanks, Celeste. Yes, Haunt my Heart is FREE with Kindle Unlimited. It’s a nice blend of history, contemporary and paranormal. And it’s funny too!

      I know you’re probably already familiar with Natasha’s stuff.

  9. Laurel Lasky says:

    Great list. I’m adding some to my TBR list. Thank you for having Maggie Ryan and I on your nomination list. For me it’s a great honor as I’m a newbie and I know Maggie is honored as well.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Looks like an awesome list! Thanks for posting, Cara! I saw a few I must try!

  11. So glad you do this every year, Cara. It always helps fill up my TBR list (as if I needed help there) Congrats to all the deserving winners!!

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