2015 Standout Awards by One Book Two

Stand Out Award Badge2Hello and welcome to the First Annual Standout Awards by One Book Two!  What are these awards, you ask?  Well, let me tell you. 🙂

One Book Two Standout Awards are given out by One Book Two reviewers to honor truly exceptional reading experiences. At the end of the year, reviewers can select–from among the reviews they’ve published during the year–books, series, authors, audiobooks, narrators, cover artists, etc. that really blew them away.  We’ll add the Standout Award badge to those reviews and list all the winners on a page on our website.  Authors can also display the award badge on their websites should they so choose.  This is a way to highlight those books that really amazed us during the year.

So, without further ado, we’re delighted to present our 2015 Standout Awards!

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana

Since One Book Two is still less than a year old, I’m giving the 2015 Standout Award to new authors, books, and series I discovered this year that I might NOT have found or tried if I weren’t involved in this blog. These authors, books, and series go on my “watch” list so I don’t miss a book!

Cursed series by Amy Braun. The Cursed series is a solid example of urban fantasy—angels, demons, damaged people trying to recover their lives and do good, epic fights, good vs. evil. Being an older sister myself, I can relate to the protagonist’s overprotective tendencies. I care about these characters and want to see them win.

The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr. I am so impressed by the relationship between this novel and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Though the tale is updated and fresh, it still explores the contradictions of human nature in the very same way as, if not in a more extended way than, its predecessor. The references to both the original story and other stories of the era are like in-jokes for the English geek. It’s awesome.

The Adventures of Owl by Kristi Charish. The Adventures of Owl is going to be a long and successful series. Archeology, ancient magics, a variety of magical races, politics, and an exploration of the mythology of many cultures is going to make this series a big hit.

Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer series by Rebecca Chastain. I enjoyed this light “clueless gal makes good” series from Book 01 and knew I wanted to read more. But it was Book 02, A Fistful of Fire, which really clinched it for me. Fire’s layered mystery and fast action makes it so much fun to read. So far, the series has only covered the first two weeks of Madison Fox’s tenure at her new job; I can’t wait to find out what happens in Week Three!

Redneck Apocalypse series by eden Hudson. This series really blew me away. Its portrayal of dysfunctional people trying so hard to do the right thing touched me emotionally. This series gets the “biggest feels” award for the year; I am completely entranced.

Yancy Lazarus series by James A. Hunter. Urban fantasy with a snarky, sarcastic wizard. With three novels and one novella published this year, James Hunter has hit the scene big, and the writing gets more polished with each successive effort. I’m glad Nell found the series and we both stuck with it. I think we’ll see even better things from Hunter this year.

Guarding Angel by S.L. Saboviec. Guarding Angel is so amazingly unique in my experience. Its treatment of long-lived characters, its depiction of Heaven, and its interpretation of the purpose of human life resonated strongly with me. Guarding Angel stuck with me for weeks as I pondered all it had to offer.

Immortal Vegas series by Jenn Stark. This is a fun, fun series. It straddles the line between light and serious and I LOVE that kind of writing. There is a special joy in braving a new series from an unknown author, only to realize that you’ve been smiling the whole time you’ve been reading.

I’m giving one additional Standout Award this year to Graphic Audio. Listening to dramatized audiobooks this year has been a real treat; I’m so glad I stumbled onto the site and took a chance with a new kind of audiobook. The multiple character voices, music, and environmental sound really adds richness and depth to the story. You guys totally rock!

Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie

This is a hard decision.  I would have most likely not tried any of these books without the blog.  I, as my name suggests, am a nervous reader and it’s tough to step out of my box.  I am very glad that I found these books – and the authors.  The list below is not in any preferential order, mainly because I can’t put one in front of another – they are all equally good in my mind.  I will list what I liked most about them, though.

Yancy Lazarus series by James A. Hunter.  The cover art is fantastic.  The stories are engaging with one of the best protagonists I have ever read.  He is older than the normal hero, he is snarky with some totally awesome quotes and also not indestructible.  He is also wrong on occasion.  I love him.  Seriously.

The Inquisitor Series by Lincoln Farish.  Again, the cover art is above par.  The author is seriously talented with telling a story and the protagonist isn’t aware of his own talent.  It’s a difficult to explain how wrapped up in this character’s life I became.  I didn’t fall in love with Sebastian like I did Yancy, but I rooted for him.  He is one tough hombre that gets kicked when he’s down more often than not.

The Whisper King series by Wil Radcliffe.  This series took me by surprise.  It’s seriously gritty and horrific.  It’s like a bad traffic accident – I couldn’t look away – I had to keep reading no matter how bad the situation was with the protagonist.  This story appealed to the monster in my closet because it scared the crap out of me more than once.  Wil is an awesome story teller too – incredible.

The Soren Chase series by Rob Blackwell.  This series is amazing.  The protagonist’s life is revealed a little at a time and the twists and turns that were thrown at me left me seriously unbalanced.  The story stuck with me and long after the book was finished, I was still thinking about the repercussions to Soren’s life.  I still think of his pain – that’s testament to the author’s fabulous writing.

The Fearless series and Halfway Witchy series by Terry Maggert.  Neither series is similar to the other.  What drew me to The Fearless was, at first, the characters and then it was the history in the character’s backgrounds.  Yes, I had to look up events on the Internet, but I very much enjoyed doing so.  What drew me to Halfway Witchy was the sense of humor.  The Fearless had humor, but a different kind.  I was taken for a ride in both series – they were that good.

The following series & authors struck a cord with me because of the main female characters:  Immortal Vegas Series by Jenn Stark, Adventures of Owl Series by Kristi Charish, Cursed series by Amy Braun, Boundary Magic series by Melissa F. Olson.  They are serious women that mean business and while the stories are basically in the same genre, I could read them again and again.  It’s hard to choose one story over the other because of the differences that make each character shine.

I only have two more series to mention and I promise I’ll be done.

Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter series by John G. Hartness.  The stand out for this series is the history of the characters.  Dracula, The Harkers – I mean, come on.  The only issue I have is there are not enough stories yet written.  They are like potato chips, you can’t read just one.

Last but NEVER the least is Dark Alchemy series by Laura Bickle.  I loved Laura’s writing way back in the era of Sparky.  I’ve never ever forgotten that little fire lizard.  I love him.  Laura is an incredible word artist.  Her series are different, but the quality is above bar.  I probably would have found this series if I was not doing this blog simply because I am a hard core Bickle fan.  I am mentioning the series in my list because it’s that good.

Ruby_Lee_100Ruby Lee

In my bio, I explain that I am a tough book critic and give very few 5 stars ratings to what I read.  So I feel that a 2015 Standout Award should go to both of the books that earned all 5 stars this year:

If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison.  This isn’t a story about the mistakes of the past. This story is about accepting your past and your present and then moving forward into the one thing we can halfway control – the future. It’s about intentionally writing the life story you want written and not letting chance and circumstance decide who you will become.

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins.  Someone told me the other day that all books are made up of the same 26 letters that are just put in different orders. It just seems that some people are able to take each letter and craft together a masterpiece that a reader can get lost in. Kristan Higgins has that amazing ability to take each of these individual letters and turn them into three dimensional people that I am able to love, hope for, and cry over.

Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator

Into a Million Pieces by Angela V Cook.  Angela Cook impressed me with her book. As a first time author, she caught my attention and held it for half a book, when all that was happening was two teenage girls on summer vacation. By the end of the book, she had a compelling story that made me want to know more about the mythology of her world.

Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. It has been a long time since I have found an author that has caught me enough to lose sleep. Kevin Hearne is such an author. I devoured all the books I could in his Iron Druid series. I was immediately pulled into the world of Atticus and Oberon, and soon Granuaile as well. I’m looking forward to the next release!

Vagabond_Vahn_100Vagabon Vahn

I have decided to present the 2015 Standout Award to two novelists I came across specifically due to my involvement in OneBookTwo. I’ve read some great books this year that may have otherwise never come to my attention.

Midnight Burning by Karissa Laurel. I was taken in by the slow build of the supernatural aspects of the story. I knew they were there, it was Urban Fantasy after all, but the story progresses as a traditional Mystery for long enough to make you comfortable before bridging the gap, and I thought it worked very well. A great way to start off what I hope becomes a successful series!

Keir by Pippa Jay. The conclusion to my review of Keir began “A fast paced world-jumping romantic science-fantasy romp spanning entire eras of time and space, Keir is a fantastic, wild ride”. Having restated that I feel it appropriate to simply add: ‘Nuff said.

Fickle_Fiona_100Fickle Fiona

Mama Cried by Talia Haven. I still get goosebumps when I think of this book. I just can’t believe how much there was to such a short story. Take 10 minutes to read this story. Read it with someone. Talk about it. The time investment is so small, but the concepts in this story are so big.

Into A Million Pieces by Angela V. Cook. This book stands out to me because of the topic. I really love the way the author approached the teenage succubus, and all the issues that go along with it, especially in today’s society. But what Cook did, where she took the story…it’s worth a read!

Guarding Angel by S.L. Saboviec. This book was just…..intriguing. From the start, I was a little concerned that it was going to be more of a romance story than I usually lean towards, but I was pleasantly surprised at where the story goes. To me, it was a newer perspective on an age-old topic. And it develops into such a vivid world! The struggles seemed so genuine, I found myself devoted to these characters and their futures.

Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu

Best Cover: WebMage – Christian McGrath. Just like the cover reveals, Ravirn is sexy, fast, and a techno-wiz. I’ve loved this cover since I first laid eyes on it. Since I recently read and reviewed this, it seemed fitting that it would earn the award. Christian McGrath does a wonderful job as usual.

Favorite New Request: Falling of the Moon by A.E. Decker.  Though I haven’t had gotten around to many requests this year, one book I read really stuck with me. I’d love to give A.E. Decker the award for favorite new request. Her book Falling of the Moon was funny, delightful, and fun! I’m eager for its sequel.

About Invested Ivana

I'm an adult learning professional, a book blogger at One Book Two, and lifetime reader. I like geeky things. All opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not reflect the opinions of my employers, my clients, the other reviewers on this site, or this site as a whole.

Posted on January 1, 2016, in Standout Award. Bookmark the permalink. 59 Comments.

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