Good day to you all, dear readers!
It took me a while but I finally did it, I pulled together a list of my favorite reads for 2016. Even though we are now past mid-January, I hope you guys will still enjoy my own little retrospective.
I’m starting with the best of the best, then best by categories, 2 honorable mentions and a small recap of 2016 with my goals for 2017.
Links to reviews(marked with *) or Goodreads links.
BEST OF THE BEST – TOP 4 of 2016
The Fifth Season* and The Obelisk Gate* by N. K. Jemisin : N. K. Jemisin’s work blew me away. These are some of the best books I have ever read, and definitely new favorites. I loved everything about them. As I said in my review : It felt immense, it felt beautiful. I’ll be rereading them, for sure, and I can’t wait for the third and final book to come out in this August.
Belgravia* by Julian Fellowes : Belgravia is a charming historical fiction written with wit and greatly detailed. The tone definitely has something of Downton Abbey, and it was just a very pleasant and entertaining read. It had its flaws, but it had just enough of everything I loved that I didn’t mind them!
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August* by Claire North : Intricate, thrilling, philosophical and evocative, these are all words I would use to describe this new favorite. This book made me think about life a lot, just as much as it intrigued me with its time travel plot. Loved it.
The Midnight Star* by Marie Lu & read by Carla Corvo & Lannon Killea : This was such a thrilling conclusion to an amazing and dark YA fantasy series. Carla Corvo did an amazing job of creating the character of Adelina, and she will always be Adelina for me. I loved every minute of it!
Hidden Bodies* by Caroline Kepnes & read by Santino Fontana : This is a bit of a surprising pick for my list of favorites, as I really didn’t enjoyed the story as much as I did You. But once again, Santino Fontana did one of the best narrations I’ve ever listened to, so it easily wins its spot on this list!
BEST COMIC / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch : This fantasy story has humor, action, a great plot and amazing characters. The first volume is definitely the best, but the following two are still very entertaining.
Giant Days by Allison, Treiman & Cogar : This slice of life comic about young women in college is amazing. Told with lots of humor, the story still feels very true. Again, the first volume was by far the best, but I also really enjoyed the next two.
BEST YA SCI-FI / FANTASY
Illuminae & Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff : The first two books of this sci-fi trilogy told through reports, chats, emails and so on, entertained me immensely. The format is great, but the story stands on its own. These are filled with action, emotion, adventure and cool science-fiction themes. I am really looking forward to the conclusion coming this year!
The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski : I read the whole trilogy early this year, and enjoyed every part of it. This one is full of twists, adventure, romance and, most of all, gorgeous writing. I haven’t reviewed the conclusion yet, but you can read what I thought of book one and two. In any case, I thought the ending was really good.
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer : One of my last books of 2016! It had been about a year since I read Cinder, and I had really enjoyed it (it was on my 2015 list), but I think I loved Scarlet even more. I’ll try and have a proper review up soon.
BEST YA CONTEMPORARY
The Female of the Species* by Mindy McGinnis : Ignore the quirky cover and pick this book if you want to read something different, violent, important. This story about a vengeful teenager killer has complex topics (rape, sexuality and grief, to name a few) and good writing.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear* by E. K. Johnston : This story about rape was told with great compassion, and one of the best I have read on the topic. It felt important, and despite its difficult topic, it left me sort of hopeful.
BEST SPECULATIVE FICTION
The Ice Dragon* by George R. R. Martin : Enchanting and gorgeously illustrated, this children’s dragon story absolutely charmed me, from beginning to end.
Sleeping Giants* by Sylvain Neuvel : This one was full of wonder. Told in an interview format, this story about strange buried relics fascinated me. The next book in the series is coming this spring and it will be a must-buy once it’s out!
All the Missing Girls* by Megan Miranda : I’ve read a lot of mysteries and psychological thrillers this year (as always), many of them very good or captivating, but among them all, All the Missing Girls is one that really stood out. The narration told from end to beginning was extremely fun, but the story and its characters were good on their own too.
Dark Matter* by Blake Crouch : This one could also be in the speculative fiction, as there’s a strong science-fiction element at its heart. But it is the thriller aspect of it that I really, really appreciated. Dark Matter is full of action and there’s not one boring moment. A complete thriller from beginning to end, it felt like a movie on paper. I greatly enjoyed it!
Uprooted by Naomi Novik : I’ve rarely wanted to love a book this desperately. Uprooted received glorious, five stars reviews from most of the readers and bloggers I know and follow. Readers with very different tastes who all adored this book. While some parts didn’t work for me, I loved some of it and I can see why it was so popular. I do want to try it again some day.
Throne of Glass* by Sarah J. Maas : This year I read two of the books and the novellas of the Throne of Glass series, and I really enjoyed them. They’re extremely full of drama, twists, romance and action, but they’re just so much fun. Pure entertainment! I wouldn’t consider them favorites, but they definitely took my mind off difficult stuff when I needed it!
Moving from 2016 to 2017
2016 was okay in terms of reading. 140 books is good (not counting those I’m halfway through, those I abandoned or put aside, etc.) I’m glad I found some new favorites, but overall my reading year felt a little “blah”. I’m not sure if that’s coming from the books or from me though, and that’s something I want to think about in the early months of 2017.
My initial plans for 2016 were to read what I want, when I want, and I definitely did that. I read many things at once, and picked and dropped books whenever I felt like it (perhaps a tad too much). I also wanted to continue/complete series that were on my shelves, and I did a bit of that, enough to feel like I fulfilled my personal objective. Go me!
2017 should be a bit more of the same. I definitely want to read freely, and to continue/complete series from my shelves. I’ve put my goals at 100 books again : I started keeping track of my reading in 1999 as a young teen, and only once have I read under 100 since. But 2017 might be the second time this happens, as I’d like to read some of the thicker books on my shelves. I don’t see this as a potential failure though, more of an interesting statistic. I’d also like to read a bit more literary fiction/adult general fiction. While my 4 best of the best books scratched that literary itch, I feel the need to read some more of it.
Most of all, I want to have fun, be amazed, learn things, open my mind to new things.
Let’s see what 2017 has in store!
Though a bit late, I wish you all an amazing year of reading – and if you feel like it, let me know about your favorite book of 2016!
About the Book :
No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the district attorney’s office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she investigates with Stone, the aging prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot, she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems.
My Thoughts :
This is Our Story is, mostly, your typical small town murder mystery – a genre you guys all know I absolutely love. And this one had what I thought was an intriguing setting for a YA novel : five boys went into the forest, four came back, and no one knows what really happened. It seems obvious to everyone the four remaining boys are lying, but how to prove it?
There’s a good story in there wrapped in a good narration. I enjoyed the killer’s point of view appearing in between chapters, which told us just enough about the boys without revealing the killer’s identity. It added a bit of mystery, which was needed, I felt, as Kate’s story wasn’t as captivating as I would have hoped.
Here’s the thing. I liked Kate as a character, and her personal story was good. Her work for the DA’s office explains why she is so closely involved with the investigation, but I found myself wishing things were a bit different. Because of her position, Kate is kind of limited in what she can do. And while that is certainly more realistic than the teenage investigators we usually meet in YA novels, it is also a bit more boring. Consequently, I found the middle of the book to be dragging a little.
I could also have done without some of the relationships, which I felt overshadowed the story toward the end rather than bringing it to life.
There’s also a twist toward the middle, which I didn’t see it coming at all, and I loved it. Not only because it surprised me, but also because of how it changed the story. It’s both little and big, if that makes sense, and one of my favorite twists in a while.
Overall, I had a good time with This is Our Story. I first fell in love with its clever cover, but the mystery I found inside entertained me. There’s a good pace, lots of characters, and just enough clues to intrigue without pointing to the killer too obviously. I also felt that Ashley Elston’s writing suited her story perfectly. I’d recommend this one to fans of YA mysteries. It certainly was a good start to my 2017 reading!
Welcome to Filling the Shelf, or as many of you know it, Mailbox Monday! If you’re interested in joining the fun or seeing what other bloggers added to their shelves, click away! (but beware, visiting other mailboxes will probably add to your neverending wishlist!)
Hello everyone and Happy New Year!
I hope you all had a great holiday season! Here it’s been a quiet one, and I still don’t feel quite ready to leave it behind after having such a nice and relaxing time!
However, I am ready to start another great year of reading
I was very lucky again this year, and received many books and gift cards for Christmas. I also brought a small pile of books home from the sales, because I couldn’t resist. Which is why this week and next week’s mailboxes are so big! This week is all about the gifts I got, I feel very fortunate.
I wish you all the best – happiness, health and love – for 2017, and I’ll see you again soon with my best of 2016!
Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved and Died Under Nazi Occupation by Anne Sebba – The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore
Kill the Next One by Federico Axat (audio) – The Invasion of the Tearling and The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (I only had an ebook for The Invasion, so I’m happy to finally have physical copies of the whole series!)
What books did you recently add to your shelves?
About the Book :
Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.
By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.
My Thoughts :
With Christmas behind us and the new year just ahead, this is a perfect time to review Jay Asher’s cute contemporary novel, What Light.
Having enjoyed the author’s previous two books, I was really looking forward to reading his new one, especially because this is my favorite time of the year. I love the snow, the lights, the food, and most of all, spending time with loved ones and family. And while there isn’t much snow in What Light, there’s a little bit of everything else, which makes it a perfect read for the season!
There are some really fun things to love about the novel : Sierra is an interesting character, the Christmas tree farm is an original setting, I loved her parents. There’s the question of whether this is Sierra and her family’s last Christmas in California, which I thought brought a nice dimension to the story. There’s fear and excitement in change, and I felt that this aspect added an additional layer of nostalgia to Sierra’s Christmas.
My main problem was Caleb. The “cute boy with a dark secret” has been done again and again, and I didn’t feel that Caleb brought anything new or special to it. In fact, I wasn’t even convinced that, by the time the story ended, his character had been redeemed. There’s a lack of depth there, in how the author chose to deal with the serious of the situation. The more I thought about it, the less satisfied I was with it.
Overall, What Light is a cute contemporary romance. While I found it lacking in some aspects, I appreciated the setting. It’s also not too “christmasy”, so if you find yourself reading it later in the year, it would still be enjoyable.
Also, bonus points for the pretty cover