Best of 2016

This year may have left a bad taste in people’s mouths due to everything surrounding ISIS, our presidential election, and all of the other hate that has been spread around these past twelve months.  This post isn’t going to be about that.  This post is going to be about the books that made my year.  Some of them were simply great pleasure reads, but others are type that can change people.  Those are the books that we need.  Books that are inspiring and books that can we can relate to and know that we aren’t the only ones out there going through something bad or hard.  This post is to review both kinds–these are the best that this year had to offer for me.  They may not have all been new, but they were new to me and I am better for having read them.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

This is now, hands down, my favorite book of all time.  I had already been a big fan of Maas’s Throne of Glass series  but honestly, I hadn’t thought ACOTAR was all my thing the first time I had read it.  I was so entirely unprepared for the impact that this book would have on me.  Her writing is SO gripping.  Not everyone agrees and that’s fine.  Somehow it all just gets me and I’m still so passionate about the characters even seven months after reading it for the first time.  It’s about overcoming PTSD, leaving relationships that are destructive, choosing who your family is, love, and so much more. I’ve read it five times since it’s come out and probably will at least once more before ACOWAR comes out.  All I know is that no matter how this series ends, Feyre and the Night Court will forever hold a place in my heart.

I was a survivor, and I was strong.  I would not be weak, or helpless again.  I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.

Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas 

This was a book that came out of nowhere for me.  I had never read another book by Douglas, I just had seen that a lot of my friends on GR had been reading and liking it so I decided to check it out.  I wasn’t disappointed.  There are times after a long streak of YA that I just am tired of the genre.  I want an easy break.  Something with romance and things that are real and familiar.  It has become a personal challenge of mine to find quality NA for that reason (and boy can that be difficult).  This is one that I will be able to read again and again.  It covers complex issues that young people deal with everyday.  Bullying, relationships, sexual abuse to name a few.  While some of the characters can be frustrating at times, I think they’re portrayed in an accurate light.  It’s messy, it’s harsh, it’s enticing.  The writing was addicting and so was the chemistry between the two main characters.  It ends on a good note about how being popular isn’t what life is all about and there’s a HEA.  What more could a girl want?

Do you notice that, too? How all of us just want to get through life as quickly and as easily as possible? And even though we know that without risk there’s no reward, we’re still so scared to chance it?

The world isn’t always what’s right in front of you, you know? It’s below, it’s above, it’s out there somewhere. Every burn of every light inside every house I see when I look down from the rooftop has a story. Sometimes we just need to change our perspective.

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

This magical book doesn’t actually come out until March 2017 BUT I was lucky enough to be given an ARC by the publisher through NetGalley. It is a companion novel to the Star-Touched Queen but they don’t necessarily need to be read together.  They are very much their own stories and I personally loved A Crown of Wishes ten times more.  This is a book to be savored. There is adventure, there is Indian folklore, and there is romance (but the perfect amount at the perfect time).  It’s all so cleverly crafted and Chokshi is such a lyrical writer.  I highlighted quote upon quote in my Kindle, it was ridiculous.  I won’t give much away since it isn’t even officially out yet, just know that you’re going to want to check this one out.

Sometimes he thought his head was a snarl of myth and folktales, where magic coaxed ignored princes out of the shadows and gave them a crown and a legend to live in.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn, Illus. by Fiona Staples

This was my first true venture into the world of graphic novels AND BOY WAS I BLOWN AWAY.  Saga… just so fucking good.  The art is beautiful (I have such a huge crush on Marco you guys), and the story.  The story is what makes it.  It’s mainly about these two star-crossed lovers who have a child and are fleeing all over the galaxy to ensure her safety but there’s so much more.  So many other sub-plots that all connect eventually and EVERY VOLUME HAS A CLIFFHANGER.  Seriously. I can’t even fully describe how much I love this series.  I HIGHLY recommend to everyone.  Even if you haven’t ever read GNs before.

Calloway Sisters series by Krista and Becca Ritchie

This is by far the best NA series that I have ever read.  Technically the books in this series come after the sister’s Addicted to You series, but they don’t have to be read first.  It does help to fill in a lot of missing gaps but those books are harder to read as they deal with sex and alcohol addiction.  ANYWAY, going into this series, I didn’t think it was going to be for me.  I HATE excessive drama and this book is about a group of rich people whose lives revolve around drama.  Only…it somehow worked.  The characters are so likable or hate-able and you constantly are tearing through the pages to see what happens next.  The dynamic between the main characters is probably my favorite part.  None of their friendships are conventional but they turn into the kind of family that you strive to have.  Some of their hardships are hard to relate to because they come with being rich but that didn’t stop me from loving them.  This entire series consumed my life from May to about July and I am so happy for it.

I had never looked back in that way before, but for the very first time, I did.  I looked back and I only looked back at her.

Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

This series was particularly special to me this year because they were the first books that I read after actually becoming active on GR.  Through this series I found friends on GR and found a mutual love for a lot of other books with them.  I can’t even express how much fun it’s been!  Anyway, this series is great if you love fantasy.  Chima always knows how to hit you in the feels and she does a great job with world-building. The series did start off a little slower than I would have liked but as with any truly good fantasy, it can take a book or two to really get the reader acquainted with  everything.  Raisa is a strong female lead but also makes her fair share of mistakes which makes her easy to relate to.  Han Alister….all I really want to say about him is that he is a heartthrob thief so I love so dearly and everyone needs to meet him because if you haven’t yet you are seriously missing out.

“History,’ Mari muttered, as if she’d overheard his thoughts. ‘Why do we need to know what happened before we were born?’

‘So hopefully we get smarter and don’t make the same mistakes again.”

A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab

THIS BOOK.  Well really this and the second.  Both have been out for awhile but I, for some stupid reason, took my sweet time picking them up.  This was a fantasy series specifically tailored to my interests.  There is believable magic with limits, there is romance (but just the perfect amount), there are FOUR different Londons, and there is time travel.  The female lead is easily the most BA I’ve ever read and Kell is a broody, awkward cinnamon roll.  GAH JUST GO OUT THERE AND READ THEM.

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

The Winner’s Crime & The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

I had picked up the first book in the series shortly after it came out in 2014 and liked it–but obviously not enough to have been watching for #2 to be released.  Honestly, I’m pretty glad for that because after the ending in The Winner’s Crime I just about died having to wait three months for Winner’s Kiss to come out.  I was not disappointed.  This is hands down, the most lyrical writing that I have ever read.  Every sentence has you hanging on for dear life and has you feeling things.  It’s so wonderful.  It also helps too that the story itself is a good one about games, deceit, love, and standing up for what’s truly right.  Kestrel and Arin will be in my heart forever.

“She tried to imagine her former self. Enemy. Prisoner. Friend? Daughter. Spy. Prisoner again. “What am I now?”
Sarsine held both of Kestrel’s hands. “What ever you want to be.”

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

There was one point in time where I could easily say that Clare was my favorite YA author.  I lived and breathed for her TID series, particularly Will Herondale. Somewhere down the line though I became overwhelmed.  I think that the success of her current series got to her head because when she announced another THREE series I was put off.  Still, since I have enjoyed her previous books and the Shadowhunter world so much, I knew I had to read this one.  I was not disappointed.  I love Emma and Julian so much that it hurts.  I have always been a sucker to friend to lover romances so of course their story was going to be a favorite of mine.  Not only that but the entire Blackthorn family seems so special.  I will LOVE to continue on with this series but I pray to God she mostly leave Clary and Jace out of it.  They’ve more than had their turn.

“These pictures are my heart. And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.”

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

That. Ending.  A lot of people didn’t like the ending but you know what, I did?  Without giving away what happened, I will say that a lot of people thought that the ending wasn’t as fulfilling as they would have liked.  We all thought *things* were going to happen when they really didn’t.  To me, what really stood out to me as being important at the end of all four books was the friendships.  In this series Blue, Gansey, Ronan, and Adam go through a lot of weird and horrible shit together.  There is death, there is abuse, there is love that stays just out of reach.  But through it all there is friendship.  I sat there for awhile after finishing the book and just thought about it and I decided that the ending was more than satisfactory to me.

“He was a book, and he was holding his final pages, and he wanted to get to the end to find out how it went, and he didn’t want it to be over.”

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Last but not least, this crazy book.  Even if I didn’t completely love the Grisha series, it’s no secret that Bardugo’s writing is top notch.  After reading Six of Crows and loving it, this was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016.  That being said, I honestly had no idea how this book was going to compete with #1 and wrap up all of the loose ends in only one book.  Safe to say that Bardugo passed with flying colors.  I’ve read enough YA by now that I can usually pick up on the standard formulas.  I can usually predict what’s going to happen by the end of the book.  This series was not one of those times.  Every heist and plan was so carefully crafted that by the time each plan was enacted, my head was spinning and it was all I could do to keep up with Kaz.  I adored Inej’s growth in this book and was obsessed with every damn couple (who cares that they were all paired off–IT WORKED FOR ME).  Very much recommend.

“I would come for you,” he said, and when he saw the wary look she shot him, he said it again. “I would come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together—knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

So here they are.  The best of the best for me in 2016.  I’ve learned a lot having been more active in the bookish community and love it.  One of the most important things to remember is that even if every single person around you hates a book, it doesn’t mean that your love for it should diminish it.  At the beginning of the year after I started actually interacting with people on GR I felt like I was tiptoeing around with my ratings and reviews. “Is this too high?  Too low?”  Who the fuck cares?  If a book means something to you or something about it bothers you, let the community know!  That’s what we’re here for.  To fangirl with when we love a book or to commiserate with when we hate one.  That’s the beauty of it.  So to finish things off, 2016, you may have been a shitty year for some, but I certainly loved you.  I read a lot of great books, met a lot of great people, and gained a puppy and a fiance.  Cheers and welcome 2017.