So… it’s now almost half way through 2017, and I still haven’t mentioned my 2016 favourites yet. To that end, here they are:
The books listed are ones that I read for the first time in 2016, not just 2016 releases. They are roughly ranked.
In 2016 I read a total of 105 books. You can click here for the full list.
Unless otherwise specified, the titles link to Goodreads.
The Fairyland Series
By Catherynne M Valente
This series is adorable and amazing and will forever be one of my all-time favourites. The story is just so imaginative and vibrant, the writing is beautiful and the characters are well-developed and loveable.
The main focus is on friendship, adventure and discovery. Family also plays an increasingly important part as the series progresses, which is awesome to see.
Fairyland is the childhood series I wish I had. I pitch it as Fairy Realm (by Emily Rodda) cross Narnia – the issue is, not many people have read the Fairy Realm series.
I listened to the audiobooks which I 100% recommend doing if you can. Not only are the audios themselves amazing but the style of the books are such that there is a narrator telling you the story, which makes it a perfect audiobook. Also, the author narrates 3/5 of the series, which is amazing.
I also highly recommend this series if you want to get into listening to audiobooks but don’t know where to start.
This is a series that I started in 2015 but finished in 2016, so it still counts.
You can find my full review of the first book here.
Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)
By Jay Kristoff
I cannot recommend Nevernight highly enough.
A high fantasy featuring blood, death, violence, gore, sass, explicit scenes and what is essentially an assassin training school, Nevernight is a heap of fun with several unexpected plot twists.
The writing itself is fantastic – setting aside the footnotes, which get progressively more sassy and less full of world building as the story goes on – from the first chapter I found the writing engaging and extremely clever.
Surprisingly enough, I read Nevernight before I’d been exposed to any hype. I knew Jay’s writing from Illuminae so when I saw a poster advertising the book launch for Nevernight I decided to give it a go – and I’m ridiculously glad I did.
I will also say that the Australian & UK edition is so much prettier than the US – which is definitely a novel experience.
That said, there has been talk that the racial representation is slightly problematic, so take that as you will.
By Sarah J. Maas
While I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses well enough, on retrospect it wasn’t that great. I’d deliberately stayed way from any mention of A Court of Mist and Fury so I was surprised and ecstatic to find that ACOMAF blew me away. As I now say, ACOTAR is simply a necessary evil to reach ACOMAF.
ACOMAF has a fantastic, engaging plot and is full of amazing characters, major character development, and a subtle but apt discussion about unhealthy relationships, PTSD, personal growth, friendships and the impact of people on our lives as we ourselves grow and change.
If you want to get into Sarah’s writing, but Throne of Glass seems too daunting (those books are massive) and you don’t mind a bit of mature content then I would definitely suggest starting with these books.
Essentially, this book is absolutely fantastic and if you’re even slightly inclined to pick it up, please do.
You can find my full review here.
By Lynette Noni
Marketed as Harry Potter cross Narnia, The Medoran Chronicles is a fantasy series by an Australian author that reads somewhat like a contemporary (to me, at least).
Featuring a strong focus on friendship, great characters, a sentient library, a boarding school for the gifted in a parallel world, adventure and magic, Akarnae is a definite favourite of mine. Raelia, the second instalment, also features fae and a hint of romance while Draekora (which I have unfortunately not yet read though I desperately need to) features dragons.
The Splintered Trilogy
By A. G. Howard
A somewhat gothic, contemporary Alice in Wonderland retelling (with gorgeous covers!), Splintered is a captivating, whimsical, fantastic read featuring one of the only well-written love triangles I’ve read.
Great for marathoning, I read each of the instalments in a single sitting and the trilogy as a whole over barely four days.
I am a huge fan of this series and I really loved how it concluded. Everything about this book was fantastic and I love it to pieces.
If you feel like Splintered might be your thing, I 100% suggest going for it.
By Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Cycle is one of the series that had been sitting unread on my shelf for over a year, and on my TBR before that – despite the fact that I was sure I would love it (spoiler alert: I did). Thanks to the shrieking recommendation from Cait at Paper Fury and Sam on Twitter, I finally picked it up – my only regret being that I didn’t read it sooner.
A whimsical, distinctly character-driven series, The Raven Cycle is extremely hard to categorise – it reads like a contemporary but one might tentatively label it as magical realism.
I have so much love for this series. The writing, the characters, the friendships, the relationships, the plot, the mythology… but mostly the characters.
The characters definitely make the books, it is their story just waiting to be written. They are some of the most dynamic and real characters I have ever read and I love them, and I love how they love each other – the overarching rightness of it all.
Admittedly, I wasn’t particularly a fan of Adam to begin with, but that just highlights another great characteristic of the series – it’s fantastic and realistic character development. There is also a great LGTB relationship.
There is no doubt: this book, this narrative, is cyclical, and it is made all the more beautiful due to the nature of this series – how it plays with time.
The Raven Cycle is about hope, growth and making your own path but knowing some things are meant to be. 100% recommend.
Trigger warning for domestic abuse.
By Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
While I didn’t like Gemina quite as much as Illuminae I still really enjoyed it. Despite it being over 600 pages, the format and the fast pace meant that I finished it in a single day (and a school day none the less).
I really enjoyed the new characters we were introduced to, though it took me a little longer than with Kady and Ezra. Nick and Hannah were pretty great, though Ella was by far the standout. Ella was severely disabled but she didn’t let that stop her – she was sassy and amazing and an incredibly talented hacker.
In this instalment we also meet Isaac, Kady’s dad, which was great.
I will say, I went into Gemina expecting the surviving crew from Illuminae to come in around half way through, but it was more like two thirds.
I loved all the plot twists – which are essentially staples in both Amie and Jay’s writing. The character one was great, but at the end when we find out what “gemina” means? Genius. (And yes, I am being deliberately vague, thank you for noticing).
There is also much sass, which I always appreciate.
Suffice to say, I recommend this series to pretty much everyone and I can’t wait for Obsidio (in which my name will be included!)
By Becky Albertalli
An adorable, fun read featuring a gay protagonist and nerd culture appreciation Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a book that I should have read ages ago, but which was entirely worth the wait.
The relationship was adorable and fantastic and I love it.
The focus on family was refreshing as most YA books tend to wither feature negative relationships or absent families. The friendships were also prominent and great.
Note: You will likely crave oreos while reading this book. Just putting it out there.
Anyway, I love it, should have read it sooner and must now impasse upon you all the importance of reading this book ASAP.
By Sarah J. Maas
I love this series to death and have loved it for several years. Therefore, it is no surprise that I absolutely loved Empire of Storms even though, in retrospect, it’s not exactly Sarah’s best work.
Even though it came out on a school day, I devoured it – finishing it barely a day after its release. There’s definitely something to be said about that feeling.
Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)
By Leigh Bardugo
So, after much delay, I finally picked up Six of Crows and, as anticipated, absolutely loved it.
The plot twists were amazing and the heists excellent, but the characters are what really made it for me – The wit, the chemistry, the genius… I loved it all (especially Kaz). I also just love books surrounding anti-heroes.
The diversity and representation is excellent, featuring characters suffering from chronic disability and PTSD as well as of racial minorities and LGBT orientation (the latter of which I actually hadn’t picked up, but which I believe is explored more in Crooked Kingdom).
Though I’m still not 100% sure that it’s necessary to read the Grisha trilogy before Six of Crows, it definitely helps in terms of understanding the magic system and overall context. I’m also glad that I listened to the audiobooks of the Grisha trilogy as it definitely helped my mental pronunciations of the various terms that otherwise I would have had no idea.
I will say, I kept getting distracted by the sheer beauty of the physical book. I managed to score the black stained hardback and it is utterly gorgeous – the colours are so deep and (again) gorgeous.
I definitely recommend this book and can’t wait for the next one.
Infinity (The Infinity Division #1)
By Jus Accardo
How do you know it’s love if you’ve only ever experienced it once? What can you really know about a person when you only glimpse them? How do you know happiness is real? How do you separate your feelings for someone if they look exactly the same as the last person you loved?
A surprisingly brilliant read, Infinity features fantastic characters, a great plot, and a focus on perspective. While it had the potential to be extremely tropey and filled with instalove it (thankfully) was anything but that.
Very much a character-driven novel, Infinity was a thought-provoking read complete with a compelling plot.
Infinity focuses on the complexity of humanity and the morally grey area; when is it okay to kill someone? Is the death penalty ever okay? If someone close to you has broken the law or is planning to, where do your loyalties lie? What is the right thing to do?
You can find my full review here.
Great for getting out of a reading slump or just for an enjoyable read, Kasie West’s books are lighthearted and fluffy with cute (if somewhat angst-ridden) relationships.
A fun story to read in one sitting, The Distance Between Us is full of vibrant characters and dynamics, sarcasm, banter and wit. It has people being people, raw and unfiltered.
Another fun, light read, On the Fence was exactly what I needed to get me out of my slump – I breezed through it in a single sitting.
Reminiscent of Sarah Dessen (who got me into contemporary) it has great characters, an interesting story and deals with more serious issues of identity and family.
While not my favourite work of hers, The Fill-In Boyfriend was still a great read.
Highlights include expansive character development, a focus on family and friendships, as well as encouraging us all to be better, more authentic and open people.
Kasie has definitely earned her place as one of my favourite contemporary authors and I look forward to reading more from her.
Even through I’m late to the party, what were some of your favourites of last year?
Have you read any books on my list? Are any on your TBR?
What are some of your favourite books so far this year?
Please share your thoughts, I’d love to discuss with you!