Saturday, December 31, 2016

BEST BOOKS OF 2016 - TOP 16

Hello everyone!

I am back with another yearly wrap up of my favourite reads of the year. As with last year's list, I am sticking with books that I read and were published in/before 2016, not any ARCs I got and loved that come out in 2017. Also, this list is in the order that I read the books, not by any sort of ranking other than favourites. Alright, so lets do this!

1. The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
This book is a crazy YA thriller that I managed to devour in 3 hours, staying up until 2am because I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down. #noregrets


Basically, the story follows Tessa and Callie, and the murder they witnessed ten years ago. The alleged murderer is proven guilty with the help of a testimony by the two 8 year old girls, after Callie's cousin was strangled to death and laid out by the river, like the other 3 victims of the towns local serial killer, dubbed the Ohio River Monster. After Tessa comes back to town to visit her father in prison, another girl turns up dead, just the way the ORM used to do it. But he's locked in prison for life, isn't he? Ahh there are just so many twists and turns in this book, you will be guessing and shocked until the very last page.

2. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
Ok, so following the thriller crave I've been trying to sate this year, I loved this one! Another one that kept me up way past my bedtime because I couldn't put it down.


The story is about Jenna who is trying to get over the recent car accident and death of her child by moving into the English countryside. For the majority of this book, we get two POV's, one of the detectives, Ray, and Jenna, a mother who lost her son, trying to escape her devastating past and move on. This book also has a third POV that comes into play a little bit later, but I won't really get into that, because it will reveal too much.

3. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
After Bracken's trilogy, I was excited to read the first in her next trilogy. This book touched on a lot of issues that are still prevalent today, gender expectations, racial tensions, etc. Told with the magical elements of time travel, Bracken does a fantastic job of weaving an engaging story.



The book follows two main characters, one of which is Henrietta, or Etta for short. She lives with her mom in NYC and is a violin prodigy. One night, at a rehearsal performance, Etta gets thrust into a strange world, landing in the middle of the ocean, on a boat, in 1776. Yup. Enter Nicholas, a sailor on the boat, and the guy tasked with getting Etta and another girl Sophia safely to land to meet Sophia's grandfather. Etta, after being forced to strike a deal with the old man is sent through time, with the help of Nicholas, trying to find a piece of her family's hidden past, in order to save her mother.

4. Every Exquisite Things by Matthew Quick
This book is one that has a lot of mixed reviews, but luckily I loved. Do you ever have a book just get you? I feel like this book got me.



Basically, this is the story of Nanette, an eighteen year old who is stuck. Every day, she and her favourite teacher, her English teacher, eat lunch together in his classroom because she hates the cafeteria and he hates the teacher's lounge. One day, he shares with her his copy of The Bubblegum Reaper, a cult classic that has long been out of print. Immediately she connects with the main character Wrigley, and her teacher introduces her to the author, a personal friend and local almost-recluse, Nigel Booker. The two become friends and Nan explores what it means to be yourself.

5. Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King
Personally, I think the best way to go into a King novel is to know nothing about the story in which you are about to read. You really need to go in knowing nothing too specific about the story.



This is the story of Sarah. She is sixteen years old and has stopped going to school. No one knows why. Her older brother left when he was nineteen, about 6 years ago, when the family got home from their trip to Mexico. Apparently, he was baptized in a river and never looked back. Don't be fooled by this book. You will go into a King novel thinking it will be about one thing, and then she makes it about something else completely. A major aspect shown throughout the novel is domestic abuse and I think King did a brilliant job depicting the abuser's behaviour throughout the novel, and she really showed this abuse in a realistic way.

6. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
Apparently this was the year of reading (and loving) books that were super dark and looking at topics that are often shied away from. This newest book by CoHO is no different.


After reading this book, I get it. I get the Instagram posts of the open heart tattoo; I get the comments from people say this book ripped them apart. Hoover usually does this in her novels anyway, but this one was different because it was so real. This book will be hard for many people. It will hit too close to home; it will go against everything they believed in; it will hurt. But hopefully it will cause change. Understanding that things don't have to be the way they are, that there is hope, that they are not alone.

7. Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras
On the surface, this book seems generic. Smart student makes a mistake and ends up punished for the summer. You've read at least one other book like this before. But this book is better. It is well written, you actually see the characters doing what Kottaras says they are. There is an embodiment of mental illness and the crippling effects it can have.


This book follows Viviana, a 16 year old stressing about everything. Doing well on her AP exams, going to an engineering academy for the summer to hone her skills to be accepted into Stanford for engineering, like her father, just being perfect in general. But when she collapses from exhaustion, coupled with her less than perfect behaviour, including sending a scandalous photo to her then-now-ex boyfriend, who decided he wasn't the only one fit to see it, her parents decide to cancel the engineering academy she was supposed to go to this summer.

8. Faithful by Alice Hoffman
Before I get into recommending this book, please keep in mind that it contains serious trigger warnings for self-harm, sexual assault and suicide. Proceed with caution. This book deals with so much, it is a heavy book. It literally gutted me.



Initially, this story starts out with Shelby, who is still reeling after the car accident that nearly killed her best friend, Helene. Or at least, it might as well have. She is in a coma, no brain activity. She'll never wake up. She'll never speak again. Shelby is ridden with so much guilt for what happened. She was driving, it should have been her who is in the coma. She's a nobody, she wouldn't have been missed much. For years, she just stops living.

9. The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Do you ever get that feeling, when you're reading a book that you have to get other people to read it. Not necessarily because it is your favourite, or has a great romance, but because it's just something you want other people to have in their minds, to help them understand, to give them some common sense? I never really had that feeling until this book.



Alex's sister Anna was kidnapped, abused and murdered three years ago. They arrested a suspect, but never had enough evidence to convict him, so he walked free. Alex, however, has a bit of a temper, which she got from her dad before he left, decides to take matters into her own hands. Sure, it's murder, but in that small town, everyone knew he was guilty, and knew he deserved it, so it was never investigated. This story deals with her grieve and so much more. There are feminist elements pointed out that we should all recognize but don't. This book is so IMPORTANT. Even if it doesn't sound like your, pick it up.

10. Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
In a refreshing change of pace, we get a male POV, our main character Henry Page. He was funny without trying too hard, and I loved his inner thoughts. When he first met Grace, she ripped a page out of a book and he was "horrified that she'd injured a book." I found a kindred spirit in Henry and loved the story even more because of it.



This story is the definition of bittersweet. You will be laughing one minute and bawling the next. The story looks at the idea of a "Manic Pixie Dream Girl," falling in love with an idea of a person, rather than the actual person. Henry finds Grace's old Facebook page, before whatever happened to her happened, and he falls in love with the her a little more each day, getting glimpses of the person she used to be. Grace is a deeply broken girl, and I'm not sure she will ever be the same as she once was. It was genuine and heartbreaking and I loved it.

11. This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
I love how this book dealt with a lot of different, I don't want to say issues, but sub-genres. There, of course, was the death of Vera and Gabe's mother - and how they were greiving, some LGBT elements; Vera and her girlfriend, and just the general hardships of being a teen.



This is the story of Sloane after her family moves to a small, vacation town in Florida from New York in her senior year of high school. Her father is a best-selling romance author, but after hitting a bit of writers block decided to move the family out the hustle and bustle of the big city. Upon arrival, Sloane meets a set of twins, Vera and Gabe and is fairly quickly absorbed into their group of friends, including Aubrey and Remy, who are trying to work out their post-relationship struggles as it is.

12. The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
I think what I love most about this book is that it is so unique. Maybe it's just because I don't really read a ton of books that deal with time travel, but this book was so different from what I usually read.



Time travel is a major part of this book, like I mentioned, but I really loved how it was done. For people like me who know next to nothing about it, the author made it really easy to follow. Still, at the same time, if that sort of thing interests you, you will get the scientific descriptions, and there's even some diagrams to help explain!

13. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Plot wise, it is kind of an Alice in Wonderland retelling, except the story is all about the Queen of Hearts and how she became this heartless (get it), beheading tyrant. Before she was the Queen, she was Lady Catherine Pinkerton, daughter of a Marquis and Marquess. From very early on in the story, it becomes quite clear that the King of Hearts has chosen Catherine to be his queen. Except she is a baker and dreams of opening the best bakery in all of Hearts.



Meyer, as in the case of Levana from the Lunar Chronicles and her story Fairest, has the brilliant ability to make the reader sympathize with even the cruelest of villains. She humanizes them, showing us how they've become the person they are, the wicked bad guy that everyone remembers from the story. No one bothers to look at their past, they must have just been born evil. I won't get into specifics as to what happens to make Cath's transformation complete, but I will say that when she commands that most famous line at the end of the book, I was right along with her: "Off with his head!"

14. Rebel of the Sands by Alywn Hamilton
This book was wonderfully written and so very interesting! I've never read anything set in the Middle East or any of the Arabian, exotic novels that the YA genre has recently cranked out, this was my first. I can guarantee you, however, it will not be my last!


This story was full of adventure. There weren't many moments where something wasn't happening and when that did happen, we got beautiful stories and tales of the history. I highly recommend this book if you are wanting to get into some more exotic locales. Hamilton does a great job creating a world of excitement and I can't wait for the sequel.

15. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
This book was spectacular, so creepily atmospheric, I only put it down once to eat dinner, and still managed to read all 304 glorious pages in less than three and a half hours.



So basically, this story revolves around a couple, Jack and Grace Angel, and their seemingly perfect lives. Jack is a major lawyer, specializing in domestic abuse cases, helping bring justice to those who have been able to escape horrific circumstances, and Grace quit her job as a grocery buyer, after marrying Jack eighteen months ago, in order to maintain their dream home and work in their perfect garden. They seem great, right? Wrong! With all this suspense, there is also Grace's sister, Millie, who has Down's syndrome. I'm not very familiar with Down's, but I thought that Millie was portrayed well, and Grace's love for her was unending, even if it was her biggest weak spot. I'll just leave it at that.

16. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
This book follows the story of a group of teens on Spring Break in Aruba. No parents, just a bunch of teens with access to copious amounts of alcohol, few restrictions and nights of wild parties. Fun times, right? Well, it is, until one of the girls, Elise is found dead, stabbed with the home's kitchen knife thirteen times. While the authorities question the entire group, their main focus is on two of the teens, Elise's best friend Anna, the stories narrator, and Tate, Anna's boyfriend. 


When the final verdict is given, I was shocked. Part of me knew it was going to happen, but part of me was still unsure. And at the end, when we find out what actually happened, I was not prepared for that. I had some speculations throughout the story, but never once I thought it was who it was.

Whew! And there you have it, my top reads of this year! Hopefully you found some that interest you and you can add them to your TBR for 2017!