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Wow. Can you guys believe that 2016 is almost over?? In many ways, I feel like saying “Praise the Lord, Hallelujah!”, what with the devastating celebrity deaths and the general craziness going on in the world. Honestly, I feel kind of like I missed the whole year, I have no idea where all those months went. But bookwise, it was a pretty good year.
First, let’s go through the boring number stuff. I’m happy to say that I exceeded my personal challenge by finishing 57 books this year! Yay to Goodreads for making it so easy to keep track. Here’s a breakdown of the star counts on what I read.
- 5 stars: 6 books
- 4 stars: 27 books
- 3 stars: 17 books
- 2 stars: 7 books
There’s no one-star reads because in all honesty, if it was that uninteresting, I didn’t even finish it. There were a handful of books that wound up on the DNF pile, but they’re outnumbered by all the wonderful reads I did finish. Scroll down to find out which beat out all the rest!
My 2016 Top Ten
(Synopses are from Goodreads)
10) Dead Man’s Grip by Peter James
Carly Chase is still traumatized ten days after being in a fatal traffic accident that kills a teenage American student from Brighton University. Then she receives news that turns her entire world into a living nightmare. The drivers of the other two vehicles involved have been found tortured and murdered. Now Detective Superintendent Roy Grace of the Sussex Police Force issues a stark and urgent warning to Carly: She could be next.
The student had deadly connections. Connections that stretch across the Atlantic to America and an organized crime group. Someone has sworn revenge and won’t rest until the final person involved in that fateful accident is dead. The police advise Carly her only option is to go into hiding and change her identity. The terrified woman disagrees. She knows these people have ways of hunting you down anywhere. If the police are unable to stop them, she has to find a way to do it herself. But already the killer is one step ahead of her, watching, waiting, and ready.
It was super hard to choose a tenth book, there were so many good four-star reads this year! Finally, I decided on this one, which was a new author discovery for me. Even though it’s number seven in the Detective Superintendant Roy Grace series, I didn’t feel lost. There was just the right amount of backstory woven in to explain without overwhelming, and the bits about his missing wife were especially interesting (that’s not a spoiler, she’s mentioned in the first chapter). I also appreciated that it wasn’t excessively gruesome. It’s a thriller, don’t get me wrong, but I’m fine without every little gory detail. And I have a soft spot for British detective fiction.
9) Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
The enchantment continues….
The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?
With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.
The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century.
This is the first of three Marissa Meyer books on my list. The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite book series, and I really enjoyed this collection of short stories, especially The Little Android, and Something Old, Something New. All the prequels were fun too, as any fan could tell you, there is no such thing as too much backstory! We crave every detail of our favorite characters’ lives, and if you don’t give them to us, well we’ll probably just make them up ourselves.
8) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.
A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.
A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
It was such a surprise to me how much I liked this book! I always say that YA is not my thing, but they’ve really been growing on me lately. This one was like R.L. Stine meets the X-Men. There’s a spooky old house, kids with “peculiar” powers, terrifying villains, and even a sort of time travel. I loved the old photographs throughout the book, they were a nice addition to the story. I haven’t finished the rest of the series, but hopefully I’ll get to it next year.
7) Fairest by Marissa Meyer
In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?
Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.
Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.
This was another book I didn’t expect to love as much as I did. I went into it hating Levana with a passion. Halfway through, I felt sorry for her. By the end, I hated her even more than when I started. You learn exactly why Levana is the way she is and why she does all the horrible things she does. Maybe you won’t like her when you’ve finished, but at least you’ll understand her.
6) Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Her story begins on a train.
The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.
Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.
But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?
Yep, it’s another YA book. This one has such a unique plot, and the main character, seventeen-year-old Yael, is strong and sad and compelling. I’m looking forward to picking up the second book in the series, Blood for Blood, soon.
5) I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
The three laws of Robotics:
1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2) A robot must obey orders givein to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future–a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.
Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world–all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asmiov’s trademark.
Okay, I know I’m late to the party here since this book is over sixty years old, but at least I showed up. A collection of interlinked stories covering the development of robotics, this is science fiction that isn’t too heavy on the science, and enlivened by a sense of humor. I finished it in like, two days, and am now on the lookout for anything written by Asimov.
4) End of Watch by Stephen King
The spectacular finale to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes (winner of the Edgar Award) and Finders Keepers—In End of Watch, the diabolical “Mercedes Killer” drives his enemies to suicide, and if Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney don’t figure out a way to stop him, they’ll be victims themselves.
In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.
Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.
In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the heart-pounding, supernatural suspense that has been his bestselling trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and chilling suspense. No one does it better than King.
There’s only one Stephen King on my list because…well, it’s the only one I read this year. End of Watch was a great ending to a wonderful trilogy. I’ve know that some people didn’t really care for the Bill Hodges trilogy, but I love the more hard-boiled detective approach to the novels as opposed to King’s usual horror.
3) The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Dillard Early, Jr., Travis Bohannon and Lydia Blankenship are three friends from different walks of life who have one thing in common: none of them seem to fit the mold in rural Tennessee’s Forrestville High. Dill has always been branded as an outsider due to his family heritage as snake handlers and poison drinkers, an essential part of their Pentecostal faith. But after his father is sent to prison for sexual abuse of a young parishioner, Dill and his mother become real pariahs. His only two friends are Travis, a gentle giant who works at his family’s lumberyard and is obsessed with a Game of Thrones-like fantasy series (much to his alcoholic father’s chagrin); and Lydia, who runs a popular fashion blog that’s part Tavi Gevinson and part Angela Chase, and is actively plotting her escape from Redneckville, Tennessee.
As the three friends begin their senior year, it becomes clear that they won’t all be getting to start a promising new life after graduation. How they deal with their diverging paths could cause the end of their friendship. Until a shattering act of random violence forces Dill to wrestle with his dark legacy and find a way into the light of a future worth living.
What can I say about this book?? It totally destroyed me, I mean I was bawling like a baby by the end of this one! It was a contender for number one book of the year, I actually considered having a three-way tie, but I forced myself to choose. I will consistently recommend this book, though, especially to lovers of contemporary YA.
2) Winter by Marissa Meyer
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.
Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.
What a thrilling end to this amazing series! I could hardly put this book down, even though I hated to finish it. There was a lot of mumbling and gasping and a bit of cursing from me throughout.
1) Illuminae by Jay Kristof and Amie Kaufman
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.
This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
Top honors goes to Illuminae, a mammoth YA sci-fi written in the craziest format I’ve ever seen. This seems to be a book that you either love or hate, and I loved it from the first few pages. The style is just so unique, and I was completely invested in the characters and plot, despite it not being the usual format. I felt like I was reading a movie, if that makes any sense? I spent the entire time on the edge of my seat, and was brought to tears more than once. If you’ve been hesitant about picking this one up because of the size, just give it a shot, it reads much faster than you would think.
That’s it for my favorite reads of the year, if you haven’t read these yet, go check them out! Every one of these is available at Book Depository, which offers free worldwide shipping, score! There’s a few honorable mentions that didn’t make it onto my top ten, but that I also recommend:
I can’t believe that 7/10 of my favorites this year were YA-guess I can’t say that’s not my thing anymore, can I?
Did any of these make your top ten?