I swear I wrote my post for my favorite 2015 books only yesterday; I can’t believe it’s already been a year! Like last year, I have had a great reading year. I read some really first rate books and am excited to share my favorites with you!
(Note, this covers full-length books)
First, the books are listed in no particular order.
Second, the books listed are only the books that I read for the first time in 2016.
Third, some of these
I have written reviews for some I haven’t. For a while my posting record got a bit spotty and I missed out on reviewing some of the books that I read. I will like to the reviews where available, but know that a lack of review does not in any way signify a lesser appreciation for any book.
Fourth, and finally, while all of the books I read were great, these books were chosen because they sparked strong emotion in me and they were books that I know I will read again and again and again.
My Favorite Books I Read in 2016
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.
This book blew me away. I was in total book-hangover mode after finishing. I loved it so much more than the first book (and I LOVED book one)! I love love love the expansion of Feyre’s universe! Maas did a fantastic job weaving more information into the history of As I said, I was completely blown away by the book and I can’t wait for A Court of Wings and Ruin to come out later this year. For more of my thoughts, check out my review.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
I know so many people were worried about this addition to the Potterverse. I’m not going to lie and say that I was 100% confident about how things would go, namely because J. K. didn’t write the play herself. I knew there were going to be differentiations and that there was a chance that I might not be completely happy with the result. That said, I can say with total honesty that I thoroughly enjoyed The Cursed Child. Yes, it was different; yes it was surprising and threw me for a loop more than once; and yes it brought to the surface some hard situations and I saw negatives in a childhood hero of mine. Neither Thorne nor Jo, who of course consulted on the writing of the play, set out to make fans happy or to make money. They wanted to tell Harry’s story, and Alby’s story. There was no sugar-coating, no “they lived happily ever after.” That’s not how the world works, especially in the wizarding world. It was a pleasure to read and a wonderful addition to the series that I love most.
By Helen’s Hand by Amalia Carosella
With divine beauty comes dangerous power.
Helen believed she could escape her destiny and save her people from utter destruction. After defying her family and betraying her intended husband, she found peace with her beloved Theseus, the king of Athens and son of Poseidon.
But peace did not last long. Cruelly separated from Theseus by the gods, and uncertain whether he will live or die, Helen is forced to return to Sparta. In order to avoid marriage to Menelaus, a powerful prince unhinged by desire, Helen assembles an array of suitors to compete for her hand. As the men circle like vultures, Helen dreams again of war—and of a strange prince, meant to steal her away. Every step she takes to protect herself and her people seems to bring destruction nearer. Without Theseus’s strength to support her, can Helen thwart the gods and stop her nightmare from coming to pass?
By Helen’s Hand was, no surprise, a fantastic conclusion of the wonderful duology by Amalia Carosella. It went beyond what I could have imagined and I already had much faith that it would be amazing. I grew up reading mythology (but am far from an expert) and I absolutely loved Amalia’s interpretation of Helen’s life before the Trojan War. I loved the new characters and it is certainly to be a series that I will recommend to anyone with even a mild interest in mythology and history. The Page Maiden’s review of By Helen’s Hand is coming soon but if you are interested (and you should be!) please check out my review of Helen of Sparta
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
I really wasn’t sure what to think of this book before I read it. I mean, I had heard about it a lot on Instagram and Goodreads, but I wasn’t sure if it was really something I’d be interested in. I hate to say it but it was the hype around the movie that really pushed me to read it. I am glad I did. It’s not the best post-apocalyptic/alien invasion book out there, but it is a good story. As I mentioned in my review, there is a potential triangle that I’m wasn’t thrilled about (I hate to say I haven’t yet read the second and third book) but it wasn’t enough to keep it off of this list.
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran
Smart and ambitious, Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie’s museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, and even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, yet her greatest dream is to attract the attention of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI; their stamp of approval on her work could catapult her and her museum to the fame and riches she desires. After months of anticipation, Marie learns that the royal family is willing to come and see their likenesses. When they finally arrive, the king’s sister is so impressed that she requests Marie’s presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. It is a request Marie knows she cannot refuse—even if it means time away
from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.
As Marie gets to know her pupil, Princesse Élisabeth, she also becomes acquainted with the king and queen, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. From lavish parties with more delicacies than she’s ever seen to rooms filled with candles lit only once before being discarded, Marie steps into a world entirely different from her home on the Boulevard du Temple, where people are selling their teeth in order to put food on the table.
Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and cafés across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there’s whispered talk of revolution. . . . Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more important, will she be able to fulfill the demands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?
I am a major history fan as well as a fan of strong women so this book was a win/win for me! Moran gave readers an extremely strong and smart heroine who wasn’t afraid to rely on both her logic and emotion to survive in what is one of Europe’s bloodiest revolutions. As I mentioned in my review, there was almost nothing about this book that didn’t please me. Moran packed so much into this book and after I put it down I was determined to do more research about Marie and the French Revolution because she opened my eyes to whole portions of history thatI knew nothing about.
Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera
Before violence tore apart the tapestry of Sri Lanka and turned its pristine beaches red, there were two families. Yasodhara tells the story of her own Sinhala family, rich in love, with everything they could ask for. As a child in idyllic Colombo, Yasodhara’s and her siblings’ lives are shaped by social hierarchies, their parents’ ambitions, teenage love and, subtly, the differences between Tamil and Sinhala people; but the peace is shattered by the tragedies of war. Yasodhara’s family escapes to Los Angeles. But Yasodhara’s life has already become intertwined with a young Tamil girl’s…
Saraswathie is living in the active war zone of Sri Lanka, and hopes to become a teacher. But her dreams for the future are abruptly stamped out when she is arrested by a group of Sinhala soldiers and pulled into the very heart of the conflict that she has tried so hard to avoid – a conflict that, eventually, will connect her and Yasodhara in unexpected ways.
Another beautiful novel set amidst a tumultuous historical event, Island of a Thousand Mirrors is a rich novel that follows two women embroiled in a deadly civil war in twentieth-century Sri Lanka. Each woman comes from one of the opposing sides in the war and it is an eye-opening and heartfelt experience to see how it affects their lives and how their lives end up merging together. This is one of those books that really make you sit back and think about who you are, your place in the world, and how you could affect change.
The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
In 17th-century Persia, a 14-year-old woman believes she will be married within the year. But when her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great.
Despite her lowly station, the young woman blossoms as a brilliant designer of carpets, a rarity in a craft dominated by men. But while her talent flourishes, her prospects for a happy marriage grow dim. Forced into a secret marriage to
a wealthy man, the young woman finds herself faced with a daunting decision: forsake her own dignity, or risk everything she has in an effort to create a new life.
I had never much thought about how carpets come to be made in the years before machines could do them so easily. But this book is about more than carpet-making; it’s about humanity, relationships, family, and love. It’s about survival and hard choices. It was immaculately researched, beyond well-written, and another one of those “makes you think” sort of books. I loved the structure of the book, with stories injected every few chapters, and the unnamed narrator is so easy to identify with, even though she lives a life far different from my own.
The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser
Amy Lennox doesn’t know quite what to expect when she and her mother pick up and leave Germany for Scotland, heading to her mother’s childhood home of Lennox House on the island of Stormsay.
Amy’s grandmother, Lady Mairead, insists that Amy must read while she resides at Lennox House―but not in the usual way. It turns out that Amy is a book jumper, able to leap into a story and interact with the world inside. As thrilling as Amy’s new power is, it also brings danger: someone is stealing from the books she visits, and that person may be after her life. Teaming up with fellow book jumper Will, Amy vows to get to the bottom of the thefts―at whatever cost.
As I mention in my review, The Book Jumper is a book for book lovers. What book lover hasn’t imagined, even once, being immersed in the world they are reading about? It was a great concept and Gläser did a great job keeping me guessing (and guessing and guessing and guessing) until the big reveal. It was well-written and a fun read that I thought about even when I couldn’t read! I feel like this would be a great book to get you out of a reading funk! This book just came out so go to your nearest store (or computer) and get it!!
All of the books I read last year were great and I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to read them and discover some really awesome new authors as well as rediscover some favorites!
Have you read any of these books? What books did you read in 2016 that were particularly special to you?