Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Favorite Books of 2016

The end of the year is my absolute favorite time to be a book blogger. I don't think I could ever get tired of reading year-end favorites and best-of's posts.

Here are the best of my bests in a variety of fun categories.

Of the 12 favorites:
9 were released in 2016
3 were released prior to 2015
2 are contemporaries
1 is nonfiction
7 are fantasy or science fiction
2 of those are historical fantasy
4 are historical fiction
A staggering 11 were consumed as audiobooks

Favorite Historical Fiction: Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
Told through letters and journal entries, this novel is the story of Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf, and the Bloomsbury Group. I really loved this book. It's one of those books that I've been telling all my real-life friends about. I would love to read a sequel. (featured here)

Favorite Debut: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
I feel like I've done all kinds of gushing about Lilac Girls this year. This is a truly wonderful work of Historical Fiction. I have read a lot of World War II books, and this is the one I keep recommending. (featured here

Favorite Retelling: And I Darken by Kiersten White
Ms. White recasts Vlad the Impaler, famous for being the historical inspiration for Dracula, as a smart and terrifyingly vicious girl, Lada Dragwlya. With great character development, lots of political intrigue, a high-stakes love triangle, and fabulous historical atmosphere, this book is a true tour de force. (featured here)

Favorite Series Finale: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
As The Raven King's publication approached, I oscillated between feelings of excitement and complete dread. Excitement because I just had to know what was going to happen to these beloved characters. And dread because then the series would be over. This series has meant so much to me. See all the reasons why here.

Favorite Audiobook: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Isn't it nice when your most highly anticipated book of the year turns out to be insanely amazing? I think I liked Gemina even more than the first in the series, Illuminae. The audio version has a full cast, sound effects, and music. It was really an all-encompassing experience. The text version is, of course, amazing too, and now I kind of what to listen to Illuminae and read Gemina.

Favorite Nonfiction: Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin 
Steve Sheinkin is the master of engaging young adult history books. If you are like me, the Vietnam War is something of a hole in your historical knowledge. This book helped to fill in some of the gaps. The major themes in this book are still very relevant today, and I've been telling everyone I know to read this book. (featured here)

Favorite 2015 Publication read in 2016: Winter by Marissa Meyer
I finished Winter on January 6th, 2017. Talk about starting the year off right. The Lunar Chronicles was such a fantastic source of delight for me over the last five years. I have loved every one of the books and have fallen pretty hard for these characters. See all the reasons I love this series here.

Current Series Obsession: Lockwood & Company by Jonathan Stroud
I need this series to last forever because I have this lovely tradition of reading the new one every Halloween. The latest in the series, The Creeping Shadow, was absolutely fantastic. I had this giddy smile on my face the entire book while being terrified at the same time. 

Favorite Contemporary: Frannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup
I fell hard for this book. I basically ignored my life and read it in one day. With gorgeous prose, this is the quiet kind of book that I love best. While it handles big ideas, like racism, class, and sexuality, it does so on a personal scale through Frannie and her engagement with the world. (featured here)

Favorite Sequel: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
I liked A Torch Against the Night just as much as the first in the series, An Ember in the Ashes. I'm amazed with how rich this world is becoming, and I love that Sabaa Tahir is not playing it safe. I also especially enjoyed having Helene's added perspective. She was one of my favorite characters in the first book, and I loved learning more about her in this installment.

Favorite Book Club Book: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

When I lived in Kansas City, I had a fabulous book club, and this fall we had a reunion in Nashville. (Yes, the book club was that awesome.) Because it was a book club reunion we had to read a book and have a book discussion while we were there. We chose this one because it is set in Tennessee, and reading a novel that was set in a place I was visiting was such a fun way to prepare for a trip. I was surprised by how serious and gritty this novel is. The book took me through the entire gamut of emotions. I laughed out loud and cried while reading it. 

Most Hilarious Read: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
This is the not-entirely-true story of Jane Gray who ruled England for nine days after the death of Edward VI. It's obvious the authors had a fantastic time writing this book together. I laughed out loud so many times. I loved every moment of this book and was so sad to see it end! (featured here)

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