My Favourite Books of 2016 #2016Books

Here are my favourite reads of 2016 – better late than never, right!?

I only awarded four books the elusive 5 Unicorns (not including rereads), because not many things are perfect, right? But I also rated 22 books with 4 Unicorns so this list was surprisingly difficult.

(Quotes from my reviews, synopsis’s from Goodreads, as always!)

unicorn rating 4

10. The Crow Girl ~ Erik Axl Sund

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The Crow Girl is one of the darkest, twisted, deviously woven crime books I’ve ever read. As the synopsis suggests it starts with one dead body, and mannnn does it escalate from there. “

Review // Goodreads 

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It starts with just one body – tortured, mummified and then discarded.

Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.

This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen.

This is the world of the Crow Girl.

9. The Merciless ~ Danielle Vega

themerciless

“I can definitely see where they got the whole ‘Mean Girls meets Stephen King’ tagline from. Unlike Stephen King however, this book is severely lacking in the character development department. But you know what? I kind of didn’t care.

Review // Goodreads 

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned…

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
 
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
 
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
 
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

8. The Hummingbird’s Cage ~ Tamara Dietrich

hummingbird

“I was hooked into this story straight away {…} It was all a bit Twin Peaks, albeit not quite as insane.”

Review // Goodreads 

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A dazzling debut novel about taking chances, finding hope, and learning to stand up for your dreams…

Everyone in Wheeler, New Mexico, thinks Joanna leads the perfect life: the quiet, contented housewife of a dashing deputy sheriff, raising a beautiful young daughter, Laurel. But Joanna’s reality is nothing like her facade. Behind closed doors, she lives in constant fear of her husband. She’s been trapped for so long, escape seems impossible—until a stranger offers her the help she needs to flee….

On the run, Joanna and Laurel stumble upon the small town of Morro, a charming and magical village that seems to exist out of time and place. There a farmer and his wife offer her sanctuary, and soon, between the comfort of her new home and blossoming friendships, Joanna’s soul begins to heal, easing the wounds of a decade of abuse.

But her past—and her husband—aren’t so easy to escape. Unwilling to live in fear any longer, Joanna must summon a strength she never knew she had to fight back and forge a new life for her daughter and herself….

7. Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky ~ Holly Martin

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“It’s literally like Holly Martin has taken all of my favourite things about Christmas and put them in this book. It was magical.”

Review // Goodreads 

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This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts…

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

Curl up with this gorgeously romantic tale and let the glistening snow and the roaring fires of Stardust Lake Hotel get you in the festive spirit this Christmas.

6. Shadow and Bone ~ Leigh Bardugo

summer16.7
“I saw influences from a lot of books I love such as Graceling and Throne of Glass, but Shadow and Bone felt fresh in some ways too. It was full of action and heartbreak, and I was totally invested in the great protagonist that is Alina.”

Review // Goodreads 

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The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

5. Into the Dim ~ Janet B. Taylor

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“I loved the setting, the plot was interesting and a whole lot of fun, but mostly, I enjoyed the writing. Taylor’s words grabbed me instantly”

Review // Goodreads

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers.

Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. 

Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail,Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens. 

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4. The Madwoman Upstairs ~ Catherine Lowell

madwoman“I loved everything about this book. The interactions between Samantha and Professor Orville were hilarious, and Samantha’s character in general just made me do actual LOLs.”

Review // Goodreads

In this smart and enthralling debut in the spirit of The Weird Sisters and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the family’s long-rumored secret estate, using clues her eccentric father left behind.

Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. As the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family, she’s rumored to have inherited a vital, mysterious portion of the Brontë’s literary estate; diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts; a hidden fortune that’s never been shown outside of the family.

But Samantha has never seen this rumored estate, and as far as she knows, it doesn’t exist. She has no interest in acknowledging what the rest of the world has come to find so irresistible; namely, the sudden and untimely death of her eccentric father, or the cryptic estate he has bequeathed to her.

But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and bits and pieces of her past start mysteriously arriving at her doorstep, beginning with an old novel annotated in her father’s handwriting. As more and more bizarre clues arrive, Samantha soon realizes that her father has left her an elaborate scavenger hunt using the world’s greatest literature. With the aid of a handsome and elusive Oxford professor, Samantha must plunge into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontë’s own writing.

A fast-paced adventure from start to finish, this vibrant and original novel is a moving exploration of what it means when the greatest truth is, in fact, fiction.

3. The Last Days of Jack Sparks

jacksparks“I absolutely loved this book. Jack reminded me a lot of Mystery Man from Colin Bateman’s novels of the same name. He is a lovable rogue. He is completely hopeless but you can’t help but root for him.”

Review // Goodreads 

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Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.

In 2014, Jack Sparks – the controversial pop culture journalist – died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.

2. The Song of Achilles ~ Madeline Miller

songof” The Song of Achilles is a beautifully written story of war, love, betrayal, and tragedy, written from the perspective of Patroclus- best friend and lover of Achilles, making this version of the legend more human than it is God-like.”

Review // Goodreads 

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Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny.

Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

1. Sanctuary Bay ~ Laura Burns & Melinda Metz

sanctuarybay“I absolutely loved Sanctuary Bay and couldn’t put it down! I liked the contrast between the futuristic-type technology at the school and that part of it was built on a POW camp, and how all of this is woven into a great mystery.”

Review // Goodreads

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing.

Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

 

           Books of the Month – 2016

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Last Year in Books: 2016 End of Year Survey #2016Books #BookBlogging

I took a blogging break over Christmas and all the way through to the end of January so I never got the chance to do any of the yearly round-up posts that I really enjoy doing. But what with my new ‘blog what you enjoy’ mantra I’m going to post a few now – lateness be damned!

This End of Year Survey was started by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner who also created the graphics. Many thanks to her!

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Number Of Books You Read: 69 – 1 short of my target.
Number of Re-Reads: 1 – A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Genre You Read The Most From: YA Fantasy/Horror –  22 books

best-in-books

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

For the second year running my favourite book has been one I read right at the beginning of the year. This time it was Sanctuary Bay – an impressive dark and mysterious YA novel.

sanctuarybay

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

fellside I was disappointed with this one 😦

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

madwoman I didn’t expect to love it so much!

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

jacksparks I loved it and knew a lot of people who would too!

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Best series started – The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo

Best Sequel – I didn’t actually read many sequels but Glass Sword was great.

Best Series Ender – I didn’t read any. Fail!

 6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2016?

Definitely Jason Arnott (The Last Days of Jack Sparks)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The madwoman Upstairs – I don’t often read general adult fiction, especially not ones about classic literature (The Bronte’s) like this one.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Last Days of Jack Sparks

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

sanctuarybay

Probably none because I never find the time but I’d love to re-read Sanctuary Bay again as I read it at the start of the year and have already forgotten lots about it despite thinking it was amazing at the time!

 

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2016?

merciless2 The real life gold hardback cover is purrrrty. And badass.

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Probably Jack Sparks again. He was such a loveable, despicable idiot.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

songof

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Ooh this one was hard to choose. Tbh I didn’t read that many ‘serious’ books last year. I almost went for The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes but I think I’ll choose The Hummingbird’s Cage for its interesting look at the afterlife  and having hope.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

The Song of Achilles.

 15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.” ― Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

 

Shortest: The Book of Kringle – 32 pgs

Longest: The Crow Girl – 794 pgs

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Hmm this one has stumped me…maybe The Crow Girl just for the sheer dark, grimness of it.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

My favourite romance had to be Achilles and Patroclus in The Song of Achilles.

19. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

I really loved the dynamic between Jack Sparks and his editor/agent in The Last Days of Jack Sparks. 

20. Favourite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

foreshadowing

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

summer16.7

 

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Sturmhond/Nikolai from The Grisha trilogy

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

It’s a tie between The Song of Achilles and The Madwoman Upstairs. Neither of which were YA. I’m surprised with myself!

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Definitely The Grisha Trilogy

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Jack Sparks

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

I definitely cried at The Song of Achilles, more than once. I can’t think of any others.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

a9 This was a heart-warming little gem.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Erm I wouldn’t be that dramatic but The Enchanted was depressing and beautiful all at once.

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29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

I think The Enchanted again. It was like nothing I’ve ever read before.

 

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

stealingsnow

Stealing Snow made me mad because it started off well then very quickly nose-dived!

 

blogging-bookish-life

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2016?

I discovered lots of new blogs but I don’t want to single any out!

2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2016?

I liked my slightly ranting review of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I really enjoyed the discussion about why books aren’t promoted to teens enough.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I didn’t go many last year, apart from events we hosted at work. My favourite of those was Mike Carey’s visit with the director and producer of The Girl with all the Gifts.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Probably just getting nice comments from authors/publishers, and the huge success that was Horror October. It’ getting bigger every year.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Just keeping going in general. With a busy work and social schedule it’s really hard work sometimes, but worth it.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

By far the Flash Fiction Battle posts during Horror October. I’ve never had such high stats!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I guess a lot of reviews and also promo posts/blog tours that take a while to write but don’t end up being very popular. I think it’s fair to say that this is a bone on contention with a lot of bloggers.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Hmm…I think just a lot of he vintage I’ve found which come with so much history. I find it really interesting and I’m going to incorporate that on my blog more this year. My vintage bookshop is here.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Hmm I didn’t really set many goals last year. I was one book away from reaching my Goodreads total.

looking-ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

Ha! Lots. But my first port of call is The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

marshking

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

wintersong It sounds so good!

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

The only series ending I needed to read was the final Grisha book and I finished it last week. Loved it!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

Quality not quantity!

 

The Ones that Got Away: Unreviewed Books read in 2016 #MiniReviews

I read 8 books this year that I failed to write reviews for, which I think is pretty good going actually. So as we come to the end of the year, in the spirit of tying things up, here are some very, very short reviews for them, or at the very least reasons for my lack of review!

A Christmas Party ~ Georgette Heyer: I only read about 50 pages of this before giving up. It’s a closed-house murder mystery that I was really looking forward to but I just couldn’t get into to it at all. There were lots of characters and none of them were remotely pleasant!

The Enchanted ~ Rene Denfield: This was a really strange book about a man on death row. I was trying to put my thoughts together for a review but I think it took so long I forgot. I’m still not sure how I felt about it. It was written in a very interesting way…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children ~ Ransom Riggs: I didn’t finish this book. I wanted to read it before  I saw the film, but didn’t end up seeing it anyway. I think I wasn’t in the mood for it. I’ll hopefully go back to it at some point.

The Seeing Stone ~ Kevin Crossley- Holland: This was one of those books that had been on my TBR list for years. I love Arthurian stuff so thought I would love it, but I didn’t get on with it at all. I just managed to finish it but I wasn’t in the mood to write a terrible review of it.

Glass Sword ~ Victoria Aveyard: The second book in the Red Queen series was great. I enjoyed it a lot. I have no idea why I didn’t write a review for it!

Deception ~ Naomi Chase: I have actually reviewed this but for our library newsletter that we put together at work. Maybe I’ll share it one day. Deception is an ‘Urban Fiction’ book which are popular in the prison where I work. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting!

The Colour of Milk ~ Nell Leyshon: This was a simple, short-but-sweet novel about a poor farm- servant who teaches herself to read. I liked it. Not sure why I didn’t review it at the time.

Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen ~ Chris Riddell: This was a short World Book Day story. I don’t remember much about it to be honest. I gave it 3 unicorns though so I must have liked it enough.