Top Ten Tuesday: Best new-to-me authors read in 2016 #TTT

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is… Top Ten new-to-me authors in 2016!

I discovered so many great authors again this year, and finally got round to reading some of those that had been on my TBR for way too long.

Here are my top ten authors that I discovered or first read this year, (and the books of theirs I read). Links go to my reviews.

10. Holly Martin (Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky)

9. Liz Kessler (Haunt Me)

8. Leigh Bardugo (Shadow & Bone)

7. Natalie Haynes (The Amber Fury)

6. Nina LaCour (You Know Me Well – with David Levithan)

5. Janet B. Taylor (Into the Dim)

4. Danielle Vega (The Merciless)

3. Catherine Lowell (The Madwoman Upstairs)

2. Madeline Miller (The Song of Achilles)

1. Jason Arnopp (The Last Days of Jack Sparks)

Did you try any of these this year?

 

My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul (out next week) #BookReview #YA

mykindofcrazyTitle: My Kind of Crazy
Author: Robin Reul
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Publication Details:  April 5th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): YA Contemporary
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

 

 

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

Review

I’m usually quite wary of contemporary reads in YA because I feel like they’re really hard to get right and also really hard to stand out amongst the crowd; they all get a bit samey for me.

My Kind of Crazy falls into the boy meets girl category, and whereas it was quite predictable, and not particularly unique or fresh, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Protagonist Hank is trying to get a date to the prom and has his sights set on one of the most popular girls in school. Hank isn’t unpopular, but he’s not quite in her league either so he needs to make a lasting impression…but perhaps almost setting her house on fire was a bit extreme.

Luckily for Hank, no one knows he was the culprit apart from one random girl lurking in the shadows. Unluckily for Hank, the random girl shows up at his school the next day. 

Peyton, however, promises not to tell anyone about his uber failure of a prom proposal and  Hank is instantly intrigued by her. They quickly become friends, bonding over their unconventionalities, but Peyton might just be one step too crazy for Hank…

I liked a lot of things about this book. It was refreshing that it wasn’t about the popular kids Vs the unpopular, the jocks Vs the geeks…you know how it goes.

Hank was a great protagonist who sat somewhere in between those high-school social statuses. He has a difficult home life – as does Peyton – but is doing his best to get through it. I think what I liked most about him was that he didn’t judge people, and he saw the best in everyone, even when he couldn’t see the best in himself.

My Kind of Crazy was a cute, quick read. I found it both witty and sad, and couldn’t put it down. It’s not the most original story, but it still managed to stand out in a sea of contemporary beigeness. 

unicorn rating 4

 

Keep Your Enemies Close…

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

weight The Dane family’s roots tangle deep in the Ozark Mountain town of Henbane, but that doesn’t keep sixteen-year-old Lucy Dane from being treated like an outsider. Folks still whisper about her mother, a bewitching young stranger who inspired local myths when she vanished years ago. When one of Lucy’s few friends, slow-minded Cheri, is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost girls-the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t protect. Everything changes when Lucy stumbles across Cheri’s necklace in an abandoned trailer and finds herself drawn into a search for answers. What Lucy discovers makes it impossible to ignore the suspicion cast on her own kin. More alarming, she suspects Cheri’s death could be linked to her mother’s disappearance, and the connection between the two puts Lucy at risk of losing everything. In a place where the bonds of blood weigh heavy, Lucy must decide where her allegiances lie.

Reading The Weight of Blood felt like sitting on a swing-chair on a porch in the sticky night-time heat with Dragonfiles bashing against your lantern; kind of peaceful and beautiful but there’s this uncomfortable feeling rising to the surface, and you know where it’s coming from but if you just ignore it, it might go away. Obviously, it never goes away…

The Weight of blood is set in a small town with big secrets and a growing number of disappearing teenage girls. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character and from two different periods of time. In the present Lucy is hell-bent on finding out what happened to her friend Cheri, a girl with learning-difficulties who was found dismembered in a tree, and also trying to discover what happened to her mum, Lila who vanished a year after she was born.

We also follow Lila as she first arrives in Henbane with the promise of a job and board from local business man, Crete Dane. It’s not long before Lila realises that all is not quite as it seems in this town.

McHugh really did a great job here in intertwining these two stories to create a compelling read. I wasn’t ferociously trying to find out who was behind it all, or on the edge of my seat as I was fed more pieces of the puzzle like I sometimes am when reading thrillers, but that’s not to say it wasn’t compelling.

The story unfolds at a gentle pace (and the plot continues to thicken all the way to the end) but I was never bored. There is something enchanting about her writing that makes it a joy to just float along for the ride. The style really reminded me of Alice Hoffman in that way.

I was a little disappointed that there were no major unexpected turns or twists, but as it was the writing and the characters were enough to keep me happy. The characterisation was great, with more than enough seedy, sinister ones to keep you guessing, and Lila and Lucy were both so likeable that it was hard to not get invested in their well-being.

I look forward to reading more by Laura McHugh.

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure?: I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an HONEST review,
Title: The Weight of Blood
Author: Laura McHugh
Details: Hardcover, ebook, 320 pages
Published: March 11th 2014 by Spiegel & Grau (Random House)
My Rating: 4/5
You’ll like it if you liked: Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman