Gah! How are we here already?!
No wait. This year, it's more like: Thank goodness this dumpster fire is finally over!! Unless, that is, you're in the minority of people who weren't ground underneath the vicious heel of 2016, in which case, refer to my original opening. 😉
In any event, it's time for my top 10 reads of the year! Woot!
Basic stats for the year: I read 80 books in 2016, and of those, I did full reviews and cover manis for 36. All of my top 10 picks are from the 36.
As I'd expected, choosing a top 10 was excruciating, and I'll probably change my mind another hundred times until I hit post. But isn't that the best part of being a book lover? When your heart holds so much love that you feel bad to leave anyone out? The agony is delightfully painful. Haha!
Ready? Let's get to it!
*bangs awesome books gong*
10. I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around, by Ann Garvin
In a year where I read a lot of darker books, I needed a few to make me smile. I LIKE YOU JUST FINE WHEN YOU'RE NOT AROUND definitely worked in that regard, although there were also parts that brought tears to my eyes. Tig, the main character, was a gal after my own heart. She was dealt a spectacularly shitty hand, but she never let it get her down. Okay, so it did get her down, but she pushed through it, all the while unaware that a life shake-up was precisely what she needed. The prose was witty, wise, and accessible, and although there were truly sad parts, I felt lighter when I finished.
The Cainsville series took up a fair amount of time in my reading life, this year, and for good reason. They're bananas!! Of the first four, OMENS, VISIONS, DECEPTIONS, and BETRAYALS, the second one, VISIONS was my favourite. Although, truth be told, they're all pretty incredible. I love the paranormal elements, and even more so because Armstrong set the Cainsville series in present times, so there's an amusing mix of cell phones and faeries. Haha! The folklore references are absolute perfection, and the love triangle between three main characters feels fresh, which is pretty impressive because love triangles are a dime a dozen. I can't frickin' wait for the final book, due out in the summer of 2017, so don't be surprised if this series finds a place in my top 10 list of next year, too. Haha!
8. Pretty Girls, by Karin Slaughter
One of the regular topics of discussion that I have with a CP (critique partner) is that we have to go there--be unafraid to tap into the darkest places of ourselves, otherwise our work will suffer, and I swear there's nobody who goes there better than Karin Slaughter. In PRETTY GIRLS, for instance, Slaughter not only goes there, but she goes there and keeps on going. There's a scene in PRETTY GIRLS that still makes me shudder (I literally just made a face writing that sentence because now I'm remembering it.) A few characters in PRETTY GIRLS are effing terrifying, all the more so because they're people who could be your neighbours--people you'd have over for supper without wondering what's going on in their basements. But beware people. SO MUCH BAD IS HAPPENING IN THAT BASEMENT. I guarantee you won't see the twists coming, and you'll be absolutely floored with the second half. If you like dark (and I mean dark) thrillers, pick up PRETTY GIRLS (and then everything else Slaughter's written).
Of all the books I've read this year, THE PERFECT SON touched my heart the most. It's everything I want in a women's fiction/family drama, and the writing was exquisite. Similar to THE ROSIE PROJECT, the main character, Felix, was a bit of an emotional robot. But once I got into his head, I was able to see that he felt deeply. Felix desperately wanted to connect to others, but did it all wrong and wound up becoming a critical person. Gah. My heart hurts just thinking about Felix! In contrast, Felix's son Harry was lovely and endearing. The journey this family takes throughout an incredibly hard time drew me in from the first page, and left me physically hugging the book when I finished. Just make sure you have some tissues for this one. 😭
6. I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh
When it comes to thrillers, I LET YOU GO, is at the top of my list. This book was bananas squared. Manipulative, enticing, and heart wrenching revelations abound, and I couldn't get enough. It's also one of those novels that I don't want to tell you about. As such, my full review doesn't have much more, in terms of a description, because I LET YOU GO is something you simply have to experience yourself. So if you love thrillers that'll rob you of a good night's sleep, leaving you groggy throughout the day only to then stay up another night because you have to know what happens, this is the one for you! But maybe read it over the weekend so you don't get fired? Haha!
5. Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo
SIX OF CROWS, how I love you. So, so much. I flew through this book so quickly, that when I reread it before digging into the sequel, CROOKED KINGDOM, I relished the details I skimmed over because I was too ravenous to appreciate them, the first time around. Kaz and his crew were survivors who reclaimed power over their pasts, and were determined to get the job done, no matter what. The action never stopped, and I stress-ate many cookies because plans always went extraordinarily wrong (or so it seemed, at the time). Both books in the series are out, so this is one that you can binge on. But trust me, just buy the set. You'll wind up spending more money when you
inevitably buy them separately (because there's no possible way you'll only read SIX OF CROWS).
4. Home, by Harlan Coben
Longtime fans of the Myron Bolitar series freaked out while reading HOME, if I can judge by the intensity of several social media meltdowns regarding its awesomeness. (Note: I'm including myself here, haha!). The POV was a little different in HOME, and it let us inside a character's brain--a character who's always been a fan favourite--and it was my everything. In addition to having a twisty plot, the beloved cast was in full attendance, including Mickey and the crew from Coben's YA series. I'm trying hard to not think HOME is one of those "end of series" books (because that would be a major bummer), but that was the tone. However, even if you haven't read a Myron Bolitar book before, you'll still love the action packed plot and humorous dialogue, and you won't be too left out because Coben does a great job of summing up character relationships.
3. The Fireman, by Joe Hill
There aren't many days where I don't think about THE FIREMAN at least once. I've lost count of how many times I've recommended it to others, and I even included a copy in a Christmas present to my dad. I found deep meaning in this apocalyptic tale, as it was all about "the other," and how even the most hideous elements can be beautiful. I still don't quite understand why THE FIREMAN is considered a horror, because I didn't find it particularly gory or scary, so if you're leery of that, I guarantee you won't have any problems. I'd even go as far to say that THE FIREMAN is a book that everyone should read. The message is crisp and clear, the writing is phenomenal, and there's a steady pulse to pull you through.
2. Morning Star, by Pierce Brown
In the conclusion of the Red Rising series, Pierce Brown managed to raise the stakes to the point that I had to take breaks during my reading of MORNING STAR because I feared I'd have an actual heart attack. The tension was positively unbearable!! And like in the previous two books, Brown wasn't scared to kill off characters, so I lived in perpetual fear that my favourites would get the axe. Or the SlingBlade, to be more precise. The world building and its infinite moving parts was flawless, and Darrow was a character I cheered for, from the first page of RED RISING, onward. I'm seriously looking forward to IRON GOLD, which is a new book set in the same world as the Red Rising series, because I'm not ready to say goodbye to it yet.
1. A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas
I have a solid feeling that ACOMAF will make it to the top spot for many blogger countdowns this year, and that's because IT WAS THE BEST BOOK EVER. In fact, it's the first book that has compelled me to buy merch, and as of this post, I own three candles, fan art, and a bookmark (with more candles coming next week 🙈). Because that's how incredible it is. I literally want be inside The Night Court with smokeshow Rhysand by my side (or on his knees? Is this too steamy to mention in a top 10 post? Haha!!). So yeah. Read this one. READ IT NOW. (But read the first one beforehand, A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, or you won't know what's going on, haha!)
So there they are: my top 10 reads of 2016! Were any of your favourites listed? What were your top books for the year? Is there anything amazing that I need to know about? Let me know in the comments!
Happy New Year, everyone! Be safe and have fun! 🎉