Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Books I Read in 2016

I really want to talk about the books I read last year and share my enthusiasm for them, because some of them were just so goooood.



This article is going to be a little different from the 'Books I Read in 2015' post that I published in January 2016, because I'm going to try to pick my favourites from the different genres I read.

Unlike in 2015, where crime/thriller dominated my 'read shelf', 2016 was weighted heavily towards YA fantasy, thanks to my discovering that my local library has a YA section bang in the middle of the 'Children's Library' (I thought that whole area was dedicated to the Horrid Henrys and Jacqueline Wilson books!). They have some really good YA books in there and apart from one or two, most of my teen fiction reads in 2016 have been from my local library.


The snapshot above shows the books I read in early 2016 and it includes my FAVOURITE CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE OF 2016!

Where She Went by Gayle Forman. Click on the cover image below for more info on this stunning novel.

 
  
This is the sequel to If I Stay, and is purely from Adam's point of view. I think this was the first romance novel I've read which was solely from the male character's POV, but it was so cleverly executed. It's such a simple story, but it was told wonderfully.

The next category is: SERIES  I WAS MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO READING

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (though I've also seen it referred to as the Juliette Chronicles).

I'd heard so many good things about this dystopian fantasy series and finally got around to starting it in October. I was so ready to love Shatter Me (Book 1) but I ended up giving it 3 stars. I think I was just looking forward to it too much and my expectations were sky high based on all the hype online.

In saying that, the writing is just so beautiful, I don't regret reading it. It's one of those books you should read just to experience the unique style in which its written. I gave book 2 ~ Unravel Me ~ 4 stars, my favourite of this trilogy; click on the cover image below for more info on this series.




SERIES I WAS MOST (PLEASANTLY) SURPRISED BY 

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.

I downloaded the first book in this sophisticated urban fantasy series ~ The Raven Boys ~ from iBooks in August and really enjoyed it. I wasn't mad about it, but I don't need to be mad about a series opener. I don't mind if the series gets better with each book. And this series definitely did that. I loved these books so much, I can't recommend them highly enough. Click on the gorgeous cover image below to learn more about this 4-book series.




Why was I surprised by this series? Those of you that have read Maggie's earlier work might be thinking that the change in writing style ~ the more grown-up, new adult feel ~ is what surprised me. But no. The Raven Boys was my first book by this author, though I have since read the first two novels in the Shiver trilogy, but I wasn't expecting the series to go in the direction it was. Maggie surprised me constantly and I just couldn't get enough of it.

The plot is clever, not your run of the mill story. The writing is exquisite. Beautiful. The characters are quirky, funny. The passages thrilling, exciting, full of page-turning goodness. And the romance... Now, I read my fair share of YA romance/fantasy romance in 2016, and they all had their sweeping, epic, in-your-face romantic moments. But the romance in this series is more subtle, tackled so much more elegantly than most, and therefore has the same impact as all those books that go on for ages about erratic breathing and skin burning and all the rest.


SERIES I WAS MOST DISAPPOINTED BY 

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare.

Okay, I've mentioned earlier how good my local library is, but it's rare to go to the YA/teen section and find an entire 6-book urban fantasy series that you can borrow at once. Usually, other users have already taken out one or two books from the series and you have to ask the lovely librarians to reserve those copies for you when they're returned. So, when you go in there and see books 2-6 of the Mortal Instruments series (i.e. the whole series bar the first book) ready to be grabbed and you know book 1 was made into a film, what do you do? You take out those five books at once and watch the movie adaptation of book 1 before you start reading the series, of course. Well, that's what I did.

I loved City of Ashes (Book 2) ~ the first book I read from this series ~ and gave it 5 stars, and the third book was really good too. What was disappointing, for me, was the second trio of books that were added to this series (it was originally meant to be a trilogy but got extended). I know a lot of readers prefer the last three books in the series, but I just couldn't get into them, and the last book, City of Heavenly Fire, pulled me into a reading slump for a bit as I was really struggling with it.

I have since read City of Bones (Book 1) and enjoyed it, even though I knew from the film (and the remainder of the series) what would happen. Click on the below cover image if you want to find out more about this series (they have new covers now!).

 

This series has a great fan-base and the world its set in is so well-developed and well thought out, no wonder Cassandra has several other series set in this world. I will be reading her other works (more on this later).


MOST ANTICIPATED READ OF 2016

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

To Kill A Mockingbird was my favourite book growing up, so I was naturally eager to read the sequel. 

I didn't love it as much as the first book, but I liked that it wasn't predictable (not for me, anyway!).




FAVOURITE IN CRIME/THRILLER

The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins.

I really enjoyed this novel, the way it was structured and told. I gave it five stars. However, it was one in the small handful of crime/thriller novels I read in 2016 so I wonder if that has anything to do with how highly I thought of it. I didn't have much else to compare it to.

I'm glad I read the book before watching the film because I don't think it quite worked on the big screen. Not the way Gone Girl had.


FAVOURITE SERIES OF 2016 - COMPLETED

The Raven Cycle as mentioned above. 
 

FAVOURITE SERIES OF 2016 - NOT YET COMPLETED

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.
 


Confession: I'm addicted to BookTube. I have a few favourite BookTubers and they're always talking about the Throne of Glass series and how great it is, and that's why I started this high fantasy series. And I'm addicted to these books too!

Each of the books in this series gets better and better as you read them (I've read four out of the five that are out, with the sixth and final instalment due to release this year), and the series itself gets better as you fly through these books. I am soooo looking forward to reading Empire of Storms (Book 5) ~ I might buy it actually, since my library doesn't have a copy of this book yet, together with the final book when it's out. That's how much I can't wait to get my hands on these books!

Sarah is quite rightly one of the shining stars of the fantasy fiction world. She's a great story-teller, her writing is almost always faultless and her characters are easy to get attached to. Celaena from the Throne of Glass series is probably the best female character I've read in this genre; I love her.
 

FAVOURITE BOOK OF 2016

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.




This high fantasy novel (Book 2 in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series) won the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016 in the YA Fantasy and Sci-Fi category, and I'm not surprised. It has everything you want in a fantasy novel and didn't disappoint for a single sentence. I remember constantly smiling as I read this and had a huge grin on my face after I finished it, the kind of grin only book lovers wear after reading a great book. Oh, it was  soooo good.


I wasn't expecting it to be so enjoyable, considering the first book in the series only got 3 stars from me, and was a bit slow to begin with. If I'm honest, until the final third of Book 1, I wasn't entirely sure I liked it. But ACOMAF is in a whole other league and I am eagerly waiting for the third book to release this year; I think it's going to be amazing!


2017 TBR

Apart from the aforementioned anticipated reads, below are some others I want to get my hands on this year:

The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Starting with Clockwork Angel.

 

My BookTuber pals say this series is better than the Mortal Instruments series so I'm really looking forward to when my library finally has all three available at the same time.

I didn't get around to reading the final book in the Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer last year, so hope to tackle that soon.

 

Also sitting on my physical bookshelf and waiting to be read are The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (I bought this book solely based on the stunning cover design, but I know the author comes highly recommended) and I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.



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