So…that was 2016. What a year. Unfortunately, it was a pretty bad year for the world, socially and politically, and I can only hope that 2017 will be better. That we make it better. From a personal point of view, it was a year full ups and downs. I successfully finished my first year of university, made many new friends, read lots of books, started applying for jobs for the first time in my life. And perhaps most importantly for all you reading this: Nina and I started this blog! It’s been such a rewarding experience and I want to take a moment to thank all of you who follow us, leave comments, or just read our posts from the bottom of my heart. It truly always makes my day when any of this happens.
At the beginning of the year I set my Goodreads reading challenge to 50 books. I ended up meeting that goal in September and so upped it to 65. Once again, I was able to meet it and ended up reading 68 books. Though I read a lot of good books this year, I also read many that I didn’t enjoy and I’m hoping that 2017 will bring many awesome new ones. So, to round off the year, here are my top ten favourites of 2016. I’m very happy with how diverse this list is in terms of genre; I’ve really expanded my reading horizon this year and that is something I want to continue doing in 2017. I have decided to take on the challenge and do a ranking, but please note that this was extremely difficult and I will probably look back on this list in two days and wish I would have put them in a different order, so take the chronology with a grain of salt. I have added age categories and genres in brackets for those of you who may have not heard of a book and would like a quick overview.
10. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (Young Adult/Fantasy/Paranormal)
If you know about my favourite books in general you may be surprised that this conclusion “only” made number 10 on this list. The Raven Cycle is my favourite series of all time. And I loved this book. One of my favourite ships sailed, the writing was more stunning than ever, the plot was clever and kept me on the edge of my seat, I couldn’t put the book down. Ronan is my precious baby. But I also have to admit that I am heavily biased when it comes to this series and The Raven King may not have deserved the five stars I gave it. It was a good conclusion, but not perfect, I do think I liked The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue better. Still, I cannot recommend this series highly enough. It’s different from anything I’ve ever read and the author doesn’t spoon-feed you anything but makes you work for those pieces that eventually come together perfectly.
9. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Adult/Fantasy)
I’m a huge V.E./Victoria Schwab fan. There is just something about her books that make me fall in love. With the writing, the characters, the worlds especially, and this series is no exception. I really enjoyed A Darker Shade of Magic for the fantastic premise and intricate worldbuilding, but I found myself not really attached to the characters and was disappointed by the villains. A Gathering of Shadows, I am so happy to say, remedied that. I grew so attached to Lila, Kell and Rhy and seeing their character development unfold was fantastic. This book also introduced one of my now favourite characters of all time (*cough* Alucard *cough*) and I pretty much started internally squealing whenever he appeared on the page. Though rather slow paced, I never found myself bored and instead loved the plot and the twists and turns this book took. I cannot recommend this series highly enough, I love it so much. And I need A Conjuring of Light like…yesterday.
8. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (Young Adult/Historical Fiction/Fantasy)
Wolf by Wolf was one of the first books I read in 2016 and it has stayed with me through the entirety of the year. The premise sounded amazing but I wasn’t sure how the book would deliver on it. Fortunately, it gave me everything I wanted. The novel is extremely fast-paced, action-packed and has non-stop suspense. It’s about a competition which is one of my personal favourite things and I would highly recommend this if you enjoyed The Hunger Games. Though the two are not really alike, they both have that quality of “I just need to know what happens next, one more page AHHH”. I couldn’t put it down and loved every second. Additionally, Yael is a new favourite female character, the writing was beautiful, and I loved the novel’s exploration of identity.
7. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Adult/Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction)
I went into Purple Hibiscus not having any idea what to expect. I had heard so much about this author and I knew I wanted to read her books in publication order, but I didn’t know what this book was about at all. I half expected not to like it, for it to be too “literary” for me, but boy oh boy was I wrong. Purple Hibiscus is easy to read, incredibly engaging, but also heart-breaking and poignant and a beautifully written exploration of family, faith and abuse. It made me simultaneously sad and angry, yet, none of the characters were made villains, they were all three-dimensional and real, in a way that I felt like I was sitting with them at the kitchen table. I also greatly enjoyed the little glimpse we received into Nigerian culture and the impact of colonisation and I cannot wait to read more by Adichie. I genuinely feel like I will love all her books.
6. The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (Young Adult/Fantasy)
What can I say except that I just love this series so damn much? Kestrel is my favourite female character of all time and this stunning finale secured her that number one spot. She is so intelligent, so cunning, so in control and yet…she is also flawed. She makes mistakes. She is a girl I both identify with and what to be at the same time. Add my love of Kestrel to Rutkoski’s gorgeous prose, a wonderful love interest Arin who really came into his own in this book, great family and friendship dynamics plus some fantastic political intrigue and you pretty much have my perfect book. This third book in a trilogy is slower paced than the other two, but the author is a master at knowing when to switch point-of-view and setting so that you never get bored. This book surprised me, delighted me, made me grit my teeth with anxiety for my beloved characters and was just overall the perfect ending to one of my favourite trilogies. Everyone please read it!
5. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (Adult/Literary Fiction)
This was another novel that completely took me by surprise. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, but, well, it ended up in my top five of the year. There is something special about this book and the way Celeste Ng writes her characters. I can’t really describe it except to say that she manages to evoke in two sentences what other authors try and fail to do in whole chapters. Every feeling this woman writes is just hitting the nail on the head and managed to evoke such passion in me. I felt deeply for these flawed characters that just seemed to make one mistake after the other but were so human. I didn’t necessarily feel sympathy, but I did feel a ton of empathy. Everything I Never Told You contains one of the best-written family dynamics I have ever read and also deals with racism and bigotry (it’s an ownvoices novel) incredibly well, in a way that is subtle and yet comes across clearly in the story.
4. Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat (Adult/Fantasy/Romance)
And now we come to the somewhat unpopular, or at least highly polarising, opinion on this list. I read the whole Captive Prince trilogy this summer, and though I wasn’t too impressed with the first book (it was enjoyable but not very well written), this series ended up becoming a new favourite. I put Prince’s Gambit, the second in the series, on this list because it is my personal favourite of the three. I’m not going to go into all the reasons why people hate this series (I’m totally open to discussing in the comments though!) but instead will tell you some of the reasons why I loved it. Firstly, I have not shipped two characters this much since I read the Bloodlines series at the beginning of 2015. Laurent and Damen are an absolute OTP for me and I can’t remember ever having read a romance that was so well-written, so slow-burn, so all-consuming. Secondly, the plot and political intrigue was so well done, there were twists I didn’t see coming, the book kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through and I felt drained after I finished because so many emotions. Thirdly, I love what this book does in terms of diversity. It’s an ownvoices book and not only do we have two main characters who are gay and bisexual, but we also have a world that isn’t heteronormative, and that, I think, should be commended.
3. The Likeness by Tana French (Adult/Psychological Thriller/Mystery)
2016 was definitely the year in which I discovered a new favourite genre: adult psychological thrillers. I read quite a few good ones this year, but Tana French takes the cake. I really liked In The Woods, but The Likeness (the second in the Dublin Murder Squad series) was just absolutely phenomenal. Cassie is my absolute queen, I would bow down before her. Tana French’s writing is exquisite and she writes characters like it’s the easiest thing in the world. You know those books where you feel like the people genuinely jump out at you they feel so real? That’s what this author does with every single one. The premise of this book is weird and far-fetched but somehow it works and despite the length and the relative density of some of the parts, I couldn’t stop reading, never felt bored and was entranced completely. Faithful Place is already sitting on my shelf for when I need something I know I will love. If you enjoy mysteries or thrillers, please do yourself a favour and pick up this series. (Review coming soon!)
2. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Adult/Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction)
This book…the hype is real. I mean, it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015, obviously people are gonna rave. But I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it. As it stands, this book deserves every piece of praise it gets. If there is one book on this list I want to convince you to read, it’s this one. I can’t even begin to describe how utterly perfect this novel is. The writing is art, it’s poetry (not literally), it feels like the author deliberated over every word and took the utmost care when crafting every single sentence. The intricacy of the story lines and the way they come together seamlessly, the incredible atmosphere that this book evokes, the devastating honesty with which these characters, and their lives, are written…it takes a very special kind of writer to pull that off. This novel is tragic and beautiful and raw; I adored it and recommend it to everyone. (Review coming soon!)
1. And I Darken by Kiersten White (Young Adult/Fantasy/Historical Fiction)
Can it truly be that this book is my ultimate favourite of the year? Can I commit to that statement? I’m not sure, but what I do know, is that thinking of And I Darken gives me a feeling like none of the other books on this list. I cannot think of this book without getting emotional, it means that much to me. This book is objectively good: it’s very well-written, the worldbuilding is excellent and the setting extremely vivid, the characters are complex and flawed, the book is diverse. The premise is cool and the whole story is just…different from other YA books out there. But these things aren’t enough for me to put a book on my number one spot of the year. Instead, it’s that this book made me feel less lonely, I felt a deep connection to Lada and Radu that made me want to hug them and protect them from all the crap that goes down. This book almost brought me to tears and I literally NEVER cry when I read. It deals with an issue I have been looking for in a YA book for YEARS and have been unable to find: unrequited love, and loving someone and feeling like you’re just not good enough for them. Like you’ll never be good enough. I cannot even express how much this resonated with me, and how much I needed to read a book that, despite containing characters that are completely different from me, go through some of the same things I’m dealing with. And I cannot thank Kiersten White enough for that. Needless to say that Now I Rise is my most anticipated release of 2017.
And with that, I would like to wish you all a fantastic start into 2017. I hope you all have a year full of love and laughter and happiness and hope we all get to read some amazing books. Thank you for coming on this journey with Nina and me, I love you all so much <3
What were your favourite books of 2016? Did you have a good reading year? Did you read many books? I would love to know in the comments! Also feel free to leave a link to your blog/Instagram post or video down below! 🙂