Hello there! Welcome to my annual review post, where I tell you about some books that I really loved reading this past year. I’ll admit 2016 has been quite a ride. However, the stories listed below managed to give my mind and heart some hope for a better 2017. Each book includes a brief review from yours truly, and a “Read More” link in case you’d like to be directed to the book’s Goodreads page.
So let’s jump right in! Here are my 5 favorite reads of 2016:
Fahrenheit 451 | Ray Bradbury
Classic, Science Fiction
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books…more
This is a quick read that will take you no time at all to understand why it is a classic. Sometimes philosophical, a little speculative, always asking “What would happen if…?” I went into this novel thinking it was about censorship. It’s not. Well, that’s not the message I took from it anyway. I saw a war against technology in Bradbury’s writing. A warning against man’s self-destructive nature. And I didn’t always agree with his message, but his lyrical prose and complex characters kept me glued to the page until I was done. I suggest giving this book a try, despite mixed reviews.
The Forbidden Wish | Jessica Khoury
Fantasy, YA, Retelling
When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes….more
I know retellings are having a moment in YA Lit right now. Let me tell you, I have picked up some horrid retellings, packed full of YA and Romance clichés. So, naturally, I had my doubts about this one. But Aladdin has always been my all time favorite Disney film, so I read it anyway. I am so glad I did. This novel is beautifully written, with a kick ass heroine, and a strong, compelling story line. Khoury smashes YA clichés, and brings to the table a fresh, stunning story. This book is delicious and I recommend it to all new writers looking to break into YA. We need more stories like this one. Your only disappointment may be that it has very little to do with the actual story of Aladdin designed by Disney.
The Martian | Andy Weir
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive. But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet…more
I know there are two on this list, but I actually don’t read very much Sci-Fi. Especially novels about space travel and one with so much Science jargon. You’d think it would deter anyone who wasn’t an engineer, like me, but it didn’t. I think it was Weir’s narrative storytelling and Mark’s personality that kept me going. I really liked Mark. I wanted him to live. I wanted him to make it back to his family. He was arrogant at times, made honest mistakes, but persevered through possibly the most terrifying situation a human being could find themselves in. I was rooting for him on every single page.
Outlander | Diana Gabaldon
Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743… more
I stepped out of my comfort zone quite a bit this year with the Sci-Fi, and now this, a historical romance that is the farthest thing from any book I’ve ever read before. And I enjoyed it. Very much. There are a lot of mixed reviews, but one thing is certain, Gabaldon is very talented. The writing is beautiful. Claire is stubborn, at times careless, but she’s passionate. She takes her fate in her own hands and survives in a world most of us wouldn’t last two seconds. Yes there are times that it turns from it’s sophisticated, historical nature into something a little more raunchy. But don’t let that deter you from giving it a try.
A Darker Shade of Magic | V.E. Schwab
Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now…more
Don’t tell the other books, but I may have saved the best for last. Schwab became one of my favorite authors this year. She created a captivating world in A Darker Shade, and then she filled it with characters that I wanted to get to know. The story bounces from Kell to Lila’s perspective until they finally cross paths. Both characters are people you want to have a beer with. They’re interesting, flawed, and underdogs. What’s even better than the characters is the world building and new fantasy elements Schwab has created. I highly suggest you pick this one up, if you haven’t already.
So there you have it! I would love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter if you read and enjoyed any of these books. I love discussing and receiving new recommendations via any of my social media platforms, so please reach out!
Happy writing (and reading!),