The Novels I Read In 2016: Part Two — My Top 10 List! (The Hits & Favorites)

Lists & Such

A 2016 Wrap-Up Post!

So here are the awesome novels I read this year! (Check out Part 1, where I talk about the mehs and disappointments of 2016 in terms of novels.)

I’m not ordering these great books in a numbered list because no one book stood out that much more than all the others. All the books in this post were great reads that I highly recommend, and I’ll talk more about them below. (I also just noticed I have a nice mix of genres, too: fantasy, sci-fi, historical, thriller, contemporary, and romance! Wow, that’s awesome!)

Click on a title to read my review!

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The Novels I Read In 2016: Part One — 3 and 2 Star Reads! (Mehs & Disappointments)

Lists & Such

A 2016 Wrap-Up Post!

As of writing this post, I have read 70 books in 2016 — which is woefully little for me, actually. 2016 was a terrible reading year. Many of the books I read were actually graphic novels, comics, and manga — many of which were excellent — but I did read a number of novels, though not nearly as many as I’d hoped. 2016 might have been slow, but I did read some good books, which you’ll see in future countdown posts! I also might finish reading a few more books before the end of the month (currently reading Splintered by A.G. Howard and liking it), but I don’t want to leave my wrap-up posts until the last minute, so here’s the first one.

As the title says, here is part one of the novels I read this year: 3 and 2-star reads. I’m amazed that I didn’t read a single 1-star novel! (Although there is one book that’s in that murky 1.5 rating territory…) I didn’t viscerally hate any novel I read, though, so I guess that’s good!

Click on a title to read my review. Books are listed in no particular order.

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Let the Wind Rise by Shannon Messenger | Book Review

Let the Wind Rise by Shannon Messenger. Let the Sky Fall, #3.

My copy: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division), April 2016. Hardcover, 407 pages.

Source: Library.

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Read my review of Let the Sky Fall, book #1, here.
Read my review of Let the Storm Break, book #2, here.

Synopsis:

The breathtaking action and whirlwind adventure build to a climax in this thrilling conclusion to the “remarkably unpredictable” (BCCB) Sky Fall trilogy from the bestselling author of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series.

Vane Weston is ready for battle. Against Raiden’s army. Against the slowly corrupting Gale Force. Even against his own peaceful nature as a Westerly. He’ll do whatever it takes, including storming Raiden’s icy fortress with the three people he trusts the least. Anything to bring Audra home safely.

But Audra won’t wait for someone to rescue her. She has Gus—the guardian she was captured with. And she has a strange “guide” left behind by the one prisoner who managed to escape Raiden. The wind is also rising to her side, rallying against their common enemy. When the forces align, Audra makes her play—but Raiden is ready.

Freedom has never held such an impossible price, and both groups know the sacrifices will be great. But Vane and Audra started this fight together. They’ll end it the same way.


Let the Wind Rise is the fight to free Audra and Gus. It is the final showdown between our (mostly) good guys and the evil (slightly cardboard-y) villain Raiden. It’s a whirlwind (har har) of activity, so the pace is breakneck. I wasn’t blown away (har har har) by the conclusion to this underrated fantasy trilogy, but it was still very good and easy to jump right into despite not having read the previous books in a while.

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The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book Review

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

My copy: Harlequin Teen, May 2016. Hardcover, 474 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.


At first glance, Mallory Dodge is literally me: her name is Mallory, she was adopted, she home schooled, and she completely overthinks what to say and how people will perceive her words. So the beginning of this book, whilst getting to know “Mouse”, was kind of strange, but after the story kicked in, it shaped up to be a great book about personal strength, moving on, and finding love and support from all sorts of people.

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Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs | Book Review

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs.

My copy: Quirk Books, October 4th, 2016. ARC (review copy), 240 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Quirk Books!

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About the book:

Ever heard of Allied spy Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman whom the Nazis considered “highly dangerous”? Or German painter and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who planned and embarked on the world’s first scientific expedition? How about Huang Daopo, the inventor who fled an abusive child marriage only to revolutionize textile production in China?

Women have always been able to change the world, even when they didn’t get the credit. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs introduces you to pioneering female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors—each profile a study in passion, smarts, and stickto-itiveness, complete with portraits by Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to present-day women-centric STEM organizations.


Women in history had it hard. Women today still do, but it is thanks to these pioneers of their gender and generation that we can freely attend college, study STEM, travel the globe, fly planes, wear pants, and climb mountains, among other things that were unheard of for women even just a century ago.

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Graphic Novels & Manga Mini-Reviews! (aka, a bunch of 3 and 4-star books)

Mini-Reviews!

There are a bunch of books, mostly graphic novels and manga, that I haven’t reviewed. So I thought I’d share some (very) brief thoughts on them! Some I read a while ago, some I read recently, but here ya go. Kind of a random post, I know, but a little something I thought I’d throw up. I am determined to get back to blogging more than once a month, ha!

All of the books below I borrowed from the library.


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Crafting with Feminism: 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy by Bonnie Burton | Book Review

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Crafting with Feminism: 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy by Bonnie Burton.

My copy: Quirk Books, October 18th, 2016. Paperback (review copy), 112 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Quirk Books!

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About the book:

This is what a feminist crafter looks like! Wear your ideology on your sleeve by creating feminist merit badges (like “started an all-girl band” or “rocked roller derby”). Prove that the political is personal with DIY power panties (“No means no”). Craft great feminist hero finger puppets (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Frida Kahlo) or googly-eyed tampon buddies. Fun sidebars provide background on (s)heroes of the feminist movement.


Crafting with Feminism is, superficially, cute and clever, but a few of the projects are a bit cringe-worthy, and the message about feminism and what it actually constitutes is very weak.

This crafting book has girl-power ideas you can create with your gal-pals at a party, or maybe if you’re in need of a pick-me-up if you’re just done with men and their crap (heh). Some of them are cute: finger puppets, reusable lunch bags, flower crowns, rings, hoop art, candles, and — my favorite — “High Heels Are a Pain Planters”. Other projects are a little questionable: “Tampon Buddies”, a “Uterus Body Pillow”, “Power Panties”, a “Burning Bra”, and… “Vagina Tree Ornaments”. Now, I am all for being comfortable with sexuality and one’s body, but who is really going to make a bunch of vagina ornaments to hang on their Christmas Tree? (Think: the equivalent would be having a dude hang penis ornaments up, as his form of empowerment and, er, equality. Um, no?) The idea is kind of funny at first, but it’s definitely absurd.

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Frayed by Kara Terzis | Book Review

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Frayed by Kara Terzis.

My copy: Sourcebooks Fire (Sourcebooks), June 2016. Egalley (review copy), 304 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Sourcebooks!

Disclaimer: While I do know the author through the world of blogging, my online relationship with Kara does not in any way affect my review. This is my honest and completely unbiased opinion.

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Synopsis:

Dear Kesley,
My therapist tells me I should write you a letter. Like flushing all my thoughts and feelings out of my system and onto paper. I tell her it’s a stupid idea.
But here I am, writing a letter to a dead girl. Where do I start? Where did our story begin? From the moment you were born…or died?
I’ll start with the moment I found out the truth about you. Your lies and my pain. Because it always begins and ends with you.
And that end began when Rafe Lawrence came back to town…

Ava Hale will do anything to find her sister’s killer…although she’ll wish she hadn’t. Because the harder Ava looks, the more secrets she uncovers about Kesley, and the more she begins to think that the girl she called sister was a liar. A sneak. A stranger.

And Kesley’s murderer could be much closer than she thought…

A debut novel from Wattpad award-winner Kara Terzis, Frayed is a psychological whodunit that will keep you guessing!


SPOILER FREE PART OF THE REVIEW:

If you want to be completely surprised by this book, don’t read any reviews because so many people give away a giant twist without actually spoiling anything. (I’m looking at you Cait @ Paper Fury, and your Goodreads review!) That being said, it’s a great small-town murder mystery that I couldn’t put down. The ending is also insane. Frayed does have its flaws, however: the characters especially come off as cliche sometimes and it’s not the most original plot, but I really liked it and do recommend checking it out if you want a suspenseful thriller with a very light romance. The focus is 98% on the mystery of “who dunnit?” and for that I was so grateful.

So like, stop reading this right now and go read Frayed, because I’m going to go into mild spoilers below. Goodbyeeee!

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Dreamology by Lucy Keating | Book Review

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Dreamology by Lucy Keating.

My copy: HarperTeen (Harper Collins Publishers), April 2016. Hardcover, 322 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

Vibrantly offbeat and utterly original, Lucy Keating’s debut novel combines the unconventional romance of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the sweetness and heart of Jenny Han.

For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together, they have traveled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist.

But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. Real Max is nothing like Dream Max. He’s stubborn and complicated. And he has a whole life Alice isn’t a part of. Getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped.

Alarmingly, when their dreams start to bleed into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?


Thoughts on Dreamology:

  • First–THAT COVER. Is beautiful. So simple, but so striking and whimsical.
  • Dreamology was not the story I thought it would be, but I was still pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think Alice and Max would work together so soon; I actually wanted more angst and mystery, to be completely honest. Ha!
  • I was in a bit of a reading rut, so the first half of the book didn’t really stick with me. Then I read the last half in about two days and was considerably more impressed and actually enjoyed it. I did skim a bit, but I was feeling more invested in the story finally.
  • This was so fluffy. I wasn’t expecting so much fluffy, but I was okay with that in the end. Sometimes I need a break from all the dark high fantasy I read, right?
  • Dreams are hella fascinating, especially the science regarding them. Sadly, the book doesn’t really dive deep into the science and psychology of dreaming; it went the light and fluffy and dreamy route.
  • This book is all about dreams, and how dreams and reality became one and the same for Alice and Max. The chapters that were strictly Alice’s dreams I will admit I skimmed and skipped sometimes. If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you know very well that I just don’t like reading dreams and flashbacks in novels. So the fact that this book, which is entirely about dreaming, didn’t snag me with the actual dream sequences says a lot.
  • Um, the resolution to the dreaming was a bit too easy. And not very well explained, either. It felt very rushed and tacked-on–and mimicked the endings of so many other books. Too many.
  • In fiction, hilarious and hyper supporting characters like Oliver are absolutely wonderful; they often steal the spotlight. In real life, Oliver would be the biggest idiot around and I honestly wouldn’t want to hang out with him all the time because he would be exhausting.
  • Everyone got their happily ever after or the closure they needed in the end, EVERYONE. A bit too perfect, but cute nonetheless.

In the end, Dreamology was a light, easy read. There’s nothing particularly standout-ish about it, but I do recommend it and will remember it fondly if it ever comes up again. ♦


Have you read Dreamology?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a book about dreams you’ve read?
Comment below letting me know!

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Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes | Book Review

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Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes. Queen of Hearts, #1.

My copy: HarperTeen (Harper Collins Publishers), May 3rd, 2016. ARC (review copy), 306 pages.

Source: Courtesy of the freebie ARC shelf at my local bookstore.

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Synopsis:

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath.

Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


Thoughts on Queen of Hearts:

  • Well. This was disappointing.
  • The writing felt very juvenile, and there were scenes that were obviously not juvenile in the slightest. (Um, pretending to “do it” in a coat closet? Probably not something for middle grade readers.)
  • Where was the plot. Where was it. Hellooooo, plot? Where aaaaaaare yoooooou? O_O Nothing happened until the middle-ish, then a great one thing happened (gasp! Torture! Graphic things! Aiiee!), and then it went back to nothing happening. I really expected a thicker plot — this effing Wonderland! You can literally do ANYTHING — but there wasn’t much here.
  • Speaking of it being Wonderland, I was expecting some of its famous characters to pop up. I expected lots of magic and bizarre things, but, sadly, none of that appeared. No Cheshire Cat, no White Rabbit, no Caterpillar, at least not in the colorful way you might expect. Just bratty Dinah, who I shall rant about in the next paragraph.
  • I really didn’t care for/like any of the characters. Everyone felt so bland. Dinah, though, Princess of Hearts, oh boy. She was kind of a b*tch. And not a sympathetic b*tch. There are some characters that act badly but you understand where they’re coming from, or at least their motivations somewhat justify their actions. I like these morally gray characters; they’re layered and feel real. I may or may not like them, but at least they’re not two-dimensional. Well, this does not describe Dinah. She was mean, rude, whiny, pushy, hypocritical, and rash. (She literally goes and does something insanely dangerous because of a “bad feeling.” Agh.) And then she was ALL OVER her best friend and (of course) love interest, when he was clear he wasn’t into her the same way. (Couldn’t remember his name for the life of me, so I had to go look: Wardley.) Gah. I couldn’t stand Dinah.
  • While reading Queen of Hearts, I didn’t hate it. But now that I’ve had some time to think about it and actually get my thoughts in order, I strongly disliked it. As my first Wonderland retelling (though it feels more like a prequel), this was disappointing. ♦


Have you read Queen of Hearts?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a Wonderland retelling you recommend?
(I know of Splintered, so gimme something else!)
Comment below letting me know!

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