2016 Wrap-Up!! Best of….

As we say goodbye to 2016, and usher in 2017, I can honestly say that it has been a good year in the book world! We have had some amazing books published this year, and some awesome new authors have emerged. We have also suffered some great losses. It was a wonderful reading year for me, personally, as well. I think that I read more this year that I ever have in a single year before, and I was introduced to some wonderful new authors that I look forward to reading much more from in the future.

I have taken the majority of this week to try and determine what was actually my best of this year, and I had a very difficult time with it! I had to break it down in to categories, because I wasn’t able to pick just one!

Here goes!!!

Favorite Overall Read of the Year: There was a tie in this category!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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Blood Curse by Quincy J. Allen

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Favorite Thriller of the Year: In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

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Favorite YA of the Year: Looking for Alaska by John Green

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Favorite New Author of the Year: J.D. Spikes

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I’m looking forward to an awesome new year with all of you!! I hope you all have a wonderful new year!! As always, thanks for reading!!

-T

 

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Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

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Author: David Levithan & Rachel Cohn

Genre: YA

Publisher: Knopf

Pages: 192

 

Nick, the straight bassist for a “queercore” punk band, is onstage when he sees his ex walk in to his performance with a new guy. When he realizes that avoiding her is not an option, he asks Norah (a girl in the midst of heart break, there to see the show with a friend) a question that will change both of their nights, and possibly their lives, completely: “Will you be my girlfriend for five minutes?”. This leads to a roller coaster of a night for the two of them that leads through all the ups and downs of teenage (and quite frankly adult) emotions- love, heartbreak, anger, lust, disappointment, and forgiveness. This one very long night ends up in a place that neither of them had ever imagined.

This short read was a bunch of fun! It’s filled with all of those angsty teenage emotions that we can all remember having, but that can still be applied to relationships at any age. It will remind you of what it’s like to meet someone and feel that instant connections with them, but still have doubts because of your past, and want to work through them anyway. These authors have created a fun environment and filled it with a great cast of characters. It’s a great book for anyone looking for an easy, quick read that will make you reminisce a little a pick you up.

Every Exquisite Thing

Every Exquisite Thing cover

Author: Matthew Quick

Genre: YA Fiction

Publisher: Little Brown

Pages: 272

 

Nanette was a good girl: good student, star athlete, college bound (on athletic scholarships!). She spent lunch everyday with her favorite teacher. That teacher chooses her to be the one to whom he passes his favorite (out of print) book, The Bubblegum Reaper. After binge reading this book, Nanette begins to feel that she is not forging her own path in life, but is, instead, living the life that others have pushed her in to. That feeling becomes stronger once she starts spending time with the book’s author, and is introduced to another huge fan of the book, Alex. She rebels, she falls in love, she finds out that every action that she takes has its own consequences that she must deal with.

I enjoyed this book in a very nostalgic way. It is a story of coming of age, finding yourself, and coming in to your own. It reminded me of being in high school, and immediately after, and trying to figure out exactly who I was supposed to be in the world- not who everyone saw when they looked at me, or who they thought that I should be. I could identify, somewhat, with Nanette. I think that this is a book that should definitely be read by young adults, and would be enjoyed by those a bit outside of the YA market (who still love YA- like myself!), if only to look back and remember.

Fallen

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Author: Lauren Kate

Series: Fallen

Genre: Fantasy/YA

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 464

 

Luce has been ordered to attend Sword & Cross boarding school after an incident with the first boy that she kissed. When she arrives, the reform school is worse than she expected it to be. It is full of psychopaths and major screw-ups. When she first sees Daniel Grigori he feels familiar, like she has seen him before. Daniel, however, makes it abundantly clear that he wants nothing to do with her. She is drawn to him, even as the handsome and charming Cam is trying to build a relationship with her. She is determined to find out what Daniel is hiding, and she recruits her new friend, Penn, to help her figure him out. She must know the truth, no matter the cost.

I read this book for the first time a few years ago, and enjoyed it. I got sidetracked, and never went back to the series, so I decided to give it another try. I actually enjoyed it a bit more this time than I did the first time that I read it. The characters are pretty well fleshed out, and the world building is pretty decent. The concept of the storyline is good. It’s not my favorite YA fantasy, but it was an enjoyable read, overall. I’m looking forward to finishing the series, and seeing where the story goes.

 

The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo, Book 1)

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Author: Rick Riordan

Series: The Trials of Apollo

Genre: Fantasy/Mythology/YA

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Pages: 385

 

This story begins a little bit after the events in The Blood of Olympus (PJO/HOO series), and Zeus is pissed! He blames the events that occurred in HOO and the Oracles not working on Apollo. As punishment, Zeus sends Apollo to Earth…as a sixteen-year-old mortal boy (with a whack name and acne, much to Apollo’s chagrin). This has happened to Apollo when he angered his father before, so he has a good idea of what is to happen. He will be claimed by a demi-god, and bound to serve them and endure the unknown trials before him, until his father is satisfied that he has repented for his wrongdoing. Unfortunately for him, he is claimed by a demi-god that we haven’t met yet…Meg. As he has many enemies (of all types…monsters, Gods, etc.) he knows he must go to Camp Halfbood where he will be safe and can get some help. That’s where things get really interesting. There is no oracle to give a quest that desperately needs to be give, and campers are disappearing. They must figure out what is going on, before they are all killed.

I cannot tell you how happy I was to see some of the same characters from PJO/HOO in this book! It was like seeing old friends after a long time. The new characters, and characters that we didn’t see very much in the preceding series’, are greatly developed in this first book. Although this is the start to a new series, and can certainly be read alone, I strongly recommend read PJO/HOO first, so that you get the backstory and understand the references being made in this book (also, I just recommend that you read them because they are a lot of fun!) There is a small reference to The Sword of Summer, when Percy says that Annabeth is in Boston for a family emergency, so we know that this is taking place at the same time as that book. Overall, this is another fun read from Uncle Rick! I always enjoy his writing style and humor, and I hope that you do, as well!

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1)

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Author: Rick Riordan

Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

Genre: Fantasy/Mythology/YA

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 512

 

Since his mother’s untimely death, two years ago, Magnus Chase has been a homeless kid surviving on the streets of Boston. When his sixteenth birthday comes around, Magnus is tracked down by the uncle that his mother warned was dangerous to him. When his uncle finally catches up with him, he tells Magnus a secret that he can scarcely believe: he is the son of a Norse god. He finds it hard to believe, until he is attacked by a fire giant while trying to call the Sword of Summer and ends up in Valhalla. Now it is time for Magnus to do his part (with a little help from his friends) to prevent Ragnarok, but to do so he must face his greatest fear.

Confession: I adore Rick Riordan! (I am actually re-reading the entire Percy Jackson series this year) His stories are always well written and entertaining. His world building is always spot on and easy to imagine, and the characters are always well developed. This first novel in the Magnus Chase series is no exception! I didn’t get in to it and begin is quickly as I did the PJO-HOO series, but after a few chapters I sped through the rest of it. I fell in love with these characters and their stories, and I loved that Annabeth made a couple of appearances (note the last name, you PJ fans!). I’m hoping that this will allow for a little cross-over now and then! All in all- if you are a Riordan fan, you will love this series, too!

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here

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Author: Anna Breslaw

Genre: YA Fiction

Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 288

 

Scarlett Epstein is a BNF (Big Name Fan for those who don’t know fan-fic boards) of her favorite show, Lycanthrope High. While she is well respected in the Lycanthrope fan-fic community, she is a nothing at her own high school. She is devastated when her favorite show is cancelled, but no one truly understands her devastation other than her fellow BNFs. Her crush, Gideon, was a huge fan of the show, but they haven’t really talked in years. Her only IRL friends are Avery (bookworm, math whiz, and sister to the annoyingly popular and mean girl, Ashley) and Ruth (geriatric pothead, avid gardener, ex-women’s studies professor). When she feels like things are falling apart (read: fave show cancelled, Gideon becomes part of the popular crowd, etc) she turns to her popular fan-fic to let it all out. This time it’s different, though, the characters aren’t from her favorite show, they are people from her real life. She never considers what the consequences might be if that fiction ever gets out to people in real life…until it does.

Scarlett is someone that many of us may be able to relate to. She’s a little awkward, and completely wrapped in her fictional world. At the same time, she has a lot of wit and some definite snark, which works really well as a narrator. She feels like no one really understands her, and that she has no one to turn to when things in her word start falling apart. There were definitely aspects of her life and personality that I was able to relate to, personally. The characters were well developed and relatable, and the story was a well written coming of age & learning to understand oneself tale. It was a quick and entertaining read, and had some real laugh out loud moments. I would definitely recommend this to fans of YA Fiction!