Top 10 Books of 2016

I can’t believe 2016 is almost over?! It feels like just yesterday I was talking about my goals and expectations for 2016. Today I’m sharing a combination of my favourite books read & published in 2016 and books published but not read in 2016. For the latter, this way I get to share books I never got the chance to read but heard really great things about. I tried skipping really popular books that everyone knows about, in favour of some great but lesser known ones. I’m sorry if one of your faves didn’t make it. I’ve reviewed a few of these, click on the title to read them.

I’d love to know if any of these were your favourite reads? Are there any books that I have to, above all others, read in 2017?


21414439

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Tor Teen | January 5, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.


girl

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Greenwillow Books | February 16, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.


24790901

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

Flux | February 8, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop.


25528801

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Dutton Books for Young Readers | March 15, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine. 

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.


21851572

Warrior Witch by Danielle Jensen

Angry Robot | May 3, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

The thrilling conclusion to the breakout Malediction Trilogy by Goodreads Choice finalist Danielle L. Jensen.

Cécile and Tristan have accomplished the impossible, but their greatest challenge remains: defeating the evil they have unleashed upon the world.

As they scramble for a way to protect the people of the Isle and liberate the trolls from their tyrant king, Cécile and Tristan must battle those who’d see them dead. To win, they will risk everything. And everyone.

But it might not be enough. Both Cécile and Tristan have debts, and they will be forced to pay them at a cost far greater than they had ever imagined.


27414389

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

Roaring Brook Press | October 25, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul.

No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.


star

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

St. Martin’s Griffin | April 26, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.


23384425

A Tail of Camelot (Mice of the Round Table #1) by Julie Leung

HarperCollins | October 4, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Young mouse Calib Christopher dreams of the day when he will become a Knight of Camelot like his father and grandfather before him. For generations, Calib’s family has lived among the mice that dwell beneath the human Knights of the Round Table, defending the castle they all call home. Calib just hopes he will be able to live up to the Christopher name.

Then, on the night of the annual Harvest Tournament, tragedy strikes. The mice suspect the Darklings are behind the vicious sneak attack, but Calib has his doubts, so he sets off on a quest for the truth. Venturing deep into the woods beyond the castle walls, Calib and his friend Cecily discover that a threat far greater than the Darklings is gathering, and human and animal knights alike are in grave danger.

With help from a host of unlikely new allies, including a young human boy named Galahad, Calib must get the Mice of the Round Table and the Darklings to put aside their differences and fight together. Only then will they be strong enough to save Camelot.


gathering

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Tor Books | February 23, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.


28220826

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Thomas Dunne | October 4, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

Advertisements

Goodreads Choice Awards 2016

The semifinal round for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016 has started and I just wanted to take this moment to write about and highlight some favourites. Obviously you can only vote for one, but I hope you find some new reads. I’m only sharing the categories and books I’m interested in, but make sure you check out all 20 categories and vote here. Voting ends in three days (November 13).

Best Historical Fiction:

I haven’t read any of these but have heard good things so they’re all on my TBR shelf.

Best Fantasy:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab is one of my favourite novels so I couldn’t not vote for its sequel A Gathering of Shadows. City of Blades and Cursed Child are also on my TBR shelf.

Best Poetry:

princess

 

 

 

I haven’t read The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace but have heard so many good things about it. I’m a huge fan of the author’s book blog.

 

Best Debut Goodreads Author:

I loved Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton and have heard really good things about The Girl from Everywhere, The Reader and The Star Touched Queen! I personally voted for The Girl from Everywhere so I hope you vote for that one too, but the rest are great choices.

Best Young Adult Fiction:

There’s a lot more good books in this category but I couldn’t fit them all, so I’m highlighting the ones I really, really want to read. I voted for The Female of the Species, in case you were wondering hint hint 😉

Best Young Adult Fantasy:

So this category has a lot of good books and a lot of NYT Bestselling, big name authors. I’m really proud of Julie Eshbaugh, her debut Ivory and Bone made it among authors like Sarah J. Maas, Leigh Bardugo and Victoria Aveyard. I was talking to Jodi Meadows on twitter, the author of My Lady Jane and The Orphan Queen (really good duology!) and she was really surprised to see My Lady Jane had made it into the semifinals. Even though ACOMAF was technically my favourite book, I decided to vote for My Lady Jane because I knew a lot of people would be voting for SJM.

I’d love to hear what books you voted for or if any of your favourite books made it to this round.

Book Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

13638125Vicious 

V.E. Schwab

5/5 Stars

Release Date: September 24, 2013

Publisher: Tor

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

Review:

Vicious by V.E. Schwab is a fresh take on the superhero subgenre. I loved trying to figure who was the villain and who was the hero. Victor Vale and Eli Cardale meet at university and it’s when Eli’s theoretical research into ExtraOrdinary (EO’s) people catches Victor’s interest that things go wrong. This is a case of an unreliable narrator because villains don’t believe they’re villains. Vicious is a new original classic that carries suspense to the very last page.

Time is an interesting concept here. Every other chapter would take place in the past, namely 10 years before the novel begins, but near the end, the ‘past’ could also be 10 hours before the present timeline. This present then past then present format helped carry the suspense of what exactly went down between Victor and Eli. The reader knows something really bad happened between the two, but Schwab leaves that valuable information right out of our reach. It’s up to us to follow the breadcrumbs.

Schwab’s take on the superhero genre is well done because I went into the novel trying to figure out who’s the bad guy, who’s the good guy and there’s really no ‘good guy’. In the beginning, I was confident that Victor himself was the villain. He somewhat admits this and the way his mind works just screams ‘super villain’, but then Schwab switches up the POV and BAM! self doubt settles in. The author is also good at creating these grey characters and you end up rooting for this villain to win, or that villain to lose. Her characters are cunning and manipulative, and the reader is not immune to that power. You learn to love it haha 😉

Vicious is made up of morally complex characters, but it’s up to the reader to decide which ones are ‘good’. A very hard task to do! This is a story of one great super villain versus another great super villain, but both wouldn’t be anywhere without their allies. I loved reading about Mitch, Sydney and Serena, and how they became involved with EO’s. Mitch is the only non-EO, but he’s very good with hacking computer systems, a talent that stood out to Victor.

Science plays a large and important role in Vicious. Schwab has a story to tell because two very intelligent students use science to achieve superhuman powers. This made the storyline all the more realistic to me. I enjoy superhero-type novels, but I love them even more when science plays a significant part in the plot. When you take the time to show how a person’s power exists, it helps the reader envision it in the real world. Schwab invents the term ‘ExtraOrdinary’ and I’d say in the world of Vicious, it’s a noun that carries the same meaning as superhero. Having the science there gives it added weight. I wouldn’t mind being an EO myself – hopefully I’d have some cool powers!

The writing is phenomenal! I was never bored with the dialogue or the plot. I somewhat expected the ending because of a certain character’s power, but it was still a page stopper. Vicious is a very entertaining read and I loved being in the heads of Schwab’s fantastically, dark characters. This is one super villain story you don’t want to miss out on!

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade final for IreneA Darker Shade of Magic (ADSOM #1)

V.E. Schwab

5/5 Stars

Release Date: February 24, 2015

Publisher: Tor Books

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

Review:

I adored A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab! I instantly connected with the main character, Kell and found the writing visually gorgeous! I didn’t have any expectations for this book, though it had been on my to-be-read for awhile now. However, I must have read something about the book that left the impression I wouldn’t like the writing and was pleasantly surprised when this wasn’t the case. I loved catching all the details of the worlds – yes worlds – Schwab shares with us. Most importantly, I could feel the differences of the four Londons and that just because a London exists in the same space doesn’t mean they’re not worlds apart.

The POV is split between Kell and Delilah Bard aka Lila, but I’d say there’s more POV chapters with Kell. For this reason, I consider Kell the main protagonist and it was huge for me to instantly connect with him. I connect better with female protagonists and so prefer reading books with them. I was thinking to myself why was it so easy to connect with him and came to the conclusion that maybe I’ve never come across one that was believable to me. As well, when the POV’s change I can definitely read a difference in character when it comes to dialogue and thoughts. This can be difficult to attain because of that lingering similarity between character voices. Schwab is exceptional at writing relatable characters.

In this book there exists four worlds Kell can travel to, though we only experience three of them: Red London, White London and Grey London as Black London was thought to be destroyed a long time ago. These colours haven’t been chosen randomly and the reader experiences that. Through Kell and Lila, I could really see the differences and learned the importance of remembering each London is vastly distinct. I have to be honest, White London seems like a very scary and bleak place to live, even when compared to Grey London, a world without magic.

Kell is an Antari, a world jumper or magician able to travel between worlds and belongs to Red London. The only other Antari in existence is Holland, who comes from White London and their relationship is strained, both having dangerous secrets of their own. I loved that in this book, magic comes with a price and Antari must sacrifice blood and pain when world jumping. Another intriguing fact, these worlds exist on top of each other so when traveling to White London, you must already be in Red London. If you want to go to Grey London, you must be in Red. You can’t travel to Black London from Grey or Red, you need to be in White. This made the plot all the more difficult for Kell and Lila and interesting for the reader.

I can’t wait to pick up the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows and find out what’s next for Kell and Lila. Schwab is a master of secrets, so I hope one particular piece of foreshadowing I picked up on is revealed in book #2. There’s a lot of dark elements in A Darker Shade of Magic and I loved every moment of it! I recommend this title to readers wanting a darker fantasy, with incredibly original worlds and intricate characters.