Friday, January 6, 2017

Favorite Books Read in 2016


For those who have been following my blog throughout the year, the books on this list won’t come as a surprise. I write long reviews, though, so below you can find much shorter descriptions of my favorite books from 2016. All the books I reviewed or authors I interviewed are linked to the original post.

Note that these are books I read in 2016, not necessarily books published in 2016.

1.     CREWEL by GENNIFER ALBIN

In a world where gifted people can weave time and matter on a physical tapestry, Adelice stands out as extraordinarily talented. Only her invaluable skill keeps her alive, since she boldly questions and challenges her superiors in a society that wants to make every decision for every person without any resistance.

2.     EVERY OTHER DAY by JENNIFER LYNN BARNES

Kali is your cliché over-the-top, kick-ass, invincible heroine...some days - but every other day she’s a normal teenager. Then Kali spots a mark on a girl at her high school that means that girl will die within the day. Unfortunately, this happens on one of Kali’s “normal” days.

3.     SHARK GIRL by KELLY BINGHAM

When fifteen-year-old Jane loses her arm in a shark attack, she also loses her artistic talent and her privacy. She can’t sketch anymore without her good hand and now the media expects her to act out the part of inspiring survivor.

4.     WRITTEN IN RED by ANNE BISHOP

Meg is a blood prophet, which means when someone cuts her skin she sees visions of the future. She’s held captive so this power can be sold as a service, but she escapes and flees to live with the Others. While dangerous themselves, the Others don’t abide by human law and have no legal obligation to return a human fugitive.

5.     THE GATHERING STORM, THE UNFAILING LIGHT, and THE MORNING STAR by ROBIN BRIDGES

Set in 19th century Russia, this series spins a captivating story of glittering balls and dark magic. Duchess Katerina hides her necromancer power until a vampire prince threatens her family unless she marries him. Now her taboo gift might be the only thing that can protect her.

6.     TELL ME THREE THINGS by JULIE BUXBAUM

Jessie’s still reeling from her mother’s death when her father abruptly remarries and moves them to a different state to live with the new stepmom and her son. Los Angeles is a big change from Chicago and Jessie might be lost at her pretentious new school if not for the help of a mysterious stranger who emails her tips on how to navigate the local social politics.

7.     THE PHOENIX DANCE by DIA CALHOUN

In this twist on “Twelve Dancing Princesses,” Phoenix wants to be a shoemaker but her manic depression makes her an unreliable employee, sometimes brilliant but other times apathetic. When her mentor loses his appointment as the official royal shoemaker since the princesses keep wearing through their shoes overnight, Phoenix takes it upon herself to figure out what’s really happening.

8.     PLACEBO JUNKIES by J.C. CARLESON

Audie scams drug trials for a living, but she and her friend have a plan to sign up for as many as they can without getting caught and really cash out. Trust the author with this book, even when things don’t quite make sense. Drug addled Audie is an unreliable narrator and things aren’t what they seem. 

9.     THE FAIRY’S RETURN by GAIL CARSON LEVINE

This last tale in Levine’s charming “Princess Tales” series spoofs “The Golden Goose.” When Princess Lark stops so much as smiling, her father declares she can marry the first prince to make her laugh. We know that will be our hero Robin, but not yet how this commoner will get around the prince requirement.

10.  BETWEEN THE SEA AND THE SKY by JACLYN DOLAMORE

Mermaid Esmerine has always had a love for all things on land, which is why she’s one of the select few chosen to become a siren, who can walk on land with the help of a magical belt. When her sister’s belt is stolen, forcing her to stay on land, Esmerine enlists the help of a childhood friend, the winged bibliophile Alander.

11.  NOBODY’S PRINCESS by ESTHER FRIESNER

Everyone knows the story of Helen of Troy, but usually Helen is depicted as a passive object in the story, a trophy. Friesner instead presents an active, determined young Helen who wants more for herself than a husband and children.


Ibbotson writes sweet, young adult, historical romances, each featuring a smart, self-sufficient, kind-hearted heroine. From pre-war Austria to the Amazon, these novels are rooted in setting and each feature a wide cast of lovable characters.

13.  ON WRITING by STEPHEN KING

Part memoir and part writing guide, this book follows King’s journey to his successful writing career and is packed full of helpful advice and insight for aspiring authors. Writers and King fans alike will enjoy this medley of personal biography and motivational writing tips.

14.  FINDING AUDREY by SOPHIE KINSELLA

Audrey has incapacitating social anxiety that keeps her homeschooled and friendless. Then her brother’s friend Linus starts taking an interest in her and reaching out for a connection. Only Kinsella could give this premise so much heart and hilarity.


This true crime book follows the story of Lucie Blackman, a young British woman murdered in Japan. From the culprit’s mindset to Lucie’s work as a hostess to the media reaction over her disappearance, this book is packed with fascinating discussion-worthy content.

16.  BURNING MIDNIGHT by WILL MCINTOSH

A while ago colorful spheres popped up all over the world. Find two of the same color and you can “burn” them for some kind of personal enhancement: taller, stronger, smarter, etc. Welfare kid Sully buys these spheres and resells them for a small profit. When he teams up with a sphere hunter, they wind up finding a sphere no one has seen before...and they’re not ready for the revelation of what burning it will do. 

17.  ESPERANZA RISING by PAM MUNOZ RYAN

Esperanza lives a privileged life on her ranch in Mexico until her father is murdered by bandits and her family forced to abandon all their wealth and flee to the United States. Now Esperanza must work hard for a meager living. When her mother falls ill as well, Esperanza’s character will truly be tested.

18.  HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE by JENNIFER NIVEN

After Libby’s mom died, she ate her feelings and became morbidly obese. Though still overweight, Libby finally lost enough to return to high school - where she meets Jack, a popular jerk who secretly has face blindness. Jack might be better at blending in, but Libby has what really counts: a resilient spirit and maturity beyond her years.

19.  ENDERS by LISSA PRICE

This sequel to STARTERS picks up after Callie overthrew the organization that “rented” young bodies to the wealthy. Now people are hunting down the Metals, those with a chip in their brain enabling their body to be controlled by another mind. As a Metal herself, Callie goes on the run and tries to pick up and help as many others like her as she can.

20.  I AM PRINCESS X by CHERIE PRIEST

As kids, best friends Libby and May invented a character called Princess X and together created a series of comics featuring their strong, wacky heroine. Then Libby dies in a car crash, but three years later May finds a Princess X web comic. The storyline contains details only Libby would know and even hints that maybe Libby didn’t die but was actually kidnapped. 

21.  THE SOUND AND THE FURRY by SPENCER QUINN

This latest installment in the Chet and Bernie mystery series has private investigator Bernie and his loyal dog Chet working a missing person’s case. Narrated from Chet’s canine perspective, the voice sometimes comically strays from the point or fixates on inconsequential details.

22.  CLEOPATRA: A LIFE by STACY SCHIFF

Usually portrayed as a manipulative seductress, records suggest Cleopatra wasn’t actually that attractive. Her notable charm came from her intelligence and charisma. This biography chronicles Cleopatra’s unusual and fascinating life and all her stunning endeavors.

23.  THE BAD BEGINNING by LEMONY SNICKET

Siblings Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are sent to live with their relative, Count Olaf, upon their parents’ untimely deaths. They quickly learn their new guardian is a cruel brute set on stealing their family fortune and then killing them off, too. This morbid series features a unique sense of witty, wacky humor.

24.  POISON STUDY by MARIA V. SNYDER

Yelena’s about to be executed for murder when she’s offered an out: become the Commander’s food taster instead. Better to risk death than walk into guaranteed death, so Yelena accepts. However, surviving won’t be easy. The father of her victim wants her dead and she seems to be developing magical abilities in a land where such powers mean a death sentence.

25.  AND I DARKEN by KIERSTEN WHITE

In this dark, epic fantasy tale, White crafts a story of doomed friendship. When royal siblings Lada and Radu are given to an enemy as collateral for peace they meet the future Sultan Mehmed. Together the three form a powerfully bonded but toxic friendship triangle that will both build each other up and wreck destruction in all their lives.

26.  THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by NICOLA YOON

Can two people fall in love in one day? Natasha is a cynical skeptic due to be deported tomorrow and Daniel a hopeless romantic who wants something else for himself than his parents’ plan that he become a doctor. On paper, they don’t make sense, but Yoon crafts her characters with care and the chemistry between them is utterly convincing.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Rachel. I've recently decided to take up book reading. Already an avid reader of daily news, self help/motivation and sports/fitness online pages but I'd like to get more into books. Sadly I could count every book I've ever read using my fingers.. probably 8 books or so. My goal for this year is 40 books. I stumbled upon your page by googling "reading multiple books at once" as that's what I have begun to do. Are there any books you are currently reading or have read that you would say are MUST READS. I guess I'm looking for a top 5 or so.

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  2. @Anonymous - Honestly, recommendations vary so much based on the individual, so it's difficult for me to give you good ones without knowing more about you. You may not like my 5 favorite books of all time at all if our tastes are quite different. Based on "daily news, self help/motivation and sports/fitness online pages" alone here are some suggestions you may like:
    1. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt
    2. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
    3. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
    4. Quiet by Susan Cain
    5. Into Thin Air by John Krakauer

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