My Top 10 Books I read in 2016

I will say this about 2016, I read a lot of good books this year.  It was hard to narrow it down to just 10.  So without further ado and in no particular order.

  1. hammer-of-thorHammer of Thor by Rick Riordan – So it was hard to pick between this one and his other book Riordan wrote, The Hidden Oracle, but I choose this one because of the characters.  I love that Rick has added diverse characters to his worlds.  Not to mention his characters get sassier with every book.
  2. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir – A cross between historical fiction and dystopian novel.  It’s quite a thrill ride and it left a real cliffhanger as to how the series is going to end.
  3. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – After a so-so first book this one was a real game changer for the series as a hole.  It delved into matters trauma and emotional abuse but still keep the story flowing.
  4. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater – It’s Maggie and It’s Gansey, Blue, Ronan, Adam and Noah.  It’s the perfect ending to a perfect story.
  5. Half LostHalf Lost by Sally Green – It was as beautiful as it was heartbreaking.  Nate didn’t have an easy life and nothing about this book was easy too.  It was very true to life.  It doesn’t always turn out the way you expect and in war there are always painful loses.
  6. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – Now this is a fun series.  It’s a dystopian fantasy with X-Men qualities.  Mare is not perfect.  She’s complicated and conflicting but she means well and the writing only gets better with each book.
  7. Pyromantic by Lish McBride – This book doesn’t actually come out until next year so I’ll wait to tell you about it but let’s just say you are going to love it.
  8. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – It’s a crime caper and a fantasy.  You root for the the thieves and the con men to win.  It’s wonderful.
  9. Ms. Marvel No Normal by G. Willow Wilson – likable and charming, Kamala Khan is worthy addition to the Avengers.  She proves that it doesn’t matter where you come from and what you believe, you can still be a superhero.
  10. The Midnight Star by Marie Lu – Another great ending to well thought out series.  I may have qualms about who the real villain was but I think it was heartbreaking as it was beautiful.

Books that Rocked My Face off in 2015

This year it was hard to narrow it down to just 10 books as there were so many books I really loved this year.  So to narrow it down, I had to ask myself which ones was I still thinking about even after I started reading the next book?  Those are ones I choose for the list. (These are really in no particular order

  1. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – This book I really wish I read when I was a teenager as so many of the messages I could have really used.  You would almost think that a book about teenage beauty queens stuck on a desert island would be caricatures but they weren’t.  They were very like girls I know or were me.  I could pretty much identify with all of their struggles.  Plus it was a lot of fun.
  2. Winter by Marissa Meyer -I am really going to miss this series so much.  Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter made me laugh, cheer, angry ( on their behalf) and proud of all of them.  Winter was by far the longest book of the series and it was non-stop action.  There wasn’t any filler or time to relax.  It was the perfect ending.
  3. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell  – A little bit Harry Potter and a little bit of fanfiction.  It was a great final book to an imaginary series.  I was surprised by many of the twists and turns and touched by the romance.
  4. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray – I loved the first book in the series and so I was nervous this one wasn’t going to be as good.  It was better.  Now my only complaint is that she doesn’t write fast enough.
  5. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – It was fun, tense and very interesting.  I thought I knew where things were going and then I didn’t.  I’m looking forward to what lays in store in the next book.
  6. Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow – This wasn’t anything like I thought it would be.  It was surprising.  It was fresh.  It had the sassiest A.I. in the history of A.I.’s.  For that reason alone, you all should read it.
  7. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – It was sorta historical fiction with a dystopian vibe and boy did it work.  It was brutal and it was tense but entertaining.
  8. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – This was very much an Ocean 11’s style caper with a little bit of a magic and darkness in only the way that Leigh Bardugo could do it.  It’s set in the same world but after the events of her last series but a completely different vibe.
  9. The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson – This is the third book in the series so the stakes are so much higher and it didn’t disappoint.  It’s full of humor, action and ghosts.  What else can I say.
  10. The Rose Society by Marie Lu – This is the second book in the series that tells the story from the villainess point of view (though I’m not convinced that Adelina is the real villain but whatever) It was intense and was surprising, maybe a little problematic but worth the read.

There was two books that I enjoyed so much that I read the other books in the that were out in the series this year too.  So I thought they would get their own category.

  1. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas  – For those looking for a Game of Thrones fill in until George publishes the next book, I recommend this.  It  was has all the twists and turns and is not afraid to kill of a character or two.  I’m never really sure where it’s going to take us next but I know it will be well worth the ride.
  2. Talon series by Julie Kagawa – It has a little bit of everything.  A Romeo and Juliet Love, a love triangle, a betrayal and yeah dragons.  Who doesn’t love dragons?  Ok, the idea isn’t that original but I do love it anyway.

Series I said Goodbye to in 2015

For my last Series You Should Check Out post of the year I thought I would do something different. In the spirit of Award Shows In Memoriam segments.  I thought I would take the time to highlight and say goodbye to the series that I loved that came to their conclusion this year.  It was only 4 and I know that I have highlighted them once (or many times) before but all good things need a proper send off.  So without much further ado.  Here are the Series that I said Goodbye to in 2015.

  1. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
    What can I say about this series that I haven’t already said? I am truly going to miss this it.  The mix of fairy tales and sci fi was perfect. It never felt forced.  How Miss Meyer was able to incorporate this familiar stories into her own new world and combine them with such ease was truly impressive.  It all came off naturally and fun.  It was full of romance, action, wonderful heroines and even a little social commentary on how we treat those who are different and the difference between tyranny and freedom and the lengths one goes to lead.  Next year Meyer will release a collection of short stories that revolve around reverse perspectives of important scenes and even a wedding for one of our couples but it had the perfect ending for a fairy tale.  They all lived happily ever after.
  2. Penryn and the End of the Days by Susan Ee
    This series was very different in it’s look at Angels.  As they are not all that angelic like at all or at least how we have come to think of Angels to be like.  It touched on two major trends in YA of late with both it’s dystopian and fantasy elements and they blended nicely.  It also had a strong lady protagonist in Penryn.  She was brave, smart and fierce.  She had flaws though.  She had to get over her own fears and even prejudice to truly win the fight.  It was an uneven trilogy as the second book wasn’t as strong as the first but it was still a great read.  I’m curious to see what Susan Ee does next now that Penryn has come to a very satisfying ending.
  3. The Goddess War by Kendare Blake
    Greek Gods and Goddesses living in the modern world is not a new idea. We all know of Rick Riordan’s work but this was a little different.  Instead of Gods and Goddesses that live on top of the Empire State Building overseeing what is going on in the world.  These Gods and Goddesses actually live in it though barely does anyone know who they really are.  It was a twist on the Greek Champions.  Instead of them being the children of the Gods, they are the original Champions, reborn.  Once again, we are introduced to Odysseues, Hector, Achilles, Cassandra and more.  Instead of reliving the Trojan War they make their own paths to save the Gods and Goddess of Olympus.  It was fun, a little romantic, action packed and a new take on everything we have grown to love about Greek Mythology.
  4. Finishing School by Gail Carriger                                                                      In this steampunk version of England there is a girls finishing school that not only teaches girls to be the finest women in all of England but also the deadliest.  Sophronia is the best student at Madame Geraldine’s.  Through four books she has drove every teacher banners with her constant curiosity and always in the thick of things.  She knows every square inch of the ship that is her school and every secret there is to know in England.  From the inter-workings of vampire hives and werewolves clans to evil secret society of the Picklemen.  She has thwarted evil plans and made friends with those all over the class spectrum.  From the charming Soap who is black and one of the sooties who works on the ship to the devilishly handsome Felix who is a Duke’s son.  She may be a women in Victorian England but she is anything but helpless.  More then once she uses her own skills and intelligence to save the realm from treasonous acts.  It’s funny so funny and filled with action and excitement that I’m sorry it’s ending but good news is that Gail Carriger has other series set in this world.

So those are series that ended that year that I love.  What series did you love that ended this year?

 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: The Ghost of Christmas Past!

This past Thursday we saw the last of what the Ghost of Christmas Past had to show us.

Christmas Past! Long past? No, Ebeneezer! Your past! This is your life, Ebeneezer Scrooge, and it kind of hurts.

If you missed the last installment, you can find it here.

We begin the Ghost of Christmas Present this evening around 9 pm East Coast time. Please join Kate on Periscope or on the app. We look forward to seeing you and being haunted by a new ghost!

Book Challenge Blues

Beth completed her Book Challenge in mid November. One of the things that is fun about challenges like a book challenge is to stretch yourself. Last year I challenge myself to forty books but I read fifty-three. This year I decided to go for fifty.

I am currently four books behind.

And, now I’m wondering if it’s cheating to pick short books or easy books. I think it might be cheating. But, I’ve got the new Rick Riordan and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell in my queue. I am so excited to read them both (even though I’m not their target audience and are below my reading level)! Of course, if I finished the books on my “currently reading” shelf, I’d be caught up. (One of them is a audiobook and it’s only 4 hours long. That’s 4 sessions at the gym, so I should be able to knock that one out quick…if I make it back to the gym.)

Are you doing a reading challenge this year? How close are you to finishing? How do you catch up when you fall behind?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens part 3

The Ghost of Christmas Past arrives! In Tuesday’s installment Scrooge journeys to the past to be reminded of Christmases long forgotten.

If you missed this installment, you can find it here.

And, you can catch tonight’s installment, the last of the Ghost of Christmas past here or on the periscope app!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Part 2

Saturday we continued our reading of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens on periscope. We met Marley’s ghost and had a harrowing little chat about unfinished business. To find out what happens next join us tonight around 9 pm on periscope for the next installment. 
You can find the previous installments here if you would like to catch up. 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Part 1

For the holiday season Beth and I decided we’d try something a little new and special. I will be reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens on Periscope. We started yesterday evening and will continue on Saturday.

Things we know so far: Marley is dead. He is so, so dead. And, Scrooge is a jerk. He is a total, utter jerk.

If you missed the first installment, you can check it out here.

Reading Challenges

As 2014 comes to a close many readers are considering how to challenge themselves in 2015. Tomorrow Beth and I will be discussing our 2015 challenges but until then you can check out this fun list of reading challenges published by popsugar.

What do you think of this list? Could you do it? (How many boxes can a single book check?)

Books that Rocked My Face off, Part two

Kate has already posted her list. We have some of the same books in common but unlike my sister, I don’t have any qualms about reading only fiction and mostly teen fiction.  There are a few non-fiction novels I do want to read.  I’m quite interested in the Secret History of Wonder Woman. I’ll get to it eventually.  Anyway, this is about what I read this year so let’s get on with it.  I omitted a few books from contention because I read them as ARCs and they have not been released yet.  That will have to be a post for another day.

1.Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater.

I love her. I might have mentioned that before but I really do love Maggie’s writing style.  Blue Lily Lily Blue is the third book of her The Raven Cycle.  The search for the Welsh King, Glendower, is back with more earnest as Blue’s Mom, Maura has gone missing. Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah all have grown up so much in the last three books and yet, if we know anything about Maggie, they have so much to learn before the series ends in the next book.

2.The Heroes of Olympus: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

I’m going to miss Percy, Annabeth, Nico, Leo, Hazel, Frank and Reina.  I’ll even miss Jason and Piper too.  They both did grow on me.  I thought it was a fitting ending for a great series. As a team, the Heroes came together, defeated the Giants and brought the Greeks and Romans together.  They all got a happy ending and there was a little bit of opening for some to return in Rick’s next series.

3. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

This was such a satisfying book. Georgie McCool is a TV screenwriter on a crappy show but she and her writing partner finally have a chance to get their own show going.  The problem is they have to write six episodes over Christmas, meaning Georgie has to stay in LA, while her family goes to Omaha.  Georgie’s marriage is already on thin ice; can it survive this?  While spending the night in her old room at her Mom’s house, she plugs in her old landline phone and magically calls her husband Neal in the past.  It soulds fantastical but it is based in the real world.  Rainbow has such a way of creating characters that you can’t help but fall in love with and want to be friends with.

4. The Young Elites by Marie Lu

In a revision of history, after the blood fever in the middle ages, the children who survived are left with scars.  Some were left with mysterious powers. They call themselves the Young Elite. Adelina is one of them. The blood fever left her disfigured with a scar over her left eye.  She has been shunned and abused by her father and when her powers surfaced, she’s a danger to herself and everyone else.  Marie creates a world with so much atmosphere that it was easy to get lost in it. Adelina, is filled with anger about how she is treated; you feel that it’s valid.  There are so many other layers of intrigue and one shocking ending, that the next book can not come too soon.

5. Cress by Marissa Meyer

I really do love the Lunar Chronicles.  A retelling of fairy tales with an alien twist.  I think they are really clever and the characters are so likable.  Cress is a take on Rapunzel.  She is a lunar and is hidden away in a satelite so she can spy on Earth for Queen Levana.  She is rescued from her prison but of course things don’t go as planned. She and Throne crash land in the desert.  Cinder seeks the doctors help for wolf, who is injured and Scarlet is captured by the Lunars.  Oh, and they only have a few days to stop Prince Kai from marrying Queen Levana.  I’m kind of mad that I have to wait until October or November for Winter, the final book but I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

6. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

In the final book of the Grisha Trilogy, the Darkling has taken over Ravka and only Alina, the Sun Summoner can stop him.  I feel in the past, I have been too hard on Alina, especially how she treated Mal in the last book.  It really started to get me to think how far more critical we are on female characters then we are of male.  Alina, is a  young girl who discovers she has a frightening power that can save them or destroy them.  It is a lot to take in.  She needed someone to understand and for a while, the Darkling was really the only one who could or so she thought.  It is a fitting ending to a dark series.  I felt like all the stories were wrapped up right and they all found some kind of peace.

7. Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

Part Gothic Novel, part Nancy Drew.  Not your usual combination but it worked for the whole trilogy.  It was funny, scary and heartbreaking without missing a beat.  It was also one of the rare YA novels that not all of the main characters get a happy ending. I sometimes feel that authors feel they have to keep them alive or they will upset their readers but lets be honest.  That’s not realistic.  How many near death experiences can one character live through?  Kami is smart, resourceful and brave and really someone I would love to be friends with.  I’m going to miss this series but I am happy with how it ended.

8. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Yet another conclusion to a fantastic Trilogy.  Excluding the last half of the first book, this series grabbed me and never let me go.  It was heartwarming and heartbreaking.  The sacrifices that had to be made were real gut punchers but necessary. In the end Karou and Akiva achieved what they set out to do and a surprising relationship for Liraz was perfect.

9. Firebug by Lish McBride

Firebug doesn’t have the clever names as Lish’s other books but has the sense of humor and urgency.  Set in the same world as Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone (see what I mean about those titles) but in Maine and not Seattle.  Ava is a firebug, a rare gift. She is forced to work for the Coterie, a magical mafia.  When she refuses to kill a family friend, she and her team, Locke, a dryad, and Ezra, a werefox, go on the run.  It really is funny.  Lish has such a great sense of humor that comes out in such surprising ways.  I can’t wait for the next one.

10. Raging Starr by Moira Young

Apparently 2014 was the year to end trilogies.  This is the last book in the Dust Lands series.  A dystopian series that goes beyond what the Hunger Games did.  Miss Young has no problems killing off characters or being seduced.  Saba has found her brother and reunited with Jack and is now ready to take down DeMalo.  The problem is that Saba does not disagree entirely with what DeMalo is trying to do.  Maybe not with how he is going about it and it puts her in direct conflict with both Jack and her brother, Lugh.  I really had no idea where this series was going to take me and it was quite a ride.

Books I loved so much, that I read the whole series:

A Song of Ice and Fire aka A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Ok so I technically haven’t finished all the books that are out.  I just started A Dance of Dragons.  Also, I did take a 8-month hiatus to watch the series and then read other things but I do love this series.  It’s so rich and challenging.  So many characters and places and plots.  How does he keep them all straight?

Obsidian, Onyx, Opal, Origin and Opposition. The Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Daemon is a jerk and I love him for it.  He is also loyal and will do anything for his family and the ones he loves.  So the jerk with a heart of gold.  Obsidian got me hooked and well, I immediately bought the other books.  Were they the best books I’ve read this year.  No but damn, they were entertaining.

Legend, Prodigy and Champions by Marie Lu

I’ve been wanting to read these for a while and finally gave in and I’m glad. June and Day are perfectly matched heroes,  The ending was bittersweet but it did leave us with some hope.

Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Sometimes you just need a couple of good romances.  It’s really not a series but three companion novels that happen to have overlapping characters.  Anna is a new girl in an American high school in Paris, who falls for the charming St. Clair. Lola is a girl who knows exactly what she wants, except when it comes to Cricket, who lives next door and Isla has been in love with Josh, all for years of school but was to shy to do anything about it until a chance meeting over the summer. Isla is my favorite with Anna close second. Lola is ok but I just didn’t relate to her as much as the other two.  If you are looking for a sweet story with a lot of heart, you couldn’t do much better then these three.

Etiquette and Espoinage, Curtsies and Conspiraces, and Waistcoasts and Weaponry.  The Finishing Series by Gail Carriger

Sophronia is a handful for her mother. Always getting into trouble so when she is accepted into a prestigious finishing school, she’s sent packing.  However, this is no ordinary finishing school.  Not only do they teach the finer points of being a lady, they also teach the best ways to hide weapons in your skirts and what is the best poison to use.  All for Queen and Country, of course.  This steampunk look at Victorian Englad is full of humor that I did literally laugh out loud.