Top 10 Best Books of 2016

This is my first ever Top Ten Tuesday post. I don’t usually participate, but it just so happened that the idea I had for my next blog post corresponded with their theme, so I decided to participate.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Brook and the Bookish. Read the original version of this topic here.

These are my top ten favorite books I read this year in no particular order.

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The first two books in the Broken Earth Series by N.K. Jemisin are phenomenal. The world-building is some of the best I’ve seen. I liked the first book more than the second, but the second is still good enough to make this list.

I read the first book in the middle of a massive reading slump and with a lot happening in my life, but it managed to get through to me all the same. That’s impressive.

I wouldn’t recommend this to the younger readers of this blog because this is definitely an adult book, but for everyone else reading this who likes fantasy I highly recommend picking these books up.

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I loved the first book of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crow’s Duology, and the sequel was just as good. I loved the way the cast meshed so well with one another. One perspective never overwhelmed the others. I loved reading from each and every character. The anti-human trafficking message is great as well.

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This book surprised me. I expected it to be terrible, but this prequel is better than the main series. I love the complexity of Darkstalker’s character: how I’m never sure if he is the hero or the villain. It’s something I don’t see a lot of in middle grade novel, but I do wish the author had chosen a name other than Darkstalker.

Darkstalker is a prequel to the Wings of Fire Series, but can be read as a standalone.

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And Then There Were None is my first Agatha Christie novel, and I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did. This book is a classic for a reason. Agatha Christie knows how to tell a mystery. My only qualms are that I had trouble connecting with the characters because of the distant narration, and I’m quite glad to have read the modified version as opposed to the original . . .

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These two books are very different but technically part of the same series, so I’m lumping them together.

The Bands of Mourning is the sixth book in the Mistborn Series, and you definitely need to have read from at least the first book in the spinoff, The Alloy of Law,  and preferably the original trilogy too to understand what is happening.

The Bands of Mourning has a different tone from the previous books in the series with more focus on discovery, but was still excellent.

Mistborn: Secret History is a novella that it’s impossible to say anything about without spoilers except that “There is always another secret,” and you need to have read at least the first three Mistborn books before this one, and preferably most of the books in Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere universe too. I highly recommend Mistborn: Secret History to fans of Sanderson’s Cosmere, but no one else because you will be too confused.

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This Savage Song kept me up late into the night, and I read it twice: once in physical form and once in audio because I liked it so much. The sequel is one of my most anticipated reads of next year.

I love August’s internal struggle as a monster who wanted to be human, and can’t wait to see what happens next in this fascinating world.

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Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not asked to put it on this list. Opinions are my own. 

The Diabolic had great timing for me. It’s the book that marked an end to the reading slump I mentioned earlier. It also contains some of my favorite tropes. I love space operas and characters from one social group masquerading as a character from another social group.

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I love Morning Star for similar reasons to the book above as it contains similar reasons to the book I mentioned above as it is also sci-fi and contains a character from one group masquerading as a person from another group.

This is the only book on this list I went to the book store to buy because I couldn’t wait the amount of time it would take for shipping to get this book. I was not disappointed.

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Scythe 4 Stars

28954189Title: Scythe

Author: Neal Shusterman

Publication Date: November 22st 2016

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Synopsis: In a utopian future there is only one way left to die: at a scythe’s  hands. Death is now a random, rare occurrence, and only those who do not want to take lives are permitted to do so . . . at least that is how it’s supposed to be.

When Citra and Rowan are chosen as scythe’s apprentices it becomes clear to them that that the Scythedom doesn’t always operate the way it was intended.

Thoughts: Neal Shusterman is one of my favorite authors, so I wanted to read this book the moment I heard about it. I really enjoyed this book overall, but there were a few points where it fell short for me.

I love the concept of a society that conquers death, and needs to kill off portions of its population as a result to prevent overpopulation. It is interesting to see a society where futuristic technology makes things better instead of worse.

The artificial intelligence in this book, known as the thunder cloud, is an interesting character. It’s the only story I’ve read where the AI is portrayed as less corruptible as the humans.

The Shythedom itself, what the scythes call their organization, is fascinating. The scythes all followed ten commandments, but interpreted them in very different ways. This is a nice exploration of the ways humans interpret different philosophies.

This book feels like a reversal of the author’s dystopian series, Unwind. In Unwind the people take bits of unwanted humans and using them to save people. Whereas, in this book, the taking of unwanted humans for the good of the many is meant to be forbidden.

The main issues I have with this otherwise great book was with the characters and the pacing.

Citra and Rowan don’t spend as much time together as was needed to form a strong bond between them. The long amounts of time the two spend apart also leads to their story arcs diverging a significant amounts. I can see how this might cause someone else to skip between one perspective for another.

The pacing feels a little too fast sometimes and too slow at others. Maybe the author did this so that the story would feel like the story happened spontaneously, like death often does in real life, but I don’t think it always worked. At times it made it harder to connect to the characters because I never really got to know them.

I think most of this can be contributed to rushed editing, as there was at least one place where I noticed a simple grammatical error.

Rating: I recommend this book to fans of Neal Shusterman, and who may want to see something that contains some dystopian tropes presented with unusual twists.

4 blue jays

The Diabolic 4.5 Stars

26836910Title: The Diabolic

Author: S.J. Kincaid

Publication Date: November 1st 2016

Note: I was provided an advanced copy by the publisher, but opinions are my own.

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Synopsis: Nemesis was engineered for one purpose: to keep Sedonia, the daughter of a galactic senator, safe. When it becomes clear the emperor plans to hold Sedonia hostage, the only way for Nemesis to keep Sedonia safe is to impersonate her.

Nemesis is a genetically Diabolic, not a human, yet the more time Nemesis spends pretending to be human the less it feels like an act. Everything Nemesis thought she knew is thrown into question as she begins to wonder how different human and Diabolics really are.

As the Empire starts to fall to ruin, Nemesis’s new understanding might give her the ability to end the chaos.

Thoughts: This book helped get me out of one of the longest reading slumps I’ve had in years. Part of what allowed me to do this is the novel’s fast pace. There is a lot of plot in a relatively short time. The amount of plot in this book could have been an entire trilogy.

The trade-off of this is that the book ends up feeling too fast at times. I would have liked more time for character development and world-building, but managed to understand and enjoy the novel’s sequence of events regardless.

I would like to note that this novel is very different from S.J. Kincaid’s Insignia trilogy. This novel is on the edge between YA and adult whereas the Insignia trilogy is on the edge of middle grade and young adult.

I read this novel before Insignia. As a result, I found myself surprised at the different feel of the two works. I would have liked to know going in that her other works were for a different audience.

My favorite aspect of Nemesis’s character was her identity struggle. Nemesis struggles with her own humanity and what she believes she deserves. I enjoy the trope where a character from one group has to pretend to belong to another group. That the character was imitating someone else while searching for her own identity further heightened her identity crisis.

I’ve read books with elements of the world building contained within this book before. It has a very space opera feel with some fantasy elements thrown in with the science fiction ones such as the the monarchy and long term technological stagnation before the story began. That said, these are elements that I really enjoy, particularly as this novel used some of these elements in ways I haven’t seen done a lot before.

I read most of this book believing it to be a series, and was disappointed when I learned it was a standalone. The book does have a satisfying ending, but I would really like a sequel.

Rating: I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to fans of space opera, political intrigue, and plots where a character from one group must disguise themselves as a member of another.

4.5 blue jays

October and November Wrap-Up

Sorry for the hiatus everyone, but now I’m back. Since I missed my wrap-up for October this will be a wrap-up for both October and November.

I haven’t had a lot of free time for the past two months, so I only read five books, but five is better than nothing.

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Short Synopsis: Orphan boys compete for the for the chance to impersonate the crown prince.

Thoughts: This book was a lot of fun, and I would have loved it if I’d read it a few years ago. The plot was my favorite part, and I loved the twist towards the end. However, I found the main character annoying at times, and would have liked more variety in the world building from what I’ve read before.

Rating: 3 blue jays27190613

Short Synopsis: If Vlad the Impaler was female.

Thoughts: I’m of two minds about this book. On one hand, I learned a lot about the Ottoman Empire, found the characters well developed, and the plot enjoyable. On the other hand, it feels odd to me when authors write novels about real people and the story felt abrupt. Part of my problem with the ending stems from me believing this book to be a standalone when it isn’t, but I still felt the ending was sudden.

Rating: 4 blue jays

23677341Short Synopsis: Boy is abducted by aliens and told all he needs to do to save the world is push a button, but he isn’t sure he wants to.

Thoughts: This book was not what I expected. There was a lot less sci-fi than I thought there would be, and a lot more contemplating humanity.

That said, I read this book in only a day or two, which is faster than any of the other books I read during this time period, and I recognize awesome character development and an interesting theme when I see them. As a result, I’ve given the book a high rating, in spite of the fact that it had too many contemporary elements for my reading preferences.

Rating: 4 blue jays

27161189Short Synopsis: Final book in a long and drawn out series.

Thoughts: There was only one character in this book I actually cared about, and he is the only reason I kept reading when otherwise this would have been a DNF about three books ago. I would have liked to see more of this side character in the book.

Rating: 

2.5 blue jays

26228034Short Synopsis: Second book in the Broken Earth series.

Thoughts: I loved the first book and was really excited for the sequel. While I did like the first book a little more, I still loved this novel. The world-building is some of the best I’ve seen.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays