At some point I want to do a quick wrap-up of 2016 (good points, anyway, I think we’ve all had enough of the bad points) and sketch out some things you can expect in 2017, but today I was looking at my list of books I’ve read this year and I realised that some of them I really truly have not crowed about enough. I read some really excellent books this year. You clearly need to read them too! 😀 So, my best books of 2016 – with the clarification that these are books I read in 2016, not books that were published in 2016. The list is kind of long, so I’ve split it up by age/genre to make it a bit more manageable! Links are to Amazon for ease of blurb access.
My Favourite Middle Grade Books of 2016
Pip Bartlett’s Guide To Magical Creatures ~ Jackson Pearce & Maggie Stiefvater
This is a super cute middle grade mystery with glorious world-building and not a wasted word. A genuinely delightful, whimsical story. I’ve already pre-ordered the second book.
My Seventh Grade Life In Tights ~ Brooks Benjamin
I tweeted the author after reading this to say that this was the most tightly plotted book I’d read in a while. A heartful and glorious contemporary middle grade about a boy who just wants to dance. Love it. Tight plotting, great voice.
My Favourite Young Adult Books of 2016
The Raven Boys ~ Maggie Stiefvater
This is a yearly reread of one of my all-time favourites. As ever, Stiefvater’s characters are rich and real, her world is magnetising, and her prose lush and dreamy. Private school boys + public school girl, all with Issues, seek dead Welsh king in back-country Virginia. Everyone is a little bit in love with everyone else.
Saving Francesca ~ Melina Marchetta (Link to Book Depository because Amazon only has the grotesquely white-washed reprint cover)
Another reread. One of my fav YAs as an actual YA person growing up. Francesca is part of the first female cohort in a previously all-boys school. Dealing with that, the issues of her extended Italian family, and her mother’s depression provide obvious conflict. Glorious, authentic voice, fun characters. Felt slightly dated on this reread, but I still recommend and love it.
These Broken Stars ~ Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
##$(*%&$$%)**&*!!)*!!!! LOVE this series. This is epic YA sci-fi romance at its absolute superlative. This installment is wilderness fic, and you can tell the authors have actually done research. Events are authentic, voices is great, plot is gripping, and the romance is perfectly steamy. (Sweet on-page, clear indication of off-page developments.)
This Shattered World ~ Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Another fantastic installment, featuring some A+ worldbuilding, a POC female main lead, and another story that reeled me right in DESPITE the fact that it’s from the perspective of new characters. I was disappointed about that initially, but the reasons for it become clear and the same fast-paced, page-turning plotting and A++ command of voice reel you in regardless.
Their Fractured Light ~ Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Conclusion to the series, again from different perspectives, but again just as richly nuanced and well justified. The over-arching mystery deepens, the good guys team up, things go boom, people go smooch. This series is just perfect, perfect YA sci-fi romance. Love it.
My Favourite Adult (Genre) Books of 2016
Clean Sweep ~ Ilona Andrews
A great new series from the Ilona Andrews team. Urban fantasy with hints of science fiction, sassy dialogue, alpha males, women who know how to handle them, great magic, family mystery–just a great book all round.
Sweep in Peace ~ Ilona Andrews
Awesome second installment in the series, introducing some fabulous new characters and really upping the ante as far as both the stakes and the mystery are concerned. I am SERIOUSLY looking forward to getting my copy of book 3 in the mail in the next few weeks. You can read this whole series for free on Ilona Andrews’ website if you’re keen, but I don’t like screen reading, so I’m eagerly awaiting the post…
Limelight ~ Krista Ball
A fantastic, well-plotted, authentic contemporary romance, featuring a female lead with mental illness (severe panic attacks brought on by social anxiety) who falls for a superstar (and super hot) actor. Great dynamic between the two, good sense of voice, realistic plotting and conflicts–a great romance.
My Favourite Adult (Lit Fic) Books of 2016
A Beautiful Life ~ Michael Futcher and Helen Howard
A play I had to read for school, which I promptly fell in love with. Set partially in Canberra, Australia, in the Iran embassy, and partially in Iran during the main character’s past there, this play deals sensitively with the idea of migrants, refugees, politics and culpability. Just gloriously plotted; watching the story unfold and the mystery slow reveal is immensely satisfying and deeply thought-provoking.
Jasper Jones ~ Craig Silvey
A fab Australian novel about growing up, losing your innocence, and doing the right thing even when the whole town/system is against you. Don’t let the relaxed, talky pace of the first few pages deceive you: there’s a Big Deal coming, and when it does, it lands with a thud. A glorious exploration of morality, sexism and being a hero that’s extremely easy to read. It’s kind of like a contemporary Australian To Kill A Mockingbird, and there are a lot of intertextual references there to support that.
My Favourite Writing Books of 2016
Rise of the Machines: Human Authors In A Digital World ~ Kristen Lamb
If you’re a writer and you’re not signed up to Kristen’s newsletter, I suggest you get on that now 😉 She has fab advice to dispense and does so with intelligence, wit, humour and candor. This is one smart lady and you can’t afford not to hear what she has to say, especially about using blogs and social media effectively to build your brand.
My Favourite General Non-Fiction Books of 2016
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up ~ Marie Kondo
If you’re a practical soul like my mother, the idea of a book on how to tidy might seem somewhat absurd to you. But if, like me, you’re a somewhat whimsical soul at heart, you’ll appreciate this lovely take on how to effectively declutter your home without breaking your heart in the process.
Big Magic ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
Gilbert herself is an author (see, e.g., Eat, Pray, Love), so her book on creativity is naturally slanted towards writing, but it’s equally applicable to any other kind of creative. It’s sweet and romantic and whimsical, and I whole-heartedly loved it. There are parts of it that are totally unscientific, but if you can buy the Pratchettian idea that “[i]nspirations sleet through the universe continuously. Their destination, as if they cared, is the right mind in the right place at the right time.” (Pratchett, Men at Arms), then you’ll appreciate this entirely inspirational take on the creative process, and how to honour it in your life.
Have you read any of these? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought! Or, if you haven’t read any of them, leave a comment and let us know what *your* best books of 2016 were! 🙂