Top 10 Books of 2016

Top 10 Books of 2016In 2016, I set out with a goal of reading 100 books. Ten of those books would be re-reads for me, another 12 to be contemporary, and 5 to be non-fiction. My Top 10 bOOKS OF 2016 ARE A NICE MIX OF ALL OF THOSE GOALS.

Not long into the year, I knew that reading 2 books a week would be difficult, if not impossible and the goal of 100 books was cut in half.  That was a much more manageable goal. I reached and surpassed 50 books easily.

I read a total of 73 books in 2016!

  • 12 of them were contemporary novels (goal achieved!)
  • 8 of them were re-reads (goal not quite achieved, but close!)
  •  2 were non-fiction (wah wahhhh– fail)

But so many of them were incredible. Here are my top 10 books of 2016 (in no particular order)!

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Top Ten Books I Read in 2015

toptentuesday

Hello! Today for Top Ten Tuesday, I’m discussing the Top Ten Books I Read in 2015. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme brought to us by the lovely ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish. So far this year, I have read 32 books (check out which ones I’ve read here). And being that there are still a couple of weeks left in the year, I may add a few more books to this list. But as I don’t think this will change much here are the Top Ten Books I Read in 2015.

10. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

1732937I read all three books in the Miss Peregrine trilogy this year (the first was a re-read for me, otherwise it would have this place on the list). Hollow City was a really exciting and intriguing book for me. It introduced a bunch of new characters and the stakes were high throughout.

9. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

somethingstrangeanddeadlyI fell in love with this exciting Zombie novel that takes place in early 20th century Boston. With hints of steampunk and a while lot of magic, this book (and the 2nd book in the trilogy far exceeded by expectations). Continue reading

What I'm Reading & Writing Wednesday

Woah! It’s been a while again (whoops). But things have been pretty productive, which is positive! And it’s time for What I’m Reading & Writing Wednesday so I can catch all of you up on what I’ve been up to lately. This feature is my spin on WWW Wednesday, originally started by Miz B at Should Be Reading and now hosted by Taking on a World of Words.tumblr_lsio63zudZ1qbl11oo1_500Basically my life is being eaten by adult things, no matter how much I want to do other things. Ick.

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5 Books that have Completely Changed my World View

Since last weekend’s article telling adult fans of YA that they should be ashamed, the community of YA lovers have risen up in defense of what they enjoy reading and in support of YA readers and writers everywhere. This week, Epic Reads talked about books that have changed the way they view the world and invited viewers to chime in with books that have done the same for them.

It’s no secret to many of us that YA books change the way that teens and adults view the world around them. This post is dedicated to 5 very special books that opened my eyes, mind, and heart.

 

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

tokillamockingbirdWhile this will always be one of my favorite books for many different reasons, To Kill a Mockingbird was a wonderful insight into the innocence of children and brought into play issues of race, social economic status, and ability/disability. While Scout will always remind me of myself at her age, Atticus Finch is such an amazing character and is a stand up guy who always tries to do what is right by others, especially his children.

2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak_1st_Edition_CoverSpeak has been such a powerful influence on my life in many different ways, as it has for many teens and adults alike. It encourages victims of sexual assault to speak out and urges them to stay strong. It deals with the topic of bullying in such powerful and heart-wrenching ways and is one of those books that can help save the lives of so many people.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

the book thiefThe Book Thief is one of the only books i have read that takes place in Nazi Germany during World War II, this book shows a glimpse into the lives of a family who hides a Jewish man in their basement. It also teaches wonderful lessons about family, friendship, and love.

4. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

messengerI am the Messenger taught me that even the most ordinary people are capable of doing extraordinary things and it taught me this at a time when i definitely needed it the most. it shows how even doing simple things to brighten someone’s day or help them can completely change their life.

5. The Fault in our Stars by John Green

the-fault-in-our-stars

TFioS is such a heartbreaking story but teaches a wonderful lesson about life and living. It also features very sick people who don’t allow themselves to become their illness.

Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Synopsis (Goodreads):

For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

Review:

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson is a gripping and heart-wrenching journey through the effects of PTSD on a man, Andy, and his 17 year old daughter, Hayley. Andy loves his daughter, but is haunted by ghosts of his past. As a result he relies on alcohol and drugs to try to combat the memories that are tearing him apart on a daily basis, leaving Hayley to care for him as if she was the parent.

Hayley, the narrator of the book finds herself torn between having a “normal” teenage life, taking care and worrying about her war-torn father, and memories of her own past. She does so with dignity and courage, despite her inability to trust anyone around her, not even her closest friends. She often pushes the people who care about her the most away in order to self-preserve and take care of her father, to try to keep his illness a secret from her schoolmates and teachers.

I love how raw The Impossible Knife of Memory is. Laurie Halse Anderson writes in such a realistic manner that I often found myself staring at the page at the end of a chapter with my mouth open in utter shock and disbelief. Both Hayley  and Andy’s lives are difficult, they are both teetering on the edge and are barely able to hold themselves and one another up. This is especially apparent in the chapters written from Andy’s perspective, where we get a peek at the horrifying things that he experienced during his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While the book itself has heavy themes and material, I love the hope that Laurie Halse Anderson brings into her storytelling. Hayley desperately needs hope, and finds it through her new friend, Finn as romance blossoms between them. While his life is also troubled, Finn tries to crack Hayley’s tough exterior to get to know her and show her that there is hope for her and for her father.

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the most influential authors in Young Adult literature for a reason. She writes about real issues faced by teens and she doesn’t sugar coat or talk down to her readers. She tackles the tough shit, issues that are “taboo,” ones that people don’t want to talk about, but that need to be brought to the forefront (yet does so in a sensitive manner). Her words can make you laugh out loud one minute (Hayley’s comparison of her classmates to zombies), punch you in the gut the next (the chapters written from Andy’s perspective), and shortly after have you in tears because of something that was written so beautifully or something that is so heart-wrenching that you can’t help but tear up.

I can’t give The Impossible Knife of Memory enough praise. Not only was it a beautiful and well-written book that tackled very difficult subjects, Laurie Halse Anderson has drawn from her own life experiences and what she saw her father go through as a veteran with PTSD. While reading it, it was almost impossible to find a decent place to stop reading and go back to work (go to bed, make/eat dinner, clean). Laurie Halse Anderson has written yet another masterpiece.

5/5 stars

Find The Impossible Knife of Memory at your local bookstore or online at

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Find Laurie Halse Anderson Onlineindex

Website/blog

Facebook

Twitter

My friend Chrissi also read/reviewed this book! Check out what she thought here! And keep an eye out for our blog feature on The Impossible Knife of Memory!

Review: Going Bovine by Libba Bray is Moo-ving and Laugh-Out-Loud Funny

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Summary:

Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?

All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

Review:

I honestly wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I first picked up Printz Award winning Going Bovine, but I didn’t think it was going to be anything like the twisting, turning adventure that it was (and I mean that in an entirely good way). The author, Libba Bray, has yet to disappoint me. While the subject matter of Going Bovine wasn’t easy (and it wasn’t that easy Summer read I was looking for) I loved every minute that I was reading it.

The main character of this novel, Cameron Smith is a stoner and a slacker who doesn’t care where he is going to go in life. Until he is diagnosed with Mad Cow disease and goes on a trippy and thought-provoking road trip and learns that nothing is a coincidence. While I found Cameron to be a bit infuriating in the beginning of the novel, I loved him as the narrator of this story. He is a wonderful and unique character, the likes of which I have never had the pleasure of entering their head. Cameron had me laughing on page 1 and kept it coming all the way through the end of the novel.

One thing that I absolutely loved in this novel were that every single character brought something new and funny to the table. None of them were cookie-cutter and they were certainly not predictable. For example, take Balder (who was easily my favorite character) a Viking God turned garden gnome. Bray has given such character and charisma to something we would typically consider an inanimate object to the point that whenever I see a gnome in someone’s garden I will think of him and  smile.

The plot of this novel was crazy and all over the place. At times I knew exactly what was going on and at others I had no idea what in the hell I was reading. But once you think about it and catch on to the action of the story it all comes together easily. There are points in the novel where the plot drags a little, but honestly it was nothing that I would even detract any stars from the rating for.  I wanted to be on this trippy adventure with Cameron, Gonzo, and Balder, and in many ways Libba Bray made me feel like I was there with them.

Going Bovine had everything I look for in a novel and then some! It makes you think about life, death, and what it means to live in an incredibly funny and surreal way. I highly recommend this novel to people of all ages, as there is something that everyone can take from it.

5/5 stars!!!

 

Find Libba Bray OnlineLibbaBray

LibbaBray.com

Twitter @libbabray

Goodreads

We're YA and We're OK.

Tracy (Bray and Books), Sarah, and I talk about our love for young adult literature, the stigma that it has, and our favorite YA authors & books.

Check out Tracy’s blog at http://brayandbooks.wordpress.com/

and Sarah’s “Read It Maybe” music video here