Monday, January 02, 2017

My Favourite Reads of 2016

I'm never sure how to organise these things. Usually I just list all my favourite books read that year in a non-specific, non-committal order.

The difference is that this year I do have a most-favourite book read, and a second-most-favourite.

So I'm going to strike out and pretend I'm a one-woman book award. I'll tell you my most favourite, the runner up, and then all the other books I thought were especially good, the shortlist, if you will.

Ready? Okay.

My Absolute Most Favourite Book I Read This Year

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about this post, and the inevitable YouTube video, and I said to myself, 'What is my favourite book read in 2016?'

And then I replied 'LOL duh of course it's Sorcerer to the Crown' and then I stopped thinking about it until just now when I went through my books read in Goodreads just to check I hadn't somehow forgotten about a better book?!?! Like a TOTAL IDIOT because OF COURSE I hadn't read a better book.

Sorcerer to the Crown is definitely my favourite book that I read this year. It was so fun and thoughtful and I desperately want Zen Cho to write and publish the sequel...months ago on May 16 2016 because that's when I read Sorcerer to the Crown!

It's about an alternate Regency England where there is magic, except it's only the rich white dudes who get to wield it 'properly'. Everyone else is just doing what the dudes think of as twee little household spells, with two major exceptions: Zacharias Wythe, the Sorcerer Royal, who was a slave adopted by the previous Sorcerer Royal, and all the single Ladies, who are cooped up in boarding schools being told that they need to control/get rid of their magic so they will be suitable wives. Unsurprisingly, all the rich white dudes are panicking because their magic supply seems to be shrinking so Zacharias goes to investigate and along the way he meets the awesome magnificence that is Prunella Gentleman, the ward of the headmistress of one of the aforementioned schools. Cue hijinks and magic and revelations about parentage and dragons. It's hilarious and charming and I didn't want it to end.

It was so great, I'm tempted to go read it again right now...

...what? I need to finish this post? Oh boo.

My Second Most Favourite Book I Read This Year

As I knew my most favourite book already, I didn't really think about the rest of this list until about two days ago, when I said to myself, 'What is my second most favourite book read in 2016?'

And then I replied 'LOL duh of course it's Love Song' and then I stopped thinking about it until just now when I went through my books read in Goodreads just to check I hadn't somehow get the idea.

Love Song. How can I explain my love of Love Song? I mean, I did not expect to love this book! I thought it would be fun, I always like a book about music and bands and all that. But knowing going in that it was about a girl going on tour with a boy band, I did not expect it to capture my heart and hold it to ransom for 384 pages like it did!

Is it because the main character is from Croydon and I am half-Croydonian myself?
Is it because there's so much emotional brilliance that I fell in love with each and every single one of the main characters?
Is it because it involves the exploration of a very big and very quirky house in the country?

It's so hard to describe why exactly I love this book, but oh, how I do. It's excellent. If you like contemporary YA please please pick it up - I'll be busy working my way through Sophia Bennett's backlist.

The Best of the Rest

When We Collided (Emery Lord) sounds like it's going to be super-twee - it's about a newcomer girl who shakes up the life of the boy who's lived in the town his whole life, but again, emotional brilliance took me by surprise to lift a simple, mundane-sounding premise into something glorious and sophisticated.

Maresi (Maria Turtschaninoff) may have suffered a little from the translation because the language is a bit flat and simple but I loved the idea of an island convent for women and the emotional journey the characters went on. I am looking forward to revisiting the world of the Red Abbey in the sequel.

The Girl with All the Gifts (M. R. Carey) really is as good as everyone says it is. It's better than the film, filling in background details about the characters that make them come more vividly alive. I really enjoyed the ending.

I actually expected to love The Song Will Save Your Life (Leila Sales) and I did. Though it was not exactly what I anticipated, it was still a lot of fun and I now have the occasional secret longing to get dressed up and visit a hidden club!

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My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend (Eleanor Wood) is an unconventional comtemporary about a blogger who gets comments from her favourite rockstar that lead into a secret relationship. I loved how realistic this book was - the protagonist makes a massive mess of her whole life! I also appreciated that it dealt with social class, a subject that doesn't come up as often as I'd like it to in UKYA.

Only Ever Yours (Louise O'Neill) is a zoomed-in Handmaid's Tale, focusing on the experience of teenage girls in a world where women are literally born and bred to be the property of men. It's bleak as hell, but it needs to be.

I went into Rebel of the Sands (Alwyn Hamilton) not really knowing anything about it and was soon caught up in this story of rebel teenagers banding together to save their lives and maybe change the status quo. I have the sequel sitting on my bookshelf and I'm sure it won't be long before I pick it up!

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I'd never read any Patrick Ness before The Rest of Us Just Live Here and now I know exactly what I've been missing out on! It could easily have ridden on its premise of being about the teenagers left in the background while the Chosen Ones save the world, but it rises above parody. It pokes fun at the 'indie kids', and focuses on the ordinary, heartrending difficulties that the others have to face, but ultimately has a lot of affection for all its characters.

And that's the end of the list! Are any of my favourites on your list, from last or previous years? Let me know!

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