This year I read 111 books. I think that’s a pretty good effort. 

It’s been a pretty crazy year of intern-ing, university, work and (occasionally) socialising. So even though I’ve read a ton of books, I didn’t get around to reviewing a lot of them. I decided to be ambitious and post a mini-review of EVERY book I’ve read this year. Let’s get right to it. I’ve categorised them into genres, and there are also ones for #LoveOzYA and rereads. Within the genres they’re in chronological order of reading.

FANTASY/MAGICAL REALISM/PARANORMAL

    

SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch 

Not one of my faves tbh, because 1) simplistic plot that didn’t really make use of the awesome world, 2) typical YA narrator, 3) love triangle, 4) info-dumps and 5) millions of “dream” sequences (one of my pet peeves).

BONE GAP by Laura Ruby 

While I didn’t LOVE this book like so many others did, I have to admit it was intriguing. I loved the magical realism and the small-town vibe and the castle and the switching of tenses and the mystery. It also had a really interesting commentary on the deception of beauty. Definitely one to check out.

THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater 

Reason #1 to read The Dream Thieves: Stealing things from dreams. Such a cool idea. Reason #2: The raven boys. Also Blue. Just ALL OF THE CHARACTERS. Reason #3: Drag races. Reason #4: THE DIALOGUE. This was definitely my favourite of the series.

THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig 

My only quibble with this book is that it could have used the premise more – this ship can go ANYWHERE and it stays in one spot the whole time, pretty much. But I loved Nix and Kashmir, and all the myths and legends scattered throughout. I mean, sky herring? Hell yes. Plus, Nix is mixed-race like Heidi Heilig (Chinese/white), so YAS for #ownvoices.

   

WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT by April Genevieve Tucholke 

This is one of the best books I’ve read in 2016. It’s…not for everyone. It’s strange and whimsical, and everyone has weird names. But the writing is absolutely incredible and it’s very strange and just has incredible atmosphere. Lots of mind games and twists and not knowing what’s going on. Highly recommended if you like weird books.

PASSENGER by Alexandra Bracken 

One of the most boring books I’ve read this year tbh. It was so tedioussss. And considering how beautiful this book is, it’s such a disappointment. Basically it’s about a violinist called Etta and time travel, and that’s literally all I remember.

LADY MIDNIGHT by Cassandra Clare 

I was so pleasantly surprised by this one! Even though I didn’t like The Mortal Instruments, I really enjoyed this one (and I actually don’t think you need to read the others to read it). It has autism and bisexual rep, and family and magic and Edgar Allen Poe and demons and forbidden love. FANTABULOUS.

BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE by Maggie Stiefvater 

Another excellent installment. Although the name annoys me WHY is it not like the other three? *cries*

   

A COURT OF MIST AND FURY by Sarah J. Maas 

So I knowwww that Sarah J. Maas is criticised a lot because of her really problematic representation (or, you know, lack thereof) and that criticism is definitely valid. But all the same, I REALLY loved ACOMAF. I don’t like the ToG series (especially the last few), but everything about these books is so up my alley…the worldbuilding compared to the first is incredible, the characters are incredible, the different courts are incredible. INCREDIBLE. 

THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater 

Honestly...this ending was kind of an anti-climax. I’M SORRY DON’T HATE ME. But I feel like there was all this build-up throughout the series and it fizzled out in this last book. Also Gansey was such a non-event. And yet I’m still giving it 3 stars because the characters and the writing deserve it.

PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL by Jessica Day George 

I read this because it’s a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (as research, because I wrote a retelling of it for NaNoWriMo). And it’s a nice enough retelling – nothing special, but enough to keep me entertained. 

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD by Jack Thorne (and J K Rowling) 

I’m still angry about Cursed Child. It was the most ridiculous plot (VOLDEMORT…BELLATRIX…WHAT) and characterisation that was mostly stereotypes from the movies. Not sure how J K put her seal of approval on this because it’s such a garbage fire. Although I do love Scorpius.

  

EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire 

This was amaaaaazing. The only reason I’m not giving it 5 stars is that it was really short, and there wasn’t really ENOUGH of the story, you know? But the premise is amazing – it’s about what happens AFTER children come back from magical lands and rabbit holes and everything. The descriptions of the other places are so magical and amazing, and there’s also lots of diversity – Nancy is asexual and there are also gender-non-conforming characters and PoC characters.

HEARTLESS by Marissa Meyer 

I am like the biggest Alice in Wonderland freak. In year 12 my major drama project was an absurdist Alice play. I wrote a retelling that was originally called Wanderland and I’m now calling Once Upon a Madness. I’ve not only read the two original books but also Lewis Carroll’s other book Sylvie and Bruno (review further down). But I was very disappointed in this book. Yes there was a lot of baking, which was excellent, but the characters felt flat and it was nowhere NEAR the level of amazing-ness as The Lunar Chronicles.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (the screenplay) by J K Rowling 

Confession: I went and saw the movie three times. Once was with my sister, once with my friends and once with some of my family. I loved Newt, I loved the fantastic beasts, and I loved Jacob. Tina was kind of meh. But anyway, I could have watched a whole movie of the characters going through Newt’s suitcase. And the screenplay gives you a lot of background that’s really intriguing (plus it’s just gorgeous okay).

  

FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP by Sarah Glenn Marsh 

Another book that I was disappointed by. I expected lots of magic, witches, sea vibes and a bit of mystery. Instead I got…boring. And also insta-love that turned hella weird.

SYLVIE AND BRUNO by Lewis Carroll 

Recently I watched the movie La La Land which was the weirdest movie I’ve ever seen. Sylvie and Bruno was the weirdest book I’ve ever read. I actually had to look up the plot to make sense of what’s going on. Basically it merges between two different plots (with absolutely no warning, by the way) – Fairyland, and the regular land. So there’s both the usual Lewis Carroll nonsense and a weird love triangle with regular people and lectures on morals/science/philosophy. Very handy for my writing, though.

STEALING SNOW by Danielle Paige 

Honestly just don’t bother. Pretty sure the Snow Queen retelling that I wrote in year 12 was better than this. And by the way, you can actually read that – part 1 is here and part 2 is here.

And that’s it for fantasy! Next up is contemporary.

CONTEMPORARY

   

SOMETHING REAL by Heather Demetrios 

I bought this randomly from Book Depot because it was cheap, and I was really surprised by it! It centres around a reality TV show with thirteen siblings who have never lived out of the spotlight. Really, really interesting book.

THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock 

I’m so sad that I didn’t like this more, but there were 4 narrators and like 200 pages – it just felt way too disjointed. Bonus points for beautiful writing and wintry Alaska atmosphere, though. I felt really cold reading it.

HOW NOT TO DISAPPEAR by Clare Furniss 

I’m not a big fan of past-and-present books. Unless they’re done really well (and this was not). This one’s about a pregnant teen and her great-aunt who has dementia, and though it’s about family and all that jazz, I was just not a big fan.

THANKS FOR THE TROUBLE by Tommy Wallach 

I didn’t like this book to start with because of 1) the ending and 2) the manic pixie dream girl vibe. And then Tommy Wallach proved to be even more problematic by making a suicide joke and then ranking the top 10 literary suicides. Um…get out.

   

THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED by Kerry Kletter 

Ahhh omg this book! It’s got a really messed-up mother/daughter relationship, but it’s all about healing and accepting help and believing in yourself. Lots of feels. And also excellent extended metaphors.

WHEN WE COLLIDED by Emery Lord 

Jonah is my new favourite character of ever because any protagonist who can 1) cook and 2) look after his little siblings is clearly gold. Although I definitely ship him with Ellie #justsaying. ANYWAY, this book is about big families, food and mental illness, and it’s absolutely incredible. I wasn’t such a fan of Vivi (which is difficult, because it’s like…what’s the line between her personality and her mental illness?). But definitely one to check out.

THE HATERS by Jesse Andrews 

I actually really loved Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (this author’s previous book), and the movie is INCREDIBLE btw, but this book was just really dumb and teenager-y in the bad way. I like crass humour but this was just…like, insulting to teenagers.

THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING by Morgan Matson 

I am SUCH A FAN of Morgan Matson. This isn’t my favourite of hers, but it’s still brilliant. It’s got dog-walking and politics and awesome female friendships and emojis and a love interest who is a nerdy fantasy author (yas).

   

RADIO SILENCE by Alice Oseman 

This is EASILY one of my top 5 reads of 2016. It’s just so so brilliant and relatable (a lot of which I credit to Alice Oseman being 21). There is no romance (!!), amazing nerdy friendships, demisexual rep, PoC characters and it’s just…ahh. So good. 

POINTE by Brandy Colbert 

This book combines ballet with eating disorders with abusive relationships and the result is a beautiful message about learning to be kind to yourself. LOVED. IT.

THE MEMORY OF LIGHT by Francisco X. Stork 

One of the best portrayals of depression I’ve ever read. Very raw and honest.

THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zentner 

ANOTHER of my fave books this year! THERE WERE SO MANY FEELS. Also fashion blogging, amazing characters and family (good + bad) and also it made me cry, be warned.

   

THIS IS WHERE THE WORLD ENDS by Amy Zhang 

I absolutely adored Amy Zhang’s debut Falling Into Place, but this one really missed the mark. Like the writing is gorgeous but it felt kind of…I don’t know, pointless? I’m not sure what I was supposed to get out of it.

Also, Janie just felt like another Margo Roth Spiegelman, and I didn’t particularly like her in Paper Towns.

LITTLE BLACK DRESSES, LITTLE WHITE LIES 

This book is like the best rom-coms combined with lots of social media references, friendship and bark mitzvahs (they’re for dogs). It’s very chick-lit-y and very reminiscent of one of my fave books, The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer. Recommended for people who want to work for Buzzfeed (cough me).

THE MEMORY BOOK by Lara Avery 

I was kind of torn on this one…I liked that Sammie’s memory illness wasn’t romanticised, and I liked the diary format. But at the same time I didn’t LOVE the plot or Sammie herself, so I didn’t really connect to it all that well. 

THE LOOSE ENDS LIST by Carrie Firestone 

Me and this book did not get along. I didn’t care about any of the characters, it had a really inconsistent tone (which made it hard to care about the sad sections) and I just wasn’t a fan. Also, nobody’s grandmother is like that. 

    

LOVE AND GELATO by Jenna Evans Welch 

This is one of the prettiest books I own, so it’s such a bummer that it wasn’t good. Especially one with such an awesome setting (Florence, which is the best part of Italy I’ve visited so far). But the writing was kind of bland, the romance was annoying and the whole plot with Lina’s mum was 1) kind of unbelievable and 2) utterly predictable.

GEMINI by Sonya Mukherjee 

Basically this book follows conjoined twins Hailey and Clara (hence the title). But Hailey and Clara felt very similar in terms of voice – I struggled keeping up with whose POV it was. And it was not exactly an exciting plot. Just didn’t feel very much connection to the story or the characters (ESPECIALLY the mum who was over-the-top controlling – like not in a protective way but in an awful, hurtful way).

HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE by Jennifer Niven 

I’ve been thinking about this book for ages and I’m still not totally sure how to articulate my thoughts on it.

I guess it’s a bit of a John Green effect – taking “illness” or things like prosopagnosia and putting it in a book and making it romantic. Because of course they’re taken to the extreme. Of course Libby is crane-lifted out of her house. Of course Jack’s prosopagnosia is the most severe case ever encountered. I don’t know, I guess that just rubbed me the wrong way, because it’s like it has to be dramatic and show-y for it to make it into a novel.

I had similar issues with All the Bright Places so I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW GUYS.

MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera 

First I’d like to say that DON’T put too much stock in my rating. Because I still think this book is really important for a lot of reasons, for example having a Latino MC, and the LGBT rep. But it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Although it does have an awesome twist (and note that I COULD have shelved it as sci-fi, but I feel like it belongs more in contemporary for some reason. Idk).

    

GIRL IN PIECES by Kathleen Glasgow 

This book is so important. It has a lot of class diversity – which is not something you see often in YA, since it tends to feature middle-class MCs. Charlie is not. Charlie has lived on the streets, she has to fight for her job and for her life. The writing is beautiful. Charlie is beautiful. This book is so painful and angry and sharp but it is beautiful. One of my favourites of this year, possibly all time.

THE LOST AND FOUND by Katrina Leno 

Internet friendships! Anxiety! Amputee rep! Siblings! Magical realism and lost things! Go forth and read it!

ENTER TITLE HERE by Rahul Kanukia 

Okay so I get that this book is trying to critique the crazy competitiveness that characterises high school, and how damaging that can be – I have experienced that for myself. But Reshma was the most self-absorbed, arrogant, ruthless narrator I have ever had the misfortune to read about. No way can I get behind a narrator like that, even if she is an anti-hero. No sympathy for people who bully and cheat their way through life with lawyers, money and scheming.

THE MUSEUM OF INTANGIBLE THINGS by Wendy Wunder 

This was a…very strange book.The best part of this book is the friendship between our MC and her BFF Zoe. It was really lovely and I wish more YA books had that kind of relationship. It also has a fairly excellent road trip.
HOWEVER, I was a little iffy on some of the representation (not knowledgeable enough to comment too much on it), and I was really not a fan of the ending. Note: also has bipolar rep (Zoe).

    

CHERRY by Lindsey Rosin 

Good and bad parts about this – the good is that it normalises sex in a safe way (nothing is off-limits). Plus, diversity – there’s a really cute f/f couple which I wasn’t expecting. At the same time, I wasn’t comfortable with some of it. The whole idea of the “sex pact” seemed really harmful – like these girls just HAVE to have sex before they graduate. There’s already such a harmful idea that girls are wrong or weird if they wait to have sex, and I wasn’t happy with how that was portrayed.

LOOK BOTH WAYS by Alison Cherry 

Really really annoyed with this book and the LGBTQIA+ representation. This book is pitched as an f/f romance and instead we get some really damaging bi stereotypes. Too complex to get into right now, but basically, to my bi/lesbian readers: careful with this one because the rep is not great. It seemed very queer-bait-y to me.

TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE by Jenny Han 

THIS BOOOKKKKK. I loved everything about it! Lara Jean! Margot! KITTY! The Christmas Cookie Bonanza! Peter K! Family! EVERYTHING.

AMERICAN GIRLS by Alison Umminger 

Yep, not a fan of this one. There were some fairly transphobic and homophobic words/phrases (like “transsexual” which is no longer really used because of negative connotations). It’s also really slow and very American. Part of it concerns the Manson girls and there was this weird thing where the MC kind of…justified their actions. I don’t know it just made me so uncomfortable.

#LOVEOZYA

    

MY SISTER ROSA by Justine Larbalestier 

Have you ever wondered if your sister is a psychopath? Because I have. Except Che’s sister is ACTUALLY a psychopath. This isn’t really a high-octane thriller, but Rosa’s, erm, ANTICS will have you flipping pages, that’s for sure. Also props for diversity and excellent friendships within the book.

FACING UP by Carolyn Gilpin 

This is a book from an Australian indie author that really grew on me – or at least the MC did. It’s about the impacts of a car crash on families, and it also has a great depiction of therapy.

THE COLOURS OF MADELEINE series by Jaclyn Moriarty 

This series is so colourful, magical, weird-as-heck and whimsical you kind of have to love it. There are LETTERS, amazing world-building, fantastic kooky characters and brilliant plot twists. Seriously one of the most unique series I’ve ever read. 

 

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SUMMER SKIN by Kirsty Eagar 

Sex-positive feminist romance. Um, can I get a hell yeah? Also, it’s set in university which you don’t tend to find often!

IRIS AND THE TIGER by Leanne Hall 

I loved the surrealism in this, and the painting and art and churros, but apart from that, not much was very engaging.

THE STARS AT OKTOBER BEND by Glenda Millard 

Amazing writing. Neurodiversity (Alice, the MC, has brain damage and has difficulty with speech). Plus beautiful writing, and an astonishingly sad story that is pieced together throughout the book.

YELLOW by Megan Jacobson 

Not only does this have a gorgeous cover, it has ghosts and Strayan-ness and bullying and an alcoholic mother and such a refreshing tone.

   

GOOD OIL by Laura Buzo 

The main reason I read this was because the MC works at Woolies, which…#relatable. But besides from being able to relate to working at Woolies, there’s not much else going for it.

THE SPECIAL ONES by Em Bailey

This one is a cult thriller and it is soooo intriguing. It’s like an Amish-type situation that’s like a really messed-up reality TV show, all headed by a guy they can’t see (you read from his POV though *shudders). Creepily brilliant. 

ONE WOULD THINK THE DEEP by Claire Zorn 

Not my favourite of Claire Zorn’s books, tbh (her other two were both 5-star reads). What’s with authors setting their YA books in the 80s and 90s? Should it actually be marketed to adults? Because I didn’t get half the references (same with protagonists obsessed with The Smiths or Radiohead or whatever…I get authors are nostalgic, but can they please include some modern references).

WHEN MICHAEL MET MINA by Randa Abdel-Fattah 

YES to this book. Mina is such an incredible protagonist, and it highlights all the ways “stop the boats” is such a harmful ideology. More like “stop racism” amirite.

   

NIGHT BEACH by Kirsty Eagar 

This one’s very gothic and strange and surreal, and BEAUTIFUL writing. I think it went over my head a bit, though.

FRAYED by Kara Terzis 

Though she hasn’t been blogging much of late, Kara is a fantastic part of the Aussie blogging community and this (her debut) is excellent! Verrrry intriguing.

FORGETTING FOSTER by Dianne Touchell 

Dianne Touchell has this knack of creating really difficult, emotional, unflinching novels that are absolutely brilliant. This one is MG and it’s from the perspective of a seven-year-old boy whose Dad gets Alzheimers (early-onset).

THE THINGS I DIDN’T SAY by Kylie Fornasier 

I LOVED Kylie Fornasier’s debut, Masquerade, which is set in Venice. And this was just as good – it’s about Piper, who has selective mutism, and also has this really adorable romance. Plus, potato cakes. 

 

   

NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff 

So there’s a LOT of stuff going around about Nevernight at the moment, and Anjulie (who is a Maori blogger) addresses some of it in this excellent post. Though a lot of the discussion was very muddied, it’s worth noting the issues with Kristoff’s portrayal of the Dweymeri people if you read this one! It’s kind of like Harry Potter: even though I love it to death, I will also critique it to death. 

THE BOUNDLESS SUBLIME by Lili Wilkinson 

As cult thrillers go, this was…interesting. But it required a LOT of suspension of disbelief, and the rationalisation behind some of the decisions was questionable at best, ludicrous at worst.

THE OTHER SIDE OF SUMMER by Emily Gale 

This is a beautiful book about grief and music and has just a touch of magical realism. Summer is an excellent protagonist and it was just a gorgeous story.

SHIELD by Rachael Craw 

FABULOUS conclusion to this BRILLIANT series. I still can’t believe it’s over! If you want a series about girls kicking butt, friendship, genetic mutation and politics, this one’s for you.

   

WORDS IN DEEP BLUE by Cath Crowley 

This book is a book for book-lovers. It’s about a bookshop and it has this things called the Letter Library where people can post notes and things, and it’s such an EXCELLENT idea. Plus there are references to books that are not by dead white males, which is a refreshing change.

BREATHING UNDER WATER by Sophie Hardcastle  

My rating for this one is odd because even though it was a VERY disjointed read (it was like a big event would happen then never be addressed again), and I hated the narrator, it was still very…powerful, and raw. Which I guess is a testament to #LoveOzYA.

THE SIDEKICKS by Will Kostakis 

I didn’t enjoy The Sidekicks as much as I did The First Third. Too many POVs, not enough pages.

GEMINA by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 

“Mind-blown” tends to be the buzzword for these crazy sci-fi masterpieces. And even though I didn’t like it as much as the first, it still managed to dazzle me with its insanity and twists and THAT FORMATTING.

  

FRANKIE by Shivaun Plozza 

I loved Frankie – such a vibrant, smart, troublesome character. There are also brilliant relationships in this book – between Frankie and her friend Cara, between Frankie and her aunt (who is the BEST AUNT ever). This book also includes crosswords, sharp, witty dialogue and writing, and actually REALLY FUNNY parts. Because we don’t have enough of those in YA tbh.

LAURINDA by Alice Pung 

SHEER BRILLIANCE. It’s a commentary on race, on girls, the machinations of private schools, wealth and class and privilege. It has this strange, lilting, literary feel but it’s never boring or dull. One of my favourite reads of this year.

REMIND ME HOW THIS ENDS by Gabrielle Tozer 

I didn’t love this as much as The Intern (WHICH YOU ALL NEED TO READ BTW), but it’s still a sweet romance-y book set in a small. It’s as much about finding yourself and figuring out what you want to do with life as it is about love. I’ll have a longer review closer to release!

I actually read more Aussie YA books than I thought! And I feel like, when people talk about needing more diverse books, it’s typically from a US standpoint. There are some fantastic #ownvoices books here (like Laurinda) that are really under-rated. I’d love to see them reach a wider audience.

 

SCI-FI/DYSTOPIAN

  

ONLY EVER YOURS by Louise O’Neill 

THIS BOOK WILL MESS YOU UP. It’s this really messed-up dystopian world where women are trained to be the property of men – it’s kind of like The Handmaid’s Tale but a little more accessible, I guess. Very uncomfortable but necessary reading.

THIS SAVAGE SONG by Victoria Schwab 

I actually intended to review this. I took photos and everything – guess I just didn’t get around to it. ANYWAY, this books is so brilliant. Monsters and moral ambiguity and NO ROMANCE. It’s kind of more paranormal but I chucked it in here anyway.

THE DIABOLIC by S. J. Kincaid 

What I love about sci-fi is that it comments so much more on our present society than it ever could on our future. This book is an intriguing look at what it means to be human, and also Nemesis ACTUALLY kills people rather than just being CALLED an assassin by everybody.

SooOoOooOOO clearly I need to read more dystopian/sci-fi books because clearly I like them.

ADULT

  

ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell 

Such a cute read! I loved the emphasis on emails, and Jennifer and Beth’s friendship was definitely #friendshipgoals. It’s set in the late 90s when everyone’s freaking out over the millennium and Y2K. Definitely different from her YA. 

VICIOUS by V. E. Schwab 

I feel like the only person in the world who didn’t like this. And honestly I can’t even remember WHY I didn’t like it #bookamnesiastrikesagain. It’s got villains and it’s by V. E. Schwab so clearly it’s just me.

ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes 

This could EASILY have been 5 stars – I absolutely loved Louisa, and it’s such addictive writing. But the representation of Will was very troubling to me – it kind of sends the message that a disabled life is not worth living, so idk how I feel about this.

  

A GATHERING OF SHADOWS by V. E. Schwab 

I don’t actually know why I didn’t love this one as much as the first. I have strange reading tastes.The story itself is brilliant – I love all the different Londons, I love Lila Bard and Rhy and Kell…but it fell short of the first for me. I really should reread them before the next one tbh.

A GAME OF THRONES by George R. R. Martin 

I started watching the TV show this year with my sister (we still haven’t finished season 6, I’m not sure what happened there) and I decided that to be a loyal bookworm, I’d better read the series as well. AND I LOVED IT. Arya is my official fave. Also it’s not actually as graphic as the TV show.

IT ENDS WITH US by Colleen Hoover 

Wow, this book. It’s messy and complicated and horrible and beautiful and so many contradictory things I can’t even deal. I really loved the complexity, but I have heard that her books have a tendency to romanticise abuse. This is a really good post that outlines some of it. And this review highlights some of the problematic elements of It Ends With Us. I guess I just want you guys to know what you’re getting into before you read a book that might be harmful, idk.

As you can see, my reading of the adult genre is…limited. Mostly because, even though I’m technically an adult, most adult books tend to focus on marriage and mid-life crises and whatnot. So not there yet. But I’d like to read more of NA for sure, and I’ll be posting a discussion on that soon.

THRILLER

  

WHISPER TO ME by Nick Lake 

This is kind-of thriller, kind-of contemporary. I really loved it! It’s got really unique formatting, a great friendship, a great relationship between Cassie and her dad (an ex-Navy SEAL), and representation of schizophrenia through Cassie’s voices.

THE LAST GOOD DAY OF THE YEAR by Jessica Warman 

Sooo this is the story of a kid who goes missing and then the repercussions for a family. I mean, it’s gripping but the pacing was off – waaaay too much build-up, and it had this kind of literary tone that wasn’t to my liking. The big reveal was an info-dump but at the very least I couldn’t stop reading. Although I still don’t know what happened right at the end. It still keeps me up at night.

SHINY BROKEN PIECES by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra 

THESE BOOKS ARE SO INCREDIBLE. They’re about ballet and there’s lots of drama and back-stabbing and redemption and so so so much diversity. My ARC of the first book is pretty much my most prized possession. 

Disclaimer: none of these are straight thrillers. The first and the third could easily have gone into contemporary. But since they’re not straight contemporary either I figured I may as well shelve them this way.

POETRY

 

MILK AND HONEY by Rupi Kaur 

This makes me want to read more poetry. It’s so beautiful and moving and empowering, and the illustrations are so DIFFERENT. It’s about love and femininity and loss and gah. Brilliance.

THE PRINCESS SAVES HERSELF IN THIS ONE by Amanda Lovelace 

This one’s really interesting because it was originally self-published,and gained traction because Amanda Lovelace was a really integral part of the booklr community (on Tumblr). It’s divided into The Princess, The Damsel, The Queen, and You, and it’s so so beautiful. I want every page tattooed all over me.

Reading these two books has always made me realise that I want to get more into poetry. So if you have any recs, leave them in comments!

MIDDLE GRADE

  

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO ANNA by Jostein Gaarder 

Sooo I love Jostein Gaarder. His books The Solitaire Mystery and Sophie’s World are two of my absolute FAVOURITES – they’re about philosophy and they’re so weird and wacky. Sticky buns and decks of cards and magnifying glasses and meta-fiction and just…wow, it’s so good. But this one…is not. It does a lot of preaching about the environment and I was just really disappointed. Definitely give his others a go, though, they’re really, really different.

GEORGE by Alex Gino 

Omg this book is so cute. It’s about a trans girls called George who is extremely dedicated to being Charlotte in the school production of Charlotte’s Web. And MG is such a great genre because it manages to encompass some really big ideas in simple terms – kind of like Wonder by R J Palacio. And I love George’s friendship with Kelly.

ANNA AND THE SWALLOW MAN by Gavriel Savit 

I still have no idea where Anna and the Swallow Man were walking…or why they were walking there. This book is set in WWII in Krakow and there’s a lot of walking, not much dialogue and a lot of implicit stuff that I didn’t get. 

   

HOUR OF THE BEES by Lindsay Eagar 

Hour of the Bees contained lots of magic. It’s the magic of bees and stories and trees; of immortality and secrets and families. It’s quite under-stated and you’re never quite sure what’s really going on, but that’s what I LOVE about it. What I also loved was the Mexican culture threaded through the book and the importance of Carol’s grandfather. 

FURTHERMORE by Tahereh Mafi

Hooooooly mackerel, this book was amazing. It’s all I wanted from Heartless and more – so whimsical and Alice in Wonderland-y and magical and just brilliant. READ ITTTT.

SOME KIND OF HAPPINESS by Claire LeGrand 

Some Kind of Happiness is very slow, but absolutely worth it. There’s a lot in this book – a girl who’s struggling with depression and anxiety, but doesn’t know what to call them – to her they’re just her “blue days.” It’s got the Everwood, a place where an ordinary girl can be a queen. It’s got family and cousins and playing and secrets. Long drives and Beethoven. I feel like it’s a really great thing for MG to be including mental illness in such a way.

ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman 

The best part about this book was the food. THE FOOD. One time I watched Junior Masterchef and pretty much died with how talented those ten-year-olds were. Gladys is eleven, but she’s pretty much a Masterchef, besides an unfortunate incident with a blowtorch (give the girl a break, she was trying to make creme brulee). Where this book fell short for me was the plot. It requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, and honestly I think the scope was too wide – I might have enjoyed it more if it was a smaller scale, and more cooking – we didn’t get to see as much as I’d hoped.

   

THE SECRET HORSES OF BRIAR HILL by Megan Shepherd 

This book is so magical! It’s set in a hospital during WWII, and the MC  Emmaline discovers these magical horses from the mirror world. She has to collect colourful objects to keep away the Black Horse. It was pretty slow and I wasn’t a huge fan of the plot, but still gorgeous.

MAGNUS CHASE AND THE SWORD OF SUMMER by Rick Riordan 

YESSSS this book. Norse myths! Excellent chapter titles! Valhalla! Hilarity! Although unfortunately it got worse throughout the book, hence only three stars.

THE SONG FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE by A. F. Harrold, illustrations by Levi Pinfold 

This is a quietly brilliant story about an unlikely friendship, a bit of magic, and beautiful illustrations. 

PAX by Sara Pennypacker 

MOST of this is so good! A boy’s bond with a fox (maybe a bit magical), a beautiful friendship with Vola, who is an ex-soldier with PTSD, and…a disappointing ending. But I’d definitely recommend it if you like animal stories.

I feel like MG is such an under-rated genre. There are some real gems here. 

OTHER

  

FRONT LINES by Michael Grant 

So this is a story in an alternate history where women could fight on the front line. And I did like it, except I’m a bit iffy on Michael Grant himself. I saw a talk by him earlier this year where he said he doesn’t read YA (which???) and then a bunch of stuff happened on Twitter where he was basically saying autistic kids are a burden – anyway, this post talks about it much more eloquently than I possibly could, so that’s where I’ll end this.

SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS edited by Stephanie Perkins 

This is a really cute summery anthology…although I read it in winter so that’s already sad. Though there are hits and misses, there are so many different genres, and so much diversity, anyone’s bound to find something they like.

TIMEKEEPER by Tara Sim 

This was…a disappointment. Though I was excited about a steampunk read about clocks and time, with a m/m romance, it didn’t really live up to expectations. The romance is insta-love-y, the world-building and plot is under-developed and I never really liked the main character. Such a shame because I really wanted to like it!

REREADS

  

I can’t be bothered to link all of these because this post has taken me like 3 years to write. But just know that all three of these are EXCELLENT because dragons and books.

  

Harry Potter – still good. Everything Leads to You – still one of my favourite books in the world (and I’m so excited for Nina LaCour’s next book out in 2017). Fangirl – not as relatable as the first read (I think I’ve become very different to Cath in the last couple of years, which is a very interesting thing to discover).

I love rereading, and in 2017 I plan to definitely do more of it.

So…wow. This post is like 6000 words. I think I must be insane because there’s no other reason for attempting this.

But at the same time I’m kind of glad I did, because it’s nice to remember all of the books I’ve loved this year, and what I thought of them. Soon I’ll do a “best of” wrap-up post for 2016 and well and truly leave that year where it belongs – in the past. Or, you know, the garbage. 

And tell me – what was your FAVOURITE book of 2016? Yes, only one. Any poetry recommendations? Or perhaps NA reads?