2016 was a complete wash of a year in so very many ways, but at least the books were great, and these in particular! Enjoy my highly biased and highly subjective list of my most loved reads of 2016.
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills | my review
MY. HEART. This ship and this FRIENDSHIP GROUP and these feels and Emma Mills, I will write whatever you write next ad infinitum. This is my favorite contemporary of the year and honestly I don't even know how to do it justice
The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes | my review
I loved the first book in this series, The Fixer, which is Veronica Mars meets Scandal, but its sequel absolutely obliterated me in the more glorious way possible. It's bar none one of the best thrillers I have ever read, and the plot is so tight and so intense and I care about the characters SO MUCH and the level of capital R Ruined I was by the twists in this book cannot be measured by mankind. My life will end if I don't get a third book.
These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas | my review
This kind of book is my crack. Delightful and voicey, TVM a fun, wild old tropefest. Powers! Disasters! Fire! Illicit smooches! (THAT SMOOCHING SCENE!!) Betrayal! Deception! Disgrace! BONKERS BANANATOWN ENDING. There are fancy gowns and gentlemen of ill repute and reputations to be sullied and governesses of yore plus X-Men powers! PLUS SOME SHIPPITY SHIPS. Just my kind of shenanigans.
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman | my review
it's Pride and Prejudice meets Buffy! dive into the story of Lady Helen Wrexhall, who is making her entree in 1812 society...while also grappling with a possibly cataclysmic supernatural destiny as a Reclaimer. An destiny that she doesn't think she wants anything to do with.
Of all the paranormal/fantasy books set in Ye Olden Times I've ever read, TDDC pulls off the historical aspects of that the best. The detail! I am such a nerd for English history, and the amount of research and depth in this novel is stupendous. And not just that, it really INFORMS the characters and their behavior. Characters I absolutely love, btw. Helen is fantastic, and the Buffy-esque stuffs at play is the coolest things ever. Plus...Lord Carlston. *dreamy sigh* Smolder smolder, ship, smolder smolder.
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett | my review
HEART EYES, and not anatomical ones. This book is sort of instalove done right, in that I totally believe these crazy kids are in love despite how quickly it happens. THEY'RE SO CUTE I MELT. Such adorable banter and chemistry and SQUEEE. In addition to be a highly successful romance, TASoaH is also a sensitive portrayal of complicated families and mental illness. [six paragraphs of swooning over Jack redacted for the sake of my dignity]
Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi | my review
I don't read a lot of middle grade but when I do it's middle grade like this. The writing is absolutely, eye-meltingly stupendous. I want to frame her words or tattoo them on me I swear. The imagery is so lush and the worldbuilding is charming and magnificently creative. But mostly Alice and Oliver as the most precious and plucky and complicated little MG heroes and joining on their adventures made my heart grow three sizes.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
This book lit me on fire. It is so HOT and ROARINGLY HILARIOUS and SO ROMANTIC I DISSOLVED INTO A PUDDLE READING THIS. The best kiss scenes I have ever read are in this book and it is an absolute masterclass in sexual tension and banter and LIGHTING ME ON FIRE
Written in Red and Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
Adult urban fantasy is a veeeery tricky thing for me, especially one with shifters (the whole bestiality kink thing honestly mostly freaks me out) but oh my god is this series AH-MAZING. The world building is so unique and different and not like any other urban fantasy I have tried (and failed). The ship is beyond slow burn to the point of agony but IT! IS! SO! TRUE!!!!! and Meg and Simon I will follow you into the sun if that is what it takes and basically I get all of zee feels with this series
Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn | my review
NEW. ALL. TIME. FAVORITE. This older classic is so glorious, so magical, so shippy, and so coforting that reading it felt like rereading an old fave from your childhood, like warm blankets and hot beverages and loved ones and comfy old armchairs and everything good and glorious and lovely and my love for this beautiful little fantasy novel knows no bounds
The works of Tessa Dare | my review-ish
My discovery of the wide world of historical romance began with a hard fall into Tessa Dare's side-splittingly hilarious Regency romances. I started with When a Scot Ties the Knot, which made me WEEP with laughter, and worked my way through the other two Castles Ever After books before sweeping through all the novels and novellas in her Spindle Cove series (save the latest one, which I plan to read very soon!) My personal faves were Scot, Romancing the Duke, A Week to be Wicked (possibly my fave of all) and Any Duchess Will Do.
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess | my review
Oh my god, these characters, and their beautiful banterelationships and my feeeeeels. THIS BOOK MADE ME SO HAPPY. It was everything my little heart wanted. I had such feelings about the characters like you would not BELIEVE. This was just a big delicious fest, basically. Like TVM and TDDC, it's a historial (ish) fantasy full of ships and magic and pretty dresses and delightful dialogue. It's less historical historicalness than TDCC and more like TVM, where the focus is on the interpersonal relationships and epic plot twists and fun action times and healthy banter. I would follow the heroine, Henrietta Howel, to the ends of the earth. I CANNOT WAIT for the sequel! (And for my ship to sail) (I know what I'm about)
Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo
One of my favorite contemporaries of the year. Harper's story made me feel SOME KINDA WAY. It was vivid, heartbreaking, funny, and fulfilling. Highly recommend.
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
I don't even know what to say about my love for this series (which is why I STILL haven't reviewed this despite reading it in April). THe Raven gang are some of my favorite fictional characters ever. They're barely fictional to me and I wept copiously for the last 100 pages of TRK as I felt EVERY POSSIBLE feeling and ughhhh I just miss my babies so much
Honorable mentions: Rebel Magisters by Shanna Swenson, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey, The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh, Neverseen and Lodestar by Shannon Messenger for supermega feels reasons
GAH, I'm sure I've forgotten something, and I'm going to kick myself for it later, but this is a start at least!
EDIT: I FORGOT CROOKED KINGDOM OMFG I DONT DESERVE TO BLOG WTF GILLIAN