Top 5 Books Read in 2016

I’d love to hear about the best books you read last year, so please feel free to share your favorites in the comment box. They can be from any genre, published in any year; the only stipulation is that you read the book sometime during 2016.

For those interested, here’s my complete reading list for 2016. I had more 4- and 5-star reviews than I expected, and many of those books had the WOW! factor for which I’m always on the prowl. Sadly, I have to whittle that list down to only my Top 5 (except for the few honorable mentions I sneaked in at the end). 😛

The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Published 9/13/2011)

The circus arrives without warning. If you’re not compelled to read on, after that first sentence, you may not fall as head-over-heels as I did. When it came time to share my thoughts about this book, I was stumped. So many feelings to sift through to find an actual, logical thought. At its heart is a love story, surrounded by a competition between masters and their apprentices, wrapped in lots and lots of magic. I could see that magic, close my eyes and touch it. All my senses were fully engaged. It’s a rare book that uses smells and sounds with such clarity and power. My favorite book read in 2016!

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireEvery Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Published 4/5/2016)

Most of us have read a portal fantasy; The Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland being two of the most widely read. The adventure in a portal fantasy often focuses on escaping the fantasy and getting back to the “real” world. So what happens to the characters who found their portal but had to leave? Every Heart a Doorway explores that very situation. I loved this – beautiful, macabre, diverse – book, and I cannot wait to read its companion (available for pre-order). For anyone who ever searched and searched for their secret door, or for those who still do.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane AndersAll the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Published 1/26/2016)

A weird mash-up of science fiction and fantasy presented with a unique voice. And I mean “weird” in the best possible way. Highly recommended if you’re looking for something different, something simultaneously imaginary and realistic.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. ButlerParable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (Published 11/1/1993)

It’s always bittersweet to read a new-to-me author praised as a master of their craft. I’m overjoyed to have FINALLY read one of their works; I’m also sad because I wish I would’ve read them decades earlier, especially in my tweens and teens. At the age when I so desperately wanted stories with strong female characters who weren’t white Mary Sues nor obsessed with romance. Lauren Olamina is forthright, loyal, rational…all qualities I look for in my real-life friendships. She’s the kind of leader a non-follower like myself would be proud to join on any quest.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

Where Futures End by Parker PeevyhouseWhere Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse (Published 2/9/2016)

Young adult dystopia. I can almost hear the eye rolls. 😉 But don’t let the saturated genre fool ya; this is young adult literature for the thinking teen (or adult). There’s time travel, an alternate universe and some scary ideas of just how far social media and corporate sponsorship could go. The author has described it as”Donnie Darko + Cloud Atlas.” Recommended to readers who like interconnected stories, non-linear narratives, and generally hard to label books.

My Review | Add it on LibraryThing | Add it on Goodreads

Honorable Mentions:
Weird Girl and What’s His Name by Meagan Brothers
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Top 5 Books Read in 2015
Top 5 Books Read in 2014
Top 5 Books Read in 2013
Top 5 Books Read in 2012

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Rating: 4.5 of 5

All the Birds in the Sky was the first 2016 release I absolutely did not want to put down until I was finished. It was so weird, in that brilliant way I always hope to find in a new-to-me author’s work. The seamless blending of magic and science, the absolutely believable relationship between Patricia and Laurence, the ethical dilemmas of their gifts and those effects on the world… How does one review a book that itself refuses to be crammed into one neat little “normal” box? Loved it!

Highly recommended if you’re looking for something different, something simultaneously imaginary and realistic.

One of my favorite quotes from the book, spoken by my absolute LEAST favorite character, Patricia’s sister:

You never learned the secret,” said Roberta. “How to be a crazy motherf***ker and get away with it. Everybody else does it. What, you didn’t think they were all sane, did you? Not a one of them. They’re all crazier than you and me put together. They just know how to fake it. You could too, but you’ve chosen to torture all of us instead. That’s the definition of evil right there: not faking it like everybody else. Because all of us crazy f***kers can’t stand it when someone else lets their crazy show. It’s like bugs under the skin. We have to destroy you. It’s nothing personal.

My only nitpick was that, once again, during childhood and young adulthood both characters had absolutely NO adults (including and especially their parents) who believed them, supported them, got them. I guess “us against the world” is a great way to bond two people, but it’s a pet peeve of mine with a lot of the fiction I read.

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(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)