It’s almost the end of 2016 and what a year it has been. I’m not going to lie and pretend it has been anything but awful, but that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been good times in between all the rubbish. Quite a lot of the good times for me have been book related – YALC in July was definitely an absolute highlight and my Top 10 list includes books I would probably never have picked up if I hadn’t gone.
Before I start, I must give a special mention to the book that stole title of most ridiculous book of the year by miles. Surprisingly it wasn’t any of the ones I DNF but was a Book Club read that I persevered with because Book Club. God Don’t Like Ugly is one of the most frustrating things I have ever read. And I’m not going to say any more because I already ranted about it the other day!
So, on with the proper list! I will go in reverse order this year:
#10: Buckyball by Fabien Roy
I read and reviewed Buckyball back in April and really enjoyed it, even though it took a while for me to get into it and it was totally weird. I probably wouldn’t have predicted it making it onto my Top 10 list back then but the ideas and characters from it have stuck in my head ever since and I’ve caught myself pondering the book multiple times. Well worth picking up and sticking with through the start where you have no idea what is going on!!
#9: Close Your Pretty Eyes by Sally Nicholls
This tops my list for favourite cover of the year – it’s properly creepy with the other side of the front cover being like the other side of the window only the image of the face is different. Genius and so well thought through. Close Your Pretty Eyes was cleverly unnerving with a possibly unreliable narrator, a real-life ghost story and beautiful writing – I kept wanting to pick it up and read on well after I finished it.
#8: Demon Road by Derek Landy
This comes in at number two on the cover front – this picture doesn’t show just how SHINY SHINY it is in real life. I’m a sucker for shiny. Cover aside, Demon Road was one I bought off the back of a book trailer I saw at YALC – another thing I am a sucker for is Classic Dodge cars and demons. This book has lots of both. I loved the action-packed road-trip adventure, I loved the main characters and I loved the well-structured mythology it was all based around. I do now require to source the other two books in the trilogy though… and they’d better be all shiny as well – my bookshelf needs more shiny.
#7: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page
My friend very kindly bought me a copy of this (yet another fantastic cover!) and it lived up to the good things I had heard about it. I really enjoyed the twisted take on the story of Oz – where Dorothy, Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man are not all they seemed in the original. It made perfect sense as well – the poison of power and popularity can warp even the kindest of people after all. A great adventure with lots of attitude and personality but a killer cliff-hanger ending. I really, really need to get my paws on the rest of the series!
#6: Room by Emma Donoghue
Liberty told me I needed to read this one and I had heard a few good things about it, both the book and the film versions, so I was happy to pick it up. (It was also my 52nd book of 2016 – not bad for a year I was planning to only read 36 books in!) After 10 pages, I was fairly certain that I wasn’t going to finish – the narrative style felt jarring and hard to concentrate on… then I almost finished it in one sitting and had to force myself to go to bed at half past one in the morning and finish it the next day instead. Thought provoking, tense, heart-breaking, wonderful and full to the brim of humanity of all kinds, Room is well worth picking up and persevering with through the first few pages of getting used to Jack’s narrative style.
#5: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This was the first book read by our Book Club when we started up in October and it was a great on to start on. A book I had been meaning to read since forever (first year of uni I think… so 10 years or so) and was pleased to finally get lost in it. It utterly broke me, I cried solidly for about the last quarter of the book having sniffled a few times before that point. The guy opposite me on the train when I was reading it looked properly awkward as I sat there enthralled with tears pouring down my face! (I reviewed it here.)
#4: The Graces by Laure Eve
Another YALC book – I had heard of it before I went but then the beautiful proofs were there and the teaser tidbits they fed us made me really want to read it. Then it came in my first Illumicrate delivery and I *may* have squealed with glee. Witches but not like I’d read about witches before, lots of attitude, mysteries, secrets and twists – The Graces really captured my imagination and I can’t wait for the next instalment to arrive so I can get lost in their world again.
Coming in at #3 is: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
This series ❤ I read this in the run up to YALC because I knew Holly Bourne was going to be one of the authors there. It turned out that I picked it up at just the right time. I was having a rubbish few weeks with my anxiety and depression and Am I Normal Yet? felt like both a cuddle and a girly sleepover with my best friends and afterwards I felt a whole lot better about the world and myself. The rest of the series are just as great and Holly was super lovely when I spoke to her at YALC.
I failed to decide between these last two for my number one read so they can be joint first. They were both brilliant books.
Joint #1: Girl Detached by Manuela Salvi
Banned in Manuela Salvi’s native Italy for being too ‘dangerous’, Girl Detached is a book that needs to be read. It is bold, beautiful and brave, tackling the subject of grooming and the underage sex business head on. The story is unsettling and tense whilst being honest to the innocence and naivety of many sixteen year old girls – it was alarmingly easy to put sixteen year old me in Aleksandra’s place. The story is a real page turner even though the subject is hard to read about, I didn’t want to put it down until I finished – I needed to know what was happening next all the time. Don’t be put off that it’s going to be all dark and horrible – there are funny moments and sweet moments and flashes of love, hope and sweetness throughout. And the writing is eloquent and easy to read, Manuela Salvi and her translator have clearly worked very hard on getting the English language story as good as it can be. And it is VERY good.
Joint #1: Blame by Simon Mayo
I read this back in Summer and I have been tempted to pick it up and reread it about once a month ever since. I can’t get it out of my head, the ideas were just so worryingly plausible and utterly horrible that the story has lingered constantly. I reviewed Blame in September and I still love it as much now as I did back then, I love the look of the cover in my shelf and the characters in my head. A vision of the not-too-distant future that I hope and pray never comes to pass but wouldn’t be all that surprised if it, or something similar, did. You need to pick up this heart-breaking, exciting, fast-paced dystopian novel and read it. You won’t regret it.