2016 felt like a year in which I didn’t do a lot of reading. I hit my Goodreads goal of 80 books, and passed it by some, but that pales in comparison to the 150 books I read in 2013, for example. I was also a total slacker in the reviewing game, so you may not have seen my name around a lot. As it turns out, working full time and trying to finish my second Master’s Degree ate up all of the time that I used to spend on leisure and review reading. However, I like to think that having to be choosier with my reading time meant that I made stronger choices in 2016, although I think it limited my variety. I could have filled this list with far more than ten books, especially if I had included titles that were published outside of this year. However, I managed to prune it down to to the best of the best. Here in (almost) no particular order, are my top ten.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
I love this book so much it hurts me. It has ruined me for other books. I’ll admit it has flaws, but like any woman in love, I’m willing to overlook those and focus on the overwhelming good. Josh and Lucy are the quirkiest, greatest, over-the-top adorable couple that have given me a permanent taste for enemies-to-lovers books, red lipstick, and strawberries.
Brutal Game by Cara McKenna
I’m always leery of sequels, by McKenna did not disappoint at all with this chance to revisit Flynn and Laurel. This book made me cry, which is always a compliment from me. You can read my full review of it, if you want more on how much I loved Brutal Game.
The Raven King by Maggie Steifvater
This was a strange, dark, but sometimes happy end to a strange, dreamlike series that I have up-and-down feelings about. One thing I can say for certain is that no one in the YA game is writing quite like Maggie Steifvater. I sometimes think it’s worth reading the entire series just to experience the second book, The Dream Thieves. I went in with no real concept of how she would tie up the world and mythology that had been created, and came out not totally certain how it had all worked, but like a dream, that is part of the experience.
Stay Until We Break by Mercy Brown
I enjoyed both of Brown’s 2016 releases, but this one hedged out Loud is How I Love You in heroine likeability, at least to me. The 90’s band-life setting is immersive and thrums with verisimilitude. Major props to Brown for doing New Adult in a way that is different and interesting, and will make you want to run away on tour in the back of a van.
Overexposed by Megan Erickson
Really, I could have put every Erickson book on my top list, but I narrowed it down to (only?) three. I have loved the entire In Focus series, and this one was no different. The element of hiking adding a new flair that I felt like combined Cheryl Strayed’s Wild with a lovely m/m romance.A/BN/iB/K
I had to verify that, yes, both of these really came out in 2016. First of all, dang Megan Erickson is prolific! I loved both of these books and since I couldn’t decide which I liked more, I had to add both. Both center around online romances that are very true to modern technology, which I love. Boys meeting on a dating app? Hooking up over video chat? How awesome! Maybe I’m biased because I met my own love online, but I think romances for the digital age are fantastic.
The Wedding Pact by Katee Robert
I have enjoyed this entire series and I’m not sure I can pick a favorite, but The Wedding Pact was my favorite of the two that came out in 2016. I had been looking forward to Carrigan and James’s story since their hookup in the previous book, and I loved how their story played out.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
This combined two opposing elements for me: Marissa Meyer, who I adore, and Alice in Wonderland retellings, which I normally don’t. I’m a huge Alice fan and almost every retelling, revisiting, adaptation, etc. I have ever seen has left me disappointed. I always feel that authors don’t understand the essence of Carroll’s story, which isn’t darkness, but rather trickery of language, mathematics, and more. Meyer seemed to really capture that same feeling. There is fun wordplay, and plenty of whimsy, without feeling obnoxious. The love story was charming and cute, if a bit tragic. Of course, you know when you’re reading the origin story of the Queen of Hearts that it probably won’t be a Happily Ever After.
Downtown Devil by Cara McKenna
McKenna makes another appearance on my list, but for a totally different type of book. I have a full review of this book, and an interview with the author, if you really want to delve into my feelings about it. All I will say is that I felt like she managed to take something that could easily be a very surface subject, M/F/M erotica, and turn it into a deep tangle of emotion.