Alanna’s Top 16 of 2016

To celebrate the end of what has certainly been a tumultuous year, I have decided to create this little list featuring my favourite books of 2016. In order to qualify for this list, the book must have been published between January 1st 2016 and December 31st, 2016.

In addition, all books featured on this books are books I have personally read – meaning that any books I have not read were not taken into consideration during the creation of this list. That being said, most of these book are Young Adult, Fantasy and/or Science Fiction novels!

Reviews for books I have previously reviewed can be found by clicking on the links below – if there’s a book on this list that does not have a link to a review, don’t worry! I will be posting even more reviews in the New Year! 

  1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  2. An Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (Spoiler-free review can be found here)
  3. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  4. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
  5. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  6. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
  7. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
  8. Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima
  9. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
  10. Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott
  11. Morningstar by Pierce Brown
  12. The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
  13. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
  14. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
  15. Spindle by E.K. Johnston
  16. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Spindle (Kingdom of Sleep) by E.K. Johnston

Disclaimer: I did not realize until I was well into Spindle (Kingdom of Sleep) by E.K. Johnston that A Thousand Nights (also by E.K. Johnston) was a companion novel which takes place prior to this one. That being said, I do not think that having not read A Thousand Nights detracted from how much I enjoyed SpindleSpindle is perhaps the most enjoyable retelling I have read from the genre in a long time.

The world is made safe by a woman…but it is a very big world. It has been generations since the Storyteller Queen drove the demon out of her husband and saved her country from fire and blood. Her family has prospered beyond the borders of their village, and two new kingdoms have sprouted on either side of the mountains where the demons are kept prisoner by bright iron, and by the creatures the Storyteller Queen made to keep them contained. But the prison is crumbling. Through years of careful manipulation, a demon has regained her power. She has made one kingdom strong and brought the other to its knees, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When a princess is born, the demon is ready with the final blow: a curse that will cost the princess her very soul, or force her to destroy her own people to save her life. The threads of magic are tightly spun, binding princess and exiled spinners into a desperate plot to break the curse before the demon can become a queen of men. But the web of power is dangerously tangled–and they may not see the true pattern until it is unspooled. (Chapters.Indigo.ca)

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MINI MONDAY: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

The Valiant is a new novel in the Young Adult Fantasy genre by Lesley Livingston, set to release on February 14th, 2017. I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Reader Copy, and with my head full of promises about female gladiators and deadly conflict, I dove right in! And despite some minor flaws in the writing style/plot pacing, The Valiant certainly lived up to my expectations!

“Are you a weapon or target?” – Lesley Livingston (The Valiant)

The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha’s legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle. On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father’s royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon’s worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival. Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant. (Chapters.Indigo.ca)

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The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

After finishing The Wrath and the Dawn, by Renee Ahdieh, I could hardly wait to pick up The Rose and the Dagger. I had been blown away by the simplistic, yet simultaneously complex nature of the plot, which revolved around Shahrzad (Shazi) and Khalid’s love, and the curse which had brought them together. The Rose and the Dagger is much of the same, yet now, as Shazi and Khalid struggle to find a way to be together and break the curse, the aspect of political intrigue has heightened.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan. While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love. (Chapters.Indigo.ca)

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Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Set in the world of the Seven Realms series, a generation later, Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima is a tale of magic, danger, espionage, and daring teens toeing the line between life and death as they push back at their oppressor. Flamecaster is a stunning debut to a new series by Cinda Williams Chima, picking up a quarter decade after the concluding events of the Seven Realms series. Cleverly written, and well executed, with just the right amount of intrigue and action, Flamecaster is not to be missed.

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now he’s closer than ever to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. With time running out, Ash faces an excruciating choice: Can he use his powers not to save a life but to take it? Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught. Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the ruthless king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine (Summary from chapters.indigo.ca).

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I picked A Darker Shade of magic by V.E. Schwab up a couple months ago from the Book Outlet, but didn’t have a chance to read it right away due to my busy school schedule. But once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down- this book is a rare piece of modern New Adult Fantasy which cleverly weaves a daring, complex plot between worlds to create something truly remarkable.

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” – A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Travelers-magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes, connected by one magical city. There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad king-George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered-and where Kell was raised alongside Rhys Maresh, the rougish heir to a flourishing empire. White London-a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now. Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

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MINI MONDAY: Paper Princess by Erin Watt

After seeing this book floating around online, I finally decided to pick it up, despite my general apprehension about the lack luster description. And honestly, I feel that my apprehension was well founded, as Paper Princess turned out to be nothing more than a piece of angsty, poorly written smut for teens.

From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself. Ella Harper is a survivor-a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone. Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from. Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals. He might be right. Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.

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