Best Books · favorites · Uncategorized

Best of 2016!

2016 wasn’t an amazing reading year but no matter what kind of reading year it is, a few will always emerge as my favorites. Eve @ Eve Messenger’s Otherworldly Endeavors kindly tagged me in a “Best of 2016” tag and I’m going to try and incorporate it into my favorites!

So here are some of the best that will not be mentioned in my favorites.

Books so Fun They Felt Like Reading Parties

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The main character reminds me of the bitch from Cats Don’t Dance both physically and personality wise. This graphic novel also reminds me a lot of Wreck it Ralph but for adults.

 

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omg she was so evil..
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Excerpt (my picture)
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There’s a princess, dragons, a prince, political scheming and old-school fantasy characters. Young Carolyn would have been ecstatic. Present Carolyn was still pretty ecstatic

 

 

Best Female Protagonist

Is it weird to say that my favorite is Wonder Woman? I found and fell in love with her this year. She stands for everything I have come to love in my changing life: wonder and courage but also the utmost compassion.

Best Book Boyfriend

Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables. I just think he is funny but also very honorable and loyal. I love him.

Best Cover

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Look how gorgeous this Puffin edition is?? I borrowed it from library just so I can take pictures of it. Oh and read it.
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How exquisite.

Favorite Audiobook

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I kind of love her voice and her sarcasm “voice” is so similar to mine.

The #1 Book No One Else Seems to Like But Me

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Plenty of people like this book I know but just as many people don’t like it. 

I’m also adding categories:

Best Play

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An unexpected look at the different ways people deal with grief. 

Best Graphic Novels

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I’ve read so many WW comics this year and I don’t understand why this character is so hard to write about. But thankfully this one did not disappoint.
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I like the idea of your future self meeting your younger self which is exactly what I got in this sequel. Also a ton of action and a stellar ending.

Now on to my favorites of 2016!! I’ve only included 8 this year and there was never any doubt that they would end up on this list. Banners will all link to my review =)

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Best Small Press Standalone

Author: Silvia Moreno Garcia

I find it funny how glad I am to leave my high school days behind but somehow want to read about characters that are finding themselves in high school settings. Maybe it’s the accuracy and grace with which Garcia portrays teens with a not-so-great home life navigating high school. But I think more than anything, I love coming-of-age stories that illustrate friendship in all its frustrations but ultimately its glories. A stand out story that features magical realism and the weaving of folklore and music.

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Author: Shaun David Hutchinson

I just loved my coming-of-age this year. Like Signal to Noise, it’s not a straight up contemporary but includes hints of science fiction that blend together so nicely with its more realistic aspects. This book is standout among its type because it gives layers to all of its characters, the bully is not just the bully because there needs to be a bully in a YA contemporary and the brother doesn’t exist just to be an asshole, even if you don’t like them, you can sometimes glimpse an understanding of them. It is pessimistic but inspiring all at once and so genuinely written, it will be hard not to love.

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Best Plot Twist

Author: Marisha Pessl

Night Film was so deliciously creepy and eerie. I loved the mystery, the suspense and that plot twist at the end was so mind boggling. And to top it all off, it gives such a unique reading experience with its addition of articles and blogs and photos interspersed throughout.

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Best Worldbuilding

Best Setting

Author: Becky Chambers

Whenever I think about this book, I think about how wondrous this world really is (as cheesy as that sounds). It’s also one of those books where you just sit in awe at how they could create a world like this, a world so teeming with possibility and comfort you kind fo wish it was real. Becky Chambers just turns your expectations of gender, orientation, culture, and identity upside down in the most unexpected and wonderful ways possible. It sort of harkens back to what Star Trek use to be, a low-stakes (for the most part) heartwarming scifi opera.

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Author: Jung Yun

As Shelter progressed, it grew a lot more intense that I expected. There’s that sense of claustrophobia and ominous foreboding. The main character is also deeply flawed as main characters go but what it does best is explore the intersection of family fidelity and individualism that a lot of Asian cultures face and explores the extent of human endurance.

It’s down to my last three!! Let’s go…

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Best Sequel

Author: Libba Bray

Libba Bray’s writing is so, so underrated. It takes a couple of years between her books but you know that each second of her writing time is dedicated to details of making 1920’s New York seem as real as possible. I also really respect the diversity of her characters and that she doesn’t blame the historical period for not including people from other walks of life.

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Favorite Series

Author: Marie Rutkoski

This is the third book in The Winner’s Trilogy and while I loved her writing in the previous two books, this third book just showcases how exquisite her writing is. It just hits all the sentimentality and the dramatic that I love in writing. The plot was even more intense than ever and it was almost the perfect conclusion I wanted from this series. Kestrel will always remain one of my favorite female characters of all time. I will be rereading this series for many years to come.

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Most Devastating Read

Author: Bryan Stevenson

I always save my favorite book for something that worms its way into my heart and opens it in unexpected ways. Last year, it was A Little Life and this year, it’s no less emotional in Just Mercy. This book talks about those who have always been sidelined and talks about them with such compassion. This book broke my heart and really forced me to think about the laws that I have always  stood by and turned them upside down.

Those are my favorite books of 2016! I’m accompanied with that same sense of sadness and hope that follows me at the end of every year. Let me know what you think of my choices. I want to thank you all for reading my blog this year. I have so many plans for this blog for next year and I hope you’ll be there with me. I hope you’re having a wonderful New Year’s Eve and I will see you next year in 2017 😉

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book review · Uncategorized

Book Review: We are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

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Title: We are the Ants

Author: Shaun David Hutchinson

Genre: YA, scifi, contemporary

Pages: 455

Synopsis: Goodreads

Rating: tealstartealstartealstartealstar

 


 

If you knew the world was ending and you could save it by pressing a button, would you?

To be honest, if given the choice, some days I don’t think I would press the button. Those are probably the days I remember that I have no job, that my future is uncertain, that my relationship with my mom is rocky and awkward at best and that my dad is struggling with dementia and seizures on a daily basis. The easy days are obviously easy but what happens on my darkest days? When my problems seem too much to bear and I feel trapped and it’d be easier to just let go? Is this world worth it?

Our main character, Henry Denton seeks to answer these questions. To be quite frank, I can see why he initially doesn’t want to have anything to do with his life anymore. His mom is always stressed from work; his grandmother is suffering from worsening dementia; his brother Charlie, who is going to be a father soon, bullies him mercilessly; the school bully Marcus repeatedly beats him up. He has no friends and and an all consuming guilt  about his boyfriend Jesse’s suicide. Oh, and to top if off, aliens are kidnapping him at random times to do experiments on him and gives him the choice of whether or not to save the world in 144 days. Joy.

The aliens (scifi) comprise only about 3% of the book, the rest is 97% YA contemporary as we follow Henry and see he struggles with asking why his boyfriend would leave him in this world alone and coming to terms about the fact that sometimes there are things that are not his fault. The aliens are really only used as a framing device (and a good one at that) to provide a sense of urgency and realness to the question. It’s one thing for a teenage main character to think about ending the world (he’s not) and another to actually be burdened with the real choice. It really gives a magnitude to the struggles that Henry is facing and a sense of responsibility to Henry.

So this book is mostly YA contemporary. YA contemporaries can easily delve into melodrama, pretentiousness, oversimplification, or worst of all, falsely and forcefully inspirational and there were times when I thought this book was borderline two of the above but it saves itself. There are 2 reasons for this. One is Henry’s narrative voice. His perspective is the perfect balance of sarcastic, biting humor and open honesty.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to believe Charlie and I come from the same parents. I’m tall, he’s short; I’m skinny, he used to be muscular, though most of it turned to fat after high school; I can count to five without using my fingers. . . . Charlie has fingers.”

But I felt for him because he always insists his struggles don’t matter and he goes about his life just trying to survive when I thought he deserved so much more. But even as I hated some of the secondary characters particularly Marcus and his brother, I realize that none of them exist just to give Henry a hard time and make him want to end the world. Every single secondary character gets their own moments to shine and it somehow feels satisfying and so real and not something the author just made up for convenience to the story. That’s when you know an author respects the characters he writes.

The second reason is, the book doesn’t pretend that everything is fine or will ever be fine. It knows that life doesn’t exist as one clear-cut problem and then a clear-cut solution. There’s only problems and possibly routes to solutions and sometimes there is no solution and I appreciated that honesty a lot.

“The universe may forget us, but it doesn’t matter.Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.”

So does Henry end up pressing that button? I think you already know. But how Henry finds his silver lining is just one of the things that make this book worth reading.

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