This week's prompt is pretty self-explanatory. The only thing I'd like to clarify is that these are the best books I read in 2016 and most were not published this year. The list is in no particular order. Mostly. Here goes...
1) The Round House by Louise Erdrich
GENRE: Fiction, Adult
So most of this list is not in a particular order but The Round House was definitely the best book I read this year. Part mystery, part coming-of-age tale, part social justice instructive and all of it so beautifully written, encompassing both heartbreak and humor. It was the only book to get a five star rating from me this year.
2) The Passage (The Passage #1) by Justin Cronin
GENRE: Horror, Dystopian Sci-Fi, Adult
I spent the first section of this book rolling my eyes at all the literariness of it and was tempted to put it aside. Then, everyone turns into vampires and we nuke ourselves and it became a totally brilliant read. It's not a particularly original story but it's well told and the characters, relationships and settings are riveting. One caveat, is that I have not run right out to pick up the next book in the trilogy so I guess I wasn't that riveted but still an all around fantastic read.
3) Diplomatic Immunity (Miles Vorkosigan #13) by Lois McMaster Bujold
GENRE: Sci-Fi (Space Opera), Adult
I should just reserve a spot on this list each year for LMB. She is always blowing me away (though I read another book this year which was the first by her I didn't like- horrors). This is a convoluted mystery story set on a space station supporting a very diverse community - something most Barrayarans find unsettling at best. But Miles Vorkosigan isn't your average Barrayaran and his hyper and intelligent mind is fully engaged solving this mystery and bringing it to a diplomatically neutral if not positive conclusion for his home planet. This is the first book after Miles has gotten married and the way LMB subtly shifts how she writes his character is a pleasure to behold.
4) Lost Stars by Claudia Gray
GENRE: Sci-Fi, Media Tie-in (Star Wars), YA (?)
This was my first Star Wars Tie-in novel and it was so fantastic and didn't even involve any of the main characters from the franchise. It's a Romeo and Juliet inspired love story set against the backdrop of the war between the Rebels and the Empire. I love how it brought into focus the average Janes and Joes of these two fighting forces.
5) Saga, Deluxe Edition, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
GENRE: Graphic Novel, Sci-Fi, Adult
Yes, I know, I am WAY behind the times on this one but everyone was absolutely right. It is brilliant and beautiful. Definitely the best Graphic Novel I read this year.
6) The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
GENRE: Fiction, Historical, Adult, Fairy-Tale/Fable/Folk Tale
About a childless middle-aged couple homesteading in Alaska during the 1920s who adopt a little girl who mysteriously and suddenly appears in the winter woods around their house one day. The wilderness imagery is gorgeous, and the details about surviving in such a harsh climate are a wonderful backdrop to this character story about two people slowly finding themselves and each other. Beautiful.
7) Longbourn by Jo Baker
GENRE: Fiction, Historical, Fan-fiction, Adult
This is the story of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice told from the perspective of a servant in the Bennet's household. It strikes a completely different tone than Jane Austen and doesn't try to mimic her writing - it's a completely original story set in the same universe. It worked really well for me, even though it threw many of my favorite P&P characters into an unflattering light.
8) The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
GENRE: Fantasy, YA, Fairy-Tale/Fable/Folk-tale
My favorite YA read this year and a stand-alone from Maggie Stiefvater. She writes characters and settings like nobody else and this book showcases that talent to perfection. Plus there are marine, flesh-eating horses to make sure it stays interesting!
9) Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
GENRE: Romance, Historical, Adult
This is a classic of the Regency Romance sub-genre but I just discovered it this year and loved it. Rather shockingly the male protagonist takes center stage (highly irregular) and he is a HUGE douche-nozzle and somehow Loretta Chase made me love every second reading about him. How did she DO that? It is partly due to the brilliant heroine, Jessica Trent who is more than a match for her difficult romantic interest.
10) The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
GENRE: Fantasy, Historical, Adult (?)
Again, I am way behind the times with this book but I am glad I finally got to it this year. It's so original, and difficult to describe. It's an immigrants tale, an outsiders tale, a romance, a coming of age tale and a story of turn of the century New York. I loved it!
Here are a few more titles that it kills me not to include but they fell just outside the top ten:
Honorable Mention: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro, Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, Sawbones by Melissa Lenhardt, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
All in all, while all of these books were great, it was a so-so reading year. My average star-rating this year according to goodreads was a 3.3. Ouch. Though I should clarify that a 3 is not a bad book for me - it's a book I like and enjoyed reading but just didn't have that unique something or give me an exceptional reading experience.
How was your reading year? Have you read any of these books and what do you think of them?