Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Best Books I've Read in 2016 (So Far)

It's that time of year again- it's hard to believe more than half of 2016 is over, but a quick consult with the calendar confirms it. So far, I've read 48 books this year- fewer than other years, but I don't recall having this many 5 Star ratings from the beginning of other years, either.

FYI: An asterisk* indicates I have a review for the title. All other links go to Goodreads.


Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy #2)* by Robin Hobb
Rating: 5 Stars
Obviously, this one won my affections by having a wolf companion in it, but also because Fitz really came into his own with this book, which made it much more palatable to me. In the first book, he was a bit of a blank slate character and not the brightest (though he was a child).

Assassin's Quest (Farseer Trilogy #3) by Robin Hobb
Rating: 5 Stars
The end of this trilogy overwhelmed me to the point that I still haven't reviewed it. You'll see this recur in many other books I've rated five stars- it's difficult to explain why I love them so much. I did manage a simple quote review on Goodreads (as in one quote from the book that pretty much sums up my feelings for the book).

Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1)* by Robin Hobb
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Assassin's Apprentice was an exceptional fantasy read for me because prior to 2016, I was in a bit of a fantasy slump. Yes, I followed fantasy series, but usually I'm able to find other, new to me fantasy series to enjoy. That didn't happen until this year, when I finally broke down and read some Robin Hobb books. You may notice that fantasy has the most recommendations this year, and it's because I was able to break free of that genre slump.

Although I did also read The Liveship Traders Trilogy* after the Farseer Trilogy, I was not as impressed with it, nor did I like the last book of that series as much as I thought I would. It is also recommended, but I didn't want a huge wall of Robin Hobb recs to dominate this post.

Thorn by Intisar Khanani
Sunbolt (The Sunbolt Chronicles #1)* by Intisar Khanani
Memories of Ash (The Sunbolt Chronicles #2) by Intisar Khanani
Rating: 4-4.5 Stars (all the books are highly recommended)
Generally, I don't read Young Adult books- I guess I like my blood, gore, and gray areas too much. But I had Thorn recommended to me by several bloggers as one not to miss, so I grudgingly bought it and expected to be disappointed. I wasn't- Thorn is a beautifully written fairytale retelling. Since I liked Thorn, I bought the author's other series, The Sunbolt Chronicles, and read that- which I also greatly enjoyed. If you like a unique take on fantasy, look no further.

Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire #1)* by Michael J. Sullivan
Rating: 4 Stars
The only reason I picked this one up off of NetGalley was that some other Goodreads user loved it, and we have similar taste. I was truly impressed with the worldbuilding and characters, though I wish some of the stock fantasy tropes hadn't appeared. Nonetheless, this is still an excellent series starter.

Rating: 4 Stars
I was recommended The Silvered by Tanya Huff by someone (not sure who), but I couldn't find it at a decent price, so I settled for Sing the Four Quarters. I didn't expect a pregnant heroine to be able to work as a character in traditional fantasy, but Annice proved me wrong. Beyond your average fantasy, you can expect a few laughs with this one- Annice and Pjerin are simply the perfect adventuring duo.

Urban Fantasy:

Fate's Edge (The Edge #3) by Ilona Andrews
The Edge Series by Ilona Andrews (On The Edge*, Bayou Moon*, Fate's Edge, and Steel's Edge)
Ratings: On The Edge 4.5 Stars, Bayou Moon 4 Stars, Fate's Edge 5 Stars, Steel's Edge 4.5 Stars
I didn't know too much about the Edge series before buying it at Better World Books, other than my favorite author team wrote it and I would read anything they had written. This is urban fantasy with a bit of paranormal romance to spice it up, though I think fans of both genres will find something to like about it. In my case, it was the pet raccoon and con/thievery of book 3, Fate's Edge, but honestly, each of these books has something to celebrate for those who love strong heroines. I highly recommend reading them in order, because there are occurrences in previous books that last 'til the last book.

Vision in Silver (The Others #3)* by Anne Bishop
Rating: 4 Stars
This series continues to be one of my favorites, though the first book has yet to be matched in quality (in my humble opinion). Still, if you like urban fantasy beings that have an animal side and/or characteristics, this series might be something for you to look into. Also, Wolf puppies.

Science Fiction:

The Xenogenesis Triad (AKA Lilith's Brood) by Octavia E. Butler
Rating: Dawn 3.5 Stars, Adulthood Rites 4 Stars, Imago 4 Stars
Some days I'm really glad aliens don't exist (or if they do, they run minimum interference- like causing Brexit and creating Donald Trump). The Xenogenesis series shows the myriad reactions humanity might have if aliens were to try and take over, in a realistic way. I prefered the last two books in the series due to Lilith being so frozen that she was difficult to relate to.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Rating: 4 Stars
Though I never got around to writing a review for this one it was a fun dystopian/video game romp. Also, if you love the '80s, there are '80s references galore.

Alternate History/Steampunk:

The Custodian of Marvels (Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire #3)* by Rod Duncan
Rating: 5 Stars
I hadn't expected to rate this one 5 Stars, but it snuck up on me and satisfied all my wants for the plot (and wants I didn't know I had). If you like historical fiction and urban fantasy, and a little mystery, this series is definitely for you.

Wild Seed (Patternmaster #1)* by Octavia E. Butler
Rating: 4 Stars
Another of Octavia E. Butler's works I picked up recently, Wild Seed experiments with similar themes as the Xenogenesis triad, with no alien interference. Instead of aliens playing God, there are humans who have special abilities. And instead of being set in the future (like X Men), this is set in the past, making it an alternate history.

Historical Fiction/Classics:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Rating: 5 Stars
I still can't fully grasp why I love this book so much, but somehow it garnered a five star rating from me, despite having a myriad variety of bad relationships and domestic abuse. However, it's beautifully written and has a strong heroine, and despite some of my lingering grievances, it was just perfectly imperfect.

Pride and Prejudice* by Jane Austen
Rating: 4 Stars
I have finally read this book! And I even liked it! I was worried I wouldn't like it, having watched every Pride and Prejudice adaptation beforehand, but I was able to enjoy this book for what it was. One scene in particular made it for me, despite my ambivalence to Elizabeth Bennet.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Rating: 4 Stars
Though I thought I published a review on this, I hadn't fully completed it, leading me to look rather disappointed in my brain as far as remembrance goes. Anyway, this is the first Toni Morrison book I've enjoyed reading and actually "got something" from. The Bluest Eye has some harsh content, but it is remarkably insightful on racism, and on things like that I hadn't even thought of before. I don't think I'll look at Shirley Temple in quite the same way as before again.

The Vagrants* by Yiyun Li
Rating: 4 Stars
A gorgeously penned look at China in the late 1970s, The Vagrants has a lot going for it, especially if you like historical fiction. However, this is another one of those books whose content snuck up on me, as I didn't expect to read some of the scenes of sexual assault. But if you're willing to read that sort of thing, this is one of the more memorable books I've read this year.

Magical Realism:

The Incarnations* by Susan Barker
Rating: 4 Stars
This isn't a magical realism for those who can't read disturbing content. I give that disclaimer first, because though I was warned, it is a bit more than I had anticipated. Nonetheless, the concept of soulmates being reincarnated to different ages and sometimes, but not always recognizing each other is worth a read for those of you who can tolerate graphic content.

Historical Romance:

Virtuous Scoundrel (The Regency Romp Trilogy #2) by Maggie Fenton
Rating: 4 Stars
Though not quite as magnificently hilarious as its predecessor*, this book still had me laughing much more than your average historical romance. I think why I didn't like it quite as much is that it's shorter than The Duke's Holiday, which gave me more time to get to know the characters. I would recommend reading The Duke's Holiday first, since there is a bit of setup in it that will help this book make a lot more sense.

My Reading Stats for 2016 (So Far):

Books Read: 48
Pages Read: 17,502 pages (according to Goodreads)

Rating Index:
5 Stars: 5!
4-4.5 Stars: 23
3-3.5 Stars: 16
2-2.5 Stars: 4
0 1 Star Ratings!

Book Stats:
Has a Diverse Main Character: 13
Doesn't Have a Diverse MC: 35
Female Main Character: 24
Male Main Character: 7
Gender-Neutral/Genderless Main Character: 1
Pair and/or Group of Female/Male Main Characters: 16
 Autobiography: 1
 Biography: 1
 Classics: 2
 Contemporary Romance: 1
 Fantasy: 10
 Folk Tales: 1
 Historical Fiction: 3
 Historical Romance: 11
 Magical Realism: 1
 Paranormal/Horror: 1
 Sci-fi: 5
 Steampunk/Alt History: 2
 Urban Fantasy: 8
Published in 2016: 7
Published in 2000-2015: 22
Published in 1990s: 8
Published in 1980s: 4
Published in 1970s: 1
Published in 1960s: 2
Published in 1930s: 1
Published in 1800s: 2
Self-Published, Small Press, or Other: 3
Traditionally Published: 45
Series Books: 34
Standalones: 14
Ebook Version: 29
Paper Version: 19
From the-pile: 13
From the-invisible-pile: 17
Recently acquired: 18
Added to the-invisible-pile: 19
Books bought: 50

Author Stats (1 = 1 book read by x author):
Male: 7
Female: 37
Male/Female Team: 4
Diverse: 13
Not-so-Diverse: 35
Living: 38
Deceased: 10

Have you read any of the books I've listed before? What are some of the best books you've read this year?


  1. First of all, while it is still in my mind, I want to THANK YOU for putting links to all the books in your posts; even when there is a bazilliin of them. All of a sudden there have been numerous blogs I have visited that are not linking books. Some aren't even bothering to link one measly book on their Waiting on Wednesday post! At first I thought it might be a newbie thing, but I have noticed many veteran bloggers starting to do it, too. *big frowny face* Rant over; ha ha, but still... thank you. I added The Incarnations to my Goodreads tbr. I will be hopping over to your review. There are no series numbers, but the readers who were talking on GR were talking about others. Are there companion books? A lot of people have seemed to like the Sunbolt books better, but my favorite of the three remains Thorn. I think I might read it for the third time sometime next year. I have tried to read Pride and Prejudice FOUR TIMES! I even tried a different Austen, which right now I cannot recall the title of, thinking it was only that particular story I was haviung a problem with, but I didn't like that one either. I love all of the movies and miniseries based on her books, though, so go figure. It must be her writing style. It looks like you have been having a good reading year so far. I want to compare mine to what it was last year at this time. Wonderful post. :)

    1. That is frustrating- I hate when people link to Amazon in lieu of Goodreads too- I usually look at a couple different reviews from a source I consider unbiased before putting something on my wishlist. I don't mind copying and pasting a couple of times, but when it becomes a habit, I rarely put their recs on my want-to-read list, or my wishlist for that matter.
      The Incarnations is a standalone, but maybe people were referring to the fact it has different sections/past lives of the main characters. I like all of Intisar Khanani's books about equally- I think Thorn is the one I rated 4.5 stars, but the others aren't far off.
      My one friend loved P&P, the other tried to read it several times and couldn't. I think it really depends on if you like reading conversations about social conventions, which is basically most of what Pride and Prejudice contains- there's a scene midway through the book that's part of the reason it has four stars. Otherwise, there are some dry sections.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, La La!
      ~Litha Nelle

  2. It looks like you've had a busy 2016 thus far! And most of the books having good ratings! I hope the rest of the year is just as fabulous! I actually started The Bluest Eye a little while ago but before I could finish it, it was due back at the library. From what I did read, it was different than what I expected although I did like what I read. I'm glad you liked it as I've heard some interesting things about it as well. Hopefully I'll be able to pick it up again soon and finish it!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. Thanks- I was pleasantly surprised by my good ratings streak!
      I definitely recommend picking up the Bluest Eye again, if you get a chance- it's my favorite (so far) of Toni Morrison's works. I may have to reread some of it to eke out a review.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Laura!
      ~Litha Nelle

  3. This is my favorite mid-year favorites list yet. :-) So many familiar and favorite authors helps. But also some others I want to check out. Robin Hobb being one I need to read. And I really want to read The Liveship Traders Trilogy. Anne Bishop's The Others series, Ilona Andrews, Jane Austen, Tanya Huff, Ready Player One--all authors or books I have enjoyed quite a bit too. You've read quite a variety this year, which is great. Thank you for sharing!

    1. I'm glad you liked it! I waited at least three years of having a Robin Hobb book before actually picking it up. I would've liked to have read her work earlier. I think keeping track of my monthly reading stats helps me keep on top of which genres I've been neglecting.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Wendy!
      ~Litha Nelle


Feel Free to Express Yourself:
Agree? Disagree? Have something to add?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...