Saturday, January 21, 2017

My Best Reads of 2016

5 Star Reads:

In the order in which I read them. "Quotation marks" indicate a blog review.

"The Custodian of Marvels (Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire #3)" by Rod Duncan
Genre: Alt. History/Steampunk
I never expected the conclusion to this series to wow me like it did- this is now on my list of series to gather the print version of. If you're a fan of strong heroines and action-packed scenes with just a hint of romance, this series may be your next fave.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Genre: Classics, (Now) Historical Fiction
I never did get around to reviewing this one, but I was mesmerized by both the tale and its prose. Zora Neale Hurston certainly knew how to tell a story.

Fate's Edge (The Edge #3) by Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Litha's Favorite Animal Co-Conspirator
If you're a fan of both urban fantasy and a bit of paranormal romance, you may want to check out the Edge series by Ilona Andrews- I read all four books this year, but Fate's Edge was the standout for me.

"Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy #2)" by Robin Hobb
Assassin's Quest (Farseer Trilogy #3) by Robin Hobb
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Assassins, Wolf Buddies
The Farseer Trilogy was easily one of the highlights of my year. Sure, 2016 was crummy in a lot of ways for me, but of all the books I read in 2016, these were the ones that held my attention the most. If you like traditional fantasy that has a more realistic feel to it, this may be your cup of coffee.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Genres: Classics, Sci-fi
This was a complete surprise for me- at the beginning of Frankenstein, I guessed I'd rate it 3.5 Stars, tops. But as I read, that rating kept getting pushed higher and higher. Even with some problematic elements, this made my list of five star books- it simply held my attention much more than many other books I've read this year.

Bloodchild: And Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler
Genres: Sci-fi, Short Stories
I think my favorite part of this is you get to see/hear more of Octavia E. Butler's thoughts, rather than rely on your inference to take a guess at what the author was trying to achieve. Each of these stories and articles were perfectly paced and held my interest well. However, if you haven't read anything by Octavia E. Butler yet, I'd start with one of her books- that's how I started with her works, and it worked out best for me.

Honorable Mention:

All the books I mentioned in The Best Books I've Read in 2016 (So Far), in addition to:

"Tuf Voyaging" by George R.R. Martin
Genre: Sci-fi, Space: The Final Frontier
A space adventure series of shorts with feline companions, and a witty, eloquent protagonist? Sign me up again!

"Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)" by Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy, General Badassery
I am always up for another Kate Daniels adventure, and though we are nearing the end of the series, the magical writing of Ilona Andrews continues. If you're an urban fantasy fan and haven't tried Magic Bites yet, I'd highly recommend it.

"Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle #1)" by Diana Wynne Jones
Genre: Fantasy, Magic
This is #1 on my list of mood-enhancing fantasy books. I'm surprised someone hasn't tried to ban it yet for that reason.

"Faithful" by Alice Hoffman
Genre: Magical Realism, Fiction
Though I felt it a bit too perfect, Faithful reminded me of all the reasons I love Alice Hoffman books: animals and complex heroines. Though I admit, I'm mostly in it for the animals.

Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming
Genre: Memoir, Autobiography
I was surprised how well I liked this celebrity memoir, but it does keep you on the edge of your seat. I don't envy Alan Cumming's early life.

Most Interesting Books (that aren't previously mentioned):

This year in February I added an extra category to my month in review posts: the most interesting book (or the one I learned the most from). Since I never got around to making a separate post for those books, I think they deserve a spot on my Best of 2016 list.

"Out" by Natsuo Kirino
Genres: Crime Thriller
This is a translated work, but it didn't seem to take long for me to devour despite its 400 pages- and I'm not generally a fan of thrillers, either. This is definitely one for those who like to read about the darker deeds of humanity.

"The Red Record" by Ida B. Wells
Genres: Nonfiction, History
This book is difficult to read due to its content- so much of what happened in history gets ignored or glossed over by history books, and this reveals it to those of us who are relatively sheltered to it. I'm so glad I picked this up as a Kindle freebie- it's a book to feed your mind with.

Behind the Scenes: or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley
Genres: Autobiography, Memoir
Another book to feed your mind with is Elizabeth Keckley's autobiography. Elizabeth was a dressmaker and became close to the Lincoln family through her profession, ending up being one of Mary Todd Lincoln's closest friends. Sometimes, though, I wish Elizabeth had written more about herself than the Lincolns- I found her much more fascinating.

"Peasant Tales of Russia" by V.i. Nemirovitch-Dantchenko
Genres: Folk Tales, Short Stories
This was interesting, to say the least. I hadn't realized how inspirational/religious the Russian people are (or at least the ones involved in these folk tales), until I read this book.

The Sword Dancer (Tang Dynasty #4) by Jeannie Lin
Genres: Historical Romance
If you love historical romance featuring action and adventure, do yourself a favor and read some of Jeannie Lin's Tang Dynasty. I'm always learning something new about Chinese culture through these books, and I hope to buy some more so I can continue to indulge.

"Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence" by Doris Pilkington ~ Nugi Garimara
Genres: Biography
I learned a lot from this book, despite even having watched the movie version. It's a fascinating glimpse of Colonial Australia, and a reminder of how little girls can do huge things.

"The Autobiography of a Runaway Slave" by Esteban Montejo
Genres: Autobiography
This is another brain-feeding book- Esteban Montejo lived a very full life, and his story is full of ups and downs, and pieces of culture I had absolutely no clue about prior to reading this. This is one book I think (of all my picks) that should be read more widely, along with Elizabeth Keckley's memoir.

Which books had you hooked in 2016?


  1. I also read Frankenstein and, like you, I was pretty surprised by it! I was expecting not to like it or for it to be difficult to be read just because of the time period it was written in but actually, I quite enjoyed it! I have to say though, watching Frankenstein blunder about and make the same mistakes and perform arrogant actions was a little hard to stomach sometimes.

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. I'm glad you liked it too! I thought it'd be rather dry, but it wasn't (at least for me). Frankenstein definitely took his own sweet time as far as learning lessons, though- you're right.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Laura!
      ~Litha Nelle


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