Favorite Books of 2016

So 2016 has come to a close and this year has gone by quickly to say the least. My blog has grown more than I thought it ever could in its first year and while I may not have thousands of reads everyday I am happy to know that anyone would choose to read what I type.

I thought to recap 2016, I would give my 10 favorite books of the year. I completed my reading challenge of 30 books by surpassing it by about 6 more and therefore I should have plenty of options to choose from, so here they are:

10. 

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This might be the cutest book I read last year. To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows Lara Jean who has always written a letter to each crush she has had but instead of sending them has kept them hidden in a box beneath her bed. That is until one day she discovers the box is empty and all the letters have been sent to there respective recipients including her older sister’s ex boyfriend Josh.  This contemporary YA novel was enjoyable to read and Lara Jean’s character develops throughout the story line as she navigates through coming face to face with old crushes. I will say however that I did not enjoy the second book as much and would have preferred it to end with book one.

9.

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The Rainbow Comes and Goes was one of the few non-fiction books I read in 2016, and yet it is one of two non-fictions that made it into my top 10. This book is a correspondence of emails between Gloria Vanderbilt and her son Anderson Cooper. If you don’t know anything about them, Gloria in her youth was a fairly famous Socialite who later became known for her designer jeans. Anderson is a journalist for CNN and 60 Minutes and I have been mildly obsessed with him since I was 18 (so almost 10 years now!).  In these emails Anderson asks his mother a series of questions about her life from being the daughter and heiress of the famous Vanderbilt family to her many courtships with some of Hollywood’s elites.  Before reading The Rainbow Comes and Goes I didn’t know a lot about Gloria Vanderbilt outside of the fact she was Anderson Cooper’s mother and hailed from the famous Vanderbilt family. In this book you really do discover more about her life and her personally.

8.

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Whispers in Autumn was an audio book I listened to last year.  It involves a girl named Althea who isn’t like everyone else. She isn’t controlled by the alien race that invaded earth in 2015 and all she wants is to go unnoticed by them as she tries to fit in. But all that changes when a new boy shows up named Lucas.  For someone who doesn’t normally read a lot of Sci-fi, I really liked Whispers in Autumn  and the mystery that surrounds Althea as to why she isn’t like everyone else.  I’m getting ready to start the second book in the series as it is set during winter and I figured it would match the current season pretty well, minus the alien invasion and the current 70 degree weather here in the great state of Georgia.

7.

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This was the book that got me out of my book slump in the summer of 2016.  The Antelope in the Living Room is a non-fiction book written by Melanie Shankle who tells hilarious tales from her marriage.  I actually physically laughed out loud at this book and considering I’m not married I still found the stories to be highly entertaining.  Melanie has a great sense of humor that I felt connected with my own sense of humor quite well. I have read one of her other books about her adventures in motherhood and recently picked up her latest book Noboy’s Cuter Than You which I have on my 2017 TBR List.

6.

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For all the controversy that surrounded the movie, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes was a great book and I think carries the message of the story a lot better than the movie.  I really related to Louisa Clark who in the book is the same age as me, 27, and struggles to know what it really is that she wants to do with her life. When she becomes the caretaker of Will Traynor, a once active individual before an accident left him in a wheelchair, Louisa embarks on a journey she never thought she’d take. While I did cry reading this book I genuinely loved everything about. It may not be the love story that everyone looks for but it is worth the read.

5.

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Oh how I love Susanna Kearsley books! A Desperate Fortune combined the past with the present and follows Sara in present day, and Mary who 300 years ago was a Jacobite exile.  Sara is hired to decipher the coded journal of Mary and uncovers the adventure Mary went on throughout France in the 1700s. Once I started this book it was hard to put down and I kept reading it whenever I had a spare moment. It mixed together my love of history and the setting of France so it was easily a top 5 pick.

4.

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The book that started it all! Doon was the first book I reviewed on my blog and it holds a special place in my heart as it kick started my need to read this year.  The entire series is worth the read and sadly it ended with the fourth book in 2016. Doon is about two best friends Veronica and McKenna who go to Scotland for the summer and find themselves in a hidden kingdom (as one does). This book has action, adventure, romance, and musical theater references; really what more could you ask for?

3.

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Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes is a YA High Fantasy read that follows four main characters and the tensions that exist in the world of Mytica. This book was a fantastic read that I literally traveled around with in my car so that I could read it during my lunch break at work. I can honestly say I’ve never done that before but that is how much I wanted to find out what happened next in each chapter of this book. This is the first book in a series also titled Falling Kingdoms and I already bought books 2 and 3, and I’m hoping to get through as much of this series as possible this year.

2.

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Okay so my second favorite book of the year is a series and that might be cheating because it’s placing three books instead of one on my list, but hear me out on why all three books qualify.  First let me point out how late I am to the party of Cassandra Clare’s world of Shadowhunters because the last book in The Infernal Devices series was published nearly 3 1/2 years ago and The Mortal Instrument series that this one is the prequel to was first published long before this one, but I did feel like I was too late to the party if you get what I mean.  Secondly I think that while each book is good on its own they stand stronger together, and as the reader I was more captivated by the three main characters Tessa, Jem, and Will the further along I read in each book. I will personally say that book 2 might by my favorite out of the series, though it has only a slight advantage over the other 2.  This has a great love triangle in the story line along with adventure and a historical fiction twist that pretty much had me sold before I even read Clockwork Angel.

1.

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Is it weird that my top two reads of 2016 are series? Because I think this only proves I’m indecisive and can’t just chose one book over another. Though for The Falconer Series I liked The Vanishing Throne better, so maybe I can make decisions after all. But like The Infernal Devices Series both books in this series are amazing and the 3rd book is easily my most anticipated read for 2017. I’ve reviewed book one on my blog already but haven’t done one for The Vanishing Throne (I haven’t decide if I will yet or not), and I feel like all you really need to know is that Aileana comes from high society in Scotland and she kills evil fairies at night. I mean what really more could you want from a book, unless you don’t like fantasy reads then you probably won’t like this series (or half of my favorite reads for 2016). But if you do like fantasy reads The Falconer Series is highly recommended by myself.


So there you go my favorite reads in 2016. Sorry this took so long to post and that January is about half way over now but the main thing that counts is that I actually did post something on this blog I’ve been neglecting for over a month now.

I hope you all had a lovely New Year and that you haven’t broken any of your resolutions already. My resolution for this blog is to post more content outside of pure book reviews and to interact with more people and read more blogs. If you have any blog recommendations for me please comment below and I’d love to check them out (they do not have to be purely book blogs either).

Happy Reading,

Meghan

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Clockwork Princess: Book Review

 

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 “Men may be stronger, but it is women who endure.”

-Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Princess

Title: Clockwork Princess

Series: The Infernal Devices

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publish Date: September 5th, 2013

Genre: Fantasy/YA/Historic

Reading Format: Audiobook

Summary:  A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.


Review:  Let me first say (and this might be a spoiler) this book ended the exact way you would want it too in terms of a love triangle. At least that’s what it did for me as I was torn between loving Tessa with Jem and loving Tessa with Will. Cassandra Clare does a nice job of working that out so that the reader might feel some closer with both relationships or potential relationships. Secondly, Clockwork Princess was my favorite book in the series it was filled with action, suspense, romance, and even a little humor; what more could you ask for?

There are however a few moments of frustration while listening to this book for example Will’s sister Cecile becomes an added character to the story and I found her to be quite whinny at times. She was my least favorite character in the books and her only redeeming quality was her interaction with Gabreil Lightwood.  And speaking of Lightwood, the Lightwood brothers were a nice addition to the thrid book and Gabreil doesn’t turn out to be as annoying as he was in the first two books.

And we finally learn exactly what Tessa is. I will also say I like that she doesn’t end up being a damsel in distress type. She learns more about herself through this series and also finds a family among the Shadowhunters at the London institute which I think makes her become a stronger character throughout the books.

Lastly the audiobook for Clockwork Princess was the best one out of the three. The guy who does the narration makes an effort to give each character a voice without it sounding like it belongs to another. And with the character list of this book being so big that can be a hard accomplishment to make but it was done with this audiobook, I just wish he had narrarated all of three books.

Rating:

Five out of Five Stars


Happy Reading,

Meghan

Clockwork Prince: Book Review

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“He’s very broken,” said Magnus. “Like a lovely vase that someone has smashed. Only luck and skill can put it back together the way it was before.”

-Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince

Title:  Clockwork Prince

Series: The Infernal Devices

Author:  Cassandra Clare

Publish Date:  December 6th, 2011

Genre:  Fantasy/YA/History

Reading Format: Audiobook

Summary:  In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when it becomes clear that the mysterious Magister will stop at nothing to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, tortured Will and the devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal and fueled by revenge. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa is drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa answers about who she really is? As their search leads to deadly peril, Tessa learns that secrets and lies can corrupt even the purest heart.


Review:  Clockwork Prince was more emotional for me than the first book and I think in part that is due to fact that I learned a lot more about Tessa, Jem, and Will along with the other characters in the book.  I especially felt for Will in the second book of The Infernal Devices series, even though I had confessed in the book review for Clockwork Angel that Jem was my favorite character I felt like I got to learn about Will more and why he is the way he is in the series.

I’m also loving Magnus Bane in this series more than I did in the first three books of the Mortal Instruments series. As the reader I felt like I was getting more background on him and I really enjoyed that. Magnus also helped me to see more of Will because from Magnus’ perspective I could feel Will’s pain more. This was also illustrated through Tessa as well. Her experiences with Will in this book made me question my loyalty for Jem, so bravo Cassandra Clare you got me involved into the love triangle you created for this series.

And let’s get back to Tessa for a second and the mystery that surrounds who, or better yet, what she is.  I was so tempted to google the answer on this one because 1) I know it’s out there and 2) you don’t find out in this book either, at least not entirely.  I held off though because I didn’t want to ruin that part of the book for myself and it does keep you interested throughout the series when it comes to this unanswered question.

I did listen to this as an audiobook much like I have done with all of Cassandra Clare’s other books and also like her other books I am late to the party as these were read by most people years before. This has in no way affected how I feel about The Infernal Devices series and consider the series as a whole to be one of my favorites this year.  But as for the audiobook version I didn’t love the narration in this book as much as I liked the narrator in Clockwork Angel, having two narrators for Clockwork Prince could be a bit much for me at times.  I will say this is my only complaint about the book and it isn’t even really about the book.

Overall Clockwork Prince was a good book. It continues on from the previous story but adds a something more to the series and the Shadowhunter world, though it most certainly cannot stand on its own you would have to read the first book in order to understand this one too.

Rating:

Five out of Five Stars


Happy Reading,

Meghan

Book Review: Clockwork Angel

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Title: Clockwork Angel

Series: The Infernal Devices Series

Author: Cassandra Clare

Format: Audio book

Publish date: August 31, 2010

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Historical

Publisher’s Summary:

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

What I liked about Clockwork Angel:

I started to listen to Cassandra Clare’s other popular series The Mortal Instruments earlier this year. I’ve completed the first 3 or maybe 4 books, I don’t completely remember, but I enjoyed listening to them on my commute everyday to and from work. I decided to start The Infernal Devices series before completing the other series as I once read it was better to go in that order to understand the story better. So far with the first book I can say that I might like this better than The Mortal Instruments series. I find Tessa, Will, and Jem more interesting than Clary or Jace to be honest. It isn’t as though I hate the other characters in the other series its just I feel more invested in the Clockwork Angel’s characters more, especially Jem (He’s my favorite. Don’t tell the others).

I enjoyed the story line in the first book even though I figured out the twist before it was reveal, that still didn’t affect the way the story unfolded for me. And I liked the narrator too in this book, which is essential when listening to an audio book. I’ve quit listening to a few because the narration was awful or I didn’t like their voice. I do applaud the individuals that do audio books you have to be a good storyteller and voice each character in the the book. Considering the amount of characters in this one, I was impressed with how it was told.

Clockwork Angel also met my one major requirement for a book (besides grammar) which is that it was entertaining. I found myself reacting to the story and actually listening to it rather than busying myself with something else or my own thoughts that would have made me miss parts of it along the way. And trust me having my undivided attention during an audio book can be hard, though when driving I should be more focused on that (just a side note PSA).

What I didn’t like about Clockwork Angel:

I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this book.

Overall thoughts:

It’s a great first book to series. I hooked me in and I’ve already started the second book Clockwork Prince. I liked the overall entertainment of the book and it didn’t have anything that made me not want to continue on with it or bother me along the way. I would recommend Clockwork Angel to any reader who loves the YA Fantasy genre. I think it’s pretty apparent its one of my favorite types of books to read.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan