I’m a little late with this post, I know! But here is the second of my two “favorite reads” posts for 2016.
Below is my list of the top 10 books I’ve read in the second half 2016 that were published at some point in 2016, in rank order:
10. To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin
This historical novel set against the backdrop of the construction of the Eiffel Tower follows an affair between a Scottish chaperone in Paris with her two spoiled charges and one of the engineers working on the Tower. The period detail is just wonderful, and I felt as though I was really there. I also love a novel I can learn something from, and this was definitely one such!
9. The Ballroom by Anna Hope
This historical novel, set in a British asylum in the early 20th century, is told from three points of view: a female patient, a male patient, and one of the doctors. The horrors of the eugenics movement and the often barbaric treatment of those with mental illnesses – or those without who are confined in the asylum for being “different” or “difficult” – is vivid and pointed, even as a beautiful romance develops between Ella and John, the two patients and our main protagonists.
8. The Wedding Sisters by Jamie Brenner
This fun, funny, emotional, and poignant novel follows a family with three adult daughters who are all getting married to high-profile grooms in the same year. The characterization is absolutely excellent, and all the main players come completely alive on the page. Full of twists and turns, this is a delightful read about the meaning of love and family and being true to yourself.
7. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
I always love books set in Italy, and this one, about a teenage girl who fulfills her mother’s dying wish by travelling to Tuscany, is no exception. Filled with wonderful characters and a gorgeous backdrop, this book is full of heart and will make you laugh and cry.
6. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
This gorgeous debut is a fantasy based on Indian folklore, and my goodness was the writing just beautiful. The story is engaging and will keep you turning the pages, even as you read many of Chokshi’s sparkling sentences over again. I will absolutely buy anything she writes in the future.
5. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
This dark fantasy novel, set in a world where acts of violence breed literal monsters, is un-put-down-able. The story follows a girl who wants to hunt monsters and a boy who is a monster but wants more than anything not to be. Wonderful writing, breathless action, and a page-turning plot make this an exciting but thought-provoking novel.
4. The Family Plot by Cherie Priest
This is an excellent example of a good old-fashioned gothic haunted house novel. A salvage crew gets a job tearing down a mansion belonging to an old and wealthy family, and find the house to be full of ghosts – both literal and metaphorical. Seriously, don’t read this one late at night. I absolutely loved it; it has just the right level of terror balanced against unforgettable characters and sharp, masterful writing.
3. Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey
Speaking of ghosts! This non-fiction survey of many of America’s most haunted locales isn’t really concerned with whether or not ghosts are real, but more with what ghost stories – the ones we tell and the idea of ghost stories in general – says about our society. Fascinating, engaging, and thought-provoking, this is a must read for anyone interested in American history and culture.
2. Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
This YA historical follows wonderful . fierce heroine and Chinatown resident Mercy Wong, who fights racism and prejudice to get an education and achieve her dreams. Of course, it’s San Francisco in 1906, and that means an earthquake is about to hit. This novel made me laugh, gasp in outrage, and cry, and I absolutely could not put it down. Stacey Lee is another auto-buy author for me.
1. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
This book has gotten a lot of praise over the last few months, and it is so, so well-deserved. This novel of two New York City teens, Natasha and Daniel, who meet and fall in love the same day Natasha and her family are about to be deported to Jamaica, is full of empathy and hard truths and compassion. The writing was masterful, and the topic and themes are so, so important now more than ever. Everyone should read this book.
A Song to Take the World Apart by Zan Romanoff
Root, Petal, Thorn by Ella Joy Olsen
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
The Last Treasure by Erika Marks
The Fifth Avenue Artists’ Society by Joy Callaway
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Non-2016 books that I loved:
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley
A Noble Radience by Donna Leon
The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff