As this year draws to a close, I thought it'd be fun to share some of my favorite things with all of you, both bookish and non-bookish. Beginning today, you'll have a chance to hear me gush all about the things that I've loved in 2016, and I'm so pumped to be able to talk up all of my beloved new favorites! Be sure to keep an eye out for all five posts in this series!
I decided to kick things off by listing the twelve adult and new adult reads that I loved this year. From swoon-worthy romances to questions of life and love, from carefully plotted fantasies to dramatic plot twists, there's something about these reads that really stayed with me long after I finished reading them. (Note: The books are in no particular order, as I found it impossible to rank them since I loved them for all different reasons.)
My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry / Fredrik Backman
Hannah is the person I need to credit for initially putting Backman on my radar. She read and loved this book last year and her review convinced me I should read it too. She definitely didn't steer me wrong! I absolutely loved this story. Backman's plot is fairly simple, but he manages to infuse humor and heart into his storytelling. He also has this insanely amazing ability to write characters that truly come alive off the page and feel like actual people I know in real life.
The Choices We Make / Karma Brown
If I were giving out superlatives for my favorites this year, this would be the book I'd nominate as the emotional explosion for all the feelings it gave me. I loved Brown's debut, but this novel blew that one out of the water. The sheer amount of care she employed in showing readers the complexities of the characters, their relationships and their situation paid off, because I became truly invested in the outcome of the story and cared about what would happen to Hannah, Kate and their loved ones.
Results May Vary / Bethany Chase
Like the previous novel, this one tackles a very complicated situation that inspired a lot of thoughts and feelings in me. The honesty and emotion that Chase has infused into this story was something I really admired, and I found it impossible to put this one down once I'd started it. I certainly feel like Chase does an excellent job portraying all sides of this uncomfortable scenario, and this novel is what cemented her as a contemporary fiction author I'll be reading on the regular.
One True Loves / Taylor Jenkins Reid
You guys already know that I'm a huge fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid. I truly feel like she's a master at writing contemporary fiction that is centered around complicated relationship situations in a perfectly nuanced way, and her latest release is no exception. In this novel, Reid tackles the idea of love and whether a person can only fall in love (or be in love) once in a lifetime. This is a thought that's already pretty complicated whenever its up for discussion, but Reid's take on it is so perfect.
Out on Good Behavior / Dahlia Adler
I really enjoyed the first two novels in this series, but I found this third one (which is an F/F romance) to be absolutely wonderful. It was just the type of new adult I love, which means it played out like it was a romantic comedy (though more romance and less comedy). It helped that it had a main character I could root for, secondary characters I loved a lot and a romance that put a huge grin on my face while I was reading it too.
Off-Campus series / Elle Kennedy
Oh hello, my favorite new adult series of all time! (I'm so glad Kelly pushed me to read these books.) I'm so in love with how Elle Kennedy writes her new adult romances, mostly because she makes them funny and sweet and so satisfying I loved her characters as well (and seriously refuse to pick a favorite because they are all amazing), and I appreciated that she gave each one an individual arc that ran in parallel to the main romance. This series is just brilliant and totally binge-worthy.
Nana (Vol. 1-21) / Ai Yazawa
Thanks to Kristin, I wound up binge reading and falling in love with this series. It's centered around two girls, both named Nana, and how life brings them together in Tokyo. There are a lot of ups and downs and twists and turns in this series, so it's almost like watching an anime or a telenovela - but I loved every single minute of it. Yazawa created a cast of characters I fell hard for (in spite of their flaws), and that made this series a hit with me!
Lady Killer / Joelle Jones (illustration) + Jamie S. Rich (co-author)
Honestly, the premise is what made me curious about this one - a happy homemaker who is also a killer for hire. Seriously, does that not sound fantastic? Well, let me tell you, I think that this graphic novel is so entertaining (though it does get a bit graphic, so if that's not your cup of tea, consider yourself warned). I really enjoyed the way the story unfolded, as it was exciting and full of action and subterfuge. I also thought the illustration style was cool!
Kushiel's Dart / Jacqueline Carey
Rachel & I read this book for our Flights of Fantasy Book Club (Side note: You can already sign up for the 2017 Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge!) this year, and we both loved it. It's a story rich in everything - world and characters and story - and I was truly surprised by how much I enjoyed being fully immersed in everything. It's definitely one of the most well-constructed fantasies I've had the pleasure of reading and I look forward to finishing out the series.
Troubled Waters / Sharon Shinn
This is another book Rachel & I read for our Flights of Fantasy Book Club, and I'm so pleased we loved it too! It was definitely different from what I had expected it to be, but that didn't prevent me from falling in love with this story. Sharon Shinn has created such a phenomenal world within these pages, and she's also populated with strong female characters that are all too easy to care about as you read more about them. It's compelling and it's fun, and I can't wait to read more of the series!
A Study in Scarlet Women / Sherry Thomas
I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning devouring this historical mystery (that has just the barest hint of romance), once again proving to me how addictive and easy to read anything by Sherry Thomas is. It's a bit of a departure from her body of work, but I'm loving the whole case-solving aspect that is front and center in this tale. I really enjoyed her spin on Sherlock, and I definitely want to read more about these characters as the series progresses.
The Merridew Sisters / Anne Gracie
Betty got me the first book of this series for Christmas, and after Kelly raved about it, I dove right in. In a turn of events that I'm sure will surprise no one, I truly enjoyed this historical romance series! What mostly cinched it for me was the fact that it's a series of companion romances about sisters in one family, but I liked the way that Gracie made each one different from the ones that came before it. These stories made me laugh and made me swoon, and I would highly recommend them.
What were your favorite adult & new adult reads of 2016?
Be sure to check back tomorrow for another "Best Of" post!