Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. Each week they post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All you need to do is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
If you don’t want to follow the weekly topics, you can come up with your own instead, and it doesn’t have to be a list of ten. It can be top 5, top 15, top 50! Whatever you want.Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. Each week they post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All you need to do is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. If you don’t want to follow the weekly topics, you can come up with your own instead, and it doesn’t have to be a list of ten. It can be top 5, top 15, top 50! Whatever you want.
So over the past several months I’ve finally gotten around to reading some of the books that people have been raving about for years, and have been on my TBR list for as long. So I decided to share those that I found to be just as amazing as everyone said they were! In no particular order.
Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2016 Reads That Lived up to the Hype
1) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Kick-ass lady Assassins+romance+mystery & suspense and a whole lot of creepy? Count me in! I have no idea why I took so long to start this series. Celaena is brutal and fierce and downright terrifying at times. I loved the idea of a contest to become the king’s champion and new assassin. It kept me on the edge of my seat.
Celaena’s past has hardened her into a ruthless, tough as nails and fiercly independent woman who does things her own way and is not intimidated by much. She doesn’t let people in easily, but those she considers friends, she will not hesitate to protect with her life.
As a notorius assasin whose name is well known, she has to hide her true identity from all except a select few members of the castle staff, or risk being targeted by opponents looking to eliminate her fom the competition.
There was an unexpected scare factor brought on by the mysterious murders of Celaena’s opponents and the investigations she conducts regarding the strange and sinister things happening around the castle. I found myself shivering at the creepiness of particular scenes.
I was intrigued by the supporting characters Dorian, Chaol and Nehemia. Dorian is the crown prince, son to the greedy, bloody-thirsty king whose competition she’s been all but forced into. But Dorian is the complete opposite of his father, and disagrees with his father’s violent and tyrannical methods. Chaol is captain of the guard, assigned to watch over Celaena. His initial lack of trust and respect towards her-he’s understandably wary due to his knowledge of her past-has them butting heads throughout most of the book. Chaol becomes one of my favorite characters, as we eventually get to see many different sides to him and learn more about who he is outside of being the king’s guard. Although the book focuses primarily on Celaena’s pov, we did get plenty of chapters in their perspectives as well. I can see why this series has become so wildly popular!
2.) Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Who doesn’t love a good fairy tale retelling? Especially one set in the future, with added sci-fi elements, cyborgs and diverse characters? I always get super excited at the prospect of reading a new twist on an old fairy tale, and this book fulfilled my expectations!
It’s set in China, with a 16-year old half-cyborg named Cinder as our new Cinderella. It has many of the familiar elements found in the original story; a poor orphan girl with a tragic background as our “princess”, an evil step mother and step sister, a ball, and of course, the beginnings of a fairy tale romance between Cinder and the Crown Prince Kai, eighteen year old heir to New Beijing’s throne.
In this case, our heroine is a gifted mechanic. Her reputation as the best mechanic in New Beijing brings prince Kai to her weekly market booth with a request for her to fix his broken android, and although he jokes that it’s simply a “matter of sentimentality” Cinder suspects there’s more to it from the urgency she senses in him.
Although Prince Kai appears to harbor an interest in her, Cinder is convinced that if he knew the truth about her being part android, he would never be able to see past it, so she keeps him at a distance.
When Cinder’s step sister (the non evil one) becomes ill with the plague, her step-mother blames her and volunteers her body to be studied for plague research, and while there, she discovers something unusual about her inner workings. Something that could put her in real danger.
It was a riveting twist on a classic tale, definitely one of the best retellings out there!
3.) Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
Magic and murder and mayhem oh my! I almost didn’t read this book. I don’t know why. I’ve had an ARC of Falling Kingdoms sitting on my shelf since 2012 and I almost sold it at a garage sale just because I’d never really heard anyone mention it before.
Which is ridiculous, cause I love a lot of obscure books! But suddenly reviews and odes of love to this series started appearing all over my instagram feed. Had this book just suddenly gained a huge following, or had I simply been blind to it all this time? Either way, I decided to give it a try as I noticed more and more of bookish friends fawning over it. And I’m so glad I did!
Falling Kingdoms is told from the POV’s of four main characters-as well as some smaller supporting characters-and takes place in a land where magic has long since been forgotten. These four teenagers lives change drastically as they discover shocking truths and cross each others paths.
Lucia, a young daughter adopted into a royal family at birth, discovers the truth about her past and a supernatural prophecy she’s said to be at the center of. Privileged young princess Cleo sets off on a perilious journey in search of healing magic thought to be long extinct. Jonas, driven by grief, anger and a deep need for vengeance, soon finds himself the leader of a rebellion against the tyrannical king. And Lucia’s older brother Magnus struggles with his forbidden romantic feelings and the increasing pressure from his cold-hearted father to become as ruthless and blood-thirsty as he is.
Be warned: there is a fair number of deaths in this book, and plenty of gore and violence. You may cry or gasp in shock and revulsion. It’s not for the faint hearted. But the characters-although not always likable-are so uniquely interesting and the plot so unpredictable that you won’t be able to put it down even as you are sobbing or wanting to scream in the characters faces. So grateful for the book bloggers who persuaded me to give this one a go!
4.) The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
The Darkest Minds is without a doubt my all time favorite YA Dystopian. Each character won my heart, every twist and turn had me on the edge of my seat, and I was drawn into Brackens unique world of a Nation terrified by the frightening and unexplainable supernatural powers developing in teens across the country.
From the beginning our main character Ruby has already endured so much, from the metaphorical loss of her parents to the suffering she endured in the rehabilitation camps’ where ‘freak’ kids like her with dangerous powers are sent and forced to work and obey, or be killed.
The camps are said to be protecting and healing the nation’s kids, but only those living the nightmare know the truth about them. They’re doomed to years of labor and horrible treatment, and possibly death if they step one foot out of line. The parents, clueless to the reality of these camps and both terrified for their kids and terrifed of their abilities, have no choice but to send them away, unsure if they’ll ever see them again.
The kids are separated by colors that lable the powers they have-red being the most dangerous, followed by orange, yellow, blue and green. As one of the dangerous ones, Ruby knows that she must hide her powers from the leaders of the camp, or risk never making it out alive. When she escapes with the help of a mysterious stranger she’s not sure she can trust, she ditches her, only to be picked up by a van of kids of varying colors, also on the run from the authorities.
Liam is an absolute sweetheart, sometimes selfless to a fault, and from day one was determined to know Ruby and draw her out of her shell. Liam’s friend Chubs, who’s suspicious of Ruby at first, is fiercly loyal and willing do anything to protect his friends. And eventually he begins to slowly warm up to her. Then there’s Zu, a mute eleven year old girl with fingertips that have the power to spark electrical fires, but who has a heart of gold. We meet more lovable characters as the series goes on, each of them vastly different and equally memorable as the last.
And guess what? The Darkest Minds is currently in the process of becoming a movie! 100% confirmed, this fantastic dystopian story will be coming to theaters within a couple of years! I’m excited; are you?!
5.) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
What happens when six teenage outcasts band together on a heist to break someone out of a highly guarded prison in exchange for a hefty amount of money? A whole lot of tension, fighting, deception, near-deaths and action packed adventure! I fell in love with Kaz Brekker and his gang of criminals as they joined together on the most dangerous mission of their lives.
There’s Nina, a Heartrender using her healing abilities to survive the slums. A runaway named Wylan has a skill for bomb making-and is being used as leverage in case his father tries to go back on the deal he made with Kaz and his crew. A spy, Inej, known as The Wraith, was kidnapped from her family at 14 and sold to the owner of a pleasure house where she was forced to entertain until Kaz found her and offered her a spot among The Dregs. Matthias is a convict seeking vengeance, and was raised to hate people like Nina-the Grisha. And Jesper, a sharp shooter with a gambling addiction and an ally of Kaz’s, simply can’t walk away from a challenge.
Together, they just may be able to pull it off. If they don’t kill each other first.
I loved every minute of their high-stakes journey across Ketterdam and The Ice Court, and the banter between the six of them was entertaining & full of snark and wit as they learned to work together and tried to tolerate one another. I came to love them more and more as we were given glimpses of their pasts, and I was on the edge of my seat at every obstacle and surprise they stumbled upon along the way. Definitely worth the read and worthy of the hype!
I actually had the pleasure of meeting Leigh Bardugo last week! Total fangirl moment. Plus she told me she liked my “mermaid hair.”
6.) The Winners Curse by Marie Rutkoski
At seventeen, Kestrel lives a lavish, priviliged life in an empire built on slavery and war. But, as a General’s daughter she has only two choices: join the military or get married by the time she turns eighteen. Neither of which she has any desire to do.
As a slave, Arin has no more than the clothes on his back, a musical gift, and his role as member of a rebellion planning to take back the land that was once theirs.
When Kestrel spontaneously purchases Arin at a market auction, these two teens from entirely separate worlds form an unlikely friendship, despite their vastly different backgrounds.
Arin is hardened from a life of poverty and hardship, and finds it difficult to adjust to a life where his “master” treats him more as an equal than as a slave. Upon first impression, he sees Kestrel as no more than a spoiled, selfish rich girl.
Having lost everything to Kestrels people, he harbors a whole lot of anger and hatred towards her and is initially wary of her motives in purchasing him. But eventually, as they bond over a shared love of music, he begins to see that there’s a lot more to her than just being the pampered daughter of a wealthy general.
While navagating a world of extravagant balls, duels, dirty gossip and messy politics, Arin and Kestrel try to fight their growing feelings for one another and play the roles they’re meant to play. Their people are enemies, and to love each other would be a betrayal to both their countries. But they can’t erase the romantic tension between them, and things are bound to end in disaster.
I loved Kestrel, who, while not much of a fighter-due to both lack of ability and lack of desire to engage in physical combat-makes up for her poor battle skills with intelligence and passion for the things and people she cares about. Some may call her cowardly & spineless, but I disagree.
She stood up for Arin despite the consequences, refused to fall into the trap of societal drama and expectations, and was determined to live her own way rather than submitting to her fathers wishes for her. There are more ways to exhibit strength than the physical, and I think that, despite her avoidance of confrontation, she was exceptionally strong in both mind and spirit.
7.) Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
I posted a review for Illuminae all the way back in March, so click the link to read all about my love for this uniquely formatted, action packed sci-fi!
8.) Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Uprooted is the first adult book I’ve willingly read-and I loved every minute of it!
It takes place in a land situated on the edge of a cursed forest. The townspeople rely on the magic of The Dragon, a 100+ year old wizard-still sporting the appearance of a young man-to protect them.
But there is a price. Every ten years, he leaves his castle and pays a visit to the village, where all girls 17 years of age line up so that he may pick up one them to take home to his castle for a decade. No one knows what happens to these girls or what his intention is. They don’t come back after the time is up, instead choosing to move far away, insisting that the Dragon never laid a finger on them.
Everyone knows that Kasia will be chosen this year-she’s the most beautiful, the most talented, the most envied. Her best friend, Agnieska, knows it too. And she’s prepared for it all their lives. But when the Dragon comes, it’s not Kasia he chooses. It’s Agnieska. Full of magic, horror, violence, friendship, and even a dash of unexpected romance, this fantasy was impossible to put down!
The “dragon” aka Sarkan, was a very compelling character. At first impression, he appears to be no more than an angry, bitter, and indimidating asshole of a wizard, but in the span of time that the story takes place-around a year or 2-we see many different sides of him, and discover why it is that he brings these girls to his castle.
Hint: it involves magic.
There were parts of this book that were a whole lot more creepy and terrifying and gory than I had expected, but I’m not complaining because those moments just made the book all the more addictive! There were monsters and journeys through cursed forests and people driven to madness by the infectuous horrors hidden within the woods.
The intense bond of friendship between Kasia and Agnieska fueled much of our main characters actions, as she was willing to do anything to protect her.
This is a classic story of good vs evil, as Sarkan and Agnieska work to protect the villages from the poison of the woods, but it’s also a story of friendship, self growth, adventure and perserverance. I was so sad that it had to end!
9.) The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The second adult novel I read this year, The Bone Season follows the story of nineteen-year-old clairevoyant Paige Mahoney and her life as a dream walker in the year 2059.
In the future, people with supernatural abilities exist. But they are seen as abominations to society, their very existence an act of treason.
Paige works for the criminal underworld of Scion London. It’s her job to retrive information by breaking into peoples minds.
When a desperate act of self defence leads to her being chased down, drugged, and captured, she finds herself imprisoned behind the walls of a hidden city where people like her live under the control of an inhuman species called the Rephaim, and are treated as slaves, forced to use their powers as entertainment or labor in exchange for protection from the zombie like creatures that live in the shadows. While there, she meets and befriends other clairevoyants close to her age and they rely heavily on one another for support and survival.
Paige is chosen as the first human tenant to the Rephaite known as Warden, blood consort to Nashira Sargas, blood sovereign to the Rephaim. As Warden helps Paige learn to harness her powers and expand her abilities, she struggles to trust and understand him. Her natural instinct is to hate him, but as she works with him, she realizes he has secrets and motives she never would have suspected. With very few allies in this strange new world, Paige must determine who is trustworthy if she hopes to have any chance of regaining her freedom.
Paige is an excellently portrayed character-someone with deep emotions, never-ending determination and complete loyalty to her companions. We’re given glimpses of her past-how she initially discovered she was clairevoyant as a child, her relationship with her friend Nick, and the criminal work she performed for her boss, Jaxon, while in Scion.
We don’t know much about Nick straight away, but as we were given more glimpses of him in Paige’s past, I came to love him and hope for a reunion between the two of them. Paige’s new friends Liss and Julian were both likable characters as well, although I would have liked to know more about Julian.
Warden was definitely one of the most complex characters, and one of whom we learned the most about. Paige could be stubborn in her feelings towards him at times, even as she learned more about his past and his intentions.
It’s a beautifully written supernatural dystopian and story of a young girl in a world that fears and despises her, who encounters numerous changes and hardships and losses but still manages to hold onto who she is. I couldn’t recommend it enough!
So these are some of my favorite popular books and series I finally got around to this year! Have you read any of these? Did they fulfill your expectations? Let me know!