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2016 Book Challenge

Anyone who knows me, even just the slightest, is aware of the fact that I have a great love affair with reading. If I’m walking somewhere and I see books, I have to stop to look. When I order books online and they come in the mail, I feel as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning. Just looking at books is mesmerizing for me. Getting lost in the stories; gaining new knowledge and perspectives. It’s all so powerful.
 
In the beginning of January of this year, I decided to set a goal for myself: read 50 books this year. That averages out to about 4 books a month.
 
Being a full time university student, with a job, I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it. I love reading, don’t get me wrong, but with a goal in mind, especially when that equates to about one novel a week… the pressure was on. I worried that if I was too busy and didn’t read a book one week, that I wouldn’t meet my goal.
 
I faced some difficulties, such as missing a complete month (March) because of so many assignments being due for school and exams coming up. Luckily, I made up for that missed month by overcompensating during other months. (like reading 7 in July alone, and 9 in October.)
 
Not only did I complete my goal, but I surpassed it by fourteen. In 2016, I managed to cram 64 books into my brain, on top of writing three novels of my own.
 
So without further a due, here is my book list of 2016! Please keep in mind: my favourite genre (at this point in my life) is mystery/thriller, so those are the majority of the novels that comprise this list. (I also read other genres, but mostly m/t)
2016-09-12-007
 

JANUARY

1. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins✔️ 8/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book blew up SO fast, became a worldwide bestseller, and got a movie deal with Emily Blunt.  When I read this book in the beginning of January, I hadn’t even heard of it before my friend (thank you Matt Agius) suggested it. It was a really good thriller. You have Rachel, your unreliable narrator who you are unsure if you can believe anything that comes out of her mouth. There are so many twists and turns that you don’t see coming, making it a fast-paced read.
  • Update: I saw the movie in October and it was great, but it changed so many details from the book.
 
2. The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson✔️ 10/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • A man and woman meet on a flight and plot a murder.
  • No words. This book is a literal masterpiece. So different and unexpected, unlike most novels. GO READ THIS RIGHT NOW. It’s officially my favourite book. 10/10.
 
3. The Last Good Day of the Year – Jessica Warman✔️ 8.5/10 (YA/mystery)
  • At this point, the only other book I’d read by Jessica Warman was Between, and that book was one of my favourites. Her writing style is very well done and she keeps you so captivated, even during very mundane story lines. I loved Between and I LOVED The Last Good Day of the Year. The juicy stuff doesn’t come until the end, but still Jessica maintains a captivating story line until the big reveal.
 
4. The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle✔️ 8/10 (nonfiction/spirituality)
  • This book was recommended by so many people in the vegan/mindfulness community. It’s definitely a life changer. It really makes you think and change your perspective on so many aspects of your life, and makes you want to change yourself for the better and just live in the NOW. (Although it was a bit slow and hard to get through at times, definitely worth it)
 

FEBRUARY

5. A Piece of Cake – Cupcake Brown✔️ 8/10 (memoir)
  • oh. my. god. This is an autobiography/memoir about a girl who lost her mother at the age of 11 and was then thrown into the foster care system, experimented with drugs, alcoholic, prostitution, abortions, drug dealing, gang banging, and MORE all before the age of 19….. It’s literally CRAZY. And it’s all TRUE.
 
6. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert✔️ 10/10 (nonfiction)
  • Another book I saw recommended quite a bit on my instagram feed. Elizabeth Gilbert is the author famous for her book Eat, Pray Love. You’ve probably seen the movie with Julia Roberts. Anyways, this book is all about creativity and art, especially writing. And since I myself am a writer, this book was like my bible. I literally highlighted so many pages and quotes that I found useful, and even now I look through the book when I need some hope and inspiration. If you are into arts or writing, you will LOVE this book. It inspired me so so much to just follow my passions and do what my soul needs. And it’s such an easy, fun read. UGH. 10/10.
 
7. Dark Places – Gillian Flynn✔️7.5/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • My first Gill Flynn book. I had heard such great things about Flynn as a writer and I love the way her mind works. Dark Places is her second published book. It was really interesting, but a little slow at times. I liked the narrator, Libby, but didn’t care for the other characters as much as she switched perspectives. The twist at the end is seriously crazy though, and it makes me wonder how she thinks of these things.
 
8. Where They Found Her – Kimberly Mccreight✔️ 8/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • A dead baby is found. Who killed her?
  • This mystery was really well done. The book’s narration alternates between three different women who are not connected in any way. Or so you think. This was really easy and intriguing to read, right from the beginning. It was so interesting watching all the lives of everyone intersect in one way or another. Really good book. 8/10.
 

APRIL

9. Beautiful Lies – Jessica Warman✔️ 8/10 (YA/mystery)
  • Okay, so remember what I said about Jessica Warman before? Well, this book wasn’t on my ‘to-read’ list or anything, and a premise such as this wouldn’t normally peak my interest. But I love Warman’s writing style so much that I decided to read this book as well, because, why not. This book is a psychological thriller that keeps you wondering what the hell is going on. Let me break it down for you: there are two twins: one goes missing. They have a supernatural connection, and when one feels pain, so does the other. So twin A has to find twin B, before it’s too late.
  • dun dun dun. No, really though, it’s a really good book. Creepy. Interesting. And that amazing writing style Jessica always comes through with.
10. Until You’re Mine – Samantha Hayes✔️ 8/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book was so creepy! It’s about a woman who is expecting her first child and hires a nanny to come live in with the family. Only the nanny isn’t who she really says she is……… Really good read, lots of twists and turns near the end that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
11. Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver✔️ 9.5/10 (YA contemporary)
  • OH MY GOD. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. The story is basically about a teenage girl who dies and has to keep living the last day of her life over and over again. Sounds boring, right? I thought so. I was like, am I really going to keep reading the same thing over and over again? But oh no, Lauren Oliver is a literary genius. This book is all about life lessons, redemption, forgiveness, and finding yourself. It made me cry so many times. I love it so much.
12. Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn✔️ 8.5/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book started off kind of slow, but it picks up pace and excels. The narrator, Camille, is a gripping heroine, who, like most of Flynn’s protagonists, is very problematic and disturbed, which essentially fuels her character and drives the story.
  • I loved this book so much more than Dark Places. Really really good. The ending is probably one of the best plot twists I’ve read to date. That’s all I’m going to say. Very creepy. Very Gill Flynn. I love it.
 

MAY

13. Blessed are the Dead – Kristi Belcamino ✔️ 4/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • Lol don’t read this book. I was so annoyed by the protagonist. I thought this was going to be a really good mystery thriller. It’s not. You get a winy narrator who just talks about her love life, and then get a shitty ending.
 
14. Reconstructing Amelia – Kimberly Mccreight ✔️8/10 (contemporary/mystery)
  • This was a really good read. It’s about a mother who learns of her daughter’s sudden and unexpected suicide at her private school in NYC. By tracking down friends, teachers, and looking through her daughter’s social media, has to reconstruct the final days leading up to her death and find out what really happened. EEK, I just got goosebumps writing that.
15. These Things Hidden – Heather Gudenkauf✔️6.5/10 (mystery)
  • This book was alright. Not that it was slow or anything, but the majority of the book is side-stepping the main mystery and giving background and filler for 80% of the novel, then literally the last 20% you find out what happened.
16. Still Missing – Chevy Stevens ✔️7/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book was pretty good. About a woman who gets kidnapped, but as she tells the story, it’s told through sessions to her psychiatrist, so you know she escapes somehow. And the whole point of the book is that she’s still missing because of the trauma. Oh and because there still possibly could be a looming danger. The protagonist was a bit annoying most of the time.
17. The Forsaken – Lisa M. Stasse✔️ 5.5/10 (YA, dystopia)
  • I stopped reading YA a while ago, and this book reminded me why. The protagonist is very annoying and clueless, but portrayed as the Katniss or Tris of the story. The storyline was interesting (years in the future, America, Canada, and Mexico have joined into one nation, the UNA. They send ‘criminals’ and ‘degenerates’ to this island to get rid of them), and guess who gets sent there? The main character. She immediately falls in love with this cute blonde haired boy who we know nothing about, (classic YA), and the characters and storyline is just very childish almost. Some things I found interesting, but some reveals you could smell coming from a mile away.
 

JUNE

18. Pandemonium – Lauren Oliver✔️ 7/10 (YA, dystopia)
  • in 2013 I read Delirium by Lauren Oliver, and this was the second book in the trilogy. Requiem (listed below) is the third. I must admit, I absolutely LOVED Delirium. It’s probably one of my favourite books to date. A futuristic dystopian YA novel where love is illegal. It’s such a cool concept, and the way the story was written was very well done. However, I didn’t care too much for the 2nd or 3rd books. Kind of disappointing. The protagonists character development was very good in the 2nd book though.
19. Requiem – Lauren Oliver✔️7.5/10 (YA, dystopia)
  • Read above. I kind of liked the 3rd better than the 2nd though.
20. Vanishing Girls – Lauren Oliver✔️ 8.5/10 (YA, mystery/thriller)
  • Since I was on a Lauren Oliver streak, I decided to read another one of her books. This book was actually very well written and has an interesting concept. Surprise twist ending? Yes please.
21. Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter✔️ 10/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • I LOVE THIS SO MUCH! It’s so creepy and dark and twisted. Like, I’m not talkin light stuff. It is very graphic and sadistic. So if you’re not into that stuff, you may find some content very disturbing. But it was such a good story and there were so many TWISTS AND TURNS!! UGH.
 
 

JULY

22. Fool me Once – Harlan Coben✔️ 7.5/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book was really interesting and keeps you hooked from the beginning. Maya’s husband died, but after his funeral, she sees footage of him playing with their young daughter on the nanny came. Is Maya crazy, or is her husband still alive!?
 
23. In the Blood – Lisa Unger✔️7/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • As I was reading this book, I was so captivated and allured. There are so many things that don’t make sense and it really has you wondering what could possibly be happening. However, once I finished it, I looked back and found the overall concept kind unrealistic.
 
24. Cuckoo – Julia Crouch✔️ 7/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book was kind of a let down for me. I spent the whole book wondering what was going to happen, only for it to end and me be like, WHAT? I literally was so confused. It kind of just drops and doesn’t conclude very well. I’m still confused now.
  • After the death of her husband, Rose’s friend Polly comes to stay. But once Polly comes, Rose finds it very hard to get her to leave…
 
25. Under a Silent Moon – Elizabeth Haynes✔️ 7/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book was very well written. The text was superb, the protagonists were likeable. The author switches perspectives to tell the story of two women who died on the same night,(one a suicide, one a murder) completely unrelated. Or so we think. However, the ending was so mundane and the reveal wasn’t that shocking to me. Dammit.
 
26. Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll✔️ 8/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This wasn’t so much a mystery/thriller, but it was very interesting. Tiffani (who now goes by Ani) has the perfect life. Perfect job, perfect fiance, etc. But she has a dark secret looming in her past that could expose itself any moment. The whole novel was really good and really captivating/well written. I liked the character development from a cold-hearted bitch to someone we can actually relate to. However, I was hoping the book would go one way (which would have been SO rad and made so much sense), but then it ended quite mundane and happy-ending like. I smiled.
 
27. Follow You Home – Mark Edwards✔️ 4/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • Do not read this book. It presents itself as so creepy and eerie and makes you want to find out what the hell the grand mystery is. However, the writing is SO POOR, and the protagonist is SO ANNOYING. And the plot that unfolds is so unrealistic and annoying. Mark Edwards, you tried too hard, mate. That is all.
 
28. Don’t You Cry –  Mary Kubica✔️ 9/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This book was really good. In 2014, I read Mary Kubica’s debut The Good Girl, and that was a very good psych thriller. This one was also very good. You think you know what’s going to happen just by reading the plot synopsis, BUT YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE IN FOR! I literally read this in one day. 9/10!!
 

AUGUST

29. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak✔️ 9/10 (historical fiction)
  • WOW. I don’t know why it took my so long to read this book. It came out in 2005 but I didn’t even hear about it until a few years ago, (I guess when the movie came out). I actually purchased the novel in 2014, started it, but thought it was too slow so I never finished it. But this time, I was determined to finish it. And I’m so glad I did. The book is about Liesel, a young girl living in Nazi Germany. The cool concept is that the book is told from the perspective of Death (the grim reaper). It spans four years and is a book full of life lessons. Not only does the reader learn about Hitler and the awful holocaust, what it was like to live in Germany during that time, but also the struggle of a family with no money, friendships that last a lifetime, and overcoming struggles. I cried at the end. I really enjoyed this novel.
 
30. Between Shades of Grey – Ruta Sepetys✔️ 9.5/10 (historical fiction)
  • Since I was in the 1940’s historical genre, I decided to read this book next as it had been on my list for a while. Usually when I see a book on Goodreads, it has a majority of 4 stars. But this book had the majority being 5 stars! I went and checked out the other two books by this author and they also were majoring in 5 stars. That’s how I knew I had to read this book. Because this is a raw, pure author who writes about things that MATTER. Between Shades of Grey tells an awful story, but is an incredible book. Lina, a 15 Lithuanian girl, tells her story of when her family was taken in the middle of the night by Soviet soldiers. This book hurts. It hurts to read the terrible things that these people endured (it’s a work of fiction, but based on true events), and the awful ways that people can treat other people. But it’s an incredible story and you definitely should read it.
 
31. Behind Closed Doors – B.A Paris✔️ 9.5/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • Ah, this book was fantastic. I started it in the morning on August 31st, and knew I had to finish it in 1 day to meet my monthly quota. (lol, and as you can see, I was already behind and only read 3 books in august.) But this book was not difficult at all to finish in a day. SO SO GOOD. AND IT’S A DEBUT!!
  • The perfect life; the perfect marriage. But not everything is as it seems…. Grace and Jack are the perfect couple; or so everyone thinks. But why does Grace never go anywhere without Jack? And why are there bars on the bedroom window? Perhaps the perfect life, is actually the perfect lie.
 

SEPTEMBER

32. In The Woods – Tana French ✔️ 8.5/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • This was my first Tana French book and I’m already in love with her. Like Gill Flynn, Tana is a literary genius with a unique mind for mystery thrillers. This book was long and intense, and such a great story. Tana has many other books that I plan to read in the near future.
33. Beautiful Lies – Lisa Unger✔️ 5/10 (mystery/thriller)
  • What started off as a good read unfortunately didn’t end that way. The only thing I liked about this book was the protagonists name – Ridley Jones. So much potential for a great character. But unfortunately, Lisa fucked up. The protagonist, Ridley, became so damn annoying and the whole mystery story turned into a desperate love tale of Ridley falling head over heals for some dude she barely knows. I HATE WHEN BOOKS DO THIS. God, can’t the female protagonist solve her life mystery on her own without the aid of some guy or having a crucial love story involved? Not only that, but Ridley’s character was so dull, clueless, and annoying. Clues that were right in front of her (literally people telling her facts), and her being like, “huh… no, that doesn’t seem right.” OMG, you idiot. My recommendation: save yourself the time and energy and read a different book on this list instead.
 
34. The Perfect Neighbors – Sarah Pekkanen✔️ 8.5/10 (adult fiction, contemporary)
  • Not really a mystery or thriller, but to my surprise, a very good read. Told from the perspective of four different women who live in a idyllic, suburban neighborhood with their husbands and children, The Perfect Neighbors reveals that not everyone’s lives are as perfect as they seem. And when the new neighbor, Tessa, moves in, well… she may be harboring the biggest secret of all.
  • What I liked most about this book is how it depicts reality. Problems, fighting, unhappiness, imperfection. And it ended so nicely and dare I say… perfect? A genuine, happy ending that made me smile. This novel is one of those life-lesson stories that give you a satisfying feel and a new perspective on life. Oh, and you obviously want to find out what Tessa is hiding.

35. The Widow – Fiona Barton✔️8/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • This was a really good read. A story about a husband and wife, alternating P.O.V’s, and a mystery that keeps you reading through every page. Is he guilty? Is he really the murderer that everyone said he was?
  • What I really liked about this book was the idea that Glen kept his wife, Jean, silent and compliant all the years they were married, and now that he’s dead, she can finally do things for herself. (This is not a spoiler; the narrative propels from the death of Glen before the book begins.)

36. The Silent Wife – A.S.A Harrison✔️ 8.5/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • I purposely read this one right after The Widow, based on similar story lines, and I have to say, I liked The Silent Wife more. I really like the authors voice she used through the characters. The author, A.S.A Harrison, actually passed away in 2013 from cancer. She was an artist from Toronto, and the book was published after her death. The writing was eloquent and well done. The story was very intriguing, even if there was no suspense in the first half. You like the characters, you hate the characters. You want things to happen. You want justice for Jodi. Her common-law husband of 20 years, Todd, has been cheating on her. And now it’s time for her to get revenge.

37. Blood Ties – Samantha Hayes ✔️ 10/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • This book was incredible. I also just found out that this was Samantha Hayes debut novel…………
  • Earlier this year, I read Sam Hayes’ novel Until You’re Mine which was also a really good mystery/thriller. However, after completing this novel, I can 100% say that this one is much better! I actually have nothing negative to say about this book. Samantha Hayes has such an interesting writing style, where she alternates narrators through the chapters, and leads you to think one thing, and then completely blows your mind by the end of the book. I honestly read the synopsis and thought I knew what was going to happen. Pages in, I was confused. Then my mind changes again – then again. And then it ended and I was blown away. Chills. Such a good novel. I definitely recommend this book to anyone, even if the subject matter may not intrigue you.

 

OCTOBER

38. The Weight of Silence – Heather Gudenkauf ✔️ 6/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • I wanted to like this book; I really did. Earlier this year, I read These Things Hidden by Heather, and I wasn’t really satisfied with it. The premise of The Weight of Silence sounded interesting, and so I put it on my to-read list a while ago, but because of my dissatisfaction with the other book of Heather’s, I put off reading it for a long time. But then I heard good things about it, and my curiosity was getting the best of me. So… I FINALLY read it. And oh no….. It wasn’t that great.
  • The premise makes this book so much more interesting than it is. In reality, there’s not really any suspense or questions left hanging. The majority of the book was spent focused on flashbacks of two main characters old love life from their childhood, which was not relevant to the plot whatsoever. Anyway, I won’t get into detail and spoil it, but if you love mystery/thrillers, I would not recommend this one. Yet I’m still giving it a 6/10 because it wasn’t awful to read. I was still intrigued at the story line at parts.

39. The Woods – Harlan Coben ✔️ 7.5/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • I read this book in a day, but I still only rate it a 7.5. Harlan Coben is a very popular author with many NYT Best Sellers. In July, I read his book Fool me Once, and it was actually very good and well written. However, in October, I attempted to read The Stranger, and also had four other books of his lined up to read. (e-books) Fifty pages into The Stranger, and I could not stand the writing. It was not eloquent at all, and sounded almost immature. I went on to read reviews on the other books I had on my list, and people noted the same thing. So I gave up on The Stranger and read The Woods.
  • In sum, it was a good book. A good mystery that keeps the pages turning because you just want to know what happened to those kids in the woods 20 years ago!!!

40. A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini ✔️ 10/10 (historical fiction)

  • Oh my God. No words. I read The Kite Runner back in 2012, and it was incredible. This too is just… life changing. Hosseini is magical in the way he writes and tells stories. He reaches out, grab your heart, and pulls on it. Hard. This book is awful, in the way we see how the characters face struggles in Afghanistan, and the problems they deal with on a day-to-day basis. It’s just heartbreaking. But you fall in love with the characters, and the story as a whole is just magnificent. I cried at least twice, especially at the end, that very last line broke me. I 100% recommend EVERYONE to read this book. 10/10

41. I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai ✔️ 8/10 (biography/memoir)

  • This book has been on my list for a long time, and since I just finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, which takes place in Afghanistan, I thought, what better time to read this than now? If you haven’t heard of this book….. Google it right now. It’s a biography by Malala, the girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out for girls’ rights to go to school. (In 2012). The story of what happened to her is scary and incredible all at once. I must admit, the first 100 pages were a bit slow when she’s talking about war and the Taliban, but it picks up speed and I was so invested in hearing her story and what an amazing person she is before all of this even took place. I finished it in one day. 8/10

42. Into the Darkest Corner – Elizabeth Haynes ✔️ 10/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • OH. MY. GOD. One of the best books I’ve read, by far. I was so captivated by this novel, right from the beginning. It’s over 400 pages, but the chapters are so short than you keep saying to yourself, “okay, just one more chapter,” and then you end up fighting with yourself to put away the damn book to go to sleep at 1am. It was AMAZING. And it’s Elizabeth Haynes debut novel!!! Incredible. The story touches on domestic abuse and mental illness (OCD, PTSD), and gives you those 50 Shades of Grey feels. I hope this book demonstrates how terrible those kind of men are and abuse is NOT love. This book was creepy, thrilling, exhilarating, and down right SCARY. I got chills so many times. Because it could actually happen to you…….

43. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn✔️ 10/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • The most anticipated book on my list. I saw the movie when it came out back in 2014 and didn’t know it was based on a book. Then I began reading about Gillian Flynn, and came to the conclusion that she is a literary genius. So I read Dark Places, then Sharp Objects, and now, finally: Gone Girl.  Without going into too much detail, this book was a masterpiece. Incredible. Definitely a hallmark for books and authors everywhere. Hence why every new book since is referred to as THE NEXT GONE GIRL. Well done, Gillian. So much respect for this woman.

44. Twisted – Andrew E. Kaufman✔️ 5/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • I am honestly baffled how this book has a majority of 4 stars and 5 stars on Goodreads… This book was not that good. The writing style annoyed me very much. I’ve mentioned this before, but I really dislike books with bad writing style. Not eloquent whatsoever, the narrator’s voice was whiny and annoying, almost immature.  Anyway, the twist at the end was pretty decent (but lazy/predictable) and that’s the only reason I’m giving this 5/10. But I would not recommend this book.

45. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr ✔️ 8/10 (historical fiction)

  • I’ve heard so many amazing things about this book (it is the 2015 winner of the Pulitzer prize, after all), and don’t get me wrong, it is riveting and the writing is just outstanding, but this is a book about war. And more heavy than previous historical fiction’s I’ve read (The Book Thief, Between Shades of Gray, A Thousand Splendid Suns). This book was kind of slow getting into, and like I said, the majority is about war. There’s two storylines: Marie-Laure, and Werner. I personally enjoyed reading Marie-Laure’s chapters more, and though I liked Werner, and his reality was of many of boys his age in Germany, it was just a bit slow for me most of the time. Good read though, and quite frankly, the last thirty pages were the best.

46. You Belong to Me – Samantha Hayes ✔️ 9/10 (myster/thriller)

  • Wow, Mrs. Hayes, you’ve outdone yourself once again. This is my third book by Samantha Hayes and she is just incredible. Keep in mind when you’re reading her books: whatever you think is happening, or whatever you think you know, you’re wrong. She tells the story, throws you a curve ball, and leaves you gaping, never even seeing it coming. This is a creepy thriller that keeps you turning the pages.

 

NOVEMBER

47. Salt to the Sea – Ruta Sepetys✔️ 8/10 (YA historical fiction)

  • After reading Between Shades of Grey, I knew I had to continue reading books from Ruta, who does a phenomenal job at portraying true historical events, in a fictional story. This book is about four teenagers, struggling to survive the war in 1945, as well as the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustaf, which is one of the most tragic shipwrecks in marine history, but is never talked about. It was a great book, but I personally preferred Between Shades of Grey.

48. Me Before You – JoJo Moyes ✔️ 10/10 (contemporary fiction)

  • I honestly don’t know what to say right now. I am utterly speechless. Never have I read a book that has made me feel so many emotions. The only other time that I have really cried during a book was in 2013, when I read The Fault in our Stars. Let me just tell you… I bawled reading this book. Multiple times. I’m talking red face, puffy eyes, hysterical sobbing. And not even because it was sad! Sometimes I was just crying because something good happened, or because I was so in love with the characters and their story. UGH. I was so enthralled by this book, the writing was so magnificent and the story and characters were riveting. I literally couldn’t take a break or stop reading it. I finished within a day, stayed up till 1am, eyes red and bloodshot. I can honestly say (ready for this, this is very very rare), that this is one of the best books I have ever read. Okay. I’m done.

49. The Storyteller – Jodi Picoult ✔️ 8.5/10 (adult contemp/historical fiction)

  • This was a great book. A 25-year-old girl develops an unlikely friendship with a 95-year-old man. Only thing is, the girl, Sage, is Jewish. And the man? Well, he’s an ex nazi S.S officer. And he wants Sage to help him die.
  • The first 3/4 of this book were phenomenal. I especially liked Minka’s chapters (a survivor of Auschwitz) who takes us back in time to the brute reality of the Holocaust. It’s absolutely devastating and heart wrenching to read. The story makes you think a lot about religion, forgiveness, blame, etc. It’s interesting because at this very moment, I’m in a Nazi Holocaust class at uni, and we are discussing if the S.S soldiers are completely at fault, and whether or not they truly had a choice or not. It’s a great ethical debate, and this book touches a lot on that.

50. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl✔️ 8/10

  • For my fiftieth book of the year, I decided to read one of the most important books of our generation: The Diary of Anne Frank. I was blown away by the eloquence of Anne’s writing. She possessed a wisdom well beyond her years. I do admit, it was a bit slow at times, since you are essentially reading the everyday mundane thoughts of a 13 year old girl, but nonetheless, everyone should read this book. Anne talks about her daily life in the secret annexe that her family was forced to hide in for two years. She discusses the family she lives with, activities she busies herself with, and even boys. Oh how Anne had an affinity for boys. It was a great read, and very disturbing knowing that she was eventually sent away to Auschwitz and died only months before Russia liberated the concentration camps. Her journal was left in the secret annexe and was returned to her father once he was liberated and returned home.

51. Animal Farm – George Orwell ✔️ 8/10

  • If you weren’t aware, Animal Farm by George Orwell is an allegory about the 1917 Russian Revolution. “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
  • This short novel depicts how the Russians overthrew one hierarchy, only to replace it with another. In the story, we have the Jone’s farm, and all of the animals take over, planning to get rid of the humans. But as the story progresses, you see how a new hierarchy begins to form and a leader rises.

52. We Were Liars – E. Lockhart ✔️ 8/10 (YA contemporary/suspense?)

  • This was a really interesting and different book. The narrator has a very unique voice, which at first sort of confused me because it’s so drastic (she almost speaks like she’s insane), but it’s kind of poetic in a way. The whole narration of the story is, really. And I grew to appreciate that narration.
  • As for the story, it was good. Not extraordinary, but it was a nice read.

53. The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware ✔️ 9/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • Oh my God!! This book was the definition of a thriller. I got chills so many times while reading this. Basically, a woman working for a travel magazine boards a luxury cruise ship. On the first night, she witnesses a woman being thrown over board. Or so she says. Because everyone on the ship is accounted for, and there is no evidence that said woman even exists….
  • This book has an Agatha Christie Murder Mystery style to it. There are only so many passengers on board… so who dun it? Mind you, we also have an unreliable narrator, similar to The Girl on the Train. Wow, this was really good. 9/10.

54. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath ✔️ 8.5/10 (literary fiction)

  • This was a very different read for me since it’s outside of my normal genre. But regardless, The Bell Jar is a classic and I really wanted to read it. It was a great book and such a unique, intriguing story. The protagonist, Esther Greenwood, tells the story of her life in New York City as a nineteen-year-old, as well as her slow decent into insanity.
  • Very witty, feminist, and coming-of-age. I really enjoyed it.
  • It’s quite sad, really. The Bell Jar is sort of an autobiography for Path’s life and her many years with depression. She ended up committing suicide in 1963 at the age of thirty.

55. The Butterfly Garden – Dot Hutchison ✔️ 9/10 (mystery/thriller/suspense)

  • A very creepy story about a young girl who is rescued from The Butterfly Garden, a beautiful place where a sadistic man who they call The Gardener keeps his Butterflies, consisting of dozens of young girls.
  • This was a really good read that kept me on edge and anticipating what was to come next. The writing was flawless and eloquent and I can’t really find anything wrong with this novel! Highly recommend!

56. Wild – Cheryl Strayed ✔️ 8/10 (memoir)

  • I started reading this book two years ago, in 2014, and got through the first 70 pages before I stopped. I’m not sure why. I guess it didn’t captivate me enough. All I remember from two years ago is that I literally bawled at the end of the first chapter. That’s how emotional it is.
  • So it’s been sitting on my bookshelf all this time, and I finally was like, I NEED TO FINISH THIS DAMN BOOK. So I did. And oh my god, it was wonderful. I know there’s the movie with Reese Witherspoon, but you have to read the book to get the full effect. I mean, it’s a memoir. A movie can’t portray her journey, her thoughts, her feelings and emotions. It was riveting. So inspirational.

 

DECEMBER

57. Still Alice – Lisa Genova ✔️ 8.5/10 (contemporary/adult fiction)

  • I watched the movie two years ago when it came out and bawled my eyes out. So why not read the book? It was absolutely heartbreaking. If you weren’t aware, Still Alice is about a woman’s decent into early on-set Alzheimer’s. My grandfather has dementia, so reading this book really gives you an insight on what it’s like for the individual experiencing it. It’s horrible. But the book was beautiful and is able to shed light on this subject that needs to be talked about.

58. You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott✔️ 9.5/10 (mystery/adult fiction)

  • This book was very well done! Abbott has a very unique writing style which flows elegantly through the novel. The books is about gymnastics and the gymnastic community, training for the Olympics, wanting to be the best etc. But when a death occurs, their tight-knit gymnastic group begins to crumble.
  • I really liked the story and found it very interesting since I myself used to be a gymnast. But even if you don’t like gymnastics, it’s an interesting read nonetheless, and has important lessons about family, community, lies, and how well you truly know a person.

59. The Secret Place – Tana French✔️ 9/10 (mystery/thriller/crime)

  • Here’s the thing about Tana French: She’s an incredible writer and a mesmerizing storyteller; but her books are just so damn long! I have about four of her books on my to-read list, but I subconsciously find myself putting them off because they’re so long. Anyway, I decided to just say screw it, and read this one already. It was amazing, of course. Her writing style is just so unique and superb, and the story was captivating. All of Tana’s books are crime/mystery/thrillers, by the way, and this story took us deep into the minds of teenage girls. Scarier than you may think…

60. Every Secret Thing – Laura Lippman✔️ 7/10 (mystery/crime)

  • I heard about this book because of the 2014 movie with Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Banks. It was a very interesting book. Seven years ago, two 11 year old girls went to jail for the murder of a baby. Now, they’re out. And another child goes missing.
  • A bit slow at times with the in-depth description of each individual narrator (there’s like, 7), but overall, a very intriguing premise and story. 

61. All The Missing Girls – Megan Miranda✔️ 8/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • The narration and story line was very captivating and interesting. Never really a dull moment. However, the author chose to tell the story backwards, which didn’t make a lot of sense to me due to the circumstances. Still a really good read though.

62. Necessary Lies – Diane Chamberlain✔️ 7.5/10 (historical fiction)

  • Interesting concept. This book details the Eugenics act and mass sterilization that occurred from the 1920’s to 1970’s. This means the state was sterilizing men and women who they deemed unfit to have children, based on the justification that they were mentally ill feeble-minded, black, poor, etc. While the story is very touching and educational, the writing style wasn’t favourable in my opinion. This book had so much potential to be better than it was, but because of the narrative, I can only give it a 7.5.

63. The Ice Twins – S.K. Tremayne✔️ 8/10 (mystery/thriller)

  • This was a really creepy/eerie read. Sarah and Angus have twin daughters. A year after one of the twin dies in an accident, the surviving twin claims to actually be the one who died.
  • The writing was well done and it was a captivating enough story. Very very creepy at times that gave me chills. Good read.

64. The Enchanted – Rene Denfeld✔️ 9/10 (literary fiction)

  • Today is December 31st, and what a great book to end off my challenge. This novel was shorter than most, but don’t be fooled, it was powerful. So unlike most of the books on this list. It wasn’t a mystery and it wasn’t a thriller. It wasn’t historical fiction and it wasn’t a memoir. It was something else entirely that I’m not even sure what genre to put into. The Enchanted tells the tale of a man on death row. He tells you stories that grow from his imagination that is able to run free while in prison. He reads copious books and has a mind like no other. The entire book is him telling you stories, whether it be made up, magical, or recounting daily life on death row. This book was definitely something else, and it captivated me from the very beginning. When he speaks of his love of reading, and details about entering other worlds, I relate to him. This book sheds light on death row inmates and reminds us that they too are human, regardless of what they’ve done. Denfeld humanizes these serial killers and psychopaths and makes us empathize with them. She tells stories of not only the inmates, but of the guards, the warden, the priest, and The Lady, a woman who’s job it is to get men off death row. It was a phenomenal read and again, a great finale to my year long reading challenge.

 

*Final note:

I managed to read 64 books this year and I feel privileged with this abundance of knowledge and experience from each world I was immersed into. It was a great experience and a super fun challenge. Not only did I read 64 books, but I also worked on and completed three of my own novels, as well as one novella. On top of this, I also read two of my books twice each to prepare to send off to literary agents. So much reading!!!!


FAVOURITE BOOKS ON THE LIST

Nonfiction

  • Big Magic (amazing book for creative people, my new bible)

Contemporary

  1. Me Before You ***
  2. Before I Fall
  3. The Enchanted

Mystery/Thrillers

  1. The Kind Worth Killing (best overall story)
  2. Into the Darkest Corner (best overall story)
  3. Gone Girl (best twist)
  4. Blood Ties (good overall story and great twist ending)
  5. Pretty Girls (such a good overall story, as well as twist)
  6. Behind Closed Doors (creepy/thrilling overall story)
  7. Don’t You Cry (good overall story, great twist ending)
  8. Sharp Objects (good overall story, GREAT twist ending)
  9. Vanishing Girls (good story with a great twist ending)
  10. Where They Found Her (good overall story with a great twist ending)

Historical Fiction

These books are just incredibly moving, sentimental, and educational.

  1. Between Shades of Grey
  2. The Book Thief
  3. A Thousand Splendid Suns

 

 

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Minh Nguyen
    January 2, 2017 at 3:42 am

    your list is amazing! you did a great job of managing to read such numerous of books in a whole year. I have not read Me Before you but watch the movie. the ending was so sad that I could not hold my tears. Have you tried Haruki Murakami? you should give it a try as his books are fantastic

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