Books We’re Thankful For: Or Our Favorite Books of the Year!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  On today, the official of giving thanks, we have decided to share the books from 2016 that we are most thankful for.  These are the books that we enjoyed the most or the ones that stayed with us long after we read them.  We hope that you’ll enjoy them just as much as we did.

Becky’s List
Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

From my Goodreads Review: Dill’s whole life is overshadowed by the legacy of his father a Pentecostal minster known for his use of poisonous snakes in religious series and a very public scandal. Dill’s only solace is the relationship with two fellow outcasts however when they begin to embark on different paths in life Dill most deal with his family’s history to secure his future.

This book just wowed me and has stayed with me since I read it back in March.  Zentner did a beautiful job creating a world in the South where each of our main characters are outcasts for different reasons.  Zentner delicately explores issues with small town scandal, race, socioeconomic difference, and the universal sense of not fitting in.  I was drawn in from page one and instantly cared about the characters and their journeys.  The story and it’s twists and heartbreaking while inspiring ending has stayed with me throughout the past years and has made “Serpent King” one of my most recommended books.  

We are the Ants by Shaun Hutchinson
From my Goodreads Review: In the past year, Henry’s boyfriend killed himself, his grandmother’s Alzheimer’s has progressed, his mother is struggling through with her job as a waitress, and he has been repeatedly abducted by aliens. Aliens who have given Henry the ability to decide if the world should end in 144 days. Henry is ready for everything to end until he meets Diego Vega and he begins to find things to live for. 

I was completely engrossed by this book. The tragedies that hit Henry and his family are heartbreaking; His mother’s struggle to come to terms with her life post-divorce, his brother’s loss, his grandmother slipping away to illness all felt tangible real especially Henry’s struggle with his decision of life or death. This is a book that at first glance appears to be sci-fi but instead is a realistic depiction of loss and depression.  Don’t judge it by it’s sci-fi undertones or it’s bulky size just try it and see if you can put it down.     

The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

From my Goodreads Review: Tess Kendrick is a fixer. She resolves the problems of her class mates at one of Washington D.C. most elite schools. When one of her classmate is killed at the same time the President of the United States is shot Tess finds herself drawn into a conspiracy. 

I was hesitant to put a sequel on my Top 5 list but I couldn’t resist.  This book grabbed me from page one and didn’t let go.  I literally, read it in one sitting.  It was a fast, frothy read filled with suspense and political intrigue.  I appreciate a book that makes reading fun and this one definitely did that.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Bauxbaum

From my Goodreads Review: Jessie’s life has changed. Her widowed father recently returned home from a conference married to a woman that lives across the country and now Jessie is starting her junior year in a new school where she doesn’t belong living in a strange city in a house full of strangers. the only bright spot in her strange new life is the anonymous conversations she is having with Somebody/Nobody, a fellow student who listens to her and gives her advice. Has Jessie made a connection with real person is this all part of some cruel trick?

The book reminded why I love YA so much.  It was the quintessential coming of age story right down to the mysterious love interest and the new step-family.  It was nice in a year where many of the books I read left me feeling “meh” to find a book that was just a nice reminder of what wonderful stories can be found in this genre.  

A Million Worlds with You by Claudia Gray

Marguerite Caine’s fate along with the rest of the multi-verse will be decided in the final novel in the Firebird Trilogy.  Marguerite will team up with her love Paul and their friend Theo to save not only their world but all of it’s incarnations from the evil Triad Corporation that is willing to destroy the entire universe.

I will admit that I may have picked this one because I just recently read it and I have a soft spot in my heart for time travel/alternative universe travel stories however this was a great ending to a great series.  Claudia Gray spent three novels creating alternative universes that didn’t only seem possible but completely probable.  Plus, this is an adventure story…an epic adventure story.  There are many evil villains, a romantic and tortured Russian love interest and a feisty heroine that you can’t help but root for or basically everything that is needed for a classic adventure story.   “A Million Worlds with You” spans space, time, and universe to give the reader a completely wonderful and satisfying conclusion.  

Sarah’s List
All the Feels by Danika Stone

29222548Liv is obsessed with Starveil and writes fan fiction for that fandom. Her world is rocked when her favorite character is killed off. She decides to start a campaign to bring this character back. Using fanfiction and video skills. Liv and her best friend (but God, why isn’t he her boyfriend) Xander work together on this project. Liv becomes increasingly more obsessed about her campaign and as a result her college grades suffer. Her mother gives her an ultimatum, either stop writing fanfiction or she will not pay for college any longer. Is it really worth giving up what she loves.

This book did what Scarlett Epstein could not. I love the steampunk Xander and the witty Liv. These characters are awesome. I am also obsessed with Starveil, even though it doesn’t exist IRL. Loved this book. I am also particularly fond of the Comic Con hijinks and meeting the talent.

The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen
After tragic events ended in Jason going to juvie, Innis’s brother Skip being severely burned, and Liz left to pick up the pieces after losing her best friend, Jason.

Skip foreword a few years, Liz is the it girl and she is dating Innis. She must constantly distance herself from her past with Jason. However, this becomes more difficult when Jason is released from juvie and moves next door to Liz. Try as she might, Liz just can’t stay away from Jason. Maybe, deep down, she really doesn’t want to.

This was a great dramatic love story. Totally perfect. Told in the vein of an Abbi Glines book.

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Njkamp

24529123 Told through the perspective of several teens, this novel walks the reader through Opportunity High’s school shooting. Sylv and her girlfriend Autumn are trapped in the auditorium, where the school shooter, Tyler (who is Autumn’s brother) has locked the entire school. The students and teachers watch as he quickly begins his killing rampage.

Tomas and his friend Far are waiting in the principal’s office. It is the first day back before break, classes haven’t even started, and they are already in trouble for their pranks. It is lucky that the two were in trouble because they are locked out of the auditorium when the shooting begins. The two quickly reach out to emergency responders, and then attempt to free the other students and teachers from the auditorium. Tomas will stop at nothing to save his sister, Sylv, from this event.

Claire is on the track team and was allowed to miss morning assembly, which saved her from the horrific event. She and her track team members group together and work to find help for their peers.

This sad event begins and ends within an hour, but lives are irreversibly changed. While the characters could have been more developed, many were surface level, and the text message/social media messages didn’t flow as well as they could have, the book was a typical emotional book.  Goodreads is all about this book right now and it does cover serious relevant social issues.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Riley is given a fresh start at a new school after dealing with intense bullying at the old school and a suicide attempt. Riley is gender fluid, which means that this character presents as both male and female, depending on his/her internal gauge. Riley finds that the same issues have followed him/her to his/her new school, with the jocks and popular kids continuing to bully him/her. However, Riley finds a glimmer of hope through Solo, a jock/nerd, and cute goth girl at school. Each seems to take who he/she is in stride and connects with him/her as a person. As Riley is navigating his/her identity within the new school he/she is also determining and working on coming out to her mother and political figure father. Riley uses a blog to discuss his/her feelings, which goes viral and catapults him/her to a new position within the LGBTQIA world.

This was a compelling discussion of a social issue that has continued to become a greater part of our country’s political stage. I feel that it gives these issues a face and makes it easier for readers to understand the challenges associated with people experiencing these issues and for those who are gender fluid to find themselves in the YA world.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Great new fantasy series set in a desert world.
24934065Miraji is a great gunfighter and hopes to use her talents to get away from her uncle and his family. After her mother and father died, Miraji was sent to live with her uncle, his many wives, and children, where she is only considered a burden. When Miraji participates in a competition, she meets a mysterious stranger who will alter the course of her life. He is running from the law and she is trying to stay safe from the magical jinnis. Together the two run from those chasing them and begin uncovering nefarious plots surrounding the current ruler.

Great intrigue in a new location. It is an exciting and compelling new twist on girl trying to rise above her current position in life and become independent.

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