Serena’s Favorite Reads of 2016: Picks 10 Through 6

The end of the year is upon us, and we are about to embark into 2017. Given that we both did a lot of reading this past year, and had a lot of opinions about what we read, we thought that we would reveal our top picks of the year this entire week! So today I’m going to countdown from ten to six.

22840421Pick Number 10: “My Lady Jane” by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

“My Lady Jane” Review

My first pick is this quirky, historical comedy that completely blindsided me. It was a book that I had thrown on to a Highlights lists simply based on the wackiness of the plot synopsis (Lady Jane Grey’s story re-told in a manner similar to “The Princess Bride” and featuring a love interest who turns into a horse during the day). But it sold me! It sold me on solid writing, hilarious dialogue, a great heroine, and just the right amount of camp to become a real page turner. Just teaches me not to judge a book based on the weirdness of its description!

18068907Pick Number 9: “Court of Fives” & “Poisoned Blade” by Kate Elliot

“Court of Fives” Review & “Poisoned Blade” Review

Ok, so this is kind of cheat-y, but I literally rated these two equally in my reviews of them both, and as they are part of a series…yeah, I can justify this decision all day long, if you want! Featuring a spunky heroine, a diverse and unique world, and lots of action (not just the typical fantasy fare of sword fighting and such, but actual sports competitions) these two books were a blast. As a few more cherries on the top, it presented a YA heroine who has her priorities in the correct order and a love interest/romance plot that is believable and enjoyable.

17378527Pick Number 8: “The Raven King” by Maggie Stiefvater

“The Raven King” Joint Review

Kate and I read and reviewed this entire series, and it was one that only got better as it went along. So, while I loved them all, I chose to feature this, the last book in the series, as my pick for this list. Enough can’t be said about Stiefvater’s skills as a young adult fantasy novelist. Her writing is so incredibly poignant and lyrical, her world-building is unique and often quite dark and daring, and her characters always pull at the heart strings. The balancing act that she pulls off with this series (especially with nailing an ending in this book that she had been laying the groundwork for from the very start), featuring so many distinct characters, perspectives and voices, all while never losing her way with a complex plot, is truly impressive.

27190613Pick Number 7: “As I Darken” by Kiersten White

“As I Darken” Review

I’m pretty sure I featured this book in the same bizarre “Highlights” post that included “My Lady Jane” and pretty much for the same reason: too weird not to read! And again I was blown away by another fantastic story! What if Vlad the Impaler was a woman? And she had a brother? And they had a complicated relationship, made all the more complicated by growing up as royal hostages and developing feelings for their mutual friend, the prince who will one day rule? This book is dark and deeply lovely, setting up complicated characters whose struggles are heartbreaking and wonderful.

The Last Mortal BondPick Number 6: “The Last Mortal Bond”

“The Last Mortal Bond” Review

I reviewed this entire trilogy on the blog, but only read this, the last in the series, for the first time this year. As we all know, sticking the landing is challenging in the best of situations. Even more so here, as Staveley had set up his three protagonists, the siblings and children of the recently passed Emperor, as at odds with each other, each one with different pieces of a very large puzzle at their disposal. The world building and plot are driven by a complex web of different political, religious, and cultural perspectives, so if you’re in the mood for detailed high fantasy that does have an ending not only in sight but in print (coughGAMEOFTHRONEScough), then this series is for you!

So that’s ten through six. Next time I will give a countdown of my top five. What have been some of your favorite reads of 2016?

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