Posted in Booktube

Booktube’s Top 10 Books of 2016

Today I am here with the last of my 2016 round-up posts. So in 2015, I started watching Booktube a lot and it’s where I get a lot of my book recommendations. My favorite videos to watch are everyone’s year-end videos of their favorite books of the year and there are a lot of them. So what I decided to do, because I like to be unnecessarily complicated, is to create an excel algorithm that could tell me definitively what were the top books of the year. The algorithm is pretty complicated but it takes into account ranking (if booktubers had ranked their favorites), and it even takes into account whether booktubers ranked their favorites or not.

This list is great if you’re new to Booktube and want to know what books are popular right now, but you don’t have the time to watch all those videos. This list is based on the following 30 booktubers (because I can’t include everyone):

polandbananasBOOKS, Katytastic, abookutopia, shoutame, jessethereader, Tashapolis, HardbackHoarder, PeruseProject, padfootandprongs07, Piera Forde, emmmabooks, Between Chapters, BookswithEmilyFox, Bookables, Hailey in Bookland, BangadyBangz, Riley Marie, Thoughts on Tomes, Kassidy Voinche, carolinethereader, A Clockwork Reader, sarawithoutanH, WhyMermaids, ChapterStackss, Super Space Chick, Kellys Bookspill, ForTheLoveOfBooks, InsaneReader, gracewithabookinherface, and brandonthebookaddict.

Consider this a booktuber recommendation list too. Collectively, they read a lot of YA so this list will comprise mostly of YA books. But anyway, without further ado, here is the list!

10. Cress by Marissa Meyer

This is the 3rd book in The Lunar Chronicles series and it came out in 2014. Oh yeah, I should mention that booktubers typically include all the books they read in 2016 and not necessarily just new releases so some of these were released before 2016. I haven’t read this series yet but I’m planning to this year and I’ve been told that Cress is the best book in the series. The series is a sci-fi retelling of characters like Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel (which Cress is about), and Snow White, which just sounds incredible to me. Can’t wait!

9. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This book came out in 2015 and is a sci-fi story told in a very interesting format. It tells the story in transcripts, IM chats, computer language, and all kinds of other cool ways. I also read this book this year and I enjoyed the unique way that the story was told. The plot was very interesting, but I think it was only interesting because of the way it was told. If it was told in normal prose, it might not have been so interesting. Also, I didn’t like the main characters in the story and found them to be very one-dimensional. Still, it was a very cool read, plot and format-wise, and I can see why everyone loved it so much. The second book, Gemina, came out last year but I’ve heard it’s not as good as Illuminae. It also follows different characters so it seems to be more of a companion novel? But I think you still have to read Illuminae first before you read Gemina. Not sure if I’m going to pick up Gemina though cause I’m not really all that interested.

8. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

I’m actually quite surprised that this is so low on the list. It seemed like everyone on Booktube was raving about this towards the later end of the year. Maybe because it came out later in 2016, not many people had a chance to read it yet. This is the second book in the Six of Crows duology which is set in a fantasy world (the same universe as Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha trilogy) and the first book was about a group of characters coming together for an impossible heist. Sounds super interesting! It also has a very diverse group of characters, which is always important. So far, I have not heard a single person say anything bad about this book or the duology as a whole so I’m quite interested in it even though I’m not much of a fantasy reader. People also say that this second book is better than the first one, which will appear later in this list. Also, that cover is #goals.

7. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

This is a historical fiction based on a real-life event published in 2016. It is about the worst maritime disaster in history during World War II that nobody even knows about. It follows four characters as they try to board a ship to escape from East Prussia at the tail end of World War II. I also read this book this year and it is an absolutely devastating story. However, I liked Ruta Sepetys’ other book, Between Shades of Grey, a little bit more than this one. That one was published a year before Salt to the Sea and the stories are somewhat connected but it’s not necessary to read Between Shades of Grey before reading Salt to the Sea. I just liked Between Shades of Grey a bit more because we follow one main character instead of four, so I felt like I had more time to get attached to her. Still, Salt to the Sea is a beautiful and important book and Ruta Sepetys specializes in the untold stories of World War II, like the horrors experienced by the people in Lithuania, Siberia, East Prussia, and those other countries that we don’t get to learn about in our history classes.

6. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

This is the last book in The Raven Cycle, which is a four-book fantasy series, and it was published in 2016. I also haven’t read this series yet but planning to later this year. I’ve heard that it’s a slow-paced, character-driven, atmospheric kind of read so if you like a fast-paced action plot, maybe this one isn’t for you. There seems to be mixed feelings about this finale, some people really liked it but some people felt that it fell short of their expectations. Will get back to you on my own thoughts once I’ve read the series for myself!

5. The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

I’ve heard a lot of great things about this 2016 release, even outside of Booktube. I don’t know much about it except that it is a story talking about rape culture. I’m always up for books talking about heavy topics so I’m quite excited to give it a go! I think it’ll be a pretty eye-opening read. Usually, I’m quite wary of books dealing with heavy issues because you never know if they’ll be able to deal with it properly but since so many booktubers highly recommend it, I think I can be safe in setting high expectations for this one (famous last words?).

4. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

You know a series is good when two books in it (in this case, all of the books) make it to the same top 10 list endorsed by 30 booktubers. This was released in 2015 and is the book that precedes Crooked Kingdom and is the one that contains the heist plot. I’m not actually sure what the plot of Crooked Kingdom is (because spoilers) but I’m definitely interested in reading both of them. I mean how can I not be when every booktuber is yelling at me to read it! In every video!

3. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

This is Nicola Yoon’s second book and it was published in 2016. Her first book which came out in 2015, Everything Everything, made pretty big waves on Booktube as well and if I had done one of these lists for 2015, that book would probably have been on it. Feelings were mixed for Everything Everything but it seems that people unanimously love The Sun is Also a Star. This one also sounds more interesting to me. It is about a Jamaican girl who meets a Korean-American boy on the day she is about to be deported back to her home country . Sounds like a love story to me! It touches on important topics of immigration and deportation though, which seems especially important these days given certain wall-building enthusiasts. It’s giving me Eleanor and Park vibes although no one has described it as such so I might be wrong. Definitely interested in reading it though.

2. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

This was definitely to be expected because it was basically everyone’s most anticipated release of 2016. Booktube is really obsessed with Cassandra Clare and to be honest, I haven’t read a single one of her books. I’m going to attempt to read The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices this year but I’m quite afraid honestly. I think I might be too old for them and I get so easily annoyed with YA romances now. Gonna give it my very best shot but we’ll see how it goes. But anyway, Lady Midnight is the first book in a new series by Cassandra Clare but apparently, you have to have read The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, and all the other novellas before you can read this one. Basically, you have to read every single book that Cassandra Clare has published before you can read this. Clever huh? Don’t think I will ever get to this unless I suddenly fall in love with the Shadowhunter world. Check back here for my progress on that.

1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

If you have watched even one Booktube video in 2016, you would have known this was going to be number one. This book took the reading corner of the Internet by storm! It is a 2016 release and is the second book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. The first book was pretty controversial with some people absolutely loving it and others absolutely hating it. This book though, people unanimously and aggressively love. Even people who hated the first book! I can’t quite imagine how that is possible. This is a New Adult fantasy series (so somewhat steamy oooooh) and the first book was a sort of Beauty and the Beast retelling? I’ve heard the second one is a Hades and Persephone retelling but I’m not sure how closely they really follow that. I wasn’t really interested in this series at first but after it overwhelmingly made it to the top of everyone’s lists, I’m somewhat intrigued. We shall see.

So there we are! Those are the definitive top 10 books of 2016 (at least based on 30 booktubers). This was actually incredibly fun though difficult to compile together because I got to watch so much Booktube but also, the excel algorithm was pretty complicated. Guess CAT was useful for something after all HAHA. Hope you got some recommendations from this, or at least are more informed about the kinds of books people on Booktube like. Of course, these are based on only 30 booktubers and I’m sure there are many others who are not YA readers. Ooooooh, maybe next time I will do a booktuber recommendations post? Or some sort of Guide to Booktube? Stay tuned for that!

Cheers and happy reading!

Posted in Worst Books

Most Disappointing Books of 2016

Hello again! Today I am here with my most disappointing books of 2016. I actually really enjoy posts about books that people dislike because I think they are more informative in letting me know whether a person has the same taste in books as me, as compared to their favorite books. These books were not necessarily awful (although some of them are), but it’s more that I really expected them to be great but they just turned out to be kinda meh. I gave these books either 2 or 3 stars on Goodreads. Oh, and of course, these are ranked from the least worst to the worst worst. Also, the disclaimer that these are just my opinions and if I don’t like your favorite book, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong for liking them. To each their own, ya know!

9. The Explanation for Everything by Lauren Grodstein


This book is about a biology professor and a hardcore evolutionist who is working on a paper with a student who is an evangelist and is trying to prove the existence of an intelligent creator. Sounds real technical, I know. At the time I was reading this, I was taking a class on Evolutionary Psychology which kinda blew my mind and I thought this book was going to be an interesting discussion/debate about evolution and faith and how we can believe in both. In the end, the book was just about a student-teacher affair, a professor going through his tenure review, and the promised discussion on evolution and faith was basically nonexistent. It wasn’t really that bad of a book I suppose, it had interesting insights into life as a professor and I did take away the message that it is okay to believe in something that you don’t completely understand, especially in times of grief and devastation, whether it is scientific or not. Sometimes we just need a little bit of faith. So it was not the worst book ever, but I did expect something more from it.

8. Sea by Heidi R. Kling


This one was again my fault because I expected too much from it even though I should have had no reason to. This is a YA book set in Indonesia which I just thought was super interesting because I never read a YA book set in my home country before! It’s about a girl who accompanies her dad on a trip to Indonesia to help tsunami orphans deal with their PTSD. She is also dealing with the death of her mother so her dad thinks that this would be a good experience for her. Ultimately, the book is not about dealing with PTSD so much as it is about two teenagers falling in love. I didn’t really appreciate the romance because the main character only seemed to find the love interest interesting because he was foreign and exotic. She made some really stupid decisions and got kind of annoying and whiny towards the end. Still, the backdrop of the tsunami relief efforts was interesting and enlightening and I’m glad the author touched at least a bit on some of those themes. But ultimately, it’s really just another average YA book.

7. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara


Okay here is where we start to get a little controversial. This is a best-selling adult literary fiction about a group of four friends and it kinda just follows them throughout their lives from their 20s to their 50s. One of them, Jude, has an incredibly dark past though and we see his and his friends’ struggles as he tries to move beyond his traumatic past. I was told that this book would make me cry. I can see how it would I suppose but mostly, I was just disgusted by all the awful things that happened to Jude when he was a child. It was very jarring, shocking and graphic, the descriptions of what happened to him, and maybe that’s a good thing, when a book can make you feel that way. However, after a while, I just found everything kind of gratuitous because it seemed that every bad thing that could happen, happened to Jude. It didn’t seem very realistic as we uncovered more and more of his dark past. I thought his present-day struggles with his trauma were a bit more realistic, if a tad depressing. The book also seemed to be incredibly long and I really didn’t think it was necessary. I think a good third of the book could have been cut out. If I had to summarize my experience reading this book, it would be boredom (during the third where nothing was really happening) and then disgust and soul-sucking emptiness (as we learn more and more about Jude’s past), which I don’t think the author was really going for. Needless to say, this book comes with trigger warnings for abuse, rape and self-harm.

6. This is Our Story by Ashley Elston


This is a mystery novel. A group of five friends goes into the forest to go hunting but only four come out alive. Our main character is a girl who is an intern at the district attorney’s office and she investigates this mystery with her aging boss who relies on her to see all the details that he might miss. Interesting premise but the plot itself is very cliche and formulaic of many mysteries. I think I’ve read too many mystery novels and watched too many crime procedural TV shows that the plots become too predictable after a while. This is a basic crime storyline and there was nothing impressive about it at all. The big reveal at the end was no plot twist and it was also unrealistic how our main character, a high school intern, can be taken seriously when she just barges into court during a trial. Don’t even get me started on the romance in this story which was totally unnecessary, annoying, interfered with the plot, and made our main character do stupid things. Four pet peeves I have about romances in books. Overall, a disappointing mystery and nothing to rave about really.

5. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


Aha another mystery on the list. This one is crazy hyped up though and I think the hype is what makes this one more disappointing than This is Our Story. I have the same complaints about this one. It is a cliche mystery plot that is not unique and the big reveal in the end was kind of disappointing and not very plot twisty. Seemed like a regular plotline of a procedural TV show, and not even a good one. Our main character also makes all sorts of stupid decisions and I am just not here for that kind of protagonist. The movie starring Emily Blunt does look interesting though so perhaps it translates better to the screen. But the book itself is definitely not worth all the hype.

4. 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad


This book is about three teenagers who are sent to the moon by NASA in an effort to rebuild interest in the space program. But when they get to the moon, things are not all they seem to be. This is a horror novel set in space and honestly, that description alone is enough to make me pee my pants. I cannot read horror novels because I’m a coward and I also have a fear of outer space. All that vast nothingness where no one can hear you scream and where you can’t even rely on the basic laws of physics? No thank you. Given all that, you would think this book would terrify me to pieces. Nope. It was pretty boring and the writing was so GOD AWFUL. The sentences were so jarring and they didn’t flow smoothly at all that it really hindered my enjoyment of the story. Oh but the story itself was not very enjoyable either. The scary things that were happening were just glossed over that we didn’t really get to comprehend just how scary it was, and the characters were little shits too. They were not likeable and they were incredibly one-dimensional. Not an enjoyable read and it didn’t scare me at all, even though “horror novel set in space” is the easiest way to frighten me. And I’m easily frightened.

3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath


Continuing the trend of shitting on popular books. This one is a classic so getting super controversial here. This book is about a woman working temporarily in New York and we sort of follow her downward spiral into… depression? I’m really not sure. We then see the kind of treatment she is getting and it’s not so great to say the least, because psychologists back then had no code of ethics. Interesting premise for me because I like reading about mental health and also, psychologist in training over here. Unfortunately, this was so incredibly boring. Nothing was happening and I honestly didn’t get the point of this story at all. Maybe I’m too stupid to understand classics or something but man, I was bored out of my mind. I just couldn’t understand how this became a classic. Maybe it was the writing but I wasn’t too impressed with that either. Overall, I kinda felt like it was a waste of my time.

2. Unteachable by Leah Raeder


So we’ve kinda reached the end of my disappointing books. The books I talked about above I didn’t actively hate but I just expected more from. I gave them all 3 stars. Now we are getting down to my 2 star reads, which I actively hate. Unteachable is about a student-teacher relationship and I’ll admit, I only read this because I just wanted something trashy to read. Still, I have standards for my trash. The relationship was fun and steamy in the beginning but then it dragged on and on and on and got so dramatic and I was just sick and tired of both of them in the end. I wanted to drown them honestly. I just wanted something fun and light to read and this took a turn for the dark and dramatic and veered into 50 Shades of Grey territory which I did not appreciate. It was really just an unhealthy relationship. This book is trash, and not the good kind.

1. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins 


Speaking of unhealthy relationships and trash. This book was definitely my worst read of 2016. I actually enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, which are the other novels in this companion trilogy. Isla is the last one and by far the worst one. Unlike the other two, the romance in this one was insta-lovey and underdeveloped and holy shit, the characters did some really stupid things. Isla refused to accept the consequences of their stupid decisions and just became a whiny brat. I really couldn’t stand Isla. I also cannot stand high school romances where they think that this is it, that if they get through the high school drama, they will live happily ever after (that goddamn title). How about college hmm? How about work? These characters think they know so much about the world and that “love will conquer all” even though they’re only in high school. Life is hard and high school is not even the worst part so I can’t stand it when books set in high school end with the idea that the couple is going to stay together forever. That is just not how it works. Wow, I think I’m really getting too old for YA.

So there we go, we have learnt that I’m a bitter old lady and that maybe I just can’t read pure YA romances anymore. I also can’t stand it when main characters make stupid decisions. I should also really not let the hype get to me and get my expectations up too high because that’s how I end up being disappointed. Oh well, it’s still fun to look back at disappointing reads and I don’t mind having them. It just means that the good ones stand out more!

Cheers and happy reading!

Posted in Favorites

My Favorite Books of 2016

So I know this is really late but I only just decided to start a book blog and what better way to start than with this kind of post. So here we go! Here are the top ten books I read in 2016, rank-ordered, all of which I gave 5 stars to.

10. Beside Myself by Ann Morgan


This book is about a pair of twins who like to pretend to be each other until one day, one of the twins refuses to switch back. It’s basically a look at how people’s perceptions of you can really influence your entire life trajectory. It’s the most insane case of a self-fulfilling prophecy I ever read about and as a psychology student, I’m a complete sucker for it. The story does get a bit dramatic and it seems that anything bad that can happen to our main character will happen. Still, it is a really interesting look at how the way we judge people can really influence who they become and also highlights some of the worst parenting I’ve ever read about. Kind of an eye-opening book which is why it made it onto my list!

9. Genesis by Bernard Beckett


This book… man, I don’t even know how to describe this book. It’s some sort of dystopian I guess but it’s a relatively short book that takes place over the course of a few hours. The story follows our main character as she takes a history exam about her society so we get to learn about the history of this society and how it came to be from her answers on the exam. It’s a really interesting way of introducing the world that was informative and felt genuine and didn’t feel like info-dumping. Other than the way the story is told, this book also discusses really interesting philosophical questions like how different is artificial intelligence really from humans and what gives humans our humanity? Overall, a really mind-blowing read which I did not expect at all, and one that will make you think.

8. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell


You will soon realise that I am a huge fan of dystopian books and I will likely feature many of them on my blog. This is one of the most classic dystopians out there so I thought I should give it a read if I wanted to proclaim myself a dystopian fan. It’s easy to see how this book became such a staple for the dystopian genre. It is creepy and unsettling in a quiet way, as all dystopians should be. I thought the idea of language as the thing that allows us to have independent thoughts was fascinating and the idea to severely limit the vocabulary of the society so that people cannot even think rebellious thoughts was the creepiest thing I had ever read about. That is essentially mind control in the subtlest yet most powerful way. There were so many quotable passages in this book and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy so that I can highlight them all! I also liked how the ending was different from many other dystopians in that it is a pretty bleak one and essentially nothing has changed. Much more realistic in my opinion, albeit a tad depressing. That’s just the way I like my books though!

7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


This book is extremely well-loved in the book community and perhaps it is surprising that it is only number 7. Unfortunately, this is entirely my own fault as I saw the movie before I read the book (I know, burn me at the stake) so I knew what was going to happen in the end. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I still felt all the emotions that I was supposed to throughout the entire story (though maybe a little less strongly). I thought having Death as the narrator was genius and made the writing so interesting. It was dark but also funny. The plot of the story itself was a little lacking perhaps so what I really enjoyed about this book was the writing. I really do wish I had read this before I saw the movie because I think it would have packed a much bigger punch but oh well… Still a wonderful story and an instant favorite.

6. Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens


I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this book. This is a story about a girl who was raped and is trying to deal with that. I thought this book showcased a way of dealing with rape that is different from what I usually see in other stories. Our main character in this story is actually quite high-functioning and is able to go about her life like usual. It is only when she is alone at night that the nightmares come. I thought this was an interesting portrayal of that. I also loved the romance and friendship in this story. It is not a ‘love fixes mental issues’ kind of story but more like ‘love gives you the strength to face your issues’, which I thought was beautiful. The love interest was so kind and respectful and I just want every love interest to be like him. I am so done with the bad boy trope, give me more nice guys! Contrary to popular belief, they don’t finish last, at least not in my books. The mystery element and sibling relationship in this book were also really great.

5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


This has got to be my absolute favorite historical fiction so far. The story follows a blind Parisian girl and a German boy sent to Hitler Youth and it is a slow build-up to when their paths eventually cross. I don’t usually care about beautiful or poetic writing but Anthony Doerr, man, you sucked me right in. The writing was truly, truly beautiful and was absolutely perfect for a story like this. I fell in love with all the characters and although this book was a chunker, I never wanted it to end. I wanted to keep following these characters forever. Unlike other historical fictions, I thought this one also had a pretty solid plot that had an element of mystery in it, which I loved. This book is just so beautiful (inside and out) and I can’t recommend it enough.

4. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan


This is the fourth book in The Heroes of Olympus series. Last year, I read the whole Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and The Heroes of Olympus series and it was incredible. The world of Percy Jackson is so cool! I was always fascinated by Greek mythology as a kid and I only wish I had discovered Percy Jackson sooner! It is just as enjoyable to read these books even now when I’m 23 though! The Heroes of Olympus is definitely my favorite of the two series because I just love all of the characters and their character development was just incredible. You know Rick Riordan is an incredible author when he is able to fully flesh out 10 characters in the space of 5 books. The House of Hades is my favorite one because this was like the peak of all the character development (especially precious Nico!!) and it was also incredibly exciting because we were building up to the finale. Also, Percy and Annabeth are #relationshipgoals. I can’t wait to dive back into the Percy Jackson world with the Magnus Chase and Trials of Apollo series!

3. Champion by Marie Lu


Ahhh here we go again with the dystopians. Champion is the third book in the Legend trilogy. I was pleasantly surprised by this trilogy. I thought it would be just another dystopian, following the same kind of formula all dystopians seem to follow these days. And yes, it kind of did, but it did it well. I thought the Legend trilogy was a bit more political than most other dystopians which I actually enjoyed. I like seeing how people actually carry out decisions in these societies and the kinds of biases that pervade the people. I also think this series is different in that the characters actually work together with the government (or at least a member of the government) to bring about a better society, rather than to just rebel and cause social upheaval and violence. June and Day are also OTP and while many people hated the ending of Champion, I actually really loved it, especially the epilogue. It really struck me and left me thinking about them long after I closed the book, which I can’t say for many other couples in books.

2. Unwind by Neal Shusterman


Whoo boy, how do I even begin to explain my love for this book and this series in general. The Unwind dystology consists of four books and is a dystopian series (surprise, surprise) set in a world where parents are allowed to harvest their children’s organs if they want to. Sound creepy yet? This world is so incredibly fleshed out (no pun intended) and I think that is largely due to the multiple POVs. We get so many interesting POVs throughout the series that really let us see this world and society from every possible angle. It is also the dystopian that seems closest to our real world which is incredibly scary. The process of unwinding really got me shook. Aside from the world and the multiple POV writing, our main characters are also so interesting and brave and just human. I love love love Connor, Risa and Lev and I think they are some of the most interesting but relatable heroes ever. Gaaaaahhhh I can’t say enough good things about this book and it pains me that it is not more well-known or well-loved. It has quickly become my favorite dystopian series, even surpassing The Hunger Games! If that doesn’t tell you to go read this series, I don’t know what will.

1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness


I really struggled between Unwind and A Monster Calls for the number one spot but I decided to give it to A Monster Calls. This book packs such an emotional punch for one that I read in two hours. It is a story about a boy dealing with grief and I think it is such an important read for everyone. Another beautiful story with simplistic but beautiful writing. The story is just so incredible and I am amazed at how it is able to capture so many themes and ideas about grief in such a short and simple story. A must read for anyone who is dealing with grief and highly recommended for everyone in general. The movie was also incredible and really brought out all the raw emotions I felt while reading this book. Please, do yourself a favor and read this if you haven’t. You’ll get a whole new understanding of grief and life and eventually being okay again.

So those are my top ten books of 2016! I’m excited to start book blogging although I’m not sure how often I can do it. I planned to start in 2018 but I thought I would give it a go first with some posts. I will soon post my Least Favorite Reads of 2016 and also Booktube’s Favorite Reads of 2016 where I list out the definitive top ten list of books based on 30 booktubers’ Favorites of 2016 videos.

Cheers and happy reading!