Best Books of 2016

Welcome one, welcome all, to the inevitable and downright obligatory Best Books of 2016 post that isn’t at all subjective or biased in any way. (Disclaimer: that sentence was entirely a lie.)

(If you’re looking for my more stats-based wrap up of 2016 then please do pop over to my 2016: A Bookish Year In Review post!)

I’m sure you’ve seen enough of these lists floating around in the past week or so but, basically, I’ve decided to draw a line under (let’s face it a pretty crappy) 2016 in the most positive way possible – by celebrating some absolutely brilliant books that I’ve read this past year. They may not necessarily have been published in 2016, but all of them were read by yours truly in these past twelve months and, it’s safe to say, if they made this list and have stuck around despite my patchy memory, then they must have been something special. Each of these books has well and truly earned their place on this list and I’ve detailed the not-at-all-incoherent reasoning behind each choice below so that, hopefully, my flailing might persuade you to read them yourself if you haven’t already.

Right, without further ado, let’s do this like the music charts, in reverse order, shall we?

burialritescoverHonourable Mention: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Why?: When people say a story is “haunting”, I finally know what they mean thanks to Hannah Kent’s novel. Set in Iceland, it follows the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last person to be sentenced to death in the country. From the outset we are told what Agnes has allegedly done and this characterisation of her as a “murderess” haunts her every word and interaction from this opening page. Add onto that Kent’s chilling writing style which masterfully evokes the harsh, bleak, but beautiful, Icelandic landscape, and you have an absolutely astounding book that has stayed with me for many months.

“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.”

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August Favourites

The last time I put together a favourites post was back in December 2014 – yep you read that correctly. I’ve always been unsure as to whether I really have anything to contribute by way of monthly favourites type posts, essentially because I’m not a lifestyle or beauty blogger.

However, I do like a lot of things in terms of arts and entertainment and I never pass up a chance to gush about them. So I thought I’d give it another shot in case I accidentally share something someone else finds and likes too!

Favourite Books

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

How can I begin to explain this book? Ok, it’s like Buffy the Vampire Slayer still demons and demon slaying meets secret societies meets Jane Austen/Regency society, complete with balls and carriages and paying calls to friends and drinking tea. If you enjoy Pride and Prejudice but think, hey, this would be improved if Lizzie Bennet was a demon hunter (no, not like the and Zombies adaptation) who was introduced to her calling by a brooding Mr Darcy, then The Dark Days Club might have something for you. On a complete separate and more domestic note, the relationship between the main character, Lady Helen, and her maid, Darby, reminds me so much of the relationship between Lady Mary and Anna in Downton Abbey so if you’re here for female friendships, the book is also good for that.

asoscoverA Storm of Swords/ASOIAF by George R.R. Martin

I am now 3 books into my #readasoiaf readalong attempt and, let me tell you, it’s had its ups and downs but I feel like now, finally, with A Storm of Swords, this is definitely a high. The first half of A Storm of Swords is, not going to lie, something of a slog, but it completely makes up for it in the proverbial shitstorm that is A Storm of Swords Part 2. All my patience thus far was rewarded, I got my Red and Purple Weddings I’d been waiting for, and also read some pretty damn amazing character development. Tyrion’s still on fine witty form too, so obviously this volume would make it into my favourites for August.

(I tried to form more coherent thoughts into a review, if you’re interested.)

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Review | A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

asoscoverTitleA Storm of Swords (2000)
published as Part 1: Steel and Snow, Part 2: Blood and Gold 
Author: George R.R. Martin
Read:  Part 1: 18th July – 17th August | Part 2: 21st August – 29th August
Genre: fantasy
Rating: Part 1: 3.5 out of 5 stars | Part 2: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The third book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga, A Storm of Swords takes the feuding kings and lords of Westeros into a territory fondly know as ‘shit meets fan’ and leaves the series in grittier and darker places than ever before. All the political manoeuvring and scheming to this point, and throughout the course of this book, tips the narrative over a precipice from which it can never return, not to mention many of its principle characters.

” ‘Woman?’ She chuckled. ‘Is that meant to insult me? I would return the slap, if I took you for a man.’ “

Opening in the aftermath of the Battle of Blackwater Bay, A Storm of Swords sees a retreating Stannis Baratheon’s plans pitted against the “rightful” claim of his nephew, King Joffrey, to the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. The Young Wolf, Robb Stark, proclaimed King of the North, continues to rule over territory through a mixture of wars and alliances whose cracks truly begin to splinter and show. Meanwhile, on the edges of the picture, exiled Daenerys Targaryen makes her way across the Dothraki Sea accompanied by the remaining paltry excuse for a khalasar and her three growing dragons, heading for Slaver’s Bay and its army of slave soldiers in the hope of gathering more men behind her. And the fringe threat of the barbaric wilding army also appears, roaring, on the horizon of the Seven Kingdoms, promising terror and blood.

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Friday Reads | 12th August

Just a quick Friday Reads post from me today! I’m going to ambitiously share what I plan to read this Friday and into the weekend ahead but, as we all know, I rarely follow through on reading plans once I document them here. However, I am sitting pretty at 49 out of 52 books in my 2016 Reading Challenge so I think I’m doing just fine.

Which is a good thing because my reading this week thus far hasn’t been brilliant. I should probably finish up some books I am halfway through so I can get my reading down to one, or two, items, but I’m nearly always a polygamous reader so I’m sure I will be diving into all of the following books intermittently over this weekend:

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