Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Show Us Your Books - Favorite Reads of 2016

Welcome to the special year end edition of Show Us Your Books, in which we talk about our favorite reads of the year. 

This year I read 124 books. Out of those, I chose 11 as my favorite reads. The books on the list below are not necessarily the most critically acclaimed or best written books - this is Life According to Steph, not the New York Times best seller list - but they are the books that were my favorite reading experiences of this year. 

Linkup Guidelines:
The next regular monthly Show Us Your Books linkup is  Tuesday, January 10, 2017. This link up happens the second Tuesday of every month.
1. Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & me
2. Please display the button (need it? let me know) or link back to us on your blog post
2. Please visit a few other blogs who've linked up and get some book talk going!

You can see all Show Us Your Books posts here, and you can see my post like this from last year here. In no particular order, here are my favorite reads of 2016:

Dodgers by Bill Beverly - I loved this book from beginning to end. It gave a glimpse into a life that's totally foreign to me - the criminal drug element and hierarchy of the streets. Beverly didn't go deep enough to overload you with info, but just far enough to make you realize it is a life with totally different rules that you can't even imagine. I loved the main character.
ARC ebook from Netgalley

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver - I found this read emotional and moving. I was a little ragged and achy inside when I finished it. I don't know if it hit me at a good time or what, but the entire reading experience with the story and the words and all of it was beautiful. This is one of the things I really love about reading - the after feeling. I still feel it when I think back on it.
library hardback

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy - I read this beginning to end in less than 24 hours. I loved the story and messages in this book. I thought Willowdean was just the right combination of kickass and vulnerable and enjoyed the blossoming of her misfit friends. Thoroughly enjoyable.
library hardback

Brutality (Fina Ludlow #3) by Ingrid Thoft - The third book in the Fina Ludlow series did not disappoint. I had to stay up until 1 a.m. on a work night to finish it. I think Fina is a kickass female lead character and if you like mystery thrillers, you might enjoy the Fina books. This entry is really a vote for all three Fina books.
e-book, kindle

Water From My Heart by Charles Martin - Have I mentioned how I hate the star rating system on Goodreads? I hate the star rating system on Goodreads. But this is a flat out five star for me. It gutted me in a wonderful way. I do love a good redemption story.
Library, hardback

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly - Based on actual occurrences of women in Nazi camps, specifically Ravensbruck. Good Lord, this story. World War II stories are so hard to read, which is exactly why they must be told and re-told and read in all of their incarnations. So we don't forget how terrible humans can be to each other. And so we don't forget how resilient the human spirit can be. It was a very emotional, very good read. I liked the alternating viewpoints. I haven't been able to pick up a WWII book since, but it's almost time to.
Free ARC from Netgalley

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain - I was a huge fan of The Paris Wife, and McLain did not disappoint in this similar undertaking. McLain takes actual history of actual people and crafts novels around them. This time her main character was Beryl Markham (who wrote West with the Night) and Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen (Isak Dineson, writer of Out of Africa) filled it out. This was a beautiful and romantic novel tinged with loss, triumph, and hardship. I truly enjoyed it.
library hardback

Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon - This started a little slow for me. Depressing as hell too, in places throughout. But I genuinely wanted more story from every character, and by the end I sat in a parking lot to finish it before driving home after getting off the train. It was beautiful.
free ARC from Netgalley 

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - I ripped through the Wayward Pines trilogy in a week, and I really wanted more from Crouch. This is not a continuation of the Pines series, but a force in its own right.I was glued to this book, which is saying something as it concerned quantum physics and I cared about them for once in my life. A great read. Discussed on The Armchair Librarians here.
free e-copy from Netgalley 

The Mothers by Brit Bennett - I couldn't put this down. I loved the writing itself, specifically what I came to think of as the Mothers' chorus, and the way the story was told. Read it. 
library hardback

Faithful by Alice Hoffman - I fell headfirst into this book. Great characters and relationship work by Hoffman. Sad and hopeful and full of love from unlikely sources and redemption.  
Free e-copy from Netgalley 

What were your top reads this year? 



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33 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! Goodreads ratings are weird. I don't rate every book I read, but if it's something I loved, it's pretty easy to give it a 5 star! hah

    I'm curious about Dark Matter. I haven't read anything by the author, but I know OF his work, so I think I need to try something by him in 2017.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com

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  2. I'm not sure if I have the Fina Ludlow series on my TBR but I'm most definitely adding it. It sounds like my kind of series. Hopefully, my hold on The Mothers will come in next month and I can't wait to read it. Somehow Water from my Heart and Circling the Sun escaped my notice the first time, but I'm adding them to my TBR now! Thanks again for hosting this link-up!

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  3. 124 books - that is amazing!! I read more this year than I have in years past and it felt great!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  4. You've read a lot of books this year!!! A few of these have been on my tbr for awhile and I still have gotten to them. I need to get back on my reading game!

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  5. Lilac Girls made my list too! Really enjoyed the book. I liked Dumplin' but didn't love it and The Mothers is already on my to read list.

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  6. So appreciative of you guys hosting this linkup every month! I finished up The Mothers last week and it was SO good- I'm not a big rereader, but I would love to read it again because the writing was so effortless! Faithful is on my iPad, so I'm definitely encouraged to bump it up on my list of what to read next!

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  7. Valley of the Moon was SO good. I should have put that on my list. Dark Matter is still on my list. Lilac Girls was so good, and yeah.. I'm not going to be able to pick up another WWII book for quite some time, but I will eventually. added the others i haven't read to my list. thanks for hosting every month!

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  8. Several of the books that were your favorites from the year are on my list to read, and I'm so looking forward to reading them, especially since they've gotten such great reviews from you and others! I've added Circling The Sun and Faithful to my list as well! Thanks again for hosting the Show Us Your Books linkup every month! I love having a TBR that's so long and filled with great books!

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  9. Lilac Girls is on my list this year too. Loved it. I haven't been able to read a WWII novel since reading it either but I think I've found one I want to read finally. I'm so gladI stumbled on y'alls link up with year. It really is one of my favorites! Can't wait to keep it up in 2017!

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  10. Just added Water From My Heart to my TBR list. It sounds pretty great!
    Valley of the Moon, Lilac Girls, and Circling the Sun are already on the list- hopefully I get to them this year!

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  11. The Mothers and Faithful sound like great reads! You really put a dent into some good books.

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  12. WATER FROM MY HEART. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I'm so happy you read it!!

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  13. I just added most of these to my list. I think at one point I added Dumplin' and then removed it again because I had read so many 'meh' reviews. Now I'll make sure to leave it on there.

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  14. I loved Dumplin! So cute. The Mothers & Dark Matter are on my TBR from previous SUYB ;)

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  15. Putting Faithful on my list.
    I read so many WWII books in 2015, that I stopped Lilac Girls at the beginning of 2016 because I couldn't take it anymore. Now everyone has it on their "best of" lists lol.

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  16. The "Red Rising" series was my favorite this year. I believe I got the rec from one of your blogs/posts!

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  17. All of these books sound really good. I'm enjoying The Mothers right now thanks to you and the SUYB community :) I also really think I would enjoy that Fina Ludlow series so I'm bumping that to the top of my list for the new year. Dark Matter is on there & same with Faithful. I might get to Lilac Girls someday when I'm back on a WWII kick :)

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  18. Yay for Dumplin'! I already had Lilac Girls and Water from My Heart on my list, and I added a couple more of yours. But I could not get on board with Dark Matter. It just didn't do it for me and I was bummed because you and Jana liked it so much.

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  19. How have I not heard of/read some of these books? They all seem like fantastic reads - my list for 2017 already is filling up!

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  20. So I'm pretty impressed that we have both read a lot of books this year, but we still have three matches on our list! Haha. I read Faithful a few weeks ago and really loved it. I need to get my hands on Dumplin' soon!

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  21. Man...I bow to you - you are my reading queen!

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  22. Dodgers is EXACTLY my kind of book and I put it on my list when you read it the first time and I have zero clue why I haven't read it yet.

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  23. Many of these were already on my list from previous link-ups but I love to take a second look at those good enough to make it to the best of the year list. I almost started Animal Dreams last night but chose something else instead. Definitely looking forward to going through these posts and thanks to you guys as always for getting us together for book talk!

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  24. So glad to have found this wonderful book community in 2016! I loved The Mothers and Dumplin! I am going to put Faithful on my tbr list for 2017. Pam

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  25. I'm excited that there's a Barbara Kingsolver book I've never heard of. I need to read that one for sure.

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  26. This is great at reminding me of books I put on my to read list and haven't gotten to yet. Water From My Heart and Lilac Girls are two of these. I definitely need to get my hands on Dark Matter.

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  27. The MOthers and Faithful are definitely on my list of favorites for 2016!

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  28. I have Dumplin' in my TBR pile and I can't wait to dive in!
    Goodreads' star system sucks! Maybe 2017 will bring half stars!

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  29. Lilac Girls and Dark Matter are on my list for sure! I have heard so many good things about both!

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  30. I was happy to see Faithful on your list too! I remember really liking Animal Dreams when I read it but don't remember too much about it. I'm reading Flight Behavior from her now and it's not one of my favorites. I have Lilac Girls sitting on my shelf and will get to it soon!

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  31. I don't like the GoodReads star system either. Very few books can earn a five from me. They have to be earth-shattering, life-changing, etc. And most of what I read is just entertaining and feel good.

    I'm definitely intrigued by Lilac Girls and Faithful.

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  32. I have to put this books on my list!! thanks for the suggestions! I'll be checking here for the show me your books link up, this is exciting!

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! The next Show Us Your Books is Tuesday!

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