Top 10 Books of 2016


As of right now, I’ve read 198 books this year (trying to power through 2 more to reach my goal of 200!), so it was extremely difficult to narrow it down to just ten favourites. But there were quite a few clear standouts on my list and here they are. If you would like to see other lists of my favourites from this year, I posted my top ten contemporary reads of 2016 on Happy Indulgence and was also a part of Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts’ 2016 Thinking Awards.

10. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

This novel took me completely by surprise. It was a highly anticipated book of mine but I had no idea that I would love it as much as I did. This book is set in Alaska in the 1970s and follows four different perspectives. I thought the writing was absolutely beautiful and there was a wonderful balance in themes. I also especially loved how the four perspectives came together and how seamlessly the book tied it all together.

9. Corruption by Jessica Shirvington

Corruption is the sequel to Disruption by Jessica Shirvington. While I really loved the first book in this Aussie YA duology, it was this sequel that completely took my breath away. It was packed full of action and omg the romance in this duology is just off the charts good. Maggie and Quentin are my OTP of the year! If you haven’t read this yet, you have to pick it up.

8. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

I love the Shadowhunter books and Lady Midnight was no exception. In my opinion, it’s actually one of the better books from Cassie Clare. The Infernal Devices is still my favourite but Lady Midnight definitely surprised me. I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters when I first read about them as pre-teens in City of Heavenly Fire but I absolutely loved the whole cast of characters (yes, even Perfect Diego)!

7. The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Trilogy was one of my favourite series that I read this year and The Winner’s Crime was definitely my favourite of the three books. While I really liked The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Kiss, I just thought that this second book had really great tension and political intrigue.

6. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

This book. THIS BOOK. It’s perfect for all fans of magical realism. It had a whimsical and enchanting world and I love Anna-Marie McLemore’s storytelling abilities. The characters were perfection and the themes and messages in the book came across to me so clearly. I thought it was brilliantly executed.

5. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

This was my first Ruta Sepetys book and I have no idea why it took me so long to read one of her novels, since I’m a massive fan of WWII historical fiction. What I loved about this book was the research that Ruta Sepetys put into writing her novel. It was obvious from the very first page and I really enjoyed reading about a little-known event in history. This book also transcends time and marketing categories. Even though it’s a YA novel, I can see so many different people appreciating it and loving it.

4. Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

This was one of my most anticipated sequels of this year after I read Wolf by Wolf earlier in the year and it didn’t disappoint at all. There was so much action and the plot twists were almost heart-stopping. There were a few plot points that I didn’t like (not because they were bad but because they hurt my heart) but this book definitely gets all the stars from me.

3. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

This is probably one of the books that I raved about the most this year. I highly, highly enjoyed this Romeo and Juliet-inspired story and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for months and months. In fact, I’m still thinking about it. I enjoyed it so much when I read it that I couldn’t bring myself to write a review for it. It’s absolutely beautiful and has a romance that had my heart out of control.

2. I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

This is my favourite contemporary read of this year. It had been recommended to me multiple times by different bloggers, so I finally picked it up earlier this year. And it was so good! There was nothing that I didn’t like about this novel. The characters were perfection, the romance was perfection and the plot was perfection.

1. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom is without a doubt my favourite book of this year. It was my most highly anticipated book of the year and it definitely lived up to all of my high expectations. It had everything that I wanted from this sequel and it wrapped up the duology in the most incredible way. I didn’t think that I could love it more than Six of Crows but it was absolutely amazing. If you haven’t read this duology yet, I honestly don’t know what you’re waiting for.

What was your favourite book of 2016? Stay tuned for my next post: 2016 End of Year Survey!

Review: Something Real by Heather Demetrios


Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: February 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 406
Goodreads || Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart . . . because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life that she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.


45 stars

Something Real is a wonderful book exploring what it means to be a teenage reality TV star, as well as familial relationships. It’s a harrowing look into the pressures of fame and the lack of privacy that children are submitted to, often against their own will. Chloe Baker has been in the limelight her whole life. She was born on camera and has been part of the Baker’s Dozen TV show since that day. After a suicide attempt when she was 14 years old, the show was called off and her parents promised that they’d never go back. She even changed her name from Bonnie to Chloe to create a new life for herself.  But when Chloe comes home one day in her senior year of high school, she finds her house transformed into a reality TV set and her life back on display again. This time, she’s having none of it and will do anything to not have her life scripted and watched 24/7, especially now that she’s finally attending school and has a boy she likes.

I thought Heather Demetrios did a fantastic job of taking us into the lives of reality TV stars. She’s really captured all of the negative aspects of being in the public eye, including Chloe not having the freedom to wear what she wants, being late for school because she had to do multiple takes of her pouring cereal from a brand that’s sponsoring the show, and having no privacy even in her own home. On top of all of that, her mother ignores her concerns and forces her to participate in the show even though she continually expresses her dislike of it. Chloe’s relationship with her mother made me uncomfortable throughout most of the book and it was honestly really upsetting to see a mother treat her daughter with such little respect and care. There are very few parents in books that I hate but I have to say that Beth Baker is one of them. She forces her kids to be on a show that they don’t want to be on and punish them when they express their dislikes. There’s one scene where she even calls Chloe a name and hits her, which made me really angry and emotional. I thought she was just so extremely selfish and should definitely not be allowed to have 13 kids! It really angered me that her reason for bringing the show back was because the family didn’t have money to support 13 kids and two adults… because she shouldn’t have adopted all those kids anyway.

I thought Chloe was such a strong character. She had the courage to speak up even though it didn’t lead to results most of the time. And she also didn’t allow the show to stop her from having a life. She did have some weak moments where she gave in to the show’s demands or tried to be too self-sacrificing and ended her relationships with those around her but I thought it was all very realistic and I really connected with her struggles and feelings. I also really enjoyed her relationships with those around her. Even though her relationship with both of her parents were quite toxic, she had a beautiful relationship with her older brother, Benny, who’s also a senior at her high school. The two of them support each other throughout the book and it was just really nice to see siblings being so close. They understood what the other was going through and their relationship was supportive and empowering. I also loved her friendships with Tessa and Mer, her best friends at school. I loved that they never judged Chloe and were there for her when she needed someone to talk to. They were such great friends and I loved them to pieces.

But of course, my favourite relationship in the book was the romantic one between Chloe and Patrick. Patrick is just perfection. He’s smart and kind, and it was obvious from the first time we met him that he really cared for Chloe and her wellbeing. He was there for her during her meltdowns and was just such a supportive boyfriend. I also liked that they got together quite early in the book and that the whole novel was just filled with super sweet moments between them. Sweet, swoony moments. My heart was so satisfied with this romance.

I highly recommend Something Real if you’re looking for a contemporary romance with some deeper and more serious themes. The book does a great job of exploring what it means to be a reality TV star and how damaging it can be on relationships and other normal things that we take for granted. The writing in the book is wonderful and I just love everything that Heather Demetrios writes!

Check out my review of I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Got On A Whim


It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday but I’m back this week. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week I’m featuring ten books that I got on a whim.

1. Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

I don’t remember exactly why I bought this book. I think I saw the cover somewhere, somehow and just went on Book Depository and bought it. It ended up being a really great book about a jinni in Hollywood. I thought it was wonderful and cannot wait to read the sequel!

2. Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

This is a book that I randomly picked up as I was browsing the Australian YA section of my bookstore. The interesting cover and spine caught my eye and I thought the blurb sounding really good. I ended up really enjoying this book too and it was a delight to read a book that was set in the area where I go to uni.

3. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

I bought this one a couple of years ago before I even heard of Me Before You. I saw it when I was browsing the bookstore and the cover must have just enticed me to buy it. I have yet to read this one but I hope to get to it sometime this year.

4. This is Shyness by Leanne Hall

This is a relatively new purchase. It was one of the books that was featured at the magical realism-themed YABookmeet at Dymocks Sydney. The synopsis was really intriguing so I picked it up on the spot.

5. The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard

This was one that I saw in Allen & Unwin’s catalogue earlier this year. I hadn’t heard anything about it but the synopsis sounded like it was right up my alley. I completely fell in love with the characters and the story and am so glad that I requested this one!

6. Sway by Kat Spears

This was another cover buy and it was a bit of a fail. It was one of my least favourite books of last year because of the way that the book portrayed women. I found it to be offensive and disrespectful and did not like it one bit.

7. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

I love David Levithan so when I saw this one on sale on Book Depository, I checked it out straight away. It has a really interesting format and I loved what David Levithan did with it.

8. A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

This book was another cover buy – it has such a cute cover! But the contents were really boring and it felt like a super generic romance. There were 14 perspectives in the book and I hated the way that it was done. Not an enjoyable read at all.

9. One Hundred Days of Happiness by Fausto Brizzi

I bought this one last year because the cover is beautiful and the synopsis sounded heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I have yet to read this one but I’m hoping to get to it in the coming months.

10. YOLO Juliet by Brett Wright

I’d been interested in these Shakespeare emoji books for a while but I never intended to actually read any. But when I saw YOLO Juliet in store, I just had to get it. The cover was hilarious and the couple of pages that I read in store were super funny too.

Review: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios


Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: February 3, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 388
Goodreads || Book Depository

If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating Skylar from art school is three months of summer…until Skylar’s mother loses her job, and Skylar realizes her dreams may be slipping out of reach.

Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.

What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and, soon, something deeper.

Compelling and ultimately hopeful, this is a powerful examination of love, loss, and resilience.


5 stars

I honestly have no idea why I waited so long to read this book because it was absolutely amazing and is now one of my favourite contemporary YA novels ever. It had a good balance of romance, family and friendship elements, which is a formula for success when it comes to contemporaries for me.

This book is set in a very small town in California. Skylar lives in a trailer with her mother who is an alcoholic and won’t stop drinking, even though her husband died in a car accident while drunk driving. Skylar has just graduated high school and cannot wait for the summer to end, when she can finally go to art school in San Francisco and escape her suffocating small town. But when her mother is fired from the only job she’s ever had, things go downhill and suddenly Skylar’s future is no longer clear. Enter Josh, a previous colleague of Skylar’s at her job at the Paradise motel. He’s back from fighting in Afghanistan, with one less leg than he had when he left…

It was like the whole town was swimming in failure, but no one realized they were drowning.

I was very impressed with how many themes and elements Heather Demetrios managed to explore in this book. And none of these themes were glossed over. Each and every one of them were given enough page-time to be thoroughly explored and I really appreciated how well it was done. I’ll Meet You There explores some very common YA contemporary themes, like alcoholism and small-town-suffocation (I totally made that up, but it’s now a thing), in a completely novel and different way. I never got the sense that I was reading something that I’ve read a million times before. It felt very unique and special and I enjoyed every single page of the story. The novel also explores PTSD, which is something that we’re seeing increasingly often but I have to say that this was one of the best PTSD stories that I’ve ever read. It felt incredibly realistic and even though I don’t know what it’s like to be have PTSD or be in a situation where everyday things could trigger panic attacks or high anxiety, I felt like I knew Josh and I knew how his experiences in Afghanistan have affected him.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book. Skylar was a wonderful protagonist and I couldn’t believe how strong and resilient she was, in the face of everything she was going through. She’s pretty much taking care of her mother, who is on the path to self-destruction. They’re both relying on Skylar’s income from working at the motel and Skylar just wants to make sure that her mother has a job and is able to take care of herself before she moves to San Francisco. Skylar definitely surprised me with how resilient she was. If I had to go through everything she went through in this book, I would’ve broken down much, much earlier. Her mother behaved in ways that I couldn’t imagine any mother behaving and she just didn’t seem to have her daughter’s best interests at heart. The family arc in this book was incredibly hard to read and honestly pretty upsetting at times. I was really proud that Skylar decided to take some time just for herself and put some distance between herself and her mother’s problems. I really admired her maturity when it came to making decisions.

Josh was a character that I also loved. There were short chapters that were written from his point of view and I thought they were really interesting. They allowed me to get to know Josh a little bit more and I loved that we got to see into his head and get a sense of how his experience in Afghanistan had affected and changed him, physically and mentally. I also thought it was interesting that Skylar and Josh knew each other previously and that Josh used to be a bit of a jerk and had a reputation of being a player. It really added a different dimension to his character and transformed him into a really complex character.

The romance was probably my favourite aspect of the book. There was so much to love about this book but I thought the relationship between Skylar and Josh was just so realistic and moving. They become attracted to each other quite early in the book but the romance itself was a bit of a slow burn. It developed at a very natural pace and nothing felt rushed or dragged out. Everything just happened in a really realistic way and it was impossible not to feel connected to Skylar and Josh as they figured out their feelings for each other. I loved how much they relied on each other and supported each other throughout the book. Josh helped Skylar through her issues with her mother and was just there to listen when she needed to talk. And in return, Skylar helped Josh come to terms with his traumatic experience in Afghanistan. She never let him use the war and his experiences as an excuse, which was exactly what Josh needed.

And of course, there were a lot of great friendship elements. Skylar and Josh’s relationship wasn’t just a romantic one. Their relationship was first and foremost a friendship that turned into something more. But this book also explored Skylar’s friendships with her best friends, Chris and Dylan. They were always there for her when she needed a friend and needed advice. I loved their role in the book and I thought their friendships were so heartwarming.

I wanted to have the perfect words to tell him how he’d been family, how I wouldn’t be who I was without him and how my life was a collage of memories and he was in every one.

And finally, I absolutely loved the writing in this book. It was very impactful and I could quote from this book for days and days. Heather Demetrios just writes the most wonderful stories and I’ve enjoyed both her contemporary and fantasy stories because of the beautiful writing and storytelling.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree This Year


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the team over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week I am featuring books that I wouldn’t mind receiving for Christmas. Basically these are ten books that are on my Book Depository wishlist and are the next ten books that I’ll probably order. The intention of this post isn’t to get any of you to buy me these books, so please don’t send them to me (especially because I plan to buy these in the near future anyway)!

These aren’t really in any particular order but the ones near the top of the list are ones that I’m most interested in buying and reading at the moment. I have included Book Depository links, in case you want to buy them too!

1. The Complete Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I’ve wanted to own a complete Sherlock Holmes collection for a really long time. I own some of the free Sherlock Holmes ebooks that I can get for free on iBooks but I want to own a physical copy of the complete collection. I’m thinking of getting this for myself for Christmas this year. Hopefully bookstores will have Boxing Day sales and I can snap this up at a discounted price!

2. The Thing About Jellyfish – Ali Benjamin

This book sounds like it’s right up my alley and the cover is beautiful! It’s also a finalist for the National Book Award so I have high hopes. I have my eyes on the hardback and it will be mine soon! (I had this in my Book Depository basket last week but had to remove it because I already had 10 other books in that basket).

3. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North

I’ve only heard amazing things about this one. It sounds like a suspenseful and intriguing sci-fi novel and I’m super interested in the whole idea of reincarnation. This was another book I had in my Book Depository basket recently but I’m hoping to have this in my hands soon.

4. Bone Gap – Laura Ruby

This is a book that I’ve been hearing about non-stop since it was released! I’ve wanted to buy it so many times but never got around to it. It’s actually not available in Australia yet (as far as I know), which is why I keep forgetting about it and still don’t own it yet.

5. Blue is the Warmest Color – Julie Maroh

I’m going to try to get into some more graphic novels soon and this is one that I’ve heard amazing things about. It promises to be emotional and heartbreaking and I love those types of books. The movie adaptation has had rave reviews too so I know this is one that I need to have!

6. Uprooted – Naomi Novik

Everybody seems to love this book! It’s one of Jeann’s (Happy Indulgence) favourite books so I need to read it! She might revoke my co-blogger status otherwise 😀 Also, I really like this cover and having it in hardback would make my day.

7. The Chimes – Anna Smaill

This novel was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year and I’ve wanted to read it ever since the longlist was released. Sadly, The Chimes has been super difficult to find in Australian bookstores and it’s also a little pricey online. Even though this is marketed as an adult book, it was originally intended for a YA audience, so this would be a great one to read if you’re looking to get into reading some Man Bookers.

8. Nimona – Noelle Stevenson

Another graphic novel that I really want to read! There has been a lot of hype surrounding this one, which makes it sound really promising.

9. I’ll Meet You There – Heather Demetrios

This is a novel that I’ve been seeing around the blogosphere constantly for the last two weeks. I’ve seen it on multiple favourites lists and Lois @ My Midnight Musing won’t stop recommending this to me. It sounds like a great contemporary and I can’t wait to read it.

10. A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab

This is a book that I already own and have read (review here). But I have the UK paperback edition and I really want to own the US hardcover, which is super expensive. It’s probably not too high on my list of priorities at the moment, but one day when it’s discounted, it will be mine!

Are any of these books on your wishlist too? Which ones do you recommend I buy immediately?