Best of 2016: YA Book Madness’ Top 16 YA Reads

It’s been a crazy year. I’ve done so much that I never thought I would with writing and making blogger/author friends. Through all the chaos I’ve read some amazing books (though not all of them got reviewed). Last year I broke my top picks into categories. This year, I’ve decided to do an overall top 16 and then into broad categories. Tell me if you’ve read any on my list, what you thought, and feel free to recommend some of your top 2016 YA books!!!

BEST OF 2016 YA OVERALL 

BEST of 2016 SCIENCE FICTION

BEST of 2016 CONTEMPORARY

BEST of 2016 HORROR

BEST of 2016 THRILLER

BEST of 2016 PARANORMAL 

Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

Spotlight & Giveaway: You Were Here-Cori McCarthy

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Release Date: March 1, 2016

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

“The mix of forms as well as the insights each character gleans through their urban explorations render this book both readable and teachable on multiple levels.”

–Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, STARRED Review

“Readers who appreciate stories of searching for personal truths will be happy to join this meaningful quest for identity and independence.”

–Booklist

“You Were Here is wrenchingly beautiful in its honest and achingly accurate portrayal of grief and how it breaks us–and the way unconditional friendship puts us back together.”

-Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry’s and Read Between the Lines

“Through razor-sharp wit, no-holds-barred momentum, and heart-wrenching twists, Cori McCarthy dares you to climb through the broken, abandoned wreckage of the past, stand on the edge of the world, and face something even scarier: the truth.”

-K.A. Barson, author of 45 Pounds (More or Less and Charlotte Cuts it Out)

“The urban explorers of You Were Here dive deep into the forgotten man-made spaces all around them–and their own feelings of loss, love, and fear. McCarthy deftly intertwines the characters’ stories, filling them with authentic pain and heartache as well as soaring moments of grace and humor. I dare you to read it!”

–Maggie Lehrman, author of The Cost of All Things

synJaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn’t: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother’s death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake’s daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She’s not crazy, okay? She just doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn’t expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she’s joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and… Mik. He doesn’t talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable—reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Cori McCarthy’s gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson. From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world’s largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.

authcori.jpgCori McCarthy studied poetry and screenwriting before falling in love with writing for teens at Vermont College of Fine Arts. From a military family, Cori was born on Guam and lived a little bit of everywhere before she landed in Michigan. Learn more about her books at CoriMcCarthy.com

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Excerpt“What do I see?” I asked, turning back to the halo effect created by Margaret’s splayed hair. “It was a game. She died because she was playing a game.”

“Just like Jake,” Natalie said.

“Right,” I quipped, trying to mask not only my annoyance at Natalie’s psychoanalyst tone but also a flare of grief. My chest grew tight. Why wouldn’t it go away? Why did all this still buckle me to the ground? Tears burned my eyes, and I took my hair out of my ponytail. This never happened when I came here with Mik. Mik didn’t talk or prod. Mik let me be while we walked around Jake’s old haunt, wondering if he was actually haunting it.

“My dad said that OU will raze the TB ward.” Bishop pointed out the window toward the building on the very top of the hill, by far the spookiest and most unkempt in The Ridges compound. “It’s the only fully abandoned building.”

“Raze?” I asked, suddenly angry. “When?”

“End of the summer, I think. My dad said it was going to cost a ton but that leaving the old building there while it was falling in is just asking for lawsuits.”

“Jake loved the TB ward,” I said. “They haven’t stripped it down like this building.”

“TB?” Zach asked.

“Tuberculosis,” Natalie said.

Bishop squinted at his friend. “TB has been one of the leading terminal diseases in society since the dawn of civilization, Zach.”

“But it doesn’t exist anymore,” Zach said. “Like leprosy.”

“It totally exists,” Natalie said. “And so does leprosy. Where do you learn these things?”

“TB is still the leading cause of death for all people with HIV,” Bishop said. “But don’t worry, Zach. You won’t get it.”

I was surprised to find Zach looking at me. “What kind of things are in there?”

I shrugged. “I’ve never been, but I know it’s more dangerous. All the windows and doors are boarded up to keep drunk undergrads out.”

“So there’s no way in?” Bishop asked.

I shook my head. “Didn’t say that. Every building in The Ridges compound is connected by basement tunnels. If we get into the basement, we can get into any building.”
We all shuffled to our feet and stood around the last portrait of Margaret Schilling.

“I’m in,” Bishop said, and I nodded. Bishop was cool; we’d been partners for two semesters straight in woodshop. He said odd, grandiose things sometimes, but I liked him for it. Plus there was a pretty good chance that Mik would show himself with only Bishop around.

“I’ll take you two to the exit,” I told Natalie and Zach.

“Well, hey,” Zach said. “What if I want to come?”

Natalie looked at him, stunned. “You want to go? What about Kolenski’s three kegs?”

“Kolenski gets kegs every couple of weeks.” Zach shoved his hands in his pockets. He had sobered up since they’d entered The Ridges, and now he just looked worn down. Even his hair had flattened. I’d written him off years ago, but the way he’d helped me find Jake’s footprint and waylaid Natalie…maybe he wasn’t such a garden-variety “dude.”

“Who else can say that they did this the night after graduation?” he added with a shrug.

“So Natalie’s the loose end?” I said. “Big surprise.”

“Wait a second. It was my idea to follow you in the first place. And I…I want to see it.”

“Really?” Zach asked her. “Even if it’s dangerous?”

“I’m going to minor in history. It’ll be like walking around inside of history.”

I knew Natalie well enough to know that she was deluding herself, but when I opened my mouth to point it out, I saw something instead. Bishop did too.

“Apple.” He pointed to the ground. “Guys. There’s an apple.”

A shiny, green Granny Smith apple sat in the doorway. I picked it up.

“Where the hell did that come from?” Zach asked, fear trilling his voice. “Is someone else here? That wasn’t there a few minutes ago, right? Right?”

They all looked up and down the hall. Nothing.

“Maybe Jake’s ghost put it there. Or Margaret’s,” I said. A thump of what could only be described as happiness resounded through my chest. It was foreign and weird, and yet welcome.

“You’re smiling,” Natalie said. “Why are you smiling? You never smile.”

I rubbed the apple on my shirt and took a huge crunching bite. Natalie looked like she was going to pass out. I winked. “This way to the basement.”

teaseryouwerehere_1_2youwerehere_3_4

giveawayRafflecopter giveaway link for two copies of You Were Here:

Runs 3/1-3/31 (US & Canada only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Review: Breaking Sky-Cori McCarthy

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synIn this high-flying, adrenaline-fueled debut thriller, America’s best hope is the elite teen fighter pilots of the United Star Academy

Chase Harcourt, call sign “Nyx,” is one of only two pilots chosen to fly the experimental “Streaker” jets at the junior Air Force Academy in the year 2048. She’s tough and impulsive with lightning-fast reactions, but few know the pain and loneliness of her past or the dark secret about her father. All anyone cares about is that Chase aces the upcoming Streaker trials, proving the prototype jet can knock the enemy out of the sky.

But as the world tilts toward war, Chase cracks open a military secret. There’s a third Streaker jet, whose young hotshot pilot, Tristan, can match her on the ground and in the clouds. Chase doesn’t play well with others, but to save her country she may just have to put her life in the hands of the competition.

review4.5/5  Stars

***I received this ebook as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Sourcebooks Fire

READ THIS BOOK IF: 

  • You like ballsy heroines with a devil may care attitude
  • You love rollercoaster rides, ups, downs, adrenaline rushes. Total exhilaration
  • You’re looking for a book about so much more than a love triangle, that actually features the triangular things

I love this book. LOVE. I can’t remember the last time-no wait, I totally can-that I felt such a strong connection to the protagonist. There are hundreds of reasons why this will likely be one of the best books I’ll read all year but here are a few: 

Chase (call sign Nyx) is an inspiration and way easy to identify with. She’s confident, fierce, a risk taker, caught up in her goals, and a bit of a free spirit. People look up to her, want to know her, but she’s driven by the need to be the best at what she does. She knows what’s at stake, i.e. the world, and doesn’t have time for pesky things like emotions. Now you may be thinking, isn’t that a bad thing, shouldn’t we look down on Chase (Nyx) for that?

A big resounding no. I’ve never seen a character so free with her choices. She has casual relationships and is in it for enjoyment without taking it to the next level. Chase likes to have fun, she digs making out and she shouldn’t be shamed for it. However, deep inside, Chase (Nyx) is confused and hurt. When it comes to love, she has put up walls and is uncertain of how much she has left to give of her heart. She’s closed herself off from almost everyone, except her commander and best friend, Pippin ❤ and runs when things get too intimate. She’s not about the feels. Of course this has to do with her past and the horrible rejection she felt from her father throughout her childhood. Chase sometimes comes off as self-absorbed and cold, but really she’s oblivious to others because she’s had to rely on herself. 

Chase does what no one else will. She makes rash decisions; she fights for the truth, and pushes herself to the limit, taking the Air Force tech to new levels. Chase is spunky, courageous, and sarcastic. 

Friendships aren’t always easy. Sometimes, the people you think you know best turn out to be strangers or too scared to express themselves to the people that matter the most. Pippin and Chase are wonderful, real, and while sometimes their cold shoulders were a little annoying, the love is out of this world.

That one scene. Rip my heart into tiny pieces, throw so gasoline on it, toss a match and roast some marshmallows over it, why don’t you?

Tristan and Chase. Finally, finally a couple that isn’t ONLY about sexual tension. While there’s a ton of that don’t get me wrong, holy hotness, but Chase and Tristan trust each other. They go to each other when they need to vent and can say things to one another that help them grow as people. They share and they appreciate the other person whole-heartedly. And they aren’t afraid to call each other out on their b.s. 

Each character, no matter how small, has a back-story and distinct personality. All of them are complex. 

The story is a rush. The flying, the fear, the chase. Every second in the air will fill you with anxiety and excitement. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Happy reading, 

Jordan