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!!!







Pleasant reading, 


2015 Top Reads

2015 has been a whirlwind of new books and author friends. It’s been a crazy ride that has culminated in my attendance at Utopia 2016 and potential publication.. we’ll see 😉

Happy New Year readers, this blog wouldn’t be anything without all of your kind words and support!

And now…

Top 15 Books of 2015


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Happy reading and here’s to an even better reading year next year!


ARC Review: Golden Son-Pierce Brown


“We’re all just wounded souls stumbling about in the dark, desperately trying to stitch ourselves together, hoping to fill the holes they ripped in us.”


“‘He was a good man. But good men die. To free them, to protect them, we must be savages. So give me evil. Give me darkness. Make me the bloodydamn devil if we can bring even the faintest ray of light.'”


“I am a child of hell, and I’ve spent too long in their heaven.”


5/5 Stars

***I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Random House Del Rey Spectra

cooltext1486226903 copyWith shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation. Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within. A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices. 

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  • Golden Son is tantalizingly dark. The sort of twisted, sinister downfall of power that captivated Milton and swept up the hearts of men and inspired them to pen tales of epic heroism and fallen heroes. Red Rising was an entirely different beast. There’s a marked difference between the overall tone of heady determination and recklessness in book 1 and the brutal, gut-wrenching loss and devastation of Golden Son. 
  • Darrow is quicker, even more deadly and calculating than before. His political ingenuity is built on his acute understanding of the temptations and pride of mankind. He’s steps ahead of his enemies, constantly plotting with his trusted friends, and leaps beyond almost everyone else. What makes Darrow so fascinating is his ability to adapt. He’s agile on his feet, deadly with a razor, a brute, almost Braveheart style adversary but his mind is faster. When roadblocks threaten to kill his mission, he wallows (briefly) but always remembers what’s in his heart and finds the strength to overcome. 
  • Action. Pure, masculine, adrenaline-spiking suspense. Between the fierce battle scenes, the explosions and gore and the god-like awe in which people of all colors on Mars follow Darrow (the Reaper), there’s a magical, almost transcendent power to these scenes. There’s absolute chaos and shock from one moment to the next. You can never be sure of what’s happening or even what’s coming. Darrow keeps secrets from the reader and his trusted allies, who knows what is a mystery that can sometimes be infuriating but keeps the reader hungry, searching, and thirsting for carnage and success. 
  • It would take a small Master’s thesis to go through all the characters and their vibrant, well-developed personalities, so here are some of my favorites, new and old:
    • Mustang-this girl. She’s beautiful, smart, captivating in her quick wit and confidence. She owns the room. Her presence is magnetic, charming and while she is blunt, she’s got a special something that begs you to fall under her spell. 
    • Victra-is a sassy, perverse, and flirty force to be reckoned with. She’s forward and pushy, she has amazing lines that are both funny and a tad vulgar. Her wistful lust will have you cheering for her but sympathy wouldn’t be right.
    • Sophocles the fox, Daxo, Kavax-this is an adorable trio of brightness in this grim drama. Daxo’s quirky personality, his tendency to make absurd, hilarious comments, his loyalty and the way he worships his fox, feeding him jellybeans are the epitome of perseverance and hope. They find joy and life when death is suffocating.
    • Sevro-He’s a weird bird. His brash comments reek of violence and promise and yet, he’s a true friend, willing to die and slaughter for Darrow, for a dream that he understands perhaps better than everyone else. His ragtag group of Howlers are as strange and gory as him and together they create a unity that suggests friendship over blood, until the end.
    • Octavia-Holy hell, this woman is a demon. She’ll buy and sell anyone or anything to achieve her bleak goals. She kills sometimes without thought and others with great planning. She’s unpredictable, has spies everywhere and is a ruthless murderer. There’s a scene, like an interrogation, that truly captures the extent of his malicious, vile character. Yet, Octavia is a genius. She is a master chess player in this game of politics, life and death, and her hands are drenched in the blood of the innocent. 
  • That cliffhanger just about broke me. I got there and lost all ability to function. In a second, the air was sucked out of the room and hope fled to a corner to die. 
  • Golden Son is a love story. Not in the traditional boy meets girl, ensue cheesy moments and ballads of love but in a way that cuts to the heart of humanity. The love that can be found in friends, in blood, in family, in chance meetings. The love that spurs us on and gives us something to fight for, the love that enslaves as it frees. That love is what Darrow rules over and grants to his followers.  

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  • Some of the chapters cut off abruptly and leave the reader in the lurch, plowing through pages for answers. 

Pleasant reading,

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Review: Red Rising-Pierce Brown


“But she’s got the passion for ideas, while I’ve got no extra passion for anything but her.”


“‘Death isn’t empty like you say it is. Emptiness is life without freedom, Darrow. Emptiness is living chained by fear, fear of loss, of death. I say we break those chains. Break the chains of fear and you break the chains that bind us to the Golds, to the Society.'”


“Words are a weapon stronger than he knows. And songs are even greater. The words wake the mind. The melody wakes the heart. I come from a people of song and dance. I don’t need him to tell me the power of words. But I smile nonetheless.”

cooltext1544204149 copyThe Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

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  • For the sake of brevity, because the Pros list would be long and winded, I’ve decided to focus on what I admired most but these are certainly not every positive or impressive aspect of Red Rising. Stylistically, Pierce Brown has a way of stripping ideas bare and expressing them in simple terms. The most profound, beautifully lyrical lines are the cleanest. They’re not weighed down by an abundance of adjectives but are still lofty in ideas. They read like free verse poetry, a candle to the naked ingenuity of William Carlos Williams and the deep romanticism of Keats. 
  • Red Rising is brutally philosophical. It takes humanity and rips it to shreds, examining just how far we’d go for freedom, for power. The bare bones of mankind are exposed for what they are, sturdy but breakable. The resilience of humankind is glorified just as greed and manipulation are depicted as the norm. In order to thrive, we must make choices, it’s how we survive those choices that makes the man or woman a hero or a villain. Life is a series of lessons that must be learned and to stay alive we must survive a deadly game of politics and corruption rigged by whomever holds the power. It’s much more than a clash of civilizations, it’s a war of worlds where beast and man are one and the same and evolution is an illusion.
  • There’s no sugar coating. The gore is detailed, the war crimes explicit, the vulgarity abrupt and foul on the tongue. Dreams are dashed and burnt to cinders without much hope of a miraculous rebirth. And yet…Darrow’s mission is true. He doesn’t waiver and because of his hardy bull-headed recklessness, hope is a flicker that bursts into flame as Darrow tackles foe and friend. 
  • Twists will surprise and shock. The hints are very subtle and when the reveals come it’s like a slap in the face. Cold and forceful. 
  • Every character (though there’s so many at once, initially it’s easy to confuse them) is memorable, unique and represents a shade of humanity or lack there of. There’s jaded princelings and sadistic murders, those who like to rape and pillage in one moment and cuddle the next. It’s a bizarre awakening to the complexities of each individual and the various shades present in all of us. 
  • Despite the serious tone of the overall story arc, there’s an amazing lightness. The character interactions are hilarious and brotherly. They taunt and harass each other, sometimes in fun, others to provoke violence but I went from smirking to laughing, sometimes not in appropriate sections, when I should have been sulking. They’ll burrow into your heart with how real and likeable they are. Even the vilest characters earn a spot. 
  • The suspense is killer. It’s a mad rush of insanity and uncertainty that will leave you terrified of the outcome.


  • The lingo, at first, is overwhelming. There are consistent terms that will leave you puzzled and questioning without much explanation. From phrases to technology, references are made and there’s no dictionary in the back of the book. Luckily, the words are compact plays that suggest the item while giving it a foreign, science fiction-esque ring. Brace yourself for catchphrases. 
  • The world building is astounding. The pieces are complex and woven throughout, a hierarchy of humanity and beasts in human garb. The sheer detail and plotting is simply mind-blowing. So why is this in the cons section? From the get go these elements are thrust upon the reader in a tidal wave of information. Just when you catch a breath, another wave of intricacy descends and knocks you off your feet. When you think you know the lay of the land, it’s turned upside down and the miniscule nuances of this society spin perception in a new direction. It’s intense, it’s a tad tedious, and you’ll feel like you’ve been immersed in this world for years in a few pages. Some may feel bombarded or worn down by everything in such a small span of pages and some may have placed this in the DNF pile for being too slow. It takes a while to get started, but once it does, it’s like being possessed by story-by words.

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







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Pleasant reading,

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