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

Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: Life After Juliet by Shannon Lee Alexander

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Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people…                 

Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can.

As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world…and happy endings aren’t always guaranteed.

The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, of kissing and love, and most importantly, a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again.

guestThere’s an old writing tip that says, “Write what you know.”

I always hated this tip because, growing up, the only thing I knew was that I didn’t know anything. What I’ve come to understand over the years is that you don’t have to write what you know, but what you wish to know.

While it’s true that I’m no stranger to grief, I think that the key to writing about loss or anything else is honesty. When I lost my friend Em to ovarian cancer, I was overwhelmed with so many questions, things I had no way of answering myself. I wanted to know why a person as lovely as my Em would have cancer in the first place. And how was it possible for us to clone entire animals, but still not be able to cure cancer? What was I supposed to do with all the memories I had of Em, all the silly stories that felt suddenly meaningless without her? And how was I supposed to feel whole again when I’d lost such an important piece of my heart?

There was no way for me to know any of these things. According to that adage, I was in no position to write about loss because I knew very little about it other than I hated it. 

Writing is a wonderful tool for learning about our world. I wrote about loss because it was something I needed to understand. And even after writing LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES and LIFE AFTER JULIET, I can honestly say that there is still so much about grief that I still don’t know. But that’s not going to stop me from trying to know it, and it certainly won’t stop me from writing about it.

If there is something you’re struggling with, write it. If something in your life makes you happy, write that, too. Something scaring you? Write. Confused about who you are? Write. Want to know what makes people tick? Write. Need to explore but stuck in one place?

Write.

Write and keep writing and keep writing. When you’re honest with your writing, then people will take notice. They’ll feel what you feel—loss, happiness, anger, confusion, fear—they’ll know what you know. And after all that writing, I guarantee you’ll know a few new things, too. Maybe not everything, but you’ll know enough to keep writing.

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled

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giveawayOpen internationally, but prize packs ship only to US. International winners will receive Amazon gift cards (listed below).*

  • Grand prize: Hyperboles are the best EVER! tote bag, a 4oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Toe-meo and Juliet Shakespearean socks, Life after Juliet poison and dagger necklace, Velveteen Rabbit note card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
  • 1st Runner Up: Hyperboles are the best EVER! tote bag, a 4 oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Toe-meo and Juliet Shakespearean socks, Life after Juliet dagger earrings, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
  • 2nd Runner Up: 2oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Life after Juliet dagger earrings, Velveteen Rabbit note card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*
  • 3rd Runner Up: 2oz. Novelly Yours Antique Books candle, Life after Juliet dagger earrings, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate*

*All contests are open internationally, but international winners will receive the following:

  • Grand prize: $25 Amazon gift card, signed signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate
  • 1st Runner Up: $20 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate
  • 2nd runner up: $15 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate
  • 3rd runner up: $10 Amazon gift card, signed Life after Juliet bookmark and bookplate 

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authShannon

Website/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads/Newsletter

Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. She spent most of her time in high school hiding out in the theater with the drammies and techies. Math still makes her break out in a sweat. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family.

FOR MORE STOPS ON THE TOUR

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

Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Love and Other Unknown Variables-Shannon Lee Alexander

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Release Date: October 7, 2014

***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and Entangled. 

“Charlotte’s hands are in my hair, pulling my face to hers. Her lips crash into mine like a meteorite hitting Earth’s atmosphere. Fire and heat explode as we fall together toward an uncertain ground. It’s a long, beautiful fall.”

***

“Charlotte shakes her head. ‘Please don’t confuse love and logic, Charlie. They aren’t even remotely related.'”

cooltext1544204149 copyCharlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.

By the time he learns she’s ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).

cooltext1544226028 copy3/5 Stars

Love and Other Unknown Variables is the kind of book that makes you want to live, laugh and hold on to your loved ones; the kind that makes you reevaluate your life and consider just what makes you happy and how many other inconsequential and stupid things interfere with our true elation in simply living. Love and Other Unknown Variables makes you appreciate the little things, the silly things, and those that open your heart and fill you with light. Be forewarned, this is the kind of story that will rip you open and send your emotions into a chaotic spiral of confusion and sadness. 

Sometimes you get a book and you realize, this just isn’t for me and it’s really hard as a blogger to navigate between personal preference and critique. Unfortunately, Love and Other Unknown Variables didn’t grab me from the get go. Yes, there was mystery, there was a meet cute that turned into serendipity that typically I would be all over but for some reason, Charlie was not a heart throb or even endearing, in fact he was kind of an idiot so wrapped up in his scientific beliefs that he walked all over Charlotte’s feelings. While she appreciated his brute honesty, that he didn’t always treat her like she was breakable or damaged, it was hard not to cringe. When you’re talking to a girl with terminal cancer, I feel like it’s just not okay to start off a conversation with “When you die…”

Charlie is socially awkward. Everything is an experiment to him and his mathematical calculations and their applications into everyday life were tiresome, really random and boring. I yearned for the scenes when Charlotte was there to liven things up and bring him out of his sad little MIT obsessed box. Scenes dragged on where nothing happened other than Charlie’s paranoia and infatuation with Charlotte. Charlie’s friends, Greta and James were as lackluster, although James had some moments. I wished Greta would live a little, lighten up, and not be so serious all the time. She was a bit of a pushy buzz kill. James is fun. He takes situations and adds immaturity and comedy to them. The pranks are so amateur but earn a few chuckles and the scene where James gets Charlie drunk is AMAZING. I laughed so hard and it reminded me of my own first drunken experience. The way Charlie chugged that alcohol and slurred his works was kind of adorable and I found myself suddenly liking him a little. 

There’s something a little Salinger-esque about this story just for the sheer random awkwardness. 

I love Charlotte, she’s whimsical and quirky, and she looks at life through a kaleidoscope of imagination. She’s beautiful not only physically but in her soul. She’s kind and sticks to her guns, she doesn’t put up with anyone dragging her down or making her feel like less than she is because of her illness. She’s charming and the way she sings loudly to music and dances around is so inspiring. Charlotte changes everyone she meets, she opens them up to possibilities and seeing the world differently than what’s hard facts or physically in front of them. Her art is colorful and puzzling, just like her. I would love to see these pieces in real life. 

As a former lit major, I appreciated the play on To Kill a Mockingbird and the importance of literature in touching the soul. ❤ 

Some scenes took my heart and trampled on it. I mean, ugly cry, book throwing sadness. The last scene with the To Kill a Mockingbird dedication. I can’t even…wow. It’s like all of the emotional trauma that was lingering beneath the surface rose to the surface in an explosion of remorse and heartache. 

One thing I thoroughly enjoyed about this story is that the romance was different. It wasn’t really flirty or forward, it was painfully awkward at times and yes, they said the wrong things and it didn’t go well, but it was real. Charlotte and Charlie seem at odds with one another but develop a quasi-friendship that blossoms into something more. Their first kiss is one of the oddest, mushiest, breathtakingly perfect things I’ve ever read. You will melt, swoon, collapse into a puddle of happy.

This cover is everything. The black and white, the pops of red, the heart 🙂 LOVE.

There wasn’t a strong plot. The pranks seemed pointless and the story felt unfinished. The scenes with Dimwit for one had a big effect on Charlie and yet they were unstressed and ended sort of abruptly. 

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

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Happy reading, 

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