2016: Mega Book Review Post
In 2016, I read a lot of books. Here is my (slightly late) book review round-up of 2016 - buckle up kids, it’s gonna be a long one (humble brag).
If any of these take your fancy, click on the picture to be taken to the book on Amazon to purchase**
(Side note: Any books with a ‘*’ were sent to me as ARC for the purpose of a review. Shout out to these guys and the publishers for keeping my Kindle full for the past year)
Follow You Home - Mark Edwards
Once again Mark Edwards features heavily on this list because I love him. I even introduced my Nanna to him this year.
This is one of his darkest stories and the twists are just as unpredictable as ever. The story follows Daniel and Laura who have just returned from travelling around Europe and are left shaken by something that happens during their trip that tears their world apart. It takes a while for the event to be revealed, but when it is, you will not be disappointed.
You need to read this book.
The Magpies - Mark Edwards
I’m not even sorry that I read two Mark Edwards’ books in a row because they are that good.
This one tells the tale of Jamie and Kirsty’s horrific neighbours - this is slightly different to Edward's’ other books, but heartbreaking and incredibly stressful. Honestly, you will not be able to stop thinking about this book and it will hit you deep. Read it.
I would recommend starting out with this book if you’re new to Mark Edwards as some of the characters are referenced in later books as cool Easter Eggs.
Girl on A Train - A J Waines
This is not The Girl on The Train, as I thought it was, but is a surprisingly interesting book.
We follow Anna, a (frankly rather nosey) journalist, still reeling from her secretly gay husband’s suicide, as she tries to find out the circumstances of the death of Elly - a girl who sat on the train next to her for a few stops. Add to that a missing child, a church choir and the kind of unbelievable consequences that link everything together, and that’s basically what you’re dealing with here.
I quite liked this book. It was another one of those where I found it hard to believe that anyone would be so in tune with another person (let alone a stranger!), that they would understand all the tangentially linked “clues” that were left, often accidentally. Although I really need to get over that.
It’s not a bad read and is worth giving a go at least.
Not if I see You First - Eric Lindstorm*
This book feisty-but-likeable Parker Grant, who happens to be blind. We explore her life dating, trying out for track team, and basically navigating being a teenager, who is blind. Oh, and also her Dad died a few months back. Despite all of that she’s surprisingly upbeat. Her friendships make you feel warm and fuzzy and Parker herself feels so honest. It really makes you wonder how hard it must be to be blind and the everyday things we take for granted
This is a fab book about living with a disability and I would totally recommend it.
Fire Colour One - Jenny Valentine*
This was a pretty quick, easy read, but quite interesting. Iris meets her real Dad for the first time, as he is dying. Her Mum and Step-Dad are gold digging poop-heads and I kinda wish they weren’t even in the story. Also, Iris is a pyromaniac and her best friend Thurston sounds like the kinda guy I want to be friends with. Not a lot really ‘happens’ in the book, as such, but it’s interesting getting to know the characters. The twist at the end seemed a little random and unbelievable but it was good read nonetheless.
Good for a quick read.
Surviving Haley - Brenda Baker*
This book was pretty “meh”. We follow Lauren Werthman as she tries to get over the guilt surrounding her little sister's death.
The characters weren't overly likeable, (except the counsellor, I liked her!) and the fact that Lauren falls in love with Jonas within moments for no real reason, seems ridiculous. Everything “fixes” itself so quickly, and conveniently that it made me groan out loud.
If you like convenient fixes in books about complicated things then give it a go.
Help Me - Donna M Zadunajsky*
As a novella, this was super short, and in this case I am glad! I didn't like this book at all. It seemed like such a fake portrayal of mental health, suggesting that a person can only suffer with depression if there is a “reason”. I understand the concept of the book, with the story being told through various POV but they all seemed pretty dull and one dimensional. I think it was well-intentioned but very poorly executed.
This is not a good book. Do not waste your time on it.
The #1 Rule for Girls - Rachel McIntyre*
This was a really light-hearted, chick-lit kinda read and quite enjoyable when you get past the awkward “down with the kids” language. Such as: Cringer-sation, Sparklifies, Prince Fittie of Fitlandia etc. I loved the subtle feminist tones - definitely not too try hard at all, which makes a nice change. That said, when Daisy keeps going back to the guy who is clearly a grade A poo-face, you want to shake her and make her see!
This book won't change your life, but it's a pretty great holiday read
My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick*
LOVEEEEED this book! As a child, I wanted to write a novel about a guy who falls in love with a girl after he sees her out of his window. I realise now that a) I'm not cut out to write a novel, and b) that's pretty creepy. This book is a less weird, much better version of that. Most of the characters are likeable (and the ones that aren't are the ones that shouldn't be!) - shout out to adorable George and the perpetually stoned but totally real, Tim. There's a big twist that makes it so much more than a cheesy love-fest.
Totally worth a read.
Severed Heads, Broken Hearts - Robyn Schneider
Ezra is an interesting character, the typical “golden boy” jock with a heart until a car crash leaves him no longer able to play tennis, and therefore no longer wanting to be “popular”. Thank God because these old friends are total douchebags and his new ones are 100% cooler - in fact, I’m glad that they aren’t the stereotypical geeks, they’re just cool in their own way. Cassidy is clearly the Manic Pixie Dream Girl however I’m not sure if she’s as likeable as she should be for this role.
This book won’t change your life but it’s a good read to stick on your YA list.
Blank Slate Kate - Heather Wardell*
Such an interesting premise for a book! Kate wakes up in a strangers bed, with no memory of how she got there - nor of the past fifteen years. As far as she in concerned, she is still 17… Not 32! You follow her as she tries to piece together who she is (or was), and whether she still wants to be that person, or whether she left for a reason. This story really made me think - what would I do if I woke up, ten years older, married to a man that I didn’t recognise?! The book is so well written and heart wrenching at times, the perfect mix of chick lit, and mystery that is so rare to find in a story.
A great read to sink your teeth into, without getting too heavy.
Killing Cupid - Louise Voss and Mark Edwards
This was a strange deviation from the usual stalker narrative, and in true Edwards & Voss style took some odd turns. It certainly wasn’t my favourite of their books, I think because Siobhan, the main character was so annoying! Of course it will get your heart racing (in more than one way!) and make you rethink everything you know. It is still an awesome book!
This isn’t one to read if you’re home alone!
Girls on Fire - Robin Wasserman*
In some ways, this is a very typical good girl/bad girl narrative, although thankfully there is a twist. A pretty big one in fact, but I won’t go into that. Lacey is the badass, broken, manic pixie dream girl and Hannah (or Dex as she’s known) is the good girl who is introduced to what it means to be ‘Cool’. There are times when it is almost unfathomably dark and it did drag a little in the middle but the ending, as unbelievable as it may be, makes it the kind of book that sticks with you for a while afterwards.
You need to read this book.
With Malice - Eileen Cook*
Jill woke up in hospital with multiple broken bones and no memory of how she got there. Let alone the fact that her best friend was killed in the accident that led to her being here. Oh, and that Jill was driving. Although it drags on at times, it is a book that will keep you reading as you try to piece together what happened to Jill although I’m not sure how I felt about the ending. There were some slight cringe moments with the texts etc, but the ‘Justice for Simone’ blog was interesting.
A lot of things didn’t add up, but if you’re willing to be a little loose with those things, I would say give it a go.
Lucky Me - Saba Kapur *
We follow rich girl Gia who has the life you wish you had but it also pretty nice with it all. Her Dad hires a bodyguard to watch her after she starts to get some creepy messages and of course he’s super hot. There’s a nice little love triangle (I think she makes the wrong choice though!), and some intrigue and suspense with her stalker, as well as some genuinely funny parts.
This is a really good, easy read.
The American & The Brit - K.A Young and Julie Bromley*
This is a very silly, OTT, book that is almost the literary version of a sit-com. Phoebe, an American and Liz, the Brit, are the main characters and are pretty likeable. The other characters are not very fleshed out and I’m not sure about any of the male characters at all (are we supposed to like them?! Who do the girls fancy? Everyone?! Is no one unattractive in their life?!), but it’s quite fun to read about their dramas. Nothing is at all heavy, it’s all very lighthearted and the perfect palate cleanser to read between the thrillers and emotional YA novels.
It’s short, easy and pretty funny.
Detached - Christina Kilbourne*
This is a rare beast - a book about depression that isn’t a bad representation. In fact, Anna’s thoughts seem pretty accurate and one thing I love is that there is no “reason” for her depression. In a lot of books, there always has to be a catalyst for mental health issues but that’s not how the world works and thankfully, it’s not how this book is written either. Anna is a talented artist and a likeable character and overall, it’s pretty up-lifting.
A great story well told but beware of triggering content.
Carry On - Rainbow Rowell
Read a proper review of this here: http://www.codiekinz.co.uk/blog/clgtl5897xku6gz7dxuxwrhdallkoh because it really needs a full one but essentially, this is a sort of spin off to Rainbow Rowell’s FanGirl. I liked FanGirl but I didn’t love the bits in-between about the fan fiction she was writing about Simon Snow, so a book that is literally about that didn’t seem like it would be any good.
I was wrong. It was awesome.
Whether you liked Fan Girl or not, even if you didn’t read it, give it a read.
My Girl - Jack Jordan*
Sometimes books with mysteries and twists are amazing (see Mark Edwards) but sometimes the twists are so far-fetched and designed just to shock that they kinda make the rest of the book seem pointless. That’s not to say this was a bad book, as we follow a woman whose daughter was murdered and husband committed suicide. But after the twist it all goes a bit weird and ends pretty abruptly.
An interesting story with little payoff.
Everything Everything - Nicola Yoon
Our protagonist Madeline has a rare immunity disease that means she is never allowed to leave her house and sees nobody but her mum, her nurse and her doctors. Until Olly moves in next door. Predictably they fall in love and I have to admit, I got the butterflies but Maddy’s relationship with her mother is the really interesting thing. There is, of course, a twist that will leave you reeling and I feel that that redeemed the book as more than just a soppy love fest.
So much more than a love story.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - J. K Rowling
Of course I read this, who didn’t?! Some bits I loved, some bits felt awkward but at the end of the day, I was excited to get new content. That said, I don’t 100% take it as cannon and I feel like it’s more just heavily promoted fan fiction.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan give it a go but know that you don’t have to accept it as cannon!
Catch Your Death - Louise Voss and Mark Edwards
The story follows Kate, her son and her ex-boyfriend’s brother as they try to find out what happened to Stephen, her ex, who died while they were both at a research centre, finding a cure for a cold. Although, as it turns out, that’s not quite what had happened…
This isn’t the best Mark Edwards & Louise Voss book, but it certainly wasn’t bad, just a little slow to get in to it.
Don’t make this the first Mark Edwards book you read.
One Paris Summer - Dentise Grovel Swank*
The story line is so cliche (brother and sister are sent to Paris to live with their father one summer. He has a new girlfriend and a new step-daughter, who of course, does not get on with the original daughter. Enter attractive, brooding, misunderstood guy) but I really did enjoy it. As you can see, I sandwiched it between Mark Edwards’ books as some light relief!
A nice, easy feel-good read.
The Devil’s Work - Mark Edwards*
The full review is here: http://www.codiekinz.co.uk/blog/the-devils-work-mark-edwards but basically, this is probably my favourite of his books. The suspense will kill you, the drama will frustrate you and I genuinely had to take little breaks as I was getting far too invested.
This book will make you super paranoid but it is incredible
Another Day - David Levithan
Like an idiot, I read this book before realising it was a sequel (I didn’t notice until I got to the end!). It’s such an interesting concept. Rhiannon, who is with a really crappy boyfriend that she needs to just dump, meets someone who is literally a different person every day. Every single day. The book is frustrating at times and there are so many questions I want to ask but it’s such a unique story.
Maybe read the prequel first.
The Romantics - Leah Konen*
Eh. The concept of this is cute - the whole story is told by love themselves however the actual story is pretty cliche. It’s nice enough, but I do feel like it could have been a little more exciting and less obvious.
Great for fans of rom-coms who want something a little different.
The Illustrated Mum - Jacqueline Wilson
Part of my Wilson in my 20s series, you can read the full review here: http://www.codiekinz.co.uk/blog/wilson-in-my-20s-the-illustrated-mum?rq=illustrated%20mum. This is one of my favourite ever Jacqueline Wilson books as it deals with mental health and being poor and bullying and it’s just really deep to say that it’s narrated by someone so young.
Re-reading books you loved as a child will give you a whole different perspective!
Boy to the World - Eileen Walls*
Another average love story, this time our hero runs away to NYC. The most interesting character is Uncle Danny who used to be a famous skateboarder/rockstar and is now hugely washed up and certainly not grown up. He’s frankly a bit of a d-bag. But Jones is a little whiney and not hugely likeable.
A quick read but very predictable.
Wetlands - Charlotte Roche
Without a doubt the weirdest book I have ever read and even by my standards a bit too much oversharing. There seems to be a lot of things that happen in the book that are designed to shock, and shock they do. I was hoping for some things to break taboo and to be like “Yeah, I do that too! It’s not so weird!” but most of it was just very bizarre.
Totally worth a read if you have a strong stomach.
Clean Break - Jacqueline Wilson
The second 'Wilson in my 20’s' that I haven’t actually fully reviewed yet - oops! This is a typical Jacqueline Wilson book about parent’s breaking up, magical dads that turn out to not be perfect and mums crying a lot. Also Em is is a bit overweight and looks after her two younger siblings. It’s all the same story but I do like them.
Ideal for children or twenty-somethings who are regressing.
Bridget Jones’s Baby - Helen Fielding
I love Bridget Jones! I hated Mad About the Boy however so I was a little wary. I read this after watching the new film (which I loved!) and even though it’s not the same story at all (there’s a different potential father) it was just as good. Really funny and true to character (unlike Mad About the Boy, which I review here http://www.codiekinz.co.uk/blog/bridget-jones-mad-boy-review?rq=bridget).
A return to true Bridget hilarity.
The One Memory of Flora Banks - Emily Barr*
Such a unique concept. Flora Banks suffers from short-term memory loss and her brain resets randomly throughout the day so she has to write notes on her arm to herself. Until one day, she remembers something. It’s an interesting one to read as it is told by Flora herself so whenever she has to re-rememeber something, so do we and sometimes you have no idea how she got somewhere - and neither does she. You spend the first half of the book feeling a little sorry for her but something changes and you realise she’s actually a badass.
Such a unique, unusual book, 100% worth a read.
Nina is Not Ok - Shappi Khorsandi
I’ve been Nina in someways so this was hard to read, but a refreshing read. Nina is a bit of a mess. She is 17 and drinks far too much, making questionable choices while drunk. Some so cringe-worthy, you want the world to open up and swallow you. But then it stops being even slightly funny. It gets really dark and sad and frustrating and I had to walk away a few times as I was getting a bit upset (I’m such a sap).
A really fantastic, honest and heartbreaking book.
If I Was Your Girl - Meredith Russo*
This was a fantastic book. Amanda is trans but cis-passing. Not only that, but she is beautiful. At first I had a problem with how she was portrayed, as she was well-supported, could afford all the medication and operations she wanted/needed etc, (although cis myself, I have trans friends for whom this is not the reality) but when I read the author’s notes I saw that Meredith is trans also, and that she noted how “easy” she made it for Amanda and why - there is a reason behind it all.
This book has love, drama and tension and is a really great book.
An important read.
Bluff - Julie Dill*
Chelsea is a poor girl in a rich girl’s world and to make money she starts frequenting casinos. And she’s good at it. It’s an unusual topic for a YA book, but not a whole lot really happens in it if I’m honest, and the other characters are a bit 2D.
A quick, easy read but nothing groundbreaking.
Optimists Die First - Susin Nielsen
I loved this book. Petula is a very anxious person and after hearing her backstory, you can see why. She spends her days with a band of misfits as part of an art therapy class and of course there she falls in love with Jacob, although it is not necessarily the classic love story. This book is funny and sad and features a lot of cats which I, obviously am a fan of.
One of my favourite reads this year.
So there you have all the books I read in 2016 - some that are worth swerving, and others that you need to read!
Let me know your favourite books of 2016 below and if you agree, or disagree with any of mine!
** The links on this page are affiliate links, so I may get a small bit of money from Amazon for any books bought but it will cost you nothing extra and does not affect my opinions in any way.