My favorite books of 2016

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If you have read my previous post you know that in 2016 I got slightly (trying to downplay it a little) carried away by YA. I read a lot of over-hyped but average books last year. I am disappointed but since there’s not much that I can do about it I will just file it as ‘learning’. I did come across some gems though when I came out of my YA daze, which didn’t happen so frequently but it still allowed me to read some valuable books. I am going to talk about three in particular here, to keep it short. One of the three is YA so I’m not giving up on the genre just yet.

  1. Charlotte Bronte ‘Shirley’

You probably know of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte’s most known novel and if you have read and loved it you certainly need to read this one. It is set in Yorkshire in the period 1811 – 12 during the Napoleonic wars, a period of industrial depression. The novel gives an accurate and descriptive portrayal of Yorkshire society with a multitude of well-rounded characters. The heroes and heroines are not romanticised. Everyone seems so down to earth and relatable. The novel is about survival, passion and change. Everyone is wrapped up into their own little dramas and the individual stories will intertwine in the end and in true Charlotte Bronte style, our heroes will have their well deserved happy ending.

The story starts slowly and though sometimes can feel like it’s dragging by, we need that slow pace in order to truly understand our protagonists. I feel that today we read so many fast paced novels and we are so wrapped up in all the action that goes on in them that we forget how enjoyable can be something slow paced, full with rich details and double meanings.

I especially loved the two heroines, Caroline and Shirley. They each represent an era, past and respectively future. It is a feminist novel as it describes how women are seen in society, the limitations they face and how they have to rely on men to survive.

Caroline is a lady, brought up to be a perfect housewife. She is quiet, prim and lovely. What can such a woman do in life other than marry? Now she has to rely on her uncle to survive and after she marries she will rely on her husband. Can she ever be independent? Her struggle felt so real, so agonising. She was bit by bit eaten up by the unrequited love she felt and the thought that she has no purpose in this world.

Shirley is the complete opposite of Caroline. A modern and independent woman. She has rank and money which lead to opportunities and privileges denied to other women. In the end these opposite poles will come together and form a balance. Caroline will gain some confidence and Shirley’s wildness will be tamed.

  1. Sofi Oksanen ‘When the Doves Disappeared’

The story is set in Estonia during and after World War II and follows primarily three characters. Roland, a man of principles who’s not afraid to fight for the right cause, Edgar who seeks power and status no matter the cost and Edgar’s wife, Juudit trapped in a loveless unconsummated marriage who finds love in the arms of a German officer.

Finished When the Doves Disappeared by Sofi Oksanen the other day and it is one of the best books I've read this year! I highly recommend it! • From the back cover: 1941: In Communist-ruled, war ravaged Estonia, two men are fleeing from the Red Army – Roland, a fiercely principled freedom fighter, and his slippery cousin Edgar. When the Germans arrive, Roland goes into hiding; Edgar abandons his unhappy wife, Juudit, and takes on a new identity as a loyal supporter of the Nazi regime. // 1963: Estonia is again under Communist control, independence even further out of reach behind the Iron Curtain. Edgar is now a Soviet apparatchik, desperate to hide the secrets of his past life and stay close to those in power. But his fate remains entangled with Roland's, and with Juudit, who may hold the key to uncovering the truth. • A wonderful and haunting character driven novel giving us insight into opposing poles of human nature – moral innocence and depravity. • Day 3 of Spooky October Book Challenge – book and pumpkin by #thefinchblonde • #sofioksanen #whenthedovesdisappeared #bookstagram #inspiretoread #instaread #bookishfeatures #totalbooknerd #goodreads #readmore #bookish #ilovebooks #bookphotography #mutimitolvasol #carteadinmanamea #booklover #instabook #bibliophile #booknerd #bookaholic #bookaddict #bookworm

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This is a story of survival and principles. Can you be a person with a clean morale in a depraved world? Are there such things as values and can they be upheld in a world where everyone is scraping by and judging eyes are watching you from behind every corner? Can you dare to fight when that means risking your life each day? Is true love true when your partner is a Nazi officer?

Through one of the characters, this novel took me down some very dark and disturbing mental paths.  Can you discard your values and principles like you discard an old coat? Can human beings be so cold and calculating? It turns out that yes. It gives me the shivers just to think about it, but the character of Edgar is magnificent in its depravity.

If you like character driven stories and stories about human character you are going to love this one.

  1. Sarah J. Maas ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’

This is the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses and OMG! I have never been so wrapped up by a book in what seems like forever. I could not stop reading it… I was seriously considering calling in sick just so I could read it in one sitting. In short it’s about a human girl named Feyre who is somehow the key to saving the world of the Fae.  First, this book pissed me because of the change in the love interest but in the end it made sense. I forgave Sarah J. Maas because the turns this book takes make perfect sense and even though the story is somewhat predictable it still managed to hold me completely absorbed.

I still can’t understand what an ass Tamlin has turned out to be but I hope that in the next instalment he will somehow redeem himself. I still believe in him despite everything that happened and I hope so does Sarah J. Maas. Regarding Feyre and Rhysand… the perfect love story every woman dreams of. A bit fluffy and rosy at the edges but I’m OK with that. And the row of amazing new characters and side stories introduced has left me dizzy and dying with anticipation. Why can’t A Court of Wings and Ruin be released like right now?!

This book is part of one of the best YA fantasy series I’ve read so far. Perfect for when you want to read something easy and fast paced.

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