In a year when “surreal” became the most searched term on the internet, a reality star was elected to the highest office in the land, too many beloved celebrities died, and mass shootings continued to show us how much hate still exists in this world, it’s important to understand what good literature truly gives us.
It gives us hope, even in the direst of circumstances. It gives us an outlet for all of the pain and the grief we may feel. It teaches us to love and to be kind, but most of all to stand up; to be heard.
For me, as a disabled Young Adult, it provides me with all of that and more. Reading is my escape as is writing. As writers, we all strive for our work to mean something, even if it’s only to a single person. We want it to matter, to teach, to share a message we feel is important.
2016 was a really hard year, but it was also a great one. Not all of these books were new in 2016, only new to me and I’m glad I found them. This collection of books has strong heroines that continue to rise as they are kicked back down. Two of the books feature characters dealing with recent disabilities and the new reality that brings. I’ve included dragons and aliens, movie stars and hockey players.
Let’s all take a deep breath. 2016 is over. 2017 is just beginning. This year will be what we make of it.
Click on any of the images for more information.
Okay, so these ones weren’t really chosen by me. My niece is two-and-a-half and loves books just as much as I do. We spend a lot of time together and read a lot of different things, but there are only a few books that have become obsessions – to the point of her memorizing the words.
Little Big Girl by Claire Keane
A touching picture book about an older sister’s unconditional love for her new baby brother.
Matisse is a little girl in a big world. Despite her size, she gets to have all sorts of grand adventures, like seeing the big sights of the city, making big messes, and taking big naps when her little body is all tuckered out. But when Matisse meets her baby brother, she realizes that she isn’t so little after all- She’s a big sister! And it’s great fun to show this new little person what wonders this big world has in store.
Groovy Joe By Eric Litwin
Eric Litwin, author of the bestselling and beloved Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, and bestselling artist Tom Lichtenheld, illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, have created a captivating new canine character who will groove his way into readers’ hearts and have them grooving and giggling all the while. In his debut adventure, Groovy Joe faces three roaring dinosaurs hungry for his doggy ice cream! Oh no! But Joe knows just what to do and soon enough he has them all sharing while moving and singing along.
I’ll be aging out of the typical YA crowd soon – I may already have – but that won’t stop me from devouring this genre. Young Adult books are amazing in that they appeal to people of all ages.
Cinder and Ella by Kelly Oram – this books takes the crown for best overall book as well!
Ella is a young girl who loves her mom, loves movies and books, and loves her best friend Cinder. Only, she doesn’t know who Cinder is exactly. He’s her online friend who knows her better than anyone.
Cinder in real life is a movie star, picking up the role in the very same movie where his nickname Cinder comes from. Even through all of that, he finds himself falling in love with a girl he doesn’t know, a girl who suddenly disappears from his life taking his heart with her.
The accident. It changes Ella’s life, taking her mom and sending her into a world of disability, pain, and life with a father who abandoned her and his family who doesn’t want her. It isn’t until she gets the courage to message Cinder again that she can start putting the pieces of her life back together, even if they don’t quite fit as they did before.
I’m not a big sci-fi fan, but this series reads more like contemporary stories that just happen to include time travel and are truly beautiful.
A Straw Man by Amalie Jahn
What if you could go back in time to save the person you love the most?
Nate’s funny. He’s a football player. He’s ridiculously handsome. In fact, it seems as if Melody’s dating the perfect guy, until an unexpected tragedy changes everything about him.
Based on her own family’s experiences, Melody knows traveling in time to help him could have disastrous results – the tiniest alteration of the past can have huge repercussions on the future. But with careful planning, she’s confident her trip will be a success.
What she doesn’t anticipate is that sometimes there are consequences which can never be foreseen and changes that can never be undone.
This is by far my favorite genre when it’s done well. I have a number of big name authors who I read religiously, but this year the title goes to an Indie!
Seirsha of Errinton by Shari L. Tapscott
Sometimes the brightest love kindles in the bleakest of darkness.
The people of Errinton are cold, but none is more so than their distant and aloof princess. At least, that’s how Seirsha hopes to be seen. After living in the shadow of her father, the cruel King Bowen, the princess has learned to keep her distance, hiding her feelings and the love she has for her people. Seirsha finds peace only with a peasant family in the village and a very unlikely friend from the caves near the castle.
But after her involvement in the death of the male heir to the Errintonian throne, Seirsha’s defenses begin to crumble. The search for another successor begins, and the one man with the power to strip away the princess’s walls steps back into her life.
Seirsha knows she should keep her distance from Lord Rigel—the only man in Errinton with a legitimate claim to her father’s throne—but when Bowen orders her to keep the dark lord close so she may spy on him, the princess must make a choice. With another Dragon War looming and Errinton’s oppressed rising against their leaders, will Seirsha betray her blood or turn her back on Rigel—the man she’s loved her entire life?
I read so many amazing romances this year and this selection could have been a number of them, but there is something special about this book. It’s about more than just romance, it’s about love – pure, in sickness and in health love.
The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen
The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else. What now?
She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.
Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.
Also, he’s taken.
Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.
They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.
But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.
I will forever have a soft spot for dystopian because it’s the genre I cut my teeth in as a writer. There are many books that could go here as well. Alas, I could only choose one!
Strain of Resistance by Michelle Bryan
My name is Bixby. I was 12 years old when the world ended. A mysterious mist had blanketed our world, turning most of the population into blood-sucking predators. The few of us left uninfected…well, we were the prey. Vanquished to the bottom of the food chain.
For eight years we’ve fought this alien war. Barely surviving. Not knowing which day would be our last. But now we face a new threat. The parasite that took us down is evolving. Becoming smarter. Stronger. Deadlier.
The infected took everything from me. My home. My family. The man that I loved. No more.
This is the story of our resistance.
Best Book to Movie
The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
The movie here wasn’t quite as good as the book (are they ever?), but that isn’t surprising. Rick Yancey is an incredible writer and it’d be hard to convey just how beautiful and deep his words really were.