Reader Favorites – Grey’s Best of the Best of 2016 List

by Maryse on January 7, 2017 · 27 comments

in Book Recommendations

YAY!!!! It’s our book-bud/super-angst-lover (fellow “Marmy” member), Grey’s list, and I can’t wait to explore this one!! I just LOVE how she went into depth describing each of her favorite book picks, because it gives me so much insight into not only her experience with the story, but how much I know I will connect to it, too. YAY ME!! YAY US!!!

She says:

“Another year…another list! You all know how wordy I am, so it is probably in your best interest to pull up a chair and get a snack, or your favorite cocktail. (Amy, if you would do the honors, please?) Get comfy – this is a long one!

I’m pretty stingy with my 5 star review/ratings. As a matter of fact, I’ve only given out 10 this year….so what do you know? You’re going to get those – plus a *few* honorable mentions, because I’m a brat who can’t follow the rules. *blows Maryse a big kiss*”

In order of appearance this year, not for any other reason… Let’s do this!

Until You: The Fall Away Series by Penelope Douglas. Surprised? I was a little surprised that a sequel, which could almost be argued was a rewrite of the first book in the series AND written entirely in the male POV (which I sometimes have a harder time connecting with), could get my first 5 star rating of the year. However, that is exactly what the follow up to Bully did.

Until You, allowed us to get inside Jared’s head to see things from his side of the story. What is better, is the added bonus of new scenes and chapters too. Don’t worry, it isn’t a verbatim repeat of the first book with just his feelings overlapping it. As I write this, I’m not sure why Bully only got 4.5 stars. I wracked my brain trying to think of what was lacking, but so far I haven’t come up with anything.

With that said, I was apprehensive about reading basically a rehash of a story I’d already read. However, I’ve never been so happy to have bitten the bullet! Getting Jared’s POV gave me what I didn’t realize I was missing. His brokenness, but the obvious love he has for his childhood best friend Tate… *sigh* I loved this book. Just typing their names, almost a year later, makes me want to pull the whole series back up on my kindle and reread it again! If that doesn’t tell you something, it should!

One passage in particular, when the duo had squared off in a classroom and Tate had spat a nasty barb to Jared about his parents not wanting him, just gutted me. In 2 sentences, Ms. Douglas gave us a glimpse into Jared’s head and brought me to tears…

“I didn’t forget to breathe. I just didn’t want to anymore.”

Yeah…easily a 5 star for me. Jerk-face bullies and their extra smooshy armored hearts…I love them!

For my next 5 star read, I chose THERAPY by Kathryn Perez. This book. It broke me. There were parts that I had to physically walk away from. Puffs Plus and Godiva chocolate got me through. At one point, I’m fairly certain you all remember me posting about wiping my nose with chocolate wrappers instead of tissues… Well Therapy is the reason why!

Marmy, Table for one! It hurt. The intensity of highs and lows Jessica and Jace felt… it gutted me. The complexity of feelings that Ms. Perez was able to weave into words was so incredibly potent. I had to take a couple of days before I was able to even write the review, because I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to rate it.

“They say monsters live under beds. They’re wrong because our mind is where monsters truly reside.”

How true is that quote, btw? Take a minute and let it sink in. Depression is real folks. It’s real and it’s scary. It’s so isolating and people live with it…and die from it every single day. Yeah… deep, right? Whew. I need more Godiva or a chilled glass of pink Moscato. Or both. At any rate, the book. While a very difficult and gut wrenching read… was absolutely sensational.

Next up! Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. I absolutely was riveted by this story. Horrified, thinking that this could happen to anyone of us in a foreign country. Truly masterful storytelling. Just writing the title, brings back the heebie jeebies I got while reading it. This was about a group of kids on a senior break trip, and one of the girls wound up dead…. another accused of killing her and she lands in a foreign jail, as does her boyfriend. As time marches on, she is denied bail, meanwhile her boyfriend is released under sketchy circumstances and we wonder if she will rot in this prison forever! Wow… the psych thriller aspect of the whodunit really kept me on the edge of my seat! A supremely well written tale, highly recommend to anyone that enjoys an intense journey that keeps you guessing until the very last minute.

Ah, the only PNR on the list. And quite possibly, my top pick for 2016…but shhh… don’t tell Maryse, I told her I couldn’t be pinned down…. *giggle* Playing with Monsters by Amelia Hutchins. If you could see me right now, you’d see the HUGE smile on my face. Legitimately, I’m smiling SO big! I absolutely FLoved it!! It had been a while since I’d handed out a 5 star review… 5 months to be exact. (I went back and counted!) I’d read upwards of 60 books since then. I admit it, I’m a tough critic. But this book, it had everything I was looking for!

Angst… oh, it had the ANGST in spades! Hot sexy times… ooh, sound the alarm on that front too! A complete, jerkface a$$hole and a sassy, independent young woman and how they…um, clash, yeah, that’s the right word. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Just an intriguingly fascinating paranormal story that I didn’t even know I craved!! Man, I cannot WAIT for the next part of this series to come out.

Tight by Alessandra Torre, I know, I know, I know. I was really slow on the uptake here. All I can say is THANK YOU!!! If it wasn’t for all of you and the best of 2015 lists, touting how great this book was, I wouldn’t have known about this amazing book! It’s a little different than the author’s usual style, a bit edgier and darker… but I like dark…and edgy, and edgy dark…LOL, so I was cool with it. And let me be perfectly blunt, Ms. Torre can throw down with the smut… humina, humina! A small time girl going through a bit of a sexual drought and a worldly man that sweeps her off her feet… but he’s hiding something. Recipe for excellence, right? Yep, that’s what I thought, too!

Gah, my July was AWESOME!!! I read the previous two books and the next three, in the span of a month, it was fantastic. Although, since then I felt quite the book hangover, I must say! Into the Light (The Light Series Book 1) by Aleatha Romig- This book. Holy sh*t! This part one of two, is about a woman who wakes up blind with no memory and in a cult… and she has very conflicted feelings about her husband. What a ride! I thought I had it, swore I knew what was going on then – blam another twist. Aleatha-ed again! She’s a wizard, this author! I accomplished nothing all day but read the book… and I considered it a great day! I cannot wait for part two of this series, I’ve just got to know how this all plays out! (as an aside, part 2 is now out…and we can find out how this all plays out! so you all don’t have to wait!!!) This was a definite 5 star pretzel tummy, twisty turny brilliant masterpiece, my favorite kind!

Eminent Love by Leddy Harper. 5 heart wrenching, ugly cry inducing stars. This book. I joked that I may never read another by the author because she ripped my heart out and sent it through the shredder, I was kidding, of course. But, it was that intense. Once I started this story, I literally didn’t put it down. The love story of Creed and Layne was told almost exclusively from Creed’s POV, which as I said earlier, can sometimes be a hard sell. That is, a female author writing a male POV, but not in this instance, she nailed it, in the most heart wrenching way.

I don’t want to give spoilers… but the long and the short of it is, that they were “heart mates.” The “Yen and the Yang”. Together for 5 years while they battled through college and “things”. The readers were treated to some sexy times too, not too over the top or raunchy. Then Creed and Layne graduated and just when we thought everything was going to be set, she accepts a job and moves across the country… what the what?!?! *Insert angst here* For a year, they are separated until he decides he can’t live without her and is going to drive across the country to fight for her… which is how the majority of the story is told. Each chapter being divided between ‘the Now’ and ‘the Then’. It was just… wow. Yeah, keep the tissues handy!

No list is complete without something from Tiffany Reisz…and this one isn’t either. So… here we are. Something Nice written by the fabulously talented, Tiffany Reisz! A little novella that she gifted to everyone on her mailing list. It made the end of my July so much nicer. I have missed my Sinners something awful. “All is fair in love and sadism.” *giggle* The only thing that would make me happier… is if I got my novella about Zach and Nora’s free week… I’m still waiting on that one, Tiffany!

The most controversial book for me to add to this list… It Ends with Us: A Novel by Colleen Hoover. No question that it is a 5 star read. I had to let my feelings sort of marinate for a while before I could type a review because I was very conflicted over what I was going to say. CoHo… Damn. This Book. I started it at 9pm at night and finished it at 215am the next morning. However, it kept me awake for long – long after that. This is one of those books that is going to stay with me, probably for the rest of my life. And for that alone, it earns you one of my hard won 5 stars. You, Colleen Hoover are brave and bold. And I applaud you, for raising awareness of such a swept under the rug issue, especially adding such a personal notation at the end of your book… you are a trailblazer and should always hold your head high. Be proud!

Rarely in life, do you get a glimpse into a world where you are so conflicted over what the “right” choice is. What the right choice for one person is, may not be the right choice for someone else. The night I read the book, I blew up Maryse’s blog, I obliterated R’s Twitter DM… I was in short, a hot mess reading it. I stood up, I sat down, but I never, not for one second, did I stop reading. I had to know what happened to Lily Blossom Bloom Kincaid.

I laughed, I cried, I ached…then I cried some more… then I was furious… at more than one person strangely enough. The love stories told in “It Ends With Us” pulverized my heart with a mallet and then sent it through a meat grinder… I felt for all of them, because I don’t feel that Ryle, Lily, Atlas or Emmy got the ending they necessarily deserved… gah, maybe I wasn’t ready to write the review after all!?!? But be that as it may, here it is.

The last of my 5 stars was way back in August! Far too long ago! That needs to be rectified ASAP! But luckily for you all, it’s a fantastic read! The Five Stages of Falling in Love by Rachel Higginson. I started this book and almost immediately stopped to delete it. The prologue hit way too close to home for me and I wasn’t sure I could get through. But… It was on my spreadsheet and recommended by at least 6 of my fellow blog buddies from the best of 2015 list and I needed a 5 star. I’d become a bit of a glutton. I’m not spoiling anything as I said, it comes right out in the first pages of the book. The MC is Liz and the book follows her as she tries to emotionally recover from the devastating loss of her husband from brain cancer. A young widow and mother of 4 children who are in their own state of flux. She is working to get through the 5 stages of grief, and really just to get through each day. This book was incredibly well written and just made you feel like you were right there inside Liz’s head for every raw, sometimes painful, sometimes frazzled moment.

The only possible criticism I have is that I felt the ending was rushed, and I would have liked a little more of the wrap up. Not enough that I would pull a star away however. 5 pop tart and wine stars!

Honorable mentions-

“Ok… I’m out! Thank you if you’ve managed to get through all of this…you deserve to give your eyes a bit of a rest now LOL! Happy New Year and may we all have marvelous 2017′s full of great reads!! XOXO, Grey”

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

bev January 7, 2017 at 7:19 PM

Wow, Grey. You definitely went in depth.
Great list and fun insights. I have read one of them, Until You.
Dangerous Girls has been in my tbr since everyone went crazy for it.

R. Renee January 7, 2017 at 7:51 PM

I LOVE your list Grey! I added Therapy to my TBR, but I want at least 3 more of them!!

Jan January 7, 2017 at 8:06 PM

Thanks Grey! Great to see such a really different list from mine. I’ve only read Beautiful (which I loved) and Punk 57, which was a bit ‘meh’ for me. I think you go for much darker reads than me. OK yeah, I’m just weak……….. I know :-/

Antonella January 7, 2017 at 8:16 PM

Great list. A few are on my TBR that I should get to – The five stages of falling in love, Tight – and seeing the link to Marmy, I now get what you are all talking about. Missed that original post.

Fabi January 7, 2017 at 8:40 PM

whew! *wipes sweat off forehead* thank goodness for your honorable mentions. I was sweating it reading down your list. Hyperventilating by the end. A big sigh of relief at the very end because I’ve read some of those. ;-)

Jean January 7, 2017 at 9:40 PM

Grey, great list! I LOVED Until You so much! And I think I read the Light series because of you which I also loved. 5 Stages of Falling in Love and Therapy I’ve had on my TBR forever…..gotta move them up!

Kim Box Person January 7, 2017 at 10:02 PM

Grey what a fantastic list! I even found a couple that I’ hadn’t come across! I bought them

Kim Box Person January 7, 2017 at 10:04 PM

Ugh! I lost some of my original post. I love ugly cry & angst while I’m reading as well as being shocked. The fact you’re selective with giving 5 stars had me immediately taking notice of your list. I bought a couple I haven’t heard of and moved a few up my TBR list. Thank you so much for sharing

Antonella January 8, 2017 at 6:33 AM

OMG, I’ve been reading Tight all day and have 50 pages left. The suspense is killing me arghh, this better end well.

Grey January 8, 2017 at 10:13 AM

bev- If I had to pick any one of them for you to read… Until You would have been it! So that’s wild it’s actually the one you have read LOL!

ooh R, YES! Read Therapy. *makes Therapy survival kit* Here’s Manny, some Godiva and a bottle of Moscato, now hunker down in the blankie fort and call me if you need me. I’m sure Amy and Maryse will both agree… it’s worth it!

Jan, You’re welcome! But, no!!! You’re not weak! And I loved Beautiful! we discussed this on the blog, we all have different tastes, which is what makes this blog (and these lists) so much fun!!

Grey January 8, 2017 at 10:28 AM

Antonella, LOL! Isn’t it so much fun?!? Seeing these lists pop in and you’re like… DOH! I remember how much I wanted to read that one! Well from the two you’ve mentioned, IMHO, you can’t go wrong with either one. And yes… we’re the Marmies, we like them to make us feel all the feels!

Fabi, your post made me giggle. I did seem to love the books that ran my feels right through the shredder this past year. But then all of my honorable mentions… they were all so close to 5′s… *holding my thumb and forefinger together*, truly so close! I will be reading Wolfsong for you… and I’m going to read The Last Hour of Gann, based on you and bev’s recommendations as well. I’ve decided!

Jean, my book twin sister! Did you know… there are 2 more books coming in the Fall Away series??? The first of which comes this month?!?! Yep, shuffle Therapy and The 5 Stages on up… but like I told R… be prepared girlfriend!

Grey January 8, 2017 at 10:33 AM

Kim, welcome! Thanks for taking note of my list, when you read, make sure you come back and let me know what you think! I am pretty picky LOL! (but the way you said selective sounds so much nicer, haha!)

Antonella, Yay, I love that you picked Tight up already, that’s awesome! Keep reading!!

Thank you Maryse! You’re the best for doing this for us!!!

Tessa January 8, 2017 at 12:14 PM

One of those books is a re-release. Next to Never is the new one.

Wow. Grey, do you realize how many of these I’ve read and loved, or is on my TBR? Geesh. Playing with Monsters was a perfect PNR. Also ever honorable mention with the exception of Beautiful. (I still have to read the rest of that series.) Therapy scares me. 0.0

Grey January 8, 2017 at 12:29 PM

Ah Tessa, my other book twin LOL! I’m chomping at the bit waiting for your list too… just to see what books I need to add to my list. I can’t wait for the next book in the PWM series, seriously, I don’t even care what I am reading at that particular moment, it will be placed to the side… (I hope I’m not building it up too much in my mind, but I am that excited about it!)

Jennifer January 8, 2017 at 1:06 PM

I loved Bully and definitely need to read Until You. I’ve got Tight, need to move that up and I love Amelia Hutchins…she does the best PNR smexy times. Thanks for sharing!

Tessa January 8, 2017 at 1:16 PM

Same here, especially with that ending. I also trust the author not to rush things and just write what she feels is right.

Grey January 8, 2017 at 2:06 PM

Jennifer, oh yes, definitely read Until You. If you loved Bully, Until You will just, gah! I’m actually a little jealous that you’ll get to experience it for the first time. I may do a reread now that I’m talking about it. And Tight, PWM, all the yeses, haha!

Tessa, exactly, that’s exactly how I feel about it. Do we have any info on when the next one will be released?

Tessa January 8, 2017 at 3:38 PM

First, at the end of this month, beginning of next, is the next in her dystopian, Death before Dawn. Then the next fae book. Then she hopes to end the year with the next Playing with Monsters book. She had a cancer scare and is adopting her great niece, so she fell behind. (one book a year is falling behind? Wtf?)

MichelleS January 8, 2017 at 5:23 PM

I’ve only read two on your list: IEWU and Therapy. I’ve had Playing with Monsters on my TBR for 7 months!ugh! After your review I need to hop on it, and a bunch more!!! Great list

Jan January 8, 2017 at 5:57 PM

Yay! Grey is going to read 2 of my favs. Wolfsong and Last Hour Of Gann. :D Hope you love them too.

And Tessa, you should totally go for the rest of the Beautiful series. One of my fav series ever.

Cheryl January 8, 2017 at 8:19 PM

Grey- great list!! You’ve made me re-think Eminent Love. I started it and was not feeling it. think I’ll have to give it another try. Also, putting Into the Light on my tbr. Gotta love anything Alessandra Torre writes!! :)

Lisa January 8, 2017 at 8:43 PM

Great list Grey…and so much detail. I know you say you are stingy with 5 star ratings, so I know for sure everyone of the books on your list will be awesome. Even though I’m not into too much angst, I’m one clicking a few of these and was happy to see a few of my faves on your honorable mentions.

Amy January 8, 2017 at 9:06 PM

Grey!! AWESOME list!!!!

Can I ask…are you a writer? :P

Seriously though, I loved your summaries. And your picks. My lord…YOUR PICKS. Therapy (personal favorite of mine!), Dangerous Girls, Tight, It Ends With Us, The Five Stages of Falling In Love, Punk 57…you are a Marmy!!! :D

Grey January 9, 2017 at 11:16 AM

Tessa, I think I will have to look up her other books. I know there’s gotta be something she’s written to tide me over LOL! And I’m glad to hear that she is physically doing OK…her books are massive I can understand they take a long time to write. I can be patient. Sorta. LOL.

MichelleS, Oh, yes! You simply have to read PWM, doesn’t she Tessa? Trust me… You’ll love it!! *Squee*

Jan, yep. I’m going to bite the bullet on both of them. Secretly, or not so secretly, I am soooo glad we are doing this challenge! I have a TBR like eleventy billion books long and this way I am reading some that otherwise would be forgotten, so it’s exciting!

Grey January 9, 2017 at 11:22 AM

Cheryl, thank you! Ooh put Into the Light on your list. Most definitely! I agree with this idea LOL!

Lisa, I am stingy, out of the 160 + books I read last year, only 10 got 5 star ratings… That’s pretty stingy LOL! Glad that you one clicked a couple, I’d love to hear what you think after you read!

Amy…you brat! I’d like to be a writer someday… Who knows, maybe it will happen. And of course I’m a Marmy! Was there ever any doubt? LOL!

Lisa January 9, 2017 at 4:55 PM

Grey!! You ARE a writer…you write. To me that constitutes a writer.

Maryse January 10, 2017 at 11:58 AM

Grey IS a writer!!! She wins that nanamo (<—?? er… I don’t remember how to spell it) contest every year!!

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