My 10 Favorite Reads of Fall 2016 (+ Win Your Choice in a Giveaway!)

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When I announced in September that I was reducing my blogging schedule, I knew that change would mean ending the monthly Recent Reads series. But I didn’t want to walk away from the idea of discussing books we’ve recently read. Then I read Leanne Sowul’s summer reading round-up here, and inspiration sparked. Why not do a seasonal reading recap – and also make it fun for my readers?

So, today I’ll share my 10 favorite reads from Fall 2016 (September through November). What you’ll find after the jump aren’t reviews, but rather blurbs that mention why I enjoyed each book with links to my full reviews at Goodreads and Amazon. As for the fun part: The title says it all, so stay tuned for the Rafflecopter link and instructions at the end of this post! 😉

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin (YA Alternate Fantasy)

blood-for-blood-coverI read Ryan Graudin’s Wolf By Wolf over the summer and was enthralled and terrified by its imagining of a post-World War II world where Hitler and the Axis Powers had won. That story was still fresh in my mind when I picked up its sequel, Blood for Blood. And… Wow. Between the heightened stakes, the relentless suspense, and Yael’s strengthened focus and determination, I had a REALLY hard time putting Blood for Blood down. The best part, though? Graudin finally gave me reasons to like Luka Lowe. I couldn’t stand him in Wolf By Wolf, but after this book I understand him better – and, most importantly, like him more – than I did before.

Read my full review of Blood for Blood: Goodreads / Amazon

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (YA Fantasy)

crooked-kingdom-coverAnother case of a sequel that was (in my opinion) better than its predecessor. And for Crooked Kingdom, that was no small feat, since Six of Crows was one of my favorite reads last year. The expanded character development, the intricate plotting and unrelenting tension… And the way that certain characters were pushed beyond their emotional limits tugged at my heart. So, for me, Crooked Kingdom is THE reason why you should read the Six of Crows Duology if you haven’t yet. It’s Leigh Bardugo’s best work to date, and it shows how much she’s grown as a writer since her Grisha Trilogy.

Read my full review of Crooked Kingdom: Goodreads / Amazon

Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Fiction)

life-of-pi-coverI saw the film adaptation of Life of Pi a couple years ago. So, yes, I had sort of spoiled things for myself before reading the book. But I don’t feel guilty, because now I know I love both versions(NOTE: The film is faithful to the book for the most part.) If you’re not familiar with Life of Pi, it follows Pi Patel as he spends 227 days on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger after their freighter ship sinks. Their ordeal is terrifying and (for vegetarian Pi) grisly, as well as enlightening and life-affirming. Martel also covers important events and self-discoveries that Pi makes before his journey, from his open embracing of religion to the eye-opening experiences at his father’s zoo. But the real joy in Life of Pi is the protagonist’s narrative voice. Pi’s eagerness, intelligence, and unexpected “funny bone” radiate through Martel’s writing, making this cleverly written, thoughtful tale of survival and resiliency truly memorable.

Read my full review of Life of Pi: Goodreads / Amazon

Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson (YA Historical Fantasy)

like-a-river-glorious-coverWhat a precious and unique series this is shaping up to be! Rae Carson’s Like a River Glorious continues the story of gold-sensing Leah Westfall, who has arrived in California with her friends and is ready to seek her fortune in the Gold Rush. But Leah’s uncle Hiram has survived his own journey and will stop at nothing to control his niece’s powers to benefit his mining empire. I loved how this book focused more on Leah’s magic than Walk On Earth A Stranger had and finally let Leah and Jefferson’s slow-burn romance come to fruition. Plus, the in-depth historical research, the authentic narrative voice – gosh, I loved just about everything in Like a River Glorious. Except Uncle Hiram… but that’s all I’ll say about him.

Read my full review of Like A River Glorious: Goodreads / Amazon

The Reader by Traci Chee (YA Fantasy)

the-reader-coverSet in a fictional world where literacy is considered dangerous, Traci Chee’s YA fantasy debut The Reader stole my breath with its very first pages. Sefia is left alone with a mysterious artifact after her aunt is kidnapped. She quickly realizes that this artifact – a book – might help her rescue her aunt and teach her about her burgeoning magical powers. But that proves to only be the beginning of her journey… And with pirates, mythic legends, a new friend-who-could-be-something-more with a traumatized past, and Sefia’s fierce determination, it’s a journey for readers as well. The book’s clever art direction also takes its “story within a story” concept to another level. So I can’t recommend The Reader enough, especially if you’re looking for a beautifully written, deftly layered YA fantasy.

Read my full review of The Reader: Goodreads / Amazon

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (YA Historical Fiction)

salt-to-the-sea-coverRuta Sepetys’s Salt to the Sea is a fictional account of four young characters whose lives are changed when the Wilhelm Gustloff sinks during World War II. This maritime disaster might be one of the least known events of that war (I never learned about it in school), so gaining insight on it through this book… It’s hard to put into words, and I mean that as a compliment to Sepetys. The depth of her research shines through, and her lyrical writing takes you to the heart of each POV character. I wasn’t crazy about the book’s structure; the vignette-like chapters didn’t ground me long enough in each scene or setting to make it an immersive reading experience. But that didn’t stop the empathy and bravery of its characters and Salt to the Sea‘s overall power from haunting me days after I finished it.

Read my full review of Salt to the Sea: Goodreads / Amazon

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss (Fantasy Novella)

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I really enjoyed this side novella for Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. But if you haven’t read it yet, here’s fair warning: You might not like The Slow Regard of Silent Things if you a) haven’t read either Kingkiller book yet, b) are looking for a continuation of Kvothe’s story, or c) think you won’t be interested in following Auri, one of the series’ side characters, around her underground home for one week. That said, if you’re intrigued Auri and the Underthing and want to lose yourself in Rothfuss’s elegant wordplay once again, then give this a try. It took me a little bit to get into The Slow Regard‘s rhythm and personality. But once I did, I was equally entranced and aching for this sweet, beautifully broken girl who thinks the world of Kvothe.

Read my full review of The Slow Regard of Silent Things: Goodreads / Amazon

Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley (YA Steampunk / Mystery)

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Steeplejack seems to have slipped under most people’s radars, so I’m thrilled to tell you how FANTASTIC this book is. Or maybe all I should say are the words, “YA South African steampunk murder mystery”? 😉 The story centers on Ang Sotunga, a young steeplejack who’s hired to investigate a possible connection between her apprentice’s murder and the disappearance of one of the city’s most prized artifacts. I loved the mystery focus and think Ang is a wonderful addition to the “strong female character” spectrum for her physical and emotional qualities. But the real star of Steeplejack is its world-building, with its richly layered history, savanna outskirts (and animals you’d find in Africa!!), and racial / cultural tensions. So it’s not just a unique and authentic read, but also a relevant one in today’s social climate.

Read my full review of Steeplejack: Goodreads / Amazon

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (Steampunk Fantasy)

stormdancer-coverNow THIS was a trip. Stormdancer was my first Jay Kristoff book, after hearing so much about his Lotus War Trilogy as well as the Illuminae and Nevernight books. It’s about a hunter’s daughter who befriends a thunder tiger and becomes part of a rebellion that rises up against their oppressive government. Did I mention that the story’s world is inspired by Japanese culture and mythology, with a steampunk twist that shows the environmental dangers of its industrialization? 😉 I had some issues with the overly flowery writing and uneven pacing, but overall Stormdancer delivers with stunning world-building, bloody violence, and a fantastical take on human-animal relationships. I’m not kidding. Words still fail to describe how much I adore the thunder tiger Buruu.

Read my full review of Stormdancer: Goodreads / Amazon

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (YA Urban Fantasy)

this-savage-song-coverThis Savage Song is my first Victoria Schwab book, and also the first book I read after the recent U.S. presidential election. And… gosh, did this turn out to be the book I needed then. Yes, it’s dark, gritty, and violent. But at its heart, This Savage Song is about two young characters – one human, the other monster – who learn what it means to cling to one’s sense of humanity or goodness, and what it means to lose it. The worldbuilding fascinated me, though it was a little difficult to grasp at first; and I was thrilled to see no romance between Kate and August. Their relationship is tentative and tenuous, and rooted in their need for survival and a mutual understanding and acceptance that develops from their short time together.

Read my full review of This Savage Song: Goodreads / Amazon

It’s (International) Giveaway Time!

Did any of the books catch your eye? If so, great – because now you have a chance to win one! One (1) lucky person will win their book of choice from my Favorite Reads of Fall 2016 list via The Book Depository. (Click here to see if your country is on that list.)

This giveaway is international (i.e., open to all countries that TBD ships to) and ends at midnight Eastern time on Tuesday, December 13th. Click on the link below to access the Rafflecopter widget, then follow the instructions to earn points for comments, social media, etc. Also, let me know which book you’d like to win in your comment on this post. (You might want to list second and third choices, too, in case your first choice isn’t available.) The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email and claim their prize.

EDITED ON 12/14/2016: The giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Amanda Wallace for winning a copy of This Savage Song!

How about you? What were some of your favorite reads this fall? What are you looking forward to reading over the winter?

79 thoughts on “My 10 Favorite Reads of Fall 2016 (+ Win Your Choice in a Giveaway!)

  1. I just finished Crooked Kingdom and looooved it, so that would be my first choice! (I always want to buy the ones I know I’ll read again and again.)
    I also really want to read Like a River Glorious because I liked the first book so much. I’d never heard of Steeplejack, but it sounds fascinating, so that would be my third choice. Thanks for all the great blurbs!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve read Life of Pi (twice), Crooked Kingdom (loved it, but not quite as much as Six of Crows), Blood for Blood (still have to put review up) and This Savage Song (loved it, but then I’m a huge V. E Schwab fan – she can do no wrong!). I’ve read The Name of the Wind as well, but I’m holding out on reading book 2 and any spin-offs until there’s a publication date for the third book (if that ever happens!).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved this round-up. Though I might not read them all, I just love your short and long reviews 🙂 Salt to the Sea sounds very interesting and so does Reader. Will follow the links to the detailed reviews too. Leaving a comment after a long while here but am a frequent visitor 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah! You’re getting me so excited for these books, Sara! I love the sound of all of them! The only one I’ve actually read is The Life of Pi, but the others are high on my TBR for 2017!
    I love the idea of hosting a giveaway, and might have entered 😉 I can’t resist the opportunity!
    Not sure which I’d choose if I won. Because some are sequels to books I haven’t read yet either ;P I’d probably have to go with firsts so… This Savage Song, The Reader & Steeplejack!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for offering the giveaway, and I”m so glad that your recent reads aren’t totally going away! My first choice would be This Savage Song and a close second is Like a RIver Glorious (I just requested Walk on Earth a Stranger from the library!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, Sara – what an amazing list of books you read this Fall! I love the look of Steeplejack, The Reader and Like a River Glorious in that order… I think this is a really spiffy idea, by the way and hope you find it a success:). I hope your winter reading continues in a similarly successful fashion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems to be getting a lot of responses and excitement, so I’d say that so far it’s a success. 😉

      As for winter reading, I’m actually starting it with two fantasy classics: Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales and UKLG’s The Dispossessed. I don’t have any brand new books to read till January, so this is a great time to catch up on the older books on my shelves.

      Thanks for commenting and also for Tweeting, Sarah!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Re: Blood for Blood – YES! I read your review of it on Bibliosanctum the other day and agreed with pretty much everything you said. So I’m glad that we’re on the same wavelength about it, and that series as a whole. 🙂

      Re: Steeplejack – I really, really hope you enjoy it!!

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  6. I’m glad you enjoyed Life of Pi and Slow Regard of Silent Things! You’re right that Slow Regard may not be for everyone, but I definitely thought it was something special. I think I’m due for a series reread after today’s Kingkiller news 😀 This fall I’ve loved reading The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock. I’ve also just started on Six of Crows–about time, I know!–and am LOVING it. It’s pretty much everything I want in a novel so far. So if I happened to win the giveaway (thank you for hosting it!) I would love Crooked Kingdom. The Reader and This Savage Song are also both very high on my list! –Mike

    Liked by 1 person

    • I KNOW!! I was thrilled when I read the bit about Lin-Manuel Miranda as the creative director last night. Then it got me thinking, “Hmmmm, if he dyed his hair red, he’d make a good Kvothe.” XD And yes, Slow Regard is very special. It’s proof that Patrick is a sorcerer with words.

      Another writing / blogging friend had recommended The Smell of Other People’s Houses earlier this year. Would you recommend it as well? (I’m guessing “yes,” since you said you loved reading it…?)

      Yay! So glad you’re enjoying Six of Crows. And all of your giveaway picks are great choices. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by, Mike!

      Like

      • I definitely recommend The Smell of Other People’s Houses! It goes really deep with its characters and weaves a lot of plots together beautifully. Plus it’s set Alaska–I don’t usually see a lot of books set there!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. These are some cool reads! Love the steampunk choices! If I won I’d do Steeplejack, Stormdancer, or The Reader. ^ ^ Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Crooked Kingdom and Six of crows have me so curious because I just see so many good reviews- I mean literally I don’t think I’ve seen one bad review in my blogger circle. So I may add those and they are not necessarily books I would normally gravitate too. These all look like great reads though, nice list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve seen one or two lukewarm reviews for either Six of Crows or its sequel… But the influx of positive reviews is justified, IMO. It’s a brilliant duology, and I recommend it highly. Though you definitely should start with Six of Crows. Those two books need to be read in order. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by, Greg!

      Like

  9. Sounds like a good month and some great reads there. I still would like to try Savage Song since I haven’t yet read any of Schwab’s books. I’m stuck on trying that one first. Glad to hear Storm Dancer was good. I have a copy that I need to read soon. If only I could pause time for a bit to get some reading done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ^^ I know the feeling about the last bit. Things have been very busy offline with holiday preparations, so I’ve had to cut down my reading time, too. But it should only temporary, and I hope yours is, too.

      This Savage Song is a great choice. (Then again, I think all 10 of them are, so I’m a bit biased. *wink*) Good luck, and thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Awesome giveaway, Sara! I’ve read only three of these, but most of them are on my list. I’d say of the three my very favorite is Life of Pi. I read it years ago when it came out and it still gives me chills when I think about it. I think if I won I’d pick Crooked Kingdom, because I’m dying to start that series, and I have a copy of Six of Crows to get started:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tammy! I agree, Life of Pi has a haunting, endearing quality about it. I know the story will stick with me for a long time. Plus, it’s impossible to forget a literary human-animal relationship like Pi and Richard Parker’s.

      Great choice with Crooked Kingdom, btw. 😉

      Like

  11. Looks like your fall had many interesting reads, Sara! I didn’t read a lot, but the best book I read was “When the moon was ours”. As for my winter TBR, I haven’t made my mind yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll read Heartless (Marissa Meyer) 🙂
    Thanks for the giveaway!! I’d love to win either THE READER or THIS SAVAGE SONG – they’ve been in my wishlist since they were released!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, Grace! Great choices, btw. 😉

      So you really liked “When The Moon Was Ours”? I’ve been meaning to check it out, especially since I enjoyed Anna-Marie McLemore’s first book “The Weight of Feathers” last year. Have you read that one, too?

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  12. I love you book reviews, Sara. My first choice would be Crooked Kingdom, then The Reader, then Steeplejack. My girls loved the movie “LIfe of Pi,” and so did I.

    I have so little time to read, but I got through a non-fiction piece called “Lasting Impact,” by Kostya Kennedy. It’s about football and the culture around concussions and other head injuries.

    Also, I’ve been listening to books on CD during my long commutes! I’ve picked some gems, and want to do a roundup like this to review them soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Eli! My only recommendation with your book picks is that Crooked Kingdom should be read after its predecessor, Six of Crows. The story might not make sense otherwise.

      My mom listens to audiobooks a lot, too! She has a 1hr+ commute now that she lives on Cape Cod (she decided to keep her job near where I live, except cut it down to 3 days per week), and the books on CD have been keeping her company on those rides.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. There are some beautiful sounding books above. I think The Reader looks wonderful, so that would be my first choice, and Steeplejack would be the second. Stormdancer the first, because I’ve started the audiobook, and really enjoying it. But I think I would like it better in print.

    Good to be back reading your blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those are all great choices, Phoenix. How are you finding the Stormdancer audiobook, btw? I’m curious, since Jay Kristoff has a very descriptive, detailed writing style and was wondering how that would “translate” over on audio.

      I was actually thinking about you the other day, since I hadn’t seen you around in a bit. Will make a point to check out your blog and catch up on things. In the meantime, it’s good to see you back. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. HELL YEAH STORMDANCER!!! That series is so good. And the only book on this list I’ve actually read. I’ve really been wanting to read This Savage Song, Like a River Glorious, and Salt to the Sea but no money to by them 😥

    I also need Crooked Kingdom butmy awesome coblogger has offered to get me it for christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember your enthusiastic reviews of the Lotus War books on Readers In Wonderland. 😉 And Crooked Kingdom would make an awesome Christmas gift! Thanks for stopping by, Bec.

      Oh, and great picks for the giveaway, too. 😉

      Like

  15. Great reads, Sara!! Can’t tell you how many good reviews of This Savage Song I’ve read 🙂 I bought it a month ago or so, but I’m still waiting for ‘the’ moment to read it. Plus, I’m excited to have a different story from Schwab – I read The archived months ago, and really liked it! I don’t like watching the movie before jumping into the book, so I’m really glad I haven’t seen The Life of Pi film yet 🙂 As for my fall, well… I’d say my spring haha – I’m from Argentina ^^ The best book I’ve read during this season has been Therapy, by Sebastian Fitzek. The story and the characters were perfect, but the main reason why I loved it so much was because it got me out of a slump – seriously, I couldn’t put it down until I finished it! ♥ *best feeling ever*
    Couldn’t leave without saying THANK YOU for the giveaway! Most of your reads sound really interesting, but there is one book I’ve been meaning to read since it was released: THE READER, by Traci Chee. I’d definitely choose that one if I won ♥ Thanks, Sara!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I keep forgetting that This Savage Song isn’t Schwab’s first YA novel. So you enjoyed The Archived? And what was Fitzek’s Therapy about? I don’t think I’ve heard of that one before.

      The Reader is a wonderful story, so that’s a great choice for your giveaway pick. Gracias for stopping by! 🙂

      Like

  16. I would love to have The Slow Regard… but TBD doesn’t ship to India. 😭 I really want start reading Schwab’s books because I’ve heard they’re amazing. I think that’ll go to my 2017 TBR pile. So many other books you mentioned are on my radar as well, but right now I can’t read (until the 14th and it’s so hard not to pick up one)! The 2017 pile is getting quite out of hand now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know. 😦 I actually looked into other options besides TBD, since I have at least one other blog follower in India besides you. But I got confused about whether I could purchase something off of Amazon India without it wrecking havoc on my US Amazon account. So… I tried. Unless there’s another option you know of?

      I’m really looking forward to reading more of Schwab’s work. I’ve heard so much about Vicious and the Darker Shades of Magic series, so I’d like to check those out soon, too.

      Best of luck with your studies!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s weird… Your comment doesn’t show up in my comment feed for this post, so I almost missed it. (*scratches her chin*)

      Yay for This Savage Song and Six of Crows!! I hope you enjoy them both. As for your giveaway picks, they both get a thumbs-up from me. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think the problem has been missing or dead links on my blog. I just read an article about how a site or blog can be flagged if they have too many links to pages/articles that no longer exist or have changed. I’ve been fixing them, so hopefully my comments won’t get lost anymore. *crosses fingers*

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Haha, I missed the giveaway for a day but you were right, we do like the same books! Or fantasy, at least.

    I thought This Savage Song was great, too. I hope you’ll give Schwab’s other books a try, she is one of my all-time favourite authors and her books are fantastic.

    You know, I didn’t like Slow Regard that much. It felt… pointless. I mean, yeah, it’s a lyrical story and I enjoyed reading about Auri, but I really just want to read the last book of the series, dammit! 🙂

    And The Life of Pi is great. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I enjoyed the book a lot. It’s been years since I read it, though, way before I started blogging.

    I’m glad you found so many great books! Enjoy your reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No worries! I’m actually planning another one in January for my year-end round-up of favorite books. So keep an eye out for that if you’d like. 😉

      Oh, yes, I definitely want to read more of Schwab’s books. I’ve had bad luck trying to find A Darker Shade of Magic and Vicious whenever I’ve gone book-shopping, so I put them on my Christmas list. *fingers crossed*

      I know what you mean about Slow Regard. It’s my least favorite of the Kingkiller stories so far (I absolutely LOVE the novels), but once I understood the overall approach I decided to just sit back and see what unfolded. And yes, I’m itching for the final book in the series, too!!

      Thanks for stopping by, Kaja!

      Like

  18. That’s an amazing amount of books you’ve read, Sara!
    I’ve heard about few of the titles, though they’re mostly YA, so I never picked them up (with some, like Stormdancer, I had other issues), but I’m curious how Wolf by Wolf and Blood for Blood compare to P. K. Dick’s The Man of the High Castle, which I consider the precursor of the “the Axis won the war” stories, if you have read Dick’s book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It WAS a lot of books, yes! And that wasn’t including the other 4 or so that aren’t listed here (I didn’t finish three out of those four).

      I remember you mentioning your hesitancy with YA before, yeah. But if I were to recommend any to you in particular, I’d go with Schwab’s This Savage Song. It’s original in concept and quite dark, and it doesn’t feature romance between the male and female leads, which was refreshing. So it avoids many of the tropes that YA fantasy tends to fall into.

      I’ve never read The Man of the High Castle, so I can’t compare the Wolf By Wolf series to it. But on a related note, I think I’d heard recently that High Castle has been adapted as a TV or online show…?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll keep “This Savage Song” in mind, thank you :).
        Yes, The Man… was adapted as a TV show by Amazon. I haven’t watched it, but a friend of mine did and said it’s an insult to the book and not worth watching (the show itself might not be bad, but probably doesn’t live up to what the book was).

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: Sara’s Favorite Reads of 2016, Plus Two Times the Giveaway Fun! | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

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