Another year come and gone–and some fantastic reading adventures along with it! As I typically do in January, I want to take some time to review some of my favorite reads of 2016. In week two of this series, we move up to the next two books on my top ten.
Note: These are the best books I read in 2016, not necessarily published in 2016.
#8 Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
A promising start to a dystopian YA series with more of a fantasy bent, I found myself enjoying this title despite the whole “compromised-by-romance-with-a-boy” trope. The worldbuilding was fascinating to me and the story itself is engaging and interesting. There are some fun twists to be seen as the story unfolds. (I just wish the sequel had turned out to be better than it was…)
Read my review from February 21 for more on this title.
#7 Reclaiming Hope by Shell Taylor
I don’t know what else to say about this book that I didn’t say in my review, but it’s one that still sticks with me a while after reading it. It tells a story that you definitely don’t see much in popular entertainment or mainstream books, but it’s a story that needs to be told. I’m hoping for the potential to see more of these characters or similar stories from this author.
Read my review from January 8 for more on this title.
Reclaiming Hope by Shell Taylor
Series: Home for Hope, Book 3
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on October 14, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)
Kollin Haverty’s best friend, Riley Meadows, disappeared four years ago without so much as a word or phone call since. So when he shows up in town unexpectedly, Kollin isn’t sure if he should be angry or happy. Riley’s explanation for his absence doesn’t quite ring true for Kollin, but he decides to do his best to be supportive. And as Riley seems to have nearly completed his female-to-male transition while he was away, Kollin hopes that the time was good and helpful for him. The two reconnect and get closer, and they soon find that their feelings might go a bit beyond friendship. But that will only work if they can be honest with each other and it’s clear Riley is still keeping secrets. As they navigate the realities of pursuing a relationship Riley needs to figure out if he can tell Kollin the truth and Kollin needs to determine if he can be supportive of Riley no matter what–even if it means he might get hurt in the process.
This is the third book in a series, but it can certainly be read as a stand-alone story. I’ve not yet read either of the previous books, and I felt like I had no problem at all following and understanding the story. And it happens to be a very well-written and thought-provoking story at that. While I haven’t personally been in the position, I imagine that transitioning from a friendship to a romantic relationship would bring with it some unique challenges. Even though you already clearly care about the person as a friend, there is a subtle difference when you decide to open up that romantic part of yourself. There are risks involved. And there are new expectations. What might seem like it should be easy actually is anything but, which services to only complicate things even more. And that’s what we see play out here between Kollin and Riley.
I also have to take a moment to reference the inclusion of a trans character in this story. I’ll admit that I haven’t read many trans love stories–though I’ve no specific aversion to doing so. I feel like the author does a fine job of representing the character, telling his story, and being honest about the realities of what he faces in life and in the relationship.