It is a truth universally acknowledged that a reader stuck in 2016 must be in want of a book.

True story.

The world at large doesn't agree on much, but when it comes to the past year, a great many of us can agree that it came a little bit short of ideal. But we are bookworms, bookdragons and book fiends alike - so our escapist comfort zone has been well established. (Cue montage of readers deflecting World Suck with books instead of shields.)

As a byproduct of said World Suck, we were personally forced to hiatus until we could find books great enough to properly shield us from it all. And now that we have, we're back and sharing the 10 that served as the most effective shields - ones which gobbled us up and away from the real life altogether.

As has been a well-established tradition, these are in no particular order. There's no comparing greatness with greatness.

1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

SeriesA Court of Mist and Fury #2
Genre: Fantasy
Review: Yes
If you guessed this my number one, you were correct. I think ACOMAF has to be my favourite book of 2016, and maybe one of my favourite books of all time. (So far - there is another book to go! *fangirls*)
This book had everything I wanted and expected SJM to pull out of the bag for the sequel and maybe even more, and it's a book I still re-read over and over again. That's a big deal for me as it's rare that I re-read books. There's only a few speshul snowflakes that I actually read again.
If you're not familiar with the A Court of Mist and Fury series, I highly recommend you give them a try. Also, if anyone happens to be making their way to the Night Court, please take me with them. KTHNXBAI.

2. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Series: The Raven Boys #1
Genre: YA Paranormal
Review: Yes
It took me awhile to finally read these books. I've had them sitting on my shelf for a good year or two. It eventually happened and I was very pleasantly surprised. I didn't actually expect to like the series quite that much. I fell in love with those Raven Boys as soon as I met them, and it's an ongoing love I have for them that will never die. #RAVENGIRL 
I definitely think that if anyone isn't sure they'll enjoy this one, they should pick it up - because I was sucked into the world and adventures of Aglionby soooo fast and never wanted to get out. It gets to that point when you're doubting whether you should be even a real person as you now officially love too many fictional characters that your real life is just a lie. 
And do not ask me which one is my favourite because I will never be able to answer. Ever. How dare you ask such a question.

3. The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

SeriesThe Book of Ivy #1
Genre: YA Dystopian
Review: Upcoming
I would like to formally thank this book and Ms. Amy Engel for getting me out of a long-ass reading slump. Like, REALLY, thank you! *hugs book*
I only recently read this and I was instantly online trying to find it somewhere to be delivered before Christmas because THAT ENDING. I have zero chill when it comes to books that end like that. (Am I teasing you? Maybe. Go read it!)
It features good pacing, I adored the characters so much (um, explain why Bishop isn't real because I'm mad rn), and I think the story was so well executed.
I'll be looking forward to reading more of Amy's work in 2017.

4. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Series: /
Genre: YA Contemporary
Review: Yes
You know me, I'm not a huge fan of Kasie Wests books (#sarcasm). I cannot WAIT for her books next year, they are the easiest and fluffiest books you'll read. Her books are the only books that I read in one sitting, and I can guarantee you will put the book down smiling like an absolute idiot. Well, I do, anyway.
What I liked about this one more than the others was how different it was from the others. It had such lovely humour, wonderful ways that the characters came together and the ending was obviously satisfying and cheerful.
Having a tough week? Read the shitty news going on in the world? I can brighten your day and recommend P.S. I Like You. It won't help anything going on around the globe but it will hopefully lift your spirits up!

5. About A Boy by Nick Hornby

Series: /
Genre: Brit Lit/Humour
Review: Yes
I can't deny that I read this with comparisons to the movie in mind. It's one of my favourite movies and the book definitely didn't disappoint! I strangely prefer the film (what?!) but only because of the way the last part of the book plays out and the general pacing. Will and Marcus are delightfully entertaining and play off each other very well, and I love how different they are from other people I've read about. The British humour in the story reminds me of people in my own life, and I'm always fond of reading books from my own country.
It's a real giggle at times, and although it does have some sad and emotional parts, they're important to the story. Ultimately I just found it moving and relatable.

6. Who's That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane 

Genre: Brit Lit/Humour
Review: Yes
I've always had a soft spot for Mhairi's writing, and when I saw the huge bloody size of this book, I thought to myself 'oh my god, this will take 5 years to read'. Funnily enough, when I got to the end,  I was sad it was over. I grew quite attached to the characters, and Mhairi's writing is so easy to consume that it was hard to put down.  Although sometimes chick lit books can sometimes be quite silly and unrealistic (and the protag can make some annoying choices - which I expected!), I didn't let it ruin the reading experience for me. Gah, I just love reading a British book!

7. Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

Series: The Lux series #5
Genre: Paranormal
Review: Yes
I read this early in 2016 and I still remember how epic this series was. The ending was just ughhh so good, and although they're long as hell, they were constantly captivating throughout.  
I can't deny that I have a crush on an alien. Yes, I would be perfectly happy to find out I live next door to Daemon and be sucked into his world with his badass family and friends. The Lux series are one of the first and few paranormal books I enjoyed and it's got me spreading my bookish wings into different genres. I owe that to Ms. Armentrout and I think a re-read of this series is due in the next year or two.

8. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway 

Genre: Contemporary
Review: Yes
I got Emmy & Oliver from a book box subscription, and I'm so happy that they chose it. The story by Ms. Benway was emotional, charming and filled with complex and lovable characters. I found it very hard to put this one down. I think it was what I needed to read at that point, and it's high up on my list of favourite contemporaries. 
Nothing but good things about this book, and it's a perfect read between heavier reads. If you've just read something huge and depressing, this is a good book to pick up and cheer yourself up. I loved it!

9. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West 

Genre: Contemporary
I listened to this as an audiobook and it was so delightful! I read the title and thought it was a road trip/travel/separation story but I was surprised to find that it wasn't that at all. West writes a love story between a rich boy and a regular everyday girl (I would write poor but she's not exactly poor) and I loved it so much. It was fluffy, fast paced, and left me feeling warm and gooey inside - like all of her books, of course. 
Light-hearted and a book you can devour in a single sitting, this one is very close to my heart and I look forward to a re-read soon. I mean, I don't have time for that but I will make time. Books >>> life

10. Never Evers by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison 

Genre: Contemporary
Another British book that I devoured in a day or two. Unlike the rest, this particular one was written by two authors - and I didn't even know they had another book out until I saw it at the book shop and squealed. I adore Tom and Lucy's stories. They work together so well as writers, and I think the multiple POVs made the story a lot more enjoyable for me. It can be frustrating reading a book where the two POVs sound the same, but that's not at all the case with this one. Hilarious, silly, but a hell of a lot of fun to read, this is one of those books that I think most kids who grew up in a British school can relate to in some ways. 

1. Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Series: The Illuminae Files #2
Genre: Science fiction
Show me a morally dubious, sassy and poetic AI and I'll show you ME SQUEEZING THE BOOK IN PUBLIC, drawing many a quizzical look. That's okay, though, because Gemina and its predecessor are bound to cause dubious looks. Remember that time the text was written in a spiral across two pages and you were forced to flip the book 360 degrees as you made your way through it? That was this series. And much as I thought I'd like the format, I happen to ADORE the contents even more. If I may bottle the essence of Jay and Amy's enviable creativity to use in my own writing at a later date... yes, please, and thank you.

2. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

SeriesThe Raven Cycle #4
Genre: Paranormal
Who is surprised? NO ONE IS SURPRISED, that's who! Having previously crowned Maggie Stiefvater my official-unofficial deity, and having likewise crowned The Raven Cycle the most stupendously awesometacular series to ever grace my eyeballs, this should come as no surprise. The entirety of The Raven Cycle and its cyclical timeline comes together and essentially deems itself a self-fulfilling prophecy in this finale, and I criiiiied. I cried not because it was sad, but because it was over. Then I wrote a marvelously miserable review (of sorts) and proceeded to re-read forever.

3. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

SeriesSix of Crows #2
Genre: Fantasy
The honest truth is that I have not even finished Crooked Kingdom yet, and here I am, including it. #cheating Because if ever there was a book (and a plot and a squad) which inspired all manner of less-than-strictly-speaking-moral actions, it's this one. My love of Six of Crows was well-established last year when I screamed I loved it more than Nutella cake and voted for it in the GR Choice Awards (*cries forever*), but Six of Crows was only the start. Crooked Kingdom takes the shenanigans to a whooole new level of amorality. And it features the single most lovable character crew in the world. MY MURDEROUS BABIES!

4. A Court of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas

SeriesA Court of Mist and Fury #2
Genre: Fantasy
I've made my feelings regarding ACOMAF plain in my review, in my fan art, and on my Tumblr where I still spam it regularly, months after the fact. While ACOTAR was entertaining-if-ridiculous, there was nothing whatsoever ridiculous to me about the sequel. These were themes it turns out I needed to see explored, and these were characters I could finally root for. Feyre, a lot less foolish. Rhysand, now pairing sass with graciousness. The Night Court squad, 1000% more fabulous than I had envisioned. And Velaris, a city I'd Actually Die to be able to depart for immediately, never to be seen again. #sorrynotsorry

5. The Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

SeriesThe Naturals #1-#4
Genre: Contemporary thriller
That I didn't get to this series sooner than 2016 probably constitutes some sort of a crime. But that I didn't get to it sooner than 2016 also saved me from the worst of the sequel-awaiting pains. Most waited years for Bad Blood, the final book in the series. I waited 8 months. And it HURT MY SOUL. The squaddiest squad that ever squadded in a contemporary series absolutely stole my heart, and that their expertise (forensic behavioral science) was also my own academic expertise only heightened the loveloveloooove I had for every single corner they painted themselves into. These are hella intelligent FBI apprentices, my friends. But they aren't the wisest. And therein lies the humor and the crux of my love.

6. The Disruption series by Jessica Shirvington

SeriesDisruption #1-#2
Genre: Dystopian
YOU CANNOT FIND THIS SERIES, AND IT'S HONESTLY A CRIME. (Go ahead and try. I'll wait. [...] Told you.) Whatever crazy territorial rights law prevents Aussie publishers from distributing worldwide, the Disruption series should be reason enough to STOP. Because for once, a dystopian world is very much like our own, and only a handful of years in the future. For once, a heroine is decisive, unscrupulous and at times downright ruthless while retaining that perfect dose of deadpan sarcasm. For once, her friends can't decide if they love or hate her. And for once, the love interest is the one seemingly over his head, rather than the other way around. Bribe your Aussie family and friends, my pumpkins. It's what I did, and it was so worth it. Who needs a soul, anyway?

7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Series: /
Genre: Historical fantasy
I feel like I should blame someone for not having made me read this sooner. And yet, I have no one to blame but myself. Whatever I expected from The Night Circus, it wasn't anything that GLORIOUS, that beautifully-written and atmospheric and so vivid you can almost audition for a sideshow act and honestly believe you'll get in. Mark this down as the only book where I genuinely didn't mind a multitude of POVs or timeline shifts or any number of usually confounding things. Erin Morgenstern is the queen of structure, her pen is the queen of atmosphere, and the Victorian setting is the queen of everything. And I'm off to join a circus right about now.

8. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

SeriesMonsters of Verity #1
Genre: Urban paranormal/dystopian
Update: I have since finished A Gathering of Shadows, as well, and consider it an addendum to this post.

Victoria Schwab writes it - I read it. Victoria Schwab writes it - I love it. Victoria Schwab writes it - I hug it. Victoria Schwab writes it - I ask it to prom. (Where a backstabbing monster pulls a straight-up Carrie and blood and carnage ensue.) This Savage Song was every bit as dark, delicious, musical and lyrical as expected. August and Kate are two of the grittiest heroes ever to take the mantle of peace-preachers. And this duality and this contradiction is the foremost of what makes this story so great, and the sequel so very, very far away.

9. The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

Series: The Seven Realms #1-#4
Genre: Fantasy
In the interest of full disclosure, this is a tetralogy I'm halfway through. While book 1 was an intriguing introduction to a promising series (Thieves! Shamans! Diversity! Queendoms! Native Americans!), book 2 achieved what no other book achieved before it and effortlessly (and unpretentiously) reminded me of a cross between Harry Potter and The Name of The Wind. And anyone at all familiar with fantasy will understand when I say I feared that nothing that came next could beat that, so I'm downright fearful to continue. It's honestly so good, y'all! Think magic schools and wizard wars against a rich cultural backdrop and sassy, sassy characters.

10. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass #5
Genre: Fantasy
Admittedly, Heir of Fire and The Assassin's Blade are destined to forever remain my favorites in the Throne of Glass series. At the same time, Empire of Storms was a step-up from Queen of Shadows in my little Lexieverse - with more at stake, with the odds stacked against just about everyone, and with (nearly) the full squad at long last coming together and uniting in a common goal. Not to mention, the level of cliffhanger was so real and so painful that the wait for the final book in the series has been amped up tenfold. This also marks the first time I was in awe of not just the content, but also the way it was delivered. Sarah's writing improves so rapidly over time that I'm inclined to believe she traded her soul to an unspeakable deity in exchange for ALL THE WORDS AND VERBOSENESS.

And those, succinctly (except not at all succinctly) have been the books that saved us from reality this year. It's small wonder, perhaps, that a large portion of them is so far removed from reality. (ALL the fantasy, ALL the dystopian, ALL the cutesy romance!) 'Tis the escapism factor, friends. It makes a world of difference.

Now it's your turn - share your favorite read (or ten) with us in the comments below, or leave us links to your end-of-the-year wrap-ups featuring The Best Of. There are shamefully many books we have yet to get to, and your lists are our... well, not commands, but certainly suggestions. (Such amicability, we know.)