We’re nearly at the end of the year, so it’s time to look back over the books I read in 2016 and share my favorites with you! I’ve decided against a top ten list this year, because I read way more than ten books that spoke to me in some way, either on an emotional level or because of their excellence in the craft of storytelling. Click on the links to read my reviews! So here they are, my favorite books of the year:
1. The Suicide Motor Club by Christopher Buehlman (Berkley). It’s hard to pick a favorite book, but if I had to (and let’s say for the sake of this post I do), it would have to be this one. I have to say I read some stellar vampire stories this year, but this was the best. Buehlman’s dark and gritty look at a posse of killer redneck vampires had me gasping in horror, but his treatment of the characters won me over and pushed this story into the “books that will forever haunt me” category. My nitty-gritty quote: “Mix the dark absurdity of Pulp Fiction with fast cars, set the story in the late 60s, add in a handful of bloodthirsty vampires and a young woman who is set on vengeance, and you have a stellar novel that is a MUST READ for horror fans.” Read my review here.
2. The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp (Orbit). I was sent a surprise review copy of this book, otherwise I probably never would have read it. And that would have been a shame. Jack Sparks turned out to be one of my very favorite books of the year. Full of surprising twists, unreliable characters, and unexpected humor, Arnopp has shot to the top of my “must read” authors list. Luckily, he has a new book coming out in 2017! The nitty-gritty: “Outrageous, terrifying, hysterically funny and completely original, this book will make you laugh and scream in the same breath.” Read my review.
3. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (Crown). Another book that I read on a whim, after meeting the author and getting a signed ARC at Comic Con this past summer, I was blown away by how much fun I had reading this book! If you love thinking about the possibilities of alternate time lines, you’ll love this story. The nitty-gritty: “An addictive and thrilling story that melds physics, science fiction, and edge-of-your-seat action with an unexpectedly thoughtful meditation on the choices we make in life.” Read my review.
4. The Brotherhood of the Wheel by R.S. Belcher (Tor). Belcher always seems to make it onto my “best of the year” lists, and 2016 was no exception. Writing a story that revolves around one of the characters from his amazing Nightwise, Belcher once again creates a unique world where history and horror exist side by side. The nitty-gritty: “Another winner for Belcher, a good versus evil story that will scare and delight in equal measure.” Read my review.
5. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com). This is the only novella I’m giving a nod to, but it’s certainly worthy of standing up alongside the novels on this list. McGuire’s quirky portal fantasy has a strong message about growing up and leaving childhood behind, but that message doesn’t overshadow the magical story of lost children who are simply trying to find their real homes. The nitty-gritty: “A heartbreakingly sad but wonderfully magical tale about growing up.” Read my review.
6. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor). I read this book back in January of 2016, but it still resonates with me nearly a year later. Anders’ story is about science colliding with magic, and two characters whose lives continue to intersect throughout the years. Strange but hopeful, this is one book you shouldn’t miss. The nitty-gritty: “A strange and glorious story, whose quirky ideas and charming characters surprised me at every turn.” Read my review.
7. City of Blades (The Divine Cities #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway Books). I don’t read a lot of series, simply because I’m terrible at keeping up with them, but this is one I’m so glad I’ve started. 2017 marks the publication of City of Miracles, the final book in the series, and I can hardly wait to read it. The nitty-gritty: “A big, complex and emotional sequel that delivers on all levels, with the best female characters you’re likely to read all year.” Read my review.
8. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Thomas Dunne). There were some damn fine vampire stories published this year, proving that vampires are not dead. This was one of the best, with a sympathetic main character who also happens to be a vampire, part of a clan descended from Aztec mythology. Moreno-Garcia’s breakneck pacing made this one of the most exciting stories I’ve read all year. For a book that’s light on plot, it really delivers. The nitty-gritty: “Dark and deliciously dangerous, with a unique take on vampires that will make jaded readers sit up and take notice.” Read my review.
9. The Voodoo Killings (Kincade Strange #1) by Kristi Charish (Vintage Canada). The United States have made some horrible choices this year, and one glaring mistake is that this amazing book has not been picked up by any U.S. publishers (other than audio, but I’m not counting that). Yay for Canada, though! This unexpectedly entertaining urban fantasy pushed all the right buttons for me, and I’m happy to report a sequel is on the horizon! (Faarrr on the horizon, as Goodreads says Lipstick Voodoo won’t come out until 2018). The nitty-gritty: “A twisty plot full of zombies, ghosts, murders, magic and mayhem, darkly atmospheric with Charish’s special brand of snarky humor.” Read my review.
10. The Devourers by Indra Das (Del Rey). I had already started reading this when I was lucky enough to meet Das at Comic Con, and watching him on a panel only solidified my love for this writer and his debut. Das sets his unconventional werewolf story in India and twists it into something you’ve never seen before. The nitty-gritty: “Mesmerizing, beautiful, raw and shocking, The Devourers is a completely unique werewolf story that brings something new to the genre.” Read my review.
11. Company Town by Madeline Ashby (Tor). The blurb of this book didn’t really grab me at first, but when I received a copy for review I decided to dive in anyway. And boy, am I glad I did. This was such a pleasant surprise, the type of story that starts out slow but gains momentum, and before you know it, you’re completely immersed in it. The nitty-gritty: “A stellar science fiction mystery with awesome characters and some unexpected romance.” Read my review.
12. After Atlas (A Planetfall Book) by Emma Newman (Roc). I enjoyed Planetfall last year, but I didn’t love it. Enter After Atlas, a book I was a little wary of, based on my experience with Planetfall. But these two books are like night and day. Newman is a great example of an author who gets better and better the more she writes. After Atlas was so well written, and I’m very excited to see what she comes up with next. The nitty-gritty: “Another page turner from Emma Newman, an addictive mystery full of twists and turns, set in a future full of scary possibilities.” Read my review.
13. The Immortals (Olympus Bound #1) by Jordanna Max Brodsky (Orbit). This book was so much fun! I do like Greek and Roman mythology, but it isn’t something I necessarily seek out. The Immortals gave me so much appreciation for those myths, and Brodsky takes the basic mythology most of us are familiar with and creates a fascinating and entertaining story around it. The sequel comes out in February and I can hardly wait! The nitty-gritty: “A fun and furious romp with the gods through Manhattan, an intricately plotted murder mystery, and a delightful and refreshingly chaste romance.” Read my review.
14. Borderline (The Arcadia Project #1) by Mishell Baker (Saga Press). I’ve seen Borderline on many “best of” lists this year, and I’m not surprised at all. Baker’s take on the fae is original and unexpected. Best of all, she incorporates a handicapped main character into her story without waving her arms in the air and calling attention to the fact that her MC is handicapped. It’s quite a feat, and I’m very excited for the sequel, Phantom Pains. The nitty-gritty: “A delightful blend of fantasy, the modern-day film industry, and quirky characters that will make you smile.” Read my review.
15. Rosewater by Tade Thompson (Apex Books). I’m a big fan of small press Apex, and so I try to read as many of their releases as I can. When I took on Rosewater for review, I had no idea how skilled a writer Thompson is, having never heard of him before, and this story of alien invasion quickly became one of my favorites of the year. The nitty-gritty: “Weird and wild, this is one alien invasion story you don’t want to miss.” Read my review.
16. The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu (Angry Robot). Chu’s Tao series has been a favorite of mine over the past few years, and I was thrilled to read his latest, a book set in the world of Tao, but with new characters and a completely new plot. I know I sound like a broken record, but if you haven’t started this series, you really should! The nitty-gritty: “A fast-paced adventure, back in the exciting world of the quasing, with some new characters, old friends, and plenty of cons, deals and double-crosses.” Read my review.
17. The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit). Another winner for Jemisin, this “middle” book came close to perfection for me. This series is getting lots of praise, both from fans and big name authors alike, and it’s no surprise that this book is going to show up on many “best” lists this month. 2017 sees the publication of the final book in the series, The Stone Sky. The nitty-gritty: “More stunning world-building, the return of some beloved characters, and even greater mysteries.” Read my review.