Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top Ten Books I've Read in 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

It's the final TTT of the year and that means it's finally time to talk about all the wonderful books we've read this year. Or, at least ten of them. The first thing I had to do was get a list of my 5 star books. Which, as of when I first started this post on the 21st, numbered 48. Honestly, that number staggers me. You probably don't want to know about the rest of the painful process of narrowing that number down to ten - and having to leave room for a last minute addition or two if necessary. Though I do need to note that I did not duplicate authors. If I did, this list would be comprised of three or four authors and that's it. Instead, I just went with my favorite book of theirs that I read this year. (Roughly in the order that I decided they HAD to be on this list.)

The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan
Three times they tried to kill her. Then a professional was hired. So was Riyria.

When the last member of the oldest noble family in Avryn is targeted for assassination, Riyria is hired to foil the plot. Three years have passed since the war-weary mercenary Hadrian and the cynical ex-assassin Royce joined forces to start life as rogues-for-hire. Things have gone well enough until they're asked to help prevent a murder. Now they must venture into an ancient corner of the world to save a mysterious woman who knows more about Royce than is safe and cares less about herself than is sane.

Also read by this author in 2016: Age of Myth

Notes: I'm not sure I'll ever be able to find fantasy characters that I love as much as the two guys in this series. They are both great characters and I simply adore their interactions - and watching them develop as characters (and, dare I say, rub off on each other?). While I did love Age of Myth as well, this book nudged it out.

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
Moon has spent his life hiding what he is — a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself... someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community. What this stranger doesn't tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power... that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony's survival... and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell! Now Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save and himself... and his newfound kin.

Notes: This book has easily solidified Wells as one of my favorite authors. After reading her The Fall of Ile-Rien series I knew I had to try more of her books and this one so totally did not disappoint. It's got some truly spectacular world building and a great 'found family' type of dynamic. And I love the fact that gender is mostly irrelevant for our main race.

The Ace of Skulls by Chris Wooding
All good things come to an end. And this is it: the last stand of the Ketty Jay and her intrepid crew.

They've been shot down, set up, double-crossed and ripped off. They've stolen priceless treasures, destroyed a ten-thousand-year-old Azryx city and sort-of-accidentally blew up the son of the Archduke. Now they've gone and started a civil war. This time, they're really in trouble.

As Vardia descends into chaos, Captain Frey is doing his best to keep his crew out of it. He's got his mind on other things, not least the fate of Trinica Dracken. But wars have a way of dragging people in, and sooner or later they're going to have to pick a side. It's a choice they'll be staking their lives on. Cities fall and daemons rise. Old secrets are uncovered and new threats revealed.

When the smoke clears, who will be left standing?

Notes: I read this book all the way back in January. It was the fifth book I read in about as many days and the fact that I'm still holding it up as THE way to end a series has got to tell you how great the series is. But don't start with this book - then you'll miss out on all the high-flying adventure and lovely character development of the previous three books. Instead, start with Retribution Falls.

The Paladin Caper by Patrick Weekes
A thief’s good deeds are never done.

Loch and her crew are determined to stop the ancients from returning to reclaim the world they once ruled, but a kidnapped friend throws their plans awry. When a desperate rescue turns into a shocking reunion, the ancients return and seize power. Determined to stop them, Loch and the crew look for a way to close the gate to the ancients’ world, but this time, they find themselves up against an enemy that has insinuated itself into the highest ranks of the Republic. Cruel, cunning, and connected, the ancients target the crew’s families and histories, threatening to tear friendships apart.

If that weren’t bad enough, Loch must deal with her treacherous assassin sister, her turncoat ancient friend, and a daemon who has sworn to hunt her to the ends of the earth. In order to save the Republic and pull off her largest con ever, Loch will need her friends…and maybe her enemies too.

Notes: Soo, I lied: this is another great way to end a series! I love the characters in here crazy much, the fact that it's a very Leverage-esque plot (bad guys really do make the best good guys) and just everything about it, including its slightly steampunk-y nature. And, if you want diversity, we've got a POC main woman, her POC subordinate and a minor LGBT friendly romance. Start with The Palace Job first though, otherwise you won't understand anything!

Empty Net by Avon Gale
Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain Isaac Drake ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him – no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse, constantly treated like a disappointment on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist, and Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold Laurent—or their relationship—together.

Notes: It isn't often that a romance hits me quite the way this one did. Within the first ten percent of the story I was already completely in love with the two guys. I adored Isaac in the previous book and it's a total blast getting part of the story from his perspective and Laurent is totally fucked up and beautiful. (And I may or may not have fallen in love with him during the first couple of paragraphs that we were inside his head. I lie. I totally did.) And it has the first demisexual character I've ever read about in a published book!

Imprudence by Gail Carriger
London is in chaos.

Rue and the crew of The Spotted Custard returned from India with revelations that shook the foundations of the scientific community. There is mass political upheaval, the vampires are tetchy, and something is seriously wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most inappropriate military types.

Rue has got personal problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue’s beginning to suspect what they all really are… is frightened.

When the Custard is ordered to Egypt, transporting some highly unusual passengers, Rue’s problems go from personal to impossible. Can she get Percy to stop sulking? Will she find the true cause of Primrose’s lovesickness? And what is Quesnel hiding in the boiler room?

Notes: What can I say about Carriger's writing that I haven't already? I love it, Rue's my favorite of all her leading ladies. This book goes to EGYPT! We have the beginnings of a lovely F/F romance. And, this is why I cannot write reviews for her books because when I gush, it sounds incomprehensible.

Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas
Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss. Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale.

But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king’s tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan—someone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan’s kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power—something so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them—she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before…and uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Notes: While I don't love this one quite as much as A Wicked Thing, it is still a spectacular duology and I love and adore Aurora.

Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward
Can good triumph over Evil once too often?

The ultimate triumph of Good and Light has transformed the world into a place of sweetness and peace. This is bad news for the 'bad guys,' who include a depressed assassin who dresses in black, his short, feisty sidekick, a black knight, a female Druid, a man-eating sorceress and an innocent centaur who is a spy for Good.

Finding utopia boring, they set out on a quest to restore balance to the world.

Notes: This book is like the big brother to all those D&D novels I used to love so much. It's fast paced and filled with snappy dialogue and brings up some interesting moral questions. Not to mention works with my own personal belief on good and evil!

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

Notes: This book was everything I wanted from a Snow White retelling and it was wonderful. I especially love the perfect balance between romance (and Dane!) and the action-y plot - which was a delight.

Earth Flight by Janet Edwards
It's time to risk it all!

The thrilling conclusion to Janet Edward’s sensational debut YA sci-fi trilogy.

Jarra never wanted to be a celebrity. All she ever wanted was to gain some respect for the people left on Earth: the unlucky few whose immune system prevents them from portalling to other planets.

Except now she’s the most famous Earth girl in the universe – but not everyone in the universe is happy about it, nor the fact that she has found love with a norm. Jarra’s actions have repercussions that spread further than she ever could have imagined, and political unrest threatens to tear apart the delicate balance of peace between humanity’s worlds.

On top of everything, the first alien artefact ever discovered appears to be waiting for Jarra to reveal its secrets. But to do so, she must somehow find a way to leave Earth – or else the alien artefact will be lost forever. Is there a way for Jarra to travel to another planet? Or is her destiny only to look to the stars – but never to reach them?

Notes: While this book isn't perfect - and I can admit its flaws - it was pretty perfect for me. This is a spectacular ending to a series that I adored and, I gotta admit, this book even choked me up a bit. Don't start here, though. Start with Earth Girl - even if the title is cheesy.
Honorable MentionsThe Scofflaw Magician by Honor Raconteur
Sacrifice by K.M. Shea
Red Hood's Revenge by Jim C. Hines
Rebel Magisters by Shanna Swendson
The Fire's Stone by Tanya Huff

Okay, so, I've actually had teeth pulled. And they deadened the area really nicely so it wasn't near as bad as this. *sigh* There's so many more books I want to add that I loved but...well, gotta stop somewhere, right? (Otherwise you'd be treated to the entire list of 5 star books that I've read this year!)

Love to know what your top books of the year are - and if you've read/want-to-read any of mine!