Yeah, I should've done this earlier, but I just needed a break from 2016 for a couple of days. Most people do this in mid-December or so, but a few years ago (before this blog), the best novel I read that year was also the last. Ever since then, I just can't pull the trigger until January 1. I truly enjoyed all but a couple of books this year (at least a little bit), but narrowing the list down to those in this post was a little easier than I expected ('tho there's a couple of books I do feel bad about ignoring). I stand by my initial ratings, there are some in the 5-Star group that aren’t as good as some of the 4 and 4½ books, although for whatever reason, I ranked them higher (entertainment value, sentimental value…liked the ending better…etc.). Anyway, I came up with a list I think I can live with. (in alphabetical order by author)
I was a little surprised (but not really) today to see that every book in the trilogy made my year-end Best-Of list -- so it makes sense that this one occupies a space. But it's more than that, this book was an exciting emotional wringer that ended the trilogy in a perfect way. I can't recommend this one enough (but only for those who've read the first two). When I was informed a month ago that there was going to be a follow-up series? I let out a whoop, thankfully none of my family noticed, so I don't have to feel too silly.
I'm afraid if I start talking about this one that I'll spill a few hundred words. Let me just slightly modify something I already wrote and spare us all the effort (that could be better spent actually reading these books). I'm afraid I'll overuse the word imaginative if I tried to describe what Drake has done here in the depth I want to in this book about pre-Islamic Iran. You haven't read a fantasy novel like this one before -- almost certainly, anyway -- but you should.
This probably should be a dual entry with Blood of the Earth and Curse on the Land, but that felt like cheating. Between the two, I thought that this was a slightly better work, so it got the spot. While remaining true to the Jane Yellowrock world that this springs from, Hunter has created a fantastic character, new type of magic, and basis of a series. I love these characters already (well, except for those I wasn't crazy about previously) and can't wait for a return trip.
I'm just going to quote myself here: I've seen people call this the Changes of the Alex Verus series -- and it absolutely is. I'd also call it the Staked in terms with the protagonists coming to grips with the effects that his being in the lives of his nearest and dearest has on their life, and what that means for his future involvement with them. Which is not to say that Jacka's latest feels anything like Butcher's or Hearne's books -- it feels like Verus just turned up half a notch. It's just such a great read -- it grabs you on page 2 and drags you along wherever it wants to take you right up until the "He is not actually doing this" moment -- which are followed by a couple more of them.
Since the Spring when I read this, I periodically reminded myself to keep this in mind for my Top 10, I was that afraid I'd forget this quiet book. It's not a perfect novel, there are real problems with it -- but it was really effective. I fell for Ava, just the way Able did -- not as hard (and only in a way that my wife wouldn't mind) -- but just as truly. This one worked about as well as any author could hope one would.
by Elan Mastai
My all-time favorite time-travel novel, just a fun read, too. I will over-hype this one if I'm not careful. So, so good.
I'm not sure what I can say about this book that others haven't -- this trip into a magical realism version of the 1980's Mid-West will get you on every level -- it's entertaining, it's thought-provoking, the language is gorgeous, the characters are flawed in all the right ways. I wish this was getting the attention (and sales!) that it deserves -- I really hope its audience finds it.
Here's a book that doesn't have to worry about attention or audience, it has one -- and it's probably growing. It deserves it. Short, sweet (and not-sweet) and to the point. I may have to buy a two copies of the sequel so I don't have to fight my daughter for it when it's released.
Stewart took the really good historical crime novel she wrote last year and built on that foundation one that's far more entertaining without sacrificing anything that had come before. We'll be reading about the Kopp sisters for a while, I think.
Yeah, here I am again, flogging Underwood's Genrenaut stories -- whether in individual novellas, audiobooks, or in this collection -- you need to get your hands on this series about story specialists who travel to alternate dimensions where stories are real and what happens in them impacts our world -- Underwood has a special alchemy of Leverage + The Librarians + Quantum Leap + Thursday Next going on here, and I love it.
There were a few that almost made the list -- almost all of them did make the Top 10 for at least a minute, actually. I toyed with a Top 17 in 2016 but that seemed stupid -- and I've always done 10, I'm going to stick with it. But man -- these were all close, and arguably better than some of those on my list. Anyway here they are: What You Break by Reed Farrel Coleman (my original post), Children of the Different by SC Flynn (my original post), Thursday 1:17 p.m. by Michael Landweber (my original post), We're All Damaged by Matthew Norman (my original post), A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl (my original post), and Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja (my original post). I hope your 2016 reads were as good as these.