Best of 2016!

Well, you could be forgiven for thinking I have dropped off the face of the earth over Christmas.  I may live in Australia, but December definitely snowballed on me this year.  Please accept my belated wishes for a merry Christmas and a happy new year. 🎄🎉

Amidst all of the December busyness, I have been giving thought to my favourite reads over the year.  Let me tell you, it is a daunting business, coming up with a blog post about your favourite reads for the year.  For starters I read around 250 books this year 😳  Secondly, different books stick in my mind for different reasons.  Then again, some books are just all-round fantastic reads.  How do I sort all of this into some kind of logical post?  Well, here’s what I’ve decided:

Today, I will be listing some favourites by genre.
Tomorrow (approximately…), I will be spotlighting some of my favourite moments and features of books I have loved this year.  Things like: most humorous, most memorable first line, favourite hero, best kiss…  Uh-huh!  That one got your attention, didn’t it?!

So without further ado, here are my favourite reads for 2016 listed in alphabetical order of genre (because that’s the way I roll 😉)  Clicking on the cover of each book will take you to my full review.

Biblical Fiction

cossette-shadow-of-the-stormShadow of the Storm – Connilyn Cossette
Connilyn Cossette is a wonderful new voice in Biblical fiction.  I was impressed with her first release, Counted with the Stars, but Shadow of the Storm has firmly cemented her as a must-read author for me.  Not only does she write with beautiful expression, but Shira’s story engaged my heart so thoroughly that I did not want to put it down once I had started; and if that wasn’t enough, it also opened my eyes to a whole new understanding of what life may have been like for those who left Egypt in the Exodus.  And Ayal… *sigh* ❤️

Christmas Fiction

rodewald-ordinary-snowflakesOrdinary Snowflakes – Jennifer Rodewald
Okay, so this one’s kind of a niche genre, and I read so many good ones this year, but I had to mention this one.  I had to reconstruct myself from the warm gooey puddle I melted into on the floor after I finished reading it.  But as well as a heart-melting romance, this novel was a lovely reminder that sometimes we forget to look for God in the ordinary things. You simply could not ask for more in a Christmas novella.

 

Contemporary Fiction

feathered-boneThe Feathered Bone – Julie Cantrell
This novel explores themes like light and darkness, freedom and captivity through the story of Sarah, a twelve year old girl who disappears while on a school excursion, and Amanda, the mother of Sarah’s best friend and one of the parents supervising the excursion. The characteristics of the feather become a powerful metaphor for breaking free from bondage, and I’ll admit to actually sobbing at some points in this story.  It is not a light read, and touches on some unpleasant realities of our world, but I was richly rewarded for having taken the journey.

promise-of-jesse-woods

The Promise of Jesse Woods – Chris Fabry
This was such an absorbing story!  And to think I actually deliberated over whether to request it for review!  The writing is superb.  It has vitality, a fantastic use of imagery, and a wonderful way of capturing the essence of a character or a situation with one or two well-chosen, and often pithy, observations – some of which prompted sudden outbursts of laughter from me!  I was totally immersed in the story – both its setting and the slow build to a climax that kept me guessing right to the last second.

Contemporary Romance

Okay, this is a really tough one, because I’ve read a lot of great contemporary romances this year.  Today, I’m limiting myself to my all-round favourites – those books that captured me in every way: plot, characters, writing, and overall emotional engagement.  Later in the week, I will be highlighting some other favourites by spotlighting some favourite moments and features.

And in the interests of time and space, I’m just going to post the covers, which will link to my review (except for Twist of Faith, which links to its Amazon page because I haven’t actually reviewed it yet! 😞  But I’ve included a link to another fantastic review for you.)

Tagg - Keep Holding OnGray - My Hope Next DoorRodewald - Red Rose Bouquetstep-by-step

 

 

 

 

close-to-youpromise-of-rayne reay-portrait-of-emily-pricetwist-of-faith-coverRead a review for A Twist of Faith by Beth at Faithfully Bookish

 Fantasy

emberskendig-accelerantEmbers & Accelerant (Abiassa’s Fire series) – Ronie Kendig
Fantasy is one of my less read genres, but *true confession*  I would read a telephone book if it was written by Ronie Kendig.  Seriously!  If her books were any better, I would spontaneously combust while I read them – and I should add that’s no pun intended when it comes to this series! I only reviewed Accelerant this year but I highly recommend you start with Embers.  You won’t be sorry!

Historical Fiction

confessions-of-xThe Confessions of X – Suzanne M. Wolfe
This is one of the most stunningly beautiful novels I have ever had the privilege to read, and yet I also found it one of the most tragic. I read Augustine’s Confessions a few years ago so I was aware that he had a ‘mistress’, as she was referred to in my translation, however beyond that I knew little of their relationship. The moment I saw the cover of this book I wanted to read it, and my expectations were surpassed in every sense.

 

austin-waves-of-mercyWaves of Mercy – Lynn Austin
Some novels leave you feeling so full you don’t have room for your own words.  That was the overwhelming feeling I had when I finished this novel – and yet I was desperately scrambling to find more because I wanted Anna’s story to keep going!  Geesje’s story is full of wisdom gained through some of the most difficult experiences and decisions life can throw at you and, to be perfectly honest, is one of the most inspiring stories of faith I have ever read – fiction or not.

Historical Romance

This is another category where it is impossible to limit my choices to one or two novels.  As with the contemporary romances, these are the best of the best; the stories that captured me the most on every level.  And again, I’ve just included covers for the sake of time and space.  (I haven’t actually written a review for The Thorn Keeper and The Wood’s Edge, but I’ve included a link to a great review for each of them.)

And yes, I’ve included more than one from some series.  Because deciding was too excruciating and I’m trying to get this post done before next Christmas!

thorn-keeperthorn-healerRead a review for The Thorn Keeper by Rachel at Bookworm Mama.

 

 

 

reluctant-duchessWhite - Lady Unrivaled

 

 

 

 

 

the-woods-edgea-flight-of-arrows Read a review for The Wood’s Edge by Carrie from Reading is my Superpower.

 

 

 

The Ringmaster's Wife

 

 

 

 

Romantic Suspense

Montana Fire ad

Oh me, oh my!  I think this whole series has spoilt me forever when it comes to the romantic suspense genre, because I’m not sure I will ever find another series that will make me feel like these books have.  Reading these books is like an intravenous dose of romance and action.  Somehow, Susan May Warren knows exactly the right words to use to tap straight into my visceral senses, and my poor heart doesn’t know whether to pound, stop, melt, or some strange combination of all three.  How will anything else ever compare with that?

Review for:              Where There’s Smoke  //  Playing With Fire  //  Burnin’ For You

Speculative Fiction

Haven Seekers

The Haven Seekers series – Amanda G. Stevens
Note:  ‘Far and Near’ was the only book in this series released in 2016, but I read the first three novels just prior to the fourth’s release, and I recommend reading them as a series.

It seems shallow and somehow misleading to say I ‘enjoyed’ this series, because it is not a light read.  I was gripped . . . fully immersed . . . engrossed . . . consumed . . . I loved it. I cried, I smiled, I held by breath, and I kept swiping my Kindle at the end as though that would magically deliver more pages of a story that I wasn’t ready to finish.  This series has some of the most authentic, memorable, and well-drawn characters I have come across, and such a simple, yet frighteningly plausible premise at its centre.  Just read it!

Thriller

conspiracy-of-silenceConspiracy of Silence – Ronie Kendig
THIS.  BOOK.  IS.  EPIC!  And the series is going to be even more epic!  In all of my wiiiiide reading experience, I have not read another novel or series that combines the elements you will find here:  Black ops military action, archaeology, medieval history, politics, bioterrorism, genuine Biblical history, a hint of the supernatural, and the inevitable tangle of human emotions that get caught up in the mix.  And it’s all written in Ronie Kendig’s fantasic, high-impact, über-engaging style.

the-progenyProgeny – Tosca Lee
Oh boy, how doodie!  This book had me totally hooked – although I’ll warn you now, it’s a first-parter.  But what a story!  It really was the best of all worlds: A fast-paced thriller with historical roots, speculative overtones, and emotional subtext that is gradually peeled back, layer by layer, until BAM!  the final page made my eyes widen as the full picture came squarely into view.  Seriously, I can’t get the next book soon enough!

 

if-i-runIf I Run – Terri Blackstock
In some ways, this book is the opposite of what I would normally look for in a book.  I like lots of dialogue and character interaction, but the protagonists in this book barely even catch sight of each other (although they obviously do interact with other characters).  There is no romance (although I suspect that will come later in the series).  It’s even written in first person present tense (not my favourite) AND switches point of view between the two main characters (which can be confusing when they’re both written in the first person).  And yet in the end none of that mattered, because it all somehow worked and . . . well . . . I just couldn’t put it down!  It’s a tense game of cat-and-mouse, with the relationships subtly shifting as the story progresses.  Bring on the next book!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Phew!  That’s my take on the cream of the crop for 2016.  Which of these have you enjoyed?  Are any of these on your TBR?

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About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
Image | This entry was posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance, Speculative Fiction, Thriller and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Best of 2016!

  1. pepperbasham says:

    Katie!! Thank you ThANK YOU for including ALL THREE of my 2016 releases!! WOW!!! I’m so glad we’ve connected and that you love these crazy stories I write!!
    What a wonderful list of books you have! Thank you for including mine!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jen says:

    I die….thank you so much! I’m so blessed to know you loved both Ordinary Snowflakes and Red Rose Bouquet. Both are pretty special to me, for very different reasons, and neither has really turned me loose yet. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great list!
    I hesitated on putting The Feathered Bone on my #Bestof2016 because of how deeply Julie’s book hurt my heart. It was like she put my worst nightmare to words. Then I reconsidered and decided that her ability to evoke such strong emotions was worthy of a nod.

    Lori Benton is utterly amazing. She was a new to me author last year and I’ve read three of her books since. ❤️

    If you feel The Confessions of X was a “best of” then I need to bump it up the stack. It’s been sitting on my kindle for months.

    Happy Reading in the New Year!
    @AmandaGeaney

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Feathered Bone and Confessions of X were both sob inducing reads for me, for different reasons. The Feathered Bone because of my struggle with major depression in senior high school (the storyline with the main character’s daughter really cut close to the bone), and Confessions of X because I got so angry with the decision Augustine was ‘forced’ to make. But the writing in Confessions of X was stunningly beautiful. And I love learning about historical people through fiction.

      Thanks for being such an encouragement to me this year 🙂 You probably don’t even realise you have been, but I’ve loved connecting with you and sharing our love of Biblical fiction and Christian fiction in general ❤️

      Like

  4. Winnie Thomas says:

    Yay! A lot of my favorites for 2016 are included here. I’ve read 6 of the 8 contemporary books listed, and the other two (Red Rose Bouquet and A Portrait of Emily Price) are on my Kindle. I’ve read Ordinary Snowflakes, Pepper’s two historicals, Roseanna White’s two historicals, and Conspiracy of Silence. Lori Benton’s and The Ringmaster’s Wife are on my TBR list along with Susan May Warren’s series you listed. I’ve read many of her books and have loved them all. I think we have similar tastes in books. My TBR list is going to be toppling even worse. #mustreadfaster#nevergetcaughtup

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Janet W. Ferguson says:

    Loved many of these, and I hope to squeeze in others, though I need to start writing my own new books 🙂
    Love your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! That must be hardest thing about being a writer – having less time for reading! But we readers are ever so grateful for your sacrifice 🙂 Looking forward to reading some of yours in 2017.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Janet W. Ferguson says:

        Yes, it is hard not having time to read. I do get to critique with some wonderful authors, though. I’d love to get your opinion of mine when you can. Just let me know. 🙂 Happy New Year!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Carrie says:

    first – thank you for the shoutout my dear! And second – oh my goodness there are so many on your list that I still need to read!! argh!! Like the Montana Fire series, Ronie’s fantasy series, Amanda Stevens’ series, Tosca Lee’s series, Candace Calvert’s, Kara’s…. you’d think I didn’t read any books this year at all. Sheesh! lol

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beth Erin says:

    Thank you for the shout out, dear Fici! Oh I do love that Reece, no doubt about it! Great list! I’m not going to look too closely though. I have to read and rehome some books first!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my word, thank you so much for including Haven Seekers on this list. The most rewarding thing for me as a writer is when a reader cares about my people, and your review is a great encouragement! Thanks for reading and for spreading the word!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Four of your choices made my top ten list too. And I want to read a bunch of the others you’ve listed. Loved the Haven Seekers series so much! I’m also curious to hear more about what’s coming next from Amanda. Did you see she has a Pinterest Board about it?

    Like

  10. Ronie says:

    WOW!! I’m so glad you did not spontaneously combust – because then this list might not have happened. THANK YOU SO MUCH for including my stories. For your amazing and generous words about Conspiracy! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Best of 2016 – Part 2 | Fiction Aficionado

  12. Rissi says:

    OhMyGoodness, so many good ones! I’ve read several in your romantic (contemporary) category, and loved them. I had every intention of reading Susan’s, but alas, didn’t get to those this year. “Ordinary Snowflakes” looks really good too! I’ll have to read that one at some point. Great list – I’ve a feeling 2017 will be just as amazing! 🙂

    Like

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