Best of 2016 – Part 2

If you’ve read my Best of 2016 post, you’ll know I promised a post where I highlighted books according to various memorable features.  Well, this has turned out to be Part 1 of that list.  Which actually makes it Part 2 of my ‘Best of’ series.  Confused?  Don’t worry!  It’s not really that important.  Just read the post anyway.  🙂

It is worth mentioning that this list is compiled from books that I read in 2016, not necessarily just books that were published in 2016.  Clicking on the cover will take you that book’s Amazon page, and there is also a link to my review (or a review that reflects my opinion).

Best First Line

To get the ball rolling, I’m going to start at the beginning.  (I hear it’s a very good place to start!):  First lines.  This was the feature that gave me the idea for this post in the first place, because… well, this first line is just unforgettable as far as I’m concerned.  It comes from the author’s debut on the fiction market:

annabel-leeAnnabel Lee – Mike Nappa
“Uncle Truck keeps a German shepherd on his farm that’ll eat human fingers if you feed ’em to it just right.”

I was, like, “Whoa!”  Hooked then and there.

Read my review.

Quirkiest Character

While we’re on the subject of Mike Nappa, his second release features one of the quirkiest characters I’ve come across: The Raven.

Nappa - The RavenThe Raven – Mike Nappa
The Raven is the magician- *ahem* ‘deception specialist’ – at the centre of this novel, and he’s one of a kind: a charming, two-bit crook.  At the beginning of the novel he’s involved in a little deception game with some Russian mobsters who have ambushed him at his apartment and handcuffed him to a chair.  For the last eleven hours, they’ve been testing his deception reading skills.  If he gets it wrong, they get to hit him.  In all that time, he’s only been hit five or six times.  Here’s how it goes down when Trudi Coffey makes a surprise entrance:

First things first:  I think I’m in love.
It’s not often that a beautiful woman just walks into your dumpster-decorated apartment and acts like she belongs there.  It’s even rarer for that beautiful woman not to run screaming the minute she sees a bunch of mobsters beating you into a bloody pulp in the kitchen.
“Well,” My Future Wife says, “looks like The Raven’s having a party and he forgot to invite me.”
Nice.  She knows who I am.  I try not to cough blood when I smile at her.
“I’m not going to lie to you, Raven,” she continues casually.  “You don’t look good.”
I shrug, but I can’t stop smiling.  I can’t keep my eyes off her, either.
It may just be the exhaustion talking, but I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen anyone or anything more captivating than this woman is right now.  I’m guessing she’s about five foot, six inches tall and around one hundred and twenty-five pounds.  She’s older than me, I think, maybe a year or two.  Maybe five.  Or maybe a hundred years older, it doesn’t matter.  Age is just a number when you’re in love…

Yep.  If you’re a fan of droll humour, he’s definitely a character to check out!  Read my full review here.

Best ‘Laugh Out Loud’ read

While we’re on the subject of humour, I found a fantastic new author this year: Kimberly Stuart.

balancing-actBalancing ActKimberly Stuart
It’s a long time since I have snort-laughed as much I did in the novel ‘Balancing Act’.  About to return to work as a high-school Spanish teacher after taking time off for the birth of her first child, juggling life is about to become a whole lot trickier for Heidi Elliott.  And it’s not just what happens, but the way it’s written; couched in Heidi Elliott’s  dry, witty, and sometimes sardonic, observations.  Here are just a few of them:

Think of the sudden rise in teenage abstinence if a group of postpartum women stormed seventh grade classrooms and lifted up their shirts.

I entered the back door of my classroom to Ms. Stillwell’s frantic commands.  The woman could screech.  Let’s just say I wouldn’t be asking her to record Nora’s favorite lullabies any time soon.  Think emu on meth.

There are times when being the life sustainer of your child is rewarding, when the knowledge that you are feeding her exactly what she needs makes you feel like belting out “The Circle of Life.”  And then there are times when breastfeeding is a big, lactating pain in a lumpy, postpartum rear.

And then there’s the scene where she hears another baby crying in the shopping centre and gets a let-down.  If you’ve ever breastfed, I’m sure you will relate!

While I haven’t written a review for Balancing Act, you can read my review for the third novel in the Heidi Elliott series, Better Together, here.  The best part about this series is that the humour doesn’t override the more serious issues Heidi is working through.  It’s a fantastic hybrid of chick lit and women’s fiction.

Most tear-inducing read

Two of my most tear-inducing reads already appeared in my Best of 2016 post:  The Feathered Bone and Confessions of X.  But it would truly be remiss of me not to include this novel:

this-quiet-skyThis Quiet Sky – Joanne Bischof
I haven’t actually written a review for this novel, so I’m going to direct you to two reviews that speak my heart on this book:  one by Meghan Gorecki at Northern Belle and the other by Rachelle Rea Cobb.  Would you believe I’m actually getting that tell-tale tingle in my nose even as I type this innocuous post?  Definitely a tear-jerker.  But, oh, so beautiful.


Most intriguing setting

This one is from waaaaay back at the beginning of 2016, from author Evangeline Denmark:

curioCurio – Evangeline Denmark
This was a fascinating world of porcelain and clockwork people (porcies and tocks) that kept me reading with ‘curiouser and curiouser’-like wide-eyedness.  (Oh my goodness, the spell-check just had a field day!)  You can read my full review here.



Most intriguing concept

This book caught my attention as soon as I heard it was coming out, and I wasn’t disappointed:

the-allianceThe Alliance – Jolina Petersheim
A dystopian set in an Old Order Mennonite community?  Yep.  And it’s a compelling read.  I can’t wait for the sequel, coming in June 2017.  For now, you can read my review of The Alliance here.



Most surprising story

Biblical fiction is one of my foremost loves, and there were some great ones released this year.  It just so happens that the book that most surprised me comes from this genre:

delilahDelilah: Treacherous Beauty – Angela Hunt
You might be wondering how there could be any surprises in such a well-known Biblical story, but that’s exactly why this story was such a surprise.  There was so much depth to these characters, and Angela Hunt was able to fill in the story in such a way that their choices made sense, even if they were ill-advised.  I was surprised by how sympathetic I was towards Delilah, in spite of the choices she made, and the ending was also surprisingly uplifting.  Was Delilah really more than a scheming temptress? I’m not sure I’m totally convinced when I go back to the Biblical passage, but it was a surprising and fascinating read nonetheless.  You can read my full review here.

Favourite amateur detective

Okay.  In all honesty, I’m throwing this one in just because I want an excuse to mention Drew Farthering:

dressed-for-deathDressed for Death – Julianna Deering
If you’re a lover of British cozy mysteries, you have to meet Drew and his wife, Madeline.  Drew is the quintessential 1930s English gentleman, but he always manages to get caught up in murder and sinister plots.  You can read my review for Dressed for Death here.

P.S. – His next mystery releases January 31st.  Not long to wait now!


Quirkiest Town

Hands down, this goes to the residents of Goose Creek!

Six-Toed Cat   Illegal Goose Creek Parade   Renovating the Richardsons   Room with the second best view   smith-goose-creek-christmas

Tales from the Goose Creek B & B – Virginia Smith
Al and Millie Richardson, are the central characters in this series set in small-town Kentucky, but you’ll get plenty of opportunity to meet Susan, the local vet; the well-intentioned, but grating Franklin and Lulu Thacker; and Millie’s cliche-loving best friend, Violet.  Among others!

You can read my reviews for the final three books in the series through the links below:
Renovating the Richardsons // Room with the Second-Best View // Goose Creek Christmas

The award for saying the most in the least possible words

Is it ironic that I couldn’t find a more succinct name for this award?  I’d like to think so, which is why I haven’t really tried any harder to reword it.  All I know is, I had to include the two short sentences I’m about to share with you somehow:

SaffireSaffire – Sigmund Brouwer
If there was any character I met this year who could compete with The Raven for drollery, then James Holt would be he.  In all of the books I have read this year, two quotes stick in my mind with distinct clarity.  The first is the opening of Annabel Lee, which I shared above.  The second comes from this novel:

“There was tension.  Of the delicious sort.”

Yes, there’s a female involved, and it’s even better when read in context.  I get a secret smile every time I think of it.  Even now.  You can read my review here.


Now, perhaps this is cruel of me, but I’ve saved all my romance-related ‘most memorables’ for a separate post.  So you’ll just have to come back tomorrow (or perhaps the next day…) when it’s posted 🙂

Do you have any ‘most memorables’ to share?

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
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13 Responses to Best of 2016 – Part 2

  1. jolinapetersheim says:

    Thank you so much for including The Alliance, Fiction Aficionado! You’re a blessing to us authors and to readers, too! Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rachelle Rea Cobb says:

    Great blog post! Thanks for linking to my review of Joanne’s amazing novella. It really was a tear-jerker, but the best kind, yes? 🙂

    Happy New Year and here’s to new reads! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. deannadodson says:

    Oh, thanks so much for making a special category just for Drew. You are THE best! Happy New Year! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Angela Hunt says:

    Wow–thanks for mentioning Delilah, and you’ve got me intrigued as to several books I haven’t read. What a delicious way to highlight your “best of” list! –Angie Hunt


  5. Carrie says:

    any excuse to mention Drew Farthering is a good one 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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