I read. A lot. According to my Goodreads, I read 112 new books in 2016. I want to point out that emphasis on “new.” Goodreads only lets you count a book once, and I tend to re-read some of my favorites on an annual basis.
Unfortunately, I don’t quite have enough to put together that Top 9 list… Yet.
Now, when I look back on my actual list from last year, I realize I spent waaaaaaay too much time reading writing and craft books. Which, might be a major contributor to my writer’s block.
I could probably rate the writing books I’ve read as their own list. I probably will at some point in the future. People ask me for it sometimes. Seems like an easy post (or several!)
Also, two of the entries on this list are actually books I read from a series. This is because it is impossible for me to pick out a single book from a binge read as the best of the bunch.
One more thing before we get to the list. The links here all go to Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate. That means I get a small chunk of things you buy from Amazon after clicking on the links. If you don’t like tracking links, please employ your powerful Google-Fu to find these books on your own.
9. The Baine Chronicles (Books 1 -3)
Alright. I’m starting off the list with a pretty decent New Adult Urban Fantasy series.
The Baine Chronicles is different than most of the UF I’ve read. It focuses heavily on the Fantasy part of Urban Fantasy. It doesn’t take place on Earth. It’s a whole new world.
That doesn’t change the fact that it is UF, at least for the first couple of books.
I really enjoyed this series early last year and am pretty happy with the knowledge books 4-6 are now out, too. I’m going to have to put them on my to-read list pretty soon.
There is one thing that keeps the series from being higher on the list: the Romantic Subplot.
I’m not against a romantic angle to the UF stories. It’s practically required by the genre. Even Dresden has relationship issues. But, the subplot played out here has been done to death. I’m not saying it was poorly executed, just cliched.
Then again, maybe that’s just a statement on the books I’ve been reading.
Everything else was great and I highly recommend the series.
8. American Demon Hunters: Washington D.C.
John L. Monk & J. Thorn
Full disclosure: John L. Monk is a friend of mine and the only author to appear on this list twice. I really enjoy his writing and could probably put together a Top John L. Monk books list.
That said, American Demon Hunters is actually a J. Thorn project.
The collection is a handful of different books featuring the same group of heroes fighting the forces of darkness all across the US.
Hence the name.
Each book is coauthored (or perhaps primarily authored) by a different writer and takes place in a different location. They are all standalone. You don’t have to read all of them and you don’t have to read in any particular order.
I like the concept of the project almost as much as I like the concept of the world.
Washington D.C. has a fun, geeky story. Basically, that guy from your D&D group gets magical powers and uses them exactly the way that guy would use them.
There are a lot of nerd jokes, wangst, and disturbingly interesting descriptions of gore.
Just the way I like it.
7. Girl Jacked
Girl Jacked is a unique book from my reading collection. It was the first book I read from the straight-up thriller genre. No super-powers or secret spy agencies. Unless you count taking advantage of learning opportunities when they come up.
Which I do because, hey, I’d like to think if I take enough Udemy courses, I’ll learn how to solve murders, too.
It was a pretty good read. I’ll revisit the Detective Jack Stratton Mystery Series again in the future when I need a break from magic.
I suspect book 2 might show up on my list for next year.
6. Bag of Meat on Ball of Dirt
I read two of Mara Altman’s Kindle Singles last year, this one and Bearded Lady. I picked them both up as reads for the often-neglected second half of the Bradbury Challenge: Read a short story or essay every day.
If it wasn’t apparent by my blogging, I like humorists. In fact, one of my biggest issues as a writer is my constant desire to bounce back-and-forth between irreverent silliness and soapbox preaching. I’m always looking for writers who have pulled it off.
Mara Altman is one of those writers.
Bag of Meat on Ball of Dirt is a long essay on her attempts to find meaning through her journey of discovery in India along the lines of Eat, Pray, Love… and the horrible time she had doing it.
Her writing has both poetic and poignant pros and low-brow fart jokes. Perfect for someone looking for a writer similar to David Sedaris.
Side note: If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber like me, the Kindle Singles are an awesome way to take advantage of it.
5. The Twenty-Sided Sorceress (Book 1-7)
Okay, I’m cheating. I read Justice Calling in 2015. But, I didn’t think you’d want me to talk about a contemporary fantasy series starting at book 2.
The Twenty-Sided Sorceress is a great series. Jade Crow is a great protagonist. There is some pretty unique stuff here you don’t see every day.
Plus, D&D references more or less constantly.
I’m really looking forward to the eight book, Dungeon Crawl, coming out… any day now, really.
Definitely worth a read if you dig contemporary fantasy or paranormal romance. Especially with shifters of various types.
Doubly so if you like the idea of someone using a d20 as a talisman.
4. Casino Royale
How did it take me this long in life to finally pick up a James Bond book?
There are some questions that can never be answered.
What am I going to say? It’s Casino Royale. I feel like this is one of those books I don’t really need to review.
I really enjoyed it.
Now that all 14 of the Ian Fleming Bond novels are in Kindle Unlimited, I might just need to find myself some time to binge.
3. Old Dark
Michael La Ronn
In keeping with full disclosure, Michael La Ronn is also a friend of mine and has appeared on the now basically defunct New Writer Podcast. Which is how I learned about Old Dark before it came out and got some early access into the story.
I was basically hooked from the concept alone and was not disappointed by the execution.
Michael has a storytelling style that is uniquely him and he actively picks protagonists outside the normal wheelhouse. He’s got teddy bears, sentient robots, and now an ancient dragon.
Old Dark has a bit of a slow start, but the world building is killer and once I got about 1/3 of the way through, I was hooked. That might seem like a long time to let a book simmer, but it was worth it.
The rest of the trilogy is out now and stacked up on my to-be-read list.
2. Half-Made Girls
I feel a kindred spirit with Sam Witt, if I was much more talented and could scare the ever-loving’-bajeebus out of myself.
Half-Made Girls is the first book in the Pitchfork County series, a contemporary fantasy about a rural county where the supernatural forces of the left-hand path are kept in check by the Night Sheriff.
It’s well written and, more importantly, it’s creepy as hell.
The extra-special sauce, Pitchfork County is a fictional county in Missouri. From the context, it’s probably north-central or north-east Missouri (closer to St Louis than Kansas City). That’s not the exact part of the state my family comes from, but it’s close enough some of the descriptions hit spot on.
My only complaint is the horror aspect is written so well, I couldn’t bring myself to binge the series. I needed to take a step back.
In a good way.
1. Hell’s Children
John L Monk
All of the books on this list earned their place in my heart. They’re all worth your time to pick up. It was hard for me to rank them against each other, but one book I knew going in that Hell’s Children would be number 1.
Definitely my favorite book (I read) in 2016.
It’s a post-Apoc with adults all killed off by a plague, leaving children to fend for themselves. I think the oldest survivor mentioned in the book is around 16. Very similar to the backstory of Jeremiah. The big difference here being Hell’s Children takes place immediately after the disease kills everyone.
Also, it is much, much more realistic.
I could probably blab about this book all day, but I’ll save you some digital screen space and just say go read it.
If you want to know more, you can read my full Goodreads review.
So, there you go. Those are my Top 9 Non-writing books for 2016. If you haven’t read any of them, I suggest getting on that pretty quickly.
I read fast. You don’t want to be left behind. Do you?