My Top Ten Reads of 2016

topten_2016Given it’s doubtful I’ll finish any more books before the year ends (especially since I’ve been on eaglet watch for days), I’m going to go ahead and list my top 10 books read this year.

I set my goal at 80 books originally, but my day job had other ideas and with 10 hours being the average daily routine, I was often too tired to read. However, I buckled down at the end of the year while on holiday (when not watching baby eagles in Florida hatching) and managed to achieve my revised goal of 70 books. Here were my top ten in the order that I read them. The choice was difficult and I did swap a few out before I was done. Apologies to the authors for removals.

1. 50 Years of Silence by Jan Ruff-O’Herne (non-fiction)
2. The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson (suspense)
3. The Seventh by S.D. Wasley (YA paranormal)
4. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (suspense)
5. Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale (suspense)
6. Some Like it Charming by Megan Bryce (contemp romance)
7. Fire and Midnight by Sandra Renee Appet (contemp romance)
8. In the Land of Gold by Christina Angela Archer (western romance)
9. The Gender Secret by Bella Forrest (YA dystopian)
10. To Tempt the Saint by Megan Bryce (historical romance)

Biggest surprise? Two books by Megan Bryce made the list, an author I don’t think I’d ever heard of before. Both were Book Bub freebees and novella length, which I tended to concentrate on to make up some ground goal-wise toward the end. Loved both because of their nice blend of sentimentality and strong heroine characters and witty lines. I’ll be reading more from this author in the future.

I read several mainstream books either because they were Amazon Prime early reads or were free in the Prime lending library. Honestly, during the middle of the year, I was pretty tired of romance / erotic romance. This is how Girl in the Train, Everything We Keep and The Butterfly Garden ended up making the list.

I discovered what the fuss about Bella Forrest was about, the Amazon exclusive YA author of A Shade of Vampire and the Gender Games series, both of which I started and enjoyed. I eagerly await the 3rd Gender Games book as my first book of 2017.

Fire and Midnight by my sista from another mista, Sandra Renee Appet (aka Sandra Bunino) made the list because it was that good and I am super proud of her. I hope you’ll read it too.

50 Years of Silence made the list as the sole nonfiction representative. This is the true story of a woman pressed into sexual slavery by the Japanese. The War of Art and You Are a Badass were excellent honorable mentions in the non-fiction genre. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, while an interesting read, was a little too anal to be realistically achievable for me and that’s really a shame. If you saw my home, you’d understand the tragedy of it.

Historical westerns, mail order brides and Christmas novellas were go-to favorites for  a good chunk of the year. In the Land of Gold was the sole one of this group to make the list because it was an awesome blend of romance and adventure.

Some favorites in the mix that didn’t make the top 10 but are worthy of mention: The Paladins by Julie Reece, Stiff Competition by Annalise Ryan, Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger, Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, and A Court of Roses and Thorns by Sarah J. Maas.

I finished up the Under the Never Sky series by Veronica Roth–adored this series even if none of the two books I read in 2016 make my top 10 list. They easily could have. The first in the series made my top ten in 2015, so that will have to suffice.

Onward to 2017… I have a couple of books that have been in Currently Reading status for a while. Hopefully I can buckle down and finish them up soon. I hate DNF’s and books that stall out. The latter group has yielded some awesome reads like The Time Traveler’s Wife when I’ve finally finished them up. Til next year’s post…

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

My Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2013

TopTenBooksof2013I don’t normally review or star books. As an author myself, this is just a choice I’ve made because publishing is such a fickle, prickly business for both writers and reviewers. I read purely for enjoyment and escape and prefer to focus only on the best of the best.

I choose TEN favorite reads each year. To each of them, and only them, I give five stars on Goodreads. That simply means relative to all the books I read that year, those books occupied the top ten slots. Without this system, I might have given any of this year’s books less than five stars or last year’s eleventh (and higher) books five stars, so first caveat is there’s no comparison between years.

But here are the ten that impressed me the most of the 84 books I read in 2013, listed in reverse order of my reading:

1.  Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith (Science fiction meets Outlander. I loved the epic-ness of the story, partly due to its very long length, but mostly due to the amazing world-building and the lizard-guy hero.)

2.  The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers (Such beautiful writing and because of and despite the unlikely premise, it flowed with all sorts of emotional loveliness.)

3.  Tangled by Emma Chase (Drew—the character who voices what most men are probably thinking and yet we still loved him BECAUSE he was so real—eye-rolling but noble.)

4.  Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (An award-winning YA from a few years back, the heroine giving the hero the finger in the restaurant at the beginning sold me on this one at the get go. The rest did not disappoint.)

5.  After Hours by Cara McKenna (Loved the big, scary hero who knew what he wanted at the very beginning.)

6.  Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend by Cassie Mae (Funny, sweet, humble and poignant—my favorite type of YA story.)

7.  Painted Faces by L. H. Cosway (Never in a million years thought I’d love a book about a man-whore, cross-dresser. The witty heroine was a huge factor in this one.)

8.  Hopeless by Colleen Hoover (Captivating writing style and an unforgettable hero. The title of the book is clever too.)

9.  On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves (I love shipwrecked—or planewrecked in this case—stories and this one did not disappoint. Throw in a May – December romance and some adventure and I was sold.)

10.  Ride With Me by Ruthie Knox (Cross-country bicycling with a grouchy, wounded bear of a man and slowly falling in love…sigh…loved it.)

I’ll end by stating this was an extremely difficult choice and there were many others that were strong contenders, so I’ll give them Honorable Mention (no particular order):  Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren, Run to You by Charlotte Stein, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Beautiful Bad Man by Ellen O’Connell, Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare and Escorted by Claire Kent. One of this group I had to unstar because in re-evaluating my top ten list, I had eleven. They were ALL so good! And there were other fabulous ones I didn’t even mention.

2013 was an amazing year for reading!

Happy New Year and happy reading in 2014!