January 3, 2017

Shera's Top 10 Books of 2016

The year has ended and now it's time for important reflections. Such as the books of the past year.  A lot of my top picks are from my most anticipated list for 2016. No surprise there! It was a tough call as I had a pretty great reading year.

Nalini Singh is still my top read author on my Goodreads Most Read Authors list. Kresley Cole has jumped up to second! With Ilona Andrews coming in at third. Though Keri Arthur is holding steady at book 4, but Patricia Briggs may soon overcome Arthur! 

***This top ten list is in no particular order and only one author’s book in a series can be picked. As usual this list is made up of books I read in 2016. The release date doesn't matter.***

Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh

Get it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers' Review
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Psy-Changeling, book 15

Allegiance of Honor  (Psy-Changeling #15)

The “unparalleled romantic adventure”* of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as a new dawn begins for the Psy-Changeling world...

The Psy-Changeling world has undergone a staggering transformation and now stands at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: Old enemies. New allies. Wary loners.

But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten and threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: A child who is both Psy…and changeling.

To find the lost, protect the vulnerable—and save Trinity—no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honor even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?

Honestly I was a bit nervous how things would wrap up. This the end of the Psy-Changeling arc and the story it was telling. The new series, or the second season as Singh is calling it, is the Psy-Changeling Trinity. We've had the revolution and Silence is broken.

I'm really excited about the setup for the arc of the "Second Season" and truly thrilled about where the characters are going to be from.

Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen

Get it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy
Series: Untitled series, book 1

Bound by Blood and Sand  (Untitled Series #1)

Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.

Lord Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the kingdom’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.

This one was on my radar for quite a long while. It was on my Top Anticipated books of 2016. I stalked the release of the synopsis and cover. Waited, not patiently, for the release date.

This is going to be a new favorite series for me. Tamora Pierce fans will be happy. This is not a copy cat book or anything. It just feels as epic and great as those books. (Maybe even better.)

Brave ideas and a moving story. A book not afraid to go there and not sugar coat things.

I really hope this series makes it and that the publishers let me have the rest!

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Get it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Untiled series, book 1

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire  (Untitled #1)

Sabriel meets Romeo and Juliet in this stunning and atmospheric novel—the first in a duology—from the author of Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound.

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . .

I was really surprised by how much reviewers didn't really care for this. At least the majority of my Goodreads friends anyway.

I found myself totally engaged in the story and I love the tie ins to Romeo and Juliet. Up front I'm not a Romeo and Juliet fan, however when Rosamund Hodge touches something it turns to awesomeness.

I hope this series continues.

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Get it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Charley Davidson, book 1

First Grave on the Right  (Charley Davidson #1)

This whole grim reaper thing should have come with a manual.
Or a diagram of some kind.
A flow chart would have been nice.

Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. And it's her job to convince them to "go into the light." But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely. But what does he want with Charley? And why can't she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?

With scorching-hot tension and high-octane humor, First Grave on the Right is your signpost to paranormal suspense of the highest order.

Ah, I finally found out what all the buzz is about this series! I loved the first book. Humorous books are hit and miss for me. However, this one was just right.

It probably won't be for everyone, but I laughed myself silly.

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

Get it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Paranormal Historical
Series: n/a

Ghost Talkers

Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.

Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.

Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she's just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

This was very predictable, however the world and characters were awesome. This series has so much potential!

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Get it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels, book 9

Magic Binds  (Kate Daniels #9)

Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this…

Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…

Ah, the great Kate Daniel's series continues. I don't think this was the strongest issue, but it's still great.

Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

Get it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Others, book 4

Marked in Flesh  (The Others #4)

For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by side in uneasy peace. But when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have to decide how much humanity they’re willing to tolerate—both within themselves and within their community...

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs…

There are no words to describe how much I LOVE this series. It's my jam. Each book is just so wonderful. The world!!!! The characters!! The story. ;_; It's all so viscously magical.

Moon Cast by P.C. Cast

Get it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Young Adult High Fantasy
Series: Tales of a New World, book 1

Moon Chosen  (Tales of a New World #1)

Chosen to embrace her true identity. Chosen to follow her destiny. Chosen to change her world.

Mari is an Earth Walker, heir to the unique healing powers of her Clan, but she has been forced to turn from her duties, until she is chosen by a special animal ally, altering her destiny forever. When a deadly attack tears her world apart, Mari reveals the strength of her powers and the forbidden secret of her dual nature as she embarks on a mission to save herself and her people. It is not until Nik, the son of the leader from a rival, dominating Tribe, strays across her path that Mari experiences something she has never felt before…

Now evil is coming, and with it, a force more terrible and destructive than the world has ever seen, leaving Mari to cast the shadows from the earth. By breaking Clan Law and forming an alliance with Nik, she must make herself ready. Ready to save her people. Ready to save herself and Nik. Ready to embrace her true destiny…and battle the forces that threaten to destroy them all.

Honestly, I don't think I was supposed—or should have—liked this as much as I did. Heck, some of my GR friend's made really great points. This is another one I believe you will like or not, and you'll know right away.

Reap the Shadows by Annette Marie

Get it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Series: Steel & Stone, book 4

Reap the Shadows  (Steel & Stone #4)

Piper is feeling a bit overwhelmed. With Seiya and Lyre missing, Ash recovering from near fatal injuries, and the Gaians picking fights with daemons all over the city, a girl can’t help but think she might be in over her head. And this time, she’s on her own.

Before she even has a chance to investigate the Gaians’ new stockpile of mysterious, high-tech weaponry, an old enemy ambushes her: Samael’s henchman Raum. He wants Ash’s help and won’t take “get lost” for an answer. She doesn’t know if she can trust Raum, but even more than that, she can’t trust herself with Ash. Sooner or later he’ll catch up to her, and she fears she won’t be able to walk away from him a second time.

Despite her feelings, it will take their combined strength to face a frightening discovery about the Gaians. She and Ash begin to realize that the daemon war is coming to Earth, and they might be the only ones who can stop it — if it’s not already too late.

This is a series that pretty much every book up to book 4 deserves to be on here. However, book 4 is the one with the biggest pay off so far! Truly marvelous and I can't recommend this series enough.

Finally some good paranormal young adult. Truly can call it Urban Fantasy YA.

River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Get it: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Whispers Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mercy Thompson, book

River Marked  (Mercy Thompson #6)

Coyote shifter Mercy Thompson knows that life with her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will never be boring, but even their wedding doesn't go as planned. Nevertheless, a ten-day honeymoon camping on the banks of the Columbia River, alone, just the two of them, should make up for it. But the trip - and the pimped-out trailer they're using - is courtesy of the fae. And nothing from the fae comes without strings attached...

Being a different breed of shapeshifter - a walker - Mercy can see ghosts, but the spirit of her long-gone father has never visited her. Until now. An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River - and innocent people are dying. As other walkers make their presence know to Mercy, she must reconnect with her heritage to exorcise the world of the legend known as the river devil...

Yep, continuing my Mercy read. I have a feeling this will be a favorite for a while. Because of two major things. The plot is not driven by people being kidnapped. AND Adam and Mercy get to be together the majority of the book and resolve the issue as a team.

It was awesome.

Honorable mentions. Because really all of the books I read from these series are worthy of making this list. So I guess this is more honorable series nod.

Club Dead  (Sookie Stackhouse #3) Lover Eternal  (Black Dagger Brotherhood #2)
Sookie Stackhouse series
by Charlaine Harris

Book 1 to 4
Black Dagger Brotherhood series
by J.R. Ward

Books 1 to 4
Man I forgot how fun the Sookie books are! They really brought back my fire for reading, not to mention I had such fun reviewing them. It's nice to know that I really do love these books, though I'm fearful of the next two because that's where the series got a bit rough.

Still love the cast of characters! Still one of the best PNR series.

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