Another a year, another almost impossible task trying to each choose our Top 10 Reads of the year! And don’t forget to check out our “12 Days of Christmas” giveaway that may even features a few books from these very same lists! Today I’m going to countdown my favorites reads, ten to six.
Pick Number 10: “The Beautiful Ones” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This book was the perfect read at the perfect time. Featuring a compelling mix of Regency romance ala “Jane Austen, magical mysticism, and a compelling look at the limited options presented to women in this time period and how two women’s opposing approaches to life lead to vastly different outcomes, this was a complexly simple and beautiful love story. Not only did I get a main character whom I loved to love, but I had a villain whom I loved to hate. And while I was busy hating her, I also couldn’t help but feel sorry for and understand her. The romantic hero was also both frustrating and appealingly realistic. For fans of historical romance with a dash of fantasy fun, definitely check this one out!
Pick Number 9: “An Enchantment of Ravens” by Margaret Rogerson
For a book that I picked up simply based on its beautiful cover, this one blew me away. It’s as if the author knew my own person “wishlist” for fantasy fiction. Fairytale-ish setting? Check. Dark fairies/fairyland? Check. Charmingly arrogant/clueless leading man? Check. Brave, feisty, but non “snowflake” heroine? Check. Added bonus: a standalone novel that is free from the worry that somehow a perfect story will be screwed with sequels or the author will feel the bizarre compulsion to add a needless love triangle later in a series. And still, that cover!
Pick Number 8: “The Beast is an Animal” by Peternelle van Arsdale
On the other end of the spectrum from last two picks which were bright, and happy, and complete wish fulfillment, “The Beast is an Animal” was a dark, disturbing, and at times very hard to read story. It, too, has fairytale-like themes, but ones that much more closely aligned with the very grim and morbid themes that can be found in original fairytales. But don’t let this scare you off. Not only is the writing absolutely beautiful, but this book has a lot to say about Otherness, that which we create in ourselves and that which is created for us against our will by those outside as a form of self-protection.
Pick Number 7: “Skullsworn” by Brian Staveley
Brian Staveley is the first repeat Top 10 author for me on this list, and there’s a good reason. His boundlessly creative fantasy world building is beaten only be his engaging characters. “Skullsworn” had the even trickier job of existing as a standalone novel set before his fantasy trilogy featuring a character who played a role (though didn’t star) in said fantasy trilogy. To all of this, he tackles complicated concepts like love, life, and faith, all through the lens of individuals whose religion’s focus is death. And man, that sounds grim, and yet I found myself routinely cackling and wanting to quote bits of dialogue out loud to my captive-audience-husband.
Pick Number 6: “Now I Rise” by Kiersten White
Another repeat! In fact, I think that White and Stavely simply swapped places on this list. “Now I Rise” continued the epic saga of White’s reimaging of the rise (and fall?) of Vlad the Impaler given the twist of turning Vlad into Lada, an equally troubled and powerful young woman who seeks to reclaim her homeland, regardless of others’ opinions on her abilities due to her gender. In this sequel, we also have Radu who is sent to the soon-to-be besieged city of Constantinople where he learns that there are never any winners in a war, and that his beloved Mehmed may be willing to pay a price that he, Radu, is not.
So that’s ten through six. Next time I will give a countdown of my top five. What have been some of your favorite reads of 2016?