Since I completed this year’s 100+ Reading Challenge, I’ve been thinking back on the novels I’ve read and all the new authors I’ve discovered. It’s been a great journey and I’d like to share a little about my experiences with you.
So I’ve compiled a round up of the top new novels I enjoyed the most this year, for your reading pleasure. (By “new” I mean authors and/or stories new to me and recently published — indie authors therefore dominate the list, but there’s a few traditionally published names in there, too!)
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10. The Sole Survivors’ Club by Zoe E. Whitten || Horror
This was one of the creepier reads of the year. I’ve read other titles by Zoe and I’ll probably read more in the future, but this book inspired me because of the rather unusual concept that people could be accident magnets — kind of like Final Destination, but in a more specific way. You can learn more about this title by checking out my interview with Zoe and/or reading my review.
9. Forsaken by Shadow by Kait Nolan || Urban Fantasy / Romance
I haven’t gotten around to reviewing this yet (oops!) but I will soon. I’d been meaning to read Forsaken for ages (the cover intrigued me) and then Kait kindly gave me a review copy which I forgot about. I recently re-found it and devoured in one sitting. It’s well-written, has unusual paranormal creatures, and has a gripping plot — perhaps my only gripe would be the main character could be a wee bit sexier. (Ha!) Coincidentally I just discovered the ebook’s now on sale for 99 cents (offers last until Christmas day) so you might as well run over and get a copy!
8. Black Wreath by M. Jones || Historical Mystery
Full disclaimer: I wrote the introduction to this book. But of course I had to read it, first! This is a ghoulish Victorian murder mystery of sorts. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I should have remembered that M. Jones has a way of making subjects I’m generally not interested in (eg, Victorian gentlemen-turned-gravediggers) into something incredibly fascinating. She has a great writing style — for more info check out my Black Wreath review.
7. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn || Historical Mystery/Romance
I read SO much romance this year, it’s a little embarrassing. But out of all the romances I read, Grave stood out because the plot had a lot of meat on its bones, and the romance aspects served more as garnishing than main course. I definitely want to read more from this author; I liked her unusual descriptions and the tension between the two main characters was delicious. Also, it’s nice to have a clever female lead rather than the too-stupid-to-live type that so often stars in romance. Curious? Check out my review.
6. Hush Money by Susan Bischoff || YA Fantasy
Recommended for any YA Fantasy lovers, especially those with a soft sport for superheroes, X-Men or any combination thereof. A great, entertaining tale about children with Talents in a world where having a Talent gets you taken away. And there’s no sparkling, nor unhealthy imbalanced relationships, or any of those old clichés! Why not check out my review?
5. Arkady & Kain by MCM || Thriller
I was going to put this book as my #4, but then had a little doubt. After all, what I read was essentially a first draft. And it was really the second half of the book that made this story for me; the first half was fun but not as involving. Also, I know a second draft is forthcoming which I will love even more. (Hurry up, MCM!). It is a great story though. It follows Kain, a counterspy, who is charged with guarding the air-headed Arkady. I’d tell you more but the story isn’t available at the moment, so I’ll reserve gushing for when it comes out! In the meanwhile, check out MCM’s other work.
4. The God Eaters by Jesse Hajicek || Western Fantasy
Chris Poirier (of Web Fiction Guide) recommended this title to me. It’s a gay Western fantasy, following the story of a low-level political discontent beginning with his imprisonment in a decidedly high security prison. The preface is a little weak and the website design is crappy, but it says a lot that I kept reading regardless and devoured it in one sitting. It’s a deliciously escapist tale. I didn’t get around to reviewing it, but you can see what Chris has to say about it. Or you can read it online for free!
3. TimeSplash by Graham Storrs || Science Fiction
I loved this book. To the point that I bought a copy as a gift for MCM. To the point that now that I’m thinking about it, I want to re-read it. This was one of those books that I raced through and wished I had written. And I never would have discovered it had I not won a copy! TimeSplash is a science fiction thriller where terrorists using time-travelling in order to create havoc. It’s an awesome story and Graham, the author, is a lovely man. For more info, check out my raving review.
2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak || Historical
I was slow to sink into this book. The writing and voice is unusual — Death is the narrator — but there’s also something gripping about it, in a way that creeps up on you slowly until you cannot turn away. The story follows a young German girl living in Munich with a foster family during World War II. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. As I said on Goodreads, it’s “one of the best books I’ve read all year. It made me laugh, cry, shudder, and all emotions inbetween.”
1. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake || Historical
My overall Numero Uno. This book surprised me the most. From the cover I thought it was a romance, only to discover that it is a beautiful, heart-breaking story about World War II from the American perspective. It follows three women: a radio journalist, a postmistress, and a doctor’s wife, and how their stories weave together.
I actually read it twice this year, and was so blown away the first time that I couldn’t write a review. But I had to review it, as I always make a point of reviewing books I win in Goodreads giveaways. If you read ONE book in the next year, make this one it, and if you want to know why you can read my review here.
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A strange coincidence that my top two reads this year are about World War II. I haven’t actually read much literature set in that time period after the overdose in my high school reading lists (The Night, If This Is A Man, The Diary of Anne Frank…).
What are your favourite reads of the year? Have you read any of the books in my top 10?