The Best & Worst of 2016

2016 is finally over! It was a tough year for me, even right up to the end where I caught a nasty holiday bug. I did read a lot of great books last year. According to my Goodreads profile, I read 208 books, nearly 100 less than the year before. I blame my new found love of Netflix bingewatching for that. Here are my favorite 11 books of the year, in no particular order (no counting rereads).

Red Rising by Pierce Brown



Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


Skin Game by Jim Butcher


Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave

Tofu will help me hide the bodies.
Tofu will help me hide the bodies.

Anne Manx on Amazonia by Larry Weiner


Chapelwood by Cherie Priest


The Green Children by Domino Finn


Dragon Gate by Gary Jonas (Jonathan Shade #3)


Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword by Kiera Gillett


You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Chupa being weird.
Chupa being weird.

Cthulhu Armageddon by C. T. Phipps


I did some rereads this past year – The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (yep, from the beginning), Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (I’ve been reading with a great group of on-line friends and we’re up to Book 7 now), Dune by Frank Herbert (just because it’s awesome), Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delaney (I read this in paperback some years ago but now it’s available as an audiobook and it is incredibly well done).

Here are the top 3 books that didn’t do it for me:

Lover Eternal by J. R. Ward


A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole


Hair Power by Piers Anthony


I also joined a romance book club. I’ve never really enjoyed romance novels. I don’t mind if a book has romance in it but the main plot has to be something more than finding true love or getting laid for me to really enjoy it. So, I thought perhaps I was wrong in binning romance books all together and pretty much ignoring them. With that in mind, I joined this lovely group of people and gave the romance genre a real shot at winning my heart. We read several paranormal and urban fantasy romances, a few contemporary romances (some with suspense and one with BDSM), and 1 historical fiction romance. In general, I was underwhelmed. Some of the books did exceed my expectations and for romance novels they were good, but none of them made it into my top 50. Let me slightly amend that. I had the opportunity to host twice, which means I picked the book we read. Both times I picked books I had not previously read and one of them was Darkness Haunts by Susan Ilene. There is no romance in this novel. There’s a spattering of flirting, but that is all. While several people enjoyed it (including me), it does not count as a romance novel. Obviously, I’m not a good host for a romance book club but the group was great about it.

Also here are some of my notable firsts for 2016:

My first Stephen King novel – 11-22-63


My first Star Wars novel – Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne

Guess which side of the Force Chupacabr is on?
Guess which side of the Force Chupacabra is on?

My first Podiobooks audiobook – Marker Stone by Paul J. Joseph


My first Kurt Vonnegut novel – Cat’s Cradle


As 2016 ends, I am looking forward to a better year in 2017. I spent all of 2016 sick and most of it on bed rest. It took quite some time and many doctors to get diagnosed. I now know that I have CTEPH and in February I will be in San Diego having PTE surgery to hopefully correct the issue. It’s a major surgery and I could be in the hospital recovering for up to 20 days. So if Dab of Darkness goes dark between Ground Hog’s Day and Valentine’s Day, it’s just me laid up in a hospital recovering. Life should get better after that surgery and I’m just really looking forward to being on the other side of it. 24/7 supplemental oxygen makes life rather boring, as I can now attest to.

Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave

Tofu will help me hide the bodies.
Tofu will help me hide the bodies.

Where I Got It: Won a copy

Narrator: Paul Ansdell

Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC (2015)

Length: 11 hours 3 mins

Series: Book 1 Theodore Tate

Author’s Page

Set in modern Christchurch, New Zealand, Theodore Tate used to be a cop, but 2 years ago his wife and daughter were in a terrible accident. Things have been on a downhill slant since then. Now, he does some work for the local police and one of those things is to be present during exhumations and sign off on the paperwork. However, this exhumation brings up lots and lots of questions. First, there’s a couple of bodies in the cemetery lake. Next, the body they expected to be in the coffin isn’t there; instead it’s a body of a young woman.

From there on, the police want to take point and the tell Tate to butt out. However, he can’t let it go. He calls in favors and old friendships as he does his own investigation. He’s driven because he believes it is all related to a case he was working when his family was in the devastating accident, a case he dropped the ball on and should have finished out. The mystery leads to more bodies and Tate breaks so many rules.

Things are complicated and part of that complication is a priest who knows more than he’s telling. He’s bond by the confessional and that makes things tricky, morally speaking. I liked this twist being tossed in because for me it is simple: the law comes before the confessional, especially when it comes to very serious crimes such as murder. But that is not the case for everyone and this story really delves into those facets.

To add fuel to the fire, there is this news reporter that pushed him into saying things he shouldn’t, which she uses in a slanted news story. It’s more hot water for our troubled would-be hero. I found him fascinating because he isn’t your typical Good Cop Fallen On Hard Times character. Throughout the course of the story, he does a few things that I don’t agree with. He does feel remorse over most of them and yet his drive to solve this keeps pushing him to greater extremes. The ending wrapped up the murder mystery nicely, but left plenty of questions as to what will happen to our main character in the next installment.

I won a copy of this book from the Lazy Day Library Facebook group (via The Audio Book Reviewer) with no strings attached.

Narration: Paul Ansdell was pretty good, tho I don’t know why he didn’t use any NZ accents. I did go double check myself by listening to some NZ folks on YouTube. He had a variety of British accents and that was great for keeping all the characters distinct. His female voices were believable.

What I Liked: The setting; Tate is not your normal cop/detective hero; things are complicated for Tate; love the cover art; satisfying ending while also leaving me wanting Book 2.

What I Disliked: Why didn’t the narrator use NZ accents? I wonder if that was per the publisher’s direction….

What Others Think:

Reviewing the Evidence

Euro Crime


Beth’s Book Reviews

The Audio Book Reviewer