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

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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Skin Game by Jim Butcher

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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

WeinerAnneManxOnAmazonia

Chapelwood by Cherie Priest

PriestChapelwood

The Green Children by Domino Finn

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Dragon Gate by Gary Jonas (Jonathan Shade #3)

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Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword by Kiera Gillett

GillettZariaFierceAndTheEnchantedDrakelandSword

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

Chupa being weird.
Chupa being weird.

Cthulhu Armageddon by C. T. Phipps

PhippsCthulhuArmageddon

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

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A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

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Hair Power by Piers Anthony

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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

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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

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My first Kurt Vonnegut novel – Cat’s Cradle

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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.

Lover Eternal by J. R. Ward

WardLoverEternalWhere I Got It: Borrowed it

Narrator: Jim Frangione

Publisher: Recorded Books (2009)

Length: 14 hours 11 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Black Dagger Brotherhood

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 in the series but stands pretty well on it’s own. There are a handful of scenes that are enhanced by having read Book 1 (Dark Lover) first.

This modern-day vampire romance centers on Rhage, a warrior in the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Contained within him is a beast and occasionally Rhage must let that beast out. Thankfully there are evil-doing Lessers (lower-caste vampires) that need taking out. Then he meets Mary Luce and he finds himself wanting something more out of life. Mary will be the catalyst for change, and not just change for Rhage.

I was luke warm about Book 1 but I hear that this series gets better and better. The female characters started off with more detail than in Book 1. Mary works at a law firm, volunteers at a suicide hot line, has a battle with cancer, and a bit more. She comes into the story with a full life and depth. However, once she meets Rhage and her hormones kick in, most of that depth goes out the window. As with Book 1, the main female character gives up her life to be with her vampire lover, however Mary does sigh over it once or twice. Bella is a secondary character and Mary’s neighbor. She serves as a source of info to the reader about vampire society. However, we learn very little about her, so she’s a one-dimensional character. Also, the ladies spend quite a bit of time cringing over this or that, including the mere sight of weapons. Sigh.

The most interesting character in this book was John, a young vampire. However, he doesn’t know what he is and he’s use to staying away from people in general to protect himself. This book definitely gives more info on the vampire caste system and how they interact with one another, along with how things have changed over the years. There are non-warrior vampires that do no harm to humans, meanwhile the Lessers have given up their heart and soul for near-immortality and do plenty of harm when they can get away with it. Then there are the women that serve the Scribe Virgin. I really enjoyed learning about all these different types of vampires as John was learning about his origins.

So Rhage is the big, gorgeous, muscly warrior and main love interest in this book. Prior to meeting Mary, he used sex as a way to let off some steam and keep his inner beast in check. He’d turn on his vampire mojo to get a woman interested, ramping up her libido while removing her inhibitions, have some sexy times with her, and then wipe her memory clean of the encounter. Does this sound like the vampire version of a date rape drug to anyone else? So this is pretty standard behavior for some the vampire warriors and totally acceptable to the Brotherhood. Yeah. I think the Brotherhood needs a full weekend seminar on what constitutes sexual assault.

I found it hard to root for Rhage and hope he had a good outcome. I think this is why I didn’t become totally engrossed in the story. I definitely connected with Mary because she has all this interesting stuff going on; she’s got depth. Meanwhile, Rhage has that man child thing that all the Brothers seem to suffer from. For instance, he’s been alive for hundreds of years but has never had a female friend. I can suspend my disbelief over vampires but not over the main character’s lack of experience.

The naughty bits were long in coming. We had plenty of teasers leading up to the coupling, which was steamy and sweet. The sex scenes become a bit more robust as the story continues.

I will be continuing on with the series as I heard Book 3 is where things get really good. The vampire society and it’s history are very intriguing. Also, I want to know what happens with John.

The Narration: Jim Frangione did another good job. I’ve really become fond of his voice for this series. When an individual male character is talking or doing the inner monologue thing, the voices are distinct. However, when a group of the guys get together and are chatting back and forth, the distinctness disappears. 

What I Liked: We get more info on the complex vampire society; John’s a fascinating character;  mary started off very interesting; The cause of Rhage’s inner beast is also interesting; the naughty bits.

What I Disliked: Mary falls into boring one-dimensionality once the hormones kick in; Vampire version of a date rape drug; Lack of depth for the main character (Rhage).

What Others Think:

All About Romance

 

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