In January I usually do an summary of my favorite books from the year before. This year I didn’t get around to it with my husband’s cancer diagnosis throwing life into a spin, but here it is now!
Scanning over the titles, it’s a pretty good mix of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and even some Paranormal and Steampunk. I didn’t run into any contemporary Dystopian or Post-Apocalyptic that hit my five-star rating (though I do covet that fifth star for the truly special books) but 2017 is only half over so we’ll see what shakes out in the last six months.
Without further ado (yes, people still use that word) here are my favorite books from 2016 (Click the titles to read the full reviews):
~ SCIENCE-FICTION ~
(From Book One, “The Legacy Human”)
What would you give to live forever?
Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender–a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid–after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is.
Anela says: Amazing, amazing series and I’m dying for the next installment! The story examines the nature of existence and the definition of self (and so much else, but for that click on the review link above). The tech and the science woven through was like dark chocolate for my Sci-Fi soul. Book one is only 99 cents!! Available on Amazon
Ash was never supposed to visit Earth. After a genetic engineering catastrophe wiped out civilization, the survivors—inhabitants of a lunar mining colony—planned to rebuild on Mars. That was before a group of rebels seceded to the dark side of the moon, taking critical materials with them. Now conscripted teenagers scavenge the ruined third planet for species to use in terraforming. At fifteen, Ash is the best diver in a generation. But when tragedy strikes, he vows to end his colony’s dependence on its old homeworld at any cost.
Skye has never set foot on Earth. It’s not even visible from the moon’s far side, although the exiles’ mystic leader promises they will return home someday. Skye has discovered something that could realize this long-awaited dream, but she’s an outcast among outcasts, and no one will listen to her plan. To save her people, she might have to betray them.
Worlds collide when Ash and Skye meet, blurring the boundaries between enemies and allies, deception and truth. Their choices could preserve a future for humanity…or finally drive it to extinction.
Anela says: The review link to book one is above and the reviews of the books that follow show up beneath it. Overall this has been one of my favorite Sci-Fi series, totally unique with a climate fiction and post-apocalyptic bent. I love the characters and the unexpected twists are jaw dropping. Installment one is also only 99 cents. Go get it! Available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited
~ FANTASY ~
(From Book One: Lonen’s War)
An Unquiet Heart
Alone in her tower, Princess Oria has spent too long studying her people’s barbarian enemies, the Destrye—and neglected the search for calm that will control her magic and release her to society. Her restlessness makes meditation hopeless and her fragility renders human companionship unbearable. Oria is near giving up. Then the Destrye attack, and her people’s lives depend on her handling of their prince…
A Fight Without Hope
When the cornered Destrye decided to strike back, Lonen never thought he’d live through the battle, let alone demand justice as a conqueror. And yet he must keep up his guard against the sorceress who speaks for the city. Oria’s people are devious, her claims of ignorance absurd. The frank honesty her eyes promise could be just one more layer of deception.
A Savage Bargain
Fighting for time and trust, Oria and Lonen have one final sacrifice to choose… before an even greater threat consumes them all.
Anela says: An intricate system of magic that examines the expectations of gender–and challenges them while weaving a really beautiful love story. More books to come on this series and I can’t wait to see where the story leads. Book one is currently $2.99 on Amazon. Worth it!
(From Book One: Sunbolt)
The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.
Anela says: I believe this one is fully in the Noblebright categorization of the Fantasy genre (Click here for a definition of Noblebright. I like to call it: Fantasy that won’t make you want to kill yourself afterward *cough*Martin*cough*). Another fascinating system of magic I haven’t seen before that takes place in a non-Western Fantasy world with a heroine I absolutely adore. The sequel Memories of Ash also got five stars from me, as did a separate short-story, The Bone Knife (FREE everywhere!). At this point you can probably tell I love anything Intisar Khanani writes. Trust me, she’s amazing. Book one is available on Amazon for $2.99.
~ PARANORMAL ~
Ava Matheson came to Istanbul looking for answers, but others came looking for her. A reckless warrior guards her steps, but will Malachi’s own past blind him to the truth of who Ava might be? While ancient forces gather around them, both Ava and Malachi search for answers.
Whispering voices. Deadly touch. Their passion should be impossible… or it could be the only thing that will keep them alive.
Anela says: A beautiful take on the Nephilim/angels mythos. The setting in Turkey was awesome and the scope of the ancient conflict and history of the nephilim (known as Irin in the book) pulls you in. This one really stole my heart. Currently it’s FREE on Amazon, so seriously, get a copy if you want to be swept away by a story.
~ STEAMPUNK ~
(From Book One: Flash Gold)
Eighteen-year-old Kali McAlister enters her steam-powered “dogless sled” in a race, intending to win the thousand-dollar prize and escape remote Moose Hollow forever. The problem? Fortune seekers and airship pirates are after her for the secret to flash gold, her late father’s alchemical masterpiece.
With her modified rifle and a pocketful of home-made smoke bombs, Kali wouldn’t normally hide from a confrontation, but taking on a whole airship single-handedly is a daunting task. Unfortunately, the other racers won’t assist her–they’re too busy scheming ways to sabotage her unorthodox sled.
When a sword-slinging stranger shows up, wanting to hire on as her protector, she’s sure he has ulterior motives, but he’s the only one interested in helping her. The question is…why?
Anela says: Great action and adventure, quirky characters and a smart-mouthed heroine, what else can you ask for? I had so much fun reading this series. Book one is FREE on Amazon right now so grab a copy and give it a try.
An elite forces officer with a dreadful reputation.
A bookish paleontologist with a love for mysteries.
An ancient stronghold full of secrets that will take both of them to unearth.
Professor Lilah Zirkander (yes, she’s related to the famous pilot, and no, she can’t get him to autograph your undergarments) is looking forward to a summer in the paleontology lab, researching and cataloging new fossils. But that summer takes an unexpected turn when the king sends her into the Ice Blades to a secret mine where ancient dragon bones have been discovered. Rumor has it that they’re cursed and dangerous, but Lilah is more concerned about dealing with the outpost commander, a fierce officer with the temperament of a crabby badger.
As punishment for irking the king, Colonel Vann Therrik is overseeing the hardened criminals working in the remote Magroth Crystal Mines. He would like a chance to redeem himself—and escape the loathsome duty station—but nothing is going his way. Cursed fossils have delayed production, miners are trying to escape, and now a scientist has shown up, making demands on his time. Worse, she’s the cousin of his nemesis General Zirkander. As if one Zirkander in his world wasn’t bad enough.
Investigating the fossils leads Lilah and Vann into the depths of Magroth Mountain where centuries-old secrets lurk, and a long-forgotten threat stalks the passages. To have any chance at survival, they’ll have to work together and perhaps learn that neither is what the other expected.
Anela says: Is anyone surprised that Buroker won both five-star reviews for this genre? Granted, this book has some Fantasy elements as well but since there are airships too it feels like it falls into this category. Great characters, hilarious banter, and a cool mystery to unravel. Buroker’s imagination is always fun to spend some time in. Currently it’s $3.99 on Amazon. This one works as a standalone but if you’d like an intro into this world the first book–Balanced on the Blade’s Edge–is FREE on Amazon.
So, there you have it! All these awesome books are either free or under five bucks. The Indie world is good to its bookworms. Happy reading!