Sunday, December 25, 2016

BEST OF 2016 - Reviewers' Picks


Every year, we each pick 10 books that we loved best that year. Below are our picks, in no particular order, for 2016.

Tell us your favorites in the comments - you might win a $15 Amazon or ARe giftcard.

  1. Thárros, by C. Kennedy  This book is #1 because it continues a story that is very close to my heart. A story that will see a third installment next year, with the final book in the series.
  2. King Perry, by Edmond Manning This book is on my list because I can safely say I have never read anything else quite like it. Don’t ask me to tell you what it is all about, because I don’t know. I just love it. 
  3. Heartifact, by Aisling Mancy The dreamlike quality of the cover drew me in, and th story slayed me. It has it all, cool science peeps doing cool things with good freinds. Oh, and magical creatures. There you go, all in a short story format. Perfection.
  4. Must Like Spinach, by Con Riley  I can’t let this story go. It keeps playing in my mind. This often happens with Con Riley’s books. There is something that resonates, deep within. 

  1. Clockwork Heart by Heidi Cullinan
  2. Even if you're not a fan of steampunk or historicals or alternate worlds, read this book. I am in love with this story. It's brilliant. UNIQUE. Enchanting. UNFORGETTABLE.
  3. The Law of Attraction by Jay Northcote
  4. The perfect office romance: strong MCs, hot sex in inappropriate places, workplace camaraderie, and a smoldering undercurrent of (un)fulfilled sexual tension (it's hard to concentrate when you've known your boss in the biblical sense). 
  5. A Gentleman’s Position (Society of Gentlemen 3) by K.J. Charles
  6. Brilliantly plotted, unmistakably British, intensely sexy, A Gentleman's Position is the standout of this series. There's friendship, intrigue, sex everywhere but a bed, love between a servant and his lord, blackmail, and enough excitement to eclipse the Grande Armée.
  7. Power Play and Empty Net (Scoring Chances 3 and 4) by Avon Gale
  8. Power Play, the third novel in the Scoring Chances series, was my very favorite. Until I read Empty Nest. Now they're tied for first place, and both have a spot on my Best M/M Romance of 2016 shelf. This series is seriously all that and a slice of pizza.
  9. Fight the Tide (Kick at the Darkness 2) by Keira Andrews
  10. More character driven and slower paced than the first book, Fight the Tide focuses more on the internal struggle, but the story, told in alternating third-person POV, is gripping and suspenseful nonetheless. 
  11. If I Should Stumble by Claire Davis and Al Stewart
  12. This book is a masterpiece. I loved it beyond measure. Read it. Then read it again.
  13. Falling Down by Eli Easton
  14. Eli Easton takes us to the woods of New Hampshire where 18-year-old Josh, homeless and adrift, comes to die. This is not a light story; it's melancholy and dark in places. Fortunately, there is an epilogue, and it's glorious. I loved this book. It will stay with me for a long time.

  1. Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews
  2. I don't know how Ilona Andrews keeps coming up with a never-ending set of AMAZING urban fantasy realms without them feeling stale. This writing team is everything.
  3. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
  4. While this book has a positive ending, it is also a story that can be described as gritty, difficult, hopeful, powerful, and crushing, all at the same time. It is a long story, but it has a fast-pace, with plot elements thrown in at the right times to keep interest engaged.
  5. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  6. This story perfectly captures both the feelings of falling for someone, and the stress and emotions that high school, that transitional time in your life, brings.
  7. A Gentleman's Position by KJ Charles
  8. I loved this story's guts, and I could read this book every day of the week and be happy.
  9. The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles
  10. Absolutely fascinating world-building, incredible characters, lots of chemistry, and a romance that was so profound that I was almost moved to tears at times.
  11. The Understatement Of The Year by Sarina Bowen
  12. Slow-burn, painful closet, sneaking around... it destroyed me in the best way. I was near tears at times, and I feeeelt for these guys. Their love story wrecked me, and I thought that their chemistry was insane.
  13. Him by Sarina Bowen
  14. It was one of those stories that made me choke up with emotion, and left me feeling raw and happy and overwhelmed. The LOVE is there and so powerful.
  15. If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins
  16. It was the kind of book that made me laugh and cry and get mad, and I don't think I'll forget about the characters for some time.
  17. The Queen and The Homo Jock King by TJ Klune
  18. It was the unique blend of utterly hilarious and totally heartfelt that only T.J. Klune can pull off.
  19. Cold Days by Jim Butcher
  20. So good, so very good. I honestly don't even have the words.

  1. Beyond the Sea, by Keira Andrews
  2. Beyond the Sea was such a beautiful love story that really illustrates that love is love.
  3. Pictures of You, by Leta Blake
  4. It is exceptionally well written and the story grabbed hold of me and hasn't let go. It's not an easy read, though, and it is not going to be for everyone.
  5. Noah, by Cara Dee
  6. Noah is a gorgeous story by an author who has managed to become a favorite of mine, very quickly. I, easily, got lost in the imagery and the feelings of loss and of love. 
  7. Dirty Heart, by Rhys Ford
  8. Wow, wow, wow! What a fantastic wrap up for the series! 
  9. Wolfsong, by TJ Klune
  10. It was tragic and heartbreaking and so so hopeful. It's about love and choice and what it really means to have a family. It's about sacrifice.
  11. Out of Nowhere, by Roan Parrish
  12. Out of Nowhere is not just about Colin's journey to his truth, but also Rafe's journey to forgiving himself.

  1. Out Of Nowhere by Roan Parrish
  2. ‘Out of Nowhere’ is the second book in Roan Parrish’s ‘Middle of Somewhere’ series and Colin was introduced to us in the first book. I didn’t like him but I did enjoy the first book a lot, so reading this book was a given for me. What really surprised me was that I not only enjoyed this book as much or maybe more than the first book, I also came to like the character of Colin…a lot!
  3. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  4. Of all the books that I have read and there really are quite a few on that list, 'A Little Life' has proven to be the most emotionally gut wrenching and heart breaking story I have encountered to date and I truly hope that doesn't change ever.
  5. Withered + Sere by TJ Klune
  6. I read this book for the author, TJ Klune is an auto read for me. I loved this book because of the story. It was compelling, incredibly well written and showed us a world that truly could be. I also need to mention the second book Crisped & Sere which was every bit as much worth reading.
  7. How To Be A Normal Person by TJ Klune
  8. How to be a Normal Person is both a funny and touching story about being yourself and falling in love when you least expect it and with who you least expect. It’s a story that delivers a vital message about being who you are and loving who you want how you want to.
  9. Foxes by Suki Fleet
  10. In ‘Foxes’ Suki Fleet makes us look at the lives of street kids. A group that so much of society needs to see but often prefers to look away from. The story may be fiction but the subject is very socially relevant. In spite of the cold harsh setting of the streets that was the backdrop for this story it was one of the most heartwarming and beautiful stories that I was fortunate enough to enjoy in 2016.
  11. The High King's Golden Tongue by Megan Derr
  12. Fantasy is my first love, long before I discovered the m/m genre I was reading fantasy and when Megan Derr originally wrote this story for the M/M Romance Groups ‘Love Is Always Write’ event back in 2012. I thought it was an incredible story, needless to say when she expanded that story to a book I was in and I was not disappointed. I devoured this book and just as quickly ate up the second book ‘The Pirates of Fathoms Deep’ and now I anxiously await the next book in this series.
  13. What It Looks Like by Matthew J. Metzger
  14. I read this one because a friend asked me to do a buddy read with her. I was blown away by this book because the story was so much more than I had been anticipating. There were subtle twist and turns and the grabbed my attention and held it and I loved the characters created by this author. 
  15. Snakes Among Sweet Flowers by Jason Huffman-Black
  16. I was drawn to this book by the pretty cover. I stayed because the story was even more incredible than the cover. This was a first time novel from a new author and I can’t wait to see what this author has in store for us.
  17. Fish Out Of Water by Amy Lane
  18. Amy Lane is one of my favorite m/m authors and when she decided to write a story with a strong mystery and a romantic pairing that I totally loved. I enjoyed this book so much that I read the book when it was released back in July and when the audio book became available I was totally on board to hear this one again.

  1. Brute by Kim Fielding
  2. I can tell you that if you haven't read this book, you must.
  3. David, Renewed by Diana Copland
  4. This book is near perfect, with a fantastic cast, two utterly lovable MCs, great moms, a snarky assistant who needs his own book, and a tender and oh-so-sweet romance.
  5. The Second Son by John Inman
  6. This book isn't for everyone - I know that. For me, though, for me it was earth-shattering and profound and, in a small way, affirming that what I believe to be true.
  7. The Queen and The Homo Jock King by TJ Klune
  8. The Queen and The Homo Jock King is full of blurt-it-out rambling, what-the-hell-just-happened goodness, chockful of fantastic supporting characters, and so many hilarious one-liners!
  9. Wolfsong, by TJ Klune
  10. Tj's particular brand of magic was perfect for this story. He carefully chose and placed each word within the story to give it the most impact possible, and he left me utterly breathless and in awe.
  11. Everyday History by Alice Archer
  12. Beautifully written, highly engaging, and definitely recommended. Get yourself a copy of this and savor every single word inside. The many unique aspects of this book are well worth your time.
  13. Son Of Money by Brandon Witt
  14. I was drawn in from the start, laughing, hoping, fearing, and crying with the characters, fanning myself during the sexy times, and on the edge of my seat while they figured out the whodunit.
  15. Go Tell It On The Mountains by Nick Wilgus
  16. This is definitely a book that should be read at least twice, so you can accurately capture the many nuances Nick so carefully and brilliantly builds into his writing, to allow you to read between the lines, to get those OMG and AHA moments that ever so subtly creep up on you.
  17. Defenseless by AJ Rose
  18. AJ Rose crafted a powerful book, one I couldn't stop reading, mesmerized and so very moved until the very last page. Her sensitivity in handling the vicious attack and its aftermath, her eloquent insights into the impact the attack has on Kyle's and Jesse's lives, the careful way she explored each man and let us see inside their heads - it was spell-binding.
  19. Pansies by Alexis Hall
  20. Utterly gorgeous, and perfectly British. Highly recommended. Seriously. Go, get this book. Go.

If I Should Stumble by Claire Davis and Al Stewart  
There aren't many books I'd take with me to a deserted island, out of all the many books I've read, but this is surely one of them. It's... everything.

  1. Rock by Anyta Sunday (2014)
  2. ALL THE FUCKING STARS, people. All of them.
  3. Wolfsong by TJ Klune
  4. Yes, there were metric tons of angst and tears in this story, but there was so much love, so much connection between the characters that it all felt like a continual lightning strike to the heart.
  5. Unraveling Josh by Edie Danford
  6. I absolutely LOVED this one, even though I hadn't read either of the first two books in the series.
  7. Beyond the Sea by Keira Andrews
  8. I truly loved the give and take dynamic between Troy, who has the world at his feet when they first meet, and Brian, who's basically at his own rock bottom mentally, hiding from old friends and the world in general.
  9. Leo Loves Aries by Anyta Sunday
  10. This is your classic tale where the straight guy meets another guy who he clicks with on every single level, but still can't see the forest for the trees.
  11. Noah by Cara Dee
  12. Home by Cara Dee
  13. I loved how there was no 'big misunderstanding,' causing a separation, then subsequent reconciliation.

And there you have it, our lists of best books for 2016. What were some of your favorites?


One $15 giftcard to either Amazon or ARe, winner's choice. Tell us your favorite books of 2016! Contest ends 12/31/16. Please be sure to include your email in the comment section. 

Thank you for visiting, thank you for reading, and Happy Holidays to you and yours!!


  1. Lots of great books listed here! My favorite read and listen of 2016 was The Mermaid Murders by Josh Lanyon. Also I just want to let you know that I love your blog and I enjoyed meeting some of you at GRL. Hopefully we'll meet again in Denver in 2017.

  2. Great lists! Thanks for sharing.

    I read a ton of great books this year. Here are the highlights:

    Fallow by Jordan L .Hawk
    A Family for Christmas by Jay Northcote
    Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
    Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
    Heworld series by Jordan L. Hawk
    The Weight of It All by NR Walker
    A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale
    Wolfsong by TJ Klune
    The Mermaid Murders by Josh Lanyon
    Trailer Trash by Marie Sexton
    Strong Signal by Megan Ericsson & Santino Hassell
    Inversion Point by Jenn Burke & Kelly Jensen
    Phase Shift by Jenn Burke & Kelly Jensen
    Dirty Heart by Rhys Ford
    Foxes by Suki Fleet
    King’s Rising by C.S. Pacat
    Dancer of Death by Jordan L. Hawk
    Nightingale by Aleksandr Voinov
    Cold Fusion by Harper Fox


  3. Great lists!

    My favorites for the year are probably:
    The Queen & The Homo Jock King by TJ Klune
    Breakaway and Power Play by Avon Gale
    The Hexworld series by Jordan L Hawk
    Noah by Cara Dee

    waxapplelover (at) gmail (dot) com

  4. Jordan L. Hawk's Fallow & Hexmaker AND Josh Lanyon's The Mermaid Murders are some of my top read, not having much great experience this year.
    menik16 AT gmail DOT com


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