Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Best of 2016

Okay, assuming I didn’t forget too many books on my Bought in 2016 / Read in 2016 list, it looks like I acquired 184 books over the course of the year — that’s a lot, even more than usual. Two bundles, a historical fantasy bundle and a noblebright bundle, contributed to that. So did free books and ARCs given away at various conventions. So did that massive Open Road Media sale in December — I picked up 40 books from that sale alone. Of those 184 books, I’ve read 59, or about a third; and DNFed about half a dozen others. Also, I read 49 other books, or just over 100. How many books I read per month totally depended on whether I was working seriously on a project of my own, so I read from 0 to 16 novels per month. Here’s how the months stack up:

Best January: Powers by Hetley / Burton

I read nine books in January. My goodness, I loved this one. It was a great way to start the reading year. Click through to read my comments about it.

Best February: Silver on the Road by Gilman

I only read 4 books in February, so I must have been working on something. Yeah, I bet it was the revision of The Dark Turn of Winter (or whatever its title turns out to be). That was kind of a big revision and the deadline was March. But the few novels I read were all good, especially this one. I’m so pleased the sequel is coming out this January. I feel like I can probably read it right away without re-reading the first book, but I may re-read it even though I remember it pretty well. Incidentally, for some reason this is the single book where the most people told me they bought it because of my recommendation, so yay! Because I’m really happy to spread the love for this great series.

Best March: Archivist Wasp by Kornher-Stace

I must have sent off that revision about on time, because I read 8 books in March. What a wonderful and interesting book this one was. I hope Kornher-Stace is working on another novel.

Best April: Visitor by Cherryh

I mean, hello. Any Foreigner novel is probably going to wind up on the top of my list for any given month. But I only read five books in April, mostly romances, which means I must have been working on something. Don’t remember what.

Best May: The Steerswoman by Kirstein

I almost always take the first half of May off because I’m waiting for the summer break to start serious work on something. So I read 12 books during the first half of May and nothing in the second half — I was working on No Foreign Sky, my space opera.

Best June: Seveneves by Stevenson

I read all the other books in the Steerswoman series so far in June and they were fantastic, but since I already picked that one for May, I’ll say Seveneves is my pick for June. Wow, what a surprise. Totally did not expect to love this book, but it was so much fun.

Best July: Rose Under Fire by Wein

I read 12 books in July, and loved several of them, but Rose Under Fire is definitely my pick.

Best August: Wings of Fire by Sutherland

10 books in August. These were my favorites.

Best September: Yeah, didn’t actually read any fiction to speak of in September. Busy busy.

Best October: The Raven Boys series by Stiefvater

After a very busy summer, I was so glad to take a serious break in October. Also very pleased to finally settle down and read the entire Raven Boys quartet.

Best November: The Call by O’Guillin

Revising No Foreign Sky kept me busy during the entire month. I read only 4 books, of which The Call was the surprise favorite.

Best December: Nine Goblins by Ursula Vernon or T. Kingfisher, don’t remember which name she wrote this under. I may buy a copy for my vet. She likes fantasy and hey, one of the main characters is pretty much a vet. Which is one reason I loved it so much. Really, Ursula Vernon is one of my favorite discoveries of the past couple years. I believe she has a lot of books out I haven’t read yet, which is great.

Now, let me filter the list in a different way:

Best male lead: Ronan from The Raven Boys. I love how physical he is, how he is oriented toward violence and action rather than language. I love his loyalty and passion.

Best female lead: Rowan from The Steerswoman. Totally not like Ronan at all. I love how scientifically oriented Rowan is, in a world that barely has a concept of science. Overall best cast also goes to The Steerswoman because all the characters are just outstanding as is the worldbuilding.

Best surprise: Persona and Icon by Valentine. I would never have expected to enjoy such claustrophobic celebrity-focused books. At this point I’d try anything Valentine writes because if she can pull this off, she can probably make me love anything.

Best secondary fantasy world: The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells. The world of the Raksura is going to be my favorite forever. I’m so looking forward to the fifth and final Raksura book. I will probably re-read the whole series … again … when that comes out in 2017.

Best fairy tale: Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher. Completely charming Beauty and the Beast story.

Best contemporary setting: Bone Gap by Ruby. I love how Ruby wove the Persephone legend into this contemporary setting. Also, certainly in the running for Best Male Lead.

Best historical setting: Clash of Eagles by Smale. Love the Cahokians versus Romans thing. Love it.

Best SF setting: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Chambers. Such a cheerfully complicated space opera setting, with great characters. Looking forward to the sequel.

Best romance: Softly Falling by Kelly. I am so glad I am not spending a winter on the Great Plains. But a wonderful setting for an excellent romance.

Best Georgette Heyers: Cotillion. I can’t believe how long it took me to realize who the male lead of this romance actually was. After that I enjoyed the story so much. Also in the running for Best Male Lead.

Most perfectly beautiful: Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. This was a re-read. What a lovey story.

Best Short Story / Novella: Penric’s Mission by Bujold. I expect we’ll see more novellas, because we certainly need to know how this new relationship works out for Penric!

Best Nonfiction: Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Won’t Stop Talking by Cain. It’s an extrovert’s world — unfortunately. I shudder at the thought of the all-group-work-all-the-time thing that has engulfed grade schools. I’m glad schools provided more space for introverts when I was a kid. Interesting and thought-provoking book, especially when Cain discusses the way in which a charismatic extrovert can lead a corporation or other group right off a cliff by steamrolling over more cautious and rational introverts.

OVERALL BEST OF 2016: DRUMROLL PLEASE

The Steerswoman series. Not quite finished yet, though the overall shape of the story is clear. I can’t wait for Kirstein to bring out the next volume, which I know she is working on now.

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8 Comments Best of 2016

  1. Estara Swanberg

    A Healthy New Year to you! I hope you saw the new Touchstone book out? In Arcadia? ^^
    Loved Keeper of the Mist this year, but my reviewing mojo was nowhere in evidence. Thanks for posting about your reading, I found some interesting prospects by following your blog ^^.

  2. Aimee

    I was also surprised in a good way about how invested I got in Persona and Icon. I quite like Valentine’s work, but I didn’t expect to love those books as much as I did!

  3. Rachel

    They were the first of Valentine’s work that I’ve tried, and I didn’t have high hopes for them. But as I say, a very nice surprise. Now I’m truly looking forward to The Girls at the Kingfisher Club.

  4. mona

    I very much enjoyed the Steerswoman series (what’s out so far anyway), so thanks for the pointing me in its direction!

  5. Rachel

    Good, Mona, glad to hear it! Hopefully the series will be completed in the not-too-distant future…

  6. Pete Mack

    Kirstein has already finished book 5 and is hard at work on 6. I suspect the end is in sight.

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