Narrowing the list of stellar books published each year continues to get harder and harder. For the first time in seven years, VBC is bumping the number of books featured in our Best Books list. Yes, we’ve determined the Top 15 Books of 2016.
We have great fantasy romance (something we got into this year), stellar YA, the very best in urban fantasy, and a few doses of the sexy-sexy. Basically, any book on this list that isn’t already on your TBR should be.
The whole VBC team participated in creating this list, so you’ll find commentary from all of us below. At the very end, you’ll also get to see which book VBC readers selected as the Best Book of 2016!
Jo: A fascinating world, sarcastic banter and ALL THE FEELS made this debut fantasy romance shoot right to the top of my favorite reads of the year. I loved this author’s style and am super excited to read not only the next book in this series, but also what she writes in the future. Highly recommended.
Amy: Snarky Heroine with secrets—check. Hot male lead—check. Witty banter—check. Action—check. All things, and then some, that I look for in my reading coupled with an awesome world/mythology. I was sold before I read the first page. Just sayin’.
Jannelle: I never imagined I would be as invested in an epic fantasy novel the way I’ve fallen into with The Broken Earth trilogy. The Obelisk Gate was a win for me and one of my top books of the year. Jemisin creates no plot point without reason and the plot moves a lot faster in this installment as the chapters consistently shift perspectives, with revelations at every turn.
Chelsea: Like Jannelle, this series caught me by surprise, but now I can’t recommend it hard enough. The Obelisk Gate was a five-star read. Watching the plot come together, the characters grow and change, and getting gobsmacked by twists? Yes, please. I’m eagerly awaiting book 3.
Jo: The incredibly unique formatting style of this series once again made for a fast-paced, heart thumping read, with the characters in a constant state of jeopardy. In my review I said this was like Die Hard and Alien had a YA baby—who doesn’t want to read that?!
Beth: Kristoff just had a really good year this year! Gemina was the second book in the Illuminae Files trilogy, and it packed a punch. The format is unusual, and may not be for everyone—but if it works for you, it really amps up the story line. Carrying on immediately after Illuminae ended, Gemina demonstrates just how well Kristoff and Kaufman work their crazy brains together to come up with awesomeness.
Amy: There have been some really good releases this year in established series (shout out Once Broken Faith & Archangel’s Heart) but being the penultimate book in this series, Magic Binds continues to keep its momentum going, not slowing down in the slightest. It was hilarious and at times heartbreaking, but it was great. Also, the wedding!
Amy: V.E. Schwab When a first book in a series just blows you away, you always hope the next book will deliver as well, and A Gathering of Shadows certainly does. Events in book one really changed a lot of things for our main characters, things they now have to deal with in AGOS, so we get to see a lot of character growth. Starting off a little slower than its predecessor, it lulls you into a sense of complacency while it builds and builds to an ending guaranteed to make you wish it were the new year already.
Chelsea: I have been a huge fan of the Arcana Chronicles since the first book. Kresley has never been afraid to push her characters, and Arcana Rising proves it. It’s an emotional sucker punch, but that’s a good thing. She’d developed these characters we adore and deftly balances hope and despair. Plus, I got one of those scenes I’ve been waiting books and books for. (Though, I admit to side-eyeing the cliffhanger ending.)
Jenn: One word Aric. OMG, I just love that man! But the whole book is amazing and the ending is a did-that-really-happen kind of ending that will leave you stunned.
Jo: Once again Maas pulls no punches, with plenty of twists and turns in this sequel. The world expands and a whole cast of brilliant new characters are introduced. The direction this book took from the first may not have been for everyone but it worked for me.
Jenn: I loved the first book, a Court of Thorns and Roses, but I ADORED the second book. I felt like I learned so much more about the world, the characters, the story and history behind the story. The characters in this book, and the OMG ending had me dying for the next one.
Jo: Okay, so I’m slightly cheating here, since this hasn’t come out yet, but I absolutely loved being back in the BDB training center in the first book. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the new recruits and I’m loving the focus being more on the core couple and their romance in this spin off series. I’m sure this will be in my top 5!
Chelsea: SAME. This book looks amazing, and I will love it. (Review to come!)
VBC Review To Come! | Get It on Amazon
Amy: Hope and Red was a book I knew I wanted to read the moment I first heard about it, but when it turned into a swashbuckling story about pirates and vendettas, I loved it! But the action, violence, and gore don’t take away from the sweeter aspects of the story, instead they balance each other out quite nicely. Plus, Hope is quite the badass.
Jannelle: I was looking forward to reading The Sight before its release and it did not disappoint. The Sight was an absolute page-turner and one of the best—if not the best—book I have read all year. The urban fantasy and paranormal genres are fantastical because of those magical elements—yeah, but the genre lasts because of those tangible qualities we can relate to in “real life.” There were many aspects of Neill’s world here that were unerringly familiar and struck an all-too-real chord for me, making Neill’s story truly come to life. I am currently anxiously awaiting the next book in The Devil’s Isle series.
Amy: Late on the Six of Crows train, I devoured the first book and started right in on the second. I loved that Leigh Bardugo was able to add so much more depth to the six main characters, and give another pulse-pounding adventure to finish off this duology. I was on the edge of my seat wondering how our group was going to make it out of this one.
I love it when the book VBC readers pick also makes our reviewers’ list. Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews, the latest in the long-time favorite Kate Daniels series, was your pick! Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Heart and Darynda Jones’ The Curse on Tenth Grave were close runners up.