My top reads of 2016

Now that 2016 has come to a close, its time to look back at the good things this year brought.  And for this blog post, that specifically means in terms of books!  So here it is (drum roll, please!)...

My top 10 favorite reads of 2016
This does not mean these books were all published in 2016 but are books I read in the year 2016.

Title & Author
The Glass Sentence
S.E. Grove
I picked this book up off a clearance shelf at a local bookstore, and the book kinda blew me away (being a clearance book). Grove creates a fresh and original story with a unique setting and intriguing characters. Also mixed in, readers will discover a lot of mystery and intrigue. I have got to find book 2!

Tree of Souls
Katrina Archer
I won this book through Bookstr and am so thankful I entered! The book has a well-layered, character-driven plot. The idea of a Tree of Souls was fascinating. I also loved the female leads in the story. There were *girl power/empowerment* moments intermixed with the strongly emotional and heart-wrenching moments. I hope the author writes more because this book has lots of potential for further development. It was hard to put down at the end of the night!
The Moon in the Palace
Weina Dai Randel 
This is a well-researched, lyrical story that is full of twists and turns. A few odd references a couple times (like "my heart sweetened"). Otherwise, a fantastic and well-written historical story with an engaging main character. The prose is beautiful. Overall, very poignant and reflective in its execution. Book 2 is high on my "to read in 2017"list.
Falling Kingdoms
Morgan Rhodes
Rhodes details emotions very well and really draws the readers in through her writing style.  The author does a great job of creating a kingdom that feels unique with a fascinating mythical history that I look forward to learning more about in book 2. The setting, characters, social structures, and events are well detailed without becoming confusing. Excellent story, lots of surprises, great character details and growth, and a captivating setting. 
Congress of Secrets
Stephanie Burgis
Burgis should edit movies because her book is expertly paced. Nineteenth-century Vienna comes alive in this fantasy novel which combines history, politics, and dark alchemy. The historical details are fantastic. With a high level of tension and intrigue (which starts very early in the novel), this book is hard to put down. Quite enjoyable. I would definitely pick up another novel by Burgis.
Counted with the Stars
Connilyn Cossette
The plot, moving through the plagues of Egypt into the journey towards Mt. Sinai, is expertly paced. Character development and relationship-building create a strong, page-turning storyline. The miracles of Yahweh are enchanting and beautifully visualized.  However, there were multiple historical inaccuracies regarding ancient Egyptian life that brought this book down on my list from being a top-spot contender. Great characters and story but slightly lacking in research.  
A.D. 33
Ted Dekker
A very insightful book with deeply emotional moments in which character thoughts and viewpoints are so well detailed. It was like Dekker reached into your heart and squeezed each and every emotion out of his readers as well as his characters. His narration is intense and immersive. Dekker is able to pull quotes and moments of Jesus’ life from the Bible and recast them over his characters. In this way, he shines a light over “the everyman/woman” out there. In the end, this book is empowering.
Rivals of the Republic
Annelise Freisenbruch
Freisenbruch pens an extremely satisfying blend of fact and fiction with plenty of surprises in this novel. Her main character’s strong voice immediately pulled me into the story. The historical atmosphere is thick. I relished the rich details in this story, like the creation of wills and the equipment of scribes. Be prepared to be transported onto the streets of ancient Rome.
Death on the Sapphire
R.J. Koreto
The characters and setting of this book breathe so deeply that readers are easily drawn into the story. The dialogue and character mannerisms build up the novel’s authenticity in an enchanting way. Lady Frances is a thoughtful, witty, and mature woman. With a memorable heroine, rich atmosphere, and intriguing mystery, Koreto has created a book that will engage and entertain readers. 
The White Mirror
Elsa Hart
Elsa Hart’s Jade Dragon Mountain was my favorite book of 2015, and she again takes my top spot for favorite of the year! The White Mirror continues Li Du’s adventures after the events of book 1. Hart has the ability to weave political and religious intrigue into her plot line while also creating a culturally rich, character-driven story with many surprises. It was like breathing in the delightful aroma of a perfectly-steeped cup of hot tea. This book vividly brings to life 18th-Century China.

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