Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Top Ten Books of 2016 + An Epic Giveaway


It's been a while since I did a top ten. Are you ready for this?

2016 was a decent reading year for me: 80 or 90 titles. As always, it's very difficult to chop my list down to JUST ten books. Are you ready for this? (And I warn you, this is an eclectic list.)

10
Very interesting book...somewhat morbid. Was it for middle graders (as labeled)? For teens? Adults? (Yes, I was that confused.) The plot, while short, presents great suspense and it was a fun read...after I got over the initial shock of some very unexpected content.

Get it on Amazon.

9
I have absolutely no idea how this one ended up on my eReader, but I consumed it over Christmas. I don't want to give anything away, but people who enjoy NA and fantasy elements will appreciate this one.

Get it on Amazon.

8
A fantastic book that paints a time period in full color--the brutality, the gender roles, the lifestyle. Meet a protagonist well worth rooting for. This book is for adults.

Get it on Amazon.

7
I love, love, LOVE, Odd Thomas. Koontz paints a rich, word-lovers world with suspense, fun twists, and the injustices. Without spoilers or saying anything more, this has been one of my favorite Odd Thomas books. This is an adult book. Very adult.

Get it on Amazon.


6

Aliens, dystopian society, strange things happening in the main characters head... I was taken right away with this story. An awesome YA book. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Get it on Amazon.

5

THE ONLY mermaid book that comfortably/realistically bridges the world between land and ocean. Although I could see how the story was going to resolve, I enjoyed every moment getting there. A wonderful NA book.

Get it on Amazon.

4

From the first chapter, I wasn't so sure. I'm pleased to say that by the end, I was 100% sold. Cute characters, a fun conflict, and a happy conclusion. Highly recommended.

Get it on Amazon.

3

It's rare I read a book where I just want to linger (because of the author's beautiful language/writing), and can't stop myself from burning through it. This CLEAN regency romance has all the fun of a historical setting, suppressed attraction, and societal expectations, PLUS an actual plot. And beautiful prose.

If you love regency romance, read this book.

Get it on Amazon.
2
When I read the concept of this YA book on a blog, I immediately bought it. (That's rare for me. SUPER rare.) I looked forward to mentally living in that world--but little did I know it would end up being a SINGLE reading session. An AWESOME read. I want to read it again already.

Get it on Amazon.

1
I have never read such a cast of well developed, believable, three-dimensional, DIFFERENT characters. And the plot... I was sitting comfy, thinking status quo when BAM! Whiplash. So I thought, the author got lucky. Hah! It wasn't luck, and just wow! Superb story. SO much fun to read. The only caveat: while labeled YA, this book is TRUE TO LIFE. The characters use language you might hear in a high school hallway. Very authentic.

This one of the best books you've NEVER heard of, but you should definitely read.

Get it on Amazon.

At the beginning of the month, Tracy Clark shared SCINTILLATE along with two truths and one lie. Anyone who guessed the lie correctly was entered to an eBook.

The game:

1. I eat all sandwiches and burgers in a circle, around and around until I get to the middle.

2. I was once crowned Miss Burbank, CA. 

3. I was an extra in the condom commercial in Lethal Weapon 2.

The lie: #2.  

From Tracy: I was 2nd runner up in 1988. Hah!

Way to guess everyone! And the winner is:

...DRUM ROLL...

Hilary Melton-Butcher!

Congrats, Hilary!

And now, for an AWESOME middle grade book:

WELCOME BACK TO THE FOREST!

Gabe the goblin just saved his town Broken Branch Falls from splitting apart. He also revealed that humans--horrible creatures of myth and legend--may actually be part of their history! But seriously? Nah!

Now Ona, Gabe’s girlfriend, is headed thousands of miles away to Camp Cradle Rock for Spring Break seeking evidence of humans. Gabe knows better than to tell a stubborn ogress she’s crazy, so he’s letting her go and spending the break at the beach like a normal teenage beast. And he’s determined to have a good time without her, whether he likes it or not.

But when Gabe hears Ona went missing, he and his friends set out for the wilds of the west to find her, no matter what dangerous creatures get in his way. Not even humans.


Check out the Book Trailer!

Ready to meet the author?

Tara Tyler
I love to use poetry and songs in my writing, there are a couple of examples of me singing on my YouTube channel. And in my fantasy books, I always seem to find a reason to add a poem or song, like this human bedtime rhyme to warn children about beasts from CRADLE ROCK:


Close your eyes and go to sleep
Not a whisper, not a peep
Else beyond the border creep
Giant monsters, make you weep

When fathers scold
And mothers hold
Dark tales of old
Are often told

From the history of time
Beware the Mist above the line
Across our fences, danger find
Stay safe within or fate unkind

Big, bad, hairy
Monsters scary
Pray for fairy
Sweet dreams carry

Close your eyes and go to sleep
Not a whisper, not a peep
Else beyond the border creep
Giant monsters, make you weep.

Since I love to sing, I have performed in front of a few audiences - but I often screw up from stage fright! It's tough!

Tara Tyler started out as a math teacher. After having a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering and living up and down the Eastern US, she now writes and teaches in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. In addition to her novels, she has published short stories and poetry in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller, and Humor. So many stories to tell!

Tara gave me two truths and one lie to test your "lie detector" skills. Those who figure out the lie will go into my magic hat for the chance to win their choice of an eBook, signed PRINT book, OR swag item (bracelet, t-shirt, or tervis tumbler). (Open internationally.)

You have until Tuesday, January 31 at 2 p.m. EDT to guess. Be sure to come back for the answer on February 1, 8 a.m. EDT.
TRUTH OR LIE

1. I sang at a friend's wedding, but didn't practice nearly enough so I mixed up two of the verses. I don't think anyone knew... it was from an opera.
2. I sang at the funeral of a friend's mother - hardest thing I've ever done, was shaking and tearing up, barely made it through.
3. In college I had a solo for our "Spring Sing" - was young and fearless and hit that high note with a vengeance, the video is priceless.

So sleuths, which is the lie? Have you met Tara? Do you like middle grade stories? Do you have a favorite book or two from 2016? Share, please!

115 comments:

  1. I know Mark! Very cool you enjoyed his book that much.
    She really was in the Lethal Weapon commercial. That is too funny.
    Tara, those are tough since they are all singing related. I'm going to guess three is the lie.

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    1. I actually got to help early on with Mark's book, so there's that...

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  2. Sounds like a great top 10, most are new to me so thanks for the recommendations! I'm currently reading Mark's book - stirring stuff. Think I'll go for #1 for the lie.

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  3. I read so many good books last year, it would be hard to narrow down to just ten. Two that come to mind are Chris Bohjalian's The Sandcastle Girls and ML Stedman's The Light Between Oceans.
    It's hard to tell which one is the lie. I'm going to go with #1.

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    1. I hear you about the difficulty of narrowing it down. That's why I keep track all year long on Goodreads, then go through my 5 star reviews at the end of the year. A little organization goes a long way, eh?

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  4. A top ten list - what fun! Thanks for sharing it with us. Nice to see Tara here. Wishing her well. Hope the rest of your week is filled with cheesy goodness! :)

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    1. I'll take the cheese! Wishing the same back to you.

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  5. Your Top 10 sound great. I want to start reading right now! I have NO idea on the lie, so I'll leave it to others to guess. ;)

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    1. Right?! The best part of a top ten based on a large reading year is that you know the top 10 are all worth reading.

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  6. I haven't heard of most of your top 10 books, but love Odd Thomas. Read all of his stories. Congratulations to Tara on her new novel. I think #1 is the lie. Have a great day.

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    1. Yeah, I read SOOO many authors that it's unlikely most people would know many of these. I think most people stick to the same ten writers or so. I think I'm up to at least 800 different authors. I like the diversity.

      Odd Thomas is amazing, right?

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  7. Yeh for great reads! My reading for 2017 is starting off pretty well so far. :)

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    1. Way to go! I think I'm up to five books for the year, which means I'm starting slow, but to be fair, I did have to pack up my entire family and go on vacation for a week. With 4 kids. Not a ton of reading happening there.

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  8. I guess I'll have to pick up an Odd Thomas book! I love Koontz.

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  9. These look like some interesting reads. I already checked out Tango with a Twist and definitely adding it to my TBR list. Congrats, Tara:)

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    1. I'm so glad. It was SUCH a fabulous read. If I could give it more than 5 stars, I would.

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  10. Most of these are new to me, all seem great indeed. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I hope you found something new to explore. =)

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  11. I've only read one of your top ten (#6) so I'd better start crackin' on the others! I don't know the lie ... but I want a chance at the book ;) So, I'll guess 3?

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    1. Did you love it? The sci-fi elements were introduced so subtly. I really need to get back to that series.

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  12. I love your eclectic choice in books. I'm a bit like that I tend to read what appeals to me at the time.

    I think the first one is the lie because I absolutely believe numbers two and three.

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    1. Right?! That's the best way to read. I've always got 60 to 100 books loaded on my kindle, just waiting to grab my attention.

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  13. It looks like you've read some great books last year. I loved reading Mark's book. I haven't read the others. Congrats to Tara! I'll guess #3 as the lie.

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    1. Definitely read some great ones. That's the fun of my annual top ten list, looking back and realizing what great literary adventures I've had.

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  14. I read so many books in a year, I'd have a hard time picking a top ten, but you list sounds terrific. I'll definitely check some of them out.

    Any one of those "truth or lie" choices could be true, so I'm gonna take a shot in the blue (Why should this week be any different???) and say #3 is the fib.

    Have a super cheesy weekend. :)

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    1. I know! That's how I felt several years ago, but I started keeping track of them and reviewing all of them...that I could comfortably review on Goodreads, and now I have a quick reference for the best of the best.

      Wishing you cheese in return!

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  15. There are some in there I haven't heard of yet...and interesting ones too. Congrats, Tara!

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    1. I would hope they're interesting. They were my favorites. ;)

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  16. Okay, I MUST check out that mermaid book. I'm obsessed with mermaids. I need to squeeze Nobody's Goddess into my reading list this year, but finally, the reading is going really well for me. I'm down two books already and halfway through a third! I'm so jealous that you have all that stuff to do and you read so many books!!

    I love Tara's poem!! ^_^
    Going with #1 for the lie,

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    1. LOL. I read the books to stay sane--around doing all that stuff. =) They are my outlet.

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  17. Oooh, lots of books added to my TBR!!

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  18. Hi Crystal and Tracy - brilliant winning your book - many thanks I've downloaded it - well it's waiting for me to pick up ...

    ... and your list - I think I must do that ... I don't read many but perhaps I should make a list, they're beginning to appear in the blog. Mrak's book I won too .. so better get reading ... the others I don't know - but have taken note. I do enjoy Regency Romances occasionally ...

    Congratulations to Tara too - I'd say #3, numbers #1 and 2 so easily done I think ... her MG book looks good too -- cheers to you three - Hilary

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    1. I think I started with the top ten in 2014, so I haven't been doing it very long. Here's to forming the list and reliving the awesome books we burn through!

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  19. One of your favorite Odd Thomas books? Well, I guess I'll put that one my still-to-read list.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Blue

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    1. Definitely check out Oddy. He's literary gold.

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  20. Excellent list! Happy to see Mark Noce's book in there. It was one of my favorites of last year too. Yay for Tara! I love her Beast World series. :)

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    1. I'm sure one of your books would be in the mix too if I'd read any. *hangs head in shame* I LOVE your writing.

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  21. I think you are missing a book there....

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    1. What you mean my own? Yes, I think TIMELESS was one of the best books of 2016, but I think I'm a little too close to it to claim it as a top ten.

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  22. I'm amazed at the speed at which you read! I'm lucky to get 10 read in a year.

    I won't try to guess Tara's lie. I already have my copy of the book. Yay me!!

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    1. I was that way too...many years ago. It wasn't until I decided I missed reading that I made a conscious effort to pick up the pace. It was partly research to be fair.

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  23. I never would have recognized the "lie" - wow.
    You read interesting books . . . will i ever catch up?

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    1. I know, right?! It shocked me too. Fun stuff.

      LOL. No. Because I'll never catch up. My TBR list is about 400 books deep and every deepening.

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  24. Good list of books.

    I'd say the first one is the lie. Tara doesn't look like an opera singer.

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  25. haven't heard of any of those, but some of them have lovely covers. My publisher is only giving me YA bestsellers to translate. Congrats to Tara!

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    1. Understandably. A good portion of these were put out by big publishers, but only 40% are YA, so...

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  26. I, too, am amazed at the speed at which you read, Crystal! Some of the covers here are really nice. Great post, thank you so much for sharing. :)

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    1. Glad to do it. This is my one geek out post of the year. It's fun to share.

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  27. Wow! You read a lot. I used to read that much regularly too, but not as much anymore. Loved seeing your top 10 list.

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    1. I probably should slow down, but that's hard to do when you can crunch an entire novel in 4 to 5 hours. You know, the time I might otherwise spend glued to a TV?

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  28. What a great list of books. I don't think I could narrow my reading down to ten favorites.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Per year or overall? If it weren't for my annual Goodreads lists, there wouldn't be a prayer of sorting the best of the best. I actually send micro reviews in my newsletters each time it goes out, so there's a little reinforcement there about which ones I loved and why.

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  29. I love people's favorite reads! Always gives me good suggestions.

    Number two is the lie.

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    1. Right?! I think it's awesome too. I mean, we all have different tastes, but if a book made their top tier, it must be good regardless of preferences.

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  30. Always great to weave in a verse or two in books.

    Lol she really was an extra in the condom commercial. Too funny.

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  31. You managed to read quite a lot of books last year, Crystal and many of these here I haven't heard of. Enjoyed Tara's verse too.

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    1. I'm not surprised. I don't tend to read only big titles because then I'd miss out on all these wonderful neglected books.

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  32. That's impressive that you read that many books. I wish I could say I read that many books, but I didn't; instead, I read many students' e-mailed excuses on why they didn't do their homework/show up to class.

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    1. LOL. I hear you there. Actually, this is why I dread email so much and don't sign up for people's newsletters. I'd rather devote my reading time to leaving book reviews.

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  33. There are a couple of books on your list that I'm keen to read now... My list is growing so long again!

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  34. Very nice list! I'll have to admit I haven't heard of a single one of them. I don't think all of them are my cup of tea, but I see a few I might be checking out soon, thanks to you.

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    1. Hah! If many of them were your cup of tea, I'd have to be worried. Based on what I know of you, there are 3 titles up there you'd probably enjoy. 10, 7 and possibly #1.

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  35. I had not heard of many of those books. For #9, what "fantasy elements"? I'm a big fantasy fan, so unless it'll give something away...

    As for the lie, I'll guess #1.

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    1. I guess the blurb spoils it, so no big deal. Time/dimension travel. It was mostly real world based with mysterious side elements.

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  36. All of those books sound good!

    I loved the rhyme Tara shared. Cute.

    Hmm...the lie... #3.

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  37. You give the best reviews Crystal! I read Rising when it first came out. I did a book review too but you say it so much better! I am guessing number 1 is the lie. Happy Wednesday!

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    1. Aw, you're so sweet. I'm sure you left an amazing review. It definitely is an art, eh? Writing 50 to 100 book reviews a year and approximately 30 micro reviews... You get pretty comfortable.

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  38. Thanks for the reviews, Crystal. Nice and short and to the point. I try to read 100 books a year, and stopped counting towards the end, but I don't think I quite made it. I must dust a few off and write reviews on Amazons and Goodreads and a few on my blog. I'd like to do a pile of blogger books together. Maybe I'll finish your latest...

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    1. That's a good way to do it, but I like to see my progress and use my Goodreads reading list for recommendations to other people. I figure that's one way I can give back to authors.

      YES! Review my book, please. ;)

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  39. Tara I loved your poem. You are good at that. Love, love, love it.
    Crystal you got a lot of reading done. I am Koontz fan too.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  40. Yeah! New books. Tara is tricky, she made them all in the same sphere. So, I'm going with #3.

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    1. And lots to choose from. You know they wouldn't be on this list if they weren't good. =)

      Cheese to you, Holly!

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    2. Great list. I've picked a few titles I couldn't resist. :-)

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  41. Wow! You're right about how eclectic that list is. But I was intrigued by a few of them myself. Thanks for the non-spoilery mini-reviews. @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

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  42. What a great list, Crystal. We match up a few times and a few more I'll be adding to my TBR list.

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  43. Some very intriguing books on the list. I saw more than a couple that piqued my interest.

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  44. I really need to get back to reading more often, it's funny how it gets away from you so easily... xox

    I like your word simplify Crystal, my youngest learned that over the past few days... I had some people come help her organize her room and they were able to shift her thinking about holding on to items... she is loving her room with space... I can't wait to hear about your upcoming changes xox

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  45. Congrats to Hilary for winning! I remember when all regency romances were clean, in fact all the books I read were clean. I can't stand the erotica trend. :(

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  46. wow what an incredible response and I completely agree that is an awesome set of books so happy I could be here today thank you Crystal and thanks for playing along everyone!

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  47. Tara, love the poem!

    Thanks for broadening our reading horizons, Crystal:)

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  48. 80 or 90 books?!?!?! How in the world did you manage that? I'm doing good to get 24 read in a year! You must be a fast reader. :) … I also have no clue how you broke it down into your top 10. I'd be like Top 10 + 1 … and 1 more … and so on and so forth. :) Books just tend to all be so different that it can be hard to compare them.

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  49. Great list of top ten, Crystal. And thanks for adding more books to my list. I loved Tara's poem!

    I'm going to say the lie is #1

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  50. I love the cover of number nine. It's so pretty!

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  51. I love top 10 lists... I'd only heard of one of those books before. I haven't compiled my 2016 list, but probably my top one is Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Fantastic character depth and world building.

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  52. I don't read middle grade but I love Odd Thomas too. I was sorry his journey ended. What Alexia said above, Six of Crows and the sequel. Really great.

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  53. Thanks for the list of books! I've only read the first Odd Thomas but I did like it. Among my favorite books of last year were The Dream Thieves and Did You Ever Have a Family. As for Tara's lie, I have no clue, so I'll guess...#1 :)

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  54. Those all sound awesome!! And those are new to me - so thanks for adding to my list! :)

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  55. You read fast girl! Thanks for your top 10 list!!

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  56. These all looks good. Thanks for introducing me to these new reads!

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  57. Dean Koontz is one of my favorite authors and I tried to read Odd Thomas when it first came out but just couldn't get into it but I wasn't in a good head space back then, so that may be why. I think I'll give it another try. I keep hearing such good things about the series. Thanks for the recommendations!

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  58. I thought I knew Tara well but I had no idea she sang too! Is there anything that superwoman can't do?? How awesome.

    And Mark's book is the only one familiar to me from your list so I have lots of new ones to check out.

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  59. I really enjoyed your list of 10 books, Crystal, and I realized that I haven't read any young adult fiction in quite a while. I really must, so I'll be looking for some of these books. I love Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas books, but then I'm a sucker for any of his books. I recently read his "From the Corner of His Eye." It has a very young protagonist, but the book is absolutely and adult one.

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. And Tara, I enjoyed your part of the post very much! Good luck with your book! I can't imagine singing in front of people, and that bedtime rhyme would have terrified me, making it impossible for me to sleep! LOL Have a good one!

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  60. I love reading others’ top tens. I’m always looking for book recommendations. I got through around 70 books this year, which seems to be all I can manage while I’m writing. Big congrats to Mark for making the list!

    Is #3 the lie?

    VR Barkowski

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  61. AW shuck, thanks for including me on the list (blush). 90 books is awesome! I find that the more I read the more I'm able to read more...if that makes any sense:)

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  62. Oh great list. I did mine a couple of weeks ago. It is so hard to pick just ten! I haven't read any of the books on your list but they all sound excellent. I will keep an eye out for them.

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  63. What a great list!!! I always feel like reading five books a month is a good thing...but y'all are making me feel like a slacker with your 80+ books a year!

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  64. Congrats to everyone on the top 10 list, looks like great stuff. And yay for Tara's Cradle Rock, love the cover. The dragon is super awesome!

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  65. Wow, what a packed post! I've read Mark Noce's book, but the rest are new to me. I'll have to check a few out. And Tara Tyler--so excited for her! Clicking on the link now. Thanks!

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  66. Good to see "Doorway" on that list! ^_^ I remember you being interested when I blogged about it, so I'm glad you enjoyed it. Though you're definitely right about things being unexpected. The sequel, "Down Among the Sticks and Bones", comes out in June.

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  67. I haven't ready any of these though I think Rising is on my kindle. Maybe in 2017.

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  68. I envy your reading habits. I'm not sure that I even read 10 books over the past year let alone 80 or 90. I need to put aside more time for reading. Or maybe get more books on tape for my long driving trips.


    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  69. I have to tell Amy she's #2 on your list. We have chatted because I checked out one of her books on Wattpad. She's really nice. Congrats Tara and that poem was really good. Don't think Cradle Rock residents would like hearing that poem. Eek!

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  70. I'll guess 3 is the lie.
    Thanks for the book recommendations. I'm looking at two of them now.

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  71. I'd guess #1 is the lie!
    Ooh, I haven't read any of those books. Must resist...Must not add to pile...

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  72. Looks like a great list of books! The only book I've read from your list is Between Two Fires. I really enjoyed that one!

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  73. I think the lie is #1. Hard to pick!

    Loved hearing about the best books of 2016. Lots of books I have heard of, but they are all new to me. Looks like I have some new books to keep my eyes out for. :)
    ~Jess

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Hit me with your cheese!