It is tradition as one year ends and another begins for lists of favorites to be everywhere. And I'm going to bow to convention here today and list my favorite reads of 2016. Probably about the only conventional thing I do around here, right? Of course, I will break with tradition and not list my top 10. I can't cut things down like that. Instead, I will list my favorites, which include 16 novels for adults and 4 for kids. These are not ranked but in the order I read them during the year. Links will take you to my full review.
I would also like to point out that not all of these books were published in 2016. Most of them were, but two of them were not, and I have marked them below. I read them for the first time in 2016, so they are showing up here.
A Disguise to Die For by Diane Vallere
I was in love with the idea for this series before I read the book. A cozy mystery series set in a costume shop? Sign me up! And I wasn't at all disappointed when I actually got to read this debut. The plot was fun, but what really got me were the characters. They came alive in a way that is rare for a first book in a series.
Fogged Inn by Barbara Ross
I actually debated about this book for a while. That's because I read two books in the Maine Clambake series this year, and both were excellent. This is truly one of my favorite series. I settle on this one because the premise was just so great - a dead body in the walk in freezer of Julia's restaurant. But you truly can't go wrong with any book in this outstanding series.
Ripe for Murder by Carlene O'Neil
This book is actually set near where I grew up, so seeing familiar location names added to the fun. However, the delightful characters and great mystery were what I really enjoyed. This book features a fun twist on the locked room with a dead body and the chief suspect in the same railroad car.
Macdeath by Cindy Brown (Originally published 2015)
So I was a little behind on getting to this delightful series. We are treated to backstage antics thanks to Ivy Meadow as she joins the cast of the Scottish play with a circus twist. And if you think that's as strange as things are going to get, you are in for a wild ride. Fun, quirky characters and great twists made this a fun book.
All Murders Final! by Sherry Harris
I'm not much of a garage sale guy, but I have become hooked on this series with a garage sale theme. It helps that Sarah Winston is such a great main character, and I enjoy the rest of the cast just as much. The plot here involves a virtual garage sale site and a virtual stalker.
Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
And now for something completely different.... This is the only non-cozy on my list. I've actually been reading Gregg's books for years, and I really enjoy him when I'm looking for a thriller. This is the start of a new series. The character is a bit on the superhuman side, but that's part of the fun. A delight from start to finish.
A Muddied Murder by Wendy Tyson
This book combines a great mystery with secrets in the main character's past. Yet it combines the two seamlessly into a book that has added depth to it as a result. And all this from the first in a new series. I was sorry to see this one end.
Grilled for Murder by Maddie Day
This is the second book in the series, and it was just as charming as the first. I love the setting, a country restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch and sells kitchen gadgets as well. The small Indiana town is nice, and the characters are delightful. Oh yeah, and the mystery is strong as well.
Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper
I knew this book was something special by the time I'd finished the first chapter, and the rest of the book didn't disappoint me at all. This book has a fantastic setting, destination wedding in Mexico, strong characters, and a twisty mystery. Throw in a healthy dose of comedy, and you have a good where the pages fly by.
Murder Has Nine Lives by Laura Levine
This series has been a favorite since I first discovered it with the very first book. Jaine and her cat Prozac are as delightful as always here in a plot that involves Prozac becoming a TV star (maybe) and murder of a human by poisoned cat food. Along the way we get lots of laughs as always.
Artifact by Gigi Pandian (Originally published 2013)
I love it when cozy mysteries manage to add something extra to the series, and this book adds in the fun of treasure hunts along with the mystery. The plot takes us from San Francisco to Scotland in a ride you won't want to put down. I've got three more books in the series I haven't read yet, and I need to fix that soon.
Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara Early
This is another book that I was excited about as soon as I heard the hook - vintage toy shop. I mean, seriously, how does that not bring a smile to your face? That smile stayed in place for the entire book as we met this delightful cast of characters and went on a mystery filled with twists. This is a debut with lots of promise for a long running favorite series.
Permanent Sunset by C. Michele Dorsey
I actually read both books in this series this year, and I loved them both. They are a bit more on the series side, but the characters are strong, the plots are engaging, and the US Virgin Islands setting is wonderful. Everything comes together in a rich tapestry that I love.
Get Me to the Grave on Time by D. E. Ireland
The premise of this series is absolutely wonderful with Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins as our sleuths. This book finds someone going after the grooms at the four weddings that the duo are invited to over four weeks. The characters, those we already know and those we meet here, are fantastic. The plot twists and turns. And we get a liberal dose of humor along the way.
Rhythm and Clues by Sue Ann Jaffarian
This is another long running series that has been a favorite for years, and it never fails to entertain. This book finds Odelia trying to find an aging rock star who happens to be her mother's neighbor. It isn't long before there's a dead body, and we are off on another wild, delightful ride. The characters are strong, and there are plenty of laughs along the way.
No Cats Allowed by Miranda James
I read all the books in this series but the first one this year, and I could have listed any of them here. I picked this one because it has a great plot that leads to a place I never expected. The characters are as sharp as always, and Diesel, the main character's cat, is a delight. If you haven't started this series, plan plenty of time to get caught up because you will be hooked.
And now, for the books for kids I enjoyed most this year.
The Tiara on the Terrace by Kristen Kittscher
This book is set behind the scenes of a giant winter parade, and it is fun. A dead body leads our detecting duo on a wild ride, but I also enjoyed how the characters really grew here. It was a hard book to put down.
Let the Wind Rise by Shannon Messenger
This fantasy book is aimed at the young adult audience. It's the third part in a trilogy, and I was so excited to finally learn the fate of the characters in the series. It features an epic battle, character growth, twists, and more.
The Stolen Chapters by James Riley
I'm still jealous of the premise - three kids who can jump into books. Of course, it leads to all kinds of complications for them. Books we know usually only get mentions, but the world the author has created where the characters spend their time is so much fun. This book becomes very meta by the end, but I enjoyed that aspect of things.
Spy Ski School by Start Gibbs
It's no secret that I love Stuart's books. It doesn't matter which series, they always entertain. This book features, skiing, spies, twists, turns, characters surprises, and plenty of laughs before we face the end of the world. What's not to love?