Best of 2016: A 5-Star Year in the Ruins

By the Numbers
This year I read 117 books (which is 1 more than last year), and abandoned 18 to the DNF pile (which is 2 less than last year). Of those, there were 13 perfect 5-star reads this year (which, I am pleased to say, is 2 more than last year).

At a quick glance, it looks like 39% were shelved as Fantasy and 31% as Horror (which is no great surprise), while a quick look back shows that 24% were written by women and 16% had some sort of LGBT content (which is reasonably diverse, but something I can probably improve on).

Most Popular Guests
We had the great pleasure of hosting nearly 40 different authors for guest posts or interviews this year, with the most read/visited being Rob J. Hayes, followed by Maya Lilly, Crymsyn Hart, and Gail Z. Martin.

When you consider that Rob's post was the most recent of the lot, putting it at a disadvantage of traffic over time, that's mighty impressive. Now, if I could just get caught up on my reading, I'll hopefully find time to catch a sunrise, start a fire, or loosen the ties that bind.

Most Popular Reviews
Going strictly by traffic to the Ruins, my review of The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence was by far the most popular, followed by Cthulhu Armageddon by C.T. Phipps.

Over on Goodreads, it was my reviews of City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett and Saint's Blood by Sebastien de Castell that were tied for most popular, while on Amazon it's Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection by Brandon Sanderson.

Not surprisingly, all of the titles above all among this year's 5-star reads.

The Best of 2016
There are some familiar names amongst this year's 5-star reads, with Sebastien de Castell and Ken Liu making it for the second year in a row (Jeff Salyards managed that feat last year), while Brian Staveley, Mark Lawrence, and Brandon Sanderson all made it for the second time in the past 3 years.

I also have to give a definite WTF Friday nod to Bryce Calderwood for being the first author to score two 5-star reads in the same year! With books in both series still on my TBR list, I daresay it's a safe bet he'll be making the list again next year.

  • City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett was a book that hooked me from the first chapter and kept me reading at a frantic pace
  • The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley was the perfect ending to a fantastic trilogy.
  • Saint's Blood by Sebastien de Castell was an emotional roller coaster that raises the bar impossibly high for the next book
  • The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence is, in my humble opinion, Mark's best book, hands down
  • Red Tide by Marc Turner marks a hide tide in a series that has just gotten stronger and more entertaining with each installment
  • One Good Turn by Bryce Calderwood is quite simply, a true masterpiece of erotic horror.
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane was a carefully constructed story that honors the legacies of Doyle and Barker while adding something new
  • The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu is a sweeping, character-driven epic of cultural mythology that so very few authors could attempt, much less manage so successfully
  • In the Arms of Love: Futanari Meets Octogirl by Bryce Calderwood is a tale that crosses genres to create something truly memorable
  • Cthulhu Armageddon by C.T. Phipps is that rare book that delivers on multiple genres, and which should appeal to a wide audience
  • Dangerous Urges by Konrad Hartmann is is the very epitome of erotic horror, complete with the conflicting emotions the genre arouses, and distinguished by a narrative flair
  • The Librarians and The Lost Lamp by Greg Cox didn't just manage to meet my rather high expectations, but completely exceed them
  • Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection by Brandon Sanderson is a collection that rewards the faithful with an even deeper understanding of his creations.

What's Next for 2017
As my wife will no doubt remind me, I've said this before, but for the new year I want to strike a better balance between shiny new ARCs and the dusty old paperbacks waiting on my shelves. There are so many series I want to catch up with - Carey, Coe, Downum, Haydon, Lackey, Modesitt, Weis, and Wurts most immediately come to mind - that I really want to get back to that old-school joy of reading.

Yes, there are some big titles coming out this year that I'm very excited about (look for my Most Anticipated post next week), but I am going to be far more selective about review requests.

The new year will see a renewed focus on the WTF Friday theme as well, something that I fell away from from a while, but which came back strong over the last few months. Along the same lines, I plan to publish more stories under my Foster Medina pseudonym, with the next release tentatively planned for early in the new year.


  1. I'm really trying to think about how to make my reading more joyful and personally balanced, too. I mean, I do love reading, but sometimes it does feel like a second job because I'm expecting things of myself like reviews and such.

  2. Wow you had a very productive year, Bob! And there are probably 4 or 5 books in your best of list that got 4.5-5 stars from me too, this was an excellent year for fantasy.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

  3. Cutting down on review books is something I've been working on the past couple of months, it's difficult but I would like to try and strike a balance and try to fit in some of my own books.
    Great end of year list.
    Lynn :D


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