Best Books of 2016: Finding Wonderland’s Most Memorable Reads of the Year

December 29, 2016 Rissi JC 27 Comments

Every year, one of the most anticipated blog posts I put together is a “Best of” lists. Earlier this week I shared my favorite films of the year, so today, I am of course, sharing the most important thing – favorite books of 2016!

LIST | The Best of the Best at the Cinema and Small Screen
Best Books of 2016: Finding Wonderland’s Most Memorable Reads of the Year. What made your best of list? Text © Rissi JC

This year, I discovered I didn’t have as many books as I expected, but those I did rediscover were top shelf, brilliant reads. (Plus I have zero doubt I am – even still – shamefully missing some books that deserve a spot on this list.) So many of these novels I’m sharing about today are the kind of stories that stick with you long after the whoosh caused by the flip of that final page.  

The wide array features a “little something” for everyone, and spotlights several stellar examples of talent including Indie and
traditional authors plus young adult literature. Without further ado, let’s have a look at those books!  


(If available, book reviews are linked in title.)  

1. What Light by Jay Asher | Super sweet, the inside of this novel is as charming as the outside suggests. Amazon | Goodreads

2. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith | 100% fun, and sometimes that’s all we need. Amazon | Goodreads  

3. The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof | This novel is an elegant and authentic fairy tale. Amazon | Goodreads

4. The Ringmaster’sWife by Kristy Cambron | Perfect for fans of stories like Water for Elephants, this novel is expertly written with a fascinating backdrop. Amazon | Goodreads  

5. Unblemished by Sara Ella | One of 2016’s debuts, this YA fantasy novel is what Shadowhunters (TV show since I’ve not
read the books) wished it could be. Amazon | Goodreads  

5. The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert | Emotional and beyond beautiful, this novel is just another reason why Ganshert is one of the best. Amazon | Goodreads  

6. A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund | A sweet Robin Hood esque fairy tale, this is, so far, my favorite of the accomplished Jody Hedlund’s YA novels. Amazon | Goodreads

Best Books of 2016: Finding Wonderland’s Most Memorable Reads of the Year. What made your best of list? Text © Rissi JC

7. The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter | RomCom bliss with a heart-tugging emotional side, this story is wonderful – and one I’m glad to have finally read this year! Amazon | Goodreads  

8. Close to You by Kara Isaac | Intelligent and lovely, Kara Isaac take’s us on a journey – of the literal sort and of the heart. The results are memorable. Amazon | Goodreads  

9. I’ll Be Yours by Jenny B. Jones | Brilliant writing, and storytelling, this is one of Jenny’s best novels to date. And all of her
books are amazing. Amazon | Goodreads  

10. Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge | Hillary always gives reader’s a roller coaster of a story (in the best way), and this is no different. Her final novel in the ‘Blue Doors’ trilogy is wonderfully and complete. Amazon | Goodreads

11. The End of theWorld by Amy Matayo | This book was one I wasn’t sure would be for me because I liked “happier” stories (in general), but I’m ever so glad to have experienced it. It’s one of the best contemporary novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Amazon | Goodreads  

12. Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey | The start of a new series, Pettrey’s first book is, perhaps, her best yet. Amazon | Goodreads  

13. A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay | Anything Reay write’s is literature perfection, and her latest follows in the footsteps of her earlier works. Amazon | Goodreads   

14. Geek Girl by Holly Smale | After months (or years?) of saying I wanted to read Geek Girl, I finally read it this past
week. So much fun! Amazon | Goodreads

Best Books of 2016: Finding Wonderland’s Most Memorable Reads of the Year. What made your best of list? Text © Rissi JC

15 / 16. Keep Holding On and Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg | Melissa released two of her signature romcom’s this past year, and of course, I couldn’t pick just one, so I include them both. For reasons. Amazon | Goodreads, Amazon | Goodreads  

17. Her One and Only by Becky Wade | Last but not least is the final novel in the Porter family series. Amazon | Goodreads

Best Books of 2016: Finding Wonderland’s Most Memorable Reads of the Year #BestOf #FWarchives #BookLovers Click To Tweet


As I’m wont to do, I shamefully forgot to add these novels on my “official” list (above). This in no way means I enjoyed them any less, it simply means I’m terrible at sitting down and plotting these lists.

1. Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown | Really enjoyed this WWI mystery novel, plus I’m such a novice when it comes to YA historical reads, so it was nice to be immersed inside such a world. Amazon | Goodreads  

2. Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering | How I could forget this lovely novel I don’t know. Amazon | Goodreads

That’s it for our best books of 2016. Did you love any of these as much as I did? What books surprised you this past year? What books made your best of 2016 lists? Comment down below with your thoughts.

Thank you for visiting; please come back soon!

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Bekah M. December 29, 2016 at 9:31 PM

    Both What Light and Lady and the Lionheart are both on my must-read list! I bought and read Unblemished because of your fabulous review and LOVED it. Agreed with I’ll Be Yours, The End of the World, Her One and Only, and Cold Shot! All fantastic reads! Though I do think my favorite book of 2016 was The End of the World. The rest of the books on your list look fantastic…I really have to check them out.

    As always, your graphic are so beautiful! Fabulous list, Rissi! I’m so glad I can properly visit your blog again now that my laptop is fixed.

    • Rissi December 31, 2016 at 12:43 AM

      I think you'll really enjoy them both, Bekah. Happy reading!

      YAY for all these shared favorite aka fantastic reads. I have a sneaking suspicion 2017 will be equally beautiful and memorable. :)

      Happy reading and TBR-adding. ;)

      Thanks! As always, I had way too much fun with them. ;D

      (Also, hooray for a fixed laptop; I went without mine for a while last summer, and as a perpetual writer, I MISSED it so much!)

  • Courtney Clark December 30, 2016 at 1:41 AM

    As always, a great list! We have several mutual favs (like Bischof, Tagg, Lodge, & Reay.), plus others I enjoyed but weren't completely my favs from this year.

    And, some of these I must read soon! Unblemished is on my shelf just *waiting*. I'm also excited for 2017 reads, especially for Still Life by Dani Pettrey AND Jane of Austin by Hillary Lodge.

    My TTT

    • Rissi December 31, 2016 at 12:44 AM

      Hooray for mutual favorites. Just further proves these books deserve to be on all of these lists, right!? :)

      Hope you enjoy the rest you didn't get to, and ditto! I cannot wait for Dani's and Hillary's. They promise to be memorable 2017 reads indeed! :)

  • Heidi Robbins December 30, 2016 at 3:59 AM

    I absolutely loved A Portrait of Emily Price! Some of my top picks are To Win a Lady's Heart by Sian Ann Bessey, Pimpernel and Walk of Infamy by Sheralyn Pratt, The Governess by Kristen McKendry, A Place for Miss Snow by Jennifer Moore, The Thirteenth Chance by Amy Matayo, Willowkeep by Julie Daines, Beyond the Rising Tide by Sarah Beard, Deliverance by H.B. Moore, and So Rare a Gift by Amber Lynn Perry. It was a great year for books!

    • Rissi December 31, 2016 at 12:46 AM

      I remember you talking about Pimpernel, Heidi. That's one I need to remember in 2017! Didn't get the chance to read Amy's latest contemporary, but cannot wait, and I do have a copy so YAY! :)

      Glad you enjoyed such an amazing year of books. Here's a toast to 2017, and the expectation it'll be just a great. (I've no doubt it will be!)

  • Anonymous December 30, 2016 at 12:51 PM

    Great list Rissi! Happy New Year!

    • Rissi December 31, 2016 at 12:46 AM

      Thanks so much – and same to you! Happiest New Year. Hope 2017 is amazing. :)

  • Miranda Atchley December 30, 2016 at 7:03 PM

    Great list, Rissi! I loved The Ringmaster's Wife, Unblemished, and really enjoyed Close To You. I liked PPZ, but it wasn't a favorite. A few of these are on my TBR. Glad you found some books you loved this year!

    • Rissi December 31, 2016 at 12:56 AM

      Hi, Miranda! Thanks. It was, as always, fun to put together.

      I have similar thoughts on PPZ, but I think I added it because it's SO out of my comfort zone, and I liked it a GREAT deal more than I expected. :)

      YAY for TBRs! They're about to grow all the more with those 2017 releases right around the corner.

  • Nicole Hewitt December 30, 2016 at 7:15 PM

    I had a hard time making my list too. For some reason, I didn't include any books I read in December, which is just weird—I guess it's because I went through my wrap-up posts to find my Top Ten.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    • Rissi December 31, 2016 at 5:12 AM

      It's ALWAYS a challenge to put these lists together, and I never fail to shamefully overlook some. The life of a book blogger, right?! :)

      Thanks so much for visiting, Nicole.

  • Anonymous December 31, 2016 at 9:27 AM

    Great list Rissi! Quite a few of my favourites on this list. Not to mention a few that are on my TBR ASAP pile! I'll have to check out 'What Light'. I haven't even heard of that one!

    Happy new year ��

    • Rissi December 31, 2016 at 9:29 PM

      YAY! Hope you discover some great reads heading into 2017. :)

      What Light is fabulous (such an easy, heartwarming and "easy" read) in my opinion, so if you read it, I hope you enjoy.

      Happy 2017! And thanks so much for visiting.

  • DeAnna Julie Dodson December 31, 2016 at 11:01 PM

    Thank you for including Drew. You're the best!

    Book Five, Murder on the Moor, is coming in January. :::squees and jumps up and down like a five year old:::


    Happy New Year! :D

    • Rissi January 3, 2017 at 12:20 AM

      My pleasure, Deanna! Thank you for sharing these stories with us. They're smashing.

      (PS: Murder on the Moor is, without question, one of my most anticipated 2017 reads!)

      …same to you! Happy 2017! :)

  • Dani Pettrey December 31, 2016 at 11:26 PM

    Super honored to make your list, Rissi. Thank you so much!

    • Rissi January 3, 2017 at 12:20 AM

      My pleasure, Dani. Thank you for sharing these stories. :) They're always amazing.

  • Cassie December 31, 2016 at 11:42 PM

    Rissi, I love your list! We have a few favorites in common, as always (Bischof, Lodge, Reay, Wade). There are a few others on your list that I really enjoyed, but I am always super strict with my 'favorites' list, so they didn't *quite* make it. The struggle to pick favorites, girl, is real! Although, it is one of my favorite parts of being a book blogger :)

    I wish I came over to comment more often, but I am a faithful reader here! Can't wait to see what 2017 brings us, reading and otherwise!

    • Rissi January 3, 2017 at 12:25 AM

      Cassie, thank you! I have such fun – as I'm sure you do too, putting these "best of" lists together.

      Nothing wrong with being selective about favorites. I tend to put mine together based more on how they made me "feel" (happy, emotions, play to the romantic in me, etc.) over anything else.

      The struggle IS indeed real. But someone has to do it, right!? ;)

      Thank you so much for being a reader, Cassie. I so appreciate you being a supporter. I saw the exact same for all of the WP blogs – including Bookshelves and Windows, I read. Love your book haven! Bring on 2017… I think we're ready. :)

  • Heather January 6, 2017 at 11:49 PM

    Oh, I have not read one single book on this list! However, Cold Shot is seriously at the top. My reading suffered greatly in '16, so my goal for '17 is to kick it back up a notch! ;)

    • Rissi January 7, 2017 at 5:08 PM

      Cold Shot is a great read indeed, Heather. Hope you like it – and that 2017 is a great reading year for you. :)

      So glad you stopped by – and HAPPY 2017!

  • Rachel Hoyt January 10, 2017 at 1:26 AM

    I think I've only read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and Velvet Undercover on your list, but they're definitely good ones! I'm a big fan of Teri Brown's books–have you read her first YA series? And I've been meaning to read What Light since it came out! It just looks like such a joy to read. I meant to get a copy to read on Christmas, and failed utterly. :)

    • Rissi January 10, 2017 at 6:26 AM

      Yes, yes they are! I liked 'Zombies' because it's just zany enough to make me smile, and 'Velvet' was really quite good and yet not what I was expecting.

      I haven't read anything else by Teri. I'm so glad you like them – do you have a favorite? :)

      What Light is a delightful novel. So easy to read; it definitely put a smile on my face. Hope you enjoy! :)

  • Joanne Bischof February 19, 2017 at 3:44 AM

    Always an honor to be on your lists, Rissi! Thank you for this!!

    • Rissi February 21, 2017 at 9:45 PM

      My pleasure, Joanne. Thank you for these stories, and for stopping by. Always lovely to "see" you. :)

  • […] at some of the best movies and TV shows of 2016. Don’t be alarmed, I will still be publishing a Best of 2016 Book List (because isn’t this a requirement of all book bloggers?), it will simply not arrive until […]

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