Top Reads of 2016

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top of 2016

Welcome to Just Love’s Top Reads of 2016! We are happy to share our favourite books of the year with you.

We hope you’ll enjoy, find more books to read (you’re welcome), and don’t pass on the chance to win some gift certificates by entering our giveaway down below.

Now please enjoy each reviewer’s top 5 books (or 6 for those who couldn’t count)!


Roller Girl - Vanessa NorthRoller Girl, by Vanessa North
Tags: F/F Pairing, Lesbian Character, Transgender Character, Contemporary, Coming Out, Roller Derby, New Beginnings

Narrowing down a top five favourites list for the year was very difficult when there were so many amazing books released, but as I was making my short list it was no question that Vanessa North’s Roller Girl would fall into the number one slot.

North has quickly become a one-click author for me because her characters are strong, independent and very likeable. Her books tend to be on the sweet side but along with that sweetness is an underlying message of hope and positivity. These are the best books for me to read when I feel like the entire world is getting me down, and Roller Girl is a great example of this. I’ve always had a secret wish to be on a roller derby team but a fear of breaking my neck has held me back from ever trying. I was able to live vicariously through these badass chicks and felt like I was part of the team already. Roller Girl is a story that has stayed with me long after I finished reading so I’m happy to call it my #1.

We Are The Ants, by Shaun David Hutchinson (M/M, YA, Romance, SFF)
Out of Nowhere
, by Roan Parrish (M/M, Contemporary Romance)
A Gentleman’s Position, by KJ Charles (M/M, Historical Romance)
First and First, by Santino Hassel (M/M, Contemporary Romance)


pansies alexis hallPansies, by Alexis Hall
Tags: M/M Pairing, Gay Character, Queer Character, Contemporary, New Beginnings, Small Town, Class Differences

Okay, it will surprise exactly no one that my favourite book of 2016 is written by my favourite author. He’s that for a reason, duh 😉 It did surprise me, though, that I loved Pansies even more than Glitterland, which was the book that started my love affair with Alexis’ books.

What I love so much about Alexis’ writing and Pansies is that it connects me to the world and to myself, because I feel like I’m seen and that’s very precious to me. Pansies is set in North-East England and it’s incredibly atmospheric. Alfie and Fen both struggle with their own demons and past and it’s amazingly rewarding to see them overcome them and get better and find happiness together. But Pansies is also so very funny; there is so much fun, so many smiles and laughter. And it is wonderfully romantic. *sigh*

If you want to know more, you can read my *love letter* (aka review) to this book as well…

Middle of Somewhere Series, by Roan Parrish (M/M, Contemporary Romance)
Society of Gentlemen Series, by KJ Charles (M/M, Historical Romance)
Ariah, by BR Sanders (M/M/F, High Fantasy, Romance)
Chameleon Moon, by RoAnna Sylver (Asexual, Trans, Lesbian, Gay, Poly, Dystopia)
The Photographer’s Truth, by Ralph Josiah Bardsley (M/M, Contemporary Fiction)


bitter legacy dal macleanBitter Legacy, by Dal Maclean
Tags: M/M Pairing, Contemporary, Law Enforcement, Mystery/Thriller, Hurt-Comfort

Let me start by saying that picking one book out of all the ones I read this year (245 and counting according to GR) as my favourite was a near impossible task. Unbelievably, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I managed to whittle down my list to 13 books before I took the plunge and chose Dal Maclean’s fabulous debut novel, Bitter Legacy as my favourite book of 2016.

Bitter Legacy is a brilliant murder-mystery and psychological thriller. There are enough twists and turns to put a rollercoaster to shame and it’s one of the few mysteries I read this year that kept me guessing – that kept me interested – until the very end. But Bitter Legacy not only succeeds as a superb mystery, it’s also about relationships. Not just romantic (although it has much to say about how we define our sexual relationships) but also familial, and how the emotional legacies our parents leave us with continue to affect us long after childhood.

It’s a near perfect, supremely entertaining novel.

Where We Left Off, by Roan Parrish (M/M, Contemporary Romance)
First and First, by Santino Hassell (M/M, Contemporary Romance)
Leo Loves Aries, by Anyta Sunday (M/M, Contemporary Romance)
Shut Your Face, Anthony Pace, by Claire Davis & Al Stewart (M/M, Contemp Romance)
The Photographers Truth, by Ralph Josiah Bardsley (M/M, Contemporary Fiction)


charles-gentlemans-positionA Gentleman’s Position, by KJ Charles
Tags: M/M Pairing, Gay Character, Historical Romance, Class Differences

Michele is so blown away by this book that it seems an unsurmountable hurdle to write anything coherent about it at all. And don’t we all know that feeling, huh?



Looking for Group, by Alexis Hall (M/M, Contemporary Romance, Gaming & Geekery) 
Rag and Bone, by KJ Charles (M/M, Romance, Victorian, PRN, POC)
One Life to Lose, by Kris Ripper (M/M/M, Contemp. Romance, Neurodivergent MC, BDSM)
The Soldier’s Scoundrel, by Cat Sebastian (M/M, Romance, Georgian, Disabled MC) 
Romancing the Inventor, by Gail Carriger (F/F, Romance, Victorian, PRN) 


klune-wolfsongWolfsong, by TJ Klune
Tags: M/M Pairing, Gay Characters, Soul Mates, Shifters (Werewolves), Urban Fantasy, Magic

Ever since October, I’ve known this was going to be my favorite book of the year. I enjoyed every minute of it… even the really hard parts. This book has brought me so much joy! I’ve read it multiple times, listened to the audio multiple times, and have practically badgered friends to read it. One friend in particular, after reading it, he gave me his wolf. It was a moment that lead to tears and hugs, and a deeper connection and friendship with him that means the world to me. Because I knew in that moment that he really got it. And I mean, HE GAVE ME HIS WOLF. It sits on my desk and every time I look at it, I think about our friendship, the book, the pack pack pack.

The story is beautiful and tragic and then beautiful again. The magic of the Pack is everything I’d imagine a perfect wolf pack would be like. It all feels so real, even today. Any time I’m asked to describe the book to someone, I steal lines from when Joe and Ox first meet. Wolfsong is  “…a tornado of fingers and feet and words.”  and “…all candy canes and pine cones and epic and awesome.”

This book will forever have my heart, and my heart will forever be part wolf.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Amy Jo Cousins (M/M, Contemp. Romance)
Roller Girl, by Vanessa North (F/F, Trans, Contemporary Romance)
Interborough, by Santino Hassell (M/M, Contemporary Romance)
Murmuration, by TJ Klune (M/M, Romance, SFF, Historical)
What Remains, by Garrett Leigh (M/M, Contemporary Romance)


klune-wolfsongWolfsong, by TJ Klune
Tags: M/M Pairing, Gay Characters, Soul Mates, Shifters (Werewolves), Urban Fantasy, Magic

In 2016, no other book hit me as hard as Wolfsong did. It came to me during a particularly rough, emotional period, and Tj’s ability to make me laugh, cry, and feel (sometimes on the same page!) was exactly what I needed to get through that time. I spent an entire day in bed with this book, curled up, unable to put it down. Wolfsong is a story about family, and about packpackpack, and about time and want and need and, yes, love. The love in Wolfsong runs through every vein, suffuses the entire story with an irresistible glow. Even now, months after reading it, I can’t help but smile when I think about Ox and Joe. Their romance is perfection. This book is perfection. And Wolfsong is, without a doubt, my top read of 2016.

Can’t Hide From Me, by Cordelia Kingsbridge (M/M, Contemporary Romance, Thriller)
King’s Rising, by C.S. Pacat (M/M, Fantasy, Romance)
Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire (Asexual, Transgender, Fantasy)
Out of Nowhere, by Roan Parrish (M/M, Contemporary Romance) 


where we left off roan parrishWhere We Left Off, by Roan Parrish
Series: Middle of Somewhere, Book #3
Tags: M/M Pairing, Gay Characters, New Adult, Contemporary, College, HFN

I thought I’d have a harder time deciding on my Number One Pick of 2016, but Where We Left Off easily won it for me by a country mile. Yes, it’s the third book of one of an amazing series that I absolutely adore. And yes, I had already fallen in love with young Leo when he first appeared in Middle of Somewhere. So yes, I did begin this book expecting to at least enjoy it. What I did not expect was to get swept off my feet by the coming-of-age tale of a naive, hopeless romantic struggling to find himself while knowing that the one thing – the one person – he wants is completely unattainable. And I certainly wasn’t prepared to be left breathless by the gorgeous and geeky narrative. But ultimately what set this book apart and above others for me was its non-traditional take on romantic relationships – and that gorgeous HFN ending that was somehow more satisfying than a HEA could ever be for Leo and Will.

What Remains, by Garrett Leigh (M/M, Contemporary Romance)
Wolfsong, by TJ Klune (M/M, Romance, PRN, Shifters/Werewolves)
Foxes, by Suki Fleet (M/M, Contemporary Romance, NA)
Shatterproof, by Xen Sanders (M/M, Romance, PRN)


Now it’s your turn:

What are your top reads of the year?

Tell us your top read of 2016, and by commenting on this post you are entering our giveaway for a

  • $10 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • $10 Dreamspinner Press Gift Certificate

The lucky winners will be drawn on December 27. Please subscribe to the comments or leave your contact info, so we can reach you. Good luck to everyone 🙂 [Contest open internationally.]

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27 thoughts on “Top Reads of 2016

  1. my top reads cuz let’s face there will not only be one 😛 and cuz i have so many i’ll go with ones that seem to fly under the radar
    1. Midnight Taxi Tango – Daniel Jose Older
    2. The Weight of Feathers – Anna-Marie McLemore
    3. The Scorpion Rules – Erin Bow
    4. The Walls Around Us – Nova Ren Suma (this one surprised me. so creepy. so good)
    5. Radio Silence – Alice Oseman
    6. The entire Beyond series – Kitrocha
    email: trinielf82(at)hotmail(dot)com

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like that there are some overlaps with your lists. Makes it easier to choose which titles to put on my TBR. 🙂 My best book for 2016 would have to be a tie between “Wolfsong” and “Murmuration” by TJ Klune. I love how “Wolfsong” made me feel, and I love how “Murmuration” made me think.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So many awesome reads this year! I’ve loved Strong Signal and Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell – i can’t wait for the next book!
    I also LOVED Fallow by Jordan L Hawk – one of my most favourite series and utterly fantastic. Seriously cannot wait for more. Also loved Hexbreaker, first in her new series – i havent yet read Hexmaker but I’m expecting it to be just as awesome. 😀
    I haven’t read Wolfsong or Murmuration by TJ Klune yet either but i hope to soon as i love his writing… My TBR is humongous. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was SO TORN about whether or not to include Fallow, because Whybourne and Griffin is my favourite ongoing series and of course it was marvellous, but the competition was FIERCE 😀

      Also I really wanted a list that wasn’t entirely MM, so unfortunately it just missed the cut.


  4. I loved many books this year, but my top pick would be Fallow by Jordan L. Hawk. Whyborne & Grifffin is my favorite series!

    Thanks for sharing your top picks!


    Liked by 1 person

  5. A few top picks from 2016:
    -A Second Harvest (Men of Lancaster County #1) by Eli Easton
    -Spy Stuff by Matthew J. Metzger
    -Adulting 101 by Lisa Henry
    -Just a Suit by H.P. Medina
    -Coffee Boy by Austin Chant

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Some of my favourites this year were
    Priddy’s Tale by Harper Fox
    A Seditious Afraid by KJ Charles
    Hexbreaker by Jordan L Hawk
    Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter by R Cooper
    Swift And The Black Dog by Ginn Hale
    Blow Down by JL Metros
    There are more… But I can’t list them all!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have so many favourite and I must agree TJ Klunes “Wolfsong” was one of my favourite reads and also his “Immemorial Year Book series” “Hexworld” by Jordan L Hawk “The Spencer Cohen Series” N R Walker.

    Liked by 1 person




  9. My top read of the year was Timekeeper by Tara Sim, because I loved getting an LGBT fantasy genre novel – sometimes it’s nice to read about gay couples in a different setting than contemporary with all the baggage of our society, it was such a lovely magical read and fantastic escapism. ❤


  10. So many great books in 2016, but my top pick goes to The Mermaid Murders by Josh Lanyon. A perfect MM mystery like only she can write. The audiobook is awesome too.


  11. I had so much trouble picking my favorite books of 2016. I wouldn’t be able to pick just one so my favorites would defiantly be Wolfsong by TJ Klune and Vespertine by Leta Blake and Indra Vaughn. ☺️


  12. Pingback: Happy Holidays! | Just Love: Queer Book Reviews

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