Wednesday 30 November 2016

Some of my favourite 2016 reads: Part 1 - fiction

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/
It’s that time of year when we start seeing the “Best ofs” across multiple media platforms so I thought I’d add to the discussion with my own. A number of other ACW authors will be contributing their own selections during December so watch out for those ones as well.

Most of the books I read are good and it’s often hard to distill a shortlist of the best ones hence, the title of my post: Some of my favourites. These are ones I recall with much fondness for various reasons.

I read more non-fiction than fiction so I thought I’d bring you a sample of both. Let’s start with the fiction and I’ll share the non-fiction ones in my Book Review post on 15 December. In no particular order, here goes:

The Harbinger Series. Four authors, each take one character, and take turns to write an episode each month. I love the episodic style (ala a TV series). As a reader I know the story is “live”, the next episode is being drafted as I read the latest one.

Presently there are 16 episodes and the series has been running now for 18 months, I guess. It’s speculative fiction with lots of craziness but some very clever storylines as one comes to expect from authors of the calibre of Bill Myers, Angie Hunt, Frank Peretti (now succeeded by Jeff Gerke) and Alton Gansky.

The series has now been picked up by Bethany House (previously self-pubbed) which will enable wider distribution.

AD 30 (Ted Dekker) The first in his two-part Biblical fiction series where we meet Maviah who is unexpectedly called to rescue her people. She goes on a daring adventure crossing multiple lands until she comes to Israel where she provides a unique perspective to the ministry of Jesus.

One of Dekker’s best. I’m feeling very guilty that I haven’t got to the sequel AD 33 yet but plan to very very soon.

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer (Jim Rubart) Jim’s stories just keep getting better and better. As I wrote in my review:

"The writing, the depth of insight in his characters and his ability to weave the mystical, spiritual and natural together is simply outstanding. I loved this novel. You can't not read this novel and not be impacted by the themes of healing, discovery of identify, where we place our significance and the absolute desire our Creator has for us to know Him."

This is probably the best novel I’ve read this year.

The Curse of Crow Hollow (Billy Coffey) This was a great surprise for me. I’d never read any of Coffey’s until this one. Known for his “Southern Spirituality” this story oozes with a voice from the deep south. What I particularly appreciated about this novel besides the voice was Coffey’s portrayal of good and evil within a small town. Excellently written with a brooding creepiness.

The Occupied (Craig Parshall) Another new author for me. I just finished this one. Classic detective story told in the first person with a supernatural twist which was a lot of fun to read.

My Dabble in Romance

I continue to read quite a lot of romance. Contemporary, historical, biblical, suspense, you name it. It’s not a great surprise to me having read Pride and Prejudice more times than I can remember (and all of her collection).
A few to mention:

Herringford and Watts Series (Rachel McMillan) – this series is simply delightful. Rachel’s voice is sophisticated and witty. Yes, witty. And her two detectives: Merinda Herringford and Jemima Watts are fabulous creations. Sample one of the novellas if you want to give it a try.

Close to You (Kara Isaac) – wow. First novel. Wow. Such a fun premise, the whole Hobbit-tour thing where romance blossoms. Two well developed characters. I’m running hard trying to get to Kara’s second one which everyone tells me is even better.

Thirteenth Chance (Amy Matayo) – Amy’s stories have many admirers down under and so I decided to sample her latest. Oh wow. Can this girl write. And Olivia Pratt! What a creation. I was awe of how Amy developed such a complex character: her insecurities, her weirdness, her dagginess (hey, I’m a dag too) and her meekness. A relatively simple story so well written and two great leads.

Too Pretty and All is Bright (Andrea Grigg) – our own Andrea creates marvellous characters. These were both a delight to read simply because her leads are so relatable and fun to watch.

That’s it from me. I’ve gone on for too long. I hope you found something of interest here.

What one author did you discover this year that you’ve now become a raving fan of their work? I’d love to read in the comments below.

Till 15 December for the non-fiction Part 2.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard won the 2013 Selah Award for the Best Speculative Fiction novel. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter


  1. Thanks for sharing some of your favourites, Ian. I've got Kara Isaac's Close to You and Can't Help Falling on my to-read list as I can't resist the Tollkien and Narnian themes :)

    What one author did you discover this year that you’ve now become a raving fan of their work? That would have to be Marissa Myer with her Lunar Chronicles series - Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter - fairytail retellings with a futuristic and cyborg twist. Brilliant writing, concepts, execution. Though Anthony Doer's historical novel All the Light We Cannot See has to be up there too - and I was super-thrilled to read the final book in the Blaine Colton trilogy with Adele Jones' Activate - unpredictable, thrilling and deeply emotional ride.

    1. Hi Jeanette - I've noticed many people I follow have read the Lunar Chronicles … I may have to sample one to see what everyone is raving about.

      Thanks for sharing these with us.


  2. Ian, great list! Andrea totally rocks writing first person point-of-view in her Christmas novella 'All is Bright'. :)

    1. Yep, I did love that 1st person, Narelle. Like Amy's Thirteenth Chance … very clever.

      Thanks for popping on to comment.

  3. love the cover of 'long journey.'
    Did not like the Ted Dekker ones as found myself constantly frustrated and skipping what felt like preachy bits. If that is 'one of his best' then probably won't be trying his others!

    1. Hi Christine, I understand your comment about the "preachy bits". I actually don't mind being preached at if it fits and supports the story …

      There's actually little preaching in Ted's earlier novels. Have a go at The Circle series which are many of his fans favourite novels.

      Jim's cover is a beauty.

    2. I've just read Ted Dekker's Circle series (the first three at least) - and agree, there is little if any preaching and it's a interesting concept

  4. Wow! Thanks for including 'Too Pretty' and 'All is Bright' in your fave reads, Ian. Feeling very privileged to be there alongside Kara and Amy in particular.

    1. Your creations deserve to sit alongside those 2, Andrea. I so enjoy your characters and story telling. I'm ready for your next one.

    2. With God by your side, Andrea, whatever the outcome will be a good one.

  5. Thanks so much for the mention, Ian. I'm so glad you enjoyed Close To You and can't wait to hear what you think of Can't Help Falling since they are two very different stories people seem to have strong opinions as to which they like better :)

    Hmmmm a new author I can't stop raving about. I'm going to have to go at my GoodReads list and see who that would be. The years are kind of blending together at the moment!

    1. How's that baby coming along, Kara? Blessings to you on a great birth and excited to "meet" your new chickadee ...


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