2016 Standout Awards
Hello and welcome to the Second Annual Standout Awards by One Book Two! What are these awards, you ask? Well, let me tell you.
One Book Two Standout Awards are given out by One Book Two reviewers to honor titles and artists that created a stand-out experience for us as readers. At the end of the year, reviewers select—from among the reviews they’ve published during the year—the books, series, authors, audiobooks, narrators, cover artists, etc. that left the biggest impression.
We’ll add the Standout Award badge to those reviews and list all the winners on a page on our website. Authors can also display the award badge on their websites should they so choose. This is a way to highlight those books that really amazed us during the year.
So, without further ado, we’re delighted to present our 2016 Standout Awards!
J. Caleb Design—I’ve loved all the art and artists we interviewed in 2016. However, the art of Jake Clark, of J. Caleb Design, stands out as unique and fun. It’s very different than a lot of other cover art that catches my eye, particularly his illustrated covers with the vintage, pulp-fiction feel.
Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish—Charish won a Standout Award last year for her Adventures of Owl series, but I think she’s outdone herself. Voodoo Killings was easily one of the most exciting reads of the year. It is exactly what urban fantasy should be. And that ending! I’m not kidding when I say I can hardly wait for the next book.
Gargoyle Guardian series by Rebecca Chastain—Maybe it’s just because I’m a sucker for magical creatures, but I really enjoyed the Gargoyle Guardian series. I like the magic system and the world Chastain has created. Since much of the magic system is based on minerals and crystals that have some sort of sentience, the author even attempts to convey how alien the perspective of such a creature might be. In a world where gargoyles are so prominent, and where they are often seen as tools instead of living creatures, I love the idea of someone whose magic is special enough to make her their guardian.
Alice by Christina Henry—This retelling of Alice in Wonderland, with a horror-fantasy twist, really captured my imagination. I am impressed with the way the author worked in traditional parts of the story in very untraditional ways. The narrator for this audiobook, Jenny Sterlin, is fantastic. Her British accent lends itself perfectly to this twisted tale.
Mudman by James A. Hunter—Hunter’s Yancy Lazarus series is one of my favorites and took the Standout Award last year. This year, Hunter published Mudman, which, while also being rocking and hilarious urban fantasy adventure, is a pretty amazing study of metaphor and theme. I am quite impressed by its ability to entertain and make you think at the same time.
Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal—Ghost Talkers hits all my hot buttons for a novel. Historical fantasy, a unique premise, amazingly vivid descriptions, a magic/supernatural system that’s just cool, and social commentary to boot. This book is an experience to savor.
Halfway Witchy series, in audio, by Terry Maggert—The combination of Terry Maggert’s writing and Erin Spencer’s voice makes the Halfway Witchy series a lyrical experience for the ear. I am truly amazed at how well Spencer’s voice compliments the personality of the protagonist and brings her fully to life.
Ayala Storme series by Emmie Mears—The Ayala Storme series stands out for two reasons: 1) The world, creatures, social, and magic systems Mears has created are very unique, in my experience. 2) Mears has a way of writing that really elicits the feels! The Storme series has some amazing emotional depth; it’s full of love and betrayal and family and sacrifice and triumph and despair. As a reader, I felt very connected to Ayala and could feel all these things right along with her. For me, anyway, this made for a very compelling read.
- Storm in a Teacup, Book 01
- Any Port in a Storm, Book 02
- Taken By Storm, Book 03
- Eye of the Storm, Book 04
The Impending Possession of Scarlet Wakebridge-Rosé by S.L. Saboviec—Last year, Saboviec’s Guarding Angel, the first novel in the Fallen Redemption series, blew me away with its unique vision of spirituality, Heaven, angels, and demons. This year, the companion novel to that series did it again. The Impending Possession is both entertaining and thought-provoking, definitely worth a reread. I’m sure I’ll be revisiting this whole series several times during my life.
Dark Sky series by Amy Braun—Steampunk AND post-apocalyptic monsters at their best. The good guys are not necessarily the best good guys, but they have survival on their minds. The world Amy Braun has created is incredibly described, and the twists and turns are equally unexpected.
Kincaid Strange series by Kristi Charish—The action, adventure, and characters are put together so well that it felt like I’d known these people for several books instead of this being the first in the series. I would be hard pressed to find a favorite character, and the mystery? It’s totally engaging and out of the box.
- Voodoo Killings, Book 01
Tim Reaper series by Sean Cummings—This series took me by surprise. I loved the cover and decided, on a whim, to give it a shot. I was blown away. The story was uncovered a little at a time, and if the protagonist knew then the reader knew. What we all didn’t know was the intricacies of heavenly/hellish politics. Whole new spin.
- Immortal Remains, Book 01
Black Magic Outlaw series by Domino Finn—The protagonist’s life story kept me enthralled. I tried to look away, but it was like a train wreck. He thought he knew it all, but in his arrogance, he was, sadly, horribly mistaken. The emotion that is translated through the pages is amazing. Even though Cisco, the protagonist, is a jerk at some points in the story, he has a lot of crap to deal with and very little information to go on.
- Dead Man, Book 01
Warden Global series by Ken Lange—It was the main protagonist and his daughter that made me love this story, and I am on pins and needles waiting for the next installment. The correlation between what humans see and accept in life and what the magic wielding-world knows is singular. I enjoyed the banter between characters and especially how relationships were revealed.
- The Wanderer Awakens, Book 01
Harmony Black series by Craig Schaefer—Harmony Black’s series catapulted to the top of my “watch for” list as soon as I read the first chapter. Craig Schaefer does wonders in the world of demons, witches and other scary monsters. He also throws in a slight romance aspect to keep the people real.
Harbinger P.I. series by Adam J. Wright—This series world is positioned wholly out of the light of day. The Society of Shadows runs the world and even though Alec Harbinger has a father in the upper echelons does not mean he is any more clued in than the rest of the uninformed. Conspiracies and literal mind-bending abound.
Favorite Requests (4)
Hero Status by Kristen Brand—What happens when retired superhero White Knight’s super-villain wife, Black Valentine, is wrongly accused of murder? A lot of great plot and awesome fight scenes. I absolutely LOVED this comical read and it makes the list for favorite requests of 2016.
Transient Echoes by JN Chaney—In this action-packed dystopian sequel to The Amber Project, we reunite with Terry, Mei, and John as they embark on a mission of survival on unforgiving worlds. I’ve really enjoyed this series so far and can’t wait to read the third one next year. Five stars!
Meddlers of Moonshine by AE Decker—For the second year in a row, this series has won over my heart and an award for favorite request. Chocked full of humor, adorable characters, amazing writing, and never-ending fun, this is a series that always leaves me clamoring for more.
The Road To Hel by Eric Tanafon—Fans of Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase will love this Nordic-based middle-grade book as much as I did. Follow Sean and his friends as they take on Norse bad guys while trying to fulfill their destinies without getting killed in the process.
Favorite Cover (1)
M In The Demon Realm by author Mark William Hammond, cover by Amir Alicic via 99Designs—I received this as a request and what really drew me in before I even read the summary was the cover. Gorgeous coloring, a beautiful model, and perfect title cover. It’s dark and spooky with that necessary bit of beauty.
Favorite Reread (1)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling— Because it was the one I’d only read once, it was like reading it for the first time again, discovering new things and generally enjoying the funny parts of the series before it gets dark again. I got to reread this not only with members of the One Book Two crew, but with several other reader friends, too. It was so much fun!
Solis Invicti by Josie Jaffrey—This series presents vampires in a new and original way. The world building is good and the dynamic between the characters is amazing!
Standout Female Lead
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco—Audrey Rose is ahead of her time in this creepy mystery novel set in Victorian England. I love that Audrey knows what she wants and doesn’t let her male counterparts or society’s rules hold her back. The chill factor is great and the cover is deliciously creepy.
Keir’s Fall by Pippa Jay—This was a really satisfying second entry. I was never bored, and despite sharing some frustrations over the romance in my review (because I am a stubborn man), I found little else to distract me from the story. The new characters we’re introduced to and the pace of the story definitely entertain.
Arctic Dawn by Karissa Laurel—Book two in the Norse Chronicles continued to enchant as ancient Norse gods try to bring about Ragnarok. A strong second entry, broadening the world and giving us more backstory to the main players. There is a lot of character building brought over and expanded upon from Midnight Burning, and I’m confident Arctic Dawn will prove a sturdy bridge to a third entry.
Survival Quest by Vasily Mahanenko—This first entry in the Way of the Shaman series, one of four to have been translated into English thus far, was great fun. I’ve consumed each entry within a day of it releasing for U.S. purchase. I’ve read many novels in the LitRPG genre, and quite a few have earned a permanent place on my shelf – but this one sticks out for creating an adventure around a profession in games that is often in the minority, an interesting premise of serving a prison sentence in virtual reality earning currency for the government, and distinct characters.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel—This is the book I’ve read twice already this year and feel I could read again. It has so much to say about the human condition and the intricate nature of relationships. I particularly like that it is set in a post-apocalyptic world, but isn’t really a sci-fi novel, so it appeals to a broad audience.
Magic Ex Libris series by Jim C. Hines—The first book took a bit to get into for me, but after that happened, I really enjoyed the whole series. The author created a very fun world in how magic works and interacts with others. I loved his characters and their interactions. I really enjoyed all of the geek and cult references as well! These are just a good, fun read!
A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe—Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to read and/or review too many books this year due to some medical and personal issues, along with starting a new job. That being said, I did read one book that really did stick with me this year, and that would be A Mortal Song. Again, Crewe just does an amazing job with the imagery in this book, and that does it for me. 🙂 Not to mention that I love the spin of making the main character find out she does not actually possess the powers she thinks she does. Human conscience and emotions are powers all their own!