Colleen Houck


“Chapped rats and bats' wings, brandied worms and adders' stings, Goat's wool and owl's hoot, fish's tongue and dog's foot. Into the potion, all you go, add clockwork hearts, positioned so…" The Lantern's Ember

Colleen's blog


  • My Top 10 Reads of 2016

    December 5, 2016


    Those of you who follow me on Goodreads know I love reading. I met my goal early this year and somehow managed to finish 100 books by the end of October. So, if you’re looking for a few holiday gift ideas, here are the top ten books I read this year in no particular order.


    Click here to buy

    This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

    This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

    The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

    But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

    Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

    Why I Loved It: This series is nothing like I’ve ever seen. The format is incredible and it just pulls you in. Smart, fast-paced, gorgeous.


    Click here to buy

    A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

    She flees on her wedding day.

    She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.

    She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

    She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

    The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.

    Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

    Why I Loved It: A prince in disguise, a smart, sassy heroine, and an assassin who falls for the girl. That should be enough but there’s so, so much more.


    Click here to buy

    Shy took the summer job to make some money. In a few months on a luxury cruise liner, he’ll rake in the tips and be able to help his mom and sister out with the bills. And how bad can it be? Bikinis, free food, maybe even a girl or two—every cruise has different passengers, after all.

    But everything changes when the Big One hits. Shy’s only weeks out at sea when an earthquake more massive than ever before recorded hits California, and his life is forever changed.

    The earthquake is only the first disaster. Suddenly it’s a fight to survive for those left living.

    Why I Loved It: The moment the cruise ship gets hit by a tidal wave gave me chills. Also survival at sea is one of my most terrifying fears. After you read this, I promise you will think twice before booking that cruise.


    Click here to buy

    Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his worried parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have “superpowers.”

    At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofía, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Soíia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofía, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age.

    But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she’s not actually dead. He believes that she’s stuck somewhere in time—that he somehow left her in the past, and that now it’s his job to save her. And as Bo becomes more and more determined to save Sofía, he must decide whether to face his demons head-on or succumb to a psychosis that will let him be with the girl he loves.

    Why I Loved It: First off, I love everything Beth writes. Even so, this mental thriller was thought provoking, heart-felt, and utterly unique.


    Click here to buy

    She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

    Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

    Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

    Why I Loved It: This author had me from the wild west shoot off at the very beginning. I love the name of the town, the setting, and the characters. Fantastic writing. Gorgeous and richly imagined.


    Click here to buy

    In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

    Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

    Why I Loved It: This is like Romeo and Juliet but with assassins. The masks are awesome. The world is so cool. The characters are so strong they could walk off the pages.


    Click here to buy

    When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

    Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

    Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

    Why I Loved It: I’ve always been fascinated with aliens. There’s an awesome hero in this one. Also you have to read about the fireflies.


    Click here to buy

    Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

    In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

    But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

    Why I Loved It: If, like me, you are a fan of retellings, then this is the book for you. There was so much depth in the villainess, the evil queen, that I could feel her fingernails on the back of my neck while I was reading. Also, the handsome prince can shapeshift into a dragon!


    Click here to buy

    Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

    When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe.

    Why I Loved It: The hero is like a young Han Solo/Captain Hook. Is that a good enough reason? I think so.


    Click here to buy

    Chronicling the rise of the Keepers, this is the stunning prequel to Andrea Cremer’s internationally bestselling Nightshade trilogy!

    Sixteen-year-old Ember Morrow is promised to a group called Conatus after one of their healers saves her mother’s life. Once she arrives, Ember finds joy in wielding swords, learning magic, and fighting the encroaching darkness loose in the world. She also finds herself falling in love with her mentor, the dashing, brooding, and powerful Barrow Hess. When the knights realize Eira, one of their leaders, is dabbling in dark magic, Ember and Barrow must choose whether to follow Eira into the nether realm or to pledge their lives to destroying her and her kind.

    With action, adventure, magic, and tantalizing sensuality, this book is as fast-paced and breathtaking as the Nightshade novels.

    Why I Loved It: The hero is a swoonworthy, literal knight in shining armor. The heroine is amazing. The setting is awesome and the evil they fight is wicked scary. Also, there’s a kraken.

     

    There you have it, my top ten reads of 2016. These are all either the first in a series or a stand alone so you can get started right away. They’re perfect for all of you looking for a book gift for YA readers.

    top-ten-16

     

    Colleen

    This entry was posted in Featuring Authors, Top Ten Lists.

    6 Responses to My Top 10 Reads of 2016


    1. Tiffany says:

      I LOVE RIFT!!!!
      To be honest, I have not read the NightShade series but I was still able to follow what was going on.

    2. Kelly Risser says:

      Rebel of the Sands was one of my top reads this year too. Completely agree with your summary. It was such an epic adventure, and the characters were both likable and entertaining. Another great book on my list this year was The Serpent King. It is both sad and uplifting, but the characters go right to your heart and stay there. I’m a very character-driven reader, which is a big reason why I love your books, too!

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



    Categories
    Archive
    Author Bio
    Colleen Houck
    Colleen Houck

    New York Times Bestselling author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, paranormal, science fiction, and romance. When she's not busy writing, she likes to spend time chatting on the phone with one of her six siblings, watching plays, and shopping online. Colleen has lived in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, and North Carolina and is now permanently settled in Salem, Oregon with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.