We're counting down our best books of 2016, beginning with the Top 10 First Impressions books of the year.

First Impressions is a great source of truly impartial reviews. Only BookBrowse members who are assigned a copy of the book can share their opinions as a First Impressions review. This means that it is effectively impossible for people associated with the book to sway the reviews, as can happen elsewhere. You can see which books have been reviewed recently in our "What's New" section, and here are the top 10 finds culled from more than 1,500 reviews of 60 books.


Rated 4.7 out of 5 Stars

Cruel Beautiful World Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

Hardcover & ebook Oct 2016. Paperback TBA. 352 pages. Algonquin Books

"Caroline Leavitt's ability to bring complex characters to life in a way that touches the reader to the core is amazing. I found myself completely immersed in each subplot as the novel progressed. This ability to engage the reader in such a complex way is the mark of a great novel." - Melissa S. Rowland, NC (read all 23 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt


The Midnight Watch The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian by David Dyer

Hardcover & ebook Apr 2016. Paperback Apr 2017. 336 pages. St. Martin's Press

"I was fascinated by the idea that such a very small sliver of time could be the subject of a full-length novel. But Dyer fabulously investigates and portrays the facts around the failure of the closest ship to the Titanic to rush to her aid." - Erica M. Chicago, IL (read all 23 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt


Miss Jane Miss Jane by Brad Watson

Hardcover & ebook Jul 2016. Paperback Jul 2017. 224 pages. W.W. Norton & Company

"It is not often that you happen upon a book so eloquently written, interesting in subject matter and overflowing with emotions. Simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking, this wonderful novel tapped every single feeling possible." - Aleksandra E. Alpharetta, GA (read all 24 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt


Rated 4.6 out of 5 Stars

Fallen Land Fallen Land by Taylor Brown

Hardcover & ebook Jan 2016. Paperback Jan 2017. 288 pages. St. Martin's Press

"Brown weaves his descriptive prose in a way that keeps the story moving at the steady pace of a war-deployed thoroughbred. The result is writing that fairly crunches like frozen scrub underfoot. This is in part, a tender love story, but one that is built on gristle, bone, heartless cold, and bitter revenge." - Tricia Gould, Fort Walton Beach Public Library, FL (read all 27 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt


The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson

Hardcover & ebook Mar 2016. Paperback Mar 2017. 400 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

"Once I began reading this one, though, I was so wrapped up by the third chapter, I had to stay up nearly all night to finish it! The characters are so meaty, the action so intriguing, and the scenarios so realistic, I was completely swept away – until the last word was read." - Annie P. Murrells Inlet, SC (read all 30 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt


News of the World News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Hardcover & ebook Oct 2016. Paperback TBA. 224 pages. William Morrow

"This is a beautiful and spare novel. The landscape comes alive, as does the almost constant sense of desperation of being on the road in during such dangerous times. The author has a true gift for description, we see, smell and feel the conditions the pair experience." - Ruthie A. New York, NY (read all 27 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt


The Sound of Gravel The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner

Hardcover & ebook Jan 2016. Paperback Jan 2017. 352 pages. Flatiron Books

"The Sound of Gravel shows us the personal side through the eyes of a young, brave girl. The author's understanding of her mother's motives and beliefs as well as her ability to separate the terribly wrong decisions from the love of her mother is riveting. This is a book I could not put down and stayed up half the night to finish. It really takes you on a dusty, dark journey into a world I never really knew existed." - Dorothy G. Naperville, IL (read all 30 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt

Rated 4.5 out of 5 Stars

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Hardcover & ebook May 2016. Paperback Jan 2017. 336 pages. Mira Books

"Phaedra Patrick has written a charming and interesting book about discovery and change that opened new horizons for a man who resisted, and then accepted change." - Arlene M. White Oak, PA (read all 26 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt


The Things We Keep The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

Hardcover & ebook Jan 2016. Paperback Jan 2017. 352 pages. St. Martin's Press

"With wisdom, candor and humor Hepworth spins what could be a tough read, into one that is wonderful! The tome she crafts catches the reader's heart. It will be a great book club choice, with lots to talk about. This book will wind up in the " favorites" section in my library" - Kathryn K. Oceanside, CA (read all 20 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt


What Lies Between Us What Lies Between Us by Nayomi Munaweera

Hardcover & ebook Feb 2016. Paperback Apr 2017. 320 pages. St. Martin's Press

"The story is beautifully written in the lyrical language of a poet, yet it captures the devastating and brutal turns that life can take. You will be unable to put this book down. Not only do I recommend it, I consider it a 'must-read.'" - Maureen S. Huntington Station, NY (read all 23 reviews)

Reviews, beyond the book article & excerpt

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