MY TOP 10 FOR 2017

Now, these aren’t all books that came out in 2017, but ones that I read for the first time this last year. That said, there are a few that were new, so… well, yeah. I didn’t include rereads, ’cause if I’m reading them again, I probably loved them the first time.

1. A Green and Ancient Light – by Frederic S. Durbin
My favorite book of the year is one written in the style of another world caught but in glimpses. Something that dwells deeply in one’s imagination and sense of childhood wonder. Durbin creates an enchanting scene: Europe in the throes of World War II; an untouched seaside village and an adjacent, ancient forest; an enigmatic garden harboring a mysterious secret. The plot is full of mysterious players with questionable loyalties, and as the story progresses, the lines between friend and foes blur.

This reminded me of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, of childhood, and of a strange, exciting world full of wonder. I would recommend it to anyone, ever.

2. The Faithful and the Fallen Series – by John Gwynne
While I read only the final two books for the first time in 2017, I read through the entire four book series in the first two months of the year. The journey was so enjoyable, I decided not to pick an individual book, but to place the entire series on my list. Through Malice, Valor, Ruin and Wrath, I loved each book to the point that I could scarcely name a favorite. Or, even, my least favorite. After months of reflection, I still can’t.

The journey through the Faithful and the Fallen was highly enjoyable, in part since the story just blends together so well, the series becoming alike a single volume in itself. While not exactly what I what call “classic fantasy”, this is epic fantasy at its best—sword-and-sorcery blended with high and a bit of dark thrown in. I would recommend this series to anyone that enjoys any kind of fantasy.

3. The Wayfarers Series – by Becky Chambers
I’m doing it again.

While I probably enjoyed the second book in the Wayfarer series more than the first, I loved them both to the degree that each would’ve eaten up a spot on this list so I decided to combine them. While Becky Chambers has doctorates in Astrophysics and such, the science of these novels is less important than the journey within them. It’s not a classic space opera where a galaxy is spanned and highly technical knowledge or imagination is required. There is some tech, and imagination is always helpful, but Chambers’ books are more about the lives of those described, and their various pursuits of happiness. There are high points and low, laughter and tears, but an overall note of hope that persists.

And inspires hope in its wake.

4. Chaosmage – by Stephen Aryan
While I made it through the entire Age of Darkness Trilogy in 2017, Chaosmage—the conclusion to said trilogy—was definitely my favorite. By book three, Stephen Aryan had hit his stride, the result a lovely blend of epic and dark fantasies. Since it’s the last book in an otherwise unbreached trilogy, I won’t spoil much. Just that a shadow looms over each book, each character in each book, so much so that by the end this darkness was almost a physical, real element, almost like another character in the story.

I’d recommend reading the first two, obviously, first. And for lovers of dark fantasy especially, but moreover anyone who really enjoys sword-and-sorcery at all.

5. Hell Divers Series – by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
I quite liked the first Hell Divers, a post-apocalyptic thriller reminiscent of a quasi- steampunk, cyberpunk Metro 2033. But with airships. Sansbury Smith continues to impress with his cataclysmic thrillers, as I haven’t actually read any other genre than those by him. I’m not even sure if he has written any in any other genres. Um, so. Right.  The second book wasn’t quite as good, but left me lusting after the third, so…

The final book in the Hell Divers trilogy drops then in the summer of 2018, so maybe wait til then and read ’em all. Or buy them now and read ’em twice.

6. Edgedancer – by Brandon Sanderson
A nice little story by Sanderson from the Stormlight Archive to tide people over until Oathbringer came out some several months later. Um, “little” here is over 40,000 words, but as anyone who’s read Sanderson knows—the man is unreal. A robot, a demon, Highlander. Anyways, Edgedancer is the story of Lift, a minor POV Interlude from a previous Stormlight book (I think WoR). Lift’s mocking tone and particular brand of awesomeness is both what captured and kept my attention. Oh, and there’s the world and plot and such to consider. As always, Sanderson doesn’t half-ass anything and Edgedancer, while short, is both vivid and engrossing. A highly entertaining read.

Recommended to any and all fantasy lovers, anyone who likes Sanderson, Stormlight fans, or anyone who’s bored.

7. The Disappearance of Winter’s Daughter – by Michael J. Sullivan
The last book I read this year may have well’ve been the best. It’s tough to say. My top 3-5 are all really good, and really tight. If you haven’t read any of the Riyria Chronicles or Revelations, don’t fret. I mean, you really should read them, but it’s not necessary to understand the plot. You may miss some subtleties, sure, but… you can always get to those the second time around. After all, upon reading Winter’s Daughter, you’ll really want to read all the rest. Two thieves actually working inside the law for a change is… well… It was my favorite of the series thus far.

Sullivan uses language that he’s comfortable with, so you won’t run across anything to abstract or complicated. Not to say the writing is simple, however. It is a lovely read, with just the right amount of comedy, action and drama to frame a mystery that actually kept me questioning, right up to the end.

Recommended for lovers of fantasy or scifi, or anyone who’s new to either genre.

8. Sins of Empire – by Brian McClellan
If you haven’t read through the Powder Mage trilogy, I’d highly recommend it. It’s basically magic with guns, in the sense that Mistborn is magic with coins. I thoroughly enjoyed every single book, and where the Powder Mage series ends, the Gods of Blood and Powder picks up.

This book was actually new this year, so I can’t vouch for the series continued awesomeness. That being said, I loved it just as much as the previous books, even though my favorite character did not return as a POV. Favorite two, actually.
Recommended for anyone who likes fantasy, Sanderson, or steampunk.

9. Children of Time – by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My sister would kill me if I didn’t include this. It would take a bit of doing, and some vacation days—but she would.
While I didn’t have the world-altering reaction to this that she did, it does have giant, sentient spiders, and a highly interesting plot. It’s a bit more of a hands-on scifi novel than any of those I’ve previously mentioned, but not totally overwhelming. I listened to the audiobook while multitasking, and while I did have to repeat a section or two, it wasn’t anything I had to concentrate too religiously on.

Uh, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone arachnophobic, because you will dream about giant spiders. Otherwise, anyone into scifi or spaceships or big, talking, jumping spiders.

10. Six Wakes – by Mur Lafferty
It was a tough one for #10. I’m not Alyssa, or Cait, or Mogsy, or anyone that I follow. I can’t read a couple hundred books a year. I made it through maybe 60 books this year, and that’s really pushing it (or about average, depending on my social life). Six Wakes was the perfect blend of scifi and murder mystery, both of which were quite intelligent and enjoyable. I’d never heard of Mur Lafferty before this, but as Six Wakes was her debut, that’s not surprising. I actually managed to find this at the library, so it didn’t even run me anything. I’d totally buy it, though.

The characters, while not entirely likable, were pretty human. The concepts and stretches weren’t blatant, nor objectionable—depending on how one feels about cloning morally. Regardless, if you can stomach it, the book is quite good, especially as the premise regards something that’ll never occur in our lifetimes.

Honorable Mentions:
Killing Pretty – by Richard Kadrey
Book 7 of the Sandman Slim series delivers—my favorite yet. It features a quite human, quite relatable Stark, which I quite enjoyed. Missed the Top 10 by hair, though.

Bloodmage – by Stephen Aryan
Not as good as Book 3, Book 2 is the point of the series I couldn’t put it down and had to get the third as soon as possible. Aryan hadn’t figured everything out yet, but managed to deliver an entertaining read.

Dragon Hunters – by Marc Turner
This actually lost out to Six Wakes for #10. I liked When the Heavens Fall, and after reading that Mogsy actually enjoyed the followup more, I tried it. And I even agree, Turner shows marked improvement. I got the three as a package deal, and can’t wait to read Red Tide.

Bane and Shadow – by Jon Skovron
Yeah, it’s pretty good. Didn’t like it quite as much as its predecessor, though. Definitely enough that I’ll read the third installment.

A Darker Shade of Magic – by V. E. Schwab
I’ve heard this series gets better as it goes on. The first one was quite interesting, just not enough to make the Top 10. Victoria Schwab really had a couple of great books in 2017.

Scrappy Little Nobody – by Anna Kendrick
The only non-fiction book I read this year. I think. Maybe.

Anna Kendrick is quite enjoyable as an author, actress, and figure that I’d never heard of before I read this. Although, I did recognize her later as “Oh, she was in that. Really?”

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