My Top 7 Books of 2017

It’s a sort of unwritten custom to post a best of the year list whenever a new year arrives and I think it’s a good way of getting this blog back on its feet. After surviving my roughest year yet with lots of personal challenges, I believe I’m slowly getting ready to turn a new page. I wouldn’t have been able to keep going without my wonderful friends and family whose support means so incredibly much to me. Life goes on, even when a loved one leaves us, and all we can do is fill our days with things and people that make us happy. I’m trying to make my grandmother proud every day, even if she’s not here to see it. Books and reading have always been a source of joy for me and I had no greater cheerleader in my obsession than my grandmother. So here’s to a new great year of reading. Let me welcome it with my favorite books from last year:

My Favorite Books Published in 2017

Katherine Arden – The Bear and the Nightingale

Without a doubt, my favorite book of last year (both published last year and older), this Russian-inspired fairy tale had so much atmosphere and told such a riveting story that it catapulted Katherine Arden onto my top author shelf immediately. Vasya is a fantastic heroine who – despite the slow loss of old beliefs – holds on to the old gods and tries to save her home, all by herself. The snowy landscape, the threat of true winter, the politics and magic and mythology all go so perfectly well together to make this book a perfect read for a cold day by a chimney (if you have one) or in front of a nice steaming cup of tea (if you don’t).

Martha Wells – All Systems Red

A rogue robot with a preference for soap operas doesn’t go on a killing spree – although they could – but instead helps the people they’re meant to protect survive a plot on an unexplored planet. The narration was just too damn good to not read this in one sitting! Murderbot is amazing and has so much personality that the edges between human and artificial intelligence get blurred. I can’t wait to read the sequel(s).

Mishell Baker – Phantom Pains

The follow-up to Borderline was as amazing – if not more – than Baker’s debut novel. Millie has to deal with the consequences of the events in Borderline and although a lot of terrible things happen once more, this is still one of those uplifting, feel-good series that I can’t quite explain. Millie still isn’t a perfect heroine and maybe that’s what makes her so wonderfully likable. In addition to telling another exciting story, this novel opens the world a bit and expands on what we learned in Borderline. It also made my mouth water for the third book which will come out in 2018.

Catherynne M. Valente – The Refrigerator Monologues

Cat Valente does wonderful things with words! While I prefer her when she’s playing with fairy tales and mythology, this short novel shows that she can do comic book style narration as well. Giving the women of famous comic book heroes a voice – after their death, that is – is not only a great idea, but it also shows just how carelessly some comic books create and kill/rape/torture their female characters, simply to give the (male) hero something to do or someone to avenge. Valente shows that there’s more to these girls than existance as a tired old trope.

My Favorite Books Published Before 2017

Brandon Sanderson – Words of Radiance

So yeah, everybody who’s been raving about The Stormlight Archive for the last years, was absolutely right. It is the most epic of epic fantasies with characters you can actually care about and a world so large and so filled with history and mythology that it probably will take those 10 volumes to explore it all. While the first book was very much an introduction into this crazy world (although it didn’t feel like it at the time), this one digs a little deeper, grants the characters more powers (both magical and personality-wise), and shows a bit more of what the world holds in store for us. I can’t get over how much I love Kaladin, and his interactions with Shallan were my favorite bits of the book, although that probably makes me sound like a huge fangirl.
The only reason I haven’t read Oathbringer yet is that I’m waiting for Graphic Audio to do the audio version of it. The actors doing the character’s voices, to me, have completely become those characters and I hope I can experience the entire series in this format.

Catherynne M. Valente – Palimpsest

Oh Cat, is there anything you can’t turn into a gorgeous story? Seriously, a sexually transmitted city is the premise for this gorgeous tale, and although there isn’t much plot at first, not a single chapter is boring. Because Valente plays so much with imagery and symbolism, even chapters where nothing happens are so full of meaning that reading feels more like devouring a fantastic meal. This is a book that rivets the senses and – Valente’s weakness, in my opinion – even delivers a beautiful ending that left me happy and satisfied.

Laini Taylor – Lips Touch: Three Times

This was my surprise of the year. I never warmed to Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series because the old-man-in-a-young-body falling in love with a teenage girl trope crept me the hell out. But this collection of three novellas absolutely blew me away. Taylor invents her own mythologies and plays with more well-known legends and tells beautiful stories within them. Whether you’d like to read a modern take on Goblin Market or read about how to deal with a devil, each story is beautifully told and has gorgeous illustrations. I am beyond happy to have a hardback copy of this on my shelf. Plus, this book convinced me to give Taylor’s other books another try.

I know there are a ton of books from last year that I didn’t get to and I’m trying to catch up now. Hugo nominating season will arrive soon and I want to make informed decisions about the books that are eligible. Here’s a few from the top of my list:

  • Mur Lafferty – Six Wakes
  • Yoon Ha Lee – Raven Stratagem
  • Nicky Drayden – The Prey of Gods
  • Sarah Rees Brennan – In Other Lands
  • Laini Taylor – Strange the Dreamer
  • Jeanette Ng – Under the Pendulum Sun
  • N. K. Jemisin – The Stone Sky

There are far more books that interest me but a bit of realism doesn’t hurt. I don’t read as much as I used to, these days, so if I manage to read half of that list, I’ll consider it a success.

Which books did you read last year that you think nobody should miss?

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Top Ten Tuesday – My Fall TBR List

As I’m home sick and need some distraction anyway, I thought I’d do a Top Ten Tuesday again. The Broke and the Bookish have come up with another great topic that will hopefully help me organise my reading a litte. As much as I love making lists, I rarely adhere to them and just end up reading whatever falls into my hands.

top-ten-tuesday

My Fall TBR list

this-savage-song1.Victoria Schwab – This Savage Song

Schwab disappointed me a bit with her sequel A Gathering of Shadows but I am still convinced that she’s got an awesome brain and comes up with great stories and characters. So I want to see what her latest novel – also the first in a series – is all about.

I know it’s about humans and monsters (and how they are not always what they seem) and music, and all of those sound pretty good. Plus, the title is brilliant.

bone swans2. C.S.E. Cooney – Bone Swans

I was so incredibly excited when I heard this was coming out and then I immediately got it and then… it’s been kind of sitting on my shelf. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to read it, wanting to really savor it. Cooney is still new to me but I have a suspicion that she might become a new favorite author. Everything I’ve heard about her and this collection is so up my alley that I will be majorly disappointed if I don’t fall in love with it hard.

haunting of hill house3. Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House

I said last year I wouldn’t wait around for another Halloween before I read my next Shirley Jackson book, but as new books came out, I ended up doing just that. The disctractions were too great, you guys. I don’t care, I’m going to read this creepy thing in October because I am still haunted by We Have Always Lived in the Castle and need more Shirley Jackson in my life.

shakespeares-star-wars-trilogy4. Ian Doescher – William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

Until this post goes up I may well have finished the trilogy already, but in case there’s still some returning Jedi left over, this goes on my Fall TBR. I mainly like these books for the illustrations and the little nods to Shakespeare. They are quick reads, they make me giggle at the Shakespearean version of famous Star Wars quotes and they are a fun way to revisit the Star Wars trilogy (I will most likely skip the prequels because why would I put myself into the pain of revisiting those stories without the one thing that made it bearable – the visual effects?).

bird-and-the-sword5. Amy Harmon – The Bird and the Sword

I stumbled across this book by accident but it sounds super-intriguing. The cover is mysterious, the synopsis makes me expect all sorts of mysteries, and magic, and myth. It might be totally not my taste but, hell, until I’ll try I won’t know, right?

Swallow, daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive.

siege-and-storm6. Leigh Bardugo – Siege and Storm

I actually really, really want to read Six of Crows but because I’m weird and organised in my reading life (if nowhere else), I started the Grisha Trilogy first and intend to finish it before reading Bardugo’s other series. So Siege and Storm is up next and I have high hopes for it. While Shadow and Bone drifted off a little too much into YA-trope-land, I believe there is serious potential here and I quite liked the writing style. So let’s do this and do it quickly, then I can finally get into Six of Crows.

bands-of-mourning7. Brandon Sanderson – The Bands of Mourning

I am waiting for the Graphic Audio adaptations to come out (part one September 28th, part two October 26th) although I’ve had the physical book here since it came out. As my experience with Graphic Audio Sandersons go, I will probably eat this up in one weekend and it will probably be the first weekend after the entire audiobook is published. After that, I can start listening to the first part(s) of Words of Radiance as well, so the rest of 2016 looks very promising.

bryony-and-roses8. T. Kingfisher – Bryony and Roses

I am utterly in love with T. Kingfisher’s writing and the way she turns fairy tales into something new. Her collection Toad Words was lovely, and her novel The Seventh Bride both terrified and delighted me. I need more of that. Plus, the books are usually not very big (that’s a plus because I’ve started a few large series lately and feel quite intimidated by the page count).

three-dark-crowns9. Kendare Blake – Three Dark Crowns

I don’t own this book yet (as of writing this post) and I am on the fence about everything. But throw a cool book trailer at me, a gorgeous cover, and some buzz words in the description and I’m willing to try. So far, this sounds like Royal Hunger Games with magic – and that’s a pretty cool idea.

I know about Blake’s other series (Anna Dressed in Blood and the sequel) but I haven’t read it – don’t think I will either. The problem with these over-hyped books is that lots of people may end up liking them (see Sarah J. Maas) but I just can’t take the clichés and tropes anymore. I’m hoping for the best.

10. EVERYTHING ELSE by EVERYONE

I have SO MANY books on my TBR and I want to read at least half of them right this very moment. I can’t possibly pick only one for my last book, so I’m making a list within a list. That’s allowed, right?

  1. Carolyn Turgeon – Godmother
  2. Foz Meadows – An Accident of Stars
  3. Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Signal to Noise
  4. N. K. Jemisin – The Obelisk Gate (OMG, I forgot this one, I’m totally reading this, no matter what, this should be number 1!!!)
  5. Laure Eve – The Graces
  6. Indra Das – The Devourers
  7. Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Mist and Fury (started it already but it’s painfully bad, so I’ll read this if I’m in the mood for a ranty review…)
  8. Karin Tidbeck – Jagannath
  9. Nicole Kornher-Stace – Archivist Wasp
  10. Roshani Chokshi – The Star-Touched Queen

 

 

 

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