Top 20 Books of 2017

I set my Goodreads challenge to complete 15 books, and I read 73.  There’s something to be said for underestimation.  I low-balled it because last year, I put 20 on my challenge, but only finished 19; however, I discovered that by putting books on my schedule/to-do list, I could complete them like a fiend.  At some points I was reading eight at a time, but I mostly stuck with my favorite number: seven.  That…was too much though, and while I love to read, I also want to have enough time to do other things.  So I cut down to four, which might still sound like a lot, but one is a Kindle that I read on my lunch break; one is a fiction/fantasy; one varies between a classic or a non-fiction/reference (before I was reading one of each); and the last is a graphic novel/manga, which are easy to breeze through.  Compare this to two Kindles, one fiction/fantasy, one classic, one non-fiction/reference, one graphic novel/manga, and one library book. I’m currently borrowing Death Note from the library for my manga, and I’ll borrow fictions/fantasies from there, too.

Total Books Read: 73

  1. Tuf Voyaging by George R. R. Martin
  2. In the House of the Wyrm by George R. R. Martin
  3. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Rest in Piece by B. W. Ginsburg
  6. The Missing Orchid by Fia Black
  7. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
  8. The Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh
  9. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
  10. The Illustrated A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  11. Descendants by Rae Else
  12. The Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton
  13. Riddled With Senses by Petra Jacob
  14. The Quantum Ghost by Jonathan Ballagh
  15. Radiance by Grace Draven
  16. Saga: Volume 1 by Brian K, Vaughn
  17. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  18. Eidolon by Grace Draven
  19. A Father’s Protection by K. J. Hawkins
  20. Saga: Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughn
  21. The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia (edited) by Patrick Thorpe
  22. Saga: Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughn
  23. Silent Child by Sarah K. Denzil
  24.  A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  25. Saga: Volume 4 by Brian K, Vaughn
  26. Saga: Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughn
  27. Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
  28. Saga: Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughn
  29. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  30. Talon by Julie Kagawa
  31. Saga: Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughn
  32. Stone & Iris by Jonathan Ballagh
  33. Gaslight Hades by Grace Draven
  34. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  35. Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft
  36. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Volume 1 by Katie Cook
  37. Poetic Edda: The Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes by Anonymous
  38. Never Never: Part One by Colleen Hoover
  39. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
  40. Never Never: Part Two by Colleen Hoover
  41. Never Never: Part Three by Colleen Hoover
  42. The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess by Akira Himekawa
  43. Goldie Vance Volume 1 by Hope Larson
  44. Shadows on Snow by Starla Huchton
  45. Red as Blood and White as Bone by Theodora Goss
  46. Monstress #1: Awakening
  47. An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel
  48. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
  49. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
  50. The Archived by Victoria Schwab
  51. Dweller by Jeff Strand
  52. Abstract Clarity by B. W. Ginsburg
  53. Chobits, Vol. 1 by CLAMP
  54. The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
  55. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
  56. Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom by Tsugumi Ohba
  57. Master of Crows by Grace Draven
  58. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
  59. The Diamond Tree by Michael Matson
  60. Promethea, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore
  61. Blink Once by Cylin Busby
  62. Death Note, Vol. 2: Confluence by Tsugumi Ohba
  63. The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau
  64. The Daemoniac by Kat Ross
  65. The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
  66. Death Note, Vol. 3: Hard Run by Tsugumi Ohba
  67. Death Note, Vol 4: Love by Tsugumi Ohba
  68. Gyo by Junji Ito
  69. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka
  70. Parallel by Anthony Vicino
  71. Death Note, Vol. 5: Whiteout
  72. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  73. Death Note, Vol 7: Give-and-Take by Tsugumi Ohba
Total Fiction/Sci-Fi/Fantasy: 46 (63%)
Total Classic: 3 (4%)
Total Non-Fiction/Reference: 4 (5%)
Total Graphic Novels/Manga: 20 (27%)

I was going to do this whole shebang with “Most Read Author,” “Favorite New Author,” “Favorite Series,” and all this other stuff, but I decided on just doing a Top 20 with that number as an increase from the original 10.  I marked around 14 books as potential Tops and figured I could find six more.

20. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

The cover of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David EaglemanOne of the best parts of reading this book was the perfect timing when I read it: in the midst of watching a Let’s Play of SOMA, which I’ve spoken of at great length (even though the review/essay is still to come).  Incognito explores the intricacies of conscious, subconscious, and unconscious processes and how the latter two form the foundation of the first.  It’s written in such a way that psychological novices can still follow with relatable analogies and examples, but the volume is not without some major issues, which I started noticing around Chapter 4 with Eagleman’s views on beauty/attractiveness that spiraled unfortunately towards racism (yes…really).  He also didn’t fully explore the reasons behind why we have unconscious biases, which never just come out of a vacuum.  While the author has a flair for piquing interest in subjects that could easily come off as tedious, his essentialism and (seemingly) unwillingness to take environmental influences into account raises my brows (and hackles) a bit (e.g. his insistence that having a Y chromosome essentially makes one more violent without considering this propensity could be due to how those perceived as having a Y chromosome are treated from [often before] birth is only one of many).  While I enjoyed the book for what information it imparted, especially for those unfamiliar with psychology, the fore mentioned (and other) issues prompt me to insist it be read with a discerning eye and copious grains of salt.

19. Dweller by Jeff Strand

The cover of Dweller by Jeff StrandThis novel was like a more fucked up version of Harry and the Hendersons, if the Hendersons were a once brutally bullied loner and Harry was a man eating abomination.  I really wanted to know where the monster came from.  Was he some government experiment gone wrong?  A throwback from an early time?  A creature from an alien dimension?  Everything about him just breeds more questions, but his relationship with Toby is both poignant and disturbing.  A lot of fucked up things happen in this book.  I was initially unsure about Strand’s writing style, but it grew on me as did Toby’s character.  It made sense why the author wrote it in this way: it perfectly reflected the MC’s mental state.  This is one of those books that has the perfect ending, as in there’s no other way it could’ve ended for these characters that would’ve been as satisfactory.

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The State of the Writer: 9/17/17

<–The State of the Writer: 9/10/17          The State of the Writer: 9/24/17–>

A weekly post updated every Sunday discussing my current writing projects and where I stand with them.  This will include (but not be limited to) any and all work(s) in progress (WIPs) be they creative writing, essays/analyses, and reviews.  Additionally, this post will showcase what writing projects I’ve completed in the past week as a sort of weekly roundup, as I’ve seen other cooler bloggers do.

Finished This Week: 3

Project: Book Review
Title: Gaslight Hades
Author: Grace Draven
Date Posted: September 11, 2017

One book review finished out of many needed this past week, but I’m starting to look at the reviews as yet another long term project, especially if I’m going to finish three or so books a week.  This novel is in the running for my Book of the Year, and Grace Draven may very well be my new/current favorite author.

Project: Award
Title: Not Really Another Liebster Award
Author: Inkbiotic

As the title states, it’s not really another Liebster award, but rather one I scooped up on Ms. Inkbiotic’s blog as it was so offered.  It was a great deal of fun, and it roused her out of hiding to answer my questions in turn.  I call that a win 😀

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Gaslight Hades by Grace Draven (The Bonekeeper Chronicles #1)

The Bonekeeper Chronicles

Gaslight Viduus (TBK #2)–>

Title: Gaslight Hades
Series Title: The Bonekeeper Chronicles
Author: Grace Draven
Date Added: June 11, 2017
Date Started: July 2, 2017
Date Finished: July 12, 2017
Reading Duration: 10 days
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Supernatural, Steampunk, Gothic

Pages: 117
Publication Date: March 10, 2017
Publisher: Self
Media: eBook/Kindle

Shares Paradigms With: Final Fantasy VII, SOMA, Lovecraft, Frankenstein (Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley), Wraith Kings, Dracula/Castlevania, The Raven (Edgar Allen Poe)

Nathaniel Gordon walks two worlds—that of the living and the dead. Barely human, he’s earned the reputation of a Bonekeeper, the scourge of grave robbers. He believes his old life over, until one dreary burial he meets the woman he once loved and almost married.

Lenore Kenward stands at her father’s grave, begging the protection of the mysterious guardian, not knowing he is her lost love. Resolved to keep his distance, Nathaniel is forced to abandon his plan and accompany Lenore on a journey into the mouth of Hell where sea meets sky, and the abominations that exist beyond its barrier wait to destroy them.

*****Some minor spoilers for the narrative in discussion.*******

Grace Draven shows off her ability to subvert established narratives and tropes in this Victorian steampunkish tale of stolen bodies, a Lovecraftian portal, lost loves, and the resurrected dead.  The author also draws from her prior series Wraith Kings (linked in the Shares Paradigms With section above) in ways that though numerous are neither tedious nor redundant.

In Nathaniel Gordon’s case, he was denied even the chance at love with Lenore Kenward before perishing in an airship accident, nor was he allowed to lay unmolested, instead he was forced to inhabit the form so graciously revealed on the book’s cover.  A transfer of  consciousness from broken body into a new, binding all together with gehenna, which proves its meaning of “a place of fiery torment for the dead” in what our hero suffers upon revival.  By the time he’s past the agony, Dr. Harvel, the depraved scientist who made him, is dead, slain by Gideon, his original creation, and Nathaniel is in the first Guardian’s care, slowing recovering from death’s transition to a semblance of life.

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The State of the Writer: 7/30/17

<–The State of the Writer: 7/23/17          The State of the Writer: 8/6/17–>

A weekly post updated every Sunday discussing my current writing projects and where I stand with them.  This will include any and all work(s) in progress (WIP) be they creative writing, essays/analyses, or reviews of any type.

Project: Story
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction (FFVII) Novel
Current Word Count: 266,907
Prior Word Count: 267,081
Word Difference: -174
Status: Editing
Progress: 4th edit

I know I used this picture for Chapter 6 of Northern Lights, but it goes well with this week’s quote, and I’m running dry on image ideas since I’m well into my third month of and 4th editing adventure.

I think I can say this edit will be the last full one.  I kind of do want to really scrutinize the content of this chapter, since it still seems a bit long-winded, but at the very least I’ll be deleting edited words *rolls eyes*

Quote: *I…answered her prayers,* he realized in rue.  *I’m what she was begging for.* He blinked several times, staring down at the terrified maid in his arms.  

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The State of the Reader: 7/12/17

<–The State of the Reader: 7/5/17          The State of the Reader: 7/19/17–>

A weekly post updated every Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and where I am with them in addition to what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads to make it easier for interested parties to add any books that might strike their fancy.  I attempt to use the covers for the edition I’m reading, and I’ll mention if this is not the case.  If you have a Goodreads account feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Samples Read This Week

  1. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson: Kept – The princess runs away from her arranged marriage, and eventually the jilted prince and a hired assassin come after her, but she (and presumably the reader) don’t know which is which.  I really hope she chooses the assassin :p
  2. Red as Blood and White as Bone by Theodor Goss: Kept/Purchased – I’ve followed Ms. Goss’s blog for a bit, and really love her Heroine’s Journey essay.  It’s something I want to keep as a reference for comparison in the least (I immediately thought of Aeris when I read it; the maiden in the woods indeed).  I’m a lover of fairy tales (as you well know), and this story certainly has that feel.
  3. Iron Cast by Destiny Soria: Kept – One of the main characters is a woman of color in a Victorian setting!  The writing is solid, and the hematobes seem like an interesting bunch.
  4. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery: Kept/Purchased – I found a stupendous deal on this book/series.  I’ve never read it, but one of my more intelligent friends from high school has talked about it on Facebook, and I figured it was worth a look.
  5. RoseBlood by A. G. Howard: Kept – A modern Phantom of the Opera retelling where I’m not sure whether the female character is taking more of the role of the Phantom, but the cover seems to suggest that.  There’s some weird stuff going on with her family, and in just the brief sample, I saw little references to the original like her Aunt Lottie (short for Charlotte), but certainly a reference to “Little Lottie.”
  6. The Stolen Child by Keith Donahue: Kept – I removed it from my really-want-to-read list, not because I didn’t like it.  I really do.  The writing is lush; the first page has a Latin phrase I had to look up; and it brings up several good questions about the origin of changelings.  However, I’m trying to determine if a book is RWTR by the sample, and per that, I’m taking it off that list.
  7. The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron: Kept (RWTR) – I was only able to read a few pages of this on my lunch break, but what I did told me it needed to be added to my RWTR list.  Everyone in the city of Canaan forgets everything they know after a certain number of days, and only a select few are given books of remembering.  The protagonist is one of these people.
  8. Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson: Kept (RWTR) – Sexy vampires with English accents and Victorian garb?  Yes please.  The main character/heroine is extremely likeable, and the author was quite ingenious making her so since she steals a locket within the first few pages.  However Tish is a nurse, which already adds points to her credit, because she’s a legitimate, caring nurse.  She escaped a bad relationship and among doing hospice for others, she takes care of her ailing ,but still feisty grandmother.  This is a definite a really-want-to-read.
  9. The Rescuers by Margery Sharp: Passed – I spent a good deal of my teenage years reading books that Disney movies were based on if I could find them at my school and/or local library.  It’s how I read Bambi, which is quite a bit different than the movie.  I was hoping I’d find this book as charming and interesting as the others so co-opted for movies, but I was frankly bored.  The narrative was too scattered as if the author didn’t have a thorough editing job performed.  Maybe it gets better later, but I have too many books on my TBR list to gamble on that.

Books Purchased This Week: 9

Title: Red as Blood and White as Bone
Author: Theodora Goss
Date Added: September 10, 2016
Date Purchased: July 7, 2017

Media: eBook/Kindle
Price: $0.99
Retailer: Amazon

Title: Anne of Green Gables
Series Title: Anne of Green Gables & Chronicles of Avonlea
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Date Added: September 2, 2016
Date Purchased: July 7, 2017

  • Anne of Avonlea
  • Anne of the Island
  • Anne’s House of Dreams
  • Rainbow Valley
  • Rilla of Avonlea
  • Chronicles of Avonlea
  • Further Chronicles of Avonlea

Media: ebook/Kindle
Price: $0.99
Retailer: Amazon

It was $0.99 for all eight books.  I couldn’t turn down such a deal, and this is the best and easiest way I could think to show that on here.

Total: $1.98
Average Price: $0.22

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The State of the Reader: 7/5/17

<–The State of the Reader: 6/28/17          The State of the Reader: 7/12/17–>

A weekly post updated every Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and where I am with them in addition to what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads to make it easier for interested parties to add any books that might strike their fancy.  I attempt to use the covers for the edition I’m reading, and I’ll mention if this is not the case.  If you have a Goodreads account feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Samples Read This Week

  1. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins: Kept – I had this on my RWTR list, but I bumped it off of that.  It’s interesting, but I’m not chaffing at the bit to read it.  I put it on my library shelf though, so I’m sure I’ll get to it soon due to that marvelous resource.
  2. In the Eyes of Madness by Michael Pang: Passed – I can’t get into the writing style, and the poor editing job doesn’t help.  I also read a review that said it was heavy handed in religion.  Since the sample showed the main character seeming to be exasperated with the concept, this is probably going to be a “come to Jesus” type of novel where he realizes the error of his ways in being a Doubting Thomas, and stories like that just don’t interest me.  3 Gates of the Dead is by one of my very devout Catholic author friends where the main character has the Doubting Thomas mien, but by the end of the book, he still has his doubts and is trying to come to terms with everything.  He’s not completely throwing away his belief in God, but doubts don’t just disappear, and it makes the MC more human and relatable.  The premise of In the Eyes of Madness seems like something that would really draw my interest since I believe it starts off with the MC having some issue with his mother, and then he doesn’t know what’s real anymore before horror ensues (I’m probably simplifying it too much, but you get the gist of why this would pique my interest), but I have to pass.
  3. King’s Folly by Jill Williamson: Kept – I have a great fondness for main characters in command, control, or a leadership position who don’t abuse their power and authority.  I don’t recall the captain’s name, but when an earthquake strikes right before he pulls his ship into port, his actions and the way his men react to him clearly show he’s worthy of their respect.  While he doesn’t go down with his ship, he is the last to leave after making sure everyone else escaped.  He also notes that many of his men can’t swim.  The fact that he knows this means he cares enough to find out,; therefore, I care enough to read more.
  4. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: Kept – I really thought I wasn’t going to like this because on the surface it seems a bit too Harry Potter like (especially with the first sentence mentioning “half bloods”), but there’s a distinctive difference in style and mien.  While both this and J. K. Rowling’s series have a young, white male protagonist with special powers, the source of magic and the reason humans can wield it is never fully outlined in HP’s world.  It appears to just be genetic with no particular progenitor.  Percy is the son of Poseidon, which means this book/series is going to utilize, at least on the surface, classical mythology.
  5. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey: Kept – It’s hard for me to turn my back on winter tales.  I’m quite obsessed with that season.  What also drew me to this were the wife’s depressive thoughts and suicide ideation.
  6. Mirror Image by Michael Scott: Passed – It’s a mystery, horror thriller about an evil mirror, but it just didn’t grab me.
  7. Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone: Kept – A dead god and a young woman who was thrown out of her hidden school to crash to earth in a heap.  Sounds like there’s some Paradise Lost influence going on with this, and I’m all about that.
  8. Curse of the Thirteenth Fey by Jane Yolen: Kept (RWTR) – I missed downloading this one when I was going through my list.  It’s from 2013 and I’m downloading ones from 2016.  I’m glad I noticed it as I was going through a new batch of book samples.  I’ve read Jane Yolen before.  Her Briar Rose is one of the most haunting fairy tale reworkings I’ve ever read.
  9. The Last Wish by Andrej Sapokowski: Kept – This is the book The Witcher game series is based on.  I was going to say game devs love people with white hair, but it’s not just them.  We could blame Michael Moorcock for this but it’s one of those tropes that’s older than dirt or as old as religion.
  10. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs: Kept (RWTR) – Holy shit, this one surprised me.  I expected to give it a pass, because it’s urban fantasy and takes place in modern times, and this is exactly what I said in my latest State of the Gamer post about not discounting genres/formats.  I like Mercy.  I like that she’s a female mechanic and no one seems to give her shit for that.  I’m actually hyped to read this book.
  11. Never Never by Colleen Hoover: Kept (RWTR)/Purchased – I had to force myself to stop reading this sample.  I’ve read, seen, and played many stories about amnesia.  It’s a trope so common it’s become trite, but this take on it is utterly new.  Bounced between two points of view, both characters lose all memory of who they are including their names while they’re in the middle of their school day.  It would be like you’re just going about your business, and all of a sudden all memory of your past just vanishes.  You have to pretend you know people whose faces you don’t recognize (you don’t even know your own), because how would someone that’s known you your entire life react if you said you didn’t remember them?  They’d think you were mocking or making a joke.  When I saw how much the book was on Amazon, it was an easy purchase.

Books Purchased This Week: 4

Title: The Daemoniac
Series Title: A Dominion Mystery
Author: Kat Ross
Date Added: October 13, 2016
Date Purchased: July 3, 2017

Media: eBook/Kindle
Price: $0.00
Retailer: Amazon

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