I’ve recently liberated myself by finally deciding to stop reading books I’m truly not enjoying (resulting in more DNF’s than ever before) and as a result, I’ve been able to focus more of my time on reading books that I truly love! That’s not to say I still haven’t slogged through some stinkers, but today’s list is about my favorite reads published in 2017 (so far)!
It is true, these are mostly fantasy and sci-fi, but there is a contemporary-ish one in the mix, as well as sort of surreal magical historical fiction and a young adult and middle-grade read. These are in no particular order!
The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein – The world’s technology has advanced; mosquitos no longer drink blood, Big Macs can be printed and teleportation is possible. A man finds himself duplicated after a teleportation accident and must fight off the powerful agency that seeks to destroy he and his twin and the religious cult that seeks to exploit them, all while trying to find his wife.
I’ve raved about this recently, but it’s a smart, snarky sci-fi with an innovative look at future technology. Some of it actually seemed plausible to me, but, then again, I’m not a scientist! The footnotes were funny, the main character was a sarcastic, every-man and it really made me think about how scary technology can be if you don’t actually know how it works. You can read our review here.
Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman – In a world where mages are forced to leave their homes and abandon any hope of a career or family to serve their country and queen, Charlie struggles to hide her growing powers and pass them off as her brother’s. But when her father’s life is on the line she finds it harder to control her potentially dangerous abilities.
This novella was something I picked up on a whim because of the gaslamp fantasy vibes. I was very intrigued by the world-building and hope to find out more about the magic and the society around it in the next book! I also enjoyed that our heroine is strong-willed and challenges societal norms in some ways, but also wants to marry the man she loves and start a family. Seems that some ladies are only one side of the coin or the other. Refreshing!
Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember – Ersel, a young mermaid, doesn’t wish to fulfill her destiny and settle down to bear children for her clan. She’d rather explore sunken ships and collect strange human artifacts. When Ersel meets a fierce Viking girl stranded on a glacier, she’ll risk life and limb and expulsion from her clan to help her.
Bisexual mermaids? YES PLEASE. This is one of the few stand-out young adult books I’ve read…well…ever, probably. It’s not without weakness, but I appreciated that Ember was trying something different. While I could have used a bit more character development, I enjoyed the spin on the classic Disney tale and the involvement of Norse gods. I also enjoyed the smooches. You can read my review here.
Cold Counsel by Chris Sharp – Slud was prophesied for greatness from birth and when his family and clan are destroyed by elves, he vows to take revenge on the stinking goblins inhabiting the mountain that was once his home. The crude troll, aided (unwillingly) by an unkillable goblin rouge, will take on a whole goblin clan if it’s the last thing he does.
This #$@%!&* book was so much #$@%!&* fun! With an all non-human cast, a troll who is willing to slaughter his way through a mountain of goblins, plenty of action, awesome character names, hints of gods, and lots of foul #$@%!&* language, this book was an instant hit for me. I only wish it was longer! You can read my review here.
Arabella and the Battle of Venus by David D. Levine – In the sequel of Arabella of Mars, Arabella leaves her home to save her fiancé, Captain Singh, who’s been captured with his crew by the French. Finding herself similarly captured, Arabella discovers the French are building warships that could gain them the control of all the planets of the English kingdom.
I enjoyed this Regency sequel and was happy to be back in Levine’s reimagined, futuristic, historically fictional world where people can fly wooden airships through space. If you haven’t picked up the first book and you enjoy space, airships, sassy heroines who masquerade as boys, automatons, life on other planets, and Regency England, this series is for you! You can read my review here.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire– In a companion/prequel to Every Heart a Doorway, Jack and Jill’s ordinary, if somewhat constrained, lives are uprooted when they climb into a trunk and out on to the haunted moors. Each sister chooses a mentor and as their newfound skills develop, the divide between them widens.
While Doorway isn’t required reading to enjoy Sticks and Bones, it helps add depth to the characters – yet Sticks and Bones adds depth to Doorway – it’s magical! The Wayward Children series is full of characters that have come back from magical worlds they’ve stumbled upon and now must adjust to life in the real world again. These books have some pretty good LGBT rep and are just the thing to read if you’ve ever tried to find your way to Narnia or Wonderland. (I still frequently test the back of closets…)
Burntown by Jennifer McMahon – Necco lives on the streets as a fire eater until her boyfriend is murdered and her mother disappears. As Necco finds herself on the run and aided by an unlikely duo of a teenage drug dealer and a lunch lady, her dreamlike past comes back to her and she must do her best to remember what happened to her family if she wants to save herself.
Yes, this is my contemporary-ish read (maybe that’s because I thought it was going to be a post-apocalyptic dystopia and was totally wrong, but whatever!). It’s a bit surreal, but thrilling once you get the hang of things. My love for the four main characters crept up on me – the moment one POV chapter was over, I found myself desperately wanting them back, but then when that new character’s chapter was over, I wanted them back instead! You can read my review here.
Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley – Merrick Tremayne is recruited by the India Office to go on an expedition to fetch quinine tree cuttings from Peru. He finds himself in a small town on the edge of a forest that the residents won’t enter for fear of being murdered by what lies within. Merrick must venture into the forest and separate truth from reality and keep himself alive along the way.
I am wild about the way Pulley writes her male characters and their relationships. This book is far more surreal than its predecessor, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (go read it!) and for a while I had no earthly idea what was going on. That didn’t matter though, because I was wrapped up in the lives of her characters. If you’re looking for magic, it’s a slow burn, but the end payoff is worth it. Her work is so hard for me to describe; I guess you’ll just have to go read it! You can read my review here.
Agents of Dreamland by Caitlín R. Kiernan – A government agent, known only as the Signalman, must investigate the house of a cult group known as the Children of the Next level. What he finds there is shocking and horrifying and the effects could be more far-reaching than he realizes.
I borrowed this from the library because the cover caught my eye and it sounded neat. This turned out to be a crazy novella about potentially fungus-based aliens and a cult who worships them. I was intrigued by the mysterious Signalman and I loved the dream-like and panic-inducing vibes this book was giving me. Do you, like me, love being creeped out? Read this!
The Wonderling by Mira Bartok – Number Thirteen, not quite a boy and not quite a fox, has only known life in the orphanage, though his vague memory of a strange song and a gold key he possesses keeps him hopeful that he’ll someday discover his family. After saving a small bird-girl named Trinket, he sets off on an adventure to find his family and escape the deadly clutches of the orphanage owner.
I love middle-grade and I love fantasy, so an MG book about animal/people who live in a sort of fantasy world with talking animal/animals and strange gods and steampunk elements was right up my alley. This book gave me vague Rats of Nimh and Fantastic Mr. Fox vibes and though I wanted the villain to be more complex, there was more darkness in this book than I thought and I love that! You can read my review here.
These were all published in late 2016, but I read them this year and would be remiss if I didn’t mention them!
The Burning Light by Bradley P. Beaulieu – A strange force called the Light is leaving residents of a flooded New York City disconnected from the mental network and strung out like druggies. An exiled colonel must track down its source and eliminate it, but the grudge she’s holding might get in the way.
A partially submerged, nearly destroyed New York city and strange mind-link technology and a colonel with a past? Yes, please. Yet another novella (what’s with that?!) that kept me wanting more. I hope we get more from this world because I love post-apoc meets advanced tech books.
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – The companion to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet follows Lovelace, formerly an AI program aboard a ship, as she leaves the only home she’s known to live life disguised as a human. The book also dives into the life of Pepper, the tinkerer extraordinaire who takes Lovelace in and the dark past that has made her who she is.
JUST READ BECKY CHAMBERS OK?! -Ahem- So, you might have heard me rave about this book as well. If you’re looking for LGBT rep in space, complex characters, sentient AI and just an all-around feel-good story (despite many not-so-feel-good moments) then PLEASE pick up something from the Wayfarers series. Then come gush about it with me while we wait for more. You can read my review here.
Normal by Warren Ellis – A burnt-out foresight strategist is sent to Normal Head to recover, but when another resident goes missing and a swarm of bugs is left in his bed, the other residents must work together to find out just what’s going on in the facility.
I really had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up, but I ended up loving it. The plot definitely lost me at some parts, but the characters were charming and funny and weird and I loved them. You can read my review here.
What are your favorite books of 2017, so far? Let us know!