The Best of 2017 or Last Year Was A Great Year For Books

For the past few years, I have been participating Goodread’s Reading Challenge. I’ve been on Goodreads since 2010 and it’s where I post most of my book reviews.1 Last year I set a goal of trying to read 75 books. I am happy to say that not only did I achieve this goal, but I enjoyed the vast majority of books that I read.2 Out of the 76 books I finished in 2017, I gave 5 stars (the highest marks on Goodreads) to 11 of them.3

Here, in no particular order, is my list of highly recommended books from the lot that I read last year.

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
This book has one of the best hooks I’ve ever read. The reader is instantly grabbed and pulled in. Imagine waking up to your own murdered corpse, your cloned body missing the years which should have been implanted.

From the review: “This is both one of the best science fiction novels and best mysteries I have read in years.”

Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells
Wells combines interesting, well developed characters with some of the best world building I’ve read in years. The story has a slightly Western feel, all the while maintaining the grittiness of a sci-fi setting as biker marauders and settlers have to face a the totalitarian business controlling their lives.

From the review: “This is how science fiction is done.”

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
It is WWI and the British have devised a method of having the souls of the soldiers report back before moving on to the beyond. In lesser hands this would have just been a pretty amazing idea, but Kowal explores all facets and potential problems which arise in this setting. A great espionage thriller with a supernatural twist.

From the review: “Ghost Talkers is not just a war story filled with espionage and mystery. It also has heart and the ending might just break yours.”

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
I don’t often read self-help books, but I can’t remember ever reading one that made me bark laugh as many times as this one did.

From the Review: “It is genuinely funny, but in between the laughs, it imparts some real advice on how to live and be happy.”

Goodnight Azathoth by Kenneth Hite, illustrations by Christina Rodriguez
Everyone knows (an most parents probably dread)
Goodnight Moon. Hite and Rodriguez take that story and turn it on its head with the introduction of various Mythos elements.

From the Review: “Beautiful artwork and a real knowledge of the Mythos went into this adorable tale for cultists of all ages.”

Skein and Bone
by V.H. Leslie
I read a lot of horror, but it has been a long time since an author evoked the sense of dread which the stories in this collection did. With stories ranging from sisters exploring a seemingly abandoned attraction to someone mapping the clouds to a woman who literally bottles her anger, Leslie creates miniature miracles with each piece of fiction.

From the Review: “Every single story will unnerve the reader in one way or another.”

by Mike Bockoven
Speaking of being unnerved
4, this book will haunt you. A hurricane sweeps through an amusement park populated by the teenaged workers who have been left behind to care for it. Everything quickly devolves to Lord of the Flies levels. This book is very well written and what transpires could easily happen.

From the Review: “The documentary style interviews only serve to build the tension, creating true feelings of dread in the reader.”

Paperbacks from Hell
by Grady Hendrix
One of the joys of 2017 was discovering the works of Grady Hendrix. I read three of his books this year. One appears later on the list, the other
My Best Friend’s Exorcism only missed being a Five Star because of something which happens in the book which I had to remove marks for.5

This book is an examination of the horror genre during the boom and bust of the paperback horror craze via the lens of cover art. Another book which had me literally laughing out loud.

From the Review: “A perfect gift for any horror fan.”

The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan
by Zig Zag Claybourne
How to describe
The Brothers Jetstream? I guess it’s sort of a paranormal mystery/humor/social commentary/espionage/oh this attempt at description is getting ridiculous just pick up the book!

From the Review: “Have you ever been eating an amazing dessert, one so good that you initially gobble it down, spoon after spoon, but soon realize that it will be done soon, so you start taking smaller and smaller bites in an effort to draw out the wonderful experience? That is why it took me so long to finish.”

The Girl With All The Gifts
by M.R. Carey
Just in case you don’t know about school girl Melanie and what makes her so special, I won’t reveal it here. Just know that this book rises above the many other books in the genre.

From the Review “The reader quickly deduces some things about Melanie and the world she lives in, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when Melanie realizes these things herself.”

by Grady Hendrix
Do yourself a favor and pick up an analog version of this one. I’m not sure how the digital version looks, but the oversized paperback I own looks just like an Ikea catalog, fitting since the setting of this original haunted house story is an Ikea-like furniture store.

From the Review: “Imagine being stuck in a soul destroying retail job. Imagine being literally trapped in the building after dark. Now imagine being attacked by the spirits of long dead inmates and administration of the asylum which once stood on that location.”

  1. I’ve been trying to get better about cross-posting here or to sites like Amazon, but that’s still a work in progress.
  2. I’ve only recently reached the point in my life where I can stop reading a book that I am not enjoying. While it does make the OCD twitch, the To Be Read pile is just too vast to force myself to slog through a book that I don’t like.
  3. There were also a number of books which also could have been given this rating, but I don’t review books which I have had a hand in putting together so publications by Dragon’s Roost Press and the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers get the shaft.
  4. Still the reigning King of the Segue.
  5. I also got to meet Hendrix and hear him give an hilarious presentation based on Paperbacks from Hell.