Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Best of 2017

Tally of Books Read for 2017:

Fantasy: 30
Romances: 7
Urban fantasy: 5
SF: 3
Post-apocalypse: 12
Mystery: 5
Contemporary YA: 2
Literary: 6, all but one by Karen Joy Fowler
Historical: 3
Alternate history: 3
Caper novel: 1
Nonfiction: 4
Of this lot, re-reads: 10
DNF: 14

What an unbalanced year. I had no idea how little SF I read this year until I looked over my list. Which is a bit unreliable; there were some months I know I forgot to record some of the books I read. Still, this is a fairly accurate list of my reading for 2017.

Okay, favorites by month. I read from four to twenty books per month, so there’s a lot of variation in how competitive any given month was. Still, I’ll take a stab at picking out one favorite for each month of 2017.

Favorite January: Tomorrow, When the War Began series by Marsden (a re-read)

Favorite February: Hidden Steel by Durgin

Favorite March: Shadow Unit 15 by Bear and Monette and others

Favorite April: Shadow Fallen by Briggs

Favorite May: I read a whole bunch of books in May, lots of them good to excellent, so it’s hard to select one favorite read. But I have to go for the Freedom’s Gate series by Kritzer.

Favorite June: The Under a Graveyard Sky series by Ringo

Favorite July: Burn for Me by Andrews. I’d been saving this one for a reading slump. Loved it.

Favorite August: Knife by Anderson

Favorite September: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Carson

Favorite October: The Last Mage Guardian by Chase

Favorite November: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Valentine

Favorite December: I haven’t really been reading many books this month, so I guess I’ll leave this space blank for now. If I read something fabulous in the next three weeks, I’ll be sure and review it.

Favorite of the Year: Out of the whole year . . . drumroll . . . I have to pick out Freedom’s Gate series by Naomi Kritzer as my overall favorite book or series for 2017.

***

Okay, now to break the favorites down a little differently:

Favorite male lead: Um, here I’m going to go with Innisth Maèr Eäneté in Winter of Ice and Iron. I generally avoid including my own books or characters in these lists, but hey.

Favorite female lead: Lauria from the Freedom’s Gate series by Kritzer.

Favorite lead who is neither male nor female: The murderbot protagonist from The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. There’s not a lot of competition for this spot, obviously, but the Murderbot would be a great protagonist whatever its gender or lack thereof.

Favorite romantic couple: Lucien and Elena in Kiss of Lavender by Florand

Most unexpected plot twists: Knife by Anderson

Story that surprised me the most, in a good way: The remarkably readable Under a Graveyard Sky series by Ringo. I wouldn’t have expected to enjoy a series that hardly bothers with characterization and sometimes suffers from clunky writing plus overt political Messages. But I did.

Favorite secondary fantasy world: The Harbors of the Sun by Wells. Hard to beat the Raksura world.

Favorite fairy tale: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Valentine was not exactly a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but I liked it a whole bunch and it did echo the fairy tale.

Favorite contemporary: Hidden Steel by Durgin

Favorite historical fantasy: Steel Blues by Graham and Scott

Favorite alternate history: The Eagle and Empire series by Smale

Favorite SF setting: The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red by Wells

Favorite UF/Paranormal: Burn for Me series by Andrews

Favorite romance: A Kiss in Lavender by Florand

Favorite mystery: As Red as Any Blood by Greenwood

Favorite Georgette Heyers: False Colors, which I listened to for the second time.

Favorite YA: Thick as Thieves by Turner

Favorite MG: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Burgis

Favorite art book masquerading as a novel: Above the Timberline by Manchess

Favorite Cover Art: Winter of Ice and Iron. It’s nice enough online, but you have to see it in person to appreciate the lovely metallic sheen this cover has – it shifts from greys to blues depending on the angle of the light. Saga sure did give me beautiful covers.

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4 Comments Best of 2017

  1. SarahZ

    I really enjoyed the latest Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs installments, too. I’ll be curious to see what Ilona Andrews does next, since they’re in the process of wrapping Kate Daniels up. (It’s always a little weird to figure out what pronouns to use, since the name sounds like a single person, but they’re really a 2 person team.)

    I think my favorite YA was either All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater or Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.

    I read Every Heart a Doorway this year too, and thought it was a bit predictable, but very interesting worldbuilding.

  2. Rachel

    SarahZ, Yes, one has to pause all the time and think, “Should I write ‘Ilona Andrews are wonderful writers’?” It’s kind of entertaining to figure out how to refer to them in any given sentence.

    AAARGH — I haven’t read either the Stiefvater or the Taylor. Maaaaybe there’s time yet this year?

    Yes, I agree about EHaD — I liked it, I liked the writing and the story and the idea, but I thought almost everything that happened could be seen way in advance.

  3. Mary Beth

    Innisth is one of my favorite male protagonists of the year, too. I just finished WINTER — had been saving as a reward for getting through a particularly difficult time at work— and I absolutely loved it. Beautifully written as always, with fun names I forgot how to spell as soon as I read them. ;) But one of my favorite things was actually Innisth’s bisexuality, and how it’s neither erased at his marriage nor strictly chalked up to his sadism. He’s a character with so many facets, some razor-edged and some startlingly gentle, and I delighted in every scene!

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