2017 Year in Review

According to Goodreads, I read 685-689 books in 2017, for over 90,000 pages (my tally and GR’s differ slightly, and I’m not tracking down where the difference is).  The shortest book was the Moon Girl Devil Dinosaur Legacy Primer at four pages, and the longest was a Walking Dead Compendium Vol 1 at over a 1000.  My average rating was apparently 3.5.  A great many that I read were comics and short kindle eBooks, so 600 plus is a rather inflated number.

                While my reading list was higher this year, my time on some reading sites was less, and this is something I want to change.  Additionally, I failed to read later in the year to read the monthly installments from New York Review of Books and MyBookbox (this one only in Dec).  I aim to change that next year.

                Without further ado, this year’s reading rewards.  Please note, unless noted by a specific award title, any book read for the year is up.  (So older published works are in the running).


Best Book of the Year: This award is a three-way tie, and strangely all the books are non-fiction.

                                                Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga

                                                Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassbova

                                                The Infernal Library by Daniel Kalder

                                The Infernal Library isn’t going to being released until March 2018, but I read an ARC via Netgalley in the fall.  It is about doctor literature and Kalder is quite amusing.

                Talaga’s book is about the unsolved deaths of First Nation teens in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  It is also about the treatment of the indigenous population.  While Killers of the Flower Moon got more attention here in the US, Talaga’s book is actually a tad better.  I’m not saying Grann’s book isn’t good, it is, but Talaga’s is better.

                Kassbova’s book is about the border between Eastern and Western Europe, but in Bulgaria not Germany.  It is part folklore, part oral history, part love letter, and part poem.  I cannot think MyBookBox enough for making this one of the selections for this year.


Worst Book of the Year – Well, if I am counting DNFs (counted as a read if I read more than 50%), it is

                Nutshell by Ian McEwan.  Hamlet told in utero, I wanted the mother to have a late term abortion just to shut the fetus the hell up.  McEwan makes wonderful use of language, his sentences are beautiful, but of the three books I have read by him, two have made me wish violent harm on the characters simply so the book would be over.  The third both characters took each other out, which I found highly amusing.


               If I am not counting DNFs, it would be How to UnLock Her Legs Make A Woman to Have Sex With You and Do Anything For You.  I think the title tells you everything you need to know. 


                There are two close seconds here, Executive Assistant Isis vol 2 simply for the camel toe on the cover, and Spirits of Bondage by C. S. Lewis (yes, that one), which shows there is a reason why we never say “the well-known poet C. S. Lewis”.


Best Comic Series – I actually rediscovered comics this year.  I blame Wonder Woman because I got freebie Comixology books when I brought tickets. Its close but the top there are Beasts of Burden, Heathen, and Murena.

                Beasts of Burden is about a group of dogs and cats that solve supernatural mysteries.  Considering some of the subject matter it is not for children. Heathen is lesbian Vikings taking on Odin. Murena is about a young man in the Rome of Nero.  Think I, Claudius with equal nudity.

                Honorable mention to Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.


Worst Comic Series: Witchblade.

                The two issues I read of this series really did nothing for me.


Still Good After All These Years: Rhinegold by Stephen Grundy.  It’s been at least a decade since I read this book, and it still stands the test of time. Grundy retells the Ring Cycle in epic form.


I Want This Comic Book Lead to Be Alive and Date Me: Super Sikh (yummy)


Andersen Retelling Award: Damsels: The Little Mermaid.  This is a retelling of the famous story.  Quite nicely done.


Grimm Retelling Award: Erstwhile Vol 3 – simply because of the use of minority characters.


So Bad Rolling Over in the Grave Retelling Award: Kill Shakespeare #1


This is Slow . . . wait, where did the Day Go Award: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James.  The book is neither brief or about just seven killings.  It starts story, but picks up around 75 and then you cannot but it down.


This is Good . . . wait, what the hell happened Award: The Tiger’s Daughter by Rivera Arsenault.  Beautiful writing but several problems with plot, world building, and characters.  Beautiful cover too.


Why the F**k Did People Rave About This Award: Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance.  I don’t blame Vance, he’s honest.  I blame reviewers.


Why the F**k Aren’t People Raving About This More Award: The Mice Templar series.  Mice with swords.  Eat your heart out rats of Nimh.


If Only I was Younger Award: Casquette Girls by Alys Arden.  I have feeling if I was part of the audience that this YA book was for, I would have enjoyed it far more.  As an adult, I found it a little slow and eye brow rising.  Yet Arden does a wonderful job with her female characters and the book safely passed the Bechdel test.


Made Me Laugh After a Day Spent Grading: Do or Die by E R Baine.  The heroine is wearing a pink fur coat in a tropical rain forest and it just goes downhill from there.


You Are Giving Romance a Bad Name Award: Gender Swap Group Love Pyramid by Jessica Nolan (who I am sure is a frat boy) tied with Misbehaving in Miami by Aimee Duffy.  These are the romances that Hilary Clinton was talking about.


Romance Reward: In Skates Trouble by Kate Meader (who should give Xio Axelrod a commission because she recommended the book).  I’m not a big hockey or a romance fan, but this is a damn fine book with nicely written characters, humor, and people acting people.  I actually brought the following book after reading this one.  This is a romance Hilary Clinton should read so she knows what real romance books are.


Everyone in America Should Read This but Orange Man Won’t Award: Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi.  A history of race in America.


Book Every Woman in America Should Read: Boundaries of Her Body by Debran Rowland.  A history of the laws effecting women in America.


Feminist Fiction Award: Camille Claudel by Anne Delbee.  The ground breaking autobiographical novel about the artist.


YA Award, and Use it in School: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


Children’s Award: Scratch 9 FCBD


Interesting Point to Think About in Terms of Writing Award: Macho Paradox by Jackson Katz.  The section about passive voice should be used in every single writing class.


This Will Probably Suck but it is Free.. Wait, It’s Good:  The Overwatch Comic books series.  Seriously, nicely done with a variety of characters.


Can’t Wait for the TV Series: I hear Wayward is being made into a Japanese series.


FUNKO POP Do This Character Award: Margert from Curse Words.  She is a talking kola bear familiar who use to be a rat.


Mash Up Award: Mr. Men/Dr Who


Audio Book Award: Lincoln at the Bardo by George Saunders


Non-Fiction Award: Squid Empire by Danna Staaf


Memoir Award:  The Upstairs Wife by Rafia Zakaria


Art Book Award: She Who Tells a Story tied with Shirin Neshat Facing History


History Book Award: Dark City: Crime in Wartime London by Simon Read


Poetry Award: the various collections of Alice Walker and Magic with Skin On by Morgan Nikola-Wren


Best Start to a New Series: Terminal Alliance by Jim C Hines


Tie in Reward: The Star Trek Comics by IDW


International Award: Samskara by U. R. Ananthamurthy


Rage Inducing Award: The works of Ida B Wells tied with Unbelievable by Katy Tur


World War II Honor Award: Violette Szabo: The Life That I Have by Susan Ottaway


The Damn (in a good way) Award: The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavallee


The Damn (in a bad way) Award: Ares the Origins and History by Charles River Editors.  Achilles was not frightened of Diomedes.


Multiple Good Installments in a Series Award: Peter Grant/Rivers of London.  Peter Grant is the novel, Rivers of London the comic series with same characters.  Also, the audio series McLevy.


Christmas Story: A Dangerous Nativity tied with Bespoke


Disappointing Award: On a Hoof and Prayer.


Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Water and Fire by Demlza Cartlon


Amazon Should Do this Series Instead of LOTR Award: The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone