Monday, January 9, 2017

My Favorite Books of 2016

I didn't read nearly as much as I'd wanted to in 2016, though I read more than the list below suggests since I'm omitting my research books. It's hard to stack up a historical non-fiction piece with novels and anthologies since they're read for so many different reasons.

That said, these are the nine books I enjoyed enough to finish, and in the order I read them. Maybe you'll want to check them out too.

Thief of Songs by M.C.A. Hogarth *

Thief of Songs is what Hogarth describes as a pastoral romance; low stakes, not a lot of drama, lots of sweetness. It made the long list for the James Tiptree Jr Award, and features a world where there are four genders; female, male, hermaphrodite, and neuter. The world building is amazing and feels like a living place, though the hermaphrodite pronouns are a little hard to get used to at first since they don't map to any real world ones (as far as I know).

Justice Calling by Annie Bellet

Annet Bellet's Justice Calling is the first in her Twenty-Sided Sorceress series and stuffed full of pop culture geeky references centered around magic. I'm not usually an urban fantasy reader, but this was fun and I have the second book in my to-be-read pile.

A Song for No Man's Land by Andy Remic

World War I is one of my favorite settings (as most of my writer friends are well aware of, considering the stuff I send them) and Andy Remic's dark fantasy take on it is really dark, melding what's real and what's not with the horror of the trenches. This is the first in a trilogy and again I already have the second book waiting to be read.

Romancing the Null by Tina Gower

Disclaimer, I got a review copy of this one since Tina is a friend. That said, Romancing the Null is a fun urban fantasy romp through the eyes of an actuary for fantastical events. The fact her profession is such an unusual one (and not one pre-disposed towards ass-kicking) is what makes this fun.

Baccano: The Rolling Bootlegs by Ryohgo Narita

Baccano is one of my favorite anime series and the original novels are finally being translated into English! It's a hot mess (in a good way) when mobsters, an alchemist seeking immortality, and two cuckoo thieves get mixed up in the transit of a few bottles of alcohol that are totally not the booze most people take them for.

Spice and Wolf Vol 10 by Isuna Hasekura

Spice and Wolf is my guilty pleasure. Hasekura is not the strongest writer out there, but he still manages to spin a charming romance between a wolf goddess and an ordinary merchant who don't want their time together to come to an end. Volume 10 takes them to a monastery heavily in debt that might have the bones of Holo's fellow wolves, which leads to the usual economic shenanigans the series is known for.

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone *

Gladstone's Craft Sequence is supposed to be readable in any order since the volumes are stand alone, but I figured I'd start with the first, and I have to say that after reading it, I'm really going to miss Tara when I move on to the next! She's easily my favorite new protagonist of the books I've read this year, for being so creative in how she gets the job done. And the setting doesn't hurt either, being a sort of early 20th century magic-tech society.

Another by Yukito Ayatsuji *

Though there is an anime based on Another, Ayatsuji's original is much, much better, with a lot more details fleshed out. Kouichi Sakakibara gets a late start at his new school, and when he gets there, he discovers there is a supernatural phenomenon that is periodically killing the students and families of those in class 3. It sounds like a creepy horror novel, but in practice plays out like a whodunnit mystery, as there are rules to the phenomenon involving how a dead person can masquerade as one of the living.

Writers of the Future Vol 32 (anthology)

I almost always read the latest of these, since I know so many of the writers who end up in them. There's a wide variety so subgenres can jump drastically from story to story. This approach might not work for someone looking for a theme, but there's more than likely something that appeals. My favorite this year is "A Glamour in Black" by Sylvia Anna Hiven, for being so creepy and having the best reveal at the end.

The three novels I tagged with an asterisk (*) were my favorites of the year, the ones I considered the page turners where I tried to get a few more pages in every night before going to bed. I can't recommend them enough.