2017 Reads - Your Best and Worst

The Big Peat

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#1
I figured now would be as good a time as any to ask people what were the highlights and lowlights of their reading in 2017.

My highlights were:

The Goddess Project by Bryan Wigmore
Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Three kinda similar books; a tad dark, a bit funny, full of mystery and metaphysics and not your standard fantasy setting. Either my tastes have changed or this is a big coincidence. Or both, I suppose.

My lowlight was:

The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher

My sense of logical and cool and Butcher's suddenly went from in lockstep to a thousand miles apart and I'm kinda worried to read his next Dresden, when it finally arrives. The Name of the Wind very nearly makes it here too, except I'm intending to try reading a bit more... some point... maybe.
 

Brian G Turner

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#2
Favourite fiction reads of 2017:

Orphan X by Greg Hurwitz
Expedition by Ralph Kern
The Goddess Project by Bryan Wigmore
We Are Bob (We Are Legion) by Dennis E. Taylor
Jack of Thorns by Amelia Faulkner
Wolf of the Plains by Conn Iggulden

Favourite non-fiction reads of 2017:

Once a Hussar - Ray Ellis
Forgotten Soldier - Guy Sajer


My Goodreads stats say I read 22 novels this year, which isn't as much as the year before. Even still, it's interesting to see how many novels by chronners I really, really enjoyed over the classics and bestsellers I'm also reading through.

Once a Hussar by Ray Ellis - an account of an artilleryman in the North African campaign of WWII - was my favourite overall read, though. Not only was it a powerful and often unusual account in itself, I found it had an underlying sense of warmth I don't usually notice in WWII autobiographies.
 

Paul_C

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#3
This encouraged me to go through all the "what are you reading this month" threads to tot up how many I've read - the answer being both more than I thought and 38.

My favourite was probably Ready Player One - with honourable mentions to quite a few, The Handmaid's Tale and Jagannath in particular.

No real stinkers this year so the worst may well have been The Time Traveler's Wife, but I didn't hate it.
 

martin321

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#4
My best reads this year were:

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey.
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
Wool by Hugh Howley.
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence.
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee.
Dissolution by C.J.Sansom.
Silent Running by P.J.Strebor.

I read a few books that were merely "okay", but nothing bad enough to be worth mentioning.
 

williamjm

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#6
I wrote up a list of the best books I read in 2017 on another forum, so I may as well copy-and-paste it here. I didn't read any novels that I thought were particularly bad, probably Edward Cox's fantasy The Relic Guild was the weakest and even that was more mediocre than bad, although I doubt I'll read any more in that series.

The best 10 I read were:

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

Starts off as a fascinating piece of historical fiction in a setting (a Dutch trading colony in 18th Century Japan) I knew little about, but it’s the introduction of a (relatively subtle) fantasy element in the second part of the book that really raises the stakes and makes this so compelling. Mitchell’s writing is great, there are memorable characters and it has a powerful ending.

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

Has a reputation as one of the masterpieces of 20th Century Science fiction and it lives up to it. The way Le Guin slowly unravels the contrasting strengths and weaknesses of the two societies is thought-provoking, but this isn’t just about the ideas, Shevek is a great protagonist and the plot is compelling.

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

I can’t say I’ve ever read anything quite like this, the setting is utterly bizarre and alien with warfare being conducted using calendars. It may throw the reader in at the deep end but I think it reveals enough to be comprehensible. The phrase ‘grim dark future’ has been rather overused in recent years, this one definitely qualified but the characterisation offers just enough glimpses of humanity to stop it being entirely bleak. It also features a fascinating antihero in the form of Shuos Jedao.

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

A welcome return that is reminiscent of the best parts of “His Dark Materials”. Maybe this is still ostensibly a young adult book but Pullman has never talked down to his audience and there is plenty of depth here, as well as an entertaining adventure fable.

City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett

A good conclusion to the trilogy that manages to fit well with the rest of the series even if I suspect it wasn’t planned in advance. After the previous books had been a spy novel and a war novel in a fantasy setting this feels more like a Western, specifically one of those Westerns where an ageing gunslinger with plenty of regrets finds he can’t quite rest yet.

The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks

Sadly this is the last time I’ll ever read one of Banks’ SF novels for the first time. This isn’t a Culture novel but it has all the ambition and wonder of that setting, the parts of the story spent in the gas giant inhabited by the Dwellers are excellent. However, some of the other subplots did fall a bit flat.

Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft

An audacious and playful concept of a man searching for his lost wife in the bizarre societies of the Tower of Babel. An enjoyable and unusual read, even if it perhaps started to lose momentum in the third act.

Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee

The sequel to Ninefox Gambit takes the plot in some interesting new directions and introduces some different perspectives on the story.

The Bear and the Serpent by Adrian Tchaikovsky

A high-concept epic fantasy set in a world where everyone can shape shift into the form of various animals. This makes for some distinctive action scenes, and the plot has a few surprising developments that I wasn’t expecting after the previous book in the trilogy. I’ve always enjoyed Tchaikovsky’s characterisation and this is no exception.

Luna : Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald

I found this a bit inconsistent, but at its best has some excellent writing – Lucasinho Corta monologuing about the importance of cake to his niece while fleeing for their lives across the lunar surface was particularly great.

Honourable mentions to Ian Esslemont's Dancer's Lament, the first five books in Max Gladstone's Craft Cycle, Neil McGarry and Daniel Ravipinto's The Ruling Mask and Jo Zebedee's Inish Carraig.
 

Extollager

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#7
Some highlights of my 2017 reading:

Tolkien's Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Phyllis Paul's Twice Lost, The Lion of Cooling Bay, A Little Treachery
Wordsworth's Prelude (read both 1805, 1850 versions)
Guite's Mariner (excellent biography of S. T. Coleridge)
Williams's When the English Fall
Haffner's The Meaning of Hitler
Dickens's Dombey and Son -- the last Dickens novel I needed to read in order to have read them all
Booth's Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan
Heylin's Trouble in Mind (about Bob Dylan's 1979-1981 "Gospel period" -- theme of a recent outstanding "Bootleg Series" release)

Some books I did finish but thought were not very good -- or perhaps quite bad:

Simak's The Trouble with Tycho
Adler's Terror on Planet Ionus
Keel's Strange Creatures from Time and Space
Blackburn's Blue Octavo
Burroughs' The Land That Time Forgot
Brunner's The Stardroppers

Some books that I started but didn't finish because they didn't hold my interest (at best):

Poul Anderson's Vault of the Ages
Bardin's Devil Take the Blue-Tail Fly
Flint's The Lord of Death and the Queen of Life
Houghton's I Am Jonathan Scrivener

About Phyllis Paul:

Phyllis Paul: Twice Lost, Pulled Down, Invisible Darkness, A Little Treachery, more

Any of Phyllis Paul's Preternatural Novels in Your Local Library?
 

tinkerdan

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#8
I started looking at the paper bound purchases I made and the ones I read and came up with this partial list.

Have not looked into the ebooks purchased for 2017


I enjoyed all of these books.

Rax Coney, Michael

Revenger Reynolds, Alastair

WWW: Watch (WWW Trilogy) Sawyer, Robert J.

WWW: Wake (WWW Trilogy) Sawyer, Robert J.

WWW: Wonder Sawyer, Robert J.

Empire Card, Orson Scott

Halting State Stross, Charles

Rule 34 Stross, Charles

Saturn's Children Stross, Charles

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse) (Volume 1) Taylor, Dennis E.

For We Are Many (Bobiverse) (Volume 2) Taylor, Dennis E.

All These Worlds (Bobiverse) (Volume 3) Taylor, Dennis E

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers) Chambers, Becky

A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers) Chambers, Becky

Forsaken Skies (The Silence) Clark, D. Nolan

Forgotten Worlds (The Silence) Clark, D. Nolan

Dark Metropolis Dolamore, Jaclyn

Glittering Shadows (Dark Metropolis) Dolamore, Jaclyn

The Dream Thieves Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, Book 4) Stiefvater, Maggie

Lightless (The Lightless Trilogy) Higgins, C.A.

Steeplejack: A Novel Hartley, A. J.

By the Mountain Bound (The Edda of Burdens) Bear, Elizabeth

The Sea Thy Mistress (The Edda of Burdens) Bear, Elizabeth

Waters and the Wild Zebedee, Jo

Princess Grace of Earth (The Zerot Infestation) (Volume 1) Lambert, A K


This one fell short for me.

My Colorblind Rainbow Hardy, Chanel

. Did not love it but it wasn’t entirely bad for a first novel.

It did not quite deliver what I was expecting.

One problem I had was that it was in the LGBT category and I was expecting something insightful from that perspective and it didn’t quite deliver. However it takes place in 1940 and involves both a black-white relationship and a same sex relationship; so realistically it couldn’t work out without some sort of tragedy. However, to really understand where my issues lie one has to read the novel and see if they get the same feeling.

I also took the time to read everything I have of Robert Heinlein this year and just now finished with ::
To Sail Beyond the Sunset.
Despite the age of many of his novels I still enjoyed reading them.
However I have to admit that the last two he published were largely erotic in nature with less credible science and mostly a lot of fantastic fiction. (Still enjoyable.)
 
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TheDustyZebra

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#9
To Sail Beyond the Sunset
My favorite of his!

I really should keep track of what I read, because I can't even remember what I read this year. But the very best were The Goddess Project and the even-better sequel which will also be the best book I read in 2018 when it comes out, The Empyreus Proof. :D

I was disappointed by new books in several of my stand-by mystery series, which all seem to be going downhill.
 

Hugh

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#10
I enjoyed these particularly:

Jack Vance “Lyonesse”
: I found the first hundred pages tedious but after that I was enthralled.

Robert A. Johnson “Balancing Heaven and Earth”: autobiography of well-known Jungian author detailing the formative and transformative experiences in his life.

The Best of Cordwainer Smith”: contains most of his best stories.

David Schneider “Crowded by Beauty: The Life and Zen of Poet Philip Whalen”: traces his life story from childhood through the “Beats” to Zen abbot.

Bryan Wigmore “The Goddess Project”: good portrayal of shamanic allies.

Eric Newby “Love and War in the Apennines”: autobiographical account of being sheltered in an Italian village after escaping from a prisoner of war camp in WWII.

Bill Porter (aka Red Pine)Finding Them Gone: Visiting China's Poets of the Past”: the author travels around China visiting the graves of famous poets and explaining why he loves their poetry.

Jim Lowrey “Taming Untameable Beings: Early Stories of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche with the Pygmies and Other Hippies”: really captures something of the late 60s/early 70s spirit of commune life and guru seeking.

Robert Silverberg “The Alpha” series of sf anthologies”: excellent selections of stories from the 1950s through to the 70s.


The worst reads
: I know there were one or two but I seem to have managed to expunge them from memory.
 

Extollager

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#11
Huigh wrote -- Eric Newby “Love and War in the Apennines”: autobiographical account of being sheltered in an Italian village after escaping from a prisoner of war camp in WWII.

Comment: Yes, yes! What a good read. Have you read any of his other books, such as A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush or Slowly Down the Ganges? Newby's been quite a discovery for me.
 

kythe

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#12
Best:

Ringworld - Larry Niven


The Tripod Trilogy - John Christopher - I first read this when I was 12. It's still just as good now. :)

His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman - I grew up on the Narnia series and while those books still hold a lot of nostalgia, this series better represents my current views on theology.

The Stand - Stephen King

Salem's Lot - Stephen King
- my first King reads, now I am definitely a fan.

Good:

World War Z - Max Brooks
- I really enjoy the "documentary" perspective on the zombie war, and found the politics entirely believable. It did get repetitive, though.

The Stars, My Destination - Alfred Bester - Excellent premise, fast moving story, but shallow characters

Hell House - Richard Matheson - The ultimate haunted house story, but it is a little over the top.

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens


Books that were okay:

Anthem - Ayn Rand

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
- I really wanted to like this book because of the gothic atmosphere and unique take on old photos, but it is one of the few where I will say the movie is better than the books. I did read all 3 - they are fast paced, suspenseful stories. But poor world building and characterization brings it down.
 

dask

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#13
Haven't finished the book yet but the Poe stories I read so far have been a high point. Will get back to it as soon as I finish A Christmas Carol which my wife gave me for Christmas. Interesting to see material not in the movie and discover material in the movie not in the book. Also interesting is narrator prose converted into movie dialogue. Whoever wrote the screenplay did a top notch job. Also, Dickens' vision of the ghost of Christmas past is truly bizarre. Did they eat hallucinogenic mushrooms in 19th Century London I wonder?
 

Hugh

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#14
Huigh wrote -- Eric Newby “Love and War in the Apennines”: autobiographical account of being sheltered in an Italian village after escaping from a prisoner of war camp in WWII.

Comment: Yes, yes! What a good read. Have you read any of his other books, such as A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush or Slowly Down the Ganges? Newby's been quite a discovery for me.
I loved Love and War in the Apennines, it's great to hear someone else has enjoyed it. I'll read Slowly Down the Ganges in the next two months or so: I have a copy, but am putting off reading it so I can enjoy the anticipation for a while longer. I read A Short Walk in The Hindu Kush years ago and did not follow it up, being pre-internet days, then this summer, on a whim, I picked up A Traveller's Life in a second hand store. If you haven't read it, it's a series of vignettes from his life that seem to be cobbled together for publication: there are several chapters on his experience in WWII, one of which gave some details linked to Love and War in the Apennines - this sufficiently piqued my interest that I ordered a copy straight away.
I suspect these three, Hindu Kush/ Apennines/ Ganges, may be his strongest books, but I'm sure I will read further in due course.
 
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kythe

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#15
Haven't finished the book yet but the Poe stories I read so far have been a high point. Will get back to it as soon as I finish A Christmas Carol which my wife gave me for Christmas. Interesting to see material not in the movie and discover material in the movie not in the book. Also interesting is narrator prose converted into movie dialogue. Whoever wrote the screenplay did a top notch job. Also, Dickens' vision of the ghost of Christmas past is truly bizarre. Did they eat hallucinogenic mushrooms in 19th Century London I wonder?
I really liked the Ghost of Christmas Present. He isn't Santa delivering gifts. He is Father Christmas delivering comfort and cheer. He starts young and ages throughout the night, because his lifespan is a day.
 

HareBrain

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#16
My favourite reads were several C20th UK history books by Dominic Sandbrook, John le Carre's Smiley trilogy, the Gaia Chronicles by Naomi Foyle (probably the most interesting future-set SFF I've ever read, and went well with Stephen Palmer's rather more out-there Memory Seed), and the Alexander trilogy by Mary Renault (ME WANT WRITE LIKE THIS). I enjoyed lots else too.

No real stinkers apart from Stephen Donaldson's The Augur's Gambit, a thin short story padded out to a pompous novella, which felt like a pointless novel. I found Phillip Pullman's La Belle Sauvage a disappointment, but I seem to be in the minority there.
 

janeoreilly

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#17
I really enjoyed Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, I am Legend by Richard Matheson, and the Serrano Legacy novels by Elizabeth Moon. Read 5 books of the Star Doc series and am finding that very entertaining. I also continued with Saga and hope that the story will pick up, though it still interests me and I will keep going with it.

Was a bit disappointed by Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (Bujold) as I didn't like the idea of a gay man suddenly developing an interest in his lover's widow and I felt that his sexuality wasn't explored very well.

Thought Ready Player One was clever but fundamentally misogynistic though my 13yo daughter loved it so I suspect I am not the target market.

I also found Artemis by Andy Weir to be really poor. His female heroine is immature and unlikable, her motivations not thought through, and I didn't understand why Weir needed the reader to know that Artemis had no age of consent. The science dumping style that had worked in the Martian didn't work in this book or for this character.
 

Vertigo

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#18
My top books this year were:
Iain Banks - Whit, Canal Dreams
Cixin Liu's - Remembrance of Earth's Past (aka The Three Body Problem) - all three books
Neal Asher - Infinity Engine
Nick Lane - The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution and the Origins of Complex Life (non-fiction)

Books that bombed for me:
Robert A Heinlein - The Number of the Beast
William Gibson - The Difference Engine
 

Fedos

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#19
For me, my favorites would go something like this:

The Reality Dysfunction and The Neutronium Alchemist by Peter F. Hamilton. I was simply blown away by the way Hamilton structured the first two books in his Night's Dawn Trilogy:
The concept of the dead returning to possess the living was particularly well done, as was the Adamist and Edenist dichotomies.
These are massive tomes and I enjoyed every drop of them.

The Darkness that Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker. This is my third time reading this book, and every time I find that I like it more than the last.
The idea of a Second Apocalypse occurring and the advent of The Unholy Consult preparing for the No God's return, the various sorcery schools competing for domination of The Three Seas, all told on the backdrop of The Holy War makes this book five stars for me.
Now I just have to press on and read the next in the series, The Warrior Prophet, something I've never done before.

The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies by Clark Ashton Smith. This collection of short stories and poems was my second I've read of Clark Ashton Smith's after The Return of the Sorcerer, which I read in 2016, and I have simply become smitten by the way he was able to call forth images of a dark and fantastical nature. I haven't read much dark fantasy but if it is like what Clark Ashton Smith produces then give me more. I gave this one five stars on Goodreads.

And here are some books I felt were good but not great.

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. This was my second time reading this book in an attempt to read through Sanderson's Cosmere universe. I feel as an aspiring fantasy author I owe it to myself to read through his works. I suppose my problem with this book stems from its plodding plot which does not really pick up until towards the end of the book. There are however some interesting concepts sprinkled throughout the book which gives one the impetus to continue on though. That being said, I've already started the next book in the series, The Well of Ascension, and look forward to exploring more of the Cosmere.

Blood and Bone by Ian Cameron Esslemont. This was the only book in the Novels of the Malazan Empire I read this year, but these books continue in not living up to the high standard of Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence. Just one more to go in Assail and I'll finally switch back to Steven Erikson for his Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach books and then his prequel trilogy.

I've read other books last year but these are the ones that stand out.
 

Abernovo

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#20
There were some books I loved this year, listed below in no particular order.

Heart Blade, by @Juliana Spink Mills - an amazing and brilliant 5 Star debut; presently reading Night Blade, which was bought pretty much as immediately on the strength of the first book;
On the Edge of Gone, by Corinne Duyvis - cannot recommend this book enough; even if YA is not your thing, try this amidst-the-apocalypse novel;
Whitecott Manor, by Emma Jane, aka @Mouse - a mixture of romance, mystery, and ghost story; worth it just for the great characters, and trademark humour;
Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor - the second in the trilogy of novellas, with Binti returning from interplanetary uni, only to find home can be as strange as space.

A few were not sff
Nico & Tucker, by Rachel Gold - a well-written YA romance exploring different facets of gender and sexuality, and people being people;
Storms, by Gerri Hill - a lesbian romance on a cattle ranch, with believable characters played against the backdrop of the Montana Rockies;
Tailor-Made, by Yolanda Wallace - another romance, reminding you never to judge a book only by its cover.

I also read a couple of oldies.
Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis - there's a reason this is a classic, and one to return to over and over again -- it's near perfect;
Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C Clarke - not a brilliant read in terms of the writing, but the ideas were amazing, which is why it makes the list.

Not a big fan of naming ones I dislike, as it's so often personal taste, but there were a couple that didn't quite sit right.
Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson, is an amazing book in many ways, but is so bleak it depressed me, and it lacked focus for me. I'd still recommend it, though, for many people, if only for the brilliant prose.
There was another--a romance--which I shall not name, which committed the cardinal sin of having a good story hidden in it, but should never have been published as it was; it needed a good editor (not the one it had) and, before that, a run-though by a few decent beta-readers. It's the only duff book I had off this publisher, though, so putting it down to one slipping through the net.

Now my workload has decreased slightly (it won't last long), I look forward to getting on and reading, or finishing some more books, including Juliana's Night Blade, mentioned above, Waters and the Wild, by @Jo Zebedee, and The Goddess Project, by Bryan Wigmore aka @HareBrain. Towards the end of the year, Becky Chambers has a new Wayfarers novel coming out, as well -- really looking forward to that.
 

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