My Favorite Books of 2016

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Heeeeey kind-of dormant blog! I still remember i have you! To be honest, this blog has been pretty quiet lately because I’ve been deep into a re-reading marathon. nothing really sounded good on my TBR bookshelf, so I went back into my older books.

Really quickly, here is what I’ve been re-reading:

  • The Gentlemen Bastard series by Scott Lynch. (One of my favorite series!)
  • The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings. (I re-read these every year)
  • The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher

But this post isn’t about *those* books! This is about my favorite books I read last year. This isn’t all books published last year, just my favorites that I read!

 

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

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This book was just delightful. I liked it from start to finish, I was utterly charmed by it. It is very much a fairytale but a really cute, endearing one. Plus it takes place in a bookstore which happens to be one of my favorite places in the world.

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin Manuel-Miranda

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An amazing look behind the scenes at one f the best new Broadway shows! I have become slowly obsessed with the musical Hamilton ever since i first picked up the cast recording. this book is a great way to immerse yourself in the complexities of the musical itself and what it actually took to get it onstage.

This might be as close as I ever get to seeing the original cast and its an amazing up-close look at it. This is full of great profiles of many of the main cast and a look a the support players. The pictures are amazing as well.

 

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

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I wrote a review of this book (for this blog even!), but I loved it greatly. to quote myself:

I love the whole steampunk aesthetic and I love the idea of airships.  The idea of the book is that society has moved off the planet and now lives completely up in “spires” which are gigantic towers made of stone. People use airships to travel up and down the spires (and also travel to other spires), with the richest and most well off at the top and the poorest closest to the ground. Captain Grimm is one such captain of an airship named Predator and when he has a run-in with a bigger ship that leaves him grounded on Spire Albion waiting for repairs, the Spire is attacked by another,Spire Aurora. Thus starts WAR! Captain Grimm and a band of allies are charged with finding out where a conspiracy starts (and who is involved). Unbeknownst to everyone an old evil is maneuvering and pulling the strings on its puppets for mysterious purposes….

The naval airships with their awesome battles in the mists were the highlight of the book for me. They were very well written. I’ve read other books with airship battles that left me confused and ultimately cold to the story as a whole, but these were thrilling and fast-paced.

Butcher also has a great way of making things very tense and exciting that I really like.

I found this book to be a fast read and I am really looking forward to the next book and the rest of the series.

The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe

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I love Alex Bledsoe’s Eddie Lacrosse series so I picked this up on a whim one day, and I wasn’t disappointed!  I really loved this book. I like books about fairies, The Fae, etc. quite a bit but I was looking for something unique, and I think I found it inside this book.

The story is pretty simple, yet it is really compelling. As the first in a series, I expected it to be sort-of clunky and full of world-building exposition, but I was happily surprised. The is world-building but it doesn’t get bogged down in minutiae which I liked a lot


 

There you go! As I said, I didn’t really read too many books this year and what I did read was older books and series I had already read once.

I look forward to new amazing books to read in 2017!

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my Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2057281-sarah

 

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

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First Book of the Year!

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I have been looking forward to this book since it was announced. I love the whole steampunk aesthetic and I love the idea of airships.  The idea of the book is that society has moved off the planet and now lives completely up in “spires” which are gigantic towers made of stone. People use airships to travel up and down the spires (and also travel to other spires), with the richest and most well off at the top and the poorest closest to the ground. Captain Grimm is one such captain of an airship named Predator and when he has a run-in with a bigger ship that leaves him grounded on Spire Albion waiting for repairs, the Spire is attacked by another,Spire Aurora. Thus starts WAR! Captain Grimm and a band of allies are charged with finding out where a conspiracy starts (and who is involved). Unbeknownst to everyone an old evil is maneuvering and pulling the strings on its puppets for mysterious purposes.

Jim Butcher is one of my favorite authors and he doesn’t disappoint here. As is usual for him, his world-building is top notch and I found most of the characters to be fun and interesting. The only character I didn’t care for was Gwen. She was insufferable throughout the entire book and her slight shift at the end was a bit too little, too late. Captain Grimm was probably my favorite character in the novel. He had an interesting backstory and I loved the level of loyalty he inspired in others.

My second favorite character is Rowl. Who doesn’t love a talking cat? He is funny and his chapters are among my favorites in the book. His “voice” is exactly how I would picture my cat talking to me if she could. In fact the whole Cat society is fantastically written and really unique and interesting.

The naval airships with their awesome battles in the mists were the highlight of the book for me. They were very well written. I’ve read other books with airship battles that left me confused and ultimately cold to the story as a whole, but these were thrilling and fast-paced.

Butcher also has a great way of making things very tense and exciting that I really like.

I found this book to be a fast read and I am really looking forward to the next book and the rest of the series.

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

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I don’t think I will ever get tired of reading about Harry Dresden. Every book in this series has been better than the last, and it never slows down. I read a lot of books and a lot of authors but only a select few do I read over and over again. Jim Butcher and his books are among those few. I’m not only speaking about his Dresden Files books either, I also love his Codex Alera books as well and am eagerly anticipating his newest series, the Cinder Spires.

Skin Game is the 15th book in the Dresden Files and I loved every minute of it. The plot is this: Harry is tasked by Mab to take on a new job for her as the Winter Knight. This job is of course very dangerous and life threatening (as usual) with plots behind plots and double dealing going on all over the place. What’s the job? Oh just the small matter of teaming up with past bad guy Nicodemus Archleone to steal a priceless artifact from Hades himself. No big deal.

Harry is of course as well characterized as ever. He has real problems and fears and the book lets you see them and experience them with Harry. He is afraid of his new title of the Winter Knight and all the dark thoughts and urges that go along with the title. He is afraid of moving his relationship with Murphy to a deeper level. Not out of commitment issues really, but rather a desire for her to stay away from him and the monster he could easily become working for Mab. Harry also is afraid of seeing his daughter again. He thinks she will remember what happened in the book “Changes” and resent or fear him because of it.

Although the book is still the super fun heist book I wanted from Butcher, with plenty of laughs and double crosses, these deeper issues are what keeps me reading (and re-reading) this series. I love that Harry is just this normal guy who can use magic, but is also grounded with real life issues you can empathize with.

This book also features a glimpse of how a few of his old friends see him now. Murphy is as loyal as ever, but even that is tempered with some caution. She has a deep respect and serious feelings, maybe even love, for Harry yet she stands as her own character. In the earlier books I was afraid she would be pigeonholed into the “Skeptic” or “Love Interest” boxes and never get to move beyond them. Luckily, I’ve always felt she stood apart as her own character. She is strong and capable yet has real fears about the world Harry moves around in.

Butters feelings are a little different. He is flat out afraid of Harry (well, mostly), and of the power he holds as the Winter Knight. He sees Harry as just another villain or at least someone headed that way. And the thing is, you can see his side! He has a couple of different points in the story where he has a chance to explain himself and his feelings and they are all pretty reasonable.

This book is full of deep characterizations for many different characters. I mean, even Nicodemus gets some!

I really did love this book a lot. I think it is a great addition to the series.

Days of the Re-reads

Every once in a while instead of reading the frankly appalling number of new, never-been-read books in the pile next to my bed, I instead just start re-reading books.  I’m not even sure why this comes over me; I just get the urge to read something well worn and comforting. These books are often “candy” books, in that they are light east reads that aren’t taxing and I can read in  a couple of days. Maybe I just  need a break? Who knows. The point is that I’ve abandoned my To Be Read pile in favor of these favorites.

(warning this will be a long post!)

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

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I love these books. They are full of interesting people, monsters, and wizards. here is the description from the first book:

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.”

 

Harry is a fantastic protagonist and his adventures (or rather misadventures a lot of the time) are crazy and awesome and frequently touching as the series goes along.  14 books are currently out with a 15th coming soon, and the amount of forward momentum that has been maintained in these books is remarkable. Occasionally I will wonder if I could ever be a professional  writer but then I look at writers who have written these extensively detailed worlds where the people and places and motivations stay consistent and believable throughout a long series and just go “nope”.

It is the opinion of some people that the first few books in this series are kinda rough around the edges. I agree that they are obviously the early works of Jim Butcher, and they are mostly self-contained. However, I always liked them. Plus things that happen in these books have repercussions in later books and it just blows my mind sometimes how well connected and plotted out this series has become.

I recommend these books to everyone I know.

The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

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My dad bought these books for me when I was in middle school and I’ve never looked back. They have been a source of joy for me ever since. I picked up The Hobbit randomly in the 6th grade and couldn’t put it down. I re-read both of these books at least once a year, and will recommend it to everyone I know. I hope that my own kids someday will love it as much as I do!

The story for each of these books is pretty well known: Bilbo, almost against his wishes, runs off and has of all things AN ADVENTURE complete with elves and riches and a dragon. Frodo on the other hand has a darker story in which he must travel to Mount Doom with The One Ring to destroy it. Friends and allies come and go and the action is all over the place.

I always find it hard to write anything interesting about these books that hasn’t been said a million times by similar fans. They are universally well-known, in part because of the excellent (in my opinion) movies made by Peter Jackson. I have loved each of the movies so far, yes even the two Hobbit movies made so far.  I am not at all the most objective movie critic, and I recognize the issues people have with the films, yet I just can’t help loving them anyway.

My ongoing love for the books and the world contained inside makes me a ravenous consumer of all things Tolkien. From the main novels, to the supplementary books, to The Silmarillion, to the Tolkien Professor Podcasts, and beyond I devour them all with gusto.

The Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko

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This is a series of four (soon to be five, I guess) books all centered around the battles of good vs. evil, darkness vs. light, and first introducing us to Anton the “main” character in most of these books. I find these books very interesting, and I think they are pretty well translated from their original Russian.

I put the word “main” in quotes in the last paragraph because although Anton is our gateway into the world of the light and dark “others” that wander around plotting and scheming in these books, the author also takes us into several other characters lives and trials. The structure of these books is odd to me and I can’t even really articulate why exactly, but I like it and it doesn’t detract from the story at all. Overall, a super interesting take on the struggle between light and dark.

 

The Thursday Next Series by Jasper Fforde

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What’s that? A series of books in which the main character jumps in and out of novels solving crimes of a literature nature? SIGN ME UP!

 very  Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide”

I LOVE THESE BOOKS. I know I’ve said that quite a bit in this review, but these books were tailor-made for me I swear. I love any of these alternate reality style books, and these ones have the awesome twist of being books about mystery solving people who can jump into books! Just the best.