So Here’s What I Read in 2017, and My Favorite Was….

I rarely make New Year’s resolutions because, really, who makes it past January? But a horrible thing happened in 2016. I read one book for pleasure. One. I read some nonfiction for book research. I wrote a lot. But I wasn’t making time to read.

So my resolution in 2017 was to read some books. I shot for 25 initially, because that’s about a book every couple of weeks. A funny thing happened along the way to 25, however—I fell in love with reading again. Oh, I still have the editor’s curse of highlighting every typo (even my own, which I never see until the book hits print). I still have the author’s curse of trying to break down what does and doesn’t work in the book. But, still, I read—and finished the year with 47 books read for pleasure, and one for research. There were also eight novels whose titles I can’t divulge because I was judging them for a contest. Since most were not things I would normally have read (even though I enjoyed a couple of them very much), I won’t count them.

In no particular order, I read:

But Can I Start a Sentence with “But”? Advice from the Chicago Style Q&A. Okay, okay. Yes, I read a grammar style book for pleasure. I am a nerd. But it is the snarkiest, funniest style book ever written.

Storm Front (Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher. I had planned to re-read the whole series and include the six (at least) books I’m behind, but got pulled in other directions.

The Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews, books 1-9: Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Bleeds, Magic Slays, Magic Rises, Magic Breaks, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds.

The Edge of Normal, by Hana Schank. This was a research book written by a woman whose daughter has albinism.

The Naturalist, by Andrew Mayne

The Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs, books 1-10. (I had previously read books 1-2): Moon Called, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed, Silver Borne, River Marked, Frost Burned, Night Broken, Fire Touched, Silence Fallen

In the Barren Ground, by Loreth Anne White

The Others series by Anne Bishop, books 1-5: Written in Red, Murder of Crows, Vision in Silver, Marked in Flesh, Etched in Bone

The Supervolcano Trilogy by Harry Turtledove: Eruption, All Fall Down, Things Fall Apart

The Mercy Kilpatrick series to date by Kendra Elliot: A Merciful Death, A Merciful Truth. (I have book three, A Merciful Secret, on preorder. It releases January 19.)

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (book two in this new series is in my to-read queue now)

River of Teeth by Sarah Galley. My only dnf for the year.

The Bone Secrets series by Kendra Elliot: Hidden, Chilled, Buried, Alone, Known

The Song of Ice and Fire series (to date) by George RR Martin: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons

The North Water by Ian McGuire

Trackers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

My favorite? Hard to decide. I had read the first two Mercy Thompson books quite a few years ago, so I already knew the players there. It’s still one of my favorite series. I really like Kendra Elliot’s new Mercy Kilpatrick series (which is suspense), set among a doomsday prepper community in the Pacific Northwest.

But the winner(s) have to be the five books of Anne Bishop’s The Others series. It is SUCH an addictive and inventive world, with characters and a building plot arc that sucked me in as a reader. Thanks to Miki for urging me to read it!

And on to 2018, where I set a high bar of 50 books and am on my second…

Did you tally your reads for 2017? Did you have a favorite book or series?


Review: A MEDDLE OF WIZARDS (and a #giveaway) by Alexandra Rushe

Time for a book review! …(And stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog on my 2017 reading list and 2018 goals.)

Today, on its release day, I’m reviewing A MEDDLE OF WIZARDS, a debut fantasy from author Alexandra Rushe. and the first in a new fantasy series.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Welcome to Tandara, where gods are fickle, nightmares are real, and trolls make excellent bakers . . .Raine Stewart is convinced she’ll die young and alone in Alabama, the victim of a chronic, mysterious illness. Until a man in a shabby cloak steps out of her mirror and demands her help to defeat a bloodthirsty wizard….Raine shrugs it off as a hallucination—just one more insult from her failing body—and orders her intruder to take a hike. But the handsome figment of her imagination won’t take no for an answer, and kidnaps her anyway, launching her into a world of utmost danger—and urgent purpose….Ruled by unpredictable gods and unstable nations, Tandara is a land of shapeshifters and weather-workers, queens and legends. Ravenous monsters and greedy bounty hunters patrol unforgiving mountains. Riverboats pulled by sea-cattle trade down broad waterways. And creatures of nightmare stalk Raine herself, vicious in the pursuit of her blood……But Raine isn’t helpless or alone. She’s part of a band as resourceful as it is odd: a mage-shy warrior, a tattered wizard, a tenderhearted giant, and a prickly troll sorceress. Her new friends swear she has powers of her own. If she can stay under their protection, she might just live long enough to find out . . .

WHAT I LIKED BEST:

The worldbuilding is fascinating, both rich and diverse. I love a good multiverse, and you’ll find it here. Shifters? Got ’em. Trolls? Love ’em. Elves? Wizards? Yes and yes. There are also old gods and giants and goggins and sea-cattle. But the world is never forced or confusing. The author manages to weave it together artfully, without resorting to heavy backstory. We find out about the strange new world she inhabits–and the centuries-old grudge against her new family–right alongside heroine Raine.

And while Raine does fall into the “human girl falls into a new world and discovers she has powerful, as-year-unknown powers” trope, she’s not your normal heroine. First of all, she’s from Alabama and is sickly and alone but for a quirky ghost named Mimsie. When she’s jerked from Earth into the land of magic and mystery, she doesn’t come upon her new powers right away. For most of the book, she’s culturally (and sometimes literally) adrift, so we learn her heart long before we–and she–even begin to suspect her powers.

WHAT I LIKED LESS:

I’m admittedly not a big reader of epic fantasy, but they seem to be primarily of two schools. There’s the LORD OF THE RINGS school, where underdogs are on a quest, traveling from spot to spot and meeting evil and obstacles (and unexpected aid) along the way. Then there’s the dark and violent SONG OF ICE AND FIRE school, where politics and treachery and violence are the norm. I’m generally of the dark and treacherous fandom, where A MEDDLE OF WIZARDS is definitely written as a quest with Raine traveling through various lands on her way to seek aid in learning to fight the evil wizard. BUT this is the first in a series, and the book grows darker and more deadly as it progresses. From the very satisfying ending to this book, it’s clear that Rushe has plans to take the FLEDGLING MAGIC series into darker and more treacherous territory. So I’ll be waiting for book two.

CONCLUSION: 

This is a strong beginning to a new epic fantasy series. There might be some romance in the future (I have my eye on one dark, mysterious character), but this is not fantasy romance by any stretch. It introduces us to a fascinating new world with big stakes and big characters who are deeply and wonderfully drawn. I’m looking forward to book two, and give this one five big gators!

Want to win a copy of A MEDDLE OF WIZARDS? Leave a comment with your favorite type of fantasy character (elf? wizard? faery? hobbit?) to enter for a copy in your choice of print or digital. The winner will be announced on Monday, January 15.