Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, in which we talk about a bookish topic and have fun making lists. This week, we’re looking back at the first half of 2017. What made you squee?
We’re not quite halfway through the year, but it’s been a good’un so far – the disappointments have all been ‘not as good as I hoped’ rather than ‘no damn good’ – with just the one abandonment on account of being ‘not for me after all’.
A Wizard of Earthsea / The Tombs of Atuan – Ursula Le Guin
Rereading childhood favourites can be a dangerous thing, but these work on so many levels that there may be more to enjoy now then there was then. A powerful young man must deal with the consequences of an arrogant mistake; an arrogant young woman enjoys power until she recognises its constraints. Journeys of self-discovery and sorcery in an enthralling world.
The Space Between The Stars – Anne Corlett
Seeking self-knowledge at the end of the world: a statistically unlikely number of survivors try to get back to Earth to seek salvation in Northumberland. Some hope for a lover; some wish to glorify God; some just want to be left alone, really. The result is
probably my favourite book of the year so far. My heart beats faster just thinking about it.
Spellslinger – Sebastien de Castell
In a tribe where status is determined by magic, being bottom of the class is only slightly less excruciating than having an absurdly gifted little sister. And with political tensions rising, befriending a confrontational foreigner is no way to win friends. This YA outing from the author of the Greatcoats is a swaggering delight – all good intentions and knowing side-eye.
The House of Binding Thorns – Aliette de Bodard
The companion to House of Shattered Wings had to bear a lot of expectation, but it won me over as soon as it put Asmodeus in a silk dressing gown and had him seduce a dragon prince. There’s a spy in the House of Hawthorn and civil war stalks the dragon kingdom; after the collapse of House Silverspires, only the ruthless will survive to rule Fallen Paris. When you start thinking Asmodeus may not be ruthless enough, it’s okay to kick yourself.
The Edge of the Abyss – Emily Skrutskie
In the face of some stiff competition (there’s been a lot of 4 star reads this year), the sequel to The Abyss Surrounds Us sneaks in on pure melodramatic hijinks. Emily Skrutskie gives us more pirates, more monsters, more drama, more family, and more girls kissing. What’s not to like? Well, the angst, but there’s enough daft action to keep it moving right along.
Shades of Magic – V E Schwab
I had a few quibbles with the end, but I’ll ignore a lot for this much fun in the making. Magic is the promise and the threat as Kel, messenger between the worlds, tries to close doors he should never have opened. There was no chance he’d keep thieving guttersnipe Lila Bard in her place; but can they defeat the nightmares of White and Black London?
The Memoirs of Lady Trent – Marie Brennan
Two Memoirs in, and I have a deep affection for Lady Trent. I love the narrative voice of a Lady old enough not to give two hoots about patriarchal, snobbish Society’s foibles – and knowing she flourishes stops this being focused on challenging the system. It’s not whether she can do what she wants, it’s how – and how she grows and learns in response. Move over Boys Own, the old girl’s got this. Also, dragons.
The Drowning Eyes – Emily Foster
From the gorgeous cover art to the heart-breaking journeys of its protagonists – an apprentice windspeaker and a crotchety old ship’s captain – I adored this for being epic in spite of its brevity. With compelling characters and exquisite world-building, it’s more than the sum of its parts as Shina and Tazir take on the Dragon Ships.
Sunbolt – Intisar Khanani
Another epic novella, Sunbolt stole my heart in the first chapter, and Khanani took good care of it. Her foreign teenage heroine with the secret magic ability and friends in the resistance is a target on the mercenary-stalked streets of Karolene, but its her no-nonsense attitude, bravery and determination that lifts this above the average YA girl with a gift story. Bonus: no romance.
Up the Walls of the World – James Tiptree, Jr
Tiptree Jr taught me that classic SF got better after the 50s, when more women got involved. Cue an unexpected racial clash with telepathic aliens that challenges gender expectations, centres outsiders dealing with their damage in their own ways and is ultimately a passionate call for uncompromising idealism. It took me by surprise, and I remain somewhat in awe.
Honourable mention goes to The Book of Etta, which sounded superfluous but ended up gripping as Etta tries to claw down the gender constraints of the post-apocalypse; and to Fight Club for being an excellent read (even if it’s impossible to read without hearing Edward Norton’s voice narrating it to you).
What are you favourites so far this year?