TOP TEN TUESDAY: Best (so far) of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme thing hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is best reads (so far) of 2017! As of writing this post, I’ve read 65 books this year, and here are the ten that I think absolutely shone. Some were released this year, but not all of them! These are also not in any kind of order!

  1. The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher. I think, like a lot of people, I regret not having read any of Carrie Fisher’s writing before her death. This memoir is one of the funniest memoirs I’ve read in a while, and she writes with an openness and a frankness I someday aspire to have.
  2. Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman. It’s Gaiman. It’s Norse mythology.
  3. The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden. A really lovely, atmospheric fairy tale with bits of Russian and Western fairy tale essences woven in. I’m really excited for the followup because so much excitement of the story seemed to happen in the last third.
  4. Moby-Dick; or The Whale, by Herman Melville. Uh, if you would have told me a couple of years ago that Moby-Dick would become one of my top favorite novels of all time, I might have laughed in your face. But seriously, my dudes. This is a classic case of learning about the history surrounding a novel and then diving into it, because it makes the experience all the richer. I devoured this monstrous beast of a novel in mere days. DAYS.
  5. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. So heartbreaking, so touching, so relevant. I’ve been telling everyone to read this book.
  6. The Stars are Legion, by Kameron Hurley. I pitch this to people who are looking for new science fiction to read like this: Do you like military-esque, dramatic sci-fi? Do you like weird sci-fi? Do you like gross sci-fi? How do you feel about womb-punk? (What? they often ask.) I respond with a: this book is like a birth-is-war and war-is-birth kind of thing. I generally get one of two responses: I’M SOLD OMG and YOU READ SOME WEIRD SHIT, MEG. Read it, now.
  7. The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, by Ken Liu. THIS JUST WON A LOCUS AWARD and has a lot of other accolades. The stories range from fantasy to sci-fi and are all well written and full of life. It’s just a good anthology, period.
  8. The Whole Art of Detection, by Lyndsay Faye. I don’t think I can stop babbling about this or thinking about this collection of Sherlock Holmes pastiches. They’re just so well done and evoke Doyle’s atmosphere so well while at the same time being fresh and modern. I’ll read anything Faye writes, and she’ll always be at the top of my recommendations lists.
  9. Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer. Flying bears? A blobby, morphing person-thing? Examinations on what it means to be a person? Yes, yes, yes. This feels like an Atwood extension that’s thoroughly VanderMeer’s stuff. If you’ve read his Southern Reach trilogy and liked it, why haven’t you picked this up yet? It’s dystopian, but it’s not an in-your-face one. Everything is centralized, and the characters are so well developed.
  10. Wake of Vultures, by Lila Bowen. THIS ONE CAME OUT OF NOWHERE?? I’ve seen lots of writers I like mention this and blurb for it, so when it was a Kindle daily deal, I bought it. I didn’t start reading it until a bit later, and it was everything I needed at that moment: a protagonist dealing with gender identity and expression, the old west, MONSTERS and creepy things, AH so many things that I’ll get into in a proper review soon.

THIS CONCLUDES THE TEN. I’m thinking I’ll do a ten best for the second half of the year and then do a final post narrowing those twenty down to the overall best ten of 2017!

Have you read any of these?

BOOK REVIEW: Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman

BOOK REVIEW: Norse Mythology, by Neil GaimanTitle: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Published by W. W. Norton & Company
Published: February 7th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Mythology
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads

In their huge bedroom that night, Tyr said to Thor, “I hope you know what you are doing.”

“Of course I do,” said Thor. But he didn’t. He was just doing whatever he felt like doing. That was what Thor did best.

In the introduction to Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman writes that he went straight to the sources for his retellings of these myths, the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda. He interjects his own style of writing into retelling the old myths and brings new life into the stories. Norse Mythology is a great introduction as well as being an invigorating new look into tales for those who are already familiar with them. The stories are also perfect for reading aloud, and you don’t have to read them in order to really get full enjoyment out of them. I’m certainly going to be borrowing the audio book from the library so I can listen to Gaiman read them to me.

I was, however, expecting some kind of Gaiman-esque twist or one of his signature dives into the weird, so if that’s something you’re expecting out of this, be aware that it’s exactly what it says on the tin. It’s Norse mythology told to us by one of our greatest storytellers. The stories themselves are dark and gruesome and at times very funny, and I couldn’t think of a more popular writer to make these tales accessible to everyone.

Reading this was a perfect start to a new year. It feels both old and new at the same time, a talent Gaiman possesses and shows in many of his works. It’s ethereal, dangerous, and so much fun. It was sometimes difficult not to imagine Thor and Loki’s dialogue in their Marvel counterparts and that made me giggle out loud sometimes.

My favorite part was probably the introduction. While reading it, I could thoroughly understand that Neil Gaiman loves Norse mythology (it’s seen in many of his other works like Sandman and American Gods). As he writes in his introduction:

… the Norse gods came with their own doomsday: Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods, the end of it all. The gods were going to battle the frost giants, and they were all going to die.

Had Ragnarok happened yet? Was it still to happen? I did not know then. I am not certain now.

It was the fact that the world and the story ends, and the way that it ends and is reborn, that made the gods and the frost giants and the rest of them tragic heroes, tragic villains. Ragnarok made the Norse world linger for me, seem strangely present and current, while other, better-documented systems of belief felt as if they were part of the past, old things.

Norse mythology, and stories of Vikings and the like, always felt atmospheric to me. Of chilly and foggy springs and autumns, endless and gorgeous summer days, snowy winters; of gatherings of people in long halls with endless feasts and drinking; of stories and songs told and sung around fires, the passing on of knowledge through the rhythm of words. Neil Gaiman brings that to life in Norse Mythology, and I’m hoping he’ll do more like this or even write an extended tale of Norse inspiration like his fairy tale Stardust.

Thank you to Netgalley and W.W. Norton for a review copy! All quotes are from an uncorrected proof, and all opinions are my own.

Pokémon Go Book Tag

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I stumbled across Aentee’s Pokémon Go Book Tag and decided immediately I wanted to do it, because I’ve been totally obsessed with the app (I even caught some in the Bahamas!)! I don’t know who to tag specifically, but if you want to do it, tag, you’re it!

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I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember, but the books that really got me wanting to read more beyond what was given to me were the Dear America books! Does anyone remember those? I was in the fourth grade when I read the first one, and I used to get them through the Scholastic book orders. They were fictional diaries of girls in different periods of history, and I was obsessed. I read the first three in that series over and over and over.

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Jane Eyre, to nobody’s surprise. I’m going to read the rest of the Brontë works in this year and the next because I need to know more of their inner lives after reading Claire Harman’s biography of Jane (and her siblings).

pokemon-tag-03-zubat Maybe A Song of Ice and Fire? I’ll read them all eventually, maybe once Winds of Winter is released or something. Otherwise, there are several series/books that I avoid not just because I see it everywhere but because I have no interest in ever reading them for personal reasons.

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I don’t have a specific answer for this because it’s in a lot of stuff I’ve enjoyed, but I’ll read nearly anything that has a Beauty and the Beast/forced cohabitation and oh look we’ve fallen in love trope. I don’t know why but it gets me every time. It’s seen in stuff like Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and Robin McKinley’s Beauty/Rose Daughter.

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Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive series. Those books are literal bricks, okay. I haven’t finished the rest of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series for this reason, too.

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Lavie Tidhar’s Central Station was the last book to keep me up past my bedtime. I had to know more about those data vampires and where he took the characters in the world he created. Dracula, when I first read it years and years ago, kept me up out of sheer horror.

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Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester. Yvaine and Tristran Thorne. I have more but these are my top three!

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I blazed through Pierce Brown’s Red Rising! I really enjoyed the world building. It wasn’t a new concept, but I thought it was well-executed, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the trilogy!

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I WANTED TO SAY HARRY POTTER UNTIL I STARTED READING THE CURSED CHILD. (I’m still excited for Fantastic Beasts, though, not gonna lie.) So… let’s just say I’ll read all the Star Wars and Star Trek spin-offs until the end of time. Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath is so much fun!

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Some of these aren’t “new” debuts, but I haven’t read them yet: Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study in Charlotte, Paula Lichtarowicz’s The First Book of Calamity Leek, Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, and Paige Orwin’s The Interminables!

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NEIL GAIMAN. I also have (decidedly) not read everything of his yet because I always want there to be something of his that’s always new to me.

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Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. It seems like everyone and their mother’s read it, and it’s going in different directions than some of us probably hoped for, but I still like it, and I’m super excited for Empire of Storms!

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Uh… Patrick Rothfuss’s Door of Stone or whatever it’s called. The third book in the Kingkiller Chronicles. WHERE IS IT.

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I read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith as part of an Instagram read a long a while ago, and I loved it so much more than I expected to! I don’t know why I thought of it as a stuffy book and avoided it because of that, but I was surprised at its breadth and depth and magic.

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The Sandman Omnibus Silver Edition. Because OMG.

 

(And if anyone’s wondering/curious, I caught my first Tentacool and Magikarp in Nassau.)