2017 reading highlights / lowlights

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#1
Tell us what have been your stand out reading moments of the year, and what are the books you'd quite like to erase from your memory.
 

Peat

Journeyed there and back again
#2
Its times like these I'm grateful I took up Goodreads...

Ultimate Highs

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone and The Goddess Project by Bryan Wigmore. They share a lot of the same traits; lucid, evocative prose, intriguing characters, interesting metaphysical ideas and adventures that are as much intellectual mystery as derring do.

I don't know whether that's a sign of changing taste or a quirk of fates.

Other Highs

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie, Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, Angel's Truth by AJ Grimmelhaus

A revenge thriller with some truly memorable characters and great storytelling; A book a lot like the above; and a great retroclone quest fantasy

Lows

Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard, Stranger of Tempest by Tom Lloyd, The Fell Sword by Miles Cameron, The Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

I finished all of these books so there's definitely something there, but all of them were a real struggle due to prolonged passages with little of interest happening in the narrative, and they've all temporarily killed my interest in continuing their respective series

Ultimate Lows

The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher

There's probably other DNFs I can't remember - okay, there's a lot - but this one sticks out the most because I tried so hard and got so far and in the end, it didn't even matter. I put my trust in Butcher, pushed as far as I can go, and it just wasn't rewarded at all. Makes me slightly nervous for Peace Talks tbh.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#3
Its times like these I'm grateful I took up Goodreads...
Me too :)

Highlights
  • Blackwing by Ed McDonald - great quality for a debut. Interesting story and great characters in line with grimdark fantasy.
  • The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan - once again great characters and worldbuilding.
  • Felix Castor series by Mike Carey - different kind of UF from this UK author. Real original writing style. Plenty of dark brit humour.
  • Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey - another UF that has its own flavour. Very much american in style. Plenty of humour and great approach to bastardizing christian mythology.
Lowlights
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman - basic Norse Myth 101. He was limited by his own choice to simply retell the story from beginning to Ragnarok, and not to add any of his creativity to the norse myth. So the end result was a simple retelling that has nothing of his own in it. Should have left this to people who write academic books. Very underwhelming and pointless undertaking if you have so many of your own stories to tell. He's not an expert on Norse mythology and it shows.
  • Paradox Bound by Peter Clines - after really great two books, this one was a flop. It happens. I will still read more from him. I like that he writes self-contained books.
  • The Detective (Johannes Cabal #2) by Jonathan L. Howard - after really good 1st book, the author became fixated with mechanics of blimps and murder mysteries. Mind you, this series is a story of a necromancer. How does a necromancer fit with blimps you ask? He doesn't. The only theory I have is that weed became legal in England when Howard was writing this.
DNF
  • A Plague of Giants (Seven Kennings #1) by Kevin Hearne - simply boring. He bit off more than he can chew I feel. There are so many POVs that I simply couldn't follow the first 100 pages. Lots of text, but he's saying very little.
 

ofer

Journeyed there and back again
#4
Highlights

Tales of the Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding. So much fun.
City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett. A great conclusion to a series I loved. Probably the best book of the series.
Low Town series by Daniel Polansky. Grim with dark humor. If you liked Abercrombie, you will probably like this as well. In fact, I think it's the closest to Abercrombie I read in terms of ambience. Less recommended to people who want positive characters - everyone in the books is sort of asshole.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. Simply put, the best debut I read in recent years. The story itself is kind of weird - the type of story you can expect from Neil Gaiman, Tim Powers or China Mieville.

Lowlights

There were quite a few lukewarm books, but only one was truly dismal:
Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi. Or, most likely should be known as what the fuck was Scalzi thinking. I read the entire Old Man's War series and liked it, but this one was an abomination. It basically re-tells the story of book 3 (Zoe's Tale is book 4) from a different POV. That character, however, was so annoying that I was struggling not to smash my kindle (if it was a paper book it would have been horribly mutilated). Think a teenage girl who strongly resembles Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, but without the humor or the charm that made that movie cute.

The one saving grace is that I can recommend to anyone who reads the series to skip this book completely. It doesn't contribute anything new to the plot - like I said, it is simply the previous book told through the eyes of an incredible annoying teenage girl.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#5
Going through my list and definitely a mediocre year for me as far as reading goes.

Highlights

Bound by Benedict Jacka - Nothing mind blowing here and maybe not a true highlight but in a down year you take what you can get. That sounds more negative than I mean it to be because I do like this series and it was a good book but not sure it is something you would call a highlight when thinking of some of the better books I have read.

The Core by Peter V. Brett - It was a good conclusion to a series I have enjoyed quite a bit and more than most. Glad to finally get the finishing book

The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan - Top highlight for me right here. Finally got around to reading these and really enjoyed all 3 with the added bonus of knowing the series goes on after the trilogy.

A Song of Ice and Fire - This was an audiobook "re-read" for me and my third time through the first 4 books and my second time through the 5th. I have always rated the series quite highly and this third time through was the best time so far and I believe it is in large part to the fact that the giant cast is finally not so overwhelming. It allowed for me to really dig in and pick up on everything.


Lowlights

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks - Easily one of my favorite series but this was the first book I didn't like that much and it was very disappointing given how much I love it on the whole. Really hoping the final book knocks it out of the park.

The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky - Had been wanting to try his work and went into this book really wanting to love it and expecting to. Didn't happen. Not sure if this is a case of too high expectations or it really was just a very 'meh' book.

Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan - After hearing so much negative about this book it took me quite a long time to pick it up and after finishing it I understood all of the stuff I had heard. Just not a good finish to an otherwise strong series.


Midlights (bonus)

Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia - Had very little expectation going in and was neither blown away or greatly disappointed. Not a bad book but ultimately very forgettable.

The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence - This was a slog for me as was the whole trilogy. I finished because that is (mostly) what I do. I liked his original trilogy well enough but this one will keep me from picking up his new series.

Blood Song and Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan - This was a re-read leading up to QoF and I like both books but it was a re-read and I can't call it a highlight when comparing it to my re-read of ASoIaF.

Twelve Kings of Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu - Took this one in audiobook form and didn't care for the reader and that hurt my experience some but even accounting for that this isn't a series I will pursue past this first book. Just not enough there to get me excited.

Besieged by Kevin Hearne - This was a collection of short stories from the main series and it was enjoyable. Would have preferred an actual book from the series though.


Anyway, not a great year all in all for my reading but it looks like there is a good chance it will go well in 2018. A lot of potential waiting for me.
 

Maark Abbott

Journeyed there and back again
#6
I've not read so much this year. Highlight would probably be The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith-Spark for the incredibly realistic portrayal of living with a violent murderer in your head. It's rather short but very good. No real lowlights so I'll give you my usual 'avoid Stormlight' gumph instead.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#7
I'll limit myself to Fantasy/Sci-Fi books for this post.

Highlights:
Discworld - I finished the Discworld series and it was awesome. The final books are not as good as the 50% in the middle books, but still great.
Red Rising trilogy - one of the best Sci-Fi reads of the last years.
Wool trilogy - an interesting post-apocalyptic series with a Fallout-like premise
The Vagrant trilogy - a wholly original tale, which is is a mix of fantasy, sci-fi and the post-apocalyptic genre.
Guns of the Dawn - an interesting standalone which was very enjoyable to read.
Tales of the Malazan Empire - Esslemont's first book left much to be desired, but after that he really picked up his pace and I'm having a blast being once again immersed in the Malazan world.

Lowlights:
Carrion Comfort - this book by Dan Simmons was a big chore to get through. It's a door-stopper and the pacing is terrible. Avoid!
1Q84 - this book is more in the realm of magical realism. I didn't really care for this first foray into the world of Murakami.
 

Kalavan

Journeyed there and back again
#8
Highlights of the year:
Tad Williams’ The Dragonbone Chair, an absolute masterpiece, truly majestic, one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read: great characterization, amazing world-building and so beautifully written. The following books are extremely good also, I consider Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and its coda, The Heart of What Was Lost, a must read for every epic fantasy fan.

David Gemmell’s Jon Shannow, one of the finest work of one of my all-time favorites

R.S. Belcher’s Nightwise and The Brotherhood of the Wheel, extremely enjoyable, although I still prefer his Golgotha’s books

Honorable mentions: Kearney’s A Different Kingdom, Eames’ Kings of the Wyld and McClung’s Amra Thetys

Disappointments of the year:
Corey’s Babylon’s Ashes, a rather lackluster entry in the Expanse series after 5 brilliant installments

Bennett’s City of Stairs, actually a good, if a bit sterile, book, but after all the praise that this series has received my expectations were excessively higher

Lowlights:
Rachel Aaron’s The Spirit Thief, too much YA and convenient for my tastes

Lloyd’s The Stormcaller, a real clusterfuck of a book
 

rudyjuly2

Journeyed there and back again
#9
Highlights: Finishing the Wheel of Time. I read most of the series in 2017 although books 7 and particularly 8-10 could be listed in the lowlights. The series has stuck with me and I will remember many characters forever.

Lowlights: The Dragonbone Chair. Far too descriptive, and unnecessarily so, the book moves at a snail's pace and I found nothing special about the writing. A journey type of story with old school type of animals, full of songs and it just didn't do it for me. Felt like a lower quality indie book and I did not continue after that. (I see that my views and Kalavan's views on this book are entirely opposite!)
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#10
Highlight:

"Discovering" Adrian Tchaikovsky, Helene Wecker, Brian McClellan and Bradley Beaulieu. As well as so many new fantasy authors that are too numerous to mention. 2017 has been a great year with several authors showing they are going to take the torch of greatness from Martin and Rothfuss and What'shisname.

(* denotes absolutely must read if you haven't heard of it before)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik - wonderful tale about a girl and her dragon
*Ravenheart and Stormrider by David Gemmell - wonderful tale about a boy and his sword
The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan - new series by author of Blood Song, first book is great, world runs on dragon blood
*Twelve Kings in Sharakhai and With Blood Upon The Sand (Song of Shattered Sands series) by Bradley Beaulieu - I was a late adopter of this incredibly good Arabian Nights type series
Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames - just made the highlights list, old farts regroup one last time
*Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan - great first book of a sequel trilogy to Powder Mage series
Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell - Royce and Hadrian type of banter by skilled yet flawed good guys
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - a different type of heist story with new and unique character types
*Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky - I was blown away by this standalone by the already great Tchaikovsky, royalty becomes footsoldier
*Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy (Arts of Dark and Light series) by Vox Day - a brilliant start to a wonderful Roman Empire meets epic fantasy series, I read this well after books 2 and 3 which are great, a must read for epic fantasy fans, Rome joins formerly hostile elven empire to fight a unique Mordor-like enemy without the Sauron character
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker - not my style but I loved it and will pre-buy the sequel
*Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign and The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage series) by Brian McClellan - I came late to this superb series
*Blackwing by Ed McDonald - bleak fantasy written by the new big star Ed McDonald
*Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams - first epic fantasy-style book/series by Walter Jon Williams, a sci-fi master
The Fall of Dragons by Miles Cameron - sadly the end of the Traitor Son series but it's great and has action from the first page to the last

Lowlights

As usual I don't finish lowlights when I come across them, and I don't remember them either.
 

Bierschneeman

Journeyed there and back again
#11
omg. I just counted I've read 75 books this year.

highlights.
lovely bones
animal farm
we~ yevgeny
tender is the night
ulysses (still reading)


I also read 4 books I gave 9/10 to.

lowlights
AMERICAN GODS. what a trivial cliche of a book.
earth to the moon. boredom personified
eternal Russia, a bad spinning policy with how slanted political writing can get in America. . not worth it if free.
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#12
@$%#$^@$ BFB is now on the block list of the firewall at work. Stayed home for 7 weeks after surgery and I only found out yesterday.

Highlights:

Milkweed Triptych by Ian Tregillis; I pretty much like all of his books I've ever read (these were alternate history with some magic thrown in)

Greatcoats series by Sebastien de Castell (story is somewhat conventional but the characters and emotional impact are done well)

Quillifer by Walter Jon Williams (just wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next)

Blackwing by Ed McDonald (this was probably my favorite book of the year)

With Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley P. Beaulieu (I will probably always have good things to say about Beaulieu's work, too)

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer (this was weird and cool)

Lowlights:

Books 2 and 3 of the Annihilation series by Jeff Vandermeer (lots of loose ends, not much made sense, didn't really answer any questions)

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks (felt like nothing was getting done here, like the story wasn't moving forward while Kip was off doing whatever and Gavin/Dazen was going nuts underground or whatever the hell was going on there)

Sequels to the Palace Job by Patrick Weekes (he had an OK concept for one book but couldn't really continue in the same vein without getting repetitive)

Most everything else I read was decent, honestly, but not deserving of highlight status.
 

Noor Al-Shanti

Is a wondrous friend of modest Kruppe
#13
Oooh, I've got three highlights and interestingly they are all indie.

The Eagle's Flight by Daniel Olesen (High Fantasy)
Grounded: A Dragon's Tale by Gloria Piper (Fantasy/Sci-fi mix with real ecology in the world building!)
The Buried Few by M.J. Lau (near-future dystopia)

As for Lowlights... hmmmm... that time I tried to read Name of the Wind and couldn't get past the first few pages...
Also, trying to re-read Redwall as an adult was a little disappointing...
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#14
In no particular order

Highlights
—————
Phil Rickman, Elizabeth Peters, and Louise Penny mysteries- awesome!

the last couple Traitor Son Books- Loved the Myles Cameron series!

Lightbringer #4- hurry up book 5!!

Dan Brown Robert Langdon #4- Formulaic but always fun

Some Douglas E. Richards Sci Fi/ thrillers-can’t catch your breath from page one untilthe end.

Bernard Cornwell Saxon Tales books- plane books but fun and educational

Dresden Files book 8- I like these more than”meh” but not great either

Memory Sorrow and Thorn books- what a tremendous series- one of my all time favorites!

Caine Mutiny- a classic

Monarchies of God series-Paul Kearney- the end spoiled a fantastic series.

The first three Shadow Wars books by Django Wexler- will read the last pair soon

Waters and ths Wild by our own Jo Zebedee- take a flier on this guys- Dark fairy tale, mystery, thriller, romance (oh well).


Meh
——
Old MansWar series by Jon Scalzi.

Anansi Boys and Good Omens-Gainan- cute

A couple Steve Berry Thrillers- maybe above meh- enjoyed them

Two James Rollins thrillers- sed Steve Berry above

A clive Cussler book- plane book.

On Stranger Tides. Dissapointed. Pirates Of The Carribean-ish.

Golem and Jinni- good but not great

Two Patricia Wentworth and a Dorothy Sayerz, Ellery Queen and Rhys Bowen s mysties- outdated IMO



Lowlights
————
A midsummer Night Tempest-pol Anderson- Boring. What was the point? Already forgot what it was about.

A few others
*So overall really good books!* A good year.

Totally agree with @ofer on Zoes tale

You hated Memory Sorrow and Thorn? Awwww @rudyjuly2 :’(
 
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rudyjuly2

Journeyed there and back again
#15
I wouldn’t say I hated MST Darth but I found nothing special about it. While I liked WOT and felt that book could withstand the test of time I don’t feel that is true with this book. I was certainly disappointed as I expected better.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#16
I wouldn’t say I hated MST Darth but I found nothing special about it. While I liked WOT and felt that book could withstand the test of time I don’t feel that is true with this book. I was certainly disappointed as I expected better.
I was teasing. That’s why I said “awww” with the tears like I was personally wounded. I can understand an author or somebody very close to the author getting hurt feelings maybe but I think it’s ridiculous when anyone else does. I just made that statement because I loved it. You can like, dislike, love, hate, a book or anything in between. I don’t care one bit and will always defend your right to do so.. That’s our perogative. We’ve all got different tastes. :)
 

Hand of Fear

Journeyed there and back again
#17
My highlights were.

Dancer’s Lament
The Dark Tower series
The First Law Trilogy
Blood Song

My lowlights were.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things (my number 1 most hated book)
The Alloy of Law
The Wind Through The Keyhole
House of Suns
 

Alice Sabo

Knows how to pronounce Kvothe
#18
My highlight was finding and devouring the Temeraire series. Loved that dragon!

My lowlight was Assassin's Fate. I love that world and all the books she has written. That ending was wrong in so many ways. I am very angry with her about that. I hope there's another book to correct it the way she corrected the end of the 1st series by writing the 2nd.
 

Darth Tater

Journeyed there and back again
#19
My highlights were.

Dancer’s Lament
The Dark Tower series
The First Law Trilogy
Blood Song

My lowlights were.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things (my number 1 most hated book)
The Alloy of Law
The Wind Through The Keyhole
House of Suns

I had planned to read Wind Through The Keyhole once I see a deal (too short to pay full price). Like you, I really enjoyed the Dark Tower series. So why was this one crappy?

Also, I MAY read Slow Regard after Book 3 comes out (I know it takes place earlier). Why didnt you like that one?
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#20
My highlight was finding and devouring the Temeraire series. Loved that dragon!

My lowlight was Assassin's Fate. I love that world and all the books she has written. That ending was wrong in so many ways. I am very angry with her about that. I hope there's another book to correct it the way she corrected the end of the 1st series by writing the 2nd.
Hi Alice. Does Fitz come out of the closet and admit being gay and in love with the Fool? I always thought that was where Hobb was heading.