My best reads in 2017

best of 2017I was asked by Andria Williams to participate in her annual Women Writers Recommend Books blog post she puts together for her Military Spouse Book Review, site. I never turn down a chance to spread the word about good books. And 2017 was an especially busy reading year since I had to take any and every opportunity to escape from the reality of 2017 … if you know what I mean.

Some of the best I read this year were, Dinner at the Center of the Earth, by Nathan Englander, In Farleigh Field, by Rhys Bowen, A Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon and Janet Oakley’s expertly researched historical thriller, The Jossing Affair.

Andria told us to giver her our top three books of this year. An impossible task! So, I’m going to cheat and give you my top three picks, in no particular order, which all happen to be part of a larger series.

Scorch Series – I loved every single book in Toby Neal and Emily Kimmelman’s post-apocalyptic romance series, Scorch. All SIX books, yes six of them, are smart, well written, edge-of-your-seat thrillers that are also deeply moving love stories, each featuring one brother of the Luciano family. Trust me, it’s the kind of romance series you won’t be embarrassed to read.

I helped the authors as a military advisor on the books, so I can vouch for Neal and Kimmelman’s efforts for authenticity. Since the stories are told from different points of view in each chapter, Neal and Kimmelman split the work, each of them writing either the male or female POV depending on the book. I’d never witnessed this kind of author collaboration before and hadn’t expected it to be as successful as it turned out. These are delicious stories. Try not to gobble them all in one sitting.

The Fatal Flame – Also in my top three is another example of expertly researched historical fiction. Lyndsay Faye’s, The Fatal Flame, is the third book in Faye’s Timothy Wilde series. Wilde is a man of small stature with a hideously burned face he earned on the night both of his parents and hundreds of others were killed in a fire. The tough as nails, New York City Copper, navigates the 1840s city while displaying a soft spot for misfits and strays. The most dangerous misfit in his life is his firefighting brother, Valentine, who bloodies his knuckles in Tammany Hall brawls for the right to put out fires and save lives.

Valentine is a massive, handsome and charming, gay man who decides to run for office against a corrupt wealthy patron. Valentine is a larger than life character in this story of expertly drawn, three dimensional people you won’t want to leave when the pages are done.

The Fatal Flame is the third and final book in this series. Sometime next year, I’ll read all three of them, The Gods of Gotham, Seven for a Secret and The Fatal Flame, in a row. I think I’ll save them for a long holiday weekend or a beach vacation.

The Fifth Season- My final pick is The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, the first book in the Hugo Award Winning Broken Earth series. I’ve not read the other two books in the series, The Stone Sky and The Obelisk Gate, but I look forward to digging into them.

Jemisin starting winning awards for her fiction with her very first book and has collected a pile of them since. She’s known in the fantasy writing business for her rich world building that, not only draws place and characters and intricate plots but also culture, religion, political systems and language and it all feels naturally organic.

In The Broken Earth series, children born with the dangerous ability of Orogeny are murdered by their parents or killed by mobs if their capability to drive their will into the earth to shake the world apart is discovered. If orogenes survive discovery, they are sent to the Flucrum where they are trained to use their gifts to stop the shakes that plague the earth.

Jemisin tells the non-linear story from multiple viewpoints, all of them unique and unforgettable. She populates her world with exotically and wildly different characters, some with black skin, nappy hair, long twists, some are pirates and some are Guardians who are to be feared. I can’t wait to read the next two books in the series to see how it all shakes out … pun intended.

Have you read any of these books? What great reads would you recommend?

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