5 absolutely wonderful books from 2016

Happy 2017 and goodbye 2016. I have no complaints about the year. It was the year I got my ass back in gear with working out. The year I watched a lot of good sci-fi movies. The year I received a PlayStation 4. The year I played the best videogame every made (Uncharted 4). 2016 was a great year for reading too. I averaged 2 books a month. I wanted 24 books read by the end of the year. I got 24 books read.Yay me!

There were definitely some duds in that jumble of books and genres. There is a sci-fi one that still has me scratching my head as to why people heap praise on it. Sometimes I can figure out why certain books are so widely praised. But this one makes no sense, to me at least, as to why and how people enjoyed it all the way through the end.

I read another that rivals Dark Intelligence as the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read.

But, if I were forced to whittle the list down to 5 great reads of 2016, here would be that list:

9780330512565the-line-of-polity-small

This story had it all for me. The scope of it, puts Neal Asher at the top of the list in respect to science fiction authors. For my money, no one writes better sci-fi, and The Line of Polity is some of his best work.



emperorsbladespsd-small

To say this is a good book would be an insult to Brian Staveley. The Emperor’s Blades is ridiculous in how great of a story it is. If you enjoy great storytelling, you owe it to yourself to start this amazing trilogy.



abercrombie_bladeitself-tp-300x463-small

Simply put: This is the best fantasy novel ever written



time-salvager-small

This was fun from beginning to end. I normally HATE time traveler novels. I’m talking, so much so, that I want to rip apart the book some 50 pages in. Not so with Time Salvager. I had a grand ol’ time reading this. Wesley Chu is one talented sonofabitch.



houndedhearne-small

This series has turned into my guilty pleasure series. I finished Hounded last year after having it languishing unread for well over a full year. It took me all of 6 hours to finish it. Riot of a good time. This is now my go-to series when I want something light and easy to read, but will entertain me from page 1 to END.







Now these are just five picked from a great year of reading. I’m hoping 2017 turns into another bumper year of great books read. If it’s as wonderful as 2016 then I may have to add a few more books to the list I post next January.

 

GRIMDARK FANTASY IS FUN. WAIT, WHAT? – THE BLADE ITSELF

I all but gave up on fantasy not too long ago; as little as one year ago I refused to read a fantasy novel. The reason I gave to myself is that I read too many fantasy books growing up, so many that I’ve been indoctrinated into every trope there is in the genre. What is original to someone else, is tired and worn out to me. Turns out I was being really picky and choosing the wrong books to read.

The genre of fantasy is filled with stories that use the same old tropes—good vs. evil, chosen one who happens to be a peasant and 4 years old, old gods wanting to get back into the game. However, the same goes for every genre out there, and it’s that way for a reason. Tropes are not to make a story original, rather they are used for familiarity, to increase reader enjoyment and, at the same time, sales.

So, when I gave up on fantasy because I claimed everything to read was just tired and worn out, that was just me not giving the genre a fair chance. Instead I wrote the entire genre off and ran to the sci-fi side of the fence. There I learned my reasoning for giving up an entire genre sat on thin-ice, and the tremendous value of Goodreads Groups; for I got to a point that I didn’t even like reading sci-fi.

How do Goodreads Groups and really awful picking of books figure together? If you’re a connoisseur of Goodreads, then you know the answer.

Movies. There are so many of them out there, so many painfully awful ones, that most of the time it’s better to wear an old hat than to pick out a new one. It’s one of the reasons Rotten Tomatoes was created; to help people learn which movies to stay away from and which to watch. The rating system on that site is so uncanny that if there is a green splat next to the rating, just about everyone is going to agree it’s not a good movie.

The rationale behind Rotten Tomatoes is more or less the same as the one Goodreads uses. What would happen if, in one place, anyone could rate and post a review of a book? Not only that, what would happen if people could create groups on that site, with posts that linked to the books that anyone—not just a book critic—could review and rate? You, I, get a site that is an absolute boon to your, my, book choosing needs.

Goodreads, the reviews I read there, and a Goodreads fantasy group are the sole reason I wandered back into fantasy with The Emperor’s Blades, and the only reason why I read The Blade Itself. And oh how happy I am for that.

The Blade Itself is a feat of storytelling. Joe Abercrombie somehow takes the old trope of a quest of strangers and turns it into THE MOST ENTERTAINING FANTASY NOVEL I HAVE EVER READ. If you read my thoughts on The Emperor’s Blades, you’ll know I love that book. However, The Blade Itself is in its own class.

I’ve read books that are more thought provoking; stories with sentences that are a feast for the mind; novels with plots vastly more complex, but never have I read a fantasy novel more entertaining.

It’s the little things that create the amazing entertainment value. Jezal yelling really loudly when talking to someone he thinks can’t speak his language. Glokta angry at stairs because he moves like a wizened ancient man. Logen’s practicality. Everything, and I mean everything, fits together so seamlessly that Joe Abercrombie has joined the short list of authors I will reread with glee:

  • Neil Gaiman
  • Neal Asher
  • Robert Jordan
  • Dan Simmons
  • Joe Abercrombie
  • Rachel Bach
  • Peter Watts

Should you purchase, or check out from the library, The Blade Itself? Do I really have to answer that? Yes? Well then, do yourself a favor and give in to the hype surrounding Joe Abercrombie; I did and found it to be completely justified, which is why I am so happy I stopped being a book snob and jumped back in the fantasy pool. Read The Blade Itself like I did. Read it now.