Books

The Best Books of 2017

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The Best Books of 2017

Once again I’m running into the problem that readers love to have: too many fantastic books from last year to fit into a short top-three list. Click the jump for a list of the ten best (and by “best” I mean “favorite”) from 2017.

 

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Review: Twin Peaks – The Final Dossier

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Review: Twin Peaks – The Final Dossier

We still have time for one more book review before the end of the year. And what a strange year 2017 has been. Careers in DC and Hollywood have been wiped out (by bad behavior that, let’s face it, really should have been dealt with a long time ago), the political world has been a straight up circus, there’s an object in space that scientists thought might possibly be a sign of extra-terrestrial life, and did you see how the last Oscars ceremony ended?

So what the heck, let’s embrace the weirdness and pick for our last book review of the year something from the strangest show of the year: Twin Peaks. The Final Dossier by Mark Frost may not resolve all my feelings of “WHAT THE ABSOLUTE HELL, LYNCH?” that the ending of Season 3 left me with, but it gives the reader a lot more info. It also answers quite a few questions about how the characters ended up where they were when the season started, with a tiny taste of what happened next.

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Review: The Princess Diarist (audio book)

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Review: The Princess Diarist (audio book)

“If anyone reads this when I have passed to the big bad beyond I shall be posthumorously embarrassed. I shall spend my entire afterlife blushing.”

It’s almost Christmas, so do you need to find a last-minute gift for that hard-to-shop-for friend? It’s also been almost a year since we lost Carrie Fisher; don’t you think now seems like a good time for more stories of life in- and adjacent-to-Hollywood by the galaxy’s most famous princess? And best of all there’s a brand-new Star Wars movie out right now, and wouldn’t you like to hear more about the filming of the movie that started it all?

If the answer to these questions is yes then you really need to pick up a copy of Carrie Fisher’s final book, The Princess Diarist. Inspired by (and including) newly-found journal entries that Fisher made while filming Star Wars: A New Hope, the book is a close look at the mindset of a 19-year-old who’s in the middle of her first successful acting gig, while having an affair with a handsome older actor who just happened to be her character’s love-interest for the next four decades.

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Review: Star Wars Aftermath – Empire’s End

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Review: Star Wars Aftermath – Empire’s End

“The Rebellion was easy, Lando. Governing’s harder.”

The Empire takes its last stand on the planet of Jakku in the final book of Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy. And while this trilogy has been less “journey to The Force Awakens” and more “what happened right after Return of the Jedi,” we get a tiny glimpse of the start of the First Order in a tale of old favorites, new favorites that I hope we’ll see more of, the birth of the New Republic and the last gasp of a foe that’s dangerous even when it’s dying.

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Review: Clockwork Boys (Clocktaur War Book 1)

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Review: Clockwork Boys (Clocktaur War Book 1)

Convicted criminal Slate knows she’s not the first choice to lead an expedition into enemy territory. Heck, she’s not even the second. No one else has managed to find any useful information on the rampaging Clockwork Boys though, so she and a smart-aleck assassin, a failed paladin, and a misogynistic scholar have been press-ganged into infiltrating a neighboring city to find something, anything, that will save the Dowager’s City from the invading army.

It’s an act of pure desperation on the Dowager’s part, but Slate is hopeful for her little band….she’s actually hoping they’ll all manage to kill each other and save everyone else the trouble.

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Review: Troll Bridge

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Review: Troll Bridge

“I’m a troll,” he said. Then he paused, and added, more or less as an afterthought, “Fol rol de ol rol.”

Thanksgiving is over, so it’s officially time to start shopping for Christmas presents! (Unless you’re one of those highly organized people who got their Christmas shopping done before October, in which case I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT.)

If you’re shopping for someone on your list who’s a literary enthusiast and loves fantasy/sci-fi, then you can’t go wrong with something by Neil Gaiman. Dark Horse has been releasing a steady stream of individual Gaiman stories, each one a little jewel of a tale illustrated by a different artist (Pixelated Geek has already reviewed two of them.)

I randomly picked up a copy of one of these from last year, and I was delighted to discover it was illustrated by Colleen Doran, who’s art I’ve been on-again-off-again familiar with for about twenty-five years. The combination of Doran’s art and Gaiman’s story Troll Bridge does not disappoint.

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Review: Unseen Demons

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Review: Unseen Demons

“Have we ever been able to conduct any kind of communication with them at all?”

“Are you kidding? We haven’t even been able to alert them we’re here.”

Long-time fans of author Adam-Troy Castro are probably already familiar with his Andrea Cort series. For everyone else (and for those of us who love getting ahold of a story that we haven’t had a chance to read yet), Mr. Castro has been releasing his individual stories in e-reader format, including just this month his 2002 novella, Unseen Demons.

The very first of the Andrea Cort stories written, it’s also chronologically one of the furthest along in her timeline, taking place just a year before the events in the two Andrea Cort novels. It finds the Diplomatic Corps Counselor trying to bring Emil Sandburg – a remorseless serial killer – to justice on a planet where he brutally murdered several members of the native population. Unfortunately the natives are completely incapable of delivering justice, because they’re not even aware that a crime took place.

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Review: It Devours! – A Welcome To Night Vale Novel

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Review: It Devours! – A Welcome To Night Vale Novel

Being great big fans, as we are, of the Welcome To Night Vale podcast, it was tough to decide which one of us would write the review for their latest book, It Devours. Rock Paper Scissors and flipping a coin didn’t work (why? It’s tough to explain. Hey look over there…) so we decided we’d both review it in the format of an instant messenger conversation (Hey, it worked for our review of Norse Mythology.)

Click the jump for a spoiler-filled discussion about the coolest parts of the book, sections that may or may not have been shout-outs, and a mild disagreement about the book’s treatment of religion.

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North Carolina Comicon: Bull City – The Panels

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North Carolina Comicon: Bull City – The Panels

NC Comicon: Bull City starts today! Are you ready? Have you finished making your cosplay? Are you interested in attending a panel on science in comics, digital illustration, cosplay tips and tricks, how to make a successful podcast (I may have to attend that one, for reasons), how faith affects our fandom (and vice-versa) or any of a number of other fascinating discussions moderated by the top creators in the comic book world?

Click the jump for a rundown of the panels at this year’s convention.

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Review: The Fifth Doll

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Review: The Fifth Doll

Matrona shook her head, mulling over Olia’s bizarre words. “What’s ‘snow’?”

“I haven’t the faintest idea” – Jaska shrugged – “but she prattles about it from time to time.”

That little exchange is the first sign you get that the small village in Charlie N. Homberg’s latest book might be a little…odd. Things aren’t completely perfect (other than the weather of course); Matrona Vistin’s newborn sister disappeared without a trace when Matrona was six years old, and her relationship with her parents in the twenty years since can best be described as “strained”. But Matrona is mostly content with being a dairymaid on her family’s farm, and she has her upcoming marriage to the handsome (if a little distant) village butcher to look forward to.

Matrona’s life might have stayed predictable and quiet, if only she hadn’t given in to a moment’s curiosity and stumbled across the tradesman Slava Barinov’s collection of nested wooden dolls. Each doll is painted to look like someone Matrona knows. In fact, there’s one for every member of her village, and trying to separate the two halves of the dolls has a nasty effect on whoever the doll is matched to.

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