I found a lot of wonderful art in 2017. Although it pains me to distill all my discoveries down to a Top Ten List, I thought it would make a good blog to usher in 2018. In no particular order since they won for their respective categories:
Best Poetry Book: Black Tie Affair by JD Estrada
J.D. Estrada’s poetry book Black Tie Affair was a wonderful read. I paired it with whiskey and read it in one sitting. It’s one of those books that I know I’ll pick up again and again. Some lines smacked me across the face- and that is exactly what I want from poetry.
I was lucky enough to interview him on my youtube channel. Full of wit and wisdom, definitely bananas, 2017 gave me a huge gift in the form of his friendship.
Best Album: Painted Fan by Rabbit Quinn
After falling in love and writing to Quinn’s gorgeous debut album Lost Children, I enthusiastically backed Painted Fan on Kickstarter. I admit I’m biased- she is the only rock star to hold me as I swoon after a show- but this girl can sing, write, and play the piano with skill. And on top of all that, emotion drips from every note. Easily the best record of 2017 for me.
Best Steampunk Fantasy: License to Quill: A Novel of Shakespeare & Marlowe by Jacopo della QuerciaI had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book. I was friends with Jacopo on twitter and bought it because of that. His tweets are fun, and smart, and often humorous, but his BOOKS! I admit it. I was book-smitten. He researches everything, provides footnotes for days, and weaves fantasy through historical events. I loved them so much I forced others to read them, who happily encouraged others to read them! Seriously, it was the greatest by-product. Bonding with people over shared joy of a book…He even inspired my first ever piece of fan-fic.
Best Romantic Suspense: Saint’s Gate by Carla Neggers
I’ve been reading Carla Negger’s Swift River Valley series for years. I love them! Contemporary small town, east coast goodness which always remind me how much I adore maple syrup (Vermont has a lot of syrup. As a Canadian who has made her own, I approve).
I have no idea how I missed the fact that Neggers is also a romantic suspense writer! 2017 changed that. I started her Sharpe and Donovan series with Saint’s Gate. The heroine and hero are both in the FBI, but in totally different positions. And the heroine used to be a nun… add in the suspense, and I’m sold.
I don’t think I have ever read another heroine like Sharpe, and I have been reading romance since I was around 12 years old. Her unique back story added such a cool flavor. I can’t wait to read all the rest of the series.
Best Historical Romance: From Duke Till Dawn by Eva Leigh
I loved the heroine who was a criminal out of necessity, and the unapologetic heat between her and the hero was appreciated. The most important part for me in the book is the way Leigh resolved the relationship between the heroine and her mentor. She comes to terms with herself and her own worth, and it makes the HEA that much more satisfying.
Best YA: The Way Back to You by Michelle Andreani & Mindi Scott
This book was about grief and finding love. It was about growing up, and letting go, and holding on. I liked the back and forth chapters of the main characters, a guy and a girl. They processed the same events differently, which was interesting.
The story centers on the loss of the girl’s best friend, and the guy’s girlfriend. It sounds tragic, and it is, but what set this book apart was that it didn’t wallow. There was plenty of humor and romantic elements to balance out the darkness.
Best Dark Fantasy: Blood and Bile by J.C. Boyd & Joshua Robertson
Wow. This was dark. There were some rather gruesome moments. I didn’t even agree with a main character’s motivations. But it was riveting. Based on Norse mythology, this dark fantasy was unique. I’m used to the tried and true dragon fare, but it is absolutely a joy when you find a book that takes all your expectations and smashes them against the rocks with blood soaked glee.
I can’t wait for book two in the series!
Best Nonfiction: Insomniac City by Bill Hayes
I read this book at night, which seems right, with the Insomniac title. It was an emotional read, chronicling the life Hayes shared with Oliver Sacks toward the end of his life. I was profoundly affected by Sacks’ work, which is how I came to Hayes’ book.
His photographs went beautifully with the chapters, and through reading his book I got a sense of what it must be to live in New York, despite never having been there.
It was lovely. Just a lovely, lovely book. I am looking forward to reading more by Hayes.
Best Mystery: Anatomy of a Darkened Heart by Christie Stratos
I devoured this book. Each section built on the last leading to the stunning conclusion. I think I must have made a record for gasping as I read this one. I warred with myself trying to decide which main character I disliked most, even as they pleaded with me on paper to overlook their bad behavior because they have reasons for doing such bad things.
Very cleverly done.
Best Book on Writing: Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes
I have a rather large stack of books on writing. A lot of them drone on for 300 pages and at the end, the mental fatigue destroys any value you might have found. Maybe that’s just me… But anyways! Hayes book on writing romance is short and sweet, with sass. She gets to the point. If you are looking for an easy to understand plotting book, look no further.
And that’s not all! She offers a free Scrivener template & printable beat sheets. I am currently using (and loving) the template for my WIP.
I am looking forward to all the wonderful art 2018 will have to offer!