It’s that time again! Every year I do pellet reviews of the books I’ve read over the course of a year. My year runs roughly July 4 to July 4 for reading purposes, so… yep! How did the year go?
First, I read far less than I typically do. That’s mostly because of the huge amount of writing I’ve been doing. I can’t read nearly as much as still keep up the output of words. That also means I’ve started to become pickier with what I read. I’ve also noticed I’m leaning toward shorter books in general. I don’t want to spend months on a single book.
So, how did the year shake out?
Author of the Year: Benedict Patrick
Covers matter. Look at these covers. They’re… they’re so stunning.
I first saw Benedict Patrick’s books on Kickstarter. The covers were so beautiful, and I loved the concept of the series he was presenting at that time: Yarnsworld. A world where everyone has a “knack” and stories are real.
I didn’t back it.
And then he came back to Kickstarter with a second series, the Darkstar series. I didn’t let him escape this time. Instead, I backed it at a level that also got me the Yarnsworld books. Now there’s only one of his novels sitting in my TBR pile. I ate the rest.
That means I read them. I didn’t physically eat them. Gross.
I don’t typically read two novels by the same author in a year, much less six. These things are good.
Each of them pictured above (and if you click the picture, it’ll take you to the Amazon page for that book). They’re all pretty stand-alone. Some are linked, some are even direct sequels, but they’re all written in such a way you don’t have to worry if you didn’t read the others.
The Yarnsworld novels are all fairly dark. Think of them as Grimm fairy tales for modern adults. Patrick really beats the crap out of his protagonists, and you feel each hit. The stories don’t necessarily end “happily ever after.” That said, you’re really rooting for the heroes. You want them to win. And the endings, while not necessarily happy, are very satisfactory. Whether it’s the Magpie King who’s been driven insane but will still protect his forest or a girl who can play the ocarina so well she enchants mythical creatures, you’re in for an adventure.
Darkstar, meanwhile, is just fun and weird. Welcome to a dimension with random portals that could lead anywhere… and a first officer who should be a captain who has to maintain order when her ship suddenly appears in this weird place.
I’d recommend each and any of these. Check them out.
Last Year’s Author Revisited: K. M. Merritt
Last year I got to read the first four books if Mishap’s Heroes, and I loved them. This year I got to finish the series!
This six-book series follows some brave heroes through tough situations. As you might expect given the name, these heroes are all misfits. Merritt does a stellar job making you care about all the ladies. I was also stunned at how diverse she made the cast. Each character definitely gets their own story arc, and each one also is completely unique. Yet, they work together well.
The only downside is that the series is just long enough that when there are a bunch of returns of secondary characters in the final volume, I really didn’t remember them all. That said, the final confrontation and the revelation of who Vola, the main character, has been serving this entire time made me cheer.
If you enjoy light-hearted fantasy that has solid character growth, please check this out.
Best Single Novel: Ella Minnow Pea
Everyone who lives on the island of Nollop pays attention to the board that immortalizes the shortest sentence that uses every letter in the English alphabet: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
But then one day… a letter falls off the sign.
The leaders of the island decide that the gods have spoken. No one may use the fallen letter.
And then another letter falls.
And then another.
And as the book goes on, those letters stop appearing in the text…
Man. The sheer creativity of this book is stunning. If you enjoy working with language, you need to read this.
I’ll be back with more pellet reviews next week… I read far more than this, but these were the best of the year. They were by no means the only good books I read, though!
What about you? Do you keep track of what you read in any given year?