Lists

2017 Fiction Favorites

My Absolute DarlingIt’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again, but it is… Best books of 2017. This was decidedly not my year for maintaining this site. I blame the baby, a big (new) job transition, and more sports practices than I can count. However, I did read a lot this year. A lot of it was backlist fiction, but I did manage a fair amount of new releases. I haven’t stayed as involved in the book blogging universe as I would’ve like (I miss you guys!), so I’m unaware of what’s been well-received, but I do know what I’ve enjoyed. As opposed to a traditional top ten list, I’m going to qualify each entry.

Hardest to Read: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. Part coming of age novel, part survival story, this novel oozes with tension and dread, leading up to a catastrophic ending.

Favorite Dystopian Fiction: Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed. Eerie, bleak, and full of dread, Jennie Melamed’s debut novel is excellent. Her beautiful prose balances the grim existence of the characters, and the multiple narrators works to flesh out life on the island.

Grittiest, Most Artfully Barbaric: The Savage by Frank Bill. A no holds barred look into post-apocalyptic America.

Biggest Surprise from a Favorite Author: The Hearts of Men by Nikolas Butler. A bit of a departure from the wonderful Shotgun Lovesongs, but great nonetheless.

Most Overlooked Short Story Collection: The Saints of Rattlesnake Mountain by Don Waters. An ode to the American West, Waters short stories are complex and full of heart.

Most Like The Handmaid’s Tale: Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich. It’s certainly a novel that stands on its own, but it did remind of Margaret Atwood’s classic.

Favorite Short Story Collection: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. It received a lot of well-deserved hype. A solid short story collection.

As Good as Expected: The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash. An excellent historical fiction novel that is still very relevant to today’s political climate.

It’s been long enough since I’ve done this to discover PicMonkey is no longer free. What do you use to create a collage? And more importantly, what was your favorite book this year?

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  • Kate

    We (I) miss you too!
    So, My Absolute Darling – should I read it? I’m certainly tempted and of course it gets your endorsement so that’s in its favour but some of the reviews on Goodreads were frightening!

    • http://www.marelden.com mariahelena

      I’m repeating everything that Kate just said.

      • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory O’Connor

        I’m not positive enough about how disqus works to know if you’ll see my reply above, but I’d say no to My Absolute Darling. It’s good if you need a violent survival story, but otherwise, it probably didn’t deserve quite all the hype it got.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory O’Connor

      I’d say no to My Absolute Darling, overall. It’s rather dark and filled with dread (and a lot of violence). It’s a great story of survival though. I saw it called 2017’s A Little Life, and I would not agree with that.

  • http://www.sarahsbookshelves.com/ Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves)

    Hi! Welcome back! Sounds like you’ve had an incredibly busy year…that’s a lot going on!
    We were on different reading pages this year…I DNF’d My Absolute Darling and was not a fan of Hearts of Men (which was so sad b/c you know how much I love Butler).
    I heard about Picmonkey (but had been paying for Royale anyway, so didn’t realize it for awhile). The other one I use is Canva…but not for collages :( I’m not even sure if you can make collages on Canva?

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory O’Connor

      Hearts of Men was so different, but I did enjoy it, especially after hearing him talk about it. I read more backlist than new this year (which was a weird one for me, I’d forgotten how hard the newborn months are).

  • Lauren @ Malcolm Avenue Review

    Interesting and diverse list! I’ve added Saints of Rattlesnake Mountain to my list, thank you. I also loved The Savage. I think Frank holds the World Record for the most varied ways to describe a bullet meeting a head. I hope you will spoil the end of Absolute Darling for me. I SO wanted to love that book and was super excited to read it, but tried twice and couldn’t get through it. But I do want to know what went down!
    I didn’t know about PicMonkey, either, so you see how firmly my finger is on the pulse. Glad Sarah has some suggestions. Maybe I’ll get on that one of these days. :)

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory O’Connor

      I picked up The Savage because of you! I loved Donnybrook, but he’s fallen off my radar and I didn’t know he had a new one (or that Donnybrook is currently filming).

      I’d be happy to spoil My Absolute Darling for you!

  • http://www.fortheloveofwords.net/ Bonnie

    I’m most excited to get my hands on The Savage. I haven’t actually read any of Frank Bill’s works yet (own them both) but I’m all about a gritty post-apocalyptic book.

    So I still use PicMonkey but I started using the snippet tool and saving that picture as a separate file.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory O’Connor

      I’ll have to try that… I don’t know that I’m willing to pay, especially averaging about one post a month.

      I like all three Frank Bill books.

      • http://www.fortheloveofwords.net/ Bonnie

        I just got The Savage from the library (even though I own his other two). Hoping to get to it after I finish the new Joe Hill.

  • Holly (nutfreenerd)

    Oooh this is such a fun way to categorize faves of the year! I’ve never heard of Future Home of the Living God before, but I’ve been itching to read something like The Handmaid’s Tale lately so I might have to check it out.

  • http://gilmoreguidetobooks.com/ Catherine G

    I hear you about PicMonkey!! What the heck? I bit the bullet, at least for a year. I have to say, the paid options are pretty amazing and I don’t know how to use even half of them.

    I’m happy you’re still here, even if you don’t have as much time!

    My favorite book of the year is This Is How It Always Is, which I am positively rabid about. Second best is The Heart’s Invisible Furies. I think you’d like both.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com/ Rory O’Connor

      I really, really want to get to The Heart’s Invisible Furies!

  • Kailana

    I was so sad that PicMonkey started charging.

  • http://www.estellasrevenge.net Andi

    Artfully barbaric! I love that description. I haven’t read any of these, but I enjoyed learning about them! At least a few will end up on my list. THE list.

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