Saturday, December 23, 2017

My Top Ten Books of 2017! (Tons of bonus audio content!)

Best of the year 2017:

#10 Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan

This balances lots of feelings for the reader. At times the the prose is vivid and crisp and times the narrative is so intensely weird it is hard to believe it is less than 150 pages. I mean this book is loaded with ideas. It is of course a Lovecraft influenced cosmic horror story but not in stereotypical adding tenticles kinda of way. At times it had the delightfully weird transcendental feeling of David Lynch. The story moves through space and time in a totally unpredictable way.

#9 The Voices of Martyrs by Maurice Broaddus

The most powerful collection I have read since Brian Evenson's Collapse of Horses. Both are important reads however Voice of Martyrs goes beyond just being good, it is a book of deep meaning. I have read and enjoyed the work Maurice Broaddus before. I knew he was good but he is a Hoosier, and the fact that he lives a hour drive from my home town gives me a connection to his writing. This book is some next level stuff and I love reading along as a person from Indiana hits that next level.

#8 Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

First let me say that BHE is compulsive and additive read. Pinbrough always had skills for plotting, emotional depth and of course creating terror on the page. The big leap here is just magnetic the pull forward of the narrative. You will tear through this. This book is excellently plotted and when I closed the book the ending got me for sure. I was impressed and seething with jealousy That Pinborough pulled off such a great ending. I mean I am a total geek for story plotting and structure and goddamn it this was so tight it was hard not to be jealous. If you like domestic thrillers like Gone Girl and Girl on the Train you should check this out.

#7 Sip by Brian Allen Carr

Sip is one of the weirdest horror novels I have ever read. The structure of the narrative is a little more straight forward there are no one sentence chapters, but the idea is plenty weird enough. It takes place in a post apaoclyse western setting, the world was not ended by nuclear war or climate change. In this future our world fell apart when junkies developed an addiction for consuming the souls of others through their shadows. Drinking the shadows gives you rest and the dreams of the person or animals you steal from but leaves the creature dry. One neat aspect is how the concept and setting subverts the nothing setting or the dark or darkness being home to horror. In this world the sunlight and light in general is source of terror.

#6 The City, Awake by duncan b. barlow

The City, Awake is a genius surrealist noir that perfectly balances character, narrative drive and experimental prose. Delightfully weird, The City, Awake is an experience. It has the effect of feeling like we are are being lead by expert. Very different types of books but it reminded me of the reading experience that I had reading Brian Evenson's The Warren. Check the interview I did with the author...

#5 End of the World Running Club by Adrian J.Walker

This is my favorite sub-genre of horror in fiction and is my favorite I have read since Brian Evenson's Immobility. The best British end of the world novel since One by Conrad Williams. In a tradition of novel that includes the Stand and Swan Song. The book is almost 500 pages but it is quick read as the story cooks. Once the main characters take off on their run, the journey not only explores survival, themes of family but the limits of endurance. If you like end of the world fiction you MUST read this novel

#4 The Forgotten Girl by Rio Youers

This is one hell of a novel. The publisher seems to be marketing it as a thriller and that is true the book is also very much A science fiction horror novel. The story is very clearly influenced by and modernizing classics like Stephen King's Firestarter and the John Farris Classic The Fury. If you read those novels you understand we are talking about psychic conspiracy road trip thrillers. The strength of this novel is less about the plot and more the characters.

#3 Secrets Of the Weird by Chad Stroup

This novel has a middle era Clive Barker feel of dark fantasy without the elaborate over writing that books like Imajica or Everville fell into. Certainly the world of this novel has it's share of erotic fantasy and that is why you'll hear Barker comparisons. But Sweetville was a setting written by a hardcore kid, and not a theater nerd so secrets of the weird is filled with Neo-nazis, punks, metal dudes, non binary prostitutes and more. These characters are not marginalized like extras on the punk episode of Quincy or freak show on stage at 90's Jerry Springer taping. They are all written with depth even the characters who only briefly appear in the pages. Even the villains of the piece are given depth.

Secrets of the Weird is a fantastic read. This novel paints an erotic and dangerous picture of a city that you would only want to visit in the safety of a novel.

#2 In the Valley of the Sun: A Novel by Andy Davidson

This southern Gothic that I feel is like the movie Near Dark if it was written by Cormac McCarthy. The official statements by the publisher makes that Macarthy comparison as well as Joe Hill and Anne Rice. Hill sure, but Anne Rice not so much for me. Hell I see more in common with True Detective writer Nic Pizzalto's books. The writing is gorgeous, at times the west Texas drips off the page and you almost feel the humid air. You can picture the rust on the trucks, the stress of the sheriff's belt and many things that make this world vivid. Lets not avoid the subject it is a monster novel. Damn good one.

#1 Little Heaven by Nick Cutter

An effective and disturbing horror novel that made the best of a lean prose style. The supernatural elements have surreal quality that brings to mind early Clive Barker. Monsters like the Long Walker were disturbing in how unnatural they were yet described so well you see them in your mind and were nothing short of creepy.

The tone reminded me of McCammon's Gone South. This comes from the characters that are both scary and hilarious at times. The prose itself was excellent. Cutter creates vivid landscapes and the horrors pop off the page causing several cringe worthy moments of supernatural horror.

Check out this audio review I recorded with author Anthony Trevino after we both read Little Heaven:

Honorable Mentions: The Force by Don Winslow, Feral by BK Evenson, Sea of Rust by C.Robert Cargill, Benti-Home by Nnedi Okorafor

Best Pure Sci-fi novel: Sea of Rust by C.Robert Cargill

Best short story I read: Fail-safe by Philip Fracassi

Best pre-2017 reads: Jigsaw Youth by Tiffany Scandal, Lovecraft Alive by John Shirley, The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, Long Form Religious Porn by Laura Lee Bahr, Grunt Life (Task Force Ombra #1) by Weston Ochse

Here is a one hour discussion I with Critic Marvin Vernon on each of our Top ten reads of 2017:

Complete reading list in order All 2017 releases have a *:

Long Form Religious Porn by Laura Lee Bahr

The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock

Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle

The Valley by John Renehan

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough.*

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Masque by F.Paul Wilson and Matthew J. Costello

Little Heaven by Nick Cutter*

Among Madmen by Jim Starlin & Daina Graziunas

Ratings Game by Ryan C. Thomas

13 minutes by Sarah Pinborough *

Nod by Adrian Barnes

Grunt Life (Task Force Ombra #1) by Weston Ochse

The City, Awake by duncan b. barlow *

Aftermath: Empire's End (Star Wars: Aftermath #3) by Chuck Wendig *

Chills by Mary Sangiovanni *

(Eco-horror kick:

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson *

The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

Lost Girl by Adam Nevill

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi)

Feral by James Demonaco, BK Evenson *

Secrets Of the Weird by Chad Stroup *

The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1) by John Scalzi *

Relics by Tim Lebbon *

In the Valley of the Sun: A Novel by Andy Davidson *

Dust of the Devil's Land by Bryan Killian *

Death Metal Epic I: the Inverted Katabasis by Dean Swinford

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee *

World Revolver By Gina Ranalli

The Sub by Jimmy Jazz

Jigsaw Youth by Tiffany Scandal

Lovecraft Alive John Shirley

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Crashing Heaven by Al Robertson

The Voices of Martyrs by Maurice Broaddus *

Binti Home by Nnedi Okorafor *

The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley *

Entropy in Bloom by Jeremy Robert Johnson*

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Forgotten Girl by Rio Youers *

Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar*

Mormama by Kit Reed *

Walkaway by Cory Doctorow*

Cold Cuts by Robert Payne Cabeen *

Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus*

The Boy on The Bridge by M.R. Carey *

His Master's Voice by Stanislaw Lem

Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow

What Immortal Hand by Johnny Worthen*

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch *

The Changeling by Victor LaValle *

Behold The Void by Philip Fracassi * (best short story I read this year:Fail-safe)

Blade Runner 2 The Edge of Human by KW Jetter

The Snake Handler by J. David Osborne & Cody Goodfellow *

The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy *

Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan *

Bone White by Ronald Malfi *

The Force by Don Winslow *

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter *

Pinball Punks by Dave Anderson *

End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker *

Strange Weather by Joe Hill *

Sea of Rust by C.Robert Cargill *

Sleeping Beauties By Stephen & Owen King *

Under the Shanghai Tunnels and Other Weird Tales by Lee Widener *

Sip by Brian Allen Carr *

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View *

The Best of Richard Matheson (Selected and edited by Victor LaValle) *

Exploring Dark Short Fiction #1: A Primer to Steve Rasnic Tem *

Leia Princess of Aldderan by Claudia Gray*

Engines of Ruin by Lucas Mangum*

81 books 44 2017 books

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