31 December 2017

Favorite Books of 2017

Another baker's dozen!

book icon  Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life, Marta McDowell (lush full-color book about Potter's farms and love of nature, something that will warm you up on a cold rainy day)

book icon  Becoming Queen Victoria, Kate Williams (not a bio of Victoria, but how her cousin Charlotte's life and death led to "little Drina" being queen)

book icon  Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterly (story of the African-American mathematicians who kept the United States flying and led us into space as they battled racism and sexism)

book icon  The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase, Greg Cox (Cox captures the multiple characters of the television series perfectly; you might as well be watching a Librarians film)

book icon  My Small Country Living, Jeanine McMullen (British woman and her boyfriend buy a small farm; all the joy and all the heartache of living off the land)

book icon  Listen, Slowly, Thanhhà Lại (a thoroughly American girl of Vietnamese descent is reluctantly dragged back to her homeland so her grandmother can discover what happened to her husband; rich, rewarding portrait of modern Vietnam and the scars left by war)

book icon  The World Remade: America in World War I, G.J. Meyer (the United States reluctantly went to war, and liberties took a beating—if you think today's government is restrictive, think again)

book icon  The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Marta McDowell (Laura's life as seen against the different natural environments she lived in: the deep forest, the prairie, the rolling hills of Iowa and how it affected how the Ingalls family lived, ate, and worked)

book icon  From Holmes to Sherlock, Mattias Boström (massive volume chronicling not just Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, but of the family and fans who gave Holmes eternal life, from the first Holmes story to the creation of Sherlock)

book icon  Back Over There, Richard Rubin (author Rubin, who wrote a book about the surviving "doughboys" of the Great War, visits the sites he was told so much about; incredible that even though World War II cut a swath over the same territory, the scars of the previous war can still be plainly seen)

book icon  Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse, Eric Jay Dolen (just what it says, engagingly told, including about one of the first boondoggles visited on the new American government)

book icon  Caroline: Little House, Revisited, Sarah Miller (Little House on the Prairie told from Caroline Ingalls' viewpoint, of the sheer hardship of being a pioneer woman)

book icon  Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Caroline Fraser (this was a bumper year for Wilder fans; this one tells the story of the Ingalls family against the history that was happening behind it)

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 I also want to give a shout-out this year to two series: Ben Aaronovitch's absolutely wonderful "Rivers of London"/Peter Grant books, which are both novel and graphic novels: six books so far, one Audible short story, one novella, and three graphic novels with a fourth just released. Every single one should be listed here. This is an inventive urban fantasy about a young biracial police officer who finds himself learning magic and fighting some of Great Britain's more esoteric enemies. Seriously, run, don't walk, to your nearest bookseller and pick up the first one, Midnight Riot (a.k.a. Rivers of London)!

Also Robert Ryan's 4-book (so far) series of "Dr. Watson Thrillers" in which John H. Watson rejoins the Army in World War I to serve as a surgeon. The realities of war are so brilliantly and frighteningly portrayed.

Books Completed Since December 1

I only read Christmas books during the Christmas season, so all my reviews are in "Holiday Harbour." However, I had to make an exception for Peter Grant!

book icon  Rivers of London: Detective Stories, Ben Aaronovitch
Linked together by Peter's oral examination for becoming a a detective, Grant relates four different cases to his examiner, who is initially a magic skeptic. Three of the stories involve Lesley May, one before and two after her encounter with "Mr. Punch." Each of the stories is interesting, spanning the gamut from the magical—a goat found burned to death who was ignited by magical means—to the mundane (attempts to find a flasher), but as a whole the story wasn't as suspenseful as the longer-form previous graphic novel compilations.

My complaint: Sahra Guleed, Thomas Nightingale, and Molly are all shown on the cover with Peter Grant. Sahra doesn't even appear in any of the stories, Molly has three panels in one story, and Nightingale is only in one of the little one-page "Tales from the Folly" tales. I was very disappointed that these characters did not have a larger role in any of the stories.

book icon  The Triple-Dog Dare and A Christmas Carol Christmas Book

book icon  Christmas Philosophy for Everyone

book icon  Christmas Decorations from Williamsburg

book icon  Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Book of Christmas Virtues

book icon  A Lot Like Christmas (partial re-read)

book icon  The Immortal Nicholas

book icon  Re-read: Sleigh Bells for Windy Foot

book icon  A Kentucky Christmas

book icon  Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Book of Christmas Miracles 

book icon  The Children's Book of Christmas Stories

book icon  Once Upon a Christmas

book icon  Christmas in My Heart, Book 12

book icon  Re-read: Christmas After All

book icon  Tru and Nelle: A Christmas Tale

book icon  Ideals Christmas and Spirit of Steamboat