I’m not going to spend too much ink discussing what a garbage fire 2016 was; we just lived it, we all know. But one good thing about 2016? So many good books were published! We talked about a lot of them here, sure, but we didn’t catch all of them. Here’s a completely subjective list of some of the best books we read last year.
Parasol-verse, steampunk, and sexy times starring our favorite inventor, Madame Lefoux, and introducing Imogen Hale, a parlormaid who’s trying to better her station by working at Countess Nadasdy’s hive. If you know and love Gail Carriger’s Parsasol-verse, you’ll love the story, starring a beloved character and featuring cameos that will make you squeal with delight. If you’re new to the universe, dive right in and enjoy – this is the first novella in Gail’s Supernatural Society series, and the best part about her books? They all take place in the same extended universe. You’ll have SO. MANY. books to read from here.
Kick-ass paranormal regency fiction! The Lady Helen series kicked off with this first novel, where a cabal of demons is trying to elbow their way into London society. Lady Helen learns that she’s really not like other girls when she discovers that she’s got some paranormal powers of her own. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer in an empire waist dress. Read this one now, because the next book in the series, The Dark Days Pact, is due out on January 31st.
Solid history behind Lois Lane, who turned 75 along with Supes back in 2013, to much less fanfare. Learn about the conflict of Lois Lane: one minute, she’s an ace journalist, the next, an agony aunt; she’s Superman’s damsel-in-distress, and he plays mind games with her to “teach her a lesson” about trying to find out more about him. (You know, like a journalist does.) The history of Lois Lane parallels the history of feminism. Add this to your TBR, if you haven’t already.
Fantastic graphic anthology of female gamers, from tabletop to console. Gamers address identity, gender, and fantasy, and how gaming connects us. You don’t need to be a gamer to love this anthology, but I can’t promise you that you won’t find yourself at a hobby shop, picking up some collectible card games, and downloading some stuff on your phone afterwards.
Bubonic plague hits turn of the century Coney Island, and a ragtag group of performers fight to survive as the quarantine closes in and people get sicker. Claustrophobic, turn of the century dystopia? Yes, please!
A fascinating look at the Boxing Day shooting in Toronto and the invention of a larger event than what actually occurred. A journalist digs through the noise of race, rap, and gangs to try to discover the truth underneath it all. I was fascinated and genuinely surprised because we idealize Canada so much that we don’t think they fall prey to the racial tropes that we do in the States but this shows they have many of the same racial divisions as we do.
Borderline is a great adventure that takes the darkness of mental illness and moves it into the light. Millie has lost her limbs and her career after a failed suicide attempt. The Arcadia Project recruits her to help them guard the borders of a parallel reality. It seems that those who suffer from mental illness are the ones mentally flexible enough to do this kind of work. As Millie suffers from borderline personality disorder, she is a natural for the work. The only problem is she knows she can’t always believe what her mind is telling her. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the first in the Arcadia Project series. I finished it in just a couple days. I loved seeing characters with disabilities in starring roles without it being some type of inspiration porn. Millie, in particular, is strong because of the skills she’s had to cultivate to survive with her disabilities not because her disability is some kind of secret gift.
I’ve never read one of Carrie Fisher’s books (mea culpa, mea maxima culpa), but had been hearing a lot of buzz about Princess Diarist, so it was on my to-read list for Christmas break. I didn’t know how much more poignant it would be after losing our beloved General, Carrie Fisher.
Not many of us have the guts to revisit who we were at 19, and I can’t imagine doing it when who you were at 19 was one of the most iconic female film characters ever. I admired Fisher’s honesty before reading this, but after, I’m blown away by it. She shares her vulnerability at that point in her life and after, and shares with us her side of her youthful affair with Harrison Ford while often acknowledging that it’s just that–her side of it. She also, more importantly, talks about the effect that being Leia Organa had on her life.
If you’re a fan of Star Wars, a fan of Carrie Fisher, a fan of brutal honesty, this is the book for you, although you might want a box of tissues for the numerous times Fisher speculates what her legacy would be after her death.
Time-traveling fantasy about immortality, alchemy, and genetics. Parallell narratives from Victorian London and the present day tell the story of two seemingly immortal men; Simon, tormented by his wife’s death, an Gaelan haunted by his years of torture at Bedlam, the notorious London asylum. A pharmaceutical company comes across a diary written by a mad doctor, journaling his experiments on a “magically” healing inmate, and the hunt begins.
Any series that calls itself the Brooklyn Brujahs is a series that demands to be read. Alex is about to turn 16, and her family’s all ready to throw her Death Day party – the day her dead relatives come to bless her and help give her control over her powers. But Alex doesn’t want her powers, so she performs a spell to rid herself of them, and it backfires. Her family’s gone, and she has head to the Underworld to get them back. Insanely good reading, with a main character you’ll adore and sarcastic dialogue will give you life.
There’s a giant robot scattered and buried around the world. A GIANT ROBOT. A team of scientists and military are assigned to find all the pieces, assemble them, and figure out what its purpose is. Not everyone is working with the group agenda, just sayin’. Read this one in time for book 2, Waking Gods, to hit shelves in April.
The true story of the rescue of the century: a group of librarians smuggle some 350,000 of the oldest Islamic manuscripts in the world out of reach of Al-Qaeda, who would destroy them.
In a world where we’ve conquered aging, disease, poverty, and death, how do we keep the population under control? Two teens apprentice as scythes – state-sanctioned takers of life – and learn the art of ending life, and the great responsibility that comes with it. They also learn that corruption is one facet of society that hasn’t gone away.