And here is the follow up to the films–my top reads. Again, in my very sloppy fashion, the only criteria is that it was new to me this year, not new this year. Also, these can be short stories, comics, graphic novels, novels, anything in print. In no particular order:
Ghoulish Song by Will Alexander: This is the sequel to Will’s Goblin Secrets which I read in a hotel room in Vietnam. Ghoulish Song lays over the top of Goblin Secrets, as they happen at the same time. The world that Will creates is deep and mythical, which makes sense, because Will knows his stuff.
Velvet by Ed Brubaker: Ed Brubaker crafts a spy tale of the 70s, with a charming hard woman lead who is super smart. It doesn’t coat the spy industry in any kind of shoe bombs or exploding wrist watches, so the story can get gritty, but it’s mostly a story of wits, Velvet matching strategy after strategy with an agency that thinks she’s a turncoat.
Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold: My SF book group introduced me to Bujold’s Miles books last year, and I thought, “Hey, I have to read these.” This is as far as I got this year. It was a hard call. This entry on the list could have been Mirror Dance, the book just before it, but Memory won because of its angst factor, and Miles’ deep reach into his soul and discovering what he was all about. Oh, and Simon Illyan didn’t hurt either.
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter: My favorite of the Gallagher Girls series, the premise of which is private school for spy girls. The series starts a little slow, but by the time we get to this penultimate volume, I am along for the ride. Lots of action and some teen romance.
London Falling by Paul Cornell: If Neal Cross and Neil Gaiman had a love child, it would be London Falling. It’s a very grim police procedural with dark characters. To make it even darker, there’s some awful, horrible sacrificial magic. Sometimes you have to put the book down, because you can’t keep going there. But the ending of the book is satisfying, even if you are still looking over your shoulder some months later. I have yet to read the sequel. I’m not avoiding it, but I hear it’s even grimmer.
You Have to Say Something by Dainin Katagiri: The zen master with sage advice for those of us who are looking to live more in the now, this easily accessible zen book is friendly and doesn’t take zen too seriously.
Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin: Well, damn. This is an awesome book, with one of the most awesome characters in the whole of literature: Abner Marsh, a fat, ugly, old riverboat captain who is unstoppable. The vampires aren’t all that, but Marsh, quite frankly, is, and if you want a study on how to build a character, check this out.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan: I’m pretty sure this was on my best list last year as well. That’s because it just keeps on keeping on. The characters stand out, there’s dramatic tension, the situations change. A year later, I’m still finding these characters fascinating to watch.
The Enola Holmes Series by Nancy Springer: And here’s a series where I just couldn’t choose one. The entirety of Enola Holmes, the middle grade series about Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister, sounds contrived, especially when you find out Sherlock and Mycroft are in it, but it’s not. Springer knows Victorian London inside and out, and does NOT in any way glamorize it. Enola is smart and kids will find her accessible and easy to identify with. I love her too.
Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe: I’ve only read the first collection, and I have to tell you that this thing is about as offbeat as it gets. I contemplated giving this spot to Princess Ugh by Ted Naifeh, but Rat Queens won because they are edgy and well, irreverent. Again, not a book for the kids, but if you would like to see your old Dungeons and Dragons campaign parodied by sassy women, this is for you.