Top Ten Books I Read In 2017

So I decided to put together a list of the top ten new (to me) books that I have read this year. Now, I read some amazing books this year, but I also read some really meh books, so without further ado, here are the ten books I enjoyed the most this year.

10. Her Last Day – T. R. Ragan

I was quite impressed with Ragan’s newest offering, especially considering that I am not really a fan of the Lizzy Gardner books. I found this one to be similar but refreshing, featuring a much better story and characters that actually interest me and come across as more realistic. Worth the read, and I will certainly be checking out more books in this series as they come along.

9. The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson

First book I have ever read from Jim Thompson, definitely encourages me to check out more! The book is creepy in that it gets under your skin, telling the story from the perspective of a criminal, where you get a good look-see inside the mind. I liked it a lot, and I believe there is a movie now, too. I will certainly be looking into that.

8. The Innocent Wife – Amy Lloyd

Man, was this just something else or what? A debut novel from Amy Lloyd and all! The book tells the story of a woman who falls in love with and marries a man on death row, and we all know how morbidly fascinating that is. Well, The Innocent wife is well worth the read, and I will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for more from her in future.

7. The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert

Man, I really liked this. Fantastical, magical, dark adventure, and I quite enjoyed undertaking this journey. It sweeps you up and carries you away, and it is well worth the read.

6. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Indeed, it took me far too long to read this, but I am glad that I have. I totally get why this book is a classic. It reads pretty easily and has plenty sass and humour to it as well as a ton of social commentary, all the while going with the classic girl meets guy she hates but later doesn’t story. I was so hooked on this, and can see this being something I will return to time and time again.

5. It – Stephen King

This was one of my monster reads of the year, and I have no regrets. It is such a good book. While not King’s greatest work, it is a mammoth story that engages you throughout, and has some truly amazing character work going on. It is such a coming of age story mixed in with some solid horror, and was worth every second I spent on it.

4. The Bone Collector – Jefferey Deaver

Heck yeah, I am so stoked to finally have started this series, and it’s been a blast! The Bone Collector is one hell of an opening for a series, and I truly enjoy reading about Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs. The book reads fast, has so many great twists and has plenty good humour and is good fun while still having some grit to it.

3. The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel

This book was so my cup of tea. Oh yes. It is dark and gritty and explores some heavy themes, and is set out in such away you are drawn in. Amy Engel was also super cool about it all on Twitter, and I always appreciate it when an author/writer/director/actor/whatever gets involved with their fans. The Roanoke Girls explores a taboo subject, and the book is quite compelling and fascinating throughout, and tells the story of Roanoke in a really chilling way. Plus Cooper is book crush of the year for me. #JustSaying

2. The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter 

I love Karin Slaughter. She’s amazing, and a brilliantly talented writer. This was probably the book I was most excited for this year, and let me tell you, it did not let me down at all. I was yanked in from page one and got so super invested in the lives of Charlie and Sam. Wow, what a story. I loved it, and could highly recommend this Slaughter standalone. Ballsy, heavy, some absolutely fantastic humour and great characters, this is the definition of a fantastic read.

1. 11/22/63 – Stephen King

Anyone who has been reading this blog knows that, after I finished this book in January 2017, I have yet to stop hanging. This book blew my mind apart. What an amazing read! If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour, do it. Don’t let the size put you off. King weaves a masterful story with amazing characters. 11/22/63 is engaging, sharp, and stays with you long after. Yes, I am a Kennedy assassination junkie, so this was going to appeal to me, but the book is ultimately more than just attempting to stop Kennedy’s assassination. Read it. Do it. Now.

Review: Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

SYNOPSIS: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners—one of the most popular novels of all time—that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues.  – via Goodreads

Okay, so I finally got off my lazy butt and got to this. I think it was in large part inspired by Natasha and her incessant hounding of me to join her in her latest addiction, and also after watching Pride and Prejudice and Zombies once again and falling even more in love with Sam Riley as Mr Darcy, I had to get to the original. Usually I feel that classics can be a bit heavy to read, because of the old writing style, which I think is a big reason I kept putting this one off. However, this does not read like I expected it to. In fact, it was quite a quick read to go through, and did not come across as stiff at all.

I can totally see why this book is a classic. Even after all these years, there are still so many themes in here that are still relevant, which is quite crazy. It’s also still really good social commentary. It tells a phenomenal story of a proud man and a prejudiced woman, and their love story, while one we have seen told over and over again (oh look, hot person, oh look, what a dweeb, oh look how much they have changed, oh we must be together), it is told with class and dignity, and you get so involved. From the off, while Mr Darcy is proud and cold, you cannot miss how stupid Elizabeth is to latch so hurriedly onto Mr Wickham’s claims. Like really, your pride and vanity may have been wounded, but now you are just being silly.

A lot of the characters were not overly fleshed out, but that is okay. The ones you need to have depth to have depth, and it is amazing to watch the character transformations, chiefly between Darcy and Elizabeth, of course, Also, Mr Bennet is the king of sass. I swear, unladylike as it was, I snorted a few times when he got some page time. The man is so snarky. The book is also highly entertaining, and features some fantastic wit and is quite sharp. The drama kicks, too, so it balances the two rather well. I think that Pride and Prejudice is also written well, as it feels so much more modern than one would expect. The pacing is, for the most part, just fine, but there is a whole section in the middle that just drags and does not feel like it truly contributes to the story, and could definitely have been tightened up some.

There are a few characters I could not stand. I am only going address the two biggest transgressors here, being Lydia and Mrs Bennet. Truly, two frustrating beings. Lydia is so far and beyond selfish it is actually shocking. Then there is Mrs Bennet who is a gold digger for her children and seriously one of the most embarrassing characters ever. Ugh. My eye actually twitched whenever she opened her psycho mouth and I cringed. And not in the awkward kind of Kick-Ass cringe, either, just flat out “dig me a hole” kind. Oh, let me list Mr Collins here, too, because what a totally pompous ass. He is a cruel, mean spirited, condescending, insipid suck up whom I could not stand.

Pride and Prejudice is quite a quick read, which surprised me, and has a solid story to tell in a timeless way. Elizabeth Bennet, while a bit silly in the way that she handled the entire Darcy situation, is a strong woman who knows her worth, and does not want to just be pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen, just married for title, money, or societal expectations, and I definitely appreciate that. If you have not yet read this book (I was so guilty of this), I highly recommend that you do read it, and as soon as possible. It is fun, it is sweet, it is frustrating, well written and it is well worth its place among the classics.

IT READS: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: DREADFULLY EVER AFTER (2011) STEVE HOCKENSMITH

PAPAZDEA

As a little back story to this feature – I use to be a very avid book reader before I got entangled in the world of blogging and just started reading blogs all day. I even had / have a book review site that I wrote on occasionally that I haven’t updated since January of 2013.  The other day I opened the bureau to get something out of it and I noticed the STACK of unread books I have sitting there and got nostalgic for the smell and feel of printed material and thought to myself, “You know what? I’m going to read a fucking book!” And, since I know Zoë is such a fan of book reading I told her about my new dedication and she was all “YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYA YOU CHOP!!!!” and we discussed posting about it / them out here. Then we discussed my book review site and how I want to turn it down and we thought maybe we could put some of them out here on Zuts, not only to build her library but also to not just throw away all of that fucking typing I did.

So, today we present another installment of IT READS: and we’ll go with the entertaining and pretty hilarious PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: DREADFULLY EVER AFTER

P.S. This was actually written a few years ago so those of you familiar with my style my find this a little different. And – look at that naming convention!

***

Man oh man this book was great! HILARIOUS! Easy to read! It was so entertaining I could barely put it down and breezed through the 286 pages in five days. This guy, Hockensmith put out two superbly funny, smart, sarcastic, wry, smart ass books for Quirk, and I loved them both. I suppose this is the end of the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies series (but i sure hope not). Hockensmith has another series of books he has put out about two cowboy detectives in the “old west”, I have to check them out. Of course you know that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out a few years ago to HUGE applaud (and sales) and spawned DOZENs of imitators. If you search for it on Amazon you’ll see things like: “Jane Slayre”, “Little Vampire Women”, “Queen Victoria: Demon hunter”, “Little Women and Werewolves”, etc as well as the follow ups Quirk put out, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls” (the prequel) and now this one, the sequel. Again – i loved it.

Here’s the dust jacket synopsis: “When we last saw Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy – at the end of the New York Times best seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – they were preparing for a lifetime of wedded bliss. Yet the honeymoon has barely begun when poor Mr. Darcy is nipped by a rampaging dreadful. Elizabeth knows the only acceptable course of action is to promptly behead her husband (and then burn the corpse, just to be safe). But when she learns of a miracle antidote being developed in London, she realizes there may be one last chance to save her true love – and for everyone to live happily ever after. Complete with romance, heartbreak, martial arts, cannibalism and an army of shambling corpses, Dreadfully Ever After brings the story of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to a thrilling conclusion.”

There you go – Darcy is bitten pretty early in the book and they call in their arch enemy, Darcy’s aunt, for help (Darcy’s Aunt hates Elizabeth because she had betrothed Darcy to her own daughter, Anne, in PPZ, but Lizzy won his heart). Oh, and Lizzy also bested her cadre of ninjas in a dojo single handedly and spread his aunt’s life. Anyway, the aunt Lady Catherine the Great hatches a plan to send Elizabeth, her sister Kitty, her father Mr. Bennet, a group of ninja assassins, a ninja named Nezu as a guide and a strange limbless man in a box to London to steal the miracle cure. To do so, they (the ladies) are going to have to seduce the scientist who created it, or his son and sneak into the lab and make out with the potion. By doing this, this will also show Darcy that his low class wife is a jezebel who seduces men while her husband lies sick and undead, thus making him fall in love with his frail cousin Anne once and for all.

Well, things get VERY FUNNY from here on out and the story actually takes an interesting route to the end. The previous two books were pretty linear (if I recall correctly) as in – here’s your story from A to Z, one route. This one takes at least four different paths: one of Elizabeth and her father, one of Kitty, Bunny (the scientist’s son) and the guardian Nezu, one of Mary (another Bennet sister) and the mysterious Man in the Box, one of Darcy and Anne back at the manor and then even one chapter about the most notorious and important Zombie in history (Mr. Cricket) – the one who ate King George the 3rd. So, as everyone goes off on their delightfully entertaining adventures that had me smiling and laughing constantly, he weaves the compelling back story of Darcy and Anne and the secret Anne hides. Catherine has falsified letters from Elizabeth, among other things, in the hope of driving the two together. Eventually, everyone ends up back at the manor, along with several new characters for what can only be called an appropriate and just ending.

Along the way, we get more wickedly funny woodcuts, cross dressing man servants and a whole lot of action! I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a good time filled with zombies, martial arts, and merry Olde English providence. Hilarious! Well done! For those of you who have read the prequel “Dawn of the Dreadfuls” you will probably get an idea of just who the man in the box is – if your memory is strong. I had an idea the first time they encounter “the box” and it stuck with me throughout and, even when I was absolutely positive who it was, when the big reveal came about, it was still very joyous.

Here are a couple of quotes from the book – all rights reserved to Quirk:

“When faced with discomfort, she did the Engish thing: she changed the subject.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

In this passage, Darcy has been given some of the serum that keeps the recently stricken clinging to life, and he wants to get out of his room:

…This was something he had to do himself. With a monumental exertion of will, he swung his feet off the bed and stood.

Then he fainted.

Sometime later he picked himself up of the floor and stood again. When he was satisfied that he could manage without fainting, he started shuffling toward the dresser.

Then he fainted.

When he regained consciousness, he started the process over. He stood, shuffled, fainted, found his clothes, fainted, stood, put on his trousers, fainted, put  on his shirt, didn’t faint, put on his waistcoat, didn’t faint, put on his stockings, didn’t faint, picked up his coat, fainted, stood, picked up his coat, fainted,  stood and finally decided he could live without the coat. After much (but faintless) effort,  he had on his shoes and cravat and was at last ready to leave his little tomb in which he had been interred for too long.

That’s it – the whole thing is full of fun just like that.

Here’s the trailer. It’s not quite as fun as the first one:

IT READS: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (2009) SETH GRAHAME-SMITH

PPZ

As a little back story to this feature – I use to be a very avid book reader before I got entangled in the world of blogging and just started reading blogs all day. I even had / have a book review site that I wrote on occasionally that I haven’t updated since January of 2013.  The other day I opened the bureau to get something out of it and I noticed the STACK of unread books I have sitting there and got nostalgic for the smell and feel of printed material and thought to myself, “You know what? I’m going to read a fucking book!” And, since I know Zoë is such a fan of book reading I told her about my new dedication and she was all “YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYA YOU CHOP!!!!” and we discussed posting about it / them out here. Then we discussed my book review site and how I want to turn it down and we thought maybe we could put some of them out here on Zuts, not only to build her library but also to not just throw away all of that fucking typing I did.

So, today we present another installment of IT READS: and we’ll go with the entertaining and pretty hilarious PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES

P.S. This was actually written a few years ago so those of you familiar with my style my find this a little different. And – look at that naming convention!

***

It’s been awhile since I read this, but since I just finished the trilogy, i wanted to have the whole group out here. This is, of course, the “mash-up” that started the new genre. I remember seeing it on the shelves somewhere, i think Barnes and Noble, and thinking, hmmmm, interesting. Then my friend’s wife was reading it and he told me she thoroughly enjoyed it, so i picked it and – it was pretty, pretty GOOD! Of course, the concept here is taking Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and inserting organ eating zombies (called Dreadfuls or in proper English the Sorry Stricken {one never uses the word Zombie in polite society}), ninjas, training in the Deadly Arts, all among the harrowing Victorian English countryside where class and money are everything. The poor (no money or endowments) Bennets live in a rustic, quaint manor, the griping forlorn mother, the inept and weary father, and five sisters, the key lead Elizabeth – she is the focal point of the plot. She has suitors yes, and one is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, pompous and rich, a class above! nephew to the matriarch of the land, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Dreadful slayer of historic renown, wealthy beyond means. When Lizzy captures Darcy’s heart, the class difference creates unbearable discomfort (the actual pride and prejudice) and a volley of differences ensue, along with brain eating sons of Satan.

This book is good, very funny, very well done – something worth reading. What I think, to me, sets this as my least favorite in the trilogy (that being still very good), is that we have to deal with the actual Austen writing style, and not the fun satire we get with “recreating the Regency England style” in the other two, which were not “co-written”. I can only imagine that I would become one of the living dead if i had to sit through reading the original P and P, it seems so heavy handed. And boring beyond means. Thankfully the dead have risen and the throwing stars are flying in here, because this makes good, gut eating fun of the original.

if you didn’t know, they are making this into a movie, I think with Keira Knightley as Lizzy and Grahame-Smith went on to write another best selling mash-up “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” which is also being turned into a film. This guy’s got a hot hand!