So, because I read exactly zero books last month,1 I figure instead of the usual books read recap I can do a “year-end retrospective” thing. Kind of like the Oscars. But for books. Where I’m the only judge. And with no actual awards per se. So… not like the Oscars at all, really.

Whatever. Let’s get on with it, then.

Favorite cover art (novel or novella)

Emmie Mears, Shrike: The Masked Songbird

This was such a tough one, but I really love The Masked Songbird‘s simple, bold, three-color graphic illustration (particularly in a genre that tends to be flooded with, ahem, dodgy PhotoShopped photo collages).

The runner up on this one is Thoraiya Dyer’s Crossroads of Canopy, which has my other favorite type of cover, i.e. the beautiful fantasy painting.

(Note that I’ve excluded RPGs and comics/graphic novels from this category, since they usually have way bigger art budgets than your average novel. Which would seem to make things a little… unfair.)

Favorite non-book book-related item

The Never Never Book Box

I got my first one of these the other month—I have a whole year’s sub—and it came with the ingredients to make brownies. Seriously. Look at all that swag. How can you even not?

Favorite comic or graphic novel

B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth

A hands down-easy category (sorry not sorry, Monstress, but… Abe!). There’s only one thing I love more than a govproc story and that’s a govproc story about a hot fishman trying to help ordinary citizens during the apocalypse. Hell on Earth is technically part of (read: the end of?) the massive, sprawling Hellboy franchise, but more-or-less works for a new reader, so I encourage people not to be intimidated.

The only reason I stalled in my reading of this series is that the LCS can’t seem to get hold of volume #3. I’ve heard rumors that some of the Hellboy books are going out of print in anticipation of new editions in time for the film, so… fingers crossed!

Favorite RPG book or supplement

Starfinder Core Rulebook

It’s DnD in space. What more could you possibly want?

Favorite non-fiction book

Hillary Rodham Clinton, What Happened

Oooh. This is such a close one between this and Fukuyama’s Political Order and Political Decay. They’re both blisteringly relevant books, and in some respects I think Fukuyama’s will have a little more “staying power”; his analysis is relevant to 2016/17, but not limited to it.

Nonetheless, the year was what is was, and Clinton’s book was the one that most changed my opinions on certain things I thought I “knew”. It’s also the book I bought Mum for Christmas, so… there’s that, as well.

Favorite anthology

Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories 

Basically this collection deserves all of the praise it’s gotten, and then some. Go read it. Now.

Favorite short story

Rebecca Roanhorse, “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™

Marlee Jane Ward, “Starving to Death in Brunswick West

… yeah I couldn’t decide on this one, so it’s a tie. Both of these are absolute slow-burn gut-punches of stories, that will stay with you long after their reading time is up.

Favorite novella

Warren Ellis, Normal

This is basically just Ellis going on a tear about futurism, meaning it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But… it sure was mine, and these categories are “favorite” and not “best” for a reason, so… here it is!

Favorite novel

 Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation

This book literally just hit every single one of my reader id-buttons, over and over and over again. Ontological mystery? Check. Unreliable narrator? Check. Body horror? Check. Cthulhuian weirdness? Check. Slowly unfolding poignant backstory? Check. Am I so 100% totally ready for the film? Checketty check check check.

And for everything else? Well, here’s The Cover Wall:

Ancillary Sword
The Griefing
Welcome to Night Vale
The Masked Songbird
Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories
The Shepherd's Crown
Shifting Loyalites: Malifaux 2E
The Grief Hole
Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy
Crossroads of Canopy
The Ninth World Bestiary
Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth, Vol. 1: New World
  1. I’ve been playing a lot of Guild Wars 2, though! And doing a bit of writing, so… meh. []