Once again, my summary post is late. I've decided that being late is going to be my new tradition.
If I've reviewed the book, then the book cover links to my review.
My top standalone books of the year
If I had the power to get everyone in the US to read one book, this would be that book. It tells about the fall of the corrupt police system of NYC, the birth of the Black Panthers, and the story of an innocent African-American man framed for a crime he didn't commit. George Whitmore was framed for a crime for which he had an alibi that the cops were unwilling to verify: he was sitting in a bar, watching, spellbound, his eyes shining with tears, as Martin Luther King spoke of dreams of equality.
If you wonder why there is unrest in the US, why there are protests about systematic inequality, then this is a crucial story to understand.
Spectacular. Also impossible to summarize without spoilers.
My book soundtrack was James Newton Howard's Blood Diamond.
"You can't save people from the world. There's nowhere else to take them."
Fascinating. One of the first landmark books to argue that societies are shaped by their environments, not by some innate superiority of the races. It's a little dated now, but his arguments are still cogent and interesting.
Some of the most spectacular dystopian worldbuilding I've encountered. The story follows a set of flawed characters in a future Krung Thep after petroleum has run out and genetic mutations have run rampant and the water level has risen.
“We have released demons upon the world...Nature has become something new. It is ours now, truly. And if our creation devours us, how poetic will that be?”
Urban fantasy in a world where demons are real, have a superficial resemblance to superheros, and have an unnerving tendency to possess people. Has Gregory's trademark sense of humour:
And now we were lost. Or rather, the world was lost. The GPS told us exactly where we were, but had no idea where anything else was. Permanent Global Position: You Are Here.
The best Culture book I've read thus far. It explores society and civilization, ethics and mores, all wrapped in a plot that kept me riveted from beginning to end.
"The story starts with a battle that is not a battle, and ends with a game that is not a game."
My new authors to watch:
Myke Cole: urban fantasy strongly influenced by the author's military experience.
Greg van Eekhout: urban fantasy with the wonderfully bizarre magical system of osteomancy. Plus, there are heists. I love heists. He has a new book coming out this month. I am making blood (and bone) sacrifices to the Gods of Netgalley.
Daryl Gregory: writes fantastic urban fantasy/scifi stories with a strong psychological flavour. His prequel to We Are All Completely Fine (best title ever) is coming out soon as well. I am haunting Netgalley to see if it will show up.
Jonathan Kellerman: a psychologist living in LA who writes mysteries about a psychologist living in LA. The stories themselves tend to be a little pulpy and are often ripped from the headlines, but they're on audio with a great narrator (John Rubenstein) and I devoured them like candy. I've listened to every single one in my library. I know they're supposed to be noir/hardboiled, but I find them oddly soothing. It might be the narration.
Note: For most of the year, I kept my books only on BL, and I didn't really track the books that I didn't review. Add in my difficulty navigating the shelves and I may have missed a few best books. But these are the ones that occurred to me when I sat down to write this. I may add more if anything occurs to me.