Monday, December 22, 2014

Goldilox and the Ten Lists: Top Ten Fantasy Books

I've had a great year when it comes to the fantasy books that I've read this year! There were so many amazing ones ranging from urban fantasy to steampunk to portal fantasy to paranormal romance. So many great books! This made it hard to choose just ten. So after a lot of thought and a brutal culling of the list, here are my ten favorite fantasy books I read this year. They are arranged in no particular order, because I can't decide on a ranking for these books if I tried. Let me know what your favorite debut books were down in the comments.

Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers, #1)Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers #1)
by Rachel Aaron
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Why I chose it:
I'm a bit of a Rachel Aaron fan so when she puts out a book, I will be one of the first ones buying it! So when I heard she was self-publishing an urban fantasy book with dragons, I was ecstatic! And I wasn't disappointed! I adored this book! So much so that I wrote a RTFB post on it. 

Between the amazing, post-apocalyptic magical Detroit and the characters, this book was fan-freaking-tastic! I loved Julius and Marci as well as Julius' brothers, Bob and Justin! This book was humorous, action-packed, and features an army of cats! I'm dead serious. There's an army of cats in this book!

I seriously can't wait for the next book to come out! Because between dragons, commercialized magic, and soul-sucking ghost cats, what more could you want? 

The Clockwork DaggerThe Clockwork Dagger (Clockwork Dagger #1)
by Beth Cato
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Why I chose it:
Yes. This book is going to be on all of my favorites lists this year! It is absolutely fantastic! The Clockwork Dagger combined a steampunk airship adventure with nature and saint based spirituality, ugly/adorable flying gremlins, competing political conspiracies, a missing princess, various forms of magic, and the beginning stages of romance. It thoroughly charmed and entertained me. Octavia Leander, orphaned in the war, has healing powers sought by all sides, so though she just wants to practice her craft in a quiet rural setting she's drawn into a dangerous power struggle.

Fortunately she’s quick thinking and has the support of the Lady, a healing goddess who may have begun life as a human but now is embodied as the spirit of a magnificent magical tree. The characters are wonderful--besides Octavia there is Leaf, the little green gremlin, Viola Stout, an unconventional older woman with a surprising secret, Alonzo Garret, the handsome airship steward who's always around when there's trouble, and assorted eccentrics who make up the airship's passengers and crew. The story's landscape includes smoky cities, marshy swamps, and country towns. Although it’s set in a fantasy kingdom and not England like most steampunk, the book's atmosphere reminded me of Gail Carriger's Etiquette and Espionage series. I loved this so much and I can't recommend it enough!

Burn For Me (Hidden Legacy #1)
by Ilona Andrews
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Why I chose it:
OH MY GOODNESS! I loved this book! It was fun, action-packed, and snarky! Definitely a trademark Ilona Andrews book! I laughed so much and I'm in love with the Baylor family! Do you think they'd adopt me? Seriously. They are one of the most interesting families ever and full of strong female role models! The Grandma freaking works on tanks and it's the best thing ever!

Burn For Me is the Andrews writing team at their best. The world is complex and original, the witty banter is outstanding as always, and the sexual chemistry is on point. I loved the magic system and how these magic users are idolized as celebrities. 

This book is the first in a new paranormal romance series that is light on the romance and heavy on the urban fantasy awesomeness. I'm intrigued to say the least. I want to know more about the Houses and the magic system as well as Rogan and Nevada. I'm interested in seeing where their chemistry goes. I can't wait to get my hands on book two in 2015!

Bitter Spirits (Roaring Twenties #1)
by Jenn Bennett
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Why I chose it:
I loved everything about this book! The era, the setting, the clothing, the language, the ghosts, the hints of magic! It all layered together to make an amazing paranormal world unlike anything I've read before. I loved the 1920's setting and all of the details Jenn Bennett included! That lady did her research and it made the book so fantastic!

The setting is expertly rendered and it is easy to become immersed in the atmosphere of San Francisco and Chinatown in the 1920s prohibition era. This is a relatively unknown time period for me and it was fun looking up the events and terminology mentioned in the book. Thank you Google for all your help. 

I seriously loved the characters! The hero and heroine are so adorable - super sexy. Winter is a big massive guy and Aida is little and freckled. There is such great flirting and courtship. AND ZOMG! Their first kiss! Guys. That may be the best first kiss I've ever read. 
I loved Aida! She was wonderful and snarky! I loved the banter between her and Winter! I really liked that both Winter and Aida were their own person. Their individual struggles with the traumas of their pasts ultimately strengthens their emotional connection and make them a truly captivating couple.

The suspense plot is original with some intense action scenes and a seriously disturbed villain. The paranormal elements are cleverly interwoven into the story and add an extra layer to the eerie tone. Overall, this is was fantastic as was the sequel, Grim Shadows, that also released this year. I highly recommend both of them. I can't wait to get my hands on the third book, Grave Phantoms, next year!

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels, #7)Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7)
by Ilona Andrews
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Why I chose it:
The Kate Daniels series is one of my favorite series of all time! The action scenes are amazing and the humor is spot on. And the latest book in this series did not disappoint! It's amazing how much I love so many characters in these books aside from Kate and Curran.

I had some preconceived notions about what was going to happen based on bits and pieces I had heard through the internet. Thank heavens I wasn't spoiled, because this book completely exceeded my expectations and did not go as I had predicted. Holy Hell! The plot twist was not what I expected and I have no idea where this story is going to go from here. I have so many questions and some worries for some of the characters.

After I finished this book, I just wanted to reread the whole series over from the beginning. We all need to give Ilona Andrews a slow clap for the awesomeness of this series. This series is one of the best things to happen to urban fantasy!

Shattered (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #7)Shattered (The Iron Druid Chronicles #7)
by Kevin Hearne
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Why I chose it:
Like the Kate Daniels series, Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles is one of the best ongoing series in urban fantasy and it is one of my all-time favorites. You all know how much I love this series. The wait in between each book is just getting harder and harder, but completely worth it at the same time! Since this book is the seventh book in this series, I won't say anything spoilery. Let's just say that things are getting crazy in these books! I'm legit worried for Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon.

This book was full of new characters and mythology and it was perfect! Shattered is a fantastic addition to the series, and the perfect blend of action, contemplation, and humor. Hearne is a genius and everything came together wonderfully. As much as I love Atticus, this book is Granuaile's book. She absolutely shines! I didn't think it was possible to love her even more, than I did but I do. Mr. Hearne is another author who deserves a slow clap for excellence!

Child of a Hidden SeaChild of a Hidden Sea (Hidden Sea Tales #1)
by A. M. Dellamonica
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Why I chose it:
This book was an insane amount of fun to read! It's lighthearted in a way that is sadly missing from much of adult fantasy. It has the added benefit of being a portal fantasy and that makes me happy. There has been too few of them in the last few years. I found myself quite surprised when reading this book, as it was nothing like my expectations.

One of the things I loved besides the world building in this book was Sophie’s scientific curiosity. She looks at the world through the eyes of a biologist, and her journey to Stormwrack is incredibly exciting to her from a scientific standpoint. As a scientist myself, I found this scientific examination of a different world to be one of the things that I enjoyed the most about this novel. Dellamonica took Sophie seriously as a character and it certainly shows.

Sophie’s attempts to understand Stormwrack and to uncover its secrets lead her on a series of adventures, eventually including her brilliant adopted brother, Bram; her impetuous half-sister; and the entirely too gorgeous for his own good Captain Parrish, the first mate, Tonio, and the rest of the crew of his ship. This team works together to solve a murder that they all witness, and in trying to solve this crime Sophie is drawn into the sometimes-backwards seeming world of Stormwrack politics.

Another surprising element of this novel was the diverse cast of characters. There's several different peoples and cultures as well as a good number of gay and bisexual characters that just get to be themselves. The best example of this Bram. He was gay without it being the point of the novel. So often when we find gay characters — particularly in fantasy — they are on some sort of self-identification quest or right in the middle of some terrible coming-out story. That was not the case here — Bram was just gay, and it was not really a big deal at all, which I thought was perfect.

I loved this world and I can't wait for the next book in this series so I can return to Stormwrack!

Valour and Vanity (Glamourist Histories, #4)
Valour and Vanity (Glamourist Histories #4)
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Why I chose it:
This book has been described by the author as "if Jane Austen wrote Ocean's Eleven." Stop. Read no further. That is all you need to know about this book. If you have not read the first three Glamourist Histories books, go read them now just so you can read this book.

If you haven't heard of this series, go check out my RTFB post on it! I love it! The romance is sweet and delightful to read! They are some of my favorite Regency romances ever! And there are freaking Doctor Who cameos in each of the books. Let's give a slow clap to Kowal for some of the best Easter eggs ever! The books have gotten more action-packed as the series has progressed.

What I love the most is Kowal's top-notch research! She has managed to capture the style of Jane Austen’s novels and yet have it still be original. The book feels authentic to the time period it recreates. Except for, you know, the magic.

I can't recommend these books enough. Also, if you're an audiobook fan, I would highly recommend listening to this series!

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)
by Marissa Meyer
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Why I chose it:
Each book in this series just keeps getting better and better! When I finished Scarlet last year, all I could think about was that a year was a long time to wait for Cress. I can now officially say that the year long wait was totally worth it! This book was mindbogglingly awesome! I loved it! Bravo, Marissa Meyer. Bravo.

The characters are amazing, both new and old. Why hello again, Captain Thorne! I love you even more in this book than I did in Scarlet. The character development in this book was awesome! I really liked Cress and she adds an interesting dynamic to our group of ragtag revolutionaries. I absolutely love that she is a genius computer hacker but still very feminine. As much as I love all of the characters, Iko is my absolute favorite!

The plot of this is fairly fast paced. I could have easily read the whole thing in one sitting if I didn't have work early the next day. I found my self reading it every available moment I had which got me several weird looks at the grocery store while I was waiting in the checkout line.

Oh and the ending to this book! So good! I want to talk about it, but in the interest of keeping this spoiler free, I'm just going to say that I adored it! I'm sure my neighbors were wondering what was up with me both yelling and squealing at the book as I was finishing it.

I am so excited for Winter and I'm still a bit upset that it was pushed back to next fall. Even though we're getting the book about Queen Levana, I want Winter now!

Forged by Desire (London Steampunk, #4)Forged By Desire (London Steampunk #4)
by Bec McMaster
Why I chose it:
I binge read all the books and novellas in this series back in November over the course of a weekend! I loved it! Out of all the books that are out, this was my favorite one in the series! I can say without a doubt that Bec McMaster has crafted one of my most favorite steampunk worlds ever! The paranormal mixed with the steampunk as well as the mystery and political intrigue had me hooked. McMaster's writing in combination with the world is like crack. I couldn't put the book down once I picked it up. And if I did manage to put it down, I couldn't quit thinking about the story.

absolutely adored Perry and Garrett and the romance! I love, love, LOVE Perry! She definitely has earned a spot on my list of BAMF female characters. As much as I love her, I will admit that I totally got blindsided by Perry's past. Out of everything I was expecting, that wasn't it at all. I have to give Bec McMaster a slow clap. This book totally made me cry which is something I was not expecting to do while reading a steampunk romance novel.

Also, I'm loving how all the story lines from the other books are finally starting to come together and I can't wait to see where everything is going! How am I going to wait until March for the next book?

1 comment:

  1. I love Ilona Andrews and will read anything they write. I've heard great things about the Iron Druid series. It is high on my TBR list. I hope to get to it soon.


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