Looking over this year I’ve both a) read a lot of new authors but also b) read a lot of books by a particular author. Top of the list is Lois McMaster Bujold, with a whopping 21 books (that’s most of the Vorkosigan saga, the Sharing Knife quartet, and the three Curse of Chalion books). Coming a close second is Ellis Peters, with 20 books (mostly Cadfael but a couple of Felse mysteries snuck in there). After that there are a few authors with five or six books, but I’m going to nominate Dorothy Dunnett in third place because her books are SO DENSE and I feel like each paperback should really count as two. (And when I say they’re dense, that’s not a criticism as such — her books are fantastically researched and written, with some fantastic sensible ladies — but I have to admit I’ve stalled a little on the Ringed Castle.)
Anyway, books I most enjoyed that were published this year:
Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison
I loved Maia — such a sympathetic character, fallible but always determined to do the right thing, which isn’t super common in fantasy right now. It’s a quiet, thoughtful book, exploring the administration of government and the effects of discrimination in an industrial-era society. This makes it sound really boring but it’s not! Or at least, it’s not if you’re a fan of character-based fantasy (which I am).
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, Genevieve Valentine
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
Okay, technically this wasn’t published this year but the sequel (Ancillary Sword) was, and I know that it will be fantastic. Like The Goblin Emperor they are reflective, but the protagonist (a ship who once controlled hundreds of bodies, now down to one) is a lot older, experienced and betrayed. Ancillary Justice has deservedly got a lot of good press and won a lot of awards. You should read it if you like science fiction or characters learning to care about each other. (Especially if you like characters learning to question their privilege and not be such an arrogant arse.)
Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty
I thought this was a fun murder mystery with serious bits, where you don’t know who did it or who was murdered right until the very end. I loved all the ladies in this book, even the awful ones.
Collected Works of A. J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin
Another fun book with serious bits. I can see how some people might find it a bit twee, but it’s about books and islands and grumpy people so it was a hit with me.
Books that weren’t published this year but I enjoyed them anyway:
Troubled Waters, Sharon Shinn
Hens Dancing, Raffaella Barker
Fate of Mice, Susan Palwick
To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
Everything else Willis writes is overwhelming depressing (Doomsday Book? Blackout/All Clear? I mean I love them, but I weep) but this is just an amazing romp. If you like Dorothy Sayers, Jerome K. Jerome and/or Agatha Christie then you will love this book. It’s just fantastic. And the animals are just perfect.
Melusine, Sarah Monette
I made wounded animal noises all the way through this book.
Consequences, Penelope Lively
Dark North, Gillian Bradshaw