I read, and listened, to some fantastic books in 2017. I fell short of my challenge goal of 50 - fail! But I still devoured some great reads in the attempt. You can consider all that follow highly recommended books. :)
Alien: Out of the Shadows by Tim Lebbon
Out of the Shadows is a book that should be listened to, and not read. The audio book produced by Audible studios features an ensemble cast that includes Rutger Hauer no less, and listens more like an old fashioned radio show, than an audio book - which is just freaking cool. The story is good, and deepens the Alien universe better than schlock like Alien 3 or Alien Resurrection ever did, and is a must-listen for any fan of the series. Consider it well-worth the Audible credit!
Columbus Day: Expeditionary Force series by Craig Alanson.
The military sci-fi genre has exploded over the last few years, and I am just starting to dip my toe into the proverbial waters. A friend recommended this series, so I thought I would check it out. The story starts out on a fairly cliche track for the genre - unsuspecting earth is pulled into a larger, galactic conflict. I admit that I almost gave up on the book, until Alanson played his Ace in the hole, Skippy. The ancient alien artificial intelligence - that just happens to resemble a shiny beer can more than makes up for any of Alanson's shortcomings as a writer. I have never had so many laugh-out-loud moments while listening to an audio books, which is just as much due to narrator R.C Bray's outstanding performance as Alanson's writing. There are some times where I wish that Alanson would tighten his writing, perhaps employ a better editor, but so far, the series has me hooked!
Hell Divers and Hell Divers II by Nicholas Sansbury Smith.
More narrator R.C. Bray gold. Nicholas Sansbury Smith really captures the apocalypse in all of its desperate grittiness. These books feel like equal parts Fallout, I am Legend, and Tom Clancy. The stories flow well, feature characters that you must care about, and cram enough intrigue into their pages to kill a herd of adult elephants. No, really, they do. Earth is an uninhabitable wasteland, and the very small remnant of humanity is plummeting head-first towards extinction, and all we want to know is, how in the hell are they gonna survive? Ahhh. Yes, you guessed it. These books keep you reading, and wondering, and waiting, and wondering. Book 3 please, Nicholas. I expect a new book every month, so get on it! That is a joke, or is it?
The Bobiverse Series by Dennis E. Taylor.
Gahhh. Dennis Taylor's Bobiverse series is so freakin' good, I don't even know where to start. First, the story is awesome. Robert Johanson is killed while walking across the street, headed to a science fiction convention - starts out like an "a nun walks into a bar" joke, and only gets stupendously better from there. Taylor knows how to blend hard science with engaging story, and then you mix Ray Porter into the mix, and its like throwing gasoline on an already raging fire. Ray Porter is without a doubt one of my favorite narrators, and in conjunction with Taylor's story equates to a fundamental, must-read series for any science fiction, and non-science fiction fan. I am really hoping he writes a ton of these books - like at least a metric ton, maybe 2. I'll look into freight shipping rates and just have them dump them into my front yard, where I will set up a lawn chair and umbrella. In that event, if you don't hear from me, it's probably because I have become trapped under a cave-in of books and require rescue. If I am still alive, just drop a sandwich and some water down to me and I'll be good.
Redemption and Retaliation by Jarod Meyer.
I met Jarod at a convention in 2016, where he sold me on Redemption. I'm a sucker for science fiction and fantasy, so a series that blends both is obviously going to garner my attention. I read the second edition version of his first book last year and can say that I am very impressed with him as a storyteller. The series puts a cool, new spin on the afterlife, and promises tons of adventure for future volumes. Retaliation came out at the end of the year and definitely built on the themes and momentum he'd already established. I am excited about Jarod's future as a writer and look forward to reading more of his single-word titled releases!
Artemis by Andy Weir
I never read The Martian, but really enjoyed Ridley Scott's theatrical adaptation, and when I saw the recommendation appear on Audible, I didn't hesitate. I have to admit, after the fact, Rosario Dawson's narration might have been my favorite part. Weir's story is good, the science is solid and lends to great world building, but Dawson gives Jazz a believable voice. Some of her accents sound similar and kind of blend together, but that is just a nitpick critique. If you're a fan of science fiction, heist stories, or adventure, give Artemis a read. And I'm sure someone will adapt it to a movie at some point, if they aren't already in the process.
Morgan's Run by Tamara Jones.
It's no secret that I am a Tamara Jones fan. Spore is one of my all-time favorite books, and I firmly believe that her Dubric Byerly series deserves accolades and conversation in the fantasy, mystery, and horror, genre - especially after watching the schlock MTV and Spike are stamping the Shannara Chronicles label on. Sorry, off topic. Morgan's Run is a women's fiction title, so a little out of my usual hunting grounds, but wow. This book packs enough twists and turns, emotional jabs - good and bad, and genuine heartfelt moments to appeal to any reader. It is unabashedly honest, straight to its point, and fantastic. Morgan's Run tears down some of the delusions we all hold to regarding the idea of personal and emotional safety, health, and healing.