10 Best Books of 2017: The Geek List from “Magnus Chase” to “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”

We present the Top 10 books of 2017 from “Magnus Chase” to “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”:

1423160932_4681aTop 10: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead (Rick Riordan)

The Magnus books are not that special compared to the other Riordan stories but what was magical about (the book) was that it brought back memories of what you’re doing, or what you’re experiencing when you were reading those scenes he mentioned. There was something sort of magical on that, beyond anything I could say.

But for now we say goodbye and thank you to Magnus and his band of heroes, for making us laugh and cry and excited on their adventures. See you on Ragnarok. (December 2017 review)


9780143799603Top 9: Prince’s Gambit (Captive Prince, #2) (C. S. Pacat)

It was almost a challenge: make it through this beginning, and you get access to the real rewards. And indeed, that was the case. In addition, you eventually come to learn that much of the awfulness laid out at the beginning of the first book is not for shock value; it is part of the overarching drama you only learn about much later. In any event, it is only one of the plot lines in this very byzantine political saga.

While “Publishers Weekly” called the books “a blend of intense erotica and political fantasy,” for me the appeal was the strong characterizations, nuanced relationships, and the depiction of the considerate and delicate growth of a romance in a setting in which cruelty and force are the norm. This series will grab your heart.


9780143799610Top 8: Kings Rising (Captive Prince, #3) (C. S. Pacat)

I love this kind of story. As for my criticisms, I have a few. Female characters are few and far between in Captive Prince. On occasion, I hit a line of contemporary-sounding dialogue, such as “No kidding,” that was jarring in the historical setting. The writing is less polished in the beginning, with some stylistic cliches and an overuse of adverbs, but this improves.

But one of the most wonderful things about this book is the plotting — it’s full of surprising twists, secret political maneuvers, and devious stratagems. There will be some little detail in the middle of the book, and later in the story the reader suddenly discovers just how important that small detail was, and that things aren’t what they appeared in any way, shape or form.

While the romance develops with exquisite slowness, as is fitting to these characters’ backgrounds and personalities, the pacing of the plot is fast and the book is hard to put down.


love-letters-to-the-deadTop 7: Love Letters to the Dead (Ava Dellaira)

The stories of Laurel’s heroes were written in some of her letters and those were always fascinating read, like taking a peak on their former lives. It was also a good way of understanding what was on Laurel’s mind when writing those letters.

These narrations of the lives of the famous dead formed part of the book and these narrations alone make this book special, from Kurt Cobain’s early life in the streets to the last moments of Amelia Earhart (“We must be on you, but cannot see you”- words that still send chills on me whenever I hear it), their stories and the lessons that came from them moored the book’s narrative and guided Laurel to the end (or the beginning) of her own story. (March 2017 review)


811wT2-uD8LTop 6: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (Robin Sloan and Rodrigo Corral)

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a book about questions but there are no answers that could be found in there, the readers should find the answers themselves. Books become great if they are remarkable and the collective questions poised by Robin Sloan is what makes the book remarkable.

In here we find Clay Jannon, your typical millennial with all the knowledge of the modern world in his arsenal but who strangely likes the old world, especially books. Of course he was unemployed due to the recession, and with his credentials of making an award winning logo for a company set up by former Googlers, he tried to find a suitable job for his skills, but then he stumbled upon this bookstore which was opened 24 Hours, like a reliable fast food chain, met its owner, a certain old man named Ajax Penumbra, and answered the old question:  “What do you seek in these shelves?” (May 2017 review)


9780525555353_s600Top 5: Turtles All the Way Down (John Green)

But the reason why we love Green’s stories is he is exceptionally good in telling about teenage life. YA novels tend to bring to you that high school feeling, a big reason why we love such stories. But Green’s stories are special. He brings to life in poignant details the teenage story: the classes, the lunch breaks, after school activities, and yes, Star Wars.

What is unique about this teenage story and how he depicted (and which is absent from his other stories) is the use of technology and social media and how teenagers used it to their own advantage. A clever narration which is effing scary on some level because it shows that teenagers, and millennials for that matter, have skills that other generations don’t have.

Green’s stories is so like something written straight from a teenagers thoughts that readers will, at times, tend to believe that they are listening to a teenager’s voice. That is what set Green apart from his contemporaries. (October 2017 review)


41AVVhtHugLTop 4: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon)

“This will not be a funny book,” says Christopher. “I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them.” But it is a funny book, as well as a sad one. Christopher’s compulsive noting of mundane facts provides comedy reminiscent of the best of Adrian Mole, especially in his dealings with the police and his special-needs classmates. And Haddon’s inclusion of diagrams, timetables, maps, even maths problems, extends the normal scope of novel-writing and demonstrates the rich idiosyncrasies of the autistic brain. The Curious Incident is published simultaneously for adults and older children; despite its clarity and simplicity, it operates on several levels. I’d love to know what a reader with Asperger’s thinks of this book. I think it’s brilliant.


coverTop 3 (Bronze Award): Bream Gives Me Hiccups and Other Stories (Jesse Eisenberg)

In Bream Gives Me Hiccups, Jesse Eisenberg presents a collection of stories ranging from a privileged nine-year-old’s reviews of high-end restaurants, to these prescription notes from a dad to his son, to a letter from a hilarious teenager about her roommate who happened to have stolen her ramen. In this book, Eisenberg reveals all the characteristics that make millennials unique and funny and deep and lost: their great regard of themselves, the need to be involved and their love of the internet, all of this written in a voice that is both wise and clueless. In short, the book presented us as what we truly are: lost but finding our way home.

The book (and Eisenberg) asks the readers to be open to his various cultural references some of which readers might know, some they might be confused about. But this is part of the book’s charm. Inspite of these cultural references (or maybe because of it), the book offers a different reading experience, funny yet irritating, uncomfortable to read yet deep, because of the simple reason that is so effing good. That’s just that. (April 2017 review)


b2319111dcc30039e362ce6d0392c422.641x1000x1Top 2 (Silver Award): The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Díaz)

Enter the fat and nerd kid in the person of Oscar De Leon. Oscar is a Dominican guy who grew up in the 1980’s New Jersey neighbourhood.  No need to imagine him, because the author Junot Díaz distinctly describe him as a Oscar Wilde look-a-like, a Dominican accent turned Wilde into Wao, thus the poor guy here was called Oscar Wao.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao chronicles the boring and extremely sad live of Oscar which would make every nerds out there depress. But his family has a secret: they are guided by the golden mongose, a mythical creature that made his clan successful, until of course the arrival of the fuku, a creature of evil which hunts his family into despair.

Well, all of those were old folks story but Oscar Wao’s story, his nerdiness, how he did fall in love, and fall in love hard with every girls in sight, the history of his family: his sister, mother, his grandfather, made all his narrative more intriguing and a page-turner. This book is a brave narrative of a family, a foreign kid saddled by his history and culture while trying to fit into a different world,that was until the fuku got the better of him. (March 2017 review)


kccoverBEST BOOK OF 2017 (Gold Award): The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (Michael Chabon)

It took me one week to write this review because I can’t find the right words to say about what I felt about this book. And came Shelley Harris’ review and her words are perfect to describe what I felt about Chabon’s novel:

“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay’ is the book of a lifetime for the uncomplicated reason that I’ve spent my whole life reading, and it’s the best book I’ve ever read. But it’s the book of my writing life, too. Writers read double, I think: once in readerly abandonment to the story, a second time with a critical distance. In that second pass I watch ‘Kavalier and Clay’ as I might, appropriately enough, watch an illusionist. I try to work out the trick, to see how those movements, which seem perfectly ordinary – a shifting around of the same words we all use – might produce that dazzling effect.”

The novel introduces us to the golden age of comic books in America and the struggles and triumphs of their artists and writers, the creators of the superheroes we come to know today: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the other less known but then successful characters such as the Escapist. Through this character, we watched as Joe and Sam pin their hopes and dreams on this imaginary superhero. (February 2017 review)


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