So here it is! My Best Books of 2017! It was difficult to get it down to a list of just ten books as there were so many amazing and wonderful books published this year.
My normal rule applied: The books on the list could only have been published in 2017. I read close to two hundred books this year, but not all of them were published this year.
Here they are without further ado:
10 – Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss by Jann Arden
This book broke my heart and mended it again. Part memoir, part cook book, part photo album, in it, Jann Arden writes about her fathers passing and her mothers battle with Alzheimer’s, that difficult and terrifying condition that takes those we know from us, even though their bodies are still there.
The book reads like a diary, as Jann chronicles her mothers decline into the murky forest of forgetfulness. Jann starts cooking for her parents as they used to cook for her, just simple recipes that, in a way, bring them back to each other.
Beautiful and strikingly told. I heart this book. Thanks for sharing your words, Jann.
9 – Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
I was very much looking forward to going back to Castle Rock once more. Set in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Gwendy is visited by a dark man. He sees her for what she really is: socially awkward, overweight, unpopular. He gives her a gift. The button box has many secrets and many rewards.
Over time, the box changes Gwendy’s life, but it also holds terrible powers that, if the buttons are pressed, could bring destruction. One day, Gwendy decides to test the box to see what it can do and the results are catastrophic.
A gripping, creepy and welcome return to Castle Rock!
8 – Turtles All the Way Down John Green
Following the success of The Fault in Our Stars, John Green gives us what is ultimately a deeper and more heartfelt book. One with more power.
Asa is a sixteen-year-old girl just like every other teenager, except for the way she lives inside of her head. She lives with depression as a constant companion and it often pulls her down into herself and the downward spiral that she is constantly trying to fight her way out of.
Distracting her is her Star Wars obsessed friend Daisy and the disappearance of Russell Pickett. Even more distracting is his son, Davis. Part romance, part mystery, all consuming, Turtles All the Way Down is John Green at his very best.
I love everything about this novel and Aza and Daisy are still with me.
7 – Spiritual Graffiti by M. C. Yogi
M. C. Yogi is a yoga practitioner and recording artist. I have loved M. C. Yogi’s music for a long time. It manages to be hip and really creative but it also touches me on a spiritual level and hits home. When I heard that he was coming out with a memoir. I knew that I had to read it.
It tells his story of growing up in the states in a rough neighbourhood and his life that was really lived one day at a time. He didn’t start truly living until he found yoga and that led him to find his spirit.
I loved the gritty way this was told and the heart that it was written with. It is such an uplifting story of a life lived and a heart filled with grace, music and love. I swallowed this book in a two days and felt as if I had lived right alongside him. Grogeous.
6 – Some Assembly Required by Nathan Caro Frechette (writing as Caro Frechette)
There is so much I want to say about this graphic novel. It’s the first time a graphic novel of any kind has ever graced my bet of books list. There’s a reason that this one has. It’s so real and so gritty, so raw, that it goes beyond ink on the page. It seeps into your heart.
Louis and Laurent are best friends. Only problem is that Louis is in love with Laurent and Laurent is in love with Lily. Louis also lives at home with his abusive father and the memory of his mother.
Some Assembly Required deals with sexuality, with depression and mental illness, with love and lust and everything in between. Nathan Caro Frechette has created something beyond a graphic novel. It is art in its purest form.
5 – Logical Family by Armistead Maupin
I love Maupin’s novels and I really wanted to see how he would tell his own tale. I wasn’t disappointed. The memoir was filled with his trademark wit, intelligence and with heart and spirit.
Taking us from young childhood until the publication of the first Tales of the City book, Maupin tells us of his logical family. When ones natural family has no room for you, one must go out in search of his logical family, one that makes sense and makes room.
I loved how Maupin told his tale of how he went about finding himself and the family of his heart. A truly lovely book.
4 – A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab
I loved this book. I couldn’t wait to see how the Shades of Magic would end and I was not disappointed in the least. It touched on every storyline that had been left hanging and gave us the ending we had been hoping for.
It tells the final tale of magician Kell able to travel between realms of the different London’s, Rhy his royal brother, Lila the pirate and thief. It is a story of a kingdom on the brink of collapse and the magic that may help keep it together.
I loved each book in the trilogy, but its rare that I’ve read a final book in a trilogy that satisfied so much on every level. Absolutely awesome.
3– Parasomnia by Eric Demarais
At the Aux-Anges institute, people are being treated for sleep parasomnias or disorders. There’s Ashley who suffers from night terrors, Terrance who sleepwalks, Kiri who eats in her sleep and Paul who sets fires while in slumber.
Together they try to figure out their parasomnia’s during the day. By night, however, they enter another land. Each of them are someone else and they live beyond their fears. But all is not what it seems and there are more secrets than they can know.
I loved how Parasomnia combined high fantasy with allusions to Nightmare on Elm Street to make something altogether more wonderful, more amazing. I swallowed this novel and can only hope there is a possible sequel in the works. Amazing stuff.
2 – The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman
It’s been seventeen long years since the last book in the His Dark Materials trilogy was published. That didn’t stop people from wanting another book. Pullman had long hinted that another book, The Book of Dust, was in the works.
When it was announced that it was going to be published, I couldn’t wait to read it. It was everything I could have hoped for. We follow Malcom Polstead as he becomes involved in protecting a very young Lyra, a girl that will one day change the world.
It was so good to be back in this world again. It didn’t have the same lyrical quality of the previous trilogy which made it so much easier to get pulled into Malcom’s journey. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!
1 – Tremontaine: The Complete Season Two by by Ellen Kushner, Tessa Gratton , Mary Anne Mohanraj, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, and Paul Witcover
Oh my goodness, I’m a Tremontaine junkie. I read this book right after reading the season one anthology. It’s the story of the Duchess Tremontaine, Rafe, Micah, Kaab and Tess. It’s the story of the people on the hill and the people of Riverside.
It’s the ultimate in storytelling and has everything you could want: Swordfights, chocolate, love and lust, chocolate, secrets and lies, chocolate, oh and chocolate. I’ve never read anything like Tremontaine and loved every delicious moment. The series, now in it’s third season, is a prequel to the Swordspoint novel by Ellen Kushner. Thankfully, the series stands on its own and is a delight from start to finish.
Tremontaine Season Two pulled me right in from the first page and when I got to the end, I still wanted more. I didn’t just read this book. I got so involved in it that I yelled at it often, shed a tear and laughed out loud quite a lot! The mark of a good story is when you are emotionally moved and Tremontaine: The Complete Season Two has that in spades.
That’s it for another year! I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings!
I’m honoured to have my story included in the anthology 150 Canadian Stories of Peace.
Here’s a bit about the collection:
In recognition of Canada’s 150 years of Confederation, Canadians of all ages and backgrounds heeded our call to share their story of peace for this collection. These are their stories… Stories of individuals finding and creating peace within themselves, with friends, with their Creator, with Canada, and with others – even where peace may be difficult to imagine.
Stories that are expressed in prose, in poetry and song. Stories that are joyful and funny; stories that are sad, heart wrenching or difficult to accept; stories that are illuminating and inspiring. Some stories take place in the school yard, others in homes and communities, still others on the international scene documenting Canada’s role in development and diplomacy. We are honoured to bring you this collection and hope they inspire you in your journeys of peace.
You can get your copy in paperback here:
And you can get your ebook copy here:
I’m so thrilled to be part of this anthology to help spread the message of peace. My piece is called Welcoming in the Light and is towards the end of the book.
If you read it, I truly hope you enjoy it.
Isn’t this the coolest thing ever?
Author of fabulousness Cait Gordon released her Top Ten Books of 2017 and I MADE THE LIST!
Well, specifically, Lust and Lemonade did, clocking in at number 7! How cool is that? I’m so totally flabbergasted and incredibly honoured. I do a Best Books list every year but this is the first time that one of my books has ever been on a list.
Thank you Cait for this incredible honour!
Check out the whole list by clicking here:
And check out the lovely things that Cait had to say and the other amazing books on the list!
In a word? Awesomeness!
Dear Jann Arden,
I had the immense pleasure of watching you preform at the National Arts Centre last night for the second night of your Jann Arden Christmas concert.
In 2014, my boyfriend at the time got tickets for your Everything Almost tour. I spent the entire concert waiting to hear you sing You Love Me Back. From the moment I had first heard the song, I thought immediately of my boyfriend, Michael. I had looked so long for love that I had given up trying. When I met him, it was like a forgotten wish had been granted.
When you sang You Love Me Back during your encore, I remember looking over at him thinking that this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Flash forward to three years later: My boyfriend is now my husband and the best parts of my day are when I get to wake up beside him and fall asleep beside him. We walked down the isle to You Love Me Back. We both felt such a connection to the song because it reflected our love so perfectly. Our wedding song was an easy choice.
When I heard you were going on tour doing a Christmas concert, I knew that it would make the perfect gift for two of our friends, both of whom have never seen you in concert. We got tickets for all four of us.
I couldn’t wait to see you again. I love how genuine you are. I knew that the show would be full of Christmas music mixed with your hits. I thought it would be an enjoyable evening and, at the very least, put me in the Christmas spirit.
What I wasn’t expecting was to feel more emotionally moved then the last concert. You sang so beautifully, and you were so incredibly funny. I loved how you acknowledged the band and the orchestra. I loved how, even though we were in a theatre filled to the brim with a thousand people, it felt as if you were singing directly to us.
You sang all your hits and then some and plenty of Christmas songs. You took us on a journey. You connected to us though your songs and your words and your art and I am forever thankful to you for that. At one point towards the end of the concert, you sang “I Would Die for You”. I squeezed my husbands hand and he squeezed mine back. We were both thinking the same thing, that we had finally found a love deep enough for that song to take on a special meaning.
Thank you beyond words for such an amazing and emotionally moving evening. Thank you for your words and your music and your songs which have meaning to so many people. Thank you for giving me the gift of joy. I left your concert feeling upbeat and very much looking forward to spending the Christmas season with family and friends.
With thanks and gratitude,
Your words are like
flowers. They are
pleasing to the eye,
soft to the touch.
Yet, when I try to hold them,
it is to discover
that needles hide within
the veins of the flowers
and the petals are made
from shards of glass.
I try to hold onto your words
despite the damage they do to me,
try to hold onto what is right,
what is fair, what is just.
They cut at my hands,
causing blood to colour the glass petals
as if I am holding onto roses.
I clutch at the roses,
red with my own blood,
hoping that you will keep your word,
that you will honour
the vowels and syllables of your promise,
yet I know that it is futile,
that if I am to have any peace,
if I am to have any closure,
I have to let the flowers go.
So, after months of holding onto false promises,
my hands slashed to ribbons of flesh
that only I can see,
I take the flowers to the highest point
that I can find.
I have climbed to the top
of a large mountain.
I have been here before.
I look around me at the other things
that I have let go of:
Tarot cards and trinkets,
other words shaped like daggers,
secrets shaped like treasures.
As I stand there on the top of a mountain,
feeling the cool wind of change
caress my face,
I let the flowers go.
As they fly through the air,
the sun hits the glass petals
and the shards of needles held within.
Their reflection is almost blinding
and each promise unkept
becomes a wish instead.
The flowers flutter through the sky,
droplets of blood falling to the ground.
Where the blood falls,
a flower begins to bloom,
as if each droplet of blood
held a seed.
Those seeds grow into hope
for a better future.
the lacerations on my hands
begin to heal and the blood
starts to dry upon my skin.
I can finally head home,
knowing that I am