Sunday, December 31, 2017

Robbie Awards 2

One year ago, and I fear many years late, I inaugurated a one-man award show, recognizing the best among the books I read during the calendar year. This year, I haven't quite lived up to 2016's record of reading 127 books, but at least I made it through 105 books - not counting a hymnal that I tore apart in a savage review, more on account of my interest in Lutheran hymnody than as a reading addict and chronic book reviewer. So, here is the full list of this year's 105 nominees for whatever awards I feel like handing out:
  1. Rogue Knight by Brandon Mull
  2. The Elusive Elixir by Gigi Pandian
  3. The Book That Proves Time Travel Happens by Henry Clark
  4. Close to the Broken Hearted by Michael Hiebert
  5. A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E. Feist
  6. Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings
  7. The Steel Kiss by Jeffrey Deaver
  8. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  9. The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay
  10. The Magic of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
  11. Jinx by Sage Blackwood
  12. The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright
  13. The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
  14. Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
  15. Beyond the Kingdoms by Chris Colfer
  16. Waiscoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger
  17. Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger
  18. The Fearless Travelers’ Guide to Wicked Places by Pete Begler
  19. Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright
  20. Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright
  21. The Lost Train of Thought by John Hulme & Michael Wexler
  22. A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
  23. The Door Before by N.D. Wilson
  24. The Best Mistake Mystery by Sylvia McNicoll
  25. The Legend of Sam Miracle by N.D. Wilson
  26. The Song of Glory and Ghost by N.D. Wilson
  27. Hades by Candice Fox
  28. Magician’s Gambit by David Eddings
  29. Dirty Martini by J.A. Konrath
  30. Fuzzy Navel by J.A. Konrath
  31. Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings
  32. Enchanter’s End Game by David Eddings
  33. Dark of the Moon by John Sandford
  34. Heat Lightning by John Sandford
  35. Field of Prey by John Sandford
  36. Gathering Prey by John Sandford
  37. Pilfer Academy by Lauren Magaziner
  38. Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson
  39. Extreme Prey by John Sandford
  40. Saturn Run by John Sandford & Ctein
  41. Deadline by John Sandford
  42. Rook by Sharon Cameron
  43. The Shadow Cadets of Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson
  44. Rough Country by John Sandford
  45. Bad Blood by John Sandford
  46. Shock Wave by John Sandford
  47. Mad River by John Sandford
  48. Storm Front by John Sandford
  49. Escape Clause by John Sandford
  50. Hidden Prey by John Sandford
  51. Invisible Prey by John Sandford
  52. Broken Prey by John Sandford
  53. Phantom Prey by John Sandford
  54. Storm Prey by John Sandford
  55. Buried Prey by John Sandford
  56. Stolen Prey by John Sandford
  57. Silken Prey by John Sandford
  58. Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley
  59. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  60. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
  61. Dragons vs. Drones by Wesley King
  62. Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
  63. The Wandering Fire by Guy Gavriel Kay
  64. The Five Fakirs of Faizabad by P.B. Kerr
  65. The Grave Robbers of Genghis Kahn by P.B. Kerr
  66. Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies by June Casagrande
  67. Tyrannosaurus Lex by Rod L. Evans, Ph.D.
  68. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
  69. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
  70. Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer
  71. Frederica by Georgette Heyer
  72. Goblin Secrets by William Alexander
  73. The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio by Lloyd Alexander
  74. Reamde by Neal Stephenson
  75. Sudden Prey by John Sandford
  76. Secret Prey by John Sandford
  77. Certain Prey by John Sandford
  78. Easy Prey by John Sandford
  79. Chosen Prey by John Sandford
  80. When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin
  81. God Save the Queen by Kate Locke
  82. The Silver Dream by Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves & Mallory Reaves
  83. Prince of the Blood by Raymond E. Feist
  84. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  85. No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer
  86. The King’s Buccaneer by Raymond E. Feist
  87. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
  88. The Story Thieves by James Riley
  89. Mistborn (The Final Empire) by Brandon Sanderson
  90. Sword of the Rightful King by Jane Yolen
  91. Mindhunter by John Douglas & Mark Olshaker
  92. The Snowman by Jo Nesbø
  93. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  94. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  95. The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin
  96. Daisy Miller by Henry James
  97. The Diviners by Libba Bray
  98. The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
  99. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  100. The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen
  101. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
  102. The Queen Is Dead by Kate Locke
  103. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
  104. Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
  105. Twisted by Jonathan Kellerman
And now, here are the second annual Robbie Awards!

Critic's Choice
I'm a critic, kind of. In my critical opinion, the best book on the above list, in terms of overall literary merit, is The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay.

People's Choice
I'm a person, too. My favorite book on the above list, for pure fun and popular appeal, is Mistborn (The Final Empire) by Brandon Sanderson.

Kid's Choice (NEW!)
The kid in me is alive and kicking, though 14 years have passed since I could say I was "31 on the outside and 13 on the inside." It is no accident many of my reading choices have been books packaged for teen and pre-teen readers. I just like the straightforward, good storytelling of books in this category. In a narrow victory, the book that most deeply touched the forever-young piece of my heart this year was Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos.

Best Newcomer
A few of my book reviews this year were based on pre-publication proofs. Of a small handful of books I read this year before they were released, three were by N.D. Wilson. The best among them, and I think the best overall, was The Door Before.

Best Comeback
I don't limit my reading to new releases, however. This past year, I reckon the "oldie" I most enjoyed rediscovering was The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer, published 1950. Not her first book, it was, however, the first of her books I read, and it brought to life a captivating reconstruction of the Regency period that I hope to explore again.

Best Audiobook
Some of my favorite reading experiences have gone in through my ears, rather than my eyes. Deserving special recognition for going far beyond the call of duty (i.e., keeping me sane during long road trips) is this year's winner, a 32-disk, unabridged edition of Reamde by Neal Stephenson, read by Malcolm Hillgartner.

Best Documentary
I know people who seek out non-fiction books for entertainment. Somehow, in spite of having stumbled on many non-fiction books that were a pleasure to read, I still feel surprised when it happens again. This year, to compound my surprise, I've been forced to call a tie in this category, between Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies by June Casagrande and Mindhunter by John Douglas & Mark Olshaker. Both are valuable, informative works of fact. But at the same time, Casagrande's is one of the funniest, and Douglas & Olshaker's one of the chillingest, books I read in 2017.

Best Book Translated from a Foreign Language
I had a moment of panic when I saw this category coming up, and the thought struck me that I might have to hand this award to Ian Rankin (for The Naming of the Dead), based on my theory that the American edition dialed back the author's Edinburgh idiom. But then I remembered The Snowman by Jo Nesbø, and all was right in the world. Either of them would deserve an award, and not just as a "by default" winner, because of their excellent quality as revivals of the hardboiled genre I love. But on technical grounds, the Nesbø wins.

Best Short Subject
Once again proving that good things can come in small packages, the best book I read this year that didn't quite measure up to novel length was undoubtedly Daisy Miller by Henry James.

There are so many "honorable mentions" I would like to list - such as Uprooted by Naomi Novik and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman - that I wish I could add more categories, just to permit me to bestow awards on them. But my awards aren't really worth anything, except to gather up all my wonderful reading experiences of the past year in one last attempt to provide sound advice to anyone who needs help choosing a book to read. Maybe next year, I'll roll out genre awards or something. But for now, may 2018 be a bountiful year for books!

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