Corey: What better way to cap off our (almost) first year of blogging than with a year-end TOP TEN list?!!? Who doesn’t love a good list, Holly?! A MONSTER!!! That’s who. I believe we’ve read & reviewed 40 books for the blog this year (I’m not counting again, but it’s 40…ish), but these 10….these were fated to be on this list. I think we only had one or two differences when we each made our lists, no? (Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan would be my honorable mention!!) GAHH!!! We read so many awesome books this year, Holly!!! Can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for The Grimdragons!!!
Holly: Lists! ALL THE LISTS! Although admittedly, I break out into a cold sweat when trying to narrow down all the things I love into a tiny numbered list though. I CANNOT BE CONTAINED! Our first year of blogging.. wow. The poor blog has been neglected as of late what with distractions, holidays, LIFE! But we plan on resurrecting the beast in the new year. Maybe give it an overhaul & make this clunky ship soar again! We both love a list, so this needed to happen! A top ten.. out of all the amazing books we’ve read this year. This list is pretty fucking wicked! There is a lot to love here. We literally had one difference when comparing. My honorable mention was for Emperor of Thorns. I just can’t shake Jorg! I love that series so goddamn much!! It’s been a fantastic year for reading. I am so excited to see what badass books we get to in 2018! LET’S DO THE DAMN THING!!!
Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson – November
Holly: The Star Wars book The Grimdragons needed this year! The intriguing story behind how the kickass chrome trooper (who got shafted in the movies) came to be! Phasma is this relentlessly ambitious (at all costs) character who is just brutally savage, yet.. she is still somehow likeable & you can’t help but be completely mesmerized by her! This was such a wicked addition to the canon universe! SO FUCKING GOOD!
Corey: I feel like this book helped recharge our Star Wars batteries, at least where the novels were concerned. After one too many “meh” Star Wars books for us, this really felt like such a relief. There’s just something wholly unique about this one…like some insane mashup of Star Wars and Mad Max: Fury Road. This book really stands out among the new canon novels, and falls into that awesome category of Star Wars books that could easily be someone’s first! LOVED THIS SO MUCH!!!
Holly: THAT VINTAGE VHS COVER, THOUGH! Oof. Perfection! This book..fucking hell. I would say that this delivered the most surprisingly gut-punchy read this year! It was basically a John Hughes horror novel & it was TOTALLY RADICAL!!! This was a beautiful look at friendship. It was tragically endearing & fun & relatable & heart-warming & crammed full of feels! FEELS UPON FEELS UPON FEELS! Hendrix served up a genuine, raw, nostalgic, genre-bending story. And we ate it up! We cannot gush about this hard enough! So completely in love with it!
Corey: I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING, HOLLY!!!! I think whatever expectations you & I had for this book were just fucking shattered. It was clear very early into this book that we were reading something special…and it was more than just the novelty of reading something so packed full of 80’s nostalgia…there’s just some seriously good bones to this story. Abby & Gretchen’s friendship is just achingly beautiful…it’s a fucking treasure, really. This book has such a broad appeal, too…it really feels like the kind of story that has something for everyone. Just a goddamn magical reading experience, and one that kinda came out of nowhere!
Off Season by Jack Ketchum – October
Corey: Well….this was some fucked-up shit. I mean….fuck. Just. OH GOD!!!! All the…the flesh eating! This was just a balls-out nightmare of a horror novel!! LOVED EVERY WORD OF IT!!! Even though it relies on some rather standard horror tropes, the visceral quality of this…the energy of this book just can’t be denied…it’s like a living, breathing thing. Relentless….I think that’s the best word for this book. It’s got the perfect amount of gore, the pacing is frenetic, the characters are as compelling as they need to be, and it’s just a fucking incredible horror novel. The first Ketchum novel for The Grimdragons, but certainly not the last!!!
Holly: I mean.. this was by far the most gruesome book we’ve read this year! FOR SURE! Just gnarly as fuck in the best way possible! GODDAMN FEROCIOUS CANNIBALS, Y’ALL! Ketchum writes in such a dreadfully exciting way. It’s fucking addictive! His energy is almost incessantly horrifying. I can’t believe neither of us had read anything by him prior to this. UNREAL! We will most definitely be attacking more of his work in the new year! ALL THE LEGENDARY KETCHUM!!!
Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey – September
Corey: We made no secret of our love for Gailey’s incredible hippo-infested debut novella, River of Teeth. And yet somehow…she one-upped herself with Taste of Marrow. That same lived-in swampy vibe…the amazingly diverse cast of characters, those gut-punchy moments that sneak up on you and punch you square in the feels. Everything about Taste of Marrow just felt more personal…more direct. You can’t have one without the other, but fuck…this just took things to a whole other level. These stories are fun, fast-paced, wildly original, full of man-eating hippos, and yet still completely believable. Sarah Gailey is fucking magical, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!!!
Holly: What a journey we’ve been on with Winslow Houndstooth & his ragtag crew! AND THE MAN-EATING HIPPOS!! These novellas may be little in size, but they are downright cinematic in scope! Such a fully realized bloody & beautiful & HIPPORIFIC story. It’s weird & gorgeous & will stomp all over your goddamn heart. Gailey is a tremendous writer, for real. This duology is just so fucking special. People need to read these.. like.. IMMEDIATELY!
Holly: This was our very first Grimdragons readalong, which was such a cool thing to read this along with a bunch of our friends! It was a pretty perfect book for us! It’s such a fucking majestic book!!! The atmospheric nostalgia of the small town, the Bike Patrol, the underlying fear of the unknown, THE HUGE ASS TREMORS-LIKE WORMS!!! There is such a deep profundity within this. Strip away everything else, all the horror aspects & it’s this gorgeous coming-of-age story. It’s about friendship, facing adversity & surviving. Simmons weaves this incredible tale that is just so damn beautiful! It’s so much more than I could have imagined. I wasn’t expecting to have my heart ripped out, trampled on & then thrown back into an empty chest cavity.. but that’s exactly what happened. It fucking MURDERED ME. Goddamn. I love this book. I love everything about it! I am so glad we read this when we did!
Corey: This was my third time reading this incredible novel, and I was so happy to get to read it with you, Holly, and with a pretty big group of our Bookstagram friends!! My memory works in mysterious ways, so there were parts of this book that felt brand new to me, and just as many parts that are permanently etched into my mind. It’s such a fucking classic….Dan Simmons at his very best!!! This group of kids, the Bike Patrol…they’re all so memorable in their own way. The dynamics between these kids is just so lifelike…an almost tangible thing as you read. Elm Haven has this incredible lived-in quality to it..you really feel the creepy history of the town just soaked into every inch of the place. This really is such a fucking special book, Holly. Transcends the horror genre in so many ways, while still being delightfully creepy and grotesque. So goddamn good!!!
Holly: Let’s be honest here.. you & I are Lawrence trash & we are more than okay with it! Anything he writes we just begin shouting from Grimdragon HQ about how much we love it, Kermit the Frog arms flailing, slightly sobbing, wanting to knock some tables over with rage. ALL THE THINGS! Every single book. Every one. His books basically invade our entire top ten, but we had to reign it in some. I mean.. we’ve got to show *some* restraint! Lawrence is a goddamn masterful wordsmith. Truly. He writes like this madman.. this blood-soaked poet. The insanely gorgeous words paired with the grim, stabby, morbid world is just everything I love. I can’t get enough! This was the first book in his second series within the same world as The Broken Empire & although this was different.. it was still fucking GLORIOUS!! Dark, scathing humor, fantastic chemistry between the two main characters (Jalan & Snorri), developing these characters, their dialogue, intensely rich fight scenes.. the incredible detail with which Lawrence has crafted in this world is immense! It’s just mind-blowing when you think about it. And when you see that he didn’t get bogged down in thousands of pages to be able to do what he did.. it’s outstanding! Fuck. Just staggering!
Corey: I guess we are Lawrence trash, and I believe that’s some of the best kind of trash to be. The man is a fucking genius after all!!! While this trilogy shares a lot in common with The Broken Empire books, the tone is so vastly different. The humor is what jumps out immediately, followed shortly by the heart…so many gut-punch moments in this book, and in this trilogy as a whole. The bond between Jal & Snorri is a fucking thing of beauty, something that builds & strengthens organically over the course of the trilogy. AND SO MUCH BADASS VIKING LORE IN THIS!!!! Gah!!! Fucking loved The Red Queen’s War trilogy so hard, but Prince Of Fools was definitely the highlight of the three!
Skullsworn by Brian Staveley – June
Corey: Looking over our top ten, I’ve got to think this was our most anticipated book of the year. Having finished & reviewed the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy literally days before Skullsworn was released, I know our excitement was through the fucking roof!! And Staveley completely delivered on this first (of hopefully many) standalone story set in his epic world. Pyrre Lakatur was such a standout character for us in the trilogy, someone we both fell in love with. And her backstory was just fucking brilliant…coming into it knowing her the way she was in the trilogy, and seeing how completely different this younger version of Pyrre was in Skullsworn…it was incredible. Breathless action sequences, beautiful character moments…this book was EPIC!! And also insanely sexy!
Holly: Bloody & brutal, fucking intense, yet SO FUCKING SEXY!! And those covers from Flaptraps.. goddamn! I mean.. goddamn. GODDAMN! I have to say that Skullsworn in particular is one of his best pieces! Book porn, indeed. I love that the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne was our first full series we read together for the blog, Corey! It’s just such a special world that Staveley has created. He is such a talented writer! Weaving a vicious tale with gorgeous, lyrical writing. The elements come together to make this incredible story packed with fascinating characters & an intriguing plot. What a magical book!
Holly: This is probably our MVP of the year! We seemed to have had the most people thank us for introducing them to this book than any other so far! That is saying a lot! This is a bloody brilliant book & it seriously deserves SO MUCH attention! It’s written with humor & heart. It is absolutely STUFFED with every imaginable fantasy creature. The world Eames has created is fucking rad! The battles were unique. The diverse cast of characters are badass. I loved them all so damn much! Their friendship was everything! There is so much to love about this book. Kings of the Wyld is an incredibly original debut that we can’t help but gush about constantly!
Corey: This book was so amazing!! I went into it with a teensy bit of skepticism about the mashup of fantasy and rock & roll elements, but that was all gone as soon as we started reading this. Such an eclectic mix of characters, like you said. Clearly Eames thinks diversity in fantasy is as important as we do, and he writes each of his characters with so much authenticity. This is for sure one of the most impressive debut novels I’ve ever read!! And Bloody Rose cannot get here soon enough!!! GAHH!! Also, special thanks to Nicholas for being our first-ever author interview!! A brilliant writer & an awesome guy!
Holly: Legit the perfect fantasy novel! This was a killer sequel in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series! Such a badass series, but this installment especially! There is so much to love. Valyn’s Wing, GWENNA, Pyrre! Many, many feels! I can’t think of one thing I would change. Except.. WE NEED MORE BOOKS WITHIN THIS WORLD IMMEDIATELY!!!
Corey: Yeah, hard to argue with that assessment, Holly. It really is fucking perfect. It’s like all the stars aligned and Brian Staveley just created something utterly magical & timeless. Everything about this book…the pacing, the action, ALL THE FUCKING FEELS, that cover…I mean… that goddamn cover. Beautiful. Every last word in this book. And these books will always have a special place in The Grimdragons’ history, being the first trilogy we started & completed together for the blog!
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence – March
Corey: Where do you even start with a book like this? I mean….fuck. It is just beyond amazing. Almost from the first line, it was painfully obvious this book would be here on our top ten. A nearly all-female cast, a badass young protagonist in Nona Grey, incredible worldbuilding and just….THIS BOOK IS EVERYTHING!!! The kind of book you just want to scream about from the rooftops, throwing copies to everyone walking by. I really think anyone with even a passing interest in fantasy would fall completely in love with Red Sister! One of the easiest books to recommend! GREY SISTER SOON, HOLLY!!!!!
Holly: Gah! There isn’t enough time to discuss our immense love for this book! It fucking DESTROYED us! In all the ways! It is truly everything we could have hoped for in a Mark Lawrence female-led ensemble. The feels were overwhelming! Lawrence really stepped away from the (glorious) Broken Empire/Red Queen’s War universe & delivered this INSANE gut-punch! Intense action scenes, tragic flashbacks, detailed worldbuilding. Fucking hell, Corey. We knew this one would be at the top, without a doubt! I have a feeling we’ll be saying the same about Grey Sister next year! CAN’T WAIT!!!