2017 FAVORITES

AMBER LOVE 27-DEC-2017 My work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. Also, I’m an Amazon Influencer so you can shop through my personal recommendations and buy books with these handy links below; meaning if you purchase through the link, I could possibly make a few coins. It’s Amazon so it’s not like I’ll be making a living from it.

First of all, I’m giving myself props for stepping up my reading game. Although it’s a bit of a deception. I’ve read FAR LESS comics and so had more reading time for books. I’ve also had to create a lot fewer podcasts in order to shift that time to self care and yoga training.

Gus and Ollie are two demanding felines and require so much play time! Gus’ warm weather adventures are two trips to the woods for an hour each; in the winter we’ve scaled back to one walk for an hour or less if we go out at all. He seems fine in the snow and cold even though he shakes out his paws and looks for clear ground to warm up. That’s where my time has been. I also put out two of my own books and over thirty Adventures with Gus tales from The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency. It’s kind of a miracle I got anything done in 2017, to be honest.

Books:

I created an official GoodReads Reading Challenge for myself. I set it low, but what I thought would be reasonable for myself. My goal was 12 books. I’m double that and I’m pretty sure I’ll finish I just finished the Jackson Galaxy Total Cat Mojo book this week to bring my total to 25; and then I read The Yoga Mentor by Celest Pereira too taking me up to 26! (updated images below)

I try to give every book I read a review of some sort. If it’s been provided by NetGalley, then I am more likely to give a decent length review over 500 words. If a book already has a ton of ratings and reviews, I probably won’t bother. Such was the case with Duane Swierczynski’s Revolver. It’s my favorite Swierczynski book to date, but he has a lot of fans who review his work.

I also had a lot of philosophy and self help non-fiction reading to do for yoga training. I’m likely to continuously do this because it’s a different reading experience tackling non-fiction or ancient sutras and modern interpretations of them. I’m still a big fan of memoirs. I used to love playing them as audiobooks during long drives, so I’ve only read one this year: Roxane Gay’s Hunger.

Karen Cleveland’s Need to Know is a fantastic spy thriller which I did review courtesy of NetGalley. It’s not actually out until 2018 so if it sounds good to you, add it to your preorder list.

It looks like 15 out of the 24 (25) books I’ll have read for 2017 were mostly novels, but a novella and anthology also. I tried to read only female authors, however a lot of my friends who write are men and I want to read and support their work too. Without including the Pizza My Heart anthology which is by multiple authors, 10 of the books had female authors. Not a terrible ratio, in my opinion. It’s more than half, so at least I can say I tried. Still, I don’t want to leave out the support for writers who happen to men if I know them personally and want to help get their material noticed. The big exception you’ll find on my list was that I finally read Stephen King’s Carrie.

My Top 3 Favorite Mysteries of the year (not that they were published in 2017, only that I read them in 2017) were all by black women. Since I interviewed author Angela Henry on Vodka O’Clock, I’ve read a few of her Kendra Clayton books. Kendra has actually surpassed China Bayles (by Susan Wittig Albert) as my favorite female protagonist.

Vodka O’Clock Podcast:

As I said, there was a lot less effort and energy channeled into the podcast in 2017 so I could allot those personal resources to other things. I have 17 episodes for the year and there was some truly incredible knowledge shared.

I’ve also added some video segments of yoga sequences to my original YouTube channel. Since that channel was supposed to be for comic reviews and cosplay, I’ve started a new channel specifically for yoga life things. I created those first posts and videos during NaNoWriMo as a sort of reward for anyone who creates. I say the sequences are for writers and artists and anyone who sits for too long, because during NaNoWriMo, people with already full lives commit to spending so many more hours on their butt at a desk writing.

Adventures with Gus:

I had no idea my posts about Gus would turn into a serial adventure filled with The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency case files. I happen to live with two extremely nosy cats, Gus and Oliver. Their curiosity and Gus’ love for outdoor exploring turned into this huge new world of semi-fictional writing. There have been over thirty Adventures with Gus posts! I can’t believe it! We’ve looked into urban legends, cryptids, crime, and wildlife. Though we mostly stay close to home, Gus has visited a state park, a county park, the local pet shop, and got to meet Santa again.

Gus

Comics:

Topping my list are some steady faves: Bitch Planet (Triple Feature) and kids comics like Hero Cats of Stellar City, Kid Sherlock, Cash & Carrie. My superhero reading has been exceptionally limited. I’ve kept it to Actionverse: Stray and Valiant’s Faith. As far as great fantasy reading, I’m still madly in love with Raven the Pirate Princess which I typically read in trade.

I was also totally in love with IDW’s Clue miniseries by Paul Allor and Nelson Daniel. The artwork was un-freaking-believable! Nelson Daniel’s skill with showing how each character is unique rather than the old method of drawing the exact same body with different color hair and his mad skills with architecture made the book a visual pleasure. Paul Allor never disappoints. We came up through Comics Experience together and he kept going. He creates diverse casts of characters whether it’s his creator-owned stories or an IP with a major company like Hasbro.

Another intriguing miniseries was Dynamite’s Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie. It was darker than you’d think. More crime noir than afterschool special. Picture it as the comic version of something you’d see on the CW. I loved getting to know these characters this way. There were significant relationship gambles among the cast of characters. The bayside town proved to be a solid choice for the environment with the right amount of “it’s touristy during the day but seedy at night” quality. It was written by Anthony Del Col and drawn by Werther Dell’Edera. If this gets another miniseries, I would love to see some female talent given a chance on the books even if it’s for backup stories. Women love crime fiction (hello there!).

I also hunkered down one evening and read the OGN originally funded through Kickstarter, Roots by Tara O’Connor; it was then published and distributed through IDW’s Top Shelf imprint. I loved Roots because it was so different. It’s non-fiction first of all. The cartoonist takes you through her life after a painful divorce. She sets out for Ireland to try and trace her lineage. Instead, she’s surprised to find deep, caring love in a previously online only relationship. It’s really sweet.

A couple others that you might not know about unless you were told: Box Boy by Tayson Martindale, The Unadoptables, and Katie Cook’s Nothing Special.

TV/Movies:

Loved Thor: Ragnarok and The Last Jedi! Wonder Woman had some treasured moments, but it wasn’t totally perfect. It was however, perfect for the moment given that the character has floundered for so damn long. I love Gal Gadot in the role. I love the Amazons on the island. Patty Jenks rules.

This year I devoured many hours of TV to unwind, when my eyes couldn’t handle reading, or as background company while I looked at cat pictures on Instagram. In no particular order:

  • Brooklyn 99
  • The Good Place
  • Grace & Frankie
  • Longmire
  • Broadchurch
  • The Killing
  • Supergirl
  • Lucifer
  • Gotham
  • iZombie
  • Santa Clarita Diet
  • VEEP
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Luke Cage
  • The Defenders
  • Superstore
  • Death in Paradise
  • Psych: the Movie!