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    BEST OF 2017: Christina Clary, Kentucky Room

    Our “Best Of 2017” series will be a bit different than most. Rather than having the staff write about things released this year, we’ve elected to allow anything they’ve listened to/played/read/watched this year that they’ve enjoyed. Favorite programs we’ve hosted also might make lists as well. This one comes to us from Christina Clary.

    So 2017 happened. Let’s just move on from that. May 2018 find you a good cardiac doctor and/or therapist!

    Most of the stuff I read this year was actually not published in 2017. It was a struggle to find anything to write about. I read some pretty good books, but not a lot really stood out for me. This year’s reading was more about escapism than finding great, well written books. It was still a vast improvement, though, over last year’s disappointing crop. I’m looking at you, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (yes, I’m still harping about that. I will always harp about it.) I’d also like to do a quick shout to the atrocity that was J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. I blame that book for idealizing the attitudes and beliefs that made 2017 the horror that it was. But I digress. Congratulations to this year’s chosen books!

    Best Overall: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
    Beautifully written, haunting, breath taking. Arden’s descriptions are so vividly written that you will feel cold while reading about the long Russian winters. A young medieval Russian girl, Vasilisa, finds out that the fairy tales and superstitions she had been told all her life are actually true, and must try to protect her family and her village from the horrors that befall them upon the arrival of a wicked stepmother and sanctimonious, delusional priest. Part of the beauty of this book is the complexity of the characters. Vasilisa is not really a gung-ho, adventuress heroine. Instead, she is the voice of reason, who is simply doing what must be done to keep everyone safe since no one else will. The sequel, The Girl in the Tower, also came out this year. While just as good as the first, it lacked the magical fairy tale aspects that made The Bear and the Nightingale shine.

    Favorite New Series: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s Series by Jodi Taylor
    This series about time traveling historians is pure fun. Yes the writing isn’t the best (a drinking game for the phrase “and the world went white” would kill you), but it gets better as the series progresses. In a year filled with stress and rage, it was a delight to just read about the crazy Shenanigans (with a capital S!) of a British institution of eccentric historians who use time travel to observe important historical events. This is best read if you abandon any desire to learn the physics of how they are able to time travel. That’s not the important part. What’s important is the story of Dr. Madeline Maxwell, our feisty, red-headed series heroine who must defend St. Mary’s from its enemies while trying to not murder her downright loony colleagues for turning themselves blue or accidentally blowing up the septic tank. If you enjoy history, and want to let loose, pick up the first book Just One Damned Thing After Another, and thank me later.

    Surprise Hit of the Year: Odd & True by Cat Winters
    Cat Winters is a fantastic young adult author whose books don’t receive the attention they deserve simply because of their Teen Fiction designation. This year’s entry is about sisters Odette and Trudchen, who travel across the country to fight a monster during the turn of the twentieth century. Along the way, younger sister Tru tries to uncover the truth about her family and her older sister, Od. Winters’ exploration of how people cope with tragedy through imagination heartbreakingly unfolds as we learn the distressing truth behind Od’s fantastical stories. I can’t say much without revealing some of the secrets, but this book is definitely worth picking up.

    The Book I Wouldn’t Shut Up About: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
    I didn’t realize how much I liked this book until I recounted basically the entire thing to my coworker one morning. Grann investigates the mysterious murders that took place in the 1920s and 30’s of members of the oil-rich Osage tribe in Oklahoma. Again, I can’t really get into too much detail without giving away the big reveals, as the twists are too good to give away. I fully expect to see this become a movie starring Chris Cooper as the FBI agent Tom White within the next few years.

    Best Audiobook to Help Lower Your Blood Pressure: Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
    This was published back in 2014, but it still makes the list. I strongly encourage you listen to the audiobook, which is read by Gaffigan. It’s hilarious, and guaranteed to keep you distracted from the insane and vitriolic nonsense exploding your Facebook feed.

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