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The End

To our dear readers —

Thank you to so many for being part of The Word Nerds for so long.

This blog launched back in 2005 and it’s hard to believe it’s been 12 years (with a hiatus here and there.) We’re loved bringing you our thoughts about books, writing, grammar funnies and what it’s like to be an INTJ.

But we’ve decided that Word Nerds is going to end at the end of this year.

We aren’t giving up on books or anything so dramatic, just recognizing that we’ve probably said all we could on a daily posting schedule.

Thank you again for all the clicks.

-Bethany and Stacie

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2017 Top Ten Books

We’re not going out without our annual top 10 list for books this year!

Bethany’s Top Ten

10. Gone to Dust, Matt Goldman
9. Afterlife, Marcus Sakey
8. Sourdough, Robin Sloan
7. Henry & the Chalk Dragon, Jennifer Trafton
6. Beate Not the Poore Desk, Walter Wangerin, Jr.
5. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
4. Miranda and Caliban, Jacqueline Carey
3. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
2. All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders
1. An Unkindness of Magicians, Kat Howard

Stacie’s Top Ten

10. Skin Game by Jim Butcher
9. Into the Woods by Tana French
8. The City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong
7. A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
6. Why We Get Fat and What to do about it by Gary Taube
5. The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
4. Fledgling by Octavia Butler
3. Redshirts by John Scalzi
2. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

2017 Best Discovered Author

It’s time once again for the Word Nerds annual awards — dubious distinctions at best, seeing as how they come with no fame or fortune or anything edible even. Nevertheless, we award them.

One of the long-standing Word Nerds awards is “Best Discovered Author.” It’s always fun to pass along a writer’s whole works who we’ve really enjoyed finding this year.

Stacie’s Pick: 

Gary Taube.  I read “Why We Get Fat” after I saw my sister checking it out from the library multiple times over a nine month period.  What kept me reading it was how Taube relays the science behind how our bodies work, without pushing any specific diet or nutrition program.  Instead, Taube lays out various studies and how they impact our bodies.  His approach is unbiased and points to places were the data is contradictory or inconclusive as well.  This is the author of the year for me because of the impact it has on my critical thinking skills about  food, nutrition, and the type of information that is available to us.

Bethany’s Pick: 

Ben Aaronovitch. I’ve read all six of his Peter Grant books this year and I’ve gotten both my husband and my assistant at work to do the same thing because they are such a great mix of magic and police work.

The Peter Grant books were blurbed by somebody as “Harry Potter meets CSI” and I can’t come up with a better descriptor. Peter’s learning magic in the midst of an excellent police procedural topped with a heaping dose of British wit. Aaronovitch has also managed to write individual cases that link together in unsuspecting ways.

Usually, when I find a series that’s already six books long, it will take me a two- or three years to get through them all. Not so here. I’m ready to start again and the year’s not up.

Book Banter: Two Kinds of Truth

truthTitle: Two Kinds of Truth (Harry Bosch #22)

Author: Michael Connelly

Length: 402 pages

Genre: mystery

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: IndyPL

Plot Basics: Harry Bosch is still working as a part-time detective for the San Fernando Police Department after LAPD forced him into retirement. But when two detectives — including his old partner Lucia Soto — come visit him, they bring bad news. A 30 year old case that sent a man to death row is being reopened for new DNA evidence that may show Bosch put the wrong man away. A Bosch works to prove his had the right guy, a double homicide in San Fernando sends him into the opioid crisis.

Banter Points: The plot is great. Connelly takes on current criminal problems like the opioid epidemic with Bosch’s usual care for the underdog. There are some appearances by other characters Bosch readers will know and that was kind of fun.

Bummer Points: I feel like Connelly is on auto-pilot for Bosch’s actual character. He didn’t really change during this story. Also, the books seem driven mostly by the procedural elements and not the people anymore. Maybe it’s the fault of all the CSI shows on TV, but sometimes the story gets bogged down in technical stuff.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Way better than his new series with Renee Ballard and probably still enjoyable for a long-time Bosch reader, but if you’re looking to jump in, go back to the beginning!

Book Banter: The Late Show

lateshow The Late Show

Author: Michael Connelly

Genre: Mystery

Length: 405 pages

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: IndyPL

Plot Basics: Detective Renee Ballard is stuck on the “late show,” the overnight shift for the Hollywood division of LAPD. She rarely gets to see cases through, just doing the initial legwork. But when terrible beating is followed by a mass shooting at a nightclub, Renee finds herself uniquely positioned on both cases.

Banter Points: This is Connelly’s first foray with a new detective that’s not Harry Bosch. The crimes are interesting and the twist is a nice one.

Bummer Points: Connelly should stick to Bosch, or maybe Mickey Halley. Renee Ballard isn’t a compelling character. While I have no problem with authors writing main characters that are the opposite gender from them, Connelly falls terribly short on writing a female cop. Yes, Renee has to be tough to fit in with the “guys” in the department. But in private moments, she’s just wooden and terrible. She should have emotions, or worries and she has none of them.

Also, without being too much of a spoiler, something happens to Renee that just feels cliched for a cop novel.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Unless you’re a die-hard Connelly fan, skip it.

Book Banter: Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?

who killedTitle: Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? (Shadow Police #3)

Author: Paul Cornell

Length: 358 pages

Genre: urban fantasy

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: IndyPL

Plot Basics: The Shadow Police team are back and this time their victim is none other than London’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. Or maybe just the idea of him. “Holmesmania” is stirred up in town because of three film project all featuring the famed detective. But after Holmes’ death, subsequent murders start mimicking his great cases. But the Shadow Police themselves are struggling after their last case and not functioning well as they try to get ahead of the Master Detective and make sense of the clues.

Banter Points: If you like convoluted mysteries, this one has a doozy. I can’t say much without spoilers, but keep your thinking cap on as you read because the twists are pretty mind-bending.

My friends and I have been playing a number of games based on the Lovecraftian Cthulthu mythos and in such our game characters are regularly going mad. Because of that, I think I appreciated more what Cornell was doing in this one of letting the toll of the supernatural horrors the team has seen really affect them, particularly their DI, James Quill. Still the series is building nicely on itself, ratcheting up the action and tension with each installment.

Bummer Points: Because it’s been a while since I’d read Shadow Police and had read the Pete Grant magical London books, I was getting the two systems mixed up. I think I was expecting Shadow Police to be like Peter Grant and that’s never going to be the case.

Word Nerd Recommendation: If you want some dark urban fantasy, then the Shadow Police series is for you. Bordering on horror

Reading Challenge Check in

Wow, so more than half of 2017 is over.

With that revelation, I realized I was behind on the 2017 Word Nerds Reading Challenge. The good news is that I might be able to get back on track.

June: Biography or autobiography
This might be a bit of a stretch, but I did listen to all of Jim Gaffigan’s “Food: A Love Story.” I finished it in July.

July: Early Detective fiction
This one I know I conquered: just finished “Murder on the Orient Express” last week, only a month behind schedule!

August: One you own or were given but haven’t read yet.
Yeah…. still need to do this. I did just buy myself a copy of our September book club selection… does that count?

September: A Banned Book
There are several graphic novels on this list, so I’m hoping that might be an easy way to knock this challenge out for 2017.

October: A book with a person in the title (ie, “The Girl on the Train.”)
I need to pick a good title here… recommendations? Anyone?

Cookbooks and rules

Of late, a lot of my reading has been cookbooks and new recipes along with the rules to new board games.

The hubby is seriously looking at going vegan and GenCon was two weeks ago, so we’re eating new foods and playing new games.

Even though it’s still August, on the food front, we’re doing a lot of soups and stew type things. I’m not ready to tackle cooking tofu yet, but we’ve made a lot of good other dishes.

marrakesh

Vegetable Curry Marrakesh

white bean soup

White Bean and Spinach Soup

vegan waffle

Vegan Blueberry Waffle

On the game front, we’re doing ok too.

santorini

Santorini

Santorini is a 2-4 player game but really shines with two. Think of like like 3D tic-tac-toe but the board is 6×6 (I think). We’ve only played a couple times, but I definitely want to keep working on this one.

He also got the Marvel Legendary card game.

legendary

Marvel Legendary

This was the original sorting-out-all-the-cards bit. We’ve played twice and won twice, so that’s awesome.

Book Banter: Witches of Lychford

lychfordTitle: Witches of Lychford

Author: Paul Cornell

Length: 144 pages

Genre: fantasy

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: IndyPL

Plot Basics: The Sovo Supermarket wants to move into the small town of Lychford. But more than just the usual fight between big business and small shops, the store might be backed by actual Evil and it’s up to three unlikely allies to protect the town’s century’s old role as a barrier between realms.

Banter Points: This short little wonderful novel is probably going to up with a high placing in my annual top 10 list. Cornell nailed this one, with fully drawn characters, a fun plot and magic that doesn’t need pages of explanation. The three women are a great mix of personalities — the weird, the skeptic, the believer.

I’ve enjoyed reading Cornell’s Shadow Police series, but this is even better. Because it’s so short, every word matters and Cornell’s writing prowess really shines through.

Bummer Points: Nothing.

Word Nerd Recommendation: This book has a sequel which I will read, sooner, hopefully, rather than later.

Book Banter: Broken Homes

brokenTitle: Broken Homes (Rivers of London #4)

Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Length: 324 pages

Genre: urban fantasy

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: IndyPL

Plot Basics: Police Constable Peter Grant has his hands full… a body burned from the inside out, a strange traffic accident, a rogue killer on the loose and his ongoing studies to become a wizard. Even as he tries to solve these crimes, more fall on him, including a set of weird rumors about a housing project that may or may not have magical ties that might be attracting Peter’s arch-nemesis, the unknown wizard he calls the Faceless Man.

Banter Points: I love the Rivers of London series. The cover blurbs it as a blend of CSI and Harry Potter and whoever wrote that nailed the best description possible. Peter does respectable “copper” work as any fictional British police officer should. But his wizarding (and his mentor Nightingale) provide a wonderful dose of the mystical to add to a modern reality.

Bummer Points: I think this series is going to take a re-read to really follow all the twists and turns. Not that I mind rereading, but I wish it was just a smidge less convoluted. Also, I didn’t know in book one that the series was so linked from book-to-book.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Still really enjoying this series. For anyone waiting for the next Dresden Files, bide your time with these and you won’t be disappointed.