While I can never claim to have read all the works out there I’ve read quite a few volumes. I was originally going to call this a best of list, but decided that since there is no real objective criteria to base these choices on I’d be better off just calling it My Favorites. Of course that hasn’t stopped The Hugos and The Nebulas from calling themselves best of, but I’m not that vain. And since I’ve found there to be a bit of a dearth in quality tomes the last few years, I’m going to divide these up into slightly larger year groups. Initial entry is the current century.
Fantasy from 2000-Present
- Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia, Baen Books, 2009. Sword and Sorcery for the current times. This introductory book to the world of Monster Hunters is fast paced, with likeable characters and tons of cool weaponry set amidst some pretty badass bad guys. It might be Gun Porn for the D&D crowd, but it’s entertaining as hell. If you like to read about the slaying of dragons by nights in armor, you will not be disappointed. Better yet, Baen Books runs their publishing house like a well organized drug lord, the first hit is free.
- Draw One In the Dark by Sarah Hoyt, Baen Books, 2006. Dragons have problems, too. It’s hard being a shape shifter when you don’t have any cultural background to tell you what to do and who to do it to. It’s hard enough just trying to get by working in a restaurant, but throw in learning how to control your magical animal form and it gets really tough. But hey, even though you need to have a day job to make ends meet doesn’t mean you can’t make friends. Just hope they’re the kind of friends who will pick you up when you’re down rather than stab you in the back. And once again, your friendly neighborhood crack…erm, book dealer, has it for free.
- A Kiss of Blood by Pamela Palmer, Avon Books, 2013. The second book set in her Vamp City series. I enjoyed this one a little more than the first one because I thought she cut out some of the extraneous stuff from the perspective of the protagonist’s brother. It moved along at a nice pace, but some of that might be because she didn’t get into as much detail about how Vamp City worked. So, if you jump into the series without reading the first, it might not be quite as easy to navigate. This series has plenty of sex, and some of the characters are quite sadistic, so it’s not going to appeal to everyone. But I liked the world building she’s done with the series, and there aren’t many fantasy books I’ve read from this century that I’ve actually enjoyed.
Science Fiction from 2000-Present
- The Martian by Andy Weir, self published originally in 2011, now by Random Penguin. This is the book of the decade, definitely. An early favorite for SF book of the century, and we’re barely into the 21st century. This book had hard science fiction, humor and suspense. Mark Watney is a total smart ass, but completely likable. It was a page turner, I just had to read the next chapter to see how he gets out of his next predicament. Sure, man alone vs. nature has been done a million times before, but rarely this well.
- The Chaplain’s War by Brad Torgersen, Baen Books, 2014. I loved this book. I thought it did something very well that most mil-SF passes over – how to win a war that you’ve already lost. Sure, there were soldiers fighting, and a good portion of the book goes into detail about bootcamp, but the real story wasn’t about fighting. Given how so many of the SJWs tout pacifism and anti-gun propaganda you’d think a story about someone who stops two galactic wars, where either of them could have wiped humans out of existence, without shooting everything in site would gain traction with them. Unfortunately an author’s politics has more sway with them than the actual story. Don’t pass this one up, it will keep you entertained.
- A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo, Baen Books, 2000. The first offering in Ringo’s mil-SF series Posleen War. Aliens, Aliens everywhere. Some are our allies against the feared and unstoppable Posleen. Some seem genuinely friendly, others seem like they just want to use us to stop the Posleen then throw us away so we can’t interfere with their plans. Fast paced, lot’s of battles and new technology mixed in with our current stuff. I love all these books, it’s a thrilling ride to see if Earth can be saved. Once again, the first taste is free.
Mystery from 2000-Present
- Copper River by William Kent Krueger, Atria Books, 2006. The sixth installment of the Cork O’Connor series brings Cork to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which brings the reader out of the comfortable confines of Northern Minnesota along the Canadian border. He keeps the action rolling as Cork simultaneously tries to keep off everyone’s radar while helping a couple of kids and solve a murder. The whole series is thoroughly enjoyable so I’d recommend reading all of them. If you like Tony Hillerman’s Navajo Cop series, I think you’ll like these as well.
- Wolves Eat Dogs by Martin Cruz Smith, Simon & Schuster, 2004. The fifth book in the Arkady Renko series that started with Gorky Park. Arkady is in Ukraine near and often in the Chernobyl Alienation Zone. This is another strong outing for Arkady who seems to always be put upon by his superiors.
- Lie Down in Green Pastures by Debbie Viguie, Abingdon Press, 2010. This third installment of the Psalm 23 mysteries is the one I enjoyed the best. These cozy mysteries revolve around the lives of a church secretary, Cindy, and the rabbi across the parking lot, Jeremiah. This one was quite fast paced and really kept me turning pages. Mostly set in the hills of a kids camp, it was a little different than the two previous entries set in town, which I also enjoyed. If you enjoy Harry Kemelman’s Rabbi stories, or any of Charlotte MacLeod’s (AKA: Alisa Craig) stories I think you’ll enjoy these as well.