Top Shelf Books of 2017

Top Shelf Books of 2017

2017 collage.jpg

I'm borrowing a Grandad phrase. I think it applies to liquor and books.

From urban dictionary:

Top Shelf: The expression is derived, not from the position of premium bottles in liquor stores, but their place behind bars. (as opposed to "well" liquors, which are stored in the bartender's speedrack well, and "call" liquors, which are popular but not displayed (and which must be "called for"

These books are the ones that I loved and purchased for our library at home. I've listed them in no particular order. 

The funny thing is that I purposely did not put a limit on how many books I would choose. I went to Goodreads and scrolled through my 2017 shelf and amazingly came up with precisely 17 books that I loved this year. (I love when numbers work out that way)

As of today, I've read 248 books- it'll be maybe ten higher by the actual end of the month. That doesn't count the maybe 21 books that I didn't finish.

Perhaps halfway through the year it occurred to me that if I were going to have time to read books I love, I would have to dump the books I didn't enjoy early on, and not just suffer through to the bitter end. I also took a couple of weeks during a family emergency where I read next to nothing. I'm happy with the amount of reading I was able to accomplish, and this next year my goal is to match that number and review all the books I read on Goodreads good and bad- even if it's one sentence long. 

If you enjoy my reviews please take a moment and follow me on social media. The higher my numbers the more ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) I get approved for. So, it's a win, win for all of us.



A Ghost Story

Influenza is killing people all over their town, and the girls get the bright idea to go to viewings pretending they know the deceased to get cake and other sweets. Then some bad things happen- just read it.

Middle Grade Fiction


The good kind of scary

Tessa Woodward and her family move from Florida to a real old house in Chicago. Immediately strange things start happening, and Tessa has to deal with that alongside all the regular moving to a new place and school issues. Her brother's doll is particularly creepy as are the rest of the disturbances at her house.

Middle Grade Fiction

Not a Lord of the Flies Island

On an island, in the middle of the ocean, nine orphans live together. The island’s beginnings are a mystery, but the island protects the children, providing all they need. Each year, a small boat arrives to take the oldest child (the Elder) away and to bring the newest, youngest child ashore. The next oldest child then becomes the new Elder and is in charge of the new arrival, their Care. This is how it’s always been and how it always will be.

MG Fiction

A Rom-Com with a Girls Who Code Subplot

Dimple is the "before" nerd in all those "girl gets a makeover and gets the guy" movies, except that she doesn't need a makeover to get the guy and she never does set aside her glasses, tame her wild hair or slick on makeup. The message that being yourself is wildly attractive is another great one.

YA Fiction

Science of the Dystopian Kind

This story probably isn't meant to be an allegory to the current state of attitudes towards minorities, but once you start reading it, you can't help but notice the parallels to modern society.

YA Fiction

First Person Creative Mode

Max Brooks takes the reader inside Minecraft where you are right there with him as he discovers how to survive and that eating raw meat in the Minecraft universe is just as gross as in real life. 

MG Fiction

A True Story

When the GM factory shut down all of Janesville changed. Not overnight. Slowly like going down a terribly long slide that doesn’t seem to end. Most people thought the plant would eventually get re-tooled for another kind of vehicle. And so, the reality of their actual situation unfolded slowly over a decade.

Not All Happy Campers

This book is a peek inside a society that is right under our noses yet isn't acknowledged by anyone outside of it. An increasing number of Americans can't afford to retire and stay in their homes. Some of them who were renting can't afford that either. They have to live somewhere and are forced in their golden years to live in RVs.

Adult Nonfiction


Tragic Stories

Despite assurances from their employers, radium was not safe for these girls to work with and in some cases ingest. They are mostly poor working class girls that feel like they've hit the proverbial lottery and bask in being known as the "shining girls" until years pass and they all start suffering from terrible illnesses.


Good Science

Everything from murdering your family to take the throne, to jobs that poisoned you unintentionally are covered.  It is a well-researched historical look at everything one could ever wonder about poisons- with the perfect amount of details and "snippets" to keep readers entertained.

Middle Grade Nonfiction

Oh, my heart.

 The more things change, the more they stay the same. This story is heartbreaking and yet families even today are touched by mental illness and the themes play out the same. I will not be able to look at Vincent's art the same way again. 

YA Nonfiction

An Old Time

 Murder Mystery

Between 1898 and 1912 the man from the train was methodically murdering families in their sleep with an ax. In the days before CSI, the internet, and even reliable phone service no one even knew that they weren't isolated incidents.

Adult Nonfiction

Not Just Another Laura Bio

The real (long 500 page) story behind the stories. Including the fact that sadly Rose Wilder was not a typical person, i.e., Professional Libertarian Fascist Child Abuser. Laura and Almonzo fumbled their way through life (as we all do) and had the biases of their time. As we all should have realized the Little House books are a re-telling of real events- they weren't real stories. (A little piece of my childhood just dies to admit that)

Adult Nonfiction

A WW2 Story you haven't heard

Hanneke is known as someone who can find things. She delivers black-market items to loyal customers while living in Amsterdam under German occupation in 1943. However, one day, one of her clients asks for help finding someone instead of something.

YA Historical Fiction

Another WW2 Must Read

So, you see the title, and you have to know going in that this is not going to be a breezy read. I had to stop several times while reading just to process the facts presented. The book doesn't read like The Diary of Anne Frank or The Book Thief. It has more of a documentary feel and less of a story setting.

YA Historical Fiction

A girl, a pig and a New Life

The thing is June Sparrow is so darn likable and pushed all of my buttons. She has been homeschooling herself successfully in New York City and has read almost all of Pride and Prejudice. After reading about the importance of friendship and socialization, she gets herself a pet pig. What is not to like about this quirky girl?

Back to the World of


To say I enjoyed diving back into the world of magic was an understatement. In some ways, prequels are more satisfying to me than a series written in chronological order because the reader knows what ends up happening and like watching an accident or live theater you can't take your eyes away.

Adult Fiction

Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism

Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism