Of course, I'm going to round up my favourite books that I read this year! The only thing I love more than reading a great book is sharing it with others--especially when they read it and love it too. I mentioned in my (book) year in review post that I had a great reading year, and the truth of that became even more apparent when I sat down to make this list.
A few books were standouts, but I struggled with whether I should include them since every book blogger out there has already waxed poetic about them. Alas, this is my list, and I'm going to list my favourites--even if they seem cliched for 2017. These aren't in any order because to attempt to rank them would have liquified my brain. I love them all equally, and I know I'll be re-reading them many times in the years to come.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Deborah Harkness’s sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches, has brought her into the spotlight and galvanized fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.
I originally read this book in January 2016, and I had been meaning to re-read the trilogy before the tv show premiers next year, and I finally got to it last week.
The first time I read it, I flew through it so fast that I know I missed a lot of details. On re-reading it, I read it just as fast, but I caught a lot of the stuff that I had missed. Sure, there were some things that were weird--like why are vampires always watching people sleep?--but ultimately I still adore the characters and the story. My husband already packed up the rest of the series (sigh) so the other two books will end up in my 2018 reading list, but it's safe to say that this won't be the last time I reread it,
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It's 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he'll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Piano-playing Henry Dubois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret--for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.
As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess....As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city?
The Diviners series appealed to me in every way--magic, sassy women, mystery and intrigue, and all of it set in 1920's New York. This is a series that I wish I could have written, because then the stories would never end and the characters would live forever in my brain.
I haven't read the third book, Before the Devil Breaks You, yet, but it's a non-negotiable entry on my January TBR list.
The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop
This is a novel set in the 1960s that follow the marriage of Charlotte and Henry as they move from Cambridge to Australia with their two very young daughters. This novel is character-driven with Charlotte struggling with post-partum depression throughout the novel and her husband unable to empathise or help pull her out of the dark hole. The story is achingly beautiful and resolutely poetic, and I found myself in tears more than once while reading it. I identified with Charlotte in so many ways, from her struggles with PPD to her feeling isolated in her environment. I loved, loved, loved this book. Five stars.
caraval by stephanie garber
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
The synopsis from Goodreads really doesn't do this book justice. It's intriguing, and mysterious, and confusing (but not in an irritating way). It's full of weird and wonderful (and not wonderful) characters, and all of them feel three dimensional and realistic--even the magical ones. It was refreshing to read a fantasy novel that completely breaks out of the mold of typical YA fantasy. Even though I read it in May, it still stood out as one of the top of the year.
the bone witch by rin chupeco
Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.
Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.
OOF. THIS BOOK. I actually read it twice, back to back, because I read it so quickly that I didn't understand later parts of the book. It was stunning, truly stunning, in every way. The characters, the world that it's set in, the mythology--all of it was breathtaking. The sequel will release on March 20, 2018, and I've already instructed my husband that it needs to be in my hands immediately--even if I've just given birth.
the hate u give by angie thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
I feel like this book needs no introduction, nor do I even need to justify why it's on this list. THUG was a force this year, sweeping through the YA community like a storm--and justifiably so! The book is poignant, and emotional, and so very, very well written. For anyone that hasn't experienced anything even remotely close to what Starr went through, it was an eye opener for sure.
It doesn't matter who you are, or whether or not you read YA. This is a story that NEEDS to be read by everyone. EVERYONE. It's so much more than a story about a girl, it's a life-changing experience.
Eliza and her monsters by francesca zappia
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.
But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.
Although I had heard a lot about Eliza and Her Monsters, I actually put off reading this for a few weeks after I bought it. I've read a lot of stories that deal with mental illness, and not all of them do a great job of portraying it.
But Eliza was so, so different. Francesca Zappia created a very flawed, nuanced character that I personally identified with--but from the conversations I've had with other people, it seems that a lot of people were able to connect with her as well.
My love for her web comic aside, the book handles young love and mental illness (and the struggles of experiencing both at the same time) in a very relatable and realistic way. In a year frought with mental health stresses, I needed this book in my life.
Obviously I read many other great books, but these were the standouts for me. Which books were your favourite this year?