Friday, January 12, 2018

J's Favorite Books of 2017

The end of the year is my absolute favorite time to be a book blogger. I don't think I could ever get tired of reading year-end favorites and best-of's posts.

I read 118 books this year, and I gave 18 books 5-stars. It was so hard to pick my favorites this year. The historical fiction category was particularly difficult, but I persevered for all of you.

Without further ado, presenting the best of my bests in a variety of fun categories.

Favorites from mid-year here.

Favorite Series that Ended in 2017: Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud
For the last several years I've had this lovely tradition of reading the newest Lockwood & Co. for Halloween. This year, with the final book coming out, I reread the entire series. I cannot recommend a series more enthusiastically. If I could have my way, the series would go on forever so that I could continue my favorite Halloween tradition. (featured here)

Favorite Fantasy: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
I loved Graceling and Fire, the first two books in Kristin Cashore's Graceling Realm trilogy, and I finally read the third book in the series this year. So many fantasies are about overthrowing a horrible regime, and I really loved how Bitterblue thinks about what comes next. Bitterblue made me so nostalgic for the types of fantasies that were being written circa 2008. 

Favorite First Book in a New Series: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray 
I love Claudia Gray's books. Defy the Stars is so entertaining. I can't seem to get enough of the the sentient AI motif, and Gray's book is a great addition to this subgenre. I also love that Ms Gray handled religion and the idea of souls with so much respect and honesty. (featured here)

Favorite Audiobook: Sleeping Giants & Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

I've been telling everyone that Sleeping Giants is like the adult version of Illuminae. If you loved one, read the other. The story is told through a series of interviews and journal entries, so it is well-suited to the audio format. Plus, it has a full cast of voice actors. It's very entertaining.

Favorite Book Club Book: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
The beautiful, poignant, sad, and celebratory book about a neurosurgeon who learns he has terminal cancer was such a perfect book club pick. I listened to When Breath Becomes Air in one day. Maybe even in one sitting.  

Favorite New Book by a Beloved Author: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is one of my favorite trilogies, and I've been eagerly anticipating her next book ever since I finished it. Strange the Dreamer is gorgeous and fascinating. Laini Taylor writes the loveliest slow-burn fantasy. (featured here)

Favorite Middle-Grade Book: Speed of Life by Carol Weston

There was just something so sweet about this book. So many things change for Sofia over the course of the book. Carol Weston's book reminded me of Goodbye, Stranger by Rebecca Stead, another middle-grade coming-of-age story that I adore. Beyond the similar setting, they both have a similar tone.  

Favorite Multi-Perspective Narrative: The Arsonist by Stephanie Oaks
Oh my, The Arsonist is such a strange and wonderful book. I really loved it. Told in a series of letters and journal entries written by the three main characters, the masterfully constructed story that unfolds reveals secrets, lies, and family tragedies. I also love the layers of symbolism in this book. (featured here)

Favorite "I Should Have Read this Forever Ago" Book: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
I had wanted to read Station Eleven for years but was slightly intimidated by it for some reason. When I finally got the audio book from the library, and I listened to almost the entire book in one day. It's that good. What I really loved about this book is the way that art is so essential to human existence even when individuals are fighting just to survive.  

Favorite Series Finale: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Aah. This series is pure fluff, but I guarantee it'll make you smile. A couple of things that I absolutely love about this series. First off, Lara Jean's family is great. I love her dad and sisters, especially Kitty. Secondly, I really like how this book handles the transition to college. Finally, what makes this book truly marvelous to me is just how normal Lara Jean is. I find her so relatable. 

Favorite Sequel: Now I Rise by Kiersten White
Definitely read this book if you are in the mood to feel raw and heartsick. Kiersten White has written some of the best and most emotional depictions of war and conquest that I've ever read. There are betrayals upon betrayals in this book, and all of the characters do such terrible things. Ms. White handles subtleties and complications so well. 

Favorite Historical Fiction: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
This book is a fantastic work of historical fiction, made all the more enticing by the fact that it is set in a time and place that gets very little attention
when it comes to fictional narratives--the 13th century in southern France

Favorite "Fits in Multiple Categories" Book: A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielson

A Night Divided is on par with books like The War that Saved My Life. This novel is emotional and gripping, and I wanted so badly for it to end well, but I was so afraid that it wouldn't. Jennifer A. Nielsen did a spectacular job conveying the tense atmosphere of the German Democratic Republic.  (featured here)

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