Reviews

Favorite Books of 2017

Happy late New Year! It’s a brand new year and you know what that means—time to reflect on last year’s reads. 2017 was an interesting year of books for me. I read some of my absolute favorite books ever this year, discovered fantastic new authors and series, and reread some old favorites. Here are my favorite books of 2017.

Last year I discovered Sarah J. Maas and I love her. The first book of hers that I read was A Court of Thorns and Roses and I’m so glad I picked it up because it led me to the masterpiece that is A Court of Mist and Fury. Before I go off on a tangent about how much I love that book, here’s the description of the first book. I won’t give the description of this one to avoid spoiling the series for those who haven’t read it.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

I was so, so beyond excited for this book. I bought it on the day it came out and a week later I met Sarah and got my copy signed. (!!!!!!) I’m still not over that day. I think about it often and spend too long staring at the picture of her dotting the I in my name.

I’m happy to say this book did not disappoint. It picked up a bit after where ACOMAF left off and had me screaming inside from the start. I adore the characters in this series and the world is fantastic. Magic, scheming courts, the small yet vicious creature that is Amren. Could I ask for anything more? No.

Sarah’s writing is a magic of its own. I feel so involved and immersed in the world and in Feyre’s life and I love every second of it. This was a satisfying end to the series and had me white knuckle gripping the book towards the end. The friendships, the revelations, the action….Sarah you’ve killed me again. And I still love you for it.

5/5 stars

Speaking of Sarah J. Maas…

This year I read all of the Throne of Glass series except Tower of Dawn, which I’m saving because I don’t want to live my life without having a SJM book on my shelf to look forward to. All of these books—The Assassin’s Blade, Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, and Empire of Storms—made my favorites list this year. Here’s the description for Throne of Glass:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass—and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Looking back, the plot of Throne of Glass seems so small compared to what’s happening in the later books. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the series for you but I will say read it. Again, Sarah’s writing is incredible. ToG was her first book and you can absolutely see the growth and improvement in her writing over the course of this series. The world is so detailed and rich. She has a way of making everything feel so big. The world, the magic, the schemes—everything feels incredibly vast and important and real, which should be expected from every fantasy book but is not always done as well.

These characters own me. I love them—their flaws, complicated histories, relationships and all the drama. Good lord, the drama. The plot is so well thought out and just..wow. I said it a million times while I read the series and I’ll say it again now for the world to read: SJM gave me whiplash too many times to count with all of her plot twists. I can’t keep up. Just when I think I’m on the same page as Aelin and the gang, SJM drops another bombshell and leaves me sweating. I’ve had to close these books just to collect my thoughts so many times. Her ability to drop surprises about characters we already know, her ability to craft so many unbelievable and anxiety inducing schemes, the cliffhangers she leaves us with—all of it is astounding and so fun. In less than a year SJM has risen to the highly sought after position of my second favorite author.

5/5

 

 

This list would not be complete without Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Earlier this year I read the Grisha Trilogy, a more traditional ‘Chosen One’ story, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I went into the Six of Crows series with high hopes and was blown away. The duology takes place in the Grishaverse, the same as the Grisha Trilogy, but in a different country and with a whole new cast of amazing characters. Here’s the description of Six of Crows:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone… A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.  Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

I can’t praise these books enough. I want to scream about these characters from the top of a mountain. Think band of thieves without them being a merry band of thieves. There are no Robin Hoods in this series.

Her characters—I’m looking at you, Kaz—do bad things for their own personal gain. And despite each character having redeeming qualities and sometimes tragic backgrounds, excuses aren’t made. Even readers can’t tell when Kaz is bluffing. All I can say is that it works and I loved their villainous ways. It’s so refreshing to read characters that walk the line between good and bad. We get to know the characters and root for the Crows because even though they do bad things, the other guys do worse. And let’s face it, being bad is sometimes fun. Or it’s fun to read about, at least.

Aside from the characters I’m still obsessed with, the plots of these novels are great. These books are exciting and fast paced. Leigh Bardugo is another author with the ability to craft insane schemes that keep you on the edge of your seat.

I have to mention the world she’s crafted and I have to use the word refreshing again because the Russian and Amsterdam inspired locations of the Grishaverse are…refreshing. Fantasy can often fall into predictable settings with predictable ideas but Six of Crows has none of that. The gritty violence of the crime world is unexpected and the mix of magic with non-magic gun-wielding people is to die for.

5/5

P.S. The humor in this series is 5/5 too

Another love of mine is historical fiction. Specifically WWII historical fiction, which is the genre my next favorite falls under.

I loved everything about this book. The writing and storytelling were wonderful. These characters’ stories stayed with me long after I read it. Here’s the description:

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

I couldn’t put this book down, the parallel stories of Marie-Laure and Werner had me captivated from the start. The characters, the intersecting stories, even the words Doerr used—all of it remarkable. It’s a beautiful story about the lives of two children thrown into the brutality of war.

I can’t say too much about this book without veering off into my own overflowing emotions regarding it and that would spoil it for you so I’ll leave it at this: I can’t recommend this enough.

5/5

Another book that falls into the genre of WWII historical fiction, and the last on my list of favorites, is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Oh, did I love this book. The way it’s told—through letters—is so unique and lovely. I want more of it. This is a book full of quirky, lovable characters that I wanted to be best friends with. Funny and heartfelt, it’s a more lighthearted postwar story that touches on the effects of the war and how even in the darkest of times, new friendships and bonds can be made. As long as someone brings the potato peel pie.

5/5

Did you read any of the books that made my favorites in 2017? If so, let me know in the comments! What were your favorite books of last year? Don’t be shy—let’s talk!

 

Madison

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