In December, I always like to blog about my favorite books of the year. Because I do a lot of editing and beta reading, I recognize that can cause bias, so my only rules for this annual accounting are: 1) I read the book in the prior 12 months, and 2) I had nothing to do with the production of the book. With that in mind, let’s get on to the part where I talk about books! I have nine favorites this year! (Click on any of the covers to learn more about the book.)
This book brought all the giddy feelings that old skool fan fiction used to bring for me. This makes sense because the book is, in a way, fanfiction itself. It’s a book about the characters that the main character of Rowell’s famous Fangirl was obsessed with. Um, that’s a complicated sentence? Anyway, I never read Fangirl, so you can definitely read this without reading the other book first. And I gotta say, I’m dying for a sequel to this one. So here’s hoping. A vampire. A special teenage magician. A magical school. The parallels to Harry Potter are on purpose. I was impressed by the way she was able to twist everything just enough that everything is original while the inspiration can’t be escaped. Many will not enjoy because they’ll think it’s a Harry Potter ripoff, but they’re missing the point. This is sheer creativity. Loved it.
Crooked Kingdom is the sequel to Six of Crows, one of my favorite reads from last year. I adored this amazing, painful, gutting, awesome final installment. I wish this series was longer. I started Bardugo’s related series in the same universe hoping for another fix of this magic, and I do plan to finish it, but it didn’t get into my skin like Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Young adult fantasy is always my jam, as you’ll notice if you follow these posts at all, but the particular world of these books really spoke to me. I might even re-read them, which is something I rarely do in my 40s. (So many books so little time!) Absolutely recommend for fans of Young Adult fantasy.
This lovely graphic novel is all about gender fluidity. I absolutely loved the way it deftly addressed the gender presentation of a prince who wants to wear fabulous dresses sometimes and wear prince clothes at other times. I also enjoyed the sweet background romance, the final chapters brought a big grin to my face. Impressed with the drawings as well. I found them incredibly enjoyable and liked looking for details in them. Recommended for ages 11 and up, I’d say.
Everyone’s already read and loved these, but I didn’t start them until this past summer. I read them all and loved each one. The series is a classic in gay historical fantasy for a reason. There really isn’t much to say about it that can’t be summed up with the words magic and KJ Charles. Highly recommended!
I’m not sure what genre this falls under and I’m not even sure how it came to be in my TBR or how long it had lingered there before I read it. I’ll quote my Goodreads review of it:
“This book was my jam. Dark retelling of a childhood story, focusing on the horror of Pan. In the original story, Pan was not the Disney boy we saw in the movie–he was brutal and rather terrifying–and that’s the direction this book took things. It was dark enough that the whole time I was reading, I wondered, “Is this too dark for my 12yo? Because otherwise I think she’d love this and I should buy it in paperback for her.” In the end, I think she could handle it and plan to see if she’s interested before purchasing it in paperback. Or maybe I want to own this for my own shelves? I enjoyed it that much.
There were a few potentially racist things in it that I was like, “Wait, is that racist? Is that just me?” and I guess I don’t feel qualified to say whether they were or not, being super white and all, but I wish the editor had stripped them out, because it was literally one or two lines that were, all in all, unnecessary.
Probably going on my favorites list for the year.”
And, lo, it did end up on the list!
This book is a sci-fi retelling of Beauty and the Beast and it manages it beautifully. I’ll admit that I would have happily read twice as much about these characters, but Deckard kept it brief at novella length. As someone who invariably writes long, I was impressed with her ability to capture all the elements of Beauty and the Beast, create a sci-fi world to hold them, and still get the whole tale told in less than 35,000 words! Truly enjoyable. Recommended.
I’ve had the first book of this 9 book series in my TBR for years, but I finally opened it in November and it was perfect for me. I haven’t finished the series yet, but can’t wait to get back to it. It did two things for me:
- showed me that I can love cop stories if they involve psychics
- provided me with the much-needed bedtime books, i.e. I enjoy them greatly, look forward to reading them at night, but don’t get so obsessed that I can’t think about anything else until I finish them.
Dragons! Gay love! A reality-show-esque competition for the prince’s hand! All the things I love in a book! I was only unhappy when it was over and there wasn’t a sequel. So I read it again.
My Cousin Rachel was no Rebecca, I’ll say that. However, like Rebecca, it quietly and relentlessly tore apart cultural assumptions about women, men, culture, trust, and love. At no point are questions about these issues directly posed in the book itself, but within its story the questions reside anyway. Is Rachel evil or simply nonconformist? Does she simply behave in ways that men find threatening in women? And what of the men’s behavior? Do they bring on their own demise?
I wanted to capture this vibe of Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel in my book Heat for Sale, but, in the end, gave in to allowing the questions to be subtly introduced on the page, even if proper answers are never delivered. If you enjoy Du Marurier’s style, I do recommend this book.
Previous years’ Favorite Reads lists: