My 17 Favorite Books of 2017

Over the course of 2017 I read 113 books. (That's including re-reads!) In 2016 I read 124, and I had actually made it a goal to read fewer this year so I could make time for other things. Technically, I did read fewer books, but I still need a bit more life/reading balance. 

As the year came to a close, I took a look at my Goodreads page and the books I rated 5 stars which I read for the first time, and was able to narrow down which ones I wanted to feature for my favorites of the year post. (Even if it is a tad late. But better late than never, right? Right.) In no particular order (because I can't decide on a ranking) here are my 17 favorites of 2017!

fave books 2017.jpg

You'll find a good balance of young adult, adult, fantasy, sci-fi, non-fiction, series, romance, contemporary, historical, and stand alones! So, there should be a little bit of something for everyone on this list. 

(Note: books which come in the middle or end of a series I made a note of which number they were so you don't just jump right into the middle of the series. In the genres, I do mention if a book is own voices or not. While, I know this is not technically a "genre" it was simply the best place to mention it. Own voices is a movement for marginalized groups to share books written about them, by them. Example: a character identifies as being Latinex and the author is also Latinex. There also are Amazon affiliate links in this post.)

  • Genre: YA Historical Science Fiction/Fantasy/Own Voices
  • Format: Hardcover

I could go on and on about how completely delightful this book was but it would pretty much be all incoherent squealing!

It's basically a 18th century road trip across Europe filled with spoiled rich boys (who are in love!), romance, magic, and pirates! I read it twice and both times was wonderful. I love Monty, Percy, and Felicity. They make my heart happy. Then, even with how light-hearted it is, there's also fantastic deeper moments about forgiveness, acceptance, and love. It's one I could read over and over again and never get tired of it, and I know she has both a sequel and a companion novella in the works. I can't wait to read them!

  • Genre: YA (arguable) Epic Fantasy
  • Format: Hardcover

I always feel like when I talk about books by Sarah J Maas, I have to explain myself a bit. So, bear with me. 

The Throne of Glass books (and her Court of Thorns and Roses series) can be pretty divisive in the book world. People either love them, or they hate them. I happen to love them. I'm a ridiculous Sarah J Maas fangirl. 

A big reason why people haven't been a fan of Sarah J Maas' writing has been because they feel she doesn't represent marginalized groups well. Which, I can definitely see what they're saying and there is for sure room for improvement. As big of a SJM fan I am, at first, I was nervous about reading Tower of Dawn. The premise was about a character who had lost the use of his legs and was traveling to another continent to be healed. I am very picky about representation of disabilities in books. I was so scared I was going to be disapointed the way other people in other marginlized groups had been in the past. 

I was so happy and proud of how SJM handled it all, I cried. You can tell she really listened and thought through every single detail of how the character's disability was portrayed. If you want a spoiler-filled review, click here for my thoughts. I wish I could have more references for POC and their thoughts on the representation since a majority of the characters in this book were POC, but from the few I have seen it was all positive. I'm so stinking proud of SJM. 

I also know some people thought it moved too slow and it was boring. I didn't find it to be the case at all. No, it's not action-packed, but the entire book was compelling and I couldn't put it down. 

LOVED this book and I definitely want to re-read it. And if you're thinking you can skip Tower of Dawn simply because it doesn't have Aelin as the main character - you're wrong! You'll want to read this one after Empire of Storms!

Girl Meets God by Lauren F Winner

  • Genre: Christian Non-Fiction/Memoir
  • Format: Paperback

Technically, this was a re-read for me. But it's been at least 10 years since I've read this book, I decided it counts. A friend of mine in college who was a little older than me had recommended this to me and let me borrow her copy. I remember I liked it, but didn't love it.

Earlier this year I was thinking about this book and realized that many of the problems I had with it back then, I've changed my views on now that I'm older. So, I gave it a re-read.

I am so glad I did! I could relate to Winner on so many levels in this memoir. I've gone through many phases of my faith, and this book spoke to me in this current phase. The one where I know what I believe, but I don't always have the passion and feelings I did when I was in high school or college. It was so comforting, and I loved reading about her transition from conservative Judaism to Christianity. 

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Format: Hardcover

For some reason, Laini Taylor is one of those authors where I know I like them, but when I pick up her books I'm completely blown away and I think "how did I forget how much I love her?" Maybe it's because her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy came out a few years ago and it felt like it took forever for this one to be released.

But it was well worth the wait.

If you aren't a fan of long descriptive writing, this may not be for you. But, I don't always enjoy those books either, and I loved this one. Each sentence was more beautiful than the next. The world was amazing, and I completely fell in love with Lazlo Strange. The title of the book perfectly describes the experience of reading it. This is a wonderful, strange, dream-like story, and I can't wait for the next one. 

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

  • Genre: Science Fiction/Own Voices
  • Format: ebook

Anyone who says that novellas can't have excellent world building, plot, and character development because they're too short haven't read Binti. I'd heard rave reviews about it last year but for some reason it took me a long time to download and read it.

Why did I wait so long? I need to read the next two books ASAP.

This is a fantastic sci-fi, coming of age, survival story about Binti who is on her way to university. It's about getting out of your comfort zone, facing your fears, and finding friendship in unusual places. 

The Diviners by Libba Bray

  • Genre: YA Historical Paranormal
  • Format: Audiobook

For literally years, people have been telling me to read The Diviners and I did start it last year then put it down, intending to pick it back up again. Why it took me until now to read it, I have no idea. But I'm so glad I finally did!

I listened to this book on audio (the narrator is AMAZING) in October and it was the perfect thing to get me into the Halloween mood. It's creepy enough to feel like it's Halloween, but not so scary that I had nightmares at night. The main character Evie is delightful and I loved all of the different narrators and how they weaved together. The 1920s New York setting was really fun, and the paranormal mystery was to "die" for!

  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Paperback

This is the final book in the Chicagoland Vampires series, so this is really more of a review for all 13 books. (Plus the extra short stories and novellas!) These books follow the main character, Merit, and roughly her first year as a vampire. It's a world where vampires have just "come out" into society and the world is adjusting to their presence.

First, it takes place in Chicago. So, clearly it's awesome. Merit is one of my favorite protagonists. Ethan Sullivan is... well... there are no words for him, but trust me that you won't be disappointed! I loved how the series was about Merit becoming more than she ever could have imagined, all of the fun supernatural elements, strong friendships, and of course the romance! I gave the first book, Some Girls Bite (the link above will lead you to that book so you can go right to the start of the series) a re-read in December and it meant so much more now that I know how everything goes down. I binge-read the whole series in 2016 and this final book came out in March of 2017. I can't believe it's over! But this conclusion was perfect.

Chloe Neill is writing a spin-off series to Chicagoland Vampires and I'm very excited to read it. But, I'm going to miss this series!

Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson

  • Genre: YA Contemporary Retelling
  • Format: Library Paperback

This one took me by surprise! It's a modern-day young adult retelling of Mansfield Park and it was so stinking cute. It moved a bit slow at first, but by the end I was smiling from ear to ear! Kate Watson did an awesome job of keeping the heart of a Jane Austen book, while also updating it appropriately and making this it's own story at the same time. If you want something to make you smile and go "awwwwww" then you'll want to pick this one up.

  • Genre: YA (Maybe?) Thriller/SFF
  • Format: ebook

Another book which took me by surprise! I'm not into horror or thriller much, so I wasn't sure what this book was going to be like. But, Dan Wells is a co-host of one of my favorite podcasts (Writing Excuses) and I want to read at least one book by each co-host. 

This book blew me away. 

More than anything else, it was a character study of a teenage boy with serial killer and sociopathic tendencies. If you ever wanted to learn about the psychology of a serial killer, without ever having to read about a serial killer, this is the book for you. It's completely fascinating (partly because he lives in a morgue and I grew up in a funeral home, so that was really fun for me) and I loved learning how his mind worked and seeing the spiral he goes down when a serial killer plagues his home town. 

I read this book in one sitting and at the end the word that came to mind was "incredible."

Written in Red by Anne Bishop

  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback

I've heard so many good things about this book. so it really was about time I started this urban fantasy series. What makes The Others series unique, is that this doesn't have the typical feel of an urban fantasy book. This genre tends to be more fast-paced and have shorter length novels. Written in Red is more character driven and significantly longer than most urban fantasy.

It's urban fantasy for people who don't like urban fantasy.

I loved how "the others" were portrayed because you can tell they truly aren't human. Most of the time when I read about shifters, they have more of the feel of they're normally human with some animal tendencies. With the others, you can tell being an animal is for sure their natural state, and human is not. It's a very fine line, but I could tell the difference, and it made it much better. I also really liked the small town feel of the setting.

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

  • Genre: Christian Non-Fiction/Memoir
  • Format: ebook

I've read a few other Rachel Held Evans and thoroughly enjoyed them both. This book made me feel like Evans' relationship with the Evangelical church is similar to mine with the Lutheran Church, which was comforting. As I said with Girl Meets God, I've gone through a lot of phases with my faith, and this one really connected to the phase I'm currently in. 

Kindred by Octavia E Butler

  • Genre: Science Fiction-Fantasy (Time Travel)/Historical/Own Voices
  • Format: ebook

As is what feels like the theme of great books I read in 2017, but once again it took me far too long to get to this science fiction/fantasy legend. Octavia E Butler was the the first black woman to have been published in SFF, and wow, is she amazing! It was one of the first books I read in 2017 and it stuck with  me throughout the rest of the year.

Kindred is about time travel, but don't worry! It's not one of those weird, confusing, wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey type books if you aren't a fan of those. Dana and her husband go back and forth between modern day (which was the 70s when the book was written) and pre-civil war era. It's a fascinating look at slavery, inter-racial relationships, and how people are complex. I want to tell you more, but it would spoil it and I don't want to do that! Just go read it for yourself. I know for sure I'll be reading more of Butler's works and have several waiting for me on my Kindle already.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

  • Genre: YA Contemporary
  • Format: Hardcover

If you haven't heard about this book yet, what rock have you been living under? It has broken records for length of time on the NYT bestseller list, it has a movie currently being filmed, and it's freaking amazing. 

The Hate U Give is about the Black Lives Matters movement, but also about finding your place in the world when you don't feel like you can ever be yourself, first love, family, figuring out who your real friends are, and standing up for what's right. This book is heartwarming, funny, and one of the most important books of the year. 

Go read it. Right now. Go. 

  • Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Own Voices
  • Format: Library Hardcover

Again, this is another review which is more for the whole trilogy since this is the finale.

I completely adore this young adult urban fantasy trilogy! In the first book, it reminded me a lot of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, but as the story goes on you'll find they are very different! I loved the war going on between the two fictional races and the impact it had on the characters. There's a lot of different points of view to follow and relationships to fall in love with, and the world and magic are fantastic. 

Part of me refuses to believe this trilogy is over. The way this one ended... it's definitely an ending. But I also have a hunch there could be more coming. PLEASE LET ME BE RIGHT, I NEED IT!

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

  • Genre: YA Contemporary Romance/Own Voices
  • Format: Hardcover

Becky Albertalli is another author whom I'm a massive fangirl for. I can't get enough of her books. The Upside of Unrequited is her second novel, and a companion to Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. You can read this one without having to read Simon, she did a great job of keeping away any major spoilers, but I personally think you should read Simon first.

I've never connected to a character when it comes to relationships and dating the way I did to Molly in this book. She might be a teenager, but even as a 31 year old adult, I knew exactly what she was talking about, and I wanted to cry. No one ever talks about people who don't date a lot, haven't had many boyfriends, and having that perpetual unrequited love and crush. I connected to it on such a deep level, it was almost painful. This book was so cute, and so sweet, and I love it to pieces. I may love Simon more, but only by a slight amount. 

  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Library Mass Market Paperback

I will never stop obsessing over the Kate Daniels series. Never ever ever. After reading this book (and some of the others) I stand by my statement that this is urban fantasy as its best. Anyone that tells you urban fantasy doesn't have great character development, world building, and compelling storylines has not read Kate Daniels. I will say, the first few books I liked, but didn't LOVE. The longer the series goes on, the better it becomes, and the more obsessed I am. 

Kate is one of the best protagonists ever. Hands down. The relationship is one of my all time favorite OTPs. The use of fables, lore, and legends is amazing. All of the characters are well developed and compelling. This book had me hooked from start to finish. The seventh book is almost just as good, but I had a hard time following the first half. But honestly, both books six and seven are excellent. 

Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger

  • Genre: Historical/ Paranormal/Comedy of Manners/Romance
  • Format: ebook

Gail Carriger books are ridiculous, sexy, charming, and downright hilarious. When was the last time you literally LOL'd while reading a book? For me, it was Romancing the Inventor. 

This is a short F/F romance novella set in the world of her Parasol Protectorate series (but can be read alone if you like) and it was so fun to revisit the world and see the characters. I loved the romance in this novella and was rooting for them the entire time. It was a perfect quick read for a quiet afternoon that needed some livening up! 


What were some of your favorite books you read in 2017? Anything that I should put on my "to-read" list for 2018?

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