It is that time again! The end of the year is nigh (OMG how did that happen it was February, like, last week!) and with the end of the year also comes the time to start wrapping things up.
This year, partially due to timing constrains and largely because my emotional state is complete mush, I’m tackling things a little differently and sticking to a simple list of ten of my favourite/best reads of the year and, later on, a couple of posts looking back on the year and forward to 2018.
In no particular order, though, let’s go take a look at the books I’ve enjoyed most this year!
1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This is, hands down, the best book I’ve read this year. It’s powerful, gripping, topical, and utterly emotionally devastating. It’s… breathtaking and if you haven’t read it yet I urge you to pick it up as quickly as possible.
2. The King’s Peace by Jo Walton
I remember really liking this the first time I read this. Upon a reread, I adored it. This is probably my favourite of the books I read this year. I adore Sulien and the easy cameraderie between everyone and the way this book manages to rib an asexual character for their asexuality without anyone turning it into a cruel joke at the expense of asexuals. I just. I love this book. It’s lush and vibrant and deep and it just fills me with joy.
3. Failure to Communicate by Kaia Sønderby
This is one of my December reads. It’s just about the only book I’ve pulled an all-nighter to finish this year. It was that hard to put down. I adored Xandri. She’s self-depricating and snarky and wicked smart. She’s also a queer, autistic person living in an interstellar society that practices eugenics and all that entails. She’s an amateur anthropologist, the head of a xeno-liaisons team. Also she has two parrots: Marbles and Cake. (There was not enough of Marbles and Cake in this book. T_T)
And did I mention that she’s the only person who may have the skills to convince a xenophobic alien culture not to join an ‘alliance’ with an imperialistic alien culture the Alliance humanity is a part of has been at was with in recent history and would, if given the chance, start another war? (And this time potentially/likely win because superior firepower?) ’cause that’s part of the narrative and watching Xandri struggle with that role and the faith everyone has in her is amazing.
Also, this may seem like a particularly silly thing to empathise with, but Xandri’s hair is a perpetual mess that no one can do anything with. SO IS MINE. That was… just a really delightful bonus on top of a lovely story.
CW: Ableism notably against neurodivergence
4. The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard
This was just such a gorgeous novella. It’s about family and loss and legacy and differences of opinion and the weight of ruling. It’s also about time travel and the inability to change the past and sacrifices. It’s bittersweet and poignant as well as deliciously lush and mysterious as the strands are slowly woven together.
And also my memory for shorter stories is absolute rubbish, but this was so beautifully told and I loved the character dynamics between everyone and this novella deserves so much more love than I’m able to give it right now. Go read it, though, especially if diverse science fiction is your jam. It is awesome. <3
5. Wintersong by S. Jae Jones
This book was sold to me with just about one word: Labyrinth-like. I adore that film. It’s hands-down the most-watched film I own. (I am not kidding when I say I must’ve seen it over a thousand times in my life.) This book is… actually very different except in some of its themes and it’s lush and dark and sensual and I adored it to pieces when I read it. I was a little let down by the ending because my copy of the book styled itself as a stand-alone, which it isn’t, and now that I know this I am pretty darned chuffed because YAY MOAR of this.
6. The Traitor’s Tunnel by C.M. Spivey
I had so much fun with this story. It’s kind of like a heist-story, only not quite, and it’s definitely an action-packed narrative about siblings finding each other again and saving the kingdom and getting reacquainted. It’s about family in general and about doing the right thing and… Even though it deals with some pretty heavy topics, the overall tone is fairly light and the whole novella is a romp and a blast to read through.
7. Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman
This is the sweetest, most adorable romance and a definite comfort read. You need this f/f novella in your life right now. It’s filled with women bonding over fandom and geekiness and they’re adorkable together and it’s about friendship and healing and communication and it’s basically like this big fluffy blanket of softness that wraps around you and makes you feel safe.
8. Cheerleaders from Planet X by Lyssa Chiavari
This is a YA f/f science fiction romance about extraterretrial cheerleaders and is a delight to read. It’ll hit about any “aliens are secretly living on earth” button you could possibly hope it to hit and it all works fantastically into a powerful, intense narrative as Laura attempts to figure out what the heck is going on and how the hell her family is involved in the whole thing.
Also she’s certain that she knows Shailene, one of the alien cheerleaders, from somewhere. And oh did I mention that the fate of the world could well be on Laura’s shoulders as she tries to unravel just what the heck is happening? ’cause that is a thing too.
9. The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
It’s been entirely too long since I read the first book to wholly appreciate what Brennan is doing in this book, but thankfully it is written as a stand-alone. I really, really loved Isabella’s voice and the way that Brennan succeeded in drawing in Isabella’s first adventure and its results into this book without overwhelming the narrative with past details. It’s a fine line between reminding readers of what’s gone before and overloading them with details best read in a previous book and Brennan walks it expertly.
Plus, Isabella is a fantastic character. I love her no-nonsense practical approach and her fierce passion for dragons as well as her determination to live her life on her terms and the book was just delightful from start to finish.
10. The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang
This was…. breathtaking.
And then my brain shut down, but seriously this novella was so good. I have no words. I just loved this. It’s a series of snapshots or vignettes of Akeha’s life and the world that he and his twin Mokoya inhabit. Everything about this story is carefully and gorgeously crafted and a delight to read about.
Yang’s prose is absolutely lyrical and their treatment of gender and sexuality is one of best I’ve ever read. I loved the worldbuilding as a whole and I’m eagerly awaiting a chance to read the companion novella when I can.
Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault
Actually, this one isn’t out yet. I got to betaread it. When it is out, though, get your wallets ready because this book is amazing and, imo, the best book Claudie’s written yet. I adore it to pieces and I want to shout things off the rooftops and buy everyone I know copies because I lovelovelovelove.
This book contains, in the original draft I read, what is handsdown the best demisexual representation I’ve ever seen and I adore the way it takes a bunch of romance beats and tropes and makes them aromantic as heck. The main character is genderfluid and a baker and a thief and there’s plots and intrigues and Claudie’s trademark “We can defeat corrupt governments and build a better society in its wake” hopefulness and found families and blood families and ASDFGHD THIS BOOK. It needs to be out soon, so I can stop struggling not to spoil all my friends with squees and squeals before they have a chance to read it. I NEED PEOPLE TO TALK TO ABOUT THIS.
But it’s not out yet, so… Onto the honourable metions list it goes.
Dragongift by Becca Lusher
The third book in Becca’s Wingborn series I hesitate to recommend starting the series here. But it continues on the tradition of giving readers a slightly different subgenre each books. And this time! This time we meet dragons!
And we learn more about the world this is set in and its history and we’re given a few answers to questions. Not that they do much more than give us yet more questions to puzzle together, though, as dragons aren’t the most forthcoming of creatures when it comes to information. (Basically they’re like “Yeah, this is our fault. But no we’re not telling you what why or how” and the smug bastards make that work. Well, Becca does.)