On the twelfth day of Bookmas, my true love gave to me, 12 incredible books…. Merry Bookmas and I merry Christmas eve! Normally I would be doing my top 15 books of the year and it would have been the last post of the year or so, but as this is one of the bookmas topics, I am doing it now and am only doing 12. As such, any book I finish from now on will be eligible for next year’s list and I will also include three honourable mentions to Furthermore by Tahreh Mafi (#13), The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (#14) and Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (#15), all of which were absolutely incredible novels. Like last year, I will also be doing an ‘Academy Book Awards’, which is basically where I take categories from the Academy Awards and apply them to books, plus a few. The categories have changed this year, so if you would like to take them and do one of your own, you can find them here. Now, I read 180+ books this year, so there are obviously so many that could be on here, so these aren’t all of my top favourites, just some!
#12: The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine
There are quite a few books on this list that I read at the beginning of the year and so my memory is not as clear; this is one of those cases. Luckily I wrote down all of the amazing books I read so that the list wouldn’t just be books I was still on a high from.
The Shadow Queen is the first book in the Ravenspire companion series and is a retelling of Snow White. I absolutely love this strong, fierce take on the original story set in this high-fantasy world with political intrigue, tight-knit family and a touch of romance. I hope to see the characters from this story again and see how it all weaves in through the different fairy tales. The second book, The Wish Granter, is coming out early 2017.
#11: Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers
Assassin’s Heart is also a book I read much earlier this year. Like The Shadow Queen it gets bonus points for being a soft hardcover. In some ways they can be a nightmare to shelve, because they don’t slide past each other very well, but they are a glory to touch and look at.
Assassin’s Heart is epic, heart-breaking, political, familial and absolutely phenomenal. The world is intriguing, the family interesting, the romance teasing and the deaths crippling. There is really not much to be said for a book such as this without spoiling it, but the second book in the series, Thief’s Cunning, is coming out in Summer 2017 and frankly, it couldn’t be any further away.
#10: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Most of the books on this list earned their place not only for being a brilliantly entertaining story. Some did, and some should have, but most had something extra. Maybe they were unique, or they made me realise something about the world.
The Girl from Everywhere is on this list because it was fun, but also because it was the first book where I really connected to the main character on an emotional level, for more than just common interests or a similar personality (ehem Hermione).
Nix, the main character in this book, has been moving around her whole life and doesn’t know where to call home, doesn’t really have a connection to her birthplace. I connected with that, as someone who has moved around my whole life, to that feeling of ‘homelessness’ in a sense that you don’t have a hometown, but having your home be your family and your experiences and it being an ever-changing, fluid thing.
I love that connection to something intangible as ‘home’ that I have, but you would be surprised the number of times people ask ‘where’s your home’, ‘where are you from’ and you can’t give them a long, deep answer. They don’t just want your nationality or your address, they want ‘I come from London’ or ‘Milan’ or some obscure backstreet in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere with a population of 50. Not being able to answer those questions can be hard and that, beyond the sheer entertainment factor of this book, is what gives The Girl from Everywhere this place.
The second book in the series, The Ship Beyond Time, will be out in early 2017.
#9: A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston
“If you listen long enough to the whispers, you will hear the truth.”
This was one of the very first books I read this year. Beyond being an absolutely stunning book in appearance, it was very profound and poetic and exquisitely formulated with a very large lack of names. This is actually one of the very few books on this list (perhaps the only one) that I have a review for. If you are interested, you can find it here.
The second book, Spindle, was released earlier this month, but I have yet to read it or get my hands on it.
#8: The Velocipede Races by Emily June Street
This was a standalone novel that started with its epilogue existing as a short story and I love what was done with it. The social dynamics, the romance, the characters, everything about this book was great and the cover is gorgeous. I just really, truly enjoyed it! Alternate Victorian-era based worlds are some of my favourites to read about.
Also, I don’t think I have ever read a book with such a focus on bicycles or motorbikes either!
#7: Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff
“My name is Maresi Enresdaughter and I write this in the nineteenth year of the reign of our thirty-second Mother.”
This was originally written in Finland and whoever translated it into English did an excellent job; the writing style in this novel is absolutely phenomenal and made it really stand out from the rest of the books that I read this year. At first I didn’t think I would like it and it slowed down my reading a lot, but when I got into it properly I ended up absolutely loving it!
#6: The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble
Firstly, the design of this book (front and back cover) is so perfect for the book that it must be appreciated once you have finished reading it. This is short and sometimes that makes something slip out of your mind more easily, perhaps makes you less involved. Certainly, it is easier to obsess about a series in which you have spent years than a book to which you have dedicated some hours. This book did not wash away with the sea (a reference that will mean something to those who have read the book). This is a fable mixed with a fairy tale mixed with a fantasy novel and it is completely and utterly brilliant. I was happy with a couple hundred pages, I would be happy with a couple thousand.
#5: Uprooted by Naomi Novik
“Magic was singing in me, through me; I felt the murmur of his power singing back that same song.”
I read two books by Naomi Novik this year and whilst I loved both of them enormously, this definitely topped it for me. This was brilliant. It contained so many of the things I love, was sprinkled with Polish folklore and the pronunciation of the main character’s name was given in the author’s note (something I definitely needed). The writing was beautiful, the antagonist unique and the relationships special.
#4: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
“He thinks he’ll be remembered as the villain in the story. But I forgot to tell him that the villain is usually the person who locks up the maiden and throws away the key. He was the one who let me out.”
This is the second book in the ACOTAR series and it was so much better than the first. I love Rhys, I love the Night Court, I love the Inner Circle, I love Velaris, I love the romance. I detest the enemies with a passion (who shall not be names because SPOILERS) and this book made me feel so intensely. I have probably reread it three times in full and many more in part since its release in May. ACOWAR cannot come soon enough.
#3: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
I can’t believe I waited so long to read this book! It came out last year and I wasn’t particularly excited for it, but so many people raved about it that I picked up at the beginning of the Spring and absolutely loved it. Of course, a month later I read Gemina and now I need the final book well, like, I don’t really have a metaphor for it. But a lot! I need it a lot. This book broke my heart, built it up again and broke it again, and I loved the way the story was told once I got used to it.
#2: Dear World, How Are You? by Toby Little
Like last year, a non-fiction novel has landed on my list. Considering I finish about one of these a year, that’s impressive. Dear World, How Are You? is not so complicated case study or guide or a political commentary on the world. This book is a brief note, followed by a series of simple letters, with interesting questions. No, what made this book so incredibly special and moving is how one little boy of 5 with a seemingly simple dream and a very dedicated mother, managed to reach out to the world and have an experience that no one ever gets. A little boy realised his dream and keeps on writing. There is something so inspirational about something so simple and massive beyond the importance of globalisation, communication and tolerance in today’s world; it is classically beautiful, curious and an absolute gem.
#1: Night Owls by Jenn Bennett
“Mom says you should never ask for advice you aren’t willing to take. I wasn’t sure I agreed. Having an unbiased pair of eyes point out a sensible solution was helpful. But the sensible thing and the right thing weren’t always the same choice, and no one but you could truly understand the difference.”
This book was just incredible. I loved reading it, it was beautiful, it made me think and it had so many good things. I started out this post writing tons about each book, but this really is something you can’t describe until you read it. Nobody talks about this book and it is so massively under-hyped. In the US, this book is known as ‘The Anatomical Shape of the Heart’. Please, if there is one YA contemporary that goes on your to-read list, make it this one.
And those are my top 12 books of the year (+3 honourable mentions)! What was your favourite book of the year? Happy reading and merry christmas, Keira x.