I don’t mean to nitpick, but it bothers me a bit that this week’s topic asks for the top 10 books of the year when there is still just over two weeks left. I don’t know about everyone else, but I still have about 10 more books that I’m trying to squeeze in before New Year’s, and it seems a bit premature to list my favourites. I don’t want to miss out on mentioning a favourite just because I read it in the last two weeks.
For this week’s topic, I decided to focus on the second half of the year. At the end of June, I posted my top 10 for the first half (found here), so I decided to limit my choices to books I read from July onward to avoid repetition. Looking back at the year as a whole, there are many amazing books that I could easily pick as my favourites so it was very hard to narrow it down! There were so many other books that I wanted to include, but after going through my TBR, these were the ones that stood out the most.
Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
1) The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
Honestly, I was first drawn to this book because of the beautiful cover, which I saw while browsing Goodreads. I read it for a prompt requiring a book that was recommended by one of my favourite authors, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Jodi Picoult highly recommended this one. Upon reading the book, it was easy to see why she had chosen it, since I found the style quite similar to hers. This book is about a mother named Janie whose young son, Noah, is exhibiting strange behaviours and claims to remember things that have never happened to him. Janie contacts Jerome Anderson, a researcher who specializes in children who claim to remember past lives, to help understand Noah’s behaviour. I thought this book was very compelling and I loved the way it handled the storyline.
2) Uprooted by Naomi Novik
I’d been hearing about this book for quite a long time before finally deciding to pick it up. This book is about a young woman named Agnieszka who lives in a village that is surrounded by a creepy Wood. Her village relies on the help of a wizard known as The Dragon to help keep them safe, and in exchange, he takes a young woman to serve him for ten years. I’m not even sure why I was so hesitant to try this book since I really loved it! I loved the fairy tale-like atmosphere, and the medieval-style world in which it was set. The book captured my attention right from the start, and I was especially interested by the magic system that was used. I also loved the interactions between Agnieszka and The Dragon. I’m so glad I decided to give this one a try.
3) This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
I have been hearing rave reviews about Victoria (or V.E.) Schwab almost non-stop for the past year or so, and I finally decided to give one her books a chance. I chose this one for a fairly generic prompt that called for a fantasy novel, and I was very impressed by the world that was built. This book is set in a world inhabited by monsters that are created by people’s sins. I thought the book had two incredible main characters who were both so compelling to read about. Essentially, the book focuses on a monster who wants to be human, and humans who behave like monsters. I really loved the writing style, and immediately added both this book and its sequel to my wishlist of books to buy as soon as I had finished it. I can’t wait to read the next one!
4) Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
This was another book that seemed very overhyped, and I was not sure how much I wanted to read it at first. I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, and I rarely read books that are set in space, but this one received so many great reviews that I couldn’t resist. I’m also a pretty big sucker for any book that is told in an unusual format, including e-mails, instant messages, and other document fragments. This book is set on a spaceship infected with a deadly plague, which is being pursued by an enemy warship, and to top it all off, their AI may actually be working against them. The main characters are a teenage couple who have very recently broken up, forced to work together to survive. I loved the way the authors used the unique style to tell the story and introduce us to the characters and their relationship. Especially considering this is a genre outside my comfort zone, I was very impressed by this book and surprised that I enjoyed it so much.
5) History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Adam Silvera is another one of those authors that I’d heard the name of, but had never tried. It wasn’t even my first choice for its prompt (a YA or middle grade book by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+), but while browsing my TBR, it was a book that jumped out at me as one I needed to read. This book is about a teenage boy named Griffin who is grieving the death of his ex-boyfriend, Theo, and the only person who seems to understand him is Jackson, Theo’s current boyfriend at the time of his death. I thought this book was brilliantly written and the characters seemed to really leap off the page. It was one of the most powerfully written portrayals of grief, and I love the way Adam Silvera handled the relationships between characters. This book definitely got me interested in reading everything else he has written.
6) Winter by Marissa Meyer
This series was the start of my change to my approach to challenges. In the past, I tried to avoid reading multiple books by the same author during my reading challenges to try and encourage myself to read a wider variety. In this case, it was a matter of enjoying the series so much and also a tricky prompt. One of my reading challenges required a book over 800 pages, and I quickly realized that this was the only one in mind that really interested me. Cress very narrowly missed out on my best books of the first half of the year since I finished it a coupe of days after my post, but it would definitely qualify. This book was such a great ending to the series, and I loved how well the book worked so it did not really “feel” like it was so long. I adore the characters in this series, and I love how Marissa Meyer mixed and matched pairs in this one so we got to see a lot of different dynamics. It was an amazing ending to what has quickly became a favourite series.
I’m cheating a bit with this one, but I just couldn’t choose between these two series. Both were series that came highly recommended through Goodreads and vloggers, but they fell into that overhype trap that makes me avoid them initially. Eventually, I came around to decide that if so many people were raving about them, there must be a reason. I am so glad I decided to give these a fair chance! Both were incredible stories that drew me in and left me wanting more. I thought both books were very well-written and captured my attention, and both had an incredible cast of characters. I’m looking forward to continuing both of these series next year.
8) And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
This was a book that was definitely outside my comfort zone, which I chose for a prompt requiring a book with a chilling atmosphere. I very rarely read horror because I’m such a coward about it, although I love psychological thrillers. This book was a very creepy blend of both, focusing on two young sisters who arrive at their aunt’s house which seems to be cursed. The older sister, Silla, tries to uncover what is happening while protecting herself and her mute sister Nori from all the horrors, especially the creepy woods which seem to be closing in on them each day. For me, this book was the perfect balance of a chilly atmosphere which creeped me out without being too scary. I really loved the writing style and I found it so compelling to read. I thought the characters were interesting, and I especially liked how the author left us guessing about what was real and what wasn’t. The ending was not at all what I expected, but I thought it was very well done.
9) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
I avoided reading this series for quite a while too because of all the hype surrounding it, and it became another one that I very quickly fell in love with. I’ve never been a huge fan of paranormal YA as a genre, but a few of the books that I’ve read this year may be changing my mind. This book is about a teenage girl named Blue, who has spent her entire life being told that she will cause her true love to die. While out with her clairvoyant mother to see the spirits of people who will soon die, Blue is approached by the spirit of a boy her age, who she soon discovers is from the wealthy Aglionby private school. The boy, Gansey, is on a quest of his own with his three closest friends to search for ley lines and find the Welsh King Glendower. I found the plot a little confusing at first, but the characters in this book were just so amazing that they drew me right in. It’s books like this that make me wonder why I avoid the overhyped ones for so long.
10) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Speaking of overhyped books that I avoided, I have to mention Gone Girl. I finished this book just last night, after meaning to read it for two years without ever trying to pick it up. I love psychological thrillers, but this one had so much hype surrounding it that I assumed it couldn’t possibly be that good. I’m actually very impressed that in the 5 years since this has been released, and despite all the hype, I never heard any spoilers for it. I was lucky enough to go into it completely fresh, and I ended up loving it! I was a bit worried to give it a chance because I thought after all this time, and after reading other thrillers that have been compared to it, it just wouldn’t seem as impressive anymore, but I was wrong. This book is about a man named Nick Dunne whose wife, Amy, has gone missing on the morning of their fifth anniversary, with all the evidence suggesting that Nick must be responsible. I thought the characters were very compelling (although definitely unlikeable), and I loved how the author let us get into their heads. I had no idea what the twist would be, and it really caught me off-guard!
And since I forgot to include honourable mentions on my post for favourites from the first half of the year, here they are now: