I read a lot. I don’t know how many books I’ve read over the last year. Based on my account in Amazon, I’ve read close to 200 books. That sounds like I’m bragging. I’m not. Reading is basically my one form of entertainment. I don’t watch tv very much and I’ve missed out on a lot of good shows on Netflix. Due to having small kids, we don’t leave the house very much. I’m also a fast reader, which I think can be a good thing and a bad thing. I read a lot of books, but I probably would get a little more out of them if I slowed down a little bit when I was reading them.
Since I am a writer, I use my reading to hopefully become a better writer. I try to think about what makes a story successful, what I like about the characters, what I think of the dialogue. I also try to pay attention to common tropes and cliches so that I can keep them out of my own writing. Reading to me is its own sort of education.
Anyway, because I read so much, I thought that I would end this year with a list of books and book series that I read over the last year that I enjoyed and would recommend. I’m not going to give a detailed review because I have a sizable list of books to review and the blog post would get entirely too long. Also, I always end up revealing spoilers even when I’m trying really hard not to. These books are not listed in any particular order.
- The Raven King (The Raven Cycle) by Maggie Stiefvater
I really enjoy Maggie Stiefvater’s writing and I especially liked The Raven Cycle. The fourth book came out in the spring and it was a great ending to the series. YA. Magical Realism.
- The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn series) by Renee Ahdie
This duology made up of “The Wrath and the Dawn” and “The Rose and the Dagger” is a retelling of “Arabian Nights” so it’s about a ruler who marries a woman every night only to kill her in the morning. I liked the first book a little better than the second but they’re both very good and it’s a nice short series. YA. Fantasy.
- The Captive Prince Trilogy by C.S. Pacat
There were a lot of fans of this trilogy who had to wait a long time for the third book. Fortunately, I started this series only a few months before the last book came out. This series might not be for everyone but if you are looking to maybe step out of your comfort zone, you might like this. Fantasy. LGBT.
- Crooked Kingdom (The Six of Crows Series) by Leigh Bardugo
“Six of Crows” came out last year and “Crooked Kingdom” came out this year. I will read anything that Leigh Bardugo writes. I loved her first series, The Grisha Trilogy and The Six of Crows Series was set in the same universe. Only consisting of two books, it was filled with witty banter and heists that go wrong. Great characters and a fast read. YA. Fantasy.
- The Lady Darby Series by Anna Lee Huber
I don’t really know how I found this series but I love it. I like books written in the regency era. I am fascinated by the limitations that were put on women at that time. I’m not always a big face of mysteries, but all of the books, of which there were five, were very good. Seriously, if you like historical fiction, give this series a try. Historical. Mystery.
- The Darkest Minds Series by Alexandra Bracken
These books have been out for a couple of years and I think that they are going to make a movie out of them. They’ve been on my list for a while but I finally got around to them this year. I really loved the main character, what she goes through, how she changes, what she becomes. If you like dystopian books, this might be a good choice for you. YA. Dystopian.
- A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Rose and Thorns series) by Sarah J. Maas
I read the first book last year and I thought it was okay, but the second book that came out this year, A Court of Mist and Fury was so much better. I think there is one more book in the series so we’ll see how it goes. YA. Fantasy
- Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass Series) By Sarah J. Maas
Maas has two book series going right now and I have no idea how she does it. I think they’re both solid book series. Empire of Storms is the fifth book in the series and usually by now I would have grown tired of a series, but this has been an exception for me. I think there are two more books to come in this series and I have no doubt that I’ll read those as well. YA. Fantasy.
Books that are (thankfully) not part of any series
- Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
I love how this story was told in two parts, one from the husband’s perspective and the other from the wife’s perspective and how each told the same story in a very different way. Brilliantly written. Literary Fiction.
- The Swans of 5th Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
I’m always interested in anything having to do with Truman Capote and he was such a bitch in this story. Biographical.
- The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
This story is about a girl who is born with wings and her brother who doesn’t speak. The story follows three generations of women in a bakery in Seattle. The writing is beautiful and heartbreaking. Magical Realism.
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I love Donna Tartt. She is one of those writers that makes me feel like a total hack. It took me a while to get to this one, but I was not disappointed. My one thought that ran throughout the book was, “But what about the painting!?!?” So good. Literary Fiction.
- What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
A woman falls and bumps her head and when she wakes up she thinks that she is ten years younger. It made me really think about how much we change and our relationships change within the span of even just a few years. I thought about this book long after I finished reading it. Literary Fiction
- The Good Girl by Marian Keyes.
I just read it, so it’s fresh in my mind. It was written from multiple perspectives and times which was a little confusing at first but you catch on pretty quick to what’s going on. I almost didn’t include this book because I thought for the most part it was mediocre. However, the end really sold this book for me. Mystery/Thriller.
New writers that I enjoyed
I feel like every year I find a new writer that I really like and want to read everything that they write. This year, I read all of the books by Rainbow Rowell. I think her most famous book is Eleanor & Park, which was the first book I read by her. I liked it so much that I read her other novels as well. I loved all of them. I like her sense of humor. I like her characters. I like her stories. I like the way she writes. Read her books.
Another writer that I discovered this year was Courtney Milan. Up until now I haven’t read a lot of romance novels. I’ve read just about every book by Georgette Heyer, but up until this year have veered away from the bodice-ripping books. There is just something about a cover where a half-naked man is tearing off the clothes of a overdressed but very fancy looking woman that just doesn’t appeal to me. However, I read an article that talked about romance novels actually being great feminist literature, so I gave the whole genre more of a shot. Out of all of the books that I read, I would say that my favorite were the ones by Courtney Milan. They were interesting, entertaining. The characters were well-rounded and a lot of the most annoying romance tropes were absent. I will admit that I was a snob about romance novels and I was pleased that I gave them a shot. Not all romance novels are created equal just like any genre, but there are good stories to be found there.
Reading goals for next year
First of all, I don’t think that it makes sense to write about all of the books that I liked at the end of the year. There are just too many books and I don’t have the time or space to really write about them individually. So, I think I want to write more about what I’m reading throughout the year. I hope that also gives you, my reader, the chance to recommend books to me or to let me know what you thought of the books that I’m reviewing.
Secondly, I think I should read a little more non-fiction this year. I’m a fiction junkie which I feel no shame about, but I know there are a lot of great non-fiction works out there that I should give a try.
Finally, this past year was one of the first years that I started to read outside of my normal comfort zone. I want to do more of that. I’d like to read more diverse books this year, and expand my universe a little bit more as a reader.
So, yeah, this whole post is entirely too long. It’s sort of like a big book dump. I’ll try not to do that next year. However, if you’re looking for something to read, I hope you’ll check some of these books out.