I love being excited about books I love and of course I enjoy recommending reads to people and sharing our mutual love for great books. It’s maybe not as fun as trashing bad books, but you can’t have the bad without the good!
There are no re-reads on this list because that’s like cheating, since I already know I love them. I looked at my 4 and 5 star rated books and picked the ones I know I would want to re-read or those that were refreshing, surprising or impressive (or all three!) Per usual, there’s no order, but I did loosely categorize them in case you’re looking for something in particular…and because I wanted to.
Given that there are SO MANY books on this list, my blurbs will be shorter – you can click on my linked reviews for more information.
Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire – While Down Among the Sticks and Bones is my current favorite from the Wayward Children series, Sugar Sky was an excellent edition. If you like portal fantasies and a diverse cast of characters and worlds, you should really be reading this series!
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw – Who doesn’t want to read about a doctor in modern-day London who treats paranormal and fantastical patients ranging from ghouls and mummies to werewolves and vampires? This series has a lot of charm and a decent amount of action and I love the characters.
The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell – Bacigalupi has been on my auto-buy list since reading Shipbreaker. This is a collection of shorts set in the same fantastical city which is being overcome by magical thorns. While the book has two authors, the stories are cohesive and each one left me wanting more! I hope they team up again to do just that.
Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames – Everyone’s heard of this and the sequel, Bloody Rose, right? If you haven’t, come out from under your rock and pick up this fantasy if you love action, foul language, sarcasm, violence, mythical creatures, badass old dudes, an homage to the old days of rock and roll and a generous helping of feels.
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson – Fans of the strange and unusual, illustrated novels and dorky goblins really need to check out this treasure. Not only is this a beautifully designed and illustrated book, but the story promotes understanding, diplomacy and friendship through the eyes of a goblin and a dwarf.
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri – It’s been a while since I read a book with a magic system that was refreshingly different. With a focus on Indian culture and dance-like movements, this was a slow-burning and enjoyable look at a world I’m excited to read more about.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse – Here’s an own voices fantasy influenced by Native American culture in a post-apocalyptic world. How cool is that? Gods walking the earth, humans with clan powers…I’m ready for more of this series!
Flotsam by R.J. Theodore – I wasn’t sure whether to file this under fantasy, sci-fi or add a steampunk category because this book has elements from all three! There are airships, aliens, gods and even flesh-eating flying mermaids! That’s something I didn’t know I desperately needed. This is the start of another series which I hope we get more of soon. And there better be more vicious skymerms, damnit!
Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus – This is really an alternate history (and another own voices read), but Broaddus expertly blended some sci-fi elements in there, along with a helping of telekinesis and it’s awesome. I’m sure this is intended to be the start of a series, but I haven’t heard anything about a sequel yet. This is definitely on my list of novellas that should be full-length novels.
The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn – I didn’t know Austen related sci-fi was a thing that existed until Sweetbeeps presented me with this awesome book. It’s a combination of a future where time travel is possible and an Austen lovers fantasy about what it could be like to actually meet Jane Austen and her family. This was an homage to Austen’s work, with the experience of the characters echoing scenes from her stories. I’m head-over-heels for this book and certainly plan to re-read it.
Autonomous by Annalee Newitz – Y’all know by now I’m a sucker for anything to do with sentient AI (gotta support my kindred, ya know?) and this has some excellent AI rep, as well as compelling human characters and a pharmaceutical aspect, which isn’t something I come across often in my sci-fi.
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant – Mira is my creepy sci-fi queen! The deadly aspect of nature is clearly something that calls to her, because this book is legit. It’s everything I could want in a deep-sea adventure about the Mariana Trench that reveals mermaids who are more than ready to feast on the flesh of the hapless humans who come across them. Scary merms is my new favorite genre.
Runtime by S.B. Divya – While brief, this story accomplishes a lot of world building and character development. There are body mods and crazy races and all sorts of slang that really enhances the universe. I’m looking forward to more from Divya in the future (yes, I know I’m excited about more from basically all of these authors/series.)
Sip by Brian Allen Carr – If you like weird sci-fi and fantasy, then I think you need to check out the dystopian novel where people can literally drink shadows. There’s very little explanation in the way of how things came to be, but it works. The characters aren’t exactly ones to root for, but they’re compelling. This was certainly a unique read!
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk – Middle-grade that makes my rusty old eye sockets shed oil tears is basically guaranteed to be on a ‘best of’ list of mine. This historical fiction deals heavily with bullying, prejudice and acceptance. If you like feels, you need to get read this book!
Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh – I would classify this as some borderline dark middle-grade because it had a few moments that were truly spooky, but I think it would appeal to those of you who don’t want your reads to be too depressing. The main character is sassy and smart and her occasional journal entries added depth and emotion to the story as she deals with the aftermath of a traumatic event.
Sawdust in his Shoes by Eloise Jarvis McGraw – Do you like characters with a lot of heart, who are also stubborn and happen to be circus performers? If so, read this book! But really, if you’re interested in another historical middle-grade that’s driven by a loveable main character, I can’t recommend this one enough. Also, for a book written quite a while ago, it’s easy to read and really holds up!
Birdwing by Rafe Martin – A middle-grade fairytale retelling is like my ultimate combo (well, throw the word dark in there and that’d be the real winner) and Birdwing didn’t disappoint. To my knowledge, I haven’t read any other versions of the Six Swans tale, but this one was an excellent take. Told from the viewpoint of the youngest brother, his feelings towards his family post-curse added a lot of depth to the story. There’s plenty of magic and action too!
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson – Shock and awe – a YA book on my list!? I was impressed with this tale about a modern witch who brings her best friend back to life. It surpassed my expectations and I thought it was funny and fairly emotional in parts.
All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller – I haven’t reviewed this one yet, because I’m a schmuck. But I loved it. I mean, that’s obvious because it’s on this list. But it’s a Cinderella retelling from the point of view of the stepmother, Agnes. We get to see Agnes’s beginnings, how she ended up as little Ella’s stepmother and the hardships she and her daughters went through. As much as I love a good retelling where the princess is actually the bitch and the villain is wronged, I really prefer a tale like this where there’s no good or evil – you can sympathize with both sides.
Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen – I wasn’t sure whether or not to classify this under YA, because it’s technically a YA…I think? It doesn’t feel like YA though, because I loved it and the main character wasn’t simpering and obsessed with her looks and the color of a boy’s eyes. But I digress – this tale is one that turns Beauty and the Beast on its head. Jensen impressed me (again!) by giving a fresh perspective and a surprising transformation. Trigger warning for rape though – I wasn’t expecting to find that in this tale and some people are understandably upset about the way it was handled. It didn’t bother me, but to each their own!
Comics / Graphic Novels
Motor Crush by Brenden Fletcher – Hot babes, hot babes who are dating each other, motorcycles, legal and illegal bike racing, illegal substances used for bikes, evil corporations, and a hot babe who needs the illegal substances used for bikes to survive. If nothing about this intrigues you, there’s nothing more I can say! Oh, other than that I love the art style.
Moonstruck by Grace Ellis – More female/female rep set in a magical version of the modern world where witches and werewolves and everything in between exist! I’m very excited (she said, for the 4 millionth time) for future volumes. I was head-over-heels for the charm and the magic and the characters and, of course, the art.
5 Worlds: The Sand Kingdom by Mark and Alexis Siegel – We all know by now that art style is very important to me when it comes to comics and graphic novels, right? The art, design and color palettes used in this series (volume 2, The Cobalt Prince, is on here too…right now…because I’m telling you to read it if you enjoyed volume 1) are by far my favorite of this list. Sci-fi elements are blended with a unique magic system and charming middle-grade characters.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang – I’m loving the rep I’m finding in graphic novels these days. The title is really the best descriptor for this one. I’ve been loving these sort of feel-good stories lately and this is no exception. I appreciated the emphasis on embracing yourself and others for who they are.
Kim Reaper by Sarah Graley – Cuties, kitties and the most adorable evil skeletons I’ve ever seen occupy this comic. I follow Graley on Instagram and love her comics about her life and her 4 cats. Her style and humor are very present in her comic about a college-age (or uni, as those Brits say) part-time reaper and her new girlfriend. There are so many great facial expressions that I would love to have as emojis to use every damn day.
Circe by Madeline Miller – I don’t read a lot of books about Greek myths, but I started hearing buzz about this book right around the time I signed up for Book of the Month and I’m glad I picked it! It’s character driven for the most part and even with my limited knowledge of myths, I encountered many familiar characters. It was moving and engrossing and I need to read more of Miller’s work.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Last, but certainly not least on this list is the amazing Evelyn Hugo. This book is majorly hyped and I’m here to tell you it’s so worth it. I love historical fiction set in ‘old Hollywood’ but I don’t really seek it out. This book has drama and glamor and an unexpected amount of LGB rep! I was majorly impressed and even squeezed out a few tears near the end. Do yourself a favor and read this one!
Well, if you made it this far, thanks for sticking around for what’s probably my most massive ‘best of’ list yet! But that’s a good thing because it means I had a very successful reading year. Did any of these reads make it on your list? If you happen to check any of these out because of my crazy recommendations, I’d love to know what you thought!
*cover images from Goodreads