The Elizas by Sara Shepard (★★★☆☆½)
Sara Shepard’s latest adult novel is a thriller that features some of my favorite writing mechanisms, including an unreliable narrator and a story within a story. Unfortunately, like the majority of Shepard’s young adult novels, there is a heavy reliance on doubles (no more doppelgangers or twins ever again, please!), and the novel doesn’t get really interesting until about a third of the way through … before completely losing the plot again shortly thereafter.
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows (★★★★☆½)
Historical fantasy meets alternate history in this much happier and way more fantastical re-imagining of the life of Lady Jane Grey (AKA the Nine-Day Queen). Told by the trio now known as the Lady Janies, My Lady Jane follows book-loving Jane Grey, who lives in a world where some people can turn into animals. Unbeknownst to Jane, she’s going to be named next in line to the throne by her dying cousin, and she’s about to be married off to a man who is sometimes a horse. Sure it’s super wacky, but it’s also really funny and charming.
Frostblood by Elly Blake (★★★☆☆½)
I had a lot of trouble with the first 75% of Frostblood. Despite being blessedly fast-paced (the only thing that kept me going), the beginning of Blake’s book has a predictable plot that I’ve already read a million times over. Spoilers: the magical girl who can control fire is going to be the chosen one who falls in love with the attractive yet damaged man who can control ice. Thankfully, all that turned around when I got to meet the real villain of the story. Thanks for saving this entire series evil frost king!
The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace (★★★★★)
Lovelace’s second –and in my opinion superior — poetry collection in the Women Are Some Kind of Magic series is a love letter to feminism and all the nasty women of the world. Once again split into four parts (The Trial, The Burning, The Firestorm and the Ashes), this time around Lovelace takes aim at a broken patriarchal system through the lens of a witch hunt, inspiring and motivating readers through her quotable poetry.
Opal: A Raven Cycle Story by Maggie Stiefvater (★★★★☆½)
This short story follow up to The Raven King focuses on Ronan (the best raven boy), Adam (the okayest raven boy) and their dream made sort of love child Opal as the trio plans to create a brand-new Cabeswater. Told from Opal’s perspective, this is the coda The Raven Cycle deserved, now with 100% more adorably domestic Ronan/Adam moments.
The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw (★★★★☆½)
Every summer in the town of Sparrow three accused witches return from the dead to seek their revenge, taking over the bodies of three young girls and luring men to their deaths. Moody, suspenseful and atmospheric, The Wicked Deep is set in the seemingly magical town of Sparrow (they sell cakes that make you forget), whose dark past is now a successful tourist attraction. One room facing the haunted ocean please!
2017 may have ended over two weeks ago, but due to a prolonged (and continuing) fight with a never-ending cold, I didn’t get around to wrapping up my new favorites and biggest disappointments of the year … until now.
In 2017 — the year of the dumpster fire, not to be confused with the original year of the dumpster fire: 2016 — I completed all five of my reading challenges and accomplished my goal of starting and finishing 100 books.
Keep scrolling to check out the best and worst books I read in 2017, or head to GoodReads to see a visual list of all the books (the good, the bad and the in-between) I read last year.
The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell (★★★★★)
The Disaster Artist is the unbelievably true story behind the making of The Room, the so-called worst movie ever made. Written by actor Greg Sestero — who plays The Room‘s Mark — the novel details his tumultuous friendship with the man, the myth, the enigma: Tommy Wiseau. With on-set tales that range from hilarious, to baffling, to downright awkward, this is a must-read for anyone who has ever seen the cult phenomenon that is The Room.
The Walking Dead Vol. 29: Lines We Cross by Robert Kirkman (★★★★☆)
An uneven and pretty slow arc, the 29th volume of The Walking Dead comic suffers slightly from a few snoretastic issues. Thankfully, a brand-new character named the Princess arrives to shake things up. To make matters better, the entire collection ends with a huge emotional bang 74 issues and five years in the making. Promise.
The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand (★★★★☆)
Sometimes you just need a dumb, mindless read, and The Afterlife of Holly Chase is exactly that. This young adult tale inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol follows former socialite and failed Scrooge Holly Chase, a ghost who is now being punished for her sins in life by the workers at Project Scrooge, who force her to become the Ghost of Christmas Past. Nonsensical and predictable, I had so much fun reading this stupid book.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (★★★★☆½)
John Green is back with another touching novel that deals with the tough stuff. This time around Green tackles mental illness, dealing with his own OCD through the lens of Aza, a 16-year-old girl who struggles with crippling anxiety and obsessive compulsive tendencies. A thoughtfully written contemporary tale, Green’s latest work is an unflinching and occasionally difficult to read exploration of mental illness.
Saga Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan (★★★★☆)
After a heart-wrenching Volume 7, Brian K. Vaughan has gifted us a slightly (take note of the term slightly) more lighthearted arc, exploring our heroes most recent trauma and throwing some social commentary in for good measure. The only downside to the continued greatness of the series after all these years? We’ll have to wait until 2019 for Volume 9.
Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill (★★★☆☆)
The first book in a fantasy duology, Erin Summerill’s Ever the Hunted is a predictable tale about a girl with incredibly rare magic powers she’s unaware of and an unlikeable love interest who may or may not have killed her father. While Ever the Hunted had some bright spots, it suffers from incredibly slow pacing and an insufferable love story.