My Best of the Best, Creme de la Creme Reads of 2017

Posted December 12, 2017 by Amber in Memes / 34 Comments

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This is the inevitable post of the year, when we have to go through our amazing list of wonderful reads and pick favorites.  Guys, this is the worst.  It is hard.  There are so many good books that came out this year, but there are also a lot of great books that I read that came out last year.  Or two years ago.  Or ten years ago.

Rather than just feature 2017 books, I’ve chosen to drive myself crazy and feature the reads that met and exceeded expectations this year.  The ones that wrapped me up in their worlds and wouldn’t let me out.  The characters I fell in love with.  This is not, by any means, a perfect list.  But these are my true loves of 2017.

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The book that made me fall in love then broke my heart.

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

This book came out of nowhere on me and destroyed my heart into tiny little ribbons.  I received this in September’s OwlCrate.  Before that moment, it wasn’t on my radar.  I loved Dee’s  strength of character and real person-ness in a way you don’t usually get in books.

Why you should read this book:
– Dee is brave in a way that we’re not used to seeing and needs to be acknowledged.
– Unique twist in fantasy that you won’t see often.
– I hate love stories, but I loved the love story in this book.
– Dee and her best friend have such a good, layered relationship.

She has walked willingly into a fairy tale, into a world where she could trade her heart for her freedom. She may as well have donned a red cloak and strode into a darkened forest.

She had always known there would be wolves.

my review // goodreads // buy it

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The book that made me want to hug the protagonist forever.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Like so many of John Green’s other loyal readers, I was looking forward to this book with a fierce passion.  Aza did not disappoint.  It’s so rare to find an imperfect heroine that you love so much, but John Green excels at this beautiful characters.

Why you should read this book:
– This is an #OwnVoices book for OCD and it’s amazingly done.
– Aza’s best friend Daisy writes Star Wars fanfiction.
– The love story is real and possible and likely.
– The character actually grows, in a completely manageable non-cheesy way.

Anyone can look at you. It’s quite rare to find someone who sees the same world you see.

my review // goodreads // buy it

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The ARC that captured my soul

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

My followers will know that I don’t read a lot of contemporary, and it’s rare for me to find one I actually enjoy.  That rare exception absolutely came in Echo After Echo, which was the only ARC I recieved this year that I couldn’t put down.

Why you should read this book:
– It’s about the theatre and if you love to act, you can feel the passion.
– It’s a character study in the best murder-mystery way.
– We’ve got a Jewish MC, which I feel is super under-repped.
– And it’s LGBTQ!

“The problem with towers,” she says, “is that girls don’t like staying locked up.”

my review // goodreads // buy it

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Most relatable protagonist ever?

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

I went into this one with less than zero expectations.  It was a mermaid story and why was this on my TBR again?  But I was hooked immediately because it so many ways, I am just like Hester.  I know we talk about representation a lot in race, sexual orientation, or religion… but I don’t come across like-minded protagonists a lot? Hester and I could be really good friends and I loved it.

Why you should read this book:
– Screw this mermaids; this is a fantastic ghost story.
– Elizabeth Fama researches like it is nobody’s business.
– The accents in the audiobook are really fantastic.
– There’s such amazing world-building in this one, you really feel like you are THERE.

She looked out across the water and allowed the feeling of longing to wash over her, spill into the crevices of her soul, and fill her completely.

my review // goodreads // buy it

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Made me laugh out loud!

The Martian by Andy Weir

This book has so much hype around it – how often do you get to read a book like that and not only have it meet your expectations, but exceed them?  The Martian did just that.  More importantly, I found myself laughing out loud constantly at this book.  Cheekiest protagonist ever, and I love it.

Why you should read this book:
– Mark Watney is a hoot and if you don’t laugh, you may be broken.
– There’s some really fabulous science in here that felt totally accessible.
– How many books set on Mars have you read this year?
– You can follow it up by watching the fantastic film version starring Matt Damon.

“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”

my review // goodreads // buy it

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The book that surprised me with time travel and silliness.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

I know not everyone will agree with this statement, but I think it’s so important for a book to bring you joy.  Gwen is one of the silliest protagonists I’ve ever come across, and she’s also a delight.  Add on the fact I didn’t expect this to be a time travel book, and color it a wonderful surprise.

Why you should read this book:
– Gwen talks to a pretentious ghost with a most unfortunate name.
– There’s an awesome best friend dynamic between Gwen and Lesley.
– It’s silly, which is an underrated but fun aspect to any book.
– For once the protagonist is lost and confused and gets to properly learn things, instead of magically knowing all.

“You were talking to that niche in the wall again, Gwyneth. I saw you.”

“Yes, but it’s my favorite bit of wall, Gordon. I’d hurt its feelings if I didn’t stop and talk to it.”

my review // goodreads // buy it

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The book that haunted me.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is an author I don’t always love, but I’m head over heels for Bod.  There’s so much mythology woven into this story, and the audiobook with Neil reading his own work is magnificent.  The format surprised me – a series of snippets of Bod and the Graveyard – and it was one of the few audiobooks this year I listened to in every spare moment I had.

Why you should read it:
– This book is interesting for adults, and not too scary for children.  Family car ride entertainment!
– Such world-building.  You’ll be entranced.
– You will learn important things, like how to fade.  Feel free to attempt at home.
– The ending leaves you both happy and sad and it’s wondrous.

“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”

my review // goodreads // buy it

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The Debut that made me a fan for life.

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

There is nothing more amazingly satisfying than finding a debut author and falling promptly in love with their story.  That is absolutely what I felt about Daughter of the Burning City.  I love Sorina, I love her family, and I love Gammorah.

Why you should read this book:
– One of the principal supporting characters is an ace.
– The magical system in this book is really cool.
– So.  Twisty.
– Sorina’s romance is completely awkward and adorable.

“How romantic.  Your special someone sounds like some kind of demon.”

my review // goodreads // buy it

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My most magical place of the year.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I nearly quit this one in the beginning, but instead I gave myself a break and came back to it.  BEST IDEA EVER.  The Night Circus wrapped me up in its incredible world and I was still raving about it for several months after I finished the book.

Why you should read this book:
– Honestly?  Probably one of the most incredible, devoted love stories I’ve ever read.
– Poppet and the boys are a delightful trio of magical troublemakers.
– The magical system is intense and intricate and awesome.
– You will want to go to La Cirque du Reves.

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”

my review // goodreads // buy it

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The book that I thought would kill me.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I read this at the beginning of the year, then promptly pulled my husband into my new craze.  We’re both now diehard fans of Rothfuss’ and we LOVE stressing out over Kvothe.  I spent so much time freaking out over his bad choices.  It’s epic fantasy done in all the right ways and that is SO NICE.  My favorite genre, to perfection.

Why you should read this book:
– Listen, I know it’s really thick and scary, but once you start reading you won’t even notice.
– The characters are so well flawed and real and stressful.
– Ari is an adorable butterfly made to be loved.
– WHY IS IT CALLED THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE NO KINGS HAVE DIED YET.

“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.”

my review // goodreads // buy it

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For fun, I’ve also decided in the next couple weeks I’m going to put together a list of books I’ve read in 2017 that were huge disappointments to me.  I know that’s not a very nice thing, but lets be real, here.  Not every book is going to be a winner.  And not every book is going to appeal to me.  That’s okay.  But we’ll have a bit of a salty rant fest about those before January.

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What were your favorite books this year?

Have you read any of my favorites?

What are you looking forward to in 2018?
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34 responses to “My Best of the Best, Creme de la Creme Reads of 2017

    • Amber

      I recommend it to everyone! And what’s sad is someone recommended it to me back when it came out and I sort of shrugged it off – I don’t think I even added it to my TBR? I ended up with it because it was a daily deal on Audible for $4.95 and I remembered someone telling me it was good. Now I’ve learned my lesson and listen when people recommend me books!

      Your friend clearly has excellent taste. 🙂

    • Amber

      Both are really, really good! Bod is so lovable though – and I totally recommend the audiobook. It’s a quick and easy listen, I loved it.

    • Amber

      DotBC is magical! I think it was a really underrated book this year, but the world building is breathtaking – I hope you like it!

    • Amber

      I’m glad you enjoyed them as well! They were both really gripping, immersive books with awesome characters – I’m glad I finally read them both!

  1. Oh I loved the Night Circus!! It’s sooooo good an it’s one of my all-time favorites. I actually want to re-read it soon. I heard they were making it into a movie, which is always concerning, but also OMG SO EXCITING. *Crosses fingers*

    This is a great list though! I just added a few to my goodreads tbr!! I’m super curious about The Hearts We Sold and Ruby Red.

    Loretta @ The Laughing Listener recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday: 2017 Book Highlights
    • Amber

      I heard that too, but last I heard, that was all the news were had? I hope it doesn’t end up like a Look for Alaska fiasco where the rights were bought an eternity ago and… that’s the end of that.

      Of the two, I SO recommend The Hearts We Sold. I don’t know about the audiobook of that though? The reader for Ruby Red is AMAZINGLY perfect.

    • Amber

      Watney’s voice was just… the best. He’s so funny and fresh and cynical and yet also somehow optimistic? I just thought he was delightful. Made the whole book SO enjoyable.

      Have you read Weir’s new book, Artemis? I just got it, and I’m hoping there’s a smilier voice. 🙂

  2. the martian – I wanted to read this book when I first heard about it but then I sort of forgot about it but I’ll put it on my list again

    Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier – sounds like a book I would like to read, honestly, I don’t think there are many funny books these days without so much sadness in them, will check this out

    the graveyard book – read it, love it

    The Name of the Wind – tried to read it but couldn’t get into it

    I don’t read in audio format but I’m wondering if it’s a better way to read books that I would otherwise wouldn’t really read.

    have a lovely day.

    • Amber

      You really have to be an epic fantasy person to like The Name of the Wind. There are definitely moments where you want them to get to the point already, and if you don’t love the genre, it definitely can be frustrating. 🙂

      Yes, definitely pick up The Martian! If for nothing other than Watney’s voice… it’s wonderful. Ruby Red, too. I LOVED Gwen’s voice.

      I delved into audiobooks because of my eternal, infernal commute… but I can honestly say that they are either brilliant or flat-out terrible. It really depends on the narrator. My husband doesn’t read at all, but audiobooks got him into books and it’s been so awesome to share some of my favorite stories with him. If you spend a lot of time doing work with your hands – i.e. baking, driving – I would definitely recommend giving audiobooks a try. 🙂

  3. OMG, you changed your blog design and it is looking so amazing! This purple and gold have to STAY!!! Seriously, it’s gorgeous. I kind of miss the Phoenix, but you can always include the add-on at the end of your posts.
    I’m ready to fangirl because I’ve read some of the books on this list! The Night Circus is the best thing EVER. It is groundbreaking with its beautiful writing style, and I never felt I was INSIDE a setting like I felt while reading this book. It enveloped me and took me in. The imagery, descriptions, and anything about the prose is just flawless. I cannot believe she hasn’t written anything yet, but I have hope that someday she will <3 I just have too much love for this story!

    I read Daughter of the Burning City too, but it just wasn't as great as I thought it would be. The first half, 150 pages of the book were really slow and boring. I didn't feel connected to the characters and I wasn't emotionally touched at all. Then the second half picked up its pace and I got to know everyone more. It ended up awesomely, but I truly almost DNFed it. I gave it 3 stars.
    The Martian was great, YES!! I'm missing Caraval by Stephanie Garber to finish my Circus 2017 bucket list, but I don't think I'll get to it before the end of the year! Awesome post and awesome re-design. When did it happen and why didn't I see it. I had to change my e-mail recently, so that's maybe why I wasn't notified. I'll fix it!

    Sophie Alex (@bookslikewolves) recently posted: Blogmas Day 12: Top 17 Books of 2017
    • Amber

      Haha, you caught me AS I am playing with it! The purple and gold ARE staying! 😀 Just messing around with the header text formatting next and replacing featured images, but otherwise? We’re there! :D. I miss the phoenix, too, though.

      Okay, lets fangirl.

      THE NIGHT CIRCUS. YES. The setting and the relationship between characters really drew me in and I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I still kick myself about almost DNF’ing it near the beginning because OMG what a fool I would have been.

      I had almost no expectations about Daughter of the Burning City, which is probably why I loved it to bits and pieces? I got it in my FairyLoot about 3 days after hearing about it and decided to read it immediately. NO REGRETS. That’s another one where the world building consumed me. I can see where the connection wasn’t there, though, because it did feel a bit rushed? Are you going to read her next book, Ace of Shades?

      The Martian, wonderful, can’t believe I just got to it this year. Caraval? … Ehhhhhhh. So, here’s what I was told about Caraval: either you love it, or you love the Night Circus. I guess it’s a consistent thing across the blogosphere? So I guess I’m in Camp Night Circus BUT BUT BUT I hope you really love both.

      The blog redesign happened TODAY. You are missing nothing. I had a bookstagram-ish theme for a couple weeks and changed my mind. XD. Glad to have you back, darling! <3

      • I’ve heard the same things about Caraval. You either love it or hate it, and it’s divided on whether you thought The Night Circus was tedious or a masterpiece (aka, me). But I want to try it anyway and hopefully love it. I will go into it not expecting anything like The Night Circus. With a fresh mind.

        I think I arrived just on time, then! To be honest, the color palette and new design make it the blog look more professional. I LIKE IT. Aghh, blog design can be so difficult sometimes. But isn’t it wonderful when you find something you finally love? It’s the best feeling.

        I’m definitely still going to read Ace of Shades because I LOVED her writing style and descriptions, so I’m very excited. I also know that since it will be her second book, she will already have improved, and this will surely be an even more polished work. I’m also really interested in the premise!
        I’ll stop rambling now.

        Sophie Alex (@bookslikewolves) recently posted: Blogmas Day 11: Disappointing Books of 2017
        • Amber

          Exactly! I really wanted to like it, and I think that the concept is so interesting and I’ll give book 2 a chance, but ultimately Caraval didn’t hit home for me.

          You’re so right. I loved the stark graphics before, but it looked… childish and sort of horrible? Streamlined is better. I mean, it’s a website, not an art project. :). I need to rein myself in sometimes!

          Ace was actually written a few years before Daughter of the Burning City! I actually stumbled on the publication journey for Ace of Shades on Amanda’s Tumblr last week and it’s a great story (I love publication journey stories). If you haven’t read it, it’s here. But either way reviews are starting to flow in from ARCs and they’re all pretty good!

          Never stop rambling! 😉 I am always happy to jabber on with a fellow bookworm!!!!

          • Oh, that is so shocking! But exciting because that never happens! I for some reason still have loads of trust on Amanda Foody for some reason, so I will read Ace of Shades. I’m going to read that journey story right now!!!

          • Amber

            Do it! I love it when authors open up like that. When I first got into writing, I really thought it was “Write one book, try to get it published.” But I’m learning more now that the writing world is really fluid – when you finish one book, you start another, and another, and query until you either get signed or run out of options and then you query book two.

            You’ll read this, but Ace got Amanda her first agent… it just didn’t sell. Then she ended up with a different agent that sold DotBC… and asked for Ace later (which, obviously, sold). So you never know!

    • Amber

      The Graveyard Book is on the top of mine as well, though I didn’t really get into American Gods. It’s been 10+ years since I read it though, maybe time for a revisit? Have you read Stardust? That’s my number two. 🙂

    • Amber

      Thanks, I really enjoyed my reading year! Some definite duds (I’ll get to that next week) but overall… just awesome.

      I think we need more ridiculous protagonists! People in real life are NOT serious and glum all the time – we crack jokes at bad times and make awkward comments and are HUMAN. I think if Mark Wanted was Your Typical Protagonist he’d have never survived on Mars by himself. Need that sense of humor. And really bad disco! 😛

  4. Cam

    This is such a good list! I do want to read The Hearts We Sold and The Name of the Wind <3 Oh man, so many books to look forward to in 2018 and one that hasn't left my mind is Jo Nesbo's Macbeth.

    • Amber

      !!! The Hogarth Shakespeare books! Those have been on my TBR for an eternity – I adore Shakespeare! MacBeth was good, then? 🙂

      Both The Hearts We Sold and The Name of the Wind are incredible (albeit very different) books. And you’re right – 2018 (and now 2019 too!) are shaping up to be awesome years!

  5. This is such a great post! I still need to get to Monstrous Beauty, and you’ve “sold” me on The Hearts We Sold! I actually have that lying around and just haven’t gotten to it yet. I also loved The Graveyard Book and The Night Circus, so I’m glad to see that on your list!

    • Amber

      The Hearts We Sold is one of the most massively underappreciated books of the year. It came in SO FAR under the radar it’s actually mindblowing, considering how original and relatable it is. Yesssss, read it.

  6. Hi Amber! Maybe I am a bit late here, but is this your new layout? It looks absolutely STUNNING, I am so in love with your header, it’s so beautiful. <3
    Anyway onto the actual post now ahha. I loved Turtles so much and am so, so happy to see it on your list! <3 I haven't read Daughter of the Burning City but everyone loves it so, so much, I should maybe add it to my TBR, just to see what everyone loves so much about it ahah.
    The Hearts We Sold sound so, so good, I love the title and cover for this book and it sounds like such an emotional read somehow? With best friends? and a great fantasy world? and tears?!! On the TBR it goes!!

    • Amber

      Hi Marie! You are NOT late – that header went up on Tuesday! I’ve been wanting to simplify for a while, and I got all these gold foils from Creative Market and HAD to use them. XD

      Turtles was really fantastic, and I was SHOCKED because despite seeing so many good reviews, I didn’t come across it on a single Top Ten? Although, admittedly, I didn’t go through them all…. The Hearts We Sold was INCREDIBLE and I only know one other book blogger who’s read it (Destiny from Howling Library – she loved it too). Since it was an OwlCrate books, I am hoping people will start picking it up since there are so many copies out there in the void… it was so magnificent and the issues were so subtle and real and YES read it please. 🙂

  7. I absolutely loved The Martian when I read it and you’re right about it being laugh-out-loud funny; Mark is hilarious! I also loved Turtles All the Way Down. There’s something about a John Green book that I always find enjoyable. Great list!

    P.S. Your blog is so beautiful! I love your theme. 🙂

    • Amber

      So true – John Green is one of those authors that just pulls you in and wraps you up in his stories. I adore all his books.

      And thank you! I just changed it and am so glad to see my readers like it!!! 😀