I get so many book recommendations this time of year as people post lists of their favorite and disappointing reads. Yea, even the lists of disappointing books appeal to me because sometimes I get so curious about why the book was disappointing that I read it too. Sometimes I find a new book to like; other times I don’t. Either way, I get a recommendation and that’s what matters. 😀
I hope you all get a few recommendations from my lists. Recently, I’ve seen people post multiple lists and discuss the books instead of piling everything in one. I like that idea. The more, the better. I decided to copy that idea and post 3 lists before doing my reading wrap up for the year. This list features my favorite reads of the year. It was an easy decision because not many books stood out to make me consider them favorites. However, I read many great books this year that were memorable, so I will also post a list of the most memorable books I read and then a list of the disappointing reads (they deserve some love too).
But for now, here are my favorites. They are listed in the order I read them throughout the year. If I posted a review, I will link to it.
City of Dragons by Robin Hobb ★★★★☆ 1/2
The third novel in the Rain Wild Chronicles, a sub-series of the Realm of the Elderlings epic fantasy series, about how humans bond with dragons in this fantastic world. I shouldn’t be, but I was amazed at how much happens in this novel to propel the story and characters forward. What made me love it are the events that cause great ripples in the story, like the Tarman’s return to Cassarrick, Malta giving birth, and the deep emotional moments that occurred in Kelsingra.
The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais (illus.), transl. by Jeremy Melloul ★★★★☆ 1/2
A children’s picture book inspired by the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood. This was a definite favorite. I love both the art and the story. Of course, it’s the art that first attracted me. It has a dreamy quality that greatly appealed to me and fit the story. The story was a great read as well, and I love the twist Fléchais gave the fairytale.
To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer ★★★★☆
A middle-grade contemporary novel about two girls whose dads are dating and have sent them to summer camp. This was such a fun, entertaining, sweet read. I enjoyed it and flew through it. I could hardly put it down. It’s told entirely through emails and some text messages and made me a bit nostalgic for the movie The Parent Trap. The protagonists’ personalities immediately got me hooked on the story.
Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend ★★★★★
The second novel in the Nevermoor series, a middle-grade fantasy series about a girl who learns that her supposed bad luck makes her special. This is weird because I tend to favor the first novel in a series and hardly ever the second book, but Wundersmith sold me on the series. I enjoyed Nevermoor, the first book, but we see more of the fantasy world in Wundersmith, and it made me want more; so of course it’s a favorite! If you like the Harry Potter books, you’ll most likely enjoy the Nevermoor ones.
Perfect Shadow by Brent Weeks ★★★★☆
A prequel to the Night Angel trilogy, a grimdark series about a street urchin who becomes a notorious assassin. I am so glad I bought and read this book. It’s the length of a novella and contains 2 short stories. The first is about how Durzo Blint became Durzo Blint and the second is about Kylar torturing someone (or making someone think they’re being tortured). I enjoyed both; I just wish they were longer and that there were more books in the series. I NEED more!!
Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie Liu, illus. by Sana Takeda ★★★★★
The second volume in the Monstress epic fantasy comic book series about a girl who has a monster trapped inside her. For me, this series gets better with each volume. This volume left me with many questions, but in a good way, and, of course, I love the art. I’m totally a fan of Takeda’s illustration style.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins ★★★★★
A fable-esque, fantasy graphic novel about a man’s gigantic beard that upsets the orderliness of the island on which he resides. I didn’t expect to like this one, but it is a fun, light read about people’s fear of the unknown. I love how simply the story is told as well as the simplicity of the illustrations.
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill (illus.) ★★★★★
The first in a middle-grade fantasy comic book series about a society that cares for tea dragons, miniature dragons that grow tea leaves from their horns. This was an immediate favorite. It’s a sweet, simple story about friendship accompanied by bright, vibrant illustrations. I loved that it’s about two of my favorite things — tea and dragons — and that the tea dragons are so cute! I want one.
Monstress, Vol. 3: Haven by Marjorie Liu, illus. by Sana Takeda ★★★★★
The third volume in an epic fantasy comic book series about a girl who has a monster trapped inside her. Of course I loved this one too. It focuses more on world building, which I appreciated, while keeping me wondering about what will happen next. The illustrations were great as always.
The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair ★★★★★
This was an amazing read. It’s a nonfiction book all about the history of colors. I thought it would be a bore. It wasn’t. I thought the writing would be dry. It wasn’t. I was hooked throughout and it was easy to read. I also love the book’s design and that you can jump in anywhere: You don’t have to read cover to cover.
Fullmetal Alchemist, Vols. 10-12 by Hiromu Arakawa (illus.) ★★★★★
A sci-fi/fantasy manga series about two brothers who are trying to regain their original bodies after a fatal experiment. No surprise here that a Fullmetal Alchemist book made my favorites list. I love both the manga and the anime series. It’s such a great story that balances well the humor and drama, and the illustrations are great as well.
The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill (illus.) ★★★★★
The second in a middle-grade fantasy comic book series about a village that cares for tea dragons, miniature dragons that grow tea leaves from their horns. This one is actually a prequel to the first book. This was just as great as The Tea Dragon Society, but I love it also because it has a larger dragon in it.