According to GoodReads.com I read 20,948 pages from 57 books. So you can imagine how hard it was to narrow down to only 10 for the best books I’ve read this year. There were so many good ones! I think I ultimately went with these 10 was because while I may have liked some of the other books more or given other’s better reviews or more stars, these 10 books stuck with me longer after finishing reading them. I would like to think that our Diverse Lives, Diverse Stacks: Diverse Narrators reading challenge is working for me because half of the books were written by Women of Color and they contain protagonists from very diverse backgrounds. That’s exciting to me but enough of this, let’s get on to the list.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas– This book was as heartbreaking as it was realistic. Starr is caught between two worlds but doesn’t really how different they are or how truly different she acts to accommodate both parts of her life until her friend is killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop and she is the only witness. This really should be a must read in all schools for generations to come and I’m excited that it will also be a movie coming out next year.
Pyromantic by Lish McBride– It’s funny, it’s sarcastic, it’s action packed but mostly it is just plain fun. I really hope that Lish returns to these characters because there is just so much weirdness she can do with them.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor-This is such a lush story with great imagery and original concept. There really isn’t another novel out there right now. The ending was such a surprise that I have no idea what to expect in the sequel.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon-Just like The Hate U Give, this is another heartbreaking but all too realistic look at today’s youth. To strangers, meet and share a life changing day as Natasha fights to stop her family from being deported and Daniel fights the expectations of being a child of immigrants.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin-How do you describe this book? It has so much going on and it’s not certain how they all interweave but you know they must somehow. It’s truly a powerful book it’s no wonder it’s won so many awards.
Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray-The third book in The Diviners series takes place in the 1920’s but with it’s themes of race, gender equality and science it’s more relevant than you would think. Evie, Sam, Memphis, Jericho, Theta, Ling Henry and Isiah have to overcome the coming darkness but also the social limits society places on those in the minority.
All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater-People come from far and wide to seek miracles from the Saints of Bicho Raro but even saints themselves need miracles and sometimes those miracles can’t be achieved on their own, sometimes they need a little help from others. That’s the lesson from this one, it’s great to self sufficient but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake-It’s dark and mysterious but also cool to read of world where women rule and men play supportive roles. That women are just as complicated and conflicted and are able to be both and still show strength and vulnerability. Here we get three young women who all of those things and more.
WarCross by Marie Lu-This was fun and exciting thrill of a book. Full of mystery and kind of a spy novel in a way. Emika a down on her luck, hacker/bounty hunter gets a chance to play in the biggest game ever in hopes of finding another hacker trying to sabotage the game. It’s full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing.
So these are my favorite books of 2017. What are yours?
We are now halfway through June so I can accurately say we are halfway through the year. It’s time to check in and see how we are doing with our reading challenges. This year we decided to split up our Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Reading challenge into two different. One for authors and one for narrators. I’m doing the Narrators and I have to say, I’m doing pretty well. Now, I think there may be a few arguments over some of my books but who doesn’t love a good debate? Going off my list of the books I’ve read, I discovered that there were a few things we should have discussed before setting the challenge out. For instance, can you use the same book for different categories if they have more then one Narrator? I’m going to go with yes because you are getting different perspectives from different characters. So here we go.
Book with a Queer Narrator: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan. Narrator: Apollo. Ok, so this maybe a stretch because as Kate asked me Can we apply modern categories of sexuality to ancient Gods? Well I don’t know, but in The Dark Prophecy, Apollo is currently exiled to Earth as a mortal and while being on Earth has shown equal interest in both Men and Women. So, in the context of the book, I’m counting it.
Book with a African American Narrator: March Vols. 1-3 by Congressman John Lewis. Narrator: John Lewis
Book with characters from various socio-economic backgroundsSilver Stars by Michael Grant. Narrators: Frangie, Rainey and Rio
Books with Asian American Narrator: Always and Forever, Lara Jeanby Jenny Han and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Narrators: Lara Jean and Daniel. I decided to count both since they are both Asian Americans but they have very different perspectives on growing up in America. Lara Jean is definitely your more typical middle class teenage girl who grew up in the suburbs. She’s also mixed because of her Dad is white so she straddles both sides. Daniel grew up in New York City and is the son of two immigrant parents. (I thought about using Natasha from The Sun is also a Star as my African American Narrator but technically speaking she’s not American as her family was living in the US illegally)
Book with a Narrator who has survived abuse: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. Narrator : Feyre. I really could have picked any character in this book but since it’s all from Feyre’s point of view she gets the top billing.
A Book with a Mexican Narrator: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Narrator: Cristina. I admit I maybe stretching it a little thin with this one. Cristina is one of six narrators in Lord of Shadows and not one of the two main characters but she is an important to the story as a whole so for now I’m counting it but it might change before the year is out.
If you are not immediately charmed, heartbroken and uplifted after reading this then you should check your pulse. This is the perfect blend of romance, coming of age story and social commentary. It centers around a day in the life of Natasha and Daniel, two teenagers on the cusp of major changes in their lives. It also touches on the minor interactions that seem meaningless at the time but how that connection could and some times do change someone’s life. Natasha and her family are illegal immigrants from Jamaica who are being deported at 10 o’clock that night. She is trying to stop their deportation when she meets Daniel, a Korean-American boy who has the day off so he can prepare and meet for an interview for admission to Yale. From the moment they meet there is an immediate connection. They both share the immigrant experience of being from two places at the same time. Even, though Daniel was born in the US, he is often assumed to be from someplace else. He’s never Korean enough or American enough. Natasha was born in Jamaica but now has lived most of her life in the US. Her friends are here, her future is here she doesn’t want to leave. When they meet though, their futures couldn’t be different. Daniel’s life has already been planned out for him while Natasha’s is now unsure. Daniel’s parents are dead set on him and his brother to have a better life then they did, which means, Yale and becoming a doctor and marrying a Korean girl. Natasha, was planning on going to college and was going to be a data scientist and now all of that is uncertain. Anyway, they meet and while they don’t know anything about each other they know they have a special bond from the beginning. Daniel is a poet and romantic. He’s convinced that their meeting was fate. That they are meant to be. Natasha is a scientist and a realist. She doesn’t believe in love is real or anything that can’t be scientifically proven. As Natasha tries to kill time before she meets with an immigration lawyer Daniel convinces her to spend time with him to prove that love can be scientifically proven and so they go allover New York, getting to know each other and becoming first friends and then falling in love. They meet each other’s parents and face each other demons. While the story focuses on them, we get glimpses into the lives of the people around them. From their own family but the random people that they briefly come in contact with. The security guard that scans Natasha’s bag, the secretary of the lawyer. They all paint a picture of how we all relate to each other and how our decisions big and small can change a complete strangers life. It’s something to think about. It was talks about how racism presents itself in other communities. Daniel’s Korean parents own a black hair care store in Harlem but when his father and his brother meets Natasha they treat her in their shop. They own a shop that caters to black shopper and yet they can’t even hide their own negative biases. This was a beautiful novel that not only tells a perfect story of two kids struggling to figure out who they are while dealing with the forces outside of their control but also doesn’t shy from taking on tough issues of racism, immigration, depression and even family. You need to read this book is all I’m saying.
I bought this book as part of our Diverse Narrators Reading Challenge. Reading the synopsis and some of the reviews, I think this book is going to be relevant to what’s going on in our country. I’m really excited about jumping in.