There are so many wonderful books that I have read this year! I read captivating fiction novels, amazing debut stories, and dove into fantastical worlds that I never wanted to escape I read over 100 novels and decided to compile all my absolute favorites to recommend to you.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Fantasy)
Summary: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Why I loved it: Leigh Bardugo has an immense talent for creating such vibrant and unique characters that you immediately connect with and root for, no matter what their goals are. Six of Crows was full of action, deceit, intrigue, and a motley cast of characters that all had their own secret motives for joining one of the most difficult heists created in Ketterdam. I adored the Ocean’s Eleven feel of this novel and cannot wait for the sequel to be released.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Fantasy)
Summary: When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!
Why I loved it: This Young/New Adult retelling of Beauty and the Beast is sure to win over any reader. It has mystery, steamy romance scenes, intense amounts of action, and characters that you will adore. Words cannot describe the beauty that this novel possesses.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Thair (Fantasy)
Summary: Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
Why I loved it: This thrilling novel follows Laia and Elias as they both fight for what they believe in most. I could not get enough of this story full of twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. There is never a dull moment in this novel that is sure to interest any fantasy lover.
The Young Elites by Marie Lu (Fantasy)
Summary: I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.
Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.
Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.
It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.
Why I loved it: The Young Elites is a darker YA novel that introduces a captivating morally ambiguous protagonist that escapes her hard life to find herself among a group of gifted. Told in multiple POVs, this story will take you by surprise and grip your attention the moment you start reading it thanks to Adelina set out for revenge and will do anything she can to get it.
Vicious by V.E. Schwab (Sci-Fi)
Summary: Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?
Why I loved it: A story about two villainous characters fighting for control? What could get better than that? Oh, maybe two villainous characters with super powers fighting for control.
The Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simmons (Historical Fiction)
Summary: The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler’s armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.
Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana—and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander’s impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects—a secret as devastating as the war itself—as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.
Why I loved it: As the most dramatic story I have read this year, I became addicted to this story set during WWII. This book was like diving into a historical fiction soap opera full of romance and betrayals and overwhelming sadness, and I couldn’t get enough of it. (Warning: Intense cliff hanger at the end!)
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (Fantasy)
Summary: Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.
Why I loved it: Carry On is a quirky and adorable fantasy story that also is a love story between two boys who couldn’t be more different if they tried. Told in multiple POVs, Carry On will steal your heart, keep you on your toes, and leave you wanting more once you turn the last page.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Contemporary)
Summary: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.
Why I loved it: This book will build you up and crush you at the same time. I adored the romance in this novel, the characters, and the message it sent to readers. I highly recommend this novel because it can teach you an important lesson and shed light on issues not a lot of books touch.
Even in Paradise by Chelsea Philpot (Contemporary)
Summary: When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do… or think they do.
Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.
But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden… until now.
Why I loved it: This Great Gatsby-esque novel will captivate you and keep you invested in the story centered around a rare type of friendship that only comes around once in a lifetime. It’s full of laughter, parties, loyalty, and pasts that sometimes catch up with you even if you spend your whole life running away from them.
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (Fantasy)
Summary: A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
Why I loved it: This was one of the most beautifully and poetically written stories that I have ever read. I could talk about it for days on hand. I have not met one person who has not completely fallen in love with Shazi and Khalid’s love story that will burrow in your heart and stay there for time to come.
Captive Prince by C.S. Pascat (Fantasy)
Summary: “This was Vere, voluptuous and decadent, country of honeyed poison”
Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the truthful heir to the throne of Akielos, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.
Beautiful, manipulative and deadly, his new master Prince Laurent epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.
For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…
Why I loved it: This adult fantasy novel is nothing like I’ve ever read. The world and its politics take some getting used to (especially the way the characters live amongst each other), but once you dive in, there’s no leaving it. I binge read the first two novels in this trilogy in days and could not get enough of the brave Damen and the alluring yet intimidating Laurent that held more secrets than most characters I’ve read about.