Best books of 2017

I can’t believe it’s 2018 already! My birthday is slowly approaching and I’m freaking out because I don’t want to be old and gray. I’m exaggerating, I know, but still. There’s just something about birthdays that I strongly dislike. Anyway, I decide to talk about the books I read last year and I picked my top five favourites and here is the list:

  • Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
  • The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I just noticed that all these books were written by female authors so hurray for them! Maggie Stiefvater is obviously the winner since the Raven Cycle consists of four books (and they are all amazing). The thing is I really didn’t expect to like the books as much as I did. I thought it would be entertaining but sort of easy going but then I was blown away with the constant plot twists and the beautiful writing from different POV’s. The story grabbed me with both hands and pulled me in, it was so amazing!

Over the past few years I got tired of YA literature because a lot of it is so similar and I almost skipped this series but since I really liked the Shiver trilogy I decided to give it a go.  What really surprised me was the fact that the last book was the best. In so many series the last book was such a disappointment (Delirium, Twilight, Vampire Academy) but this book, THIS BOOK made me scream and cry (usually at the same time) and sigh and just go OMG every couple of pages. It was a great ending of a fantastic journey. It took me a whole month to finish the series and thinking back that was probably wise because if I read all the books in like two weeks I’d probably end up lying on the floor of my bedroom refusing to leave and re-enter the real world.

For Christmas my sister bought me The Scorpio Races and I really liked that book as well. The focus was mainly on the atmosphere that the author created and she did a really good job at it because I felt like I was right there on Thisby riding a water horse. I also took my time with this book (I guess it’s a Maggie Stiefvater thing) and I marvelled at each and every sentence. The characters were so well-written, I loved the slow romance that developed between Sean and Puck and I wished Finn was my little brother. The island life was portrayed very realistically and I loved the blending of magic and reality, I think that Stiefvater is a true master of that because I’ve seen it in the Raven Cycle as well.

The next favourite of the year was Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Unlike Maggie Stiefvater, Laini Taylor’s writing is more epic fantasy and I adore her for that because her books read as complex fairytales and they are SO GOOD. I adored Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and I was worried that I wouldn’t like this book as much but I was wrong. The story was beautiful and complex (the final plot twist blew my mind away, I literally started to pull at my hair), the ending broke my heart (I kept shaking my head) and the writing was again so beautiful that at times I just couldn’t continue with the story because I was rereading the sentences that I liked best. The second part is called Muse of Nightmares and I can’t wait for the release day, I’ll probably pre-order the book as soon as possible.

The last fantasy favourite was Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones. I actually started reading this book like a year ago but gave up after the first few pages and then I picked it up again in spring and I was so glad that I did because the story kept surprising me and it never got boring. Jones is one of my favourite authors (I also wrote a blog post about her, you can read it here) and Fire and Hemlock is one of her best works. Howl’s Moving Castle was great but so was this book, perhaps even better, it’s really hard to say! The main protagonists Polly and Tom were such good friends and their relationship slowly grew to become something more. They invented a story together and that appealed to my writer side and when Tom started to sent Polly stacks of books via mail I got so jealous I started complaining about it during class when the professor wasn’t looking at me. I never knew what the story would bring and that is hard to do because I’ve read a lot of fantasy books and they tend to repeat. But then again I never know what to expect with Diana Wynne Jones – she is full of surprises.

Now it’s time to move from fantasy novels to history literature because the last favourite book of the year is The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. She is also one of my favourite authors because her stories are always so well planned, complex and intriguing, but what I actually love the best is her writing style. It’s very poetic and the way she paints the world is very special – seen through her eyes it gets an almost magical feeling about it. Even the bad things seem manageable and everything has its own purpose. Her books always consist of two or three stories and the focus then jumps from one to the next but this shift is so smooth that you just glide through the story to the end. The Secret Keeper is one of her best works because the plot twist is OUT OF THIS WORLD. I actually sort of guessed it because my friend told me it’s a huge one and so I payed attention to all the little hints in the book and formed several possible theories – one of them turned out to be the one.

So these are the best books that I read last year. The initial list was way longer but I decided to limit it because then this post would never end (it’s still quite long). In case I inspired you to read one of them, I hope you’ll like them half as much as I did.

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

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Another series written by the author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy? Yes, please! I’ve been a huge fan of Laini Taylor since I read Karou and Akiva’s story which blew my mind away with its surprising plot twists, poetic writing style, fairy tale elements and well-written characters. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t like this book as much as I adored the previous trilogy, but I was wrong. Boy was I wrong!

Strange the Dreamer is a story about a solitary librarian who dreams of a mythological city named Weep. Lazlo travels through the desert and when he arrives to his dream town, he is faced with the city’s ominous problem. At the same time we meet Sarai, daughter of the goddess of despair and her four companions, also children of gods. The city reveals its terrible history of oppression and terror while Sarai and Lazlo meet in his dreams and fall in love. But they must overcome grave obstacles and two hundred years of fear if they wish to be truly together. But the story is much more complicated than they could ever have imagined and Lazlo’s origin is revealed just moments before the book ends with a terrifying and unexpected turn of events.

This book offers so much; a gentle romance, complex characters, intriguing mysteries, magical creatures and surprising plot twists that don’t disappoint. The writing style is beautiful, ornamented, very poetical and magical, close to epic story telling which is one of the reasons why I love this author so much. The story is so deep and complex, you think you have a grasp on it but then something else gets revealed and you are left barefoot once more. It’s truly a masterpiece of fantasy (epic) writing and I recommend it to fans of fantasy YA literature.

The main character Lazlo Strange is a lover of books which is why he is so relatable. He craves adventure yet he is so kind and good natured, everyone likes him (well almost everyone, he has a so-called enemy to ensure the tension in the book). The goddess Sarai is very human despite her magical abilities, she has fears and longings like all of us. Their relationship is so fragile and strong at the same time. The romance slowly grows and they both learn from each other.

The other characters are also very complex and interesting, their stories filled with pain and sorrow but also love, so much love. The background of the story, the city of Weep, is just breathtaking, the writing instantly transports you to its ruined streets. I highly recommend this book to readers because it’s just that good. I don’t want to say too much about the story, just go and read it, you won’t regret it. Also give Daughter of Smoke and Bone a try, it’s really good, one of the best YA trilogies I’ve come across. Just let yourselves be transported to the magical lands created by Laini Taylor; you will never want to leave.

And that’s how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.

Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer