What a year. It had a lot of ups and downs. But now it’s over and we’re all hoping for better in 2018. Reading-wise, however, the year was amazing for me. I read a lot of wonderful books and I’m going to mention them in this post. Note that these are not necessarily books published in 2017, just books I’ve read this year. I’d also like to give a special shoutout to those who ran #DiversityBingo2017, for bringing so many wonderful, diverse books into my life. Thank you so much.
Without further ado, let’s get to the books. There’s 14 of them on this list.
14. The Beast of Callaire by Saruuh Kelsey
Yasmin is a descendant of the Manticore. A creature of Persian mythology. A Legendary.
But she doesn’t want to be. Unlike the Legendaries in The Red, Yasmin wants nothing more than an ordinary life. She tries to fool herself into believing that she doesn’t change into a beast every full moon and savagely kill innocent people.
But when Yasmin starts hearing a voice in her head and is drawn into dreams that aren’t her own, she is led to Fray—a girl who once saved Yasmin from hunters, who has shadowy memories that hint at her having Legendary magic—and Yasmin is catapulted into a life of Majick and malevolence.
Despite the danger around her and Fray, Yasmin might finally have a chance at being a normal girl with a normal girlfriend. But with Legendaries being killed, a war between the Gods brewing, and the beast inside Yasmin becoming stronger each moon, her mundane life is little more than a dream
Why it’s on the list: This book has a well-developed world with well-written characters. The plot keeps you on the edge of your seat. The book also has POC and LGBT+ characters. It features a f/f relationship between two of the main characters. It’s full of diversity and is an amazing book. To see more of my thoughts on this book, check out my Goodreads review.
13. Pick Me Up by Adil Dad
Pick Me Up is designed to take you through a journey of enlightenment, featuring a collection of poetry which explores life, faith, self-love and growth. Also features travel photography by Adil Dad, along with interactive prompts which allow you to interact with the book in exciting new ways.
“this isn’t a book, its an experience” – Reema A
Why it’s on the list: This book is truly a pick me up. A much needed one. I read it in one sitting and because of that it’s kind of a blur but I remember enjoying it a lot. It made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me feel. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone needing a pick me up.
12. The Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace
“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”
A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations
Why it’s on the list: Yet another poetry book I loved this year. The writing is beautiful, so much so that I put this book on my beautiful writing shelf on Goodreads. I only put the books with the most wonderful writing on that shelf. Like Pick Me Up, I read this in one sitting so it’s a bit of a blur. However, I remember absolutely loving it. The themes of feminism and self love are amazing and I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone needing more confidence, especially women.
11. Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.
Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.
Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.
But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.
Why it’s on the list: This book is just plain fun! There are plenty of superhero shenanigans to enjoy. The characters are amazing. The plot is fast-paced and interesting. The book is an #ownvoices book, and has main characters of color and if I’m remembering correctly some secondary characters who are LGBT+. The diversity in this book is amazing, as is everything else about it. Check it out! If you want to know more of my thoughts on this book, read my review.
10. Sappho’s Fables, volume one by Elora Bishop and Jennifer Diemer
The Sappho’s Fables series takes well-known, beloved fairy tales and retells them from a lesbian perspective. Volume One contains the first three novellas in the series: SEVEN (Snow White), BRAIDED (Rapunzel) and CRUMBS (Hansel and Gretel), compiled together in an enchanting omnibus edition.
* SEVEN: A Lesbian Snow White
The strange witch girl Neve has skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and a dark secret. Her father Lexander, an alchemist, harbors an evil obsession, and Catalina, his newest bride, made the grave mistake of becoming his wife. When Catalina finds herself falling in love with his daughter, Neve, instead, the deepening bond between the women sets in motion the final chapter of a story that began long ago, with a desperate longing and a handful of apple seeds. Together, Neve and Catalina must venture into the Huntsman’s haunted forest to undo what has been done and set themselves free.
* BRAIDED: A Lesbian Rapunzel
Zelda is cursed to spend her days on a platform in an ancient, holy tree, growing her hair long enough to touch the ground. But it wasn’t her curse to bear: Gray, the witch’s daughter, was meant for that lonely fate. Gray visits Zelda each day, mourning their switched fates, and falling deeper in love with the cursed girl, until one night, at the Not-There Fair, an extraordinary creature outlines a magical plan that could set both of them free. Will Gray’s love for Zelda be strong enough to survive the strange dream world of Chimera, or will Zelda remain a prisoner of the curse forever?
* CRUMBS: A Lesbian Hansel and Gretel
Greta’s never ventured beyond the refuge of the Heap. Outside, the Ragers lurk, ever hungry and hunting. But Greta and her brother, half-starved and now alone, must risk death for the dream of safety they hope to find within the metal forest. Once there, nothing is as it seems: in the confines of a crumbling old candy factory, the woman who rescues them with sweet words and sweeter treats harbors a dangerous secret
Why it’s on the list: I had to put it on the list. I mean, come on, f/f fairytales? What’s more my taste than that? I thoroughly enjoyed every story in this collection. I thought that all of the stories were inventive takes on the original fairytales. They weren’t just the original fairytales rewritten with a f/f relationship. They were true retellings where the writers really made the stories their own. I definitely recommend this collection to anyone. It is also #ownvoices so that’s great. If you’d like to know more of my thoughts, check out my review.
9. The Melody of You and Me by M. Hollis
After dropping out of university and breaking up with her girlfriend of three years, Chris Morrison’s life is now a mind-numbing mess. She doubts that working at the small neighborhood bookstore is going to change that. The rest of her time is spent mostly playing guitar and ignoring the many messages her mother keeps sending her about going back to college.
But one day, an adorable and charming new bookseller waltzes her way into Chris’s life. Josie Navarro is sweet, flirty, and she always has a new book in her hands. The two girls start a fast friendship that, for Chris, holds the promise of something more. But is she reading too much into this or is it possible that Josie feels the same way?
Why it’s on the list: Another one that simply had to make this list. An adorable ff romance that takes place in a bookstore? Two of my favorite things in one. So of course this book made the list. In addition to that, the characters are great and the writing is great. The plot isn’t terribly exciting but that’s often the case with contemporaries (at least for me). I also appreciate not only the LGBT+ representation, but the representation of POC.
8. The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.
When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.
Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?
Why it’s on the list: This book reminded me not only of Jumanji but also of Labyrinth, which is one of my absolute favorite movies. However, it’s not only the similarities to that movie (and Jumanji), but the differences that make this book amazing. The characters are wonderful. The world is unique and interesting. The writing is beautiful. This book is also #ownvoices for both representation of POC and Muslim representation. For more of my thoughts on this book, check out my review.
7. Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.
Life couldn’t be more perfect!
At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.
Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?
Why it’s on the list: I absolutely love this series. It’s one of the few contemporary series/books I truly love. And this final installment is no exception. I loved everything about this book. The characters, the plot, the writing. Everything is amazing. This book is also #ownvoices for representation of POC. For more of my thoughts on this book, check out my review.
6. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina
Summary: “There will come a day when a thousand Illegals descend on your detention centres. Boomers will breach the walls. Skychangers will send lightning to strike you all down from above, and Rumblers will open the earth to swallow you up from below. . . . And when that day comes, Justin Connor, think of me.”
Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose. A man who is intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe — the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured and vulnerable and with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind.
And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move.
Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?
Why it’s on the list: This book describes a truly original dystopian world. It has some similarities to other worlds in the genre, but overall it is unique and amazingly so. The characters are great, the plot is exciting, the writing is beautiful. I cannot recommend this book enough. Read it, you won’t regret it. This book is also #ownvoices for indigenous Australian representation. For more of my thoughts on this book, check out my review.
5. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
Why it’s on the list: This book is so important, so wonderful. I said in my Goodreads review that if I ever found the words to explain how, I’d write a review on my blog. As you can tell by the lack of review, I never found the words. Yet here I am, putting this book in my top books of 2017 list. So I have to say something. This book tells the story of Malala, who I’m sure many of you have heard of, but it doesn’t only tell her story. It tells the story of her country. It breaks so many stereotypes about people in non-Western countries. It tells Malala’s story and her country’s story so well with beautiful writing and interesting stories. I think everyone should read this book. I can’t fully explain the wonder that is this book but I can say that it’s so so so wonderful and so so so important. Go read it, now!
4. The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.
Why it’s on the list: This book is simply beautiful. From the writing to the characters to the world. Everything is beautiful. Maya is a truly wonderful character that I loved reading about, as is Amar. The world of this book is rich and beautiful and so well-described. This book is also #ownvoices for representation of POC. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves a good fantasy world with well-written characters but is looking for one with more diversity than the usual fantasy world.
3. Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee
Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.
Why it’s on the list: This book was one of the first I read this year and from the moment I finished it, I knew it would be on this list. It honestly would’ve been number one if the books before it hadn’t come into my life. However, this book is definitely number one in my heart. I love it. I love the superhero shenanigans. I love how who’s a hero and who’s a villain is complicated. I love Jess. I love Abby. I love Bells. I love Emma. I love Abby and Jess’ relationship. I love the world created in this book. It reminds me of a combination of Sky High and The Hunger Games with its own unique elements as well. This book is also #ownvoices for both LGBT+ and POC rep. I cannot recommend this book enough. Go read it! For more of my thoughts on this book, check out my review.
2. The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
Why it’s on the list: This book is so so so important. Not only is it #ownvoices for the black (Jamaican) MC, Natasha, but it has representation everywhere. The other main character, Daniel, is Korean-American and Natasha is also an undocumented immigrant. In fact, she and her family are due to be deported the day that the book takes place, which starts the whole chain of events in the story. This book has so many important themes. From themes of racism, to what it truly means to be American, to deportation, and more. Though this book takes place in one day and the characters fall in love within that time, the book does not fall into the usual instalove trap. Natasha and Daniel are both realistic and well-written characters and their relationship is beautiful and realistic. They truly get to know each other, and that’s why I don’t consider it true instalove. The writing in this book is also beautiful. Read this book, you won’t regret it. If you want to know more of my thoughts on this amazing book, check out my review.
And last, but certainly not least:
- Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Three friends, two love stories, one convention: this fun, feminist love letter to geek culture is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.
Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.
Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.
Why it’s on the list: This book was made for me. It’s about fandoms, it takes place at a convention, it features a bisexual female main character falling in love with another girl (Charlie) and a character with anxiety doing her best to overcome it (Taylor). I related so well to Charlie’s bisexuality and Taylor’s anxiety it isn’t even funny. If I had told Jen Wilde exactly how to write bisexuality and anxiety, it couldn’t have been closer to my own experiences. Though sadly I don’t have an amazing love interest in my life. Maybe in 2018. Still, this book is so easy for me to relate to. Charlie and Taylor are my queens. I admire both of them so much, Charlie for her confidence and Taylor for her strength. I hope I can be like more like them in the new year. Take more risks and step out of my comfort zone a little. Not only was this book inspiring to me, but it was well-written too. The characters are all well-developed. The writing is amazing. The plot is interesting, far more so than contemporaries often are for me. I recommend this book to anyone but especially to my fellow fandom geeks, my fellow bisexual women, and my fellow people with anxiety. This book is #ownvoices (I believe) for bisexuality. This book also has anxiety/autism/fat representation (Taylor), and POC (Charlie, Alyssa, & maybe Jamie) representation. I cannot recommend this book enough, go read it! It’s amazing and I love it to pieces.
Why this book is number 1: Because to put it simply, this book has my heart. It was meant for me. I was meant to read it. This book doesn’t only have my heart, it is my heart. I couldn’t have written a book that represents me more if I had written it myself. This book has characters and quotes that inspire me. This book is simply amazing. This book is perhaps not as eye-opening to issues as books such as The Sun Is Also A Star are (there’s a reason that book is number 2, it could’ve easily been number one), but it is a good book with good and important representation. And this is my list so I make the rules. And I love this book with all of my nerdy bisexual anxiety-having heart.
So that’s it. My favorite books of 2017. This was an amazing reading year for me, thanks to Diversity Bingo and all of these wonderful books on this list, most of which were read for that challenge. I’m not sure if I’ll participate in Diversity Bingo next year but I will definitely continue to read diverse books because I love them.
What were your favorite books that you read this year? Tell me in the comments below.
Many of these books were read for #DiversityBingo2017.