My Top Ten Favorite Reads for the First Half of 2017
Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Reads for the first half of 2017. I had originally planned to do only 2017 releases but didn’t really have enough favorites to make a top ten list. Instead, I’ve chosen to just go with my favorite reads, regardless of when they were released so there’s a mix of 2017, 2016, and even at least one 2015 book that I read and loved this year.
My Top 10 Favorite Reads for the First Half of 2017
1. THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas
Why I Loved It: I tend to measure how good a book is by how many emotions it makes me feel while I’m reading and The Hate U Give is off the charts in that respect. It made me sad and brought me to tears several times, it made me frustrated and angry, and it even managed to make me smile and laugh a few times along the way as well. I also felt the love between Starr and her family, as well as the love that held her community together. When I say it’s a powerful read, that’s what I’m talking about. This book is just so real and honest and raw that you feel EVERYTHING the characters are going through. (Read My Full Review…)
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2. A CONJURING OF LIGHT by Victoria Schwab
Why I Loved It: I just finished this book over the weekend and haven’t even begun writing my review, but the fact that I stayed up until 1:00 a.m. Sunday night, even though I had to be up by 6:00 a.m. for work should tell you just how much I adored this book. Everything about this series is amazing — the elaborate world building, the intricate system of magic, and my favorite part – the complex relationship between the characters and the final book gave me exactly the ending I was looking for. Schwab really outdid herself with this finale. (Review still to be written…)
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3. SAINTS AND MISFITS by S.K. Ali
Why I Loved It: S.K. Ali’s debut novel Saints and Misfits is a beautifully written coming of age book about family, friendship, love, religious faith, and so much more. It’s also a book that focuses on the importance of not judging people, of not making assumptions about people you don’t even know based on how they look or how they’re dressed, or maybe even how religious or not religious they may seem. Saints and Misfits tackles all of these important themes and allows us to explore them through the eyes of a hijabi teen, Janna Yusuf, as she navigates her way through life in her high school, at home, and in her Muslim community. I adored so many of the characters in this book, but main character Janna was definitely my favorite. I adored everything about her. She’s super smart, hilarious, a little bit snarky, and just an all-around likeable character, probably one of the most likeable characters I’ve read so far this year. As if all of that wasn’t cool enough, Janna is also a Flannery O’Connor loving book nerd! If I had gone to school with Janna, I totally would have wanted to be friends with her. I also found her voice to be authentic and I loved seeing the events of the story unfold from her perspective. Her journey to find herself and to ultimately decide what kind of person she wants to be is such a compelling one and it just made this book one I couldn’t put down once I started reading. (Read My Full Review…)
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4. SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo
Why I Loved It: What I loved most about Six of Crows are the characters. Leigh Bardugo has crafted some of the most fascinating and unique characters I’ve come across in YA fantasy. I always enjoy stories that feature an anti-hero and with Kaz and his “Crows,” we have 6 anti-heroes! I love anti-heroes because they’re always such complex characters and these characters are no different. What each of the Crows have in common is that they have no family and they’ve each had to do some pretty awful things in the name of survival, including resorting to thievery and murder. Through flashbacks that give us backstory on each of the characters, however, Bardugo manages to make this gang of thugs so sympathetic that you can’t help but fall in love with them.. (Read My Full Review…)
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5. THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED by Becky Albertalli
Why I Loved It: Another book where the characters just captured my heart. Becky Albertalli really has a gift for making adorable and relatable characters and Molly Peskin-Suso is no exception. I really loved Molly. In addition to being smart and funny, Molly also has anxiety issues and I found the inner monologue running through her head to be so relatable throughout the book. I just loved the way Albertalli wrote Molly’s voice and could empathize with all of Molly’s insecurities. If you’ve ever experienced anxiety or felt the fear of rejection, it’s easy to understand where Molly is coming from and why she’s so hesitant to put herself out there. I also loved that even though Molly is somewhat overweight, she still has a great sense of style and a healthy self image. She isn’t trying to starve herself to make herself more appealing to anyone. Molly is who she is and makes no apologies for it. When a boy at a party tells her she’s “gorgeous for a big girl,” Molly’s very candid response is “F*** you.” I mean, seriously, how can you not love this girl? (Read My Full Review…)
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6. SWIMMING LESSONS by Claire Fuller
Why I Loved It: Swimming Lessons was a powerful and unique read for me. There’s a huge mystery that runs through the story with respect to Ingrid: ‘Is she really dead or could she possibly be alive and off living a secret life unbeknownst to her husband and children?’ Instead of being this huge dramatic event, however, it’s written in such a subtle and elegant style that it wasn’t this huge melodramatic event, more just the quiet reveal of a troubled family. I also liked one of the book’s central themes – that we all bring our own meaning to the books we read. And in keeping with that theme, Swimming Lessons leaves the reader to interpret what really happened to Ingrid. (Read My Full Review…)
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7. THE INEXPLICABLE LOGIC OF MY LIFE by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Why I Loved It: Another book that I’ve just finished and haven’t completed the review for. I fell in love with this book because of its strong focus on family relationships and especially on the idea that being a family doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with being related by blood. Main character Sal has been raised all his life by his incredible adoptive dad – the kind of loving and supporting dad that every kid wants, that all of Sal’s friends wish they had. When Sal suddenly starts to have issues with anger and starts getting into fights at school, he starts to question who he is. Where is this violence coming from? Is he somehow more like his biological father who he has never even met than he is like the wonderful, gentle, nonviolent man who has raised him all his life? The nature vs. nurture debate has always interested me, so I found Sal’s journey very compelling. (Review still to be written…)
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8. THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES by Mindy McGinnis
Why I Loved It: The main reason why I loved this book is its fascinating main character, Alex Craft. Alex has always had a dark side. She can feel the violence bubbling beneath the surface, just waiting to be unleashed. For most of her life, she has been able to keep this dark side under control. However, when her older sister Anna is sexually assaulted and murdered and the murderer goes free, the beast within Alex awakens and she takes matters into her own hands to get justice for her sister. Alex gets away with her crime but feels like she could easily do the same thing again if she encounters another predator so she doesn’t really trust herself to be around other people. Because of this, she doesn’t really make any friends at school and is mainly known by her classmates as “the girl with the dead sister.” That is, until she unexpectedly becomes friends with Jack and Peekay, her first real friendships, and it suddenly becomes a lot harder to hide her true dark nature. I loved the complexity of Alex’s character. On the one hand, she’s a straight A student in line to be valedictorian of her class and she also volunteers at the local animal shelter and is super gentle with all of the animals that she cares for. On the other hand, she’s a stone cold vigilante who will go after anyone she views as a predator. (Read My Full Review…)
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9. UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES by Louise Gornall
Why I Loved It: This is another book where a wonderfully drawn main character makes this a standout for me. I really adored Norah. She’s smart and funny, incredibly resourceful when it comes to coping with her illness, and she’s also much braver than she gives herself credit for being. I found Norah so likeable that I immediately wanted to know more about her condition since agoraphobia is something that I know next to nothing about. Being in Norah’s head as she struggles through each day made the story especially powerful and gave me a much clearer picture of the illness and how truly crippling it can be. Norah’s frustration is palpable throughout, especially the fact that she is very much aware that most of her fears were irrational, but still can’t stop their paralyzing effects. By allowing us access to Norah’s thoughts, Gornall paints an authentic and vivid portrait of agoraphobia and allows us to see beneath the surface of what is often considered an “invisible” illness.. (Read My Full Review…)
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10. STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by Kerri Maniscalco
Why I Loved It: Two words…Audrey Rose. Maniscalco does a wonderful job of fleshing out her main character, Audrey Rose Wadsworth and making her seem so realistic. She’s fiercely independent, headstrong, and sassy as all get out, which makes her such a fun character to follow. Even with the overriding creepy serial killer plot, Audrey Rose still managed to make me chuckle quite a few times throughout the novel. You just never know what she is going to say at any given moment, but you can pretty much guarantee that it will be completely inappropriate based on society’s expectations. Speaking of society’s expectations, Audrey Rose truly doesn’t give a flip about those and instead is way ahead of her time and wants to pursue a career in forensic medicine. When the novel opens, she is, much to her father’s chagrin, working as an apprentice to her Uncle, who is an expert in the field. I kept thinking to myself “She’s like a Victorian Era Maura Isles” (from the popular series Rizzoli and Isles). (Read My Review…)
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I have one of your books on my list. Then again, I think that book is on everyone’s list today!
Ha, yes, I think I’ve seen it on almost every list I’ve looked at so far today.
I have Swimming Lessons in my ‘Best Books of 2017 list too. I am still working on the list. I have Conjuring of light on my Kindle; so I cannot wait to read it. I am very eager to read The Hate you give too.
I still can’t get over how wonderful Swimming Lessons was and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have read it at all if not for your excellent review. Oh and yay, your comment came through!
I’m surprised I haven’t seen more people talking about Under Rose-Tainted Skies: I haven’t read it yet myself, but heard amazing things when it was released. You’ve picked such a variety of titles, it looks like you’ve been having a brilliant reading year so far!
I think I read somewhere that it’s being made into a movie, so I’m really hoping that means it will get the attention it deserves. Yes, I have had a pretty great reading year so far. I hope my luck continues 🙂
The Upside made my list too!! I really enjoyed The Hate U Give, The Inexplicable Logic and Under Rose tainted Skies too. You have a bunch of others here I still need to get to!
The Upside was so great. I really can’t wait to see what Becky Albertalli does next.
I usually don’t read a lot of YA contemporaries but I also put “The Hate U Give” on my list this week, that was a really great and important novel!
I also enjoyed Becky Albertalli’s first book last year and am now definitely looking forward to her new one! 🙂
I thought so too and I’m glad to see The Hate U Give getting so much well-deserved attention.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies is so good (one of my top books of last year). I have Saints and Misfits on my wishlist – just waiting to see if we get a UK edition! I loved Claire’ Fuller’s debut, Our Endless Numbered Days, so I’m looking forward to Swimming Lessons too.
I still need to go back and read Endless Numbered Days so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. And yes, Under Rose-Tainted Skies is fantastic. I think I read somewhere it’s being made into a movie so that should be interesting to see as well.
There are definitely a couple on here I still need to get to. I really enjoyed Swimming Lessons – I think the letters were my favorite parts of the book.
I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed Swimming Lessons. The letters were probably my favorite part as well, and thinking about what must have been going through her head as she was writing them.
Oh my goodness, “Six of Crows” is probably my favorite! It’s brilliant! Bardugo really created some spectacular characters. I keep seeing “Stalking Jack the Ripper” everywhere, so I should probably get in on that one. I have my copy of “Swimming Lessons” and can’t wait to dive into it! I also included “A Conjuring of Light” on my list because it was so perfect! Awesome, awesome list!
Yes, Six of Crows is so amazing. I’ve ordered the next book already because I just can’t wait to see what this team does next!
I own The Upside of Unrequited, Six of Crows, and Stalking Jack the Ripper but haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. I haven’t read any of the ones on your list yet but a few of them are already on my TBR list. lol! Great list!
LOL! I’m that way about almost every TTT list I’ve seen this week so I’m excited to see how good all of the books I haven’t gotten to read yet are 🙂
You’re the second blogger to mention Swimming Lessons this week; definitely need to pick it up at some point xD Great list!
It’s a unique read for sure. I hope you enjoy it 🙂
I LOVE Stalking Jack the Ripper. I got the sequel at ALA this past weekend and I’m so thrilled! It was a top choice for me.
Oh yay, I can’t wait to see what you think of Hunting Prince Dracula.
Lot of books here I want to try. Six of Crows and Under Rose-Tainted Skies are pretty high on my list. Heard so many good things about both.
Stalking Jack the Ripper has me curious too…
I enjoyed Stalking Jack the Ripper way more than I was originally expecting to like it. It was nice to be pleasantly surprised by a book.
Such an amazing list! I also read and ADORED A Conjuring of Light, Six of Crows and The Upside of Unrequited and so many of the others on your list are still on my TBR and I hope to read soon, such as The Hate U Give, Under Rose Tainted Skies and Stalking Jack The Ripper 🙂
I can’t wait to see what you think of The Hate U Give, Stalking Jack the Ripper, and Under Rose-Tainted Skies. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did 🙂
I listened to the audiobook of The Female of the Species…and it totally broke me. Such an amazing story!
Yes, it’s one of the most powerful stories I’ve read in recent years. I really need to read more of her books too.
Looks like you’ve read some spectacular books so far this year!!
Here’s a link to my TTT post for this week:
I really have. Hope the second half of my year is filled with great reads too 🙂
ACOL and Under Rose Tainted Skies were on my list this week too! Six of Crows is a book I’m planning on reading this summer, so I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂
My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/27/top-ten-tuesday-113/
Oh yay, can’t wait to see what you think of Six of Crows!
I’ve seen The Hate U Give on so many lists today!
Same here! It’s a powerful read for sure, so I’m not surprised.
YES to Six of Crows, Female of the Species and The Hate U Give! Definitely some of my favorites so far as well. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous choices! <3
2017 has been a great reading year so far. Sure hope it continues 🙂
That Hate U Give was on my list as well! I’ve been wanting to read pretty much all the other books on your list!
I hope you enjoy them all as much as I did. 2017 has been a great reading year for me so far 🙂
Oh goodness this week was a bad one (or good, depending on how you see it) for my TBR. Not only have so many books been added but it’s been a total upheaval of the order of things as well… Ha ha. I guess time will only tell what really will happen though.
I am coming back to your comment on my blog re: Grisha soon, but I think you should read it! I’ll elaborate more on my blog when I get to those comments, hopefully by tomorrow!
Ha! I’ve added a ton of new books to my TBR as well this week. Seeing everyone’s favorites always does that to me. OH and you’re the second person to tell me that I should definitely go back and read the Grisha trilogy. I trust your recommendation so I’m adding it to my TBR. I’ll probably go ahead and read Crooked Kingdom first though and then go back to it later.