Top 10 Reads of 2017

Who writes an end-of-year wrap up on January 3rd? I do. What can I say? I was busy getting engaged last weekend (Gah!)! Here’s what I was gonna say….

I’ve always loved reading, but last year I kinda became obsessed… In January I took a Goodreads challenge and pledged to read 100 books in a year. I thought it was a lofty goal. But ended up meeting it in October. So then I upped it to 150…

Total books read in 2017?

183.

tumblr_mop0dz0yhT1s7sh61o1_500

I have a problem!

That’s a lot of books and narrowing it down to just a few favorites was a daunting task but I’ve done it. There’s some YA in here, some romance, a little sci-fi thrown in for good measure. Let me lay out for you what I most enjoyed in the year 2017. In no particular order.

1. Dating-ish, by Penny Reid

datingThere are three things you need to know about Marie Harris:
1) She’s fed up with online dating,
2) She’s so fed up, she’s willing to forego the annoyance and consider more creative alternatives, and
3) She knows how to knit.

 After the most bizarre and irritating first date in the history of human kind, Marie is looking for an alternative to men. With the help of her friends, she quickly identifies a few possibilities:

Need a cuddle? Use a professional cuddler. Need affirmation? Get yourself a life coach. Need an orgasm? Try orgasm meditation! Why does she need the hassle of a romantic partner when she can meet all her needs with paid services?

But then her irritating date resurfaces. And he’s not at all the person she thought he was. And he suggests a different—and crazier—solution to her dilemma . . .

As everyone knows (or will soon come to realize), traditional relations between humans are a thing of the past. Robots are our future. And if robots are our future, then why do we need other people at all?

Okay, so this one is in a particular order because this was hands down my favorite book of 2017. Humor? Check! Lovable characters? Check! Steamy love scenes? Check, check, CHECK! Y’all should know by now I have much love for Penny Reid and THIS is my favorite Penny Ried book! Find my full(-ish) review on Goodreads.

2. Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green

turtlesSixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

John Green can craft one beautiful sentence. I want to thank my niece for introducing him to me because he is one of my absolute favorite writers. A few things are guaranteed when you read John Green: he’s going to make you laugh, then he will make you cry, then he will make you fall in love. Then like shampoo, he will rinse and repeat. And you will love it.

3. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

hateSixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I can’t think of this book without thinking of the word important. The Hate U Give is a timely look at racial profiling and police brutality in America. It’s powerful and honest, but also humorous and entertaining. Starr is a perfect modern-day heroine. I loved her and want to be more like her. The hype is real on this one. It is a must read!

4. The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne

hatingNemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

This one’s just a fun romance, nothing deep here, but I loved it. I love Josh and Lucy. Thorne had me in stitches; she is so funny. Is Anne Hathaway or maybe Anna Kendrick available for the movie? Because this has romantic comedy written all over it! It’s been a while since I stayed up all night to finish a book, but this fun little gem required it.

5. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

13You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

OK, so this is kind of a controversial one. Some people, particularly parents, are not a fan of Asher’s novel because they feel it glorifies suicide. They’re entitled to their opinion as I’m entitled to mine. And I loved it. I listened to the audio version of this book and was almost immediately engrossed in it. This is another one that I think is an important read because who can’t use a reminder that their words and can cut others more deeply than they realize?

I will say that if you’ve watched the hit Netflix show you can skip the novel. The show sticks to the story line but goes even more in depth. So, if you’ve seen the show, you know what happens. If you haven’t seen the show, watch it! Riveting television, people.

6. Under Locke, by Mariana Zapata

lockeHe was my boss, my brother’s friend, a Widower, an ex-felon, and a man I’d seen casually with a handful of women. But he was everything that gripped me, both the good and the bad. Worst case scenario if things turned awkward between us, I could go somewhere else. I’d gotten over epic heartbreak before, one more wouldn’t kill me.

After moving to Austin following six months of unemployment back home, Iris Taylor knows she should be glad to have landed a job so quickly… even if the business is owned by a member of the same motorcycle club her estranged father used to belong to. Except Dex Locke might just be the biggest jerk she’s ever met. He’s rude, impatient and doesn’t know how to tell time.

And the last thing they ever expected was each other.

But it was either the strip club or the tattoo shop.

… she should have chosen the strip club.

Mariana Zapata is quickly becoming one of my favorite romance writers. I just reviewed this one on this blog, so I won’t go too deep. I’ll just say Dex Locke is sexy, so is this novel. ‘Nuff said.

7. Beard in Mind, by Penny Reid

bimAll’s fair in love and auto maintenance.

Beau Winston is the nicest, most accommodating guy in the world. Usually.
Handsome as the devil and twice as charismatic, Beau lives a charmed life as everyone’s favorite Winston Brother. But since his twin decided to leave town, and his other brother hired a stunning human-porcupine hybrid as a replacement mechanic for their auto shop, Beau Winston’s charmed life has gone to hell in a handbasket.

Shelly Sullivan is not nice and is never accommodating. Ever.
She mumbles to herself, but won’t respond when asked a question. She glares at everyone, especially babies. She won’t shake hands with or touch another person, but has no problems cuddling with a dog. And her damn parrot speaks only in curse words.

Beau wants her gone. He wants her out of his auto shop, out of Tennessee, and out of his life.

The only problem is, learning why this porcupine wears her coat of spikes opens a Pandora’s box of complexity—exquisite, tempting, heartbreaking complexity—and Beau Winston soon discovers being nice and accommodating might mean missing out on what matters most.

Alright, alright, so I already have a Penny Reid on my list, but this book necessitated its own entry. Believe me. Beard in Mind is the second novel I read this year (and on this list) about a character suffering from OCD. It’s a topic I don’t know much about and she handles it so realistically and beautifully.

Read my love letter to Reid and this book here.

8. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

playerIn the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

I’m not usually a sci-fi fan. I liked Ender’s Game and Star Wars is a way of life for me, but usually my reading fare sticks to that set on a more earthly plane. But my bestie got a copy of this book in a Loot Crate and she loved it, so I gave it a read. Best decision ever. This isn’t just a sci-fi read, it’s a commentary on society. After I finished, I learned the book would be made into a movie (hitting theaters this summer) and I wondered how the hell they were going to translate some of this stuff into film. One look at the preview though and I’m convinced they’ve done a good job. If you’re one of those who likes to read the book before seeing the movie, grab your copy now. You won’t be disappointed!

9. Always & Forever, Lara Jean, by Jenny Han

laraLara 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?

Ooooh, Lara Jean, I love you so! This novel is the conclusion to a series started a few years ago with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (also coming soon to a theater near you). And it is such a fitting ending. Expect tears at the end, because the end of high school – the end of childhood – calls for tears. This is another author I love to read with my niece. Seriously, guys, she’s got great taste. So, if she enjoys reading it, you should too!

10. Up in the Treehouse, by K.K. Allen

treeI wanted to tell him all my secrets, but he became one of them instead.

Chloe Rivers never thought she would keep secrets from her best friend. Then again, she never imagined she would fall in love with him either. When she finally reveals her feelings, rejection shatters her, rendering her vulnerable and sending her straight into the destructive arms of the wrong guy.

Gavin Rhodes never saw the betrayal coming. It crushes him. Chloe has always been his forbidden fantasy–sweet, tempting, and beautiful. But when the opportunity finally presents itself, he makes the biggest mistake of all and denies her.

Now it’s too late . . .

Four years after a devastating tragedy, Chloe and Gavin find themselves crashing back into each other’s lives. Haunted by the past, they’re forced to come to terms with all that has transpired to find the peace they deserve. Except they can’t seem to get near each other without combatting an intense emotional connection that brings them right back to where it all started . . . their childhood treehouse.

Chloe still holds her secrets close, but this time she isn’t the only one with something to hide. Can their deep-rooted connection survive the destruction of innocence?

I’d been seeing this novel float around my Goodreads account and everyone seemed to love it. When I finally picked it up myself, I could see why. I’ve already reviewed Up in the Treehouse on this blog, so I won’t rehash. Click here if you’d like to read my thoughts on it.

 So that’s it, guys. My 2017 in books. With wedding planning on the horizon, I doubt I’ll read as many in 2018, but I’m sure gonna try! I’m already two books into the New Year on day 3, so I wouldn’t put anything past me!

Happy New Year all!

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