Now that we’re officially halfway through the year, and I have read 62 books, it’s time to talk about my ten faves of the year so far! These are arranged in the order in which I read them. It’ll be interesting to see which books make it to the best books of the year in December! These are in the order that I read them, because ranking them is too stressful. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
(Note: I am choosing not to include nonfiction, as I’ve been reading more nonfiction this year and will probably just talk about all of them in a separate post at the end of the year.)
Realm of Ash
The sequel to Empire of Sand did not disappoint; just like the first book, it was gorgeously written, lush, slow-paced, and heartfelt. I loved the slow-burn romance at the heart of the novel as well as the musings on different kinds of power.
You Let Me In
This creepy psychological/supernatural thriller is a delightful addition to fae lore; I absolutely loved the depiction of fairies here. They were both sinister and alluring, as fae should be, and the relationship between the main character and her fae companion/lover borders on villain romance, which of course was my jam. The novel keeps you guessing and never really reveals whether the main character is crazy or if fairies are real, and an argument could be made for either truth.
Resenting the Hero
Moira J. Moore
This very weird and obscure and underrated fantasy novel is a hilarious romp. It’s got a solid worldbuilding base but it doesn’t take itself too seriously, either, and at its heart it’s just plain good fun. But it’s also got a fascinating narrator who is just a tad unlikable, and her dynamic with her partner is one of the best things about the book. It’s also super short, so it can be read in a single sitting, which is what I did!
My Dark Vanessa
Kate Elizabeth Russell
An intense look at a relationship between a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl and her much older teacher, this is a dark, no-holds-barred book that is very difficult to read, but absolutely worth it. So many interesting conversations come up in this book about abuse and victimhood and where a victim’s agency begins and where it ends.
This is a relatively dense and very slow-paced read, but its languid pace wonderfully mirrors its setting, which is that of a tiny Mexican town in the 1970s. This is not quite a thriller, but rather a coming-of-age tale of a young girl who becomes embroiled with a couple of American grifters. It’s gorgeously written and has one of the best character arcs I’ve ever seen.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
This is Schwab at her absolute best. This book is gorgeously written and endlessly compelling and features the villain romance of my dreams. It’s a celebration of life’s small joys and the importance of being remembered.
The Bird King
G. Willow Wilson
A beautifully written historical fantasy featuring one of the most heartfelt friendships between a man and a woman that I’ve ever seen. It’s a slightly odd book, given it is a retelling of an obscure Persian poem, and is rooted in ideas of Islamic mysticism, but it also feels like a bit of a romp, as our two main characters embark on a wild adventure to find a mythical island.
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water
This novella featured Zen Cho’s signature whimsical and elegant writing style was a total blast. It features gender-fluid bandits and magical nuns and a fascinatingly complex world struggling to pull itself together in the wake of war. I would absolutely love a novel-length book in this world.
Now a NYT Bestseller (!!!), this is a delightfully creepy story steeped in traditional Gothic tropes, but set in 1950s Mexico. It’s beautiful, with dense, heady writing that perfectly matches the creepy vibe, and the usual supernatural ambiguity of Gothic novels descends into full-blown cosmic horror. It’s brilliant.
One to Watch
I have no idea why what is essentially a novelization of The Bachelorette got me so deep in my feelings that I cried, but here we are. It was just such a wholesome and heartfelt novel, about a plus-sized blogger who becomes the leading lady of this universe’s version of The Bachelorette. I read it for seven straight hours because I just couldn’t stop, and then I got to the last page and I cried, so.