Hi friends! I feel like this post grants a long time no see, given how absent I’ve been lately here on the blog, aside from a few reviews that I’ve posted. The truth is I’ve been reading more mdzs fanfiction than books lately so I didn’t feel like writing monthly wrap-ups and things like that because I just feel like I haven’t been reading enough books.
And the thing is, I am perfectly fine with that! I am having a lot of fun consuming all the mdzs adaptations several times and not feeling (too) guilty about reading a little bit less. If you’re wondering what the hell I’m even talking about, I wrote a guide to mdzs.
Despite all this, I still finished my 100-books reading challenge! I am writing this post on December 24th and I am currently at exactly 100 books, but I know I will finish a couple more by the end of the year. It’s the first time since I started reviewing books that I got so close to not finishing my challenge but I’m fine. This is fine. Even before this (which I refuse to call a reading slump because of its negative connotations), I was very busy with uni for several months and it makes sense that I’ve read less this year overall. I still read a ton and I will feel proud about it.
I was looking at all the books I’ve read and I decided to do a quick recap for posterity and because it’s always fun to look back. I divided things into a few categories that I named according to how the books made me feel. I will have a separate post with all the books I’ve DNF’d this year and I will post it later on, but for this post I wanted to keep things (mostly) positive, so let’s get into it! I won’t be talking about the single books in this post but I will post summaries and links to my reviews. Each list follows a chronological order (when I read the books).
NEW FAVORITES FOR LIFE
Every year, I always feel like there are favorites and Favorites. The ones that will stay with you no matter what. The ones that would make the list Favorites of the decade. I felt like it was only fair to place these in their own category, and it’s the second and third book by the author Moxiang Tongxiu.
👑 魔道祖师 (Módào zǔshī – The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation)
As the grandmaster who founded the Demonic Sect, Wei WuXian roamed the world in his wanton ways, hated by millions for the chaos he created. In the end, he was backstabbed by his dearest shidi and killed by powerful clans that combined to overpower him. He incarnates into the body of a lunatic who was abandoned by his clan and is later, unwillingly, taken away by a famous cultivator among the clans—Lan WangJi, his archenemy. This marks the start of a thrilling yet hilarious journey of attacking monsters, solving mysteries, and raising children. From the mutual flirtation along the way, Wei WuXian slowly realizes that Lan WangJi, a seemingly haughty and indifferent poker-face, holds more feelings for Wei WuXian than he is letting on.
👑 天官赐福 (Tiān guān cì fú – Heaven Official’s Blessing)
For you, I’ll become invincible!
“Have you heard? The rubbish Heaven Official is having an affair with the ghost realm’s number one bigshot!”
Eight hundred years ago, Xie Lian was the Crown Prince of the Xian Le kingdom; one who was beloved by his citizens and the darling of the world. Unsurprisingly, he ascended to the Heavens at a very young age. Now, eight hundred years later, Xie Lian ascends to the Heavens for the third time as the laughing stock of all three realms. On his first task as a god, he meets a mysterious demon who rules the ghosts and terrifies the Heavens……yet unbeknownst to Xie Lian, this demon king has been paying attention to him for a very, very long time.
I feel like this year was the year of good books that didn’t quite feel like favorites. I wish I could say I had a hard time narrowing them down to 5 but no, they just happened to be a nice number for a list lol.
A small observation: four out of five of these are books with an f/f romance in them and that makes me so happy. Despite this, this list is rather white, although the books themselves are very diverse.
What surprised me more was the mix of genres: deep-sea horror, two romances (I love romances but they usually don’t end up in my favorites, also one of them is a historical romance, a genre I almost never read), and two fantasy books (not surprised about these, usually fantasy books end up in my favorites). Of these, only one of them is YA. Could it be that I’m getting over YA?
🎉 Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.
Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.
Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.
🎉 Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?
When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.
Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?
Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.
🎉 The Afterward by E.K. Johnston
It has been a year since the mysterious godsgem cured Cadrium’s king and ushered in what promised to be a new golden age. The heroes who brought the gem home are renowned in story and song, but for two fellows on the quest, peace and prosperity do not come easily.
Apprentice Knight Kalanthe Ironheart wasn’t meant for heroism this early in life, and while she has no intention of giving up the notoriety she has earned, her reputation does not pay her bills. With time running out, Kalanthe may be forced to betray not her kingdom or her friends, but her own heart as she seeks a stable future for herself and those she loves.
Olsa Rhetsdaughter was never meant for heroism at all. Beggar, pick pocket, thief, she lived hand to mouth on the city streets until fortune–or fate–pulled her into Kalanthe’s orbit. And now she’s quite reluctant to leave it. Even more alarmingly, her fame has made her recognizable, which makes her profession difficult, and a choice between poverty and the noose isn’t much of a choice at all.
Both girls think their paths are laid out, but the godsgem isn’t quite done with them and that new golden age isn’t a sure thing yet.
In a tale both sweepingly epic and intensely personal, Kalanthe and Olsa fight to maintain their newfound independence and to find their way back to each other.
🎉 The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.
The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.
🎉 The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite
As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover’s sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn’t until she finds a letter from the Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text, that she knows where to go. Showing up at the Countess’ London home, she hoped to find a challenge, not a woman who takes her breath away.
Catherine St Day looks forward to a quiet widowhood once her late husband’s scientific legacy is fulfilled. She expected to hand off the translation and wash her hands of the project—instead, she is intrigued by the young woman who turns up at her door, begging to be allowed to do the work, and she agrees to let Lucy stay. But as Catherine finds herself longing for Lucy, everything she believes about herself and her life is tested.
While Lucy spends her days interpreting the complicated French text, she spends her nights falling in love with the alluring Catherine. But sabotage and old wounds threaten to sever the threads that bind them. Can Lucy and Catherine find the strength to stay together or are they doomed to be star-crossed lovers?
I adored all of these and I had so much fun with some of them, they just don’t totally qualify for favorites. This list is a little bit more diverse (I mean, they’re still all queer like the previous list, but at least it’s not all white authors).
🎊 The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
Ryann Bird dreams of traveling across the stars. But a career in space isn’t an option for a girl who lives in a trailer park on the wrong side of town. So Ryann becomes her circumstances and settles for acting out and skipping school to hang out with her delinquent friends.
One day she meets Alexandria: a furious loner who spurns Ryann’s offer of friendship. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the two misfits are brought together despite themselves—and Ryann learns her secret: Alexandria’s mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system.
Every night without fail, Alexandria waits to catch radio signals from her mother. And its up to Ryann to lift her onto the roof day after day until the silence between them grows into friendship, and eventually something more . . .
In K. Ancrum’s signature poetic style, this slow-burn romance will have you savoring every page.
🎊 Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Her sister’s bachelorette party is the highlight of a miserable year for Alexis Chambers, but once her bridesmaid’s dress is packed away, she’s back to coping with her life as a once popular athlete and violinist turned loner and the focus of her parents’ disappointment. She isn’t expecting much from her freshman year of college until she finds herself sharing a class with Treasure, the gorgeous stripper from her sister’s party.
Trisha Hamilton has finally gotten the credits and the money together to transfer to a four-year university. Between classes, studying, and her job as a stripper, she has little time for a social life, until she runs into the adorably shy baby butch from the club. Trisha can’t seem to hide her feelings for Alexis, even when Trisha discovers what she has been through, but will Alexis have the strength to be just as fearless about their new love?
🎊 Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler
Frankie Bellisario knows she can get anyone she sets her sights on, but just because she can doesn’t mean she should—not when the person she’s eyeing is Samara Kazarian, the daughter of a southern Republican mayor. No matter how badly Frankie wants to test her powers of persuasion, even she recognizes some lines aren’t meant to be crossed.
But when Frankie learns she’s been on Samara’s mind too, the idea of hooking up with her grows too strong to resist. Only Sam’s not looking for a hookup; she wants—needs—the real thing, and she’s afraid she’ll never find it as long as Frankie’s in her head.
Forced to choose between her first relationship and losing the girl who’s been clawing her way under her skin, Frankie opts to try monogamy…under her own condition: 30 days of keeping things on the down low and remaining abstinent. If she fails as hard at girlfriending as she’s afraid she might, she doesn’t want to throw Samara’s life into upheaval for nothing. But when neither the month nor Frankie’s heart go according to plan, she may be the one stuck fighting for the happily ever after she never knew she wanted.
🎊 The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee
Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.
Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.
Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.
🎊 Human Enough by E.S. Yu
When Noah Lau joined the Vampire Hunters Association, seeking justice for his parents’ deaths, he didn’t anticipate ending up imprisoned in the house of the vampire he was supposed to kill—and he definitely didn’t anticipate falling for that vampire’s lover.
Six months later, Noah’s life has gotten significantly more complicated. On top of being autistic in a world that doesn’t try to understand him, he still hunts vampires for a living…while dating a vampire himself. Awkward. Yet Jordan Cross is sweet and kind, and after braving their inner demons and Jordan’s vicious partner together, Noah wouldn’t trade him for the world.
But when one of Jordan’s vampire friends goes missing and Noah’s new boss at the VHA becomes suspicious about some of his recent cases, what starts off as a routine paperwork check soon leads Noah to a sinister conspiracy. As he investigates, he and Jordan get sucked into a deadly web of intrigue that will test the limits of their relationship—and possibly break them. After all, in a world where vampires feed on humans and humans fear vampires, can a vampire and a vampire hunter truly find a happy ending together?
🎊 The Deep by Rivers Solomon
Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.
Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.
Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.
Some of these could easily be in my honorable mentions but I decided that the feeling they gave me felt more right in this category. These are books that were really fun to read, whether the adventure itself was fun or the fandom experience of it was.
🥳 The Disasters by M.K. England
Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.
But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.
On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.
They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.
🥳 The Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
🥳 The Chronicles of Ghadid series by K.A. Doore
– my review (of book 2)
A novice assassin is on the hunt for someone killing their own in K. A. Doore’s The Perfect Assassin, a breakout high fantasy beginning the Chronicles of Ghadid series.
Divine justice is written in blood.
Or so Amastan has been taught. As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, he’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs.
Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed.
Every life has its price, but when the tables are turned, Amastan must find this perfect assassin or be their next target.
🥳 Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. And because Millie cannot stand the thought of confronting her ex every day, she decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.
Millie can’t believe her luck when she’s accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive schools, located in the rolling highlands of Scotland. Everything about Scotland is different: the country is misty and green; the school is gorgeous, and the students think Americans are cute.
The only problem: Mille’s roommate Flora is a total princess.
She’s also an actual princess. Of Scotland.
At first, the girls can barely stand each other–Flora is both high-class and high-key–but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Even though Princess Flora could be a new chapter in her love life, Millie knows the chances of happily ever afters are slim . . . after all, real life isn’t a fairy tale . . . or is it?
🥳 The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu
Can’t I read stallion novels anymore?! [TN: genre with OP protag & harem]
Shen Yuan is reborn into a young man and scum villain destined to die, Shen Qingqiu.
But it must be known that the original Shen Qingqiu was sliced alive by his disciple, Luo Binghe, into a human stick! A human stick!
Shen Qingqiu’s heart is a full herd of grass mud horses running full tilt, yet:
“It’s not like I don’t want to hug this main character’s thighs, but who let this fucking man be so black. The revenge that needs to be taken is some thousands of deeds!
Why is all the romance that should be going to the women in the plot imposed on him?
Why as a scum villain, should he still have to block gun and knife for the protagonist and sacrifice himself?
Shen Qingqiu: “…… _(:□)∠)_I think I can still save him one more time.”
He wants to prove – even scum villains can live, and live coolly at that!
It’s also the story of a small white flower who later became a black flower attacking a scholarly, scum villain type.
This is the story of a master and disciple’s everyday unknowing, very strange, dog-blood process of falling in love.
It’s also a scum villain’s firsthand account of the male protagonist turning from a small white sheep into an overbearing black king, sort of story……
WON’T EASILY FORGET
I think there are more books that deserve to be on this list but this is the main one. This category is for books that don’t quite qualify for the above categories but that made me think about a lot of things, mainly how I/we view books and how we jump to conclusions without knowing anything about the actual book at all.
❗️ Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter
Seductive. Cruel. Bored.
Be wary of…
Prince and his fairy courtiers are staggeringly beautiful, unrelentingly cruel, and exhausted by the tedium of the centuries ― until they meet foster-siblings Josh and Ksenia. Drawn in by their vivid emotions, undying love for each other, and passion for life, Prince will stop at nothing to possess them.
First seduced and then entrapped by the fairies, Josh and Ksenia learn that the fairies’ otherworldly gifts come at a terrible price ― and they must risk everything in order to reclaim their freedom.
I decided to not have books in multiple categories, otherwise mdzs and tgcf would be on top of this list. But there’s still one book that made it here and now that I think about it it might actually be the show’s fault more than the book itself, but I decided to put this here anyway. Being in this fandom was/is a lot of fun and even though the fanart influx has died down it’s still lovely to see it on my timeline.
🥰 Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
‘Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don’t let you go around again until you get it right.’
People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?
You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as (hopefully) just another hoax. Or you could just try to do something about it.
It’s a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon now finds themselves in. They’ve been living amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse.
And then there’s the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist…
I don’t feel like adding covers and summaries since these disappointed me lmao.
😔 King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
😔 Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff – my review
😔 The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern – my review
And here it is. I always feel so satisfied after having done a wrap up of some sort and it was fun to look back at all the books I’ve read this year. If I were to give a rating to my reading year I think it would be a 4/5. I think I learned a few more things about myself in the process and hopefully this means I can make the next reading year even better than this one was.
I would love to hear what everyone has been up to while I was absent on the blog! If you have already written a wrap up post for the year please feel free to link to it and I will check it out, I love those kinds of posts! If not, tell me one book you read this year that you feel will stay with you forever.
Until the next post!