Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books we were totally going to read in 2017 ... and didn't

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish

CJ's Selections

The second half of 2017 was like book desert for me... 
1.The Belles / Dhonielle Clayton - I've been really psyched for this book and wanted to read it ages ago, but obviously that never happened. The current plan is to read it before February. I'm at least reading, which is a contrast to most of the second half of 2017, where I was dealing with way too much head crap to actually focus on a book. But I definitely don't want to miss out on this lush fantasy by one of the coolest diversity advocates in the biz. I was also fortunate to meet her this year, and she's insanely cool and sweet. If her book is half as charming, it'll be a smash.

2.Saints and Misfits / S.K. Ali - Another book that got swallowed in the black hole of June to December. When I'm having a lot of anxiety and crap, I become even more of a mood reader than I already am. And for some reason, contemporary just wasn't my jam for the last bit of last year. I basically only read fantasy. But I literally preordered this book because I was so excited for a happy, vibrant Muslim girl story, so it's getting read this year!

3.The Speaker / Traci Chee - I didn't have an ARC this time, so I had to wait to get a finished copy like the rest of the peasantry. (Totally kidding, loves.) Unfortunately, by the time it came out, I was so buried in books that I felt guilty spending money if I wasn't going to read it right away. I'm trying to be less anal about my reading this year, so even if my TBR is cray, I'll still be putting this high on my list. THE READER was one of my favorites (so underrated! read it!) of the last couple years, so I'm kinda dying to know what happens next.

4.City of Brass / S.A. Chakraborty - As soon as I'm ready to dive into a dense fantasy, this one is my top choice. Even though my friend is totally going to kill me for still not reading NAME OF THE WIND. I swear I'll get to it! But this was another preorder, because everything about the non-Western-inspired high fantasy world screamed something I'll love. Plus it's been a long time since I've read a truly adult fantasy (not counting highly crossover stuff like A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC), so I'd like to get back into the genre. It's such a different feel than YA.

5.Scythe / Neil Shusterman - Dark comedy about death? Um, it's like it was yanked out of my brain. Of course, again, I didn't have an ARC, so this one got pushed aside in favor of review books that I was supposed to be reading on time. Not that it happened a lot last year because YAY PERSONAL LIFE FALLING APART, but the intent was there. Oh well. I'm running out of ARCs for this year, so it's time to catch up on backlist titles. Including ones that aren't even really backlist yet because they literally came out a year ago.

Whitley's Selections

Honestly, I feel bad that a lot of the books on my best of list haven't had full reviews by me. It's been A Year. -_-

1.Forest of a Thousand Lanterns / Julie C. Dao - Xifeng grew up poor but with great beauty and a prophesy that she would one day become empress.

2.Want / Cindy Pon -Zhao lives in a futuristic society where pollution is so bad that the wealthy have taken to using full-body suits when they go out to avoid the death and illness that plagues everyone else. After a kidnapping scheme nets him and his group a large payout, they use the money to buy Zhao his own suit and fancy apartment so he can masquerade as an elite himself, all while plotting on how to take out Jin Corporation, the company that makes the suits. The summary is a bit misleading by implying that Jin causes all the pollution, but that doesn't actually feature much in the book. I loved the setting for this one, and how disturbingly believable the dystopian aspects were. Zhao's band of revolutionary/criminal friends were a great ensemble, and their plan to take out Jin was smart and something I thought pretty workable. (vs so many books which give complicated issues one punch-able bad guy to beat.)

3.The Epic Crush of Genie Lo / F.C. Lee - A high school student named Genie Lo thinks the only thing she has to worry about is dealing with her school woes, until she runs into a boy named Quinten who insists that he knows her. Turns out he's the Monkey King, and she's a reincarnation of a party from his past. (Spoilers for which one.) Together both of them have to track down demons that are terrorizing San Francisco and deal with the disinterested gods of heaven. The story is excellent, full of both action and humor, and I loved the character of Genie. Hot-headed girls are my jam. Her relationships with her mother and father, both so different and so complicated, were wonderful, too. The author says he's currently working on a sequel, and I can't wait!

4.Mask of Shadows / Linsey Miller - Sal is a thief who accidentally lands on a way to try out of the Right Hand, a group of assassins and general-doers-of-things that serve the queen of their realm. Sal, being one of the few survivors of a country wiped out in a recent war, sees it as an opportunity for revenge on those who let their people burn. Most of the book follows a deadly contest between the competitors, who have to be the last one surviving in order to win. Sal takes 'side quests' to try and find those responsible for their country's death while also trying to survive the competition. I loved Sal in this book, and their bouts of introspection, their ingenuity when it came to the competition, and (even though it played a small part) their almost worship-like relationship with the Queen. There was a lot of set up for a larger-scope plot in later books, which I very much look forward to.

5.The Marrow Thieves / Cherie Dimaline - In a dystopian future where most people have lost the ability to dream (among other ecological disasters), the Native people of North America are the only ones left with that ability. And they're being murdered and their bodies harvested for the dreams in their marrow. The story follows Frenchie, a teen who took to the woods at a young age to avoid recruiters and found a family there among others on the run. Most of the book details their attempts to survive in the wild while avoiding capture. The language in this book is beautiful and evocative, and the exploration of the relationships between Frenchie and his found-family is excellent. There's a lot of direct correlations between the 'current' dystopia and the generational trauma of the characters that makes the whole thing uncomfortably believable. The plot is a bit slow, but at the same time, it's not a plot-centric book and doesn't try to be.

#.Honorable Mention: The City of Brass / S.A. Chakraborty - This one misses the 'official' list only because I'm less than halfway through it as of the writing of this post. (Hey, it's 19 hours long on audiobook.) And that's kind of a downer on 'best lists' when you're still reading right up until NYE. But so far this is a great fantasy, rich with political machinations (my favorite kind!) and detailed worldbuilding.

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