Hello, friends! You might recall if you are a regular reader of The Regal Critiques that a few days ago I ranted a bit about all the disappointing 2017 releases I read in the past year. If you're new here, (in which case, welcome!) or haven't seen it, but are interested in it, you can see that here. Today, I'm doing part two of the 2017 new releases posts, which means I'll be sharing with you all the absolutely fantastic 2017 releases I had the chance to devour. These books are 10000% worth reading and totally deserve to be bought, read and/or gifted to someone, so if you got some for Christmas? Hi, I have some suggestions for how you can spend it!
On a side note, covers lead to goodreads, "review" leads to my reviews, and, "aes" leads to my aesthetics on twitter.
All the Adorable Contemporaries
I feel like 2017 was a pretty cool year for cutesy contemporary releases, and that comes from someone who is actually NOT a big contemporary romance fan. These four titles in particular were AMAZING.
Cinder & Ella will FOREVER be my favorite Cinderella retelling, but I will admit that Geekerella utilized some elements of the original tale in a wholly unique and creative way. Oh, and the romance!! The main romance was super-adorable (with a POC hero!), but it had NOTHING on the side F/F couple who were just TOO PRECIOUS.
Queens of Geek = one of the most adorkable books of ever. First of all, the two romance plots are AH-MA-ZING. One is about two girls who are FANS of each other and, ah, their budding relationship is just gorgeous. The other is about a boy and a girl who have been friends for ages, and are finally ready to admit their feelings to each other, so like, THE BEST TROPE EVER. The book has various POC characters, a fat girl who's on the autism spectrum, a bi and a lesbian girl, and is super diverse in general.
Tash Hearts Tolstoy is, sadly, one of the few books that I know that has asexual representation. I'm not sure if it is #ownvoices or no, but I did see ace readers praise the rep, so yay for good rep! The story itself is REALLY good, there is freakishly adorable romance, there is EPIC friendship, there is LOTS OF film-making, and everything is done so well. THIS BOOK NEEDS MORE HYPE.
The Upside of Unrequited was one of my highly anticipated books of 2017, so I'm extra glad this one made it onto my best of list. Becky Albertalli is excellent at writing teen voices and awesome representation, and SIMON APPEARED IN THIS. I mean, I was hoping for a face-to-face meet, but that little Simon cameo made me smile too. There was some drama, but it was done so well that I didn't even mind it.
I'm Liking NA Books Again???
180 Seconds is the book that restored my faith in NA novels - note that the other two are novellas! It isn't only a well-written book with an intriguing romance, but it also has some of the most gorgeous, fantastic, imperfect characters I've ever read about. SO.DARN.GOOD. I will certainly read other books by the author, and I'm eagerly awaiting anything new she publishes.
The Paths We Choose is the second novella - but can be read as a standalone! - in M. Hollis's Lillac Town series, and it is SO CUTE. Seriously, she is a fantastic author who writes incredible F/F romance with diverse casts (POC and/or lgbtq+) with most, if not all, the characters being female. She also covers ALL the different college experiences which is just SO RARE. Some of her characters are still unsure of what they want to do, some have tried one or more things, and later realized they weren't for them, others are 1000% sure of what they want. THIS IS SO REALISTIC AND AWESOME. Also, both this book and The Melody of You and Me are about an F/F couple.
Peter Darling, aka the Peter Pan retelling we've all been waiting for: PETER AND HOOK ARE A THING... *Yes, I spent 5 minutes staring at the screen, trying to think of a good hook up/Hook pun... and I still failed.* There is #ownvoices trans, M/M rep, absolutely gorgeous setting, intriguing story idea and truly epic romance. READ IT.
Historical Romances For the Win
I feel like 2017 was also the year when I found my way back to historical romance novels, because they can be so entertaining, lovely and fun. I was reading lots of backlist titles, so I believe these three were the only ones I read that are 2017 releases, but I swear they would have made my best of list even if that wasn't the case.
The Duchess Deal is about two totally random people getting married, so, obviously, it has quite a few hilarious scenes, like all Tessa Dare novels do. Then, Devil in Spring features a total boss heroine whose biggest desire in life is to become a successful business woman. I mean, there IS really cute romance and then some criminal activity in the background, but the focus is on the heroine's goals and career. Last but not least An Extraordinary Union takes place during the American Civil War, and is about a black (#ownvoices rep!) heroine who is a spy, pretending to be a slave, to gather information.
aes for it An Extraordinary Union
The "I Am Impressed Very Impressed" Gang
Literally all these books are fantastic and are 10000% worthy of your time and money. HOWEVER, I had HUGE expectations for them, and those weren't fully met, and so these are still 4-star-novels. BUT SO GOOD STILL.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer did so much better in so many ways than the movie - the focus was on the epic female friendship, there was diversity (much of the cast consists of people of color!), Diana was more complex with realistic problems and the characters were marvelous. HOWEVER, I do feel like that a book that concentrates so much on girl power and female friendship should have better dynamics between the Amazons. (Tell me what you think in the comments, because I'm interested in hearing various opinions on this!)
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was SO MUCH FUN. I'd say it's probably one of the quirkiest books I've read this year, with many laugh-out-loud scenes and a fantastic heroine + hero pair. Seriously, so entertaining and amazing.
Before the Devil Breaks You, while my least favorite of The Diviners series so far, was sooooo good! First of all, most of the characters were working together FINALLY, and were becoming a quite powerful unit of young people. MANY things were answered, MY! SHIP! SAILED! and the plot was pretty great, as well. BUT ALSO, DID YOU HEAR THE PART ABOUT MY SHIP SAILING??
Want is, quite frankly, one of the best dystopian novels I've ever read. Amazing world building of a very realistic and scary future-idea, fun characters and a HEIST PLOT all made Want a great reading experience.
Genuine Fraud, aka E. Lockhart's new mind-twisty book, was so damn good! I was a bit confused about what age-group it was aimed at, though? I think I saw it marketed as adult, but then it had a very YA feel to it and the characters were pretty young. ANYHOW, that takes exactly nothing away from what an edge-of-your-seat journey this story was. Loved how my opinion of the characters kept changing and changing as we were slowly given more and more information.
Even the Darkest Stars was such a freaking unique book! I haven't yet read or heard of a novel that portrayed such a long mountain-climbing journey. It was so interesting to read about the world, as well! Very intriguing world-building and the whole witch-thing remained such a grey area. Only problem is that the best part was the end BY FAR, and it ain't a good feeling when you close a book feeling like the good thing is only coming in the sequel.
A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares was, by far, one of the weirdest books I've read this year, perhaps ever. It was so hard to distance what was real and what wasn't, which, on the one hand, made this a very creative story, but, on the other hand, annoyed me so badly. Still really good, though!
We're Getting Closer to the Top
Only 5-star-reads from here!
Final Girls was one heck of a ride for sure! I'll admit that I was decidedly more into it right after I read it than I am now, but it was still a really solid, well-written thriller that packed quite a few punches along the way.
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue was SUCH FUN. So many humorous, laugh-out-loud scenes, but also, the cuteness of Percy and Monty will make you swoon for sure. And don't even get me started on Felicity, who was such a fierce female characters with many iconic scenes. Seriously, such a fantastic, diverse novel, and my aesthetic for it on twitter gained quite a popularity, so head the hell over there to check it out.
The Disappearances was one of my most awaited releases of the year, because THAT COVER is simple, but pretty and it fits the story remarkably well. One of the best, yet, most underrated novels I've read this year, which pains me a great deal. Adorable, cozy small town vibe, magic and a grand mystery about a wretched curse are only some of the things you'll find in this fantastic novel. Read it!
The Absolute Favorites
The Language of Thorns, a collection of six, all-around magical stories, is hands down one of the best AND most beautiful books released in 2017. The stories were superb, and the illustrations were gorgeous, fitting and so very unique.
I was very lucky to read an ARC of Charlotte Says thanks to my friends over at Dual Reads who got me a copy from YALC, and I loved it from start to finish. The story was chilling in all the right ways, - anyone else hella creeped out by dolls? - and the heroine was quite complex and even morally gray as the story progressed.
Hunted quickly became one of my favorite Beauty and the Beast retellings. The heroine is a huntress who goes to search for her father, and hunt down the beast he feared. So many unique takes on the original, and it even addresses domestic abuse, so that was cool.
Moxie is the girl power book we've all been waiting for. For one, it has a heroine who is sort of quiet and shy, but oh my, does she become a rebel when she has ENOUGH of all the sexism in her school. Also, the book features a diverse cast of females - POC and lgbtq+ characters - as well as ALL KINDS OF FEMALES, sporty ones, popular ones, unpopular ones etc. COMING TOGETHER and protesting for a better future for young women and girls in their town and school.
The Hate U Give, aka the book that RIGHTFULLY nominated discussions about 2017 new releases. THUG is an #ownvoices novel based on the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and it is, to be honest, one of the most amazing books I've ever read. Magnificent writing, absolutely fantastic characters and a heartfelt, HONEST and realistic story are some of the main things I'd like to mention about the book. Cannot wait for Angie Thomas's next novel, On the Come Up.
If you've been on the blog before, you likely know that Cat Winters, the author who made me fall in love with historical fiction, is one of my all time favorites. Any time she releases ANY NEWS about one of her upcoming novels, I get positively giddy with excitement. It was the same with Odd & True, which portrays the adventures of two sisters, Od and Tru. I'm not sure what to say without sharing spoilers, so let me just encourage you to get this (and all the other books by the author) because it IS SERIOUSLY SO GOOD. Also, #sistergoals.
A List of Cages is one of those books that I wasn't sure I'd love, because abuse, especially the abuse of children, makes me raging mad. Thankfully, I still picked this up, and I couldn't be more satisfied with how good it was. This was one of the most beautiful combination of absolutely heartbreaking AND truly heartwarming scenes. Incredibly emotional and fantastic.
Have you read any of these novels? What have been your most favorite novels of 2017? Either released in 2017, or ones you read in 2017?