Hello everyone! I read 17 5 star books last year. Because there are a lot, I’m breaking my wrap up into nonfiction and fiction. I previously posted about the nonfiction books, and today I’m sharing the 6 fiction books with you in no particular order. Click here for the video version of this post.
First up is Ambush or Adore by Gail Carriger, the third book in the Delightfully Deadly series in the Parasol Protectorate universe and definitely my favorite. It follows the two main characters over the decades of their sometimes on, sometimes off romance and their struggles balancing their careers, relationships, and lives in general. I had to catch my breath with how achingly bittersweet individual lines and overall trajectories were in this book. I loved Pillover from other books and was so happy to have a book focused on him, including his sibling relationship with Dimity. It’s a beautiful book and a little different from Carriger’s usual tone, done so well.
Next is Beach Read by Emily Henry. I discovered Henry last year and absolutely devoured her books. Finally, romances without toxic masculinity! I loved them all, but Beach Read was my favorite. It’s about a romance writer who retreats to a beach house to try to get her inspiration back and a literary rival who happens to be in the cabin next door. They issue a writing challenge to each other for the summer and, of course, one thing leads to another. It’s fun and sexy, but it’s also incredibly poignant and meaningful. Highly recommend.
Next is Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell, which is a science fiction space adventure with royalty, politics, an arranged marriage, and not a little bit of romance. I absolutely fell in love with the characters. The writing and dialogue are strong with lots of humor that doesn’t diminish the serious parts. I was fully emotionally invested, feeling actively tense and buoyant in turn. While the plot and tone are very different, I would say there’s a spirit to this book similar to that of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. The audiobook narrator added perfect inflection to bring the characters to life.
Next is The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell by Mira Grant, a novella in the Newsflesh series that provides the backstory for the character the Fox and takes place in a school during a zombie outbreak. It’s harrowing. It’s graphic, gory, and brutal. A lot of children die. It seems to be partly commentary on school shootings and public schools being built and secured by “the lowest bidder.” I don’t recommend it to everyone, but I will say that it’s done superbly.
Next is The Zork Chronicles by George Alec Effinger, which is a 1990 high fantasy book based on the Zork games. I picked it up at a bookstore years ago because I liked one of the Zork games and finally read it. I have to say, I did not have high hopes, but the book turned that expectation right on its head. It’s an absolutely delightful, hilarious, absurd, anachronistic adventure. Underneath the parody of the classic mythological and heroic story, however, is an incredibly smart, self-aware, logical structure crafted with expert precision and growth arcs for multiple characters. Despite frequent absurdity and anachronisms (like vending machines deep in a cavern in a fantasy world), nothing was included in a hand-wavy way just to get through the plot. It’s an incredible homage to the hero’s journey and just plain fun. This book is one of those hidden gem experiences that stand out and remind me why I read in the first place.
Finally is The Change by Kirsten Miller, which is somewhat of a murder mystery thriller that is absolutely on fire with feminist themes. Reading it feels like watching a movie, it’s that intense and fast-paced. I felt engulfed by the power of the three main characters, in a totally good way. One in particular, Harriett Osborne, is basically a chaotic green witch and is one of my favorite characters of all time and hashtag life goals. Please read this book, you won’t be disappointed.
And that wraps up my 5 star fiction books of last year! Did you read any of these books? Do you plan to read any of them now? Let me know in the comments. Until next time, have a great day!