Aidee’s Most Recommended in 2017

I realize its February, and you probably have at least five more books on your TBR pile because of all the lists of books out there—I know I do. But here I am anyway, fully intending to add more books to your piles because there are never too many books—unless you just get them because you can, with no intention of reading them sometime in the near future. Below, my list of most recommended books from 2017. I have two or three that weren’t actually published in 2017, but which I have found myself recommending to everyone who will listen to me long enough. The list isn’t in any particular order.

1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Genre: Fantasy

Six of Crows CoverEnter the Grishaverse with the #1 New York Times–bestselling Six of Crows.

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

I love this book. I also have what I think are pretty good reasons to love this book. It’s a combination of a heist and quest fantasy, with six diverse main characters and a well-constructed fantasy world. It starts out slow, but I promise it is worth it in the end. Fair warning, it does end on a cliffhanger.

2. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Genre: Fantasy

Crooked Kingdom CoverKaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets—a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

This is the sequel to Six of Crows, and I love it just as much. The adventure continues, with less heisting and more efforts to keep the world from changing in potentially catastrophic ways. It’s the same cast of characters, and resolves the issues from the previous book.

3. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. Genre: Fantasy, graphic novel

Wonder Woman: Warbringer CoverShe will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

This is a different take on Wonder Woman, and geared more toward young adults/teenagers. I enjoyed it a great deal, even though its timeline has nothing to do with the movie. I can’t comment on the art one way or the other, not because it isn’t good, but because I didn’t see it.

4. Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews. Genre: Urban fantasy

Burn for Me CoverNevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

I loved this book so much, I reviewed it—not on this site, though. It’s got a well thought out plot, a heroine who has room to grow but is still strong, competent and likeable from the very beginning, and hilarious family members. What else do you need to know?

5. White Hot by Ilona Andrews. Genre: Urban fantasy

White Hot CoverNevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …

Sometimes the second book in a trilogy isn’t as great as the first, but Andrews doesn’t disappoint with this one—the sequel to Burn for Me. It continues with the overarching plot and love interest without feeling like it’s dragging things out too much. There are cute ferrets, too.

6. Wildfire by Ilona Andrews. Genre: Urban fantasy

Wildfire CoverNevada Baylor can’t decide which is more frustrating—harnessing her truthseeker abilities or dealing with Connor “Mad” Rogan and their evolving relationship. Yes, the billionaire Prime is helping her navigate the complex magical world in which she’s become a crucial player—and sometimes a pawn—but she also has to deal with his ex-fiancée, whose husband has disappeared, and whose damsel-in-distress act is wearing very, very thin.

Rogan faces his own challenges, too, as Nevada’s magical rank has made her a desirable match for other Primes. Controlling his immense powers is child’s play next to controlling his conflicting emotions. And now he and Nevada are confronted by a new threat within her own family. Can they face this together? Or is their world about to go up in smoke?

Yes, I’m recommending all three books in a series because they’re that good. I will note that the violence does escalate book by book, so if that’s an issue for you, keep that in mind. Most everything is resolved in this book, but it ends in a way that allows for more stories in the future—which I’m crossing my fingers for.

7. Hamilton’s Battalion by Courtney Milan, Rose Lerner and Alyssa Cole. Genre: Historical romance

Hamilton's Battalion CoverLove in the time of Hamilton…

On October 14, 1781, Alexander Hamilton led a daring assault on Yorktown’s defenses and won a decisive victory in America’s fight for independence. Decades later, when Eliza Hamilton collected his soldiers’ stories, she discovered that while the war was won at Yorktown, the battle for love took place on many fronts…

I wrote a review for this book which explains why I love this anthology so much. I gave it as a Christmas present, I loved it so much. The novellas stick to the general theme of the anthology, they’re full of diverse characters, and for the most part, they didn’t feel rushed or cut short.

8. Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen. Genre: Nonfiction

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud CoverFrom celebrity gossip expert and BuzzFeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen comes an accessible, analytical look at how female celebrities are pushing the boundaries of what it means to be an “acceptable” woman.

You know the type: the woman who won’t shut up, who’s too brazen, too opinionated—too much. She’s the unruly woman, and she embodies one of the most provocative and powerful forms of womanhood today. In Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, Anne Helen Petersen uses the lens of “unruliness” to explore the ascension of pop culture powerhouses like Lena Dunham, Nicki Minaj, and Kim Kardashian, exploring why the public loves to love (and hate) these controversial figures. With its brisk, incisive analysis, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud will be a conversation-starting book on what makes and breaks celebrity today.

I can never get the title or the author’s name right, but I think it has a lot of good insights on women who push against and enforce stereotypes of appropriate feminine behavior in popular culture. I also learned things about female icons I didn’t know before, despite how pervasive they are.

9. The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare. Genre: Historical romance

The Duchess Deal CoverSince his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:

– They will be husband and wife by night only.

– No lights, no kissing.

– No questions about his battle scars.

– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:

– They will have dinner together every evening.

– With conversation.

– And unlimited teasing.

– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

Dare took a trope that has appeared in historical romance hundreds, if not thousands of times and made it feel fresh. You have an overworked, underpaid seamstress and a duke, with some beauty and the beast elements, and it’s so good.

10. A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole. Genre: Historical romance

A Hope Divided CoverFor all of the War Between the States, Marlie Lynch has helped the cause in peace: with coded letters about anti-Rebel uprisings in her Carolina woods, tisanes and poultices for Union prisoners, and silent aid to fleeing slave and Freeman alike. Her formerly enslaved mother’s traditions and the name of a white father she never knew have protected her—until the vicious Confederate Home Guard claims Marlie’s home for their new base of operations in the guerilla war against Southern resistors of the Rebel cause.

Unbeknowst to those under her roof, escaped prisoner Ewan McCall is sheltering in her laboratory. Seemingly a quiet philosopher, Ewan has his own history with the cruel captain of the Home Guard, and a thoughtful but unbending strength Marlie finds irresistible.

When the revelation of a stunning family secret places Marlie’s freedom on the line, she and Ewan have to run for their lives into the hostile Carolina night. Following the path of the Underground Railroad, they find themselves caught up in a vicious battle that could dash their hopes of love—and freedom—before they ever cross state lines.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s the second in the Loyal League series, but I don’t think you have to read the first—An Extraordinary Union—to understand what’s going on. There’s a counterintelligence officer from the Union Army and a secret Unionist chemist. Both of these characters explored a lot about race in the Civil War era that feels applicable to today, but not in a didactic manner.

11. Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren. Genre: Contemporary romance

Dating You/Hating You CoverEveryone knows that all’s fair in love and war. But these two will learn that sabotage is a dish best served naked.

The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending, or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, hilarious story of romance in the modern world.

I enjoyed this book. The characters have great dialogue, there’s a lot of tension, and yet in the end, the heroine doesn’t forfeit anything for her happy ending, which I am here for. It is a workplace romance, so if that’s an issue, keep it in mind.

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