Jen’s Top 5 Favorite Books of 2017

Even though I failed my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge, I still had a very productive reading year. It, uh, just wasn’t done in the traditional way. On top of the 20 published novels I read, I also read and critiqued three unpublished manuscripts and hundreds of short stories. I also read through my own manuscript at least 15 times as I wrote, revised, and polished it up for querying in January.

*deep breath*

Since I can’t recommend any of the unpublished stories I read, I’ll stick to those I read as part of the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Compared to last year, I had a much more enjoyable experience in 2017. In fact, it was difficult to narrow it down to my top five favorites. But, I did. So, here we go!

Jen’s Top 5 Favorite Books of 2017

Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch

“You’ll gulp Dark Matter down in one afternoon, or more likely one night… Alternate-universe science fiction [and] a countdown thriller in which the hero must accomplish an impossible task to save his family. There’s always another door to open, and another page to turn.” —New York Times Book Review

I’m not a big sci-fi fan, but “Dark Matter” was excellent!  It was, by far, my favorite book of 2017. I could not–NOT–put it down. I truly felt like I was reading a movie. It had a breathless pace, a unique premise, and unexpected twists and turns. Plus, it made me think–and it kept me thinking long after I finished it. So, even if you don’t love sci-fi, give “Dark Matter” a shot. It’s downright fun!

To read more about “Dark Matter,” check out its synopsis on Goodreads.

I Let You Go” by Clare Mackintosh

The next blockbuster thriller for those who loved The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl…a novel with “an astonishing intensity that drags you in and never—ever—lets you go.” -Daily Mail, UK

Without sounding like an annoying know-it-all, I’m one of those readers who tends to figure out a story’s twist long before it’s revealed. In “I Let You Go,” I was duped. The book’s twist totally caught me off guard–and I loved it! Fair warning, however: the first chapter is pretty intense and includes a disturbing event that might make some readers consider putting the book down. I know I needed to take a few minutes to catch my breath and shake it off before I kept reading. I’m glad I did. This was an outstanding thriller!

To read more about “I Let You Go,” check out its synopsis on Goodreads.

Strange the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor

“Gorgeously written in language simultaneously dark, lush, and enchanting, the book will leave readers eager for the next.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

My favorite YA author, Laini Taylor, published a new book in 2017 (*cue confetti and champagne*). Now, I’ll admit, I didn’t love “Strange the Dreamer” quite as much as I loved Taylor’s “Daughter of Smoke and Bone,” but it was still great. Laini Taylor is a master of language. She also knows how to herd characters into a corner and make it seem impossible for them to escape–sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. It always makes for an exciting read. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

To read more about “Strange the Dreamer,” check out its synopsis on Goodreads.

All Things Cease to Appear” by Elizabeth Brundage

“Frequently shocking and immensely moving…. It was for such extraordinary books that the term ‘literary thriller’ was coined.” —The Wall Street Journal

Haunting. Tragic. Gripping. If you’re looking for a thriller that is unique and beautifully written, then “All Things Cease To Appear” is perfect for you! I think the most common complaint I’ve seen about this novel is the lack of quotation marks around the dialogue. I’ll admit, it initially threw me off, too. But, as I acclimated to Brundage’s unique style, the problem “ceased to appear” and I was able to thoroughly enjoy this dark, mystifying drama. Definitely worth a read!

To read more about “All Things Cease to Appear,” check out its synopsis on Goodreads.

Behind Closed Doors” by B.A. Paris

“A hair-raising debut, both unsettling and addictive…A chilling thriller that will keep you reading long into the night.” —Mary Kubica, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Good Girl

To be completely honest, I have a love-hate relationship with this novel. I was not a fan of the main character for most of the novel. In fact, I kinda wanted to slap her for making the decisions she did. BUT I loved the entire concept, as well as the big, bad villain. And I really loved how B.A. Paris kept me on the edge of my seat. She put the protagonist in an awful situation and kept her there without any real promise she’d find a way to save herself. So, even with the protagonist’s faulty character, I’d recommend this book to those who love thrillers.

To read more about “Behind Closed Doors,” check out its synopsis on Goodreads.

So, there you have it! It wasn’t a fantastic year of reading for me, but I still read a lot of fantastic books. I hope you get a chance to read one or all of them!

What were some of your favorite books from 2017? Let me know in the comments section!

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