Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier: I’m a big fan of Rachel Neumeier’s books but before reading Black Dog, I wasn’t quite sure if I’d like it or not (official summaries being slightly vague and not always great at conveying the actual feel of the book). I DID. I loved the characters, especially Natividad, and I loved the romance, which I easily could not have. In fact, Ezekiel is one of the more swoony characters from the past year. Plus, the magic system here is unique and fascinating. I really loved it, and am looking hopefully forward to the sequel (which I believe will eventually be released one way or another).
Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee: This book opens with one of the most deliciously scary scenes I have ever read. Merciful and her world are completely engrossing, although I did feel that the middle sagged a bit. But the end pulls everything together in a way that is, as I said in my original review, “Pitch perfect, gorgeously written, able to take a piece of text that has been used so often that it is almost bare of meaning and somehow make it so emotionally affective that I cried my way through it.”
And All the Stars by Andrea K Host: This was the first book I read by Andrea Host, and in some ways it’s still my favorite. A post-apocalyptic (sort of) survival tale (sort of) with some romance and mystery. I loved Madeleine most, but I also loved the way Host draws in the other characters, and how diversely populated her world is.
Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan: I had been eagerly awaiting the third and final volume in the Lynburn Legacy trilogy and it did not disappoint. Hilarious, heartwarming, and heartbreaking, this book was everything I wanted it to be and more. It also gets the just-invented Best Use of Epigraphs Award.
Monstrous Affections ed. by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant: This one mostly for Sarah Rees Brennan’s “Wings in the Morning” story, to be honest (although I do think it’s a very strong anthology that is worth checking out!). I had been reading along with the serial prequel, “Turn of the Story” and loved it so, SO much–it’s what I wanted The Magicians to be. “Wings in the Morning” was the perfect resolution for the story and I have read it at least twice since I bought the ebook.
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater: Ugh, Maggie Stiefvater, the things you do to me! This is definitely the third book in a series, in that it relies a lot on relationships and emotions established in the first two books. But it is also really funny, and a little sad. Adam might be just a tad my favorite (don’t tell Ronan) but I love all the characters and I’m impatiently waiting until the fourth book comes out.
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero: I read this one just recently (which why October Best of the Year lists will always get a side-eye from me, but I digress). I’d been hearing good things about it, and it lived up to them. Gabi’s voice makes this one, her anxieties, strengths, and all. I’m from a different culture and generation, and yet it also rang very true to what being a teenage girl feels like.
The Story of Owen, Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston: This one has been shortlisted for the Morris Award, and rightfully so. Siobhan’s voice is incredibly strong, wryly funny and heartfelt. As Liz Burns points out in her review, there’s a depth of worldbuilding here that’s really great–Johnston has clearly taken the time to think through the implications of her choices. This one felt fresh and fun, and at the same time grounded in both myth and real life.