I have read some really amazing books this year so picking out 5 favourites was really tough (and I’ve cheated a little with a bonus one too) I easily had 9 that sprang to mind when I started thinking about what my top ones were. I’ve made myself pick though so here they are, in no particular order – my top 5 reads of the year (plus a bonus!) One of these doesn’t publish until next year but as I read it this year I’m including it anyway!
Seven Deaths of an Empire by GR Matthews
The Emperor is dead. Long live the Empire.
General Bordan has a lifetime of duty and sacrifice behind him in the service of the Empire. But with rebellion brewing in the countryside, and assassins, thieves and politicians vying for power in the city, it is all Bordan can do to protect the heir to the throne.
Apprentice Magician Kyron is assigned to the late Emperor’s honour guard escorting his body on the long road back to the capital. Mistrusted and feared by his own people, even a magician’s power may fail when enemies emerge from the forests, for whoever is in control of the Emperor’s body, controls the succession.
Seven lives and seven deaths to seal the fate of the Empire.
I loved this traditional feeling Swords and Sorcery epic fantasy novel. It ticked so many of my fantasy read boxes. My full review can be found here. This book also introduced me to a new hobby so it definitely had to make the list.
Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto
1 (accidental) murder
2 thousand wedding guests
3 (maybe) cursed generations
4 meddling Asian aunties to the rescue!
Wedding photographer Meddy Chan has always wanted to make her overbearing family happy. And there’s nothing they want more than to see Meddy happily married.
But when Meddy accidentally kills her blind date that they set her up on, she calls her meddlesome aunties to help her. Although hiding a dead body is going to be harder than they thought, especially when their family business has its biggest event yet – and at a hotel that just happens to be managed by Meddy’s ex boyfriend, Nathan, aka the one that got away.
This was the surprise hit of the year for me, I picked it up a whim as I was looking for some lighter crime to read and I’m so pleased I did. Laugh – out – loud funny with loveable characters this one had to make my list. You can find my full review here.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the Earth itself will perish.
Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.
All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.
His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.
And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.
One of my anticipated books of the year, this one certainly didn’t disappoint. With Weir’s trademark of making complicated science sound easy and the most loveable non human character I’ve read for a long time this book was a definite win. Full review is here.
Little Thieves by Margaret Owen
Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love–and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself.
The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed.
Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.
This book was a lot of fun, I wasn’t overly familiar with the fairy tale it was based on but that really didn’t matter. A great fantasy novel with crime mixed in this was a super read. You can find my full review here.
The Maid by Nita Prose
Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.
Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.
But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanour has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?
I debated whether or not to include this one as it doesn’t actually publish until January and I was lucky enough to read an early copy of it – but as this my top books I’ve read this year I’m going to include it anyway. There was something charming and gripping about this one, and its stayed with me long after I finished reading. You can find my full review here.
And a bonus book…
Campaigns and Companions by Andi Ewington, Alex de Campi, Rhianna Pratchett and Calum Alexander Watt
If there are two things all geeks love, it’s roleplaying games, and their pets. So why not fuse the two? It’s time to grab your dice, dust off that character sheet, and let your cat or dog (or guinea pig, or iguana, or budgie) accompany you on an epic adventure! It’ll be great!
…unless your pets are jerks.
I absolutely had to include this super fun little book, with its superb illustrations that asks the question – what if our pets played D&D? This marvellous book had me smiling all the way through. Full review can be found here.