Top 17 Books of 2017

2017 was a great year for reading, and there were so many great books this year that it was a challenge narrowing down this list to just 17!

  1. Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan – a pair of Jesuit priests investigate the deaths of street children in this book touted as the first contemporary Filipino serial killer mystery. A movie version was shown in Philippine cinemas this December, and I’m crossing my fingers for a North American distributor. (Blog review)
  2. El Deafo by Cece Bell – adorable graphic memoir for children about a young bunny who is self-conscious about her giant hearing aid and so invents a superhero persona. (Blog review)
  3. Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne – Beautifully written and quietly epic. It’s almost 600 pages long and I couldn’t put it down. (Blog review)
  4. As If!: The Oral History of Clueless as told by Amy Heckerling and the Cast and Crew by Jen Chaney – this is a full-on nostalgia pick, as Clueless was one of my favourite movies growing up, and it was such a pleasure to get a glimpse behind the scenes.
  5. New Boy by Tracy Chevalier – part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, this re-tells Othello from the perspective of children befriending each other and fighting for control over a playground. It’s brilliantly understated. (Blog review)
  6. Sputnik’s Children by Terry Favro – cult comic book creator Debbie Biondi finally agrees to write the origin story of her famous superhero Sputnik Chick. It turns out Sputnik Chick’s origins as a superhero has its roots in Debbie’s own childhood during the Cold War, when she was approached by a time traveler to save the world from nuclear annihilation by transporting into an alternate timeline.
  7. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon – I savoured this over a week-long vacation, and it’s the perfect book to lose yourself in.
  8. If the Dress Fits by Carla de Guzman – I rarely see plus-size heroines in romance novels, so this novel was a welcome find. The heroine is a size 24 which, in the Philippines, means she often has to have clothes modified to fit, and the hero is her sweet, bookish, animal-loving best friend. The ending fell short (too rushed, too neat), but otherwise, the book was great.
  9. Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez – This is a moving, multi-voiced story of a community. The characters pulse from the page, and we share in their joy at each minor triumph. The writing is beautiful. Also, I have a soft spot for the character of Bing and his mother Edna, who are Filipino, and I love the references to “Filipino kisses” (lips curled in) and Catholic masses and Filipino pork dishes.
  10. The Borrowed by Chan Ho-Kei, translated by Jeremy Tiang – a compelling collection of mysteries spanning a talented detective’s career, The Borrowed is particularly resonant because of how each of the mysteries links to a larger event in Hong Kong history. (Blog review)
  11. A Brother’s Honor by Brenda Jackson – Sexy romance, compelling characters and intriguing mystery. I downloaded the entire Grangers series from the library and am eager to read more of Brenda Jackson’s books.
  12. Falling into Right by Sharon Kay – the chemistry is hot, but the reason this story shines is the strong emotional connection formed by the hero and the heroine, who are both dealing with emotional scars. The hero also has an adorably vicious K-9 German shepherd, which just made it even more perfect. (Blog review)
  13. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan – I’m a huge fan of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, and the final book is by far the best. A fitting sendoff to the Shang-Young family. (Blog review)
  14. Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos and Me by Lorina Mapa – This graphic memoir of a young girl’s life during the height and decline of Martial Law is beautiful and bittersweet.
  15. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – small town politics and the friendship between three women culminate in a mysterious death at a party. This was such a fun book to read and the HBO adaptation was just as much fun to watch.
  16. Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks – feline versions of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of their crew enact classic Star Trek episodes. How amazing is that? And for all you Picard fans, Star Trek: The Next Generation Cats is due out in March 2018!
  17. Animal Attraction by Jill Shalvis – a handsome, soft-hearted veterinarian hero. His tough, troubled receptionist. And a kitten named Beans. How could I resist?! This was recommended to me when I was looking for a romance with a doctor hero, cute pets and no children, and Shalvis’ Animal Magnetism series more than delivers.

Many thanks to:

  • Family and friends who give me such wonderful bookish gifts,
  • Publishers who are so generous with review copies of this year’s hottest titles,
  • The library for having such an extensive collection of ebooks, and
  • Fellow book bloggers and online book friends who give such great recommendations!

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