Friday, January 5, 2018

El Jefe's Top Tier Books of 2017

So much fun to share my favorite reads of the year!

I got through a ton of fantastic novels in 2017, but only a select few made it into that category of MUST KEEP READING INTO THE WEE HOURS EVEN THOUGH I'LL PAY A HUGE PRICE TOMORROW.

Books I've read this year: 100 (just barely made it!)
Books that made my Top Tier: 5

It's my privilege to share these five standouts with you.

Middle Grade


Unexpectedly powerful, this tale of a girl stuck between two cultures, struggling to fit into middle school. It sounds like it could be trite or messagey, but Apple's search for her place kept me turning pages.

It's rare to find a "diverse" book that reads primarily as just a plain old great book, and this does just that. Might be my personal connection with Apple -- although she's Filipino and I'm Taiwanese, so many of her experiences resonated so strongly with my own.

Bonus: pretty short book, easy to get through in a single session!

Young Adult


Rarely does a non-fiction book stand out for me, but I'm a huge fan of Sheinkin's work. I don't know much about the Vietnam War, and even less about the Pentagon Papers ... I couldn't stop listening to the audio book, though!

Start with the tale of a break-in, add in elements of cover-ups, Presidential hubris throughout generations, and one man's struggle to figure out the morally right thing to do -- at the cost of facing prison -- and you have a MUST READ.

Might have been the most gripping book I've read all year!


It's so rare that I read sequels. SIX OF CROWS was on my best books 2016 list, and I couldn't wait to dive into CROOKED KINGDOM. Much to my delight, it delivered almost the same entertainment value as the first book!

Kaz Brekker's crew is back, looking to get things back on track for their big score. Seeing all my favorite characters back in action delighted me, and watching as they planned the heist to end all heists, all the while facing horrible hurdles thrown into their way ... just amazing!

I wish I could read this series over for the first time again. If you haven't read these books, they're my favorite escapist novels in a long, long time.


Groan, a book about a dying girl! Stick with it though, and you'll get just about the perfect example of that elusive element agents and editors are searching for: "voice." Both Greg Gaines and Earl have such distinctive mannerisms and quirks that make them stand out.

Not much actually happens in the book by means of plot. That's usually a problem for me, but I could have listened to Greg and Earl go on for a couple hundred more pages. The unlikely friendship proved alternately hilarious and touching.



You know how the story ends, but it still doesn't stop you from being wowed by each and every obstacle that these guys overcome. Such an amazing story about perseverance, hard work, and a little bit of luck. I'm a Seattleite, so to get all the references to things right here in my back yard was even neater.

I was sure some of it had to be fictionalized. Nothing as dramatic could possibly happen to characters faced with such absurd barriers. I mean, a guy whose family just up and leaves him when he's about 10, the dad saying that he's a man, that he can take care of himself ... and that's just the beginning!

Someone has to make a movie out of this. It's just that good.

Here's to a great 2018 -- can't wait to uncover my first new Top Tier book!

P.S. In case you want more book recs, here are my Top Tier lists from 201620152014, and 2013. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. It must be hard to choose 5 out of 100 books. Thank you for sharing the list! Gonna add these 5 into my must-read list in 2018.
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