This was such a great year for books! My TBR pile never once came close to empty and I always had a plethora of choices to choose from. I had a hard choice trying to decide what my top favs would be but ultimately decided on books that I know I would love to read again and again. All of these books were stories I couldn’t put down and sacrificed sleep over – all extremely well worth it!
Sixteen-year-old Joan Sands is a gifted craftswoman who creates and upkeeps the stage blades for William Shakespeare’s acting company, The King’s Men. Joan’s skill with her blades comes from a magical ability to control metal—an ability gifted by her Head Orisha, Ogun. Because her whole family is Orisha-blessed, the Sands family have always kept tabs on the Fae presence in London. Usually that doesn’t involve much except noting the faint glow around a Fae’s body as they try to blend in with London society, but lately, there has been an uptick in brutal Fae attacks. After Joan wounds a powerful Fae and saves the son of a cruel Lord, she is drawn into political intrigue in the human and Fae worlds.
Queen Bee by Amalie Howard
Lady Ela Dalvi knows the exact moment her life was forever changed—when her best friend, Poppy, betrayed her without qualm over a boy, the son of a duke. She was sent away in disgrace, her reputation ruined.
Nearly three years later, eighteen-year-old Ela is consumed with bitterness and a desire for . . . revenge. Her enemy is quickly joining the crème de la crème of high society while she withers away in the English countryside.
With an audacious plan to get even, Ela disguises herself as a mysterious heiress and infiltrates London’s elite. But when Ela reunites with the only boy she’s ever loved, she begins to question whether vengeance is still her greatest desire.
Their Vicious Games by Joelle Wellington
A Black teen desperate to regain her Ivy League acceptance enters an elite competition only to discover the stakes aren’t just high, they’re deadly, in this searing thriller that’s Ace of Spades meets Squid Game with a sprinkling of The Bachelor.
You must work twice as hard to get half as much.
Adina Walker has known this the entire time she’s been on scholarship at the prestigious Edgewater Academy—a school for the rich (and mostly white) upper class of New England. It’s why she works so hard to be perfect and above reproach, no matter what she must force beneath the surface. Even one slip can cost you everything.
And it does. One fight, one moment of lost control, leaves Adina blacklisted from her top choice Ivy League college and any other. Her only chance to regain the future she’s sacrificed everything for is the Finish, a high-stakes contest sponsored by Edgewater’s founding family in which twelve young, ambitious women with exceptional promise are selected to compete in three mysterious events: the Ride, the Raid, and the Royale. The winner will be granted entry into the fold of the Remington family, whose wealth and power can open any door.
But when she arrives at the Finish, Adina quickly gets the feeling that something isn’t quite right with both the Remingtons and her competition, and soon it becomes clear that this larger-than-life prize can only come at an even greater cost. Because the Finish’s stakes aren’t just make or break… they’re life and death.
Adina knows the deck is stacked against her—it always has been—so maybe the only way to survive their vicious games is for her to change the rules.
The Song of Wrath (Bones of Ruin #2) by Sarah Raughley
Iris Marlow can’t die. For years, she was tormented by her missing memories and desperate to learn her real identity. So when the mysterious Adam Temple offered to reveal the truth of who she was in exchange for her joining his team in the Tournament of Freaks, a gruesome magical competition, it was an offer she couldn’t refuse. But the truth would have been better left buried.
Because Adam is a member of the Enlightenment Committee, an elite secret society built upon one fundamental idea: that the apocalypse known as Hiva had destroyed the world before and would do it again, and soon. But what the Committee—and Iris—never guessed is that Hiva is not an event. Hiva is a person—Iris.
Now, no matter how hard Iris fights for a normal life, the newly awakened power inside her keeps drawing her toward the path of global annihilation. Adam, perversely obsessed with Iris, will stop at nothing to force her to unlock her true potential, while a terrifying newcomer with ties to Hiva’s past is on the hunt for Iris.
All Iris wants is the freedom to choose her own future, but the cost might be everything Iris holds dear—including the world itself.