Half Way Check In: Bookstr Team’s Greatest Reads So Far This Year

The Bookstr team made the impossible choice of choosing our favorite reads of the year so far! Read on to uncover these notable novels!

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Here at Bookstr, we take any chance we can get to gush over our favorite books. As we near the halfway point of 2024, I asked some of the team about their favorite reads from the first half of 2024. From fantasy favorites to riveting romances and beyond, get ready to fill your TBR with these note-worthy novels. 

Playground by Aron Beauregard

My favorite book of 2024 so far is Playground. When I started reading this year, Playground was the first horror/gore book I’ve read, and I absolutely fell in love with the genre! At first, my roommate dared me to read it because of how graphic it was, but when I began divulging in the book, I was fascinated by the story and how intense it was. An absolute and all-time favorite.

  • Alysea O’Brien, Editorial
Playground by Aron Beauregard
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A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J. Maas

So far, my favorite book of 2024 is A Court of Thorns & Roses. I hit a heavy dry spell of both reading and writing for roughly 5-7 years, and it was this book that reignited my imagination, and I started writing again. I also encouraged a friend to start the series with me, so it’s like a mini book club between us. I always loved fantasy, horror, and dystopian genres. While this book certainly has fantasy covered, it is also introducing me to the romance genre. I’m enjoying it so much that now I’m starting to grow my own TBR collection and eager to buy more books before I even finish this one!

  • Talia Wall, Graphics
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
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A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher

Absolutely loved A House With Good Bones! I work part-time as a bookseller at an indie store, and the cover of the paperback edition caught my eye. I normally read fantasy, so naturally, the paranormal occurrences were my favorite part. I’m also a sucker for a mother-daughter reconnection(ish) plot, which was beautifully crafted. Finally, there’s Phil — the unexpected Master Gardener and (potential) love interest who gets dragged into generational family trauma. He’s just delightful. 

  • Arianna Fuhrman, Editorial
A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher
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The Girl Who Ruined Christmas by Cindy Callaghan

I read this book back in January, and I loved it.  This book is so fun and entertaining and perfect for the winter season.  The main character travels with her parents to a small town for a business opportunity, and she accidentally sets off a chain of events that leads to the Christmas tree being destroyed before they do the lighting ceremony.  The book is fast-paced and has a few twists that keep the plot interesting.  I loved the setting of the small town, and it contrasted nicely with the main character, who lived in California and had never seen snow before.  

  • Molly Ireland, Outreach
The Girl Who Ruined Christmas by Cindy Callaghan
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In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

My favorite book that I’ve read so far this year has to be In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. This book was one of the first introductions I had to historical fiction, and I absolutely loved it. The novel opens a window into the lives of four sisters, each navigating the tumultuous terrain of womanhood in a society defined by patriarchal norms and authoritarian rule during Trujillo’s reign in the Dominican Republic. I enjoyed Alvarez’s usage of alternating perspectives that allowed me to inhabit the minds of each sister throughout the various stages of their lives. I was captivated by the characters and their story, as well as factual events that aren’t always recorded in history books. 

  • Dunia Matta, Editorial
In The Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
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Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Oh my god. This is one of the novels I think everyone should read at LEAST once in their life. Beartown is an emotional tour de force that had me throwing the book across the room like every chapter. It centers on a small hockey town and its journey to the championships, but the story is about so much more than that. It’s about love, loss, and a community that is forever changed after the actions of one single person. I’m literally obsessed with this book, and I’m debating whether or not to read the next two in the series because I know there’s no way they could be as good as this one!! (ATTN! TW: SA)

  • Elizabeth Beaver, Editorial
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
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Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

This one almost left me in tears. After a hard time trying to read a book this year, Orbiting Jupiter made it an easy read by the author’s writing style of “say less, show more.” The author’s words, through the narrator Jack, carry a weight I wish to write like one day. I sympathized with poor Joseph, a middle school kid who, fostering under Jack’s family, is separated from his baby daughter, Jupiter, named after the mother and Joseph’s favorite planet. Literally, the entire book’s about Joseph wanting and trying to meet and care for his baby when no one will let him because he’s also a kid. He’s never met her once, but the book shows how much Joseph loves her. It’s gutwrenching for Jack and me, who root for him. Reading this book made me want to find more stories like this.

  • Claudia Maldonado, Editorial
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
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Funny Story by Emily Henry

Emily Henry is an instant by for me since I read Book Lovers by her last year. I felt giddy reading this book the entire time. Miles, the male main character and love interest, was your typical golden retriever, while Daphne was a bit more grumpy. They complimented each other so well that they fell in love very slowly but beautifully because they formed a friendship and bond first. I loved reading about their little adventures together as Miles tried to show Daphne around the town to convince her not to move away. I could not stop kicking my feet in the air during this book, the love and friendship between Daphne and Miles were to die for and I wish I could reread it for the first time. I was watching a rom-com in a way, the writing set the scene for me.

  • Alexa Vergil, Editorial
Funny Story by Emily Henry
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Masters of Death by Olivie Blake

I picked up this book late last year mostly because I loved the endpage illustrations and the premise of the book intrigued me. I didn’t get a chance to read it until this summer and was absolutely blown away by the story and writing style. Blake’s ability to jump between past, present, and future within a single chapter captivated me in ways I haven’t felt in a while.

I loved all the characters, and the mystery of the histories and what was unfolding kept me hooked. Her use of mythologies and theologies from various cultures was extremely unique and left me hungry for more. I stayed up until 4 AM to finish it and could not put it down. I loved it because I never knew what to expect in the best way. I laughed, I cried, and I stared at the ceiling, wondering what to do next after I finished. 

  • Maria Mello, Graphics
Masters of Death by Olivie Blake
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Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a few months, and I finally picked it up and read it over Father’s Day weekend. It has to be one of the cutest, cozy fantasy romances I’ve ever read. I should have waited to read it until August, but I didn’t check to see when the sequel would be released. Funny, quirky, and a bit evil, the book was the perfect read. I cannot wait until Apprentice to the Villain releases in August. 

  • Kristi Eskew, Executive Editor
Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer
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Kindergarten Wars by You Chiba

I came upon this series randomly at the start of the year, and it was an instant favorite. It’s about a kindergarten where the staff are former criminals who have to defend the students from assassins. It’s a healthy mix of action, comedy, and romance. One of the best parts about it is this running gag where the protagonist, whose sole motivation is getting a hot boyfriend, flirts with the assassins before accidentally killing them. This manga is a gem. 

  • Gabriela Collazo, Editorial
Kindergarten Wars by You Chiba
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The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett

Equal parts Sherlockian mystery and solarpunk fantasy, The Tainted Cup awed me with its lush prose and setting, unforgettable characters, and unpredictable twists. The first in a series from the author of Foundryside, it is sure to please fans of peculiar settings and even more peculiar mysteries. With queer and dyslexic representation, this wildly unique and addictive book cemented itself on my list of favorite reads of 2024… and possibly all-time.

  • Fiona Hansen, Editorial and Outreach (because I couldn’t resist sharing my own favorite!)
The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett
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What’s your favorite read of the year so far? Be sure to let us know on our socials! Facebook, Instagram, and X!


To read about the literary characters that raised the Bookstr team, click here.

To browse these reads and more Bookstr picks, click here.

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