Yes, I am back. I have returned from the beyond. Howdy! It has been a while, but life has been pretty flipping busy these past few months and blogging has been the last thing on my mind (
sorry not sorry).
But it is a new year, with new things happening and I thought it was time to dust off the laptop, give the blog a bit of sprucing up with a new theme and get back to the good stuff.
I’ll be posting my plans and goals for 2018, but right now let’s go back in time and review my reading in 2017.
Like an Award Show, Only BETTER
Rather than the usual end-of-year top reads, I thought I’d go for something a bit different and channel the awesome Ariel Bissett on YouTube and come up with my own little awards ceremony. This way, you get a nice overview of my reading year: good, bad and a lot of YA! You can check out her 2017 video here.
Just a stunning cover in this naked cloth bound hardback edition from Sceptre. Published in 2010, I’ve had this book on my shelves for a while, but hadn’t picked it up until 2017. My first David Mitchell and a truly haunting read. Beautiful cover, beautiful book. And the end papers are pretty special too…
Honourable Mentions: Our Dark Duet (UK), Shades of Magic series (US), The Bedlam Stacks, Fen, The Essex Serpent, The North Water (UK Hardback), The Court of Broken Knives (UK Hardback), The Cows, The Wolf Road
Yes, I am going there. And this is actually really difficult, as I have read some beautiful books! But I’m going to have to go with this one. Traditional sci-fi covers really do just look dated now, even with the new Gollancz Masterworks treatment.
At 630 pages, this sequel to the AMAZING, OMG YOU HAVE TO READ IT WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ IT WHAT IS YOUR LIFE, The Lies of Locke Lamora, could be considered a beast of a book. But after returning to incredible characters who I simply adore, getting mixed up in a casino heist and badass piracy, I stormed through this in just a couple of days.
A little bit of poetry for my shortest book, with only 33 pages. This is a cute classic collection from Auden that balances whimsy with something much more profound.
I thought it was possible I might enjoy this book, after seeing the series EVERYWHERE on Instagram after the release of A Court of Wings and Ruin in May 2017 (book 3). But I wasn’t sure I’d love it, concerned the hype was just too much, so I kept putting it off until the very end of the year! The story wasn’t at all what I expected and was simply fantastic. Rushing out to buy the next two was, quite frankly, necessary for my emotional and mental wellbeing.
Another gorgeous cover that promised so much, but this ended up being one massive pile of icky, whale-blubbery mess. Crude, obsessive with bodily functions and fluids to the point of inducing nausea, violence for the sake of violence and a plot that … well, I’m still not 100% sure what the point of the plot was, to be honest as it lacked any of the profundity it’s Man Booker shortlisting in 2016 seemed to suggest.
New Favourite Author(s)
I literally cannot pick one. I have read some outstanding books this year by authors who are new to me, and in many cases I have immediately picked up other books by them or set some pre-orders. Here’s a short list of authors I will definitely be reading again in 2018 and beyond:
Laline Paull (The Bees)
Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle)
MacKenzie Lee (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue)
Madeline Miller (The Song of Achilles)
Sarah Winman (Tin Man)
Virginia Woolf (Orlando)
Sebastian Barry (Days Without End)
Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls)
Book That Taught Me The Most
Not only did this book teach me things about place and history that I hadn’t known or even been aware of, this novel also showed me some of the most beautiful ways of developing story and character relationships I have encountered anywhere. I hadn’t been sure of this quiet novel at first, but now it is one of those works that has stayed with me in flashes of brilliance since finishing it. I highly recommend you pick this one up, and I shall be getting my hands on Natasha Pulley’s other novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street soon.
Honourable Mentions: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and The Complete Maus
Book That Made Me Want To Be A Better Human
I genuinely had to stop eating honey for a few weeks, it was so traumatising to think that bees might get hurt in the harvesting process. A freaking remarkable look at a small but vital part of our natural world.
Book That Just Wasn’t For Me
From some of the best characters, to some of the worst, this book just made me angry and more than disappointed. I found myself shouting at it more than once in a fit of rage. In theory, this book comes second to All of the Above by Juno Dawson, but as I only read 20 pages of that before nearly throwing it across the room, I don’t think it’s fair to pass total judgment. I finished this one. And wish I hadn’t bothered.
Book That Made Me Cry Until My Face Hurt And I Literally Cannot Even, You Guys
Like, you know how the story ends. It’s Greek Myth 101. Everyone knows what happened. SO WHY DID I CRY SO HARD?? WHY?? FOR LIKE AN HOUR. A WHOLE DAMN HOUR. My face still hurts thinking about it. I think I’m crying now. Miller, you cruel, incredible, awful, wonderful writer, I love-hate you.
This is one of the hardest categories for me, as I have read some crackers that are either whole or part of a series. But I’m going for The Raven Cycle because it is the series where I immediately bought the next 3 after finishing the first and read them all in one go. Exciting, lyrical, amazing characters and a fun plot, this series was a highlight of my year. So, what do you know about Welsh kings?
Honourable Mentions: Shades of Magic, The Gentlemen Bastards, DeathNote, Monsters of Verity
Alucard Emery and Delilah Bard. Just saying. This is the second book in the Shades of Magic trilogy by one of my favourite authors, V.E. Schwab. It’s fast-paced, fun and contains one of the sassiest, most loveable and all-round absolute babes of fiction, Captain Alucard Emery. Did I mention he’s a pirate? No? WELL HE’S A FREAKING PIRATE, YEEEAAAHHH!!
Honourable mentions: Ronan Lynch (The Raven Cycle), Henry ‘Monty’ Montague (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue), Jean Tannen (Red Seas Under Red Skies), Victor Vale (Vicious), The Baby (Nutshell), Lucien (A Court of Thorns and Roses), Raphael (The Bedlam Stacks), Elka and Trapper (The Wolf Road), August Flynn and Kate Harker (Our Dark Duet).
Cutest Couple Who Deserve to Be Together Until The End of Time
Monty and Percy forever! I knew I would love this book when I saw the hype before, during and after its publication. I did fear it wouldn’t live up to such high expectations, but hot damn this is a fun book! And these two … oh my poor twisted black heart just loves them and their truly adorable romance.
Most Important Book(s)
I’m not sure I need to go into why these books are so incredibly important. Dealing with racism past and present, these two books should be on everyone’s shelves, no matter who you are.
Book of the Year
Are we surprised? I read this beautiful book way back in March and it has remained my book of the year throughout, despite some serious competition. Full of love, war, the best of humanity, and the worst, family, hope, joy and sadness all in equal measure, this book is truly outstanding and will forever be one of my favourite books of all time.
Some Honourable Mentions
- Tin Man by Sarah Winman. Poignant and utterly heartbreaking, this is a stunning novel that packs significant punch for its short length.
- A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness from an idea by Siobahn Dowd, illustrated by Jim Kay. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful from beginning to end.
- Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin. Filled with complexity, depth and tenderness, this is a remarkable book that blew me away from the start.
For more info on the books I read in 2017, you can head on over to my Goodreads in the sidebar – and why not add me, and we can share even more bookish love? Book friends are great friends ❤ You can also find me on Instagram @openlitbooks too, where I have shiny new images that I am super proud of.
If you’ve read any of the books I’ve mentioned, or just fancy a chat, let me know in the comments down below.