Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017: A Year in Books

I finally stopped eating long enough to write my year in books, 2017 blog. It's been a great year of variety in terms of authors and genres. I had my first foray into graphic novels and almost completed a 52 point reading challenge - more on that later. As always, there is a mixture of kindle books, library books, borrowed and bought books. And without further ado, here it is, my year in books.

Books I read in January:
  1. The Monstrous Child - Francesca Simon (Reading Challenge: A book based on mythology.)
  2. Soulmates - Holly Borne (Kindle)
  3. The Winter Over - Matthew Iden (Kindle) (Reading Challenge: A book with one of the four seasons in the title.)
  4. Continents - Jim Crace
  5. The Devil's Larder - Jim Crace (Reading Challenge: A book about food.)
  6. Harvest - Jim Crace (Reading Challenge: A book with a red spine.)
  7. Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein (Reading Challenge: A novel set during war time.)
  8. Holding up the Universe - Jennifer Niven (Reading Challenge: A bestseller from 2016.)
  9. Bridget Jones's Baby - The Diaries: Helen Fielding (Reading Challenge: A book with a title that's a character's name.)
  10. Mother MOTHER - Koren Zailckons (Reading Challenge: A book with a family-member term in the title.)
  11. Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion (Kindle) (Reading Challenge: The first book in a series you haven't read before.)
  12. Evelyn: After - Victoria Helen Stone (Reading Challenge: A book by an author who uses a pseudonym.)
As you can see January was a good reading month. For me it is a bleak month and so I usually over compensate by reading a shed load and escaping into as many worlds as I possibly can. It was also a good month for ticking off quite a few of the reading challenges and most of them by fluke. The winner of best book for this month goes to Holly Bourne and her YA book: Soulmates. I love this writer and for me she can do no wrong. 
 
Books I read in February
  1. The Cry of the Owl - Patricia Highsmith (Reading Challenge: A book you got from a used book sale.)
  2. The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon
  3. The Children Act - Ian McEwan (Reading Challenge: A book from a genre/subgenre that you've never heard of - Religious and inspirational.)
  4. Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy - Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman (Reading Challenge: A book with multiple authors.)
  5. A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki (Reading Challenge: A book about a difficult topic.)
  6. Beautiful Broken Things - Sara Barnard (Kindle) 
  7. Fairytales of Gold - Alan Garner (Reading Challenge: A book you loved as a child.)
  8. The Radleys - Matt Haig (Reading Challenge: A book you've read before that never fails to make you laugh.)
February was also a good month for the reading challenge and for me it is usually even bleaker than January, so again, escapism is the key to survival. Leading the charge this month is Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard, another YA wonder. 

Books I read in March
  1. Take the Key and Lock her up (Embassy Row #3) - Ally Carter 
  2. Cuckoo - Keren David
  3. Dead of Night - Michael Grant
  4. Wilderness Tips - Margaret Atwood (Reading Challenge: A book set in the wilderness.)
  5. Frog Music - Emma Donoghue
  6. The Ladybird Book of the Zombie Apocalypse
  7. Omicidio alla Modo - Cinzia Medaglia
  8. Hag-Seed - Margaret Atwood (Reading Challenge: A book that was a story within a story.)
  9. The Guilded Cage -Vic James
  10. Flawed - Celia Ahern (Kindle) 
  11. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (kindle) (Reading Challenge: A book mentioned in another book.)
  12. The Doll Funeral - Kate Hamer (Reading Challenge: A book set in two different time periods.)
  13. Omicidio in Paserella - Cinzia Medaglia
March was a good month for Italian short stories and novellas. I ticked off another few reading challenges and enjoyed a nice mix of adult and YA books. I chose Frog Music by Emma Donoghue as my top book of the month. Everything I have read by her, I have really enjoyed. She is a talented author and if you haven't checked her out yet, then I highly recommend you do. 

Books I read in April
  1. Is it Just me? - Miranda Hart (Reading Challenge: A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read.)
  2. We Were Liars - E.Lockhart (Reading Challenge: A book with an unreliable narrator.)
  3. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (Reading Challenge: A book with am eccentric character.)
  4. Black Light Express - Philip Reeve
  5. SAGA Volume 1 - Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Reading Challenge: A book with pictures.)
  6. To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
  7. Fire Colour One - Jenny Valentine
  8. Boneshaker - Cherie Priest (Reading Challenge: A steampunk novel.)
  9. Italian Short Stories for Beginners Volume 2 - Olly Richards
I like the mix of books I read in April, from comedy/autobiography to steampunk, to treasured classics and more YA wonders. But the pinnacle of the month was my first delve into the world of graphic novels with SAGA Volume 1. The illustrations are incredible and whilst you get through each volume at the speed of light, you can't wait for the next one. Thank you to my friend for recommending I start there. The author/illustrator combination is amazing and long may they continue this saga. 

Books I read in May
  1. SAGA Volume 2 - Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  2. SAGA Volume 3 - Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  3. Black Moon - Kenneth Calhoun
  4. Release - Patrick Ness (Reading Challenge: A book written by someone you admire.)
  5. Charm and Strange - Stephanie Kuehn
  6. The House on Stone's Throw Island - Dan Poblocki
  7. Lost and Found - Brooke Davis (Reading Challenge: A book by an author from a country you've never visited.)
  8. How to be an Alien - Mikes and Bentley (Reading Challenge: A book you bought on a trip.)
  9. Saint Mazie - Jami Attenberg (Reading Challenge: A book about an interesting woman.)
  10. Lady Midnight (TDA #1) - Cassandra Clare (Re-read)
  11. Morte in Maratona - Cinzia Medaglia
  12. Lord of Shadows (TDA #2) - Cassandra Clare
May became my hardback-obsessive month. Six of the twelve titles were read in hard back (4-9 on the list) and I just really enjoyed reading them. I always take the paper cases off, which often reveals a very sexy hard cover. There is always an air of excitement surrounding a Cassandra Clare new release and she did not disappoint. And the same with Patrick Ness. You can imagine how giddy I was having both of their new releases this month. However, the top honours go to Lost and Found by Brooke Davis, which I found in the local book shop in Kentish Town, on sale, and I loved it. The characters are so unique and eccentric and there is so much emotional depth and humour in it. I deeply recommend this book. 

Books I read in June
  1. Jackdaw Summer - David Almond
  2. Go Set a Watchman - Harper Lee
  3. The Power - Naomi Alderman (Reading Challenge: A book recommended by an author you love.)
  4. My Name is Leon - Kit de Waal (Reading Challenge: A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you.)
  5. Dolce Vita - A. De Guili and C.M Naddeo
  6. The Waves - Virginia Woolf
  7. Jacob's Room - Virginia Woolf
  8. Un Amore per la tua Cucina - Cinzia Medaglia
  9. Surfacing - Margaret Atwood
June was a really tough month for choosing a favourite book. David Almond is always up there and with Harper Lee's triumphant sequel and women taking over the world in The Power, it was tough, tough, tough. But eventually, I chose the lovely, lovely, Leon. This book is heart breaking and so beautifully written, you can't help but fall in love with Leon. Thank you Kit de Waal for creating him. He's a superstar!

Books I read in July
  1. Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation - Lynne Truss (Reading Challenge: A book with a subtitle.)
  2. The Beneath - S.C. Ransom
  3. Shadowmagic - John Lenahan (Reading Challenge: A book involving a mythical creature.)
  4. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood
  5. Lady Killer (in Italian) - Joelle Jones and James. S. Rich
  6. The Stone Gods - Jeanette Winterson
  7. Heartbreak Hotel - Deborah Moggach (Reading challenge: A book set in a hotel.)
  8. Demon Dentist - David Walliams (Reading Challenge: A book with a cat on the cover.)
July saw me read my first David Walliams book, lent to me by the eight year old I pick up from school twice a week. He is also a voracious reader, which is nice. We have lots to talk about. It was a good month for the reading challenge and me improving my Italian. The winner of July was The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood, lent to me by one of my favourite people on the planet. it's about women and relationships and it is classic Atwood. I love her. 

Books I read in August
  1. Gender Games - Juno Dawson
  2. Chasing the Stars - Malorie Blackman (Reading Challenge: A book by a person of colour.)
  3. The Graces - Laure Eve (Kindle)
  4. The One Memory of Flora Banks - Emily Barr (Kindle) (Reading Challenge: A book involving travel.)
  5. Caraval - Stephanie Garber (Kindle)
  6. The Adventures of the Princess and Mr Whipple - Patrick Rothfuss
I cheated this month. I chose a non-fiction favourite and a fiction favourite. It's my blog and I can do what I like. Gender Games by Juno Dawson is a book about gender and how it screws us up from birth. Not only should every parent and every expectant parent read it, but just all people should read it. Juno executes her tale with her usual northern charm and humour, and punctuates it with plenty of true stories from her rather interesting life. And Caraval is escapism at its best. I loved this fantasy world and would quite happily have leapt in and joined in the game. I look forward to more from Stephanie Garber.

Books I read in September
  1. Here's to you Rachel Robinson - Judy Blume
  2. Unconventional - Maggie Harcourt (Kindle)
  3. My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout
  4. How to Stop Time - Matt Haig (Reading Challenge: A book that takes place over a character's life span.)
  5. When Dimple met Rishi - Sandhya Menon (Kindle)
  6. When Mr Dog Bites - Brian Conaghan (Reading Challenge: A book by or about a person with a disability.)
  7. Sweetfreak - Sophia Mckenzie
  8. The Sun is Also a Star - Nicole Yoon (Kindle)
  9. Salem's Lot - Stephen King (Kindle)
I enjoyed my September reads. It was a great month of horror, love, and laughter. This was another tough month to decide on the best book, but due to the fact that you had to prise my kindle out of my hands in order to go to work, eat and/or sleep, the top honour goes to Maggie Harcourt. I could not put Unconventional down. The characters and the premise were so real and honest. I would quite happily have coexisted with them. I highly recommend this book. 

Books I read in October
  1. It Only Happens in the Movies - Holly Bourne (Kindle) (Reading Challenge: A book published in 2017.)
  2. Amiche per la Pelle (My first full length Italian novel. It took me months to get through it, but I persevered!) - Laila Wadia (Reading Challenge: A book about an immigrant or refugee.)
  3. Black Friday - Alex Kava (Reading Challenge: A book with a month or day of the week in the title.)
  4. The World's Worst Children - David Walliams
  5. Clockwork Prince (TID #2) - Cassandra Clare (Audiobook) (Reading Challenge: An audiobook.)
  6. Pride and Prejudice a Graphic Novel - Austen, Edginton, Deas
  7. Transparent - Natalie Whipple
  8. Under my Hat: Tales from the Cauldron - Edited by Jonathon Strahan
  9. SAGA Volume 4 - Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  10. The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
Ordinarily, on any given month, Holly Bourne would be likely to win best book, but the powerhouse that is Angie Thomas and her incredible novel: The Hate U Give, left everyone waiting in the wings. This book is powerful and real and necessary to the world. I am not giving anything away, you will have to read it to find out. But it is spectacular. 

Book I read in November
  1. IT - Stephen King (Kindle) (Reading Challenge: A book that's more than 800 pages.)
  2. Il Segreto di Julia - Cinzia Medaglia
  3. Halloween Party - Agatha Christie (Reading Challenge: A book set around a holiday other than Christmas.)
You may notice a distinct lack of titles in November and there are a couple of reasons for this. Number one being that IT is over one thousand pages long and takes a good while to read. Also, I was writing a novel myself for NaNoWriMo and had only thirty days to do so, which takes a lot of time and brain power. IT won the month, of course, not that it had much competition. But the level of detail in this book is extraordinary. Man, I would love to sit down with that chap. 

Books I read in December
  1. Our Kind of Traitor - John le Carre (Reading Challenge: An espionage thriller.)
  2. Railsea - China Mieville (Reading Challenge: A book recommended by a librarian.)
  3. Black Beauty - Anna Sewell (Reading Challenge: A book from a nonhuman perspective.)
  4. Reckless 3: The Golden Yarn - Cornelia Funke (Reading Challenge: A book that's been on your TBR list for way too long.)
  5. On Writers and Writing - Margaret Atwood (Reading Challenge: A book with career advice.)
  6. The Circle - Dave Eggers (Reading Challenge: A book that's becoming a movie in 2017.)
As you can see, December was all about trying to complete my reading challenge, which I almost did, but sadly I had one challenge I failed to complete, which was to read a book of letters. I have the book, which is letters from Sylvia Plath to her friends and family, but it is a large book with very small print and there was no way I could finish it before the end of the year. But still, 51/52 on the reading challenge and 105 books read altogether is not too shabby, 2017!
The final winner of the year is The Circle by Dave Eggers which is terrifyingly creepy and so realistic. It is also a film on Netflix, with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, so you should check it out, but not to be too cliche, the book is way better than the film. They cut out all the sex from the film too. So definitely read the book!

And that's it, my year in books, which due to a saving error in blogger, I've just had to write out most of it twice. Yay! I just love wasting hours of my life. I hope I have inspired or recommended a book to some of you, or maybe just entertained you enough for you to keep reading. And here's to the next year of reading. Let's hope we find new worlds to visit and new horrors to scare us and new voices to guide us. 

Thanks for reading this, now go and read a book. 

Rants 



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