We got to do some pretty amazing things this year, all thanks to reading. Here are some of our bookish highlights of 2017! Continue reading “Reading Year in Review: 2017”
Because most of the books I read on my Kindle are ARCs and I’m getting them from the Document tab, I forget that I’ve got some other great already-published books sitting on my digital shelves. These are all books that I’ve bought in the last couple of months and really want to be reminded of so, and hopefully make up a Kindle TBR for 2018.
Replica by Lauren Oliver
We received a copy of Ringer from Hodder and Staughton, which was extremely generous, but it made me want to kick myself for always choosing something else over Replica when I came across it in a Waterstone’s Buy-One-Get-One-Half-Price deal. (Isn’t that always the way, the moment you decide to buy something, it’s full price?) After giving up on a bargain physical copy, I finally spotted this for 99p (!!) and although I’d love to add the pink-and-orange cover to our shelves, a digital copy will have to do. It’s a book from two different perspectives that you read one after the other, and after reading Truth or Dare by Non Pratt, I’m really interested to see how that narrative style will work out in this more paranormal genre. I’ve also heard people compare it to Stranger Things, which I love, so we’ll see!
Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
After reading Love, Hate and Other Filters, I’ve really wanted to find more books with Muslim protagonists, and since hearing Ayisha Malik talk about the relationship between the Islamic faith and dating at YALC, I’ve been super curious to pick up her book that’s described as a muslim Bridget Jones. I’m hoping that this one will be a lot of fun and introduce me to some perspectives I haven’t read from enough.
It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne
I read a sampler of this that I got at YALC and have been really intrigued to continue. When I saw this come up for 99p during it’s release week, I couldn’t resist, and seeing as I’ve got the rest of Holly’s stand alones of my Kindle, it only made sense to add this yellow beauty to my e-editions. It’s about a girl called Audrey who analyses the behaviour of guys in relationships on screen and it sounds wonderful, if a little didactic. I loved the Spinster Club series, so fingers crossed this one is also a hit.
History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Any #OwnVoices story, I want to jump on top of right this second. Although I normally go for any other letter in LGBTQIA+ than ‘G’ – because it’s the most represented of these underrepresented groups and I want to show the others more love – Adam Silvera is one of these authors I’ve only heard good things about and I feel like the last person to jump on the Silvera band wagon. This is going to make me cry, I’m sure of it, since it’s about Griffin grieving the loss of his boyfriend, Theo, but sometimes I like to punish my heart.
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Corodova
Speaking of LGBT+, this one has a bisexual main character, I’m pretty sure. It’s witchy and spooky and Latinx, all the things I need more of on my TBR (although I’m thinking this one is a book that would fit way better with Bee’s reading aesthetic!) I’ve found a lot of Alice and Wonderland comparisons, which isn’t a story I’m fond of, but it has some great ratings on Goodreads, so hopefully, I’ll be one of them.
I’m writing this post on December 3rd. On this day, I’ve read 205 books (so says my Goodreads challenge). Taking away the books I’ve read for university, reread from previous years and DNF’d (which I did for the first time this year!) I’ve read 126 books.
Of those 126 books, I thought it would be interesting to go through and see if I can figure out anything about my star rating system. For all of you that love statistics, this post is for you! (and the others will just have to wait until tomorrow, mwhaha!)
Here’s how 126 books breaks down into star ratings, and click the images if you’re interested in our reviews:
I’m taking it as a really good sign that I only gave two books a one star rating this year because it means for the first time ever, I’m actually putting books down that I don’t care enough about to finish! Hopefully next year, I’ll have improved and be past even giving one star ratings but have bigger DNF list.
This has become a much more common rating, as I’m really trying to make more differentiation in my 3 stars ratings (but we’ll get to that in a minute…) These are books that I wanted to keep going with, for the hope that they’d really wow me in the last fifty pages, despite losing hope the more pages I turned. There are still things to like in 2 star books, it’s just not…enough. Still, I’d definitely recommend these books to others hoping they’d like what I liked and more.
Oh, the three star rating. This is by far the most common because I can easily find things I like and don’t like so much. A three star rating doesn’t have to be the perfect balance between good and not great, but it feels like a category where books fall by default. I try and open every book assuming that it’ll be a three star read and if it does nothing to convince me it should get a lower or higher rating, I’ll leave it there.
There’s something really special about four star books for me. It’s a rating that means I had an absolutely wonderful time when I was reading and I fell in love with so many aspects of the book. Maybe it’s a rating that’s very influenced by my environment (or how many three star books in a row I’ve read before them!) It also means that if I reread the books, there’s the potential for them to increase to a five star rating if I can fall in love with them all over again.
A five star rating is reserved for absolute favourites, books that I can see myself reading over and over again, books I wish I could read again for the first time, ones that make me laugh, cry or make me burst with any strong emotion. They’re the books I want to buy multiple copies of and shove into the hands of everyone I know. They’re the gems that remind me why I love reading and why I always will.
So, there you have it, there’s my star ratings break down for 2017 and a sneaky peak at two of my favourite books of the year! Look forward to Bee’s statistics coming soon. Let me know what the most common rating you’ve given this year and if you think you’ve read more 4-5 star books this year than the last!
The GoodReads Choice Awards have been going on for nine years. The only category I’ve voted in consistently since joining GoodReads in 2013 is the Best YA of the Year. I thought it would be fun to look back at all the previous years and see the winners, the voting numbers and whether it was a good indication of what YA people were reading that year.
Winner – Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen – 547 votes
Runner Up – Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – 534 votes
As the first Goodreads Choice Awards, when the website was only two years old, these are some pretty good numbers for people reading YA. It’s also cool to know that these authors are both still writing eight years later, with many of Sarah Dessen’s later books making it to at least the first round of the challenge. Although I can’t speak for Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Dessen is definitely a staple of YA, especially when you’re first transitioning from middle grade.
Winner – Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – 825 votes
Runner Up – Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter – 655 votes
It seems so weird that a fourth book in a series was the runner up for this category, seeing as all of the winners have been stand alones. You go Ally Carter! She was also working on Heist Society simultaneously so had two different series in the category before Sarah J Maas ever did. As for Before I Fall, this definitely sets the trend for the next two years, when books about death (in some way) come out on top. Everyone just loves a bit of morbid YA, apparently. (Also, the film came out this year and was surprisingly good, so well done Lauren Oliver for keeping this book relevant for seven years.)
Winner – Where She Went by Gayle Forman – 4221 votes
Runner Up – Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – 3352 votes
Now we’ve moved into the era where YA books are getting thousands of votes. 2011 was the year TFIOS was published and when everyone started paying attention to this age group. The Year of The Spin-offs. I’m surprised that Lola is the first Stephanie Perkins book to make the final two, seeing as everyone on BookTube raved about Anna so much! As for Gayle Forman, is it just me, or has no-one really heard from her since I Was Here? What’s she doing now?
Winner – The Fault in our Stars by John Green – 37438 votes
Runner Up – Easy by Tammara Webber – 8890 votes
Ah, John Green, the king of YA. Of course TFIOS was going to win, everyone saw that coming but 37,000 votes to 9,000?? Are you kidding me? The Nerdfighters were so strong this year, and probably did wonders for getting more people to use GoodReads. Also, has anyone heard of the runner up book? Me neither.
Winner – Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – 21818 votes
Runner Up – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – 17124 votes
This is such a funny year. Rainbow Rowell’s biggest competition was herself! That’s the dream, right there. Personally, I prefer Fangirl, but this is iconic. 2013 will forever be remembered as the Year of the Rainbow. It’s also interesting that Eleanor and Park was blurbed as ‘For Fans of John Green’, so that probably had some sway over the 37,000 people from the year before…
Winner – We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – 33948 votes
Runner Up – Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – 20352 votes
Before I even looked at the results, I knew We Were Liars would be number one. This was the book that nobody would stop talking about and really proves the wonders of a good marketing campaign, particularly when it comes to getting BookTubers on board.
Winner – All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – 31978 votes
Runner Up – P.S I Still Love You by Jenny Han – 26274 votes
ATBP is marketed for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell. Basically, if a book gets compared to previous winners, or a John Green quote is on the cover, it’s bound to do well. Thinking about it, didn’t that happen with We Were Liars too? That man has a lot of power. I’m pleased to see a Jenny Han book in second, because although it’s my least favourite book in the series, it’s the first #OwnVoices, racially diverse book to make it to the top two and that shows a lot of promise. The gap between the two books is also super close. 2015 seemed like a good year for YA.
Winner – Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – 29122 votes
Runner Up – The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout – 20168 votes
I was really surprised by these top two, because Salt to the Sea feels very left-field compared to the rest of these books. It’s historical fiction for one, and very, very serious. Bordering on sad the whole way through. As for Jennifer L Armentrout, I knew she was big with the Lux series, but I didn’t really get a sense that this would be the second best book of the year. The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon and If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo also made it to the list, and they’re equally diverse and #OwnVoices, so I think it would have been cooler to see one of those in top spot!
Side note: Let’s appreciate that Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour got just under 150 votes in 2009, and The Unexpected Everything got 16,200. Talk about reaching a bigger audience!
Winner – The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas – 59571 votes
Runner Up – Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – 52517 votes
This year’s winners was the biggest ‘of course’ moment of the year. It’s amazing that John Green’s book, which came out in October, mind you, managed to get so many votes when THUG has been on shelves since February. THUG has set a trend for social justice books, with POC protagonists and that’s something I’m really glad has come about this year. From the look of it, 2018 is going to be even better. Hopefully, next year’s nominations will be even more inclusive!
Of the 18 books that have been called the cream of the crop by GoodReads users, I’ve read 10. Maybe next year, I’ll try and read the other 8, as a time wrap into YA history. Overall, I’d say the winners get more and more expected, based on how much buzz the book has in the year. Apart from 2016 – that came out of nowhere.
We might have a look at the fantasy awards, but really, it’s just Suzanne Collins for two year, Veronica Roth for three (seriously, how did Allegiant win when literally everyone disliked the ending??) Cassandra Clare for one (I thought she’d won a lot more than that!) and Sarah J Maas for the most recent three years. We really need to diversify our fantasy reading as a community!
Let me know how you feel about the GoodReads Choice Awards! It’s good to remember that they’re very US publication oriented, but do you think the winners are a good representation of the year?
This is by no means the extend of the list of our anticipated releases…mostly I had to pick the ones that had covers already, but here’s a brief list of nine of our favourites!
- Hero At The Fall by Alwyn Hamilton – The final book in one of my favourite UKYA series! I loved the first book, and the second one even more, so I have extremely high expectations for the third.
- Legendary by Stephanie Garber – We met Stephanie earlier in the year and she was absolutely delightful. The connection between the sisters in the first book is, I can assume, only going to be stronger in book two! Caraval had an excellent cliffhanger ending, so I’ve been on edge for this all year.
- State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury – I was lucky enough to read the sampler handed out at YALC, and I loved the concept. Neither of us were huge fans of the Sin Easter’s Daughter trilogy, but this sounds like a hit!
- The Curses by Laure Eve – The release date has been pushed back a few times on this sequel, so Summer’s POV is turning out to be very elusive. I loved the witchiness of The Graces, even if it wasn’t as prevalent as I expected, but River’s annoying voice kept getting in the way of my full enjoyment, so take her out of the equation and I’ve got high expectations!
- Alice Oseman and Lauren James’s 2018 books – They don’t have official titles or anything but all I know is I want them. Immediately!
- Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor – After the ending to Strange the Dreamer, are you kidding me? I needed this book yesterday! Even though it took me a while to get into the first book, by the end I couldn’t put it down, and now the world is build and the characters established, I don’t doubt I’ll whip through book two!
- Clean by Juno Dawson – A auto buy author if ever there was one! Maddie read the sampler from YALC and thought it was extremely promising. With a gritty realism, Clean is bound to be one of the most memorable books of 2018.
- Floored (a UKYA anthology) – seven UKYA authors got together and each took a perspective to tell one days events seven different ways, and the best bit is…you don’t know who wrote which part! So we’re going to be having a lot of fun trying to guess!
- Second Best Friend by Non Pratt – Non is quickly becoming one of our favourite authors, and her last Barrington Stoke book, Unboxed, was one of our favourites of 2017.
2017 has been an excellent year for us TV wise, while we’ve still been catching up with The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, and Pretty Little Liars (though thankfully that’s over now), we’ve tried to find new shows to love! Talking about TV shows is something we’ve wanted to introduce on our blog for a while now, especially since the finale of Riverdale season one, and we had some tHoUgHtS. So, here are some of our favourite new discoveries!
We finished the two seasons of this amazing, diverse ensemble comedy about a bunch of cops and their precinct. The last time we bulk-watched a lot of TV was last summer, when all that was on was Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries. I forgot that comedy existed over those months, and I’m so happy it’s back in our lives! You know a show is beyond good when it’s really difficult to pick a favourite character. The diversity never falls back on negative stereotypes, we laugh at something in every episode, and any big plot arc is handed well without descending into cringe-fest like Frasier and Friends would. We’re watching this with our parents (which is a real feat as our Dad is always skeptical about US comedy and Mum spends the first episode of something IMDB’ing the cast) and it’s got to the point where we’re comparing each other to the characters. The only thing to ask now is…when is season four being put on Netflix? WE NEED IT.
Dear White People
We started watching this quite late and then watched three episodes in a row because it was just so GOOD and so RELEVANT and might be the reason we haven’t read The Hate You Give because Reggie’s episode halfway through was so powerful. I’ve said ‘so’ a lot, but that’s the word that needs to be added to every adjective. Seriously, if you choose to watch any of these shows, it probably should be this one.
We heard about this through Riley Marie’s YT channel, and when we learned this is where Hilary Duff’s been hiding, we knew we had to look it up straight away. It’s about Liza, a 40-year-old woman trying to get back into the publishing industry to find out she’s “too experienced” for the job, so she pretends to be 26 and lands the role of assistant to a marketing director! We binged watched the first season in a couple of days – the episodes are only short, so it was super addicting. It’s the kind of show that could very easily have given over to farce, but it stays logical and Liza reveals her age to some characters before the end of the first season, so it’s not draaaagged out forever. The viewership for each season gets bigger and bigger, so this show is obviously on the up!
The Good Place
I saw two tweets about it in an hour and apparently that was enough to convince me that it was something I needed to watch. It’s made by the same people as Brooklyn Nine-Nine so the comedy is top notch stuff. It’s so clever. I can’t believe how clever the writing is to be honest, and even though we just finished it, we’re going right back to the start to experience it all again! The pacing is absolutely excellent and Michael is one of my favourite fictional characters ever – his delivery is spot on ALL THE TIME.
Surprisingly enough, our parents watched this first and said they thought we’d enjoy it, and boy, did we. Unlike the comedies on this list that are really character based shows, Humans is plot driven but the change of pace was only part of what made this show so exciting. We loved the family dynamic of the show, it’s not often you’ll find a TV show that isn’t a comedy, that centres on a family relationship.
We got all nine seasons for our birthday this year and spent the first week of our summer break watching the first season in one go. There’s so much to love about this show: strong sisterhood, paranormal demons, forbidden love, humour and the ability to create a severe emotional attachment to characters that only stick around for one episode. We loved the vibe this show had, and need to return to it soon!
Britain’s Next Top Model
It would be wrong not to include this in the list. We’ve been obsessed. It’s like watching Geek Girl and seeing as that book series finished this year, we needed more crazy modelling shoots in our life, even though we can’t tell the difference between a good and a ‘bad’ photo because they all look stunning 100% of the time.
After reading over 200 books each this year, we’ve seen our fair amount of pretty covers. *Round of applause to cover designers* We’ve recognised trends (a lot of pink, purple and blue, some silhouettes, gold lettering) and picked our favourites, so in no particular order:
The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargave
Orange is my favourite colour and it’s not one you see often on books, so I was really happy that such a well loved book is forcing everyone to have more of it on their shelves! The silhouette could be pretty standard on other covers, but the fact that this one is so detailed, giving you a real fairy-tale-island vibe makes it a perfect fit for this book. The one thing that throws me off is the ampersand in the title, rather than ‘and’, but it just adds to this cover’s unusual charm!
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
To us, there’s no competition between the UK and US edition of this book. The UK, with it’s gorgeously rich blue and gold detailing wins hands down. There’s something really elegant about the single moth image and the fact that’s it’s facing down fits to the slightly weird and wonderful atmosphere of the book.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
We absolutely love the curled font chosen and the tiny star and teardrop details! Black covers are difficult to make stand out and the firework burst in the background makes this hard to ignore. The colour palette is delicious and the way the subtitle is curved is such a nice detail.
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
This book came out at the very beginning of the year and I’m still not over the way Wing’s name is written in shoe laces. Shoe laces. This is a cover that perfectly speaks to the book and the colours all complement each other so well. I need more books to embrace the ombre fade! (Also, bonus points for the unbelievable pink-and-purple sprayed edges of the physical copy!) The only thing that would make this colour even better is if it were completely white in the background.
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
G o r g e o u s. S t u n n i n g. B e a u t i f u l. G l i t t e r. That’s all.
Let us know if you agree with our picks and what some of your favourite covers of the year were. They don’t all have to be books published in 2017, either, just ones you had the joy of discovering this year!
HAPPY BLOGMAS, EVERYONE!
We’re so happy to be working on lots of blog posts again, after a few inconsistent months of posting…(we were doing so well at the beginning of the year *sigh*) But we’re back on the blogging bandwagon and continuing with one of our favourite traditions!
Bee and I have set ourselves a few TBRs over the year that we’ve been very proud to have mostly stuck too. Over the summer, we picked a rainbow of books to read from our shelves (prioritising physical books we own rather than library books/e-books/uni reading/books for review for what felt like the first time in eons.) And it was a success. We read books that have been on our TBRs for over two years (sorry, Magnus Chase, no hard feelings).
So with a few successes under our belts, why not set ourselves a final challenge to get some books read before 2018 is upon us? It’s not like we have two 4,000 word essays to write and a dissertation to get on with. *distant screeching* To make it manageable, we’ve each picked TWO BOOKS, so what are they?
Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
I bought this for myself in June and read the first chapter in a Try a Chapter video, which I absolutely loved. But, I picked up If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo instead and have completely forgotten about how much I loved the start of this one. In might be completely out of season, but ice cream in winter is fine by me!
Ash by Malinda Lo
It’s been donkeys years since I read a fairy tale retelling, it feels like, so I picked the first one that caught my eye. It’s based on Cinderella (ah, my favourite!) and it’s an f/f romance (am I dreaming about how good this sounds? this can’t be a real thing!) So, fingers crossed I love this as much as I love the concept.
The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian
This book almost was going to be in my Top 5 to read in 2018, but why wait? I haven’t heard anything about it, but I picked it up when it was still a new release because Morgan Matson has blurbed it! It feel like it’s going to be something I really love, and I’m looking for another five star read to close out the year, so we’ll see!
Truth or Dare by Non Pratt
I’ve read all of her other books this year, so I need to close out this year by completing the set! I don’t think it’ll be as good as Unboxed which is one of the best books I read this year, and Maddie read it before YALC so I have her reading experience to adjust my expectations.
7 in 7 is a readathon that’s taking place from the 14th-21st August! The aim is, of course, to read 7 books in 7 days – mostly to keep your Goodreads challenge afloat in the summer so you’re not a panicky mess in December.
Bee and I are currently staying at our university house, so have access to about 2% of our books, so the choice is limited to say the least…unless we pick up our Kindles and get on top of all that NetGalley reading >___< Instead, we’ll use this as an opportunity to tick off a lot of the books on our summer reading list for university.
So, here’s what we plan on reading:
P O E T R Y C O L L E C T I O N S:
Measures of Expatriation by Vahni Capildeo
Sunshine by Melissa Lee-Houghton
Stranger, Baby by Emily Berry
C L A S S R E A D I N G:
M: The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
B: The Association of Small Bombs by Kara Mahajan
Y O U N G A D U L T
A Change is Gonna Come by BAME authors (short story collection)
All of that gives us the opportunity to pick up two random choice books that we might be feeling in the moment. So, although this is quite a boring TBR in terms of genuinely pleasurable reading, if we put it out on the Internet that we’re going to read this stuff for class, then we’re bound to do it! (Hopefully…)
There’s some cross over with this readathon and Tome Topple so I’ll be continuing to read Dragonfly in Amber and *fingers crossed* Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. I’m not enjoying the books all most at all because the relationship is so toxic but it’s for one of our university modules and is our lecturer’s obsession, so we can’t get away with not reading it!
We’ll probably still be reading Invictus by Ryan Graudin as well with our lovely BookTube20Somethings reading group: Carys, Kate and Lily.
Good luck to anyone else planning on participating, and we promise that we’ll try and keep a better schedule with blogging so that we don’t disappear for weeks on end! Happy reading!
Although it’s a little late, I really liked the idea of sharing our favourite children’s books, based on last Wednesday’s (12th) Top 5 topic! I like to think of all of these books as the books that have made me the reader I am today, the books that have shaped my reading taste and drawn me towards young adult series that became my new favourite books.
(Backstory: Bee and I have always been readers, for sure, but it was never a huge priority in our lives until we were in secondary school. We spent most of our childhood playing role-play games with our dolls and watching Winx Club)
Fairy Dreams by Gwyneth Rees
Because we loved animated fairies so much, it only made sense to seek them out in book form. When we were younger, I always wore my hair in bunches, so we thought that the two fairies on the cover looked like us! The story is about a girl who finds the fairies and when she goes to sleep, gets transported to the magical world! There was also something called The Book of Fairy Fun with every Gwyneth Rees character, full of word games and puzzles. When Bee and I shared a room, and when we were meant to be asleep, we’d allow ourselves to complete a couple puzzles a night, crouching up to our windowsill to get light from the streetlamp outside.
Anything by Jacqueline Wilson
She was as big in the early 2000s as she is now. I have such fond memories of finding a Candyfloss hardback for 50p at a car boot sale with our grandparents, and reading Bad Girls for a reading level assessment. Of course, we lapped up Double Act and I always had a soft spot for Midnight (again, fairies. It’s a phase I hope to never grow out of!)
Anything by Cathy Cassidy
For our tenth birthday, I got Sundae Girl and Dizzy and Bee got Driftwood and Scarlet, and to this day, they will always be our favourite books by Cathy! Since then, we’ve been to three signings, one of which we won tickets to in a Mizz magazine contest. It was for the launch of Angel Cake and we got these glorious goodie bags and the chance to interview Cathy in a small group. It was one of the best days ever.
Judy Moody by Megan McDonald
I don’t remember how we got hold of these books, but they were fantastic. So great, in fact, that Bee and I are currently re-reading them just for fun! They’re about Judy, who really wants to be a doctor when she grows up, and each book is about her taking on these wild ideas like trying to get famous, or pretending to have ESP and running with them. Essentially a female Phineas and Ferb before the show existed.
Rose by Holly Webb
Rose was Bee’s special thing. It was a four book series about this little orphan girl who discovered she had magical powers before she went to work for a renowned magician. She gets trained, along with the magician’s apprentice and helps to solve magical crimes like kidnappings and blood lettings. It was a bit more…grizzly than I was expecting when I first read it on a train back from London. I can remember, instead, choosing to focus on the scene where she goes to the candy store, and the big cat, Gus.
These are all the books that stick out in my mind as the ones we loved the best, and also the ones we’ve chosen to keep hold of, just in case we want to take a trip down memory lane.