Bee’s Star Rating Statistics 2017

I’m writing this on December 9th. This year, I’ve been keeping track of my reading on a spreadsheet, because I wanted more details than what Goodreads would provide. So far this year I’ve read 211 books, and I can’t see myself reading too much more. I’m not going to take out books re-reads like Maddie did, because that would take way too long! But the numbers won’t add up precisely because I didn’t rate things I read for university or that I DNF’d.

Continue reading “Bee’s Star Rating Statistics 2017”

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Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost is all about Juliet, who leaves letters on her mother’s gravestone as a way to process her grief. Declan is the boy who’s doing community service and stumbles across her letter. He reads it and decides to write back. The pair then communicate through letters and emails, without ever telling each other who the other person is. What’s tricky is that they go to the same school, and while Declan figures out Juliet’s identity, she’s still in the dark.

Continue reading “Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer”

Review: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

This book had been on my wishlist for a long time before I bought it, and I’ve owned it for six months without picking it up. I’ve been hyping it in my head as a book I was going to fall in love with, and the sad reality is, I didn’t.

I wasn’t what I thought it was going to be mostly. I thought I’d signed up for a mystery in an unsettled, backwards little town, but the girl who goes missing gets focalised chapters too. So you know where she is/what’s happening to her and that complicated things. So the whole mystery element was void!

I liked some elements. Like the budding relationship between Petey and Finn, for example, but it wasn’t enough to drive me through the story. There were some passages that were beautifully written but I found a lot of the descriptions sounded like something I’d heard before. Considering how many great things I’d heard about the writing, I have to admit I was surprised by how purple it…wasn’t.

‘Bone Gap’ couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be magical realism or not, so in the end you get this odd fairytale vibe that’s doesn’t feel modern but isn’t working through tropes either. It was a strange story, and one I’ll probably re-read in 10 years time and like a lot more, but reading it now and comparing it to my expectations was really not a good idea.

Maddie’s Star Rating Statistics 2017

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:

⭐️
2 books

 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.

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21 books

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.

⭐️⭐️⭐️
57 Books

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.

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31 Books

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.

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15 books

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! 

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Review: Keeper by Kim Chance

I devoured Keeper in one sitting, letting go of any reservation that this was a paranormal story which was mostly what I read in 201, and instead of thinking ‘oh no, this is exactly like this book’ I let myself be transported to when I first discovered YA and read romances like Hush, Hush, Fallen and Beautiful Creatures.

Keeper is a nostalgic YA mash-up. It feels a little odd to be reading it in 2017 because my reading tastes have changed so much, but you all know I’m a sucker for witches, I love Kim’s YouTube channel and I wanted to support the book. It’s a little trope-y but the secondary characters leap of the page and the ending definitely has me invested in a potential sequel. Thinking too critically would definitely spoil my enjoyment of it, so I tried to ignore the romance entirely and focus on the ‘discovering new worlds’ element, which was incredibly well-paced to begin with, but I think things got a little out of control by the end.

If you too are feeling like you want to re-experience your old reading tastes without having to re-read and potentially change your opinion on an old favourite, then Keeper is perfect for you. Alternatively, if you’re new to the supernatural genre, then Keeper could be your new favourite!

Review: Truly Wildly Deeply by Jenny McLachlan

Note: We received this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

I was really excited to read this after loving Stargazing For Beginners, earlier this year. I literally jumped when I saw this come up on NetGalley, because no way was I getting to read two new Jenny McLachlan books in a year. This definitely followed in the same style, and there’s so much to love about it.

First of all, Annie, the main character, has cerebral palsy and uses both a wheelchair and crutches in the book. I haven’t read about that many visibly disabled characters, and this is something I hope to change in the coming year. The discussion of Annie’s disability and her mentality surrounded it was really well handled, and although I can’t speak on behalf of those with CP, I felt it was respectful and insightful without trying to tell someone else’s story.

Second, it’s set at a sixth form and the representation of that environment is absolutely spot on. For the classes and cafeteria dynamic, to the desperate need to reinvent yourself and find new friends, I absolutely loved the setting. It took me right back to my sixth form years which were a delight.

Of course, it can’t be set in a school and not have English classes as a prominent feature. Throughout the novel, Annie and the boy she sits next to, Fab, are constantly arguing about Wuthering Heights. It felt like a copy and paste of my own A level lit lessons, as that was one of the texts we studied and I hated it. Jane Eyre, now that’s a book I can get behind. But, it was great to see how the book reflected Annie and Fab’s relationship and how it inspired the final 20% of the book in a very Sara Barnard style way. (Also, the style of the moors makes the cover beautiful!)

Annie and Fab are an interesting couple, mostly because they’re not a couple for most of the book. It’s obvious that Fab likes Annie, but Annie is apprehensive to be in a relationship. There’s a back-and-forth between them about this, and some classic miscommunication that could have been resolved quicker, in my opinion, and maybe I would have liked more reasoning for Annie’s disinterest in romance. She was showing a lot of demiromantic and asexual tendencies, and I got too excited about those possibilities when they weren’t canon.

I loved the scenarios that Annie and Fab were put in, like a costume party, a Polish wedding and a date involving berry-picking. It was all cute and lovely, exactly what I want in a contemporary romance.

Annie’s  mum was something special too. Close mother-daughter relationships are my favourite thing (see Radio Silence by Alice Oseman).  She was someone that Annie actually talked to about her problems and I loved her parental prominence.

Overall, I really liked Truly Wildly Deeply, if you couldn’t tell already, and give it 4 stars. There were a few things that I didn’t gel with, and there were a few pacing issues but they didn’t take away from how just lovely this book was. If you’re looking for disability rep, a love-tolerate romance and quirky plot points, I’d totally recommend this book.

Let’s Talk About The GoodReads Choice Awards!

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.

2009
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.

2010
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.)

2011
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?

2012
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.

2013
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…

2014
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.

2015
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.

2016
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!

2017
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?

 

Review: Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Note: We received this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

This book comes to you in two very distinct parts. The first is a version of All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, with our main character, Maya, attracting the interest of two boys: the very sweet parents-approve Muslim and the most popular guy at school that Maya’s had a crush on for years.

In the first chapter, she seems really into Kareem. They meet at an Indian wedding and have a lot in common, with Kareem encouraging Maya to pursue her dream of being a film-maker. It was cute and I was looking forward to the romance unfolding, following in the footsteps of When Dimple Met Rishi. 

Then Paul gets introduced later and there’s this contrived way from them to hang out: teaching Maya to swim. Paul was an exciting prospect because I haven’t read many interracial relationship before, but I couldn’t get behind their romance because Paul was already in a relationship. He’s hanging out with Maya in a definitely romantic fashion, and neither of them show any remorse for the fact that what they’re doing is cheating. It wasn’t okay in Anna and the French Kiss and it’s not okay here. I can’t root for a couple when I know there’s another girl outside the page that’s getting her heart broken.

The cheating thing felt especially bitter when Kareem was so lovely and an all around great guy. I didn’t understand that something which started quite flirty quickly fizzled out into ‘let’s just be friends’. I’ve never been on the ‘wrong’ side of a love triangle before, so this was an interesting experience and one that I hope never to have again.

So, if you haven’t got the sense already, this is definitely a contemporary romance. It stays that way for around 60-70% of the book. The rest of the story takes a complete U-turn from this.

At the end of every chapter, you get this tiny scene that slowly tells the story of a suspected suicide bomber that shares the same surname as Maya. They are in no way related, but the town reacts as if Maya’s family is responsible for the trauma. The 15% where this storyline is pursued feels like a different book. I wish it had played a bigger part in the book as a whole, because it felt like I was waiting and waiting to get to the moment described on the blurb, and the romance was just filler until then. Regardless, this plot line was powerful and will always be relevant to what’s going on in the world, but particularly this year when every day we seem to wake up to news of another terror attack, or more mass injuries. It was jarring to place these two things together, but realistic in the way that a terror threat is always going to deeply disturb a normal life.

However, if I didn’t know this book was going to have such a powerful perspective on the repercussions of prejudice, hatred and Islamophobia, I don’t think I would have kept reading beyond the halfway point.

I’m so pleased that more books like this are being published, and that I got the chance to read about a character so far from my own perspective. It’s definitely inspired me to try and find more books like this in 2018 – and also finally get round to The Hate You Give…

On Reading Less

I thought seeing as we’re coming to the end of another year filled with books, it was time to talk about something that we haven’t gone into detail about yet…how much we read.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 14.56.21Last year it was one of our goals to spend less time reading, which might sound crazy coming from two people whose whole lives are ALL about books. But we had good reason! We wanted to try and make writing more of a priority…except this didn’t really work out. We’re treating you to loads of stats this Blogmas, so here’s the breakdown of how many books we’ve read per year since starting a GoodReads account.

           |      BEE      |    MADDIE
2013 |       63        |         53
2014 |      143       |        139
2015 |      178       |        187
2016 |      231       |        240

We each somehow managed to read 60 more books in 2016 than 2015. Now that’s partly due to the ridiculously long summers you get at university, but most it’s because we procrastinated all other hobbies including writing. At the beginning of 2017 I really though we’d each read 300 books in a year, but looking back that’s absolutely crazy! Where would we have had to go from there? Finishing a book everyday? That’s just impractical.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 14.57.25It’s obvious that our plan to read less in 2016 didn’t work out, so when it came to making our resolutions for 2017, we decided to try again. And this year it’s worked. We’ve still read an awful lot, but the point it, it’s not as much as last year. At the end of 2016 we realised we didn’t feel as successful as we thought having read over 200 books, and that’s because we’d let ourselves down in other areas. So, even though I’ve read less his year (not by much, admittedly) I feel so much better for it, because unlike last year we actually finished the first draft of our co-written novel, which definitely wouldn’t have been possible if we’d tried to push for more reading.

Next year looks like it’s going to be even busier for us writing wise, so when it comes to setting my GoodReads goal, I think I’ll be aiming for 150. Hopefully, this will also force us to be a lot more selective when it comes to what we’re reading. We’ll talk more about the benefits of DNF’ing (something we started doing in 2017) at some point in the future, but already its lead to us enjoying a higher percentage of what we read, since in 2016, I’m pretty sure I gave majority 2.5 star ratings, and I’d much rather be finding more 4/5 star books instead.

This year we definitely had the realisation that it’s not how much  you read, but what you’re reading. We’d 100% recommend in 2018, letting go of the pressure to read lots of books, you might just find yourself reading more anyway.

 

 

Anticipated 2018 Releases

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. 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.