Monday, 18 December 2017

Top Ten Books of 2017

Well then, it's been a while, hasn't it? About a month and a half, I think...

To be honest, this year has been one of the worst reading years I've ever had. I had reading slump after reading slump in the first half of the year, then since July/August, life has just gotten in the way (health scares, family health scares, home renovations, etc) so I've not been reading much at all. When I'm not reading, I tend to not blog much.

But I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things soon. Until then though, I figured I'd make my favourites list for the year since I'm not sure if there'll be any last minute additions to my list.

I only read 41 books this year, and quite a few were children's books (best friend had a baby), so it's not a long list to choose from and because it's such a short selection, I won't be limiting it to 2017 releases, just books I read this year. But here goes:

My Favourite Books of 2017

1. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour - I lovelovelove this book so much. It's a short book but it packs a big punch that hit me right in all of the feels. It's about grief and love and family and friendship and heartbreak, and it handled the issue of sexuality beautifully (i.e. it didn't make it into an Issue at all). It's just a general favourite now.

2. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden - I didn't expect to love this one quite as much as I did, but like We Are Okay, I consider it to be a favourite book in general rather than just a favourite from this year.

3. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - I loved the first book, I wasn't quite sure if the second could live up to the standard set by the first book but it kind of surpassed it. I adored this book, maybe more so than the first because I liked the characters way more and the relationships interested me more.

4. The Princess Bride by William Goldman - I've been a fan of the movie for ages, but I kept putting off reading the book because I didn't think I'd love it as much. But I did. It was excellent (had a few issues, but overall, I loved it).

5. F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher - This book wasn't at all like I was expecting it to be based on the cover or description. It was actually better, and it was one of the few reads I managed to speed through in one sitting this year. It was just really fun and there were only one or two things I didn't like about it.

6. The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg - This is an odd book and I loved it. I don't read many graphic novels but this is the kind that makes me want to read more of them. It's beautiful and feminist, sort of a retelling of Arabian Nights and I loved it. My only issue with it was that the font was sometimes hard on the eyes.

7. Ten by Gretchen McNeil - I wouldn't consider this book a favourite, but it was good and definitely one of the most enjoyable books I read this year. It's a retelling of Agatha Christie's, And Then There Were None. It delivered the 90's slasher vibe I was hoping for from There's Someone In Your House but didn't quite get.

8. You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson - I wasn't really familiar with who Phoebe Robinson was before reading (read: listening to) this book. I picked it up on a whim because I was in the mood for some feminist non-fiction/memoir type books. I may not have been familiar with Phoebe's work when I started the book, but I definitely finished it a fan of hers. She's funny and intelligent, her audible narration was fantastic and the topics she spoke about were so important.

9. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher - I listened to this one on audiobook, not long after Carrie died and I really enjoyed the book. Carrie's narration was fantastic, she made me laugh and it was an interesting glimpse into what it was like behind the scenes of the original Star Wars movies (which, like many people, I grew up loving). I've heard it's not the best of her books, but it was the first I'd read so I had nothing to compare it to, so I wasn't disappointed by it.

10. Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta - I'm quite torn on this book. On one hand, I'm not really sure this was Melina's story to tell. On the other, I feel like she maybe did it well in spite of that, but I'm also not really qualified to judge that. It's probably my least favourite of Melina's books (given she's one of my favourite authors, that's not an insult) but it was still good and it was still one of the better books I read this year.

I guess that's all. Not the best reading year as far as quantity goes, but definitely a few quality books in there to make up for that.


Friday, 27 October 2017

F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher

F*ck Love
by Tarryn Fisher
Summary: Helena Conway has fallen in love.

Unwillingly. Unwittingly.

But not unprovoked.

Kit Isley is everything she’s not—unstructured, untethered, and not even a little bit careful.

It could all be so beautiful…if he wasn’t dating her best friend.

Helena must defy her heart, do the right thing, and think of others. Until she doesn’t.
In case it wasn't obvious by now, I have a soft spot for angsty romances. Even if the characters frustrate me, even if their choices are too stupid to justify, even if a teeny tiny part of me is rooting for the couple to get the hell over each other and move onto something healthier than their obsession with each other...I still love angsty romances.

They're addictive, and when they're done right, they hit me right in the feels and I can't help but go on an emotional roller coaster right along with the characters. Character is happy? My face'll hurt from smiling. Character is angry? I'll want to throw the book in solidarity. Character is hurting? My heart will be aching right along with them.

And this delivered all of that. It's not the most amazing book I've read, but I really enjoyed it.

It was surprisingly funny and it was one of those rare romances that doesn't use sex as a crutch or a substitute for really developing the relationship between characters.

And the characters? I really liked them. I loved Helena and Kit, and I really liked the side characters.

Did the book have its issues? Sure. But it never bored me -- I picked it up and didn't stop reading until I was done and I'd devoted a few hours of time to read it cover to cover. It had some girl hate in the form of a toxic friendship, but it made up for it with other positive female friendships and I liked that.

Genuinely the only part of the book I'd say I really didn't like at all was this section with a character named Muslim, which just seemed sloppy and felt thoroughly out of place in the story (I don't know if it was a cameo of a character from another of the authors books?).

But yeah, other than that, I really enjoyed this one. I'd rate it 4 out of 5 stars for not only being the first book in weeks I've managed to finish but for holding my interest enough that I read it in one sitting. I'm definitely going to be checking out some of the authors other books when I need to claw my way out of a reading slump.


Thursday, 26 October 2017

Roomhate by Penelope Ward

by Penelope Ward

Summary: Sharing a summer house with a hot-as-hell roommate should be a dream come true, right?

Not when it’s Justin…the only person I’d ever loved…who now hates me.

When my grandmother died and left me half of the house on Aquidneck Island, there was a catch: the other half would go to the boy she helped raise. The same boy who turned into the teenager whose heart I broke years ago. The same teenager who’s now a man with a hard body and a hardass personality to match.

I hadn’t seen him in years, and now we’re living together because neither one of us is willing to give up the house. The worst part? He didn’t come alone.

I’d soon realize there’s a thin line between love and hate. I could see through that smug smile. Beneath it all…the boy is still there. So is our connection. The problem is…now that I can’t have Justin, I’ve never wanted him more.
This book has been in my Kindle TBR for ages, it sounded fun and I went into it just wanting to be hooked by a classic hate-to-love trope-y romance.

And this book did deliver what I wanted. Sort of. It did have me hooked and I did really like it. And the hate-to-love trope? It was there, though not the best I've read. But it just lacked a certain spark -- it didn't give me that ache in my chest that I get when I'm reading a book I'm so thoroughly emotionally invested in that I'm feeling so much empathy towards the characters. This was just dull echoes of emotion I was getting, when I wanted to feel all of the things, if that makes sense?

The plot took me by surprise. It really wasn't what I was expecting. I actually ended up really loving those unexpected plot elements, even though they're things that might've put me off reading the book had I known about them beforehand. The things I thought I wouldn't have wanted in the story ended up being some of the things I loved most.

I think another issue I had was that 99% of their issues could be solved if they just used their words. Which, granted, is often the case in romance books. Miscommunication is one of the most utilized plot devices and it doesn't always bug me, but in this one it did because their justifications for not communicating better were pretty weak.

And on the topic of weakness, the main character was pretty weak too. Not in terms of strength, but her character. She had no real personality. Or at least that's how it felt when reading. It was almost like she didn't exist in the years when she wasn't with him, the only bits of her life without him were thrown in their for convenience rather than to make her a more fleshed out and believable character.

We find out about one friend and an ex boyfriend. But nothing really beyond them. I can't even really think of anything about her as a character, a like or a dislike or something but all I've got is that she likes seafood.

Also, the sex scenes in this made me cringe a bit. I think there was only one scene like that that didn't make me cringe. It wasn't that they were necessarily badly written exactly, I just didn't like them.

...I don't know why, whenever I'm reviewing a book like this, my review ends up way more negative than my rating. Because I did actually like this one. I had some issues with it, but I sped through it quickly and there were parts of it I genuinely loved (and I really liked that it didn't play the catty girl hate card), it just wasn't a favourite. I'd rate it 3 stars out of 5.



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