2017 in review

2017 was the first year that I’ve consistently tracked and recorded every book that I read over the twelve months through Goodreads, and so it’s also the first year that I’ve been able to look at how my reading habits break down in any great detail

I’ve been a bit lax in posting my monthly round ups lately, so today I’m doing a look back at 2017. (And yes, I know that 2018 started almost two weeks ago and I’m pretty late with this round up – posting on schedule is one of my goals for this year!)

So, what did I read?

Total

Grand total: 83 books
I’m pretty happy with this stat. On average, I read just under 7 books a month. While I obviously need to speed up if I’m to have any hope of finishing all the books on my ever expanding TBR, I also don’t think it’s all about the numbers. I read some really great books this year that took me a while to finish as they were absolute tomes (4 3 2 1 at 878 pages, and The Wise Man’s Fear which came in at a whopping 1008 pages), but I’m so glad I invested the time in them.

  • Longest read – The Wise Man’s Fear, 1008 pages
  • Shortest read – The Sense of an Ending, 160 pages

Genres

genre
I clearly gravitate towards reading fantasy, especially if you add in speculative fiction and sci-fi, which currently have their own category, but I also had a good spread of other genres across the year. I really want to up the number of non-fiction books that I read in 2018 though – and I’m disappointed that I didn’t manage to read any classics last year, as this has been a regular yearly goal of mine since starting this blog.

format

formatI’m actually shocked that this chart isn’t skewed even more towards ebooks, as these days I mostly read on my Kindle app on my commute. Plus ebooks tend to be cheaper (or maybe just have more regular sales), more easily available and they’re the most common format for any ARCs I receive. My audiobook stats were higher than I expected – again due to the long walks to work with my headphones in.

gender

 author gender
Looking at author gender, this is relatively balanced. It’s interesting though as I never pay any conscious attention to author gender, but clearly I gravitate towards female authors over male authors as a whole.

rating

star rating
I personally don’t find star ratings on things like Goodreads that helpful, as they’re so subjective to individuals and their own feelings and reading experience. I also read such a wide variety of books that it’s hard to compare them. I tend to just rate books I enjoyed as 4 star reads, unless they stand out either way. It’s no surprise that this was my biggest category. I also read quite a few 5 star reads and only a few 1 star reads, which is good to see – clearly I’m choosing well!

summary

  • My favourites – A God in Ruins, Red Sister and City of Circles

Kate Atkinson, Mark Lawrence and Jess Richards are all on my auto-buy authors list. If you haven’t read them yet, go and check them out as these books were great.

  • My least favourites – The Sense of an Ending, Caraval and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The Sense of an Ending had literally the most frustrating ending of any book I’ve ever read, Caraval was disappointing and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness was one that I thought I should like but in actual fact struggled to feel any enthusiasm for.

  • Top newly discovered authors – Jen Williams, Anthony Horowitz and David Mark

I’d never read anything by these authors before 2017, but I loved them all and will be hoping to check out some of their other titles in 2018.

And that’s my 2017 reading year in a nutshell. Overall I was pretty happy with it! Here’s hoping that 2018 will be just as good, if not better.


How was your 2017? Were you happy with it? What was your favourite overall read? Have you read any of mine? Do you have any goals for 2018?

Also if you did a review of your 2017 reading year comment below so I can go check it out!

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The Word is Murder – Anthony Horowitz

The Word is MurderThe story…

Renowned fiction author Anthony Horowitz is approached by an old acquaintance, a jaded and disagreeable investigator, with an idea of a new, true crime novel. A particularly perplexing murder has just been committed, and Hawthorne is convinced the story could be a big hit, providing they can solve the case.

My thoughts…

This book has one of the most unique concepts of all the books I’ve ever read. Even now I’m still slightly baffled by it. Leaving aside the story for the moment, the idea of having Horowitz write himself as a character in his own novel is very odd. There are so many personal details in the book that must be autobiographical – for example, detailed descriptions about his own past as a scriptwriter for TV programme Foyles War. In addition to this, the fictional murder storyline is entwined into these real life details. At least, I assume that this storyline is fictional – even now I’m not quite sure. Continue reading

Writing book reviews: how to get started

As book bloggers, writing book reviews is a core part of what we do. However, I’ve heard from lots of people who say that review writing is the most challenging or least fun part of blogging.

I’ve written posts in the past that set out some of the reasons that I personally find writing reviews difficult. There are a lot of times where I’ve gone to write a review but put it off – sometimes I can’t seem to get the thoughts in my head down on the page in a way that makes sense or think of the right phrasing, or sometimes just I draw a blank and can’t think of anything interesting to say.

Assuming that at least some other people out there also suffer from the same issues – I thought I’d share some of my experiences, processes and tips for writing book reviews.

I know that everyone writes their reviews differently and I’m by no means an expert! If you’ve been blogging for a while and already have your own style for review writing, this post might not be so useful for you!

However, if you are at all interested in hearing my thoughts and top tips for writing book reviews, please read on! Continue reading

July wrap up

Books read: 7
In July I finally got around to reading A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson – which might just be my favourite read so far this year. I don’t know why I waited so long to read it, but it definitely lived up to expectations. I also really enjoyed The Heart Goes Last. I wasn’t at all sure about The Butcher’s Hook though.

  • A God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson
  • The Owl Always Hunts at Night, Samuel Bjork
  • The Butchers Hook, Janet Ellis
  • Frostblood, Elly Blake
  • The Heart Goes Last, Margaret Atwood
  • The Good Daughter, Karin Slaughter
  • The Diabolic, S. J. Kincaid


Books acquired: 24
This month I made the mistake of looking through the Kindle books selection on Amazon, and there far too many deals on books that I wanted to read. I also received a number of ARCs that I’m looking forward to reading this summer and took some out of the library – which given how many books I’ve acquired this month wasn’t a very sensible idea! Continue reading

Discussion post: Focusing on a particular genre

Focusing on a genre

Today I’m going to talk about something I’ve been thinking about for a while – whether not focusing a specific genre for a book blog is a positive or a negative, or whether it can be both.

I read a lot of different genres depending on my mood and what I’m feeling like at the time – and my blog has evolved naturally as a result of this. I quite often have a few different books on the go at once. For example at the moment I’m listening to a crime/thriller audiobook while I’m out and about, reading the latest fiction release as an eBook while on my commute and reading an epic fantasy in paperback at home. Continue reading

Discussion post: Overused expressions in book reviews

Overused phrases in reviews

We all know that sometimes reviewing books can be hard (I’ve written a post on this here), and that finding the right words to express yourself clearly and coherently is sometimes a struggle!

I’ve recently noticed that I tend to fall back on many of the same words and phrasing in many of my reviews because I know they work and help me to get from one part of a review to another more easily. At the risk of all of my reviews sounding the same, I have to actively try and not use these phrases when I’m writing.

Looking back over my posts from the last three years, these five expressions have popped up more times that I can count and stand out as being some of my most overused fall-back phrases…

  1. ‘It soon becomes clear’ – This is the perfect way to round off a plot summary with a bang and get onto the actual analysis of what I thought about a book, and I seem to be able to use it while talking about literally every book!
  2. ‘That said’ or ‘having said that’ – If I’m trying to write a balanced review that looks at both positives and negatives, this is a quick way to get from one to the other. I write it in every review and then have to force myself to go back and rewrite!
  3. ‘I wasn’t overly keen on…’ – Usually to be read as ‘I didn’t like this at all but I’m trying to be polite’.
  4. ‘Kept me gripped’ – If I’m scrambling to explain exactly why I was so absorbed in a book, this phrase inevitably pops up. It says nothing but hopefully conveys there was a certain something that kept me reading!
  5. ‘Ultimately though…’ – I sometimes struggle with ending a review. You can’t just stop, you need a way to round it all off nicely. This is my go-to last sentence starter.

Not using these phrases is harder than you’d think. My fingers type them automatically out of habit. As writing is literally what I do for a living (not the exciting creative writing kind though unfortunately), I feel like I should be better at finding alternative ways to express my opinions about books.

How do you write book reviews? Are there certain words you come back to time and time again? What are your most overused expressions?