8 books I’m definitely going to read in 2018

A few months ago I did a post where I looked at the books that I’ve collected over the years but haven’t yet got around to reading. Inspired by this, this year I really want to start making a dent in my backlist rather than constantly being seduced by shiny new books!

Last year I had the same goal, and so decided to take part in the Beat the Backlist challenge – where I aimed to read at least one book a month that I had owned since pre-2017 (it’s running again in 2018 if you’re interested). I didn’t do too well on this one, so this year I feel like I need to be more specific!

I’ve picked 8 specific books from my own backlist that I’m going to prioritise in 2018. I’m planning to review this after six months and see where I’m at with this list. Hopefully I’ll have made some good progress and will be able to add some more titles!

The books I’ve chosen are from all different genres, and there’s a good mix of page counts too – as I was conscious not to choose too many huge books that might feel intimidating! They’re all ones that I originally bought or acquired, in one form or another, because I really wanted to read them, so I’m really looking forward to starting to work through the list.

So, in 2018 I’m definitely going to read…

  • A Little Life: I was desperate to read this book. Everyone I know that’s read it has told me how great it is. I originally downloaded it in audiobook form and struggled to get into it, but I’m really looking forward to giving it another go.
  • The Stand: This one has been on my TBR for ages, but the size of it has been a bit off-putting! I’m sure I’ll enjoy it once I get started though.
  • Notes from an Exhibition: I’ve actually had this one for years but haven’t yet read it. I recently read and loved Gale’s A Place Called Winter’, so that’s given me new motivation to pick this one up!
  • Six of Crows: I really don’t know why I haven’t read this yet. I’ve heard only good things.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: I picked this one up second hand a while back and I’ve heard so much about it. It sounds absolutely fascinating. I rarely read non-fiction and it’s one of my 2018 goals to read more in this genre, so this is a good place to start.
  • The Blind Assassin: I love Margaret Atwood but I haven’t had a chance to get to this yet. Watching the TV adaption of The Handmaid’s Tale as well as Alias Grace on Netflix has made me really keen to read more of her works.
  • Wrath: This is the final book in a series that I love. However, I left it too long and have forgotten so many details. I could really do with rereading the previous book to refresh my memory, but haven’t found the time. I’m going to have to find a summary online somewhere or a spoilery review before I start this one.
  • All the Light We Cannot See: I’ve actually started this one a couple of times but never got further than the first chapter. I don’t know what’s been putting me off. It got so many great reviews though that I’m going to try again.

What are the books that you most want to read in 2018? Have you read any that are on my list?

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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!

Mini reviews: Unpopular opinions

So far this year I’ve read 70 books – and written reviews for only a fraction of these. The chances are that I’m never going to get around to writing full reviews for every book I’ve ever read, so I thought I’d group together a few recent reads from the YA fantasy genre and do a post of mini-reviews!

The reason why these ones haven’t yet made it into full reviews is that I didn’t enjoy them enough to recommend them, and I generally don’t like writing full length negative reviews unless I feel really strongly about them.

Judging from reviews of these books I’ve seen on the blogosphere, I get the feeling that my opinions on most of these are going to be unpopular. I know others loved them, but for the most part, these ones just weren’t for me.

I know that some people might ask why I’m writing reviews that are mainly negative. Well, the reviews and the opinions of other bloggers have a big impact on the books I pick up, and there are plenty of books in this genre that I’ve really enjoyed recently because of blogger recommendations.

But I think it’s really helpful to read a range of reviews with different opinions. I mainly saw positive reviews of these books on the blogosphere, but I think if I’d read reviews that were more varied I could have been a bit pickier and chosen books that I personally would have enjoyed more.

Let me know what you think! Did you enjoy/not enjoy any of the books below?
Do you write reviews for every books you read even if you weren’t a fan?How do you feel about writing negative reviews? 

  • Frostblood, Elly Blake

FrostbloodRuby is one of the only Firebloods left in a world of Frostbloods. She’s all alone and bitter and hating because the Frostbloods have ruined her life. She’s also prophesised to be the only one that can save the world from the cruel and wicked king (obviously). The only one who can teach her to use her powers is a Frostblood and her sworn enemy, but despite all the hate and oh so snarky comments they fall in love (obviously). There is of course an arena battle. The love interest also has a secret that is glaringly obvious to anyone who has ever read a YA fantasy book. All in all quite predictable, and I felt like I’d read this book before in different forms – several times. It’s not a bad read, but I didn’t feel it was anything special either.

  • The Hundredth Queen, Emily R. King

The Hundredth QueenAn orphan girl with secret hidden powers is plucked from a crowd and chosen to become the Rajah’s final wife. When she reaches the palace, she has to literally fight in an arena for her right to stay there. She falls in love with a handsome guard but can’t be with him because it’s against the rules, and if you can think of another cliché that I haven’t already listed, it’s probably in there. This book did nothing new in my opinion. It took every YA trope there has ever been and threw them all together in one big boiling pot. It would have been OK if these had been done well, but I didn’t think they were. It just felt like a mash up of other, better stories. I got this one as a free download on Amazon and I can’t help feeling glad I didn’t spend any of my own money on it!

  • The Shadow Queen, C. J. Redwine

The Shadow QueenThe Shadow Queen is a retelling of Snow White, with our heroine Lorelai on a mission to defeat the wicked queen who killed her father and stole her kingdom. To manage this, she needs to learn magic and beat the queen at her own game. I have very little to say about this book. It was OK. It was a good way to kill an afternoon, but I also thought it was a bit predictable. None of the supporting characters or the love interest had anything particularly interesting or different about them, and I can’t actually remember any of their names. I’ve read other retellings that I’ve enjoyed more. It did have a fantastic map at the beginning though that was great for bookstagram. For me, that was probably the highlight.

  • The Star Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi

Star Touched QueenMaya is cursed with a terrible horoscope and as a result is treated terribly by everyone in her father’s court. At 17 she’s married off for political convenience and becomes queen of a very different court, full of hidden secrets and locked doors. Soon she uncovers a secret ancient mystery in which she has a central role to play. While I liked the setting, the style of this book was a bit too whimsical and all over the place for me. It got too caught up in long descriptive passages and I didn’t think the world building was up to scratch. I also found it hard to follow exactly what was going on. The main characters were forgettable and they constantly made stupid decisions that inevitably led to predictable consequences. While the writing was pretty, I thought it was a bit style over substance.

September/October wrap up

wrap up sept oct

I missed my wrap up post for September thanks to an unplanned break from blogging, so this month I’m combining both September and October into one big post.

Books read: 14
I’ve managed to read some really great books over the last couple of months. In particular, City of Circles, The Ninth Rain and American War all stand out as favourites.

  • City of Circles, Jess Richards
  • Three Days and a Life, Pierre Lemaitre
  • The Last Tudor, Philippa Gregory
  • The Ninth Rain, Jen Williams
  • American War, Omar El Akkad
  • Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Mercy, Jussi Adler-Olsen
  • The Children Act, Ian McEwan
  • The Break, Marian Keyes
  • Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey
  • The Thousandth Floor, Katherine McGee
  • Artemis, Andy Weir
  • Death is a Welcome Guest, Louise Welsh
  • The Burning Page, Genevieve Cogman


Books acquired: 18
Over the past couple of months I’ve been on a tighter budget for book buying, so all of the books I’ve acquired have been ebooks on sale on Amazon (£2 or less), found in second hand shops or got through my Audible membership. Continue reading

Top 5: Books about time travel

The idea of time travel is one that’s always fascinated me, and especially the idea of going back to a previous time while retaining a knowledge of the present. I’m sure that writing about time travel without tying yourself in impossible knots or paradoxes must be one of the most challenging things for a writer to do, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve always loved reading about it. That’s why I’ve pulled together a list of five of my favourite books about time travel. I’ve actually never reviewed any of these on this blog – but I’d recommend any and all of them. Continue reading

Three Days and a Life – Pierre Lemaitre

Three Days and a LifeThe story: Aged just twelve, Antoine acts out of in a fit of anger, with horrific consequences. From that day, he lives his life in the constant shadow of shame and doubt, driven by an overwhelming desire to escape from the consequences of his actions. As an adult, he’s determined to get away from the small town where he grew up and make a different life for himself. But when unforeseen circumstances draw him back home and into the orbit of old friends and acquaintances, events transpire to bring old truths to the surface, no matter how hard Antoine tries to keep them buried forever.

 

My thoughts: Pierre Lemaitre is a French crime writer that I’ve been following for a while, and I think I’ve read all of the books he’s written that have been translated into English. His previous novels have been much more intense and focus on a series of grisly murders and psychological abuse. In contrast, Three Days and a Life was a bit of a departure from what I was used to reading from this author.

  Continue reading

American War – Omar El Akkad

The story…

Set in the near future, America as we know it has been irrevocably changed by war, natural disasters and a devastating man-made virus. Old tensions between the north and the south, reignited over the issue of fossil fuels, lead to a war that spans decades. Sarat Chesnut is just six years old when the Second American War breaks out, but she and her family are changed forever by the horrors that it unleashes. As she grows up, Sarat is drawn deeper and deeper into the shadowy world of the militant resistance and splinter groups that are determined to do whatever is required to achieve their goals.

My thoughts…

Omar El Akkad describes an America that has been torn apart by civil war. In the south, refugee camps become permanent homes for those displaced by bombs, violence and the changing, inhospitable landscape. Efforts on both sides to reduce tension generally end in failure. Young people grow up and are recruited into increasingly radical militant groups, determined to defend their home against all the odds.

Sarat is one of those young people. Faced with poverty, displacement and loss from an early age, she is drawn into playing an important role in the resistance. As readers, we’re powerless to do anything but watch as she is shaped by the world around her into an instrument of war. As she becomes more and more immersed in this world, the consequences have a huge impact on her personally. Continue reading