It’s time for another of my favourite posts of the year. I love my review of the best books that I read during the previous year. 2017 was a great year for reading. Its almost like getting the pleasure from reading them all over again.
Overall, I had a really good reading year. I read 39 books which was just 1 less than during 2016. When I have checked the word count though, I’ve found I read 1010 more pages than the previous year at 13794 pages. 32 were fiction books & 7 Non-fiction. I follow the Goodreads star rating for my books, which worked out at:
15 x 5* reads
16 x 4* reads
6 x 3* reads
2 x 2* reads
I have become so much more careful about the books that I read, which could explain why there are so many high ranking books. I’m learning every year about which types of books hold my attention and which will bore me rigid (Sci-fi and fantasy are major turn offs for me).
My list of my 10 favourite books from last year doesn’t contain all 5 stars reads. I know this may be a weird for some people. My reasoning is that if the story has stuck with me or made me think months later, then it gets on the list. If a book makes me want to read more by the same author, then I’m up for it too.
So let’s crack on …
Life, Death & Vanilla Slices – Jenny Eclair
Jean has been hit by a car and her daughter, Anne is called to the hospital to be with her. Anne thinks there must be more to why her mother stepped out into the road but having been practically strangers for years, knows nothing much about her life. The story follows Anne’s upbringing and Jean’s life until now. This book is one to envelop yourself into – there’s so much depth to the characters with humour and tragedy.
I’ve read reviews that mention the title and cover letting this book down and have to agree. I feel the title cheapens the depth of the story and doesn’t invite anyone to appreciate Jenny Eclair’s wonderful writing. Although, vanilla slices does become clearer throughout the book.
The book explores relationships between mothers and daughters and whether it is ever ok to have a favourite child. Really good to read fiction where the main character is a woman over 40 and on the face of it, very normal. Both Jean and Anne are not perfect (each chapter covers the story from their point of view), in fact at times, I disliked & got irritated by both of them.
One of my top 4 reads from last year!
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
What a wonderful surprise and so compulsive to read. I would describe Eleanor as an older person in a young body. The start of the book describes how Eleanor struggles with social situations – making relationships with work colleagues is difficult and the loneliness she experiences at the weekend is terrifying. Just reading about one weekend like this was heartbreaking but so much worse to think, Eleanor had been living like this for 9 years. I’m sure most readers will have identified at some stages with her feelings but as the book progresses, we find there is so much more than just awkwardness behind Eleanor.
The relationship between Eleanor and Raymond that she meets at work is just beautiful as is the family of Samuel, the man they meet collapsed. The story reinforces that there are some genuinely lovely people in this world and were so real.
Gail Honeyman’s writing is compelling and grabbed me from the start. There are proper laugh out loud moments – Dancing to the YMCA will never be the same again.
(I was sent a copy of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review)
Wonder – R.J. Palacio
I read this in a day. I never do that but this was incredible. I’d heard other people talking about the book and knew I was due to take my kids to see the film but somehow I just didn’t fancy it. And then I started reading. Auggie has facial disfigurements and has done since birth. He has previously been homeschooled but the time has come for him to start high school.
I’m not sure if it was just the mother in me or the fact that our middle one, Vi had just started a new school where she knew not a soul, but this really got me. Its not often, I feel nerves for more than one character but while I felt for Auggie, I REALLY felt for his mum. The book describes his wonderful parents, so lovely to read of such a gorgeous family who support each other. The relationship between Auggie and his sister, Olivia was pitched just right too.
And then came the friends. Just wonderful.
There are some proper lump in throat moments in this book – The bit with the dog nearly finished me off so be warned. This book is supposedly pitched at YA level but I’d say it was suitable for anyone over the age of 11.
Incidentally, this is one of the few films I’ve seen that was nearly as good as the book. (And we all know that never happens!)
The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan
This was a truly magical read. Laura goes to work for Anthony Purdue as his housekeeper. They soon strike up a wonderful friendship. Laura discovers that Anthony has a room devoted to items that people have lost with the intention that he wants to find their original owner. I completely adore this concept but what made this book even more special were the back stories of how the items came to be lost in the first place.
A book that I just wanted to go on and on. I’d say if you enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind, then this might be good for you.
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
This book had a feeling of Desperate Housewives about it. Probably the descriptions of living in the perfect suburb of Shaker Heights. I was also reminded very much of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies. Thoroughly readable, this book covers 2 families – the utmost perfect Richardson family who seem to have it all until their house burns down and their tenants, Mother and daughter, Mia & Pearl.
Very early on we realise that Mia has not had an easy life but has a great relationship with her daughter. Mrs Richardson is very important in the community and also thinks she has a great relationship with 3 out of her 4 children.
This was my very Celeste Ng (pronounced ‘ing’) book and I have promptly put her first novel on my TBR list since. Reviews for this book have been positive in the whole but I realise its not for everyone. I do have a love of stories set in suburbia and if they have an element of intrigue, then all the better for me.
Again, I was sent a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
Oh how I savoured this book. Set in France during WWII and followed the lives of 2 very different sisters. This book had it all, a great story, strong characters, moments of sadness and other moments when my heart was in my mouth. Over the past few months, I’ve heard loads of people talking about Kristin Hannah so it seems she’s really going to get popular – I’m definitely going to be reading one or more of her others during 2018.
Vianne has been left at home when her husband goes to war. Isabelle is a rebel and wants to do her bit in the war but staying at the HomeFront isn’t what she has in mind. Both girls show immense bravery at points throughout the book – The sense of doom and peril was purely terrifying. I had to put the book down twice when I was reading in public as it was just too much to take in. Especially when I reminded myself that there were actually people doing similar things during the war. There are twists and turns galore – I loved the part with Vianne & Isabelle’s Dad.
I picked this up in the library, knowing nothing about its huge success. What a wonderful discovery.
The Honeymoon – Tina Seskis
This was an easy read but had me on the edge of my seat anyway. Set on a desert island with a couple on their honeymoon. The husband has disappeared and the hunt is on to find out where he has gone or what has happened to him.
This was a real impulse read and I’m so pleased when they work out. If you are after a quick, easy read that really grabs you, then this could be it. I’m tempted to describe it as a ‘holiday read’ but don’t really like that description as I tend to think they are too light and fluffy.
I’m looking forward to reading others by Tina Seskis.
I got an advance reader copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Now You See Me – Sharon Bolton
This was the first book I’ve read by Sharon Bolton (I’ve read more since) and it definitely sparked my love for a new (to me) author. I always know I will enjoy a good thriller so it seems a bit of a cheat to pick them up sometimes. Does anyone else feel like they’ve got to work at finding a new author or genre for it to count?
Dark and grisly, Sharon Bolton’s books will have you holding your breath for what is coming next. This was the first book in the Lacey Flint series. A great introduction into the character of Constable Flint who definitely comes with her own issues.
Lacey Flint just happened to be in the right (or wrong) place at the right time to discover a mutilated dead body. Something rings in Flint’s memory about a similar famous killing which leads to her following a serial killer at work. This is fast paced and you never know what the next page will bring.
Now You See Me was included in the titles for World Book Day back in 2016. I’ve since flicked through the lists for previous years and found several books that I am now desperate to get stuck into. Great resource for finding titles to add to your TBR pile!
The Sixth Window – Rachel Abbott
I’ve raved on for the past year about my love for Rachel Abbott’s books. They really get your heart pumping with anticipation what it happening next. The spook factor was definitely high in this book, set in a large building which quite frankly have given me the creeps since.
Natalie and her daughter, Scarlett are still mourning the recent loss of their husband and dad. Natalie embarks on a new relationship with an old friend, Bernie but soon starts to think he might not be as innocent as he seems.
Meanwhile, Rachel Abbott’s characters Tom Douglas and his colleague are sent to investigate the death of a young girl. I love the relationship between Tom and Becky. Still professional and work colleagues but with an undertone of just caring for them as a friend. Lovely.
I had to stop reading a couple of times, as in previous Abbott books, as the sense of terror was just too high. The true sign of a brilliant thriller for me.
This was another book that I was sent in advance via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
English Animals – Laura Kaye
This was one of the books from last year that I gave 4 stars to. Its stuck with me though and I have fond memories of reading it. Mirka starts work at an enormous house for a couple, thinking she is going to be their housekeeper. Before long, she finds that she is required to be much more. The characters were so different to the books that I usually enjoy but compelling anyway. I loved the country setting and even the descriptions of teaching Mirka how to become a taxidermist were fascinating.
So there we are, my favourite books from last year. I found it really hard to choose between these and some others – I haven’t even attempted to put them in any sort of order. So far, 2018 has got off to a brilliant reading start (therefore why it has taken me until February to finish this post!). I have included a link to each of these books on Amazon including an affiliate link – They won’t cost you any more than usual but I may get the odd penny.
What were your favourite books of last year? Do you fancy any of these or have you already read any of them? I’d love to know.