As ever, the year has flown by, and 2017 has brought with it a whole host of new books to read and enjoy- as well as getting used to the idea of becoming a book blogger. I set up this blog in May, so this year has been a bit of a rollercoaster: needless to say, there’s been a lot of reading involved, even for somebody who started the year working in a bookshop.
Obviously, it’s impossible to read all of the books that were published this year- but this is my selection, if you were looking for inspiration!
Here’s my year in reading, wrapped…
False Lights, by K.J Whittaker
I absolutely loved this book. False Lights rolled everything I like in a story up in one excellent novel: some historical fiction- in this case with a twist- some romance, some adventure and some memorable, well-drawn heroes and heroines. Set in the period after the Napoleonic Wars, in an England where Napoleon won the battle of Waterloo, False Lights plunges us into the lives of both sides of the conflict- that of the resistance and of the French soldiers. With a complex plot, high stakes and rip rolling adventure- as well as Hester, a fantastic main character- I actually couldn’t put this down.
Read the review in full here.
The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton
Also great; also complex. The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a twisty, fast-paced take on an Agatha Christie- if Poirot were doomed to live the same day over and over again, in different bodies, until he solved the crime. In this case, the crime is the death of Evelyn Hardcastle, and our hero, Aiden Bishop, is tasked with solving her murder, all whilst trying to figure out who he should trust, and whom it is that wants to kill him. The plot doesn’t take prisoners: it races along, leaving you scrambling to fit together the pieces along with the hero. The plotting is also a work of art, labyrinthine and complex and something that you’ll probably need to read a few times over to appreciate properly.
A criminal masterpiece. Have a look here.
Jade City, by Fonda Lee
This kind of gritty, dystopian fantasy is a particular weakness of mine, and true to form I absolutely loved Jade City. Set in Janloon, a city on the made-up island of Kekon, Jade City centres around the lives of the No Peak clan, a family who rule part of the city with the enhanced reflexes and superhuman powers given to them by the mystical jade that they wear. But trouble is on the horizon, and various members of the family must come to terms with their respective roles, their duties in the coming war and how to preserve their power in an increasingly hostile city…
With clan politics, betrayal, family and some kick-ass action scenes, this is great for people who like their stories with a flavour of martial arts thrown in.
House of Shadows, by Nicola Cornick
Filled with strong female characters, magic and a split timeline, House of Shadows was a pretty gorgeously-written book that addressed death, betrayal, magic and love in several intersecting storylines. When Holly’s brother Ben goes missing in the present day, she’s plunged into the stories of Lavinia Flyte, the eighteenth-century prostitute, and Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen, whose magic mirror and pearl will cause death and destruction wherever they go.
Skilfully weaving together several different plots, eras and characters, Nicola Cornick creates a compelling, well-written story that I really enjoyed.
Have a look at the review here.
Godsgrave, by Jay Kristoff
Straight off the bat: Jay Kristoff is an excellent writer. He’s funny, he can turn a mean phrase and he’s willing to send his characters to some very dark places. The sequel to his fantastic Nevernight is no exception, setting his brutal assassin heroine Mia Corvere off on an adventure to become a gladiator in order to gain revenge on the man who betrayed her family, Julius Scaeva. With twists and turns, a flawed but great heroine and a host of compelling characters, none of whom you can trust, Godsgrave is one I’m looking forward to coming back and reading soon…
Find out why here.
How to Stop Time, by Matt Haig
Yay, Matt Haig! I absolutely love him as a writer, and How to Stop Time delivered a knockout blow to my literary pretensions when I was reading it. Tom Hazard is an Alba, somebody who ages much more slowly than regular ‘mayflies’, and is still coming to terms with losing a daughter and the love of his life four hundred years ago in the Tudor era. Switching between Tom’s very varied past and the present day, which sees him trying to break free from the Alba society and its dictatorial head, Henrich, it’s delicately, exquisitely written- and who would expect any less from Matt Haig?
Tackling the themes of love, loss and immortality, it’s a really quite sad but ultimately heartwarming read about making the most of the time you have. (I’m not crying, you’re crying)
Take a look at the review here.
Shelter, by Sarah Franklin
It’s hard to believe this book is a debut, really: confident, concise and eloquent, I loved it! Set in World War Two, we meet Connie, a pregnant woman working in the Forest of Dean after the tragic deaths of her family, and Seppe, an Italian POW who doesn’t want to go home. As the two forge a fragile bond, the story seizes its chance to explore what family means, the effects of war and the beauty of the natural world. It’s heartfelt, beautifully written and with characters you really care about.
Find out more about it here.
The Marriage Pact, by Michelle Richmond
My last entry for 2017, the Marriage Pact is a tense, interesting and complex look at what it means to be married. Newlyweds Jack and Alice are given a present on their wedding day that turns out to be an admission to The Pact: a group of people, and a set of guidelines, set up to ensure that its followers experience a happy and healthy marriage. But as you might expect, things aren’t as simple as they appear, and soon a dark side to The Pact is revealed as Jack and Alice fight to save their marriage, understand each other and defy The Pact.
Take a look in more detail here.
So, that’s my list! Are there any books you’ve read this year that you think deserve a mention?
Bring on 2018!