Best Books of 2017 so far

I thought this would be a nice post to do to summarise the reading I have done so far this year. I didn’t manage to do this on Tuesday this week, although it was the topic for top ten Tuesday, but I thought I might as well do it anyway. Also, just to clarify, not all these books were released this year, they are just ones that I have read this year. So, lets get into the list:

In no particular order…

  1. Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee 26192915 Review        I have to say, I don’t remember a huge amount about this book, except that I really enjoyed it and struggled to find a single fault. One of the best things, if I remember correctly, was the themes of community and friendship in this very heartwarming historical novel set in San Fransisco. Definitely recommend (as with everything on this list, obviously).
  2. We Were Liars by E Lockhart 16143347 Review This book is raved about a huge amount in the book community, and also hated by some people. I feel like it is a love or hate scenario, and luckily for me, I loved it. You might not, but if you are willing to take that risk, I would definitely recommend giving it a go. Its only short, if you don’t like it then you don’t have to suffer very long!
  3. Illuminae Files (books 1 and 2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 51puwgixkl-_sy344_bo1204203200_ Illuminae Review 9781780749815_1.jpg  Gemina Review  These books are just so hilarious, balanced with death and devastation. And yes, they are as crazy as they sound. And told through a mixture of texts, emails, transcripts, diary entries, the list goes on. Do I really need to say more? Read them!
  4. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover25322449 Review  This is an adult contemporary dealing with domestic abuse. It is an important book, as well as a very emotional one. The subject matter is dealt with sensitively and knowingly.
  5. Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor 61czWGfS9PL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_DOSAB Review DOBASpbk.jpg9781444722758.jpgDOGAM Review WOW THIS SERIES. Probably my favourite YA series ever. It is that good. A stunning story, beautifully told with the most brilliant characters. Also, it is extremely gripping and just non stop amazing. Please read it!!
  6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood51vhe12rxjl-_sy344_bo1204203200_ I think everyone knows by now that this is a must read, but I am just going to reinstate it. It is such an important book about feminism, and also a brilliant sci fi book.
  7. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath51v-zo8SXkL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg This book surprised me. I didn’t know what to expect going in to it, but I found it so readable and I couldn’t put it down. It is based around depression and suicide, and is intense but definitely worth a read.
  8. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi 514jJ54bnNL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_ Review Wow, this book is good. It is such an original structure, spanning generations with a chapter for each character. Somehow it sweeps across the history of slavery whilst still zooming in to individual characters. And somehow it connects you to each character in a single chapter. This book should be impossible, but it exists. And it is pure brilliance. Go read it.
  9. Fairest by Marissa Meyer 22489107.jpg This book was surprisingly intense. It is based around Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles, and it is a lot deeper and darker than the original series. I wouldn’t say it is necessarily better than the fun filled, friendship filled adventures of the Lunar Chronicles, but it is well worth a read.
  10. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon 28458598Review This book is ideal to read during exams, as I did. Such a fun, light read but also with more elements to it like the theme of arranged marriage. It was just so enjoyable to read and I had a great time reading it, as I’m sure you would to.

I know I am going to read so many more wonderful books this year; I am currently reading Strange the Dreamer and it is spell bounding.

What is the best book you have read this year so far? Did any of my favourites make your list?

 

 

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Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Review

This book starts literally just after Illuminae ends, but this time is focusing on two different teenage characters, this time on the Heimdall where Kady and the Hypatia are going. Hanna, the daughter of the captain of the space station, has no idea this is happening, as well as Nik who is part of a family of criminals. Together they must work to save the lives of everyone at Heimdall and on the Hypatia before it is too late.

This sequel was an absolute triumph. I adored the characters, which was relieving as I had concerns before I read this book that they might just be replicas of Kady and Ezra from Illuminae. I shouldn’t have worried. Hanna, although just as strong a female character as Kady, was also an original character in her own right. She was the daughter of the captain, meaning she was quite spoiled and rich. In contrast, Nik was a criminal, however he was portrayed as trying to escape this mould. I found it interesting to look at the common theme between these characters- they were both challenging the role they were meant to fill. Hanna’s character had more to it than just being a rich, spoiled girl, she fought to save people and in general was just so awesome and brave and completely destroyed the stereotype she could have fitted in to. Nik was at the same time breaking through being made to be a criminal and his father’s influence on him. The characters were definitely incredibly inspiring and just all round awesome to read about.

The characters were amazing, but so was the plot. It started off quite gently, which made me think, maybe this plot won’t live up to Illuminae after all. And then there was a huge shocking turn in the plot which made me stop in my tracks and think wow, these authors aren’t afraid of destroying their readers. And then it happened again. And again. I honestly had to stop and put the book down in disbelief and take deep breaths at one point. The thing is, this may make you think that it will become repetitive and predictable, but not once did I see anything coming. Every plot point shocked me and I had to think to myself, how did I not see this coming. Furthermore, at some points you think it is settling down, it may be devastating but you know exactly where it is heading, and then the whole thing is just spun around and once again you are caught out by the amazing pacing and plotting of this book.

If you are reading this and thinking, I’ll give this series a miss, it seems to dark and too much of an emotional rollercoaster for me, you are probably right. No, I’m joking, please read this series, you won’t regret it! But what I am trying to say is that it isn’t all heartbreak and death and doom, this book also has an excellent balance. There is a lot of humour and at times I even laughed out loud (yeah, from reading this review you can probably tell it was lucky I wasn’t reading this in public) and this book definitely has its lighthearted moments. Don’t worry, there is hope amidst all of the devastating events. Another point I want to make about the plot is the sense of doom that is laid out right from the beginning. I don’t want to mention how because it could be seen as a spoiler, but from a start there is a sense of inevitability. I do realise I am completely contradicting my last point, but whatever. There was doom, but also humour. This book is basically a perfect balance of the two and it is AMAZING.

Plus, I want to briefly mention the whole format of the book. This hasn’t changed a huge amount from the last book, and as probably most of you know by now, it is made up of a mixture of emails, accounts of video footage, messaging, diagrams and a new addition in this instalment, diary entries. I ADORED the diary entries. It was such a brilliant way of making the book more personal to the reader and helping them to connect to the character of Hanna, as I think it would definitely be missing that connection without the diary entries, which are mainly drawings by the way, actually done by the author Marie Lu.

The last thing I want to say in this review (and I promise this will be the last thing, otherwise this will get way too long) is the best thing about this series. And that is how it creates a whole event involving hundreds of people, but somehow it manages to personalise that. As in, we end up feeling so much and understanding the experience of what people are going through in this fictional event through the simple use of media i.e. texts, emails, diaries etc. Its hard to explain and you most likely have no idea what I’m on about, especially if you haven’t read these books, but I didn’t want to write this review without talking about the best aspect of the series for me.

To summarise, this book completely lived up to the expectations created by Illuminae and took me on a rollercoaster of emotions and actions. The amount of times I was shocked by a twist in this book is unbelievable. The characters also added to the brilliance of this book; rather than being replicas of the Illuminae characters they were original and inspiring. They challenged their roles and stereotypes and were just all round awesome. All in all, please read this series. It is so incredible and unique, and I have very high hopes for the final book.

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Top 5 Wednesday – Unlikeable Protagonists

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly book meme created by gingerreadslainey but now hosted by ThoughtsOnTomes.

I see unlikeable protagonists as a good thing to have in a book. Now hear me out; I don’t mean that its good for the protagonist to not be someone that the reader roots for. What I think is that people usually use this term to describe characters that are flawed, that aren’t perfect but instead have a level of humanity about them. It makes the character more realistic as no one in real life is perfect, we all make mistakes, and in my experience this makes me root for the character more. If they are too perfect I end up resenting them a bit, just for being so perfect, unbelievably so.

  • Hanna from Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Hanna isn’t especially unlikeable, she is brave, funny, clever, everything you would expect from a strong protagonist. What makes her unlikeable however is her privilege above a lot of the other characters in the book. This book uses this in a really interesting way to explore how the reader feels sympathy- does her grief and loss throughout the book make her less privileged and more on the other characters’ level? Or do they still resent her level of wealth despite all of the emotional loss she experiences? I will discuss this more in my review for this book, which I will post tomorrow.

  • Kaz from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Kaz is a very different character from Hanna. He is not at all wealthy however he has also experienced loss and grief. But he is pretty much a villain, and what he does each day is not something you would expect from a hero who you feel sympathy for. However, we do because of that deep sympathy we feel towards him, and the way the author has got the reader on his side, rooting for him. Actually, most of the main characters in this book could be described in this way.

  • Cathy and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

These are some of the most unlikeable protagonists in literature. Yet it is still seen as one of the best romances of all time. The reason Heathcliff is vouched for by readers rather than completely hated is because of the pity we feel towards him. When he acts violently, we see where it has come from. We then sympathise with Catherine maybe because of her love of Heathcliff and the decisions that she has to make, or perhaps it is through the viewpoint we get of her, from the point of view of Nelly.

  • Kate from This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This is another very similar case of sympathy. Kate isn’t really a nice person in the book, but her overwhelming loneliness makes her someone that the reader roots for. She is maybe one of the least unlikeable on this list, just because we see so clearly why she acts the way she does.

  • Emma from Emma by Jane Austen

Jane Austen herself said that Emma is “a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” She is so self centred that she does come across as unlikeable, and the whole novel is full of her making mistakes. As we see everything in the novel through her eyes, we do in fact end up backing her up and, despite all her mistakes, not hating her.

Who are some of your favourite unlikeable protagonists? What are your thoughts on these characters?

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YA Series I want to read this summer (Top Ten Tuesday)

This is the second in a series I’m doing for different genres of books I want to read this summer, as I have finished my exams. When I saw the Top Ten Tuesday topic (series you have been meaning to read) I thought I might as well combine it with this, except this will just be YA. A lot of these won’t be completed series, but if it is only the first book which is out, I will be including it on my next post on books I need to read this summer.

  1. The Young Elites by Marie Lu

I’ve owned this series since Christmas but haven’t got around to reading it yet. I really need to read something by Marie Lu, as I feel like I’m one of the only people who haven’t! I decided to buy this instead of the Legend Series just because I saw it had slightly better reviews.

2. The Winner’s Curse series by Marie Rutkoski

I have read the first in this series (see my review here) and I wasn’t hugely impressed. However, I have heard that it gets better with each book so I am planning to read the next two very soon.

3. Monsters of Verity by VE Shwab

I have also read the first book in this duology and in contrast to the Winner’s Curse, I loved it! The second book has just come out, and I already have a copy of it, so all I need to do now is get on and read it. Although I am struggling to remember what happened in the first book, so a re read may be due… Do you re read books? Or do you have a better way of re capping the previous book in a series? Let me know in the comments, it would be extremely helpful, because I don’t really want to have to keep re reading books!

4. Front Lines by Michael Grant

This has been on my shelves for months, I really have to read it soon. I think it is going to be a trilogy? Maybe a duology. But anyway, from what I understand it is basically an alternate World War Two, where women could also fight. Which sounds like a really awesome concept, so I hope this doesn’t let down my high expectations!

5. And I Darken by Kirsten White

I have owned this for a year, and put off reading it because I heard it was quite boring. But I have seen so many glowing reviews since then that I am going to have to give it a try; I really hope I love it! The second book comes out soon, so I want to read it before then, and then read the second one.

6. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

I am so curious to see how magical realism is used in this series, as since I read the Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, I have wanted to see what else the genre has to offer. Plus this series is extremely popular, so hopefully it will live up to the hype.

7. The Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima

This seems to be a proper fantasy series, and I really want to get into one. I want to be immersed into another world for a series, so if I like it I might binge read this series at some point. It has pretty good reviews, so hopefully it will be something I would enjoy.

8. The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

I have started the first book of this series quite a few times so I want to continue and finish the trilogy. This is one of the most highly viewed trilogies in YA, so I think I am seriously missing out on something by not having picked these up yet.

9. The Shades of London Trilogy by VE Shwab

Last year I read the first book and liked it, but I felt like I didn’t fully get immersed in it. Therefore I want to reread A Darker Shade of Magic and move on to read the rest of the trilogy, which from what I have heard is absolutely brilliant.

10. The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown

This was lent to me and I feel bad for not having read it yet, plus I really want to get into the world. I started the first book but exams got in the way, so I’m hoping to get back to the series fairly soon.

Have you read any of these series? Did you enjoy them? I’d also love to know if there are any great YA series you think I should definitely read!

Also, on a different note, I am starting from today to update and post bookish photos on my instagram account, so if you are at all interested, you can find me on instagram @_booksareallyouneed and also on Litsy, which is a social media app entirely for books @booksareallyouneed . I have been updating Litsy fairly regularly for a while, and I would definitely recommend it, it is basically a mixture of goodreads, instagram and twitter and it is so awesome! You may also see my blog change from now on in terms of design, as I am going to try and improve the design with artwork and photography and a new theme.

Anyway, if you are still reading, thanks for that! I will be posting a review of Gemina tomorrow probably, so look out for that. Bye!

 

 

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Classics I want to read this summer

This will be the first in a series of posts where I decide what books to read in the two and a half months holiday I have this summer. I will start with classics and then next time I will talk about YA series, then YA standalone, then Adult fiction.

  1. Persuasion by Jane Austen

I literally just started this and I am really enjoying it so far. I read a few Austen books a couple of years ago, so it brought back nice memories of reading those books. My favourites would have to be Pride and Prejudice and Emma, but I have heard a lot of praise for this one, which makes me want to discover why this one in particular is favoured by so many people. On that note, I am thinking about doing a post each time I read a classic saying ‘What makes … a classic’. Let me know if you would be happy to see this content, because I was trying to think of an alternative to reviewing classics, which I find hard.

2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde is one of those authors who always seems to be quoted. This really makes me intrigued to read this book because as far as I know this is his only novel… correct me if I am wrong! But this is one I have been meaning to pick up for a while but just haven’t found the right moment. It is also quite short which makes me hope it is a really impactful couple of hundred pages!

3. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

This is quite a contrast with the previous one, being hundreds and hundreds of pages. But I would really like to read more lengthy books whilst I have the time, so this is definitely one I hope to get to. It seems like it could really capture my attention and be a very involving read. I have heard it is easier to get into than War and Peace, which I hope is true!

4. A Passage to India by E M Forster

I actually don’t know a huge amount about this. I have heard a lot of praise for it, and it just sounds like it would really interest me. I feel like I am missing out by not reading it, which is a good sign that I need to get to it.

5. Animal Farm by George Orwell

Now this is a really urgent one to read. I honestly don’t know how I haven’t read it, seeing as it has been on my shelves for so long. Plus its so short! What am I even doing with my life? I adored 1984 so now I have even more incentive to pick this up, plus so many people name it as one of their favourite books of all time.

6. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

I’m a bit nervous to read this, mainly because I’ve heard it is quite dense to get through because of the language, despite its length? But obviously it is one I have to read, it is well known as a must read, so I need to give it a try at least. Who knows, it may become a new favourite! Let me know your opinions on this book, did you find it dense or not, is it definitely worth reading?

7. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

I’ve started this before, but I didn’t have time to finish it. From what I remember it was quite easy to get into and it was enjoyable to read, which is what I’m hoping for! I might be wrong, but what I’m expecting to get from this is the classic adventure novel, which I hope I’m right about!

8. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

Jane Eyre is probably my favourite book of all time, and I’ve also read Wuthering Heights (but I definitely need to re read at some point), so this seems like a natural book I need to read. This doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as the other Bronte books, however I have heard it is underrated, so I want to discover what is hopefully a hidden gem.

9. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

I think this is a murder mystery, I don’t know a whole lot about it but I own it and have wanted to read it for a long time, so lets hope I’ll find the time this summer!

10. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

Rebecca is one of my favourite books of all time, and I have heard this one is the most similar to Rebecca out of all Daphne Du Maurier’s books, so for me this definitely seems like a must read. Plus there is a new film of it just released.

So that is all the classics I am hoping to read this summer! Obviously there is a never ending list of classics I hope to read, but my aim with this list was to try and be realistic with my goals. I doubt I will read all of these, but hopefully I will read a decent amount of them.

Are there any classics you think I definitely need to read? Have you read any of these? I’d love to know any opinions on any classics in the comments!

 

 

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – Review

This book is based around two teenagers who both have very traditional Indian parents. When Dimple tries to persuade her parents to allow her to follow her dreams and go to Insomnia Con, a summer camp for web development, where she could win the prize of developing an app with her idol, Jenny Lindt, her parents are surprisingly on board. But later she discovers they sent her there so she can meet the boy she has been put in an arranged marriage with: Rishi. However, Rishi isn’t as oblivious to these plans as Dimple is.

This was a really enjoyable read. One of the best features of this novel was the relationships between characters. Obviously, there was Dimple and Rishi, who were just so adorable and they had a dynamic that was just so fun to read. Their two different personalities worked so well together, and made this book hard not to love. It was also really great to see their relationship develop, rather than them just instantly falling in love, which happens way to much in YA. There were also other relationships, such as the friendship between Dimple and Celia. I loved how this was properly developed and featured throughout, rather than just something that was dropped to leave room for the romance, and how they supported each other. I also enjoyed reading about Rishi and his brother, and that kind of love combined with resentment relationship that was present.

Also worth mentioning is the part family played in the story, specifically parents. It was nice to see parents that were supporting their children, even if it took them a while to see this was the case. It was interesting to see their attitudes to the arranged marriage, how much Dimple resented being controlled by her parents, and also Rishi’s strong respect for Indian culture and his parents and upbringing. The idea of how he dealt with the conflict between respecting his parents and his passion for art was fascinating, and I thought this was a highlight of the book.

Something that I really loved was the passions that the characters had. As I just mentioned, Rishi’s passion for art was really well explored, as well as Dimple’s passion for coding. I liked how ambitious she was, and how she wouldn’t let anything get in the way of her dreams. I think that was a really strong theme of this book, how to pursue dreams and balance that with other important things in your life. Their passions were portrayed very realistically, they weren’t ridiculously far fetched but instead things that they really enjoyed and wanted to make the centre of their life.

The only problems I had with this book were some of the writing style and also the predictability of some of the plot. The writing seemed a bit forced at times, like slightly weird similes were being put in for no apparent reason, and some of the description used just seemed a bit disjointed and out of place. This might not be a problem everyone has, and is easy to overlook, so I wouldn’t let it stop you reading this book. The plot was quite predictable, I quite often caught myself guessing where the plot would go and then surprised myself when I actually guessed correctly. This took away some of the enjoyment of the novel, which is why I’m not giving this 5 stars.

Overall this was a cute, heartwarming contemporary with some interesting elements of computer coding, art and Indian culture. Dimple and Rishi’s characters just contrast so beautifully together, and this combined with themes of pursuing your dreams makes a delightful read, perfect to read in the summer. There are also some wonderful friendships and family relationships which add greater depth to the book. It was slightly predictable, but all in all I would without a doubt recommend it.

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May Wrap Up and June tbr

Hi, sorry I haven’t posted in a while! I’m in the middle of my exams, so I haven’t really had time to write reviews or anything, as I’ve been revising. But I thought I would just check in with this wrap up and tbr. I’ve only read two books, and both were contemporaries as I find them easier to go to as a break from revision, although I am seriously missing fantasy! Here are the books I read in May:

  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

This was so adorable! Honestly, one of the cutest books I’ve read, definitely one to go to if you are looking for a really light, cute read. I loved the characters, and how they all had such realistic issues which were explored in the book, such as Lincoln not really knowing what direction to go in with his life. However, it wasn’t perfect, I thought it got quite slow in the middle, not a lot seemed to be happening, so I think the pacing could have been better managed. I would say that it isn’t quite at the high standards of Eleanor and Park or Fangirl, but I would still recommend it if you are looking for something light and easy to go to during exams or whatever.

3 out of 5 stars

  • The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I picked this one up entirely on a whim, I’ve been interested in reading it for a while, so I saw it in a bookshop and just decided to go for it. Again, this one was so adorable. It was exploring the idea of love at first sight, and basically trying to make a case for it. I felt like the two characters, Natasha and Daniel, definitely had chemistry, but I did find the whole story a bit too unrealistic, I couldn’t really get past how they only met each other that morning and the rest of the novel was that day. I also found the coincidences too much, as well as all the deeply philosophical conversations, which just didn’t seem realistic. What made this go up in my opinion was the chapters on other characters, and the way it showed how everyone has a story, and the influence people’s circumstances have on each other. Also, the chapters with information on subjects within the novel were really interesting, and definitely worked well.

3.5 out of 5 stars

I almost definitely won’t stick to this tbr, but these are books I might end up reading:

  • Fairest by Marissa Meyer
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

These I will read when I have finished my exams (just over halfway through the month)

  • Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  • The Flame in the Mist by Renée Adieh

I have already started Fairest, and I am really enjoying it so far. I will probably write a review for it soon, so look out for that! I’m not sure what else I will post in the next couple of weeks, if anything, but I will be back to regular reviews, tags, book hauls etc after exams. For around 2 and a half months I will be free from school, so I will be posting more regularly than I have been since I started this blog!

Thanks for reading, I look forward to being a lot more active reading and posting!

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