Ending the year right, I’m going to discuss here all the books I read in 2017.
Let’s get started!
2017 was a long year, and a lot happened. The first half of the year, I was working on finishing up my degree at Belhaven University in Mississippi, so I didn’t get many books in from January-April (during which I only read four total). It wasn’t until May, once finals were over and I was done with my senior project, that I was able to get more in, reading nineteen books from May-August. Autumn slowed me down a bit as I started working more, so I only got in four books from September-November.
I finished strong in December however, reading eight in just a couple of weeks, reaching a total of thirty-six books read for 2017 when my original Goodread’s Challenge was for thirty. I think I can do better next year, but for now, I’m happy.
Now let’s move on to the actual books read.
The year began in January with the Italian horror novel The Twenty Days of Turin. Originally published in 1977 by an independent Italian agency, the book was only recently translated into English despite its cult status among Italians.
The Twenty Days of Turin tells the story of ‘The Library’, a place where any may publish, anonymously or not, their journals, books, sketchbooks, etc. However, as time goes on, the Library begins to reveal horrors unnamed, and the people of Turin are gripped by an inexplicable twenty-day cycle of psychosis culminating in massacres that are indescribable and confusing despite massive amounts of witnesses. In the wake of this tragedy, the Library is shut down and erased, but one intrepid salaryman is determined to figure out the truth of what happened to the people of Turin during those twenty dark days. A delicious mystery/horror full of Lovecraftian-style elritch terrors and an ending to send a chill down your spine, I enjoyed every moment of the book and highly recommend it to anyone.
Books read, Jan-April:
Book #2) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass, 4 stars. (A really great start to a series I’m looking forward to finishing!)
Book #3) Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber, 3.5 stars. (Despite my love for Darth Maul, this book was kind of boring.)
Book #4) Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor, 4 stars. (Just the beginning of the novels for the strange little desert town where the sun is hot, the moon is full, and mysterious lights pass overhead while everyone pretends to sleep.)
The fifth book, read in early April, was the non-fiction novel Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant. This book was beautiful–an amazing look at differences in culture, systematic racism, and also the strangest, most-backward sense of acceptance ever found.
Richard Grant, an expat living with his girlfriend in New York, decides on a whim to buy a plantation house in the Mississippi Delta, a flat swath of land between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers in the state’s northernmost reaches. To those who think Alabama is a wasteland of hicks and rednecks, I would tell them to visit the Delta before making any judgement. Despite its picturesque and historic towns, so much of the Delta still seems to be trapped in the 1960s, and Richard Grant discusses the ups and downs of living there, discussing how, strangely, the Delta seemed to heal within them what the city couldn’t. An amazing read full of cultural references and ideals versus traditionalism, plus descriptions of Mississippi that, after having lived there myself, are so true they hurt. I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough.
Books read, April-May
Book #6) Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, 4 stars. (An adorable little book about young love and sickness.)
Book #7) The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami, 4 stars. (A veritable fever-dream of a book).
Book #8) The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster, 3 stars. (Okay as far as book-adaptations go, but nothing special.)
My next five-star book was a bit of a diamond in the rough, Scott Hawkins’ The Library at Mount Char. I got this book in a one-time book box order (after having tried out a bunch of different book-box subscriptions), and though the summary left much to be desired, what I discovered within was nothing less than a masterpiece.
The plot itself is somewhat hard to describe, as convoluted as it is. The Library at Mount Char tells the story of a band of ragtag children who were adopted by a man they simply call Father after the untimely deaths of their parents. As they grow up, they are all assigned Catalogs by Father for them to study, gaining the powers and abilities outlined in each Catalog–i.e., necromancy, shape-shifting with animals, endless knowledge, strength, etc. Father strictly forbids his children from reading outside their Catalogs, but now he’s missing, maybe even dead, and Carolyn has a plan. She’s always had a plan.
A fantasy novel full of contradictions, of humans and aliens, magic and realism, it was a wild ride from start to finish, and more than earned its place on my favorites shelf.
Books read, May
Book #10) Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, 5 stars (No words can describe this book or how much I love Laini Taylor. Also, I got a signed copy!)
Book #11) The Girl With all the Gifts by M.R. Carey, 3 stars. (Not what I was expecting, as the summary did not let me in to the fact that it was a zombie story, and I’m kind of over zombie stories.)
Book #12) The Black Witch by Laurie Forest, 4 stars. (Unfairly burdened by one-star reviews due to some controversial material, but a great read for fans of magic school settings.)
Book #13) Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, 4 stars. (A wonderful escape into experimental fiction!)
Next comes The Accident Season, a beautiful and underrated story of magical realism set in the present day.
Cara’s family has been cursed since she can remember. Toward the end of October, everyone in her family has accidents–bruises, cuts, broken bones, and, in some terrible cases, even death. No one outside the family believes in the accident season, and even some within the family don’t, but Cara is determined to break the curse as well as figure out the reason behind it.
Full of ghosts, magic, curses, and family bonds stronger than anything, this book is short and beautiful. The characters are believable and broken, the storyline intriguing and bewitching, and I would recommend it to any lovers of magical realism. (Note: I also read this book in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down.)
Books read, June-July:
Book #15) The Treatment by Suzanne Young, 1 star. (An extremely disappointing sequel after a promising beginning in The Program.)
Book #16) The Diabolic by S.J Kincaid, 4 stars. (A really great, interesting sci-fi read with a new take on characters and a look at the culture and history of far-off places.)
Book #17) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass, 2 stars. (Disappointing after how much I enjoyed Throne of Glass. A lazy attempt at spinning a story based off Beauty and the Beast.)
Book #18) Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, 5 stars. (A beautiful, immersive mystery full of characters who are all too-human, and a multitude of twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end.)
Book #19) The Merciless III: Origins of Evil by Danielle Vega, 5 stars. (The end of a series, and a promise that I will love Danielle Vega until the end. I also read this book in one sitting while hanging out in Barnes & Noble, whoops.)
And here comes my first centered review toward a terrible book, and I mean truly awful. While The Treatment got a worse rating, this book left more of an impact on me in the way of terrible-ness, and I just have to talk about how much I detested it.
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi is just a hot mess. There’s no better way to describe it. Set in an India we don’t know, the story follows Maya, the daughter of the Sultan. She’s cursed with a horoscope that forbodes death and destruction, and thus no one wants to be acquainted with her. Because of this, Maya spends her time reading and insulting other women.
Then, after being asked by her father to sacrifice her life for her kingdom, Maya is suddenly saved by this mysterious guy named Amar, the King of Akaran, and he asks her to marry him. When she does, he takes her to Akaran, a kingdom that seems to exist outside of space and time.
Maya spends the rest of the book making stupid decisions, drooling over Amar while also not letting him touch her, being an idiot, and then suddenly winning in the climax because she’s the heroine, I guess. I honestly hate this book. The prose was too flowery and over-the-top, obviously trying too hard and really disappointing in the wake of authors like Laini Taylor and Paula Hawkins who write that way naturally.
Apparently there’s a sequel, but I don’t care.
Books read, July-October
Book #21) And I Darken by Kierstan White, 3 stars. (A gender-bent retelling of Vlad the Impaler that started off well but got really boring around the middle.)
Book #22) Final Girls by Riley Sager, 4 stars. (Mystery? Action? Reality-bending? You got it! A lot of people said they saw the twist at the end, but I did not, and I loved the whole ride there.)
Book #23) A Million Junes by Emily Henry, 5 stars. (Another reality-bending world of magical realism that really pulled me in. I was crying by the end. I love this book.)
Book #24) House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, 5 stars. (The only reason this doesn’t get a centerpiece is because I already made a whole blog post about it, and besides, this book gives me anxiety.)
The next book I’m going to focus on is a bit of a conundrum, but not in a bad way.
I first tried to read Sabriel by Garth Nix when I was about twelve or thirteen, and it didn’t stick. I’m not sure why–the darkness of the story wouldn’t have driven me away since I loved Edgar Allan Poe from a young age, and the writing wasn’t too complicated for someone with my reading level when I was younger, so I don’t know what happened. All I know is, I tried to read it again this summer after borrowing it from my library on a whim, and everything changed. I loved it.
Sabriel is the daughter of the legendary necromancer, Abhorsen, but she has spent her life in the magic-less modern kingdom of Ancelstierre, occasionally banishing Dead who manage to creep through. Then she receives a message from her father–something has gone wrong. He’s missing, and a darkness is stealing over the Old Kingdom, bringing Dead with it and destroying Charter stones until nothing is left.
In the wake of Abhorsen’s message, Sabriel decides to go to the Old Kingdom to help him, encountering Dead, Free Magic, and so much more along the way. Joined by a strange talking cat named Mogget and a boy previously-encased in stone named Touchstone, Sabriel must navigate the strange customs of a land unfamiliar to her and save her father before it’s too late.
I’m currently reading the second book in the series, and ugh it’s just so good. Read this series. I don’t care if it’s meant for younger audiences, read it.
Books Read, October-December:
Book #26) Uprooted by Naomi Novik, 4 stars. (A rich fantasy world full of beautiful descriptions of magic, characters whose names taste like fire and ash, and a corrupted Wood, this book is perfect for curling up by a fire.)
Book #27) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, 5 stars. (The first in the Six of Crows duology, and a wonderful re-entry into the world of the Grisha.)
Book #28) It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor, 4 stars. (It Devours!? Oh yeah, I’ve read that book.)
Book #29) Bonfire by Krysten Ritter, 5 stars. (Wow, want to talk about a rollercoaster? This book delivers. Only dive in if you’re ready to be absolutely mind-blown.)
OKAY the next book is one of my absolute favorites of this year. Written as an alternate-history wherein the women of the world suddenly gain the ability to conduct electricity with their bodies, this book has an extremely interesting premise that is quite easy to understand if you look past your own prejudices and bias.
Many say a world run by women would be kinder. The author of “Lord of the Flies” thought that girls put in the same circumstances would band together rather than fight amongst themselves, but I never thought that. Humans of all genders have the ability to be cruel, it doesn’t matter who they are or what gender, and that’s what I believe this book was trying to say.
A world run by women would not be kinder. It would just be more of the same, because absolute power corrupts absolutely. Power doesn’t care about gender. Power is just power.
Books read, December:
Book #31) Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, 4 stars. (The final of the Six of Crows duology, featuring a return of all our favorite characters, higher stakes, and a heart-wrenching ending.)
Book #32) The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor, 4 stars. (This would have gotten five stars as it’s a really great mystery, but the ending was kind of eh.)
Book #33) Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, 4 stars. (I already did an entire book review post about this one, so no need for a centerpiece.)
Book #34) Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, 3 stars. (Honestly, this book was good, and I get it was a story about love, but it just bothered me how everyone ended up with their perfect match by the end. Everyone. Just a bit much for me.)
Book #35) The Selection by Kiera Cass, 4 stars. (My new guilty pleasure series :D)
Book #36) Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski, 4 stars. (A bit lacking after the amazing fiction that was The Last Wish, but enough that I will continue reading the Witcher series for a while longer.)
Currently, I am reading the second book of the Old Kingdom series, Lirael. I’m sure it would get a centerpiece if I had finished it, but I doubt I will before the year ends. Too much is happening in the next few days.
So ends my bookish year in review, and I can’t wait to start 2018 with a new slew of books, reviews, and ratings.
See you all next year!