My Favourite Books of 2018

Hi Readers

In 2018 I read 113 books. Unfortunately not many of them were stand-out amazing but today I’m going to talk about the few that were.

Out of the 113 books I have ten that I think deserve to be on my 2018 favourites list.

10. Tilly and the Book Wanderers by Anna James

My most recent read that ended up on this list. This is also the only middle-grade book. This book is the epitome of cosy and a must-read for all book lovers. Set in a book shop we follow 11 year old Tilly who discovers the magic of book wandering.

9. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

The latest Cormoran Strike was, whilst not my favourite, certainly worth the wait. I love the mysteries but I also just love Strike and Robin. They’re great characters and I am very invested in their lives.

8. Born A Crime by Trever Noah

It’s not very often a non-fiction makes it onto my favourites list, but I couldn’t not mention this one. Born a Crime is Noah’s personal account of what it was like growing up in South Africa during Apartheid.

7. The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins

I didn’t end up reading too many classics in 2018. I read this one because the BBC was doing an adaptation of it, but I quickly fell in love with this book. Eerie and mystical and beautifully written. I definitely want to read more by Wikie Collins in 2019.

6. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

This was one of my most highly anticipated books of the year and whilst it didn’t completely meet my expectations, it is still one of the most unique books I read this year. A sci-fi mystery about a man who is reliving the same day over and over until he can solve the murder that will take place that evening.

5. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This is a beautiful story about loneliness and purpose. Ove is a man who at first seems like the typical grumpy old man who lives next door. But we delve into his life and his thoughts and, as we learn more about him, the more this fictional character creeps into the heart of the reader.  

4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Anne Barrows

I remarkable story set post world war 2 about a writer who discovers how the British people on Guernsey coped with being occupied by the Germans. It’s a true book lovers delight. 

3. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

This is a series I have been reading for a long time now and reading the final book was emotional to say the least. This series has certainly had it’s ups and downs and this finale isn’t perfect (for me) but there’s no denying my love for these characters. 

2. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

A funny book that turned out to be so much more. When I first read this I thought it would be my number one book of the year. But then I read my number one book and it blew all of the others out of the water.

1. Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book. THIS BOOK. Not only my favourite of the year but one of my favourites of all time. This story and these characters will remain with me for a long time. 

What was your favourite book of 2018?

Thanks for reading, 

Jess X

 

Favourite Books of 2017

Hi Readers

It’s that time of year again where I choose my favourite books I read in the past year.

In 2017 I read a whopping 118 books which is the most amount of books I have ever read in a year. Which made it very hard to choose a top 10. I ended up having 13 books I had to have on this list, so this year it’s my top 13 books of the year.

13 – History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

This book follows Griffin as he grieves the death of his ex-boyfriend and first love.

I actually read all of Adams published books this year and this was definitely my favourite. This is also the only one that doesn’t have a hint of sci-fi in it so perhaps that’s saying something about my reading tastes. 
12 – The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Inspired by Greek mythology, this follows the story of Achilles and Patroclus as their bond strengthens, only to be torn apart by war.

I had to put this book on this list because, even though I ended up giving it three stars, I had a great time reading it. It was addictive and exciting. I didn’t want to put it down and I didn’t want it to end. I’m very excited for Madeline’s new book that’s coming out later this year. 

11- Mr Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva

A Christmas book inspired by Charles Dickens and how he came to write A Christmas Carol. 

I never thought picking this up that it would end up on this list. I just wanted a book to read around Christmas. I ended up falling in love with this book. It was captivating and charming and everything you want a Christmas book to be.

10 – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Classic horror about Doctor Frankenstein and how his ambition led him to create a horrifying monster. 

I thought I knew the story of Frankenstein so I’d never bothered reading this. But I randomly decided to read it for Halloween and am so glad I did. It was nothing like what I expected it to be. The writing was beautiful and the story was so much more intriguing than I thought. 

9 – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

A Russian classic that tells the story of Anna, a passionate Russian socialite as she enters an affair with Count Vronsky.

I was surprised by this novel. I thought it would be a hard slog of a novel but I flew through it. I got invested in the story and the characters. There was only one small section I felt dragged but other than that, I loved every second of it. Don’t let the size of this put you off. 

8 – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A mystery following three mothers in an idyllic town on the Australian Coast. 

This book blew up this year thanks to the TV Show and for good reason. This book was so much more than what I expected and had one of the most shocking endings in a book I have ever seen. The TV Show took this book and made the message even more powerful and I’m very excited for season 2.

7 – How To Stop Time by Matt Haig

This follows a man with a condition that slows down his ageing. He looks 50 but he’s really lived for 400 years. And now, he’s in search of his daughter who has the same condition. 

I’m shocked that a time travel book has made it onto my favourites but that’s because this is so much more than a time travel book. I think my favourite thing about this novel is how Haig incorporated mental health into the story and gave it such a large presence. He made a 400 something old man feel relatable. 

6 – The Last Act of Love – Cathy Rentzenbrink

A memoir about her brother after he is in a car accident and is put into a permanent vegetative state. How, after years of caring for him, they decide the best thing for him is to let him go.

This is a memoir that is raw and honest and brave. The way Cathy captured the memories and emotions in her writing so eloquently made me really feel for her and anyone who has been in her situation. 

5 – Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

17 year old Molly has only ever had crushes on people, but now that her twin sister is in a relationship herself, she decides to finally act on her feelings.

I had slightly low expectations for this because I didn’t love Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda like everybody else seemed to. But I wanted a quick read for Booktubeathon so I thought I’d give it a try. I quickly fell in love with this book and got sucked into the story. I just felt like this book really gets me. 

4 – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Starting in Africa with two sisters who have never met, one is sold to an American slave trader, the other becomes the wife of a British merchant. Each chapter after follows the next generation. 

I think what I love about this book is the structure of it and how much history it’s able to cover. This is a book that not only made me feel all the feels, but also taught me a lot. 

3 – Jane Austen’s Books

Okay so this is cheating a little bit but this year I read all of Jane Austen’s books for the first time (apart from Pride and Prejudice which I’d read before.) I fell in love with her writing and characters. There’s something so cosy and comforting about them. I think my favourites are Emma, Sense and Sensablity and Northanger Abbey (and P&P.)

2 – The Princess Bride

A Dad gives his son a book his own Dad used to read him but when he discovers he cut the book down to make it all about sword fights and romance, he decides to edit the book into the story his Dad told him. 

I read this book twice this year, once at the beginning of the year and once at the end of the year. 

1 – The Neapolitan Novels

Set in a impoverished part of Naples, this follows Elena as she reflects on her life and her friendship with the vivacious Lila. 

I can’t pick a favourite out of the four novels because each book is as good as the next and flow so smoothly it feels like one big book. Because I have so many feelings on this series, I’m going to link you to the review I did of it here: Neapolitan Novels Review. 

Let me know what your favourite book of 2017 was or if you’ve also done a list on your blog so I can check it out!

Thanks for reading

Jess X

 

 

My Favourite Book.

Hi Guys

I have talked about this book in quite a few blog posts before and recommended it at every possible opportunity, but I have realised that I have never given it it’s own post for me to gush about it. So, here I am today, doing everything in my power to try and persuade you to read this beautiful book.

This blog post will be spoiler free but I will be talking about themes and quotes, so if you want to go into this book knowing nothing, here are a few reasons why you should read it.

  • It’s a banned book. Be a rebel.
  • The friendship.
  • The acceptance.
  • The growth.
  • The writing, it’s beautiful.
  • It’s relateable (you will connect with at least one character.)
  • So you can watch the movie after, which is just as good and has Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller and Emma Watson.

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When I first read this book I had borrowed it from a German foreign exchange student when I was 16 and I’ll admit, I didn’t completely get it. However this happens with most of my most loved ‘things.’ I start off thinking it’s ‘meh’ but there’s something about it that makes me want to give it another go and when I do something happens that didn’t happen the first time, I connect with it.

Charlie is such a special main character. He is a wallflower, he sees everything but never gets involved, and being a teenager surrounded by difficult and complex situations that can be very overwhelming. He’s an over-thinker, and the only person he confesses his thoughts to is his friend (the reader.)

I love his love for books. All of us love a main character who shares our interests, and I think it’s safe to say we all have a shared interest in books. Reading is a big  part of Charlies growth:

“I have finished To Kill a Mockingbird. It is now my favourite book of all time, but then again, I always think that until I read another book.”

The Music. This is the perfect moment to mention the movie (which I also love with all my heart.) Perks features ‘old’ music (pre 1990’s) which I never listened to unless forced before Perks. The movies soundtrack opened me up to a whole new era of music I never thought I could love. Now I listen to The Smiths, David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac. The Samples are even my alarm song to wake me up in the morning.

“And I thought how many people have loved those songs. And how many people got through bad times because of those songs. And how many people have enjoyed good times with these songs. And how much these songs really mean.”

The sub-plots are gifts. This book explores a lot of issues a teenager could experience through not just the main character Charlie but through the secondary characters as well. None of the characters are straight-forward, one dimensional, or perfect. Each of their stories needed to be told.

This book delves into themes of sexuality and all the struggles that could come with in the 80’s. There’s also teen-pregnancy, violence in relationships, a teenagers struggle with self-worth. But throughout all of that, these characters have each other.

I love the entirety of this book, but there are small quotes in this book that give it moments of genius. Quotes that I have to read twice to let soak in, quotes that I love so much I have them hanging on my wall in my bedroom. So I will leave you with some of my favourites:

“Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life”

“Five minutes of a lifetime were truly spent”

“We accept the love we think we deserve”

“And all those little kids are going to do the same things we do. And they will kiss someone someday. But for now, sledding is enough. I think it would be nice if sledding were always enough, but it isn’t.”

“Even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from here.”

And the most famous of the book:

.“And in that moment, I swear…”

Thanks for reading!

Jess X

Top 10 Books of 2016!

Hi Guys!

2016 was a pretty good reading year for me. There are definitely books I wish I had gotten to and book I wish I hadn’t wasted my time with but overall looking at my final Top 10 books I can see some books that I am going to love rereading in years to come.

All of these books made me feel some seriously strong emotions, whether it was overwhelming joy or crippling despair and I am so grateful to the authors for writing them.

First, before we get into my Top 10, I do have some honourable mentions that almost made it to the top 10, but for some reason or other didn’t quite make it. But I still loved these books and recommend you give them a go yourself!

Honourable Mentions

Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig: It’s funny because when I wrote the review to this I said this was for sure going to be in my top 10. I do still think this book is amazing and incredible but it also scares me because it reminds me of where I was a year ago and why I wanted to read this book in the first place.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman: I really enjoyed this book, and honestly it’s rare for me to enjoy a YA dystopia these days. But this one just had something different about it that didn’t make it totally cliche. It just didn’t stick with me for long afterwards, so it’s not in my top 10.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: This book so nearly made it to my top 10. It was heart breaking and a tough read but I absolutely devoured it.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown: I was not expecting to like this as much as I did. I actually took it off my shelf a few times in the three years I’ve owned it because I thought there was no way I would enjoy it. But the plot was so intense and thrilling it was hard for me to put it down.

Perks and Harry Potter: The last two are rereads but I can’t not mention them. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is my favourite YA novel of all time and I can tell it will be for years to come. I love everything about it and it means so much to me.

This year I also finally finished rereading the rest of the HP series (3-7) and I had so much fun doing it. I actually couldn’t remember a lot of what happened in the last book (that isn’t in the movie) so that was a fun time.

MY TOP  10!

10. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

I loved this story and I loved the way it was told. Half words, half beautiful illustrations, both so enjoyable. This book tells the story of Hugo who, recently orphaned, lives alone in a train station working on a project his father left unfinished. The story is so touching and I love the friendships that are formed.

9. A Court of Mist and Fury

This is a guilty pleasure but honestly I enjoyed this book too much for me not to put it on this list. I love the characters and how they bounce off each other. I love how interesting the world is. I love the twists and turns. I don’t love that this is no longer going to be a trilogy but I’ll just have to get over that.

8. 1984 by George Orwell

This is the book that has inspired so many of our favourite YA dystopias and this was so much better. This is both creepy and terrifying and I loved it. This is set in a UK that is governed and controlled by Big Brother. You are watched and brainwashed by him. He controls everything, and the main characters job is to rewrite and censor history and news and he is mentally rebelling against Big Brother.

7. Autumn by Ali Smith

Honestly I wasn’t sure what I thought of this book when I finished it. I know it was an incredibly brilliant novel set in today’s Britain but I did feel like a lot of it went over my head so I didn’t even give it a rating because I feel like I needed time to think about it.

Now that I’ve thought about it I know that I love this book. When I say it’s set in today’s Britain I mean today’s Britain. This is set post-brexit so if you live in Britain you will definitely be able to relate to this book. But it’s not just about Brexit. To be honest it’s kind of about everything. It’s about ordinary life and unexpected friendships. The writing was so poetic and this book really made me think.

6. The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

This book is in the point of view of a boy who wishes to be a girl. Transsexuality isn’t something I knew or really understood until I read this book. So I am very glad and grateful I did. You see the struggles they go through, the importance of true friendships and just how sucky closed minded people can be.

5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This one is really weird because I read two of Hosseini’s books this year and I actually gave the other one a higher rating. But as I was thinking about it I think this is actually the better read. The character development was brilliant, there were moments when this book broke my heart and I ended up really caring about the characters and what happened to them. The plot was page turning and unpredictable. This book reminds me that it’s never too late to turn around and redeem yourself.

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

This book and the characters in it bring so much joy to my heart. I love the family dynamics in this, I love that each sister has their own quirk (so you’ll be able to relate to at least one of them’ and I love how their mother teaches them to be kind and giving.

3. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

If I had to pick one of these I would say I preferred Through the Looking Glass but I really loved both of these. Lewis Carol’s stories are weird but that’s what I love about them. He came up with some of the most genius and iconic creations that we’re all familiar with but reading the actual book I realised I never knew just how brilliant and deep it is.

I love the wacky structure of the book. A lot of the events are very disconnected and inexplicable things happen that really make no sense what so ever. But for me (Spoiler Alert if you don’t know the ending) that’s exactly what a dream is. So reading this it felt like reading a dream and I just think that’s brilliant.

2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This was so unexpectedly good. Honestly, I was not expecting to enjoy this book seeing as I bought it by accident. This book kept me so gripped and the plot had me gasping multiple times. I love the representation in this book and I love how relatable the characters circumstances where.

The writing was beautiful and I loved that even though the story progressed with us learning a lot of backstories it never lost my interest and everything was relevant and important to the plot. It was a simple story told in a beautiful way.

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Finally, my favourite book of 2016 was Jane Eyre. This is the book that has gotten me obsessed with the Bronte’s because I just think their story is so inspiring. They all had such short lives yet they made an everlasting mark on literature.

I think my favourite thing about this book is Jane Eyre herself. I love how strong she is, how independent she is, how ambitious she is. I love that she feels so real and relatable. She isn’t confined by society’s expectations and I love how much her personality shines when she’s talking to Rochester. It made me believe they’re feelings for one another.

So that is my top 10 favourite books of 2016! Let me know if you’ve done a top 10 post!

Thanks for reading

Jess X

Top 10 Books Of 2015!

Hello Guys!

In 2015, while I failed at basically all of the challenges I set myself, I was still able to read some pretty good books. So in this post I’ll share with you my top 10 (in no particular order) and why I loved them so much.

And Then There Were None ~ Agatha Christie

This was my first Agatha Christie novel and for ages I’ve been wanting to read one of her classic mystery novels, and I was not disappointed. This was everything I wanted to be, a classic who did it novel that keeps you on the edge and makes you suspicious of everyone. I was a little worried going into this because I thought it would be really complex and hard to follow but it was actually written really simple and it has gotten me excited to read the rest of her novels. Next stop, Poirot.

Warbreaker ~ Brandon Sanderson

This was such a unique yet classic fantasy novel. I loved the new take on magic and the world in this was so vividly described. I’ve been wanting to read a Brandon Sanderson book for ages but I haven’t been in a series reading mood for a while now. When I saw that Warbreaker was a standalone (or is for right now) I knew it was the perfect start to my Brandon Sanderson addiction and boy was I right. I love his writing and world building and character development. Everything about this book was perfect.

All The Bright Places ~ Jennifer Niven

I know there is a lot of mixed feelings about this book because some people believe this book romanticizes depression and suicide. I completely disagree though. No book about suicide and mental illness is going to be perfect because everybody has different perceptions of it, and I love that a Young Adult book about mental illness has become as popular as it has because it’ll will get more people thinking. I personally loved the story and while it did break my heart, I’m glad it wasn’t a hapy go lucky ending because that’s just not realistic and wouldn’t have had the same impact.

I’ll Give You The Sun ~ Jandy Nelson

If I had to pick a favourite book of 2015 it would be this one. This made me feel all of the emotions, happy, sad, eye-opening, shock. This book was absolutely unputdownable and I completely fell in love with the characters. If I were to recommend anyone a book from this list, it would be this one. Absolutely loved it.

More Than This ~ Patrick Ness

I remember this one being one of the more shocking and mysterious books I’ve read this year. The entire time I was reading I genuinely had no idea where it was going and when we came to the conclusion it just seemed so clever and different. I loved the idea of this book and the execution was phenomenal. I can’t wait to read more Patrick Ness.

The Queen of the Tearling ~ Erika Johanson

Everything about this book excites me, the world, the characters, the writing, the plot, the possible movie adaptation with Emma Watson. I read this months ago yet I remember every little detail, which in my eyes is the sign of a good book. I loved the twist that it’s set in the future yet feels medieval. The experience was also fun because this was my first (and as of right now only) booksplosion read. I got the sequel for christmas and can’t wait to read it.

Coroman Strike ~ Robert Galbraith

I couldn’t pick between the two because they were both so good. These are such amazingly written mystery detective novels. The thing that made these books for me was definitely the writing (although I do also love the characters.) If you have been hesitant to branch out to other J.K Rowling novels please don’t be, she really is an amazing all round writer and I can’t wait to read Career of Evil (which I also got for christmas!)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe ~ Benjamin Alire Saenz

This book to me is a mix of Perks of Being a Wallflower and I’ll Give You the Sun (what more could you possibly want?) It was written amazingly and I loved the characters. This book describes friendship and self discovery perfectly and if you are looking for a coming of age novel, definitely add this to your list.

The Secret Garden ~ Frances Hodgsen Burnett

This is a childhood favourite of mine. I haven’t read the book or watched the movie for years and it brought back so many memories. I remember I used to imagine there was a secret garden in my own garden and I planted bulbs and skipped around with my rope and swung on my swing pretending Dickon was pushing me (ahh childhood.) I felt so happy and relaxed while reading this and I’m so glad I decided to read it once more.

The Snow Child ~ Eowyn Ivey

This is a last minute favourite as I only read it just over a week ago but boy did it touch me. This book was bitter-sweet in so many ways. My heart broke multiple times yet there was one feeling I felt while reading this book (and don’t laugh at me for saying this,) I felt hope. Hope that even in the toughest of times it’s possible to find a way out and find a light to brighten the day. That as long as you work hard, you will survive, and as long as you are a good person you will get what you deserve. This book means a lot to me and I hope that you pick it up to.

Those are my favourite books of the year. I hope next year to read just as many good books, maybe even more. Let me know what your favourite book of 2015 was and whether you have also read any of these books.

Thanks for reading

Jess xxx