Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Didn’t Get to in 2017

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Hosted by The Broke and Bookish

I did this TTT last year so I thought I’d give it a go again this year (especially as this is the last TTT hosted by The Broke and Bookish!). I ended up reading 6/10 of the books on last year’s list. I’ll aim to read at least 7/9 of these books in the upcoming year.

A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue The Glass Town Game The Seafarer's Kiss Beasts Made of Night

  1. A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee – I had this one on hold at least twice but never got around to it. I’ll make a point of reading it for my course on YA literature.
  2. The Glass Town Game by Catherynne Valente – I had assumed I would read it shortly after its release back in September…
  3. The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember – One of my picks for 2017 Diverse Reads.
  4. Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh – Will be reading this for Cybils once it comes in from the library!
  5. Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi – Another book I signed out but didn’t get to.
  6. Zen Training by Katsuki Sekida –
  7. Understanding The Lord of the Rings: The Best of Tolkien Criticism edited by Rose A. Zimbardo and Neil Isaacs – I ended up reading some other books on Tolkien.
  8. Sanaaq by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk – Another pick for 2017 Diverse Reads, by an Inuit author.
  9. Gently to Nagasaki by Joy Kogawa – Memoir by a Japanese-Canadian who was interned during WWII

This turned out to be harder than I thought it would! (Hence why I gave up after nine ^^;) I didn’t really have a strict TBR for 2017. Have you read any of these books? What books do you want to get to in 2018?

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2017 End of Year Book Survey

2017 End of Year Book SurveyHosted by Jamie @ Perpetual Page Turner, I like how this survey delves into the specifics of books read and gives me a chance to review all I read and wrote this year. I did remove some of the questions that I didn’t have an answer for, so be sure to visit the original post if you’d like to complete the survey. Links to reviews where applicable. My annual overview will go live on January 2nd as I want to wait until the Cybils shortlist is announced.

2017 Reading Stats

    • Number of books read85. No ‘smashing past my goal’ this year, but considering I had three months of grad school to manage this time around, I’m happy with this number.
    • Number of re-reads6 (The Hobbit, Poppy by Avi, The Witches of New York, The Lord of the Rings, Every Heart a Doorway, White is for Witching)
    • Genre you read the most from – This year I maintained a spreadsheet with details about each book I read, so I do have genre information! I read 16 middle grade speculative fiction novels. For curiosity’s sake, here’s the breakdown by more general ‘type’:

2017 books read graph

Best in Books

Every Heart a Doorway

    • Best books read in 2017 – Going with personal favourites here, not necessarily ‘best books’. If I had to pick just one, I would pick Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (speculative fiction). But I read a lot of great books this year, so here are a few more top picks (in no particular order).
      1. The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld (literary fiction)
      2. When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin (middle grade fantasy)
      3. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (young adult magical realism)
      4. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (young adult contemporary)
      5. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild (non-fiction)
      6. Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Metis and Inuit Issues in Canada by Chelsea Vowel (non-fiction)
      7. You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris (non-fiction)
    • Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’tGirls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. I thought the cover was striking and the story appealed to me, but I was bored while reading the book and skimmed a good chunk of it.
    • Strangers in Their Own LandBook you ‘pushed’ the most people to read  Strangers in Their Own Land. I was blown away by what I learnt from this book and wanted other people to learn from it as well.
    • Favourite new author discoveredAnna-Marie McLemore
    • Best book from a genre you don’t typically readRadio Silence. This book gripped me personally, though I’m not a big fan of contemporary YA.
    • The Break coverMost action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable bookThe Break by Kathrena Vermette was unputdownable. I hadn’t expected to read it in one day.
    • Most likely to reread next year – Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire, as I have just reread Every Heart a Doorway and would have reread this one too if I had the time 😛
    • Favourite cover – This is always a tough one! I’ll pick the first five I think of.

      The Good People coverWhen the Moon Was OursEvery Heart a Doorway

    • Most memorable character – She’s not the most interesting, but I think about Nancy from Every Heart a Doorway a lot.
    • Most beautifully written – When the Moon Was Ours
    • Most thought-provoking/life changing book – Every Heart a Doorway
    • Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read – I added Embassytown by China Miéville to my TBR in April 2013. That was when I last read a new-to-me Miéville novel. 
    • Shortest bookTolkien at Exeter College by John Garth (64 pages)
    • Longest bookThe LotR aside, A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (624 pages)
    • Most shocking book The Good People.
    • OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship!)Miel and Sam in When the Moon Was Ours! I love them, and I love them together.
    • Radio Silence by Alice OsemanFavourite non-romantic relationshipFrances and Alec in Radio Silence.
    • Favourite book read by an author you read previously Tie between The Good People and The Child Finder.
    • Best 2017 debut The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    • Best world-building – Down Among the Sticks and Bones. I wanted more of the world-building cos I thought it was an excellent creepy world.
    • Most fun to read – Fun is not usually an adjective I apply to my reading…Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwase was by far the most fun!
    • Book that made you cry – I think I teared up a bit at Turtles All the Way Down, less so because of events in the story itself and more so because I was thinking about vlogbrothers over the past 10 years, John’s talk at NerdCon last year, etc.
    • Hidden gem – I loved Tolkien in Translation, which only has 8 ratings on Goodreads.  
    • Most unique – Oof, I feel like I read a lot of unique books this year! I’ll go with The Child Finder, which tackles a very dark subject without making it a spectacle or a standard thriller.
    • Book that made you the most mad – Strangers in Their Own LandI learnt a lot about the logic behind people who think differently than me, and that ‘logic’ makes me very angry.

      Your Bookish Life

    • New favourite book blog discovered – I think I discovered  Avalinah’s Books this year? (How do people keep track of this, lol).
    • Favourite review on your blog – Poking through my archive, I realize I wrote a lot of reviews this past year that I’m actually happy with! My review of Gutenberg’s Fingerprint by Merilyn Simonds is one of my favourites.Gutenberg's Fingerprint by Merilyn Simonds
    • Best non-review post – I loved giving a tour of my bookshelf.
    • Best moment of bookish/blogging life – I know I had a lot of great Twitter interactions this year; I love chatting with other bloggers and sharing positive reviews with authors. One of the most recent interactions was Chelsea Vowel re-tweeting my review of her book Indigenous Writes, which I really appreciated.
    • Most challenging thing about blogging/reading life – Once again, maintaining a regular blogging schedule, but this time because I was in grad school.
    • Post you wished got a little more love – My Talkin’ Bout Tolkien post on A Secret Vice and The Plants of Middle-Earth
    • Best bookish discovery – A bookstore in Seattle called Mortlake & Co.
    • Completion of challenges/goals – To be discussed in my wrapping up, looking forward post on January 2 (I think I’ve done alright!).

Looking Ahead

  • Book you are most anticipating (debut) – Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kahn
  • Book you are most anticipating (sequel) BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY OMGGGGGG by Seanan McGuire
  • Book you are most anticipating (non-debut) – Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • One book you didn’t get to in 2017 but will make a priority in 2018 –Oh look, I can quote myself from last year once again: “Don’t want to break with tradition, so I have to say  Tolkien on Fairy Stories” 
  • One goal for your reading/blogging life –Integrating more non-review posts into my blog schedule

And that’s a wrap on 2017! Incidentally, I am once again finishing off my reading year with my beloved White is for Witching. See you all on the other side 🙂

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Diversity Spotlight Thursday #5

Diversity Spotlight Thursday
Founded by Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks

Read and Enjoyed: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your GirlAmanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

Add to Goodreads button Own voices for transwoman representation. I read both If I Was Your Girl and Brie Spangler’s Beast earlier this year. If I Was Your Girl features Amanda telling her story, in first person. Beast is the story of Dylan, who crushes on Jamie before realizing she is trans. This is not the place where I’m going to debate the trans representation in Beast. The reason I’m bringing it up is to highlight how important books like If I Was Your Girl are – books that center trans people’s voices and tell their own stories, as they wish to share them. Beast is Dylan’s story, not Jamie’s, and her role is little different from other love interests. If I Was Your Girl is wholly Amanda’s story, and for that alone I can recommend this book.

Side note: I had heard If I Was Your Girl was a pretty straightforward romance, but there were more painful and cringe-worthy moments than I anticipated. This is not an entirely light read.

Released but Not Yet Read: I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosín

I Lived on Butterfly HillCeleste Marconi is a dreamer. She lives peacefully among friends and neighbors and family in the idyllic town of Valparaiso, Chile—until one day when warships are spotted in the harbor and schoolmates start disappearing from class without a word. Celeste doesn’t quite know what is happening, but one thing is clear: no one is safe, not anymore.

The country has been taken over by a government that declares artists, protestors, and anyone who helps the needy to be considered “subversive” and dangerous to Chile’s future. So Celeste’s parents—her educated, generous, kind parents—must go into hiding before they, too, “disappear.” Before they do, however, they send Celeste to America to protect her.

As Celeste adapts to her new life in Maine, she never stops dreaming of Chile. But even after democracy is restored to her home country, questions remain: Will her parents reemerge from hiding? Will she ever be truly safe again?

Add to Goodreads buttonOwn voices for Latin American representation (the author was raised in Chile and moved to the US after the coup. The book is translated from Spanish.) When I Lived on Butterfly Hill tackles a subject I know little about. The cover caught my eye and the description prompted me to add it to my TBR.

Not Yet Released: Why Indigenous Literatures Matter by Daniel Heath Justice

Why Indigenous Literatures MatterPart survey of the field of Indigenous literary studies, part cultural history, and part literary polemic, Why Indigenous Literatures Matter asserts the vital significance of literary expression to the political, creative, and intellectual efforts of Indigenous peoples today. In considering the connections between literature and lived experience, this book contemplates four key questions at the heart of Indigenous kinship traditions: How do we learn to be human? How do we become good relatives? How do we become good ancestors? How do we learn to live together? Blending personal narrative and broader historical and cultural analysis with close readings of key creative and critical texts, Justice argues that Indigenous writers engage with these questions in part to challenge settler-colonial policies and practices that have targeted Indigenous connections to land, history, family, and self. More importantly, Indigenous writers imaginatively engage the many ways that communities and individuals have sought to nurture these relationships and project them into the future.

This provocative volume challenges readers to critically consider and rethink their assumptions about Indigenous literature, history, and politics while never forgetting the emotional connections of our shared humanity and the power of story to effect personal and social change. Written with a generalist reader firmly in mind, but addressing issues of interest to specialists in the field, this book welcomes new audiences to Indigenous literary studies while offering more seasoned readers a renewed appreciation for these transformative literary traditions.

Add to Goodreads button Own voices for Indigenous writer representation. Non-fiction represent! I’m very curious about this book; it sounds like an excellent topic.

What books would you select for Diversity Spotlight Thursday? Leave a link in the comment if you’ve already written about it!
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Diversity Spotlight Thursday #4

Diversity Spotlight Thursday
Hosted by Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks

Read and Enjoyed: The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutsie

The Abyss Surrounds UsFor Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

Goodreads | While The Abyss Surrounds Us didn’t have the vivid world building that I was hoping for, I’d recommend it for the human relationships. I expected Santa Elena to be Cas’s love interest (which may have been a bit Stockholm syndrome-y), but that role goes to another female crew member. I liked how Cas’s crush develops subtly and naturally. There is also some interesting exploration of us vs. them mentalities (good guys vs bad guys, rich people vs poor people). As far as I can tell, this is not an own voices novel (please let me know if you can confirm otherwise).

Released but Not Yet Read: One Half From the East by Nadia Hashimi

One Half from the EastObayda’s family is in need of some good fortune. Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room. One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh. Now Obayda is Obayd. Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more. But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.

Goodreads | My sister brought this book home from a HarperCollins event. The setting caught my eye. Not own voices – Hashimi was born and raised in America to first-generation Afghani immigrants. Her website states she was “surrounded by a large family of aunts, uncles and cousins, keeping the Afghan culture an integral part of their daily lives”.

Not Yet Released: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Beasts Made of NightIn the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life.

Goodreads | Look at the cover! Then read that description! Are you sold on this one now? 😛 This debut comes from a Black American author.

What books would you select for Diversity Spotlight Thursday? Leave a link in the comment if you’ve already written about it!
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Read Diverse 2017
This post counts towards the Read Diverse 2017 reviewing challenge!

Diversity Spotlight Thursday #3

Diversity Spotlight Thursday
Hosted by Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks

Read and Enjoyed: Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

Monkey Beach by Eden RobinsonAs she races along Canada’s Douglas Channel in her speedboat—heading toward the place where her younger brother Jimmy, presumed drowned, was last seen—twenty-year-old Lisamarie Hill recalls her younger days. A volatile and precocious Native girl growing up in Kitamaat, the Haisla Indian reservation located five hundred miles north of Vancouver, Lisa came of age standing with her feet firmly planted in two different worlds: the spiritual realm of the Haisla and the sobering “real” world with its dangerous temptations of violence, drugs, and despair. From her beloved grandmother, Ma-ma-oo, she learned of tradition and magic; from her adored, Elvis-loving uncle Mick, a Native rights activist on a perilous course, she learned to see clearly, to speak her mind, and never to bow down. But the tragedies that have scarred her life and ultimately led her to these frigid waters cannot destroy her indomitable spirit, even though the ghosts that speak to her in the night warn her that the worst may be yet to come.

My original review | Goodreads | Monkey Beach is an own voices (Indigenous author – Haisla) novel by Eden Robinson, originally published in 2002. I loved the book’s atmosphere and the main character Lisa.

 Released but Not Yet Read: Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith

Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can’t seem to cast a simple spell.        Then a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, and Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. The entire town is at risk from the Stranger’s black magic, and only Hoodoo can defeat him. He’ll just need to learn how to conjure first. Set amid the swamps, red soil, and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, Hoodoo is infused with a big dose of creepiness leavened with gentle humor….

Goodreads | I added Ronald L. Smith’s two books to my TBR because they promise some solid middle grade creepiness.

Not Yet Released: The Red Threads of Fortune by J.Y. Yang

The Red Threads of FortuneFallen prophet, master of the elements, and daughter of the supreme Protector, Sanao Mokoya has abandoned the life that once bound her. Once her visions shaped the lives of citizens across the land, but no matter what tragedy Mokoya foresaw, she could never reshape the future. Broken by the loss of her young daughter, she now hunts deadly, sky-obscuring naga in the harsh outer reaches of the kingdom with packs of dinosaurs at her side, far from everything she used to love.

On the trail of a massive naga that threatens the rebellious mining city of Bataanar, Mokoya meets the mysterious and alluring Rider. But all is not as it seems: the beast they both hunt harbors a secret that could ignite war throughout the Protectorate. As she is drawn into a conspiracy of magic and betrayal, Mokoya must come to terms with her extraordinary and dangerous gifts, or risk losing the little she has left to hold dear.

Goodreads | This book is “one of a pair of unique, standalone introductions to JY Yang’s Tensorate Series”.  Added because it’s a non-Western fantasy with trans and queer characters, written by a non-binary Singaporean author.

What books would you select for Diversity Spotlight Thursday? Leave a link in the comment if you’ve already written about it!
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