Category: bookish survey

2017 End of Year Book Survey

2017 End of Year Book Survey

I was going to do a straight ‘Top Books of the Year’ post and then I was struggling to think of books to put onto it. It turns out that I’ve had a bit of a mixed reading year. On GoodReads, I have just two 5 star reads for the year and one of those is a Harry Potter re-read. Perhaps I’ve been being harsh because looking over my 4 star reads, there were some real treats in there so it isn’t all doom and gloom! ALSO, I’ve done this survey for years now so it seems a shame not to do it this year before I start in on some 2018 challenges.

I’m a little early but I’m busy over the next couple of days and I can’t see myself finishing anything else. Thanks as ever to Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner for posting the questions 🙂

Number Of Books You Read: 54

Number of Re-Reads: 3

Genre You Read The Most From: Total guess but I’d say…fantasy?

1. Best Book You Read In 2017? Yep, I’m cheating and breaking things down…

Best Graphic Novel: The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

Best YA Novel: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Best Adult Novel: It has to be a tie between The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell and The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? I had really high expectations for Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter. I’d read loads of positive reviews and seen a lot of praise for it on BookTube and it just turned out not to be for me at all. There were odd phrases that I thought were beautiful and I found the extracts where two boys were talking about losing their mother very poignant but other than that it was just too experimental for me and I didn’t like it. One that I’m glad I borrowed from the library! Also, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers wasn’t really for me either. I know that’s super widely loved and I’m sorry but I didn’t find it interesting and I won’t be reading the next one.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? In a bad way, definitely The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. Bleugh. In a good way, The Call by Peadar O’Guilin. I picked it up from the library and I wasn’t expecting too much and I read it over the space of about 24 hours and I can still remember some of it so vividly months after finishing it. Definitely recommended.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)? I’m counting my biggest win on this front as finally getting Hanna to read the first few books in the Wheel of Time series so that I have someone to talk to about them. There’s proof online and everything, look!

5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017? In that order: Cinder by Marissa Meyer; A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas; Winter by Marissa Meyer. In unusual form for me, I actually both started and finished three series this year – the Cinder series (loved it), the Discovery of Witches trilogy (ok but not my favourite) and what I’m counting as a full trilogy in the Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy (wrote about this yesterday…mostly great, some iffy bits at the beginning and end).

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017? Laura Purcell. The Silent Companions is just a perfect gothic ghost story and the more I think about the ending, the more I love it. She has a new book coming out next year and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? I find this tricky every year because mostly I’ll read anything. Looking over my list of books I read this year, I actually can’t find any that I’d say were out of my comfort zone so let’s move on.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? The Call by Peadar O’Guilin. Honestly, that book had me HOOKED. All teenagers in O’Guilin’s dystopian world get kidnapped at some point and taken away by the (very dark and in no way kissable) fae to the Grey World for three minutes. Most don’t return alive. As the characters all get whisked away to the Grey World, I just couldn’t stop reading to see if they’d survive and then who would get taken next. It’s a real cracker and one that I don’t think gets talked about enough.

9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? None. I’d never re-read that soon.

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2017?

11. Most memorable character of 2017? It seems odd to write this but Maus was truly wonderful and the artist’s father, Vladek Spiegelman, and his experiences still haunt me. The graphic novel tells of Vladek’s experiences during World War II, with the jews all portayed as mice and the Nazis as cats. It sounds as though it will trivialise Spiegelman’s story but it’s actually very cleverly done and I’ll absolutely re-read one day.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017? Easily The End We Start From.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017? Quite a lofty description but for me there’s only really one answer. Still The End We Start From. Not because of what it says about the world as it might look if there was an apocalyptic flood but for what it says about how being a mother changes you. It’s beautiful and I envy anybody who is still yet to read it for the first time.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I’ve owned it for absolutely years and it’s short so I should have just read it already. To be honest, I’m really not convinced that I ‘got’ all of it but the parts where the narrator was recounting his experience in the war, I really enjoyed.

15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

It is bad, the news. Bad news as it always was forever, but worse. More relevant. This is what you don’t want, we realise. What no one ever wanted: for the news to be relevant.” From The End We Start From.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017? The shortest was a St. Mary’s novella, When A Child Is Born by Jodi Taylor, at a mere 21 pages. To be honest, I’m not even sure if it ‘counts’ as a book but it’s on GoodReads so I guess it does. The longest was The Shadow Reborn by Robert Jordan, the fourth book in the Wheel of Time series and a HUGE 1,007 pages.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most? Bird Box by Josh Malerman. This was horrific towards the end in ways that I really wasn’t prepared for. It’s a terrifying book.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!) The only relationship that I can think of for this question is a fairly big spoiler so…pass.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year? Curve ball but I’d say the relationship between Emily Morris and her son, as told in her memoir My Shitty Twenties. Morris found out that she was pregnant while at university and the father scarpered. Morris’ writing is warm and funny and she writes honestly about the emotions she went through on finding out that she was pregnant. I think it also helped that the author is from Manchester, which is a city in the north of England not too far from where I grew up, so her writing was full of phrases that remind me of home and places I know.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously? I feel like it’s a bit of a waste to bang on about Sarah J. Maas or J. K. Rowling or Robert Jordan so instead, I’ll harp back to a book of short stories that were creeping me out way back in January: The Visitors Book and other Ghost Stories by Sophie Hannah. Hannah’s crime fiction is what she’s more known for but this teeny tiny book of ghost stories was well worth the few hours I spent with it.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure? I read the A Discovery of Witches because someone at work insisted that I must pick it up right away. It was underwhelming. I didn’t hate it but I equally didn’t love it and it was responsible for a big lull in my reading over summer.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017? Can’t think of any…

23. Best 2017 debut you read? I’m sorry but it has to be The End We Start From. Honourable mention to One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus, though, for keeping me hooked during a sunny day on our honeymoon.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? The world in Sarah J. Maas’ Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy is marvellous. The fae world is divided into different seasonal courts and different time courts, each with their own affinity for certain powers. It’s mostly developed in the second book and I loved it.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? OOH – The Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings. Hanna recommended this to me and even though I’ve never read it, I got such a fuzzy feeling of nostalgia from it. It’s the start of a fantasy series and the dialogue is so sharp and witty in a way that had me smiling along with the characters as opposed to cringing at forced jokes.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017? SO MANY! I cry all the time at books. And films and TV. Anything, really. I think I cried the most often through Maus. As you might expect, I suppose.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? I read my first Peirene Press book, Sea of Ink by Richard Weihe. It was a quirky story of a Chinese artist and his life and work. Their books are beautifully published and are all translated works that are less than 200 pages long. “Two hour books to be devoured in a single sitting: literary cinema for those fatigued by film“. I have a few stashed away for 2018 and a subscription for their 2018 titles. They’re my current favourite publisher.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? Maus, ok?! Maus made my heart hurt and my soul feel tired.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017? I can only really think of Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter, because both the writing and the layout of the book are not what I’m used to. That wasn’t necessarily a positive for me in the end but hey ho.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? The Roanoke Girls made me super cross because I felt as though the ‘twist’ made the novel feel cheap somehow. As though it was resorting to a shock tactic to get readers in as opposed to just focussing on building tension. Thinking about it still makes me feel icky.

And that was 2017! I have a few slightly different goals for 2018 and I’m planning on doing a few reading challenges too so hopefully I’ll have a bit more variety by this time next year! I hope you had a wonderful reading year and the best start to 2018!

End of 2013 Book Survey

How much do I love a book survey at the end of the year?  A lot.  Not so much that I would get my arse into gear and actually post it at the end of the year, obviously, but since I’m only a day late, I am still demonstrating a reasonable level of love.  Also, given how woefully far behind on reviews in 2013 I was (note was…2014 is a clean slate), the 2013 edition will serve as a handy way for me to do a short babble on the many (many, many) books that I read and loved but didn’t quite get round to reviewing.

1.  Best book you read in 2013?

Can anybody that loves books enough to start a book blog ever answer this question with just one book?  I don’t know.  I certainly can’t.  I think I’ve narrowed it down to five so five it will have to be:
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The Humans by Matt Haig
The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

2.  Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more, but didn’t?

The Gathering Dark/Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.  There’s a lot of YA fantasy around at the moment but the Grisha series seemed to be the one that bloggers the world over put head and shoulders above the rest.  It’s been on my eReader for years and I’d kind of been saving it in a way for a time when I wanted to really get into a new fantasy series. It was fine and I liked it but it wasn’t as unique as I was hoping and I was pretty ambivalent about the whole thing.  I’ll read the second one because the writing was reasonable and it was fun to read but it wasn’t the stand out read I was expecting.  Ditto The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey actually.

3.  Most surprising (in a good way) book of 2013?

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.  In 2013, I read more classics than I usually would and generally found the whole experience to be a lot less intimidating than I expected and read a few books I’ve been meaning to read for years.  I picked up a slight addiction to the Penguin English Library editions along the way and The Moonstone was my first addition to that little family.  There will be more Wilkie Collins SOON (especially seeing as Laura bought me a PEL The Woman in White for Christmas because she is a wonderful lady).

The Moonstone was funny, charming and packed full of characters that I didn’t want to stop reading about.  The mystery wasn’t quite the focus that I thought it was going to be but what Wilkie did write about was just perfect.  Thanks, Ellie LIt Nerd.

4.  Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, I think.  SOME PEOPLE will hopefully read it soon.  Also, The Humans by Matt Haig got quite a few mentions.  If it counts as “recommending”, I also bought The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence for a good couple of people.

5.  Best series you discovered in 2013?

Either The Blood of Eden series by Julie Kagawa (review of the first book, The Immortal Rules is here) or The Curse Workers series by Holly Black (review of the first book, The White Cat is here).  Both are pretty original, which is basically what earned them their spots here.  I started a lot of series in 2013 (as I do every year) but these are the ones that I’m really glad I came across.

6.  Favourite new author you discovered in 2013?

That is extremely difficult because I thinkg most of the books I read this year were by new-to-me authors.  I think in literary terms, I’d say Margaret Atwood.  In pure entertainment terms, I’m kind of inclined to go with Gillian Flynn because I’ve read two of her books this year (Gone Girl and Dark Places) and already own her third.  She writes books that I find terribly addictive and that should count for something, definitely.

7.  Best book that was out of your comfort zone or a new genre for you?

HHhH by Laurent Binet.  I read very little non-fiction and find the idea of reading non-fiction distinctly off-putting.  I picked up HHhH originally because I liked the cover and it had red page edges with the title on them but I surprised even myself by actually deciding to read it and then by loving it.  If you’re in any way interested in World War II history, this is an outstanding book.

8.  Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Either Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. I sped through both and only put them down when absolutely necessary.  Also, I have noticed how often I’m giving two answers.  Picking just one of anything is hard!

9.  Book you read in 2013 that you’re most likely to re-read next year?

*sigh* Sorry, friends, but the answer to this hasn’t quite changed yet.  I’m not a re-reader so I’m almost certain that no 2013 reads will be on my 2014 agenda.

10.  Favourite cover of a book you read in 2013?

Review here
You can’t see in this picture (obviously) but the stars on the cover are all silvery film and sparkly and adorable.  Seasonal perfection.

11.  Most memorable character in 2013?

Offred from A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

12.  Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

The Humans by Matt Haig had the most phrases highlighted in it and contained my favourite chapter of the year.  Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield was also impeccably written, atmospheric, clever and really made me want to take my time with reading it. 

13.  Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

Ok, here’s the point at which we start to get repetitive!  The Humans by Matt Haig.  Again. It’s hard to describe why without sounding cheesy but it’s full of poignant observations and lovely little soundbites about being human and it’s just brilliant.

14.  Book you can’t believe you waited until 2013 to read?

The Handmaid’s Tale.  I went to an all girls’ high school and I am astounded (and disappointed) that this wasn’t part of the English Literature syllabus.

15.  Favourite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013?

[I have this in a part-written review on my computer at work so I’ll add this in tomorrow…no prizes for guessing that it comes from The Humans…]

16.  Shortest and Longest book you read in 2013?

GoodReads tells me that the longest was Cross Stitch/Outlander by Diana Gabaldon at 864 pages, narrowly beating The Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, which comes in at a 807 pages.  The shortest was Swimming Home by Deborah Levy at a quality-over-quantity 157 pages.

17.  Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it?

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I started lending people my copy just so that they would feel compelled to read it and could talk to me about it.  One such person managed to destroy my copy but that’s a wound that I won’t rub salt in right now.

18.  Favourite relationship from a book you read in 2013 (be it friendship, romantic, etc)

Ha, you thought I was going to come up with something unique, didn’t you?  I’m not.  I’m going to say Patroclus and Achilles from The Song of Achilles.  Oh, how I cried over that relationship.

19.  Favourite book you read in 2013 from an author you’ve read previously?

Out of the 62 books I read, there were only ten contenders for this particular accolade, which is just…a bit odd.  I never thought I would be saying this back when I started this blog but Joyland by Stephen King.  The fact that I now read and like Stephen King is…astonishing, quite frankly.

20.  Best book you read in 2013 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from someone else?

Phewf!  This is getting hard!  Swimming Home by Deborah Levy.  I might have eventually picked up and read this but my Dad bought it me for Christmas in 2012 and I read it early on in 2013.  It packs a heck of a punch for a relatively short book and I definitely recommend it.

21.  Genre you read most from in 2013?

I could sit and calculate this properly but I don’t really want to because Sherlock is on in 45 minutes and…well, I don’t want to still by typing this by then.  Sorry.  Instead, I’m going to make an educated guess at fantasy because it looks that way to me from GoodReads and it’s one of my favourite genres and I read it a lot.

22.  Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

I don’t really go in for the whole “book boyfriend” thing but the Darkling in The Gathering Dark was probably the closest to fancying a fictional character this year.

23.  Best debut book you read.

Either The Song of Achilles or The Universe versus Alex Woods.  I know, we’re all shocked.

24.  Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Ooh, good question. The American Isles of The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson.  The characters fight using chalk drawings and the detail that was included in the book about the rules governing the use of the drawings was amazing.  I suppose that the world itself wasn’t that unique (picture a boarding school with magic-doing students…) but the magic used and the history included about this version of that setting were impressive.

25.  Book that was the most fun to read in 2013?

The most funny (or funniest…whatever…) was Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh but I think that the most fun was The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson.  Illustrations and chalk drawings that come alive (sort of)?  Don’t mind if I do.

26.  Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013?

I did quite a lot of crying in 2013, as I do every year.  Those this year that had be blubbing  (off the top of my head) were:  The Song of Achilles; HHhH; Perfect by Rachel Joyce; Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher; Bel Canto by Ann Patchett; and, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

27.  Book you read in 2013 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out?

Erm…I haven’t a clue.  Most of the books I read and loved have been given their moment so I don’t feel that any gross injustice has been done.

28.  Did you complete any reading challenges you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?

My only “goal” was that I would quite like to read 55 books in 2013.  It’s always hard to tell how busy work is going to be so I don’t like to set a huge goal and not reach it.  I’ve been quieter towards the end of the year so I’ve toppled 62 books.  Win.

29.  Bookish events on your blog in 2013?

I didn’t actually host anything in 2013 (or any year, actually…).  I don’t blog consistently enough or with enough forethought to host anything.  I’m mulling over trying to host a read-along in 2014 but we’ll see…

30.  One book you didn’t get to in 2013 but will be your top priority in 2014?

I tend to just read whatever I feel like reading at the moment so there wasn’t anything that I was dying to read that I didn’t.  I kind of feel as though I would have liked to have read the Sarah J. Maas books and I’d quite like to read them in 2014 but that’s a pretty luke warm response. Oh, also Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.  Handily, I own all of those already.

31.  Book you are most anticipating in 2014?

I don’t really keep up with new releases and things because I’m nowhere near organised enough but I’m pretty keen to read the end of the Blood of Eden series and I think the final book is out in 2014 so let’s say that.

32.  One thing you hope to accomplish in your reading/blogging in 2014?

I’d like to say “post more regularly” but I start a new job in six weeks so that’s unlikely.  I’d like to not get behind on reviews and I’d like to do a 24 hour read-a-thon “properly”.  I’d also like to read more classics and am thinking of joining the Classics Club to spur me on but 50 classics in five years is pretty much one a month and that’s a lot.  Just keep reading might be the main thing when I’m working in a new place and will be driving to work instead of getting public transport.  I may need audio book recommendations! 

I’d also like to add a couple more blogger meet-ups to the epic one in Leeds in October.  Because if there’s one thing that is super about blogging it is the other bloggers.

What an abrupt and unfulfilling ending!  Sorry, that kind of snuck up on me.  2013 was a top year for reading, even if most of the books that I read never quite made it to being reviewed.  2014 will be better for that!  YEY 2014!!