Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books of 2017 So Far #TTT #2017Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

TTT has been on hiatus over the summer and now it’s back. Whoop. Welcome back! I wanted to join in to celebrate this, however I wasn’t very inspired by the topic (Ten book recommendations for ______________), so I’m going to do one of the ones I missed.

This week my topic is… Top Ten Books That I’ve Read So Far This Year (they were not all published this year). Links go to my review, or the Goodreads page if I haven’t reviewed it yet.

10. Spectacles ~ Sue Perkins

spectaclesWhen I began writing this book, I went home to see if my mum had kept some of my stuff. What I found was that she hadn’t kept some of it. She had kept all of it – every bus ticket, postcard, school report – from the moment I was born to the moment I finally had the confidence to turn round and say ‘Why is our house full of this shit?’

Sadly, a recycling ‘incident’ destroyed the bulk of this archive. This has meant two things: firstly, Dear Reader, you will never get to see countless drawings of wizards, read a poem about corn on the cob, or marvel at the kilos of brown flowers I so lovingly pressed as a child. Secondly, it’s left me with no choice but to actually write this thing myself.

This, my first ever book, will answer questions such as ‘Is Mary Berry real?’, ‘Is it true you wear a surgical truss?’ and ‘Is a non-spherically symmetric gravitational pull from outside the observable universe responsible for some of the observed motion of large objects such as galactic clusters in the universe?’

Most of this book is true. I have, of course, amplified my more positive characteristics in an effort to make you like me. 

Thank you for reading.

Published July 28th 2016 by Penguin

 

9. Broken Branches ~ M. Jonathan Lee

 

brokenbranches

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse. 

Published July 27th 2017 by Hideaway Fall

 

8. Calling Major Tom ~ David M. Barnett

 

callingmtCALLING MAJOR TOM is a heart-warming and ultimately life-affirming story of a man who has given up on the world… but discovers in the most unlikely way that it might not have given up on him.

We all know someone like Thomas.

The grumpy next-door-neighbour who complains to the Residents’ Committee about the state of your front lawn. The man who tuts when you don’t have the correct change at the checkout. The colleague who sends an all-company email when you accidentally use the last drop of milk.

Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems.

But beneath his cranky exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world. 

Published June 18th 2017 by Trapeze

 

7. The Inexplicable Logic of my Life ~ Benjamin Alire Saenz

theinexplicThe first day of senior year:

Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.

Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he? 

Published March 7th 2017 by Clarion Books

6. All the Good Things ~ Clare Fisher

 

allthegoodTwenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve to ever feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good?

Published June 1st 2017 by Viking, Penguin UK

5. The Last Act of Love ~ Cathy Rentzenbrink 

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In the summer of 1990 – two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school – Cathy Rentzenbrink’s brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out, suffering serious head injuries.

He was left in a permanent vegetative state. Over the following years, Cathy and her parents took care of Matty – they built an extension onto the village pub where they lived and worked; they talked to him, fed him, bathed him, loved him. But there came a point at which it seemed the best thing they could do for Matty – and for themselves – was let him go.

With unflinching honesty and raw emotional power, Cathy describes the unimaginable pain of losing her brother and the decision that changed her family’s lives forever. As she delves into the past and reclaims memories that have lain buried for many years, Cathy reconnects with the bright, funny, adoring brother she lost and is finally able to see the end of his life as it really was – a last act of love.

Powerful, intimate and intensely moving, this is a personal journey with universal resonance – a story of unconditional love, of grief, survival and the strength of the ties that bind. It’s a story that will speak to anyone who has lost someone close to them, to anyone who has fiercely loved a sibling, and to anyone who has ever wondered whether prolonging a loved one’s life might be more heartbreaking than saying goodbye.

Published July 2nd 2015 by Pan Macmillan

 

4. Labyrinth ~ Jim Henson/ ACH Smith

 

labyrinth1Finally back in print and for the first time in hardcover, the novelization of LABYRINTH written by A.C.H. Smith and personally overseen by Jim Henson, is the first in a series of novels from the Jim Henson Archives.

This beautiful hardcover features unpublished goblin illustrations by legendary illustrator and concept artist Brian Froud and an exclusive peek into Jim Henson’s creative process with 50 never-before-seen pages from his personal journal, detailing the initial conception of his ideas for LABYRINTH.

Published April 22nd 2014 by Archaia

 

3. The Rest of Us Just Live Here ~ Patrick Ness

therestofusWhat if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions. 

Published August 27th 2015 by Walker Books

2. The Marsh King’s Daughter ~ Karen Dionne

 

marshking‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

Published June 13th 2017 by Sphere

1. The Hate U Give ~ Angie Thomas

 

thugSixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. 

Published April 6th 2017 by Walker Books

 

Did any of these make your Top Ten of the year so far??

Lazy Saturday Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas #YA #MiniReview

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

thugTitle: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 438 pages
Publication Details: April 6th 2017 by Walker Books
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary;
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora, thanks Dora!

Goodreads 

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Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Review

I’m only doing a lazy review for this one because I honestly don’t think there’s a lot I can say that hasn’t been said already.

The Hate U Give is brilliant. It’s heart-wrenching. It’s funny. It’s completely compelling. And it’s a book that we needed. Everyone should read it. It should put on the high school curriculum. There, I got it off my chest.

In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what THUG is about, in a nutshell it’s about Starr, a girl who struggles with her identity because she’s living two different lives. The one where she lives – in a poor black neighbourhood where Ganglords rule- and the posh, predominately white high school she attends. Starr’s two lives don’t mesh well with one another, but when her oldest friend Khalil is shot by a police officer for no reason whatsoever, Starr has to make a choice. Stay a silent witness or come forward and risk her two worlds colliding.

THUG was really hyped up in the book-world and that always worries me, but this time it was completely deserved. It’s a great read that isn’t just powerful and important but also a genuinely gripping, enjoyable read.

It was my book of month.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Authors!

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

The topic for this week is: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors

Seriously guys, why are you doing this to us!!?? Choosing ten favourite authors is just mean! But after much deliberation, I have chosen my ten. I can not put them in order though. That’s just too hard.

Click on the author pictures to view their Goodreads page, and book titles link to reviews or related posts.

Scarlett Thomas:

authors1Scarlett Thomas has taught English Literature at the University of Kent since 2004, and has previously taught at Dartmouth Community College, South East Essex College and the University of East London. She reviews books for the Literary Review, the Independent on Sunday, and Scotland on Sunday. She has written seven novels, including The End of Mr. Y and PopCo.

Books Read: Bright Young Things; Going Out; Dead Clever; PopCo; The End of Mr Y; Our Tragic Universe

Marcus Sedgwick:

authors2Marcus Sedgwick was born in Kent, England. Marcus is a British author and illustrator as well as a musician. He is the author of several books, including Witch Hill and The Book of Dead Days, both of which were nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award.

Books Read: My Swordhand is Singing; White Crow; The Book of Dead Days; She is Not Invisible; Blood Red, Snow White; Dark Satanic Mills; The Ghosts of Heaven

Darren Shan

authors3Darren Shan (born July 2, 1972 in London, England) is the pen name of the Irish author Darren O’Shaughnessy, as well as the name of the protagonist of his book series The Saga of Darren Shan, also known as The Cirque Du Freak Series in the United States. He is the author of The Demonata series, as well as some stand-alone books, and a series of books for adults under the alternative name of D.B. Shan.

Books Read: The Saga of Darren Shan 1-12; The Birth of a Killer; The City Trilogy (Procession of the Dead, Hell’s Horizon, City of Snakes); Lady of the Shades; Zom-B

James Frey

authors4James Frey is the author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard. After battling with alcohol addiction and spending time in rehab, he wrote A Million Little Pieces which was published in 2003 in America and the following year in the UK to critical acclaim. He wrote the sequel, My Friend Leonard about life after rehab, which was published in 2005 in the US and the year after in the UK. He is also one of the authors that share the pseudonym Pittacus Lore, author of the Lorien Legacies.

Books Read: A Million Little Pieces; My Friend Leonard; Bright Shiny Morning; The Final Testament of the Holy Bible; Endgame

David Levithan

authors5David Levithan (born 1972) is an American children’s book editor and award-winning author. He published his first YA book, Boy Meets Boy, in 2003. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a Young Adult imprint of Scholastic Press.

Books Read: Will Grayson, Will Grayson; Hold Me Closer; Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist; Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

Marissa Meyer

authors6Marissa Meyer lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her fiancé and two cats. In addition to her slight obsession with books and writing, she’s big on road-tripping, wine-tasting, and hunting for antiques. Meyer is represented by Jill Grinberg. CINDER, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles is a futuristic re-envisioning of Cinderella in which Cinder is a cyborg mechanic

Books Read: The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder; Scarlet; Cress)

Colin Bateman

authors7Colin Bateman was a journalist in Northern Ireland before becoming a full-time writer. His first novel, Divorcing Jack, won the Betty Trask Prize, and all his novels have been critically acclaimed. He wrote the screenplays for the feature films of Divorcing Jack, Crossmaheart and Wild About Harry. He lives in Northern Ireland with his family.

Books Read: Mystery Man (Mystery Man; The Day of the Jack Russell; Dr Yes; The Prisoner of Brenda); Dan Starkey (Divorcing Jack; Shooting Sean); Murphy’s Law; Empire State

Kurt Vonnegut

authors8Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journalist before joining the U.S. Army and serving in World War II. His experiences as an advance scout in the Battle of the Bulge, and in particular his witnessing of the bombing of Dresden, Germany whilst a prisoner of war, would inform much of his work. This event would also form the core of his most famous work, Slaughterhouse-Five, the book which would make him a millionaire. This acerbic 200-page book is what most people mean when they describe a work as “Vonnegutian” in scope.

Books Read: Slaughterhouse-Five; Timequake; Breakfast of Champions

Derek Landy

authors9Derek Landy is an Irish writer and screenwriter. In addition to the bestselling children’s/YA series of Skulduggery Pleasant books, a supernatural mystery series starring Skulduggery Pleasant, a skeleton detective, and Valkyrie Cain, a young female magician, he has written two screenplays that have been made into films: the IFTA award winning “Dead Bodies” and the IFTA nominated “Boy Eats Girl”. Landy himself was nominated for an IFTA for Best Script.

Books Read: Skulduggery Pleasant 1-7; The Maleficent Seven

Patrick Ness

authors10Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.

He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.

Books Read: The Chaos Walking Trilogy (The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer; Monsters of Men); A Monster Calls

I’m pleasantly surprised how many British and Irish writers I have on my list, it was totally unintentional.

Looking forward to seeing who everyone else has chosen. Feel free to leave your link.

Lazy Saturday Review: She is Not Invisible

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Title: She is Not Invisible
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 240 pages
Publication Details: July 3rd 2014 by Indigo
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary
Disclosure? I borrowed it off Dora. Thanks Dora!

Goodreads
Purchase

Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers – a skill at which she’s remarkably talented.

Her secret: she is blind.

But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness.

She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.

I went into this book with a little trepidation because it’s a huge departure for Sedgwick, whose previous books I’ve loved.

All of the other Sedgwick books I’ve read have been dark and quirky gothic reads with an almost fairy-tale feel. So when I realised he’d ventured into the world Contemporary YA (something I don’t read enough of), I was intrigued but slightly concerned. If it’s not broke, why fix it, right?

But of course, I was wrong.

I realised straight away that SINI was going to be something special. I devoured it in two short sittings.

Protagonist Laureth is worried about her semi-famous father, author Jack Peak. He seems to have gone missing and his precious notebook has turned up in New York, where he wasn’t even supposed to be.

Laureth’s mother doesn’t seem to care one bit, but Laureth has had enough. With the help of her younger brother, who acts as her guide and her eyes, she sets off to find him, and things go from weird, to weirder.

I loved everything about this book. The way it looks at Laureth’s impairment was refreshing and often beautiful. The mystery surrounding Jack’s disappearance was exciting and just the right amount of bizarre, and I loved that it was almost a book within a book.

But most of all, I think I loved the duality between Sedgwick and his character, Jack. In the author’s notes, Sedgwick admits that he himself became obsessed with coincidence and had been trying to write a book about it for some time. An obsession with coincidence almost sends Jack to the brink of madness in the novel, and even before reading the notes at the back of the book, I was picturing Jack as Sedgwick.

Coincidence?

Jack is also constantly reminded that his old ‘funny’ books are great, with an underlying message that his latest ‘serious’ books are not, and I couldn’t help thinking that this new direction of Sedgwick’s is something that worries him too.

Don’t worry Marcus. You get all the unicorns!

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She is Not Invisible is available from Waterstones in hardback and paperback now.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

THIS BOOK! I’m still processing, but wow. READ IT.

2118745Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

This book has given me a hangover. I feel like a shell of my former self so please excuse this rant of a review.

Poor Todd. He’s the only boy left in Prentisstown and he’s counting down the days until he will officially become a man. He doesn’t know what becoming a man, by Prentisstown standards actually means, but he just hopes that he won’t be alone any more.

But everything Todd thought he knew has been a lie. Prentisstown is not what he thought it was and all of a sudden he’s running for his life, his dog Manchee his only companion.

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get round to reading this book. I remember the hype when it came out and did I that ‘oh I bet it’s not THAT good, I’ll get round to it eventually’ thing. I am an idiot.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is a ferocious read. I literally couldn’t stop. It’s written in a stream-of-consciousness style which some people might find challenging, but I love it. It’s also one of those books that never lets up. Things just go from bad to worse for Todd, Manchee and Viola, a girl he finds along the way. I was practically screaming Give the poor kids a break for the love of God, the whole way through.

I can understand exactly why this book has won so many awards. Everything about it is amazing; it’s exciting, provoking, funny, and heart-wrenching (not for the faint-hearted!). I’m not really a dog person, but I even fell in love with Manchee. Best Dog!

And I can’t order my thoughts any more than that right now. I neeeeeeeeed the next book immediately.

unicorn ratingDisclosure: None, I borrowed it off my friend Di. NEXT ONE PLEASE.
Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Details: Paperback, 479 pages
Publication Date: Published October 22nd 2008 by Walker
My Rating: 5/5
Is it a Keeper? I need to buy this series right now.
If you liked this try: I don’t know. Just read this again.