Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016: A Year in Review

Bookish

I celebrated my seventh blogoversary in January.

I attended the ‘Be True to Yourself’ panel at Waterstones Piccadilly featuring Jandy Nelson, Sara Barnard, Alice Oseman, Lisa Williamson and Katherine Webber.

YALC!

I went to the World Book Day 2017 announcement where I was in the same room as Jacqueline Wilson!

YA Shot!

I got to interview Lauren Oliver at Carmelite House.

I went to a 2017 preview at David Fickling Books.

I got to be in the press pen at the European premiere of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ – I was a metre away from JK Rowling!

I started to really work on my bookstagram and I’m really proud of how far forward I’ve pulled it in the last few months. I’d LOVE for you to have a look: https://www.instagram.com/solittletimeforbooks


Bookish Stats
(as of Taste of Darkness)

I read 207 books in 2016:

46 contemps,

20 adult novels,

18 debuts,

40 UKYA novels,

15 short story collections,

36 classics,

10 LGBT novels,

11 non-fiction books,

26 series openers,

30 fantasy novels,

38 audiobooks,

22 DNFs,

7 poetry collections

4 graphic novels.



Personal

I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Part I & II twice.

I started working at Maximum Pop! Books in January as a volunteer writer and I’m now the Books Channel Manager.

I was a bridesmaid for my big sister in May.

I went to see Bring Me the Horizon at The O2.

I saw Dirty Dancing at the Phoenix Theatre.

I saw the Peter Pan panto at The Hawth Theatre.

How was your 2016?

Sophie

Thursday, 29 December 2016

2016: Reading Challenge Wrap Up

It’s here. The end of 2016 is finally nigh and while it’s been a dumpster fire for the world, it’s been a pretty decent year for me. But how did I fare with my ambitious reading goals and challenges for 2016?

- Read 125 books.

Smashed it! I read over 200 books in 2016.

- Read 1 classic a month for the #2016ClassicsChallenge.

I smashed this one too! I became a little obsessed with classics in 2016 and I read 36. Audiobooks definitely helped with this!

- Read at least 6 adult novels.

I’m so proud of completing this challenge! YA has absorbed my life for a really long time so managing 20 adult novels alongside YA review copies and expanding my reading into on-fiction and classics is a real achievement for me.

- Keep expanding my reading – adult, literary, classics, short story collections, non-fiction, plays, sci-fi, high fantasy.

I did it! I read poetry, memoir, short story collections, classics, literary fiction, mystery and fantasy.

- Read 10 books from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) authors.

Though I did better in 2016 than I had in the years before, I still didn’t achieve this goal - I only read 6 books by BAME authors.

- Keep striving to read diversely, especially when it comes to #ownvoices.

This is the same as BAME authors for me. Though I think I did okay, there’s always scope to do better and it’s a goal I’ll continue year after year after year.

- Read the YA Book Prize longlist.

I’d read 6 of the 10 titles shortlisted when the list was announced and I was totally happy with that - the rest I didn’t own and didn’t hugely want to read.

- Read the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist.

Heh, nope. In my defence, when the shortlist was announced there were only actually 2 or 3 titles that I actually wanted to read. So I bought them, but they’re actually still sitting on my shelf...

- Tackle my Extended Reading Project – more info here!

I began this well, but after switching out Metamorphoses for a more modern translation I still couldn’t find the love for it I had while I was at university. I was happy to leave this to the side.

- Finish The Princess Diaries.

Total fail. I’ve only read the first two books...

- Finish Artemis Fowl.

Another total fail. I didn’t pick up a single book from this series in 2016...

I achieved a lot, but not everything I intended to - I’ll take it!

Keep an eye out for my 2017 goals coming soon!

Sophie

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2016: The Best Books of the Year

I’ve read a lot of books this year - over 200! - but I feel like I’ve been much more difficult to please than usual! I’ve reached really far out of comfort zone and stretched into short story collections and poetry and continued my love affair with audiobooks and classics. These are the best 20 books I’ve read this year.


Me and YA have had a bit of a rocky relationship this year. I've often felt like I'm wading through books because I have to without many stand-out books. Luckily, these 7 books saved the day:

The Abyss Surrounds Us, Emily Skrutskie

I was so, so impressed by The Abyss Surrounds Us. I went in with no real expectations of anything and ended up with fantastic world-building, a truly unique premise and a deliciously meaty relationship; what more could have I asked for?

A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury is another sweeping, heart-pounding and staggeringly romantic fantasy from Sarah J Maas, and the one that’s had the most impact since I first read Throne of Glass in 2012. I can’t get enough of this series.

Under Rose Tainted Skies, Louise Gornall

I completely loved this beautiful, brave, and honest book about love and mental illness and I’m genuinely excited to see what else Louise Gornall has up her sleeves. What a debut.

Songs About a Girl, Chris Russell

Songs About a Girl ended on a cruel cliffhanger and I’m dying to hear more from Charlie and the boys from Fire and Lights – thank goodness there’s going to be another book! Chris Russell’s debut is one of the books that I've had the most fun reading this year.

Nevernight, Jay Kristoff

I was so surprised by how much I loved this, even though I also love Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman’s Illiminae Files series. Seriously, if you like your fantasy violent, sexy, funny and utterly captivating, Nevernight is for you. I want more.

My Lady Jane, Brodi Ashton; Cynthia Hand; Jodi Meadows

I couldn’t have loved My Lady Jane any more than I did – sass, wit, humour and a whole lot of fun. I never thought a retelling (kinda) of Tudor history could be like this - perfect!

The Graces, Laure Eve

Dark, compelling and shocking, The Graces threw me for a loop. I thought I was totally over paranormal romance, but maybe not. I can’t WAIT for book two!


I didn't read as many adult novels in 2016 as I had hoped to, but what I did read, I loved. You can't ask for more than that, really.

The Madwoman Upstairs, Catherine Lowell

The Madwoman Upstairs is a gorgeous exploration of loss, loneliness, love and the inimitable power of literature. I already want to devour it all over again.If you’re a fan of the Bront√ęs’, literary mystery or just a damn good story, this needs to go on your 2017 TBR.

Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld

This modern re-telling of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was just such a joy to read that I dragged it out for a whole week even though I could have devoured it in one go. Fun, sassy and true to the original - a total must for Austen fans.


I read a lot of classics this year - in fact, I read more classics this year than any year since I've been recording my reading. But I honestly wasn't blown away by very many, though I did enjoy a lot of them. These three weren't just the best classics, but also some of the best books I've ever read.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte

I completely and utterly loved The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. It’s my favourite Bronte novel so far - feminism, strength and with way more subtlety than Charlotte and Emily. I’m so sad Anne didn’t get the chance to write any more books and I just wish she was as widely loved as her sisters.

Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton

I was expecting tragedy, but I really wasn’t expecting the level of tragedy Edith Wharton delivered. I was a bit taken back by it! It’s powerful, shocking and so very sad. Reading Ethan Frome has made me seriously excited to delve into more of Wharton’s novels. Potential new favourite author alert!

Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

I went into Anna Karenina with hesitancy and no real expectations of whether or not I'd finish it, let alone enjoy it, but I completely loved it. It’s epic in every sense of the word and even months after finishing, I’m still thinking about it. In fact, I’m already considering making it a yearly re-read.


Only one non-fiction novel really jumped out at me in 2016 and it turned out that my final non-fiction read of the year was also my favourite.

Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham

Talking as Fast as I Can has left me eager to re-watch Gilmore Girls from scratch, buzzing with the meaning behind that A Year in the Life cliffhanger and a determination to get my hands on Lauren’s novel. A total joy and just like sitting down for coffee with Lorelai herself.


My year in short story collections is a very similar story to non-fiction, really. I started off really strongly but they faded out in the second half of the year as my time became less my own. But Treats was a stand-out read even while reading it.

Treats, Lara Williams

Treats is fresh, sharp, funny and brutally honest and I’ll be reading everything Lara Williams writes. If you’re stumbling through adulthood wondering how on earth that happened, this is the collection for you.


Audiobooks, my love, my life. I could not read as much as I do without the help of audiobooks - seriously, how did I life before I signed up to Audible?! I've listened to some incredible books this year, but these topped the charts.

Mistborn: Hero of Ages, Brandon Sanderson (Read by Michael Cramer)

A beautiful, heart-breaking, and perfect ending to an epic trilogy. Though a fitting end, I was gutted to see Vin, Elend and Kelsier’s gang go. I lvoe Michael Cramer’s narration too - I’ve only listened to Sanderson’s books on audiobook because I love how well they’re done.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (Read by Rosumund Pike)

As soon as this popped up on Audible, I knew it was time for a Pride and Prejudice re-read - it had been about 6 years! It was also not long after devouring Eligible and I just needed more Lizzie and Darcy in my life. Perfection!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling (Read by Stephen Fry)

Re-reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone every year has become something of a tradition and I decided I should really give these audiobooks a go. It was a total delight. I find the way Stephen Fry says Malfoy oddly jarring, but otherwise I think they’re wonderfully read.

Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy (Read by Maggie Gyllenhaal)

Tolstoy’s epic romance landing on Audible with this new narration was what gave me the final push to start Anna Karenina and I’m so glad I did. Beautifully read and so engaging, I didn’t lag for a single minute of this 35-hour long audiobook.

Spectacles, Sue Perkins (Read by Sue Perkins)

Sue Perkins’ narration of her memoir is completely wonderful. Lively, fun and brilliant - I just fell even more in love with Sue than I was before. Highly recommended!


Reading poetry has been an exciting new venture for me in 2016 and I’ve fallen head over heels with a few collections, but I’m definitely still searching for my niche here.

Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur

Milk and Honey is so powerful that I felt punched in the heart after only 20/30 pages and it just kept on coming. The short poems talk about abuse, sex, break-ups and love. It's a feminist rally cry.

Hold Your Own, Kate Tempest

Hold Your Own talks about everything we experience in life via a sharp, observant and modern eye and it’s completely brilliant. There is so much power in Tempest’s words and ideas and themes, lots on sexuality, feminism, school and society that sucker punch you with its simple truth. This is a collection I’ll be reading and re-reading over the years, I just know it.

What are your favourite books of 2016?

Sophie

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

2016: The Best Book Covers of the Year

There have been so many beautiful covers hit shelves this year that I really struggled to narrow this down. And this is also excluding my obsession of collecting pretty editions of classics that’s made my shelves bulge with pretty this year!

Without further a do, here they are in no particular:

The Graces, Laure Eve


The Deviants, CJ Skuse


Bone Gap, Laura Ruby


Nevernight, Jay Kristoff


The Loneliness of Distant Beings, Kate Ling


The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater


When We Collided, Emery Lord


The Love That Split the World, Emily Henry


The Winner’s Kiss, Marie Rutkoski


What are your favourite book covers of 2016?

Sophie