Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books Read So Far In 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
NOTE: This went up on Tuesday; since then I've read Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu and Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and they are both INCREDIBLE so have added them in - it's now a top 12.

Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans (David Fickling Books)
I read this at the start of the year and am still thinking about it AND am keen to reread soon. The most fabulous world-building I've seen in a long time and two absolutely pitch-perfect character arcs for main character Fidge and her cousin Graham make this a triumph of imagination and a stunning read for anyone of any age. It also builds to one of the most memorable and wonderfully done climaxes for ages. Superb!

Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence (Hodder Children's Books)
Stunning contemporary telling the story of Marlon, caught up in danger when a date ends tragically. He's an incredible main character and my heart went out to him and his mother, already heartbroken by an accident his brother was involved in several years previously. The way Marlon gets drawn into the world Andre had occupied is brilliantly paced - although it's a tough read as it's so clearly leading to bad things. A really outstanding debut!

Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
Oh wow! Such a gorgeously fun read, Sofia is an utterly wonderful MC and her relationship with her family had me in stitches for much of the book (it gets much more emotional late on.) The guys she meets are great characters and I was left desperately hoping I was shipping her with the right person. (I won't say if I was or not!) The most hilarious adult novel I've read for a long time; I'm already incredibly excited for the upcoming sequel.

All Our Wrong Todays by Elon Mastai (Michael Joseph)
I don’t generally do time travel, but this sounded too intriguing to pass up and requesting it via NetGalley was SUCH a brilliant decision! Starting in the 2016 we were meant to have – a wonderful utopia with unlimited energy, this follows a slacker who is the son of the man who’s invented time-travel. Despite the perfection of this world, main character Tom is left alone by a series of heartbreaks, and after a time-travel accident ends up wiping out the world and catapulting him into ‘our’ 2016 – which may seem like a nightmare world in comparison, but which has people who love him in it. He’s left to try and decide whether to ‘fix’ the universe, or to hold on to the people he cares for. Stunning voice here, genuinely unexpected twists and turns in the plot, and really lovely characters.

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell (Bloomsbury)
AMAZING. Katherine Rundell follows up arguably my two favourite middle-grade novels of the last five years with one which is equally as outstanding. A stunning set of characters, a breathtaking setting, and a fabulous look at the relationship between nature and man, and between people living in an area and those new to it, combine to make this my favourite book for this age range of the year.

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Simon & Schuster)
Oh wow! My first Adam Silvera and it's just as wonderful as I'd been told his writing is (but a serious tearjerker; stock up on tissues.) I fell totally in love with Griffin, Theo and Jackson, all three are amazing characters and I thought the details of Theo's relationships with both other boys were incredibly well-portrayed. In addition, I loved Adam's really perfect depiction of Griffin's OCD; definitely one of the best I've seen in YA. In addition, as devastating as it is, it's also hopeful - a stunning look at heartbreak, grief and forgiveness.

Mama Can't Raise No Man by Robyn Travis (OWN IT!)
Breathtaking debut novel told in letters between a young Black man in prison and his friends and family (with a few court transcripts.) The voice of every character is stunning, while the book is an entertaining, sometimes heartbreaking, and always deeply thought-provoking story of Black masculinity, injustice, life in prison and on the streets, and of being the child of a single mother. It builds to an incredible climax - a truly superb read.

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein (Bloomsbury)
Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity has been my absolute favourite UKYA novel of all-time ever since I first read it about 5 years ago. I'm not sure if this prequel has dislodged it from that peak, but WOW it comes closer than pretty much anything else has. Seeing Julie from that book as a 15-year-old, investigating the disappearance of a London archivist working in her home in the Scottish highlands, was a real treat. I love the setting here, the family dynamics in Julie's own family and that of her new traveller friends the McEwens, and the way that Julie discovers her sexuality and comes of age. Also there is SO MUCH great kissing!

Becoming Betty by Eleanor Wood (Macmillan Children's Books)
One of UKYA's fastest rising stars nails it again with another incredibly entertaining contemporary. I loved the focus on music here and the reinvention of main character Lizzie as Betty, but as the book progresses it goes from a fun read into a nuanced and wonderful look at toxic friendships and how much you should change yourself for someone else. As well, it's really awesome to see an author look at the potential paths teens can take after they're 16.

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon (Corgi Children's)
WOW! The unique structure - mostly a dual narrative, but interspersed with stories of lots of people the MCs meet - got my attention quickly but Nicola's beautiful writing and the superb central pairing are even more impressive. I loved the chemistry between them while the author also brought New York to life perfectly. A stunning look at love, science, poetry, fate, and so many other topics. And oh, that ending! An incredible read.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (Hodder Children's)
Moxie is a hard-hitting and completely gripping novel about a school where sexism is out of control and, inspired by Riot Grrrl zines of her mother's she finds, quiet girl Vivian anonymously starts to fight back by writing her own zine, Moxie. This hooked me straight away and didn't let go. Viv's journey as she starts to protest against the rape culture of the school she goes to, first in a small way but then in bigger ones as she gains confidence and sees other girls - and a few guys - support her and do other things inspired by Moxie, is brilliant. I love the intersectionality as the protests lead to girls starting to socialise more with people of other races, and the way that in conversations with the new boy in town and with her doubtful friend Viv takes down the issues with #notallmen and with the stereotype of feminists as 'man haters'. Despite the tough topics it tackles, it's also a refreshing and fun read which will inspire readers in the same way that Holly Bourne's Spinster Club series has. Outstanding.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (Simon & Schuster)
This is a memoir of an incredible year filled with wonderful things - including speeches Shonda gave at three events, the full texts of all of which are included. But it's also something of a love letter to herself and to her amazing friends, and perhaps most of all an inspirational book in showing how she learned to feel better about herself and making me feel better about myself too. I absolutely adored it; I cannot stress how much I would recommend it and I honestly think that reading it has helped me figure out some things I've been trying to get my head around for ages. Shonda's style is so direct, so refreshing and so easy to read that it's amazing how hard-hitting it is. I also love that she talks about friendships and finding out that some people don't have your best interests at heart, and how to deal with that, and that 'happy endings' are different for different people.

Special mentions to Wing Jones by Katherine Webber and The Dragon with A Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis, both of which I read prior to the year starting thanks to wonderful publishers (Walker and Bloomsbury respectively) sending me advanced copies. Both are FABULOUS!

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