Saturday 6 January 2018

[article] Another Year Bites The Dust, 2017

First read of the year! But let us look to the past

Another Year Bites The Dust, 2017

Or, I survive a busy year of reading and blogging & the rest of my life

Another year come and gone and it's time for the first yearly summary of my blog! Hurrah! I can't believe how many reviews I've written (almost a hundred) or how many books I've read (more than ever before), or how I've actually managed to post on this blog pretty much every three days! Well done me. What have I achieved?? Presenting a short bullet point list:

  • Despite reading more than ever, I've actually not spent too much money on books this year - massive shout out to Netgalley and my local library, you are lifesavers!
  • Tried to diversify my reading across genres just a liiitle bit
  • Hit my Goodreads goal of 100 books!
  • Rearranged my bookcase by book cover colour! It looks super nice :)
  • I took up running and kept at it (not a reading goal but man I'm so proud of myself ;) )

What have I failed at??

  • Keeping my Instagram regularly updated (@atlasrisingbooks) - nuh uh. Very sporadic
  • Reaching that coveted 80% books reviewed on Netgalley - I've been hovering at 70-75% since September - I'll review a few books then request a few and it just keeps fluctuating!! It's a shame because I love a good badge
As you can see, it's actually been quite a positive year! Hurrah!

The Stats

I really enjoy (sadly) keeping an eye on my Goodreads stats over the year (you can see your year in review here), and these are a couple that are interesting:

  • First up, I've read a whopping 177 books!
  • Across these books, I read an approximated 57500 pages 
  • The longest and highest rated book I read on Goodreads was Assassin's Fate, Robin Hobb at 853 pages (clearly I never got around to that Brandon Sanderson re-read!)
  • The oldest book I read was Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, which was a very weird experience of a book!

Proportion of star rankings given

As you can see from the pie chart, I gave the highest proportion of books (48 books) 3*, followed swiftly by 4* at 40. I also left a lot of books unranked (32) - mostly these were Warrior Cats books  or other childhood favourites that I didn't really want to rank, or more technical non-fiction books. I gave the least amount of books (a mere 12!) only one star, which is great because who really wants to spend time reading books they don't love? 

The Questions

Rather than just writing out a boring list of my favourite books of the year, I've decided to answer a series of questions! I pinched most of these from this list here.

Favourite Book of 2017?

Always a toughie - how does one compare a YA sci-fi with an adult fantasy? - but my answer probably has to be Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. Red Sister is the amazing, heartwrenching, slow-paced, bloody story of ten year old (then twelve, then older) Nona Grey, first sold to a child-seller, then to a a gang of ring-fighters, then inducted into the Sweet Mercy convent of assassin-nuns to save her from the hangman's noose. It started with a bang and ended with my heart in pieces and my eyes yearning for more. It was, basically, Nevernight by Jay Kristoff but better (sorry Jay). 

Book I Thought I Was Going To Love But Didn't

I had a fair few disappointments this year, but Solitaire by Alice Oseman reigns queen among them (Three Dark Crowns was also a strong contender). Near the start of the year I read and massively enjoyed Radio Silence by the same author, which was a masterpiece of young adult writing, so thoughtfully capturing aspects of the "teenage experience". Solitaire, on the other hand, was cliche and painfully embarrassing.  

Favourite New Author Discovered in 2017?

Hmm. A toughie - I don't tend to find an author and read all of their books, and tend to have very few "favourite authors" as such. But a new favourite of mine is Melissa Brayden, who primarily writes lesbian romance novels - I've read a couple of hers this year, including the five star read Strawberry Summer which I simply adored!

Best Book From A Genre You Don't Typically Read?

I don't read a lot of adult novels, but I took a chance on the highly acclaimed Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and it was an absolutely stunning (if horrifying/disturbing/strange) read. A young woman with poor social skills, a quiet life of small routines that is changed when she and Raymond, an awkward man from work, help an elderly man who had fallen on the pavement. It's a touching, thoughtful, and overall lovely work from a debut author. 

Most Unputdownable Book of the Year?

I'm going to go with Nyxia by Scott Reintgen. To quote a cliche: I laughed, I cried, I got my heart broken, and I flipped the pages like there was no tomorrow. Nyxia is sort of a mashup between Ender's Game (which is okay), The Hunger Games, Red Sister (wowowowow) and Red Rising by Pierce Brown (which was wow, wow, wow), and my god it really works. Reintgen crafted such excellent characters, there's so much emotion in this book, but also so much badassery, and I was even rooting for the romance!

Favourite Cover?

I would nominate the Tor Books cover of Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic, which is simply beautiful. But it's also a re-read, so it doesn't really count! For new books, I think I'm going to cheat and have a few selections, because I had a lot of simply gorgeous covers:

Best Popular Book of the Year?

Without a shadow of a doubt, this one goes to Strange the Dreamer: poignant, lyrical, masterfully written. With Strange the Dreamer I was so enveloped by the prose, so wrapped into the world that Taylor has crafted, that I was barely aware of even turning any pages (and very lovely pages they were too, blue-edged and everything). It blends together myths, monsters, dreams and tragedies into it's beautiful prose. 

It's about a boy who is raised in a library, a librarian who has a dream about a city lost two hundred years ago. The city of Weep whose name is not Weep, whose name, fifteen years ago, was wiped from the name of every human. It's also about a girl with blue skin. Sarai: seventeen years old and a goddess and a girl and a demon all in one. This book blew my socks off

Hidden Gem of the Year?

There is no doubt in my mind that this award goes to Satellite by Nick Lake. This book was incredible and I have barely seen it at all on my dashboard, an absolute travesty! The plot is unlike anything I have ever read (three kids, born in space, yearning to see Earth) but what really makes this novel is the characters. Our three central characters are all distinct: Orion is a music-lover, a devourer of poetry; Libra is green-fingered, an aspiring botanist and a thoughtful girl; Leo is a dreamer, a thinker.  

I thought the writing itself was beautiful, philosophical, and deliciously quotable, the main characters and particularly Leo were delightful and felt like real people, and that the plot had the right mix of action, space-related things, wonder, suspense, conspiracies, and drama. All in all, an excellent novel.

Thanks for reading and I hope you had a fantastic year! Let me know what your favourite books of the year were so I can add them to my ever-growing TBR!

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