I can’t believe it’s almost 2018!!! This year flew by, and while I’m extremely grateful that I had a pretty great year, sometimes I wish that time would slow down just a little. My kids appear to be growing faster with each blink of an eye, and with that comes the realization of the importance of slowing down. (I have some thoughts on that I’ll be posting about soon!) Slowing down in the new year to read more to myself, more to my kids, and to spend more time writing for myself are just a few things I’m reflecting on as 2017 comes to a close. But right now, you’re here for the books, so let’s get into it!
So far this year, I’ve read 68 books. This might sound like a lot, but I know other book bloggers who regularly read over 100 books a year. This was a lot for me . . . and I loved it! I’m working on a 2018 Reading Challenge (that we can all participate in), and one of my personal goals is to read even more in 2018. For now, here are my favorite books of 2017!
So I will preface this by saying that I listened to Echo on Audible and loved it so much that I bought the book and plan to re-read it, maybe in 2018. I cannot recommend this book, on paper or audio, enough. Yes, it is classified as a middle grade book, but if I hadn’t known that, I would have just thought it was a wonderful, emotional historical fiction book about three kids and their experiences during WWII. Each child’s story is centered on how music plays a role in her or her life, and how their love for music is hindered by the war. This book was beautiful, broke my heart, and still has me thinking about it almost 6 months later. Echo is a masterpiece, and one of my all-time favorite books.
Read my review of Echo HERE.
Celeste Ng is one of the best authors out there, and Little Fires Everywhere is as close to perfection as you can get in literary fiction. This is the story of a perfectly planned community, a perfect-on-the-outside family living there, and what happens when a single mom and her daughter move to town and things start to change. Whether those changes are for the better or the worse depends on who’s looking at the situation. I could not put this book down once I started it, and I’m still thinking about it. The writing is beautiful, but not in an overbearing way. Ng is a master with words, and this book entertains while also making you think, perhaps even question your own values and world views. This was my very favorite book of 2017, and is absolutely an all-time favorite.
Read my review of Little Fires Everywhere HERE.
A non-fiction book! On my favorites list! I never thought I would choose a non-fiction book as one of my yearly favorites, but Killers of the Flower Moon was so amazing it found its way in. David Grann writes about a subject that I was aware of but didn’t know a lot about: the Osage Indians and sinister plot to kill them off in order to get their oil money in the 1920s. This read like fiction, and I’m glad because it’s an important story that people should know more about. American Indians have a sad history in America, and this book highlights one of the reasons why. It is powerful, and I can’t wait to see what Martin Scorsese does with the movie version.
Read my review of Killers of the Flower Moon HERE.
Chances are you’ve at least heard of Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove, and if you haven’t read it yet I beg you to. At the outset, it appears to be a novel about a grumpy old man who hates his neighbors. What it’s really about is how much that grumpy old man loved his wife, what their relationship meant to him, and how he survives without her. Ove has so much heart and so much compassion (underneath that prickly exterior) that you cannot help but love the main character, as well as the entire book. Backman is a true wordsmith, and I laughed and cried throughout the book, sometimes on the same page. A Man Called Ove is one of the most well-written books I’ve ever read.
Read my review of A Man Called Ove HERE.
Karen Dionne’s The Marsh King’s Daughter is one of those books I just could not put down (or stop listening to-I listened to part of it on audio) this year. Part fairy tale, part suspense novel, it weaves a tale of a woman who was born to an abducted teenager and is now making her life as normal as possible, complete with a new name. When her father escapes from prison, she has to find him before he finds her and her family. This is such a compelling story, and Dionne is a wonderful storyteller. I loved the mystery and suspense, and especially loved the way Helena, the main character, both loved and hated her parents for a variety of reasons. It felt very real, and I was invested in the characters.
Read my review of The Marsh King’s Daughter HERE.
When I chose Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo as my BOTM pick, I thought it might be a light, summer read. It is so much more than that, and Reid is one of my favorite authors now. Evelyn Hugo, an actress far past her career, decides to tell her life story, including the stories of each of her seven husbands, to a journalist for a tell-all book. No one is sure why Evelyn has decided to do this, but as the book goes on, her reasons become clear. Aside from writing itself being fantastic, the story is engaging, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. I have recommended Evelyn Hugo to so many people, and I will continue to do so until everyone has read it!
Read my review of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo HERE.
WWII books are usually popular with fans of historical fiction. I am definitely in that category, and Jessica Shattuck’s The Women in the Castle was different than other WWII historical fiction novels that I’ve read. This is based on a real group of resistance fighters who tried and failed to assassinate Hitler, and whose spouses were left widowed during WWII. While the war itself is touched on, the story really delves into how these women survived after the war. The most interesting aspect is that they are all Germans, a group we are generally told not sympathize with, trying to survive regular life after the war. This book takes a look at what happens after a war, in the losing country, and how regular citizens keep going, no matter what. It is a wonderful story that had me looking for more to read about this group of people.
Read my review of The Women in the Castle HERE.
If you are a Louise Penny fan, I know that I’m preaching to the choir when I say that this is one of my favorite series ever. Inspector Gamache, the lead detective in Penny’s series that takes place in Canada, is one of the best detective characters out there, right up with Hercule Poirot. A Fatal Grace is the second book in the Gamache series, and it was even better than the first. A much-disliked woman is electrocuted on an ice rink during a curling match, and Gamache must figure out who had a motive (everyone) and who actually did it, and why. This is the ultimate cozy mystery series, and I hope to read the rest of Penny’s books in 2018. If you haven’t tried Penny yet (start with Still Life), get started and meet me in Three Pines!
Read my review of A Fatal Grace HERE.
This is my favorite dystopian novel of the year, and one that I will probably re-read in the future. It is reminiscent of other dystopian novels about women, but adds a new angle that I loved. In Gather the Daughters, there is a society of people living on an island. The men are in charge and the women are breeders only. Their only time of freedom is during the summer as children, when they are allowed to run wild until the age of puberty. One summer, one of the daughters sees something she shouldn’t, and it sets into a motion a plan to end the patriarchal civilization, maybe for good. This book was wonderful and disturbing, and I couldn’t stop reading it until I got to the end. I really cared about the characters, was worried for them, and I hope that Jennie Melamed has plans to write about what happens to them in the future.
Read my review of Gather the Daughters HERE.
I read The Other Einstein over the summer as part of the Big Library Read, and it was a surprise hit for me. Marie Benedict tells a fictional version of Albert Einstein’s first wife, Mileva Maric, and her relationship with him, as well as her contributions to science. This is a wonderful historical fiction novel, and in addition to making me want to find out more about Mileva, it caused me to really think about gender roles in science and in the past, and how much has changed. (And how much really hasn’t.) I loved this as a historical fiction book and as a story of a strong woman who made the best of impossible circumstances.
Read my review of The Other Einstein HERE.
I have to mention these two as well, because I couldn’t put them down! Neither are books I probably would have chosen would it not have been for the amazing bookstagram community and Book of the Month Club.
Cate Holohan’s Lies She Told is tense, fast-moving suspense novel about a writer whose real life starts to blend fiction and reality. There is a murder, a cheating husband, and you don’t find out the truth until the very end. It’s a great suspenseful read.
Read my review of Lies She Told HERE.
Riley Sager’s Final Girls is like a slasher film on paper. It’s about several girls who, separately, have been the final girls left after a mass murder. Someone is trying to pick off those remaining girls, and Quincy Carpenter, the main character, has to figure out who is after her. This is a page turner, and while I do not watch horror films, I couldn’t stop reading this.
Read my review of Final Girls HERE.
In honor of my son’s 9th birthday today, I thought I would post what his favorite books of 2017 were. (Don’t worry, I’ll have the adult version coming next week! This week has just been very kid-centric!) I asked him, and it took him less than 20 seconds to come up with these. When you know, you know!
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
We are about 3/4 through this book, and it’s already his favorite of the series. (Followed closely by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.) This kid is a die-hard Harry Potter fan, and one of my favorite things of 2017 has been to watch him become that fan. The fifth book is much darker than the previous four, but he’s been loving it, and lugging around my hardcover copy of it to school to read in any spare moments he has. If you have an 8-year-old who’s shown even the slightest interest in Harry Potter (or if you’re an adult who hasn’t read them yet), give them the first book and get started!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway
This is the newest in the Wimpy Kid series, and my son knew the release dates months before and was counting down the days. He read it in a day or two and declared it the best one yet. These books are silly, and probably slightly inappropriate, but when it comes to books I’m a little more lenient! This one also takes place during the holidays, so if you’re looking for a book to get for a reluctant reader, or a reader who doesn’t have the newest one yet, go for the Wimpy Kid books. I haven’t met a kid yet who doesn’t like them!
This is another graphic novel, this time from the author of the Captain Underpants series, Dav Pilkey. It’s a comic, Dog Man, written by the two main characters, George and Harold, from Captain Underpants. As you might expect, this book (also a series) is silly, funny, and absolutely ridiculous. So of course my son (both of my sons, actually) love it. I’m glad that authors such as Dav Pilkey and Andy Griffiths are making reading fun for kids. It’s easy to get bogged down with all the books we think our kids “should” read, and sometimes that makes them think reading isn’t fun. Dog Man is definitely fun, and I’m sure we’ll be adding more of this series to our collection!
So that’s my older son’s list of favorite books this year! After his birthday and Christmas gifts, his TBR pile will get a little longer, and I’m interested to see what will be on his list of favorites next year.[Top]
Today I want to highlight another of our favorite Christmas books! My boys love the Fly Guy series, and Fly Guy’s Ninja Christmas is great. The Fly Guy series, written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold, is about a boy named Buzz and his pet fly, Fly Guy. Fly Guy and Buzz can understand each other and they go everywhere together. In this one, Fly Guy is frantically searching for a present for Buzz on Christmas Eve, and he runs into a strange man in a red suit in his house. He uses his ninja skills (which any kid will appreciate) to fend off the mysterious stranger, and still has to find a present for his best friend!
This book is super cute, and if your kid likes ninjas at all, they will love this book. It’s really great for beginning readers to read on their own as well, or for more advanced readers who are looking for a quick, fun book to read. If you give books as gifts for Christmas, this is a perfect one to gift. (I wrapped it up for my 6-year-old last Christmas!)
I had to include my vintage yarn Santa with my “vintage” copy of The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear. This was one of my favorite books to read as a kid, and it’s one of my kids’ favorites now. When I pulled it out, my almost-9-year-old said, “Oh! We haven’t read that yet this year, and we need to!” (I don’t think anyone can ever be too old for the Berenstain Bears.) There’s just something about this book that makes our holiday book stack feel complete, and I have a feeling I’ll be forcing my kids to listen to me read it when they’re adults.
Brother and Sister Bear are getting ready for their annual visit to Santa, and they, as all of us do, are hypnotized and excited by all of the decorations, toys, and advertisements. When it comes time to make their Christmas wish lists for Santa, they realize that they might be asking for too much, and that the true meaning of Christmas isn’t the presents you receive, but what you choose to give to others.
The Berenstain Bears are a long-time favorite of mine and my kids, and the Christmas books are done so well. This book is sentimental and sweet and teaches a good lesson without getting preachy. The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear would make a great addition to any holiday book collection, if you don’t already own it![Top]
I have been dying to get my hands on this book for what seems like forever. It’s been much hyped in the bookstagram community, so when my library hold finally came in I rushed right over to get it. I enjoy reading holiday books, but I don’t generally go for the plucky, romantic books. (But you can bet I’ll be watching Netflix’s A Christmas Prince real soon.) Samantha Silva’s Mr. Dickens and His Carol is not that kind of book (although it is a wonderfully sweet story), and I absolutely loved it. If you’re looking for a well-told, historically-based holiday story, this is it!
. . . for the truth at the bottom of every illusion, every fiction, every lie: our own great desire to believe.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol, part fact part Silva’s imagination, begins with Charles Dickens himself in a holiday slump. He is sick of Christmas excess, sick of his family and friends always needing money from him, and sick of his publishers hounding him to write a Christmas book he doesn’t want to write. (And giving him only two weeks in which to write that book.) He isolates himself in a hotel room to write the book, for which he has little inspiration, and spends his nights taking long walks around London to try and clear his mind. On one of his walks, he meets a mysterious woman named Eleanor Lovejoy who challenges Dickens to re-think what he believes about Christmas, family, friendship, and love. Their friendship sparks a Christmas story that changes everything.
This is a feel-good story that isn’t cheesy. Dickens wants to believe in the spirit of Christmas again but is unable to because of all the pressure placed on him by everyone around him. That’s something we can all relate to on different levels. In her Author’s Note, Silva includes which parts are completely true, including the situation (A Christmas Carol was written out of financial necessity, and Dickens was under immense pressure) and some of the characters’ lines. She fills in the gaps to create a magical, sentimental story of how Dickens may have been inspired to write this story in her imagination.
This a beautiful story of love and family, of the Christmas spirit, and of a man who needed to find himself to break a serious case of writer’s block. I want to know more about Dickens and the history of A Christmas Carol now, and I’m already looking up more books about the subject! (There’s also a great twist that completely surprised me because I was so caught up in the story and how good the writing was. I didn’t see it coming at all!) Mr. Dickens and His Carol is a perfect holiday read, and I would recommend it to anyone.