Blog · Favourite Books · Reading · Roundup

My Top 17 Books of 2017

This year has been a great reading year for me. I started out 2017 wanting to read more diversely, and I’ve mostly met that challenge. I’ve read a variety of genres I normally wouldn’t have explored, like graphic novels and short story collections, discovered new authors I’ve grown to love, like Tessa Dare and Alisha Rai, and read books that focused on the experiences of people of colour and people who identify as LGBTQIA+ which taught me more about how to be a respectful person in the world.

If you want to quantify it, out of the 120 books I read this year, 16.6% were either by diverse authors, told the story of diverse characters, or both. While that’s better than the 7.8% diversity of authors noted by The Ripped Bodice’s 2016 State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing Survey, it’s still not great. My goal for next year is to have my year-end reading total reflect 50% diversity in my reading.

So, without further ado, here is my list, in no particular order, of the 17 best books I read in 2017.

    1. Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction with art by Chip Zdarsky
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    2. Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
    3. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
    4. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (yes, I know this is a series of 3 books, but I couldn’t just pick one!)
    5. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
    6. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan24384702
    7. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
    8. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
    9. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
    10. When Dimple Met Rishi by SandhyaMenon18668495
    11. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
    12. Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
    13. Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren
    14. Hamilton’s Battalion: A Trio of Romances by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole
    15. Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner
    16. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
    17. Scary Old Sex by Arlene Heyman

 

Honourable mentions: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Both of these are re-reads, but I read them both this past summer and loved how more involved and invested I felt in the stories and their messages compared to when I first read them both in high school.

I’d love to hear about your favourite books this year! What authors did you discover? What genres? Any DNF’s? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Blog · Book Reviews · Contemporary Romance

Book Review: Remedial Rocket Science by Susannah Nix

After reading Intermediate Thermodynamics and absolutely loving it, I was excited to read more of Nix’s awesome contemporary romance. But while I loved the characters in Intermediate Thermodynamics, I didn’t think there was enough detail on their backstories, which were integral to their love story.

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After Melody and Jeremy’s initial meeting, they both go through huge life changes that affect the way they view the people and the world around them. These changes are part of what eventually allows them to get together, but while they seemed to play big roles when Melody and Jeremy first see each other again, these life- changing events are abruptly forgotten about soon after.

I’m a stickler for character development— I want to see how the hero and heroine change throughout a novel, and what causes them to do so. I also think backstories are hugely important, so not getting to learn more about

[SPOILER ALERT]

how Melody’s boyfriend’s suicide changed the way she viewed relationships was frustrating, especially because the Melody we first meet in the book is less inhibited than the one we meet three years later, and the author alludes that this is because of her boyfriend’s death, but never explains why.

I also wanted to know more about what happened to Jeremy while he and Melody were apart. Nix doesn’t go into the specifics of just how his father’s death has changed him. Yes, he’s less of a playboy and more responsible, but we never find out if working at Sauer Hewson was the career he was searching for, and we also never find out how his father’s death might have affected his relationships with Lacey, his mother, or his sister.

I love Nix’s writing because it’s captivating, full of assertive, smart female heroines, and builds amazing sexual tension between the hero and heroine, making the moment when they finally get together all the more satisfying. I just wished the book told me a little more about the hero and heroine, so I knew exactly how life had changed them and made them even more suited for each other.

Blog · Book Reviews · Contemporary Romance

Book Review: Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

Dating You/Hating You might be the best contemporary romance I’ve EVER. READ. The reasons?

-The hero not only has feelings, but analyzes them, sits with them, and openly shares them

-The hero is not intimidated by the heroine’s success

-The hero’s best friend also has feelings and isn’t intimidated by his wife’s success

-The heroine is successful, and that isn’t described as her somehow trying to compensate for something lacking in her life

-The book weaves in an amazing conversation about toxic masculinity and harassment in the workplace

-The heroine has a solid #girlgang full of other successful women

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SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com

It’s only this year that I’ve really started to get into contemporary romances, and there were a few points where I nearly gave up. After spending so long in the historical romance sphere, it can be a bit strange to suddenly transport yourself to a world where anything goes, but the guys are still totally domineering even though it’s the 21st century (looking at you, Jack from Smooth Talking Stranger).

I also have a problem with some of the language in contemporaries. While I’m all for four-letter words in books, if I read one more romance novel where the world “damn” is used as an adjective every time a guy tries to describe 1. his thoughts 2. the girl he likes 3. his life, I WILL SCREAM.

Dating You/Hating You, however, was perfect in language, plot, character development, and setting.  I loved that the book kept me guessing. A third of the way into this book, everything is going so well between Carter and Evie that I was a bit confused as to how this story was going to stay interesting for another 70% of the book, but oh man, was the conflict good. Not only was it well thought out, but the conflict made for some crazy-hot sexual tension.

You can bet I’ve already downloaded another one of Christina Lauren’s books, and I’m eternally grateful to Sarah MacLean and her article “Best Romance Novels of 2017” where I first read about this book.

Wishing you happy reading and more books on your #favourites shelf.

 

Blog · Favourite Books · Reading · Roundup · Travelling

What books I’m bringing on my transatlantic move

Two years ago, I moved to England and made the very grave mistake of not bringing any comfort reads with me. I was about to begin a master’s programme in Medieval Studies, so the only books I brought were latin textbooks, history textbooks, and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel which, while an excellent book, is not exactly the kind of read you want when you’re feeling scared and homesick. In a few weeks I’m leaving on a trip that will end in my moving to Ireland, and this time, I know exactly which books to pack and why.

1.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
It is my opinion that Pride and Prejudice is the most perfect book of all time. It’s funny, romantic, has excellent social commentary, and even though I’d read it half a dozen times, I still discover new things about both myself and the story each time I read it. Like so many people with their comfort reads, skimming just a few pages of this precious book lifts my mood to no end, something I know I’ll need in those first scary weeks in a new country.
2. Ransom My Heart by Meg Cabot writing as Princess Mia Thermopolis

I am not a big re-reader (there are so many good books to read! I can’t keep reading the same ones again and again!), but I re-read the Princess Diaries series every single year, and every single year I laugh out loud, cry a little, and generally get that warm-and-fuzzy feeling that only a well-loved book can give you. Ransom My Heart was one of the first romances I read, and to this day, it remains one of my favourites, and one I re-read every year. I love the feisty, independent heroine, the scenery, everything. I LOVE this book.

 

3. Shattered Sonnets, Love Cards, and Other Off and Back-Handed Importunities by Olena Kalytiak Davis
I discovered this book of poetry thanks to the best class I took at uni. It was a class entitled “Women in Poetry,” and we spent the whole term reading poems by amazing women and sitting in a circle and discussing what those women were trying to tell us. Olena’s poems are crazy smart, wickedly funny, and beautiful when read out loud. Two of my favourites are: “To Love” and “Small Number.”

 

4. Meadowlands by Louise Glück

This is another book from that wonderful poetry class. In it, Louise uses imagery and plot details from the Odyssey to chronicle her divorce. I love how she weaves the epic’s details in with the modern imagination. My absolute favourite: “Purple Bathing Suit.”

 

In addition to these books, I’ll also be bringing some books I’ve bought in the last few months but haven’t read, including: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, Losing It by Emma Rathbone, The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfield, Night Owl by M. Pierce and The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Jennifer Steil.

Packing books is, for me, the hardest part of any move. Figuring out what to part with and what to keep can be pretty upsetting, but it’s important to remember that wherever you’re going, there are most likely bookshops with plenty of gorgeous literary gems waiting for you. Take the books you KNOW you’ll read, either sell the rest or leave them in the care of family or friends, and get excited for a host of new adventures that your new home and new books will take you on.