Last year I participated in this book tag, which offers a great chance to look back on your reading for the first half of the year. I’m still a little in shock that it’s been almost an entire year, but here’s a review of my reading in 2018 so far.
Question 1 – The best book you’ve read so far in 2018
Just sneaking in under the wire (I read it last weekend), the best book I’ve read so far this year is Tin Man by Sarah Winman. It’s a thoughtful, quiet book about the relationship between two men in England. Told first through the perspective of one character and then through the diary entries of the other, it’s a poignant story that packs an emotional punch.
The runner-up couldn’t be more different. I’ve never read anything like Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne. Told through prose that is by turns lyrical, eerie, and thoughtful, Borne follows a scavenger in a post-apocalyptic city who brings home and cares for a sentient being she names Borne. But as the being grows and changes, questions arise about Borne’s purpose. Serving as a moving exploration into what it means to be human, Borne is the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve read it.
Besides these two choices though, I haven’t been reading a lot of quality books so far in 2018 and I’m hoping to change that in the second half of the year!
Question 2 – Your favorite sequel of the year
I’ve only read one or two sequels this year, so by default it’s The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden. I actually found The Girl in the Tower a little disappointing though. I obviously still enjoyed it – I gave the book four stars – but it just didn’t cast the same spell over me as The Bear and the Nightingale, which was one of my favourite reads last year. I’m still eagerly looking forward to finishing the trilogy next year though.
Question 3 – A new release that you haven’t read but really want to
I have The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang on hold at the library! It’s received glowing reviews on goodreads and from my blogging friend Hadeer, and looks right up my alley as an adult fantasy featuring rich worldbuilding and an intriguing heroine. Similarly I’ve heard wonderful things about Kirsty Logan’s The Gloaming, and I’m looking forward to Tessa Gratton’s The Queens of Innis Lear, a retelling of one of my favourite Shakespeare plays.
Question 4 – Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
I’ve read three of John Boyne’s books so far and have really enjoyed them all, so I can’t wait for his latest, A Ladder to the Sky! I’m also really looking forward to Pat Barker’s take on The Iliad in The Silence of the Girls. There are also a bunch of sequels I can’t wait to read: Seth Dickinson’s The Monster Baru Cormorant, which continues the tale of Baru’s climb to infiltrate the system that colonized her island, killed one of her fathers, and rewrote her culture, V.E. Schwab’s Vengeful, the continuation of her story about supervillains, Record of a Spaceborn Few, the latest in Becky Chmbers’ Wayfarers series, and Kirsten White’s Bright We Burn, the final book in her Conqueror’s Saga about a gender-swapped Vlad the Impaler.
Question 5 – Your biggest disappointment
The three reads that, in one way or another, didn’t live up to my expectations were Circe
by Madeline Miller, Dear Martin
by Nic Stone, and The Lonely Hearts Hotel
by Heather O’Neill. I loved The Song of Achilles
and was really looking forward to seeing Miller’s take on a divisive female character like Circe, but I found the heroine passive and thought the book dragged in the middle. I wanted to love Dear Martin
, but it read very much on the young side of YA so this was more a mismatch of book and reader than a reflection on the book itself. I really disliked The Lonely Hearts Hotel.
It’s whimsical prose was tonally a complete mismatch for the dark and disturbing subject matter and as a result the book ended up sounding rather flippant about topics like sexual abuse, prostitution, and drug abuse.
Question 6 – Biggest surprise of the year
Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke. I went in with no idea what to expect and, as a YA contemporary, which isn’t really my genre, didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. The book follows Jane as she attends community college to finish her last few classes of high school after an ‘incident’ caused her to be absent for the last semester. Yearning for independence, but unavailable to afford a place on her own, Jane lies about her age and signs up for a Big Brother-inspired community college show. So long as she stays on the show, she has a place to stay and a shot at the prize! Jane is a fiercely funny, sometimes ruthless heroine that I rooted for and I loved the unique premise of the book.
Question 7 – Favourite new to you or debut author
Probably Sarah Winman. Based solely on Tin Man, I’d love to read more of her works. My mom read one of her other books, When God Was A Rabbit, several years ago and marked it as one of her favourites, so I should probably start there!
Question 8 – Your new fictional crush
Question 9 – New favourite character
Jane Eyre from Charlotte Bronte’s novel of the same name. I FINALLY got around to reading Jane Eyre for the first time and it was everything I hoped it would be. It sucked me in and I loved Jane with all of her spirit, intelligence, and passion. Special mention to a few other fierce females I’ve loved this year though: Evelyn Hugo is often unlikable, but I couldn’t help admiring her ruthless pragmatism, ambition, and ability to go after what she wanted most in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and, as I was mentioning, I adored Jane Sinner, a flawed, funny, competitive high school student competing on a community college reality program like Big Brother in Nice Try, Jane Sinner.
Question 10 – A book that made you cry
Once again, my answer is Sarah Winman’s Tin Man! It’s a slim volume that you can read in a matter of hours, but I found it incredibly moving and there were definitely some waterworks by the end!
Question 11 – A comic book that made you happy
I’m so glad this questions exists this year because I was so delighted by the first arc of Rainbow Rowell’s continuation of my favourite Marvel comics series, Runaways! Rowell captured the essence of each of the Runaways characters and brought them back together in a way that felt organic and not forced. I can’t wait to see where she takes them next and how the relationships between these characters have changed in the year or more that they were apart.
Question 12 – Your favourite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year
The adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
to Love, Simon
. I actually saw the movie first, but they’re different enough (while still capturing the essence of the characters) that I don’t think it would have mattered, I fell in love with both the fluffy but compelling novel and this movie, which had one of the most engaged audiences I’ve ever seen!
Question 13 – Favourite book post you’ve done this year
I was really pleased with how this week’s Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Awaken My Wanderlust post shaped up, and I enjoyed the First Impressions post I did early this year where I read the first 50 pages of five books and wrote about my initial thoughts and whether or not I planned to continue reading them. As far as reviews go, I can’t lie I’m pretty proud of my comparing the ridiculous sounding summary for Borne, a book that actually works extremely well, to what the pitch for SpongeBob SquarePants must have sounded like.
Question 14 – The most beautiful book you have bought/received this year
I buy very few books (I’m a heavy library user), but I did purchase the beautiful paperback edition of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, one of the best books I read last year.
Question 15 – What are some books you need to read by the end of the year
All of the upcoming releases I mentioned, and I’m trying to read some more classics, so hopefully East of Eden by John Steinbeck and Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin.
Tagging anyone who wants to do this!
What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?