I know, I’m just as shocked as you that we are already halfway through 2017. How does this happen? And I still have a long way to go if I want to meet my Goodreads challenge (over ambition plus obligatory adulting means I may be doomed to fail, but I will perservere for the sake of proving my literary worthiness on social media). However, I have had the chance to read some incredible books so far this year and some not so incredible. So I’m sharing a list of some of my very favourite reads of 2017 thus far, as well as the ones that didn’t grab me as much as I had hoped.
I’ll start with the ones I didn’t love because I like to finish on a good note. Fair warning, some of these may even be books you liked. A few of them certainly rate high and are popular in the book community, but I’m including them because I personally was disappointed, and this is all subjective right?
#1: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
I had really high hopes for this one and it just sounded so atmospheric and interesting. However I felt the characters were weak and poorly fleshed out and the plot didn’t seem to know where it was going for most of the book. You can read my full thoughts on it here.
#2: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Wintersong. Oh, Wintersong. You were the recipe for the perfect dark and twisted romance, and I thought we would get along very well indeed. I truly loved the concept of this one, being a Labyrinth retelling set in a previous century Barvaria, complete with classical music references woven through. In truth I devoured the first half. But then… meh. The plot all but disappears and we witness our characters stuck in a repetitive cycle of emotional struggle. You can see more of what I mean here.
#3: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Okay, I haven’t even written a full review on this one because it made almost no impression on me. What sounded like a fresh concept (Sherlock Holmes and John Watson were real historical figures and their decendents become friends in college and solve a crime together) ended up falling short in a book that felt so uneccessary with how many Sherlock retellings there are nowadays. And I love Sherlock. Nothing captured my attention here as we are given characters that have inherited pretty much every personality trait of their famous ancestors (including a drug habit and violin playing) and a plot that plays out copy cat murders from actual Sherlock Holmes mysteries. There was nothing that stood out as inherently bad and it was written well, but at the same time it wasn’t the page turner I was hoping for.
#4: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab
I’m bracing myself for the reactions from this one. The Shades of Magic trilogy is certainly beloved in the book community and I did enjoy the first book, A Darker Shade of Magic, immensely. So why is this one on the least favourite reads list you ask? Because when I read a fantasy trilogy I expect book two to develop into a bigger story arc than the first book presents. I hope for new details to be revealed that create a bigger scope in world building and plot development. AGOS did not supply those epic feels for me at all and I even started to like the characters less the second time around. I still haven’t read A Conjuring of Light but after how boring AGOS was, I’m really in no rush.
Okay guys, hopefully you’ve stayed with me until now because here is the fun part. I give you my favourite reads of the first half of 2017.
#1: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
A stunning debut that reads like a classic fairytale set in medieval Russia. A plucky young female main character who refuses to follow society’s expectations. House spirits that remind me of a Studio Ghibli movie. A dark-haired frost demon who may or may not provide a hint of romance to come (this ship must sail in book two okay??). I absolutely loved this book from start to finish. It is beautifully written, wonderfully dark at times, and oh so whimsical. You can read my full review here.
#2: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I actually just finished this book yesterday and my review is coming, but holy hell, this book. I am sad to admit that I haven’t read anything else by Laini Taylor yet but after one chapter in I had already decided she is a brilliant author with a beautiful way with words and potentially a new favourite. The rest of the book completely held up to those initial thoughts and I am officially needing everything she has ever written ASAP. Watch my blog for my full review in the next few days.
#3: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
A quick read but packed full with romance and intrigue. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Ahdieh has a simple yet lush writing style that flows with ease and sensory delight. I was kept guessing through most of the story and spent a couple late nights devouring it because I was desperate to solve the mystery of Khalid and why he takes a bride every night only for her to be found dead the next morning. My full review is here.
#4: The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
I still haven’t reviewed this book but I plan soon. I had conflicted feelings when I finished because I am a die hard fan of the first two books in The Bone Season series and The Song Rising wasn’t quite what I expected. I will say that it has a completely different pace and atmosphere and comes across as a little more of a generic political dystopian than the first books, with much fewer whimsical and paranormal details that I had loved about The Bone Season and The Mime Order. However after my initial disappointment I have started to appreciate it for what it is and not how it stands up to its predecessors. It’s action-packed and the characters don’t stop moving for most of the story so it’s certainly a page-turner. We get to see more of the surrounding Scion-inhabited world and strong development for my beloved Paige Mahoney and Warden. I will be writing out my thoughts on this book shortly and I am eagerly awaiting TBS #4.
So there you have it. Half a year down, and so many more books to read! Do you have any thoughts to share about my choices? I would love to hear them below!