Sunday, 26 November 2017

Best Books of 2017



It's been a lot easier to decide which books I loved best in 2017 than it has been in previous years, because of my monthly #BookHaul and Wrap-Up posts, and also because I've assigned fewer 5-star ratings to books this year. I think with the more books I read, the easier it becomes for me to judge the okay-ish books from the really good and excellent ones, and the harder it becomes for books to impress me, and I find myself awarding fewer 5-stars.

I've been very strict with my 5-star ratings this year, giving them out only when I truly love a book and it leaves me moved.

So, without further ado, let's talk best books of 2017!

I thought I'd start off by listing my 4- and 5-star reads from each month, if any that month, by referring back to my book review/monthly wrap-up posts, and then go on to compile a overall top 7 list. (Click on the month for that month's  wrap-up post)

January
The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2) by Rick Yancey 4-stars
The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3) by Rick Yancey 5-stars
Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas 4-stars


March
Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) by Cassandra Clare 4-stars
Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie Perkins 4-stars
Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben 4-stars


April
Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare 4-stars
Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor 4-stars


May
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin 4-stars
Witness The Night by Kishwar Desai 4-stars
Delirium (Delirium #1) by Lauren Oliver 4-stars


July
To All The Boys I've Loved Before (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han 4-stars
PS. I Still Love You (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han 4-stars
Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han 4-stars


August
Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas 4-stars
Dragon Marked (Supernatural Prison #1) by Jaymin Eve 4-stars


September
Home (Myron Bolitar #11) by Harlan Coben 5-stars
Found (Mickey Bolitar #3) by Harlan Coben 4-stars
Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver 4-stars
Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2) by Cassandra Clare 5-stars

Were you counting the number of book titles I made bold to make the 5-star reads from each month stand out? Not many at all, right? But the books that I rated 5-stars were truly good and I can't recommend them highly enough.

So, we have the titles that will be in my Top 3 Books of 2017 now:

The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3) by Rick Yancey 
Home (Myron Bolitar #11) by Harlan Coben
Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2) by Cassandra Clare





I'll get around to ranking these three later on. But my favourite read of the year is among these three ~ can you guess which one it might be?

The tricky part comes next; trying to pick 4 books from all the 4-star reads.

Well, the Lara Jean books narrowly missed out on a top 3 spot ~ they're so readable, and re-readable. I've read the first two books in the series three times now, the third novel two times. But my favourite out of the series is Book 1, and it makes it into the top 7 books of 2017 list:

To All The Boys I've Loved Before (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass#5) by Sarah J. Maas missed out on a 5-star rating by a tiny margin, too, so that's the next book to add to the list.

Delirium (Delirium #1) by Lauren Oliver has to go in there, too; it was such a refreshing change from a lot of the YA books I've read recently.

And finally, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin.  It was weird ~ and I love a bit of weird! ~ and lovely and creepy and mysterious and clever.



So, that's it. All 7 of my favourite reads from 2017!

How to rank them all, though... I know which one tops the list, and the second and third placed books equally deserve the second spot, but the next four...? I'm going to try. Here goes.

No.7: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

No.6: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

No.5: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

No.4: To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han


No.3: Home by Harlan Coben

No.2 The Last Star by Rick Yancey

No.1: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Yes, Lord of Shadows was my favourite read of 2017 and it wasn't hard to make this choice. It was just amazing. Read my review of this book in my September Wrap-Up postHome and The Last Star were so different from each other, and from LoS, and I give them joint second place.

What were your best reads of 2017? If you've read any of my top 7 books, let me know if you liked them as much as I did.


Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, Chasing Pavements (Soulmates Saga, Book 1) click here to learn more about it.


Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 

Book Details
Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction

Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.


And the first two books in my teen urban fantasy/YA paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon US|  Amazon UK|   iBooks US UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords






PB1 Book Details
Length: 29,000 words
GenreYA Paranormal Romance / Teen Vampire Romance / Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy / Teen & YA Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy / Supernatural Romance / Fantasy Romance
Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things related to the Chosen One, vampires, slayers and witches!



By signing up to my mailing list, you will receive e-mails when I run free or discounted book offers and news on any new/upcoming releases. I won't bombard you with e-mails otherwise.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

My Bookish Pet Peeves (Part II)

In Part I of this post, I talked about my book-specific pet peeves, but there are a few other things that annoy me when it comes to books and reading, like other peoples' bookish pet peeves :) Again, I mean no offence to anyone; these are just things that peeve me off as a reader. Everyone is entitled to their own pet peeves, but its okay for people to find those thoughts annoying. As with Part I, I'm writing this post as a reader, a bookworm, not as an author.

So here they are, in no particular order of annoying-ness:

"I hate insta-love; it's just not possible. But shape-shifting werewolves are completely realistic!"

When readers say they hate insta-love (love at first sight between two characters) "because it's just not possible", I think to myself, "Because immortal vampires and shape-shifting werewolves are possible, right?" I find it funny that some readers will believe in mythical beings when they're reading fantasy, but not believe that these supernatural creatures can fall in love at first sight, too, that it's unrealistic for them to do so.

Personally, I don't have an issue with insta-love ~ I think it would be quite boring if characters in books only fell in love in just a limited number of ways, like friends first, then lovers, or bickering rivals first then lovers ~ and I don't think insta-love plot lines are as common as some readers think. Sometimes, people are so ready to say, "That's insta-love and I hate insta-love" that they miss the bit where the author is trying to convey that the character hasn't fallen in love at first sight, but they've instantly found someone physically attractive.

Insta-attraction happens all the time in real life. Who hasn't passed some hot guy or girl in the street and thought, "Wow, they're really cute!"? Does that mean we've fallen in love at first sight? No. Because we have indeed passed them on the street. We didn't spin in the opposite direction to where we were heading to run after them. But if this were someone you came into regular contact with, like if you were attracted to someone at work, then you might get all flustered and shy or whatever each time you saw them. It still doesn't mean it's love. Just attraction.

There's a book (I won't name it, so not to spoil it for you) where a vampire girl meets a human and finds him attractive, but because she's a vampire and all her reactions and emotions are magnified and intensified in her immortal life and body, the crush feels bigger than it actually is. She even goes on to say that she probably thinks he's simply cute but because everything is more intense for her, it feels epic, when in reality, it's just a little crush. That still didn't stop one reader from labelling that as insta-love. This review was the first that I noticed for this book where a reader thought insta-love was in play.

Wait. That's probably another pet peeve of mine ~ when readers label an interaction between two characters as insta-love when it's not that at all. :)




"I hate love triangles, but I loved the love triangle in Book X."

I don't have anything against love triangles in books or films; in fact, I love a good love triangle if it's done well. But a lot of readers hate love triangles and think it's over-done, esp. in YA fantasy/paranormal romance. That's fine. We don't all have to like the same thing.

But when readers say that authors only go with love triangles because "they can't think of anything else to add drama and conflict to their novel"... that assumption peeves me off. Because, unless we know the author and have asked them about the inclusion of a love triangle, we don't know why they wrote their story the way they did. Sorry, I do get a little sensitive when Stephenie Meyer gets criticised, don't I? :)

What annoys me even more is when readers say that they hate love triangles in general but loved it in only one book/series because it was "believable" and "made sense". Well, perhaps the issue isn't love triangles themselves, but the fact that most of the love triangles you've read about didn't make sense to you, or you didn't think they were well-executed? Or maybe, you just loved that one book so much that even the much hated love-triangle trope couldn't put you off?




"I'd have given this book 5-stars but Jane didn't end up with John like I'd 'shipped', so... 3.5-stars!"


This is linked to love triangles ~ despite readers' protests, authors/publishers are still churning out books with love triangles in them! When there are multiple love interests for a protagonist, it's now very common for camps to form amongst fans. Readers will 'ship' the lead character with the love interest that they like the best. Remember Team Edward vs. Team Jacob from the Twilight Saga? It's fun and gets readers talking about books. That's great!

But I get irritated when I see reviews where readers specifically rate a book down because their 'ship' didn't work out in the end. Even if it made sense for the protagonist or for the series as a whole. If it makes sense and makes for a good ending, the book shouldn't be rated down only because you didn't 'ship' the couple that was 'endgame'. Everyone is different, and we're attracted to different things, so it's natural that we might not prefer the love interest that the lead character chooses, because, well, their tastes in men/women are different to ours.

And so what if the protagonist chose the person that wasn't best for them? It's their decision to make, and the author makes it for them based on what they believe the protagonist will do. Besides, do we humans always make the right choices when it comes to love, partners and relationships? No. Do we always love the people that are good for us? No. We love who we love.

In books, however, the protagonists usually end up choosing the person they love most and want most ~ and that person may not always be, on paper, right for them or the best person for them, but it's the person they think will make them happiest. So, I don't think it's fair to rate down an otherwise 4- or 5-star read just because you didn't fancy the same guy/girl as the hero/heroine.




"I'd have given this book 5-stars but John died in the end, so... 3.5-stars!"

When readers rate down a book only because a beloved character died towards the end of the novel or a series, it just peeves me off. Readers hate it even more if it's the love interest that dies. Don't get me wrong, I hated it when three of my favourite characters in Harry Potter were killed off by the end of the series, but I didn't mark the books down because of those deaths. Everything that happens in a book is for a reason and it's there for our reading experience. I think it's unfair to knock points off simply and only because you didn't agree/like it when the author did something they thought was necessary for the book.

At the same time, some readers criticise authors for not killing off characters when they think the author should have done so, because "it's a dangerous world and it's unrealistic for every important character to survive".

Apparently, Stephenie Meyer said she doesn't want to write a sequel(s) to her sci-fi novel The Host because it's set in a dangerous world and important, beloved characters would have to die to make it realistic and she didn't want to kill her darlings. So, she decided not to write a sequel (yet). And readers have criticised her for that, saying that she should be brave enough to do what's necessary. Yes, she has to be really brave, seen as there are some who will unfairly rate her sequels down if one of the characters she kills off is a favourite of theirs. As far as I'm concerned, Stephenie can decide not to write a sequel for whatever reason. It's her choice. Obviously, I'm Team Stephenie all the way :)

So, that's it from me for now. Here are some popular BookTubers sharing their bookish pet peeves if you're interested in watching:

Katytastic
Jesse The Reader
PeruseProject

Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, Chasing Pavements (Soulmates Saga, Book 1) click here to learn more about it.


Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 

Book Details
Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction

Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.


And the first two books in my teen urban fantasy/YA paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon US|  Amazon UK|   iBooks US UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords






PB1 Book Details
Length: 29,000 words
GenreYA Paranormal Romance / Teen Vampire Romance / Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy / Teen & YA Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy / Supernatural Romance / Fantasy Romance
Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things related to the Chosen One, vampires, slayers and witches!



By signing up to my mailing list, you will receive e-mails when I run free or discounted book offers and news on any new/upcoming releases. I won't bombard you with e-mails otherwise.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

My Bookish Pet Peeves (Part I)

Authors are avid readers, too. Well, most of us are. And when we read, we read wearing many hats. Sometimes we wear the Author Hat ~ we look at the book as a author/writer. This is when we admire and envy the language and style of writing, or shake our heads and roll our eyes at poor editing (or the lack of any editing) or wonder why a book clearly hasn't been proofread.

We also put on the Reader Hat ~ when we're like the average bookworm or fiction enthusiast, and we get immersed in the story and let it entertain us. When we're just a reader, we can have issues with the plot, the characters and other aspects of the book, similar to most book fans everywhere. And we can have bookish pet peeves, just like the typical reader. So, I thought I'd share some of my pet peeves this week.

I'm writing this post as a reader and lover of books, not as an author. I mean no offence with this post. These are just some of the bookish things that annoy me and it's fine if they don't irritate you, or even if these are your favourite bookish things. Just my opinion. You are, like me, entitled to have your own thoughts and pet peeves! But do comment below if these things peeve you off, too.

Now, without further ado, here are my book-related pet peeves, in no particular order of how much they annoy me:

Is this the first or third book in the series? It's not clear on the cover or in the front/back matter, grr! 

So, you're at the library or bookstore and you've picked up a book you think you're going to enjoy reading. You're pretty sure it's part of a series ~ it might even say so on the cover e.g. "A Poison Blood Novel" ~ but it doesn't say anywhere on the book where this novel falls within the series! You have to use Google or go to your Goodreads profile, type in the name of the book to find out if it's the first or second in a series. If it's book 1, great! But if it's not the series opener and you can't find the first book of the series nearby, you just wasted precious book browsing time doing research!

This issue is more common with print editions; e-books tend to include these details on the retailer's website.




Why was this story dragged out into a trilogy when it could have been told in one book?

I think there are readers that like a good long series, to spend more time with characters that they have grown to love, and explore a world that fascinates them, but I think that if a story is best told as a standalone, it shouldn't be dragged out into a trilogy (or more).

It's different with e-books, though. These are usually priced low, so you might end up spending less on an entire 4-, 5- or 6-book e-book series than you do on one print paperback book. It's annoying spending up to $30/£30 on hardback or paperback editions of a series that you thought could have been told in a standalone.




So, married men only have affairs if they have problems at home? Really?

This isn't specific to books. Films do it, too. And I'm just fed up and bored of this. Every book I've read in the last few years where a married man has an affair with another woman ~ and I mean affair, not a one-night stand; you know, sneaking around, meeting in hotels, secret texts and calls etc. ~ it is when the wife is bossy or nagging or doesn't understand or appreciate him. Basically, the marriage is on the rocks or heading there, and so the husband seeks solace in another woman's arms.

I guess authors do this so that the readers don't hate the male lead too much, so they sympathise with him even when he's doing something very wrong ~ "Can you blame him? His wife was horrible to him!" ~ but does it have to be like that in every book where there's an affair?

I'm sure there are books where a husband or wife stumbles into an extra-marital affair even when they are quite happily married ~ and I'm sure it happens in real life, too ~ but I just haven't read one like that.




How sweet, Little Miss Perfect is adored by all apart from one girl ~ her love rival. Ugh!

This is becoming less common in newer releases, but I've read loads of books where the female lead is liked by everyone, apart from the one mean girl at school, who happens to be the love rival. The heroine is so lovely and perfect that no one has a bad thing to say about her, and if she hadn't caught the hero's eye, the mean girl would have befriended her, too! So unrealistic.

Oh great, I can just skip to the end of the book to see how it ends because the blurb's given me a good run-down of what happens in the first two thirds of the book! Not!

I hate writing detailed blurbs/book descriptions for my novels, because I want readers to discover the story as the characters do, with each chapter. I don't want to give hardly anything away in the blurb, but I know it's a necessary evil that I have to conform to :) And with a heavy heart, I've started writing book descriptions that summarise a big chunk of the story line because that's what is expected by the market. But I'm not very happy about doing it! :)




In the same way, when I'm browsing through iBooks, the Kindle Store, or my local library, I don't like it when the blurb tells me the whole story, bar the ending. A good example is the blurb for The Substitute by Denise Grover Swank. I may have enjoyed the book more if the description hadn't summarised the first three quarters of the novel. What's worse, I had to follow a similar formula when I wrote the blurb for my book If I Say Yes (Love & Alternatives, Book 1).

So, those were my book-specific pet peeves, but there are a few other things that annoy me, as a reader, when it comes to books, like other peoples' bookish pet peeves :) I'll talk about those in Part II of this post next week.

Thank you for reading this post. If you're interested in my debut novel, Chasing Pavements (Soulmates Saga, Book 1) click here to learn more about it.


Like all my other books, it's also available on:
iBooks   |   B&N Nook   |   Kobo |   Smashwords 

Book Details
Length: 110,000 words
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Clean Romance / Diverse Romance / Interracial Romance / Romantic Drama / Women’s Fiction

Mood: Inspirational / Feel Good / Coming of Age / Dark
Content: Sexy but No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: New Adult & College / Adult / Female Readers

Recommended for: Readers that enjoy romance novels with serious issues and characters with depth. This is a story about life, love, friendship, family, music, art, destiny and soul mates.


And the first two books in my teen urban fantasy/YA paranormal romance series, the Poison Blood series, can be downloaded for free via:

Amazon US|  Amazon UK|   iBooks US UK   |   B&N Nook Store   |   Smashwords






PB1 Book Details
Length: 29,000 words
GenreYA Paranormal Romance / Teen Vampire Romance / Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy / Teen & YA Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy / Supernatural Romance / Fantasy Romance
Mood: Dark / Humorous / Coming of age
Content: No violence / No explicit sex scenes / No erotica
Audience: Teen / Young Adult / New Adult / Adult
Recommended for: Readers that love all things related to the Chosen One, vampires, slayers and witches!



By signing up to my mailing list, you will receive e-mails when I run free or discounted book offers and news on any new/upcoming releases. I won't bombard you with e-mails otherwise.