Best books of 2017
My top list of 2017 isn’t just books published this year but a look at books that I read for the first time and made life better in the last 12 months. I hope you enjoy my choices and treat yourself to one or two along the way.
Here’s to a happy 2018!
You’ll have seen Denise Mina pop up on plenty ‘books of the year’ lists from bloggers to broadsheets and it deserves every one of them.
Based on true events, The Long Drop unfurls the many questions behind why William Watt went drinking with the rapist Peter Manual, the man thought to have murdered his wife, her sister and their daughter.
Atmospheric and tense The Long Drop is everything you could ask for in a crime novel. Mina’s vivid characters and wonderful descriptions of Glasgow make this book unmissable reading.
Buy your copy of The Long Drop
I’ve had people telling me to read this book for as long as I can remember and I pushed it to the top of my pile this year so I could read it before the television series started. Now I loved the series but the book is in a class of its own.
In a future where so few women can conceive, handmaidens are commonplace to ‘assist’ the women of higher society. With her rights quashed and fight tamed, Offred is given two choices, become a handmaiden or be hung. If she wants to live, she must do so quietly and in the shadows. Yet Offred’s spirit can’t be tamed for good, her mind is free and she soon sees something she wants for herself.
Sadly, in the current political climate, this novel is more relevant than ever. It’s easy to see why handmaids have been popping up at protests across America.
Buy your copy of The Handmaid’s Tale
The Bear and the Nightingale will be a joy to anyone with a love for classic folklore and fairy tales (think less Disney, more Russian winters).
Vasya is brought up in the woods, a wild girl, roaming among the spirits of the woods. The old tales of magic in the forest are frowned upon by the new religion but Vasya knows there’s more to the stories than just make believe. Because she’s the only one who sees the spirits all around.
I read this right at the beginning of 2017 so it already feels like a long time ago but yay for 2018 as the follow-up, The Girl in the Tower, hits shops in January.
Buy your copy of The Bear and the Nightingale
This was one of my last reads of the year and how I wish I had read it over Halloween as it would have been completely perfect! As a lover of everything dark and Gothic, this novel ticks all my boxes. Creepy house – tick, weird dolls – tick, black cat – tick, witches – tick, old diaries – tick. It’s like Laura Purcell has written this book just for me and surprise, surprise, I loved it. The Silent Companions is creepy Gothic perfection.
Buy your copy of The Silent Companions
Set during the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle back in 1999, this novel perfectly captures the pulsing tension of an uprising for various viewpoints. The main character is Victor, a young man who ran away from home after his mother died. His father is also in the crowd but to say any more would be a spoiler. From anger and violence to forgiveness and hope, this novel captures it all. I just hope there’s more to come soon from Sunil Yapa because this left me heartbroken in the best possible way.
Buy your copy of Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
Welcome to a future where pregnancy is shared. How? Well thanks to the FullLife pouch, babies needn’t be put through the danger of being reliant on another body and the joys of carrying a baby can be shared by both.
What started as a technology to assist women, soon becomes something that is used against them. The creator of the pouch sees her mistake but knows it’s gone too far and becomes a recluse, hiding from the world she’s created. But when whispers of tragedy begin to spread it’s down to a natural birth campaigner to uncover the truth.
Helen Sedgwick’s all too easily imagined future really leaves you thinking for months after. Not just on the future of biological engineering and parenthood but on our reliance and trust in technology as a whole. Thought-provoking, evocative and beautifully written, there was no way The Growing Season wasn’t going to be on this list.
Buy your copy of The Growing Season
My non-fiction book of the year is Fragile Lives by Professor Stephen Westaby. He perfectly balances science, biology, emotion and progression within his stories of heart surgery. His passion to learn more, his slightly scary ego and his bleak outlook for the future of the NHS make this so much more than a bunch of medical cases. This is an incredible novel from a man who has touched thousands of lives and who I am sure will inspire may more with this book.
Buy your copy of Fragile Lives
Best graphic novels
I’ve read some incredible graphic novels this year. Locke and Key and Everything is Teeth to name a couple. These are heavy hitters but there were two stories that got under my skin and had me chomping at the bit for the next volume. The first up is Paper Girls.
The beautiful artwork is the perfect accompaniment to an incredible story. Within the first graphic novel, you meet four girls from very different background as they deliver on their paper round. From regular, early teen lives they’re plunged into a story of time travel, friendship and action. If you had any love for Netflix Stranger Things then you’ll adore this.
Buy your copy of Paper Girls
During the final 48 hours of 2017 (thanks to a stinking cold and the Comixology sale) I indulged in six volumes of Giant Days. There is something so wonderfully addictive about the everyday tales of three girls thrown together during uni life in Sheffield, that I just couldn’t put it down. The characters are wonderful, the stories are fun and fast, I just want every one of these ladies (and most of the men!) to be in my life. I’m hooked and can’t wait for volume seven!
Buy your copy of Giant Days
Best YA novel
Anyone who knows me knows that I adore tattoos (good ones that are, let us be honest, we’ve all seen a nightmare portrait or two) so when I saw Ink mentioned online it was instantly added to my reading list.
In a world where your life story is written on your skin in ink, a good life is remembered by having that skin turned in to a book. When Leora’s father dies she takes comfort in the fact that his book will live on and his story will be told. But when she discovers his skin has been changed, she knows someone had edited his life, but why? What secrets was he hiding?
Buy your copy of Ink
I downloaded Career of Evil on a whim as it popped up on an Audible daily deal early in 2017. I was expecting a decent story but I found myself trying to listen to it as much as I could. This is book three in Robert Galbraith / J.K. Rowling’s crime series but having not read the first two I thankfully never felt like I was missing important parts of the story. I loved the relationship between Cormoran Strike (c’mon, great name!) and his assistant Robin. Normally I find ‘will they, won’t they’ relationships grating but each of them is given a real depth of character that you can’t help but get drawn in. Oh and I almost forgot it’s all based on a leg that turns up in the mail.
The voice acting is great and the story is brilliant, I’ll definitely be back for more Cormoran Strike on audio.
Buy your copy of Career of Evil
Best children’s book
Every now and then someone will ask me why I still read children’s books. The Goldfish Boy is the perfect answer to that question.
Crippled by OCD, Matthew watches the streets comings and goings from his bedroom window. When a neighbour’s toddler, Teddy, goes missing it’s Matthew who was the last person to see him. As suspicion falls on him and people think he knows more than he’s letting on, he has to think back, keep watching and discover the truth for himself.
I adored everything about this book, the characters, the story, the setting, the pace, it’s just perfect!
Buy your copy of The Goldfish Boy
Well, there you have it, my look back at my bookish highlights of 2017! There will be a new laptop in my future very soon, so you’ll be hearing more from me in 2018.