Top Ten New To Me Authors I Read in 2017

The theme for this weeks Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and the Bookish is top ten books from 2017 but, as 2017 isn’t over yet (and because I’m a bit of a rebel… haha I wish), I’ve decided to switch around a couple of top tens and do the top ten new to me authors I read in 2017. Looking through my list I don’t think many of these are new authors, I’m just really slow in discovering how great all of those existing authors are despite being told numerous times.


1 Sally Thorne (The Hating Game)The Hating Game

So the first one on my list actually is a new author. I read her first novel The Hating Game in February this year and absolutely adored it, so much so I’ve re read it I don’t know how many times since (here’s my fangirly review). It’s a contemporary romance and is one of the freshest and funniest ones I’ve ever come across. It may not be wholly unique in story but Thorne’s writing really lifts it. I’m anxiously awaiting her next book which I think is due in Summer next year.


2. Gail Honeyman (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine)Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Yep another new author, Honeyman wrote another of my favorite books of the year, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. This was a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own but was chosen for my real life book club and I’m so glad it was. It was one of those books I knew from the very first page I was going to absolutely love. It’s hilarious, heartbreaking, touching, sad but also somehow hopeful. There are a couple of elements in the story which are a little unbelievable but who cares.


3. E Lockhart (Genuine Fraud, We Were Liars)We Were Liars

I bought a copy of We Were Liars years ago but kept putting off reading it, I think because of the vagueness of the blurb and all of the hype around it. I finally got the push to read it when I heard Lockhart was coming to Glasgow to promote a special edition and also her new book Genuine Fraud and I’m so glad I did because it absolutely blew me away. It was completely different from what I was expecting and just very unique. Reading Genuine Fraud was a similar story. It may not be a wholly unique plot but the way that it’s told in reverse certainly is. It’s very cleverly done.


4. Ryan Graudin (Invictus)Invictus

This is another author whose book I had sitting lurking on my kindle. In fairness I still haven’t read Wolf by Wolf (although I plan to) but I did get the opportunity to read Invictus and wow. I have a lot of admiration for any author who writes a book about time travel. There’s all of the research to realistically create multiple historical time periods added to that the science and rules around time travel and, in this case, also creating a futuristic world where all of this is possible. Graudin absolutely smashes it all and somehow also creates a cast of characters who I want to hang out with. Brilliant.


5. Andy Weir (Artemis)Artemis

Speaking of authors who somehow manage to work a lot of complex information into an action packed story, Andy Weir has an incredible knack for this. I’ve only read Artemis so far but it really impressed me how much science and technical information he managed to fit into what is essentially an Ocean’s Eleven style heist story. I know this book has had some criticism for its characterization but just the level of detail and research he must have done (unless he is a genius and already knew it all) was unbelievable. What’s even less believable is that I actually understood most of it. That is definitely a talent 🙂


6. Fredrik Backman (The Scandal / Beartown)Beartown

I know Backman has been around for a while but until this year I didn’t have any inclination to read any of his books, they just didn’t sound like my thing. When Beartown popped up on NetGalley however and I saw lots of my fellow reviewers raving over it I couldn’t resist. As far as I understand the style of Beartown is not Backman’s usual but I really loved it. It’s very episodic, switching between characters sometimes within the page. It took a little getting used to but once I did I thought it worked perfectly. Backman created very real characters but more than that he also gave a real sense of the community. It may have been set in a completely different country but it reminded me a lot of my home and upbringing.


7. Joe Hill (Strange Weather, The Fireman)Strange Weather

As someone who’s always looking for a decent horror I kind of feel like I should have read Joe Hill before now. Again it was the fact that I was going to get to meet him that finally gave me the push to pick up the Fireman. I have to confess I still haven’t finished it but I did enjoy the writing, so much so that I requested a copy of his brilliant novella collection, Strange Weather from NetGalley. It’s a really great read and shows just how talented a writer he is. The way he crams so much characterization and story into so few pages.


8. Neil Gaiman (The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Stardust)The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Yeah this is embarrassing, until around 9 months ago I’d never read a single Neil Gaiman and I’m pretty sure the only reason I finally did was because it fit a challenge I was taking part in. I absolutely loved The Ocean at the End of the Lane, it was so completely different than what I was expecting. So much darker, more grown up and just creepier. I will admit I didn’t love Stardust quite as much when I read it (I think I love the film too much) but he really has a great imagination and is a wonderful story teller.

 


9. Amor Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow)A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow was a book I requested from NetGalley, got approved for and then had second thoughts about. If you follow my blog you’ll know I’m very wary of historical fiction so it’s a bit of a mystery why I requested it (I’m assuming it was the pretty cover). I eventually ended up reading it as part of a structured group read on GoodReads and it completely amazed me. It’s slow paced, heavy on description and very little happens but despite these all being things I hate I fell in love with it. What Towles excels at is creating very vivid places and people. I could visualize every room in that hotel and every single character, flaws and all. The descriptions of the food also made me incredibly hungry. Truly beautiful writing.


10. Holly Bourne (How Do You Like Me Now)

Why did no one tell me I should read Holly Bourne’s books? I very recently finished How Do You Like Me Now and honestly it absolutely wowed me. It was like she had looked directly into my mind and put my thoughts into the head of the main character. So real and so relateable. I was expecting light and fluffy chick lit but while this has it’s funny moments and is very enjoyable it has a lot of real messages running through it and a really strong feminism vibe. This book just spoke to me so much and I’m currently hunting down every other book Bourne has written.


So those are my 10 favorite new to me authors of 2017. Are you a fan of any of them? Have you discovered any great authors this year?

Feel free to leave comments below and links to your own top ten’s.

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Teaser Tuesday: 12th December 2017

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.


This week my teaser comes from Still Me by Jojo Moyes, the sequel to the sequel to Me Before You. I’m a huge fan of Moyes and think I’ve read just about everything she’s ever written so I was ridiculously excited to win an advance copy of this from the publisher (as well as a tote bag and bookmark). I’m around half way through and really enjoying. It’s so good to have Lou back.

Note: my teaser is spoiler free (ish) but the blurb contains spoilers for previous books in the series.


My Teaser

For the first time since I had come to work for the Gopniks, the weekend stretched out in front of me like an interminable journey over bleak terrain.

So I did what every girl does, when they are far from home, and a little sad. I ate half a packet of chocolate digestives, and I called my mother.

~ Pg 194 Still Me by Jojo Moyes


BlurbStill Me (Me Before You, #3)

From the sensational #1 New York Times bestselling author Jojo Moyes, a new book featuring her iconic heroine of Me Before Youand After You, Louisa Clark.

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

Review: My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner

My Side of the Diamond
My Side of the Diamond
by Sally Gardner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of the most unusual stories I’ve ever read.


THE BLURB

An extraordinary tale about the search for love from the acclaimed Costa and Carnegie winning novelist Sally Gardner.

Jazmin has been shunned ever since her best friend Becky disappeared. But Becky didn’t just disappear – she jumped off a tall building and seemingly never reached the ground. It was as if she simply vanished into thin air. Did Jazmin have something to do with her disappearance? Or was it more to do with Icarus, so beguiling and strangely ever youthful, with whom Becky became suddenly besotted . . .

With detailed and intriguing black and white illustrations throughout.


MY REVIEW

This is possibly one of the most bizarre and down right weird books I think I’ve ever come across and while that might put a lot of people off it’s actually the thing I loved the most about it. It took me a little while to figure out what the heck was going on but once I did I found it fascinating.

Where it went wrong for me was the form the story took. Rather than being in the moment it’s told through a series of interviews with the various characters involved in the events. This might have been okay except for the fact you never hear the questions asked, there are a lot of different narrators telling their stories and it jumps around in time. It is very cleverly done but this reflection on events which in some cases happened many years previously left me feeling distanced from them and from the characters. For me to love a book I need the closeness and the connection and that never happened.

I was curious about what had happened and very intrigued as to who the interviewer was and why he was looking into the story but I wasn’t emotionally invested. I didn’t particularly like or relate to any of the characters and I didn’t fully buy into the relationships between them. The romances are very sudden and I didn’t feel any connection or chemistry to make them seem believable.

There were elements that fascinated me, there were parts that confused the heck out of me and there was even the odd creepy moment but unfortunately as a whole I have to say it didn’t do it for me.

It hasn’t put me off Gardner’s writing, I love how unique her stories are, but this was a little disappointing.

I won a copy of this book from ReadersFirst. This has not influenced my review.

WWW Wednesday: 6th December 2017

The WWW Wednesday meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently ReadingEverything Is Lies

I started Everything is Lies by Helen Callaghan at the end of last week but had to park it to read a book for book club but now I’m back focused on it again. I loved the author’s previous book Dear Amy so I was very happy to be offered an ARC of this. It’s a thriller about a woman who discovers her parents after a suspected attempted murder / suicide. She doesn’t believe it and begins to dig into their past discovering that there’s a lot of things she didn’t know about her mother.

I’m around two thirds of the way through this as of this morning and am really enjoying it. Because it is an e-ARC there are some formatting issues (there are sections out of order) which mean I’m losing the flow a bit it’s still a really tense and engaging read.


Recently Finished

Goodbye, Perfect

Three books finished this week, the first of which was Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard. As always I loved Barnard’s writing and it’s a very readable book but I had a general uneasiness about the student teacher relationship featured in the story. Thankfully it’s not the MC who gets involved with her teacher (it’s her best friend) but I still found it a little bit uncomfortable to read.

I did love the complexity of the characters and I was also very happy to see some under represented characters and issues featured, I just wish there had been a little more focus on them and a little less on that icky relationship.

The Muse

The second book finished was The Muse by Jessie Burton. This was this month’s real life book club book and consequently not one I probably would have picked myself. It does have a very pretty cover and, being the superficial person I am, I was tempted by that but was a little put off by the historical fiction thing.

I did find it a bit of a struggle in the beginning, it’s very heavy on descriptions and one character has an odd accent that appears and vanishes but I did find myself becoming sucked in to the story. I wouldn’t necessarily say I liked any of the characters but there was something intriguing about it and I am happy I read it.

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1)The third and final book finished this week was La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. I have a physical copy of this but due to lack of time I ended up getting the CD’s from the library and listening it to in the car. As a result I think it’s taken me almost four weeks to finish it which probably stopped me becoming fully invested in the story. I did like it a lot and Michael Sheen does a brilliant job as narrator but I didn’t love it as much as I hoped I would. I didn’t fully connect with any of the characters and therefore wasn’t really emotionally engaged which for me is necessary for something to be a five star read. Maybe my views would have been different if I’d read it.


Reading Next

I found out last Friday that I’ve won an advance proof of Still Me by Jojo Moyes so I’m ridiculously excited and watching my letterbox for possibly the best book mail ever. If it appears I will be abandoning whatever I’m reading and picking it up immediately. Failing that I think I will probably be looking for a light and fluffy romance. December is unfortunately a super busy month at work for me so I don’t think I’ll be able to focus on anything more complex. I’m thinking either When It’s Real or It Only Happens in the Movies (I have a suspicion the latter may not be that light and fluffy).

Still Me (Me Before You, #3)When It's RealIt Only Happens in the Movies

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Wednesday Everyone!!!

Ten Bookish Settings I’d Love to Visit

The theme for this weeks Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and the Bookish is top ten bookish settings you’d love to visit. I have to admit I’ve found this one a bit difficult as I read quite a lot of dystopians and thrillers and who really wants to visit any of the places in those types of books. I was kinda tempted to include The Hunger Games, the food, clothes and hairstyles in the Capital do sound pretty good, but I’m not sure about the entertainment choices.

Anyway, here are 10 places I’d kinda like to see.


1 Diagon Alley (Harry Potter Series)

I have a sneaky suspicion that the wizarding world of Harry Potter might crop up in quite a few posts this week (I could fill the whole top ten with Harry Potter places) so I may as well put it up front. I was a little bit tempted to go with Hogwarts but I think I’m a little too old for school so where I really want to visit is Diagon Alley, otherwise known as shopping heaven.

alley GIF

I mean joke shops and owl emporiums sound pretty fun and I do need to go pick a broomstick, some robes for swishing, maybe a wand, a cauldron and some other magical junk. I also really, really want to go to Flourish and Blotts although I suspect I would never leave. And I suppose if I get the munchies I could always nip into the sweetshop or go to the Leaky Cauldron for some butter beer… mmmm.

2. Artemis (Artemis)

Space, the final frontier, these are the voyages of the book addict Ali. OK maybe not but a colony on the moon does sound like it would be pretty cool.

Image result for moon colony

I’m not sure it’s somewhere I’d want to live (I think it’d be a bit claustrophobic) but would be fun for a visit. I’d like to have a bounce around on the surface of the moon, be able to lift really heavy objects due to low gravity and see the site where Neil Armstrong supposedly took his first steps.

3. Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park)

I know they had a few issues with health and safety but I live with a very violent fluffy monster so I’m sure I’d be fine and really what’s the worst that could happen…

jurassic park GIF

Some of the dino’s were pretty cute and from memory of the film the food looked pretty good.

4. Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle)

Obviously I’d rather go after it’s had a bit of a clean, cos ya know it sounded a bit manky at the start of the book (and I hate cleaning) but I do love the idea of a castle with a door that opens into different places and that just kind of wanders around.

howls moving castle GIF

5. Gomorrah (Daughter of the Burning City)

There were also a few health and safety issues at this travelling circus/city and I would not want to go near any acts involving animals (they’re cruel) but I would be kinda tempted by the food stalls which sounded amazing (are you spotting a bit of a theme here).

6. The Library (The Invisible Library)

It’s a library so of course I want to go for that reason alone

beauty and the beast book GIF

but add to that the fact that time doesn’t really pass in the Library (you don’t get any older) and you have access to different realities (and their books) and it could be heaven.

7. Invictus (Invictus)

Time machine, do I need to say anything else? OK, red panda??? I really, really want to join the crew of the Invictus on one of their thieving adventures or even just on their vacations. They sound like such a fun group and while conditions may be a little bit cramped I don’t mind snuggling a red panda.

nathan fillion firefly GIF
I don’t have a pic so here’s a Firefly gif

8. The Metropol Hotel (A Gentleman in Moscow)

An actual real place this time (although who’s to say the previous ones don’t exist), The Metropol Hotel in Moscow is where Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in 1922. It’s a grand and luxurious hotel with fine food and drink, shops and with it’s proximity to the Kremlin it’s frequented by some of the most famous residents and visitors to Moscow. I’m not sure they’d let me in but I wouldn’t mind a little bit of luxury and reading this book made me so hungry for the food.

Image result for the metropol hotel moscow

9. The Red Abbey (Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff)

A little less luxurious than the Metropol hotel, I still kind of like the idea of the island with the Red Abbey. I don’t mind mucking in and doing a bit of work and with no men it would be quite good for a proper girly holiday.

10. Strand Bookstore, NY (Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares)

Shockingly I have never been to New York but it’s somewhere I’ve always been desperate to visit especially at Christmas. I did have quite a few books to choose from to get me there but I really, really loved the New York from Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. They seemed to go all over and find all of these little hidden gems including what sounds like the most awesome bookshop.

Image result for images of strand bookstore new york

I mean look at that sign, “miles of books” who doesn’t want to go. Also you never know, maybe some handsome stranger will have left a notebook for me to find.


So that’s my 10 bookish settings I want to visit. Would any of these make your list or do you have somewhere even better?

Feel free to leave comments below and links to your own top ten’s.

Teaser Tuesday: 5th December 2017

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.


This week my teaser comes from The Muse by Jessie Burton. This is not my usual type of read, it’s historical fiction, but it’s this month’s real life book club book and there is definitely something tempting about that cover. I did find it a little difficult to get into and having now finished it I’m not sure I liked it but it did turn into quite an engrossing read.


My Teaser

Her body was taut, every muscle tensed on her spare frame, the set of her jaw fixed as hard as the stone satyr in the fountain. She inhaled deeply and pulled the trigger.

~ Pg 275 The Muse by Jessie Burton


BlurbThe Muse

A picture hides a thousand words . . .

On a hot July day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the stone steps of the Skelton gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change forever. Having struggled to find her place in the city since she arrived from Trinidad five years ago, she has been offered a job as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn’t know she had, she remains a mystery – no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.

The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise come artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences . . .

Review: Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan

Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan
Hold Back The Stars
by Katie Khan

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

More of a love story than a space adventure, this story may not be for everyone but I have to praise it for being so completely unique and yet so completely real.


THE BLURB

Ninety minutes.

A few years from now, not too far in the future, two people meet.

It is a classic story of boy meets girl.

Except that it’s not.

When we find them, they have an hour and a half left.

Unless they can save themselves, they won’t survive.

The clock is ticking.


MY REVIEW

It seems to have taken me forever to come up with a review for this as my thoughts on it have been and, a few weeks later, remain rather muddled.

Firstly I want to say that I absolutely loved it for its originality. In fact, I was so drawn to the concept behind it that I somehow ended up both buying a copy and requesting it from NetGalley (I forgot I already owned it). There was something about the idea of a man and woman adrift in space with only 90 minutes of air left and almost no hope of salvation that really appealed to me. Space has always seemed so big and terrifying to me and the thought of being adrift…. wow.

However, if you’re expecting a tense and nail biting fight for survival similar to Gravity or The Martian I fear you will be disappointed. While there is some attempt to save themselves the majority of the story is spent with Max and Carys reflecting back on their relationship. Interspersed with the current time, and their rapidly diminishing air supply, we get flashbacks to their first meeting and all of the ups and downs of their romance, leading up to how they ended up in their current predicament.

The story of their time together does make for a fascinating story and combining that with some truly incredible world building really did engage me but given how little air they had remaining I couldn’t help but think, shouldn’t you be trying harder and focusing more on that?

I felt there should have been more tension. The portrayal of their relationship is wonderfully real and the story is truly heartbreaking at times but I found it difficult to reconcile this leisurely stroll through their past with the thought of their rapidly approaching deaths.

Added to this I have to admit that I didn’t particularly take to either Max or Carys. The characters are believable and well rounded but Carys was too insecure and needy and Max too committed to his beliefs and unwilling to compromise. They do balance each other out in many ways but I never really got behind them as a couple and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was worth it (although maybe I’m just too much of a cynic).

The biggest highlight of this story for me was probably the world the author created. Set in the future it’s so incredibly well thought out and believable. There’s no info dumping but rather all of the details around the state of the world, the political situation and belief systems are revealed gradually and in a very natural way. I liked this idea that their are no real nationalities or religion but rather everyone is encouraged to be an individual, although it did seem a tad lonely and a selfish way of existing.

The pacing of the story is a little bit on the slow side but the writing does make it very readable and it was yet another I found difficult to put down. The ending when it comes is like a lot of the book, a little confusing, a lot unique but ultimately felt right.

Overall I have to say I loved how unusual this book was and also how real it was. I just wish there had been a little more tension and passion to it. If you’re looking for a sci fi space type story I don’t think this will necessarily be for you but if you like unique love stories this may be perfect. I know I will definitely be looking out for more from this author.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.