After yesterday’s stats and lists, as promised, here’s the more interesting part – a few thoughts on the specific books I’ve loved, hated or had some other strong reaction to. Each entry links to my review on Goodreads for anyone feeling particularly interested:
Sadly I can’t say there was any one book this year that really blew me away or that I’d add to my all times favourites list. The Wise Man’s Fear came close however. It’s proper, full-on epic fantasy. It’s one of the few books on this list that I read in hardback rather than e-book, and ironically probably the one that would have most benefited from being read on my Kindle, as I nearly broke my wrists trying to lift it. It’s the sort of book you can seriously geek out to (I might have visited the odd forum speculating about how the series is going to end..) but at the same time, it’s incredibly funny and well written. In many ways its very different, but as a rough guide, if you like a Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) you’ll probably like this.
This also wins the “most desperately awaiting the sequel” award.
My runner up would be Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which created an entire history of English magic and had some truly amazing scenes, but dragged a bit too much for me to truly love it.
Biggest Disappointment (or the “I’ve been meaning to read this for ages and now I wish I hadn’t bothered” award)
In the case of the first one, various people told me that if I liked modern fantasy (which as the above shows, I really do) this was a must-read. In the end I just couldn’t get into it at all and have no intention of reading the sequel.
The second was almost the opposite. I’ve never read much sci-fi and wanted a book to lead me in gently. Everyone seemed to recommend this, but instead of playing around with genre conventions (like all my favourite fantasy) this just seemed to embrace them. I am however planning to give the sequel, The Player of Games, a whirl, as both its synopsis and its reviews suggest something much more to my tastes.
The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy also deserves an honourable mention in this category, for demonstrating to me that what’s hilarious in a weekly 200 word newspaper column doesn’t necessarily work as a full length novel.
Most conflicted review
Girl Reading. Basically, this seems like a collection of short stories, but the author is keen for it to be taken as an artistic whole. Some of the segments were painfully dull, others were some of the best things I’ve read in years. The author was clearly incredibly talented, but this, her first book, just didn’t quite work for me. I could easily have given this anything between 2 stars and 5 stars with a straight face. As a bit of a cop out, I went for 3. Read the review for more details. It’s probably also the review I’m proudest of.
The “Giving this two stars is breaking my heart” award / the “ruining teenage memories” award.
LJ Smith is one of my top ten favourite authors and that it was the original Vampire Diaries trilogy that, way back in my teens, first got me into vampire fiction. I re-read them last year, and despite them being aimed at teenagers and despite the fact that I’ve read tons of other vampire books since, I still loved them.
And then I discovered that a new trilogy had been written.
I’d heard bad things, so I stayed away for a long time but finally I could resist no longer. In the case of 5 and 6, if they’d been written by someone else and not meant as part of the series, they’d have been okay. Not a patch on the earlier ones, but respectable enough paranormal fiction. And then I read 7, and God help me, it’s just a bad book, plain and simple. I gave it two stars, my lowest rating of the year. And this is an author I’ve sent fan mail to in the past. It almost made me want to cry. On the positive side, another of the author’s books, The Forbidden Game, was my only re-read and my only five star review.
The “What the hell? Did I write this and then forget I’d done so?” award
Oxford Whispers (Not to be confused with Oxford Blood)
I was searching for my book on Amazon (as let’s face it, authors are wont to do) and I found this in the search listings.
- Set at Oxford University- check
- “fish out of water” female lead – check
- Historical English Civil War aspect – check
- Paranormal themes – check
- Posh boy love interest – check
I showed my boyfriend the Amazon page, and his response was “are you sure you didn’t write that?”
Anyway, I’ve since read it, and it’s a fun read, especially if you like Oxford and the Civil War and sexy posh boys, which I really rather do. And it’s not about vampires at all, but rather ghosts and voodoo, and the story isn’t actually very similar at all, but the superficial similarities are still enough to blow my mind.
So have you read any of these books? Do you whole heartedly agree with my thoughts or are you unable to believe I have such awful taste?!