Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books of 2017

This week’s TTT, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is about our favourite books of the year so far. I’m going by what I’ve read this year as opposed to sticking solely to books published in 2017 (although most of these were). They’re not in order because that’s just too hard. Picking just 10 books from everything I’ve read this year was tricky enough!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I adored this book, its central character, the way it surprised me; you can read my review here. I’ve seen a lot of talk about it on Twitter too which makes me very happy.

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
This completely astonishing YA book has stayed in my brain all year; teen Mary and her messed-up story of being jailed for the murder of a baby is unlikely to leave me any time soon. Here’s my review.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli
I am in love with this beautiful book of inspirational women, and very happy to be reading it with my daughter for a second time.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill
I remain horrified that this didn’t make the Baileys shortlist. It’s a devastatingly gorgeous, sometimes traumatising story of two orphans and a circus, and that description in no way does it justice.

Augustown by Kei Miller
A really striking depiction of a small town in Jamaica, showing poverty, racism and family divisions. I really recommend this book.

The March trilogy by John Lewis
This set of graphic novels depicts the Civil Rights Movement, from the perspective of longtime Congressman John Lewis, who played a leading role in the fight for equality. Everything about these books is outstanding; the art, the storytelling style and the way in which the facts are presented.

The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan
Hard to get into, but ultimately a very absorbing and epic story of horse-racing, prejudice and families. I still feel like this should have won the Baileys prize.

Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood by Hollie McNish
Excellent collection of poetry and prose, based around McNish’s experiences of pregnancy and motherhood. It’s all so relatable and real; I wish I’d had this when I was going through the early days of parenthood.

Here I Stand, edited by Amnesty International
This is a sometimes disturbing but always compelling collection of short stories based around human rights. I’ll be using it at school next year in conjunction with Amnesty’s excellent lesson resources.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
A superb mix of magical realism and topical coverage of the refugee crisis, this really grabbed my attention and pulled on my heartstrings. It’s a gorgeous book.

Have you read any of these books? Or are you tempted? Please link me to your lists in the comments. It’s not like I’ve already got a zillion books to read…

Top Ten Tuesday: Interesting Fictional Dads

This week’s TTT, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish is a Fathers’ Day special. Incidentally, does this mean Fathers’ Day is the same in the US and UK, when Mothers’ Day is on completely different days? Weird. Anyway, I’m going for a vague ‘Interesting Dads’ theme because I didn’t feel like restricting myself to good or bad ones.

Samuel Hawley from The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
Hawley’s a lifelong outlaw, always on the run and often absent from this daughter’s life. He’s not a particularly good dad, but he’s a very protective one with the kind of backstory that would scare off any potential son-in-law.

Maverick Carter from The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I reckon Maverick will pop up in a few lists this week. He’s an interesting, imperfect father figure. He cares deeply about his family but is also heavily invested in his community and loyal to his neighbourhood, even when that conflicts with his paternal duties.

Lord Capulet from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
I think I brought up his missus on the recent mothers-themed list, but Lord Capulet deserves a mention for being a rubbish parent too. He starts the play appearing to care about Juliet, putting off a potential suitor by claiming she’s too young for marriage, but later shows all this to have been a scam when he berates Juliet for not just doing as he says. He is awful.

Danny’s Dad from Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
Reading this book as an adult, I was appalled at the way Danny’s dad (the poacher who leaves his young child unattended every night to COMMIT CRIMES) is romanticised. I hope that when Danny grew up he realised his dad was a disturbingly neglectful, if well-intentioned parent.

Olive’s Dad from Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle
This is a very recent read. I really liked Olive’s dad, principally because of his penchant for waking up his family by loudly reciting poetry at them first thing in the morning.

Kevin’s Dad from Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge
Another recent read, this verse novel was a real find for me and I will be inflicting it on an unsuspecting class next year. Kevin, the main character, lives alone with his dad after the death of his mum. His dad’s a writer and basically just the cutest.

Dill’s Dad from The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
This dude was terrifying: a snake-handling preacher imprisoned and responsible for the massive debts Dill and his mum are left with. Really not my favourite fictional father.

Arnold Waite from Hangsaman by Shirley Jackson
A comically awful human, Arnold Waite is possibly the most man-splainy father in fiction. His letters to Natalie, his daughter, are laughably horrendous. Fictional dads like this make me grateful for my (reasonably normal) father.

Roderick LeRoux from the Starbound trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Reappearing as the big baddie throughout this trilogy, LeRoux is the father of Lilac, one of the main pair in the first book, These Broken Stars. I love these books more than is healthy, and I really enjoy all the intrigue surrounding LeRoux and his massively corrupt organisation.

Mr Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
No discussion of fictional dads would be complete without a comprehensive takedown of Mr Bennet, for centuries celebrated as a comically dismissive parent when actually he’s just a terrible, awful human who despises all but one of his daughters really just because they’re girls, and who is horrible to Mrs Bennet WHO IS ONLY TRYING TO DO HER BLOODY BEST FOR HER DAUGHTERS IN A PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY okay? Not that I feel strongly about this at all.

What Fathers’ Day related list did you make this week? Please leave me links. And who would you add to this list of interesting, if not brilliant, fathers?

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to My Poetry TBR

This week’s TTT, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, asks us to list the ten books from a particular genre we’ve recently added to our TBRs. Due to my eclectic tastes, I’ve been adding all kinds of random books to my ‘want’ lists, so I’m going to focus on poetry because I can realistically pretend that’s a genre.

100 Days by Juliane Okot Bitek
This is about the Rwandan genocide in 1994. It sounds harrowing but like the kind of thing that changes your whole mentality by reading it.

Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi
A debut collection of poems by a Zambian-born poet, this covers, according to one review, “black boyhood, masculinity and grief.”

The Unaccompanied by Simon Armitage
Armitage is the not-so-secret crush of all the female English teachers in my department and this is just one reason I want to read this, his eleventh collection of poems.

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank
I’ve recently got really into verse novels and this is another one. It’s about the developing friendship between two teenage girls sharing a hospital room.

Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
Ocean Vuong was born in Saigon in 1988 before moving to the US as a young child. He’s described in one review as “the Walt Whitman of Vietnamese American literature” and I’m intrigued.

American Ace by Marilyn Nelson
This has been on my radar for ages; it’s an exploration of American history and race through the experiences of a teenage boy who discovers the man he thought was his father actually isn’t. It’s another verse novel.

Stranger, Baby by Emily Berry
My reasons for wanting this are slightly superficial; I have a weird love for these simple Faber and Faber covers and the colours on this one appeal to me. It focuses on grief and is Berry’s second collection of poems.

Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis by Jeannine Atkins
This is another verse novel, this time focusing on a half Native American, half African American sculptor working in the years following the Civil War. It sounds like nothing I’ve read before.

Silencer by Marcus Wicker
Influenced by hip-hop, this poetry collection is described as being set in “Marcus Wicker’s Midwest, where the muzzle is always on and where silence and daily microaggressions can chafe away at the faith of a young man grieved by images of gun violence and police brutality in twenty-first century America.” Whew. It sounds really amazing.

New American Best Friend by Olivia Gatwood
I am trying really hard not to buy books until I’ve read a chunk of the millions I’ve bought this year, but this one is testing my resolve. I saw a video of Gatwood performing a poem called ‘Ode to My Bitch Face’¬† (I’m linking to her website here because I think this needs to be watched) and it blew my mind; I love it when I find a poem that so perfectly captures my own feelings. I might actually go and order this now. I have no self-control.

Have you read any of these or do you now feel a tremendous urge to do so? If you have any recommendations for me, please fire away (although be aware that I read The Princess Saves Herself in This One and hated it, and am sworn off that style of poetry forever).

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Reads for the rest of 2017

This week’s TTT, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is all about our most anticipated books being released in the rest of 2017. Here are mine:

Our Dark Duet by V.E. Schwab
I really liked This Savage Song, so I’m looking forward to this sequel, which comes out in June. I am hoping for more of the creepy monsters and Kate beating people up.

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy, edited by Ameriie
An anthology of short stories by YA authors and booktubers (I think), this sounds pretty cool.

Mr Either/Or by Aaron Poochigian
This is a bit of a cheat as I’ve already read this delightfully bonkers verse novel about a secret agent pursuing a mysterious ancient Chinese relic. It comes out in October and I hope it sells a bazillion copies.

Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls
YA about suffragettes? Yes please.

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe
I have an e-ARC of this and am so excited to read it. Apparently it moves from people trafficking to African folklore, following a girl who was the only survivor of an attempt by refugees to make it across the ocean. It sounds incredible.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
I really enjoyed Ward’s Salvage the Bones, and I’m eager to read this, which is described as “a searing, urgent read for anyone who thinks the shadows of slavery and Jim Crow laws have passed.”

Indigo by about a million authors
Somehow, this seems to have been written by a whole handful of different authors, and is, I think, a kind of mystery-thriller-superhero type thing. It sounds cool and Seanan Maguire is one of the authors, which excites me.

Godblind by Anna Stephens
I have an e-ARC of this and it sounds cool. It’s a grown-up fantasy and the plot sounds really complicated and weird. Woohoo.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
I really liked Ng’s Everything You Never Told Me, so I’ve got high hopes for this, described as “the intertwined stories of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the mother and daughter who upend their lives.”

City of Spies by Sorayya Khan
This is set in 1970s Pakistan, focusing on the personal traumas of an eleven year old girl, set against a backdrop of political upheaval. This ticks several of my “must read” boxes so I want it.

What are you anticipating for the rest of the year?