Ambiguous Pieces: End of Year Book Survey 2017

Image Description: a picture of an open book with red and yellow string in the shape of a heart
Image Description: a picture of an open book with red and yellow string in the shape of a heart

2017 Reading Stats
Number Of Books You Read: 65
Number of Re-Reads: 29
Genre You Read The Most From:
~Graphic Novels: YA Urban Fantasy (Magical Realism and Paranormal), SFF (with a side order of Dystopia), Dystopia-Science Fiction (in that order)
~Audio Books: Crime
~Ebooks and Paperback: Non-Fiction and Memoir

Best In Books
01. Best Book You Read In 2017?
I honestly don’t know, however, I have noticed a distinct pattern in the books I read this year in comparison to last year. Last year, I read more novels, and there was a more coherent trend/pattern to my reading habits. I read novels I felt I was “supposed to” read, so I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I struggled to finish reading novels last year. I read about 32 novels last year but I only enjoyed a few of them. I read 65 books this year and I only read books I wanted to read, sure most of them were re-reads, but they were also books I knew I would enjoy.

02. Book You Were Excited About and Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, I gave it 5 stars, it’s that I had different expectations of the book. When I began reading The Princess Diarist, I began with the expectation that it would be similar to Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic, it’s not, The Princess Diarist is very different, which does make sense. Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic are both books from the perspective of an older woman looking back on her life and being able to see the funny aspects of her mental health and addiction journey. The Princess Diarist is set at the very beginning of that process and lacks that introspective feeling, it’s all about the moment, right then and now. It’s not bad, just different.

03. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
Saga – Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

I wrote a review for Saga – Volume 7, but let’s just say it’s intense, and we’ll leave it at that. It also wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, it was simply that I had to wait a super long time for the volume to come out and that this volume (while super crucial to the plot) felt more like a stepping stone to much more important volume. The big problem with the Saga series is that the collected volumes are only 155 pages long, shorter than your average 200-page manga volume, and that’s not a lot of narrative space to work with. It sometimes felt as though certain characters or certain plot-lines were getting more narrative-focus/narrative-attention than they deserved.

04. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
Turtles All The Way Down by John Green – I bought it as a Christmas present but I’m not sure if my intended reader will actually read it.

05. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?
Best Series: Dying In The Wool by Francis Brody – I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this, but I really did, it’s got an interesting mystery, and a good combination of character and plot elements.

Best Sequel: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith – I super enjoyed the second book in the Cormoran Strike series, it was clever and the pacing was good (although it still does have a problem with how the author withholds information from the reader).

Best Series Ender: Blame! – My partner is a big fan of science fiction and has been pestering me to read this manga series for years now, so this year I finally did, and I enjoyed it.

06. A favourite new author that you discovered in 2017?
Caitlin Doughty – author of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity

07. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson – I bought this for my partner because of his interest in astronomy, but I’ve ended up reading it as well.

08. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Mermaid’s Singing by Val McDermid – While I feel this book (and the series as a whole) has its problems, once I began the book, it was super difficult to stop.

09. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Most of the books on my list this year are Re-reads, however, I’m aiming to finish the rest of the Fruits Basket manga series and Bleach manga series by the end of next year.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

Image Description: the book-cover of Saga – Volume 8 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. The cover features main character Alana (in a Western cowboy type of outfit) riding a Zebra-like creature, the exception is that this type of Zebra has rainbow coloured stripes instead of the usual black stripes.

11. The most memorable character of 2017?
Image Description: an image of Sir Robot (a humanoid alien with pale-blue skin and a television for a head) forming his hand into a cannon facing the viewer and his right hand holding up a paperback novel. There's a dialogue bubble above his head that says I just stopped by to return a few things.
Once again, I’m going to have to go with Sir Robot, I know the guy is problematic sometimes, and definitely has his own share of mental health problems, but he tries so hard to act like he doesn’t care, which just serves to highlight just how obvious it is that he does care. I think Sir Robot enjoys playing the hero far more than he’s willing to admit. I adore Sir Robot’s relationship with his son Squire, every panel that Sir Robot and Squire share together is a pleasure to read, and it’s pretty clear that Squire brings out the best in Sir Robot.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?
Beloved by Toni Morrison or The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?
Out On Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler

I know this book is a fluffy contemporary romance, however, within the fluff was also hidden depths, such as conversations between Frankie (a pansexual woman) and her romantic interest Samara (a Lesbian woman who was still in the closet). Frankie wouldn’t tolerate certain behaviours from Samara, such as slut-shaming or gate-keeping, it was a conversation that needed to be had and Samara (as well as the Author) handled the issues well. When they were forced to sit down and actually have a conversation about their relationship, both parties were able to communicate with each other what they wanted and needed within a relationship, and still be respectful to the other party.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read?
Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?
“Remember, you have the future to think about. And you’ve surrounded yourself with people who think only of the past.” – Petrichor, Saga: Volume 7.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?
The Audience Revolution by Danny Iny (104 pages) and Wicked Abyss by Kresley Cole (400 pages)

17. Book That Shocked You The Most (Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
Saga – Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – As if the events of volume 7 weren’t bad enough, there’s a Huge Cliffhanger involved in the end.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Image Description: a panel from the Saga series of characters Alana and Marko kissing.
Most likely Alana and Marko, I truly admire their resilience towards adversity

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
The Golden Trio (Shigure, Ayame, and Hatori) from Fruits Basket. They were all born at about the same time and all went to school together, so their brotherly bond is very admirable. While Ayame is trying to make up for the fact that he failed to protect Yuki from Akito, I do think that The Golden Trio are (in their own way) trying to protect the younger members of the zodiac as best they can, although the Zodiac curse does limit their own interference. I know Shigure may be self-serving, and Ayame’s concern definitely comes across as misplaced (he does get better as the series progresses), I’d like to think they ultimately have good intentions.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
I guess I’ll have to go with Carrie Fisher on this one.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?
I’ll have to pass on this one

23. Best 2017 debut you read?
Want You Gone by Christopher Brookmyre

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
The Saga series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most Fun To Read?
Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?
Smoke Gets Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

I thought it was just going to be another Alex Cross type situation but I was happy to be wrong. The unexpected side order of Military trauma, PTSD, and psychological thriller elements revealed a lot of hidden depths. Although Ian Rankin is a best-selling author so this probably isn’t hidden.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Honestly, probably The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn, that book is super depressing.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?
Beloved by Toni Morrison

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Currently tied between The Wire In The Blood by Val McDermid and Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Your Bloggish/Bookish Life
01. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2017?
Written Word Worlds, The YA Room (although I’m not a big YA fan), Northern Plunder

While not book related, I found this YouTube channel Oak Croft Films, and it’s about Nathan and his service-dog Sylvia and the everyday adventures that Nathan and Sylvia have to navigate. I find Nathan’s videos hilarious. While Nathan tries his best to be positive and sees these videos as educational, however, there are the occasional “I have lost all Faith in Humanity” moments.

02. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?
I generally enjoy my stim toy review posts a little more than my book reviews. With stim toy reviews, I have a good formula. it’s easier for me to talk about the things I liked about them, whereas it can be difficult for me to talk about what I did or didn’t like about a book.

03. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
I attempted to host a “Diverse Reading Challenge Giveaway” for books with Mental Health and Disability themes as well as main characters with Disabilities or Mental Illness. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work out the way I had planned, I had been hoping for more than one person to join, however, I did learn a lot from the experience.

04. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
VidCon Australia 2017 and The Emerging Writer’s Festival – Writer’s Night School: Podcasting

05. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?
I don’t really have one this year, I’ve been trying a bunch of new things in my usual scatter-gun approach, and nothing seems to be really sticking for me.

06. The most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Reading in general.

Reading has been really hard for me for the last two years. My “normal” reading pattern is that I struggle to focus on reading, especially if there are loud noises/sounds, or I have a pressing number of things to do. My eyes tend to jump all over the page, I accidentally read ahead, and then I have to guide myself back to the right reading spot so that it actually makes sense. Words occasionally get jumbled about (when I read and when I write) but not such a degree that I was concerned about it.

From articles I’ve recently read about offering advice on how to read more books and/or how to read faster, I was under the impression that most people do this, and that these are common problems. Now, I’m not so sure that this is true. I thought that it was just my University studies that were interfering with my focus, then my mental health deteriorated, so then I blamed my lack of focus on that.

But I have had suspicious thought that perhaps I wasn’t good at reading from the beginning, I was just determined to read regardless of my ability, so now that I have less energy, I now notice just how difficult it is. I struggle to visualize concepts in my mind, but with manga and graphic novels, I don’t have to, it’s all done for me, and I can focus on the more important elements.

Previously, I could just power through, but now I can’t. I think this is why I’ve had much easier time this year keeping up to date with my selection of manga volumes and graphic novels. As a result, I’ve only read a few eBooks and paperback books this year.

07. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
My book reviews for Dying In The Wool and The Scarlet Letter were surprisingly popular

08. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
My VidCon post, I worked super hard on that for ages, but I probably should have split it up into two posts. Also my PSA for Indie Author posts

09. Best bookish discover (book related sites, bookstores, etc.)?
I discovered a lot of YouTube Book Bloggers aka Booktubers this year

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I attempted to participate in The Reading Quest and #ReadersCrossing, both hosted by Read at Midnight, both of which I failed spectacularly at.

Looking Ahead
01. One Book You Didn’t Get To Read In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

02. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?
The Saviour’s Champion by Jenna Moreci – due to a long list of reasons, the author has had to postpone the release date to sometime next year, however, I can always read Eve: The Awakening while I’m waiting.

03. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews – You should totally pre-order it. I’ve also had Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann recommended to me.

04. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?
I’m trying to avoid new releases next year, at least until I get my TBR pile under some form of control.

05. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?
I know it’s not going to happen, but I’d like to attempt to be more consistent and organised with my blogging process, I’d also like to start filming and publishing videos on YouTube.

06. A 2018 Release You’re Prepared To Recommend To Everyone:
A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews – You should totally pre-order it.

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