Least Favourite Books of the Year 2018

It is that time of the year again where we all look back and talk about the books we read this year. I am starting with my least favourite books and will then during the next days talk about the best books of my reading year. Overall, I had a wonderful year but there were five books that disappointed me for one reason or another. None of these books got one star from me and they all are books I am sure would work for a different reader. I think the fact that I haven’t disliked a book I have finished this year enough to give it one star is a wonderful development. As much as I like reading other people’s one star reviews, I don’t always like reading books I dislike.

Folk by Zoe Gilbert

35892355This is one of those books that I grew more irritated by the more time passed. I initially gave it three stars on the strength of one or two stories in it but now I can only remember my feeling of deep disappointment in this books of interconnected short stories. If I hadn’t been so very excited about this release, I might have enjoyed this more but as it stands, this is by far my least favourite short story collection of the year. You can find my review here.

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

34846987I adored the prologue of this – and then the book rapidly lost my interest. It is wordy and descriptive with characters that more often than not follow tropes in a way I do not appreciate. The whimsy of the language (and the endless descriptions of millions of inventions) were at odds with the ever darker path the story took. My full review can be found here.

 

Suicide Club by Rachel Heng

35530073I adore the premise of this book – I think there really was something interesting to be explored in a book about a society where ideals of health and long living become oppressive. But again, this book’s failures came from uninteresting and ill-defined characters. The main character is around 100 years old but behaves like a particularly stupid teenager – it drove me up the walls. My full review can be found here.

 

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

31445891Brilliant premise – that could not sustain a plot that seems rushed and a tone that swung widely between glib and humorous and incredibly brutal. One of my reading resolutions was reading more novellas, an experience that did not quite work for me – and this book is emblematic for that. My full review can be found here.

 

Sick by Porochista Khakpour

32600407This was definitely my biggest reading disappointment of the year. I was looking forward to this for month and then did not enjoy my reading experience. I found the writing to be weirdly clumsy in parts and long stretches of it unclear. Khakpour wrote parts of this while in the throes of a Lyme relapse – and I think this shows. My review can be found here.

 

What were your least favourite books of the year?

Have I read my most anticipated releases of 2018?

I have written about my most anticipated releases twice this year, for the first and for the second half of the year. Let’s see how many of those I have actually read (and which I have enjoyed).

In my first post, I named 13 books that I was super excited to get to.

  1. Brave by Rose McGowan. I have neither read nor bought this book because before I could, she started showing TERFy tendencies, which I just cannot support. I have since seen some reviews that make me think not reading this was the right decision.
  2. Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot. I loved this book so very much.
  3. Folk by Zoe Gilbert. I read this before it came out and it was ok. And now I cannot really remember much of it, to be perfectly honest.
  4. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. Again, I loved this book. I knew from the very first chapter that I was in for something extraordinary.
  5. The Sea Beast Takes A Lover by Michael Andreasen. This collection of short stories did not quite work for me, but I did enjoy some stories.
  6. Not That Bad ed. by Roxane Gay. Of course I loved this.
  7. The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh. This has possibly my favourite cover of the year and I really enjoyed this interesting book.
  8. Florida by Lauren Groff. She is becoming one of my favourite authors and this collections was no exception.
  9. Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch. I have not yet read it but will definitely do so before the end of the year. I have waited too long for this book to not pick it up soon.
  10. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. I loved this just as much as I thought I would. Slow-paced, wintery fairy-tales are my jam.
  11. Sick by Porochista Khakpour. Biggest disappointment of my reading year.
  12. The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. The release date was moved to January but I have an ARC and want to get lost in this wonderful world, possibly during my (short) winter break.
  13. Vengeful by V. E. Schwab. I had so much fun reading this and it made me excited again for Schwab’s writing in a way I hadn’t been in a while.

I actually did okay here. There are only three books I haven’t read yet (and one of those is no longer on my TBR), I also enjoyed the majority of the books on my list, with four of them getting five stars.

Let’s take a look at my second list, with only eight titles on it.

  1. Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennet. I enjoyed this a lot but it did not reach the heights of his Divine Cities trilogy yet. Still, I am excited to see where he takes the story next.
  2. Heavy by Kiese Laymon. I am embarrassingly enough still reading this. I started it at a really bad moment and while I think it is brilliant, it also deeply sad and I cannot quite get myself to pick it up.
  3. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. I am still super excited about this but the book is only out in hardback and still very expensive. It will be one of the next books I buy though.
  4. Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. Another book that isn’t out in paperback yet and a bit too expensive.
  5. Rosewater by Tade Thompson. I really enjoyed thisĀ even if it confused me.
  6. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. I did not love this and I am unsure whether Moss’ writing is quite for me.
  7. Trail of Lightening by Rebecca Roanhorse. I loved this and it started my binge-reading of Urban Fantasy. I cannot wait for the next one!
  8. Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri. I got an ARC of this the day it released and I am super excited still. But I am also drowning in arcs at the moment. Hopefully I’ll get to it before the end of the year though.

Again, around three books I have not got to which isn’t too bad considering how absolutely abysmal I am at setting myself TBRs.

How did you do with your most anticipated releases of this year? Did you manage to get to them?

Mini-Reviews: So Sad Today by Melissa Broder and Sick by Porochista Khakpour

I read two very similar and very different memoirs last month. Both are written by women and focus their own lives in the way I just adore (if you have read my blog for any length of time you know how much I love memoirs written by women), but I only loved one of them and thought the other fell a bit flat.

So Sad Today by Melissa Broder29213247

Verdict: I think I might be in love.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Memoir; Creative Non-Fiction

Published by Scribe, 2016

Find it on Goodreads.

I love the way Melissa Broder writes. There is something mesmerizing in the way she structures her sentences and her essays. I read her debut novel The Pisces earlier this year and fell so much in love that I more or less immediately went out and bought this one. And I am so very glad I did.

My favourite essay in this collection is “I want to be a whole person but really thin” – it’s repeating sentences and sentence structures hammered home a point so painful and real that all the other essays that followed could not quite keep up with. Broder unflinchingly looks into her own eating disorder and the way it impacts her life and does so stylistically brillaint.

In general, So Sad Today is painfully honest in a lyrical way that made reading it a total joy while also giving me whiplash. Melissa Broder does not shy away from the uglier parts of her life and her personality. She centers herself in her art in that unapologetic way that I just adore.

32600407Sick by Porochista Khakpour

Verdict: Disappointing.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Memoir

Published by HarperPerennial, June 2018

Find it on Goodreads.

This might be my biggest reading disappointment of the year so far. I have been looking forward to this book for ages and when it finally arrived I jumped straight into reading it. I find the story Porochista Khakpour tells – of illness that went years without a diagnosis, about racism and sexism in medicine, about addiction and losing oneself – so very very important and relevant, but the execution just did not work for me. I found the structure of the book unhelpful, the jumping back and forth, sometimes within the same paragraph difficult to follow and frustrating, even though I can see how that could have worked wonderfully.

She says in the acknowledgments that she stripped her memoir of everything but herself – and maybe she was a bit too successful in that aim. I left the book not even quite knowing what Lyme Disease does to her, or what symptoms she had. Her encounters with medical doctor after medical doctor felt undefined and somehow left me confused – because I know she wanted me to see how godawful the doctors were (and I am sure they were) but I could only ever see her. I think some grounding in the reality of Lyme would have worked better for me.

My biggest problem was the prose, on a sentence-by-sentence level. I found it weirdly clumsy in parts, while sometimes being very profound. There were sentences however that I had to read multiple times to get to their meanings and I am not sure that was intentional.

 

2018 Book Haul #1: I bought too many books

Oh boy, it has been a while since I have done one of these posts and well, let’s just say, I bought way too many books. Which on the one hand is super cool because I like books and I like owning them and looking at them, but on the other hand, I am not making it any easier for me to choose which book to read next. I have also recently written a blogpost about the novellas I bought. I obviously feel like reading genre fiction and memoirs more than anything else.

These are the (physical) books I have bought:

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

34666764Blurb: I AM, I AM, I AM is a memoir with a difference – the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman’s life in near-death experiences. Intelligent, insightful, inspirational, it is a book to be read at a sitting, a story you finish newly conscious of life’s fragility, determined to make every heartbeat count.

A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. Shocking, electric, unforgettable, this is the extraordinary memoir from Costa Novel-Award winner and Sunday Times bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell.
It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose?

Why I Bought This: I have been wanting to read this FOREVER and was declined for an ARC more than once. But, now I own it, and it is pretty, and I cannot wait to read this.

Continue reading “2018 Book Haul #1: I bought too many books”

Most Anticipated Books of 2018 (so far)

I have seen a couple of blogposts and Youtube videos floating around where people talk about their Most Anticipated Books of 2018. This coming year feels like the first year where I actually have a few books I am looking forward to reading. Normally I have maybe a handful books I know will come out soonish but currently I spend so much time looking at books that I have a proper list to share. The list is ordered by publication date and I have tried to write one or two sentences explaining why I want to read each book. The links lead to the goodreads pages.

McGOWAN_BRAVE_HC_TEST2.inddBRAVE by Rose McGowan

January 30th, HarperOne

There is no way I am not reading this. I love memoirs written by women and this sounds timely and important.

 

35840657Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot

February 6th, Counterpoint Press

A memoir? Written by a woman? Who grew up on a Native American Reservation? Blurbed by Lidia Yuknavitch and Roxane Gay? There is no way I am not reading this.

35892355Folk by Zoe Gilbert

February 8th, Bloomsbury Press

These interconnected short stories set on an island and playing with myth and fairy tales sound right up my alley. The cover is also absolutely stunning.

35412372Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

February 13th, Grove Press

I am currently reading this and it is blowing my mind (which is why I am including this). This heartbreaking story of mental illness is approached differently to what I have read before and I have already so many thoughts.

36262478The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen

March 8th, Head of Zeus

Fantastical short stories that play on fairy tales – yes, still exactly my cuppa. In fact I have included this in my five star prediction post.

 

35068524Not that bad edited by Roxane Gay

May 1st, Harper Perennial

It is no secret how much I admire Roxane Gay and her thoughts. While this anthology of first person essays written about rape and rape culture will for sure make me angry and sad, it sounds important.

35448496The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

May 31st, Hamish Hamilton

The blurb is vague but sounded intriguing and the cover is just absolutely stunning. This sounds like an introspective, feminist work with maybe a speculative element and I am so here for that.

Florida 36098092by Lauren Groff

June 5th, Riverhead

I adored Fates and Furies, and I love short story collections, this was a no brainer, really.

 

Lies Sleeping (Peter Grant #7) by Ben Aaronovitch

June, Gollancz

This is one of the very few series I keep up with. I just love Ben Aaronovitch’s brand of urban fantasy and I cannot wait for this.

36896898Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

July 10th, Del Rey

I really enjoyed Uprooted and this sounds similar (in a good way). I like fairy tale retellings so very much and Naomi Novik manages to hit the language just perfectly.

32600407Sick by Porochista Khakpour

August 8th, Harper Perennial

This memoir about Porochista Khakpour’s struggle with illness sounds right up my alley. I am very much in the mood for non fiction lately and I wish I could read this already.

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

August 14th, Del Rey

It is the last part of the brilliant Winternight trilogy. Do I really have to say more?

Vengeful (Villains #2) by V. E. Schwab

September 25th, Tor

Vicious is my favourite of V. E. Schwab’s books. I just adored it so much and I just cannot wait to read the next book in a series that I did not know would be a series.

 

 

What are your most anticipated books for the upcoming months? Let me know because obviously my TBR is not big enough already.