#AMonthOfFaves – Books worth the hype (and not)

 

 

A Month of Faves is hosted by  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella’s Revenge

WED. | Dec. 5 – #AMonthofFaves Popular Books Worth the Hype (and/or Not Worth the Hype)

I’m not exactly one who reads bestsellers and hyped books, at least I don’t think so. I am never quite sure what ‘hype’ means with books. Does it mean those lists of “most anticipated releases” that get published every so often? Or does it mean that I see it appear on the blogs and Instagrammers that I follow?

I was looking at my Goodreads ‘read’ list for the year and started noticing the number of ratings that each book had. There were the rare ones, like Wonder, that numbered in the 500,000s. And we don’t need to talk about the Harry Potter books which are in the sky high 5 million plus! But anything in the six figures were definitely popular books like Turtles All The Way Down by John Green and Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. In contrast, an excellent book like Mishell Baker’s The Impostor Syndrome only has 445! (Note to self, always put a rating in Goodreads, especially for books like this)

But if I were only to count those in the six figures, I wouldn’t have read many. So instead I decided to go for those books with more than 25,000 ratings. There were some that I read, not that many, but some that surprised me as I had expected more ratings for them, as, to me, they were ‘hyped’. For instance, it felt that I keep seeing the Jackaby series by William Ritter, but surprisingly, just 18,663 ratings, so that means I can’t quite call it ‘hyped’, can I?

Ok, grumblings aside, here are….

Books read in 2018 that were worth the hype!

The Last Black Unicorn – Tiffany Haddish (26,535 ratings)

I listened to the audiobook and it was a lot of fun.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman (254,854 ratings)

Eleanor is such an awkward but endearing character, you can’t help but root for her.

Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah (161,674 ratings)

I don’t watch late night TV but I was interested in Noah’s story of growing up in South Africa and it definitely was a fascinating read. His mother was quite a force to be reckoned with! Unfortunately my library didn’t have an audiobook version but I’m sure it would make for a great listen.

Pachinko – Min Jin Lee (80,172 ratings)

Loved this intergenerational saga that begins in Korea and ends in Japan. Such details and lovely writing!

Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë (43,705 ratings)

For a classic, that’s not a huge number of ratings actually. But I really was surprised to find myself liking this short (251 pages) story based on Brontë’s own experience as a governess.

I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer – Michelle McNamara (56,806 ratings)

Oh man this book, just thinking about it gives me the chills. An absolutely terrifying, well-written true crime book.

 

 

Books read in 2018 that weren’t worth the hype

I don’t think there were really books that made me go “Ugh not worth it!”. So just a couple that made me think that maybe it’s more like, “eh, not for me”. Maybe these books are just more for someone else.

The Cuckoo’s Calling – JK Rowling (400,033 ratings)

A decent enough read, but I haven’t been hooked enough yet to start on the next book in the series…

The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin (58,632 ratings)

It was an intriguing premise but for me, I kept wanting more of the stories of two of the siblings and wasn’t so interested in the others.

 

Books read in 2018 that I wish had far more hype

I know it’s not mentioned in the prompt but there are so many great books out there that don’t have enough hype.

Everything Here is Beautiful – Mira T Lee (6,634 ratings)

Lee has written an absolutely gorgeous book about two Chinese-American sisters, of mental illness, of immigrants. Read it! Read it!

The Arcadia Project series – Mishell Baker

This urban fantasy series begins with Borderline (3,322 ratings), goes onto Phantom Pains (1,082 ratings), and ends with Impostor Syndrome (447 ratings). Baker creates great settings and very memorable characters – her lead is a double amputee with Borderline Personality Disorder!

Forty Rooms – Olga Grushin (1,060 ratings)

Such a beautiful book – a kind of collection of short stories taking place in different rooms that a woman has lived in over her lifetime.

Death by Dumpling (A Noodle Shop Mystery #1) – Vivien Chien (just 582 ratings)

This was such a cute and fun foodie cozy mystery series set in an Asian mall in Cleveland. I really appreciate the way Chien draws her protagonist, not as your typical successful Asian but instead somehow who’s not done so well – bad breakup, quit her job, moved back in with her parents.

What books lived (or not) up to hype for you this year?

Check out what books I thought were worth the hype (or not) in 2017

 

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A list of “Best Books lists”

NPR’s Book Concierge (374 books!)

Also on NPR, Maureen Corrigan’s “chaotic” best books of 2017

Book Riot

Publishers Weekly

From Slate, Laura Miller’s list and a list by staff writer Katy Waldman

LA Times

NYT notable 100

Paste Magazine – Best YA

The Root – Best books by black authors

Barnes and Noble

Powells

The Guardian part one and part two

#amonthoffaves2017 – books worth the hype?

amonthoffavesA Month of Faves is hosted by AndiTanya and Tamara

Fri. | Dec. 8 – 3 Popular Books Worth the Hype #AMonthofFaves

Oops a few days late with this one.

The Book of Dust – Philip Pullman

I know there have been some mixed reviews and I wasn’t entirely that into Lyra as an infant but I really loved being back in that setting. Daemons!

When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon

A cute and fun YA romance read. Now if they’d just turn it into a movie.

Jane, Unlimited – Kirstin Cashore

I had fun with this book – a sort of “choose your own adventure” of sorts, with multiple possibilities and endings. Also, a main character who makes umbrella art. I loved this one. About the hype though? I don’t know.

Not worth the hype

Angel Catbird – Margaret Atwood

Was it because it’s Atwood that I was expecting more (a whole bloody lot more) than this? Yes yes of course. But I think even if this was by an unknown writer, I would have expected more. It was just too simplistic and it made me feel like she hasn’t seen how complex storylines and characters in well-written comic series can be (like Saga). Anyway, I think because it’s Atwood that I even gave Volume 2 a try. I can safely say I am not reading that series anymore.

Needs more hype

I don’t know if there’s very much hype about these books but whatever, they are great reads and they need more hype!

 

All the Rivers – Dorit Rabinyan

It’s only got 909 ratings on Goodreads so that’s a bit on the low side. This book, written by an Israeli writer, is about a relationship between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man. She’s in New York for just six months and it’s a chance meeting with this man but can it work? Can it last? Lovely and thought provoking.

 

Cork Dork – Bianca Bosker

What a fun nonfiction read. I was constantly having to disturb the husband with a newfound fact about the wine world or sommeliers or fine dining. And that to me is what makes nonfiction enjoyable. Learning new things. But it was also very personable (it is after all her discovery and journey, learning about wine and the world of sommeliers) and it made me want to keep reading and reading.

 

The Strays – Emily Bitto

I loved this Australian novel set in the Melbourne art world (my review here) but haven’t really seen that much about it online – or perhaps I just am not aware of book hype these days…?

Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned In Books

toptentues

Top Three Yummy Foods Mentioned In Books (Does a character eat something you’d love? Or maybe the book takes place in a bakery/restaurant that makes yummy things? You could also talk about 10 of your favorite cookbooks if you don’t read foody books.)

Sugarbread- Balli Kaur Jaswal

Chilli crab. Tofu with peanut sauce. Chinese vegetables with plump stalks and juicy leaves. Hainanese chicken rice with sweet soy sauce and ginger chilli. Noodles – both thick and thin – with fish cake and pork balls. Red-hot South Indian curries served with sticky bread and milk tea. Durians, longans, rambutans for dessert. Chendol. Ice kachang.

Delicious! – Ruth Reichl

She had fed me a fluffy cloud, no more than pure texture, but as it evaporated it left a trail of flavour in its wake.

“Lemon peel,” I said, “Parmesan, saffron, spinach.” She held out another spoonful, and this time, at the very end, I tasted just a touch of something lemony but neither lemon nor verbena. It had a faint cinnamon tinge. “Curry leaf!”

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

“What a marvellous smell!’ answered Grandpa Joe, taking a long deep sniff. All the most wonderful smells in the world seemed to be mixed up in the air around them — the smell of roasting coffee and burnt sugar and melting chocolate and mint and violets and crushed hazelnuts and apple blossom and caramel and lemon peel.”

TLC Book Tours: The Lost Ones

With so many thrillers/crime novels out there, it seems to be getting more difficult to create a unique protagonist, a different storyline.

But I must say that The Lost Ones opens with an intriguing premise. An early morning phone call. A meeting with some strangers at a cafe. Nora Watts, cautious, suspicious, because of her line of work and her own experience.

A married couple meets her to tell her their daughter is missing.

That Nora's daughter is missing.

The child she gave up for adoption as a newborn 15 years ago has disappeared. The police define her as a chronic runaway and can't be bothered. Her adoptive parents reach out to Nora as a last hope.

And Nora is suited for this kind of thing. She works as a receptionist/researcher for a private investigator. She has an ability to tell when people are lying – which obviously helps her in her line of work.

She also has a painful and violent experience in the past which has contributed to her inability to trust anyone – not her employees nor her sponsor – with the whole truth.

Nora at first is reluctant to be involved with this case – it digs up too much of her past. But she soon realizes that she's not the only one looking for Bonnie.

Nora is quite a character. She's got skeletons in the closet – perhaps more like demons than skeletons – and she's tough. She's the kind of person who doesn't give a damn what you think of her. She steals from a woman who is only just being kind to her. She's cold towards almost everyone except her beloved dog. And surprisingly – although on hindsight, maybe it's not surprising – violent.

And Kamal's Vancouver setting reflects that too. I've never been to Vancouver but have always thought of it as a picturesque, very wet city. So Nora's far more gritty and dirty version of Vancouver is intriguing, and completely apt.

The story is rather convoluted – perhaps a little too hard to believe at times – but it offers a rather exciting and thrilling read if you can suspend belief for a bit and sink into it. And that I did, and it was for an invigorating read, filled with all the grey and damp of Vancouver. It made me long to read this in chillier temps, snuggled under a comforter with a steaming hot cup of tea.

Strangely it is titled "Eyes Like Mine" in the UK.

I received this book from its publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for a review.

Check out the other tour stops here.

Pick up a copy from: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Connect with the author:Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Best Books Read In 2017 So Far

toptentues

 

 

Best Books You’ve Read In 2017 So Far

 

 

I am terrible at this kind of post! How to pick??? Especially since I’ve read 118 books so far.

I decided to just run through my list of books and see what stands out. I’ll try to break it up into some categories…let’s see!

Literature

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces – Isabel Quintero
I’m not much of a YA reader but loved this spunky determined Gabi


The Woman Next Door – Yewande Omotoso
Great story of a reluctant friendship between two women in South Africa

Funny Boy – Shyam Selvadurai

So glad I read this coming-of-age story set in Sri Lanka.

Comics/graphic novels

El Deafo – Cece Bell
Such a great story for all ages about what it’s like growing up deaf

Captain Marvel – Kelly Sue DeConnick
I love DeConnick’s Captain Marvel!

Spider Woman – Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez
Coincidentally, Spider Woman is Captain Marvel’s best friend!

Audiobooks


Lab Girl – Hope Jahren
Wasn’t sure at first about this writer narrating her own book but I loved the passion she put into it.

Classics


The Dollmaker – Harriette Simpson Arnow
This classic really surprised me. Loved it.

Nonfiction


In the country we love: My family divided – Diane Guerrero, Michelle Buford
For me it was really interesting – and heartbreaking – to read of how Guerrero survived after her parents were deported.

Series I’ve been meaning to start

toptentues

Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning To Start But Haven’t

I started with a few in mind then looked up some lists on Goodreads for more. And there are just so very many series out there that I want to read! Let me know which you’ve read and enjoyed.



Game of Thrones by George R R Martin

Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas 


The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson


The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay (I’ve loved some of his standalones!)


The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix (haven’t read anything by Nix before!)

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb (haven’t read anything by Hobb before!)


Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs (another new-to-me author)


The Others by Anne Bishop (new-to-me author)


Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong

Cainsville by Kelley Armstrong (I love her Women of the Otherworld series but haven’t read her other books)