BOOKS I'VE FINISHED IN 2017

This surely is exactly what the updating list feature was designed for.
  1. Love in Lowercase
    Quirky and charming. A good way to start my reading year! Reminded me it's fun to push beyond the boundaries of UK/US fiction sometimes. Wish I'd known it was translated from Spanish though (I'd assumed Catalan) as I'm looking for exactly this kind of book to read in Spanish -- not too long, not too complicated, with simple-ish language. 8.2/10.
  2. All Tomorrow's Parties by Rob Spillman
    Rob Spillman grew up in Berlin during the Cold War and his stories related to crossing and being near the Wall are chilling and interesting; his constant longing for the home where he grew up is something that is very familiar to me. The contrast between the Berlin of the ’60s when Rob was a child living with his musician dad and the Berlin of 1989, post-Wall but pre-reunification, was gripping stuff. 8.2/10.
  3. milk and honey by rupi kaur
    This book has been a bit of a literary phenomenon in that it's sold like hot cakes, which poetry usually doesn't. Rebecca mentioned it on the end of year Book Riot podcast review and I thought about buying it, and then it popped out at me in San Francisco when I was browsing Green Apple Books. I sat down expecting to read the first quarter and I read it all. Some of the short poems took my breath away. Some of them betray her relative youth, but that's endearing in its way, too. 8.5/10.
  4. The Girls in the Moon, by Janet McNally
    I wanted to love this, and I thought I would. But the writing style got on my nerves a little — the author loves to give us every gesture of each person speaking during a conversation and the colour of every cat that walks by. Maybe that's a YA thing and maybe I'm just not the right audience for this book. I also couldn't really see the point of the mother chapters — they were nice, but I'm not sure they added much. And having them go backwards in time felt gimmicky. 7/10. Sorry, Janet.
  5. Liccle Bit, by Alex Wheatle
    Alex Wheatle has had a lot of acclaim in the UK for this book and the subsequent two in the trilogy about black teenagers on an inner city estate in a fictional area of London, and I can see why. The language is inventive and fun, and this novel was enjoyable though I had a constant knot of dread in my stomach about what was going to happen next. It certainly would have done me a lot of good to have read this as a privileged white teenage girl. 7.5/10 — though these ratings are subjective.
  6. Five on Brexit Island
    I wanted to love this. But it seems like it was rushed out in time for Christmas and could have done with some rethinking/editing. I think it would have been a much more effective parody of Brexit if the real Brexit vote hadn't been mentioned but had been alluded to. I will say it's possible that because I don't know the Famous Five as well as some do, it's possible that I missed some clever references. 6/10.
  7. Unconventional
    This was a delightful YA read about a 17-year-old who helps her dad run his convention business. At one of them she meets an arrogant young author, and mayhem ensues. It's sweet and funny and I binge read it for hours at a time, which is not something I tend to do with many books. And it's so very British, which I loved about it -- moments where Nicola Yoon or Rainbow Rowell would have had explosive kisses and rainbow unicorns are instead just a bit awkward, in a v recognisable way. 8.5/10
  8. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir
    I've been a bit distracted lately, which is why it's taken me so long to finish this book, which is great, anachronistic Americanisms notwithstanding. Otherwise, I'd have gulped it down in little more than one weekend. This is definitely going to become one I recommend to people who want a good book for a holiday or whatever. If you like Downton Abbey and/or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (one of my all time favourites), you'll enjoy this. 8.5/10
  9. First Love
    I can't remember the last time I read a whole book in a day. I feel like a book nerd superstar or something. To be fair, it's a very short book, but also it had to have been good to hold my attention for almost five hours of a sunny Saturday. This one is definitely not for everyone, but I loved it -- the writing is gorgeous (I learned some beautiful new words!) and I don't need much of a plot when that's the case. Plus, angsty relationships are kinda my thing. 8.4/10.
  10. Je Suis Là
    8.1/10
  11. The Animators
    8/10
  12. The Most Dangerous Place in the World
    Maybe the best book I've read this year so far. (And only "maybe" because I've read some other very good ones.) The writing is great, the characters so well drawn with their subtly different voices. And it will make you infinitely glad you're not a teenager anymore. (If you are, I'm sorry. Things will get better, I promise.) I loved it despite (because of) its sadness and hopelessness. I loved that it explored the butterfly effect and how that works in a school. 8.5/10
  13. Lincoln in the Bardo
    I wasn't going to jump on the bandwagon, but my book club chose it and I'm so glad. We had a great discussion — nothing like a bunch of Washingtonians, many of whom are trained lawyers, to erupt into a passionate hullabaloo over whether it was okay for Saunders to "make up" some of his "historical" sources. Anyway: this book was unlike anything I'd ever read, and it was beautiful in places. It's a quick read so I'd definitely recommend you give it a try. 8.5/10
  14. The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott
    This was a great easy read — going on my list of recommended beach worthy books. The heroine was a complex but believable character who grows up in the shadows of both the Catholic Church and McCarthy-era Hollywood and is a huge fan of Ingrid Bergman, whom she keeps bumping into because of her dad's job. Only quibble: wish I hadn't read the author's note at the beginning as it kept me fully getting into some parts of the story. 8.4/10
  15. Not Working, by Lisa Owens
    7.8/10
  16. Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella
    8.4/10
  17. Comment papa est devenu danseuse étoile, by Gavin's Ruiz Clemente
    8.1/10
  18. The Light We Lost, by Jill Santopolo
    Loved this -- an exploration of what it's like to meet that explosive, amazing love at the beginning of your adult life and how it casts a shadow over everything that comes next. Out on 13th May. 8.4/10
  19. Les Vieilles, by Pascale Gautier
    8.2/10
  20. The Burning Girl, by Claire Messud
    Good but slow going — a very high description to dialogue ratio. I loved the ending. 8/10