Best of 2017

Best of 2017

I’ve been in a little bit of a reading slump and blogging slump during the month of December. There’s been the usual end of year family visits and festivities – as well as the mad rush at the mall where I work, so I have not had as much time to read. However, making Best Of lists is one of my favourite blogging activities, so I knew I had to get this up despite the time constraints. I’ve read many brilliant books this year, and below are some of my favourites.

Best of 2017 01

  • City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty: This stunning and expansive debut novel is one of my absolute favourite fantasy reads of this year (sharing the crown with the equally impressive Jade City). An #ownvoices at its best, the book uses historical and cultural cues from the real world to invent a rich world where djinns and devas roam a mythic city – steeped in courtly intrigues and surreal wonders. I cannot wait to read Kingdom of Copper!
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee: I knew I needed this book in my life the moment I read the blurb hinting at clan wars and supernatural wuxia action. I got even more than I bargained for, along with the page-turning action and complex political treacheries – it was also populated with a cast of compelling characters. Also one of the most dimensional portrayal of sibling rivalries I have read.
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: One of the first books I read in 2017 and it remains one of the best. The writing in this book is achingly beautiful, weaving myth about a fabled city and a boy who grew up amongst books. Filled with monsters and magic, along with romance and tragedy – it has all of the signature elements that made me love Laini Taylor in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Get this though, Strange the Dreamer is even BETTER than DOSAB.

Best of 2017 02

  • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie Mclemore: I tend to love all magical realism, so it’s little surprise that Anna-Marie is quickly becoming my favourite YA author. Wild Beauty is 100% my aesthetics: a quintet of cousins with the power over flowers, a boy without memories, a dark family curse dooming lovers to disappear. Beautifully written, filled with exquisite imageries, and best paired with a reading of Secrets of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee – another book about flowers and forbidden love that I enjoyed immensely.
  • Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo: I love a good fairy tale retelling, and this collection comes with several feminist reinvention of familiar tropes, made all the more delightful by the fact that the stories hail from the Grishaverse. While you can find a couple of these stories in previous publication, my favourite was Ayama and the Thorns, a new addition to this collection – hands down one of the best Beauty and the Beast retellings of all time. The book is also beautifully and thoughtfully illustrated, pick up the physical copy!
  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashadourst: A brilliant Snow White retelling that turns a story about a stepmother’s envy into a tale about the strength of women, especially when they are working together. I loved both the narrative voices, but I particularly relished in Mina’s chapters as she turned from girl to queen. Definitely one to pick up on a chilly winter night, especially if you enjoy immersive fairy tales.
  • Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtues by Mackenzi Lee: This book was just pure delight and absolute fun! Monty’s is simultaneously charming and utterly insufferable, I adored him! I also loved Percy and Felicity, the cast of characters possessed an enviable chemistry – I could read about the trio and their adventures for days. I especially recommend the audiobook – the narration by Christian Coulson (teenaged Tom Riddle in the second HP movie!) is utter perfection.

    Best of 2017 03

  • The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee: This was just so much fun! The clever adaptation of a popular Chinese epic for the modern age, with characters that leaps off the page with their distinctive and larger-than-life personality. Genie is a protagonist you’ll absolutely one to root for, whether she’s trying to pass exam or save the world from hungry demons.
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: After reading this book, Celeste Ng has moved immediately into my small list of autobuy authors. I especially love the way she manages to imbue mundane tasks with so much beauty and emotional weight. This book documents the way middle-class suburbia systemically exclude everyone they consider to be an outsider, absolutely heartbreaking and powerful.
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: One of the best audiobooks I picked up this year. The book follows a fictional actress as she recounts her life story to a fledging journalist. It shows 1950-1970s Hollywood in all of its glamourous glory, as well as interrogate its inherent racism, sexism, and anti-homosexual attitude. I was captivated from the very first page, and Evelyn is one of the most intriguing protagonist of 2017.

Let me know if you’ve read any of them, or which you’re thinking of picking up! I wish you all a safe and happy new year 😀


Book Review: Everything I Never Told You


Title: Everything I Never Told You

Author: Celeste Ng

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Series? No


Book Depository ||  Amazon  ||  Dymocks  ||  Booktopia

I read this book as part of the #AsianLitBingo, you can see my planned TBR here.

Everything I Never Told you knocked my breath away and left me aching. I went through an entire spectrum of emotion during my reading experience: I raged, I wept, I hoped, but most of all I flinched whenever I saw myself reflected within the dark thoughts of these characters. This is a book that capture all the words ever left unsaid, whether it’s murmurs of an unfulfilled dream, or the seemingly hopeless longing for recognition. It’s a poignant and powerful examination of the costs of love and the burden of expectations.

Everything I Never Told You

One of the line that stuck with me after reading Everything I Never Told You is a young Lydia Lee’s pondering on the ‘fragility of happiness’. The Lee family has been hovering on a precipice – their joy tainted by words left unspoken, their mutual love turning destructive via the weight of expectations. Everything begins to bubble to the surface when Lydia is found dead in a local lake. In the search for the truth of what happened to Lydia, we have to dig deep – from the childhoods of her own parents to her relationship with her older brother, Nath.

“How had it begun? Like everything: with mothers and fathers. Because of Lydia’s mother and father, because of her mother’s and father’s mothers and fathers.”

While it’s set up as a murder mystery, Everything I Never Told You is ultimately a powerful family drama. If you’re familiar with this blog, you’ll know that drama is a sub-genre I rarely read or discuss on this blog. However, Celeste Ng is beyond gifted with words- she can turn the mundane everyday into something startling. As they say, the devil is in the details, and the characters in this novel burst into life through seemingly insignificant gestures. Celeste Ng manages to imbue even the unremarkable with emotional potency – you have to read this book to discover it for yourself.

“The things that go unsaid are often the things that eat at you–whether because you didn’t get to have your say, or because the other person never got to hear you and really wanted to.”

As I’ve alluded to previously, this book’s strongest point lies in its characters – especially the Lee family. We get to learn about all five members of the family and their history throughout the novel – along with their shared isolation from society due to racial prejudices. James is a Chinese-American who’s been fighting to shed stereotype since he was a young boy. He married Marilyn, an American woman who’s sole dream is to escape her mother’s mould for the ‘ideal woman’. Their reunion, while filled with love and joy, was marred by the rejection of Marilyn’s mother. This knock-back is but one of several that the Lee family faces throughout their lifetime.

The ostracization of immigrants is a familiar subject in fiction. Sometimes it seems like the only stories we’re allowed to tell are ones where our hurt are laid bare. Although Everything I Never Told You first appears to fall within this mould, it never turns the struggles of its characters into a spectacle to teach or entertain. For me, the book remained genuine and heartfelt, even when I want to reach into the pages and shake some senses into some of the Lees.

Needless to say, my first read for #AsianLitBingo was a total success. There’s still so much of May left and plenty of time to join us!

Pre-Release Thoughts: The Bear and the Nightingale


The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden is not released until January 2017, but I already know that it will be amongst my top ten list of next year. I adore immersive, dark, and atmospheric folklore retelling. This book dishes all of these elements up and more, here’s a sneak peek as to why you should pre-order this beautiful book.

Summary: In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, Pytor hides the gift away and Vasya grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.

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