This year there were many books that totally rocked our socks! And then there were the few books that left us wanting more and wondering what all the gushing was about. Here’s our break down of the books that were worth the hype and the ones that, sadly, were not…
Believe the Hype
✤ TANYA ✤
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
245,000+ ratings on Goodreads | 4.34 stars
This book made our Fa(V)e #SummerReads of 2018 … which means we agree with the masses.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
[Buy Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine @ Amazon]
Beartown, Frederik Bachman
102,000+ ratings on Goodreads | average 4.29 stars
Both Kim and I have read this and 100% agree with everyone else – Love, love, love it. Get ready to be drawn into this fantastic story with relatable, unforgettable characters. This story revolves around a town’s love for hockey – but it is not ABOUT hockey. You will laugh, cry and be completely absorbed with this book.
People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. But the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil.
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
261,000+ ratings on Goodreads | 4.14
I went back and forth with this book so many times – from starting it as an audiobook and then putting it down … and then picking up the hardcover … reading that for a while, and then switching back to audio. I’m glad I kept going though because I ended up loving the story of this family – the simple yet complicated lives that could be playing out right now in any town.
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules. Mia Warren is an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
[Buy Little Fires Everywhere @ Amazon]
✩ KIM ✩
Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi
49,000+ ratings on Goodreads | 4.27 stars
Welp, if you haven’t read this book yet…what are you even doing with your life?
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
[Buy Children of Blood and Bone @ Amazon]
The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Ruth Ware
36,000+ ratings on Goodreads | 3.85 stars
I totally dug this fun Gothic mystery story.
On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money. Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.
[Buy The Death of Mrs. Westaway @ Amazon]
Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo
99,000+ ratings on Goodreads | 4.62 stars
OMG. I love me some Kaz Brekker and gang. All the stars for this series.
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
[Buy Crooked Kingdom @ Amazon]
Don’t Believe the Hype
✤ TANYA ✤
These are 2 books I read this year that, despite their popularity and critical acclaim, these books just weren’t for me.
Sing Unburied Sing, Jesmyn Ward
National Book Awards for Fiction (2017) and 60,000+ ratings on Goodreads average of 4.05 – but I just couldn’t get into it.
Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is black and her children’s father is white. Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use.
Exit West, Mohsin Hamid
While this book grabbed me at the beginning with the story of the two lovers and how they met and then how they rallied on each other in the time of civil war, the story lost me once they discovered the doors (that could take you to anywhere) and went through one of them. What follows is depressing as hell – but it seemed that the story fizzled out. We went through the drudgery of everyday life as immigrants into these new places and as squatters – and how their relationship was affected – but … I needed … more. It felt like there was no story – other than the story of their existence, but sorry – I need more from a work of fiction.
Exit West is the story of two young people – sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed -who meet in a country teetering on the brink of civil war, . They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors – doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are.
✩ KIM ✩
Dread Nation, Justina Ireland
8,000+ ratings on Goodreads | 4.2 stars
Don’t get me wrong, I liked this book but I didn’t think it was totally amaze-balls, unique, well-written, or developed enough to warrant all the gushing it’s been getting. For me, the story was good but lacking in several different ways.
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.
Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
876,000+ ratings on Goodreads | 4.26 stars
This book caused too many eye rolls for me. The ending was sad but I was mostly bored throughout. I really don’t understand why people love this book so much.
Tell us…. which hyped up books made the top of your list this year and which fell flat? If you’re participating in #AMonthofFaves today link up to your blog post (or Instagram picture) below.
(Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash)
// Comments //
Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf
I couldn’t get into Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones, so I was on the fence about this one. I’m glad to hear Beartown isn’t really about hockey, because books that are too heavy into sports aren’t my thing, but this looked interesting to me. Added it to my list!
Tamara @ Traveling With T
The Death of Mrs. Westaway is one that I keep getting drawn to (at least cover wise). Maybe I’ll give it a try over the holidays!
I thought it was such a fun one. Very atmospheric and I really liked the main character.
I also really liked Beartown and Eleanor Oliphant, especially Eleanor. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to find someone to pass her on to so that we could talk about her.
Okay, but now I have the Public Enemy song stuck in my head. Did you do that on purpose???
I haven’t read any of the books on your list (though I started and abandoned Children of Blood and Bone–I wasn’t in the mood for fantasy so that’s not a comment on the writing).
Susie | Novel Visits
I’m so with you on Eleanor Oliphant, Beartown and Sing Unburied Sing, but I liked Exit West. Since you liked Beartown so much, I’m curious what you thought of Us Against You? I actually liked it more and so it’s on my list for books deserving the hype in 2018.
I agree on Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I LOVED that book. I also have had a hard time with Ware’s books but did really enjoy The Death of Mrs Westaway. I did not love Little Fires Everywhere. Also, I was “meh” about Beartown but I LOVE and ADORE Us Against You, the sequel. Read it.
I did love Me Before You but I thought the ones after that get better, especially the third one, Still Me.
And Kim, I am picking up Children of Blood and Bone. I’ll keep you posted…
I may have to try the next ones after Me Before You. I was pretty surprised to see that Still Me one a Goodreads Choice award. I’m curious now.
I love love LOVED Beartown, and enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine but it took me quite awhile to get into that one. Surprisingly didn’t love The Hate U Give – I liked the message behind it, and love that YA is tackling issues that we see in society, but didn’t like the way it was written and really just wanted to get through it asap.
I know a couple of other people that were only ‘meh’ about the way The Hate U Give was written too. Curious to know if you’ve read Dear Martin. If so, thoughts? If not, give it a try. You may like it better.
Sarah's Book Shelves
I’m with you on Little Fires Everywhere and Beartown being worth it! And on Sing, Unburied, Sing and Exit West not being 🙂
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