Beyond Books

my favourite reads of 2017

I surpassed my reading goal of 50 books this year. As  of writing this post I have read  94. Granted some of those were picture books (early in the year), I did read a lot more than I have in the last couple of years. Less stress, more time, and a  job that reminds  me how much I love books, has helped with this number.

My Goodreads stats tell me:

  • I read 18,723 pages in total.
  • My shortest book was I Need a Hug by Aaron Blabey (24  pages)
  • My longest book was Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb (853 pages)

There have been a few books that stood out to me this year. Thought I’d list them here for  posterity’s sake. (And maybe to make it look like I update my blog more than once every 2 months…)

Favourite Fiction Novel

Ginny Moon
by Benjamin Ludwig

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up. After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her. Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right… (

You probably all  remember how much love I had for this novel. I still get shivers when I talk about it to another person. I think this is the best book I read all year. Another book came close, but Ginny Moon stood out over all 94 books. This novel is amazing.

Favourite Middle Grade Novel

Let’s Pretend We Never Met
by Melissa Walker

If it were up to Mattie Markham, there would be a law that said your family wasn’t allowed to move in the middle of the school year. After all, sixth grade is hard enough without wondering if you’ll be able to make new friends or worrying that the kids in Pennsylvania won’t like your North Carolina accent.

But when Mattie meets her next-door neighbor and classmate, she begins to think maybe she was silly to fear being the “new girl.” Agnes is like no one Mattie has ever met—she’s curious, hilarious, smart, and makes up the best games. If winter break is anything to go by, the rest of the school year should be a breeze.

Only it isn’t, because when vacation ends and school starts, Mattie realizes something: At school Agnes is known as the weird girl who no one likes. All Mattie wants is to fit in (okay, and maybe be a little popular too), but is that worth ending her friendship with Agnes? (

I read a lot of fantastic MG novels this year, although Let’s Pretend We Never Met stands out over the rest. I don’t normally like contemporary novels, but Melissa Walker has a knack for aiming straight to my heart with her writing. It’s certainly something when a story can make me cry, and it doesn’t have to do with an animal. This story is a wonderful one about the struggles of friendship and growing up. It’s honest, funny, and well-crafted.

Favourite YA Fantasy

The Hazel Wood
by Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away?by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began?and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong. (

This book comes out at the end of January but I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of it through work. The story is a dark, folk-tale that had me holding my breath through the entire read. It has twists and turns I was not expecting. I cannot wait to buy it when it comes out. As I read the novel, I kept thinking of another dark, folk-tale I loved, Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Although this particular book is YA, and Novik’s book is classified as Fantasy (adult), I still think people who read Uprooted would enjoy The Hazel Wood.

Favourite Sci-Fi / Dystopian (adult/YA)

Red Rising (book 1)
by Pierce Brown

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so. (

Red Rising is a complicated addition to this list. It can fall into many categories. For the year I have been working at the bookstore, this series has been recommended to me multiple times by multiple people. I refused to try it out. Why? Because I don’t LIKE Science Fiction stories. I like fantasy. I don’t like space, and aliens and stuff. But earlier this month while I was in library picking up another book, this series was on the shelf beside it. I thought, “What the heck”, and picked up the first book. WOAH. I loved it almost instantly. The first book is closer to a dystopian novel than a sci-fi one. Books two and three of the trilogy are more sci-fi, but halfway through Red Rising I knew I was in for the long haul. These books are so well written, and the world so well crafted, that after I finished all three novels, I wasn’t able to read a few  other books I tried because I felt they were written poorly.  Something I probably would not have noticed (or minded) had I not just read three books with such rich, well-crafted writing. I admitted to my coworkers that they were right, and I was wrong. This series was fantastic.

Favourite Picture Book

Pete With No Pants
by Rowboat Watkins

Meet Pete.

Pete is gray. He’s round. And he’s not wearing any pants.

So Pete must be a boulder. Or is he a pigeon? Or a squirrel? Or a cloud?

Join Pete in his quest to answer the world’s oldest question: Why do I have to wear pants? Wait, that’s the second oldest.  (

I have a slight elephant obsession. (Cue collective  gasp of shock.) The cover art, and title of this book was enough for me to pick it up off the table at work as soon as we got it in. But the story itself is hilarious, charming, and warm-hearted. The illustrations are gorgeous and this hazy, soft, calming colouring. I bought this book for myself. I love Pete. And I, too, often question why I need to wear pants.


I read a lot of  good books this year. I did not finish more than normal. I feel a lot less guilty not continuing with a book I am not enjoying. In fact, I have found I am much pickier with my reads than I have been in the past. I no longer have patience for those cookie cutter plots. If I start a new book and feel like I have already read the story a million times, I’ll put it down and try another book. I didn’t used to be like this, although I have been out  of the reading game for a while. Now I want to appreciate what I am reading more than wanting to read what everyone else is reading. I have even abandoned some series I was following faithfully because I just couldn’t read the same story over and over. This might be a normal thing for most people, but it’s a newer thing for me.

What did you read this year that stood out among everything else you read in 2017?

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