My favourite books of 2017

I always do a post sharing my favourite books from the year! Click here to find my posts from 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016!

I set the goal of reading 52 books again in 2017 (I managed to meet this goal in 2016), however the birth of little Miss Olivia completely threw off my reading groove and I ended the year with 50 books read and halfway through book #51. I recently downloaded the kindle app on my phone and have started reading on my phone when nursing or when holding / rocking the baby – which is a HUGE chunk of my day. I also downloaded the Libby app on my phone, in the past I had only borrowed print books from the library because libraries in Canada aren’t compatible with kindles, however I can now read library books on my phone through Libby and just put holds on 4 ebooks the other night!

I just am not finding the time to read actual books or even books on my kindle itself. You honestly never know when you are going to be trapped under a baby for a long period of time, lol. So this way I just have to make sure I have my phone with me at all times (which I always do anyways). I’m currently 70% through a book I started 3 days ago on my phone so it’s already working!

Anyways, in 2017 I gave 12 books five stars, however I only consider 7 of them my very favourites.

*All books listed below are in order of when they were read not in order of preference* 

#1 The Kitchen House

When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. 

Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.

What can I say about this book? I read it in just over 24 hours and I read for 3 hours straight – until 1am – to finish it. This story is fast paced, gripping and heart wrenching. All of the characters have so much depth and you can’t help but fall in love with them. At the same time, it is devastating to read at times as the story follows the lives of slaves on a plantation in Virginia in the 1700-1800’s. I really enjoyed this book and I’m hoping to read the second book by this author in 2018. It’s been a long time since a book kept me up until 1am!

#2 Lilac Girls

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France. An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences. For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.
 
The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

I actually found the writing a bit choppy in parts of this book, however reading the authors note and realizing this is a true story – and also the incredible amount of research the author put into writing this story – took this book from a 4 star to a 5 star book for me. If you love WWII books like me definitely check this one out! Even though the content is so hard to stomach, especially knowing it actually happened, it’s SO important to remember this horrific part of our world history. Learning about the women’s reeducation camp in Germany and the horrific experiments surgeries the Nazis performed on prisoners was difficult to read about but also something I was not aware of before reading the book. I also finished the book being incredibly inspired by the real life hero of the story, Caroline Ferriday. It’s people like her who prove that one person CAN make a difference in the world. If you enjoy historical fiction read this book now. It’s hard to read, but also so worth it.

#3 Homegoing

A riveting kaleidoscopic debut novel and the beginning of a major career: Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing is a novel about race, history, ancestry, love and time, charting the course of two sisters torn apart in 18th century Africa through to the present day. Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi has written a modern masterpiece, a novel that moves through histories and geographies and–with outstanding economy and force–captures the intricacies of the troubled yet hopeful human spirit.

I love a book that spans years and years and this one spanned whole generations. Each chapter was a new story of the next generation of the same family, but it was amazing to see the thread and themes and circumstances that led to different life situations. I especially enjoyed the storyline of the family who started with a woman being brought to America on a slave ship in the 1700’s, because it really showed how that beginning can effect every facet of a family right up to current day, over 200 years later. Really beautifully written and vibrant storytelling.

#4 The Mothers

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt. In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.

This book was so well written. I found myself slowing down my reading of this book so I wouldn’t get through it too quickly because I was enjoying it so much and the writing is so stunning. All the main characters in this book made terrible choices that I disagreed with, but Bennett still made these characters so likeable and so relatable you couldn’t help but have empathy for them. I’d heard rave reviews about this book for months before reading it and it did not disappoint.

#5 Beartown

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. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys. Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected. Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

So so so good. The characters felt so deep, complex and real. The story was so relevant to current events and our current society and, of course, as a hockey kid from a hockey town I love anything to do with the sport. Especially the complexity / pressure that comes with team sports and especially when it’s young kids who are playing these sports and getting so much pressure put on them.

#6 The Heart’s Invisible Furies

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery–or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he? Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community, and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamorous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from and–over his many years–will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more. In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man.

This book was my very favourite of 2017. Another one of those books I started reading slower at the end because I didn’t want it to be over. This book is heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny all at the same time. The dialogue between the characters is amazing and Cyril’s wry sense of humour is fantastic. This book reminded me a bit of A Little Life only it’s not nearly as dark as A Little Life. However, I think fans of A Little Life would enjoy this book. It’s a really long book but often long books end up  being my favourites because you really get to know the characters then.

#7 This Is How it Always Is

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl. Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very well written with some very quirky, interesting, lovable and flawed characters. It tackles some tough – and very relevant – current societal issues around raising a transgender child and what it even means to be transgender as a child. While the book is fiction, the author has a transgender child and so I think her perspective is really meaningful here. I would recommend everyone check this book out and it would make a great book club read! Also, if you read and enjoyed this book I recommend checking out the podcast How to Be a Girl, I started listening to it in 2017 and really enjoyed it.

Other 5 star books in 2017 (link to my review on GoodReads) 

  1. City of Thieves
  2. When Breath Becomes Air 
  3. Behold the Dreamers 
  4. Her Every Fear (I read this book in only 2 sittings, so creepy and can’t-put-it-down material)
  5. Dreamland Burning

And a few honourary mentions…

And here are a few books I gave 4 (****) stars to but still really enjoyed and would recommend you check out. Links also to my Goodreads reviews:

  1. I’ll Give You the Sun
  2. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
  3. Dark Matter
  4. Evicted
  5. Behind Closed Doors 
  6. Option B
  7. The Hate U Give

What was the #1 best book you read in 2017? Did you or do you set reading goals for the year? 

6 Comments

Weekend Recap

The last week and a bit have been busy in my world, but also the longer I don’t blog the easier it is to keep not blogging. But then I think about actually not blogging and that’s not something I’m ready for. Soo, here I am in bed at 8:48pm on a Monday night, watching Drop Dead Diva and writing my blog post recapping this past weekend!

FRIDAY 

Friday evening… I actually worked until almost 7pm on Friday and was exhausted after a 10.5 hour day so I grabbed sushi and vegged out on the couch watching two episodes of Drop Dead Diva before going to sleep.

 

SATURDAY

Saturday morning… I woke up wanting to move so I grabbed Chloe and we headed out for a 30 minute walk. I was thinking about going to yoga at 10am but then I got caught up finishing my book, When Breath Becomes Air. I’ve been wanting to read it for over a year and so glad I finally did. I totally sobbed at the end. Check out this adorable note another library goer left in the front of the book!

After I finished my book I did a Fitness Blender kickboxing workout that left me sore for days even though I stuck to all the low impact modifications!

Saturday afternoon… I did some laundry and dishes before heading out to the Coldest Night of the Year walk. Our company was volunteering at it and I helped organize the volunteer activity. It was a super fun event.

Saturday evening… after the volunteer event I went for dinner with a few coworkers and had a great time. Plus I was still in bed by 10:30pm. Success!

 

SUNDAY

Sunday morning… I slept until 9am! It was blissful. When I finally woke up it was to beautiful blue skies and sunshine so I headed out for another walk with Chloe before making breakfast. I spent some time on Sunday morning reading my book before doing some meal prep for the week and then I did another Fitness Blender workout.

Sunday afternoon… I went to a 2.5 hour yoga workshop that was all about living yoga off your mat. I enjoyed it but it was a little too much talk and not enough yoga for me, I prefer workshops that really blend the practice with the theory. Anyways, I always enjoy picking up more yoga theory because I plan to do my YTT in the next couple of years so will take in as many workshops as I can in the meantime!

After yoga I went and picked myself up a little treat (frozen yogurt!) and spent an hour reading my book. I’ve been reading really good books lately, which I love because then I spend every spare second I have doing it.

Finally around 4:30pm on Sunday afternoon I drug myself out of the chair to do some packing. I spent the next 1.5 hours sweeping out our garage and starting to organize it and pack. I also filled our recycling bin and threw away a huge bag of garbage while I was at it. And it made me feel less guilty about not doing any packing yet… Because I have been feeling seriously guilty about it!

Sunday evening… I had a warm epsom salt bath (while reading my book, surprise surprise) and then made a late dinner while watching the Oscars. Later my aunt and brother came over and we had our family book club chat to discuss The Man Called Ove.

Oh, and if you wonder why Eric wasn’t mentioned in this blog post it’s because he’s currently on night shift, so he basically slept and worked while I was doing all of these things 🙂

How was your weekend? What’s the last really great book you read? 

5 Comments

Weekend Recap

I thought I’d jump in for a quick weekend recap… It was a pretty laidback one. It included lots of reading and lots of yoga and a bit of time outside. Eric was working all weekend so here is what I got up to on my own…

Friday night I went to a restorative class at my yoga studio. It was sooo wonderful after a really crazy week. Exactly what I needed. After yoga, I had dinner, crawled into bed and started a new book – The Kitchen House.

Saturday morning I had an appointment first thing and then I went and got a few groceries to get me through my last three days of Whole30! I’d ran out of a few of my staples – almonds, avocado, apples and eggs. Today is day 30! Whoo!

Once I got back from grocery shopping I hard boiled some eggs for snacks this week and made sweet potato bowls. Then my aunt picked me up and we went cross-country skiing. This has got to be one of my very favourite winter activities. I just love getting out in the fresh air. My newfound enjoyment for cross country skiing actually means I was wishing for more snow when it all started to melt a couple of weeks ago 🙂 It can definitely melt in March though.

After cross-country skiing I had big plans to clean out my closet, but I ended up crawling into bed and reading my book for 2.5 hours. I felt kind of guilty for spending the entire weekend afternoon in bed, but also it felt so lovely and the book was sooo good!

When I finally drug myself out of bed I decided to do some meal prep. I made this Butternut Squash Apple Soup and Chicken Thigh recipes for my lunches and dinners for the week.

After I was done cooking I picked up my aunt and we went to Saturday night free yoga. It was a very lovely, slow paced class.

I crawled into bed around 10pm and started reading my book again. I was about 50% finished at that point and proceeded to read for 3 hours straight until 1am!

  

I honestly cannot remember the last time a book kept me up this late… But that is a sign of a GOOD book for me, when I don’t go to sleep until I’m finished it. I ended up finishing The Kitchen House in just over 24 hours. Definitely highly recommend this book!

Sunday morning I slept in until 9am after my late night! I got up and had coffee and breakfast and then rushed off to yoga at 10am. It was a great class. Once I got home from yoga I had a shower and popped next door to my grandma’s so she could help me finish the blanket I’ve been knitting for the past 10 months! HA! I do enjoy knitting, I just need to work on picking up my projects more often. What should I knit next?!

Sunday afternoon I bottled my latest batch of homemade Kombucha, took Chloe for a super, super cold walk and did the dishes.

 

It was sooo cold she had to wear her little booties (which she hates I might add, ha ha). My dad came by for a visit shortly after Chloe and I got back from our walk.

In the evening, I sent a few work emails, folded laundry and watched The West Wing. I am loving that show!

I crawled into bed around 9:30 with my laptop and planned out my spin class for tomorrow morning and typed up this blog post while having Drop Dead Diva on in the background. And now I’m going to sleep as 5:30am is going to come early!

What did you get up to this weekend? When was the last time you stayed up super late finishing a book and what book was it? 

 

7 Comments