Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Film // Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I wasn't a Star Wars fan growing up. It was one of the many franchises that I only ever seemed to see in flashes and disorganised pieces at my grandparents house (the original trilogy, in the case of Star Wars -- never the prequels) and so as much as I understood everything I needed to for the sake of its influence on pop culture, I hadn't ever really seen Star Wars. It wasn't deliberate; I just wasn't really into science fiction and space at the time. Then, with the announcement of the new sequels trilogy, I finally sat down and watched all six Star Wars films before the release of The Force Awakens. I preferred the original trilogy, I enjoyed the films, but I wasn't necessarily grabbed by them in the way that other interests of mine seem to take over my life.

Then The Force Awakens happened, and I was in.

Books // 2017 Favourites

I think in 2018 I might need to start keeping an ongoing record of my top books of the year and adjust it as I go on, because trying to decide my favourite books in general is hard enough, and remembering the books I loved in the last 12 months is even harder!

Luckily I do have Goodreads to fall back on, so after having a look through the 52 books I've read this year (which is one a week, although by the time this post goes live and before the year ends I'll hopefully have finished both of my current reads, Alias Grace and The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night, so that'll take my total up to 54 in 2017!), here's the books I loved most in 2017. Although I've picked ten, and they're sort of in order, I haven't numbered them as I don't think I could properly rank them against each other as they're all so different!

The Tidal Zone - Sarah Moss (September-October)

I'm not sure I would have picked this book up if I hadn't seen so many recommendations for it, but I'm glad that I did and they were well founded -- this book was incredible. I wasn't entirely keen on the other narratives woven through what I saw as the main narrative (Adam's), but it didn't hinder my enjoyment of the book, and Sarah Moss is a superb writer. This is definitely one that I'd recommend everyone read, and the way Moss represents the NHS makes it especially worth the read for anyone who doesn't understand the strain on the NHS in Britain or those who don't realise quite how valuable it is. 

The Wonder - Emma Donoghue (August)

I love Emma Donoghue, and her novel Room is one of my favourite books. Something I find especially interesting with Donoghue's writing is how different the plots of her work seems to be, as The Wonder was the third of her books I've read (I also read Kissing the Witch last summer). Donoghue is a great writer, and this was a powerful and beautiful story about Lib, an English nurse sent to Ireland to determine whether a little girl who claims not to need to eat. It didn't necessarily hit the same spot with me as Room did, and I'll admit that part of the ending didn't really fulfil what I had hoped, but otherwise I was hooked. 

A Darker Shade of Magic -- V.E. Schwab (March)

This was a bit of an odd book for me, not because of the book itself, but because of what was happening in my life at the time I bought and read it. I was about a week out of the end of an eight year relationship, feeling completely unable to start any of the books I already had. I remember wandering around Waterstones, trying to find a book that would be perfect escapism and not remind me of anything in my own life, and came into the science fiction and fantasy section - and saw this. It was already kind of on my radar, but it just seemed to be the perfect book for me at that moment. I remember talking to other people about the world and the story with excitement, and for that alone it deserves a high slot on my list. However, even without the difference it made to me at the time of my life that I read it, this was a fantastic novel. I don't even know why I haven't got around to the rest of the series yet when it's been this long since I finished it, but I am looking forward to reading more of the series in 2018, and I've recently picked up copies of the second and third of the series, so watch this space!

Modern Romance - Aziz Ansari (July)

I've been trying to read more non fiction, and did better this year than I have in previous years -- this is definitely one of the best ones I read, and came at a great time for me too. I borrowed it from the library, but is the kind of book I think I'd like to buy at some point so I could reread it and refer back to certain sections. 2017 has been turning into the year of Aziz Ansari, too, as I've watched the first season of Master of None since reading this, and have been watching and loving Parks and Rec for the first time lately too (although Tom and Donna's 'Treat Yo Self' has definitely long been playing on loop in my head and has led to many, many, many excessive shopping trips... whoops!). This is definitely a great one for anyone dating in the modern world, and I'd recommend it to everyone.

The Roanoke Girls (September)

It's hard to say much about the plot of this book without spoiling the story, but this was definitely gripping in an uncomfortably dark way and even though the twists were a little apparent, it still sucked me in and was one of those books that I couldn't seem to put down. Something about it reminded me of Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects too, so I'd recommend it for anyone who was a fan of that.

The Good Immigrant (September)

There isn't much to say about this, aside from that I think everyone should read it and expand their minds, and their understanding of race and immigration from the voices of multiple British BAME people. I've already given this as a gift, and I think I might read some of the essays again in the future too. 

The Gender Games - Juno Dawson (August)

I've written about this before on here, so in brief: I love Juno Dawson both as a person and a writer, and having seen her speak in the book festival this summer I love how her voice comes through in this book. As with enough of the other books on this list, I want everyone to read this to get a better understanding of gender and to hear the experiences of a trans person in their own words, and I aim to read more books by trans writers next year.

The Power - Naomi Alderman (April)

I wrote about this one in more depth on here too, and again think this one is worth reading. It didn't go the way I expected plot wise, but was interesting and clever and I liked how Alderman covered gender and power. 

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth - Isabel Greenberg (February)

I started the year reading quite a few graphic novels, which didn't seem to carry through the rest of the year in the same way -- but this was definitely the best of the year. I do think I might prefer Greenberg's other graphic novel, One Thousand Nights of Hero, but this is well up there and a brilliant book, and I can't wait to read more of Greenberg's work in the future. 

Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher (January)

This wasn't an easy book to read so soon after Carrie Fisher's passing, but I'm glad I did read it and only wish I had read it sooner. Carrie's voice is strong, and it made me miss her even more than I already did. It's strange writing this now, just after the anniversary of her death, and having just seen The Last Jedi again in the cinema. It still doesn't quite feel real that she's gone, and I hope I can get around to reading more of her books. 

Honourable mention: Right at the end of 2017, I finished reading Jen Campbell's The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night and wanted to add a quick mention of it here. I love fairy tales, so although I didn't love every one of the tales, overall it was a wonderful read for the end of the year and I can see myself enjoying rereading it in the future!