It is the last day of the year and I thought I should do a wrap for the year as pertains to the books I picked up in the year and the ones I finished reading.
Prior to the beginning of the year, I had decided that my first read for the year will be Lolita. I read that with a bunch of people from one of my book-clubs and today we are very good friends. However, Lolita was not the first one I finished in the year. This list is in the order I finished reading the books I started in whatever sequence. Yes, I read multiple books at the same time.
For the books, I did post a review on my blog or Goodreads, I will provide a link because I won’t be copy pasting the entire thing here.
All ratings are out of 5 and I’d recommend you all to go read the full reviews as well.
So, without further ado, let’s begin with the trip down the book lane.
1. The Coffee Girl by Natalie Charles
A 4 star read for me. That speaks quite a lot about it because I prefer not to read books written in first person narrative and this was exactly that. The reason I picked this one up was because I had read the second in the series and was thoroughly impressed by that. Simply could not miss out this one. And the cover made it all the more tempting.
This one had a lot going for it apart from the romance part of it. The bond of family and love surviving the obstacle time throws at us. Importance of friendship and importance of good food!
2. The Wine and Chocolate Workout: Eat, Drink and Lose Weight by Greta Boris
This was a Net Galley read and the reason I read it should be apparent from the title itself. Who does not want chocolate to be part of their diet, right?
I rated it at 3 stars because rather than being interesting as I originally though, it was all basic general knowledge stuff telling (and not showing) how taking care of our bodies is as important as taking care of our minds. Quite monotonous.
3. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Before I started reading the book with a few friends of mine, this was the talk of my book-club. But I was disappointed. I rated it a 3 because I thought there was much ado about nothing when it came to this book. Yes, it does make you think quite a lot but in my opinion the fame of this book has more to do with it being banned in the first place.
Never got around to writing a review for this one. I guess I never will, either.
4. Clock Zero: I’m Not My Social Feed by Nawar Alsaadi
A Net Galley read that I rated a 2 out of 5.
The name of the book, the premise and the cover got me excited for this story. In the end it was a disappointment.
It started with a being a drag and too many words than were required and very many tangents for no reason at all. The ending was thoroughly anticlimactic (with many cliffhangers) that I wanted to bang my head in the nearest wall.
5. The Ghostwriters by Mickey J. Corrigan
Again a first person narrative story and I gave it 3.75 out of 5.
A fast paced story that shows that human beings are not perfect and have their demons to fight, this story also shows how not to go about dealing with someone who suffers from mental health issues. How love and understanding is what one needs to be anchored in reality rather than constant nagging and being made to feel a failure.
6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This one I read for nth time in my life. My rating for it has not changed which has always been a 5 on 5 and this one still keeps its place in my favourites.
What was different this time around was the fact that I saw the story in a different light and everything was given a new meaning altogether. I started seeing that era in which Austen lived and Austen herself in a new light.
7. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
A 4.5 for me that I enjoyed thoroughly. Was not able to write a review for it though.
But, the familiarity of the names and a few customs and traditions of the Arab world had me fascinated and I was completely submerged in this fantasy book.
8. Caroline Bingley by Jennifer Becton
Once I finished reading Pride and Prejudice this year, I was wondering what happened to Caroline Bingley and that ensued a search for books that may talk about her. Now, I would categorise all that under fan fiction but yes there are published works. Fan Fiction for Pride and Prejudice is in itself a genre out there.
There were many authors who have written Caroline’s story but the synopsis of this one had me decide that this was the one.
I was not at all disappointed when I read a story where Caroline was as she was described by Austen herself.
An enjoyable read that I rated at 3.
9. Life’s Peculiarities by Sarah Khan
A collection of short stories that I rated 3.5.
The, in my opinion needs a little more polish in her art.
10 – 17. Spindle Cove series by Tessa Dare
A series consisting of 5 novels and 3 novellas. I enjoyed it very much but the ones I’d say deserve a mention in the series are the following ones.
A Week To Be Wicked: A 4.5 for me, I absolutely loved it. Not just because it was a historical romance but also because the heroine was a bluestocking and a scientist to boot. I loved how the hero was a little intimidated by her intelligence and in complete awe of it. Not to mention the fact that she helped him become the man he was meant to be with her love and her trust in his abilities. And the nest part is that Minerva never set out to slay Colin’s dragons for him but slay them she did.
Any Duchess Will Do: For this one we have a bar maid trying to pretend that she can be a Duchess and she is the right person for this Duke who has had to bury a child that has turned him away from emotions and caring altogether. She is there to show him that life is worth living irrespective of whatever painful situation life may put us in. A complete treat when these two fell in love.
Do You Want To Start A Scandal: Since I was a kid, I wanted to be a detective and the hero of this one is a spy for the Crown of England. The best part? The heroine too has this knack of going into her spy mode that brings these two together and bounds them forever.
18. Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
I would just say it makes me wish I knew Bengali to get the real feels of these all.
19. A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie
I read Christie after a long long time and this was the one I picked up.
I was completely blown when the truth was revealed because it never occurred to me that there could be a very simple reasoning when my mind was all too engrossed in untangling non-existent complexities.
Need I even say that it was a 5 on 5?
20. Across The Line by Abhirun Das
It was okayish and I thought that the author needed to add a little more polish to his work. A 3 starer for me.
21. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
Me being me with my interest in detective fiction, I read a little more of Christie.
At one point I was completely sure who it will turn out to be and I could have bet on it but deep down I had this teeny tiny feeling that I was wrong. With only a couple of pages left, the murderer was revealed and I was like, “What just happened there? I never could have pegged this person as the murderer!”
22 – 25. The Travises Series by Lisa Kleypas
The series is a one time read for me but I can’t say I did not enjoy it. Following needs to be mentioned though.
Blue-Eyed Devil: Domestic violence is a reality that the world is catching up on as it is not considered a family matter anymore that should not involve the forces or the state. The same is true for bullying. I have been on the receiving hand of it and I can so get how frustrating it can get as it erodes your self-worth and then self-respect.
26. The Professor and The Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester
A 3.5, it becomes interesting and then goes down for a bit and then goes up. It is like a wave with its crests and troughs. All in all, it was fairly (a little more) interesting.
27. The Unexpected Guest by Agatha Christie (Novelised by: Charles Osborne)
A 3.75, I liked the story but reading in it’s novelization form was not a good idea in my opinion because Christie-ishness was diluted in it.
28. Uljhay Suljhay Anwar by Imrana Maqsood
A 2 starer that I won’t recommend to anyone.
29. Reneging Quiescence by Samiha Zubair
The ideas that are portrayed in the various poems are profound and gets one to go all nostalgic and thing strike a chord. You read and the understanding of the emotions and the feels is there. As if the situation is something the writer is experiencing in the present.
But something of equal importance that bothered me as I read these verses, was a bombardment of big words. The same ideas could have been portrayed in simple words and verses should either rhyme or not, not an mixture of everything.
30. Dracula by Bram Stoker
This one had been on my TBR for years before I got my hands on a copy. I was going to read it on my Kindle app but a friend lent me his hardcover to read.
It was a book all my friends (and people who are not even my friends) have had high praise for but I was disappointed. Highly disappointed. In my opinion, the book is highly overrated.
Could not give it any more than 3 stars.
31. The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne
I gave it a star only because that was the least rating I could give on Goodreads.
The hero was more of a douche and the heroine was stupid to pine for him.
Love happens when hearts, minds and souls connect and not when you can’t stop lusting after a body when your heart cries for another.
32. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
As I read the first chapter, I thought, “The first chapter is very haphazard. The focus shifts from character to character abruptly and for no reason at all.”
This haphazardness continues throughout the story (at least for me).
Another overly hyped book that left me disappointed that I rated at 2.5.
33 – 35. Pottermore Presents
These 3 books in the Pottermore presents by J. K. Rowling where we find more details about characters that have always been with me since I was a kid.
36. After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia Sunni Split by Lesley Hazleton
I believe I’m not qualified enough with my limited knowledge to rate or review this book.
I’ve heard many an opinion on the material of this book and that it may have a bias, but again, my limited knowledge does not allow me to comment on that front.
37. A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
The slow build up showed me that our Miss Holmes had dilemmas because she was a woman. And all of them are all too real even in the 21st century. Irrespective of the fact that the story has been set in the late 1800s (the original time of Sherlock Holmes).
But once the things were put in motion, there was a steady pace. I had my mind whirring as I tried to solve the case along with Miss Holmes. The case was there right in front of me from page one but it was never obvious.
I loved the subtle undertones of romance between Miss Holmes and… I’ll let you figure that out for yourself. 😉 I can’t help it. I am a romantic at heart. ❤
I absolutely loved it! A 5 for me.
38. Mitti Se Ik Muqalma by Shakeel Ahmed Khan Zunnurain
A 3,5 for me, a couple of them I fell entirely in love with.
39. Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored by Rishi Kapoor
Me giving 1 star is rare but I could not help it with this one.
The tone of the book verges on arrogant. So much so that no one else matters or is good enough in the entire Bollywood in the past, present or future!
And then there is so much repetition. I guess I have learnt the names of his movies by heart now. I can always look that up on Google! I don’t want to know who produced which of his movies and who sang what songs! That is all publicly available!
40. A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir
Loved the fantasy world the author made and the way she made it all believable. The narrative is all the more powerful for all the simple words she uses. No elite sounding words. Story and character development is superb with the characters all being 3 dimensional and all too real to be believed in.
41. Our Story Ends Here by Sara Naveed
This one reminded me of a few Bollywood movies as I read it and there were times I wanted to strangle the heroine for having no pride in certain circumstances. And the heroine’s father too.
The ending was very tragic. It was a forever but not a happily ever after.
42. The Girl With The Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn
A little more than a 4 for me, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had one of my favourite tropes going and I just could not keep it down from the moment I started reading it.
43. The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill
A 4.5, it was a fast paced story that brings a smiles and frowns as you read along. Luna, our dear protagonist does a fabulous job of keeping us on edge and all the other characters play an important part. That is again another thing that I liked about this book. No character was a filler. They all had an important part to play.
44. The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad by Lesley Hazleton
The ending was very melancholy but that was as expected. However, this one left me with so many unanswered questions that have given me many a subjects to research on.
45. This House of Clay and Water by Faiqa Mansab
The emotions portrayed range from mild to intense and the wording is such that you feel them all. Some moments bring the lightness of smiles in your life and some moments you’d be ready to commit some serious damage to the characters!
This one actually made me cry and I had to be consoled for a bit. But it got a well deserved 5 on 5.
46. The Diary of a Social Butterfly by Moni Mohsin
I was suggested this one as an anecdote to a very intense one I was reading prior to this one.
I started it but I couldn’t bring myself to read any further than one and a half entry of this diary. JUST NO. Another 1 starer for me. For me a book has to stick to one language and not be a jigsaw between more than one.
47. Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey
I was looking forward to this one because I read the one after it before I could get my hands on this one. My excitement was justified with the to and fro that happened in this one. I loved it!
48. Black Coffee by Agatha Christie (Novelised by: Charles Osborne)
This was the first time in my Christie career that I was bang on right about who the culprit was. Could not stop the inner me from dancing from joy when I read it. Christie is absolute love but again, the Chritie-ishness was diluted in the novelisation of the story.
49. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
A 4 for me, I thoroughly enjoyed this dive into the world of mythology and the way it raised my curiosity to know more about the mythologies from around the world.
50. Origin by Dan Brown
The jury is still out on Origin as half the people reading it, love it while others think it was a waste of time. For me, however, this was fabulous. A second best after The Da Vinci Code in all of the Dan Brown works.
Origin sparks the life long debate of Religion vs Science and how scientific community and the religious factions defend their positions. It also puts forward the stance that many take which is neither 100% Science nor 100% Religion.
51. A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas
Every chapter made me think that the answers are just round the corner but then there is more to the situation than meets the eye. The answers aren’t as simple as black and white.
Kept me interested from the first word and I didn’t want it to end. It ended to soon for me.
Waiting impatiently for the next one in the series.
52. The Bride by Julie Garwood
A 2.25 starer, it was okayish.
53. The Wedding by Julie Garwood
A 3.75. I don’t know how people lived back in the day but the way it is portrayed in this book would definitely have rendered me bonkers. I am sure of that.
It worked well with emotions. There were instances that saddened me and there were instances I smiled and laughed outright too.
54. Sarah and the Secret Sheikh by Michelle Douglas
The characters are very close to reality and very likeable. Nowhere did I tell myself, this does not happen or that what is the author even talking about.
A very important thing and a point in favour of Michelle Douglas is that when she wrote a Sheikh hero, she did not make him out to be a Christian in all but name which I have seen happening so many times. Religion was kept at a side and it was emotions and circumstances that took centre stage.
55. Their Mistletoe Baby by Karin Baine
The story could be used as a classic example of what miscommunication brings and how a simple conversation can bring lives back on track.
The best part about the book, however, was the fact that both of them were ready to put the other before themselves. They wanted the other to have a happy and full life, whatever may be the consequences for themselves and that is real love. A love that is selfless.
56. Jannat Ke Pattay by Nimra Ahmed
Nope. Not something I’d recommend to anyone.
Yes, there were a few moments that were cute and made me smile but that still doesn’t counter the absurdities that I read in this novel. What was the author even thinking? I can debate so many points from this book.
57. The Prince’s Cinderella Bride by Amalie Berlin
The best part about this one was that it was dedicated to me. ❤
A story like this gives you a little ray of hope that somewhere out there you have a soulmate who will understand you beyond reason and beyond logic.
For once I felt like crying for happiness because these two people, when they loved each other stayed loyal to each other, even after they believed themselves to be divorced. That is what I would term as real love.
Like real people, none of the characters was perfect and they made stupid mistakes which make one want to facepalm themselves thinking, “what did I do?”. That was quite relate-able.
58. A Fortunes of Texas Christmas by Helen Lacey
It talks about the importance of communication in a relationship which struck a cord. Seeing that someone actually makes an effort and listens (not only hear) to what you say is such an aphrodisiac (at least for me).
Those small moments that are usually seen as insignificant are the real building blocks of any and every relationship and that is very well portrayed in this story.
59. Give Murder A Hand by Beth Prentice
The mystery was not over the top making me want to pull on my hair or anything rather it was mild and helped me relax after exhausting days. Somehow, I could figure out where the story was heading or what the next scene would entail (and I love it if I can decipher the clues firsthand).
It all started with a skeleton accidentally dug and the pandora box was opened and Lizzie’s life left in chaos. But her family (in all their weirdness) and Riley (the guy she loves and who loves her back) stood by her in all the hurdles being thrown her way.
60 – 62. The Bronze Horseman Trilogy by Paullina Simons
I don’t know what to say and what not to say for this one but this had me feel so very very much. The emotions are so strong that you can’t help but feel everything that you read about.
It made me smile and it made me cry and it made go in a murderous rage.
Read this review for sure.
63. Navy Doc on Her Christmas List by Amy Ruttan
It is a story of second chances. As far as this trope goes, the story has to make me believe that whoever was given the second chance deserved it. Not all authors are successful in that regards where the only deciding factor is hormones. But, Amy gives the intricate details of these people here that made me (someone who does not believe in giving second chances) root for Ella and Zac’s reunion!
64. Dangerous Deeds by Beth Prentice
Reading about Lizzie’s crazy family that loved each other to death was so much fun to read. How they may not agree with the choices a family member makes but always stand behind them to support in what they decided. Families today could learn so much from this to let everyone in the family lead their own lives.
The mystery wasn’t anything over the top but seeing that the story talked about everyday people, having a stalker was a big deal. And the portrayal of curiosity killed the cat was amazingly done.
65. The Christmas Gift by Beth Prentice
Christmas is one of my favourite festivals and this one had it in spades. Not just the celebration but also the excitement and preparations leading to The Day.
The mystery (if we can even call the story that) was sweet. It showed that people love and there is forever love only if it is true.
66. Christmas with the Best Man by Susan Carlisle
The story in a classic way teaches us that just because something bad befell us does not mean that the world had ended or that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. What matters is that we continue on the path.
Understandable that there will be times when we will want to give up and curl in a ball and sleep the never ending sleep but these are the moments when we must be courageous and move on regardless of the pain, regardless of the feeling of being a failure.
67. The Rescue Doc’s Christmas Miracle by Amalie Berlin
One decision that changed the course of life for two people. The story was so sweet highlighting that our experiences shape us and our insecurities. However secure someone portray themselves to be, there will be something in their life they will not be sure of.
The cord struck home. Because, that is so true. Somewhere in the darkest corners of our psyche, there is always something we are unsure for. Hiding our real selves because deep down we know that we may as well be giving someone power to destroy us.
All the best to you all for 2018.