Books I read in 2017

Happy 2018!

I say, 20 days late! 2017 was a year of up and downs for me; majority of it was the rest of my first year at University, as well as studying I also took part in two performances with my university’s theatre company, visited Dublin and Prestatyn, went to concerts, went to my first Pride festival and lots of other happy memories. One thing I was particularly proud of in 2017 was how many books I managed to read. I’ve always loved reading since I was tiny but during high school and afterwards, I drifted away from reading as a hobby and always struggled to try to find the time and the motivation to sit down and concentrate on a book. Luckily this year, the motivation and drive suddenly came back to me and I fell back in love with reading, bookshops, libraries and literature all over again and I am so thankful for it. Unfortunately, a downside of last year is I neglected my blog massively, which I blame partly on trying to focus on University and get used to the new routine and also blame on just laziness in general but I did manage to crack out two book reviews on my blog last year! You can read them here and here!

I thought I’d share some of the books I managed to read last year and what I thought of them, as well as talk about books I plan to read this year and ones I’d like to read! This list is in no particular order and not in any particular ‘rating’ and doesn’t include every book that I read this year:

  1. Too Close to Home by Aoife Walsh

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Ironically I first mentioned this book back in a blog post in February 2016! Only took me until October 2017 to finish it! I still stand by my original thoughts that Aoife’s novel reminds me of coming of age/YA stories like Ally’s World, which I used to read back in year 7 and 8. It tells the story of Minny who lives in a big, confusing family – where the father and mother are separated and Minny feels like she has to also help take care of her younger sister, baby brother and older sister Aisling who is autistic. I also enjoyed this book because I personally felt Aoife wrote an autistic character well and didn’t draw unnatural attention to how Aisling acted in situations and such. The novel also has typical YA novel topics like family problems, crushes and bullying. Overall I did quite enjoy it, I’m not in any rush to reread it and you can definitely tell it is a young adult novel – but I still enjoyed it and I’m very glad I finally finished it!

2. We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

After finishing this novel I was completely enamoured by it and the concepts discussed/implied in the story. Not spoiling any twists or big plot points but the story eventually brings up the question of humanity in animals, specifically primates and if they can remember family and if similar bonds between family members can be shown between a human and primate. The story was so surprising and different to other books I have read that once I hit a particular chapter or point in the book where a lot of things became revealed, I found myself glued to the book – not wanting to put it down. I’d love to read another book of Karen Joy Fowler’s as this novel is probably the book of 2017 that brought me back into reading regularly.

3. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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I now actually claim this novel as my favourite book, that is how much I enjoyed it. Not only that, I absolutely adore Ishiguro’s style of writing and when I found out that he had won the Nobel prize in Literature I was so proud to be a fan of his work because he is so talented and definitely deserves the prize. I went into detail about Never Let Me Go on a previous review on my blog, but let me tell you – this book has such a natural, raw narration from the main character that you find emotions hitting you for hours after you’ve finished the story.

4. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

The Shock of the Fall was included on one of my University module reading lists, and that is actually how I ended up reading it but the story was so real and impactful that I ended up sitting for hours not putting my kindle down because I needed to know what happened. I will warn that the story’s themes largely include mental health, schizophrenia, depression, suicide and death. The main protagonist had his flaws and parts of him that you’d find yourself reading and wanting to argue or yell at him but other times you’d pity him. In some parts of the novel, I found myself getting goosebumps because of how blunt and honest the character was and how dark the story could get. But I felt this was good writing because it didn’t romanticize mental health disorders, it didn’t paint them as something that one day would be magically cured, it showed how bleak it could be. That it could happen to anyone, that the symptoms can be far and near from what people expect. In general, I definitely recommend this book because it is so powerful and so well written.

I’m currently trying to power through Jane Austen’s Emma. I do love Austen’s stories and her writing, but sometimes when I’m tired it does take a couple of going over the same paragraph again to try and take in what happened in the scene and sometimes I mix characters up – but I am enjoying it and plan to finish it! Other books I have in my book box ready to read include

  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
  • Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
  • Georgia, Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
  • Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  • Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher

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So wish me luck! Hopefully I can read way more books this year than I did last! Feel free to share what books you loved in 2017, or any 2018 releases you are looking forward to!

I am also on GoodReads if you’d like to give me a follow!

Thanks for reading,

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Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi: Book Review

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In June this year, I bought and downloaded ‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi onto my tablet, and I finally completed it today and it was such a different book from the ones I normally read and very relevant for the UK’s Black History Month that I wanted to talk about it. It is an amazing piece of literature definitely deserving a review. 

Yaa Gyasi is a Ghanaian-American novelist and Homegoing is her debut novel. At only 26 she has already won awards for this novel and of course, they are well deserved. According to her Wikipedia, Homegoing was inspired by a trip to her home country of Ghana, that she had not visited since being an infant. Homegoing is a phrase used for African-American funerals and is a big part of the culture and history. Back in the days of the slave trade, slaves believed death meant their soul would ‘go home’ and return to their native place in Africa. Of course, as the novel starts in the 18th century and explores the theme of slavery so raw and bluntly, I can see why Gyasi used this as a title. Of course, when I started reading I knew deep down this book was going to be more educational to me than it would ever be empathetic because this is a book of black history and the suffering, discrimination and such African people went through from 18th century onwards. I think it is a good idea for white people to read stories like this as it’s stories that are true and need to be told. Not forgotten. So many people went through so many things to even get to where we are today and in recent stories such as the rise of Black Lives Matters, the obvious problem of racism in many industries and shootings of black youth by police – it’s very important to remember we’ve still got a long way to go in learning from our ancestor’s discrimination and cruelty.


Admittedly I was terrible with keeping up on my reading on the first few chapters of Homegoing but I don’t put that down to the writing or topic at all. I’m very bad for procrastinating reading. But recently I picked up Homegoing again and got sucked back in and even between University classes or on the tram home I have found myself wishing I had more time to ‘just finish this chapter’ or ‘find out who the next character is’. Each character was so different but I loved how you could trace back the relatives and descendants to the original characters of Effia and Esi. Family/ancestors are an important theme in this story. It also explores two regions of Ghana, the Ashanti people and the Fante. From reading this I am so in love and amazed by Gyasi’s knowledge and research of her culture and the past of Ghana. Even at the end of the book I looked at her list of references and was incredibly impressed. The passion to spread the knowledge and history of Ghana is so amazing and Gyasi is an incredible author and writes each character so beautifully and makes each of their stories so unique, that you find yourself glued to the book intrigued.

Gyasi does not spare anything writing the honest past of these characters and how some of them lived through well-known history including the African Slave Trade, the Plantation era, segregation in the US, riots, war on drugs etc., it left me feeling like I had gotten a more honest and powerful insight to how people of colour experienced these times. A quote that stood out to me massively about half way through the book was:

“We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history you must ask yourself, Whose story am I missing?, Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there you get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.” 

This stood out because I think it’s a quote and question to ask yourself even now. What’s in the history books in school in the US isn’t always correct. Things are missed out, people are missed out. Think of the Ferguson riots and many other riots after innocent black youth had been killed after. Thankfully on Twitter, people are lot more quick to notice the anomalies, but there was so many call outs for ‘trustworthy’ media ignoring important facts or honest stories from black witnesses. Media would paint the white policeman as a victim and the barely even adolescent black child as not. In this day and age, racism is systematic and history is changed to suit those who are in charge.


As I prepared to write this review, I actually scanned over other people’s reviews and one talked about how most ‘the past of slavery’ centered books tend to just be there to shock and upset. I don’t really agree and I definitely think Homegoing is different from that. It doesn’t give you a bird’s eye view, it puts you right there in the character’s shoes. It takes you through generations to see how, even though the African slave trade is in the past, things still effect people of colour today. There is still lasting effects and that we shouldn’t ever forget about it. It’s not something we can brush under a rug or let a white leader convince us that it’s all ‘over and done with’.

I wanted to make this a spoiler-free review but I’ll mention briefly, the ending characters who close the book for me were based in the 21st century, I’m guessing around 2001. The final female character, Marjorie, takes our final male character Marcus back to Ghana where she grew up, more specifically, the Cape Coast. The story itself starts with fire and fire is actually a prominent theme throughout the story, however as the two characters stand on the beach in the sun there is this one paragraph:

She walked to where he stood, where the fire met the water. He took her hand and they both looked out into the abyss of it. The fear that Marcus had felt inside the castle was still there, but he knew it was like the fire, a wild thing that could still be controlled, contained.”

I thought this was such an amazing little scene that I actually wrote it down. I loved the contrasting symbolism of starting with a fire and ending with water. I can never spot or decipher exactly what this symbolism could have meant to the author but I feel it was to maybe be a metaphor for the character’s futures. The vast, big sea on the coast of Ghana, the character’s ancestors homes – where it all started. To show despite all of the anger, distress, brutality, violence and suffering the characters go through during the book, they are still there. They are still strong and part of the Earth. Their ancestries are important stories to the Earth and despite how horrible the world can be, people will keep fighting. The ocean scene is almost like a healing scene compared to the rest of the book, although it is clear you are meant to understand that racism and discrimination is still rampant, the two characters are given a moment of peace and clarity, of happiness.

I think this is definitely a novel to pick up this year and read as it is so educational and relevant even now. The cover art I have seen for it is also beautifully illustrated and it’s just such a raw, enthralling book that I might consider getting a physical copy for myself to read again in the future.

Thank you for reading, Homegoing is currently available here on Amazon UK

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