Favourite novels of 2017

Thursday, December 7, 2017 Permalink

Egad… it’s that time again. It’s time for me to share with you my favourite books of the year.

I’m always a little surprised at how hard AND easy it is when I come to put it together. When I flick through the books I’ve read during the year (new releases only) I find it very very easy to pick a few favourites. If I was to agree to share 10 favourites it’d be harder. Three or five is much easier. They’re not only books I’ve rated a (very) rare five stars, or perhaps 4.5 stars…. but books that have stayed with me long after I’ve turned the last page.

And without further ado, here’s my list for 2017… (links to my reviews are in the titles)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
This is / was easily my favourite book of the year. Obviously Eleanor Oliphant is not completely fine. She’s socially awkward and would be bloody hard work to be around; but Gail Honeyman puts us in her addled mind and it’s impossible not to fall in love with Eleanor and her (ahem) ‘eccentricities’. I laughed and I wept. This character-driven book is beautifully written and on my smallish ‘favourite books of all time’ list.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Best Day Ever
This book wasn’t even vaguely on my radar until I attended the Romance Writers’ Conference in August and much ado was made of it by its Australian publisher Harlequin. (As an aside, I should congratulate Harlequin Australia for really excelling in the romantic suspense sector.) Kaira Rouda offers us an increasingly unsettling lead character – a man keen to provide his wife the ‘best day ever’. Things naturally go awry however as we learn he’s been keeping A LOT of secrets from his wife… not to mention we readers.

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Sweet Little Lies
This book came as a huge surprise. It’s crime fiction, centred around a police investigation which has ties to another event years earlier. And our lead detective, quite imperfect and currently fragile, is forced to revisit traumatic events of her childhood. The plot’s interesting, but it was Caz Frear’s writing and lead character that won my heart in this debut novel.

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

The Choke
I read Sophie Laguna’s Eye of the Sheep a year or so after it was released and fell in love with her characters and her writing. Her 2017 release, The Choke is no different. It tells the tale of a young girl, abandoned by her mother and whose life with her pop spirals into disarray following irregular visits from her volatile father. This beautifully written novel and the injustices within will stay with you long after you finish reading.

The Choke by Sofie Laguna

Together
Another surprise and one that’s here because it’s cleverly written. In reverse. I know that’s not hugely uncommon nowadays, but this book begins with a tragedy and we slowly move back in time, over a 50 year period, to discover what lead a man to the drastic action of deserting his beloved wife.

together by julie cohen

I also need to mention some other faves:

Candice Fox released two books this year I adored… Crimson Lake and Fifty Fifty. And I suspect the former (vividly set in far north Queensland) didn’t make this list only because it was out an entire year ago and less at the forefront of my mind. Which kinda sucks I realise. I am however eagerly awaiting the second installment in that series as well as number three featuring Harriet Blue (written in conjunction with James Patterson).

The Shape of Us by Lisa Ireland about the friendships that develop between a group of disparate women who initially have one thing in common. I’ve seen many many people comment on this book, noting they can relate to at least one of these very realistic characters.

 

A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley Hay blew me away when I read it. Beautifully-written, it’s about an elderly woman forced to move into a nursing home and the woman / couple who buy her former family home. It’s quintessential Brisbane and surprisingly addictive.

Ache by Eliza Henry Jones is a (both powerful and subtle!) story about going ‘home’. It’s set in rural Australia and tells the story of a family (and community) ravaged by bushfires and trauma, and eloquently traverses of the journey from grief to recovery.

The Gulf by Anna Spargo Ryan introduces us to a young girl and her brother, capturing a short but pivotal moment in their lives. This sometimes-confronting book manages to convey both hopelessness and wistfulness.

 

(And it’s not until I look at the second listing now I realise they’re all books by Australian women, as is The Choke of course!)

What’s been your favourite book of 2017? Have you read / enjoyed any of these?

The Lovin’ Life team includes:

32 Comments
  • Elzbieta Mary Lipski
    December 7, 2017

    I’m a Kindle reader. They’re my tram and train books.I love thrillers and this year I cannot go past Security by Gina Wohlsdorf. I could not put this down (missed a few meals).

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      Oh I haven’t heard of that so will have to suss it out. I prefer hard copies if I want to ‘keep’ a book, but for review purposes it’s easier to work with eBooks as I can make notes and highlight sections as I go.

  • Eva Lewis
    December 7, 2017

    Can I just say THANK YOU for sharing recommended novels. My sister is an avid reader and I always wonder how on earth she picks the books she reads. I personally don’t like just picking any random one, I need to read something that is recommended and I’ll definitely be saving this post to refer back to.

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      I hope it’s helpful Eva. I’m also doing a wrap-up post next week in which I’ll hopefully be able to include the different genres of books I’ve read.

  • Lydia C. Lee
    December 7, 2017

    I’ve had the Oliphant book recommended a few times. Must get myself a copy. I’ve enjoyed A life’s Music (Makine) and Beartown had some interesting ideas. Not read a lot of good books this year. The Counsel’s File (Theroux) was quite enjoyable. I liked The Other Hand (Cleave). Rest of my reading has been pretty average…

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      I’ve not read any of them Lydia though think I have the Cleave! I’ve read a lot of great books this year. I’m a tough rank-er so used to rate most read-worthy books 3 stars but have probably tended more towards 3.5-4 stars for many this year.

  • Jo
    December 7, 2017

    I loved The Shape of Us and Best Day Ever. My favourite for the year though was A Deadly Kerfuffle by Tony Martin…and I adore The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz.

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      I found The Word Is Murder perplexing Jo. The fact vs fiction stuff and in some ways it felt a little indulgent of AH, though I like his writing.

  • Kathryn
    December 7, 2017

    Thanks for your review of the Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. After reading it I listened to the audiobook of it which was such a treat.

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      I did wonder what the audiobook would be like Kathryn as it was SO dependent on her voice and thinking etc so the selection of the narrator would be important. I’m glad you loved it.

  • sizzlesue15
    December 7, 2017

    Thanks Debbie I’m always looking for good books and the only one I’ve read on this list is Sweet Little Lies. I now have my Summer reading sorted. Thanks!

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      Oh yes, I used to love the Christmas break as a time to read and do little else. Given I read so much now I’ll probably have a bit of a reading break during my week off work.

  • Jo Castro
    December 7, 2017

    I was just wondering what books to put on my Christmas wish list Deb, and now I have some – thank you! Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is going to the top 🙂

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      A lot of people love it Jo, so thankfully it’s not just me! (Sometimes I do worry when I enjoy something and no one else seems to!)

  • Jodie
    December 7, 2017

    I need to copy this list for my selection for my book club next year!! They all sound wonderful!!
    XOOX
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      There are a lot of Australian books here Jodie. I never used to read Aussie stuff – preferring to ‘escape’ rather than reading about my own backyard but am loving so many new authors I’m discovering.

  • Retiring not Shy!
    December 7, 2017

    Lots of inspiration here, a list to look at as I pull together my holiday reading list. Thanks for the suggestions.

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      No worries and I hope you find some you enjoy.

  • Denyse Whelan
    December 7, 2017

    I imagine it would be a challenge to narrow the books down. You write so well in your reviews. Thank you! I have read some of Anna Spargo Ryan’s first book but I find her work sad (and there are reasons why, I know!). Anna is prolific on twitter and asked recently should she keep setting her novels in small country towns! Denyse x

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      Oh thanks Denyse. I sometimes feel like my reviews are a bit informal or don’t include enough (any) analysis and so forth…. it’s interesting how many Aussie books are set in small towns. I wonder if that’s what appeals to our audience or to o/s audiences?

  • kathymarris
    December 7, 2017

    I know what I’m going to be doing over the Christmas break! Thanks Deb for these book suggestions. I love nothing more than to curl up with a good book, but find it hard to find something I can get my teeth into. #TeamLovinLife

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      Ah yes and sometimes something doesn’t jump out straight away. I didn’t actually appreciate Best Day Ever initially. It felt kinda mediocre but then things the narrator tell you don’t seem to measure up and his voice changes a little. Having said that I usually only persevere with a book for 50 pages or so!

  • Ingrid Ingrid
    December 7, 2017

    Thank you! You’ve just provided me with my Christmas holiday reading list!

    Ingrid
    http://www.fabulousandfunlife.blogspot.com.au

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      You’re welcome Ingrid and I hope you find something you enjoy!

  • Patty
    December 7, 2017

    Why have I not seen any of these books?

    • Debbish
      December 8, 2017

      Patty, I’m the same when I look at others’ lists. And I tend to not (ever) read any non-fiction or fantasy / science fiction etc and rarely read historical fiction. So I suspect I miss some marvellous books.

  • Janet Camilleri
    December 8, 2017

    Love the sound of the first two, and being a Brisbane-ite, also the Hundred Small Lessons one. AND YAY FOR AUSSIE FEMALE WRITERS!

    • Debbish
      December 9, 2017

      Yes Janet and A Hundred Small Lessons is bookended by the floods which (in many ways) have defined Brisbane and are points in history we use to talk about stuff that’s happened.

  • Kate W
    December 14, 2017

    Haven’t read any of these (yet) but three are on my TBR list – Honeyman, Laguna and Spargo-Ryan. Togetherness also looks good.

  • Carol Cameleon
    December 15, 2017

    I haven’t read nearly enough this year and plan to end the year with ‘The Shape of Us’. It sounds like my kind of read! Thanks for sharing with #HighlightsofHappy

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2017

      It’s great Carol and I’ve met the author a few times now and she’s lovely. It’s always interesting to see how an author’s voice and personality is reflected in their writing – whether you meet them before or after you’ve read their work!

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