2017 Book Awards

Just in time for the end of the awards season, here are my bookish winners, taken from the books I read in 2017 and excluding any re-reads.  

Best Actor aka Best Male Protagonist

Mark Watney (Any Weir)

Best Actress aka Best Female Protagonist

Rachel Chu (Kevin Kwan)

Best Cinematography aka Best Plot Twist

The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov (not particularly twisty, but good plottage occurred in this book)

Best Costume Design aka Best Book cover

Scythe by Neal Shusterman and Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Best Supporting Actress and Actor aka Best M/F side character

Astrid Leong (Kevin Kwan)

Eliza’s Brothers (Francesca Zappia) and Khalid’s cousin (Renée Ahdieh)

Best Original screen play aka most unique world/setting

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Best Adapted screen play aka best book-to-movie adaption

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Best animated feature aka a book you want to see animated

Saga by Brain K Vaughn and Warcross by Marie Lu

Best director aka best new writer discovered

Kevin Kwan

Best short film aka best short story/novella

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Best visual effects aka best action

Warcross by Marie Lu (not overly action-y but would be great to see the visual effects of this in movie form)

Best documentary aka best historical fiction/non-fiction

Working Stiff by Judy Melinek

Best picture aka best book

Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia


Best and Worst

The best and the worst of the year.  These are the posts most people love to read, because ~drama~.  Here are my lists (for the record, I don’t include re-reads on my list of best or worst, and pick the best of a series if I read more than one):

Best (ranking approximate):

7. Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane 

6. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

5. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

4. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

3. Brimstone by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child 

2. Warcross by Marie Lu 

1. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia


My best books will never all have 5 star ratings and 5 star books will often not appear on my list.  Why? Because my rating system is a mess and my favourites are more about my feeling and less about technical things.  I remove stars for things like major inconsistencies (*coughwarcrosscough*) but I still love them. 

Worst (rank definitive, novels only):

3. (Tie) The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern, EVE: The awakening by Jenna Moreci, Nerve by Jeanne Ryan, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

2. The Viral Storm: The dawn of a new pandemic age by Nathan Wolf

1. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

By novels only, I mean there were a handful of graphic novels I read for whatever reason that I don’t want to think about or list again. The 5 way tie I could not break because each book had something I absolutely loved about the book, but there was at least one thing that made them a 2 or 2.5 star read.  

How do you review (9)

Here’s another round of the random thought I have while reading that you really can’t put in a review. 

-You know this book takes place in America when a popping noise or a mild bang brings instant thoughts of guns

-Girl is allergic to cats, and there isn’t a cat in the entire story, but sure, put a cat on the cover!

-Let’s build a school for kids that can’t use their powers properly and then not actually teach them anything about using their powers properly.  Smart plan, guys!

-I really don’t think films use boob mics to record sound.  They use the sound stick.

-Groundskeepers must always live on the grounds in a little hut all by themselves and not in the big building only meters away with lots of bedrooms and things like that.  Always.

-40 minute break was somehow over after a 10 minute conversation.

-Why is it always palm cuts when blood is needed?  Isn’t there a better spot then the hand you will need to get shit done with and is less painful to take from?

-(book immediately afterwards) Seriously why is it always palm cuts??

-It didn’t take me long to learn why I disliked this book the first time I read it.

-I like that the gift of prophesy has a realistic downside in this book, many novels with magic don’t have realistic downsides to using the power.

-All I can think about when Mark talks about pissing outside is the contamination of the planet with earth microbes and how it’s no longer pristine.

-People need to hurry…..so they stand around talking and touring the place for like 30 pages. 

-All this great future technology but noise cancelling headphones still can’t block noise. 

The Martian by Andy Weir

I read this book and a few weeks later I watched the movie, so I will be commenting on both because I found that the movie influenced how I felt about the book.  I also listened to part of the audiobook and will comment briefly on that.  

The Book

Reviews on this book consistently talk about how it is very technical and most didn’t like that aspect of it.  Being a scientist I thought I wouldn’t mind this as much as non-scientists would.  However, I did find it very technical which slowed down reading.  I found the technical parts interesting as it made it vary clear the types of problems Mark had to face and how smart he was and how he had to think things through if he was going to survive, but there was one part where NASA spent an age describing what they wouldn’t do because it wouldn’t work before going into what they would do.  This does not seem like a thing NASA would do because they have a limited time to talk to Mark and they need to get to the point quickly.  Also my science brain wanted to look over all the calculations to see if they were right as I was reading them.  

Talking about how things would go talking to NASA, I found a lot of the questions asked (on both sides) were not very intelligent and would not have been asked as they did not add to the what you need to know right now to fix the situation.  That being said, I do like that there was a ‘daily Mark update’ news show in the book and that NASA was a part of it.  It is easy to imagine that this sort of thing would happen if it was real life.

I loved the characters, but did find Mark a bit too ‘happens to know the exact right thing every time he gets into a bind’.  He always seemed to know the exact right stats and information to figure out any problem.  Astronauts do need to be smart and train for this sort of thing, but it seemed a stretch with the sheer amount of knowledge he just knew without looking it up.  I did appreciate that Mark was allowed to be emotional about his situation.  He was allowed to cry when he got into contact with earth again.  At the time of reading the book I felt he was a little to unprofessional to be an astronaut, but reading ‘Failure is not an Option’ after I read this book, I am relenting on this a little.  The rest of the cast was surprisingly large and diverse, which I liked.  You also got to see some of the side characters develop over time.  Additionally, the way the characters react to the situation is very realistic.  

Just thinking about the amount of money that was spent to get him back is staggering, yet at the same time, it’s not too hard to image that money being spent.  Perhaps not being forked out by the government, but being raised by private citizens?  I can imagine that. 

This book was super funny and had great ‘comedic timing’.  The book would switch between PoV when a polar opposite then what was expected thing was happening.   The writing was not the most sophisticated, but I got over that quickly and learned to love it. The book did drag in the middle and follow a trend of ‘something went wrong, Mark fixed it, something went wrong, Mark fixed it’ a bit too much for my taste, but again, realistic. I do think there were a few inconsistencies in the book, but nothing that really dragged the text down.  Finally, for the first third of the book everyone pinched their chin constantly, which was a great irritation to me.   

The Audiobook

I didn’t listen to much of the audiobook, but the main two things I have to comment on, was that the audiobook I listened to (I’m not sure if there is a different English version) did not match the text of the book.  That is the main reason I didn’t stick with the audiobook.  Finally, I did like the narrator of the audiobook, even if I didn’t listen to much of the book. 

The Movie

Weirdly, while I found the book too technical, the movie was not technical at all and that irritated me.  I felt the lack of the constant calculations and considerations in the movie didn’t show how dire the situation was and how much needed to be considered and how smart Mark was.  Also, while for the most part the movie followed the book, towards the end when they needed to cut things out for time they cut some of my favourite parts!  I wanted to see Mark deal with the sand storm among other things.  However, the final scene they added to the movie was lovely.  


I loved the book and I liked the movie.  The only thing I would have changed is to see how Mark’s parents dealt with certain critical situations.  

How do you review? (8)

Here are some more of these thoughts I have while reading, I haven’t been good at keeping up and posted so there is a back log of comments.  Enjoy!

-Let’s go walk into a cave with the people literally trying to abduct and murder you because that is smart

-Such a waste of bullets

-MC never wears heels but when she does, she walks for over an hour in them.  Because of course she does.  Sadly this part was written by a woman….

-Everyone is poor yet everyone can buy virtual shit in the game?

-*Eats cookies in the middle of a battle scene that talks about pus constantly*

-Now we get to the whiny cis white het male teenager, but he’s poor and somewhat overweight so we are supposed to relate to him.  Author also added a dash of being bullied so it’s all good. *eye roll*

-That’s smart, light the entire building on fire with everyone of your group inside it

-Tidy romantic ending that solves nothing about the terrible world

-Talk about not being the investigators yet there is a section on her questioning witnesses to figure out if a death is a homicide instead of the detectives. Ugh I hate inconsistencies like this. 

-Talk of living in parent’s basements ignore the fact that in this world people don’t have basements anymore

-Buddy never thought to control+f his diary for key words that would have solved this entire puzzle in like 5 minutes??  Why are whiny white male leads the main characters again, when they are consistently this stupid?

-Indentured servitude is creepy

[Annoyance that an entire court case rests on the fact that when you fall backward your hands automatically move to behind you, not fly up as if to grab onto something, which I have totally done when I have slipped in the shower and as a result did not break my arm] 

-I love how the bully of this story is a large part of why the main character became so good at weapons.  It’s a little sad that only the main character really knows this as well.  I would have loved to have a scene were the MC straight up tells the a-hole that her superior strength is because if forced her to use weighted weapons. 

How do you review? (7)

I hope you want more of my random thoughts while reading because here you are: 

-Scheduling her to do the tutoring in the middle of her classes instead of during evenings when both of them are free is just plan wrong

-Electrodes don’t work that way

-It’s a maze but they seem to find the right way and the easiest exit

-Nice use of designated survivor trope, I want more

-MC can’t drink because ~reasons~ yet drinks anyway and has no consequences?

-Annoyed because I like this book but I don’t

-That’s not how physics works

-Incompetent adult trope, check!

-“I’m guessing none of us have ever infiltrated an Alien lair before” uh, you guys did that like 5 chapters ago?  I mean, I know the book is dragging at this point but that was a major plotpoint/scene so….

-Insert fear of females before introducing manic pixie dream girl

-“Nobody shakes hands in the autopsy suite” I would hope not

-No one else thought the ‘much to learn’ would ever be the planet with schools on it?

-A girl that is good at math!  And is valued by her male peers for it!

-Not enough bullets for this fight, especially since not one talks about reloading

Audiobook review: Protector of the Small

Protector of the Small is my favourite series.  Fullstop.  I love this series and I talk about it and the author all the time.  I recently did an audiobook re-read and while I could talk about this series for days, today I want to focus and review the audiobooks.  Not enough people talk about and review audiobooks and I have been making a concerted effort this year to do so whenever I read by audiobook.

So here we go!

These books were read by Bernadette Dunne and I really liked her narration.  She does different voices and I liked most of them.  Dunne also speaks clearly and at a pace that I can easily speed up the audio and still understand the book.  Not all productions you can do this, though I think most audiobook productions nowadays keep this in mind when recording, or so I’d like to think.

While she does a great job, this is my favourite series and I’m rather picky.  One thing I noticed is some of the emotional cues in the book were not done to what I had hoped for.  For example, in the prologue of the first book there is a scene where Lady Alanna is very angry but the narration doesn’t go as far as I would have wanted and you can barely tell she was angry.  However, everyone imagines books differently and I need to learn to be open to other people’s interpretations.

For part of Squire I read and listened to the audio and noticed there were some (minor) differences between the text and the spoken words.  This at first bugged me but the differences were minor and mostly helped the listener better understand what was happening.  I’m not sure if it was intentional on the production part or due to a difference in what was given to Dunne to read (like a different version of the story), but over all it didn’t matter to the story.  However, those that read and listen might notice and get frustrated at this.

Overall I do highly recommend not only this series but the audiobooks as well!  

If there is something you would like me to cover about these audiobooks or others, please let me know!  I would like to be better at reviewing audiobooks.