2017 Book Recommendations by Vaz Adventure

Reading have always been an integral part of my life. My taste in books have always geared toward the Young Adults genre but in recent years, have changed dramatically, mostly due to the book recommendations and influence of this fabulous book club I am in. Year 2016 and 2017 were some of the best reading years of my life as I managed to read books from a few different genres and finally delved into Asian Lit, which is now my favourite genre.

Here are some of my book recommendations from 2016 and 2017. Enjoy!

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus

This was a debut novel by Erin Morgenstern and strangely, was a book that totally captivated me. It was magical, and brought back all those nostalgic feelings I had when I fell in love with the Harry Potter series. I felt like a teen once again, believing that a magical world exists beyond the current world we live in; at least for the duration while I was reading the book.

The Night Circus tells the story of a fierce competition between two young magicians, Celia and Marco in a mysterious circus called Le Cirque des Rêves, that only opens at night. They eventually fell in love with each other but the nature of the competition between them needs to end which only one can be left standing.

I took my time and savoured every word in this book and honestly, it was a tough book to summarise, which explains why there was no summary at the back of the book. So if you’re looking for a good read, come on board The Reveurs train and enjoy this magical ride with me!

Goodreads Rating: 4.03
Cindy’s Rating: 5.00

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride

There are so many reasons as to why I loved this book with all my heart and why this made it into my book recommendations list. Firstly, the setting was in Malaya, which is home, to me. It also portrays a lot of Chinese cultures and beliefs, and as I grew up with the Chinese side of my family, I relieved all the folklores and tales told to me as a child, in this book.

The story is of Li Lan, who was betrothed to the son of the wealthy Lim’s family. There is just one caveat – the son, is dead, and so Li Lan was to be his ghost bride, wedded to his spirit. We are then transported to the Plains of the dead through Li Lan’s nightmares, where she actually meets the deceased son, Lim Tian Ching, who starts haunting her. In a turn of events, Li Lan herself, turns into an accidental roaming ghost, and teams up with the mysterious Er Lang to stop the haunting and along the way, uncover the corruption of Hell officials.

This book has a strong heroine, a mysterious historical Chinese setting, and none of the dramatic love triangles! Tell me, what’s not to love about this book? Nothing!

Goodreass Rating: 3.74
Cndy’s Rating: 4.50

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This was easily one of the best read I’ve had this year. The book hit a spot so close to home that I often had to pause with the reading to compose myself, and often times, found myself holding back my tears.

The book is a memoir of Dr Paul Kalanithi, a brilliant neurosurgeon at the pinnacle of his career, but was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He went on to give a poignant account on his thoughts about the imminent death, and of his journey from diagnosis to losing the battle with the big C. The book wraps up really nicely with the afterword that was written by Lucy Kalanithi, the late Dr Paul Kalanithi’s wife which ended up in me bawling for a good 15 minutes as it reminded me so much of my late dad’s own battle with the big C.

This is a very profound and emotional memoir and when it ended, I felt like I’ve lost a very old friend.

Goodreads Rating: 4.32
Cindy’s Rating: 5.00

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove

“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was colour. All the colour he had.”

This book tells the story of a grumpy old man named Ove. He is very opinionated and cranky, but beneath it all, full of sadness coupled up with the determination to end his life. One day, he received new neighbours, and his life started to change.

I loved this book and started reading it because it came highly recommended by my local book club. I savoured the little bits and pieces of flashback into Ove’s past. I felt his heartache when he lost his wife. Eventually, I fell in love with the character called Ove.

This is such a wonderfully written book and I can’t wait to read more from Fredrik Backman.

Goodreads Rating: 4.35
Cindy’s Rating: 5.00

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale

What would you do if you are no longer allowed to read? What would you do if your only value as a woman, are your viable ovaries? What would you do if you no longer have the freedom that you now have?

Honestly, there are only a few books which gets to me in a really personal way but The Handmaid’s Tale happen to be one of the very few. It scared me, gave me goosebumps in a bad way and haunts me – because it sounded like something that could happen in today’s world. I am horrified at the thought that one day, the modern woman that I am, with all the freedom in the world, could possibly become nothing more than just a thing to be used and abuse.

For a book to affect me in this manner yet compelled me to want to finish the entire book – has got to be good.

Goodreads Rating: 4.07
Cindy’s Rating: 5.00

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Burial Rites

Burial Rites is based off a true story and tells the tale of one woman’s battle for survival against the gallows – it’s her account of stories versus the stories told by others about the murder of a man; her master, and lover.

The book captivated me from the start till the end and the fact that the story was set against the stark landscape if Iceland was the icing on the cake. As I progressed, I fell in love with the character of Agnes Magnúsdóttir. She’s a tough nut, doesn’t give a shi* about what people think of her (i.e. Reverend Toti), and most of all, she is fiercely loyal.

The eerie prose will leave you wanting more . What a great debut book by Hannah Kent!

Goodreads Rating: 4.01
Cindy’s Rating: 4.00

Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah

Falling Leaves

This is a painful and heart wrenching memoir of Adeline Yen Mah, an unfortunate baby born just before her mother died, and spent her young life (or rather, entire life) being bullied and emotionally (at time, physically) tortured by her own family members.

My heart ached for all the hurt and injustices that was imposed on her young life all the way through to adulthood by her stepmother, and at times, her rather useless father, and her siblings.

I loved her prose, and her style of writing captured me from the very first page. She has also cleverly weaved in the elements of Chinese proverbs and characters while also, at the same time, gave us a peek into China’s very interesting history.

Goodreads Rating: 3.88
Cindy’s Rating: 4.50

The next four book recommendations were actually books that I read in 2016, but because this if the first time I’m coming up with a book list of books I’ve read, I decided that these books were too good to be missed out.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Poisonwood Bible

The book is a story of an evangelical Baptist and his family’s mission in the Belgian Congo. The family was torn apart and over the course of the years, eventually found their way back after three decades.

The Poisonwood Bible is narrated in Orleanna and her three daughter’s voice. Each character comes across as very independent women, yet very different and distinctive in their voices. And then there was Nathan, Orleana’s husband and the girls’ father, with a character of what we will call a religious extremist these days. These characters really gave the book its flavours and brought the book to life.

If you love historical fiction – this is the cream of the crop!

Goodreads Rating: 4.03
Cindy’s Rating: 4.80

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The Vegetarian

This is a story about Yeong-hye and her take to Vegetarianism after a nightmare. It explores Korean’s cultural view on women, family ties and the taboo that is mental illness with vegetarianism being the centre of everything.

The Vegetarian is not a Man Booker Prize winner for nothing. Emotionally intense, mind boggling, disturbing and leaves you with so many thoughts to think about! Oddly enough, these weirdness was why I absolutely loved this book! This is a book where you will either enjoy and love it, like I did, or totally dislike it.

Goodreads Rating: 3.58
Cindy’s Rating: 4.80

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

I’ve always enjoyed books written by Mitch Albom. In fact, you could probably say that this is my absolute favourite book from him. It starts off a little slow, but as it progresses, I was mind blown, and some parts gave me goosebumps that took me a while to recover!

This enchanting novel is about the greatest guitar player named Frankie Presto and the magic strings that was given to him by his guitar master. These special strings allows him the gift to affect people’s life through his music. For every life he changed, each string would break and we get a glimpse into the lives of those that were affected by Frankie’s music and these magic strings.

This inclusion into my book recommendations just doesn’t do this brilliant book justice. You have to read it for yourself to understand the beauty of this book! This book was absolute perfection.

Goodreads Rating: 4.30
Cindy’s Rating: 5.00

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention Of Wings

This was my first foray into the devastating American history of slavery, women’s liberation and racism. I felt uncomfortable, wretched and mostly sad for Sarah and Handful, the two main protagonist.

On Sarah’s eleventh birthday, she was given Handful, who is to be her handmaid. Over the next thirty five years, we learnt of how they strive to carve their own life, in their own different ways.

This is another book based off a true story and one I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys historic fiction.

Goodreads Rating: 4.23
Cindy’s Rating: 5.00

There you have it – My book recommendations for 2016 and 2017!

For 2018, I intend to challenge myself to reading something written by local Malaysian authors, a book from the Classics category, a book with visual illustrations, to finish a book series, and most of all, to completing my 50 books Goodreads Challenge!

Here’s to many more bookish list to come! Enjoy my book recommendations and if you have any good reads to recommend, send in your comments! I am always looking for ways to increase my “To Be Read” books pile! 😛

Book Recommendations by Vaz Adventure

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