asking for trouble

Books, Comics & Zines I Read in 2017

I’ll be updating this page throughout the year, hoping to meet my reading challenge of 52 books (eligible books are numbered below). You can follow me on Goodreads too.

1. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
The Princess Bride is one of my all time favourite films and is apparently so faithful an adaptation that the book unfairly reads like a novelisation. I enjoyed the differences and extra background details but wish I’d skipped the anniversary extras as they dragged the joke out too far for me. I can’t give this a fair rating.

Carlos & Sakura 1&2 by Joanna Zhou ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Why have I never included comics and zines in these lists?! I got these for Christmas and they’re short cute reads. Nice to own a little bit of kawaii history too as Joanna is a famous YouTuber now (and once drew me!)

2. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
This is so beautifully written (with such a beautiful cover!) that I wished it was longer. Set in Victorian England with the rumour of a sea monster haunting an Essex village, it meanders through superstition, science, religion, romance and politics with a cast of memorable characters. I was never quite sure where the story might turn next but I loved it all. Read it!

3. Darth Vader Vol.1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’m not generally a Marvel comics person but this was hard to resist. I liked it a lot! The artwork is great and it’s set right after A New Hope so there’s lots of familiar characters plus some cool new ones. Definitely going to read the rest at some point.

4. The Lighthouse Stevensons by Bella Bathurst 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Despite growing up in a seaside village where the coast is dominated by a lighthouse, I had never wondered who built them or how. The answers are a) 4 generations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s family (including himself, briefly) and b) with enormous difficulty. This is a surprisingly thrilling book about engineering covering the stories of building of a few of the most difficult lighthouses on tiny reefs in remote dangerous parts of the Scottish coast. I feel even more fond of our lighthouse now!

5. A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I always thought I would like this book just from seeing the original cover art, and I do! Parallel universes are always cool and this is as well imagined as some of my favourites (His Dark Materials, The Magician’s Nephew). Since there are sequels I was worried the plot was going to get dragged out unnecessarily but it all tied up nicely. It’s going to make an amazing film. I’ve got the sequel too but will save it for a while.

6. Who’s That Girl by Mhairi McFarlane ⭐️⭐️⭐️
When you really enjoy a book and then all the author’s following books are just not as good but they always go on the 99p kindle offer so you keep buying them and this was fine for a quick easy read but also kind of stupid and did not make me laugh out loud as the cover promises. The end.

7. Gokinjo Monogatari vol 1 by Ai Yazawa 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Ai Yazawa is my favourite manga artist/writer but her early work hasn’t been translated into English. Now I have an iPad so I can read scanlations! This series follows next door neighbour teens Mikako and Tsutomu who are also minor characters in Paradise Kiss (my favourite) so it’s fun seeing their origins and more of Yazawa’s fashion designs. Looking forward to reading the rest.

8. Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
He’s such an expressive and amusing writer. This is a memoir about his time in Italy during WW2 when he escaped from a prisoner of war camp with the help of a lot of heroic locals including his future wife. His exasperated humour at his own idiocy and the awful conditions hiding in remote mountain villages keeps things light and it’s frequently hilarious.

9. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I enjoyed this but I didn’t love it. Great to have more body positive female protagonists though – I wish there’d been more books like this when I was a teenager.

Gokinjo Monogatari vol 2 by Ai Yazawa 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
The rest of this series won’t count for my reading challenge as they’re not on Goodreads but that’s not going to stop me. This one has the origins of Mikako’s fashion brand Happy Berry which is still an amazing name.

10. The North Water by Ian McGuire ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is a relentlessly grim story about the crew of an arctic whaling ship but so brilliantly written that I was hooked from the first horrible page. It’s not for the faint hearted and has a monstrous antagonist that I won’t easily forget but I’m very glad I read it.

11. Bunheads by Sophie Flack ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The comforting thing about ballet novels is that they’re all essentially the same. This one is based on the author’s own experiences so lacks some of the usual drama but that’s a nice change. Worth the 99p it cost me from a charity shop.

12. A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
This is such a fun series and I love everyone. This book might be better than the first one, because magical tournament. Boo to cliffhangers though.

Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connelly
Ditched it after 3 chapters so not counting it for my GR challenge. This is one of those ‘visit a load of places with a tenuous link’ travel books, based on the shipping forecast (a BBC radio institution) but degenerated quite quickly into a load of matey banter on my wacky adventures in rural communities 🙄 Going back to the charity shop.

13. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is such a long book that it took me all month to read it! In a similar vein to The Martian matching actual science with a cool disaster/survival story after the Moon is destroyed. I loved the first part where everyone’s problem solving how to save humanity, mostly enjoyed the second part where it all starts to go wrong and was not a fan of the third part, which could have easily been a 10 page epilogue instead.

14. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I thought I should probably read these since I have unwittingly read so many spoilers from later books and Leigh’s tumblr. Not quite as exciting and clever as the Six of Crows duology so far but cool to find out more about this world. I’m on the second book now and it’s a little more fun.

15. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Now I understand why everyone loves Nikolai so much. He’s hilarious and this book would be super depressing without him.

16. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Pretty good ending with some unexpected twists. I really want to reread SOC/CK now.

17. Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Interesting overview of geopolitics – how countries form due to natural features and why certain borders and regions are often in dispute. I hadn’t really thought about these things much before and I feel a bit more knowledgeable about areas like the Middle East and what Russia and China are up to. Just a shame it was published before Brexit happened.

18. The Shark and the Albatross by John Aitchison 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Series of essays by a wildlife cameraman who films for the big BBC wildlife documentaries, mostly in the Arctic and Antarctic. His stories are all fascinating and he’s a great writer with a nice streak of typically Scottish humour. Recommended!

19. A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was finding this a bit dull to begin with but once they started adventuring it got really great. Pretty good ending to the series and I hope she writes more about this world.

20. Modern Lovers by Emma Straub ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I enjoyed this but there were too many random story threads and nothing much really happened.

21. As You Wish by Cary Elwes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I got my library card fixed and can borrow books again! This was delightful.

22. Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Mean Girls ballet academy sequel. This zips along in an enjoyable fashion but everyone is so awful that it’s hard to know why I should care.

23. Facing the Other Way: the Story of 4AD by Martin Aston ⭐️⭐️.5
I ditched this early on because the writing is so incredibly dull and the story kind of boring but gave it another go. I skimmed over all the bands I wasn’t interested in but it still wasn’t really worth it. Excellent record label though!

24. Not Working by Lisa Owens ⭐️⭐️⭐️
This was a quick read and I quite liked the diary/random tweets style format. But really, how many more books do we need about female protagonists who are always getting into “hilarious” #relatable mishaps usually caused by drinking too much red wine?

25. Darth Vader vol. 2: Shadows and Secrets ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Yay, the rest of this series got a big price drop. I’m enjoying this so much, especially how it fills in some gaps between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. It even makes events from the prequels seem poignant. The comic panels swipey feature got really swishy recently too. So cool.

26. Bloodline by Claudia Gray ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve been in a book slump so I bought another Star Wars book. This is my first of the new Disney timeline books and it’s hard to put aside the old timeline but this was pretty great. It sets the scene for The Force Awakens while conveniently keeping Luke and Ben Solo out of contact so as not to spoil the upcoming films. Worth reading!

27. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Obviously I was sold by its promo promise of the Mindy Project meets Rainbow Rowell. It doesn’t quite live up to that but it’s extremely cute and a quick fun read. It ties up a bit too neatly at the end but sometimes it’s nice for everyone just to be happy. Will look out for her next book.

Modern Slorance: the Canada issue 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I got a sneaky early copy! This covers Neil’s trip to Toronto and Montreal for the comics festival and is the usual mix of observations, musings and great comic art. I now want to go to Canada and eat all the things. You can get it on Etsy.

28. Into the Black by Rowland White 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
This is promoted as some kind of Apollo 13 style near-disaster tale of the first space shuttle mission but it doesn’t even launch until half way through a very long book and then only takes up a few chapters. What it really is is a fascinating, detailed history of how the shuttle came to be, from its origins in experimental jet planes and secret military spy programs. I enjoyed it so much and I’m sad it’s finished. Also the photos made me all teary. I ❤️ the space shuttle too much.

29. Darth Vader Vol. 3: The Shu-Torun War ⭐️⭐️⭐️
This was a bit confusing at the beginning as it jumped into a whole new plot line and introduced loads of new people and I kept wondering if I’d bought the wrong issue. Turned out pretty good though with some really cool artwork. I’m really enjoying the evil C-3PO style droid who’s a little bit Bender from Futurama. Also Darth Vader has some very silly lines – extra star for the above.

30. All Over The Place by Geraldine DeRuiter ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
It’s always great when your favourite bloggers get book deals. This is a very funny memoir about travel, marriage, family and brain surgery that I read in two sittings. One star off because a lot of it was familiar from the blog but still highly recommended.

31. Hello Tokyo by Ebony Bizys ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I got this as research for a project I’m working on and it’s such a weird thrown together book. It just seems really superficial and privileged with a lot of gushing over her friends and how amazing her life is. The craft projects are pretty simplistic too. Disappointing but at least there were a few things I liked.

[Insert summer holiday reread of A Song of Ice and Fire]
I love the stupid TV show but it’s diverged so far from the books now that as an OG book reader I was getting annoyed that I was starting to forget what happened in the books. I feel better now that I can make more educated guesses about which TV plots will end up in the books (very little I think). I’m not counting rereads for my GR challenge but I’m still ahead so it’s all good.

32. Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I really wanted to love this as the fan convention setting is great but the romance was a bit too cliched overall. So many misunderstandings!

Space Trash 1&2 by Lydia Butz ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Cute story of space, aliens and cats! What’s not to like? I just wish there were more issues out – I have no patience when it comes to ongoing comics.

33. His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is a clever little novel about a violent murder in the Scottish highlands in 1869. It’s formatted like a true crime book with the accused’s memoir, police statements, trial transcript etc. I can’t say much more without spoilers but it’s very well done. Also reminded me a lot of one of my all time favourite books about the Oscar Slater case, which even gets a footnote later. I feel a Scottish books list coming on…

34. The House of Secrets by Sarra Manning ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’m a little bit tired of the ‘two intertwining stories from characters in different decades’ format but at least both were equally interesting. The modern day protagonist being a freelance illustrator/writer probably helped me like this too.

35. Darth Vader vol. 4 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
They saved the best stuff for last. I really enjoyed this one, especially the art – lots of cool space stuff! Also space whale ships. I hope they can work some of those into a film. Are any of the other Star Wars comics worth checking out?

Gokinjo Monogatari (Neighbourhood Story) 1-7 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
It took me so long to find readable copies of the later books that I had to start from the beginning again. I love how creative all the characters are and how many of them I remember from the later Paradise Kiss series. It’s definitely worth reading them in the wrong order as it’s more surprising discovering all the back story.

May Contain Cats by Ellen Stubbings 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
This is so cute! Just short little comic strips about their daily life – and cat! – but each one is sweet and funny. Almost made up for my 5.5 hour round trip to MCM Scotland Comic Con today (the trains were down – it would usually take less than 2 hours 😫)

36. The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I read an article about how this novelette is being expanded into a prequel series and it sounded right up my alley. While it is definitely about a lady astronaut on Mars, it wasn’t what I expected but I’m still very here for this.

37. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
This is such a beautiful book with illustrations that change from page to page as the story progresses. The stories are lovely too – original takes on familiar fairy tales with an enjoyable dark edge. I got a free enamel pin too!

38. Too Marvellous For Words by Julie Welch ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
If you read boarding school books as a kid and ever imagined going to one, you’ll love this. It’s an oral history of a boarding school in south east England in the 60s – the author managed to round up half her schoolmates and everyone is a total hoot. It’s a nice mix of fun times with your best pals and horrible institutional nightmare.

39. Uchuu Kyoudai (Space Brothers) by Chuya Koyama 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
All 31 volumes! I watched the anime last year before visiting Japan (and JAXA Tsukuba Space Centre) but the manga is further on and still going so I read it all too via scanslations. I love everything about this series. It’s about two space-obsessed brothers who dreamt of becoming brother astronauts. The younger brother achieves this and the older brother is now trying to catch up. Clearly written/drawn by a total space nerd, it covers astronaut training in great detail, at JAXA, NASA and in Russia plus Moon and ISS missions aplenty. There are so many great side characters too including lots of awesome female characters.

40. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve watched the film a million times but had never read the book. I was surprised at how faithful the film is, but the book has a lot of extra stuff that I enjoyed a lot.

41. Ctrl, Alt; Delete: How I Grew Up Online by Emma Gannon ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This wasn’t quite what I was expecting but if you were online in the early 2000s, it will bring back a lot of memories. It’s more of a personal memoir about the author’s experiences with chat rooms, instant messaging, blogs etc. from school to her current freelance life.

42. The Lost World by Michael Crichton ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
On the other hand, this is way better than the film, though not really as good as the first book.

43. Way Out West: A Guide to the Hidden Joys of the West Country by Anne Ward 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I’m a little biased as I’ve known Anne for a long time, but these pocket guide books are a must-buy if you live in or visit the UK. They’re full of incredible and odd places to visit, from extremely niche museums to natural curiosities and lots of model villages. After Scotland and the North of England, this book covers the South West and makes me want to go and explore.

44. La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I was so looking forward to being back in Lyra’s world and it didn’t disappoint. I really loved all the new characters and there were plenty cameos from HDM. It also has a lot in common with one of my favourite books, The River at Green Knowe, so I was doubly pre-disposed to like it. While the new series as a whole may be an “equel”, this is an almost direct prequel so now I want to reread all the rest of the books.

45. Lost Stars by Claudia Gray ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I will never stop reading Star Wars EU novels. This is a really good read, covering the original trilogy timeline, and further towards The Force Awakens, from the viewpoints of two idealistic Imperial recruits. Their different paths as they become disillusioned with the Empire makes things interesting, as is their star-crossed lovers plot thread. Does it make a bad Star Wars fan that I always enjoy imperial training stories more than Jedi training stories? One star off because we revisit so many OG plots that it got a bit Nikki & Paolo from LOST and ugh.

46. Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1 by Bryan Lee O’Malley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I love the film and have wanted to read the comics for a while, but they’re pretty pricey. The first volume got a price drop on ebook so I grabbed it and enjoyed i a lot. It’s great seeing how hard the film tried to match the look of the comic, and the drawing style is great. It was also how I discovered that I have retrained my brain to read comics from right to left through so much Japanese manga. I really had to fight to read this in the right order.

47. Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I already own both these short stories but how can you resist a GLITTER COVER? It honestly is so cute and sparkly. I’m not usually a fan of short stories but I love both of these and Kindred Spirits in particular is a joy for this Star Wars nerd. Also really lovely illustrations by Simini Blocker.

48. Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found by Bella Bathurst ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Really interesting book about hearing loss, both from the author’s personal experience (she later gets it back after being re-diagnosed) and from interviews with different experts and people from industries where hearing damage is common. I have genetic hearing loss and a lot of this rang so true and explained so much that our amazing but time-strapped NHS never explained. I wish more people would read this book and realise that hearing-impairment is an actual disability that has very limited fixes and affects people of all ages.

49. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari & Eric Klinenberg 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
While I’m sure his standard comedy memoir/essays book would have been awesome, I’m glad he decided to do something more unique. This is both a super-interesting (and properly-researched) look at modern dating and completely hilarious.

50. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Lives up to the hype. If you haven’t read it yet, you really should. It’s 2017′s most relevant book. Every character is so well-drawn and the plot had me racing through it.

51. Satellite by Nick Lake ⭐️⭐️⭐️
This would have been 4 stars but I took one off for the extremely irritating writing style that verges on txt spk. I was able to get past it, assuming there was a point to it, but there never was. It’s really removes a layer of feeling from characters’ words and makes heartfelt conversations seem superficial. ANYWAY, other than that, this was good. Teenagers who were born on a future ISS making their first trip to Earth and discovering all is not what it seems.

52. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was so excited to read this in the summer but found it a real slog. It’s an amazing story but it fails to get you caught up in it and ends up stuck trying to be a history of the civil rights movement, a biography of multiple people and primer on aerospace engineering. Once Sputnik arrived, the pace picked up and I started to really enjoy it and then the author skimmed over a couple of space missions and finished with 40% of the pages left. I was so disappointed I immediately rented the movie, which is really great and does a much better job of explaining what these awesome women did, and put up with.

53. The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was so tired this month that I retreated to my happy place – Star Wars novels. This is set just after Revenge of the Sith and getting inside Darth Vader’s head as he deals with his new situation is the best part of this book. Unfortunately, the other half is a bunch of plucky Jedi who survived Order 66, who team up with some ragtag smugglers. This was pretty dull and I found it difficult to care about any of them. Read the Darth Vader comics instead.

54. Something Wholesale by Eric Newby ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Even if I devoted the rest of my life to the task, I don’t think I could come up with a single anecdote as amusing as any random anecdote from Eric Newby’s vast collection of memoirs. He managed the double win of living an incredibly interesting life and being able to find humour in the smallest of moments. This book about his years in the family fashion business is constantly entertaining, even when he spends the first section talking about boats. I’m allowing myself just a couple of his books a year so I’ll have plenty to look forward to.

55. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I’ve had this book for ages and never quite felt like starting it but when I did I was immediately hooked and raced through it. A private plane crashes with two big name businessmen on board and a media frenzy surrounds the survivors as everyone tries to figure out who or what what caused the crash. While not as quirky as his work on Fargo, you can see some similarities and you’re never sure where it might go next. I bumped it up to 5 stars as, even though the ending was a little disappointing, there were so many terrible twists that were hinted at and ultimately avoided that it felt like a good ending. Plus I was sad it was over. I look forward to seeing the movie.

56. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I’ve been working through books that are being made into movies soon. This has been on my wishlist forever and I wish I’d bought it sooner. It’s such a cute romance and brings up some great questions. “Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.” I really love Simon’s voice and I also have a weird wish for him to meet up with Simon Snow. Simon multiverse please.

57. How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy by Stephen Witt ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Fascinating history of music piracy told through the tales of three people: the inventor of the MP3 format, the man who leaked thousands of albums before release for no real reason and the record company executive trying to adapt to a whole new generation of music fans who now thought all music should be free. I remember this time well and it was really interesting to find out how all the music sharing sites worked behind the scenes. As someone who still pays outright for music (due to so many of my friends being in bands/running labels), it made me a little sad that the current compromise of streaming has none of the fun connections or excitement of file sharing (I really miss slsk and muxtape), let alone deciding which of the new releases to buy at the record store and taking your time to get to know the whole album.

Goodreads challenge final tally (not including zines and DNFs): 57/52 !!


Hello! I’m Marceline Smith, the designer and owner of Asking For Trouble. I create illustrated stationery, accessories and gifts using my cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii. This is my business and personal blog where I write about my creative doings, inspirations, travels, Japan trips and daily life. Read more »

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