January 2017 Wrap-Up

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff 5.00/5.00 stars

As I mentioned before, Illuminae was a little hard to get into because its format, although really cool, was somewhat confusing and seemed rather impersonal at first. I did get into it eventually, and, as it turned out, it was actually incredibly emotional and heart-wrenching and thrilling. And I must say that Gemina was even better! It was so easy to get into the story since it picks up literally where it was left off in Illuminae (only at a different place and with different characters). Plus, Gemina is even cooler format-wise: our main character, Hanna, is very artistically-inclined, so we get to see drawings of her and the people around her, which is incredibly awesome. The plot is fast-paced and exciting and devastating and absolutely magnificent! All in all, as you can tell, I enjoyed this book a lot, and I cannot wait for the next one!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling 5.00/5.00 stars

This new Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone reading experience was absolutely wonderful; the illustrations are gorgeous, and being re-introduced to all my favorite characters and seeing once again where it all began was nostalgic and beautiful and fantastic!

The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #3) by Erika Johansen 4.75/5.00 stars

The Queen of the Tearling trilogy is one of my favorite series – I have loved it since page one, and The Fate of the Tearling was the most brilliant book of the three. I cannot rate it 5 stars, because I, like many others, was disappointed by the final chapter. Although it is absolutely logical and understandable and natural, and I might have done the same if it was my story, I did not like the ending at all – it felt anticlimactic, unfair to many favorite characters, and completely and utterly depressing.

Aside from the very end, I enjoyed every page, every passage, every word. Erika Johansen’s writing differs greatly from other authors – hers are the only books I have had to look words up in in a very, very long time. She does not incorporate overused literary devices in her storytelling; her figures of speech are refreshingly creative.

Although the utopia dreamt by one man but not executed quite thoroughly enough was a very interesting plot point, I found the discussion regarding politics, religion, corruption and violence, as well as their synergy, the most fascinating in this story. All in all, this is a very beautifully written, imaginative and original story, full of strong, intelligent, flawed characters, exhilarating action sequences, a little bit of horror, some uncomfortable events, and a disappointing ending where you did not quite get the closure you expected to get. So, a very realistic story, basically.

Saga, Vol. 6 (Saga, Volume Six) by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist) 4.00/5.00 stars

Now that the hype has died down a little bit, I find it easier to distance myself from it and to actually figure out how I feel about this series. I have not been enjoying the last 2-3 installments as much as the first ones, but I did really enjoy vol. 6. I am amazed at how wonderful the art is and how fast-paced and adventurous the story is. My favorite part of this, tho, is obviously THAT BIG PLOT TWIST at the end! I am so excited for the next one now!

Wayfarer (Passenger #2) by Alexandra Bracken 3.00/5.00 stars

I was absolutely amazed at how much I loved Passenger last year – a story of time-travel, adventures, pirates… I expected to love Wayfarer just as much, but I barely got trough it. I liked it fine, but the story did not excite me anymore, and I did not care about the characters, as I could not quite connect with them. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the author’s storytelling or the plot. It just goes to show that my reading preferences have changed since last year. I am absolutely sure that anyone who loved Passenger will love Wayfarer just as much, because, objectively, the second book offers even more travel, diversity and character growth. It is a good conclusion to this duology!

2016 Book Awards

I have been seeing versions of this tag on YouTube (BOOKadoodles, Thoughts on Tomes) and it looked like a lot of fun, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite reads of 2016.

Best Stand-Alone

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All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

As I said in my wrap-up, this book is one of the most brilliant and outstanding pieces of literature I have ever read. Some very hard subject matters and topics are presented and discussed here in a very detached and uncomplicated way, allowing every reader to decide how they feel about everything themselves. I still don’t know how I feel about it, though, and I keep thinking about this book weeks after I’ve finished it.

Honorable mentionsIt Ends with Us by Colleen HooverThe Wonder by Emma Donoghue, The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

Favorite New Series Started

The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

I read these back to back, and I loved everything about this series – the main characters, both as individuals, as well as a couple, friends and partners in crime; political intrigues, war games and strategies present in the story; the setting where the barbarians have conquered the intelligent people’s kingdom; and most importantly, the message that wits and cleverness is just as important, if not more important, than the physical ability to fight for what you believe in.

Honorable mentions: The Illuminae Files by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare

The Most Bizarre Read

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Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

My most bizarre read of 2016 happens to be one of my favorites of the year (rated 5 out of 5 stars). The subject matter is hard and uncomfortable to read about, but you cannot help but feel empathy for the main characters and everything they are going through.

Best Thriller

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The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

This is a book about a woman who is forgotten the second she gets out of people’s sight, which makes her life very tricky and complicated, and dangerous to boot.

Best Relationship/Friendship

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A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas

This book has it all – the best relationship, the best friendships, the best cast of characters. It covers such topics as PTSD, war, romance, relationships between lovers, friends, family. It is dark and gritty and beautiful.

2017 Reading Goals

I have never had any reading goals before, except for my Goodreads challenge, which I am participating in since 2011. But this year, for some reason, I have a very clear idea of what I want to achieve reading-wise, so I thought I would share.

  • Meet my Goodreads goals of 75 books.

To be honest, I have never read this many books in a year. I always set my goal to 100 or 75, and then I keep lowering it. In 2016 I read a total of 54, which I am proud of, but I really want to try to read even more.

  • Read as many books I already own as possible.

The struggle is real, my fellow book hoarders. Nothing makes my day more than browsing Book Depository or Amazon, and buying some books. I do not own that many physical copies because I mostly read e-books, but I have accumulated quite a lot of books I have been meaning to read before I got distracted. Some of the ones I am really looking forward to are these:

  • Read more adult fiction

I have been reading a lot of YA, and at some point, I stopped enjoying it as much as I used to. In the end of 2016 I started reading more adult books and found that I give them higher ratings, so I want to read more of them in 2017.

  • Make notes to write more detailed reviews

I used to write reviews for every book I read, and I really like looking back at some of them to refresh my memory. Then I started reading more and more and got lazy with them. And when I try to write my thoughts after some time has passed, I find that it is very difficult. So I really want to make notes, highlight quotes and write more detailed reviews.

  • Post at least one other post per month at Someone once wrote aside from the monthly wrap-up

This blog is not the most active, but I have managed to write at least my monthly wrap-ups for the whole 2016, which I am proud of. But now I want to have some other content, as well. Hence, this post of my 2017 reading goals!

  • Be more active on my bookstagram

If anyone wants to check it out, it is /someoneoncewrote. I have not been able to find my style yet and I am bad at remembering to take pictures, especially since I do most of my reading on my phone and iPad, but I do want to be better and post more pictures. After all, looking through #bookstagram is one of my favorite things!

That’s it for now, I think. Share your 2017 reading goals, I would love to know! Happy reading!

December 2016 Wrap-Up

Bye bye, 2016! December was a great reading month for me. Though I read only 5 books, I loved those books immensely!

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere #1) by Heidi Heilig 3/5

The Girl from Everywhere was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016. Time travel and pirates? Ability to travel to lands both real AND imagined? YES, please. Unfortunately, the premise was the best part of the book, as I barely got through it. Not to say it was bad, I just had completely different expectations. I did not connect with the characters AT ALL, their problems felt blown out of proportion, and I did not care for the romance whatsoever. There were a lot of redeeming qualities, though, too. I enjoyed the complicated relationship of our main protagonist with her father and their father-daughter dynamic. I loved the structure of the time-travel: you can only travel to places you have a map of (whether real or imagined), and you cannot use the same map twice. I loved the descriptions of places, both real and mythical. I will read the sequel and hope that all problems I had with the first book will be resolved.

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) by Alwyn Hamilton 4/5

I have heard many great things about Rebel of the Sands, and though it was not particularly unique, I was not disappointed, because it was a fast and easy read. It is quite forgettable, though, to be honest. I really liked the main heroin, Amani – she is a fierce, resilient and strong female lead. I did not care much for the romance, but I did like the banter between Amani and her love interest. The pace of the story is quite slow, but it does pick up towards the end when we finally get to see more of the fantasy and magic elements.

The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon 5/5

It is very uncommon these days to stumble upon a short, standalone fantasy that has it all: enchanting storytelling, imaginative magic system, whirlwind romance, strong and enigmatic characters, and a riveting plot that makes your palms sweat and heart race!

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood 5/5

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is one of the most brilliant and outstanding pieces of literature I have ever come across. Its title says it all: it is ugly and wonderful. The book tells the story of a very resilient, incredibly smart young girl – Wavy – through the multiple perspectives of her family, teachers, friends, and the girl herself. This is a dark and uncomfortable tale about a broken childhood, domestic abuse, and the taboo romance a young girl finds with a much older man. The story has a brilliantly constructed, matter-of-fact, unsentimental narrative that does not pressure the readers to feel a certain way; quite the opposite, it allows them to draw their own conclusions and decide how they feel about the situation themselves.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff 4/5

My husband gave Illuminae and Gemina to me as Christmas gifts so I could not wait to dive into this series right away. Usually, I am quite apprehensive about stories told in such format (files, e-mails, debriefings, surveillance, typography, illustrations etc.), but this book does it remarkably well. My main concern was that I will not be able to connect with the characters due to such a factual and matter-of-fact way of telling the story, but I am happy to say that that was not the case here – I ended up liking the characters a lot. The setting of this story (SPACE!) is incredibly fascinating, the plot – very fast-paced and exhilarating, full of twists and surprising and heart-wrenching revelations!

Bout of Books 18 Read-a-thon

Happy New Year, folks! I hope 2017 brings you copious amounts of enjoyable reads! As per usual, I will start my reading year with Bout of Books read-a-thon, and I encourage you to participate, as well!

Bout of Books 18
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team
Monday
  • Pages read: 31
  • Books finished: 0

I only figured out it was time for Bout of Books late in the evening, so I read only 30+ pages before bed. The last book I have read in 2016 was Illuminae, which I got from my husband for Christmas, so now I am reading Gemina.

Tuesday
  • Pages read: 118 (Total: 149)
  • Books finished: 0

I am currently reading Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, and I am about a third into it. I have seen a lot of reviews saying that people enjoyed Gemina a lot, but Illuminae was still their favorite, but I must say that I am liking Gemina more at this moment. It might be because I am reading them back to back, so I am better used to the format, though. Illuminae was a little more confusing, I guess.

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Wednesday
  • Pages read: 471 (Total: 620)
  • Books finished: 1

I can’t believe I’ve finished reading Gemina, it was such a good book! And I DID actually end up enjoying it more than Illuminae. I love this world immensely, and I was completely immersed in it. Now I don’t know what to do with myself, to be honest. There are 4 more days of the readathon, and I feel a book hangover coming!

Thursday
  • Pages read: 183 (Total: 803)
  • Books finished: 1

I picked up the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – you couldn’t possibly go wrong with this book. It is so gorgeous!

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Friday
  • Pages read: 160 (Total: 963)
  • Books finished: 2

I’m so glad that I’ve finally read the illustrated edition of Harry Potter – my mom gave it to me as a gift back in October. I read it in two sittings, and enjoyed it immensely! After finishing Harry Potter, I finally picked up The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, which was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016. I love this series so much! I really hope the concluding novel will not disappoint me.

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Saturday
  • Pages read: 0 (Total: 963)
  • Books finished: 2

My husband and I fell disgustingly sick, so we buried ourselves under eighteen warm blankets, drank tea, ate cake and watched movies all day. No reading whatsoever.

Sunday
  • Pages read: 49 (Total: 1012)
  • Books finished: 2

I am still slowly making my way through The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. Although the story is progressing slowly, I am absolutely loving it! Kelsea is such a fierce, clever, and flawed character – she is definitely one of my favorite female leads!

Wrap-up

I am very happy with my reading progress and I had lots of fun during Bout of Books 18! I am so proud of myself for reading 1000+ pages! I was quite bad at commenting on other people’s progress since I got sick and didn’t have much energy, but I will try to make up for that next time. Thanks to everyone who followed Someone once wrote and who commented on my post – I appreciate it a lot! Happy new reading year, folks, I hope you will reach all your reading goals, enjoy every page read, and learn a lot of new things! xo

November 2016 Wrap-Up

Hello, December!

When I looked back on my 2016 reading progress a couple of months ago, I realized that somewhere along the way I started reading so much YA that it became, kind of, only YA. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I do feel like I have not given books particularly high ratings lately because I was simply bored with the genre and needed a change. So in November I picked up 4! adult books, and I enjoyed all of them immensely!

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay 4/5

This is a very intelligent, well-researched, inspirational read, and I enjoyed every single page. Although I do feel that I did quite good in my twenties, and did become the person I was supposed to be, there are still many things I have to work on, especially career-wise. And Meg Jay made the process sound a little less terrifying and a little more structured.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue 5/5

I have not read historical fiction in months, but this book re-ignited my love for the genre all over again. Probably because it is written by Emma Donoghue, though, since I absolutely love her since Room. The Wonder tells a story about an English nurse brought to a small village in Ireland to observe “a miracle” – an eleven-year-old girl that is said to have survived four months without food. Although the plot is intriguing in itself, the author’s suspenseful narrative, complicated, multi-dimensional characters and their popular views on religion and folklore, as well as masterfully demonstrated clash between science and faith, make the story very fast-paced, compelling, and unputdownable. I would recommend this to anyone who likes historical fiction and heated science vs faith discussions.

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth #2) by N.K. Jemisin 4/5

N.K. Jemisin keeps surprising me – her stories are always very intricate, the world and its history and folklore and legends very elaborate, and characters very diverse and well flushed out. The Obelisk Gate did not quite measure up to The Fifth Season for me, as it seemed a little slower paced and a little more confusing. Plus, it absolutely did not have enough Alabaster in it. Aside from that, the book is phenomenal. The world building is amazing – I love that we got to know more about orogeny, and I love how specific and unique this “magic” system is. I also enjoyed reading from two (well, three?) different perspectives, following the lives of our main characters taking completely opposite turns – one toward saving, and the other toward destroying. I feel this will be explored a lot more in the final book, and I can’t wait.

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel 4/5

I cannot believe I barely read any sci-fi this year. I absolutely loved Sleeping Giants – it is very captivating and compelling, fast-paced, and full of twists. In the best science fiction fashion, it is also very political, suspenseful and intelligent. Plus, it is also very character-driven, finding a beautiful balance between science and emotions. It is written in the form of interviews and journals, and though I am not usually the biggest fan of such style, it works really well here. And my favorite character is probably the nameless interviewer, whom I cannot wait to find out more about. Also, the Epilogue? Not unexpected, but very satisfying!

October 2016 Wrap-Up

I was hoping for a better reading month, yet I still only read two books in October. However, I did find a new favorite book, which makes me incredibly happy!

Witch’s Pyre by Josephine Angelini 3/5

This YA trilogy was one of the most original and unexpectedly weird (in the best possible way) books I have ever read.

The world building is very thorough, the magic system – simply brilliant. I loved the idea of willstones and I loved that I have never seen anything like that in books before. I found it surprising that these books have some brutal scenes, especially considering that they are YA. I did appreciate it, though. Some things felt very uncomfortable or emotionally hard to read about.

I enjoyed the characters and their dynamic, especially Lily and Lillian’s. I absolutely love how people communicate in this world and everything that this communication entails – seeing each other’s memories, flashbacks of the past, being able to look through each other’s eyes and literally put oneself in another’s shoes.

Although I obviously had some problems with this book (clichéd YA tropes, miscommunication, a rushed ending), I enjoyed this trilogy a lot, and would recommend it to anyone who loves YA literature, but is getting bored by conventional magic systems and bad guys.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake 5/5

Three Dark Crowns surprised me – I have not enjoyed a YA book this much in a while. There are so many different series being written now, but I feel like most of them are very alike. This, though, stood out to me.

Firstly, the premise of three young women (triplets) who have to fight to the death until only one of them remains to become the queen. Secondly, the magic system that is divided into three types: poisoners, elementals and naturalists.

I enjoyed the characters a lot. Each sister had very interesting people surrounding them, and I would have liked to know more about some of them, but I feel like they will be flushed out better in the later books. I really hope that we will get to see more history and understand some people’s reasoning better. The biggest surprise, though, was that I expected to like one sister more than the others. I thought that one of them will be “the good one”, and I will root for her, but that did not happen, as I liked and felt for all of them. That plot twist at the end was not completely unexpected, but so, so great! I cannot wait to read the sequel!