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!

Advertisements

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

all-the-ugly-and-wonderful-things

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

forbidden_by_tabitha_suzuma

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

SuddenAppearanceOfHope.indd

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

acomaf

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.

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!

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!

September 2016 Wrap-Up

My reading progress hasn’t been the greatest in the last few months, but I did manage to read three books in the month of September. I liked all of them quite a lot, especially Colleen Hoover’s latest book, which resonated with me a lot. I do feel like all books I’ve read lately were very good and interesting and enjoyable, but not great. I’m hoping I will find a new favorite in October. It’s been too long.

Forever Doon (Doon #4) by Carey Corp, Lorie Langdon 3/5

Forever Doon is the last instalment in the Doon series – a magical story with a fairytale quality to it. I fell in love with the setting (Scotland!), seeing the beautiful country, as well as the magical kingdom of Doon through the narrators’ eyes. I liked the characters a lot – they are funny, no-nonsense, delightful and whimsical. I feel like the plot kind of dragged, though – the evil to be conquered kept coming back in every book, and it felt a bit too much. Overall, I enjoyed this series, but I am glad it is finally over.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover 4/5

Colleen Hoover’s books always have this unputdownable quality to them – even when I don’t like or have a problem with something that is happening, I just can’t stop reading. It Ends With Us was no exception. I would’ve liked for it to be a different kind of story, but life doesn’t work like that, does it?

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas 4/5

Lately I find it hard to rate Sarah J. Maas’ books – they are probably the most hyped and well-loved books at the moment, and they are being rated insanely high. I do not want to be influenced by other people’s opinions, but it is getting impossible. That said, I rated Empire of Storms 4 (3.75) out of 5 stars. At this point I am debating whether my enjoyment of the series still outweighs all the problems I have with it. It probably does, since I did enjoy Empire of Storms a lot. The plot is very intricately woven, very political, full of twists and turns that might be expected, but still make for a great story. The world building is also improving, introducing readers to new places and people. Empire of Storms is a great continuation of the series, and I will definitely be continuing to anticipate the next book(s). I only wish the story was less confusing and more consistent.

June, July and August 2016 Wrap-Up

City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare 4/5

I am so happy that I reread the first three books before continuing with this series!

The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh 3/5

For some reason, I was a little disappointed in and a little bored by The Rose & the Dagger. Having said that, I do like how the story wrapped up – it was a worthy conclusion to a great (at least in the terms of the first book) story!

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6) by Cassandra Clare 5/5

City of Heavenly Fire was a beautifully crafted conclusion to the series; I enjoyed it a lot, and am now really glad that I did not give up on The Mortal Instruments,

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher 3/5

Thirteen Reasons Why is an emotional story about a girl that has ended her life, leaving behind a set of tapes addressed to all the people she feels were in some way or another responsible for her decision. I listened to this on audiobook, and I must say it was a wonderful reading experience. The story has two narrators: a girl, Hannah, and a boy, Clay. Hannah has left audio tapes and Clay is one of the people to receive them. Because Clay keeps commenting on everything Hannah says on the tapes, it feels like a conversation between the two of them. And I think that it would not feel as such when reading. Plus, both the narrators’ voices are wonderful and emotional, which only adds to the experience.

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy (Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy #1-10) by Cassandra Clare 4/5

I really enjoyed reading these short stories; my favorites were:

The Whitechapel Fiend: Since I loved the prequel trilogy so much better than The Mortal Instruments, it was such a treat to glimpse into Tessa and Will’s lives in a flashback! Plus, this Jack the Ripper re-imagining was absolutely brilliant.

Nothing But Shadows: I loved the flashbacks so much! I loved James’ story and how it correlated with Simon’s.

The Fiery Trial: I loved the atmospheric descriptions of New York in the beginning and the overall mysterious feel of the story.

Born to Endless Night: One of the most adorable stories.

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare 5/5

I was honestly surprised by how much I loved Lady Midnight – I did not expect that to happen. I loved Emma as the main character; I liked the plotline, the drama. I could have lived without some of those annoying miscommunication/forbidden love tropes, but they did make for a good story!

The City of Mirrors (The Passage #3) by Justin Cronin 4/5

The City of Mirrors is a worthy conclusion to this brilliant series that is bittersweet, sad, uncomfortable, but optimistic, praising the humanity’s ability to survive and endure, which is a great message.

After You (Me Before You #2) by Jojo Moyes 3/5

I am very glad that I did not let reviews influence my reading After You, because I ended up enjoying it as much as the first book. To me, After You felt even more emotional and dark. And I loved finding out what happened to Clark after we have seen her last.

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma 5/5

Forbidden took me by surprise. I was not very comfortable with the premise, but I ended up enjoying this book immensely, and it is now definitely one of my favorites this year!

The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North 5/5

The Sudden Appearance of Hope was my first Claire North book. I have heard the best things about the author, and I am so happy that I picked this up. It left me with a lot of thoughts and quotes that I adore. I loved this!

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout 4/5

Say what you will, but Jennifer L. Armentrout writes absolutely unputdownable books.

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas 4/5

I know that many people did not like ACOTAR, but I actually did not have much problems with it. Having said that, The Court of Mist and Fury was brilliant! I liked how it went even darker and more emotional. I loved how Feyre dealt with everything life threw at her, and I like her even more now. ACOTAR, for me, is actually more interesting and exciting, and sexier that Throne of Glass.