Top five favourite books of 2017

This year I read 48 books. And there’s still some time left, so I could reach the 50 books! Some numbers and facts:

  • I read 33 books by female writers and 14 books by male writers
  • The writers of the books are from 12 different nationalities:Graph nationalities
  • 7 books have main characters of color (4 of them were also written by a writer of color)
  • 3 books have main characters that identify themselves in the LGBTQIA spectrum
  • Most of the books I read were either fantasy or science fiction:
    Graph genres
  • I read 30 Middle-Grade and Young Adult books
  • 3 books were re-reads: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Linking up with the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday, created by The Broke and The Bookish, here is my top five favourite books of 2017:

Top five favourite books of 2017

1. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
It will be no surprise that this is one of my favourite books of the year. The writing style is beautiful and the world building is just perfect! I also adore the main character! Lazlo Strange is a kind-hearted librarian who dreams of a mystic lost city.

2. Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Just like last year, a part of The Illuminae Files has a place in this list. Gemina totally lived up to the high expectations I had after reading the first part! It is an exciting book with an end that is mind-blowing. I am definitively planning to re-read Gemina before the release of the last part of this series!

3. Exodus by Julie Bertagna
I found this book during a library sale and I am so glad I bought it. Exodus is about the consequences of global warming. While this is dystopian science fiction, it felt quite realistic! In 2100 the island where Mara lives is slowly flooding. Mara convinces everyone to find a new island. Nobody foresaw the city they find… This is the first of a trilogy, but I haven’t read the other books yet.

4. The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier
This is a book about the Amazons, a tribe of women warriors from Greek mythology. It is an amazing example of historical fiction: well-researched and exciting. The Lost Sisterhood has two main characters. The first story line follows Diana on her journey to find remains of the Amazons. The other story is about Myrina, who becomes the first Amazon.

5. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
This is the first part of the Firebird trilogy. The firebird is an instrument that can be used to travel to other dimensions. It was very interesting to read about the different dimensions! I loved the main character, Marguerite. I liked her artistic outlook on the world and her relationship with her parents. While the first book was the best, I would definitively recommend the whole series!

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My thoughts about The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling trilogy

“Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book.”

This November I read The Queen of the Tearling trilogy by Erika Johansen. I had mixed feelings about the series: I loved the first book, but I was a little disappointed by the rest of the series. Here is a small and spoiler-free review about the books.

Summary

Princess Kelsea was raised in a small house in the forest. On the day she becomes nineteen, the Queen’s Guard takes her to the castle where she was born. As a queen she has to rule the Tearling and defeat the Red Queen, the evil dictator of the neighbouring country. Help comes not only from the Queen’s Guard, but also from the Tearling sapphires, a necklace with mysterious magical powers.

The books have triggers for abuse, rape and self harm.

Things I liked

  • Strong female main character: Kelsea is brave, decisive and independent. All character attributes I like to see in a main character. However, she is not perfect. She makes mistakes and is sometimes unsure of herself. I also loved the fact that Kelsea is very fond of books!
  • The villains: They are not just evil for the sake of being evil. I especially liked to read the background story of the Red Queen.
  • The Tearling: Kelseas world turned out to be different than I expected. I was positively surprised.

Things I didn’t liked

  • Kelseas transformations: As you can expect from a book series, the main character goes through some changes. Between the first and second book, Kelsea changes in two mayor ways. To me these transformations are too sudden. I sometimes felt like she was a different character.
  • The parts about Lily: These parts in The Invasion the Tearling slow down the story. I now understand they are important for the plot, but I think Lily’s story was too lengthy.
  • The necklace: In my opinion the role of the sapphires is overdone. Too much problems are resolved with them. It would have been more interesting to see Kelsea handle the problems without the necklace.

 

The Emoji Book Tag

Emojis are funny and very useful! Originally someone on instagram came up with the idea to combine emojis with books. Since I don’t have instagram, I would not have find this tag without Cait from paperfury. I may have changed some things, but there are no rules after all…

Favourite YA romance?Emoji heartface

Night of Cake and PuppetsI have to choose Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor. I love this book because it is written by one of my all-time favourite writers and it is about the best first date you can imagine! The new cover is also beautifully illustrated. I already have the e-book, but I am still in doubt if I am going to buy a physcial copy…

Made you cry?Emoji crying
I can’t remember actually crying while reading. I did cry when I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 for the first time. Even though I knew Fred was going to die, it was so sad to see 😥

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and DisappearedMade you laugh?Emoji laughing out loud
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson was hilarious. The ending is also absolutely brilliant!

Disappointing book?Emoji neutral face
I loved The Queen of the Tearing. Kelsea is a strong main character who loves books just like me. I just read the sequel, The Invasion of the Tearling, and was quite disappointed. Kelsea acts in a strange way and I didn’t like the parts about Lily. I hope the last part of this series will be better…

Strange the Dreamer

Major plot twist? Emoji shocking.png
I totally did not expect the ending of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor!

Boring book?Emoji sleeping
A few months ago I started Swing Time by Zadie Smith. I really wanted to like it. But after reading more than hundred pages, I was still bored. It was one of the few books this year I did not finish.

Top four cake, candy and chocolate mentioned in books

In my opinion one of the best things of birthdays is the cake. I love eating it, making it myself or watching others make it in The Great British Bake Off. My favourite cake is apple cake, but I also love chocolate cake. This Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish, seems a great opportunity to talk about cake in books. Since we are talking about sweet food anyway, I also included books with candy and chocolate.

Top four cake, candy and chocolate mentioned in books

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
So many delicious candy is sold in Honeydukes, the wizarding sweets shop in Hogsmeade. If I could visit this shop I would definitively buy some Chocolate Frogs, Chocoballs (chocolate balls with a filling of strawberry mousse and clotted cream) and Cauldron Cakes (I wonder how these taste, since it isn’t mentioned in the books).

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
I just needed to include this book. Reading it made me craving candy! All the imaginary sweets are so well described. I would love to taste the “little feathery sweets that melt away deliciously the moment you put them between your lips.”

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The November cake Puck eats, sounds delicious. Maggie Stiefvater even shared a recipe to make them! Time for re-read with real November cakes as snack.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris
I am actually cheating with this one, because I only saw the movie… Anyway, I want to mention it, because the book is about a chocolate shop (by now it is probably clear that I love chocolate just as much as cake). The owner is able to find the perfect kind of chocolate for every customer. It makes me wonder what she would sell me.

What is your favourite cake, candy or chocolate mentioned in books?

Top five books that were written before I was born

‘Trowback freebie’ is this week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme created by The Broke and The Bookish. Most of the books I read are published during the last twenty years. With the theme in mind I want to talk about the older books I read. To distinguish between “new” and “old” books, I have chosen the year I was born: 1994. As a kind of happy coincidence the writers of the five books I chose all have a different nationality.

Top five books that were written before I was born

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I start with the oldest book on this small list. The Secret Garden was published in 1911. It is a beautiful children’s book about a girl named Mary who discovers a walled garden. While Mary and her friend Colin restore the garden, not only the garden but also Mary herself changes. I love the old writing style and how the book shows the importance of positive thinking.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
This historical novel was first published in 1936. It is still a popular classic in the United States. I got this book from my grandmother after she died. I knew almost nothing about the story, not even if my grandmother liked it. I just wanted to read it, because she read it. Gone with the Wind was not an easy read, but it was interesting, beautiful and sad. Interesting, because Scarlett O’Hara is what you would call an unlikable character. She is a rich, spoiled and selfish daughter of a plantation owner. At the end of the book I felt sorry for her anyway. It was also interesting to read about the American Civil War. Since I live in the Netherlands, I did not learn a lot about it at school.

Top five books that were written before I was born - The Letter for the KingThe Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt
One of my favourite books in elementary school. It is a Dutch classic published in 1963. The story begins in the night before Tiuri will become a knight. He gets an urgent request to deliver an important letter. This is how his secret and dangerous mission starts.

The Neverending Story by Michael EndeTop five books that were written before I was born - The Neverending Story
Another book I loved as child, and still cherish. The book is written by a German writer in 1979. It tells the story of a boy named Bastian. He slowly becomes part of the book he is reading. Fantastica, the world Bastian discovers, is amazing! It is very high on my list of fictional worlds I would like to visit (what do you mean with “that isn’t possible”?).

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
The first book of this Chilean writer, originally published in Spanish in 1982. The book follows three generations of the Trueba family: Clara, her daughter Blanca and granddaughter Alba. The House of Spirits is a nice mix between magical realism and historical fiction with some romance. I love the writing style: beautiful and captivating.

Three books I initially did not finish

In my opinion buying books is one of the best ways to spend money. It is also a risk. What if the book is not as good as you expected? What if you don’t like it? You will only find out by reading it! Fortunately I rarely read truly bad books. I really try to find something I like in every book I read. It happens that I do not finish books. Sometimes I find the main character or writing style annoying or I am bored by the plot. More often I rather read something else at that moment. In most cases I save the book for later. In this post I want to write about those books. I was inspired by the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday, created by The Broke and The Bookish. Here are three books I only finished the second time I read them.

Three books I initially did not finish

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
I found this fantasy book in a hostel in Guatemala. I took it with me because I followed someone on tumblr who was a fan of this book. I started reading it on the way back. After a few chapters I was bored and quit. Last month I went on another trip. It seemed like a good moment to read the The Lies of Locke Lamora (again). I still did not find it an easy read, but I came to like it. The main characters, a band of thieves called The Gentlemen Bastards, are amazing. They are incredibly smart and funny.  I am glad I gave The Lies of Locke Lamora another chance.

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott
This book was a birthday gift. It is the first part of a fantasy trilogy set during the Industrial Revolution. I stopped reading due to the slow pace. Usually I like good world-building, but there is just too much of it in the beginning of the book. This year I read Cold Magic again. I still think there are too much infodumps, but I do like the world. The book also has some good and strong characters, some of them not who you think they are. I wouldn’t say I love Cold Magic, but I did like to read and finish it.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The premise of this book sounded so interesting: The year is 2059. Paige works in the criminal underworld of London as a dreamwalker, someone who can break into people’s minds. One day she is drugged and kidnapped to Oxford, the city that has been lost for two hundred years. I cannot remember the exact moment I put away the book. It definitively had something to do with the romance. Both times I read the book I hated the romance part. I read The Bone Season for the second time after some bloggers recommended it on tumblr. The book is pretty exciting, so finishing the book was quite easy. However, in the end it wasn’t really my thing, despite the fascinating world.

More podcasts I like

A year ago I did a post about my favourite podcasts. I still really enjoy listening to them. In the meantime I discovered three new podcasts.

The Bright Sessions (link)

The Bright Sessions

This is my favourite podcast at the moment! Every episode is a session in which Dr. Bright talks with one of her patients. The patients are not “normal” people, they all have some kind of supernatural ability. The characters are amazing! It is very interesting to hear about those abilities and how the characters struggle with them sometimes. The podcast also has two LGBTQIA characters: one of them is asexual and another is still questioning his sexual orientation. By now I listened to almost all episode, but every two weeks a new episode is released. All the episodes together form a story, so if you are interested, start at the beginning.

Slow German (link)

Slow German mit Annik Rubens

In a month I am going on vacation to Berlin! As preparation I practice German. I did learn German in high school, but since I never use the language, I forgot a lot. I like Slow German, because the podcast teaches me both the language and interesting facts about the country. In every episode a subject regarding Germany is discussed in slow German. The topics vary from historical persons like Sissi and King Ludwig II to holidays in Germany.  The episodes are short, only 5 to 10 minutes. You can also find the scripts, so you can read along or look up words.

Myths and Legends (link)

Myths and Legends

The host introduces this podcast as “original tales behind legendary stories.” It turns out that the original is often better than the popular tales you know! The podcasts tells the story behind fairy tales, the Knights of the Round Table and other legends. I only listened to a few episodes, but my favourite at the moment is 4-Mulan: A Likely Hero. Mulan was actually not insecure at all! She was trained by her father and so good nobody even questioned her gender.

What are your favourite podcasts? Tell me in the comments!