Most loved & hated tropes in books

The last time I took part in a Top Ten Tuesday was a month ago. So here I am with a new list! The topic of this week is ‘Favourite tropes’. A trope is a commonly used theme or plot device. I extended the topic and also included my least favourite prompts. Top Ten Tuesday is of course the weekly meme managed by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Tropes I love

The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss1. Magic schools
I totally blame Harry Potter for this! But I just love to read about characters learning some kind of magic and going to classes. I really like the vibes of a school setting. Other than the Harry Potter books, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is also a well-known book set on a school of magic.

Singing the Dogstar Blues - Alison Goodman2. Unlikely friendships
I love friendships between characters from different species or people you just wouldn’t expect to get along. A good example is the friendship between Gimli and Legolas in The Lord of the Rings. Another great book with this trope is Singing the Dogstar Blues by Alison Goodman. In this book Joss studies at the Centre for Neo-Historical Studies. For the first time an alien studies at the Centre. He becomes Joss’ study partner.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor3. Enemies to lovers
I haven’t actively been looking for books with this trope, but I seem to like it. I enjoy reading how two characters that are meant to hate each other slowly fall in love. My favourite book series with this trope is The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor. Karou and Akiva are a great couple!

Tropes I hate

1. Special snowflakes
I am talking about those characters who are not only the Chosen One, but also very handsome and unique®. I think the Chosen One on itself is a trope that is used a bit too often. But it becomes annoying when a character also acts like they are super special and “totally not like other girls”…

2. Evil with no reason
This one is often used in movies, but I also came across the trope in books. I don’t like it, because it’s too simplistic. People do bad things for a reason. I want to know how characters came to be the way they are. Besides no one is completely evil or 100% good. Show me heroes who do bad things and give me morally grey characters!

3. Secretly royal
The main character finds out that he or she is secretly that lost princess, prince, king or queen. I don’t like this trope, because it’s usually no longer a surprise when it’s finally revealed.

The Disney princess sidekicks tag

Today seems like a good moment to do this funny book tag! I found it on The Literary Phoenix. The tag was created by Mandy and Sha from Book Princess Reviews. It’s all about the sidekicks. We start with my favourite childhood movie!

Mushu from Mulan

The comic relief: Name your favourite hilarious character or your favourite comedy/funny  book

Mushu from Mulan  Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

A book that made me smile a lot while reading it was Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I wouldn’t call it a funny book, but it did make me happy.

The Seven Dwarves from Snow White

Favourite group/ensemble

The Seven Dwarves from Snow White  Illuminae - Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

The characters from The Illuminae Files are a great team! My favourites are Kady and Ezra, but I love to see how they worked together with the others in Obsidio.

Pascal from Tangled

The loyal cheerleader chameleon (not a frog, Flynn Rider): Name a book that started one way but changed for you

Pascal from Tangled  A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Maas

Sometimes I don’t like a book at the beginning, but I come to like it later on. This was the case with A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Meeko from Pocahontas

Pocahontas’ sly and sneaky raccoon friend: Name a plot twist that you didn’t see coming

Meeko from Pocahontas  Strange the Dreamer - Laini Taylor

One of my favourite plot twists is the ending of Strange the Dreamer. I don’t want to spoil it, so I can’t tell more about it… But if you read the book, you definitively know what I mean!

Rajah from Aladdin

Gentle with their princess but protective with everyone else – Name your favorite best friend in a novel

Rajah from Aladdin  Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor

That must be Zuzana in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy! She was a great friend for Karou when she needed it most.

Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, & Chip from Beauty and the Beast

The Musical Bunch – Name a novel where music played a big part or made you want to sing its praises

Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, & Chip from Beauty and the Beast  De erfenis van Richard Grenville - Natalie Koch

The Dutch book De Erfenis van Richard Grenville is set on a small university in London. Hidden between the regular students, some of the students secretly study magic. One of them is Alexa. But even stranger things start to happen: people suddenly loose conscious without waking up. Music plays a role in the plot of this original story.

Maximus from Tangled

The obstacle in Flynn Rider’s way – Name a character that faces a lot of obstacles

Maximus from Tangled  Assassin's Apprentice

Fitz from the Farseer trilogy doesn’t have an easy life. There are many people, enemies as well as friends, in his way that prevent him from becoming happy.

Hamish, Hubert, & Harris from Brave

Favorite family dynamics in a novel

Hamish, Hubert, & Harris from Brave  The Boy Who Steals Houses

The chaotic Delainey family in The Boy Who Steals Houses is amazing! This is a big family with a father, lots of boys and one girl. They do have their quarrels, but they are great together.

Three Fairies from Sleeping Beauty

The Advice Givers – Book that most impacted your life

Three Fairies from Sleeping Beauty  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone  The Creative License - Danny Gregory

It was so hard to choose one book! When considering fiction, the Harry Potter books were important in my life. I read each of them so many times, that the characters feel very real to me. A non-fiction book that changed my life is The Creative License. This book was the reason I started an art journal, and have been keeping one for years.

Hei Hei from Moana

Name a character that steals the show

Hei Hei from Moana  Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green & David Levithan

The book Will Grayson, Will Grayson has two protagonists with the same name. One of them is befriended with Tiny. You could argue that he is the main character. Tiny definitively steals the show in both story lines!

Gus & Jaq from Cinderella

Opposites Attract – Name your favorite or worst opposite attracts pairing

Gus & Jaq from Cinderella  Cress - Marissa Meyer

Cress and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles are an amazing example of opposites attract. Cress is an introvert girl, while Thorne is a sarcastic thief. Despite their differences, they are a great couple.

Magical Readathon – NEWTs

In August the second part of the Magical Readathon takes place! This reading challenge is organised by the amazing Book Roast on youtube. She also came up with prompts for the NEWTs, but they work slightly different than the O.W.Ls. For the NEWTs you can get different grades for each subject: Acceptable (A), Exceeds Expectations (E), and Outstanding (O). For every grade you have to read a certain kind of book. Watch Book Roast’s video to get a detailed explanation.

To become a journalist/writer I need an E for History of Magic, an A for Muggle Studies and an A in an subject of my own picking. I chose Transfiguration. In total I have to read four books this month.

History of Magic

A – Read a fantasy book: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
E – Read a book that includes a map: The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel

The Bone Witch - Rin Chupeco  The Valley of Horses - Jean M. Auel

Muggle Studie

A – Cover that includes an actual photo element: The Throwaway Children by Diney Costeloe

The Throwaway Children - Diney Costeloe

Transfiguration

A – Read a book with LGBTQIA+ representation: Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Timekeeper - Tara Sim

This August I am going to work as recreation worker. I may not have time to write blog posts, but I hope to find some spare time!

Magical Readathon – O.W.Ls: The results

This Magical Readathon is organised by Book Roast on youtube. At the start of this month I shared my TBR-list for the O.W.L.s. I read six books and managed to get all the O.W.L.s I hoped for! Here are the results.

Assassin's Quest - Robin Hobb

History of Magic – Published at least 10 years ago
Assassin’s Quest (Farseer Trilogy, #3) by Robin Hobb – 3 stars
This is probably one of the biggest books I ever read, the Dutch edition has 911 pages! The best thing about this book is definitively the relation between Fitz and Nighteyes. These parts are very well-written and made the story worth reading. But I think the book didn’t need to have so many pages. I also was a bit disappointed with the ending.

Dear Martin - Nic Stone

Muggle Studies – Contemporary
Dear Martin by Nic Stone – 4 stars
A powerful and very relevant story about being black in the United States. We follow Justyce, who was put in handcuffs for helping a drunk friend. To make sense of this incident, he starts to write letters to Martin Luther King. The book does a great job in discussing racism and its consequences.

Defence Against the Dark Arts – Reducto: Title starts with an “R”
Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn HamiltonRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton – 3 stars
This action-packed story starts in a town in the middle of the dessert. Amani is desperate to leave it. She grabs her chance when a mysterious foreigner appears. Personally I think the story went a bit too fast. Action scenes quickly succeeded each other. I would have liked more space to get to know the characters. Because I didn’t really care about the characters, I lost interest in the story. This was a pity, because I liked the setting. It’s a fantasy world inspired by the Middle East with Western elements.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green & David LevithanArithmancy – Work written by more than one author
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan – 4 stars
I did need some time to get used to the characters. After that I loved the two Will Graysons. They are well-written and realistic. I never mixed them up, even though the characters have the same name. Most things that happened to them, never happened to me at that age. But the vibes felt familiar. I also loved the ending!

A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. MaasTransfiguration – Sprayed edges or red cover
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – 4 stars
This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but with more magic and an amazing plot. I actually didn’t expect to like this book so much. The first half of the book was okay, but not very exciting. I knew what was going to happen and I felt quite indifferent about it. But at a certain point the story started to make more sense. Feyre also grew on me. She is a strong and admirable character. I came to like her and the story too.

Circe - Madeline MillerAncient Runes – Retelling
Circe by Madeline Miller – 4 stars
This is a retelling about the witch Circe. It was interesting to learn more about Greek myths! I already knew some of them, but I never looked into it. The thing with myths is that they are usually about fundamental events and actions of the gods. In this book the focus is on the character development of Circe.  I liked that we really get to understand her. The story is also beautifully told.

In August I will start with the NEWTs. Look out for my TBR!

Five settings I’d like to see more in my books

This post was inspired by Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme managed by That Artsy Reader Girl. The prompt of today can be interpreted as settings you want to see more of in books in general or among the books you actually read. I did the last thing. I looked critically at all the books I read. These are the settings I didn’t see a lot, but would like to see more:

1. Various countries in Africa
I did read a couple of books set in Nigeria, but other African countries are scarce among the books I read. Africa is a big continent, so there are lot of other countries I can read about. To be read:

Everfair - Nisi Shawl  A Guide to the Birds of East Africa - Nicholas Drayson

Everfair by Nisi Shawl: An alternate history/steampunk novel set in Congo
A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson: This sounds like a delightful book! It’s a romance set in Kenya. Two men want to invite the same woman to a ball. Instead of forcing her to choose, they agree that who can identify the most species of birds in one week’s time gets the privilege of asking her to the ball.

2. Latin America
Despite having travelled to Guatemala and Mexico, I haven’t read a lot of books set in Latin America. I want to read:

Gods of Jade and Shadow - Silvia Moreno-Garcia  One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: When I first read about this book, I immediately was interested. It’ s a dark fantasy set in 1920s Mexico inspired by Mayan mythology.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez: I love to read books by Isabel Allende. So when I read that her major source of inspiration is Gabriel García Márquez, I added him to my TBR-list. He is seen as the founder of magical realism. I am curious about this classic set in Columbia.

3. Ancient Egypt
As child I once had an Ancient Egypt themed birthday party. We made our own scarabs from plaster and decoded hieroglyphs. I am still interested in Ancient Egypt. To be read:

Cleopatra's Moon - Vicky Alvear Shecter  The Killing Moon - N.K. Jemisin

Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter: This book is about Selene, daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. Reviewers write that the book is well-researched and true to the original myths.
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin: This is a fantasy book inspired by Ancient Egypt. Two of the main characters are Gatherers, priests of the dream-goddess. Their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe or kill.

4. Islands
One of my favourite books of last year was set on Guernsey. I think a part of the reason I loved it were the “island vibes” (if you know what I mean?). Other books with this setting I would like to read:

Summer of Salt - Katrina Leno  The Sandcastle Empire - Kayla Olson

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno: This story is about an island where strange things happen. Where Georgina waits for the magic that has been passed down through every woman in her family.
The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson: A reviewer (I can’t remember who) wrote that this dystopia “”mainly takes place on a creepy Lost-esque island.” This totally convinced me to put the book on my TBR-list.

5. Schools of magic
It all started with Hogwarts. I still dream of getting my letter one day… Since that’s probably not gonna happen, I have to be content with books about wizard schools. I want to read:

A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. Le Guin  The Magicians - Lev Grossman

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin: This is the coming-of-age story of a wizard named Ged. He is sent to a magic school on the Island of Roke.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman: Quentin is admitted to a secret, exclusive college of magic in New York.

Book recommendations for the Hogwarts subjects

Last week I couldn’t find the time to write a blog post. This week I am back with a post inspired by the Magical Readathon! While making my TBR for the O.W.Ls, I thought it would be interesting to make a required reading list for the most important classes at Hogwarts. I did deviate somewhat from the prompts made by Book Roast.

Astronomy

In your study of stars and planets, it’s helpful to read books set in outer space.

The Martian - Andy Weir  Illuminae - Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

The Martian* by Andy Weir: Mark Watney is one of the first people to walk on Mars. He may also be the first to die there. His crew had to evacuate the planet and thought he was already dead. Although Mark is alone, far away from Earth, he isn’t ready to give up yet.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff: An amazing book told through a collection of emails, military files, IMs and more. The biggest part of the story is set on a couple of space ships where a deadly plague and the fleet’s Artificial Inteligence cause a major threat.

Charms

For this class, I recommend to read books that discuss different forms of magic.

Akata Witch  Assassin's Apprentice  Spellsinger - Sebastien de Castell

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor: When the Nigerian Sunny learns that she is a Leopard, she discovers a whole secret society. The magical abilities of the Leopard people are based on their personality. Someone’s weakness becomes their greatest power.

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb: There are basically two kinds of magic in this world. Wit is the ability to make a connection with an animal. Most people detest this ability. Skill is a power usually found in the royal family, it’s a type of magical telepathy. The royal bastard Fitz has a talent for both.

Spellsinger by Sebastien de Castell: All the Jan’Tep have six tattooed bands on their arms. Each band has to be activated to do the type of magic that matches that band. Children at the age of sixteen must prove that they have magic powers. It’s almost Kellen’s birthday and he has a problem: his magic is gone.

Defence Against the Dark Arts

Of course practicing is the best way to learn in this class. But reading books to better understand the Dark Arts will help as well.

The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch  The Poppy War - R.F. Kuang

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch: The main characters in this book are the Gentleman Bastards, a band of clever thieves lead by Locke Lamora. You could call them antiheroes, but they would also pass as sympathetic villains. No wealthy noble is safe for their heists.

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang: This is a remarkable military fantasy book based on Chinese history. The first part is largely set on Sinegard, the best military school of the country. When the war starts, the story becomes very dark. It really shows what becomes of characters when they have to fight in a horrific war. Proceed with caution if you are sensitive for torture, genocide or rape.

Herbology

Plants, gardens or nature in general play an important role in these books.

The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert  The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett  The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert: A beautiful story about a female botanist in the 19th century. Just like Darwin, her research leads her to the mysteries of the evolution.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: This wonderful book shows how the discovery of a walled garden changes a little girl.

The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel: The people who lived circa 30,000 years found everything they needed in nature. This novel is full of vivid descriptions of how they lived, including the plants they found and how these plants were used for food or as medicine.

History of Magic

For this class I suggest some novels that are set in the past, all with a touch of magic in them.

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem - Maryse Condé  House of Spirits - Isabel Allende

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé: This book is inspired by a black, enslaved woman who lived during the 17th century. She was accused of practicing witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. In reality a lot is unknown about Tituba’s life and fate. Maryse Condé described how her life would have been if Tituba actually was a witch.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende: This family saga is about three generations of Chilean woman. It’s a beautiful family portrait with a lot of historical details mixed with some magic realism.

Potions

When studying potions, it can’t do any harm to know a lot about poisons (so you will recognize the difference, hopefully before you drink it…)

Nevernight - Jay Kristoff  Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff: When her parents are murdered, Mia wants revenge. She becomes apprentice at the Red Church, a school for assassins. She learns to fight with different kinds of weapons, how to seduce people or poison them.

Poison Study* by Maria V. Snyder: Instead of being killed, Yelena is offered the opportunity to become food taster. To prevent that she escapes, the chief of security feeds her poison. By appearing for the daily antidote, she can delay death a little longer.

Transfiguration

The characters in these books are going through some kind of transformation.

Phase 9 - Thinking about the future: A book or series you know you will re-read many times in the future?  Northern Lights (His Dark Materials #1)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: Karou changes in major ways in this story. The book also has an interesting kind of magic involving beads and teeth.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman: At the start of the trilogy, Lyra is a young and wild child. On her adventures she meets armoured bears, witches and angels, makes new friends, and learns about herself. Her journey transforms Lyra.

* I haven’t read these two books (yet).

Magical Readathon – O.W.Ls

Back in April I came across the O.W.Ls Magical Readathon 2019, organised by Book Roast on youtube. The O.W.Ls are tests Hogwarts students in Harry Potter have to take in their fifth year. For this readathon there is a book prompt for every subject. There’s also a beautiful booklet with wizarding careers. For every career you have to get O.W.Ls in certain subjects. Unfortunately, I was too late to participate in this event. But yesterday the N.E.W.Ts Magical Readathon 2019 was announced on Book Roast. This is part 2 of the readathon. It takes place in August. I would love to join! You can participate without doing your O.W.Ls, but I think it’s more fun to do both “exams”.

Although the official event has ended on April 30th, I decided to do my O.W.Ls in July. Then I can join the others with the N.E.W.Ts in August. I have chosen to become a

– Journalist / Writer –

For this career I need three O.W.Ls: for History of Magic, Muggle Studies and one O.W.L. in a subject of my own picking. I will attempt to get some extra O.W.Ls, and hope to read six books. Because I am not very good at sticking to TBR-lists, I have picked multiple books for each subject. In this way I am able to change my mind if I want.

History of Magic – Published at least 10 years ago

Assassin's Quest - Robin Hobb   One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez

Muggle Studies – Contemporary

Before I let go - Marieke Nijkamp   Dear Martin - Nic Stone

Ancient Runes – Retelling

Circe - Madeline Miller  Heartless - Marissa Meyer

Arithmancy – Work written by more than one author

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green & David Levithan  Blue Monday - Nicci French

Defence Against the Dark Arts – Reducto: Title starts with an “R”

Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn Hamilton  The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater

Transfiguration – Sprayed edges or red cover

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion  A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Maas

 

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag 2019

It has become a tradition among book bloggers to do the Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag every June or July. It’s a great way to give an update of the books I read so far. This year I already managed to read a lot of books. So it will be hard to choose!

Best book(s) you read so far in 2019?
Best books I read so far in 2019
And this was the first hard choice to make. Just like last year I can’t limit myself to one book. I have three favourites so far:
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
Tilly and the Bookwanderers by Anna James
The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews (click on the title to read my review)

GodsgraveBest sequel of 2019 so far?
I enjoyed reading Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, and I loved Godsgrave even more. There were some plot twists I really didn’t expect! The mysterious, sarcarstic narator and the characters are still amazing.

New releases you haven’t read yet, but want to?
It was published last year, but I haven’t read Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno yet.  This book is about a witchy family on an island.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
Most anticipated releases for the second half of the year
I am looking forward to reading Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi. After reading the first part I am curious how the story will continue. I also can’t wait for Darkdawn, the last part of the The Nevernight Chronicles. Godsgrave ended with a huge cliffhanger!

Biggest disappointment?
I happened to find The Loneliness of Distant Beings by Kate Ling at my library. I had no high expectations for this book, but it was still disappointing. The main character was so  annoying and I also didn’t like any of the other characters. There was a very bad case of insta-love too.

The TestingBiggest surprise?
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau was a book I thought I would enjoy. I didn’t expect a lot from it. In the end I loved the book and read the whole trilogy! The main character, Cia, is chosen as Testing candidate. If she’s able to pass the Testing, she can become a University student. But she is not sure who she can trust. And what happened to the people who failed? The story is fast-paced, set in an interesting world and has good characters. Especially Cia became a new favourite.

Favourite new author? (debut or new to you)
Between Shades of Grey impressed me. It may be a fictional story, but it’s about crimes that were actually committed during the Second World War. This sounds like a heavy topic, but the book was easy to read. I definitively want to read more from Ruta Septys! I think I’m also going to like Salt to the Sea.

Newest favourite character?
Cia from The Testing was a character I could easily identify with. She is sympathetic, intelligent and her decisions are well-thought out.

The Dollmaker of KrakowBook that made you cry?
I seldom cry when reading books. But the ending of The Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M. Romero really touched me. It’s a book set in the Second World War with a dollmaker and a living doll called Karolina as main characters. The dollmaker is a kind-hearted, but shy man. Karolina, helps him to make friends. Everything changes when the Nazis invade Poland.

Book that made you happy?
I love books about books and Tilly and the Bookwanderers was amazing! Main character of this story is the eleven year-old Tilly who lives above her grandparents’ bookshop. One day a character from the book she’s reading appears in the shop. Due to the characters, the references to other books and of course the bookwandering, this book was fun to read!

Favourite book to film adaptation you saw this year?
When I spend so much time reading, I don’t watch a lot of movies. I did see the movie Esio Trot, based on the book with the same title written by Roald Dahl. I haven’t read the book (yet), but the movie was hiliarious and also had a beautiful story.

What book(s) do you need to read by the end of the year?
Books I need to read by the end of the year
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Assassin’s Quest (Farseer Trilogy, #3) by Robin Hobb
Want by Cindy Pon

Consider yourself tagged if you want to do this tag! And share your link in the comments. I love to read your answers on the questions!

Aurora Rising: sarcasm in space

Aurora RisingIt took some time before my copy of Aurora Rising arrived. So I already saw a couple of reviews on blogs I follow. They weren’t negative, but also not very enthusiastic. That’s why I lowered my expectations a little. The Illuminae Files, also written by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is one of my favourite trilogies. If I expected Aurora Rising to be that great, I probably would have been disappointed. Yet I really enjoyed reading it!

Summary
On a crucial point in his life Tyler Jones is busy rescuing a girl in space. That’s why he misses his Draft, the moment squad leaders can recruit their members. Now Tyler is left with the ones no else wanted to choose. Then there is Auri, the girl he saved. She has become conscious after trapped in cryosleep for two hundred years.

My thoughts
From the first page onward this is a book full of action. The story is told from seven different points of view: the six members from the squad and Auri. I always like multiple POVs. It’s interesting to see a story through different eyes. Only in the beginning the narrators sounded a bit too much alike to me. When I got to know them better though, it also became easier to tell the characters apart. They are different than I expected. On the cover these characters are advertised as ‘they’re not the heroes we wanted, they’re just the ones we could find.’ The squad members are actually all pretty handsome, smart and good at their job. And every one of them is so sarcastic. This regularly made me smile, but I do think the sarcasm was a bit overdone. However, the more I read about the characters, the more I came to love them! It was also amazing to read how this squad of mostly strangers becomes a team.

There’s enough space for world building too. A big part is interwoven in the story. In 2380 we have contacted several alien species. Because some of the squad members are not human, we learn about these other species. I loved to read how their culture is different from ours! We also get some background information on black pages between the chapters. This reminded me of the Illuminae Files and it’s a nice bonus.

Conclusion
So I loved Aurora Rising! It has an interesting world and characters that really grew on me. Although the ending was excellent, the plot could be stronger. It was hard to rate this book. I hesitated between 4 and 5 stars. In the end I decided to give Aurora Rising 4 stars. Despite this, I cannot wait to read the sequel!

Three books I struggled to finish

The time I take to read a book varies widely. I have finished books with more than 500 pages in a few days. There are thinner books that took me weeks. While I sometimes DNF books, I prefer to finish them. Today I want to talk about some books I struggled to finish.

This blog post is slightly inspired by Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme managed by That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic of this week is ‘Unpopular Bookish Opinions’.

Three books I struggled to finish

1. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
The Dutch edition of Norwegian Wood only has 317 pages, but finishing this book still took me some time. The main reason is probably how gloomy I felt while reading this story. The writer did a great job in creating the depressing atmosphere. However, it made the book quite hard to read. I also didn’t really like the characters.

2. The Heart Has Its Reasons by María Dueñas
The first book I read from this writer was The Time in Between, a beautiful book. When I found another book from María Dueñas at my library, I immediately borrowed it. The Heart Has Its Reasons is about a linguistic professor from Spain who gets a fellowship in California. Her job is to sort out the papers of a deceased Spanish writer. For the most part the story bored me. Multiple times I thought about DNF-ing it. In the last 100 pages the story finally becomes interesting. Yet I’m not sure they are worth the struggle. The first novel by María Dueñas is definitively far better!

3. Cold Magic by Kate Elliott
I finished this book only the second time I read it. The first time I wasn’t in the mood for a big book with a slow pacing. When I read it again I also struggled with this. The world in Cold Magic is interesting; it’s an alternative Europe with steampunk elements. But at the start the world-building interferes with the plot. There are a lot of info dumps about the history and politics of the world. When I was past the first half, the book became easier to read. There was more action and I started to like the characters. In the end I did enjoy the story, but I won’t read the rest of the trilogy.