Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Finally a new post! Now my holiday started, I hope to find more time to blog. The Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag seems like a good way to give an update about what I read so far this year. I wasn’t tagged, but inspired by the amazing Cait from paperfury and Marie on drizzleandhurricanebooks to do this tag. Here we go!

Best book you read so far in 2017?
An impossible question if you expect just one answer. I read many good books this year! Three books seems more manageable:

Best books I read so far in 2017

I was quite surprised to discover how few people heard of Exodus by Julie Bertagna. I loved it so much! This book is set in the year 2100. Due to global warming big parts of the earth have flooded. The island of Mara is also drowning. The inhabitants need to flee, and Mara may be able to save them. Exodus would fit in the category dystopia, but this one felt more real than other dystopian books I read. It offers a very interesting view on the consequences of climate change.

I discovered The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier in my library.  The book has two story lines. The first one follows Diana on a journey to prove that Amazons actually existed. The other one is set thousands of years ago. It tells the story of Myrine who became the first Amazon. The Lost Sisterhood is well-researched and made me curious about Greek history!

I am a big fan of Laini Taylor, and I fell in love with Strange the Dreamer from the first page. It is a heart-breaking story about a librarian obsessed with a mystic lost city. I can’t put in words how absolutely perfect the worldbuilding and the amazing writing style are!

GeminaBest sequel of 2017 so far?
Gemina by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff was fantastic! I had high expectations after Illuminae, but the book totally lived up to them.  This book is set in Jump Station Heimdall. I must admit that I didn’t immediately like the main characters, but that changed pretty soon! The story was just as exciting as the first part and I am still in love with the format. I can’t wait for Obsido!

New releases you haven’t read yet, but want to?
I did not really keep up with all the new releases, but I am quite curious about The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana. That may have something to do with the fact that the word ‘library’ is in the title…

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
The newest book by Philip Pullman, La Belle Sauvage! I am not sure what to expect, but hopefully it is just as good as His Dark Materials!

Biggest disappointment?
A few years ago I read the debut of the Danish writer Mikkel Birkegaard. Recently I found his second book: Death Sentence.  The main character is a famous crime writer. One day he finds out that someone is committing the crimes from his books. Sadly I find this writer a very unlikable character. The story also has a weird and unsatisfying end.

Biggest surprise?The Color Purple
I read The Color Purple by Alice Walker, because I wanted to read more diverse. I didn’t expect it to be so good. I needed some time to get used to the way Celie writes. After that I came to adore her. Celie has a miserable life, but she always stays optimistic and hopeful.

Favourite new author? (debut or new to you)
Firebird trilogy
Claudia Gray, because the Firebird trilogy was amazing! I was hooked when I read about the firebird: an instrument which can be used to travel to other dimensions. I enjoyed reading about the different dimensions and loved the plot twists.

Newest fictional crush?
That must be Lazlo from Strange the Dreamer! A kind-hearted librarian with a talent for telling the most amazing stories.

Newest favourite character?
It was hard to choose just one character, but I think I will go for Marguerite from the Firebird trilogy. I liked the relationship she has with her parents and how loyal she is to her family. I also enjoyed reading about the Marguerites in other dimensions. It was interesting to see what certain choices and incidents did to her character.

Book that made you cry?Love Letters to the Dead
With a few exceptions, books usually do not make me cry. But Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira did made me feel very sad. It is a moving story that deals with some pretty heavy stuff. I really liked the  format: Laurel writes letters to famous dead persons. YA contemporary normally is not my cup of tea, but this one was better than I expected.

Book that made you happy?
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald was such a lovely feel-good story! An ideal book for book lovers.

Favourite book to film adaptation you saw this year?
A few months ago I saw The Book Thief. I loved the book and also really liked the film adaptation! The producers stayed true to the story and the actors did a good job.

Favourite review you’ve written this year?
I don’t really write reviews, but I like my post for Valentine’s Day.

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)?
I nominate Strange the Dreamer for both cover and story. That book is so pretty that I would have bought it just for the cover!

What book do you need to read by the end of the year?
Lots of books! I am planning to reread some of my favourites: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and His Dark Materials. After that I want to continue with The Lunar Chronicles and the All Souls Trilogy.

Top five favourite non-fiction books

I used to read non-fiction for school and fiction in my leisure time. Not that I didn’t like it. I love to learn new things! But with the exception of drawing books, I would rather read stories in my free time. It felt easier and there were so many fictional books I hadn’t read yet. That hasn’t changed and probably never will. But since the beginning of this year I tend to read more non-fiction by myself. I found some amazing books! Here are my five favourite non-fiction books of this moment:

Top five favourite non-fiction books

1. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
I really enjoy listening to the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin. In this podcast Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth Craft talk about all kinds of subjects related to happiness. While listening I became curious about the book that prompted them to start the podcast. In The Happiness Project Gretchen describes how she tried to become happier in one year. Each month she focused on another area of her life, for example boosting her energy in January and leisure time in May. For each month she chose activities based on scientific research. In this way she found out that that small changes can make a big difference in your life.

Favourite quote:
Although we presume that we act because of the way we feel, in fact we often feel because of the way we act.

2. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
This book was recommended to me on tumblr as “the best and most reassuring book that I’ve ever read on mental health.” So I had high expectations, but the book lived up to them. In the first hundred pages Matt Haig tells how he became depressed and how it felt. This was a sad part of the book, but crucial in understanding depression. In the other half of the book Matt describes how he rose out of it and lived again. I loved this part, because it was full of metaphors, included a list of reasons to stay alive and tips on how to be there to someone with a depression. I would recommend Reasons to Stay Alive not only to people who have depression, but also to people (like me) who know someone with depression.

Favourite quote:
“The key is in accepting your thoughts, all of them, even the bad ones. Accept thoughts, but don’t become them.

3. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
With no experience or training, Cheryl Strayed decides to hike more than thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, all by herself. Her story reads like an exciting fiction book with a funny and strong protagonist. You probably aren’t planning to hike thousand miles, but believe me, you will consider it while reading Wild.

Favourite quote:
“Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”

4. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
This is the story of a girl who stood up for education and was shot for it by the Taliban at the age of fifteen. As I wrote earlier, Malala is one of my personal heriones. In this beautiful book Malala tells about her family, her fight for girl’s education and her life in Pakistan before and during the Taliban occupation.

Favourite quote:
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”

5. Shadows of War by Caroline Nordstrom
I read this book a few years ago while studying Cultural Anthropology. War is a quite complicated subject, because it is complex and hard to imagine if you never experienced it. Caroline Nordstrom manages to show what it is like to live in a war and explain the deep politics. In her research she looks at war from different sides: from soldiers and businessman to NGO’s and war orphans.

Favourite quote:
“Peace does not wait for the end of the war to make its debut. It takes its greatest definition on the front lines. As one war orphan living on the streets told me during the years of war in Angola: I carry a little bit of peace in my heart wherever I go, and take it out at night and look at it.”

Top five subjects that will make me want to read a book

There are some subjects that make me love a book, without having read it yet. With this post I link up with the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday (of last week, I know…), created by The Broke and The Bookish.

1. BooksMr. Penumbra's 24-Houre Bookstore
This won’t be a surprise, but I love to read about characters who are bookworms like me. Books with the words ‘library’, ‘bookstore’ or ‘book’ in the title will definitively get a place on my TBR-list.
Book-tip: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

2. Magic schools
As a true Harry Potter-fan I cannot withstand books about magic schools. Stories about magic are good, books with characters learning to do magic are even better!
Book tip: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

3. Parallel universes
I am fond of books in which characters can travel between our own world and another magical world. It gives books a sense of realism I like. It’s also interesting to read about the variety of objects that are used to go to parallel universes: from a wardrobe in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis to a mirror in Reckless by Cornelia Funke.

4. The future of the earth
After reading Exodus by Julie Bertagna I developed an interest for books set around the year 2100. It is fascinating to read how our future will look like. Especially books that show the consequences of climate change have my interest.

5. Unique fantasy worldsThe Glass Sentence
Reading about worlds that are completely different than our own is fantastic! I just love it when a writer came up with a world I would have never imagined by myself.  Good world-building is essential for this kind of books, but if it is done well I’m hooked!
Book-tip: The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

Read women’s books!

There are lots of ways to take action on International Women’s Day. But why just today? As an experiment I ONLY read books written by women since the beginning of this year. It is not something new. I was inspired by the #readwomen challenge on Tumblr. The Women’s Marches all over the world motivated me to continue after January. I think I will continue until the end of April. Reading (only) women’s books is a great way to celebrate and support women. In the last months I read some amazing books. I also started a search for books that are not only written by women, but are also about strong and diverse women and girls. I discovered numerous books that I haven’t read yet. So I have decided to share my TBR-list with some highly-recommended books on it.

Read women's books

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
Malala is one of my personal heroines. She is about my age and one of the bravest persons I can think of. She did not stopped fighting for her right to education, despite being shot in the head at the age of fifteen.

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
Another brave woman I admire was Amelia Earhart. She is best known for being the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. During a flight she disappeared. Strange enough, her body was never found.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
This book is regularly recommended when talking about feminist books. According to some people it is a must-read. So I am keen to read more about the life of Maya Angelou.

Read women's books

Eon by Alison Goodman
This book is said to have a strong female character, a blend of Chinese and Japanse mythology and dragons! It is the fist part of a duology about Eona, who has been masquerading as a boy to study dragon magic.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
If this book is just as stunning as the cover, it must be a great book. The main character, Binti, is the first of her people to gain entry to the best university in the galaxy. CW from Read, Think, Ponder recommended this book in her post about Books by Black Authors. Check her blog if you would like to find more diverse books!

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
A story about time-traveling! Nixie travels the world in different centuries on her father’s time-travelling ship. He desperately searches for a map for 1868 Honolulu in order to save Nixie’s mother from dying. This book is recommended by YABookers in their post about Women’s History Month, definitively check it out!

Seven blind dates with a book

A lot happened since the beginning of this year, personal as wel as political. I  could not find the motivation to write a blog post. Originally I did not plan to write a Valentine post for Top Ten Tuesday. But then I saw this lovely post on Book Riot and I decided to set up my own blind dates. So just click on the description of the book you would like to date.

A blind date with a book

A feel-good book with a sense of adventure seeks a reader who thinks (at times) that people are better in books.

Exciting science-fiction book is looking for a reader willing to set sail in a conceivable futuristic world.

Young adult novel set in a unique world is looking for a reader fond of maps.

Beautiful story that feels like poetry seeks a reader who loves a powerful protagonist with a tough life.

An extraordinary love story seeks a reader who is not afraid of a thought-provoking novel.

Young adult fantasy book would like to find a reader who likes to read about a pickpocket with a quest

Novel in which two lives intertwine seeks a reader who is ready to read about some dark days in history.

Now grab some chocolate and make yourself a cup of tea, and start book-dating. Let me know how your blind date turned out!

Top four best books of 2016

Books of 2016

This year I read 38 books. I am quite proud of this number, it is more than in the last three years. Although there are definitively areas of improvement, the list is pretty diverse. In numbers this means I read:
– 19 books by female writers
– 18 books by male writers
– 17 middle-grade/Young Adult books
– 10 books by Dutch writers
– 13 fantasy and science-fiction books (far less than usual)
– 7 mysteries
– 5 historical novels
– 3 books by a writer of color (on this point I hope to do better next year)
– 2 re-reads (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and World War Z)

Linking up with the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday, created by The Broke and The Bookish here is my top four best books of 2016. To make it a little easier I chose books of four different genres.

Top 4 best books of 2016

1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Without doubt the best book of the year! I loved everything about it: the unique way it was told, the amazing story set in two spaceships and the characters who felt very real. As I mentioned last week I hope to read the sequel very soon!

2. A Disocvery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
It all starts with an old manuscript that has been lost for centuries. But after a few chapters I found myself in a world full of witches, vampires and daemons. This book left me with a small book hangover, but fortunately it is the first part of a trilogy.

3. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
A beautiful novel set in the late 1700’s in the United States. A small Irish girl grows up among the slaves of a plantation. But if she like it or not, her skin sets her apart from the people she calls her family. I found this book by accident (it was an e-book, therefore it is not in the picture) and it kind of broke my heart.

4. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A story about a life in Nigeria, about being an black blogger in the United States and being an undocumented immigrant in London. But ultimately this is a story about love.

My question to you: What is your favourite book of 2016?

Books I want to read in 2017

Most of the time I just read what appeals to me at that moment. Sometimes I choose a new(er) book that is popular on book blogs, other times I just pick a book from the library that sounds interesting or I choose to read a book from one of the series I am reading. In the beginning of this year I did make a small TBR-list. I managed to read 2 of the 5 books I intended to read. In total I read quite a lot of books, but more about that in a few weeks!

Linking up with the weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday, created by The Broke and The Bookish I have chosen 5 books I really want to read next year.

Books I want to read in 2017

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
In August I read the first part of The Illuminae Files, and it was definitively one the best books I read this year! I am extremely curious about this sequel (and actually do not understand why I haven’t bought it yet).

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
The newest book by my favourite writer! It will be released on March 28. The prologue sounds so good!

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
This book is about the children who came back from a magical world, and now are stuck in the real world. Also the main character is asexual, and I am all for LGBTQIA+ books!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A fantasy book about not one London, but multiple Londons. That should be enough reason to read it! And so many book bloggers are enthusiastic about this book.

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
A great series and I am keen to meet the new characters!