Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I've Read So Far in 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week bloggers post their top ten on a previously suggested topic. This week's topic is top ten books I've read this year.

1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

I absolutely loved this book! I'm currently watching the TV show and it's amazing as well! I definitely recommend both! 

I'm looking forward to read more Atwood in the near future! Recommendations are always welcome!

You can find my review here.

2. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This book was amazing! I forced my mom to buy it in Dutch and she really enjoyed it as well and passed it on to my grandmother and she's enjoying it so much she wants me to make a list of books she should read which made my little reader heart so happy!

3. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty 

This was definitely a pleasant surprise since this is a genre I almost never pick up. I've seen two episodes of the TV show and I really liked them as well. I got my mom the Dutch translation for Christmas again she passed it around in our family and this month my aunt told us she liked it so much, she immediately bought all Liane Moriarty's other books. I'm kind of impressed my book recommendations to my mom are appreciated by the rest of my family as well! Because this actually has never happened before.

You can find my review here.

4. Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) by Laini Taylor

This book is a gem! If you're only planning to read one young adult novel this year, let it be this one! You won't regret it! I didn't know anything about this book when I started reading it and I feel that's the best way to go! The only thing I'll say is that Strange is such a precious bookworm! I loved him from the start.

5. The Arrival by Shaun Tan

This is a beautiful graphic novel without any words. It's stunning!

6. Geekerella by Ashley Poston 

This one stole my heart because it portrays conventions so truthfully! I only started going to conventions last October but it certainly won't be my last! And also, FIREFLY references!

You can find my review here.

7. Giant Days, Vol. 1 (Giant Days, #1) by John Allison

This comic is about three girls going to university and it's a really fun read!

8. Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab

I read the entire trilogy this year and I can't get enough of this world and these characters! If you are looking for a good fantasy trilogy, you should definitely check this one out!

9. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

This one is a modern young adult retelling of The Shop Around the Corner or You've Got Mail. It's a really cute romance and there are a lot of references to old Hollywood movies, which I completely adored! Great summer read!

You can find my review here.

10. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I read this for the very first time! I did watch the Megan Follows often but I never got around to reading the book. I'm so glad I finally read it because this was the perfect comfort read!

Which books did you like to most in 2017? Have you read any of the ones mentioned above? Or are you planning to? Leave your thoughts down below!

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Saturday, 24 June 2017

Stacking the Shelves: Netgalley Edition

Stacking the Shelves is co-hosted by Reading Reality and Tynga's Reviews. Each week bloggers post the books they purchased or received. I just recently started requesting books on Netgalley and these are all arc's I've been approved to read. With the exception of four books, most of these are pdf's, which I really struggle to read.

1. Nasty Women by 404 Ink

This is a collection of essays about what it means to be a woman in the 21st century, most if not all of these were written after the US elections last year. I really liked this book and I highly recommend it! You can find my review here.

2. Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies

Sadly I didn't enjoy this book and I decided to not finish it in the end. You can find my review here.

3. Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga, #2) by Kiersten White

I enjoyed this more than the first book in the trilogy. You can find my review for the first book, And I Darken, here and my review for the sequel, Now I Rise, here.

4. They Can't Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter by Wesley Lowery

This is another non-fiction book and I've started this already and I am now 20% into it. Review to come soon!

5. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

I've also started this book but I did not realize this was set during the winter as the blurb talks about a hot summer day. Since there is currently a heatwave in Belgium, I don't really enjoy reading about snow at this time. 

6. A Poison Dark and Drowning (Kingdom on Fire, #2) by Jessica Cluess

I'm really excited to read this one! You can find my review of the first book, A Shadow Bright and Burning, here.

7. The Broken Ones (The Malediction Trilogy, #0.6) by Danielle L. Jensen

Can't wait to read this one! I loved Stolen Songbird but I haven't read the rest of the trilogy yet, and I think I need to finish them first before I read The Broken Ones. Definintely doing it this summer, though!

8. How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry 

9. The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd

I also got approved to read Rotherweird and Don't Stop Me Now but they got archived before I had the chance to download them. I have purchased the latter and will review it this summer, though!

Which books did you get recently? Have you read any of the books mentioned above or are you planning to?

Friday, 23 June 2017

Review: Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga, #2) by Kiersten White

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost. 

-- Goodreads.com --

This review may contain spoilers for the first book, And I Darken.

I received an arc from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. You can find my review for the first book, And I Darken here. I would like to thank the publisher, Random House Children's, for approving me to read this book, I’m very grateful for this opportunity.

Things I liked about Now I Rise:

- It is more action-packed than the first book, even though it is still very slow paced. A lot of the plot still revolves around politics, though.

- We got to know some minor characters from the first book better, like Hunyadi and Cyprian. I was immediately drawn to their storylines. I wished to see more of Oana, though. We were introduced to some amazing new characters as well, like Daciana and Guistiniani. I will let you discover these ones yourself.

- We see less of Mehmed!

- Kiersten White amped up the violence and the cruelty factor. If you thought the first book contained a lot of horrors, you better prepare yourself for the second one.

- The book alternates between a Lada chapter and a Radu chapter. At first, I was only interested in Lada's story, I thought Radu's part was quite boring, not much happened and his side was all politics. About 60 % into the book, things changed. I found myself enjoying Radu's chapters the most as they too became more action-packed.

- Radu slowly began to think more for himself instead of just blindly following Mehmed.

Things I didn't like:

- First of all, all these books in the trilogy are too long, in my opinion. They could and probably should have been a lot shorter.

- Mehmed has become even more insufferable, he and I will never get along.

- I would like to know more about all the secondary characters. I want to know more about Nicolai, Bogdan, Cyprian, etc. I feel they could have been more developed.

- Most of my dislikes from the first book haven't really changed in the sequel. The first book nicely set up the events in Now I Rise, but I'm not sure what is going to happen in the third book. I feel this could have been a duology.

- I would like to see more interaction between Lada and Radu.

I gave this book 3,5 stars because I liked it better than the first one. So, if you enjoyed And I Darken, you should definitely check out Now I Rise!

Publication date: June 27th 2017

Have you read this book or are you planning to? Leave your thoughts down below!

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week bloggers post their top ten on a previously suggested topic. This week's topic is top ten series I've been meaning to start reading but haven't so far. I own the first book in all the following series, I just haven't picked them up yet. It was actually quite difficult to just pick ten series because there are so many series I want to start!

1. Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell

2. Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne by Brian Staveley 

3. Lightbringer by Brent Weeks

4. The Riyria Revelations by Michael J. Sullivan

5. Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

6. The Others by Anne Bishop

7. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater 

8. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

9. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon 

10. Study by Maria V. Snyder

I've had Poison Study on my e-reader for two years now, but still haven't read it yet.

Which series do you want to start? Have you read any of the one mentioned above or are you planning to? Which series should I start next? Leave your thoughts down below!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Stacking the Shelves: May Book Haul Part 2

Stacking the Shelves is co-hosted by Reading Reality and Tynga's Reviews. Each week bloggers post the books they purchased or received. Last week I posted the first part of my May book haul which you can find here. This is the second part of my May book haul because I got way too many books last month... I just couldn't resist, you know how that is, right?

1. Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh

I got this one in my Fairyloot box and it is one of my most anticipated books of the year! I hope to get to it soon!

2. A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

This was my most anticipated book and sadly I felt really disappointed. You can find my review here.

The next four books I got from the bookdepository for 20 euros, which I think is a pretty great bargain!

3. Traitor's Blade (Greatcoats #1) by Sebastien de Castell 

I've had this book on my radar for a while and when I saw it on the bookdepository for less than six euros, I couldn't resist buying it.

4. The Veil (Devil's Isle #1) by Chloe Neill

5. The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

I've heard good things about this one! Can't wait to read it!

6. Pomfret Towers (Barsetshire #6) by Angela Thirkell

I've been wanting to read an Angela Thirkell book for a while now. This is the sixth book in a series though. Can anyone tell me if I need to read the others first?

I also got five e-books last month! I've been craving some romance novels lately, you can definitely leave some recommendations below!

7. Don't Stop Me Now by Colleen Coleman

I actually got approved to read this on Netgalley but back then I didn't realize I had to download it before it disappeared. And it did disappear, so when I saw the e-book for less than 3 euros, I got it without thinking twice! I'll be reviewing this one soon!

8. Bully (Fall Away #1) by Penelope Douglas

I got these Penelope Douglas books because I watched PeaceLoveBooksxo on Youtube recommending them often. And they were cheap.

9. Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas 

10. Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After #1) by Tessa Dare

I actually really enjoyed this one! I'll be reading more of this author in the future! I decided to try these out after watching April from Aprilius Maximus on Youtube talking about it.

11. If I Only Had a Duke (The Disgraceful Dukes #2) by Lenora Bell 

Once again on the recommendation of Jessica from PeaceLoveBooksxo.

Which books did you get recently? Have you read any of these books or are you planning to? Leave your thoughts down below!

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Friday, 16 June 2017

Review: And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga #1) by Kiersten White

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she'll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

- Goodreads.com description -

And I Darken is a gender swapped young adult retelling of Vlad the Impaler.
I have such mixed feelings about this book that it was hard to decide on a rating. 

Let's start with the things I liked about this book:

- I really liked the main characters Lada and Radu. They are the very opposites of each other. Lada, the female version of Vlad the Impaler is a though girl, who likes to fight, refuses to marry anyone and detests wearing dresses. Her brother Radu, is a kind soul, does not like to fight and is desperate to be loved. He is an easy target but his sister is a force to be reckoned with.

- The book starts with the birth of Lada and Radu and we follow them through childhood to their teenage years. They are well developed characters and because we know their entire history, we are able to understand their feelings and choices better.

- The side characters Bogdan and especially Nicolae are amazing! The latter is a fun and welcome addition to the story and I wish to see more of him in the sequels. 

- The political intrigue in this book was well done but I personally prefer a bit more action in young adult novels. 

- The last 100-150 pages picked up the pace for me and there finally was some action. The plot twists were not that spectacular but definitely not bad either.

Things I didn't like about this book:

- Probably my main complaint is the fact that this book is very, very, very slow paced. I lost interest in this book a couple of times and ultimately put it aside three times in order to read different books. Like I said, the pace does pick up in the last 100 pages or so. I really think this book should have been shorter.

- I did not like the love interest, Mehmed, at all. I wish there hadn't been a love interest at all, actually, because I personally found the relationships in this book cringeworthy. Mehmed, in my opinion, does not deserve all the love bestowed on him. He is married and has a harem full of women and it's his duty to father as much sons as possible. Urgh, just no.

Furthermore, Mehmed quickly became the centre of the book, everything suddenly is all about him while I just wanted Lada and Radu to ditch him. I do not care for this dude at all. I hope to see a lot less of him in the following books but I'm not going to get my hopes up.

- Even though this is mostly historical accurate, I did not like how women were treated in this book. Women are literally nothing. Thankfully, Lada fights against this and we do see some very resourceful women throughout this novel, it just irked me most of the time.

- All of these characters but especially Lada and Radu are achingly lonely throughout the entire book. I just wish these siblings would talk to each other about their feelings instead of fighting all the time.

All things considered, I decided to give this book 3 stars but this might lower in the future. Since I was ready to throw it out of the window multiple times while reading it, a three star rating might not be fair.

Have you read And I Darken or are you planning to? Leave your thoughts down below!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Review: Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies

A romantic, heart-wrenching tale of love against the odds from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author

1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband's death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza's only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she's determined to make a name for herself.

But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince's handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families - and society - think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what's expected, or following their hearts. . .

-- Goodreads.com description -

First of all, I want to thank Netgalley and the publishers, Penguin Books (UK) and Viking, for providing me with an arc copy. I'm really grateful for this opportunity. I have received an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.

I requested this book because I'm currently in the mood to read romance stories and I have always enjoyed books or movies about India and/or Indian culture.

Unfortunately, this book and I did not click. After reading the first 20%, I started skim reading. In the end, I decided not to finish this book. This is not a decision I take lightly, but I don't think I would enjoy it more if I finished it.

Even though I did not finish Before the Rains, I will briefly review the part I did read.

Writing styles are a very personal thing, I've read books I really enjoyed but others really hated because of the writing style. One of these books that immediately comes to mind, is Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, which I personally loved but many of friends did not care for at all. Dinah Jefferies writing style really did not click with me, I found it too descriptive, more telling than showing. When I don't enjoy a particular writing style, it becomes a task to read a book. The last books I did not finish because of the same reasons were Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! Both novels are considered classics and master pieces but I just could not finish them. Many people do enjoy them, so the fault lies with me. I feel the same about finishing Before the Rains. This does not mean you would not be able to enjoy it. Like I mentioned before, this is a personal preference.

The descriptions in Before the Rains are very repetitive. Eliza is a photographer and describes the subjects of photo's multiple times using the same adjectives over and over. Things like this, are why the writing style annoys me.

I read books to connect with the characters, if I don't connect with any of them, I will not enjoy the book. I tried liking the characters in Before the Rains, I really did, but they all felt so flat to me. Sadly, I didn't click with any of them.

Since I did not finish this book, I do not feel comfortable rating it, so I won't. I did not click with this novel but this doesn't mean you would not enjoy it. If the plot sounds intriguing, by all means, check the book out. A writing style is a personal thing, you either enjoy it or you don't. In this case I didn't but that doesn't mean you won't. This book actually has a 4.1 rating on Goodreads, so I'm definitely in the minority of people who did not enjoy it.

Have you read this book or are you planning to? Leave your thoughts down below!