TTT: Top Six Favourite Books of 2017

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
                                          TTT is a weekly meme/feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Hello, everyone! Today`s post is all about my favourite books of 2017 and I know that I should complain how 2017 went by, how I did nothing, etc. But I`m so excited for 2018 that I don`t even care that 2017 wasn`t the best year. I know that next year will be amazing, and I can`t wait to enter a new chapter in my life. Look at that, at least this year made me a positive person.

At the moment, I am 2 books away from finishing my Goodreads goal of 50 books. I am very confident that I`ll reach it, and I might even squeeze in a couple more books. Or I could end up watching Christmas movies for the rest of 2017. Who knows? With a few exceptions, the books I`m going to mention are not new releases. That`s because I prefer to wait until the hype slows down and then see what the fuss is all about. I`ve also decided to talk only about 6 books instead of 10. Don`t get me wrong, I`ve read some pretty good books this year. But I wanted to include only the books that I truly loved and the ones that I will want to re-read over and over again.

"A Monster Calls" by Patrick Ness
The first book that I`ve read in 2017 ended up being my favourite. Not only is this a beautiful story about grief and struggling to move on, but I`ve also connected with the characters a lot. As I mentioned in my review, my Grandma died of cancer a couple of years ago. We were close when I was young, but we drifted apart when I moved to London. And I couldn`t be there for her in her last moments and that made me really sad. Anyways, the writing style of this novel is beautiful and the story is absolutely heartbreaking, but it`s number one on the list because of my personal attachment. If you want to know more about the book, here`s my review.

"The Book Thief" by Markus Zuzak
I`m sure that most of you are familiar with the story, and that`s why I won`t go into too many details. This book will make you laugh and it will make you cry. It will make you cherish the little things you might take for granted. For me, what set this novel apart, besides the beautiful story, was the way it was told. The fact that Death was the narrator was very original, and I highly enjoyed his observations.

"History Is All You Left Me" by Adam Silvera
This book is an emotional rollercoaster. It tells the story of Griffin, who recently lost the love of his life. Although they broke up, Griffin always thought that Theo will come back to him. Besides the grief, OCD is starting to take control of Griffin`s life and the only person he can connect with is Theo`s current boyfriend, Jackson. I know, I might have confused you, so it might be easier to read my review. Or just pick up the book and let it break your heart.

"The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton
One of the best coming of age stories that I`ve ever read, it`s about social injustice and friendships that are stronger than family. Again, it`s a beautifully written novel and it will break your heart, but it`s totally worth it. 

"Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda" by Becky Albertalli
OK, it was getting a bit depressing in here, so I`ve decided to include the fluffiest contemporary I`ve ever read. Although it deals with topics like sexuality and coming out, it`s done in such a heartwarming way. This book is like cookies for your soul. The characters are adorable, the romance is cute and it will give you all the good feels. If you want more information, this is my review.

"Daughter Of Smoke And Bone" by Laini Taylor
"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well." Except for the readers, who got to experience the perfect novel. Honestly, I have loved everything about this novel, from the mysterious characters to the beautiful setting of Prague. I even found myself mesmerized by the love story, and that says a lot. Laini Taylor has a unique writing style and more importantly, she manages to take YA`s most common tropes and give them a spin of her own. LOVE LOVE LOVE!

Overall, this year I had a lot of 4-star reads, which is still pretty amazing. But I`ve been more stingy with my 5 stars, and that`s why I only have six books to share with you. Then again, I would give these books a million stars, so that says a lot.

P.S. After gushing again about it, I want to finish the "Daughter of Smoke and Bone" trilogy by the end of the year. I think they`ll be 5 star reads as well, but we`ll see. Somehow the ending to "The Queen of the Tearling" trilogy ruined everything for me, so I`m hoping this isn`t the case with these books.

Book Review: "All The Crooked Saints" by Maggie Stiefvater

"All The Crooked Saints" Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater is one of my most recommended authors. Every time I mention that I`m a fan of magical realism elements, people recommend her books. Every time I say that I want to read unique and whimsical stories, people tell me to pick up "The Raven Boys" quartet. The problem with hyped authors is that a lot of times you end up disappointed. Sure, there`s queen Leigh Bardugo who can do no wrong. But there are a lot of other names that leave me unmoved. And no, I`m not going to mention Cassandra Clare again because you know of my complicated relationship with her books. I kinda accepted that they`re my guilty pleasure reads, even though I don`t rate them higher than 3 stars (I mean, the main characters suck -sorry, not sorry). And yeah, I know I mentioned her again, but her books are gold compared to the atrocity that was "Caraval" or the snooze-fest "Miss Peregrine`s Home for Peculiar Children". Anyway, what I was trying to say in a very long paragraph, is that I was scared to read "All The Crooked Saints". And I wish that I can say I had nothing no worry about, but it`s not the case.

I don`t consider myself an expert on all things magical realism, but I`ve read my fair share of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende. Haruki Murakami is my favourite authors, so I`m familiar with quirky and magical stories. "All The Crooked Saints" focuses on the Soria family, who`ve been performing miracles for generations. People from all over the world come to the ranch where the family lives, in order to have their darkness removed. What they don`t know is that a Saint can only reveal the darkness, not cure it. The Soria`s can interfere with the miracle at all or otherwise they will have to confront their own darkness.

Maggie`s writing is absolutely superb, and I was hooked from the first line. I was especially intrigued by the miracles, and the way darkness affects everyone differently. Some people take an animal shape, others are followed by rain, etc. Every time I read books in this genre, I`m fascinated by the way extraordinary elements seem to infiltrate basic, everyday aspects.

Like most magical realism books, there is not a big plot going around. When Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, brakes the rules and decides to help a pilgrim, his darkness takes over him. Despite the family warnings, his cousins Beatriz and Joaquin are desperate to find a solution to bring him home, even if they`ll be confronted with their darkness as well. Family relationships play a big role in the story, although there are some cute romances thrown in as well.

My main problem with this book is that I could not get invested in the story at all. There are so many characters, and somehow I did not care about either of them. The book changes POVs a lot, and it`s really hard to connect with anyone. Also, despite their quirks, the characters seem to lack real personalities. Daniel`s the Saint, Joaquin`s the DJ and Beatriz is the girl more interested in mechanics than feelings.

Overall, I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. Maggie has a mesmerizing writing style,
and her imagination knows no limits. But the book lacks substance. And someone to root for, or at least hope they get a happy ending. In the end, I gave this book 3/5 stars and although the reading experience was disappointing, I will definitely pick up "The Raven Boys".

Book Review: "Turtles All The Way Down" by John Green

John Green is a hit and miss author for me. I mean, I love him as a person, and I really wish I could meet him IRL because he seems awesome. But his books are a different thing. Granted, he wrote "The Fault In Our Star", which is one of my favourite books of all time. I was never able to relate to another character as much as I related to Hazel. And I was 26 when I first read the book, so you can`t say that I was an impressionable teen. But then I read "Looking for Alaska", which I liked at first, but ended up disappointed with the further I thought about it. I tried to read "Paper Towns", but DNF`ed it after 60 pages.

Truth be told, I got tired of the manic pixie girl dream. Still, I did not abandon hope and wished for John Green to write something as magical as TFIOS. Obviously, when I first heard about "Turtles All The Way Down" I was intrigued. The story looked interesting, and it was from a female`s POV. (I kinda lost hope that I`ll like his male protagonists, sorry)

“The worst part of being truly alone is you think about all the times you wished that everyone would just leave you be. Then they do, and you are left being, and you turn out to be terrible company.”

"Turtles All The Way Down" tells the story of Aza, a sixteen-year-old who struggles with severe anxiety and OCD. It`s an own voices novel and because of that, the representation of mental illness is extremely accurate. The story is told from Aza`s POV, and most of the time you feel like you`re stuck in a panic attack. It is a true portrayal of OCD and anxiety, and it will shed some light on these problems. A lot of the people on Goodreads were able to relate to the main character, which is always amazing. But for me, finishing this book was a chore.

Maybe it`s because I`m extremely stressed at work or something else, but this book was giving me anxiety. I wasn`t enjoying it, and sometimes it felt like Aza was nothing more than her illness. I know that this book was meant to show how OCD was controlling her life, but for me, it was too much. Previous to this book, I have read only two books where the main character was struggling with OCD, "History Is All You Left Me" by Adam Silvera and "The Rest Of Us Just Live Here" by Patrick Ness. And I liked those characters better. I know that everyone`s experience is different and like I said, a lot of people connected with this story. But I just wished we got to see Aza in some of her good moments as well because she was stressing me out. I kinda hated her best friend Daisy until the point where she points out how difficult it is to be Aza`s friend. 

Like always, I did enjoy John Green`s writing. I don`t care what everyone else says, I love the fact that he writes over the top smart teenagers. It`s funny how a lot of people tell you not to patronize teenagers, that they`re creative and ambitious and they`re our bright future. But then those people complain about John Green`s teenagers and how they don`t know any real teenagers that act like that. Guess what? At 17, I liked to talk about philosophy and debate existentialism. And I`m sure a lot of teens are interested in other things than "Keeping Up With The Kardashians".

Despite the fact that I did not enjoy this book a lot, I`d still recommend it to everyone. It might not be a fluffy read, but it`s an important book. Mental illness is something that affects more and more people, and we should take it seriously. And we should try to understand it.

Book Review: "Blackheath" by Gabriella Lepore*

"Blackheath" is my second Gabriella Lepore book and I had no idea what to expect. Last month, I was sent "Witches of The Glass Castle" and while I liked the idea, I hated the romance. I know that at 28-years-old it`s getting harder and harder to relate to teenagers. But some are bearable, and some romances are not that bad. But calling the boy you`ve met two weeks ago your soulmate is a little farfetched. It`s not romantic, it`s desperate! 

Despite the fact that "Blackheath" has a lower rating than the previously mentioned novel, I enjoyed it more. It was the perfect blend of witches, mystery, romance and family drama. For once, I cared about the characters and the romance, and I wished the book was longer just so I could stay with my precious Tomlins babies a bit more. It may not be a masterpiece, but it was a highly entertaining book, which I finished in a day. The last 15 pages were so crazy, and the story ended with such a big cliffhanger that I had to order the sequel straight away. And that`s not something that I do a lot.

When seventeen-year-old Maggie discovers that she`s been cursed, she enlists the help of an old friend, Joel. Joel is part of the Tomlins clan, a family of witches that decided to live like regular people. Everyone in Blackheath knows that they`re a family of witches, but some are believers and some are not. That does not seem to affect them though, as the boys are part of the high school's popular groups. Maggie, on the other hand, likes to keep more to herself. As the story moves along, both Maggie and Joel start to remember about the time they were friends. And they realize that they`ve had feelings for one another, but decided to ignore them. Personally, I can`t stand the "my best friend secretly loves me" trope. But I`m a sucker for stories that involve two old friends rekindling their connection. It`s realistic and it`s not just based on instant attraction.

The only reason why I gave this book 4.5 stars and not 5 stars, is the dual POV. Personally, I think it would have worked better just with Joel's POV. Sometimes it felt like Maggie`s chapters were just there. Joel, on the other hand, was a very intriguing character and I loved the family dynamics. It was sweet to see how much he cared about his younger brother. But my favourite part was his relationship with his older brother, who`s also THE CHOSEN ONE in their coven. It reminded me of "The Vampire Diaries" and the complicated relationship between the Salvatore brothers. Sometimes, it`s exhausting living in the shadow of your perfect brother. But despite their arguments, these brothers would do anything for their family.

Honestly, I`m surprised by how much I liked this book. And I can`t wait to pick up the sequel. I might even bump it to a 5 star read because it was so enjoyable. I was in a bit of a slump this month, but this novel definitely helped me get my mojo back.

* I received this book from OfTomes Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

TTT: My Winter TBR

Harry Potter Series
                                       TTT is a weekly meme/feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

There`s only a bit over a month until the year is over and I`m freaking out! Although I am doing well in terms of my Goodreads challenge, I did not read as much as I wanted to. Instead of finishing series, I started even more. Like all bookworms, I`m hopeless, and the buying vs. reading ratio is not in my favour. So let`s do what everyone else does and try to make it up in the last days. That always works (cue sarcasm). Anyway, here are the top ten books on my Winter TBR.

1. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" by JK Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay
I`m in the middle of my Harry Potter readathon and originally I wanted to wait for Santa to bring this book. But I caved in and broke my buying ban (no self-control whatsoever). Jim Kay does some fantastic illustrations and if you can get your hands on these copies, I can promise you that you won`t regret it. They make the whole reading experience more magical if that`s even possible. Also, if everything goes according to plan, I`ll finish all of the Harry Potter series by the end of February.

2/3. "Siege and Storm" and "Ruin and Rising" by Leigh Bardugo
I wasn`t as crazy about "Shadow and Bone" as everyone else, but I highly enjoyed it. I liked the world Bardugo created and I absolutely loved the Darkling. Alina was OK as a protagonist, though I got a bit annoyed with the back and forth between the Darkling and Mal. But I really want to continue on with the trilogy and see what happens.

4/5. "Clockwork Prince" and "Clockwork Princess" by Cassandra Clare
I really hope that I can finish this trilogy before the end of 2017. Everyone has been telling me that this is better than TMI (which I love/hate) and I have mixed feelings about that. I can see an improvement in the writing style, but Tessa is just as obnoxious as Clary and Will is definitely worse than Jace. The only redeeming thing is Jem, who`s a babe.
City of Fallen Angels

6. "City of Fallen Angels" by Cassandra Clare
Funny enough, reading "Clockwork Angel" made me realise that I don`t hate TMI as much as I thought I did. I mean, I still have many problems with it, but at least it`s filled with characters that I love like Simon, Izzy, Magnus and Alec.

7. "The Knife of Never Letting Go" by Patrick Ness
You all know how much I love Patrick Ness` writing, so it`s about time I start the "Chaos Walking" trilogy. I also know that they`re making a movie out of it and I`d love to finish the books before I see the adaptation.

8. "Half of a Yellow Sun" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Whilst I`m familiar with her feminist work, I can`t say that I know much about Chimamanda`s historical fiction novels. They do seem to have impressive ratings on Goodreads, so I`ll give them a chance and see how that goes.
Talon by Julie Kagawa

9. "Talon" by Julie Kagawa
What did I tell you about starting series before finishing others? I`m hopeless. This series has some mixed reviews on Goodreads and I am a bit wary of that. But it`s with dragons!!!

10. "Dash and Lily`s Book of Dares" by Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
I`ve decided to include a Christmas related book in here because I don`t want to be a total Grinch. Cute YA contemporaries are not really my thing, I`ll admit. But I work a lot around Christmas, so a fluffy contemporary might cheer me up and save me from a reading slump.

Are any of these books on your list? Or if you`ve already read them, which one do you recommend most? Don`t forget to leave your links in the comments so I can check your list.

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