December Wrap-Up

Iată că au trecut și sărbătorile de iarnă, o perioadă a anului în care nu am citit foarte mult, însă nu puteam să sar peste acest wrap-up, atât timp cât am citit mai mult de o carte. Da, am citit doar două cărți în decembrie, însă eu mă declar mulțumită că am reușit să mă mai apropii puțin de genul fantastic, care nu mă prinde întotdeauna. Luând în considerare faptul că ambele romane vor avea o recenzie pe blog, în viitorul apropiat,  acum am scris doar câtva rânduri orientative pentru fiecare.

Pentru cine a citit articolul despre cele mai bune cărți citite în 2017, știe deja că mi-a plăcut la nebunie ntul lui Ahile de Madeline Miller. Eu am citit acest roman în original și cred că include tot ceea ce îmi place într-o poveste: de la caracterul intim al poveștii văzute prin prisma  personajului-narator Patrocle, care parcă îți relatează fiecre eveniment al vieții sale triste, ca unui prieten drag, la scenele realist descrise ale Războiului Troian, la povestea de dragoste plină de obstacole dintre Patrocle și Ahile, la evitarea, pe cât posibil, a cumplitei profeții, la lirismul scrisului care curge lin ca un cântec străvechi acompaniat de acordurile lirei. Dacă vă plac miturile grecești sau dacă vă este dor de Iliada, văzută dintr-o altă perspectivă, vă invit să citiți Cântul lui Ahile, pentru că merită fiecare secundă petrecută alături de personajele vestite ale vechii Ellade.

După această lectură extraordinară, care mi-a ajuns direct la suflet, n-am putut ieși din pornirea de a citi literatură fantastică, așa că am scos din bibliotecă volumul Harry Potter și piatra filosofală, scrisă de J.K. Rowling. Da, am ajuns în sfârșit la această serie citită și recomandată de toată lumea. Fără să intru în foarte multe detalii, pot spune că mi-a plăcut ce am citit: am savurat stilul și umorul englezesc al autoarei și conceptul de școală de magie, care nu cred că exista în perioada în care Rowling a scris primul volum. Harry și cei doi prieteni ai săi, Ron și Hermione sunt puși pe șotii și încearcă să iasă din tot felul de încurcături pentru a ajunge la piatra filosofală. Povestea este deosebită, traducerea este foarte bună, copiii au o minte brici, iar replicile lor sunt pe măsură. Eu cred că seria Harry Potter este potrivită cititorilor de toate vârstele, care încă mai cred în magie, lumi fantastice și, nu în ultimul rând, în prietenie.

Cam atât am avut de zis despre cărțile lunii decembrie. Mă bate gândul să postez recenzia la primul volum din Harry Potter chiar sâmbăta asta, pentru a-mi așterne mai bine gândurile despre această carte plină de magie și imaginar bogat.

Voi ce ați mai citit?

Best Books of 2017

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a lot of fun celebrating the arrival of 2018. I still feel a bit festive, therefore I’m bringing you today the list of the best books I read in 2017, but before that, I would like to add that I had a very good year both online and offline. I still can’t believe that I had the courage to build my own blog and connect with like-minded people who follow me, comment on my posts or send me nice messages. This was one of my biggest dreams and I would like to thank all of you (ordinary readers, fellow bloggers and writers) who read my content, share it and interact with me online. It means the world to me.

Though I didn’t expect it to happen, I read 44 books in 2017, ranging from children’s books/middle-grade to suspense/thrillers; definitely a personal best for me. One of my goals was to read all the first instalments of the series I owned in ebook format, to figure out which series are worth continuing and I’ve accomplished it with a few abandoned books along the way. This year, I want to read more non-fiction because I must to read the creative writing books I own to learn more about the writing process and to improve my writing. I intended to pick them up last year, but I ended up reading fiction instead; therefore I failed at reading them and consequently, I failed at writing, but now I don’t have any more excuses for procrastinating and not working towards my dreams.

Anyway, let’s go back to the best books I read in 2017. I wasn’t sure if I should arrange the titles in a particular order because it’s pretty tricky to weight if you loved more s thriller, a young adult sci-fi novel, a non-fiction children’s book or a paranormal romance. However, I managed to rank each book based on how I felt about it.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is the closest book to my heart because it’s a fantasy novel inspired by Greek Myths. However, it’s not only a retelling of the Trojan War but also the love story of Achilles and Patroclus, their friendship and the obstacles they had to overcome, in order to stay together and avoid (if possible) the terrible prophecy clouding Achilles’s life. If you grew up reading Greek Myths, I highly recommend this beautiful, yet heartbreaking LGBTQ+ love story. If you read Homer’s Iliad, you already know how everything ends, but trust me, it’s worth reading Ms Miller’s novel.

I wanted to read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne for a while because I read a few reviews about it online and everyone was devastated after reading it and I was curious to pick it up. I’m not a fan of war novels or stories set around WWII because they are heavy reads for me. However, I found Bruno’s voice unique and a symbol of innocence because he sees some of the atrocities done by the Nazis, but he doesn’t quite understand what is really going on and nobody is actually willing to explain concisely why the people in the striped pyjamas are seen and treated differently by the German soldiers. This book was pretty terrifying because, as an adult, you already know what Bruno doesn’t. I highly recommend this book because it will make you think about, the recent history, (Lack of) humanity, war and even the disadvantages of innocence. It’s a scary read in a realistic way because WWII was as real as the cruelty the people in the striped pyjamas had to endure.

Escape from Sudan (Book 9 of Lust, Money & Murder) by Mike Wells is probably the most intense sequel and thriller novel I’ve ever read. I raved about it many times before, so I’ll let you read the review or my Mid-Year Book Tag post.

The Makers (Book 2 of H.A.L.F.) by Natalie Wright is also an intense read and for me, it was the best book of Ms Wright’s young adult sci-fi trilogy. It deals with mind control, aliens, secret societies, a deadly virus and a few teens who try to save humanity from a merciless future. If you are scared of picking up a sci-fi book, please try H.A.L.F. because it’s easy to read and understand. Trust a reader who gets bored when she’s overwhelmed by details in regard to advanced technology.

The Ebb and The Flow (Book 1 and 2 of The Lady of the Pier) by Effrosyni Moschoudi are the first two books of The Lady of the Pier trilogy, a paranormal romance I’ve devoured last summer because it contains themes and other elements I adore: a studious and shy Greek girl, two alternating plotlines set in different time periods, gorgeous descriptions of Corfu, a ghost, poetry and the themes of love, identity and the need to follow one’s heart. If you enjoy reading romance, give this indie author a try.

Enchanted (Book 1 of The Summer Solstice) by KK Allen is a young adult contemporary fantasy, in which Kat discovers that she is different from other girls. She gradually finds out and understands her true identity after she moves in Grandma Rose’s vast estate, where strange visions torment the teen more and more. Who is she and what will happen on her 16th birthday which coincides with the Summer Solstice?

Twentieth Century (Horrible Histories Special) by Terry Deary is a non-fiction children’s book which teaches young readers interesting facts about each decade of the 20th century through entertaining timelines, stories, tests, drawings, handwritten letters and so on. Though I’m an adult, I still enjoy a good short history book that makes you laugh and learn things teachers never told you at school.

Before you go, please visit the post about my least favourite books of 2017. Which are your picks for 2017? What reading goals do you have for 2018?

Least Favourite Books of 2017

I had a pretty good reading year with a total of 43 read book or 44 if I manage to finish Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone until New Year’s Eve. I’m very content with most of the stories I’ve discovered this year and I’m very excited to write a post about the best books I read in 2017. However, there’s always the other end of the spectrum because you may also come across stories you don’t particularly like whether you weren’t the target audience or you just didn’t resonate with what you read.

I don’t feel comfortable with the so-called term “worst books of the year” because I’m sure that what I dislike in a book, another person from across the world may love, so the following works of fiction are just my least favourite books of 2017. Bear in mind that I won’t repeat what I’ve already written in each review, but if you want to learn more about these books, please check out the links to each book. For Zorro and Chiriaș la Cluj, I’m going to leave the links to the Mid-Year Book Tag and Series I Won’t Be Finishing post, where you can find a few pieces of information about these two books I’ve read and reviewed in Romanian.

Zorro by Isabel Allende

Maggie Elisabeth Harrington by D.J. Swykert

Wild Child by Mike Wells

George the Orphan Crow and the Creatures of Blossom Valley by Helen Fox

Chiriaș la Cluj by Marius Oliviu Iacob

Which are your least favourite books of 2017?

Series I Might Continue Reading

Almost three weeks ago, I wrote an article about the Series I Won’t Be Finishing and today I’m revealing the article about the series I might continue reading. Now, you know how I feel about book series in general and there are two first instalments I really enjoyed and hope to explore more when I’m in the mood for fantasy and contemporary romance. The titles of these books are Enchanted (The Summer Solstice) by K. K. Allen and The Rocker Who Holds Me (The Rocker) by Terri Anne Browning. On the other hand, there are four series I’m on the fence about, either because the first book wasn’t intriguing enough or I didn’t particularly like the author’s writing style. Only time will tell whether I pick up their sequels or not, in the future.

The Prince’s Special Bride (Royal Romance) by Devika Fernando

I know that modern Cinderella stories appeal to women of all ages and Devika Fernando does a pretty good job building the imaginary Kingdom of Taragonia and the sumptuous atmosphere of the royal court with its glamour and code of conduct. However, I felt that the story needed a little more depth as well as the main characters: Marie and Prince Christian. The sequel follows Princess Olivia, Christian’s sister, and her struggles to become a stronger woman and queen and to find true love. The excerpt I read seemed better written than the previous book, but I’m still not sure if it’s my type of story.

Passion, Powe & Sin by Mike Wells

This is a financial thriller in which themes like poverty vs wealth, family, addiction, love, morality and the thin line between truth and lie are woven into a realistic story whose protagonist can be anyone in dire need of money. How far can a person go to get money fast enough to save one’s parental house from foreclosure? Is it moral to accept the help and instructions of an online friend whose identity is unknown to you? The psychology of addiction was well-written and intriguing, but the first book ends a bit abruptly and the twist I was anticipating didn’t actually happen here. Will I read the next book? That’s a very good question I don’t know the answer to.

Forbidden by Mike Wells and Devika Fernando

Forbidden is a romantic thriller comprising of two plot lines: one is set in the past and it follows Lady Sotheby’s early life, while the other focuses on the present and it follows Jayne whose life changes drastically after hearing the truth about her real family. I loved the way Eleanore Sotheby’s story unfolds with all the suspenseful elements specific to Mike Wells’ writing style. However, the story set in the present reminds me a bit of soap opera I’ve watched in the 90s due to some elements I found in the book. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading a good romance, but in this case, I‘ve pretty much anticipated what’s going to happen; therefore. I’m on the fence about giving the sequel a go.

Song At Dawn (The Troubadours Quartet) by Jean Gill

This book is a romantic thriller as well, but it is set in medieval times during the reign of Eleanore of Aquitaine. Though I thought that this book would be something I would definitely enjoy because it has troubadours, court intrigues and a runaway girl whose talent can help her become a trobairitz. However, I was disappointed because I found the story hard to get into, the pacing was very slow, the characters were interesting, but I couldn’t warm up to them and I was pretty confused with all the conspiracies involving people from the court and beyond.  Now, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy anything, but besides a few well-done scenes, I didn’t feel that much the tension of a true thriller. The synopsis of the second book sounds more appealing, but if I didn’t enjoy the first instalment, is it worth continuing the series?

Before I wrap it up, I would like to know which are the series you are on the fence about.

The End of the Year Book Tag

I saw this book tag a few weeks ago and for a strange reason, I thought that it would be perfect for December. It looks like I was wrong because it’s pretty tricky to answer Ariel Bissett’ s questions in the last month of the year, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

If I push aside the books I DNF-ed, I would say The First Stage by Romanian author Cătălin Pînzaru is a book I need to finish. This is a sci-fi novel I put on hold for now, not because I didn’t like what I’ve read, but I wanted to take a break from this genre until next year because I read enough science fiction for this year and hopefully, I will be in the mood to continue reading it in 2018.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

I tend to read darker or more complex books in autumn and winter; therefore the first book I picked up this autumn was the sequel to a young adult sci-fi trilogy entitled The Makers (H.A.L.F.) by Natalie Wright.

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

Not this year, but I was excited to receive the ARC for Panacea, the 11th book in Mike Wells’ thriller suspense/espionage series Lust, Money & Murder. I’m going to post the review at the beginning of January.

 What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

I don’t really think that I’m going to finish Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone before the end of the year because Christmas is almost here and I might not have enough time to read. However, I would like to read two cosy mysteries from Agatha Christie and one from Rodica Ojog-Brașoveanu, who is considered the Romanian Agatha Christie. I haven’t read either of these two amazing ladies’ novels, so I’m pretty excited to see how they write.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

If we’re talking only about this year, then the answer is no. I read a few amazing books this year and I can’t wait to write an article about them.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

Well, I’m not very good at sticking to plans and New Year’s Resolutions, but I know that I want to read more non-fiction in 2018 and maybe poetry. If I read as much as I did this year, I can’t ask for more.

If you like this tag, please play along or make a mental note for the next year. Which are your answers to Ariel’s questions? Comment below or share a blog post or a video with me and my readers!