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?

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!

Review: The Makers by Natalie Wright

Book 2 of H.A.L.F.


Title: The Makers

Author: Natalie Wright

Genre: Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Year of Publication: 2016

Published by Boadicea Press

Series: H.A.L.F.

Rating: 5/5 stars

WarningH.A.L.F. is a book series where every book is the sequel to the previous one. If you haven’t read the first book and you are interested in doing so, please return to my review after finishing it because this article contains spoilers from the first book. I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review. Thank you, Natalie Wright, for sending me this book!

Erika, Tex, Ian and Dr Randall are taken by the greys to a strange dark planet called Tro which is basically an immense lab used for experiments or to impregnate the Regina, their leader, with a new genetic material in order to create hybrids. The three teens have to endure painful examinations and experiments because the aliens intend to spread a dangerous virus to wipe out the human race.

Besides the oddity of their planet and their advanced technology, the greys which call themselves the Coonexus, have the ability to control minds. The humans are not capable of telepathic communication, but Tex is the perfect victim for the Regina, who tries to lure him into becoming one with the Connexus. It’s very tempting for Tex to seek answers to overwhelming questions he wanted to ask the aliens, but a part of his mind doesn’t want to connect to the Regina and to let go of the memories he shared with Dr Randall and his human friends.

We are one mind. One being. We are Conexus. That is all that is necessary. Soon you too will become Conexus and know the power of the collective mind. Then you shall know all that we know and the Conexus will know you.” (Loc. 306-308)

Meanwhile, Jack goes on a mission with Commander Sturgis’ nephews, Anna Sturgis and her geeky twin brother Thomas to help their aunt break out of prison and to rescue Alecto from Croft’s hands. Anna and Thomas’ parents belong to a secret organisation called The Makers which has its hidden agenda, very different from ordinary people’s needs. Furthermore, Croft (the head of the organisation) and his men are only interested in the survival of the elite in the impending alien war. However, there are also realities between the Sturgis and the Crofts because Anna’s dad, Robert Sturgis, questions some of Croft’s plans; therefore he might be in great danger and Anna knows many of the Makers’ secrets as well because she has been spying on her father, so she could expose all of them before they continue taking more innocent lives.

“The only difference was that Croft’s men wore the Makers’ symbol embroidered on their chests, a gold emblem of two snakes eating each other’s tails set against a pyramid background.” (Loc. 148-149)

This book is my favourite one of the trilogy because it was very dynamic, visual, it had a lot of twists and turns and if you ask me, I felt that I read a great combination of sci-fi, thriller, dystopian and horror with young adult characters. This novel was very intense, bloody, gory, even scary at times, but well-written with characters who fight for their and their friends’ lives or go off the grid to stop an obscure organisation from killing innocent people for their own benefits. Though I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories, I really appreciate what Ms Wright wrote this tense yet plausible story.

In the end, I highly recommend this book and the entire trilogy to anyone who enjoys reading young adult sci-fi novels.

Review: The Deep Beneath by Natalie Wright

Book 1 of H.A.L.F.


Title: The Deep Beneath

Author: Natalie Wright

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Year of Publication: 2015

Published by Boadicea Press           

Series: H.A.L.F.

Rating: 4/5 stars                              

“I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.”

The Deep Beneath is the first instalment in Natalie Wright’s young adult science fiction series entitled H.A.L.F., which was inspired by the Roswell UFO Incident, but the author took it to a whole new level.

In short, three teenagers (Erika, Ian and Jack) who were living a dull life in border town Ajo (Arizona), encounter an outlandish being named H.A.L.F. 9, who saves them after they are attacked by two armed strangers. 9 is a human-alien hybrid who escaped from A.H.D.N.A., an underground lab owned by the military and kept top secret by the US Government. Due to the gratitude the teens feel for the hybrid, they decide to return the favour and help him run even farther away from the people who created him and wanted to use him as a weapon in the upcoming alien war that will strike the Earth. From this moment on, a suspenseful action-packed supernatural journey unfolds in front of their eyes and the teens’ lives will never be the same again.

“I am H.A.L.F. 9, property of the United States government and a lethal weapon.” (Page 68)

Because this is the first book of the series, it’s clear that there are still unrevealed facets of the characters or undiscovered fragments from their past, but they were pretty well-built. There’s Erika, who wants to move out from her hometown in order to live a more exciting life, but she rejects Jack’s love because this might be an obstacle in her way to freedom. Ian is her best friend, the one who cares for her in a non-romantic way, and Jack is her love interest and the one who’s by her side and protects her when she’s hurt. H.A.L.F. 9 is the human-alien hybrid who tries to adapt and to understand the human world and he somehow develops feelings for Erika. Commander Lilly Sturgis is the geneticist who is in charge of the secret government program and she is the one who created the hybrids, along with Dr Randall.

There are multiple perspectives in this book (Lucia, Erika, H.AL.F. 9, Commander Sturgis and H.A.L.F. 10), from which we can understand the characters’ view of the world around them and the way they see other characters. The main themes are power, (lack of) humanity, freedom, friendship, poverty, love and hope.

To wrap it up, I enjoyed reading this novel more than I expected because the descriptions and the technical terms weren’t overwhelming, while the plot twists were worth discovering. Personally, I sat on pins and needles until the last page was turned.

Read the review of the second book.