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The Best Books I Read in 2016

The year has come to an end. Finally, most people will say, given that 2016 has been a pretty tough year. But as I said, it has been a good year for me, and these books made it better. Books have the power to do that sometimes. I divided them into categories and linked to my reviews where they’re available – I’m still behind with writing them, oops.

It has been a year of comfort reads and losing myself in fantasy worlds, so the list reflects that, I think. The lists themselves are in random order.

Best of Fantasy

Best of Romance

  • To Love and to Cherish by Lauren Layne – this one spawned a binge of Layne’s backlist. I haven’t reviewed any others yet but I fell in love with her stories! I especially loved Blurred Lines.
  • How Not To Fall and How Not To Let Go by Emily Foster – maybe the only romance that made me cry? I *loved* them!
  • Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn – I read this one twice and I still think it’s great!
  • Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie – okay so it’s not just a romance but it was laugh-out-loud hilarious.
  • The Year We Fell Down and the entire Ivy Years series by Sarina Bowen – sports NA romance at its finest, really.
  • Act Like It by Lucy Parker – very good + bantery.

Best of Other

  • When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – gorgeous writing and packs a real punch.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – this was fantastic. Not my usual fare but so good!
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – I loved the book so much but the movie just wasn’t that good.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir – one of the few Sci-Fi titles I read this year. I loved it!
  • Saga by Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan – I really need to catch up with this one.

 

Which books will you remember most from 2016? 

Was it a good reading year for you?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays, dear readers! I know I’m a little late for Christmas, but I hope your celebrations were full of great food and good company. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you’re still relaxing at home, enjoying a good book and a warm/alcoholic drink.

While 2016 will probably go down in history as a really crappy year, it was a good one for me and my family. We got our second son and he’s a great little guy. Kiddo is also healthy and smart, so we have a lot to be grateful for.

We celebrated with both sides of the family already, so I’m looking forward to having a quiet celebration of New Year with just the four of us at home. It’ll be our first year as a four-member family, and though the little ones will probably go to bed like it’s any other ordinary day, we’ll be watching the fireworks and eating a good dinner. We also have a tentative date with The Return of the King, since we’re in the middle of a LOTR re-watch.

Hugs for all and I wish you a calm last week of 2016. How will you be celebrating on New Year’s Eve?

My November

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Hello! How are you? I know I said I’d be on break all of November, but I did actually post a couple of reviews, just to keep you on your toes. How is it December already? Are you ready for 2016 to be over? It just flew by for me…

We had a good month, though I’m sleep-deprived and tired but that’s normal when you have a toddler and a baby, no matter how great they are.

The weather wasn’t fantastic, but we did go out every time there was a slight chance of sun, like on this gorgeous day pictured above. We went to Bled, which we visit from time to time. Kiddo fell asleep on my husband’s shoulders, which was super funny because he was wearing his little sunglasses at the time and we didn’t even notice he was sleeping until I tried to show him something and he just sort of swayed in silence.

In Kiddo news: he’s talking a lot. He’s now forming full, grammatically correct sentences, and his personality is really starting to shine through. He’s also waking up in the middle of the night a lot, because those damn teeth are still growing. Last week, he showed up at our bed at about 3 am with his shoe in his hand (which meant he walked around the apartment a bit without us knowing), complaining he couldn’t get it on his foot. *sigh*

We’ve been baking a lot because he enjoys “helping” – of course it actually takes longer to bake anything if he’s there but it’s a great way to spend dark, rainy afternoons. He likes to scramble eggs, he adds pinches of salt, helps to weigh butter or flour, that sort of thing. It’s also good for him to see tangible results of his work – and he can eat them, too! :)

In Baby news: he’s SO BIG. Seriously, my arms and shoulders and back are killing me. Luckily, he doesn’t have colic so we don’t have to carry him around so much, but still. He’s starting to laugh out loud, he also coos a lot, and is a very cool baby in general. I know I’m biased but I really think my kids are pretty. :) We have a checkup and first vaccination on Dec 1st, so we’ll see how that goes.

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exiled-queenI read quite a lot this month, despite the general lack of time. The best book of the month was definitely The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima – I am looking forward to continuing this series as soon as possible! I’ll also be reviewing it sometime soon to fangirl a bit. Other than that, my love affair with Lauren Layne’s romances continued from October. (Seriously, I could spend all my book budget on her books. I’m about halfway through her backlist and loving it.) I read a couple of other romances but they weren’t that good. It’s always a hit-or-miss when you try new authors.

rebel-of-the-sands-hamiltonI also read The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Baar, which I’d received for review, and it was very strange but kind of good. I’ll be reviewing it closer to publication date. I was also able to finally cross another item off my Autumn TBR list as I read Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton – I liked it a lot! I’m glad I waited a bit because the sequel is coming in February. The cover is also one of the most gorgeous ones I’ve seen lately.

I re-read The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, which was such a disappointment. I remembered next to nothing about the story (I have terrible book amnesia) and what I read now was just… not for me. The sly commentary and the cynicism just got to me and kept throwing me out of the story and I also disliked all the characters, including the unicorn. I mean, who writes an unlikeable unicorn? *hangs head in sadness*

I also ventured out of my comfort zone by reading Simple (or rather, its Slovenian translation, Simpl, it’s a great translation) by Marie-Aude Murail (here’s the link to the English translation). It’s a very good book about two brothers, one of whom is 17 and a high school student, while the other is 22 and “simple”. It’s a powerful story about disability and the society’s reactions to it, but it’s also funny and lighthearted enough to be a truly wonderful read. If you get the chance to read it, I highly recommend it.

And then I read Paper Towns by John Green and was disappointed as well. I thought it was very similar to Looking for Alaska, with the added bonus of being completely pretentious. Eh.

But perhaps most importantly: we went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! I went in with really low expectations because I hadn’t read the book and I’m always wary of spin-offs – and I was blown away by how good it was! Newt was perfect and awkward and adorable, Jacob was a fantastic character, and I can’t wait to see what the next movie will bring! Have you seen it yet? :)

As I’m writing this, I’m also on track for my NaNoWriMo goal, which is great, since I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to write as much with all the stuff in my life. But I found a couple of people to do word sprints with and you can’t even imagine how productive that is for a competitive person like me! So yeah, I’m about halfway through my WIP and loving it.

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My reviewsSix of Crows (FANTASTIC!), When the Moon Was Ours (BEAUTIFUL!), and A Discovery of Witches (a reread but still good!).

And I’ll leave you with this gorgeous photography post – her photos are amazing, I’ve been following her blog and Instagram for a while now. I wish I had skills like that!

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What have you been up to this November? 

Are you excited for the holidays? How was Thanksgiving if you celebrated it?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

My October + A Break

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Hey, everyone, how are you doing? What’s been going on in your life? I’m less tuned-in with other people’s lives now that I’m on maternity leave and I want to know everything that’s happened.

Our October was good. We’ve fallen into a sort of routine with the kids and it takes some pressure off trying to figure out what to do each day. I mean, we still get sleepless nights (mostly because of the older one, he’s growing his last milk teeth and keeps waking up in the middle of the night) but we’re managing so far. It’s great to see how Baby is developing from a newborn to a tiny human who actually smiles and coos and flails with his little limbs.

I think we’re a bit more relaxed with Baby, compared to how worried we were when Kiddo was little. I mean, it’s just that this new-parent anxiety isn’t as horrible as it was the first time around, when we really had no clue about what we were up against. It’s also good that Baby doesn’t have colic (Kiddo did and it was pretty awful for a while, he’d scream for hours each day, the poor thing) and he’s such a calm child. It’s difficult to explain without sounding all esoteric but he has this soothing presence, I don’t even know how to describe it. Anyway, Kiddo is also adjusting pretty well, he’s really kind to Baby and keeps petting him and telling him not to cry (more like ordering him, really). They’re cool kids. :)

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In reading news, I’ve been reading lots of romanceShocking, I know. *sigh* I’ve discovered a new author, Lauren Layne, and her Wedding Belles series – the review of To Love and to Cherish is here. I read Half Wild by Sally Green, which was a good sequel. I was really, really impressed by When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore, but the favourite book of the month goes to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I was so scared it would be one of those hyped-up books that I usually end up disliking (like The Wrath and the Dawn), but I loved it. I can’t wait to read Crooked Kingdom.

I also have an announcement to make: I’ll be taking most of November off on the blog. I’ll probably come back with my November recap post, though I might post a review or two in the meantime because I have old ARC debts. I just need to schedule some posts in advance for December, because it’s always busy, I want to work on a NaNoWriMo project, and I just need a break to catch up with old comments and regroup. I’ll be back before you know it! ;) 

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What I wrote about:

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How was your October? Do you celebrate Halloween? 

Do you unfollow blogs if they stay silent for too long? :)

I’d love to hear from you!

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

My September

my-september16As most of you know by now, my September had a fantastic start as our second son was born on September 1st, which is also Kiddo’s birthday. Seriously, it was kind of odd – both of them were due on August 25th and both were exactly a week late. We didn’t plan it this way – not that you can plan babies with such precision anyway – but here we are. Baby weighed 4615g (that’s just over 10 pounds) and was 55cm long (and I have no idea how to transform this into a logical non-decimal measurement). He was (is) big. I’m okay, though, everything was done and finished in three hours, which is fantastic. We’re both doing great and he’s eating a lot. We’ve gone through our first cold (we all got stuffy noses, it’s amazing how these things spread) but nothing horrible so far (fingers crossed).

Kiddo is taking things in stride – we’ve had some tantrums, of course, but he’s being incredibly sweet to his baby brother. We’re still adjusting to being a family of four, which is to be expected. He has also learned to tell that he’s two years old and enjoyed having us sing Happy Birthday to him over and over (I think he thinks it’s his personal song, so he’ll probably be disappointed when he hears it sung for someone else). He’s in a dinosaur phase right now – that’s A.’s T-Rex chalk drawing up top, he’s great with these things. My dinosaurs are usually pretty sad.

Surprisingly, I’ve had a lot of time to read this month. Kindle is my best friend right now because I can read one-handed (or have it propped on my knee while I’m nursing). Paperbacks – or even hardbacks – are taking a back seat right now. So I’m doing great with my review copies and even tackling some freebie classics, who would have thought?!

The best books I read this month were Iron Cast by Destiny Soria (I’ll be reviewing it next week, stay tuned!) and Pride and Prejudice, which was a re-read, of course, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (a re-read as well). I also enjoyed Act Like It by Lucy Parker and I’m currently working my way through The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, which is still fantastic. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh was a huge disappointment for me, especially after all the hype the duology has received in the blogosphere. I also flew through Sarah J. Maas’s Empire of Storms and it will surprise exactly no-one that I’ve written a spoilery review for it. I re-read What Happens in London, a favourite by Julia Quinn, and the Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy in preparation for the last book that was just published.

I also meant to follow A Discovery of Witches real time read-along (Lark posted about this) but it’s moving at such a slow pace that I’ve already started reading ahead. If you’re interested, there’s a handy calendar with all the dates for the chapters. This is a re-read for me because I want to continue with the series but I’ve forgotten all about what happened in the first book. If you’ve been thinking about tackling this series, this is a great opportunity.

I’m still watching The Great British Bake Off – A. and I are working through old episodes, actually, while we wait for each week’s instalment of Season 7. Blindspot is also back, I love this show. Jamie Alexander is just so beautiful.

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What I wrote about:

Thanks to scheduling posts in advance, I’ve managed to keep on top of my resolution to blog twice a week. And I’ve been meaning to ask you – is this working for you? Or would you rather see more posts? I think that this schedule is one I can maintain without too much stress, which is essential right now.

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How was your September? Did you read anything interesting?

What TV shows should I give a go?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

Friends

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Hello and welcome to another discussion! As usual this year, I’m linking this to the Discussion Challenge – which I won already, by the way (my goal was to write at least 13 discussions and I passed that last month)! Go check out the other posts – there are always great bookish discussions to be found in the linky.

Today, I want to talk to you about friends. I know that’s a very broad topic but I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. And I want to know: where did you meet most of your friends? Are they mostly college friends or coworkers? Or are you friends with totally random people?

During my high school and university years, the vast majority of my friends were people I also went to school with. So we were stuck together in the same classroom (or school, at least) every day, we had breaks together and all – but we also saw each other after class and partied together and so on. However, once the classes ended – not just for the summer, but once we graduated – people drifted away. It made even more sense after university because most of my group of friends didn’t even live in Ljubljana (where our university is situated) and they returned home, either to their parents’ houses or to start families of their own. And we… drifted apart.

Now, I have a sort of motley crew of friends from different stages of my life. I’ve known two of my best friends since we were seven (we went to primary school together), I have one friend left over from high school – and two ladies from the university that I see on a regular basis. Then there’s an editor friend, some friends I met through my husband, and my brother and my cousin, who I’m lucky to have because you can’t always count on family also being friends. It’s a small number of people, really, but they’re incredibly important to me. I’ve kept in contact with my other friends, of course, but we mostly write emails to each other once or twice a year.

It’s harder to make friends as an adult, I think. My situation is very unhelpful for meeting new people because I’m a freelance translator and work from home, where I’m alone most of the time. It’s a perfect arrangement for me, I love it, but I have to make a conscious effort to set dates with my friends each week so I socialize enough. I’m very lucky that my husband is also my best friend, I don’t know what I’d do if that wasn’t the case.

Blogging opened up a new world for me. I now have several… friends, whom I’ve never even seen in person, that I talk to more regularly than I do with some of the people I count as my closest acquaintances. Either through comments, Twitter, or emails – these newfound relationships are just as important to me as the friends I get to meet in person, perhaps because we talk about books a lot, which is enormously important to me (and I don’t get to discuss them with my other friends because they don’t read as much or their tastes are different).

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Anyway, this all means that I’m always happy to read books that feature good friendships. You know I love reading about romantic relationships but I’m always on the lookout for a good friendship book. Somehow, good friendship books are harder to find than good romances – which is weird if you consider that most people have fewer lovers (or true loves) than friends (I’m not being judgy here, you can have as many lovers as you want).

Here are some of my favourite bookish friendships:

  • Harry, Ron, and Hermione – okay, so I know Ron and Hermione end up together but for the majority of the series, these three are just really great friends.
  • Agnieszka and Kasia – from Naomi Novik’s Uprooted – Agnieszka is driven by her love for her friend and I really enjoyed reading about their relationship. I also liked that Novik wasn’t afraid to write about the ugly aspects of such a friendship (the jealousy, the resentment).
  • Locke and Jean – from The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch – I know most people refer to their relationship as a “bromance” but a) I hate this word; and b) unless you saw something I didn’t (and believe me, I know this book almost by heart by now), Locke is horribly in love with Sabetha and I won’t spoil you for Jean but he loves Locke like a brother. They’re great.
  • Jennifer and Beth – from Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments – this has become one of my favourite books of all time (I think I say this a lot when it comes to Rowell’s books). Their friendship is the ordinary kind – they’re coworkers – but I loved their interactions and how they came to trust each other.
  • The Thirteen – from Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas – I haven’t reviewed this yet but one of the bright points of this book are the close bonds between the Ironteeth witches of Manon Blackbeak’s coven. I love how far they go to protect one another and it’s their stories I was most excited to read.
  • Karou and Zuzana – from Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone – there is something to be said for a friend who will follow you into another world. I really liked their private jokes and loyalty.
  • Corrine and Ada – from Iron Cast by Destiny Soria – this is a very new addition to the list (it releases in October), but I really, really enjoyed it. Their friendship is tested several times and I think they’re both fantastic characters. Give this one a try (I’ll be reviewing it soon).

A lot of ladies on this list, huh?

srcek

Tell me, which bookish friends would you add to this list?

Who are your friends?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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