August Recap

lifethings

I can’t hardly think of August as single month. The first half of the month went by incredibly slowly but the last two weeks have been soooo hectic. That’s what the end of summer does to you. About college, so far it’s been good, but this semester is shaping up to be very demanding, so who knows how I’ll keep up with everything.

I’ve been seeing my best friend a lot before she leaves for Belgium (she leaves on the 4th), and also generally been going out with my friends from high school a lot. I hope we manage to keep seeing each other as much during the semester.

reading

Let’s not talk about the Read-A-Thons because I pretty much failed. Well, I actually did well on TomeTopple, but the Reading Quest was an utter disaster. I only read 6 books this month and all but one I finished while I was still on holidays… Continue reading

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Mini Review Round-Up: Long-Awaited Disappointing Books

This summer I made it a goal of mine to actually read those books that’s been on my TBR since forever. These were the books that I really, really wanted to read, but for some reason or another I hadn’t been able to read them. Either I didn’t own them or I was waiting to for the perfect moment. Meanwhile, people talked and raved about them. It got to a point where the hype was high. Of all the dusty, TBR books I read, only Deathless truly lived up to the hype. This is round up is all about the books that didn’t, in ascending order: The Song of Achilles, The Winner’s Curse, Clockwork Angel, and Since You’ve Been Gone

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A to Z Bookish Survey

This survey was originally created by Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner. It looks like a lot of fun!!

 

Author you’ve read the most books from:

K.A. Applegate without a doubt. I read all of the Animorphs series, so that’s 50+ books. Even though many were ghostwritten, she still wrote over 30 herself. The second closest is Richelle Mead at 9, or Victoria Schwab also at 9 but only if you count re-reads.

Best Sequel Ever:

Uhhh this was hard to choose since I’ve read lot of series. I’m narrowing it down to second books, so I don’t have to put Harry Potter books. I’m going with The Dream Thieves, which I loved just as much as I loved The Raven Boys. 17347389

Currently Reading:

I’m writing this in advance, but I’m pretty sure I’ll still be reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy when this post goes up.

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Drink of Choice While Reading:

Water. I’m boring. I never drink coffee when I’m home and I never manage to finish my tea before it gets all cold and bitter.

Ereader or Physical Book?

I like to switch it up, but I looove reading on my phone after I’ve turned off the lights.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Tall, intense guys in the vein of Kell Maresh from A Darker Shade of Magic. Sans magic.

A Darker Shade final for Irene

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Clockwork Prince! I was underwhelmed by Clockwork Angel after the massive amount of hype this trilogy gets. By the end of the second book, I was sooo invested I ended up crying at 3am.

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Hidden Gem Book:

The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan! These books are so good. They’re gothic and have magic and good representation (the main character is part Japanese and there are queer side characters) and no one talks about them because they came out during the paranormal craze. Please read these books!!!

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Important Moment in your Reading Life:

When I read Momo. I just remember being so utterly enthralled by the book when I was ten. One morning, I woke up early and everyone else on the house was asleep. I slipped out of my bed very quietly and went outside and curled up inside the car. I have no idea how long I was inside, but it must have been hours because it was noon when I went back inside. It’s one of my favorite memories ever.

Just Finished:

Most recently, Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. It’s a memoir about a botanist. It was a bit of disappointment to be honest. Although, it’s beautifully written at time (it has a chapter with David Copperfield quotes interspersed which I loved), I got bored with other sections. I don’t know if it was the book itself or the fact that I’m not used to reading non-fiction, but it was a three-star read for me.

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Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Straight-up romance books are just not my thing. I always have trouble caring about the romance, even when I really like the couple. To read I whole book about that? I just don’t. See also: erotica.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin at 1177 pages. I read this when I was 14! I don’t know how I managed it.

Major book hangover because of:

The Raven King, hands down. I read the whole book the day it came out. When I was done, I couldn’t even sleep for the rest of the night.

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Number of Bookcases You Own:

I have two shelves. Not bookshelves, just literally the two individual shelves. It’s a work in progress as I have over 150 books stacked up in those two shelves.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

I love re-reading, but I don’t it very often. That said, one book I’ve reread multiple time is The Secret History by Donna Tartt. If I, by accident, open the book on a random page, I will read it for hours. It hasn’t lost its magic even though I read it over two years ago.

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Preferred Place To Read:

My bed, for sure. Though at my high school, there was this one hill where I would always go to read during my free periods.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

“I am a Stark, yes, I can be brave.” – All the Sansa feels! (It’s from A Storm of Swords)

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”  -From one of my favorite classics, A Tale of Two Cities

“What a strange constellation they all were.” – From The Raven King

Reading Regret:

Not having read The Infernal Devices as they first came out. Nineteen year old me loved those books, but they would have been my world at 13-14.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

Earlier this year, I made a post about this. Right now though, my main concern is The Magicians Trilogy because I even own the final books. It’s just a matter of reading it.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Off the top of my head, and in no particular order: Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

With the show airing, I can only think of both A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones (the latter with a long list of caveats).

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

I’m terrible at keeping up with new releases… but I’m really looking forward to The Throne of Emberlain, aka the fourth book in the Gentleman Bastard series. It doesn’t even have a real release date cry with me. Also forever waiting for The Winds of Winter, but I’ve lost all hope by now.

Worst Bookish Habit:

I ANNOTATE AND I DON’T EVER CARE. (Always with pencil though, and I would never dog ear a page, I’m not a monster.)

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, which coincidentally was one of my faves from last year. Also counting books with how haphazardly my shelves are currently arranged was a pain.

Your latest book purchase:

Oh boy, I order books in bulks to make use of the free shipping… This was my last haul:

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman, Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, The Tenant of Windfall Hall by Anne Brontë, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. So everything from Adult to Middle Grade, and from classics to fantasy. Sums up my tastes pretty well. (Also I pre-ordered Turtles All the Way Down by John Green along with these books, but it obviously hasn’t been delivered)

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare, because I didn’t mention this trilogy enough in this post apparently.

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Book Review: They Both Die at the End

I received a eARC of this book from Edelweiss for review. All opinions are my own, as always.

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Title: They Both Die at the End

Author: Adam Silvera

Genre: YA, Speculative Fiction, LGBTQIA+

Release Date: September 5th, 2017

Publisher: HarperTeen

Format: eARC via Edelweiss

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

 

Adam Silvera’s books have been getting buzz for a while. They are also said to be heartbreaking and very unique in their undertaking of teen issues. They Both Die at the End was the first book of his I’ve read, and it didn’t disappoint in any of those counts. It truly is the thoughtful, honest book I was expecting.

One thing that caught me utterly by surprise is how conversational the writing style is. The protagonists, Rufus and Mateo, narrate in first person for most of the book, but there are also tiny sections in third person that follow secondary characters. That said, Silvera creates unique voice for his protagonists and adopts a more distant, albeit just as conversational, tone for the rest. He uses slang in such a way that it doesn’t feel forced, but rather current. The novel reads almost like a time capsule of how teens speak now without ever being inaccessible for it. It’s like reading S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, where the slang only adds to the voice. Interspersed are also sentences that are just so strikingly lyrical that they brought me to tears more than once.

The two protagonists were super endearing. Mateo is shy and cautious and utterly adorable. He struggles because he’s been too scared to let himself do the things he wants to, and I loved watching him embrace life on his End Day. Rufus, on the other hand, is an outgoing, impulsive teen, who’s very lost after having been touched by tragedy. The dynamic between the two is the main driving force of the novel, and I enjoyed it a lot overall. However, I do feel that it all goes a little too fast and sudden for my taste. The side characters never feel quite as vivid as the two protagonists, but their perspectives add a lot thematically. They showcase how death never just affects one person.

The representation on this book is great! Both characters are LGBT: Rufus refers to himself as bisexual, while Mateo never uses a label for himself, and they never suffer because of their identities. Also they are both Latinos (and it’s all ownvoices!). It doesn’t stop there. The rest of the cast includes other LGBTQIA+ characters, many characters of colors, and even a few characters with disabilities. I really appreciate how Silvera didn’t dwell on it, but rather depicted diversity as part of the New York the characters inhabit.

That’s not to say that Mateo and Rufus’s identities were ever grossed over, while in fact, they are key part of the novel’s message. The main theme of this book is literally centuries-old: Carpe Diem, seize the day, live. However, the way Silvera ties it to Mateo’s own coming to terms with who he is makes it seem as fresh and relevant as ever. While, yes, death is very present in this book, it’s ultimately about living. The speculative elements and the world Silvera crafts around Death Cast allow him to create this beautiful moments that work on multiple levels. You get to see the characters taking leaps, both literally and metaphorically.

Nonetheless, the pacing felt a bit off in some sections, and the moments ranged from impactful to underwhelming (unintentionally so). The virtual reality attractions just didn’t seem that imaginative, especially in comparison to how vivid the rest of the universe is. Even when Silvera did a good job on focusing on how these moments affect the characters, what was happening on-page wasn’t all that interesting, lacking the gravitas it demanded. This is what ultimately made this a four-star book for me.

Lastly, regarding the ending, I was pretty satisfied with what went down and that’s all I can say. Do they both really die at the end? Well, I highly recommend that you pick up this book! Meanwhile, I’ll definitely be reading the other two books Silvera has out.

Top Five Wednesday: Fantasy Books from Before I Joined Goodreads

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Top Five Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted over at Goodreads by the lovely Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. I decided to talk about the books I read before Goodreads rather than this blog because Goodreads changed the way I read far more than this blog has. I count Goodreads as the moment when I truly joined the book community rather then when I made this blog.  That’s when I became far more aware of things like popularity and genre. Not that this blog hasn’t changed the way I read, more so regarding new releases and particular authors or publishers. I also had more books to choose from haha.

For a long time, I wouldn’t have called fantasy my favorite genre but I still read a ton from it. Even when I picked books at random, I gravitated toward either paranormal or fantasy. I joined Goodreads September 2014, when I was in Lower 6th aka my junior year of high school (my school had a weird, half-British system…). Since then I’ve read a lot more but I’ve also become more selective?  Without further ado…

1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

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Let’s get the obvious out of the way, shall we? My mom read this to me after I got super obsessed with the first movie at age four. We read the books together as they came out, and I’ve re-read them since. Like soooo many people this series was formative for me, and I fell in love with magic because of them. The feeling of wonder I got from this series… well, I’ve been chasing books/movies/TV shows that make me feel like that too.

2. A Song Of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

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So that feeling of oh magic is great? Well, it wasn’t exactly what happened when I watched the first two seasons of Game of Thrones. Nonetheless, I was obsessed. It was the first “Adult” show (aka with sex) I ever watched, and the first Adult Fantasy series I got into. All at age 14. I’m honestly still amazed that I marathoned all five published novels at that age. Five years later, I’m still the friend that goes “did you know [insert random fact about that minor character no one cares about]?” whenever we discuss the show.

3. The Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce

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I think I was 16 when I read this. By then I had delved into the world of YA Urban Fantasy, so I struggled with getting into this world that was so… medieval and more along the lines of traditional high fantasy series. But, oh, was it worth it. I adore these books for all their messages and their characters! Pierce just knows how to craft believable characters with organic arcs. I love how flawed they are, and how they’re allowed to screw up and learn better.

4. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray

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Another series that filled me with wonder. These novels balance the traditional Victorian setting with this beautiful magic that I’ve never seen done as well. It’s not quite portal fantasy, but the Realms are described in such a way… they tread the line between poetic and enthralling perfectly. Also this is the first book where I recall caring more about the friendships than the actual romances (though I didn’t dislike the romances), and if you’ve been following my blog you know that now I’m all about the friendships.

5. Momo by Michael Ende

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This book introduced to a whole other type of magic: metaphors. The villains literally steal your time, and the way Ende handles is simply brilliant. It’s precisely the type of thing that makes its own special kind of sense when you are ten. Also it has a turtle that can see 30 minutes into the future, and that’s still the best. It’s whimsical from beginning to end. Honestly, I don’t get why this isn’t more of a classic.