Book Review: Because You Love to Hate Me

31450752Title: Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy

Editor: Ameriie

Main Contributors: Renee Adieh, Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genvieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon

Genre: YA, Short story anthology

Release date: July 11th, 2017

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Rating: 3.19/5 (average)

Note: I will be reviewing each story individually, though I do have a few observations about the general editing and BookTuber contributions. There will be no spoilers for the stories themselves.

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Top Seven Book Recs for Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish, and after a summer-long hiatus, it’s back! Now, this week’s prompt is very open. I actually attempted to write another topic, but it was more of an anecdote post than a recommendations one. So when I’m lost I turn to my favorite television show of all time: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I mention it a lot (aka whenever I can), but I never written a post specifically about it.

Now, there’s a lot to Buffy. From the humor, to the amazing character growth, to the dynamics and the delightful dialogue, it really is unique on how all the elements come together. No single book can contain all the elements that made Buffy great and that’s great because they’re their own thing. That said, I did try to pick books that resemble particular aspects of the story in the hope that if you love Buffy, you’ll love these too. I didn’t get to ten because the comparison either got repetitive or too far-fetched, so I decided to go for seven books that really fit.

1. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Unspoken is the first book in The Lynburn Legacy trilogy which I whole heartedly recommend. Part gothic, part paranormal, and at times very dark, what made me include it was the humor. Its protagonist, Kami, is incredibly witty, so she counteracts the gothic elements perfectly, kind of like Buffy does whenever she’s slaying vampires. Though Kami herself takes the cake, the other characters also partake in hilarious banter and have a group dynamic as great as the Scoobies.

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2. The Magicians by Lev Grossman

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Another thing I love about Buffy is how self aware it is of its ridiculous premise. It’s got a ton of meta humor and, more admirably, it’s done well. The Magicians is just like that, even though it takes on a somewhat different sub-genre, more akin to Harry Potter and Narnia

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3. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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Looking for a series of a group of teens facing powerful supernatural forces? What makes the Raven Cycle great is how it’s all about powerful friendships. Sure, there are trees that speak in Latin, dreams, and ley lines, but, just like in Buffy, the characters are unforgettable. Their growth and characterization is really strong throughout all four books. Instead of the Scoobies, their (fan) nickname is the Gangsey and their chemistry is marvellous. Warning, the magic in these books is very creepy at times.

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4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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Okay, so I came across these books years ago. I was in a serious Buffy withdrawal after finishing the show for the first time, and this series gave me all the feels. I’m not sure if I would have liked them quite as much, had I read them in the years that followed. The vampire mythology here is very different from the one in the Buffyverse, but Rose and Dimitri are very reminiscent of  my favorite couple in the show, Buffy and Angel, (more so than Edward and Bella for example).  If you’re looking for a tropey vampire romance, angst and all, then I definitely recommend them.

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5. In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce

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Okay, so this is not the first book in The Song of the Lioness quartet, but the second one and my favorite. What I love about it is that Alanna, who dreams of being a knight and has been passing off as a boy for years, embraces her femininity in this book. And Pierce never treats her as any less of a badass for it. Just like Buffy who never lets go of her girly side despite all the world saving she does. Also like the show, these books were written a while ago, so they do stumble at times in their executions, though the messages are always in the right place.

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6. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

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Keep in mind I’ve never read The Mortal Instruments and I’ve only just started Clockwork Princess. These books are really witty, but what reminded me most of Buffy is the vivid world where they take place. You’ll find everything from vampires to warlocks. Also there’s quite a lot of demon-slaying. Honestly, I would have been lost in these books had I found them when I was thirteen and had just finished Buffy.

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7. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

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If you asked me what my favorite episode of the show is, I wouldn’t say “The Body”, but if you asked me about the best episode, then yeah. A seemingly silly show about vampires has one of the best takes on grief than I have ever seen, and it’s stayed with me ever since I first watched it. Nelson also tackles grief deftly in her debut. Though unlike “The Body”, it follows the grieving for following weeks rather than on the same day it happened. That doesn’t make the experience any less raw and heart-wrenching. It’s also the only contemporary in this list. So, no, it doesn’t feature any vampires, just a teenage girl who has just lost her older sister, but it stays with you too.

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The Reading Quest TBR

The Reading Quest is new reading challenge created by Read at Minight based on RPGs. Here’s the sign up post. Being the indecisive person that I am I missed the sign up deadline, so I won’t be up for the prizes. I’m still doing this because it looks pretty fun! It started yesterday and ends on September 10.

I will be doing the mage quest (I always play as mages anyway), as it fits the books I already own the best. Hopefully I will also be doing weekly updates. I won’t go into the rules in depth here, for that check up the sign up post because there are quite a lot. Now, onto the challenges and my TBR…

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Book Review: The Pearl Thief

31178738Title: The Pearl Thief

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Series: Code Name Verity #0 (prequel)

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Release Date: May 2nd, 2017

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Rating: ★★☆☆

When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scottish Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister, Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.

Note: This review contains NO spoilers for other books set in the Code Name Verity universe.

I adored both Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, despite them being very different books both tonally and narratively. That was why I was so excited about this, as from the summary you can tell it won’t feature the war and be a much quiet kind of story. I genuinely thought that I would be blown away by this even if the general plot didn’t really grab my attention. Unfortunately, I wasn’t.

Let me get the good out of the way first. Julie is just an incredible character to read about. She is still as brave and funny and Scottish as the Julie we meet in CNV, but she’s also a lot younger. Wein nails this younger Julie’s voice perfectly. To me, seeing Julie again was the best part of the whole book. There is some clear character growth in the book as it is a more coming-of-age story than the rest of the series, and it never undermines Julie’s arc in CNV. I don’t want to call this book unnecessary because I think there is value in coming-of-age stories, but it doesn’t add a whole lot when you know where everything is headed…

Like The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Wein also highlights the diversity of its historical setting. Much of the book is devoted to Julie dealing with her privilege as she befriends the Travellers, though their voices are always taken into consideration. There’s also a partially deaf character and bisexual representation!!!

Wein captures the period very well. As always, you get the feeling there was a lot of careful research put into this. Scotland before the war is vividly portrayed, with a keen eye for details of its history from Mary Queen of Scots to river pearls. Despite Wein’s talent at translating the past for modern readers, I was not interested in the topics she chose to focus the novel on. I could not care for the pearls which are the driving force of the whole plot. Maybe if I was better versed into Scottish history, I would have enjoyed this more, but alas, it made me bored throughout most of it.

The plot itself was my main issue. The characters weren’t very interested in the mystery itself for most of the book, so what little tension there was decreased even more. I have no problem with summery books where the characters just hang out and have fun, but it was not what I was expecting from this book or the author that brought us Code Name Verity. There was also the fact that Julie was violently assaulted and left unconscious for three days, and yet she doesn’t seem to care that much? The stakes barely felt personal when they should have been what drove the plot. Also I was let down by the reveals at the end.

 

Most of all, this book made me really want to reread Code Name Verity.

Tome Topple Round 4 TBR

Tome Topple is readathon created by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. The whole point of of this readathon is to read “tome” aka books over 500 pages long. I actually half-hearted participated in the last round (I only posted my TBR), but this round I’m much more motivated. This year I’ve been much better at reading long books, but still I want to read them all.

This round starts on August 4th and ends on August, so you are just in time to join! What I love about Tome Topple is that it’s far more chill than others. I won’t be doing all the the challenges, but I’m fine as long as I get through one (hopefully two) of these books.


The Challenges

1. Read more than 1 tome
2. Read a graphic novel (still over 500 pages!)
3. Read a tome that is part of a series
4. Buddy read a tome
5. Read an adult novel


The Books

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Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

This counts for the book that’s part of a series. I really want to get to this before I start school, but that’s probably not going to happen. These books are very easy to read (especially now that I’m actually invested in these characters and waiting for the paiiiiiin), so I’m hoping I can get through it fast.

Pages: 567

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War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Will I actually be able to finish a Tolstoy book? Will I get fit from carrying this book everywhere? I don’t know we’ll see. I’m not actually expecting to finish this monster during a two week period, nor will it be the only book I read. I’m kind of hoping to do the same thing I did with Jane Eyre. I only picked it up when I was relaxed and at home because I wanted to make it last, and I read many other, lighter books in the two-month span it took me to finish.

Pages: 1440

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The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I feel kind of bad for including this book because my edition is literally 500 pages. But oh well, I need goals I can actually meet. I wanted to read this for the BookTube-A-Thon, but I never got to it because it was soooo long (ha!). If I finish Clockwork Princess and this book by August 17th, I’ll be happy.