Top Five Wednesday: Book Covers I’d Live in

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 12.29.00 AM

Top Five Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted over at Goodreads by the lovely Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. I looove doing post on covers, both because I love design (not that I’m good at it) and because I get to talk about books I might not mention often. This topic is just ambiguous enough that I spent a good while trying to come up with the books.

5. A Separate Peace by John Knowles

5148

I haaaaaated this book. If you asked me what books have left me feeling the angriest and most disappointed ever, this book would be in the top 5 easily. But I do love that cover. It captures the New England boarding school so well. It makes me want to be there.

4. The Magicians by Lev Grossman

6101718

I love the other-worldly feel this cover has. It’s both ominous and aesthetically pleasing. I also liked how realistic it is. Though I certainly wouldn’t want to live in the world of The Magicians, I could see myself wandering through that field.

3. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

17838528

Dogs! Ice cream! Summery! Who wouldn’t want to be transported there?*

2. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

25526296

Just like The Magicians’, I love the fantastical-yet-realistic style of this cover. Portals are just the best!

1. The Latin American A Song of Ice and Fire covers

portadas-paises-juego-tronos-cancion-hielo-fu-L-keSrCV

Yes this one gets to be bigger because just look at it! The illustrations of these editions are just gorgeous. Despite having read ASoIaF in English, I’ve been tempted to buy them just so I can contemplate them, put them on an altar and get lost watching them for hours. What makes these covers all the more amazing is how ugly the originals are. Like compare a helmet on a green background with these:

download.jpeg

They are so immersive and accurate to the books that no cover can compare. I kind of remember GRRM saying that the AGoT cover is the most accurate to how he imagined the Iron Throne. Even the show’s version pales in comparison.


*If your answer is “not me”, I don’t know what to do with you.**
**Okay if you’re lactose intolerant or allergic to dogs, I forgive you.

July 2017 Recap

 lifethings

Where did my summer go??? I want it back!

I go back to university the first Monday of August, and I literally can’t believe how little I did this summer. Well, it wasn’t that bad, but I didn’t do anything objectively productive. Mostly I hung out with friends, read what I wanted, and wrote both my novel and for this blog.

Also I found my best friend is leaving for another continent. I’m everything from excited for her to upset that I won’t get to see her every week. It’s hard to believe that less than two years ago we were still seeing each other every day in high school.

reading

I actually participated in not one but two readathons this months! I tried (and failed) at the BookTube-A-Thon just like last year, and I joined into Zoe’s 24-hour-readathon, in which I fared far better. They were both super fun though!  Continue reading

BookTube-A-Thon 2017 Wrap Up

Oh the mighty tale of how I ended doing just as miserably as last year!

Well, I guess a thousand pages in not miserably, but I was really hoping to at least finish five books, but that didn’t happen. I also stopped participating in the sprints halfway through the week. Alas. But there’s always next year!

 

Day 1

I read the second half of Clockwork Prince and cried at 3am.

Pages read: 250 (+250)

Books completed: 1

Challenges completed: Read a Hyped Book, Read a Book with Someone on the Cover

10025305

Day 2

I read The Pearl Thief in one day to keep up with the tradition of reading all Elizabeth Wein books all in one day.

Pages read: 578 (+326)

Books completed: 2

Challenges completed: Read a book in a single day

31178738

Day 3

I picked up Richard II and read the first scene and some of the introduction. Later that day, I started The Winner’s Curse. I was bent on finishing it on one day… then I fell asleep… at 8:30 pm (during the summer I tend to fall asleep around 3 or 4am so I was shocked.

Pages read: 873 (+295)

Books completed: 2

Challenges completed: None

16069030

Day 4

After sleeping for eleven hours straight, I woke up very confused. I proceed to finish The Winner’s Curse… and take a nap! Then I realized I wasn’t in the mood for any of my TBR picks and decided to start the anthology Because You Love to Hate Me. Then I picked up Lab Girl and yeah I’ve started too many books all at once.

Pages read: 1050 (+177)

Books completed: 3

Challenges completed: None

25733983

 

Day 5

AKA the moment where I started failing miserably. Last year I only got to day 4 before screwing up, so progress? I read two more stories from BYLTHM and 30 pages of Richard II, and that was it.

Pages read: 1134 (+84)

Books completed: 3

Challenges completed: None(!)

31450752

Day 6

I had every intention to read all the books. I really did. But I had lunch with my best friend, and she told me she’s moving to the other side of the Atlantic in a month. Needless to say I was an utter mess (like my eyes ached for hours because of how much we cried). So I read like… 20 pages? I just couldn’t concentrate.

Pages read: 1154 (+20)

Books completed: 3

Challenges completed: None *cries*

414o2RCdF2L._AC_UL320_SR208,320_

Day 7

So I was busy most of the day, but I got home determined to finish Richard II. I did it!

Pages read: 1205 (+51)

Books completed: 4

Challenges completed: Read a Book You Bought Because of the Cover and Read About a Character That’s Different than You

Overall

Four books read (all of them featured on my TBR)

Two additional books started (none of them on my TBR)

Five out of seven challenges completed

1205 pages read in the whole week

 

How did fare in the BookTube-A-Thon? Did you get through all seven books? Did you lose steam as the week progressed, like I did?

My Writing Process

10928109_595959117172101_1450331761_n-1.jpg

So I’m partaking in this month’s instalment of Beautiful People for the first time! It’s a monthly meme all about writing. It’s hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further, and here is the original post. This month it’s all about our writing process which is what convinced me to jump in even though it’s late…

On my post on outlining, I talked about how my process sort of came to me organically. It worked for the first book I ever finished, and six books later I’ve more or less stuck with it. I’m not sure if it’s the best (for me) and I’ve definitely had to tweak some things here and there. I kind of scared that the day I try to change the way I write will be the day I stop, which is pretty irrational given how much I’ve come to love and need writing in the last two years. But whatevs. I’ll worry when my whole process just doesn’t work for a given book.

Just a few days ago, Buzzfeed published an article compiling pieces of advice from a ton of writers, and this quote from Laini Taylor stuck with me:Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 9.01.40 PM.png

Ultimately, process is all about what works for any given writer. It’s just that figuring out how to cater to your particular need can get hard, and then excuses start cropping up and then you haven’t written for 73 years and your grandchildren get disappointed. What I’m trying to say is that I have no idea of what my process will look like in one or ten years (an dI really hope I still have one ten years from now), but I might as well document what it looks like in July 2017 at age 19. (Maybe 92 year old me will be in for a surprise (if the world or the internet haven’t end by then that is)).

1. How do you decide which project to work on?

Continue reading

Book Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

29283884

Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Author: Mackenzi Lee

Genre: YA Historical, Adventure

Release date: June 27th, 2017

Format: Audible Audiobook read by Christian Coulson

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Rating: ★★

A young bisexual British lord embarks on an unforgettable Grand Tour of Europe with his best friend/secret crush. An 18th-century romantic adventure for the modern age written by This Monstrous Thing author Mackenzi LeeSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets the 1700s.

Henry “Monty” Montague doesn’t care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

So Monty vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, dazzling, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is an irresistible romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

This book is getting so much hype, and I have to say it’s not undeserved. Although Gentleman’s Guide has its flaws, I hope we get more books as fun and thoughtful as this one. There’s so little historical fiction in YA, and most of it is set in WWII, which don’t get me wrong I love, but Gentleman’s Guide is fun and witty while not losing track of the historical aspects and I want more!

I listened to the audiobook, and loved it. Christian Coulson (AKA Tom Riddle from Chamber of Secrets) gives a great perfomance and practically embodies Monty! He nails the comedic timing; his deliveries complement Lee’s writing flawlessly. Also his voice and accent are super dreamy. I would totally recommend picking this as an audiobook.

The historical elements are used to their fullest effect. You get the sense this story couldn’t have happened on any other historical time, even if there are no major historical events that give away when exactly in the 18th Century. As someone who doesn’t know much about that period, I was never lost as Lee made it all pretty accessible for non history-nerds. She paints a vivid picture of each city that the group visits and the times socials costumes. That said, it was clear that there was a lot of research done to back up the contents even when the plot veers off into the adventures. That said, some things were a bit dumbed down which always irks me. For example, I’m pretty sure most people know who Lazarus was and the characters should have too, there was no need to be dedicate an entire myth recounting the whole story. It’s a tough line to toe, and I think the writing mostly gets it right.

I loved Lee’s style. Its vocabulary and expressions give it a 18th Century flair, but it is also insanely readable. Monty’s voice and humor comes through across the entire novel. Mundane scenes are made all the more fun by his thoughts and quips. I found myself laughing out loud at his narration every other minute.

I am somehow stuck with an obstinate mount that resembles less a horse and more a leggy sausage, and seems fond of ingesting my commands and then ignoring them in their entirety.

That said, Lee can also craft beautiful, poetic sentences and I was often caught off guard by her eye for detail. I’m excited to see what else she writes!

The characters and the banter between were just delightful. The three main characters leap off page in their vivid characterizations, and their humor and wants make them super endearable. Though they start out as archetypes, they gain depth as the story progresses, especially Monty’s devil-may-care attitude. Even though I keep emphasizing how fun this book is, there are pretty heavy hitting moments, and they all come organically from the characters. I adored how Monty and Felicity’s relationship develops! The romance is pretty much what you’d expect, but the banter is precious and I shipped them all the way through.

Also regarding the characters, I also adored how diversity was incorporated seamlessly to a historical setting. Like, hey, queer people have always existed! And this book reflects that, never portraying Monty’s sexuality in a bad light, even if there are bigoted characters. I loved how his bisexuality was portrayed, and how he doesn’t stop being bisexual despite being in love with “a lad”. There’s also disability rep, a biracial co-lead, and many black side characters.  Lee doesn’t gross over the fact that slavery was very prevalent in the period, and though the plot never delves deep, it’s acknowledged at full. Monty, who’s fairly privileged being the son of an Earl and all, screws up multiple times, but he always gets called out on it.  I wish more historical books make the effort to include such diversity, especially given that it was there!

Now, onto the reason why I could only give this book four stars… the plot was pretty predictable. It’s very deliberately trope-y which I appreciate, but I don’t think Lee added enough new elements to make it seem refresh or even play around with expectations. Most of the cliches got played dead straight. I think this novel would have benefited from being a bit more meta. The climax was also rushed, and some of the more interesting elements were dropped very quickly. I knew pretty much how the moral conflict was going to go from the moment where it was introduced. This isn’t a book I would read purely for the story, but the other elements make the book worth it.