Monday, June 26, 2017

10 Favorite 2017 YA Releases So Far (June) feat. Tristina Wright, Ashley Poston & more




I feel like I've mentioned all of these books plenty of times on the blog before, but hey, can't help to promo my favorites a little bit more. 





HOW TO MAKE A WISH - Ashley Herring Blake
You guys know this is the first book that I've seen myself represented in biracial-wise. An unconditional recommendation for black biracial readers. (May 2nd 2017, HMH) Goodreads

THE BONE WITCH - Rin Chupeco
It's been such a long time since I read this, I'm so happy that it's finally out and people are loving it, woo! East-Asian inspired gorgeous necromancy witchery! (March 7th 2017, Sourcebooks) Goodreads

THE NOVEMBER GIRL - Lydia Kang
This one is the magical realist dreamy romance you've been waiting for. I adored the writing and everything about this. (November 7th 2017, Entangled: TEEN) Goodreads



THE HOLLOW GIRL - Hillary Monahan
I had such fun with this fantastic witchy #ownvoices Romani story. Revenge and horror. Bless. (Oct 10 2017, Delacorte) Goodreads

GIRL OUT OF WATER - Laura Silverman
Another lovely contemporary, with a black disabled love interest. Such a pleasant summery read. (May 2nd 2017, Sourcebooks) Goodreads

WILD - Hannah Moskowitz
I'm so happy about this! Bi, Deaf, Filipino, Guatemalan, Jewish rep and the loveliest prose. Bless. (April 26th 2017, Amazon) Goodreads



THE TIGER'S WATCH - Julia Ember
It's still a while until this is out, but I loooooooved Julia Ember's third book just as much as the first two. Genderfluid protagonist, shape-shifters, tigers - so fun! (August 22nd 2017, Harmony Ink) Goodreads

27 HOURS - Tristina Wright
I'm sure by now everyone has heard of this. The rep in this is incomparable to any other book I can think of - so many identities, so queer, so space. Read my review. (October 3rd 2017, Entangled: TEEN) Goodreads

GEEKERELLA - Ashley Poston
I had such fun with this! Super geeky and fun read with an Indian love interest. (April 4th 2017, Quirk) Goodreads


UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES - Louise Gornall
One of my favorite contemporaries of all time and the book I've been recommending to everyone with an invisible chronic illness. This book has my heart. (January 3rd 2017, Clarion) Goodreads



What's your favorite 2017 release so far?






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Saturday, June 24, 2017

How to Write a Positive Review | Book Blogging Tips (#61)


You might laugh looking at this title thinking it's not that hard to write a positive review. But trust me, looking back at any blogger's early positive reviews, you'll see a major difference to what they're posting now. 

Contrary to popular belief, it's not only the negative reviews that are hard to write; it's also the positive ones. Let me explain.


The problem with five-star reviews

When you check the five star reviews on goodreads of your favorite book, it's very likely that you won't find any assessment of the book, but instead a bunch of fangirling and flailing around about how genius the book is. While that may be nice to read for the author, to see people say nice things about their book, it doesn't really benefit the reader. If I haven't read a book and am looking to, I never check the five star reviews, because they hardly ever tell me anything about the book itself.

It really frustrates me as a blog or review reader to find a positive review that's telling me nothing aside from how much the reviewer liked it. It's really a craft to manage to condense your fangirly thoughts into a helpful review that other readers might benefit from. 

What I think a positive review should be like is pretty much is in line with what I said about writing negative reviews, if you'd like to compare.

Most common mistakes are:

  • Flailing 
Like I said, this might be nice for the author to read, but what does this tell me? ADGHSABJSALJKLKL followed by 67 gifs isn't much of a way to judge whether I want to read this book, is it?
  • Strong focus on the characters
Sure, it's great to give some info on the characters and all, but most of the time character assesment and how you liked them is super subjective and doesn't really tell the readers whether the book will be for them. 600 words on how swoony the love interest is aren't really helpful. It's all in the balance. You can add maybe 200 words on that but make sure to also add other things in your review!
  • The super subjective stuff/disregarding the actual craft part.
Personally I like reviews that focus on general issues and then add some subjective things. If you just go subjective, talking about the chemistry between the characters, their "illogical" behavior and all, you're not really giving the reader any valuable information. Sure, you might argue that it's all subjective when reviewing, but naturall some things are more subjective than others. Tell me about the compelling story, the extensive world building, the writing. 


At the end of the day, how you're writing your reviews is your business. If you feel more comfortable your way, please do continue doing so. These are only guidelines and in no way a rulebook. As always. ;-)


What things bother you about some positive reviews?



More on reviewing:
When is it okay to share your review of a DNF?
I Only Read Negative Reviews on Goodreads
Is Sharing Your Negative Reviews Mean?
No Comments on Book Reviews?
When You Have to Write a Negative Review

all Book Blogging Tips

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Recommendation: The King of Bourbon Street (NOLA Nights #1) - Thea de Salle: Bisexuality, Rich People, and a Fat Heroine

In THE KING OF BOURBON STREET, heiress Rain travels to New Orleans to get a break from her mother and falls in love with hotel mogul Sol.

What intrigued me: I adored another book by the same author under a different pen name and was thirsty for more by her.

Note: Don't let the cover fool you, this has a fat heroine!!!

Fantastic Writing and Characters

THE KING OF BOURBON STREET is definitely very different from what I usually read - you may know that I'm primarily a YA reader, but I don't mind pushing my comfort zone a little. Even if you're not really into Adult books and just enjoy Romance, you will probably fall hopelessly in love with this. De Salle is such a talented writer, I originally only planned to take a peak at a sample, but the voice, the characters, the setting, the pace - everything about the craft is so perfect that it sucks you in and you won't want to leave. Genuinely, this book is so amazingly well-written that it's seriously inspiring and an absolute delight.

De Salle needed about 5 pages for me to fall in love with the hero, Sol, who is, in lack of a better way to put this: an absolutely irresistible little shit. He's refreshingly openly bisexual, hilarious, he's snarky and flamboyant, and I am so, so, so in love. I found myself laughing out loud at honestly pretty much everything he says. He's so funny without meaning to and you'll fall in love with him before you know it and miss him terribly once you've finished the book.

Perfect Read for Rookie Adult Romance Readers!

As irresistible as the hero is - the heroine, Rain, is just as awesome. She's rebelling against her rich parents and just sunshine bottled up. THE KING OF BOURBON STREET is one of the most organic and fantastic romances I've ever read. Rain and Sol have incredible chemistry from the second they meet and you'll find yourself not being able to decide who you like more. In general, the characters and their relationships are very fleshed out, so much so that I honestly want a spin-off for every single character that appears in this series (which it looks like we might be getting to at least some extent? Fingers crossed). Parting with this book and finishing it honestly felt to me like I lost a couple dear friends, you'll find yourself wanting to read as slowly as possible so you'll be able to spend as much time with the characters as possible. 

I feel like I should also mention that this is a very adult Romance that contains a dom/sub relationship and a lot of sex. That's not usually what I go for, but I loved Rain and Sol so much that I didn't mind that at all. Even if you don't necessarily read a lot of Adult Romance, this might serve as a transitional read to get you more into the genre. THE KING OF BOURBON STREET is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year and I cannot wait to get started on the sequels.


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you love Adult Romance and are looking for something sex-positive and intersectional, this is a must-read. This is extremely well-written, almost intimidatingly so, and with a bisexual hero and a fat heroine, I am so, so, so happy I stumbled upon this series. More of this, please.



Additional Info

Published: February 13th 2017
Pages: 304
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Adult / Romance
ISBN: 9781501156076

Synopsis:
"Hotel chain mogul Sol DuMont is about to learn that some of life’s biggest surprises come in deceptively small packages—namely a petite heiress named Rain who’s hell-bent on upsetting her family’s expectations—in this first book in the all new series by Thea de Salle, set against the sultry backdrop of New Orleans.

Thirty-seven-year-old Sol DuMont is a divorcee and the owner of a mid-sized hotel chain in New Orleans. Since Hurricane Katrina, his father’s death, and the decision that he and his ex-wife Maddy are far better off friends than lovers, he’s lost interest in almost everything he held dear—parties, people, and pushing limits.

All his limits.

Then Arianna Barrington checks into his hotel.

Twenty-four-year-old Arianna “Rain” Barrington could have been society’s sweetheart. Her family is moneyed, connected press darlings, and make sweeping headlines from coast to coast for reasons both good and bad. But when her mother shoves her at Charles Harwood—the obnoxious, entitled heir of Harwood Corp—to cement a billion-dollar business merger, Rain does the only thing she can think of to escape: she creates a scandal so big Harwood doesn’t want her anymore before fleeing to New Orleans for much-needed rest and relaxation.

All she wants is jazz piano, beignets, and to sail the Mississippi. What she gets is Sol DuMont, a whirlwind affair, and a hands-on education in sex, power play, and pushing limits.

All her limits. "
(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite romance?



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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

[Review] My Not So Perfect Life - Sophie Kinsella: Farm Eggs and Instagram

In MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE, Katie's super glamorous big city boss goes on a holiday in Katie's hometown after firing her.

What intrigued me: Solely the author. Didn't even read the blurb before I picked this up.

Where's the fun?

I'm starting to think Sophie and I have to part ways. She's been one of my favorite authors for years, but I have now read every single one of her stand-alones and her 5-star quota is... well, not so good. Just like with THE UNDOMESTIC GODDESS, WEDDING NIGHT, and CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?, I just really didn't care for this one. 

MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE is chronically missing the charme and hilarity that made me fall in love with Kinsella's writing in the first place. It just reads like a weird train-of-thought-esque narrative without an actual plot and Katie, the heroine, just feels like she's a recycled mix of the protagonists of Kinsella's earlier stand-alones. It's also really, really long, 540 pages in my translated version and about 100 pages less in English, without a plot you can imagine how tedious this was to read. Beyond that, the blurb is actually way more interesting than the book, Instagram doesn't really play as much of a role in it, it's more about going back home and life outside of the big city, and ... meh.


Way Too Serious and Angsty

There isn't really anything to talk about because so little happens and I found myself forcing myself to continue instead of actually reading it for fun and breezing through it like I did with my favorites REMEMBER ME? and I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER. Maybe this is also because I guess this is a different type of book that I'd probably expected to see published under her Madeline Wickham publications. It just feels less fun and happy-go-lucky and more serious and contemplative, which is just not what I want when I'm picking up a Kinsella book. Katie spends a lot of time thirsting after her boss Demeter's life and contemplating the validity of her own experiences and just being sad, and I just couldn't bring myself to care about that. 

Even though all of Kinsella's books have somewhat of a New Adult aspect to them, in terms of angsting about the future, this one dig into it too hard for my taste. I want awkward situations, I want a hilarious heroine, I want a straight-forward plot and an unputdownable read. I didn't get any of that.On top of that, the love interest has the personality of a raw egg. 


Rating:

☆☆☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I think this might be the one book to make me never want to pick up a Kinsella book again. I found it quite dull and boring and now looking at my Kinsella shelf makes me sad.



Additional Info

Published: May 15th 2017
Pages: 544
Publisher: Goldmann
Genre: Adult / Chick Lit
ISBN: 978-3-442-48550-5

Synopsis:
"Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?"
(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read a book by Sophie Kinsella?



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Sunday, June 18, 2017

10 YA Series I've Been Meaning to Start But Haven't Yet feat. Rachel Cohn, Traci Chee, Marie Lu & more





This is my list of shame. Some of these books have been on my TBR for years. I'm working on it, I promise. 



Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
I remember really getting intrigued by this after I read an excerpt of this in ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD. This was years ago, omg, I really love Greek mythology, it's a shame I haven't picked this one up yet.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
I really want to wait to watch the movie Labyrinth first before reading this and I've been waiting for the perfect time to do so. Soon!

Sea of Ink and Gold by Traci Chee
Okay, this pick is a bit unusual, because I only just now read teh blurb and I still don't think I know what this is about. I honestly just wnt to read this because I'm always there to support authors and publishers who put non-white people on book covers. Hell yeah.



Covenant by Jennifer L. Armentrout
I originally got interested in this because I binged her Lux series years ago and had a lot of fun with it and because people keep saying this is a carbon copy of VAMPIRE ACADEMY, which you know I also loved and enjoyed. Bring it on!

Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab
I've been meaning to read more of her books because I really disliked A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC and want to give her another shot, so oh my god, I can't believe I still haven't read this yet. I love urban fantasy!

Annex by Rachel Cohn
I'm pretty sure I've talked about this before on my blog - I love reading about clones and I came so close to buying a copy a number of times, but never actually did it. It's time!



Warcross by Marie Lu
Maybe this is cheating cause it's not out yet, but STILL!!! I've been meaning to try more of her books, because THE YOUNG ELITES really wasn't for me but i did like her writing a lot. I think this is about video games and sci fi things? I don't know, I've been up for it since it got announced!

Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
I've been thirsting for this for months and actually recently finally, finally got a copy. Omg. I'm so excited and I really hope I'll like this because I've been wanting to adore more books by her!

The Great Library by Rachel Caine
Remember how thirsty I was for the first book before it came out? Apparently, I totally forgot about this until literally just now. I still want to read this! Library of Alexandria!



The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
This has been on my tbr for ages, I don't know what I'm doing. I really like reading about jinni, so it really is time!


What's a series you've been meaning to start?



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Friday, June 16, 2017

Shelving Books Within A Series in Different Genres? Review Indexing is Hard. | Book Blogging Tips (#60)

Lately I've been struggling a lot with shelving books correctly. 

While I think I've grown pretty confident in shelving books into the "correct" genre, there's one thing that keeps bugging me - what about books that change the genre within a series?

Typically characters go through a journey in a series. May that be physical or emotional. Sometimes when I'm reading sequels I find myself contemplating whether it's actually still the same genre. 

For example this happens a lot in contemporary to me. Sometimes you'll have a YA Contemporary start out with a premise that may lead to romance. In the sequel we'll then learn more about the characters and their romance, leading to me wanting to shelve that book as a Romance, rather than a Contemporary.


While that may be up to the beholder and is probably a thing you've got to decide on your own - what if shelving the sequel in a different genre would be a spoiler? 


Would it still be better to shelve the book "correctly" or put it in the same genre as the first novel so you won't spoil the experience for readers?

This happened to me when I reviewed the Generations series by Scott Sigler. The first book ALIVE heavily relies on the reader not knowing where the book is set or what is happening. It starts with a girl waking up inside a coffin.

If you plan to read these books, I suggest you'll stop right here and go straight to telling me what you'd do in the comments, cause I'm going to be spoilering now.












I shelved the first book under dystopia because I don't want to spoil anybody's reading experience. Even just shelving it under Sci-Fi, or like I do under one my sub categories within the genre, would be a GIANT spoiler because it would reveal that the characters are stuck on a space ship.

The second book ALIGHT takes place on a foreign planet and is absolutely clearly Sci-Fi. I don't think there's any way that you could justify this book being a dystopia, it's just very clearly Sci-Fi to me. 

So now I'm stuck in a dilemma. 

Do I shelf book two under Dystopian like the first or do I shelf it under Sci-Fi? Anyone who'll be merrily scrolling through my review index will very likely end up getting spoilered if I do the latter. And if I do the former it's just nonsense. 

Whether you're reading Sci-Fi or contemporary, I feel like book series should all be shelved neatly together in the same genre, don't you think? Maybe it's me being weirdly overorganized but there is just something that insanely irks me when shelving something incorrectly or not together with the predecessor.

How do you feel? Should books be shelved together regardless of whether it's correct or not?


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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

[Review] The Isle of the Lost (Descendants #1) - Melissa de la Cruz: Disney Villains and Fan Fiction

In THE ISLE OF THE LOST, the descendants of the most wicked Disney villains make plans to escape the island their families have been banished to.

What intrigued me: I've watched a bit of the movie and found it pretty cute. I had no idea this was the prequel so obviously I had to read it first before tackling the movie again.

Fan Fiction Feel

THE ISLE OF THE LOST proposes a topic that I've been longing to see for a while: A continuation of the classic Disney movies. This is essentially fan fiction, which I don't really mind because de la Cruz absolutely manages to create an exciting world. I struggled a little bit with the writing, which reads more like Middle Grade than actual YA and uses very simplistic, yet colorful language.
THE ISLE OF THE LOST does read a little like fan fiction, too, involving tropes you probably remember from all our 2009 AO3 escapades. Unnaturally colored hair, protagonists describing themselves while looking in a mirror, stuff like that.

The target audience confuses me a little. Like I said, the language is very simple and feels Middle Grade, yet we have 16 year-old protagonists. If you take a look at the awards it earned, it's always shelves in the MG category. To me, it's somewhere in between. THE ISLE OF THE LOST doesn't really feel like YA or MG, maybe like something in between, mainly due to the fairy tale language and feel. It could definitely serve as a nice transitional novel if you're mainly a MG or YA reader and would like to try out something different.

Massive, colorful world

We learn about the world through the eyes of out four protagonists, children of the Evil Queen, Maleficent, Jafar, and Cruella de Vil respectively. Usually I'm not a fan of multiple POVs but de la Cruz uses omniscient perspective and is very subtle about it all so that you hardly notice you're dealing with some many POVs.

Even though there are four protagonists, the spotlight is absolutely on the world that de la Cruz created. I grew very attached to it, longing for more of the vivid explanations and finding out more about how everything works over there. But at the end of the day THE ISLE OF THE LOST has a very simple concept and it absolutely works if you want to read something light and cute. Don't expect too much, don't expect highbrow language and thrilling plot twists, and you'll be good to go. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

ISLE OF THE LOST is a really adorable little book that you shouldn't pass up if you like Disney! It does read a little on the younger side and I think it definitely would've benefited from being marketed as Middle Grade and aging the protagonists down a little.



Additional Info

Published: May 5th 2015
Pages: 320
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN:  9781484720974

Synopsis:
"Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that's been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon's eye: the key to true darkness and the villains' only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it...who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent's daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon's eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen's daughter, Evie, doesn't know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she's a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal's little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he's not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon's eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil's son may not be bravest, but he's certainly clever. Carlos's inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon's eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon's eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She'll just need a little help from her "friends." In their quest for the dragon's eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain't so bad."(Source: Goodreads)



Have you seen the Descendants movie?

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Monday, June 12, 2017

10 Beach Reads For People Who Don't Like Beach Reads feat. Sophie Kinsella, Julie Hammerle & more






I'm one of those dreadful people who are easily bored by straight up romance books unless they are absolutely extraordinarily excellent. 

Here are some of the books that I would bring to the beach.




THE REPLACEMENT CRUSH - Lisa Brown Roberts
A really cute story about a girl looking for a rebound crush. Especially recommended for trekkies.

TALON - Julie Kagawa
Okay, listen, hear me out - this may be about shapeshifting dragons turning into humans but it's totally a summery beach romance. Sounds weird, is weird.

KEEPING THE MOON - Sarah Dessen
In terms of beach reads you can never go wrong with a Dessen book. This is a super light contemporary with a great protagonist!



PLUS ONE - Elizabeth Fama
As a dystopian novel this really isn't a regular pick for a beach read, but listen: This book is so light and easy and pretty much about people stealing babies. It's a weird fairytale-feeling kinda thing.

WEDDING NIGHT - Sophie Kinsella
This is partially set at the beach and kinsella, what more can you want!

FATED - S.G. Browne
The personified fate falls in love and it's absolutely hilarious!



THE PRINCESS DIARIES - Meg Cabot
I love this book so much if there is one light, funny book that I have and can read over and over again, it's this.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE - Jennifer E. Smith
Such a pleasant surprise!

THE SOUND OF US - Julie Hammerle
A sweet contemporary that's equal parts hilarious and unique. Also classic music!





WE AWAKEN - Calista Lynne
I think dreamy, magical books are always excellent pics for beach reads! This one features two lesbian asexuals and dreaming!

What are your favorite beach reads?

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Recommendation: Girl on the Verge - Pintip Dunn: Being Thai and New Girls

In GIRL ON THE VERGE, Kan's mother offers to take care of Shelly, who eagerly becomes Kan's new best friend, but also arrives with a mountain of secrets.

What intrigued me: Wanted to read more from Pintip Dunn.

Young Voice and Creepy Vibes

GIRL ON THE VERGE needed a while to get me interested. I didn't quite know what to expect, I thought this would be some kind of angsty contemporary. But once Shelly arrives and weasels the way into the reader's (and Kan's) heart, you'll immediately know something is wrong. There's a strange air of uncomfortable mystery around her that you can feel oozing from the pages the entire time. Dunn definitely knows how to orchestrate a mystery and make you feel uneasy. 

Aside from Shelly and her secrets, a large portion of the novel is spent gushing over love interest Ethan. He's your typical high school cool kid with the twist that he unapologetically enjoys traditionally feminine things. I really enjoyed seeing a character like that, though the romance aspect didn't do much for me, which is highly, highly subjective. Generally, GIRL ON THE VERGE  is one of those reads that exist at the lower end of YA, a little over upper MG in my opinion, which is definitely not a bad thing, just something you have to take into consideration when reading this. I certainly didn't expect a fairly younger than YA-sounding voice in a thriller story, so GIRL ON THE VERGE definitely caught me off guard. Had I known from the beginning, I probably would've liked this a lot more, but this is subjective.

#Ownvoices Excellence

I was immediately impressed with the way Dunn managed to put that unique diaspora feeling of not feeling like you belong in either worlds into words; this definitely warrants a recommendation alone. I've seldom seen authors go there and explore this feeling in as much detail, honesty, and eloquence as Dunn does. Especially if you're Thai diaspora, or Thai-American, this hopefully might mean even more to you, you need to get your hands on this book. 

GIRL ON THE VERGE definitely does a lot for diaspora readers in terms of validating and normalizing their experience, which I am immensely grateful for. The amount of strength, sheer talent, and determination it must have taken to put these feelings into words renders me speechless. GIRL ON THE VERGE perfectly illustrates to me what #ownvoices really is and what it means. For that alone, this deserves a glowing recommendation. Even if the other aspects don't really sound like something you'd be interested in, GIRL ON THE VERGE deserves all the support for its radiant and heartfelt portrayal of what it means to be diaspora.


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're diaspora, or even Thai diaspora, this is an absolute must-read. Doesn't matter what your reading preferences are, I've seldom seen an author provide such poignant and moving representation for diaspora readers in terms of feeling like you don't belong. Definitely recommend this to your diaspora friends.



Additional Info

Published: June 27th 2017
Pages: 256
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: YA / Thriller
ISBN: 9781496703606

Synopsis:
"In her small Kansas town, at her predominantly white school, Kanchana doesn’t look like anyone else. But at home, her Thai grandmother chides her for being too westernized. Only through the clothing Kan designs in secret can she find a way to fuse both cultures into something distinctly her own.

When her mother agrees to provide a home for a teenage girl named Shelly, Kan sees a chance to prove herself useful. Making Shelly feel comfortable is easy at first—her new friend is eager to please, embraces the family’s Thai traditions, and clearly looks up to Kan. Perhaps too much. Shelly seems to want everything Kanchana has, even the blond, blue-eyed boy she has a crush on. As Kan’s growing discomfort compels her to investigate Shelly’s past, she’s shocked to find how much it intersects with her own—and just how far Shelly will go to belong…"
(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite thriller?



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Thursday, June 8, 2017

[Review] Across the Universe (#1) - Beth Revis: Spaceships and Cryogenic Freezing

In ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, Amy was cryogenically frozen and supposed to live on a new planet three hundred years from now, but got woken up early.

What intrigued me: I love space books, shower me in space books!

Errors and Sex-Obsessed Incestuous People

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is probably the most frustrating book I've read this year. There are so many errors within the first 20 pages alone (15ish!), grammar issues, misplaced commas, wrong tenses etc, that it honestly gave me an eye twitch for the entire book. Just everything about the execution of this potentially interesting story misses the mark for me. 

I hated the dual POV, especially love interest Elder, mainly because the voices of both protagonists sound the exact same, which made me super uncomfortable with the romance. It's like you're reading about siblings *shudder*. The whole concept heavily relies on masterful storytelling because the setting is so repetitive and feels almost like a chamber play. Revis just doesn't deliver, it's not helping that the world building is super confusing and makes no sense. I struggled paying attention, I struggled caring for anything that's happening, I struggled finding the actual plot in there - the whole book is basically summed up by saying this lady woke up early and meanwhile the inhabitants of the ship developed a taste for incest. This also features a super unnecessary scene in which protagonist Amy gets saved from being raped. You'll find that a huge chunk of this book deals with sex and people not being able to control their desires and pumping themselves with hormones to increase their sexual desires, so yeah, that's something I wish I had known before picking this up. I was looking for a action-filled, fast-paced spaceship book, not this.

Science? What Science?

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE taught me that I love space books, but I hate spaceship books. The setting is the thing I disliked the most about this, if you're like me super into discovering new worlds and alien planets, this isn't the right pick at all. 

And if you're expecting accurate science or even just science fiction, look somewhere else. The sciencey parts are so ridiculously off that it honestly made me angry. The simplest scientific processes, even just common sense issues, really, are misconstrued in order to fill up the pages or to make a super dramatic shocking reveal. People being away while they're frozen, clones not realizing that they look like somebody else, a ridiculous shift in social behavior structures that could've never happened to human society in the 250-odd years that Amy has spent frozen - it all made me want to tear my hair out. 

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE really reads like a very awkward attempt to make a commentary on society and carnal desires in the least elegant way possible, and I couldn't help but feel tricked into reading this, because this is just not what I signed up for. What did I just read?


highlight text for SPOILER


This is literally the movie Passenger. This ends in love interest Elder admitting he unplugged Amy's cryogenic chamber, thus, forcing her to live out her life on the spaceship and she forgives him, because he's nice to her. I'm going to throw something. That only made me even angrier about this book. How am I supposed to not hate this guy with the fury of a thousand burning suns?! Feminism, who?



/SPOILER

Rating:

☆☆☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I genuinely disliked this, beyond the super subjective points, the craft aspects are less than ideal - so many typos, so many unncessary scenes, so much rambling - I wish somebody else would rewrite this. This is basically the movie Passenger, in an AU where everyone is incestuous and sex-obsessed. I don't even know

Trigger warning: rape, incest, suicide


Additional Info

Published: November 29th 2011
Pages: 416
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi 

Synopsis:
"A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.... 

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, 300 years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end 50 years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules. 

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next. 

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming."
(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite book set in space?



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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Should You Only Post 3 Star and Up Reviews? | Book Blogging Tips (#59)




I've noticed that there is a shocking amount of bloggers who seem to rate everything five stars. 

Every book they encounter is a new favorite, especially the popular books out there that have a huge fan base. 

While I genuinely believe that not all of these people are actually aware of what they're doing and just are easy to please, I also believe that a huge amount of them is just too scared to post a negative opinion online. 

I absolutely know where people who do this are coming from. While I do think that the blogging community on Wordpress/Blogger is mature enough to respect each other's opinions and not throw hissy fits, I've definitely been a victim of people lashing out at me for my opinions.

I'm very active on tumblr, a site that is known for people overreacting over everything. When I was asked about my opinion on SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo, a very very popular book up there that's hyped and worshiped to no end - and told the person that I found it offensive and didn't like it - I was told to kill myself via multiple anonymous messages sent to me. Huh.

It's always a matter of tone

Especially because there's so much anonymity on the internet, people sometimes forget that there's another person at the end of the receiving line. That doesn't only count for messages sent to other users, but also for blogging and reviewing.

As bloggers it is easy to ignore everything else and just pretend you're in your little bubble and post opinions that others might consider offensive. While I'm a strong supporter of freedom of speech, I think this should never be an excuse to be rude. I think we can all agree that there is a difference between writing a one star review respectfully and doing so to purposely hurt someone. 

Authors read reviews sometimes, too. To me, it's perfectly fine to post low rating reviews on your blog, after all this is just a collection of personal, subjective opinions, isn't it? If you're writing a zero star review because the book was poorly written and overall a nuisance to you, go ahead! But don't do offensively. 


Is your blog "genuine" if you rate everything positively?

But another thing that you'll have to consider is that the more negative opinions you post, the more people feel themselves "invited" to chime in and tell you all the reasons why you are wrong. In order to avoid that I can understand that some people refrain from writing negative reviews on their blog. 

To me that takes away your credibility, though. Bloggers are just people who post their opinions online. That's in the definition to me. And if you're one of those that's too scared to post a negative review, I will very likely not enjoy your blog. But of course, this is so subjective. Maybe this doesn't affect your personal reading experiences at all, who knows! It's almost impossible to like everything, and even if you don't actually, your blog will appear that way if you don't have a single one star review up there. Also, let's admit it, sometimes it's just fun to read ranty negative reviews, for me at least!


Do you post negative reviews? 

What's your opinion on people who don't?


More posts on reviewing and blogging culture:

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

[Review] Uprooted - Naomi Novik: Magic, Fairy Tales, and Evil Trees




In UPROOTED, Agnieszka gets taken by the powerful wizard the Dragon and trained to become a witch. Together they try to protect the surrounding villages from the evil forest that's trying to kill everything near it.

What intrigued me: Recommended!

Incredibly Unique

UPROOTED is arguably the most unique fantasy novel to come out within the last two years. It is advertised as based on a Polish folk tale, and I have to say, I really felt it.

It reminded me a lot of the fairy tales I grew up with, but turned dark. 
The premise is very reminiscent of CRUEL BEAUTY, but don't let that deceive you. UPROOTED is not a story about a captive girl slowly falling in love with her rude captor, but more the story of a girl realizing her power. It's a coming-of-age novel if you will, but with magic.

The characters, mainly the Dragon and Agnieszka, are extremely well-written. I instantly loved the Dragon for his cold, mean, and downright condescending personality and adored Agnieszka for being the clumsy, likeable, and brave girl who'd try her best to annoy him as much as possible.

Too Dense?

The biggest criticism I have is definitely the writing. Novik has a very peculiar, unique writing style, composed of lots of descriptions, metaphors, etc. Very much more telling than showing. It reads slowly, taking long paragraphs for something to happen, and I found myself zoning out so often that it took me a catastrophically long time to read this.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, if you read this in your native language this might not bother you as much, and if you like flowery writing, you might enjoy this even more. I personally don't like this and it made it very hard for me to continue, even though I really, really like the story. It's undoubtedly an incredibly unique novel that's very skillfully written and more art than writing, but certainly not for everyone.

There is no way around saying that UPROOTED definitely would have benefited from being turned into a series. Because it is a stand-alone, set in such a complicated, intricate world with so many rules and peculiarities, it is extremely densely written. This just lowered my enthusiasm for it as I was reading, because it is really hard to concentrate when you're constantly being overwhelmed with background information in form of info dumps and flashbacks.

It really feels like UPROOTED is trying to be three books in one, and the relationships just don't come across as genuine as they could have been because the book is hurrying so much. Novik's writing style really doesn't work in combination with so much dense storytelling, sometimes she rushes from scene to scene, sometimes she needs one page to tell one action. Even though I am an avid advocate for stand-alones, I have to say I wish UPROOTED was the first in a series instead.

Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

UPROOTED is definitely not for everyone. It's exceptionally well-written, unique book, but I suggest you pick this up in your native language and for you to be ready for lots of flowery writing. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend UPROOTED, but it's just one of those books that are hit or miss.


Additional Info

Published: May 19th 2015
Pages: 438
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9780804179034

Synopsis:
"Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
 "(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read UPROOTED?

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Friday, June 2, 2017

7 Reasons Why I Prefer Young Adult books over Adult books | #BloggerConfessions



It's not a secret that I love young adult books. Even though I'm slowly but surely starting to be MAJORLY out of the target audience, my love for these books just becomes stronger.

Here are 7 reasons why I prefer YA over Adult books.




7. They make me forget how old I am
I don't know about you guys, but I'd do anything to go back to being 15. I wish I had appreciated it more back then

6. I can relate to them more
I don't feel like a grown up, even though I'm in my twenties, I just don't feel like I'm there read. Reading about high school still seems closer to what I'm doing with my life than reading about taxes and secure jobs I'm exaggerating

5. YA represents *me* more
I'm not trying to say either target group has better books available, not at all! But it's just a fact that it's a LOT harder to find diverse voices and characters of ethnic backgrounds other than white in adult lit, especially Literary Fiction. I feel more represented in the genre.

4. Opportunity to learn from other cultures
Sure, I can just pick up a book set in a different country from the adult section, it's not like there's a shortage of those. But there's no equivalent to a good fluffy YA contemporary with a an ethnically diverse main character. Learning about other people's cultures has never been easier and more effortless.

3. YA isn't constantly trying to prove something
Seriously, sometimes when I read adult books it feels like authors are one-up'ing each other (or at least trying to) all the time. Who's more inventive, who's weirder, who's deeper, WHO HAS WRITTEN THE NEXT CLASSIC. Maybe this is just a thing I think personally, but I feel like most YA doesn't even have that. Nobody's trying to prove anything. Of course there are exceptions to everything.

2. Teenagers accomplishing things!!!
There is something insanely comforting about reading about people younger than me going on crazy adventures and visiting paranormal worlds. I wish I had discovered YA books when I had been younger.

1. Who likes adulting?
I mean, let's be real here: being an adult sucks. For me, YA is more of an escape specifically because it makes me completely forget all the stress that comes with being an adult.

Do you prefer YA over Adult books? Why/ why not?

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

[Review] Three Dark Crowns (#1) - Kendare Blake: Triplets, Witchery, and Wasted Potential

In THREE DARK CROWNS, triplet heirs to the throne must compete in a deadly battle for the crown.

What intrigued me: I love reading about magic!

Misses the Mark So Hard...

THREE DARK CROWNS was so much not my thing that I genuinely wanted to quit blogging over this. There are DNFs and books that don't match your taste, and then there are books that make you forget that you're supposed to enjoy reading. I really wanted to like THREE DARK CROWNS desperately. I didn't though. I really, really didn't.

It's just one of those books that hooks you with a cool premise, but that's that. I expected an action-filled THE HUNGER GAMES style battle to the death, but really just got a slumberous High Fantasy story with a side of blown up insta romance. Kudos to the marketing team here, they honestly exaggerated this so massively, it's hard to even find the connection between the super fun things that the blurb and cover hint at and the actual book.

So much Wasted Potential!

THREE DARK CROWNS is supposed to be a dark, dark story about sisters planning to kill each other for the throne. Actually, it's just a super boring YA romance times three with genuinely zero plot, zero potential to connect or care about the characters, and very peculiar POV choices. I can only describe the writing and execution as extremely irritating. The POVs are all over the place, not necessarily even from the actual sisters, but from random side characters sometimes, and it's a nightmare to even make it past the point where you know who the characters are. I had immense problems trying to get into this, which is why it took me weeks to finish this. 

The magic system and all is fine and interesting. Poisoners, elementals, and people who talk to animals! Sounds fun! I really enjoyed reading about the whole poisoner storyline and Katharine. Poison mixers! This alone could've sold me on this book. I feel like if it had been executed differently and had stuck to one POV, or even just three POVs (of the sisters), I would've felt completely differently about this! All that instant love and lack of action could even just be excused a little if the writing and execution weren't so terribly irritating and weird, and unnecessarily extra. 

The biggest problem I have with this - the story has so much potential that it's just SO frustrating and stressful to see how Blake absolutely doesn't even come close to using it. The blurb is so great, I could actually cry, this is supposed to be a story about anti-heroines and darkness, maybe a bit creepy and vengeful and stabby. But it's none of that. THREE DARK CROWNS is yet another of the gazillion stories about princesses with magical powers that fall in love. That's it. I'm so frustrated and sad.


Rating:

☆☆☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THREE DARK CROWNS is a disaster if you're picky about your High Fantasy and like to form connections to characters. I almost quit blogging altogether over this because it made me forget that reading is supposed to be fun. This wasn't fun in the slightest, the exact opposite of it. Clearly, this is highly, highly subjective.



Additional Info

Published: May 9th 2017
Pages: 448
Publisher: Penhaligon
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9783764531447

Synopsis:
"When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown."
(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read nice High Fantasy lately?



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