December Wrap-Up

Has really another month passed? It felt really short this time around. Oh well.

BOOKS:

(All titles lead to my reviews, either on goodreads or on the blog)

  • Le cose così by Labadessa: this is a short graphic novel by an Italian artist who has become really popular on Facebook, posting his ironically philosophical comics whose main features are the yellow background and the fact that its characters are birds. It’s a must-read for any Italian millennial.
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  • L’amore di Audrey by Alessia Esse
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  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch: this book took me a very long time to read, as I explain in my review. I really liked it and its characters, but I’m also pretty sure I won’t continue this series.
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  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: it was my first RR book and I loved it so much! Her writing style really resonated with me and I’ll make sure to read more of her books.
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  • Carry on by Rainbow Rowell
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  • Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat
  • Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat
  • Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat

    I reread (okay, I’m still currently reading Kings Rising, but whatever, I’ll finish it before the new year) these for the 3rd time wihin the past six months. That’s perfectly normal, right? Yes, yes it is. It’s my favorite series and I wanted to finish the year on a good note. Also I’ve been buddy-reading them with a friend (it was the first time for her) and she loved them so much, and there’s no better feeling in the world than having your friends love your favorite books!


SHOWS/ANIME/MOVIES:

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Yuri!!! On Ice and Skam were really the only things I’ve been watching, so nothing really changed from last month. Sadly the current seasons are both over, and while I’ve been able to let Skam go, I’m still riding the YoI wave, in form of fanfiction (reading and writing), obsessive fanart search, countless re-watches. Tell me I’m not the only one.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so involved in a fandom (which is, btw, so amazing and supportive), and the feelings Yuri!!! On Ice has given me are so real and positive. It’s exactly what I (and many of us) needed.

MUSIC:

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Not much has changed for me in December, with the only exception of the YoI soundtrack having being released. I’ve been listening to it for weeks now and I love it. It has so many different genres and if you don’t feel like listening to the whole thing you can just loop one or two songs that go well with your current mood (or for whatever activity you’re doing).
Basically, it’s safe to say that YoI has taken over my life in every possible way, but I don’t regret it at all.

 

How has your month been? Did you find any last-minute favorites for 2016?

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#T5W: Characters You’d Invite to Your New Year’s Eve Party

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started and I discovered through the lovely Samantha‘s videos. If you’re interested you can join the goodreads group to get the topics for each week.

Big parties aren’t really my thing, but here’s a few people I really wouldn’t mind having over for New Year’s Eve (in no particular order):

Kenji Kishimoto (Shatter Me)

He was one of the highlights of this trilogy and he’d be the one making everyone laugh.

Nicky Hemmick (All for the Game)

Nicky would be the one bringing the booze (even though you told him you still have his vodka bottles from last year) and he too, like Kenji, would be the person to go to if you need a laugh. Except the things he says are so cringeworthy you’d regret it after two minutes.

Blue Sargent (Raven Boys)

Look, if I were to host a New Year’s Eve party (but any kind of party really), I’d want everyone to feel comfortable, and since I’m a huge introvert, I’d want to have someone that I can talk more serious topics with, and Blue Sargent is the kinda gal that I feel would be perfect for that.

Laurent (Captive Prince)

I’d invite him anywhere to be honest. He’s the kind of person that will tell you the (most likely very lewd) story of how he acquired the dress (I’m still waiting for that story in canon btw) one minute and talk intellectual topics the next. He’d also drop some really heavy swearword bombs that would make everyone blush and wonder how the hell does this man even know these things. Also he’d try really hard not to drink anything because he knows he doesn’t do well on alcohol, but at midnight someone would push a champagne glass in his hand and he’d be like what the hell *shrugs* and down it.

Nikolai Lantsov (Grisha trilogy)

He’d mingle with everyone, noble (like Laurent -also headcanon: they’d make the bestest of friends) or not, and where Nicky would bring the cheap booze, Nikolai would bring the good, expensive stuff. At around 2am he’d tell a really long story about his time at seas, and at first he’d only have a couple of people as audience, but by the time he’s done with his story everyone still at the party and sober enough to stand would be silently listening to him.

BONUS: Yuuri Katsuki (Yuri!!! On Ice)
(but really everyone from the anime)

There was no way I wasn’t going to mention YOI in this post because honestly it’s been my life for the past two months. If you watch it and especially if you’ve seen episode 10, you know why I’d invite Yuuri to a party where there’s alcohol.

(speaking of which: would anyone be interested in a Yuri!!! On Ice review/discussion/endless gush kind of thing? I mean I’ll probably write it anyway but I want to hear your thoughts ♥)

Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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★★★★

I started Carry on at 3am right after finishing Fangirl. My hype for this book was already very high, but after reading about Simon and Baz in Fangirl, it literally skyrocketed.

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Goodreads synopsis:

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here – it’s their last year at Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a love letter to love stories and the power of words – to every ‘chosen one’ who ever had more on their mind than saving the world…

The thing is, you can read this book without having read Fangirl first. But my personal advice would be to read Fangirl first if you think you might want to read it in the future anyway, because it will give Carry on a lot more context.

Carry on is such a meta book. Let me explain it a little bit:

-“Simon Snow” is a fictional series within the world of Fangirl, written by the fictional author Gemma T. Leslie. In Fangirl, seven out of eight of the canon books are out, and the eighth is about to be released.

-In Fangirl, the main character, Cath, has been writing Simon Snow fanfiction her whole life, and is one of the best known fanfiction writers online. She starts writing her own “eighth book” with her own headcanon, wanting to complete it before the canon book is out. The title of her eighth-book fanfiction is “Carry on, Simon“.

-Rainbow Rowell was so taken with these characters that she wanted to write her own Carry on, so she wrote a book that is a work of fanfiction within a book she wrote, and that in the real world is kind of like her fanfiction of her own characters.

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Kudos if you’re keeping up. Anyway.
See it as fanfiction or not, this reads as fanfiction. And I say that in the best way possible.
But I think it’s something you definitely need to keep in mind when thinking about things like world building and pacing: this book is a standalone that needs to give the reader enough context to understand what happened in Simon and Baz’s previous 7 years of magical school, and in my opinion it did a great job.

Now about the plot: is this whole book supposed to remind you of Harry Potter? Yep. Did it bother me? Hell no.
Look, the “canon books” by Gemma T. Leslie are a Harry-Potter-style books. They follow Simon (Harry), the Chosen One, in his years in Watford (Hogwarts), while fighting the biggest threat to the magical world, the Humdrum (Voldermort), while also being stuck with a roommate he hates, Baz (Draco). That’s how Raibow Rowell created this world in Fangirl, when she probably didn’t know she was going to eventually publish her own SnowBaz book. At that point it’s not like she could have changed it to make it look like it wasn’t a Harry Potter rip-off. And honestly, having read Harry Potter my whole teenage years, this book felt so familiar and it made me feel at home.
So, the plot was overall predictable, but, as with most fanfic, what you’re looking forward to the most is the romance. And it was just the best. The way RR writes kisses and cuddles is something to die for, let me tell you. And these boys are so #precious you just want to #protect them.

In a parallel universe, where I have endless time for reviewing, I’m quoting every single thing I highlighted in this book. Which is basically EVERY (HIGHLY SPOILERY) THING. So in this universe with finite time (and finite review space), I will quote NOTHING although my fingers are itching to do so. *cries*

The writing style was superb.
The best thing was how you could see Simon’s feelings (that he doesn’t even acknowledge himself) through the writing.
Crowley, I love this book so much. I predict it will be something I’ll want to re-read again and again for a long time. Me and this book, we match.

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Review: L’amore di Audrey (Audrey’s Love) by Alessia Esse

It’s no secret that I’m Italian and that means that sometimes I happen to read books in my mother tongue. Duh. The problem comes when I want to actually review them because my blog is in English. I’ll leave here my Italian review in case some of you can/want to read that.

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★★★★

(Actual rating 4,5 stars but I have no idea how to do that graphically oops)

I received an advanced copy of this book by the author but that didn’t influcence my opinion.

I rarely read contemporary books, but I’ll read anything that Alessia Esse comes out with, thank you very much. I loved her dystopian series La trilogia di Lilac and I’d probably read her shopping list if she publishes it.
The thing about L’amore di Audrey, but about any of her books really, is that they teach you something. Does it matter that you’re an adult and you probably know those things? No. Because sometimes knowing things is different than really knowing them, and a book might be what helps you with that. You let the book speak to you because you know the book is not there to speak to you. You know it’s not judging you, and it’s easier for you to let its words sink in and do their job of opening your eyes.
This is what I feel all of Alessia’s books (but especially this one) do.

Furthermore, this is, in a way, a book about books. The protagonist, Audrey, owns a library in New York City, and one of the other characters is an author with writer’s block. Books about books will forever be one of my favorite things, because, before finding this amazing community online, they were my first gateway into seeing my feelings about books and reading reflected somewhere. They made me feel like I wasn’t alone (which is something you tend to do when you’re a rather solitary kid who enjoys reading), like someone else in this world understood what I felt.

This is obviously also a really romantic and spicy book, but if I’m honest I cared much more about the things I previously mentioned than the actual romantic element in it. Regardless, the romance was sweet and it featured realistic elements, things that can happen to any of us.

I’ll keep reading whatever Alessia Esse has in store in the future (and in the meantime I might reread her first series and hope it’ll get translated to English because more people need access to it ♥)

The TBR Tag

I couldn’t really find who the original creator for this tag was, so please if you know let me know in the comments so I can credit them 🙂

I’ve seen this tag on Jess @ beaucoupbooks‘s blog and I felt like doing it, so here we go 😊

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

Goodreads obviously! It’s really easy to use in its basic features and I’ve been using it long before starting to write actual reviews.

Is your TBR mostly print or ebooks?

Mostly ebooks because they’re cheap and I have no space 😛

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

I mostly go by mood and mood alone. Recently I’ve been joining buddy-reads with some online friends and that means I might not be in the mood for the book we’re currently BR’ing (or that I might not be able to read a book that I’m in the mood for because of the BR), and that’s been messing up with my brain a bit xD also I’ve “had” to read some books for reviewing when I would have normally waited a bit longer before picking them up.

A book that’s been been on your TBR list the longest?

That has to be Lord of the Flies, just because it’s the very first one I’ve added when I joined GR, but I guess it’s just one of those books I’ve lost interest in since I added it, and I just can’t bring myself to remove it.

A book you recently added to your TBR?

The very last book I added on GR is One by Sarah Crossan.

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

The first time I saw Gilded Cage by Vic James I was attracted to the cover, and then I actually got interested in the book itself by, you know, reading the blurb. Lol.

A book on your TBR you never plan on reading?

Beautiful Disaster and Paper Princess are on my “My friends say it’s crap” GR shelf 😉

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

I can’t really choose between these two so I’ll have to cheat and add them both: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. They both sound like amazing LGBT books and I’m overly excited for them *heart eyes*

A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read but you?

There are so many I guess, but the most popular and hyped lately has to be Illuminae (and Gemina). But I have them both and I’ll get to them soon-ish.

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

Lately my friends buddy-read A Darker Shade of Magic and its sequel and they’ve been telling me I need to read it, and I really want to! But there’s so many books on my TBR and I’m feeling a bit (a lot) overwhelmed at the moment 😦

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

This has to be Carry On! I need to finish reading Fangirl first but I’m so excited to get to it right after! 😍


If you’d like to do this tag consider yourself tagged ♥

#T5W: Series That Got Worse with Each Book/Season

Phew, I’m so glad this week’s topic specifically says to pick our answers from TV shows too. To be honest I’ve had a hard time with this because almost all of the book series I’ve read so far have actually gotten better with time.

In no particular order:

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

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I really enjoyed this first book but I remember being extremely disappointed by the next two. They weren’t all bad (there were many things I still enjoyed in the last two books) but there were definitely things that I didn’t enjoy about how the plot developed.

Once upon a time

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I really love this show and I think I enjoy it more when I know the story that it’s trying to retell, so there are some seasons or half-seasons that I enjoy more than others, but other than that I think a lot of the recurring characters’ (those that were there since Season 1) stories are getting old and I don’t enjoy them anymore. Rumpelstiltskin has been going from bad to good to morally grey to definitely bad since the first episode and it’s just boring. If it wasn’t for books occupying all my free time I’d still watch the show (and maybe I will at some point) but right now I can’t bring myself to try watching the newest season.

The Walking Dead

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I’ve loved this show a lot in the beginning. I’m not overly-obsessed with zombies (but somehow I’m pretty sure I’ve watched almost all of the zombie movies out there -how did that happen?) but I think the premise in this show was great. I didn’t exactly plan to stop watching this but somewhere along the way I did (I think I’m missing two seasons?), but maybe I’ll try picking it up again.

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

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This series didn’t exactly get worse with each book, but I’m really struggling here to find books that fit. I loved each book from this series, but there’s something about this first book that was too precious and interesting not to be dearly missed in the next two: I’m talking of course about the mystery surrounding who the Prince and who the Assassin were. Of course the reveal needed to happen within this first book, but I have to say it was just too much fun to keep guessing and second-guessing for most of book one. So it’s not that the next books were inherently worse, it’s just that they necessarily lacked this element that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I don’t really have a fifth one (even though I’m sure as soon as I post this I’ll come up at least ten more).

Review: The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

 I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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★★★★

Release date: January 10th

I’ve been following Elise Kova’s work since this summer, when I found the Air Awakens series, and I loved those books to pieces. When I found out she was coming out with a new high fantasy series I couldn’t wait to put my hands on it, and my curiosity has been fed throughout these past few months because of all the interactive stuff Kova does for her followers. If you don’t know about it, she has a Tower Guard group on facebook (born to promote and interact with readers of Air Awakens) and she created the Guild Games to promote The Alchemists of Loom, the first book in the Loom Saga.

The world building in this book is much more complex than in Air Awakens, and to me that’s a plus point. Despite its complexity, I was never confused about it, and the information was given gradually throughout the book (yay for no info-dump).
The world is also very unique: it’s a mix of steampunk+fantasy+magic and yes, it’s as glorious as it sounds.
There are two races in this world: the Fenthri and the Dragons.
Fenthri reside in Loom and are pretty much human-shaped, except they have grey skin and they age a little bit differently than us (they’re adults around 15 I believe).
Dragons live in Nova are definitely not what you would think. They’re also mostly human-shaped, except they have claws and fangs and their skin is colorful (like, blue or red/orange) and they age much more slowly than Fenthri. And, well, they’re ruthless like the dragons we all think about when we hear the word. Also, they have magic. I won’t say much about the magic system because I think it’s better to find out more about it while reading this, just know that everything is really, really cool.

The plot was never slow and it went hand in hand with the character development; in fact I would say that this first book is pretty much equally plot- and character-driven.

Something else I loved  is the multiple-PoV format (3rd person): Arianna, Cvareh, Florence and Leona have very different perspectives, backgrounds and motives. Their voices are so distinct that you can never forget whose PoV you’re reading, and their characterization is excellent.

Arianna is a protagonist with a troubled past, like many other heroines of YA literature. And yet she feels completely new and original. She’s not a girl, she’s a woman who knows what she can do and  who has a mission she is willing to see accomplished no matter what.

Florence is a literal cinnamon roll Arianna’s pupil and friend and their relationship was one of the best things of this book. I love books that portray a healthy female friendship and I believe it was done very well here.

She’d [Arianna] spent most of her life without the girl. But now she couldn’t imagine a world that didn’t have her in it, and she would fight tooth and nail to keep her there.*

Cvareh is a Dragon and my new bookish boyfriend. I can say I loved him from page 1 (well, he wasn’t on page 1, but you get what I mean), he’s  such an interesting character and I hate that I don’t want to give too much away in this review because I need to talk about him. I’ll be generic and say that one of the best things about him (BUT THERE ARE SO MANY) is how he doesn’t perfectly fit the gender stereotypes that we are all fed since birth AND THAT’S SO GREAT AND REFRESHING.

He also brings important messages like this one:

You judge me for the actions of my entire race. You see me as a Dragon before you see me as a man. You ignore my good will and attempts at peace, only looking for banners of war between my words. And when you find none, you invent them, so that I better fit your expectations.*

I love his relationship with both Ari and Flo. They are from different worlds so they’re bound to have some differences and their first moments together are not without issues, but you can’t expect it to be otherwise.

There is also romance in this book, although it’s not the driving element. But it is there and it’s hot. So hot.

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To sum it up: I am really excited for this book to come out and gain the success it deserves. It was one of my most anticipated releases and I’m so happy that I got to read it early.

 

 

*All quotes come from an early copy and might be slightly different in the finished, published edition.

Remember, if you preorder this you will receive bonus swag!