February Wrap-Up

Hello everyone!

BOOKS

Excuse another wrap-up featuring a screenshot (plus a very poor Paint job) but I don’t feel like posting a picture of each individual book I read this month!

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Admittedly I haven’t done a great job at reviewing these on the blog, but (here is my monthly-excuse list): 1) I was in the middle of my AFTG re-read, of which I have a full series review, and there was no point in reviewing the books again; 2) I plan on doing a series review of Shades of Magic, but since I haven’t finished A Conjuring of Light yet, that will have to be in a March post.

I’d say I really enjoyed everything I read this month, and while I was sure I would like Shades of Magic, I really didn’t expect to love it as much as I am! Another great surprise was Peter Darling  by Austin Chant, which I’m already dying to reread.

I’ve also read two mangas:

  • Hachimitsu Darling was a very short and very sweet one, plus it involved a kitten and I was sold on page one;

  • Himegoto Asobi was a kind of similar manga as Hachimitsu, but much longer and even though it was still 5 stars (probably more like 4,5?) I found I wouldn’t have minded it if it was slightly shorter.

And a short story, The Prince of the Moon by Megan Derr.

Despite the short month, I know I could have read much more than this, but I spent a lot of time reading YOI fanfiction (yes, I’m still deep in that hell), plus February has been a really tough month for me. I know I seem to say it every time, but that’s just how things have been lately (on top of things I also have the flu, yay!).

 

MUSIC

I’ve listened to more or less the same stuff as I always do:

Plus a few new things:

And a few old favorites I hadn’t listened to in a while:

  • The entire Marina and the Diamonds discography;
  • Così fan tutte by Mozart (here’s something you might not know about me: I was born a classical music lover, and only later started discovering modern music): it’s one of my all-time favorite operas and they were playing it at my local theater, so I went to see it twice ♥

 

GAMES 

The only game I played this month is Pokemon Go, and I didn’t get to play it nearly as much as I would have. Sadly, after they released the second generation, I’ve been down with the cold first and then with the flu, so I’m waaay behind on my Pokemon trainer goals :/

That’s all for this month! How’s everyone been doing? I need some positivity so I’d love if you left me a comment with one positive thing that happened to you in February ♥

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#T5W: Books to Get You Out of a Reading Slump

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.

(Admittedly it’s not Wednesday for my anymore, but I had very little time to write today, and when I did WordPress wasn’t working? I don’t know if I was the only one who had problems, but one way or another here I am at 2am :/)

I could mention specific books that I know would work for me, but I think it’s more useful for me to mention general categories of books that I find the easiest to avoid or get out of reading slumps:

Retellings

I think finding a retelling of a story you love and/or are familiar with is perfect to get you to read when you’re not feeling like it (or more likely when you don’t know what book to start).
An example for this would be Peter Darling by Austin Chant (I feel like I’ll never shut up about this book, sorry not sorry).

Contemporary

Normally I read more in the fantasy genre, but contamporaries are generally easier to read and to get into at first glance. I used to have a problem with them for so long but it turned out it was just a matter of finding the right ones. I generally enjoy LGBTQI+ contemporaries more, just because I find that they (usually) feature less relationship stereotypes and drama, but really it’s just a matter of finding the right author.

Different formats (poetry, manga..)

Looking back at my January wrap-up, I’ve read so many books with formats that are unusual (at least for me). I don’t think I was in a reading slump, but I still felt kind of restless when it came to reading and I just felt like reading manga a lot. I think those are perfect (if you enjoy the genre) to get you out of a slump, and even if you’re like me and can’t read multiple books at the same time, the different format should make it easier for you to pick up more than one book.

Your faves

Rereading our favorites is something we often want to do, but then we see our TBR pile and start a new book instead, almost out of obligation. But there’s nothing worse to get you into a reading slump than picking up something you don’t feel like reading in that moment, so if you feel like you want to reread one of your favorite books you should just go for it.

Anything as a buddy-read

If all else fails and you really want to make a dent in your TBR pile, I suggest you get a reading partner (they’re super easy to find on goodreads, either among your friends or within groups), so that you feel almost obligated to keep reading (or at least to start reading). This probably doesn’t work for everyone and for every kind of book, but I still think it’s worth a try.


 

On another note, I know I haven’t posted much lately (though I try to post something at least once a week), but I’ve really been having a hard time lately with IRL stuff. I won’t apologize for it because 1) I don’t expect anyone to notice with what frequency I do or do not post; 2) I think even the things that we like (in this case blogging) should be set aside when we’re not feeling them or we’re more concerned with more pressing matters. It’s okay to take some time off, and I want this to be a reminder to anyone who might need this (and to myself as well).

Review: Peter Darling by Austin Chant

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: today! (Feb. 15th, 2017)

Goodreads synopsis:

Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

TW: suicide attempt, improper use of personal pronouns (I don’t know if the latter counts as triggering but better safe than sorry?).

Let me get something out of my system first of all:
W
O
W
Okay, now that that’s out of the way: wow. I was completely blown away by this short book, which was a couple of firsts for me: mainly first trans story and first Peter Pan retelling.

Actually, I have to admit I didn’t know the first thing about Peter Pan, that is, if you don’t count the Disney cartoon, which I’m going to assume is not a very accurate representation (and even though I loved that cartoon as a kid, I kind of grew to hate it and its story over time).
Despite this, the premise of this book sounded like something right up my alley, and I’m glad to confirm that it was indeed a perfect book for me.

I just love retellings that turn the stories upside down and make them new with refreshing ideas, and the fact that in this book Peter’s assigned identity was Wendy made me click that request button on Netgalley so freaking fast.

As always when I’m feeling so hyped about a book, I’m also really scared once I do get to sit down and read it. What were my particular fears for this one?

– since it’s such a short book, I was really afraid that the romance (or the whole story) would have felt rushed (I was really dreading the much-hated insta-love);
– I thought that not knowing the original story would make me like this book less.

Well, I’m glad to say that both fears had no ground to exist.

First of all I want to address the pacing of this book: it’s only 140 pages short, so I really thought there would no room for things like subtlety and introspection, but it managed to give me both of those, together with everything I look for in both a fantasy and a romantic book.

The fantasy: while the essence of Neverland’s magic itself wasn’t explained, there was a very satisfying explanation for at least part of the things that happened there (it’s kind of a plot twist so I won’t go into detail)
I also loved how the fairies were described as having different shapes and colors and the role they played in the story (they mainly served to move the plot forward but they were also interesting enough that I was genuinely curious to find out more about them), and the other mythical creatures like the merpeople and the kraken were such good additions to this story.

Peter’s backstory: having read the blurb, one already knows who Peter used to be, but it’s something that gets gradually revealed in the first part of the book, and in a very delicate way, at least in my opinion. I know the author is trans himself so I trust him to have done a good job in this particular aspect. Not having experienced the struggle of a trans person, I still found myself crying in certain parts of the book and I felt real pain whenever Peter’s brothers or parents called him with his birth name and used the female pronouns to talk to/about him.
As per author’s decision, there is no big reveal/coming out between Peter and Hook, and I think that worked out amazingly.

Peter realized he was waiting for some kind of probing curiosity in return-some remark on what Peter sounded like, or worse on his body-but James’s only encroachment on the subject was to say, “Your shirt has seen better days. Would you like one of mine? Assuming all my clothes haven’t been eaten by moths.”
All at once it became easier to breathe. “Yes,” Peter said. “Please.”

The romance: let me demonstrate in .gif form my feelings about the romance:
description
You can’t expect me to be rational about my absolute favorite romantic trope (enemies to lovers). Plus we all know I have a thing for pirates, right? Right.

“I win,” he panted, grinning. He slowely lowered his sword to aim at Hook’s heart. One thrust, and it would be over. Peter wet his lips with his tongue. “This is it. You’re mine.”
“Am I?” Hook asked, as Peter drew back his sword. “Or are you mine?”

This romance was perfect and healthy. It wasn’t too sudden or rushed, I genuinely felt like it had reason to exist and I loved everything about it.
For example, I love how Hook seems to understand Peter in that way that sometimes only your enemies tend to do.

“I find that enemies are the most satisfying people to share secrets with,” Hook said. “If you must tell someone, tell someone who’s sensitive to all your vulnerabilities, on account of trying to exploit them.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“I’m making excuses for you,” Hook said impatiently. “You seem like the type to bottle up without an excuse.”

Both my BR partner and I were squealing so hard and honestly I’m glad I wasn’t reading this alone because I was in serious need to vent my feels™ about these two.

“Obsession?”
“Is that not what they call it,” Hook said, “when two men can think of nothing but each other?”

Other things I enjoyed:

The pacing: it was mostly consistent throughout the book and, while I noticed that things were kept as brief and as necessary as possible, it didn’t impact my reading experience (I’m one who usually prefers a slower pace). There was even some room for exploring a little bit of a secondary character (Ernest) and I quite enjoyed that.

The (eventual) dual PoV: if we don’t count the prologue, we get some chapters from Hook’s PoV only after The Twist happens, and I think that decision was spot-on. I really think his PoV allowed us to enjoy the romance a lot more and to see Peter under a different light.

The last thing I want to say is that this was a perfect story to read on Valentine’s Day ♥

As you can see I loved loved  l o v e d  this book and I’ll make sure to keep an eye on the author’s next works.

January Wrap-Up

I’m so late with this post! I should have timed everything better but I somehow always end up forgetting that the month is coming to an end.

BOOKS:

I’ve already read a total of 20 books that count towards my reading challenge, but as you can see below (I had to screenshot this because I’m lazy) a lot of these are either mangas or short stories.

I also DNF’d three books, which is an awful lot if you ask me:

  • Saga, vol.1: I didn’t exactly find it bad, but I just wasn’t interested in reading it at all. I chose not to rate it because I didn’t read enough of it.
  • Gilded cage: I’m so sad. This was a book I was so looking forward to, and I had even managed to snatch an ARC of it, but I just couldn’t do it. What I mean is, I could have finished it, but I’ve decided to adopt a policy of if I feel like it’s not worth it,  I’m not going to stick to it because life is really too short. You can read my review on GR to have a better idea why this wasn’t for me.
  • Our Own Private Universe: TFW you want to read a sweet, lighthearted LGBT contemporary romance but it quite honestly sucks is not a pleasant one.

But let’s come to the books I’ve actually finished.

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I reviewed some of these on the blog already and I’ve reviewed all of them (or I’m in the process of reviewing) on goodreads. I can’t talk about all of them, but here’s a short list of my favorite:

  • Illuminae: I wanted this book to be my first read of 2017 and I couldn’t have made a better choice. I have a written a GR review that doesn’t make much sense and I’m still too emotionally unstable to make a proper review that would suit this blog.
  • The Summer Palace: This is a short story/epilogue to the Captive Prince trilogy and it’s probably the best thing that happened to this fandom. I’m kind of proud of my review for being among the top ones, and I want to reread this short story right now. If you’ve read the entire Captive Prince trilogy you definitely have to read this one.
  • How to Repair a Mechanical Heart
  • The Darkest Part of the Forest
  • Blood Bank: I’ve been thinking about it and I think this might be the first full manga (okay, it’s a manhwa, but still) I’ve read in my life, and it probably completely ruined my future experience with any other manga I’ll read from now on because it’s too beautiful and pure for this world and I don’t know if anything will ever come close to it. Due to its content, it’s definitely not suited for everybody, and I have to admit some of it makes me slightly uncomfortable, but if you’re not new to the genre I absolutely recommend checking it out!
  • The Song of Achilles: I haven’t been able to write a proper review for this yet. I’m getting tears just thinking about this beautiful book. It’s a story that means so much to me and it’s one of the most painful books I’ve ever read. I wasn’t able to stop crying and I couldn’t even see the words on my Kindle anymore because of it. I ugly-sobbed for hours and still do whenever I think about it.
  • The Foxhole Court: this is a re-read (I’m currently re-reading the next two books in the series) because the best books are the ones that hurt you. I have an extremely messy review on gr and a slightly better blog series review here, so do what you want with those.

Besides all of these, I’ve read so much Yuri!!! On Ice fanfiction it’s ridiculous. I’ve probably read more than one book worth of fanfic this month alone and since it’s a relatively new world for me I was positively impressed with the quality of many works.
All in all I can say this has been an excellent reading month for me!

I usually have a section here for shows/anime and music but I’ve been an extremely boring person and I haven’t watched or listened to anything new this past month! I’ve only tried watching Haikyuu and after the first two episodes I haven’t felt like continuing, but it’s not its fault. In fact, I liked the first two eps, but I think I’m just not in the mood for watching anything lately and I’d just rather read than watch anything, you know? Are you ever in such a mood?

Also, I’ve done a lot of buddy-reads and they’re honestly the best! I didn’t think I was cut out for BRs because I’m such a mood reader that I wasn’t sure it was something that would work for me, but it was just a matter of finding the right people to read with!

Now this is where I get slightly political so I don’t blame you if you just skip this part.

I want to keep this a book blog obviously and I don’t feel like I’m qualified to speak about much else, but there’s so much awful stuff going on in the world that I feel like I should say something about it, but at the same time I don’t even know where to start.
In case it’s not clear, yes, I’m talking about Tr*mp, who is a literal piece of shit. I’m obviously not in the US, and quite frankly I’ve lost interest in even visiting it as a tourist long ago, but for what it’s worth I can honestly say a lot of people here overseas are feeling scared. It’s only been a couple of weeks and it already seems like everything is going to hell.
I don’t know what I can do as an European citizen, except retweet every piece of useful info I can find and restate my support to every minority – although, given that countless minority groups plus every single woman are being targeted…we’re not really a minority anymore, are we?
If you live in the US, please think of your safety and well-being first. If you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed, reread that book that made you smile like an idiot. Take a hot bath. Marathon that anime. Recharge. You will have more energy to fight tomorrow.

#T5W: Current Favorites that Aren’t Books

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.

This week’s topic:

February 1st: Current Favorites that Aren’t Books
— Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from books and talk about some other things you’ve been obsessed with. These all don’t have to be in the same category. Mix it up! What TV shows have you been enjoying, makeup you’ve been wearing, food you’ve been eating, etc.??

Okay this is going to be fun because, as much as I love talking about books, it’s nice to share something about me other than that. Hopefully it’ll be interesting to read as well!

I just went with the first five things that came to my mind – probably not the most creative post out there but since I like to talk about other things (music, anime etc.) in my monthly wrap-ups (I’m totally behind with my blogging so I still didn’t post my January one! Shame on me!), I decided to exclude those things here.

 

FAVORITE SOCIAL NETWORK(S):

I can’t really decide between Goodreads and Twitter so I’m going to cheat and include them both!
Goodreads is where I can talk extensively about the single books I’m reading and keep track of them; it’s where I found virtual friends with similar bookish tastes who have almost become family by now; it’s where I can write a silly or short review (something I feel like I don’t want to do here on the blog) when a book has left me in such an emotional state that I can’t possibly think of writing a proper review.
Twitter is where I can connect fast and super easily with anyone in the world, be it my favorite authors or random people I found through our common fandoms. Twitter friendships are slightly different than GR ones, but I really am fond of this way of finding new people through fandoms.

FAVORITE MAKE UP:

I haven’t been wearing a lot of make up lately (when I do it’s usually only mascara and sometimes lipstick – I only go for the “full face” look for special occasions), but I recently found these Lush colored lip balms (for half-price!) and I find them such a great option for winter.

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You’d think a colored lip balm would offer little color, but these are so pigmented that I have no problem calling them lipsticks. Despite being technically lip balms, they’re not too creamy, which means the colors doesn’t move around too much, but they also offer more moisture than a normal lippie. They’re probably not extremely long lasting, but they do leave a stain for a couple of hours or until you eat, which is something some people hate – I personally don’t mind it since I trust Lush’s ingredients.

FAVORITE WINTER LIFESAVER:

I always get extremely dry hands in winter, and after having gone through endless hand creams to no avail, two years ago I found what works perfectly for me.

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Alverde Körperbutter is technically a body butter, but I’ve been using it mostly as hand cream and it’s the only thing I’ve ever found that works in the long run and not just while you’re using it. Also it’s not oily at all so it’s perfect even during the day. The only downside is that it’s only sold in a German drugstore (dm, which is actually also in other countries but sadly not in Italy), so I have to stock up whenever I’m there.

FAVORITE TEA:

I’m a self-declared tea addict and my friend fueled my addiction by giving me this lemongrass black tea for Christmas, which I’ve sadly almost finished already. I’m going to have to buy it again because winter is still long and I need my tea.

FAVORITE FANDOM:

This is a difficult one because I feel like it’s almost a tie between the Captive Prince/All for the Game (I’ll talk about them and why I cound them as one in a minute) and the Yuri!!! On Ice fandoms, but after some consideration I think it’s safe to say that the CP/AFTG one is my favorite one. That is not to say that the YOI one isn’t! It’s my second-favorite after all, but I feel like what makes it great (its size) is also why I can’t put it as #1. Inevitably when there’s so many people in a fandom there has to be someone who doesn’t agree with something or goes overboard (if you’re in the fandom, I’m mostly thinking, for example, of the whole Otayuri ship deal – feel free to ask me for my opinion in a comment because I don’t want to make this post too long and off-topic).
((There’s one thing where I find the YOI fandom better though, and that’s fanfiction! There’s so much of it and there’s something for every taste, so I’m happy I get to mention it here in this blog post too.))
The Captive Prince and All for the Game fandoms are relatively smaller and I count them as one here because often who has read one series has also read and enjoyed the other. And when I say “enjoyed”, I really mean suffered, because these two series are so emotionally painful to get through, especially if you’re alone. Fortunately Twitter and Tumblr are great outlets for one’s feelings during/after these series, because one can see a lot of fanart and there’s literally tons of people (strangers!) ready to help you through them. I have never seen such a supportive fandom, and the fact that often people have read both series means that there’s already a solid base for a virtual friendship, which is awesome!

What are some of your random favorite things lately? If you’ve also written a T5W post leave me a link in the comments, I will check it out for sure ☺