March Wrap-up

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I honestly don’t know how to start my Wrap-up posts anymore so here’s a gif of a fluffy cat in a tie with a tiny book and tiny milk bowl and a tiny milk bottle

BOOKS

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Here’s everything I read in March. Seven “full” books, three mangas (that come in different volumes so they count as multiple books on GR *sigh*), three short stories, one webcomic, plus one DNF (Finnikin of the Rock).

Honorable mentions are (links go to either GR or to my review if I’ve done one):

  • A Conjuring of Light, by V.E. Schwab: I loved this book and the whole series so much I still haven’t been able to review this last book at all. I still plan on writing a series review at some point because this quickly became one of my favorites.
  • A Guy/Man Like You (the title translates to “guy” in the comic but everywhere else it’s written as “man” so idk), by Waje: I really love this manhwa! It’s very character-driven and the art is beautiful. It’s still ongoing and each update kills me.
  • Check, Please!by Ngozi Ukazu: you can read this webcomic on this tumblr page and honestly you should because it’s going to heal your soul.
  • Openly Straightby Bill Konigsberg: your monthly dose of coming-of-age contemporary LGBT+ novel that’s funny and sweet and opens a discussion about labels.
  • rock, by Anyta Sunday: a beautiful love story, maybe not for everyone, but it’s definitely worth checking out.
  • fawn, by Nash Summers: beautifully written, magical and free.

Overall it was a very good reading month!

ANIME

I rewatched Yuri!!! On Ice. Yes. Again. In my defense, I was sick and really needed something to cheer me up, and yes, it was still as awesome the 8th or so time around.

I also started rewatching Death Note, which I first and last saw around 8 years ago. I actually also really want to read the manga at some point, but for now I’m sticking to the anime (it also gives me something to do when I don’t feel like reading). I loved it 8 years ago and I still love it now, though I’m not very far into it because I want to savor it instead of binging it for once.

MUSIC


 

I hope you all had a great month! Tell me some of your highlights in the comment if you feel like it!

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Review: The Search for Aveline by Stephanie Rabig and Angie Bee

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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★★★★✩

This book is really hard for me to rate. I’ve settled on the rating I feel represents my feelings the most, but I’m going to try and rate things separately because I feel like it’s necessary:

Enjoyment: 10/10
Characters: 8/10
Plot what plot?: 4/10
Technical stuff: 3/10
Writing: 7/10
Romance: 7/10
Diversity: FIVE BILLIONS/10

(Note that not all points have the same weight in my eyes)
As you see, I was able to completely enjoy this book even though I was aware that some things could have been done better.

Let’s get the bad/average stuff out of the way first:
What I called “technical stuff” basically comes down to one major thing: the PoVs in this book were all over the place. The thing is, they’re so many (I’ll talk about this in the characters section of this review), but that’s not the problem at all, at least for me. The problem is that while each chapter focuses on one/two or a handful of characters at most, it’s never really clear whose PoV it is. Very rarely I got a sense that the narrative was third person omniscient, it seemed more of a case of third person limited where the PoVs switch a lot within the chapter, without a clear separation, and, what’s worse, sometimes that even happened within the same sentence.
Look, not everybody will care about this, but the way my brain works, once I learn about these things (I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t even know about this stuff not too long ago) I just can’t unsee them, you know? There’s just something reassuring in knowing that the whole chapter will be from X’s PoV.

Despite this, I managed not to get too distracted by it and I was able to focus on the characters. I say characters because the plot was pretty much non-existent, but if you know me, you’ll know that I usually love character-driven stories, and this was certainly one of those.

The thing is, the characters in this book were so many and sometimes so random that in theory, this book shouldn’t work. But in reality? It works. At least for me. I wasn’t bored once, I was never confused despite the endless amounts of point of views, even when it wasn’t entirely clear at first how some new characters fit into the story. It was also not always plainly clear whether something was a flashback or not, but it was overall understandable given the context.
This is also a rather short book, and because of that I felt like there was no time to make each character more well-rounded and layered, but what was shown on-page was still a decent exploration of each character’s background, experience and feelings.

This bring me to my next and favorite point, and where I personally think this books shines, and another reason why in theory it shouldn’t work but incredibly it does: the diversity was a.m.a.z.i.n.g., and as I was reading I tried to write down a list of diverse rep within it because it was all too much to keep in mind:

Sexuality/gender:
✓Asexuality
✓Aromanticism (?)*
✓Demisexuality
✓Bisexuality
✓Homosexuality (male and female)
✓Heterosexuality (very little tbh)
✓Pansexuality (?)*
✓Polyamory (?)*
✓Gender fluid character

Faith/beliefs:
✓in God (Catholic)
✓in science and evolution
✓no faith (atheism) [and let me just add that the number of times I, as an atheist, have felt represented in a book were very, very few, and I was so happy to see an atheist character here]
✓not sure (agnosticism)

Mental illness:
✓Bipolar disorder (?)*
✓Depression

As well as various types of disability and all kinds of skin color/ethnicity.

(You should keep in mind though, no sexuality label was actually used within the book, since it takes place in the late 1800s -I’m not exactly sure when, and I might have caught at least one historical inaccuracy, but what can you do-. Still, the various sexualities and genders were pretty much understandable and I tried to narrow them down to labels because I think it’s useful if someone reads this review and wants to know whether they’ll feel represented.)

*(The (?) are because I’m not exactly sure about those.)

As you can see, that’s really a lot. If someone had told me that all those things, especially all the different sexualities, would have fit in a short book like this one, I would have thought it couldn’t possibly work. While you won’t find an extensive study on all of those (though I think quite decent explanations were given about asexuality, demisexuality, gender fluidity and depression), it’s still amazing how the authors managed to squeeze all of that in this tiny book. Sure, there wasn’t space for much else, like an actual plot, but it was refreshing to read about such different point of views, and at the same time I never felt like this book was used as a dump to “show off” how diverse you could make it. The different stories and backgrounds fit together quite well and to me this should be the selling point of this book.

All in all, this was pretty much a whole lot of romance (there’s so many pairings I can’t even count them all off the top of my head to be honest), but they all felt different from each other and I was never bored or felt like things got repetitive.

To wrap this up, here’s another brief list of things that I loved:
• predominantly-female pirate crew;
• Healthy! Communication! Between! The characters!
• everybody respected each other’s boundaries;
• the women were such role models;
• the men/males too;
• basically everyone was amazing for different reasons tbh;
• the different fantastical creatures were interesting and fit well within this otherwise-historical world.

All in all I would say that if you usually love character-driven plots there’s a high chance that you’ll be able to love this book as much as I did!

#T5W: Favorite Angsty Romances

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:

March 22nd- Favorite Angsty Romances
–This topic has been much requested! Talk about your favorite ships that have a healthy side of angst. (definition: adj.: describes a situation or literary piece which contains dark, depressing, angry, and/or brooding emotions from the participating characters.)

I know for some of us seeing the names of the couples in a book/series might classify as a spoiler, so if you don’t want to know about those don’t read this post (I’m going against my interest here but hey, I’d never want to spoil anyone).

So, POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW!!!


If you’re still reading, I managed to round up five series where I feel like the romance plays an important role, but they’re not strictly classified as romance. I’ve just never found an actual romance book to be as angsty as some of the romances that are built in books that classify as fantasy.

Damen and Laurent (Captive Prince)

If you know me a bit, you’ll know this is my favorite series. It features a lot of political intrigue, but it’s extremely romance-heavy, and let me tell you, it’s so angsty and slow-burning it almost physically hurts.

Neil and Andrew (All for the Game)

Okay, this is the only series in this post that is not actually fantasy, but it’s not classified as romance either. And it should’t, because the romance is so slow-burning you don’t see it happen until…well, until it happens (unless you’re re-reading and then you see all the signs). As for the angst, boy, it’s there alright.

Kaz and Inej (Six of Crows)

Many of you have read this duology, so you probably know why the way the romance between Kaz and Inej develops is extremely angsty. To say more would be really spoilery for those of you who haven’t read this, so I’ll just say your heart will break a little bit every time you find out some new piece of information about both characters.

Arin and Kestrel (The Winner’s Trilogy)

One of the easiest way to achieve angst in a romance is make it a tale about forbidden love. This is exactly what happens in this series, and the romance between the MCs is constantly hindered throughout the series for different reasons (none of those are the cliched-miscommunication that often happens in contemporary romances). This is another romance that really hurts.

Karou and Akiva (Daughter of Smoke and Bone

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This is another case of forbidden love, for different reasons and on a completely different level than TWT. The romance starts out pretty heavy in the first book, but as the characters grow and worlds expand, and the series becomes so much more.


I have a question: do you prefer an angsty romance or a “smooth” one? I think for me the most memorable ones are the angsty ones, but once in a while I need something easily shippable and that doesn’t hurt me in the process of reading it.

Review: How to Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Sex and Teenage Confusion by David Burton

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

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★★★★★ 

(maybe more like 4,5 stars)

Goodreads synopsis:

A funny, sad and serious memoir, ‘How to Be Happy’ is David Burton’s story of his turbulent life at high school and beyond. Feeling out of place and convinced that he is not normal, David has a rocky start. He longs to have a girlfriend, but his first ‘date’ is a disaster. There’s the catastrophe of the school swimming carnival – David is not sporty – and friendships that take devastating turns. Then he finds some solace in drama classes with the creation of ‘Crazy Dave’, and he builds a life where everything is fine. But everything is not fine.

And, at the centre of it all, trying desperately to work it all out, is the real David.

‘How to Be Happy’ tackles depression, friendship, sexual identity, suicide, academic pressure, love and adolescent confusion. It’s a brave and honest account of one young man’s search for a happy, true and meaningful life that will resonate with readers young and old.

First off, let me start by saying that if this had been fiction instead of a memoir, probably my rating and my feelings towards this would be slightly different. But because the events in this are real, I don’t feel like it’s my place to judge or even comment on the author’s actions and thoughts, especially when he was a teen.

I really liked the way this was written. It was very straightforward and easy to read, even when the themes it featured were all but light and easy.
I’m not the best person to write a complete list of trigger warnings for this, but I feel like if one’s going to read this, it should be clear that self harm and suicidal thoughts/attempts are mentioned in this book.

The reason why this is not a full 5 stars for me is that the title might be a bit misleading. I never expected this to be a guide on how to be happy, but I feel like, given the title, the part that actually talked about happiness (or not) should have been slightly longer. Instead, it felt a little bit rushed, but it was certainly informative and it made for a good epilogue and offered valid pieces of advice.

Something that could bother someone is the lack of a definite label on the author’s sexuality. I don’t know if he now has found a label he can identify with, but all attempts of labelling himself in the book resulted in actually mislabelling. By the end of the book, he didn’t mention any sexuality-related terms anymore, and I feel like this could be confusing for someone reading this and expecting to find a set definition of the author/character’s sexuality. I understand if that’s how others feel, but as someone who believes that sexuality is (or can be, for some people) fluid, it actually felt refreshing to me to see how one can decide not to stick to any set rule or label if they feel like those don’t apply for them.

Keeping everything I said in mind, I’d certain recommend reading this book. It might surprise you just as much as it surprised me.

 

 

The Sunshine Blogger Awards

I was tagged by Alessandra @thebookishmind more than a month ago and I failed at posting this sooner 😦 Thank you so much Ale for tagging me ♥
I love this tag because the questions change all the time: you just answer the eleven questions you were tagged with, and then come up with eleven different questions and tag a bunch of people that will have to reply to them. Also make sure to tag and thank the person who tagged you so they can see your answers

 

1. Describe yourself with three characters.
Renee Walker, Wylan Van Eck, Adam Parrish.
2. Three books releasing this year that you are most excited for.
The Love Interest, ACOWAR, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
3. What is the last book that you DNF?
Our Own Private Universe
4. One of your 2017 book goal.
I just want to read things that I enjoy, and I won’t put up with books that I honestly feel aren’t going to be enjoyable for me (for example I don’t think I’m going to read Caraval) or that aren’t working for me, even if I’m in the middle of them. So this is probably going to be the year of DNF for me :’D
5. What is the exact number on your TBR? (Not ebook)
Hah. This is a awkward, because most of my TBR is actually in the form of ebooks, so counting those, I have about 100 unread ebooks on my Kindle/iPad.
6. Are you a paperback or an hardback reader?
Neither – I’m an ebook reader all the way! If I’m forced to read physical copies I prefer hardbacks.
7. Who is your last author discovered?
Austin Chant, I loved Peter Darling and I’m definitely curious to read whatever he comes up with next. In the meantime I’m going to have to check out his previous works.
8. Who is your book boyfriend? Why?
Rhysand because he’s the embodiment of how a man should treat the woman he’s in a relationship with; Matt Boyd because he’s not afraid of strong women; Kell Maresh because HOT; Alucard Emery and Nicolai Lantsov because PIRATES,… uh, was I supposed to only choose one?…
9. What is your last bookish-obsession?
I fell in love with graphic novels and mangas! I’d never read many before this year but now I can’t seem to go a week without starting at least one!
10.The Doctor invites you on his Tardis. Where are you going?
This is going to sound really lame, and there are probably smarter answers I could give, but honestly I’d want to meet W.A. Mozart…so around 1780-1790 Austria (but I’m bringing antibiotics and disinfectant).
11.What are your latest TV shows obsession? TOP 3.
They’re not really latest obsessions because, except YOI, I haven’t watched the other two recently, but anyway: Yuri!!! On IceOutlander, Game of Thrones.


My questions are:

1. What is the last book you read until the end but wish you’d DNF?

2. What is one lesson a book taught you?

3. If you could meet any author from the past, who would you meet?

4. What’s your favorite reading spot?

5. What’s your #1 bookish pet peeve?

6. What’s one book you think would work better in a different format (TV show, manga, video game, you name it!)?

7. Name a trope you’ll never get tired of reading.

8. What’s one book you wish you’d written yourself?

9. What’s your favorite person/tense to read (first person present, third person past…)?

10. Multiple point of views or unique point of view?

11. Have you ever changed your mind about a book/author/genre because of a review or discussion you’ve read on a blog or Goodreads? If you did, explain a bit 🙂

 

I tag:

Jess @beaucoupbooks

Leah @unearthingwords

Stephanie @teacherofya

May @sunsetsandbookfests

Liam @heyashers

Emma @adreamerslibrary

I hope you all haven’t done this tag already (I mean, the questions would be different anyway, but I understand if you don’t want to do the tag a hundred times!).
If I haven’t tagged you please feel free to do this tag as well, just tag me so I can read your answers (since I came up with them I’m super curious to read the answers!)

 

#T5W: Favorite Science Fiction & Fantasy 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 seems pretty easy, right? And yet here I am cringing because I had to leave out some of my favorites. For the purpose of this post, I only chose fantasy books where magic plays a role. There are other books I adore *coughs*CaptivePrince*coughs* that can be classified as fantasy because they take place in fictional worlds but don’t have magic in them, so I decided to leave them out. *clutches heart*

In no particular order:

Six of Crows

I’m pretty sure everybody has read this series, and it’s one I fell in love with from the first pages of Six of Crows. I not only love the story and the characters, but also I fell in love with the world it’s set in (which I was already familiar with because I read the Grisha trilogy before this).

A Darker Shade of Magic

I finished reading this series not even a week ago but I knew from book one that it was going to be one of my favorites. It has simply everything I look for in a series, and I’m still trying to collect my thoughts in order to write individual reviews on my goodreads and a series review here.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

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I talked a lot about this series, and I can’t recommend it enough. I loved the writing, the story, the characters, and the way the world(s) in it seemed to expand progressively with each book, thanks to the multiple PoV narrative.

Throne of Glass

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Admittedly, there are a lot of issues with this series. I myself am annoyed with the protagonist and think she hasn’t done nearly enough character development (especially considering that she’s had 6 books to grow), but the fact is that this series has given me so much (and in fact it’s one of the first fantasy series I read in English), and even though I don’t fully like some of the MCs anymore, there’s an amazing cast of secondary (by the 6th books they’re not even secondary anymore) characters. It’s a world I grew really attached to and it will always have a special place in my heart.

The Raven Cycle

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Reading The Raven Cycle has been one of the best things that’s happened to my last year. When I read, I care about characters much much much more than about the plot, and this series is ALL about characters and their individual development, as well as the way their relationships develop. Plus, I found the writing really resonated with me, and I’m planning to reread as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading!

Have you read these series? What are your favorite fantasy or scifi books?

Webcomic review: Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

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★★★★

Some of my favorite stories feature a good amount of angst, moral greyness and Bad Things, and I honestly don’t think I could ever give that up.
But sometimes you need to immerse yourself in a world that’s positive and that shows you that good things can exist, and not everything has to be complicated (irl and in literature) to be good.

Check, Please! is the book comic that has reminded me of this.

There is only one key word here: healthy.
This is by no means set in a fictional world where Bad Things don’t happen, but they (have) happen(ed) off-screen and the relationships portrayed are actual goals.

The story follows Bittle, ex figure skater (can you hear my heartbeat?) turned hockey player, as he joins his new university team. Everyone on the team is all kinds of ‘swawsome (that’s a word) and they make him feel welcome.
Later on, love blooms between the protagonist and one of his teammates and the way their relationship is shown could be renamed “Healthy relationship 101”. It shows all kinds of different situation that normally (in most media) would be the origin of some drama, and instead turns them into a teaching moment (without being patronizing). Because, guess what, most situations are easily dealt with through communication!

That’s basically what this whole story is, it’s obviously very character driven (I live for those) and it can fill your whole day with positivity, which is only a good thing until you’re forced to face reality again.

Other things I loved were both the art (it’s just so adorable and colorful and every drawing has a ton of tiny details – I’m sure it takes a lot of time to draw each one!) and the humor (even though sometimes it references something of American culture -I suppose?- that I’m not familiar with, so I don’t get every single joke, but it didn’t bother me).

Oh, have I mentioned the story is completely free on Tumblr?? It’s also not over yet (this review is written after the episode “Dinner at Marty’s?”) and I absolutely can’t wait to read the next update!
If this ever goes into printing I’m also definitely buying it because this artist deserves to be supported.

(Also I first found out about this comic thanks to Jess @ beaucoupbooks so I want to publicly thank her for bringing it to my attention ♥)