#T5W: Favorite SFF Cover Art

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:

May 3rd: Favorite SFF Cover Art *Booktube SFF Awards Crossover Topic*
— Show off some of your favorite science fiction and fantasy cover art!

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There are many more covers that I love but these were some of my favorite off the top of my head. It’s too bad I don’t own any of them in physical form (they’re all on my kindle and Daughter of Smoke and Bone doesn’t even have that cover but I love that edition). Although I did see The Darkest Part of the Forest in a bookstore the other day and I almost bought it even though it was in Italian and I can’t guarantee I won’t go back and actually buy it since it was one of the best surprises I’ve had this year reading-wise.

Fortunately they’re also all books I loved, except for Flame in the Mist, which was just okay and I’ll review soon.

What are some of your favorite Science Fiction or Fantasy covers? And does the actual content live up to the cover?

#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.

#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 ♥)

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:
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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 ☺