#T5W: Books You’re Thankful For

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:

November 22nd: Books You’re Thankful For
–For whatever reason, big or small.

In no particular order, and not only books because I couldn’t leave my favorite anime out:

Captive Prince

For its love story and all the collateral effects (all positive) that reading it had on my life.

Throne of Glass

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And more specifically Empire of Storms, for a scene that unblocked years of suppressed emotions at the time I needed it.

Harry Potter

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For being my friend in high school.

All for the Game

For telling me I’m not a monster when I was afraid I was one.

Yuri!!! On Ice

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For Yuuri, Victor, Yuri and Otabek, and for more reasons than I could ever write here.

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#T5W: Genre Benders

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:

November 1st: Genre Benders
–Books that defy genre or are hard to place in a certain category.

I love this topic and I love that that’s how I come back to writing a Top Five Wednesday again after months. Here are my picks:

  • Captive Prince is the first book (actually series) that comes to mind, and not only because it’s my favorite. It’s actually really hard to tell what the main marketing genre should be. Political fantasy? Romance? Sort-of historical fiction? It’s all of those really and I believe it’s marketed as something different in every country.
  • The Foxhole Court is also really hard to categorize. It’s about a sport, it deals heavily with crime and crime families, it’s absolutely character-heavy, eventually it integrates a spectacular romance…it’s just impossible to define it.
  • Nevernight is marketed as a fantasy adult series I believe, but it takes heavily from fantasy YA and its tropes and plays with them to create new rules.
  • Kobane Calling is a comic I read recently that’s also hard to define I guess. It’s a memoir, a non-fiction about a very serious topic but narrated with an incredible sense of humor.
  • Evenfall is a book (actually a series) that I’m still reading (not even halfway of book one -of the director’s cut’s version no less), so it’s hard to say yet, but I think it’s hard to put in just one specific category. It’s a dystopian, sort-of military novel, but it’s known in fandom culture mainly for its mlm romance.

I’m sure I forgot many more books that I could have mentioned here! Do you agree with the ones I put in the list? Which other ones would you have mentioned?

Discussion: literature doesn’t exist in a vacuum

I was talking to the lovely Laura @thebookcorps and our conversation inspired this blog post.

(Note: for the sake of simplicity I’m adopting the, ironically for this post, all-American way of using “American” to only mean something that comes from the United States. I’m aware that America is a continent and I hope you all believe me when I say I cringe every time I use this adjective in the, well, “North American” way.)

I am an European, specifically Italian reviewer. The online book community is predominantly American-minded, and with this I don’t only mean that most reviewers are based in the US, but that almost everyone, even not US-based, has acquired a very US-centric approach to judging media, specifically books but not only.

If you are a critical-minded person you won’t take this as an attack on American culture or American readers, but you’ll simply sit back and read a point of view that is perhaps different than your own.

There are two filters that people in the book community apply to literature. One is time based, the other one is culture based. Too many people review and judge a piece of old or even ancient literature through a modern lens. Too many people judge a piece of not American literature through an American or semi-American lens.

That is not only the wrong approach to literature, it’s also (*collective gasp of anticipation from the audience*) p r o b l e m a t i c (*various brains explode in the audience*).

Excuse my rather sarcastic approach to this but I’m so fed up. I blame most of it on the school system. I don’t know how it is everywhere else and I have obviously never gone to school in the US but I have heard my friends and mutuals talk about it enough that I don’t have any problems saying this: the US school system is full of issues at best, and to be reinvented completely at worst.

Yes, I hereby admit that I’ll forever be an “Italian schools are the best” snob, but I have the feeling that you don’t have to have learned in an Italian school to understand that no piece of literature exists in a vacuum, and every book or TV show or manga or whatever is always contextual to the author’s personal, social and cultural environment.

In Italian schools, we don’t learn one subject without it going hand-in-hand with the others. We start high school and we learn our history chronologically, focusing mostly on European history. There are points to be made about us not learning the history of many other countries or continents even, but the thing is nobody can in the few school hours learn every single thing out there, and we learn our history specifically be able to give a context to the literature and the philosophy we learn (again, mostly Euro-centric).

School programs make it so you most likely don’t start reading Plato without having first learned about what was going on in Greece and in Athens around the time he was alive. Not just historically, but philosophically, socially and culturally.

Trigger warning for pedophilia and statutory rape mention in the next three paragraphs:

Do you know what was fully integrated in ancient Greek culture? Paiderastia, the act of adult men having sexual and erotic relationships with pubescent and adolescent boys. Specifically in Athenians laws, this act was regulated by the fact that the boys had to consent, but the law itself set no limit to the age of consent.

It wasn’t the same in every city and it wasn’t the same in every time period, but you’ll find pieces of literature where this practice is mentioned and talked about as a no big deal (because obviously it was part of their culture, so it wasn’t a big deal to them).

Now, if you apply the modern filter to reviewing any piece of such literature, you’d say something like, “I hate this, the author condones pedophilia and/or statutory rape. It’s disgusting that something like was published.”

You certainly may do that, but you’ll ridicule yourself in front of everyone who reads your review who is able to put a piece of literature in its original context. By all means, say which trigger warnings apply so that readers are aware of them going into it if they decide to read it. But distance yourself and your cultural and modern-day values from this piece written by humans who lived more than two thousand years before you, who shared almost none of our modern thinking in many aspects and not just the one I used as example here.

The same thing can be said when we’re judging pieces of modern literature through our cultural background, when it doesn’t match the one of the author. It’s a little more nuanced in this case because in modern times some values are (or should be) universal, but for example we can’t make blank statements about racism as if it’s exactly the same everywhere in the world. Racism in the US is very specific and unique and it sits on hundred of years of  slavery and colonization but it’s not the only type of racism out there. Racism in Europe exists and it exists among white people too, but any time an European tries to explain it, the obligatory American reader will jump out of their shell and scream that said European is being problematic, and will start USplaining Europe to them.

Now how about we all take a step back and analyze ourselves and the way we view literature? It’s okay if we don’t understand or can’t put ourselves in the shoes of someone whose background is completely different than ours. I’ve DNF’d books because literally nothing of what I read spoke to me and it was too alienating when my whole reading experience was about reminding myself to view things through an US-based lens because that’s where the author who wrote it comes from. But I realized that the problem was mine and I tried not to speak above the voice of the author or the many reviewers who found their own experience reflected in said book (I’m talking about Juliet Takes a Breath btw).

It just seems to me that everyone else in the world automatically views American media (not just books) through a self-imposed filter of American values that aren’t necessarily their own. That alone speaks of the sheer power that American media has in the world, and I’m not here to judge whether that’s well-deserved or not. But when it comes to doing the same, Americans and people used to mostly (if not only) consuming American media don’t seem to make an effort to understand the context and the value of a non American product.

They go as far as remaking non American media such as movies and even anime (the Netflix Death Note anyone?????) thinking that it’s okay to take ANY story and make it American.

Now who’s being problematic? Who’s erasing and appropriating cultures? Who’s speaking above the voices of those who say “please don’t speak about my own values and culture, let ME talk about them”?

I fear if I go on I’ll just ramble more than I have already done, so I’m stopping here because I believed I made my point clear.

I’d love to hear everyone’s point of view on this, whether you live in the US or not, so please come talk to me in the comments!

September Wrap-Up

Hello! I’m just going to call myself out and proclaim it a miracle that I actually remembered to do a monthly wrap up on the actual last day of the month, yay!

So here’s what I read this month:

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That really isn’t much (don’t mind the two 3x in the short stories, those are just the times I’ve read them this year -but only once this month!) but I’ve had a busy month between moving, travelling, getting sick (twice!!!!!!), starting to play Persona 5, starting to watch Voltron and writing. It’s really hard to balance everything but I’m overall happy with how much I managed to read (I also am almost done with Tower of Dawn but I will finish it tomorrow so it sadly didn’t make this list).

So let’s take a look:

  • Fortitude Smashed was a weird read for me, really cute overall but it was ruined by a few things that were really unnecessary.
  • Kings Rising completed my fourth reread of the Captive Prince series and it was as painful as ever! It emotionally destroyed me and began patching me up again, something that only the two short stories:
  • The Summer Palace and The Adventures of Charls the Veretian Cloth Merchant managed to do. These two short stories are both so different and so cathartic that I can’t believe there was a time when we had to read the trilogy without having those stories ready to be read.
  • Scorpio Loops Virgo was an epilogue of sorts to Cal and Percy’s story from Scorpio Hates Virgo, and it was just the sweetest thing I’ve ever read!
  • As I said, I’m almost done reading Tower of Dawn, so while that will be a topic for next month’s wrap up, I just want to say that I love the Throne of Glass world and even after the disappointment of ACOWAR I find myself mostly enjoying this book. However, there are undeniable representation issues that I don’t think it’s my place to talk about. I still haven’t read any review for it but I’ll make sure to look for reviews of disabled people because I feel like they will rightfully be offended by how certain things are handled in this book.
  • The last thing I read is chapter one of Starfighter, a M/M scifi webcomic I just started today. I only read one chapter out of four (five?) available but, well, it’s certainly a weird read at first sight, but I couldn’t stop reading and the last page made me want to read the rest. You can read Starfighter here, but please be aware that it features very explicit content and you should be 18+ if you want to read it.

I also DNF’d Masks by Amara Lynn because it was, how do you say…bad.

I already talked about the other stuff I did this month, so let me just wrap up this post by reminding you about Fence! You can read my pre-review/discussion if you want to get excited for it, and here you can find out how to pre-order it based on where you live in the world. Sadly I’m not paid by C.S. Pacat or Johanna the Mad to promote their comic before it’s even out, but I’m literally THAT excited that I want everyone to know about it and die of anticipation with me.

I’ve never liked September but I also always found that it’s a month of new beginnings. I count last September as the month I started reviewing books regularly – technically I had started in August but I only thought of myself as a reviewer one year ago exactly, and next month will be my one year anniversary of this blog!

So tell me, what do you think I should do to celebrate? Granted I will be away on holiday for two weeks in October so any celebration will have to wait until November. Please let me know if you have any ideas and tell me something new you’ve done this month!

End of Hiatus (life update!) + Hiatus Wrap-Up

Hi everyone!

Wow, I’ve actually missed this blog a lot. But I also feel like this time away from it rekindled my interest in blogging about books and not just write reviews on Goodreads (which I kept doing while on blog hiatus).

I really felt like I needed some time off an activity (blogging) that I know I enjoy in order to explore my passion in doing other things too, so I sacrificed bookblogging because I knew I would get back to it and enjoy it even more, while other passions needed my full attention in order for me to integrate them in my routine in a way that would be permanent. Does that make sense? I don’t know, but it made sense to me.

It wasn’t just about my passions though! I moved to another country just this past week, so I’ve had to get prepared for that, physically and mentally. Now, because I’m here and I still don’t know how things will work and how my week will look once I find a job (sigh adulting) I actually don’t know how active I will manage to be, but I have queued a few reviews of books I’ve read this summer that I want to have on my blog too (although you can always read reviews of every single book I read on my goodreads), plus all the tags I’ve been neglecting (aehm, shoutout to Laura who kept tagging me ♥) so there should be at least one post a week.

But let’s talk about books because that’s what we’re all here to do.

Here’s my hiatus wrap up, just in picture format because it’s every book I read since June (and the ones worth talking about are getting full reviews here soon).

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Well, well, well. I wonder if these books follow a trend? Yes, yes they do.

In June (pride month) I promised myself to only read LGBT+ books, and I realized it wasn’t much of an effort at all. And the thing is, I was already reading mostly books that featured LGBT+ characters, and that’s what I kept doing all summer. Which brought me to realize that this is what I’m “known” for (not that I’m famous but whatever). It’s just that every one of my mutuals on twitter and my friends on GR know I mostly read those books and I realized that I don’t mind that one bit and that my blog should reflect that. So, once I’m fully back, this blog will feature discussions surrounding LGBT+ lit, LGBT+ representation in books and media, as well as the usual reviews of LGBT+ books.

All I can say is that I’m really happy that I found a.. niche? where I fee comfortable, both reading-wise and (book)community-wise, plus it brings me joy to help (often younger or much younger) readers find books where they might feel represented (or warn them to avoid others if the representation in them is bad or harmful).

Of course I’ll also review any book I feel like reading regardless of that, but that’s the direction I feel make the most sense for me.

I’m pretty sure none of the people who follow me will be bothered by all this, but just in case, well, you’re free to leave.

With all that said, I’m looking forward to keeping up with this blog again and I hope you’re all doing well (plus if you wanna tell me about your summer -or winter for some of you I guess- I’d love to hear what y’all were up to while I was away) ♥

Burn, Rewrite, Reread Tag

I was tagged by Emma @ A Dreamer’s Library quite some time ago and I’m finally getting around to write this! Thank you so much!

The Rules:

  1. Randomly choose 3 books (Tip: use the ‘sort>random’ option on your Goodreads’ Read shelf)
  2. For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread (a lot like Kiss, Marry, Kill)
  3. Repeat until you completed three rounds (or six)

Round 1

Burn: This is a no-brainer, I’d burn Down: Portal by Glenn Cooper. I can’t remember much, except that while the idea was cool, the execution sucked. I didn’t even like book one in the series too much, although it had some interesting elements, but this sequel is so stupid it’s not even worth “rewriting”.
Rewrite: I wouldn’t say I’d want to rewrite all of it, but there are some parts of ACOMAF I’d definitely change. If you’ve read my review of ACOWAR, you’ve see some of the problems I had with it, and while I didn’t reread ACOMAF recently (I originally gave it five stars when I read it last year, but my tastes have changed so much) I’m willing to bet that if I reread it now I’d find the same problems I had with ACOWAR, especially when it comes to the “steamy” parts *cringes because she didn’t find them steamy at all*
Reread: As if I need an excuse to reread one of my favorite series of all time 😀 Well, it’s obvious I would and will reread The King’s Men by Nora Sakavic (I in fact have reread the whole trilogy in January/February this year). I really miss the Foxes of PSU and I can’t wait for the pain that my third reread will bring (why are we readers like this?)

Round 2

Burn: I’m sorry but I didn’t like Flame in the Mist and among these books it’s the one I wouldn’t mind burning.
Rewrite: I loved the Girl in a Box series when I read it three years ago. I can’t remember much about it except that it’s really, really long but I binge-read it in just a little bit over a month. I wasn’t as much of a critical reader back then as I am now but I’d say if I read it now I’d find some things in the writing that I’d like to change. I even gave Untouched four stars instead of the five I gave every other book in the series so I probably must have found something I wanted to change.
Reread: I’ve been meaning to reread the Gli Invisibili series for so long! It was one of my favorites (together with Harry Potter) when I was a kid, and I remember Gli Invisibili e la Strega di Dark Falls was my favorite one. I was obviously still a kid so maybe I’d find it awful now, but I’d still read it because I like feeling nostalgic of good things. The only reason I haven’t done it yet is because I can’t for the life of my find book one (it must be somewhere in my house, unless I lent it to someone back in school and forgot and never got it back…I really don’t know). It’s too bad the series is only in Italian because I never find anyone who has read it!

Round 3

Burn: I’m probably going to readers hell for this but I’d burn Pride and Prejudice PLEASEDONTKILLME! I read it a couple of years ago and I liked certain parts but it was so boring and difficult to read (please remember that English isn’t my first language so I had some issues with this because it was written so long ago). Out of the three books above it’s the one that has given me the least in terms of enjoyment, so it’s a burn. *watches followers count drop while sad music plays*
Rewrite: Despite all the flaws I might find now, the Throne of Glass series has given me so much that I would never hate it no matter what. I’d rewrite the first book to fix the character problems (Celeana being described as a ruthless, bloodthirsty assassin…while we’re being shown that she, in fact, isn’t ruthless OR bloodthirsty).
Reread: I definitely would and will reread The Raven King (and the whole series) because it has some of the best characters I’ve ever read about (Adam and Ronan are character goals tbh)

This was really fun to do! I don’t really know who has done this tag already so I tag anyone who wants to do it!

#T5W: Books That Would Make Good Video Games

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:

April 12th: Books That Would Make Good Video Games
–Since I’ve been in video game hell (in a good way) for the past year, this topic is timely. Remember, not all video games are action games! The Sims has proven that 🙂

love this topic! I haven’t played much lately but I love video games and I totally see how certain books would work really well in that format. Even if it’s not even Wednesday here anymore (I’ve had a busy day and didn’t manage to write or pre-post this) I needed to put this out here.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Ever since the first few pages of Illuminae I thought it reminded me of some video game setting, specifically some kind of mashup between Portal 2 and Soma.

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Soma was way too scary for me to play lmao

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Portal 2 started me to video games tbh

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

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While reading about this at some point I realized I was imagining the settings as Skyrim locations, and the world in this book is so full of characters and places that I wouldn’t have trouble seeing it as a similar video game.

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I lost years of my life playing Skyrim and I regret nothing

The Grisha trilogy

I tried to imagine this as a computer game but I couldn’t see it. Then I thought of my beloved Nintendo DS games and I thought that this would look great in such a graphic. I’m thinking something like Radiant Historia.

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I loooved this, it’s such a unique concept for a video game (but I didn’t like the battle system too much – mainly because I suck and I found it a bit too difficult)

Virals by Kathy Reichs

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I’m trying to come up with some game whose graphics/gameplay could work for Virals but I can’t come up with anything right now. Maybe some point and click like The Walking Dead? I don’t know to be honest, but I do think it would work out great in some kind of video game.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

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I was having a hard time trying to find a fifth book/series for this post, so instead I started thinking in reverse (I thought of a game first, and tried to see if any book came to mind that might work similarly), and since Persona 5 just came out it was the first game I thought about, and I started thinking that TRC also has a group of high school students that have to do with some paranormal stuff. And the cards??? Wow. It fits so well.

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I only played Persona 4 and I loved it (never finished it though  ;_;)

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I reeaaaally want to play Persona 5 (I’ll have to take advantage of my BF’s new PS4 :3)