Wednesday, 12 April 2017

My Bookish Bucket List

When I was a kid, I always used to make silly little bucket lists, which included things to get me out of my comfort zones. Doing something adventurous, visiting a new place or eating something crazy; these were all deeds I hoped to tackle. I recently saw a Youtube video from Regan, over at PeruseProject, where she talked about her reading bucket list and she inspired me to make my own. Besides a number of books that I want to read, my list also includes some book oriented challenges, which you`ll see later. I also set the challenges during the course of my lifetime, so it is pretty ambitious. Anyways, without any further ado, let`s get down to business:

READING:
  • Read 5.000 books
  • Read the Harry Potter series 20 times
  • Complete the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge (find it here)
  • Read all of Jane Austen`s books
  • Read the complete works of William Shakespeare
  • Read 100 graphic novels
  • Read all of Stephen King`s novels
  • Read all of Neil Gaiman`s books 


TRAVELLING:
  • Go to Shakespeare Bookstore in Paris
  • Visit the Harry Potter Studio in London
  • Sit on The Iron Throne
  • Visit The British Library
  • Shop at Strand in New York
  • Visit The Sherlock Holmes Museum in London
  • Visit The Charles Dickens Museum
  • See a play at Shakespeare`s Globe
  • See the Keats-Shelley Memorial House in Rome


Fangirling:
  • Collect all of the Penguin English Library editions
  • Own all of the books in the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition
  • Have "A Monster Calls" signed by Patrick Ness (in person)
  • Meet Haruki Murakami
  • Take a picture with George R.R. Martin
  • Meet J.K.Rowling
  • Own all of the Harry Potter funkos
  • Meet Harry Shum Jr. and tell him he`s an amazing Magnus Bane
  • Own all of the Game of Thrones funkos
  • Go to a Harry Potter cosplay


I would also like to start a booktube channel in the near future, so that`s one of my biggest priorities at the moment. So far, I`ve spent countless hours on Youtube, looking at editing and filming videos. The real problem seems to be my shyness and the fear that people will make fun of my accent. But I am passionate about it and at some point, I will have to face my fears.

Anyways, let me know in the comments what are some things on your bookish bucket list. Like people you`d like to meet or a number of books you`d like to read. I`m curious to know your answers.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Book Review: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here

I never thought I would fangirl over an author, but Patrick Ness ticks all the right boxes. There`s something very beautiful about his prose, the way he manages to give the most simplistic words meaning. I came across Patrick`s books recently but instantly fell in love with his writing. If you want to hear me gush about his work more, check out my review on A Monster Calls. Anyways, back to today`s review. While "The Rest Of Us Just Live Here" did not have the same emotional impact as the aforementioned book, it was still an enjoyable read. I ended up giving it 4 stars on Goodreads, for a variety of reasons.
The Rest Of Us Just Live Here - Patrick Ness

I think that one of the biggest mistakes that people make when they read this book is to compare it to "A Monster Calls." I`m not going to lie, at the beginning of the book I was expecting the same lyrical prose as well. But this book is witty and sarcastic, poking fun at the Chosen One trope. It has a different message and therefore a different writing style. It may not be as hauntingly beautiful as "A Monster Calls", but it`s still ingenious and well written.

The novel focuses on the background kids, the ones that were not chosen for a higher purpose. And while their life might be ordinary, it`s certainly not simple. They struggle with OCD, bulimia, unrequited love and difficult parent relationships. A lot of the times authors write diverse characters just for the sake of diversity, but that`s not the case with this book. Blame it on Ness` writing, but everything flows together perfectly.

The story is narrated by Mike, a teenager whose OCD threatens to take over his life. This is a book that I would recommend to anyone who wants to know more about mental health issues. Mike`s struggle feels real, even though it`s not central to the story. Throughout the book, Mike constantly feels like a failure, damaged goods that everybody treats cautiously. And I could totally relate to that. Maybe Mike wasn`t an easy to love or memorable character, but he was extremely relatable. When we are young, we often feel out of place and battling mental illness only accentuates our loneliness.

The main reason why I gave this book 4 stars is that I loved the concept, but not necessarily the execution. Although Mike was a relatable character, I did miss an emotional connection. I can`t really pinpoint why, maybe I just found the other characters more compelling. Nevertheless, a brilliant concept and a story I highly enjoyed. I will finish this review with my favourite quote from the book because I do think it conveys an important message.

"Not everyone has to be the Chosen One. Not everyone has to be the guy who saves the world. Most people just have to live their lives the best they can, doing the things that are great for them, having great friends, trying to make their lives better, loving people properly. All the while knowing that the world makes no sense but trying to find a way to be happy anyway."






Saturday, 1 April 2017

Most Anticipated Spring YA Releases

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I am on an extended holiday. Two months, to be more accurate. I haven`t had a proper holiday in years, so I`m taking full advantage of this one. Not only do I plan to travel a lot, but I also want to read a lot. Spring is always the time when publishers bring their A-game and there are so many wonderful book releases, it will be hard to choose. Oh, and there`s also the budget problem. Because not working for two months means that I won`t be able to afford all these new books.  I`ll have to be picky and in that idea, I am bringing you today`s post. After a proper Goodreads browse, I have narrowed it down to 6 books. Like I said, there are more releases coming out, but these were the ones I was most excited for.

CONTEMPORARY:

"Release" by Patrick Ness ( May 4th)
Ness is an author that I`ve discovered recently but instantly fell in love with his prose. I loved "The Rest Of Us Just Live Here" for its originality and wit (review coming soon). "A Monster Calls" is now one of my favourite books. So I have high hopes for "Release". This novel was inspired by Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and Forever by Judy Blume. It`s an intense story that takes place in one day, and it focuses on the life of Adam Thorn. I am guessing that it will be full of emotion and angst, one of the many reasons why I love Patrick`s writing.

"When Dimple Met Rishi" by Sandhya Menon (May 30th)
There`s a lot of Youtube buzz surrounding this book. It`s a funny and touching story about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married. In my opinion, one of the reasons why this book is so popular is the cultural aspect. On one side, you have the people who identify with the characters of this book. And on the other side, you have people unfamiliar with Indian culture and tradition, but who are willing to learn. I think that the plot of this book is very well thought and I`m excited to read it.

"The Upside of Unrequited" by Becky Albertalli (April 11th)
When I read the synopsis of Goodreads, I thought that this is one of the most realistic YA contemporary books I have seen in a while. Molly is a 17-year-old who`s had many crushes, but never a boyfriend. Unlike her twin Molly, she fears rejection and is well-aware of her appearance. Molly sounds exactly like me in high-school, so I`m assuming that she`ll be a really relatable character. From what I gathered the book is extremely diverse, so let`s hope it lives up to the hype.


FANTASY:

"Flame In The Mist" by Renee Ahdieh (May 16th)
A freaking Mulan retelling! How amazing is that? In a world full of Beauty and The Beast and Alice in Wonderland retellings, we finally get a Mulan one. 17-year-old Mariko is the daughter of a prominent samurai and despite her potential, her future has been decided for her. She is thrust into a political marriage, but en route to the imperial city, she is ambushed by a gang of bandits. Disguised as a boy, she manages to infiltrate the gang and she soon uncovers some dangerous secrets. "Flame in the Mist" sounds like an amazing story with a kick-ass heroine and there`s not much left to ask for.

"A Court Of Wings And Ruin" by Sarah J. Maas (May 2nd)
Some people might argue that this is the most important release of 2017 and they might be right. The thing is, I have not read the first two books yet. Blasphemy, I know. But for whatever reason, I thought that this was a trilogy and I was waiting for all of the books to be out. Then they announced more novels, so I`m not sure if this is the last book or not. But I will finally give it a shot. I plan on finishing the first two books this month and then start  ACOWAR when it`s released.

"Lord Of Shadows" by Cassandra Clare (May 23rd)
Cassandra Clare is an auto-buy author for me, even though I never giver her books more than 3 stars. I love the Shadowhunters world, even though I see all of the problematic aspects that come with it. Call her books my guilty pleasure, I have to read them all. 

Hope you enjoyed this post and my recommendations. Let me know in the comments what are your most anticipated YA spring releases.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

3 Reasons Why Caraval was disappointing

Hello, everyone! Today`s review is a bit different than my usual ones, but I hope you will enjoy it nevertheless. "Caraval" by Stephanie Garber was one of the most anticipated books of 2017 and everyone was losing their shit over it. It was featured in so many Youtube videos, I lost count. When it first came out, it had a Goodreads rating of 4.55 stars. But by now, I know better than to give into the hype and I waited a while before reading it. And I am glad I did because this book was underwhelming and quite disappointing. 

Before we begin this review, let me tell you that I have not read "The Night Circus". I think it`s important to mention this, as "Caraval" is often compared to the aforementioned book. So I had no previous expectations before starting this book, other than wanting a magical and whimsical story. Which I still got, amidst its many flaws. "Caraval" is the story of two sisters, Tella and Scarlett, and their hope for a better life, away from their abusive father. Growing up, they heard their grandmother`s stories about Caraval, a magical performance where the audience participates in the show. While Scarlett thinks that their only solution is her impending marriage to a count, Tella has other plans. Helped by a mysterious sailor, they trick Scarlett and get her on the island where the show takes place. Soon, Scarlett gets more than she bargained for and she is thrust into something bigger than she ever imagined. While everyone keeps remaining her that everything is part of the game, Scarlett soon finds out that it`s hard to distinguish performance from reality.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Overall, this looked like my type of book. I enjoyed the plot, the mystery and all the mind-blowing revelations. I adored the quirky island where the action takes place. So why did it end up being a 2 stars read?

1. Insta Love
At the beginning of the book, we get a small glimpse of Scarlett and Tella`s relationship. While Tella is impulsive and childish, Scarlett likes over-thinking stuff. Despite their differences, we are told that these sisters would do anything for each other. That is until a cute boy comes along. 3/4 of the book is spent describing Scarlett`s feelings for the sailor, Julian. Even though he is shady and she only knows him for a couple of days, our protagonist is deeply in love with him. As a happily married woman, I was annoyed by this infatuation (that`s what it really is, let`s be honest) and I wished that the author would have focused more on the plot, rather than Julian`s brown muscles. Why does it always have to be some love story in YA books? In was cheesy and overly done and in the end, it ruined the story for me. So much that at one point I was having flashbacks of old Old Spice commercials, whenever Julian was mentioned.

2. Writing Style
I know that the writing style was supposed to be beautiful and poetic, but it was cringy. Personally, I don`t have anything against long description, as long as they are good. But these were bad comparisons, where everything had to resemble a fucking colour!
“It would have been a mistake to kiss him, yet she felt … disappointed. It came in cool shades of forget-me-not blue, which wrapped around her like evening fog, making her feel hidden enough to acknowledge that she wanted to experience more of Caraval’s pleasures than she would ever have admitted out loud``. 
Now multiply that by 1 million, so you get an idea of how the rest of the book goes.

3.Lack of character development
I am one of those people that prefer character driven books to the plot driven ones. I like to get invested in the stories, hate the villain and root for the hero. And while I did not dislike Scarlett as a protagonist, I was not too fond of her either.  She was this bland and boring person, that falls for the guy who kidnaps her (because, muscles). I also felt a bit of slut-shaming in the was Tella was described, which was not OK. The villains didn`t have a motivation either, though I am hoping that more will be addressed in the sequel.

While I was writing my review, I realised how much this book annoyed me, so I lowered my rating to 2 stars. The premise was intriguing, but the romance and abundance of YA cliches ruined it. I will still read the sequel, even though I don`t have high hopes for it.

Friday, 24 March 2017

My Spring TBR: Top 5 Friday

Hello, everyone! Before I start talking about the books on my TBR, I wanted to make a few announcements. First of all, let`s talk about "Top 5 Friday". This will be a regular segment on my blog, where I talk about various book related topics. I want to improve my content, but I also want to be more consistent with my posts, so a weekly piece might help with that. After many debates, I have decided to make this blog a priority and focus only on it. In case you can`t find my other blog, it`s because I deleted it. I don`t want to get into many details, all the specifics will be addressed in a future post. I also want to start a Youtube channel around September after I have time to adjust to my new work schedule. That`s what`s new in terms of my blogging plans, so now we can discuss my Spring TBR. Obviously, I want to read more than five books, but these have been on my radar forever. 

"Heartless" by Marissa Meyer
I think that I am the last person that has not read The Lunar Chronicles. But I want to get them in hardcover and they are expensive, so it`s not happening at the moment. Truth be told, I saw this copy on sale for 4£ and I caved. Did I want this in hardcover as well? Yes, I did. But when you see a sale price, you can`t say NO. Anyways, this is a retelling that centres around The Queen of Hearts and her origins. It sounds like lots of fun and I am excited to be a part of Meyer`s fairytale universe.

"The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern
I don`t know much about this book, other that it`s magical and whimsical. I could read the blurb on the back, but I kinda want to go in without knowing too much. So many people adore this book, I hope it will live up to the hype. I love anything that deals with magical realism, so I hope this does not disappoint. Also, I found my copy for 1.50£ in a charity shop, how crazy is that?

"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
I feel like this post will get so much hate. Or it will make people think that I`m an idiot. Because I have ignored some of the most popular books of all time. Being overly dramatic, but you get the point. Anyway, "The Book Thief" is another book that I have yet to read. Based on the plot, I know I will love it. But I also have a feeling it will break my heart and that`s why I have been putting it off for such a long time.

"Caraval" by Stephanie Garber
I`m cheating with this one because I have finished reading it a few days ago. But this post was supposed to be up a week ago when I just got it. There will be a review coming soon because I have so many things to say about it! This is one of those cases when you think you love something, but the more you think about it, the more you see its flaws.

"The Shadow Of The Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I have a feeling that this book will end up being one of my favourites. Because I love historical fiction novels. I enjoy a good plot, with some mystery in it. And I am a sucker for Spanish writers. Add some beautiful and meaningful writing and I`m sold.

And these are the top 5 books that I want to read this Spring. Obviously, there are more, but long TBRs feel too constrictive, so I prefer to go with the flow most of the times. If you`ve read any of these, let me know your thoughts in the comments.