Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Simon has always had an inkling that he was gay. His sexual awakening to Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter should have been proof enough and his disinterest in two girlfriends might also have been a clue. But it isn’t until Simon starts anonymously emailing another guy in the school that he really comes to the realisation that he likes other boys *cue rainbow show and a massive pulsating pink heart*. When someone accidentally comes upon Simon’s emails his private life and sexual identity is at a risk of being exposed.  Even worse, Simon doesn’t want to out his secret admirer.

The author is a cis het white female so I was very sceptical going into this book… I was ready for misrepresentation, a lot of clichés and stereotyping. But overall it was cute and surprisingly unproblematic! The representation of different ethnicities and topics were handled so well without creating an overly idyllic utopia. Albertalli has beautifully mastered the art of writing stories that won’t offend as well as analyse problematic aspects of our community. For example, whilst maintaining an lgbtqai+-positive homophobia was still introduced as an existing concept.

So, you guys know I fucking abhor books in first person but this was so well done!! And I think it was important to write this book in first person because it put everyone’s opinion of Simon as a side note. We are reading a story from a gay person’s pov and although he does feel the pressure of homophobia the story was more focused on Simon’s internet relationship. The characters were all very well developed and I love them all very dearly. I’m just gonna shout out loud now because I want to discuss them all with you but THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A NON SPOILER REVIEW!! (But gaaaah I loved Leah so much and her personal character development was so heart warming. I was totally Leah when I was in school, high school, college, and now in Uni…)

I finished the book in one sitting in the matter of a few hours! It was incredibly easy to read and kept you on the edge of your seat despite being contemporary fiction with minimal action. Some of the dialogues will stay with me forever because of how iconic they were… My mind kept screaming “Becky with the good hair coming thru” because everything from homophobia, finding your identity, and just plain old high school existential crisis were handled with such care and realness. Very tangible story that will warm the heart of the meanest demon.

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

This book has been everywhere the past few months! Every book store, every booktube video, every book blog and on my mind. When I walked into the English Bookshop one day it was glowing and calling me so I had to get it. Although I put it off for a few months I felt like I picked it up at the perfect time. Work was chaotic and the book offered short witty chapters. The story isn’t complicated; a nobleman, his half-black family friend, and sister go on a trip around Europe for the summer. A privileged white male gets checked and his ass handed to him as he begins to realise how good he has it in the society compared to his companions. It deals with a lot of important themes such as homophobia, verbal and physical abuse, depression, and alcoholism.

Henry “Monty” Montague has been kicked out of schools and sternly reprimanded by his father for his… let’s call them sexscapades. The young gentleman is rather scandalous with his love for both men and women, our bisexual king has risen! Although he is reckless and drinks and sleeps around his heart beats solely for his best friend and half-black family friend, Percy. Why is it important to mention he is half-black? Because the book is set in the 1800’s, so basically his mother is a slave and his father is some sort of slave owner and that is incredibly important to acknowledge! Everyone sees Percy differently and throughout the story it is made abundantly clear for Monty just how prejudiced people are of black people and women. And I find that quite interesting and amazing!

In earnest, the book reads more like a fanfiction than a book. The characters are quite adorable and so multifaceted and it makes the plot twists mind blowing but also kind of understandable. It’s like when your mother tells you it’s raining and you go out and you’re still surprised by the rain, that’s exactly how the book felt like.

The writing was too ambitious in my opinion. The story is very simple and centred to these few people, therefore I felt the grandeur of the language was a bit too much. Albeit, people spoke in that manner back then it felt a bit superfluous. Despite the sexscapades and bare tits and all it still felt like a YA Historical Fiction with emphasis on the “YA” bit. I kept feeling like it would be incredibly hard to read for non-native English readers. Therefore, I’m reserved from recommending it to my international friends…

Another reason I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have was how long the book was… Unnecessarily long. And YES the font was quite big but to read 513 pages is quite daunting either way. It truly felt like a fanfic that was going to go on, and on, and on, and on… Ultimately, it reached an end but not a satisfying one. My final goodreads thoughts were:

Personally, I found the main character incredibly childish. Although, that was the entire premise of the book it kind of got a bit annoying. Especially towards the end when the protagonist was made to have a “revelation” that was.. just as childish as everything he had said or done previous to it. I don’t know… maybe I’m bitter I wasn’t able to write a letter like that to my parents when I was his age?

Therefore, it get’s 2 stars from me and just for how it dealt with important and still current topics!

 

Spookathon 2017!

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Finally fall, am I right laid ease! It seems to be every readers favourite season and I can’t say I don’t enjoy the orange and brown hues the weather brings. I’ve been quite slow with blogging this summer and it’s mostly due to my heavy work schedule. I’ve taken on a bunch of extra shifts and not had time to recover from my cold.

However, I have still been slowly reading and watching booktubers. And I’m so excited for this years Spookathon!

spookathon dates
october 16 – 22, 2017
spookathon challenges
1. read a thriller 2. read a book with a spooky word in the title 3. read a book based on a childhood fear 4. read a book with orange on the cover 5. read a book that has a spooky setting

The books I will be reading for this challenge are:

9780553841107.jpgI’ve been meaning to read this book for… well, ever since it came out! The synopsis of Night Film by Marisha Pessl is right up my ally and I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it. It’s a thriller, following investigative journalist Scott McGrath as he looks into a suicide he believes to be foul play. Considering the whole synopsis, it also does seem to have a spooky setting. So, this book will hopefully tick off two out of five of the spooky challenges.


The Amityville Horror tells the real story of a family that moved into a house where a mass murder had occurred and fled after 28 days due to the paranormal activity that was plaguing them. I kind of hate this kind of shit, because something similar happened to my family and I was living in the room where the previous owner had shot himself. The blood wouldn’t be scrubbed out of the wall and would seep through paint. It was so fucking weird and then it got to a point we just had to get the hell out of there. This book definitely has a spooky title and orange on the cover as well as being based on my childhood fear. I don’t think I will read it because I’m just so scarred and scared of what happened and still sometimes happens wherever I fucking move. Maybe I’ll write a post about how much paranormal shit happens around me one day. But, I still want to read it because we do have it at home and my sister absolutely loved it!


If I don’t read The Amityville Horror I’ll definitely pick up Carrie because it’s another horror book with orange on the cover and kind of based on my biggest fear as a kid which was being killed by someone with supernatural abilities. The title isn’t that spooky but… I’ve heard Carrie is pretty spooky so it will have to do! If you haven’t heard about this book, it’s about a girl that gets pushed to her limit and takes matters into her own supernatural abilities. I’ve heard it’s gory, scary, and absolutely amazing, typical Stephen King fashion.

The Final Empire: A Review

The-Final-Empire-by-Brandon-Sanderson.jpgThe Final Empire is the first instalment in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. It follows a thieving crew on their most dangerous heist yet. Led by the charismatic and always smiling Kelsier, they begin planning to overthrow The Final Empire ruled by the oppressive dictator, the Lord Ruler. The Final Empire has its people divided into two categories; the noblemen which are preferred by the Lord Ruler that carry out the oppression of the skaa that are slaves, workers, and the poor people within the Empire. The two can never mix and you can’t go from being skaa to nobleman or the other way around. The reason for the strict segregation being the Allomantic powers that the Lord Ruler has granted the noblemen. Allomancy is the ability to burn different sorts of metals to produce powers. Controlling one power makes you a Misting, controlling all metals makes you a Mistborn. Kelsier, the main protagonist is a rare exception, he is a skaa Mistborn making him half nobleman and half skaa that are hunted by the Canton of Inquisitors.

Kelsier is very powerful Mistborn and incredibly fascinating and credulous despite all the responsibility he has taken on. He is the main protagonist in the book and travels amongst the skaa plantations to riot and recruit rebels for his cause. His moral compass is stubbornly and sometimes questionably due north. Despite being a good man he is a ruthless fighter and assassin. For example, he finds the second main character of the book, Vin, in the hands of an abusive thieving crew leader and kills him off. He is heroic, but the line between heroic and vengeful is thin.

Vin is small in figure and in presence due to the harsh conditions which she had been forced to grow up under. She begins the story as a scared and young female survivor and finishes the book a strong and powerful warrior, both parts making her an amazing and well rounded character. He character development is one of my favourite of all time. If there is one thing Brandon Sanderson has done right, it is to write an abused female survivor. He pens an incredibly clever and dynamic figure that manages to stretch herself every which way to survive. Unfortunately, other female characters placed in similar situations as Vin in other fiction books, are always handed a male character that will save them. Although Kelsier is the one to physically remove her from the abusive situation she is in, her survival is never undermined. And another thing I just cannot thank Sanderson enough for is the lack of her sexualisation! Can fantasy writers – ehm, ehm, GRRM, ehm – take notes? Having suffered fear of rape, Vin is never treated or viewed as a sexual object by the mainly male cast in the series. The crew tease her for not being a proper lady, because she is made to imitate one, but there is an understanding by the crew why it is safer for her to act boyish amongst thieving crews. They all take her under their wing and treat her so good, my fucking baby deserves it! I’m gonna cry.

Another interesting aspect of Vin’s character is how Sanderson utilises her perspective to introduce us to the world that The Final Empire exists within. We learn about Allomancy, the noblemen and skaa, all from her perspective. In this way, the complexity of the world was made incredibly easy to envision and understand.

Sanderson is an accomplished author and he writes fight scenes so perfectly it’s like having them played out in front of me. But I’m sorry and saddened to say, he can’t write dialogue for shit, which comprises most of Vin’s interaction with her love interest. For example, Vin’s relationship with Kelsier feels more genuine and still throbs inside my brain because of how deep and special it is. Their interaction is subtle, never that much dialogue passes between them, and Sanderson grips and twists us into them by his descriptions. His writing, pure description and story telling, is so fucking good that it almost makes it okay that his dialogues are shit. But since the main romantic relationship is built on dialogue it kind of makes me reluctant to give it 5/5.

 

GRISHA Trilogy: A Complete Review

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The GRISHA trilogy is set in a poor country by the name of Ravka, a land geographically divided by a mystic land called the Shadow Fold inhabited by Shadow-creatures and plagued with darkness. The Ravkan kingdom is protected against its northern Fjerdan enemies and southern Shu Han enemies by two different armies that fight side by side. One army is under the protection of the king, whilst the other is lead by The Darkling. The Second Army is comprised of Grisha, which are people with special powers. Our story begins in the first army, where the orphans Alina and Mal end up as they grow up. When they are forced to cross the Shadow Fold and the Shadow-creatures close in on them, Alina’s Grisha-abilities flare up to save them. Her abilities turn out to be different than anyone else’s making her alike only one other person, The Darkling. This friendship introduces her to many new people and drives other old friends away but Alina is put at odds on more than one point.

One of the best aspects of the story are the characters, a writing trait that carries into Bardugo’s Six of Crows. Alina and Mal are a protagonist duo I won’t forget for a long time. I love how Bardugo de-dramatises love and relationship in the face of the end of the fucking world! It’s quite rare to find a book where female characters are written with a bit of sense and I know it’s appreciated by a lot of fellow readers. Although love is made to be all-powerful it’s not messy or sloppy or problematic. An amazing realisation Alina makes is when a male character she is infatuated with kisses another girl and she gets upset with the girl. Instead of having a grudge and following in the footsteps of other books it surprised me by explaining how dumb women hating women is. ALINA, YOU’RE DOING AMAZING SWEETIE!

Siege and Storm, the second book in the Grisha trilogy, was probably my favourite out of the three especially because of Sturmhond, one of the best characters in the series. The story started out in Novyi Zem that I have been looking forward to read more about ever since I was introduced to Jasper in Six of Crows! What made the book such a solid 5/5 read for me was the dynamic between Alina and the male characters surrounding her. It was heavily reminiscent of that scene in The Crown where Prince Charles refuses to Queen Elizabeth by asking “Are you my wife or my queen?” and her reply being “I am both, and a strong man would be able to kneel to both.” FUCK IT UP, QUEEN! Despite teh fact that everyone acknowledges Alina’s power and progress by the second book, there is still some patriarchal confusion which she crushes easily. The second installation is a strong as fuck book as well as the most feminist and anti-patriarchal part of the trilogy and I loved it.

The third book was where it started going so and so for me… The plot twists and turns were great, amazing, unmistakable perfect, but the rest and the in between kind of dragged. Some of the things I thought should have been resolved in the first book, there were too many things kind of crammed into the book that didn’t belong to the story. It felt a bit forced, especially when it was placed in the middle of the book, almost as if to fill out the pages. But it did leave the last third of the book for other issues to be resolved that were many… The wrap up was well done, many things fell into the right places but, I still feel like the end was too simple. I wanted way more and way more deaths but I bet other readers were satisfied with the end that was happy and positive. Well, I’m just a pessimistic mess and only death can cure my soul…

It is hard not to compare it to Six of Crows especially since it’s within the same universe. My mistake was to read SoC before this Grisha-trilogy which kind of made the series… underwhelming. Six of Crows is my favourite YA fantasy of all time, OF ALL TIME! Therefore, I found myself feeling that the trilogy kind of dragged and that the language was dull. The ending did nothing for me and if it weren’t for characters like Alina, Mal and my favourite protagonist Sturmhond then I probably wouldn’t even have bothered to finish the series. The book was heavily plot- and character-driven, the plot was okay and easily to predict. The plot made it feel more middlegrade than YA and as much as I love middlegrade I was in the mood for something more… adult.

Ultimately, I think the series was really good. Probably a 5/5, but due to expectations from previous reading and lack of current interest in genre it demoted it to a 4/5.

Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy, Publication date: June 5th 2012, Rating: starstarstarstar/5

shadow-and-bone_hi-res-677x1024.jpgShadow and Bone, written by the immensely talented Leigh Bardugo, is the first installation in the Grisha trilogy. It introduces us to orphan girl Alina and her childhood friend Mal in a made up country heavily influenced by Russia, Ravka. In the middle ofthe country there is a dark rip where creatures live. When Alina and Mal make the dangerous trip, Alina discovers a power she never knew she had. Along with her discovery of Grisha-power, a group of people with different abilities called the Small Science. She is quickly rushed to the castle to be introduced to the king of Ravka and to hone her skills. But leaving Mal behind begins to tear her apart, will the mysterious Darkling be able to fix her wound? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out!

Leigh Bardugo is without doubt currently my favourite YA Fantasy writer. Her language is simple yet she manages to toy with your emotions and change your perspective numerous times within a sentence. I don’t know how to explain it but her writing completely strips the reader of their reins and she forces us into her narrative. It’s kind of freeing not having to make up your own mind about different plot twists and characters. Having just finished A Game of Thrones where the entire series is dependent on how you choose to read into it, this was a refreshing relaxing book to delve into.

The plot was solid and followed a simple and straight red thread. Leigh Bardugo is an amazing FANTASY writer but not an equally amazing ROMANCE writer. The “relationship” scenes felt forced and were wholly unexpected. There was no natural flow between what was going on, what the main character was seeing, and what suddenly was sprung on the reader.

Having read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom first, easily her best writing, easily THE best piece of YA Fantasy out there, the characters fell kind of flat in comparison. I really do sympathise with the main characters and their friends but I was more drawn to the plot rather than the characters. The characters weren’t boring or uninteresting, I actually really like Alina and Mal and the Darkling and everyone everyone everyone! The plot was more interesting and engaging than the characters. For example, in The Raven Cycle it’s the complete opposite, where the characters are the driving force of the book whilst the plot is mildly interesting.

However, this was an amazing start to the trilogy and I have already picked up the second installation in the series, Siege and Storm!

A Game of Thrones

Genre: High Fantasy, Trigger warning: rape, abuse, violence, Publication date: August 1st 1996, Rating: starstarstarstarstar/5

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A Game of Thrones is the first book in the series of A Song Of Ice And Fire by George RR Martin. If you live under a rock I’ll give a quick summary of the story and then delve into deeper themes of the story.

The story is set in a fantasy universe where winter and summer last for years. In the start of the series they are having one of the longest summers they have ever experienced of almost ten years. In preparation for winter the King’s council are responsible for rationing their food supply and use. And everyone wars that after a long summer comes an even longer winter. The Seven Kingdoms are largely ruled by King Robert Baratheon that waged a war against the old rule for his abducted betrothed Lyanna Stark. Mostly, he drinks and fucks and enjoys his other royal engagements whilst the Hand of the King rules. When the Hand dies, the King travels up north to retrieve his old friend, and Lyanna’s brother, Eddard Stark to be the new Hand. Unfortunately, the safety and emptiness of the north doesn’t ready Eddard for the corrupt south and he finds that power is unevenly distributed within the country. As he tries to amend the broken system he is supposed to deal with he is betrayed and broken by everyone he holds dear. The first book ultimately finishes with his ultimate loss of control and what comes after is a fucking shit streak in comparison to the piss stain the first book is.

Although I won’t be continuing my reread of ASOIAF until after the series airs, I want to add this review to the collection because this book and series mean a whole lot to me. I’ve been trying to finish this review for a while but it’s impossible since nothing can be said without giving away a major plot line/twist.

The series is written from different POV that take you across the whole ASOIAF universe. Despite being written in third person every chapter has a special sense to it, they’re never similar even though they’re not strictly first person. It’s not enough to say that GRRM has written a book series, he has created an entire universe. If he’s not a genius he must be a god. The writing is engaging and your reading experience depends on what characters you prefer. Interestingly enough, the book never takes its own stand on any issues and allows you to form your own opinions on each character. GRRM shows you who the characters really are, down to the nitty gritty and horrendous details. There is not a single chapter that isn’t necessary to the plot and story, and each book being a thousand pages long might give you an idea of how complex the ASOIF-universe is.

GRRM has a talent in not only displaying how horrible human nature truly is but how it develops by greed, hate, jealousy, and societal restriction. He explores sexism in depth and in different cultures, maybe not in this book but the entire series is a dismantling of human nature and oppression of women and slaves.

All in all, it is one of the best pieces of literature I have ever read and probably will ever read. It is although not my favourite of the entire series but maybe I’ll go further into that once I finish my reread.