Station Eleven review: overhyped?

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor station eleven book coverStation Eleven

by Emily St. John Mandel

read in December 2017

format: library (hardcover)

Read the synopsis here.

Spoiler-free review!


I am not the kind of person who goes into hyped books looking for reasons to hate it. But it occasionaly happens that I finish reading an incredibly popular book and think “I don’t understand why so many people love this”. Unfortunately, I felt this way after finishing Station Eleven.

I don’t think the hype swayed me. I borrowed this from the library because this has received so many raving reviews, but I didn’t have any expectations going into this. Nevertheless, this novel disappointed me.

Station Eleven is primarily a character-driven book. Don’t pick this up if you expect to learn much about survival after 99 percent of the population has died as the result of the Georgia flu, because Station Eleven is not that kind of novel.

I usually like multiple point-of-views and don’t mind a non-linear storyline, but it sadly didn’t work for me in this book. First of all, the characters weren’t very compelling. And since they were the most important part of the story, I was bored while reading this.

Clark for example – one of the protagonists – is queer (presumably gay). I read a lot of books featuring queer characters, yet I had the feeling that in Station Eleven it didn’t matter. Which I’m fine with, but since this is a character-driven novel, I find that odd. We never even got to read a scene between him and his boyfriend. The readers are supposed to care about the characters, but we hardly even get to know them!

The male characters sounded very pretentious, as if they were written by a male author. That’s not a compliment, because I don’t read many books by male authors because their characters are often insufferable. I had problems with Jeevan and Arthur’s behaviour in particular. Human beings are flawed, but I prefer characters to be more likeable than them. Arthur for example told the press he was leaving his wife for another woman because he was too afraid to tell her!

Thanks to the Prophet storyline the novel finally became more interesting, but the author could’ve done so much more with that plot! It was the only thing that made me intrigued to find out more, but it was ultimately a disappointment and dealt with in a rather anti-climatic way.

Each protagonist was connected with one another in same way, but I didn’t find that very meaningful. Hollywood star Arthur Leander is their main connection, though Shakespeare’s play and the Station Eleven graphic novels are fundamental as well. Admittedly, I am not the biggest Shakespeare fan. I have a hard reading poetry and classics because I don’t like to “dissect” while reading, so I ended up skimming most of those lines. Additionally, I didn’t care about Dr. Eleven either.

Perhaps that’s why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as other readers did. I am not good at metaphors and I assume Dr. Eleven and Shakespeare made the novel beautiful, but I didn’t get it… I, however, don’t want to blame myself too much for not enjoying this. I’ve enjoyed plenty of other literary and adult fiction before and seen the beauty in those novels.

Sadly, there are also some more important stuff I had problems with. A lot of ableist language is used. I completely understand that “the end of civilisation” is frightening, but why is it associated with mental illnesses? I read another Post Apocalyptic novel a few weeks ago and it used ‘crazy’, ‘insane’, ‘lunatic’, etc. numerous times as well. As a mentally ill reader, those words make me very uncomfortable, especially because there was absolutely no need to use such ableist language.

Furthermore, it was rather “convenient” that the disabled character apparently committed suicide. It made me feel as if disabled people were an inconvenience and it was better to dispose of them before continuing the story.

I also didn’t appreciate the way one of Arthur’s ex-wives was referred to: she is a “actress/model” who is described as “looking malnourished”.

content and trigger warning for: religious cults, paedophilia, abuse, mentions and descriptions of death/murder and suicide, ableist language (see examples above and e.g. depressing used as a synonym for ‘sad’ instead of actually referring to the mental illness), rape


Sadly, Station Eleven didn’t live up to the hype for me. I didn’t find the characters compelling and the Post Apocalyptic setting could’ve been developed further. I would give this novel a three star rating, because it was overall just okay, nothing special.

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T5W: Characters on the Naughty List

Characters on the Naughty List.png

Hello, my fellow book lovers! Top Five Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey and is now hosted by Thoughts on Tomes! Visit the Goodreads group if you’re interested in joining! This week’s topic is:

December 13th – Characters on the Naughty List
These can be villains or just characters you don’t like!

a game of thronesI’ve said this many times before and I will say it again: I HATE TYRION LANNISTER! My annoyance started when I realised everyone adores this man, but why? He doesn’t do anything! He thinks he’s smart, but his enemies outsmarted him a lot. He thinks he’s funny, but the only people who want to be around him, are people he pays. He thinks he’s rich, but that’s all thanks to his family.

Especially when I started reading the books, I couldn’t look past his problematic nature. He is a rapist; wanted to sexually assault under-age Sansa Stark, but only stopped because she was crying and that’s not “sexy”; fantasises about having his sister severely hurt and raped; etc.

Tyrion Lannister reminds me of those male authors who write long paragraphs when having a conversation with women, but without any substance whatsoever. They think they’re better than everyone else, but in reality, no one likes them because they’re honestly not that interesting.

simon vs the homo sapiens agendaIf you haven’t read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda yet, here’s all you need to know (by the way, these aren’t spoilers because it literally happens in the very first chapter): Martin discovers Simon has been emailing a boy nicknamed Blue and blackmails him: if Simon doesn’t make Martin look desirable to his friend Abby, Martin is going to out Simon to the entire school.

But noooo, Martin isn’t homophobic you guys, because his brother is gay! *sarcasm* UGH, I hate Martin so much! I love Becky Albertalli’s writing because it’s so honest and realistic, and Martin is no exception. This dude genuinely thinks he’s a nice guy and ultimately feels victimizes by the entire thing. Thankfully, his behaviour doesn’t go unchallenged.

outlander

If you’ve read my review of Outlander, you know how I feel about Jamie Fraser: he’s an abusive rapist! I don’t want to rant all over again (read my review if you want to know how I feel) but I absolutely fail to see how he is so many people’s book boyfriend.

I don’t care whether he gets better, at the end of the day, he’s never going to apologise for his past behaviour anyway. He always ends up telling a sad story in which he pretty much blames Claire for what happens, and then she apologises to HIM!

daughter of smoke and boneLook, I don’t care enough about Akiva to hate him, but I certainly would’ve enjoyed Daughter of Smoke & Bone more without him. I usually like dual POVs, but even after reading his chapters, I still don’t know what his personality is like. Going into this, I knew there was going to be instalove. I thought I was prepared, but it was even worse than I had imagined. I’m so disappointed because forbidden romances are usually one of my favourite romance tropes! But it didn’t work for me because Akiva is such a flat character and I don’t see why they’re attracted to one another, except for their beauty. But like I said though, I don’t feel as strongly about this character as the others on my list.

the school for good and evilThere were many things I didn’t like about the School for Good and Evil, but it might have been a more bearable reading experience without Sophie. She is convinced she is good because she is beautiful, but she is such a horrible character and throughout the book, she remains selfish. Agatha and Sophie share a platonic true love’s kiss, but seriously, am I supposed to believe these two are best friends when Sophie threw Agatha under the bus time and time again?


So these are some characters I dislike and could live without. All with the exception of Martin are supposed to be likeable, so this list might be a bit controversial.

Which characters are on your naughty list?

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recommendation: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

homegoing.png

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor homegoing book coverHomegoing

by Yaa Gyasi

read in December 2017

format: library paperback

Read the synopsis here.

Spoiler-free review!


“We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history, you must ask yourself, Whose story am I missing? Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there you get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.”

Homegoing is a multi-generational story, following the lives of a black family in both America and the Gold Coast of Africa. As a white European, I cannot deny the educational value of this fictional story. Of course I was aware of the horrors of slavery, but there were other aspects I didn’t know much about, such as the different (not necessarily better) treatment of biracial children, how some African tribes helped with the slave trade as well, etc.

As a history teacher, I love historical fiction that shapes my education; I will certainly remember Homegoing while teaching about these topics and I plan on  buying a physical hardcover copy for myself soon.

Though this novel is only 305 pages long, it truly felt as if I was time-travelling. This book seems a thousand pages long instead, but not necessarily in a bad way. You can tell the author spend years crafting Homegoing and that it’s is an important and personal story to her. It did take me a while to get through this, but that was mainly because of my reading slump and because this book isn’t supposed to be an enjoyable read (see trigger and content warning below).

As a matter of fact, this book was fast-paced: only eighteen pages in, yet fifteen years had passed already! I cannot emphasise enough how much I admire Gyasi and her writing, because there aren’t many authors who can pull this off.

Effia was our first protagonist and one of my favourites. It’s disgusting that these white men did not treat slaves as humans, yet they had no problem “marrying” black girls. So there was this power imbalance right from the start in these “relationships”, no matter what the white man might say.

I also loved Yaw, who is a scarred history teacher, so I related to him. He taught his pupils that history is written by those with power, and I love that message. His point-of-view made me very emotional.

I know multiple point-of-views aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it was necessary for the story. I did miss the characters once their chapters were over, but they were always connected in some way. Each character had a distinct voice and personality, which once more proves how talented Yaa Gyasi is.

Having said that, I did feel more attached to the first and final characters. The ones around the beginning of the second part, weren’t as memorable. Because we are only told about our previous protagonists from a certain point on, their stories didn’t develop much further. Quey, for instance, seemed queer, but once his chapter was over, we never find out how things worked out.

But, like I said, it was necessary to give us so many different protagonists. That way, the author crafted a story in which it became evident that the treatment of black people in both America and Africa before and after the American Civil War, are completely connected. Though slavery might have officially ended in the United States, black people’s struggles today are still an aftermath of that. I’d for example recommend watching the documentary ‘The 13th’ on Netflix, because it shows how black people are still arrested for the most futile things and are in the prison system once more treated as slaves.

content and trigger warnings for: child abuse, domestic violence, “unable to bear children = cursed”; “womanhood = having your period”, anti-fat remarks (in which being fat is considered ugly and disgusting), slavery, rape, racism, imprisonment, physical injury (such as severe scarring and being whipped), lynching, suicide, ableism (such as ‘crazy’ and ‘crippled’), drug addiction


I would recommend Homegoing to everyone, though do check out the list of trigger and content warnings first. Perhaps read some other reviews beforehand as well, because I might have forgotten to include a few triggers. Anyway, I certainly plan on buying a physical copy of this book soon and I will forever treasure this beautiful, yet heartbreaking historical fiction novel.

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Down the TBR Hole #51-60

round 6.png

Hello, my fellow book lovers. Today, it’s time for round 6 of Down the TBR Hole, which was created by Lost in a Story. From time to time, I go to my Goodreads’ to-read shelf and change the order to ‘ascending date added’. I’ll pick ten books on that list and decide whether or not they remain on my TBR.

asking for it.png

synopsis: It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does. Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

I keep buying books about sexual assaults, but I never pick them up because they frighten me. I know reading these books won’t be enjoyable, but I want to get to them because they’re important. So Asking For It remains on my TBR, but I can’t promise I’ll read it anytime soon, even though I’d like to.

verdict: remains on physical TBR

the honest truth.png

synopsis: In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He’s got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.

But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.

So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier–even if it’s the last thing he ever does.

The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.

Look, it’s not like this book sounds bad, but 1) only one of my Goodreads friends has read it yet and 2) I don’t have a physical copy and I don’t see myself ever buying one.

verdict: remove from TBR and wishlist

the scorpio races.png

synopsis: It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.

Some riders live.
Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a choice. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

I’m feeling conflicted: I don’t like Maggie Stiefvater and this book has been on my TBR for years, but I love The Raven Cycle. I own a physical copy and the audiobook as well, so I might give it a chance. Does anyone know whether the audiobook is any good?

verdict: remains on physical TBR

Cam Girl.png

synopsis: Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.

Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.

Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.

She’s got nothing left to lose.

So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.

It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:

Can we meet IRL?

Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that brings back a ghost from her past. Now Vada must confront the devastating secrets she’s been running from—those of others, and those she’s been keeping from herself…

I think I remember Elliot Wake saying something problematic on Twitter last year, but I really don’t remember anything other than that? This book is over 400 pages long and since 1) the reviews don’t convince me and 2) I don’t want to support a problematic author, I’ll remove this from my TBR.

verdict: remove from TBR and wishlist

tell the wolves I'm home.png

synopsis: 1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life – someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

I was going to remove Tell the Wolves I’m Home from my TBR, until I saw all the raving reviews. This book is described by reviewers as beautiful, raw and heartbreaking and that’s sounds exactly like my cup of tea, especially because it is shelved on Goodreads as queer as well. I, however, do have some concerns (like the fact that the blurb doesn’t mention they’re queer), but I’m intrigued.

verdict: remains on TBR and wishlist

Room.png

synopsis: To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world….

Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience – and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

I keep adding books that have been adapted to film to my TBR, but I rarely ever read them! I haven’t seen the film yet, but after reading some reviews, I think I won’t read the source material after all. Yes, I like reading children’s fiction from time to time, but an entire (adult) book told from the perspective of a five-year-old? I don’t think I’ll be able to handle that.

verdict: remove from TBR

the danish girl.png

synopsis: Loosely inspired by a true story, this tender portrait of marriage asks: What do you do when the person you love has to change?  It starts with a question, a simple favor asked by a wife of her husband while both are painting in their studio, setting off a transformation neither can anticipate.  Uniting fact and fiction into an original romantic vision, TheDanish Girl eloquently portrays the unique intimacy that defines every marriage and the remarkable story of Lili Elbe, a pioneer in transgender history, and the woman torn between loyalty to her marriage and her own ambitions and desires.  The Danish Girl’s lush prose and generous emotional insight make it, after the last page is turned, a deeply moving first novel about one of the most passionate and unusual love stories of the 20th century.

Can you tell this is my TBR from around Academy Award season a few years ago? Yeah, I’m certainly not interested in reading a book about a trans woman written by a cis man though, so goodbye!

verdict: remove from TBR and wishlist

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys .png

synopsis: A host of the sharpest young adult authors come together in this collection of terrifying tales and psychological thrillers. Each story draws from a mix of literature, film, television, or even music to offer something new and fresh and unsettling. Even better? After you’ve teased out each tale’s references, satisfy your curiosity at the end, where the inspiration is revealed. There are no superficial scares here. These are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror, to the supernatural, to unnerving, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for anyone looking for an absolute thrill.

Every year around Halloween I say I’m going to read this anthology, but I never do! I really want to read more short story collections though and I own a paperback copy, so maybe 2018 will be the year I finally read this?

verdict: remains on physical TBR

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synopsis: A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

Air Awakens was published in 2015, yet by 2016, the entire series (which is FIVE BOOKS LONG) was released already?! Though it would be nice to pick up a book series that’s already complete, I can’t even be bothered to read the synopsis. Besides, there are plenty of fantasy series on my physical TBR I want to continue, so there’s no need to start a new one.

verdict: remove from TBR and wishlist

nimona.png

synopsis: The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.”

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

I’m not a big fan of reading graphic novels, but my friends absolutely loved this!

verdict: remains on TBR and wishlist


This round was quite productive! Do you think I made any mistakes in my verdicts? Let me know in the comments!

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recommendation: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

long way down.png

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor long way down jason reynoldsLong Way Down

by Jason Reynolds

read in December 2017

format: e-book

read the synopsis here.

spoiler-free review!


Since November, I haven’t picked up and read a book even once, but when I saw Long Way Down was free for only 24 hours on December 3rd, I had to make an exception. Thankfully, this is an incredibly fast-paced read.

The story is written in verse and AAVE is used, which made the book both unique and seem very genuine, as if a young black kid actually wrote it.

I’ve heard a lot of great things about Jason Reynolds’ writing, but this was the first time I’ve read his work. Though it certainly won’t be my last! I’m very keen to read more books featuring black boys and I think Reynolds’ work is the perfect place to start, because he doesn’t sugar-coat things. Shawn wasn’t a saint, but does that mean he deserved what happened to him? No.

If the blood

inside you is on the inside

of someone else,

you never want to

see it on the outside of

them.

The way the “rule of revenge” was explored was very beautiful. It was a bit unconventional at first, but if you just go with it, it’s a wonderful story. Will has lost so many people close to him due to gun violence, yet he is only fifteen years old. Though Long Way Down is a fictional story, this is the reality for so many black kids. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

the rules weren’t mean to be broken,

they were meant for the broken to follow.

content and trigger warning for death, murder, guns


I would recommend this fast-paced book to everyone. I wouldn’t give it 5 stars but probably closer to 4.5 because the stuff in the elevator was confusing at first, but it’s still a beautiful read!

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T5W: bookish things I’m a Grinch about

Bookish Things You're a Grinch About.png

Hello, my fellow book lovers! Top Five Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey and is now hosted by Thoughts on Tomes! Visit the Goodreads group if you’re interested in joining! This week’s topic is:

December 6th – Bookish Things You’re a Grinch About
Since being a grinch is a funny thing, try not to make this serious topics that make you angry (like lack of diversity or abusive relationships in fiction, etc) as this is supposed to be more of a petty bookish things you hate. This can be stuff about covers, dumb tropes, etc. Have fun with it.

Thankfully I read the description first, because I already had a bunch of serious topics in mind. So today, I am going to talk about some petty bookish things I hate, but try not to repeat things I have said in previous posts, like cover changes and movie tie-in book covers.

1. real people on book covers

the brightsidersTake the cover of The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde, for example. I love that the colours of the bisexual flag were used, but I’m really not a fan of this cover. I just don’t like real people on covers, okay?! There are some exceptions (like Tyler Johnson Was Here) but bad covers are a dealbreaker for me. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll buy a physical copy, even though I am dying to read this book once it’s released.

2. overused tropes

Most tropes can be very interesting (like the missing princess, the chosen one, etc.) but my problem is that they are so overused, it has made a lot of Young Adult fantasy series incredibly predictable. When a missing princess is mentioned, it’s not that hard to figure out that our protagonist – who happens to be an orphan – is the one they’re talking about.

Like I said, those tropes aren’t bad, but they’re predictable. And more often than not, they’re only revealed towards the end of the book, whereas the reader knew all along. And then you have to read the rest of the series to discover the aftermath of that reveal… meh, I just don’t have the patience to read books like that anymore.

3. disappointing conclusion

I am very difficult when it comes to the end of a book series. I want some heartbreak, but I don’t want it to be predictable (e.g. Crooked Kingdom). I want things that were mentioned earlier on in the series to be addressed (e.g. The Raven King failed doing that). It’s just incredibly disappointing when you invest a lot of your time in something, and the finale is a let-down.

Yes, I do realise that finales must be incredibly difficult to write. But as a reader, I can’t say many final instalments have really satisfied me. Perhaps that’s why I prefer to read standalones these days.

4. overhyped books EVERYWHERE

When looking for bookish merch, when asking for recommendations, when checking out book awards, etc. the same books tend to pop up each time. I sometimes feel very disconnect from the Bookstagram community in particular, because my reading tastes are completely different. It’s so tiring that after so many years, the same book series are still shoved down your throat, just because the authors can’t seem to put an end to it.

Additionally, I wish the community talked more about books that aren’t Young Adult fantasy series. Some readers e.g. refuse to read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas because they don’t like to read contemporaries. Well, that’s fair I guess, but if you only read those overhyped YA fantasies, you are missing out on a lot of great things.

5. books with promising starts that go downhill

Name something more disappointing than picking up a book thinking it’s going to be a 5 star read, only to end up hating it. Why do bad things happen to good people?! I’m just kidding, but it’s still incredibly frustrating.


So these are some bookish things I’m a Grinch about. Honestly, I could’ve added many more things to this list, but I tried to keep it as light as possible 😀

What are some bookish things you are a Grinch about? Let me know in the comments!

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book review: The School for Good and Evil

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The School for Good and Evil 

by Soman Chainani

read in November 2017

format: audiobook

review contains minor spoilers!

synopsis


I received the entire trilogy for my birthday two years ago, so I am incredibly disappointed I didn’t enjoy The School for Good and Evil. I wish it wasn’t as (over)hyped, since I don’t plan on continuing this trilogy.

The plot of this novel is incredibly repetitive, predictable and messy. Over and over again, Agatha forgives Sophie for screwing her over. THAT’S THE ENTIRE PLOT! How am I as a reader supposed to believe that these two are best friends, when Sophie has never done something that didn’t benefit herself?

So many events didn’t have any consequences, it makes me wonder why they were included in the first place. The plot dragged and seemed all over the place.

I had the feeling the author attempted to show how there are shades are grey and not everything is black and white, but he ultimately failed in my opinion. In The School for Good and Evil, someone who is evil is either ugly, disabled and/or scarred, whereas a good person is conventionally beautiful and skinny. This resulted in many anti-fat and ableist language.

Unfortunately, the setting only featured allocishet characters. Boys and girls are in seperate classes, only “he or she” language is used, the boys “act like a man”, etc. At the end, two girls share a a true-love’s kiss, but as far as I can tell based on reviews, that was purely a friendly thing and doesn’t result in queer representation in the following books.

There was also some paedophilia, because the schoolmaster – who is over 200 years old – was in love with a child.

content and trigger warning for: anti-fatness, ableism, deceased parents, allocishetnormative


This author attempted to write about complex themes, but he ultimately failed. Unfortunately, I do not plan to continue this series as I didn’t enjoy anything about it. There was too much problematic content for my taste and the plot and characters weren’t redeeming either.

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November 2017 wrap-up

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Hello, my fellow book lovers! If you’ve read my most recent posts, you know I am in a massive reading slump. Besides that, my personal life is still a big mess and because of the release of the Cats & Dogs expansion, I have been playing The Sims 4 non-stop lately. I actually don’t love the expansion that much (it’s rather limited) but my love for the game has been rekindled.

I did manage to read four books in November, but I didn’t read a single book in physical form. I only picked up those audiobooks because I didn’t want to pay for my subscription without actually using the app, so that’s why I forced myself to at least read something in November.

the school for good and evil

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

I finally finished the School for Good and Evil, but I unfortunately did not enjoy this at all. I was very excited to start this middle grade fantasy series because of all the raving reviews. I own the entire trilogy already, but I don’t see myself continuing it. The book seemed like it was building up to tackle fairytale clichés like “if you’re ugly and/or disabled you are evil and if you are conventionally beautiful you are good”, but it ultimately didn’t do that. There was a lot of problematic content (such as fatphobic comments) that completely went unchallenged, so this wasn’t an enjoyable reading experience. The plot was incredibly repetitive as well. I will definitely write a full review on this book, because I have a lot of thoughts.

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Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

I re-read the entire Hunger Games trilogy in November. At first I wasn’t a fan of the audiobook narrator – she sounds a bit old to portray a sixteen-year-old – but I got used to it. I find a lot of popular books from back then overhyped (especially upon re-read), but I still love this series! THE CHARACTERS, Y’ALL! Peeta Mellark, my son, who has never done anything wrong in his life. And Katniss Everdeen, who would do anything for her sister. And Finnick Odair, who might seem cocky at first, but has so many layers. I absolutely love how each character was multidimensional, fleshed-out and complex. I am looking forward to re-watching the film adaptations again.

I won’t write a full review for this series because 1) it’s a re-read and 2) everyone has probably read it already anyway.


So this was my November wrap-up. I hope my reading slump will be over in December, but I very much doubt it. Anyway, which books did you read in November? Which ones were your favourites?

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November 2017 book haul

november.pngHello, my fellow book lovers! Today, I am going to show you the books I bought in November. I actually ordered these back in October, but as usual, they took a while to arrive.

I had expected to buy more books this month, but the sales on Black Friday were incredibly disappointing; I didn’t buy a single book that day!


More photos can be found on my bookstagram!


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synopsis: Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.

But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches.

Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.

I ordered the Epic Crush of Genie Lo on Book Depository, but I received a completely different book – one I had never even heard of – instead! I was so angry, but thankfully, I did receive the correct book after all, though I’ve had numerous bad experiences with that seller. Unfortunately, it’s the cheapest option for me (especially since the changes on Amazon lately are a disaster) so I guess I have to keep buying from them, even though I don’t really want to.

Anyway,  this novel sounds really fun and all my friends loved it. I’m hoping to read it in early 2018.

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synopsis: Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.

Who are the Nowhere Girls?

They’re every girl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

After I bought this book, I learned that this book about rape culture is very flawed (as you can read in this article, for instance). Well, I own the book now, so I might as well read and review it one day. I was excited to read The Nowhere Girls, but very hesitant as well because 1) this is not an enjoyable topic to read about and 2) it can go wrong in so many ways. I just hope there will be some redeeming aspects.

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synopsis: Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

I hesitated whether I should buy The Language of Thorns, because I still haven’t read the Shadow and Bone trilogy yet. But I highly enjoyed the Six of Crows duology and these short stories have received such raving reviews, I was intrigued. I already had a peek at the inside and it looks beautiful!

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synopsis: A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.

Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?

I’ve had my eyes on The Gauntlet ever since it was released. I’m interested in reading it for similar reasons as The Epic Crush of Genie Lo: this book sounds incredibly fun and my friends love it! Additionally, I really want to read more middle grade novels. I’m in a massive reading slump at the moment, so this could help me out.

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synopsis: As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.

Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

Dress Codes for Small Towns hasn’t received a lot of hype, but it sounds like the kind of books I love! And my favourite BookTuber BooksandLala adores it, so that’s a plus!


So these are the five books I got in November, and of course they’re all hardcovers 😀 Which books did you acquire this month? Did you have better luck than me on Black Friday?

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T10T: some books on my winter TBR

winter TBR.pngHello, my fellow book lovers! Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and you can have a look at the future topics here! This week’s topic is:

November 28: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

At the beginning of November, I posted a list of the books I wanted to read, which you can find here. Well, guess what: I’ve read ZERO of those books so far. I don’t know why, but I always get in a reading slump around this time of year. Seriously, I haven’t picked up a book since the beginning of this month! I’m incredibly disappointed in myself, because I know I won’t have the time to read them all in December. But because I borrowed some of these books from the library, I can’t keep postponing reading them.

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synopsis: Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel – the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.

Homegoing is only about 300 pages long, yet it seems like so much more! Each chapter is told from a different point of view, generation after generation. I think I’m about halfway through and I was loving it, but I haven’t picked it up in weeks 😮 I definitely plan on continuing it before I have to return it to the library. I’m certain this would’ve been a five-star read if I hadn’t been in a reading slump.

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synopsis: In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.

Four very different lives are about to become entangled.

I’m excited to read this Young Adult historical fiction novel! The Smell of Other People’s Houses has received many positive reviews and I have the feeling I might love this book. I borrowed this from the library as well, so I’ll have to pick it up soon, but thankfully, it’s less than 300 pages long.

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A Torch Against the Night is the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which I have read twice and really enjoyed both times! Unfortunately, however, I’m really struggling to read the second instalment. It’s by no means bad, but I’m never in the mood to read it. I started this in March, re-started it in October, but I’m still not even halfway yet. I really hope I will be able to finish this book soon, because I don’t think I’ll be able to give it a third try.

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synopsis: Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.
[…]
This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

Meet Cute is a Young Adult anthology which is set to be released on January 2nd, 2018. I’m not the biggest romance fan out there, but I wanted to give this a chance nonetheless because it sounded diverse. So far, I’m disappointed. Out of the four stories I have read so far, three featured solely non-queer characters, and only one featured a protagonist of colour. I really hope the other stories will be more diverse.

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synopsis: The Big Redhead Book: Inside the Secret Society of Red Hair is an inside look into one of the most elite societies in the world–the real two percent. Well, you know, the two percent of the world’s population that are natural redheads, at least. This book has equal parts pop culture, ginger facts, and humorous stories about what it’s like to actually have red hair. It’s loaded with everything you’d ever want to know about us reds; how we’re scientifically different from the norms (non-redheads), how we’ve been stereotyped in pop culture, and the do’s and don’ts of having a red in your life, among other things!

I received The Big Redhead Book from the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review back in September. I’ve been meaning to finish it, but I just can’t find the energy to pick it up. The Big Redhead Book is supposed to be funny, but I cannot help but think that the author kind of appropriates the experiences of people of colour and black people in particular, but puts a “funny twist” on it (e.g. “Only redheads are allowed to call each other “ginger” sounds very similar to “only black people can say the n-word”). Because I am white, however, I don’t feel comfortable to point that out, but I do see some red flags.

if the fates allow

synopsis: During the holidays, anything is possible—a second chance, a promised future, an unexpected romance, a rekindled love, or a healed heart. Authors Killian B. Brewer, Lynn Charles, Erin Finnegan, Pene Henson, and Lilah Suzanne share their stories about the magic of the season.

If the Fates Allow is an anthology filled with holiday-themed, queer short stories which will be released on December 1st. I don’t know any of these authors, nor have many readers reviewed it yet, but I nonetheless requested it on NetGalley because I certainly want to support a queer anthology and I want to check which identities are portrayed.


Because I’m in a reading slump, I don’t want to expand this list further. I’m already disappointed in myself for not getting to my November TBR, so I don’t want to set myself up for disaster again. If I don’t get to these books, I swear this was the last time I posted a TBR. I never manage to read any of the books anyway, it’s embarrassing.

In December, I also plan on doing SapphicAThon, if everything goes as planned. You can have a look at my TBR here.

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