Bookstagram: Should I Stay or Should I Go? | book chat

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Hello, my fellow book lovers! I joined the book community on Instagram or “bookstagram” in June 2015. Ever since the algorithm was introduced, I’ve been unhappy. It’s gotten to the point where I actually considering leaving bookstagram, so I wanted to talk about that today.

– the algorithm –

Ever since Instagram introduced it’s algorithm (e.g. no longer a chronological feed), users have felt it’s impact. No matter what I do, I don’t gain followers and my pictures hardly receive as many likes as they used to. I have over a thousand followers less on my other account, yet my pictures get just as many likes there. I know I shouldn’t care about the numbers, but it’s disheartening. It feels as if I’m talking to myself.

– not enough spoons –

Taking pictures is both mentally and physically draining. I simply don’t have the spoons to spend a ton of time on my pictures. I know my pictures would probably be more popular if I edited them using Photoshop, if I used more props… but that’s too demanding. Please know it’s not laziness; blame my disabilities.

– rep searches, merchandise, a camera… –

Bookstagram isn’t simply taking a picture of a book. At times, the book boxes, the bookish candles, rep searches etc. seem much more important. I can’t afford and don’t want to spend so much money on it. I want it to be fun, rather than feel like I run a business but get nothing in return.

– lack of diversity –

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You can find more photos on my Instagram account!

I try to post a lot of pictures of diverse books on my account because those are the books I read. Whenever I post pictures of popular (and non-diverse) novels such as the Harry Potter series, I get more likes. I think the book community is doing more attempts to be inclusive, but bookstagram is seriously lacking. For every ten pictures you see there, nine will probably feature Sarah J. Maas’ books!

At the end of the day, I just don’t feel at home in the book community on Instagram anymore. I’m certainly not the only person there who cares about diverse book, but there are few of us. Additionally, most of those people are active on other social media such as Twitter as well, so I don’t think I would be missing out on much if I deleted my account.

– BUT am I ready to say ‘goodbye’? –

That said, I’ve had my account for such a long time now, it’s a habit. Truthfully yes, I am doing it out of habit rather than enjoyment, but still: taking pictures of books is what I’m used to. I want to say: “F*ck it, I don’t care about the numbers, I’m just going to post whatever I want to”, but I cannot help but feel even more lonely whenever I post a picture, because it truly feels as if I’m talking to myself.

If you have any advice for me, please let me know ❤ I’m sorry this post is so negative, but I needed to vent.

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#ContemporaryAThon book review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor an american marriageAn American Marriage

by Tayari Jones

read in February 2018

format: audiobook

This review contains minor spoilers.

synopsis

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

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An American Marriage has received a lot of praise – it was even selected for Oprah’s book club – but sadly, I had some problems with it. I wanted to love this book, but reading it made me uncomfortable and mad at times.

This novel is about a black man named Roy who is sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit. An American Marriage doesn’t explore the racism in the American justice system as much as it explores marriage and love. Perhaps that’s why this novel didn’t move me; I can’t relate to the intricacies of marriage.

First of all, I didn’t like how Roy was falsely accused of raping a woman. I understand that black men are sometimes accused of crimes they didn’t commit, but with #MeToo happening, I don’t think we need even more opportunities to doubt victims. I wish the author had chosen a different crime.

I listened to the audiobook and I found the choice of narrators odd. The chapters from Celestial’s point-of-view were narrated by a woman and the ones from Roy and Andre’s by a man, yet their letters were narrated by the same person. Additionally, the letters created a distance: we were told about Roy and Celestial’s lives, rather than witness what happened to them ourselves. Years would pass, yet it didn’t feel that way as a reader because the letters were read back to back.

I can appreciate complex characters and situations, but once they cross a certain line and I can’t root for them anymore, my enjoyment falters. Sadly, that was the case in An American Marriage as well. The majority of the readers mention they didn’t like Celestial, but I have to disagree. In my opinion, Roy was the manipulative one. I can understand where he’s coming from, but only to a certain degree. There were double standards in their relationship that I consider sexist. Warning, what I’m about to discuss, contains spoilers! Roy is allowed to sleep with another woman. Celestial on the other hand, who told him she didn’t want to be married to him anymore, is portrayed as the “bad guy” because of her relationship with Andre.

Additionally, the sex scenes made me very uncomfortable. I found two sex scenes in particular manipulative and coercive! Begging someone to have unsafe sex is not okay! Begging someone to “do their duty as a wife” is not okay! Ultimately there is no rape on the page, but it made me incredibly scared and it wasn’t challenged enough, or at all.

Finally, the ending kind of ruined the novel for me. The epilogue was satisfying, but it didn’t make any sense considering what happened right before it?! It’s like the author had two endings in mind and decided to keep them both.

content and trigger warnings for mentions of statuary rape, sex scenes, mentions of rape, coercion to have unsafe sex, sex and kissing without (explicit) consent, slutshaming, abortion, ableist language, anti-gay remarks, physical violence, prison, heteronormative and sexist remarks (e.g. “a man needs a woman to take care of him”), mentions of cancer, mentions of death, grief, mentions of divorce


I wanted to love An American Marriage but mainly because of Roy’s sexist behaviour, I ultimately didn’t enjoy this. I give this novel three out of five stars because I was invested enough to finish it, but the third part in particular ruined the book for me.

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20 Questions Book Tag

20 questions book tag.pngHello, my fellow book lovers! I was tagged by Riana @ Fictional Worlds and Me to do the 20 Questions Book Tag! This tag was created by buydebook on Goodreads.

1. How many books is too many books in a book series?

It really depends on the series, in my opinion. I won’t complain about the Harry Potter series being seven books long, but on average, I definitely tend to prefer duologies and trilogies. I’m actually really bad at continuing series unless I’m really invested in them; I mainly read standalones.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

I think if it’s done well, a cliffhanger can be amazing. I absolutely hate cliffhangers though when the entire book is building up to an event or a reveal, yet it ends in a cliffhanger and we have to read the next book to found out what the entire first book was about. That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t like Three Dark Crowns.

3. Hardcopy or paperback?

Aesthetically I prefer hardcovers. But because of the pain in my wrist, paperbacks are easier to read. Nonetheless I keep buying hardbacks instead because they’re sturdier and look better on my shelves 🙂

4. Favourite book?

everything i never told you

It’s incredibly hard for me to choose a favourite book, but Everything I Never Told You was definitely the best book I read in 2017! The funny thing is though that I can’t really explain why I love it!

5. Least favourite book?

One of the worst “books” I have ever read was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I get a smile on my face whenever I think of this book because I can’t believe it exists, it’s so bad!!!

6. Love triangles, yes or no?

I’m not a big fan of romances to begin with, so I’d have to say no. It can be done really well though, but more often than not, I think they’re predictable, unrealistic and add unnecessary drama.

7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

I sadly had to DNF This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America because the descriptions of sex and pornography in particular were too triggering for me.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

the radical element.pngMy e-ARC request of this anthology got approved, so I’m slowly making my way through it 🙂

9. Last book you recommended to someone?

fifth seasonIt wasn’t a recommendation because I haven’t read the Fifth Season myself yet, but I suggested to my sister to check this out because I think she’s going to love this. Sadly though, she hasn’t read a book in over a year, so I doubt she’ll listen to me.

10. Oldest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

Classics aren’t my cup of tea, so I haven’t read a ton of old books. I read Romeo & Juliet in Dutch when I was a teenager, which was apparently published in 1597.

11. Newest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

like vanessaI got an e-ARC of Like Vanessa which is set to be released on March 13th. I read it a couple of weeks ago and you can read my review here.

12. Favourite author?

There are many authors I absolutely adore, but I think Celeste Ng and Becky Albertalli are my favourites!

13. Buying books or borrowing books?

I would like to borrow more books from the library, but their collection of English books isn’t superb. Additionally, as a mood reader, I don’t like the pressure of having to read a book by a certain time. I am trying to focus on my physical TBR at the moment before I borrow more books from the library, so I guess you can say that I definitely tend to buy books instead of borrow them, but I’m working on it.

14. A book you dislike that everyone else seem to love?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is such a popular classic, but the book didn’t make any sense to me, and not in an interesting or good way. I didn’t hate Station Eleven, but I don’t really understand why so many people love it. I feel like I read a different book than them.

15. Bookmarks or dog-ears?

I own so many bookmarks (thanks @ Book Depository!) so I don’t need to dog-ear my pages.

16. A book you can always reread?

It’s a cliché answer, but I’m going for Harry Potter. No matter how many times I re-read the series, there are always some details I forget because I tend to remember films more clearly.

17. Can you read while hearing music?

Not really, I can’t even write blog posts while someone is singing. The only type of music I could listen to while reading is instrumental, on low volume.

18. One POV or multiple POV’s?

This really depends on the story, but I really like multiple POVs! I prefer that over a book with a protagonists I can’t stand…

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

I have a lot of time on my hands these days, but I can’t sit down and read all day long. Not because I don’t want to, but because it’s actually really painful for me to sit or lay down for that long. I am still trying to figure out a more comfortable reading position, but it’s because of my disability,so it’s not something I can fix. Anyway, yes, it takes me several days to finish a book.

20. Who do you tag?

As usual, if you are interested in doing this tag, consider yourself tagged by me! ❤

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#ContemporaryAThon book review: Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson | a new favourite!

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor piecing me togetherPiecing Me Together

by Renée Watson

read in February 2018

format: hardcover

This is a spoiler-free review!

synopsis

Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.

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In over a month and a half, I haven’t rated a single book five stars. I thought I  wasn’t in the mood to read and wouldn’t love anything, but after reading Piecing Me Together I realise that’s not true because I loved everything about this novel!

This book isn’t exactly underrated because it has won several awards, but I think it deserves a lot more praise than it has received. I love this book so much. Every character was complex and Jade was a wonderful protagonist. Her inner monologues were so on point; I love how she took others into account without sacrificing herself.

As usual I have a hard time writing a review for a book I love because all I want to say is I LOVE IT I LOVE IT, PLEASE PICK THIS UP IF YOU CAN! Piecing Me Together discusses a lot of important topics such as racism, racial profiling, poverty, sexism, etc. and it does so wonderfully. Seriously, whenever a character says something problematic, it is called out in the book (with the exception of cissexist language such as “men and women”).

Jade is black but she occasionally mentions the treatment of Native Americans in the United States as well. Usually they are excluded from conversations, so that was a really nice change.

I also adored the different types of family that are portrayed in the book (e.g. divorced parents). It definitely added another layer of authenticity.

content and trigger warning for racism, racial profiling, police brutality, ableist language, sexism, anti-fat remarks, one mention of drug use, one mention of cheating, slut-shaming, cissexist language


Clearly, I absolutely loved this book! I loved following Jade’s journey as a black, fat and poor teenager in the United States and I certainly plan on reading more of this author’s work! 5 out of 5 stars!

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Top Ten Tuesday: books with queer characters of colour on my TBR | Valentine’s Day freebie

valentine's day freebie.pngHello, my fellow book lovers! Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in 2018. You can have a look at the future topics here! This week’s topic is:

February 13: Love Freebie (Romances, swoons, OTPs, kisses, sexy scenes, etc.)

Today, I am going to talk about some books featuring queer characters of colour on my TBR. This is only loosely connected with Valentine’s Day, but on this day we will probably see plenty of lists featuring white allocishet characters, so I decided to talk about queer characters of colour instead. I don’t know whether queer relationships are portrayed in these books, but that’s not the aim of my post.

Please know that there are many more books with queer characters of colour on my TBR and that my information is based on what other people have said (since I haven’t read these books myself yet). If the information is incorrect, please let me know.

These are in no particular order. When you click on the graphic, you will be brought to the book’s Goodreads page. You can also read the synopsis there.

let's talk about loveLet’s Talk about Love is about Alice, a biromantic asexual black girl. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book featuring a character that identifies that way, so I’m very excited to read this!

not your sidekick.pngThe main character in Not Your Sidekick is Vietnamese-Chinese and bisexual. This has received so much praise, but I haven’t been able to purchase it yet because it remains so expensive 😦

the seven husbands of evelyn hugoI’ve been meaning to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo ever since it was released, but adult literature is so overpriced! I’ve heard nothing but good things about this one, so I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy ASAP. Evelyn Hugo is a bisexual Cuban-American woman.

wantI mentioned Want in my post about sci-fi books on my TBR, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. The majority of the character in this novel are Asian (the sub regions are mentioned in the book) and apparently, there is also queer representation! Science-fiction isn’t my go-to genre, but I’m really excited to read this one!

when the moon was ours.pngI’m just finished reading Wild Beauty and I am interested in reading Anna-Marie McLemore’s other work as well. I had no idea the main character in When the Moon Was Ours is trans and Pakistani!

under the udala treesUnder the Udala Trees is about two girls from different communities in Nigeria who fall in love. I’m sometimes a sucker for star-crossed lovers, so I think I might love this one! The author was born in Nigeria and moved to the USA when she was ten years old.

radio silence.pngRadio Silence has received tons of hype, which is exactly the reason why I haven’t read it yet! I am intimidated, okay? I really hope I am going to love this one as much as other readers did. Anyway, Frances, the protagonist is bisexual and biracial.

the abyss surrounds usScience-fiction isn’t my go-to genre, but ‘pirates in space’ sounds very cool! The main character in the Abyss Surrounds Us is Chinese-American and there is a F/F hate-to-love relationship!

they both die at the endI read History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera and I want to read all of his work. I actually hope to read They Both Die at the End this week! Rufus is a bisexual Cuban-American boy and Mateo is Puerto-Rican and queer.

idaI got an e-ARC of Ida 500 years ago and I still haven’t read it. This book has received some mixed reviews, but I am nonetheless interested in reading it because both the genderqueer and bisexual representation are #OwnVoices. the main character Ida is biracial (Vietnamese and German Australian) and bisexual, there is genderqueer, genderfluid and transgender representation among the side-characters.


These are some books featuring queer characters of colour on my TBR! Creating this blog post actually wasn’t easy because people aren’t very clear in their reviews; it’s hard to know which characters are queer/people of colour. Anyway, like I said, there are more books than these on my TBR, but it’s Top Ten Tuesday after all 😉 Have you read any of these books yet? Which ones should I read first?

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book review: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore | good, but underwhelming

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Wild Beauty

by Anna-Marie McLemore

read in February 2018

format: physical ARC (thanks to giveaway)

This is a spoiler-free review!

synopsis

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

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I am sad that Wild Beauty didn’t live up to the hype for me. I had absolutely expected to love this, but I was also apprehensive because I’m not familiar with magical realism. There is nothing wrong with this novel, but I felt rather indifferent about it…

From the very first chapter, I was confused. I never grew accustomed to the flowery writing. I don’t like analysing the books I read, hence why I don’t read poetry and classics. I have the feeling as if I didn’t fully absorb the story because of this. I found myself skimming and re-reading sentences, which is really unfortunate.

My favourite part of Wild Beauty was definitely the characters. Fel was so precious and I’m usually not swooned by allocishet male characters, so kudos to McLemore! The bond between the Nomeolvides cousins was beautiful, though I would’ve liked to see more interactions with the mothers and grandmothers as well.

This book is filled with bisexual girls and there is also a gay male side character. We find out that these sexualities aren’t understood by everyone, but it’s not a big deal for these characters. They are unapologetically queer; there was no drama involved.

I am cisgender so I am not the best person to judge this, but I thought the book was a bit cissexist at times, talking solely about “boys and girls” in reference to romantic partners.

content and trigger warning for underage drinking, Christianity, scars caused by lashes, physical violence, grief, mentions of racism (challenged), mentions of anti-gay violence (challenged), cissexist language, kissing without explicit consent


Though Wild Beauty isn’t going to be very memorable for me, I would still recommend this book to others because of its diversity (queer and brown Latinx characters), the praise it has received and the fact that I did enjoy reading it. I definitely plan on reading this author’s other work and I hope I will get used to her writing style.

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Down the TBR Hole #71-80

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Hello, my fellow book lovers. Today, it’s time for round 8 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.

atonement

On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.

I watched the film adaptation a few years ago and wasn’t blown away by it. I remember that one of the female characters was raped and I don’t want to read a male author’s take on that.

verdict: remove from TBR and wishlist

the graveyard book.png

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…

Confession time: I’ve never read any of Neil Gaiman’s books. We discussed this novel in one of our English classes and I am curious to see whether this is indeed a good book to use in my classes. I don’t own a physical copy, but I have this one on audiobook.

verdict: remains on TBR and wishlist

ivory and bone.png

Two clans. Only one will survive.

The only life seventeen-year-old Kol knows is hunting at the foot of the Great Ice with his brothers. But food is becoming scarce, and without another clan to align with, Kol, his family, and their entire group are facing an uncertain future.

Traveling from the south, Mya and her family arrive at Kol’s camp with a trail of hurt and loss behind them, and hope for a new beginning. When Kol meets Mya, her strength, independence, and beauty instantly captivate him, igniting a desire for much more than survival.

Then on a hunt, Kol makes a grave mistake that jeopardizes the relationship that he and Mya have only just started to build. Mya was guarded to begin with—and for good reason—but no apology or gesture is enough for her to forgive him. Soon after, another clan arrives on their shores. And when Mya spots Lo, a daughter of this new clan, her anger intensifies, adding to the already simmering tension between families. After befriending Lo, Kol learns of a dark history between Lo and Mya that is rooted in the tangle of their pasts.

When violence erupts, Kol is forced to choose between fighting alongside Mya or trusting Lo’s claims. And when things quickly turn deadly, it becomes clear that this was a war that one of them had been planning all along.

I received a personalised singled copy from a friend and I am eternally grateful for that. Unfortunately, my reading tastes have changed in the meantime and I never consider picking this book up. I love historical fiction, but the romance is apparently very prominent in this novel and I’m not interested in that. I have access to the audiobook, but according to reviewers, the narrator doesn’t do a good job.

verdict: remove from TBR (but won’t unhaul it because it was a gift)

the name of the wind.png

Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.

The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.

A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

Every single one of my Goodreads friends adores The Name of the Wind. I really want to read more adult fantasy books, but I have my doubts that this is going to be cup of tea. First of all, I think the entire story is told from Kvothe’s point-of-view and I don’t  reading a lot of books by male authors, especially not ones featuring male protagonists. I’m afraid there’s going to be tons of sexism and unnecessary violence. Furthermore, the second instalment has received more mixed reviews and I want to make sure this series is worth continuing before I spend both my money and time on it.

verdict: probably remove from TBR and wishlist

the goldfinch.png

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

I have no idea what The Goldfinch is about and I’d honestly like to keep it that way. I am so keen to read Donna Tartt’s work; I hope 2018 is finally going to be the year!

verdict: remains on physical TBR

truthwitch

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

I’ve owned both Truthwitch and Windwitch for over a year now, so I definitely ought to read it soon. A couple of years ago I would’ve picked this up immediately, but I haven’t been reading a lot of fantasies lately. Though this series has received mixed reviews, I definitely want to give it a chance.

verdict: remains on physical TBR

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In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

When Passenger was released, it received a ton of hype, but I haven’t heard much about it since. I didn’t even know it was a duology! That makes me more intrigued to pick this up though, since larger fantasy series are too intimidating at the moment. Furthermore, I haven’t read any of Bracken’s work yet, so I won’t go into this series with unrealistically high expectations.

verdict: remains on physical TBR

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Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to a newcomer…

Katerina must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But she doesn’t account for her first love…

Jacob will go to unthinkable lengths to win Katerina, even if it means having to compete for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince.

And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet betrothed, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

I actually like this cover, so I’m disappointed this series has got TWO cover changes already! This historical fiction/fantasy series isn’t very popular, so my hopes aren’t high. Nonetheless I want to give it a chance because I love historical fiction. I own a hardcover copy and will see whether the rest of the series is worth it.

verdict: remains on physical TBR

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There’s no ancient evil to defeat or orphan destined for greatness, just unlikely heroes and classic adventure. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, are two enterprising rogues who end up running for their lives when they’re framed for the murder of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy that goes beyond the overthrow of a tiny kingdom, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery before it’s too late.

I was going to remove this book from my TBR, until I read some reviews. I don’t tend to read books by male authors, especially not fantasies because they more often than not objectify women, glorify violence, etc., but Michael J. Sullivan said the following about this series, which makes me intruiged:

“My goal was to write a book that was aimed at adults, but could be read by people of all ages. So to that end there is no sex, graphic violence, or explicit language.”

I don’t own the first volume in this series yet, but I do own the second one. I should purchase the first one soon!

verdict: remains on TBR and wishlist

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I haven’t touched a human in three years. That seems like it would be a difficult task, but it’s not. Not anymore, thanks to the internet.

I am, quite possibly, the most popular recluse ever. Not many shut-ins have a 200-member fan club, a bank account in the seven-figure range, and hundreds of men lining up to pay for undivided attention.

They get satisfaction, I get a distraction. Their secret desires are nothing compared to why I hide… my lust for blood, my love of death.

Taking their money is easy. Keeping all these secrets… one is bound to escape.

What if you hid yourself away because all you could think of was killing? And what if one girl’s life depending on you venturing into society?

The Girl in 6E has received many glowing reviews and I definitely enjoy thrillers from time to time, so I wanted to keep this on my TBR, but apparently the mental health representation isn’t good. I am sick and tired of reading stories in which mental illnesses are portrayed inaccurately as some sort of “plot twist”.

verdict: remove from TBR and wishlist


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my bookshelves | January 2018

bookshelves_january.pngHello, my fellow book lovers! In January I got another bookcase and I rearranged my shelves. Today, I want to show you what they looked like. Please keep in mind that I have to take pictures using my phone and that the weather is incredibly precarious over here, so these are by no means top-quality shots.

Since taking these pictures, I rearranged my shelves AGAIN, so you can expect a second instalment of this post soon 😉


More photos can be found on my bookstagram

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This is what my shelves look like from a distance. In January, I got the corner bookcase and one big one as an early birthday and late Christmas gift from my sister and mother. The furniture in my bedroom is black, so I chose to go for black bookshelves as well.

january_readOn the left, right next to my bed are the shelves containing the books I have read.  I only started separating my TBR and read books a few months ago and I am very glad I did.

Additionally, I also rearrange my books – and even Funko Pops! – by colour. I have done this for a very long time and I don’t care how some people feel about it, I love it.

My shelves are not only filled with books, but I also like to put some decoration on them. Most of it was actually really cheap and the art pieces are all created by me. You can find more of my work @slyther.ink on Instagram.

january_cornerThe bookcase in the corner is meant for CDs, but with less shelves it can also be used for your books! I wasn’t sure at first, but I am glad I decided to get this one as well because it makes the transitions between each bookcase seem more “natural”.

I have read The Raven Cycle, but not the other books on this bookcase. I own a lot of blue books, but the hues are so different; it’s a pain in the ass when organising my shelves by colour!

The two large bookcases on the right are filled with books I haven’t read yet. Clearly, I ought to read more books that are on my physical TBR!

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One of the main reasons why I decided to rearrange my bookshelves so soon after taking these pictures, is the sunlight which gets reflected by the back of the bookcase. It honestly bothers me so much!

I am very proud of that Dark Mark piece I’ve made. As you can probably tell, I didn’t put my Harry Potter collection on these shelves. I put those on a small bookcase at the other side of my room. That’s also something I changed recently, so you will get to see my collection when I post another update of my shelves 🙂

Books I want to unhaul aren’t on my bookshelves, by the way.

Janaury_TBR_2Finally, these shelves are also filled with books on my physical TBR. The Heroes of Olympus series is a bit of an exception though, since I am currently making my way through it, but I want to keep the series together in the box.

As I’ve already told you, my shelves no longer look like this. As much as I liked these displays, it seemed too messy for my taste. It actually started to stress me out, though that probably says more about my anxiety disorder than the actual state of my shelves. Anyway, I will post an updated version soon, but I can already reveal that my shelves are now organised by both colour AND size.


Please let me know whether you enjoyed this post (because if you didn’t, there’s no need for me to post an updated version)! I know black bookcases aren’t very popular among readers and sometimes I wish I had white ones instead, but I guess that’s what makes mine stand out among most Bookstagram accounts, haha!

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review: A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton |enjoyable multi-generational story!

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor a kind of freedom bookA Kind of Freedom

by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

read in February 2018

format: audiobook

This is a spoiler-free review!

synopsis

Evelyn is a Creole woman who comes of age in New Orleans at the height of World War Two. Her family inhabits the upper echelon of Black society and when she falls for no-name Renard, she is forced to choose between her life of privilege and the man she loves.

In 1982, Evelyn’s daughter, Jackie, is a frazzled single mother grappling with her absent husband’s drug addiction. Just as she comes to terms with his abandoning the family, he returns, ready to resume their old life. Jackie must decide if the promise of her husband is worth the near certainty he’ll leave again.

Jackie’s son, T.C., loves the creative process of growing marijuana more than the weed itself. He finds something hypnotic about training the seedlings, testing the levels, trimming the leaves, drying the buds. He was a square before Hurricane Katrina, but the New Orleans he knew didn’t survive the storm, and in its wake he was changed too. Now, fresh out of a four-month stint for possession with the intent to distribute, he decides to start over—until an old friend convinces him to stake his new beginning on one last deal.

For Evelyn, Jim Crow is an ongoing reality, and in its wake new threats spring up to haunt her descendants. A Kind of Freedom is an urgent novel that explores the legacy of racial disparity in the South through a poignant and redemptive family history.

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I listened to the audiobook of A Kind of Freedom on a whim and I am pleased I did. This is a multi-generational story about three members of an African-American family, written by a black woman. I liked each point-of-view equally: each character had a distinct voice and was complex. Authors who are able to pull that off seamlessly deserve a lot of praise in my opinion. Margaret Wilkerson Sexton wrote a pleased debut novel and I am interested to see what she writes next.

If you are interested in reading this book, I recommend the audiobook. I really liked that it had multiple narrators. Especially in the chapters from T.C.’s point-of-view, however, there were some graphic sex scenes (with descriptions of oral sex, an erection, etc.), which were a bit awkward, especially because I tend to listen to audiobooks out loud while I’m at home. That’s why I struggled with his point-of-view at first and why I don’t tend to enjoy reading stories about allocishet men; the way they objectify and sexualise women makes me very uncomfortable.

I haven’t read a lot of multi-generational stories so I don’t have a ton to compare this to, but in A Kind of Freedom, we go back and forth between the different protagonists and we only follow them for a short amount of time in their lives. That took some time getting used to, but since I liked Evelyn, Jackie and T.C., I didn’t mind.

content and trigger warnings for smoking, anti-fat remarks, racism (e.g. the N-word), segregation, racial profiling, mentions of sex and erection, graphic descriptions of (oral) sex, unprotected sex, divorce, mentions of domestic violence, mentions of guns, prison, dealing drugs, drug use, drug addiction, mentions of a drug overdose, ableist language, mentions of depression, mentions of war, sexism (e.g. calling women ‘bitches’)


In only 256 pages, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton managed to discuss many important topics. The characters were flawed and I didn’t always agree with what they did or said, but that’s what made this novel so realistic. Ultimately though, I didn’t LOVE this, but it was still a very solid and enjoyable debut!

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ARC review: Like Vanessa by Tami Charles

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor like vanessa bookLike Vanessa

by Tami Charles

read in January 2018

publication date: March 13th 2018

format: e-ARC

synopsis

In this semi-autobiographical debut novel set in 1983, Vanessa Martin’s real-life reality of living with family in public housing in Newark, New Jersey is a far cry from the glamorous Miss America stage. She struggles with an incarcerated mother she barely remembers, a grandfather dealing with addiction and her own battle with self-confidence. But when a new teacher at school coordinates a beauty pageant and convinces Vanessa to enter, Vanessa’s view of her own world begins to change. Vanessa discovers that her own self-worth is more than the scores of her talent performance and her interview answers, and that she doesn’t need a crown to be comfortable in her own skin and see her own true beauty.

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I received an e-ARC from Charlesbridge through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

I feel conflicted about Like Vanessa. I enjoyed reading this middle grade novel and I liked Vanessa’s character development, but there were some messages that rubbed me the wrong way.

I want to read middle grades more often, but I tend to struggle reading from a child’s point-of-view. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case in this novel; it was very accessible for an adult as well. This story was diverse: the main character and her family is black, there is poverty and disability representation and a side character is an immigrant.

Vanessa was flawed and I enjoyed seeing her grow and become more confident. It broke my heart that she prayed her skin would be lighter. I loved that she learned to love herself in the end, but it sucks that she had to lose weight in order to be considered beautiful. I think the message could’ve been even more wonderful if Vanessa could’ve remained fat throughout the book. This is how Vanessa describes her body after losing weight:

“It’s not the boxy, shapeless, boyish body I’m used to. I look… like a woman.”

Being fat doesn’t have anything to do with your gender!

Though the author mentions in the author’s note that she is still close friends with many of the women she met while doing pageants, this book is filled with petty girl-on-girl hate. Especially in an industry that is already considered “bitchy”, I would’ve loved to see more supportive female friendships. The mean girls were all Puerto Ricans; I don’t think any character of Puerto Rican decent was shown in a more positive light. Furthermore, we only got to see how and what Vanessa was doing during the pageant; we didn’t get to know the other contestants.

I also have some issues with the queer representation. I am queer, but I am white so I don’t really know how this is handled in other communities. Though anti-gayness is realistic, especially during the 80s, I was very hurt by reading about a violent attack on a young, gay black man. I feel like the attack was used to further Vanessa’s storyline, rather than to start a discussion about accepting queer people.

Additionally, slurs are used and it’s said multiple times that being gay is “different”. I don’t think it was necessarily meant in a negative way, but different implies that being heterosexual is normal, whereas being gay isn’t. The gay representation was rather stereotypical, though that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I was a bit annoyed though that Vanessa said that “he knows about all things girlified”, implying that sexuality has anything to do with gender.

There is a character in Like Vanessa who uses drugs, though it isn’t mentioned whether they were addicted to it. Nonetheless, I thought the discussions surrounding this character were very black-and-white. I know it’s hard to accept or understand, but doing drugs isn’t always a choice. Being addicted to alcohol is accepted in this book, but if you’re doing drugs, you’re a monster. I believe this topic should’ve been approached in a more nuanced way, especially because Tami Charles mentions the following in the author’s note, which isn’t really the message of the story itself:

“Remember this: in life, everyone experiences setbacks, but those moments don’t have to create the path for how your life will turn out.”

Like I said, I liked this novel, but the amount of (in my opinion) problematic statements definitely lessened my enjoyment. Because I read an ARC and no one I know and trust has read this yet, I can’t check whether other readers found these examples problematic as well. I’d rather warn people too much than have them end up hurt because of me.

content and trigger warning for: poverty, alcoholism, drug use, abuse, anti-gay slurs, prison, abuse, a lot of ableist language, physical assault for being gay, anti-biracial remarks (“not really black” and “half black”), making fun of someone’s appearance, shaming girls who have sex (“shameless skanks”), cissexist remarks (“… a woman can bleed for a whole week…”), gangs, anti-fat remarks, anti-Asian remark? (“TJ comes walking down the hall, cheesin’ so hard his eyes almost disappear. If that boy wasn’t brown-skinned with an afro, I’d swear he was Chinese.”)


Overall I did enjoy Like Vanessa, but there were a lot of harmful statements that I could’ve lived without. Once this book is released, I will check out other people’s reviews and change my review if need be.

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