5 science-fiction books on my TBR

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Hello, my fellow book lovers! I’ve been insecure about my blog because I feel like I have only been posting reviews lately. In the past, I’ve made lists about books on my TBR pile and people seemed to enjoy them, so I thought I’d bring it back.

In these posts, I will discuss diverse books with similar themes, from the same genre, etc I want to read. I own all of the titles I am about to mention, either in physical form or on my Kindle. I won’t discuss every single book on my TBR; you can have a look at my entire ‘want to read’ shelf here.

Please note that I haven’t read any of these books yet, so I can’t 100% recommend them, but I’d definitely suggest checking them out if you haven’t yet!

Today I am going to talk about some science-fiction novels on my TBR. I never reach for this genre – the science aspects are often too complicated for me – but I am interested in reading these books nonetheless.

These are in no particular order. When you click on the graphic, you will be brought to the Goodreads page! want.png

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

I have yet to see a single negative review of Want by Cindy Pon! Apparently it has a crew of complex diverse characters, a heist and a subtle romance, so this sounds right up my alley! Fans of Six of Crows: check this one out!

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Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an wants vengeance.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rhee has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

Empress of a Thousand Skies has received many mixed reviews, but I am willing to give this series a chance thanks to its beautiful covers! I also love that this is a duology rather than a longer series, because I really struggle with those at the moment.

the long way to a small angry planet

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

Everyone who has read A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet loved it, so I’m angry I still haven’t read this yet! I’ve owned a copy for years, but I am so intimidated by 1) the hype and 2) sci-fi.

fifth season

Three terrible things happen in a single day.

Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes — those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon — are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.

She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

The Fifth Season has received nothing but praise, so I am very keen to pick it up! Whenever people explain what this book is about, it sounds confusing, but the world-building is apparently very good! That’s definitely a necessity for me, otherwise, I’d probably have a hard time enjoying a sci-fi novel.

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January 29, 2035.

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

The protagonist in On the Edge of Gone is autistic, which is #OwnVoices representation. There is also tons of other diversity in the book such as biracial rep, transgender rep, etc., so I think I’ll really enjoy it! Most reviewers mention this novel is rather slow, but I tend to prefer character-driven books anyway.


So these are five sci-fi books on my TBR! Like I mentioned, there are naturally more science-fiction novels I want to read, but I doubt you’re interested in reading about every single one. Anyway, have you read any of these books yet? Which one should I read first?

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Down the TBR Hole #61-70

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Hello, my fellow book lovers. Today, it’s time for round 7 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.

the sword of summer

synopsis: Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

No, I still haven’t started this series yet, but I did manage to read Percy Jackson and the Olympians in 2017 so I am one step closer to achieving my goal of reading Rick Riordan’s work. Please make sure I read the entire Heroes of Olympus series in 2018!

verdict: remains on physical TBR

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synopsis: Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

In all honesty, I don’t see myself read this book. When was the last time I picked up a YA fantasy series and actually finished it? But, I don’t want to remove it from my TBR because 1) this is historical fiction combined with fantasy, so I’m intrigued and 2) this has received some mixed reviews, so I want to see how I feel about it.

verdict: remains on physical TBR

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synopsis: For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

I’m not familiar with magical realism, but I have heard nothing but positive things about Anna-Marie McLemore’s work. I want to read Wild Beauty in early 2018 and will most likely pick up her other work afterwards.

verdict: remains on TBR and wishlist

the bane chronicles

synopsis:This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.

Why was this still on my TBR? I unhauled all of my Cassandra Clare books over six months ago. I read City of Bones and DNF City of Glass, so I tried, but her work is not for me.

verdict: remove from TBR + unhauled

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synopsis: Who are the Rat Queens?

They’re a pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire and they’re in the business of killing all the god’s creatures for profit. Meet Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief.

This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent, monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

I would love to read about kick-ass ladies, but I’m not a big fan of graphic novels. Additionally, this is written by a man and the artist was accused of domestic violence, so I’m wary about that as well.

verdict: remove from TBR and wishlist

uprooted.png

synopsis: Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood’s powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost to the wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia – all the things Agnieszka isn’t – and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.

I really, really want to read more YA fantasies and standalones in particular, so I’ve been meaning to read Uprooted for a long time!

verdict: remains on physical TBR

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synopsis: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared. Only one crew member survived: a young lieutenant named Louis Zamperini. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War, as Zamperini is driven to the limits of endurance.

I love the film adaptation of Unbroken, which I’ve seen multiple times already. I actually analysed this film for my history course, so I already know some of the differences between the biography and the movie. Because this novel is about 500 pages long and I know much about Louis Zamperini’s live already, I’m going to remove this book from my TBR.

verdict: remove from TBR and wishlist

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synopsis: “Without this child, we shall all die.”

Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world…

This book has over a million ratings on Goodreads and average rating of almost 4 stars! But I happened to watch an interview with the author a couple of weeks ago and he said something about safe spaces that rubbed me the wrong way. Besides, I’d only be reading it because it’s so popular, not because I’m genuinely interested in it.

verdict: remove entire series from TBR and wishlist

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synopsis: Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost, Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and fall.

I have no idea what to do with this one… I’ve only picked up Vicious by V.E. Schwab, but I ended up DNF’ing it (I know, so controversial!). But the hype surrounding her work definitely intrigues me, because she is so incredibly popular in the book community. I don’t own a physical copy of this, and it’s not likely I’ll ever buy it. But my sister is a fan of this author, so maybe when she gets a copy? I don’t know… Please help me out!

verdict: ??? HELP!

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synopsis: Elise is dead.
And someone must pay.

Anna, her boyfriend Tate, best friend Elise and a group of close friends set off on a debaucherous Spring Break trip to Aruba. But paradise soon turns into a living nightmare when Elise is brutally murdered.

Soon Anna finds herself trapped in a foreign country and fighting for her freedom. As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone is questioning her innocence. To the rest of the world, Anna isn’t just guilty, but dangerous. As the court case unfolds the truth is about to come out, and it’s more shocking than you could ever imagine…

This book was incredibly popular among YA readers a few years ago; everyone’s raving in their reviews how they didn’t see the reveal coming. But BooksandLala read this a few months ago and wasn’t blown away by it. I have the feeling I might feel the same way because I have read quite a few mystery thrillers already and certain tropes are easy to predict. Still, I might pick this up during Spookathon next year, since I own the paperback.

verdict: remains on physical TBR


Do you think I made any mistakes in my verdicts? Let me know in the comments!

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book review: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor a torch against the nightA Torch Against the Night

by Sabaa Tahir

read in January 2018

might contains spoilers for An Ember in the Ashes

synopsis

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

my_review_001

The year has just started, yet I think I’ve already found one of my most disappointing reads of 2018. I absolutely loved An Ember in the Ashes, but I don’t think I’ll continue this series.

Don’t get me wrong: A Torch Against the Night wasn’t a bad book, but I really struggled reading it. I started it back in March 2017, made multiple attempts to finish it and even considered DNF’ing it.

Even though I didn’t like the audiobook’s narration, I ultimately decided to read it by listening to the audiobook, otherwise, I don’t think I ever would have finished this.

I love Laia, but I detested the way she was narrated. English isn’t my first language, but the way the narrator pronounced ‘says’ was so odd! Anyway, I don’t know whether it’s because of the audiobook or the writing, but something seemed disjointed: the conversations and the transition between different scenes was awkward.

While reading Labyrinth Lost, another young adult fantasy, I realised I don’t tend to enjoy books where characters have to travel from point A to point B. It’s tedious because you know that they’ll most likely reach their destination. That’s why A Torch Against the Night seemed to drag.

At the same time though, the plot was all over the place. There was too much going on. I didn’t think Helene’s point-of-view was necessary.

In An Ember in the Ashes, the love “square” didn’t bother me. In this instalment, however, I just wanted Keenan to go away already! As if he could stand a chance against Elias!

While I applauded the way Tahir wrote the Commandant in the first book, I wasn’t a fan of  the villains in the sequel. The Nightbringer was a boring character, and it was a lot of ‘tell instead of show’. The Warden on the other hand just seemed evil for the sake of being evil. I absolutely dislike characters who are cruel for no reason, it’s lazy writing in my opinion.

Content and trigger warning for anti-fat remarks, ableist language, PTSD, panic attacks, slavery, imprisonment, death, descriptions of dying, sex, sexism, seizures, murder


Clearly, I didn’t enjoy much about A Torch Against the Night. It saddens me to say this because I loved An Ember in the Ashes, but I won’t be continuing this series. I’d actually like to find out how the story continues, but since I struggled so much reading the sequel, I don’t think the third instalment is going to be any different.

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book review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Little Fires Everywhere

by Celeste Ng

read in January 2018

format: hardcover

Spoiler-free review!

synopsis

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

my_review_001

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng was my favourite read of 2017, so it’s safe to say my expectations for Little Fires Everywhere were high. I didn’t quite love it as much as Ng’s debut novel, but it was superb nonetheless.

Though I hadn’t expected Little Fires Everywhere to be so character-driven, I didn’t mind. Mia and Izzy were definitely my favourite characters. Celeste Ng has this wonderful ability to write characters who are flawed and complex, yet you don’t hate them. Her characters are real human beings, who sometimes say really shitty things, but it’s somehow always obvious that the author doesn’t share the same opinion.

I couldn’t really connect with this book at the beginning because it was so different from what I had expected. Most people talk about the adoption in their synopsis, though that isn’t really mentioned until 140 pages into the book. It wasn’t the centre of the plot, but the adoption case did leave the biggest impression on me because it is so complex. It did not only deal with motherhood, but with class, money and race as well. It was sometimes infuriating to read, but enlightening at the same time. Once again, it shows the beauty of Ng’s writing, because she proves that not everything is black and white, but rather complicated.

Another reason why I struggled at the start was the third person perspective. I’m usually a huge fan of it but it was somewhat disconnecting in Little Fires Everywhere: there wasn’t a distinct point-of-view, we witnessed everyone’s thoughts.

content and trigger warning for (contains spoilers!!!): fire, ableist language, underage drinking, poverty, drug use, racism, unprotected sex, abortion, adoption, early-born baby, shaming women who have sex/abortions


I would absolutely recommend Little Fires Everywhere to fans of Everything I Never Told You and Big Little Lies, to readers who like novels about complex characters, their secrets and personal battles.

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#SapphicAThon review: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

everything leads to you.png

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor everything leads to you coverEverything Leads to You

by Nina LaCour

read in December 2017

format: paperback

spoiler-free review

synopsis

A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

my_review_001

Everything Leads To You has received many positive reviews and We Are Okay by Nina LaCour is one of my favourite books of 2017, so I had expected to love this novel as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t. This is by no means a bad book, I just had expected something more profound.

My main problem is that this is a young adult contemporary, yet it is neither realistic or relatable. Emi is an eighteen-year-old set designer who at the start of the book is still in high school as well. Though it was nice to learn more about the film industry, I couldn’t relate to the characters and their experiences because it seemed so far-fetched. They have jobs on film-sets while attending a private high school, have enough spare time to go wherever they want AND their parents are never around? Their lives seemed so perfect, it just didn’t seem real.

It took me five days to finish this book, even though it’s only 300 pages long and I picked it up regularly! The pacing was odd: a lot of time was spent learning more about Ava’s family, but I didn’t care to learn more about her. It wasn’t as if there was much of a mystery to solve.

Though you can’t tell while looking at the cover, the protagonist of this book is biracial. Her grandfather was black, so she refers to herself as “I’m a quarter”. I feel the need to include this in my review because I know some multiracial people aren’t fond of expressions like that.

There were some things that bothered me, but they weren’t a huge deal in the book. Firstly, Emi says “I wore a skimpy shirt to show off my girlishness”. This rubbed me the wrong way because it sounds as if you can’t be girly if you for example don’t have breasts to show off.

I also didn’t like how Laura was presented. It seemed as if she only wanted to be queer in order to gain popularity, in order to be liked by the boys. Yes, many allocishet boys and men are aroused by femme queer girls, but that’s not at all a compliment. It’s objectifying and fetishising. There would still be a lot of anti-queerness coming from other people, so this doesn’t add up.

There was only one closeted queer girl in this book and I felt like she was presented as some sort of “villain”, because she claimed the other girl had tricked her. The closeted girl’s family was very religious, which is why she was afraid to come out. I understand this hurt her girlfriend, but this narrative hurts, especially because there weren’t any other closeted queer characters who were presented in a more positive light.

Even though this review is rather negative, I ended up giving this book 3.5 stars. Like I said, it’s not a bad book, I just didn’t love it.

content and trigger warnings for: a lot of ableist language (such as crazy and insane), breaking and entering, homeless shelter, deceased parents, adoption, anti-queerness, overdose, drug use, underage drinking


Unfortunately I didn’t love Everything I Never Told You as much as We Are Okay. It was an enjoyable read, but not very profound, relatable or realistic.

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5 star predictions: books on my TBR

five star predictions.pngLately, I’ve been seeing some Booktubers predict their future 5 star reads, which intrigued me to do the same. This was apparently created by MercysBookishMusings. I had expected it to be very easy because I buy each book thinking I’m going to love it, but a five star is still different from a four, so this wasn’t easy at all!

I decided to only have a look at my physical and Kindle TBR while making this list, and I afterwards noticed that almost all of these books are contemporaries. That’s no coincidence, because I’ve absolutely been loving diverse realistic fiction that is heartbreaking, yet beautiful and somehow still uplifting.

So here are five books I think I will end up giving five stars!

burial rites

synopsis: Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

I can’t wait to pick up this historical fiction novel! I’ve heard so many positive things about it. I actually had my eyes on a hardcover copy, but I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I settled for the e-book while it was on sale.

wild beauty

synopsis: Love grows such strange things.

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.

Because EVERYONE loves it, I am nervous to pick up Wild Beauty. It’s not unusual for me to keep postponing reading hyped books because I don’t want my expectations to be too high and set myself up for disaster.

I’m not familiar with magical realism, so I don’t know what to expect from this novel to be honest.the secret history.png

synopsis: Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.

Back when I was still active on Tumblr, everyone who loved The Raven Cycle adored The Secret History as well. So I’m expecting this to be a five star read but I am definitely intimidated by the hype, which is why I still haven’t started this novel yet even though I’ve had it on my shelves for YEARS.

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synopsis: Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?

I won’t read Girl Out of Water anytime soon because this seems like the perfect summer’s read and it’s the middle of winter right now. All my friends love this book and considering how much I’ve been loving contemporaries lately, I don’t think Girl Out of Water is going to disappoint.

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synopsis: Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

I don’t think I’ve ever given a middle grade novel a five star rating yet, but I’m very hopeful that’s going to change soon because I have a ton of diverse middle grades on my TBR! Amina’s Voice sounds sad yet heartbreaking, which is something I tend to love. I’m also very keen to read more books featuring Muslim protagonists, so I can’t wait to pick this up!


This was much more difficult than I had anticipated! If you liked this post, I could do a variation of it in the future, e.g. 2018 releases I expect to rate five stars.

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book review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor and then there were none book coverAnd Then There Were None

by Agatha Christie

read in January 2018

format: audiobook

spoiler-free review!

synopsis

1939. Europe teeters on the brink of war. Ten strangers are invited to Soldier Island, an isolated rock near the Devon coast. Cut off from the mainland, with their generous hosts Mr and Mrs U.N. Owen mysteriously absent, they are each accused of a terrible crime. When one of the party dies suddenly they realise they may be harbouring a murderer among their number.

The 10 strangers include a reckless playboy, a troubled Harley Street doctor, a formidable judge, an uncouth detective, an unscrupulous mercenary, a God-fearing spinster, two restless servants, a highly decorated general and an anxious secretary. One by one they are picked off. Who will survive? And who is the killer? Copies of an ominous nursery rhyme hang in each room, the murders mimicking the awful fates of its ‘Ten Little Soldier Boys’.

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If And Then There Were None is the world’s favourite Agatha Christie book, I guess I won’t be reading any more of her work. Though I read this novel fairly quickly and was intrigued to unravel the mystery, the reveal was ultimately underwhelming.

When the BBC mini-series was aired a few years ago, I immediately purchased And Then There Were None because I wanted to read the book before watching the adaptation. Due to the large cast of characters, however, I quit reading after merely one chapter because I couldn’t keep them apart from one another.

I gave the novel a second chance by listening to the audiobook – which is narrated Dan Stevens, best known from his acting in Beauty and the Beast and Downton Abbey which I quite enjoyed. Once again it took me a while to distinguish between the characters; taking notes really helped me with that and I was finally able to enjoy the story.

One by one, someone dies. I liked that the characters weren’t oblivious to what was going on and tried to figure out what was happening alongside the readers. Though I was intrigued to find out more, I wasn’t on the edge of my seat while reading. I didn’t care about the characters so I felt indifferent when they died. Sadly, I did find out right before reading this book who was going to be the last one standing.

Furthermore, the reveal kind of ruined the novel for me. Though I hadn’t expected it, the way we were told who was responsible, was quite underwhelming. And Then There Were None is such a well-acclaimed novel, so I had expected much more from this.

I realise that this book was written many decades ago, but I am nonetheless disappointed that reviewers didn’t mention that the culprit is clearly coded as having a mental illness. Over and over again, I have to read mystery novels in which someone with a disability (such as a mental illness) is the perpetrator, which is incredibly harmful. Yes, are there some mental illnesses where people might do horrible things as one of the symptoms, but in fiction it is 1) overrepresented and 2) vilified. As a result, when a white man kills hundreds of people, he is diagonalised as having a mental illness by the media without any proof whatsoever. I am very sensitive when it comes to this because I enjoy mystery novels from time to time, but I am tired of reading this harmful stereotype.

Additionally, multiple characters in And Then There Were None died by suicide. Sometimes, the descriptions were graphic, but I mainly had a problem with the fact that all of them committed suicide not because they e.g. had a mental illness and were depressed, but because they were embarrassed, felt guilty because of the crime they had committed, etc.

trigger and content warning for: racism, sexism, suicide, “suicide is a sin”, “being pregnant and unmarried is a sin”, murder, poisoning, shooting, drowning, death by being hit with heavy objects, ‘Jews’ instead of ‘Jewish’


Though I enjoyed reading And Then There Were None, it wasn’t very gripping and the reveal was disappointing. I would’ve preferred this mystery novel to include more for-shadowing, which would’ve made the reveal seem less sudden and anti-climactic.

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series review: Violet Hill (Second Kiss, Double Exposure and Second Chance)

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Hello, my fellow book lovers! Today I will be reviewing the Violet Hill series by Chelsea M. Cameron. This is a series of F/F companion novellas named Second Kiss, Double Exposure and Second Chance.

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Second Kiss (Violet Hill, #1) by Chelsea M. Cameron

synopsis

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor book cover second kiss chelsea cameronDaisy Grace Webber’s life hasn’t exactly turned out how she thought. She didn’t think she’d drop out of college and come back to the small town she grew up in. To be fair, she didn’t think her love of baking would turn into a job at the Violet Hill Cafe either, but it did.

Something else she didn’t expect was for Molly Madison to walk back into her life, eight years after she moved away. They’d been best friends forever, or so she’d thought. But Molly is back in town and she’s looking… really good, actually. And that reminds Daisy of that one time at a sleepover when they’d kissed during a game of Spin the Bottle. That one kiss has been on her mind since then, but it’s irrelevant. Molly isn’t into girls.

But as Daisy and Molly spend more time together, feelings start to grow, and Daisy is wondering just how “straight” Molly really is…

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I always have a hard time reviewing novellas because I usually don’t have much to say about them. Second Kiss was cute and I would recommend it if you’re in the mood to read an adorable queer romance novella, featuring a lesbian protagonist and queer love interest.

Daisy’s former best friend Molly returns to town and she starts to have feelings for her again. But Daisy doesn’t plan on doing anything about that, because she assumes Molly is straight.

And that disappointed me. Straight people assume everyone is straight, but why do queer people assume that as well? On the one hand I understand it because our society is so heteronormative, but I on the other hand wish that didn’t make it even harder for us to come out.

During a sex scene, Daisy thinks: “Before I knew what was happening, she’d grabbed my hips and was thrusting upward into me”. Daisy didn’t mind that, but I think this could’ve been written in a more consensual way.

I liked that the characters admitted their feelings were a bit rushed, which is understandable considering this is less than 60 pages long.

Trigger and content warning for intoxicated driving

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Double Exposure (Violet Hill, #2) by Chelsea M. Cameron

synopsis

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor double exposure chelsea cameronAnna Corcoran’s life is hectic, but that’s how she likes it. Between her jobs at the Violet Hill Cafe, the local library, and doing publicity work for authors, she doesn’t have much time for anything else. Until Lacey Cole walks into the cafe and she feels like she’s been knocked off her axis.

Lacey’s a photographer and writer and wants to do a profile on the cafe, including an interview with Anna. She’s game, but after spending a few days with Lacey, Anna is falling. Hard. The only problem is that Lacey isn’t going to be sticking around. She floats from town to town, never staying in one place.

But as they get closer and closer, Anna wonders if maybe this would be the one time when Lacey would decide to stay put. With her.

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Double Exposure is a companion to Second Kiss. You don’t have to read the entire series if you don’t want to, each novella focusses on another character. Anna is the protagonist in this one and she is pansexual.

I identify as bisexual, but this novella really made me doubt all over again. So after reading this, I decided to identify as both bisexual AND pansexual from now on. Maybe one day I will be able to figure myself out, but that’s what I feel most comfortable with at the moment.

Anyway, I do feel the need to mention that this pansexual character has had a lot of casual sex and not many serious relationship. This is usually a harmful and stereotypical trope, though I don’t think it was the case in this novella.

Lacey, the love interest, is a trans bisexual woman. I love that Anna didn’t assume that meant that Lacey was into girls. That made it clear that for example not all bisexuals are attracted to cis women, but their identity is still valid.

I also liked that the trans character didn’t need surgeries in order to be validated as a woman. It doesn’t matter what your body looks like, if you want to be a woman, you are a woman.

Each novella probably has some pacing issues because it isn’t easy to tell a fleshed-out story in less than 100 pages. So I found the romance in Double Exposure quite rushed, yet it at the same time dragged because the characters made things complicated while the reader just knew everything was going to work out in the end.

Unfortunately, Anna wasn’t as body positive when it came to herself. There were a few hurtful sentences that I didn’t like:

  • “I hope that she didn’t notice the cellulite on my ass, or the stretch marks on my thighs or that weird little scar […].”
  • “I’d spent at least an hour in the shower last night getting rid of every offending hair that I could find.”

She refers to these as ‘flaws’. Cellulite, stretch marks, body hair… are natural and we shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed for having them.

Even though Double Exposure made me second-guess my sexuality, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Second Kiss. First of all, I didn’t connect with it. The characters would be laughing their asses off and I’d be sitting there, reading it with a straight face. I just didn’t care… Furthermore, reading how they were attracted to one another made me uncomfortable. When Lacey was taking photographs of Anna, she got really turned on when she saw her in lingerie. That concerned me. Does she always get turned on while photographing her clients?

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Second Chance (Violet Hill, #3) by Chelsea M. Cameron

synopsis

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor second chance violet hillSerena Nolan’s summer isn’t going how she planned. Fortunately, her cousin, Anna, is there to rescue her from spending her time off from college with parents who don’t understand (or want to understand) her. Serena’s thrilled to be living with Anna and her girlfriend, Lacey in Lacey’s studio, and working in the Violet Hill Cafe. She’s even adores Lacey’s cat, Murder.
What she definitely didn’t plan was running into her ex, Fiona Davis. They’d been best friends that had turned into something else, but everything had crashed and burned before the end of high school several years ago.
Serena is still smarting from the heartbreak, but she can’t say no to spending some time with Fi. Against her better judgement, old feelings are mixing with new ones, and she doesn’t know what to do. Serena will have to decide if past heartbreak is going to keep her from a potential future with Fiona.

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Serena, the protagonist in Second Chance, is demisexual, demiromantic and bisexual. It was really nice to see such representation in a book.

I think my main problem with this series is the writing. It’s not convincing. The characters nor the plot seem authentic and sometimes, the writing is just plain awkward. Serena for instance thought “A few lemon slices landed in my glass, but I didn’t care.” Then why mention it? This doesn’t add anything to the story, it’s just filler. There are plenty of similar sentences in these novellas and it really disrupted the flow for me.

Because this is a novella, the writing didn’t always add up. Two pages ago Serena couldn’t even imagine being friends with Fiona, now she’s imagining having a relationship with her…

On top of that, the way Serena acted was so bold, I don’t think anyone would say what she said. Her ex walks in with another person and one of the first things Serena said to her was: “I’m working, and you’ve moved on so… I don’t know what there is to say.” Who says that?! They broke up years ago and you’re mad she is sitting their with someone else?

Immediately after finishing this, I couldn’t remember the characters’ names anymore. I really wish I could be more positive in my reviews, but I only wrote down negative remarks while reading… These novellas are by no means bad, they just didn’t work for me.

Trigger and content warning for underage drinking


I realise that most of the issues I have with this series are personal. Just because I couldn’t connect to the writing style, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend this to other people. If you are looking for fast-paced F/F romances, I think Violet Hill might be what you need.

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#SapphicAThon review: Ripped Pages by M. Hollis

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Afbeeldingsresultaat voor ripped pages m hollis coverRipped Pages

by M. Hollis

read in December 2017

format: Kindle

This is a spoiler-free review!

synopsis

Princess Valentina lives a reasonably comfortable life, but after her mother’s death, her father gets tired of taking care of her and locks her in a tower. She spends years on her own, talking to the birds on her windowsill, and reading books with adventures she will never experience. Her plans of running away are usually left for another day because she knows the vast forest surrounding her tower is too dangerous to cross alone.
Until one day, another girl passes by on her horse and Valentina wonders if she’s finally brave enough to seize her chance of freedom.

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If you are in the mood for a past-paced read, I’d recommend Ripped Pages. This novella is only 60 pages long, so it was a quick read.

In novellas, it’s very common that the backstory, the character, the romance, etc. are a bit underdeveloped and I think that’s the case for Ripped Pages as well. Valentina would think “I have spent so much time and effort on figuring a way out of the tower”, when in fact she only thought about it for one page. It’s understandable though, considering the amount of pages in which the author tried to retell this fairytale.

If you keep that in mind, however, this is still a very enjoyable read. Ripped Pages is a F/F romance, featuring a protagonist who is a lesbian and a queer love interest (Agnes is attracted to multiple genders). There are also two male queer characters and multiple characters of colour.

I really liked how this wasn’t as stereotypical as most fairytales. Agnes’ stepmother for instance is like a mother to her instead of the evil stepmother we are so used to seeing in fiction. In her kingdom, the throne always goes to the oldest daughter. The characters asked for consent before they kissed, which I really appreciated as well.

I also want to thank the author for including a list of trigger warnings at the beginning of her book. It’s a shame this hasn’t been normalized yet.

Trigger and content warnings for scenes of emotional abuse, forced imprisonment, child abandonment, minor violence, trauma recovery


Though Ripped Pages isn’t ground-breaking literary fiction, I would absolutely recommend this fast-paced, diverse F/F retelling of Rapunzel to everyone who’s interested. I will continue to read everything M. Hollis writes!

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T10T: backlist TBR books I NEED to read in 2018

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

January 9: Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To (and totally plan to get to in 2018!!)

When I rearranged my bookshelves a few weeks ago, I noticed some books have been on my shelves for YEARS, but I never feel inclined to pick them up. I don’t want to get rid of them because I’m somewhat interested to read these books, but I’ll really have to push myself (unlike the other books on my TBR).

That’s why I made this ultimatum: if I don’t read the books on this list in 2018, I have to unhaul them! Without including the amount of books in each series, there are thirteen books on this list, so if I read about one of these books each month, that’s manageable.

In no particular order, here are the thirteen books I have to get to in 2018!


a torch against the nightA Torch Against the Night is the second book in the An Ember in the Ashes series. I really loved the first instalment, but I’m struggling with the sequel. As much as I want to read it, I keep putting it down for months whenever I do. If I don’t read this soon, I’m afraid I’ll have to give up on this series.

update: I finally finished this a few days ago. Review to come!

winner's crimeI read the Winner’s Curse back in 2016 and I really liked it, even though it’s not something I usually tend to enjoy. I immediately ordered the order books in the series, but I clearly haven’t continued it yet… It’s been almost two years so if I don’t read it know, I probably never will.

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The Book Thief was one of the first English novels I ever bought. I got it around the time the film adaptation was released, which is a LONG time ago. I tend to enjoy historical fiction, so I hope I’ll love this one.

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I don’t know much about the Night Circus and I’d like to keep it that way until I read this novel myself. It has received so much praise! Everyone constantly compares any novel featuring a circus to this one, so it must be good. The only reason why I haven’t read this one yet, is because I own a mass paperback copy and I don’t like reading those. I want to get a hardcover copy, but they’re so expensive and rare!

peculiar children.pngI’ve owned this book for over two years, yet have never been in the mood to pick it up. Still, I want to know what the hype’s about. The same can be said about a lot of the books on this list, actually. I’m not convinced I’ll love it, but the hype has me intrigued.

the bone season.pngA couple of readers have mentioned that The Bone Season romanticises slavery. Unfortunately, I already owned the first two books and had pre-ordered the collector’s edition of the third before I found out about it. I know this sounds incredibly selfish, but unhauling three hardcovers – including a signed collector’s edition – would mean I’d lose money. So even though I’m not interested in reading this series anymore, I want to read the first instalment and decide whether or not this series is worth continuing.

When a book or author is called out for being problematic, I usually remove it from my TBR immediately. That’s what I did with  Nevernight for example. But I cannot help but think about the money I’d basically throw away. I’m sorry for prioritizing money, but I’m currently unemployed, so can’t just keep on unhauling unread hardcover copies.

shadow and bone.pngI started reading Shadow and Bone in 2015, but I wasn’t in the mood for it. Even though I’ve been spoiled for this series, I want to give it another chance because I really like the Six of Crows duology and am interested in reading all of Bardugo’s books.

scarlet.pngEven though I thought Cinder was rather meh, I want to continue this series for two reasons: 1) I own the entire series already and 2) it’s immensely popular!

the secret history.pngI started The Secret History one night a couple of summers ago, but when there came no end to the first chapter, I decided to put it down. I haven’t picked it up since! I have the feeling I’m going to love this novel, so I really ought to read it in 2018.

the lost heroThough I didn’t fall in love with Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I still want to read all of Rick Riordan’s books. Perhaps I will read this series on audiobook.

the darkest minds.pngI have mixed feelings about this series. On the one hand, I want to know why everyone loved it a few years ago, but on the other, I’m afraid this is going to be terribly trope-y.

a dance with dragons

A Song of Ice and Fire is one of my favourite series, so there’s no way I’m getting rid of this book! But I can’t deny that I constantly postpone continuing this series because I am intimidated by its size. I know it’s going to be incredibly time-consuming, but I’ll have to read it eventually.

red rising.pngI don’t tend to love books with male protagonists written by male authors, but because I own the first and third book in this series (I know, I’m a weirdo, why haven’t a bought the second instalment yet?) I want to give it a chance.


So these are the books I have to read in 2018! Obviously there are plenty of other books on my TBR, but these are ones that have been on my shelves for years and I never consider picking up.

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