Top 5 Tuesday: Series I Want To Start

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah @ The Bionic Book Worm. The theme for today is series I want to start, and to be fair there are already so many series that I need to finish, I don’t know if starting a new one would be a good idea, but then again I’m pretty sure I can find the answers on my Goodreads TBR shelf and I like the topic, so here we go!


 

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

I have started The Mortal Instruments a few years ago, and while I haven’t read them all yet, I did enjoy them. In addition to that I heard that this particular trilogy was even better. I am certain to like the historical/steampunk aspect of it, and I heard that the characters are really likable, so this one is high on my list of series I’d like to check out.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I’m including this one first because I do own it so I’m more likely to read it. In addition to that, I have read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and though I have not read the sequel yet, I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I’m definitely curious about Strange the Dreamer. And of course, I heard it was amazing.

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Asgard by Rick Riordan

Have I mentioned how much I love mythology inspired books and middle grade series? Because I do. I loved PJO and am also thoroughly enoying Roshani Chokshi’s Aru Shah series. I also wrote (a long time ago) an paper about Norse mythology, and to be fair I have no excuse. I really don’t know why I didn’t pick up this one sooner.

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

I absolutely love her other series, and actually it turns out that I have finished them all, and am always looking for more Victoria Schwab books because I know I’ll enjoy them. I am also really curious about the concept of The Archived because I know it has to do with people and books, and although the series is unfinished, I really want to check it out.

Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy) by Ken Follett

I absolutely adore Pillars of the Earth and its sequel World Without End. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction in general, and I know that Ken Follett does it right. I actually do own those books, but they are huge, and haven’t braced myself yet. However, I do know that I will read them eventually, and I’m looking forward to that day, because I know I will have a wonderful time reading those books.


And that’s it for today, feel free to share some series you’d like to check out, and have a wonderful day!

Crier’s War | This Is How You Lose the Time War

I’m starting to really enjoy the whole “I’m talking about two books in one post” thing, so I decided to do that again. Of course, I’m talking about books that have something in common. Something else that just I really like them. Overall, it’s probably mostly going to be books that deal with mental illness, or books with asexual characters. But today, I’m going to talk about something else: I’m here with two science-fiction (ish? are they actually fantasy) sapphic novels, and incidentally, two of my recent reads I fell in love with.

Crier’s War by Nina Varela (2019) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This Is How You Lose the Time War
by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (2019) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Disclaimer: While Crier’s War is definitely YA, This Is How You Lose the Time War isn’t, and doesn’t necessarily target the same audience, and while I did notice that they had quite a few things in common, I just wanted to point that out, because it probably won’t appeal to younger readers as much as it did to me.


Crier’s War had been on my TBR ever since I received it in the October Owlcrate, and like many books on my TBR (this is a recurrent topic these days, and I know it) it had to wait until the confinement for me to actually pick it up, although I was really excited by the concept. And now that I have actually read it, September and the sequel cannot come fast enough.

Crier’s War is set in what seems to be a far future, but could also be an alternate timeline, where the world is divided between Humans and Automae, the latter being people who are not born but Made, who are stronger and more beautiful, and who have since they first appeared, gained power, and started ruling over humans. Lady Crier is a powerful Automae heiress, who is hoping she can built a better world. Ayla is a servant at the palace, and secretly part of a revolution to get rid off Automae authority. Through a series of events, she saves Crier’s life when she meant to kill her, and becomes part of her close entourage. While using it as an excuse to serve the revolution, she soon realises that they are attracted to each other…

I loved this book and the relationship between Ayla and Crier. I am a huge fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope, so of course, I was bound to enjoy it. If you consider the fact that Crier and Ayla are not the same Kind (I’m pretty sure that’s the termination used in the book, to make the difference between those who are born and those who are Made) and considering in the setting of the book, it automatically makes them enemies because apparently one Kind has to serve the other, the book has a bit of a Romeo & Juliet vibe which I loved. It is also a forbidden love because Crier is a rich lady and Ayla is her maid, which is also a soft trope™️ which is my guilty pleasure. On top of that, you can add A LOT of mutual pining (yet another one of my favourite tropes) and there you have it.

There’s also some shady stuff going on involving Crier’s fiancé, Ayla’s long lost family, and a revolution, which of course contributed to make the book amazing. If you haven’t grasped that already, I really enjoyed it and I’m starting to wonder why I gave it four and not five stars. It’s a very good sci-fi / dystopia-ish / fantasy-ish book — the perfect blend just like I like it. I’m also left with many question, and I cannot wait for the sequel!

That being said, I’m so glad I found ANOTHER sci-fi book I absolutely loved. Of course I’m talking about This Is How You Lose the Time War. If you like mutual pining, then you will be fed with this one. If also has a top quality enemy-to-lovers relationship, as Red and Blue are part of enemy factions trying to control the timeline, and met for the first time on the battlefield. Apart from it having my favourite tropes, including the slowest burn of them all, the fact that Blue and Red exchange secret letters AND spread them throughout the different timelines, and the fact that they would DIE for each other, what I LOVED THE MOST about this book is the writing.

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*inserting gif of one of my favourite time-travelers, credit here*

Honestly, I think this is the most beautifully written book I have read in a long time. I had to put it down quite a few times just to swoon. And to write down some quotes. Obsessively.

“I have observed friendships as one observes high holy days: breathtakingly short, whirlwinds of intimate endeavour frenzied carousing, the sharing of food, of wine, of honey.”

The WORDS. The writing style. They made me feel things. It was an incredibly beautiful book, in ways I didn’t expect. And the way Blue and Red would declare their love to one another just made me go all soft deep inside. This book was brilliant. Let me just add one more quote.

“As each letter unfolds inside her mind, she frames it in the palace of her memory. She webs words to cobalt and lapis, she weds them to the robes of Mary in San Marco frescoes, to paint on porcelain, to the color incide a glacier crack. She will not let her go.”

Basically what I’m trying to say is, I didn’t know words could be that beautiful. I’m a huge fan of time-travel stories and this book had a bit of a Doctor Who / Timeless / Passenger vibe (the last two because of the two factions working against one another, and DW just for the hell of it). And while I love them, I often find the concept a bit difficult to grasp in some parts. And yes, it was the case here, but the writing style made up for it one thousand percent. This book was BEAUTIFUL. It was unnecessarily beautiful, and yet I’m grateful for all the emotions it made me feel. It did take me a while to get into the story, but the more I read, the more it got to me, the more beautiful it became. And while the book was not very long, it was intense in its own way, and I was swiftly swept away. I too want a timeless girlfriend who leaves me secret letters into the tea leaves of a fancy London café in the 19th century.

I am only now noticing the fact that both titles include the word “war” which should have given away the possibility of both of them having enemies-to-lovers relationships, and is yet another thing that they had in common. Anyway, I loved them both, and I hope you will too.


That’s it for today, thank you so much for reading, and as for the future I’m hoping to find more of those books I’ll fall in love with!

Love From A to Z: My Review

I said I wanted to write more blog posts, and I will. Last summer, as I was browsing English bookstores in Paris with a friend, I had of course decided that I would not buy any book because I had enough at home, I stumbled upon Love From A to Z by S. K. Ali, and I caved in and decided to buy it for three reasons: it’s a stunning, hardcover edition, I’d read her previous book Saints and Misfits and really enjoyed it, and this particular book was ALREADY on my TBR and I knew that would read it eventually (that’s sort of a lame excuse, I know, but I bought the book anyway). As soon as I got home, it ended up in one of my multiple book piles (the priviledged one right by my nightstand, not the ones by my bookshelf), I mentioned at least twice on this blog that I wanted to read it, but it took a whole month of confinement for me to actually pick it up. And boy am I glad that I finally did.

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Title: Love From A to Z
Author: S. K. Ali
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release: 2019
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

TW: This book deals with Islamophobia

Before I go any further into this blog post, let me add that I loved this book from the beginning to the end, and it has made it to my list of top favourite books I have read this year. So far, the list also contains Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia, and Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee. For some reason, they are all contemporaries (probably because the relatable weighs a lot in my liking a book) but we shall see if the rest of the year keeps it that way or not! (And maybe because the world looks like a dystopia right now, I will carry on with my contemporary books and be envious of book characters who get to go out with their friends, but that’s a whole other topic…)

To sum it up:

After getting suspended from school because she confronted a teacher who keeps targetting her faith, Zayneb is sent to Doha, Qatar, by her parents, so she can stay with her aunt and get an early start to Spring break. Unexpectedly, her path crosses Adam’s.

Adam was attending college in London, where he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last fall. He stopped attending classes, and instead decided to create things. Something he’s always loved doing, and something that helps keep the memory of his mother alive. He is very intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret, especially from his father. And then he meets Zayneb.

“I wanted to get to know one person more than I’d ever wanted to get to know any other person in the entire world.”

My thoughts:

This is not a love at first sight. This is the story of people who keep meeting, and each time confirms the fact that they could belong together. This is a story about getting to know one another. Adam and Zayneb have a lot in common, starting with the fact that they are both Muslim, which is closely followed by the journal of marvels and oddities they both keep, which was a very clever way of setting up the narration.

Love from A to Z is a beautiful book. It’s a rather quick and easy read — I read it in 24 hours, but maybe that was because I desperately wanted to know what would happen next. The chapters altern between Adam’s and Zayneb’s POV. Zayneb shares a lot of oddities: she is angry at the world for all it puts her through. The microagressions. Her islamophobic teacher who just won’t let it go. The school who is investigating her activist friends. The woman on the plane who asked to switch seats. The man at the pool who called security on her because she “wasn’t wearing proper swimwear”. But she is also full of love for her friends and her family. Hard-working and unable to bear injustice, she is a very inspiring character. Adam on the other hand is calm. While Zayneb strives for justice, he strives for peace. That’s the very reason why he became a Muslim at the age eleven. He has been through a lot but that doesn’t keep him from admiring what he sees in the world. He looks at the sky a lot, and shares marvels in his journal. He is an extremely kind and overall beautiful human being, but he is also dealing alone (at the beginning of the story at least) with multiple sclerosis, the illness who killed his mother, which is why he is scared of telling his father.

There is a lot of side-characters, starting with Adam’s friends who also all returned to Doha from Spring break, and who quickly adopt Zayneb as one of them, and of course, her friends back in the US. I really loved the relationship between Zayneb and her aunt, and of course, Adam’s little sister Hanna.

Love from A to Z is also a book that deals with grief. Six months before the story started, Zayneb lost her grandmother who was attending a wedding in Pakistan. The circumstances of her passing away are unclear, and Zayneb’s parents are trying to figure out what happened. And then we have Adam’s mom. He shared some cherished memories with her (which teared me up) and has to be strong for his father because the anniversary of her passing away is coming up. So yes, it’s a book that deals with hard topics on many different levels, but it does it in a way that is both human and beautiful. The characters experience grief, anger, being powerless and more. I had to put it down a few times to deal with the tears. But that only made me like it more.

Love from A to Z will hit you with some hard truths about the world. Things are not always easy. There are oddities, but there are also so many wonders, like this book, which is absolutely beautiful.

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In conclusion, if you haven’t read this book yet, I most highly recommend it. As for me, I’m wondering if I should reread Saints and Misfits because I can’t for the life of me remember how it ended. Anyway, thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!

The Currently Reading Booktag

I saw this booktag on Meggy’s blog @ Chocolate N Waffles and I decided to give it a try because I’m more often than not reading several books at a time! The tag was originally created on Booktube by Charly Reynhorse, and without further ado, let’s get into it!

Question 1: How many books do you usually read at once?

It depends, but often I end up reading three books at the same time: a sometimes bigger one on paperback or hardback, an ebook (on my kindle, or now on Scribd) and an audiobook when I’m in the mood.

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Question 2: If you’re reading more than one book at a time, how do you decide when to switch to reading the other book (do you read a certain amount of pages in each?)

Here’s the trick: if the physical book I’m reading is too big for me to carry, I’ll just read it at home, and carry my Kindle in my bag. Sometimes I’ll finish my paperback on my way home and pick up a book on my Kindle app, and then pick up something else when I get home. I may have one book for my way to work, and one book to read at home. And audiobooks for when I’m cooking. Or in the mood to knit or do some crafts.

Question 3: Do you ever switch bookmarks while you’re part way through a book?

I keep losing my bookmarks, and then find them weeks later when I clean up my room, so yes. I have a huge collection of them, so that’s not a problem. Sometimes I also forget them in a book. I also like to use fancy bookmarks at home, but don’t want them to get damaged in my bag. So yes, anything can happen really!

Question 4: Where do you keep the book(s) you’re currently reading?

Either in my bag, or on the huge pile of books that’s sitting by my nightstand.

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Question 5: What time of day do you spend the most time reading?

If I’m going to work it will be: one hour on my way, one hour at lunch, and one hour on my way back from work. If I’m not working, it really depends. (And these days, it can be all afternoon!)

Question 6: How long do you typically read for in one go?

To be fairly honest, I’m not really good at concentrating, and tend to check out my phone a lot. Sometimes I’ll want to share a reaction to what I’m reading on Twitter or Instagram, and get lost. Sometimes, I feel the unnecessary urge to update my reading on Goodreads, and then I end up doing something else entirely. So really, I have no idea.

Question 7: Do you read hard covers with the dust jacket on or off?

I take them off, I’m not some kind of monster!! And if I’m carrying the book with me, I leave it at home.

Just kidding, you do what you want.

Question 8: Which position do you mainly use to read?

Either sitting on my couch, or lying down on my bed.

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Question 9: Do you take the book you’re currently reading with you everywhere you go?

Yes! At least one of them. And I know I can also read on my phone if for some reason I need to.

Question 10: How often do you update your progress in the book you’re currently reading on Goodreads?

Too often, it’s ridiculous. When I pick up a book. When I reach 10%(ish) because I feel like it’s acceptable to make an update. When I put down the book. When I feel like I made some progress. It doesn’t really make sense. And sometimes I forget. But you get the gist of it: I like using Goodreads.


And that’s it for today, thanks for reading, and feel free to participate as well if you’d like to! Stay safe, and happy reading!

Top 5 Tuesday: Popular Books I Haven’t Read

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah @ The Bionic Book Worm. The theme for today is “popular books I haven’t read”, so without further ado, let’s get into it!


Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

I have consistently seen this book on instagram and twitter for YEARS and I hear great things about it. It was quite popular, and still is. On top of that, there were more additions to the series recently, so of course, when you talk about popular books that I haven’t read, I think about this one. However, and like Sara J. Maas books, I don’t think I’m going to read it… We shall see what the future holds.

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Another series I have been seeing around for YEARS! To be fair, I own all books in The Mortal Instruments, and have read four of them. I am taking my sweet time, but one day, when I’m done, I will move on with The Infernal Devices. (Yes, I know, in terms of reading order that’s not the best, but by now I’m doing this in terms of the books I own!)

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston

This one is more recent but it’s probably on this list the one I’m the most excited about (which leads to the following question: what have I been waiting for? I don’t know). I have heard only good things and my hopes are high because come on, a queer romance with the fake dating trope? What else do I need to like a book? Hopefully I get around to reading that one soon!

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis

I’ve been back and forth with this one, wondering whether or not I should read it. I did hear many great things about it, but there’s also this little voice in the back of my head that tells me maybe I have outgrown this kind of YA books (I did read TFIOS back in 2012 after all, and that was a long time ago). So I haven’t made up my mind yet, but it’s definitely popular, and on my radar.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

And finally this one! I heard only the best things about it, and I have read Daisy Jones & The Six which I loved, so I’m pretty sure that I will enjoy it as well. I also know that I have it on my kindle, so really, I don’t know what I am waiting for, but I do know that I will read it one day, and have a great time doing so.


When it comes to the books on my TBR, I feel like the more I talk about them, the less I’m likely to read them, so let’s just stop here I think that’s enough. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!

Dragon Pearl: My Review

I think it’s really time I write some book reviews. I’ve read 12 books since the beginning of the month, and really enjoyed most of them, so what am I waiting for? I got nothing better to do. And it’s nice to do different things. Like, yesterday I read and watched Netflix. Today I’ll blog and probably read. And maybe tomorrow I’ll bake a cake. Life is great. The confinement is lasting at least until May 11th and I really hope it comes quickly. (However, we are still in the great unknown when it comes to what happens next.) ANYWAY. I’m here to talk about something else today: my latest middle grade discovery!

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Title: Dragon Pearl
Author: Yoon Ha Lee
Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction
Release: 2019
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dragon Pearl is part of the ever growing pile of books promoted by Rick Riordan through “Rick Riordan Presents”, which are middle grade books about different cultures and mythologies, written by authors of colour. I really love the idea, and have a soft spot for magical middle grade books, so of course, I want to read all of them. I fell in love with Roshani Chokshi’s Aru Shah last year, and wanted to check out more books. When I learnt that there was one featuring Korean mythical creatures, I immediately wanted to check it out. All the more so considering it’s a standalone book, and I’m so bad at completing series. So I ordered it back in February, and finally took the time to read it!

To sum it up:

In addition to its absolutely stunning book cover, it featured a 13 years old shape shifting gumiho called Min (the gumiho is a nine-tailed fox creature known for how much they like to deceive humans, so basically they have a pretty bad reputation) ready to do anything to find her brother; a bunch of ghosts; a dragon sidekick and a non binary goblin, as well as heaps of mythical creatures; a sageuk vibe except it’s set in SPACE, and on top of that, a crazy ass quest!! A sageuk is a Historical Korean drama, they also can feature elements of mythology, ghosts and gumiho beeing recurrent elements of the culture. They are very present in Dragon Pearl, obviously, the only difference being that it’s a science fiction book, set in a future where humanity lives on different planets. Most of the intrigue is set on a space shift.

My thoughts:

I really liked the atmosphere of this book. I started it not really knowing what to expect, except for loads of adventures which I got. The setting was well-made: you’re immediately surrounded by this extraordinary world which is a blend of fantasy with its mythical creatures, and the family of gumihos, and science-fiction as they are living on another planet in what seems to be the future. It caught my attention immediately, and I kept wanting to know more. About the dragon pearl, about what exactly had happened to Min’s brother, about that mysterious planet of ghosts… What I want to say is: excellent world-building.

As for the characters, Min is your typical middle grade book main character. She has a not-so-easy relationship with her cousins and her family, but she’s ready to do anything for her brother Jun who has apparently gone AWOL, and she makes friends along the way, although there are also some deception but I’ll let you see for yourself once you read the book, which you hopefully will do! She is pretty bold and daring, which makes for more adventures, and her ability to shapeshift into anyone, or anything actually, really comes in handy (and is also quite funny, as we watch her shift into a table, or a very heavy brick for example!) I really liked the fact that she is overall a morally gray character, who deep inside, was a good person although she did make some questionable decisions, and abuse of her fox charm in quite a few occasions [warning for mild spoilers] as she won’t hesitate to go into a gambling den, or impersonate someone who was supposed to be dead [end of spoilers] which overall made the book more interesting and enjoyable. The book also has some great villain figures who are well-balanced in between stereotypes and originality, which I also appreciated.

As for the side characters, Jun remains pretty much a mystery for most of the book, although he seemed like a good person through the memories that his sister had of their childhood together, and I’m really glad that we eventually got some more answers by the end of the book. I also really liked Jang because like Min, he was a complex character, who took some questionable decisions although in the end, he wasn’t a bad person. As for Sujin and Haneul, they also had quite a few important decisions to make throughout the book, and in the end, I know that if the opportunity were to present itself to me, I would adopt them in the blink of an eye. They are great friends and good cadets, and it was a pleasure to have them at my side throughout the book.

In the end, in case you haven’t gotten that already, I loved this book. Once you get past the fact that the main character is 13, and actually impersonating her older cousin more than once to get through difficult situations (such as driving, or, you know, running away from her home planet), it’s really easy to get drawn into the story and I had a lot of fun reading it. So if you’re looking for a fun science-fiction that’s a bit different from the rest of your TBR, go for it!


More recommendations ~

Before I ended this article, here are a few kdrama recommendations featuring magical creaturesArang and the Magistrate follows a ghost who cannot leave the physical world until she has been avenged. Oh my Ghostess and Master’s Sun are also fun ghost stories, both set in the present unlike Arang and the Magistrate which is a sageuk. For more gumiho stories, you can check out the old classic My Girlfriend is a Gumiho or one of my personal favourites, Gu Family Book. And of course, the very popular Goblin which follows a grim reaper, and a goblin.

As for books, I really need to get my hands on Wicked Fox by Kat Cho, which is a YA story about a gumiho, because I heard it was really great, and I have to admit I’m really curious about it!

On Creating and Consuming Content

So this is something I have been thinking about quite a lot lately. Growing up, I have always loved reading books. But deep in the back of my mind, has also always been the thought that I wanted to write books. As a way to somehow repay all the authors whose books I have read. And as a way to maybe become a more “valid” member of the book community. (Keep in mind that I have considered writing books since I was in, like, second grade. I was already writing poems in the first grade. So this is a feeling that has been on my mind pretty much since forever.)

And lately I have come to notice this: no matter how much I say that I want to create content, all I do is consume it. I haven’t have a single WIP since I gave up on my 2018 NaNoWriMo project because it stopped making sense to me. All I do is consume, and consume, whether it’s books or movies or TV Shows. Whether it’s on Netflix, or on YouTube, or anything really. It’s also fanart on Tumblr and Instagram. Sometimes it’s fanfiction. And sometimes it’s booktube or other blogs? All I ever do is consume content.

My attempts at the whole matching book covers with your outfits trend thing is actually the only creative thing I seem to have done lately. Along with baking cakes which I can’t seem to stop doing as well. But no big project, sadly.

I’ve seen many people talk about all the opportunities they had to develop their crafts and their WIPs during the confinement. To those people, and if you’re one of them, I want to say: congratulations. I really admire you. I on the other hand have been reading and watching Netflix. I watched a bunch of kdrama which happens every once in a while. (Crash Landing on You was really good!) I’ve been listening to musicals which I also like to do from time to time (my new obsession is Hadestown). And yes, I love the fact that I finally have time to catch up with my TBR. I’ve read more than 15 books since the beginning of the confinement, some which had been on my TBR for years, and it is really satisfying. It makes me really happy. But it’s been a month, and we still have one month to go… I also downloaded Animal Crossing on my phone, but that’s a whole other topic…

To put in perspective the whole creating/consuming content dilemma I’ve had, let me also tell you that this article has been waiting in my drafts for almost a month, unfinished. It’s an idea that I had at the very beginning of the confinement, and look at me now: my fifth week without work is starting. And I’m actually beginning to miss it. So I’ve been procrastinating on this blog post while consuming more content. To be fair, I’ve actually been posting quite a few articles, but you see my point. Nothing too complicated, and nothing much compared to the amount of books I’ve read, and in general, the amount of content that I have consumed. And what I’m asking myself is simple: WHY?

I have ideas. Tons of them. They come and they go, some stick around, but none so far have taken the definitive shape of a book. I’ve never managed to write more than 15k on a project. And I have come to terms with it. But the ideas keep coming in. And I know, deep inside, that I still want to write books. I feel like I am not ready yet. Maybe I am not yet in a good mindset when it comes to my mental health. But paradoxically, my depression has in many occasions fed my creativity. And now that I’m feeling better, I’m not so creative anymore. I don’t know what to make of it. What I do know is that having a bad mental health is not the key to creativity and enforcing that it is is just a terrible thing to do to artists. But I don’t know where that leaves me.

There was a time when I wanted to be a young writer. I wanted to write a book at 16 and then at 18. It didn’t happen and now I’m 24. No books written. I have some poetry sitting somewhere. And a book blog that has been running for almost 5 years despite all odds. (Thanks for being 700 of you by the way!) But where is my big break out? Where is the critically acclamed novel I was supposed to write? And why am I not writing it right now? I don’t know. And I don’t have an answer for all my questions. And that’s okay. I guess I will keep consuming media until I feel like I’m ready to write. I will teach myself how to do better, and solve the mystery of how to create a plot that works from beginning to end. I know that I still have a lot to learn, and I’m excited about it.

Until then, happy reading!

Eliza ans her Monsters | Summer Bird Blue

And on how I’m finding new favourite books ❤

This post is a sort of sequel to a previous one where I talked about books with an asexual MC, and how I wanted to read more books with similar thematics. In my previous post, I talked about Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, and Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee, which has so far made it to the top books I have read and will have read in 2020 (40-ish books so far) along with the books I’m going to talk about today. With time, and reading experience, the way I relate to characters has become more and more precise. Anxiety often plays a big role, and for example Fangirl will always be a favourite. But now? Give me depictions of thought spiraling process, like in A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard, which is an all-time favourite, or of course, in Turtles All The Way Down by John Gree. Give me a MC who questions their sexuality — bonus points if it’s asexuality. Give me a deep existential crisis. And well, I have found some, and they have become instant favourites.

Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (2017) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman (2018) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
[TW: death]

I had heard many great things about Eliza and her Monsters, and to be honest, the reason I didn’t check it out sooner is because I was worried that it was completely overrated. Well, I was wrong. It was worth all the praise — and more. (Now is the moment I realise that I waited too long after finishing the book to write this article, but anyway.)

Eliza leads a double life. At school, she is average, invisible. She is just trying to get through high school before finally graduating. But online, she is the famous author of an extremely popular webcomic. No one knows of her real identity. But things get complicated when she meets Wallace, a new student at her school, who just so happens to write fanfictions for her very own webcomic…

While I am not sure it is ever stated in the book that Eliza has anxiety, she does have panic attacks, which hello, is extremely relatable. (I’m not counting the number of times I ended up in the nurse’s office in high school because I was sobbing uncontrollably…) She’s been through a lot psychologically, and I’m weak for characters like her. Who are creative and find solace in online content and online friendships.

I also LOVED her relationship with Wallace. While the whole romance aspect of the story was cute and adorable, I also loved that they could understand each other, and agreed to take it slow, so that both of them were at ease. I also really loved that Eliza didn’t get better because of a boy because that’s cliché YA romance (although I have to admit, most authors know better by know). She got better because she got help. Because her family finally supported her. Because she took matters into her own hands. She is such a strong character, and I loved that.

Your own mental health > Romance. And also, friendships are super important. This is what I took from this book. And while I’m talking about that, if you liked Eliza and her Monsters, do yourself a favour and check out Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman! It’s a book with an artist as a main character, who also deals with her own issues, and I thought it had a similar message which I LOVED!

As for the other book I wanted to talk about today, Summer Bird Blue, I was worried that Starfish had set the bar too high, and that I was wound to end up disappointed, but I actually liked it even more. It broke my heart even more, and i related even more, which are basically my main criteria when it comes to liking a book. I like to suffer, and this book was brilliant.

Summer Bird Blue is a stunning book about loss and grief. That’s not a spoiler, the main characters, Rumi, loses her sister in the very beginning of the book. Her mother, who doesn’t know how to cope, sends her for the summer to live with her aunt in Hawaii. She barely knows her, and feels abandoned by her mother at the worst moment of her life. The book deals with Rumi’s relationship to music: music was something she created with her sister, and now that Lea isn’t here anymore, she doesn’t know if she can do it anymore. Through the book, she will have to rebuild herself.

One of the things I took from this book was an idea that also is one of my favourite SKAM quotes: people need people. We can’t and shouldn’t suffer on our own. Communication is important. It feels good to have someone who will lend you their shoulder to cry on. Friends are hella important. (Have I said that already? I’m saying it again.)

And of course, the asexual rep was on point. Rumi has known for a while that she probably was asexual (or at least, on the ace spectrum). She thinks she might be aromantic as well. And she also doesn’t want to be defined by labels, especially as she is still figuring things out. Through flashbacks, we see her searching for herself. And maybe she doesn’t have all the answers, but she’s on a journey to understanding herself better, and I thought that was beautiful. You can be ace and still find people attractive. (Her attraction to Kai reminded me a lot of Alice’s cutie code in Let’s Talk About Love!)

In conclusion, I completely fell in love with this book. As I like to say, it completely broke me, but it was worth it.

Other diverse YA contemporaries I have really enjoyed recentlyOpposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds, Frankly in Love by David Yoon and American Panda by Gloria Chao.

Next on my reading quest for more books with asexual charactersEvery Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.

Top 5 Tuesday: Sanity Savers

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah @ The Bionic Book Worm. This week, the theme is not necessarily bookish related, it is rather related to the current events, which are affecting all of us. “Things that I’m enjoying while in isolation”. Personally, it’s been several weeks since I last went to work, as my workplace is a bookstore which is closed until further notice. Aka until the end of this pandemia I guess? I hope it will be over by the end of April! And anyway, here’s what keeps me busy at home in the meantime!


Books, obviously.

I decided to take this time to catch up with my unread piles of books at home, which was off to a great start when I started Crier’s War but also ended with it because Scribd extended its free period to a month and I’ve been spending most of my reading time on it since then. And it made me really happy because I’m reading REALLY GOOD BOOKS y’all.

Still rather obviously: Netflix.

Of course, as the confinement began, I knew that I was bound to spend some time on Netflix. I watched the new season of Elite, and now the new season of La Casa de Papel is out. What I didn’t know was that I would once again turn back to my comfort shows way of life: kdramas. I used to watch them all the time when I was in high school, and I’m now delighted to see that more and more of them are available on Netflix! The next on my watchlist is Itaewon Class.

Cooking ~

Cooking is obviously something I have always enjoyed doing, my two strong points being curry and chocolate. I’m using this opportunity to try out new recipes, and as a perfectly good excuse to bake cakes: we are all stuck at home, and we might as well enjoy it!

I’m learning Spanish!

It’s been three weeks now and I’m still going strong, so I can proudly share this random  confinement fact: I picked up Spanish on Duolingo! I learnt English and German in middle school/high school, and never regretted that because that’s what allowed me to go a year abroad in Berlin, and I LOVED it. However, I also feel like Spanish is really useful because it’s used in a lot of countries, so I decided to give it a try, and at least stick some of the very basics to my brain. So far, it’s going great and helping me feel productive!

Phone calls with my friends ~

And finally, the very things that refills my energy: I face time with my friends and it really helps!


Thanks for reading & stay safe!

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight: My Review

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I received this book thanks to my work, as it has just been translated to French. The release was originally planned for April, but was pushed to June thanks to covid-19 and confinement and bookstores being, you know, closed. I’m actually starting to miss work so I hope we see the end of this soon. Anyway. This book was originally published in August 2019. I have some thoughts and I wanted to share them.

Title: I’m Not Dying With You Tonight
Authors: Gilly Segal & Kimberly Jones
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release: 2019
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐

The story:

Lena and Campbell have nothing in common, except for the fact that they both attend the same school — and end up, together, at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Lena hangs out with the popular kids and the hip-hop dancers. She loves fashion. She just came to the game to cheer on her friends, and hang out with her boyfriend later that night.

Campbell just transferred schools to live with her dad after her mom had to move to Venezuela for work. She’s selling hotdogs and cola during the game because her professor desperately needed help, and wants her to make some friends.

But in the midst of the game, a fight between a Black and a White kid turns to racial riots. The city is on fire, and the two girls are thrust together by fate with one objective in mind: survive, and get to safety…

My opinion:

To be perfectly honest, I was really excited about this book. I feel like I don’t read enough books on topics like Black Lives Matter, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to fix that. If I wanted to describe it, I would say it features some of the concept used by books like This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp or Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau, meaning that the book only takes place in the very short time span of one night. And of course, the events are very intense/violent. Mix that with police brutality such as presented in, of course THUG by the one and only Angie Thomas, or Dear Martin by Nic Stone, and finally race issues and riots such as presented in Izzy + Tristan by Shannon Dunlap. And with that magical blend, I think we covered most of the elements of this book. (Now is the time where I ask you to recommend me similar books because I am here for them! Also I’m really excited about Nic Stone’s upcoming release Dear Justyce.)

So I think we have covered the fact that I had high expectations for this book. And while it was great, I feel like it could have been more. I really liked the dynamic between Campbell and Lena. While Campbell doesn’t come from a rich family, she has been really sheltered when it comes to violence and racial issues. But she is a good person, and we can see some character development through the story, which was nice. She can be passionate, and stand for what she believes in. Lena on the other hand hasn’t been sheltered. She seems to be living alone with her grandpa, and knows what she wants in life. She doesn’t take shit from anyone, and it was really easy to see and feel things through her perspective. (Basically, except when it comes to her boyfriend, she’s right.)

The story alterns between both of their perspectives very fluidly, however, I felt that it was lacking in some parts. Some things were really brushed over. I liked the fact that the book was short, but at the same time I also think that some things would have been better if developed a little more. Two come to my mind: the past event with the other school where some players did a blackface — it’s referenced quite a few times in the beginning, and not really explained, then forgotten — and secondly, the character of Marcus, Lena’s cousin, who could also have been presented with more depth in my opinion.

Overall, I feel like this book had good intentions when it came to the topic it wanted to deal with, but it only covered the tip of the iceberg when it comes to race issues, and that’s a pity. It was a nice, short book, but I believe that it could have been more!