heya Virtually Readers! It’s a ’tis the season of rereading day again! Today, I’m talking about my rereading experience for His Dark Materials. I first read this when I was in sixth or seventh grade. I remember hat it was a marvellous adventure, and I remember that the ending was really sad. Since then I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how it’s very anti-religion–sort of the opposite to The Chronicles of Narnia, if you will. On this reread, I definitely kepth that in mind. I have a bind up of all three books, and I mostly read this in Lucknow, so I carried it around a lot, so these 900 pages have made my arms stronger if nothing else.
Title:Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (almost) as Awesome As Me
Author: Carrie Ann DiRisio
Genre: YA Satire (it’s not a very big genre) Continue reading “(scathing) Review: Brooding YA Hero”
Hi Virtually Readers! A few months ago I was deep in some corner of the internet (aren’t we all) and found all these posts on inside a dog that Jaclyn Moriarty had written AGES ago, about her Ashbury/Brookfield books, a series of contemporary novels told entirely in found documents. They’re more companion novels, btw, rather than sequels. And I read the series over then next few months, finishing in September, and I loved them all. The books are Feeling Sorry for Celia, Finding Cassie Crazy, The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie, and Dreaming of Amelia (except I got confused and read Amelia before Bindy). Those links, by the way, go to my reviews. I loved the series, and now I’m going to give you some reasons to read it.
One, the books are all hilarious.
Because it’s told in documents, there are all different styles of writing to differentiate the characters. One character, Emily, is prone to malpropism (I shall rain over everyone). Another character thinks she’s really smart, and it shows hilariously in the writing. Then there are fake court summonings (SO FUNNY) and drunk blogging. Not to mention the situations the character get into which are funny…one character is hilariously convinced that there is a ghost and another runs away to the circus.
Two, they’re all mysteries.
Now I’m an idiot and it took until the fourth book for me to figure out that all the books were mysteries. I actually really liked this though; it’s a sign that the mystery is well incorporated into the novel, and the focus stays on the characters.
All of the characters are teenagers, and like teenagers are wont too, tend to exaggerate their own circumstances to be a little more important and life changing than they really are. (especially Emily. Oh Emily, how I love you) But there are just enough instances where something ~creepy~ is actually happening that you can’t quite be sure.
There are so many strong female friendships; and even just friendships in general. Finding Cassie Crazy and Dreaming of Amelia especially focus on a trio of girls, Cassie, Emily, and Lydia, and they are very funny and very supportive and generally excellent. And Amelia and Riley are very good friends to each other, and I love that Ernst is friends with Bindy (also a bit of shipping there tbh), and also all the boys in Finding Cassie Crazy are great (except for some of them). I liked Seb particularly.
Five, creative and quirky documents
Remember the fake court summonings I mentioned up above? Well, they’re part of the documents that make up the story. It’s a lot like Illuminae, but less pretty. There are also these excellent messages from various ‘societies’ in the first book which help us get into Elizabeth, the main characters head. In every book except The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie, you don’t know why the docements have been found and collected; but they’re there, and they’re wonderful, and you just enjoy it.
Six, compelling characters
Sometimes with document based stories, it’s hard to connect to the characters, but Jaclyn Moriarty is so clever that this never happens. I especialy connected with Bindy Mackenzie and Elizabeth Clarry, in the first and third books, which are more centred on one person. The honesty of the stories, the issues the characters have, and the way that the documents they leave can and simeltaneously cannot account for their lives; somehow, it works, and all the characters are just so true to life.
I often guess plots, but Moriarty consistently surprised me. I never knew what to expect and quite what each clue added up to, and that made such a nice change. The endings are a little ridiculous, but still perfect.
Eight, ALL CAPS.
There are a lot of ALL CAPS as emphasis in the book. Very relatable if you’re a book blogger.
I do actually have some critiques of these books, which you can see in my reviews. Overall, though, they’re very clever, very enjoyable, and very funny and I think more people need to read them so go forth and do likewise.
Have you read any of these books? And what’s your favourite document based book? let me know in the comments!
Title: Genuine Fraud
Author: E. Lockhart
Genre: YA mystery/thriller
Themes: Friendship, murder, power, wealth and poverty
Blurb: Told in reverse chronological order, Genuine Fraud is about a girl who has conned her way into inheriting and heiress’ fortune. Now on the run, Jules refuses to let anyone take what she’s got away. But what did it take for her to get what she has? Where has she come from? And what happened to Imogen? Continue reading “Review: Genuine Fraud (genuinely not for me)”
Hi Virtually readers! As I’ve mentioned before, the last 2 months I’ve been a useless person who has barely commented/done much blogging at all. Why? Because I’ve been travelling! (To see where I’ve been going, click here and follow the Europe Diaries tag). Now I’m at home again, I will try to reply and everything. Before I start, though, I’ll do a monthly roundup of books I read because I feel like it. Continue reading “Cake Flavoured Books Tag”
Hi virtually readers! I’ve been super busy travelling in the last week and have had like NO time to read or comment or almost anything book and blogging related. But I’m here now and I’m reviewing a very interesting book that I mentioned in my list about teen pregnancy. Continue reading “Review: Allegedly”
I *claim* to be a fan of the sic-fi genre. I’ve said before that it’s my favourite. But it has come to my attention that I read far more contemporary and fantasy than sci-fi, which is shameful. So as soon as I heard about Want and realised it was sci-fi/dystopian then I knew I had to read it. So I did.
Author: Cindy Pon
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Themes: deception, pollution, climate change, activism, friendship, rich people are literally bubble heads.
My blurb: In futuristic Taipei, there are two types of people. The ultra-rich yous protect themselves from the terrible pollution with oxygen suits and money, while the meis die young, suffering from all the environmental degradation and their poverty. After someone Zhou loves is murdered trying to bring in new environment laws, he and his friends decide they’ve got to do something to get back at the corporation who is responsible. But their plan is risky and the first thing they need is a lot of money. Zhou’s actions are about to get him into a game of deception and risk where he might lose sight of the end goal…
There were a lot of good things about this book, but first I have to complain about something important. Namely, the writing style. I haven’t read anything by Cindy Pon before, but the way this book was written really affected my perception of the story. The book required a lot of worldbuilding because of its dystopian nature, but instead of showing aspects of the world of pollution and global warming and poverty inequality, it was totally told. Especially at the start of the book, the writing had what felt like paragraphs spouting information that wasn’t always that relevant, though it did help paint the scene. At other times Jason (that’s his code name—we never learn his real first name, which is weird) comes up with information that you wish he’d announced earlier, like ‘oh I was not sick now because I had the flu when I was 10’ or ‘this person said X important thing to me the other day’ instead of actually showing it happening. This made it feel like the things being narrated didn’t happen.
The writing was also occasionally confusing, especially during action scenes, and there was a big reveal at the end that wasn’t made to feel that big. The book opens on an action scene, then goes back to ‘two months earlier’ to explain what’s going on. After that, though, there is no explanation of the time gaps, even though it becomes evident that weeks or months have passed with only a few days or events having been described. Generally, something about the writing style really made me feel disconnected from Jason and the other characters, even though it was a first person narration, which normally is easier for me to connect to.
However, there were some good things about this book. Firstly, I really liked how it was set in Taiwan, because I’ve never read any other books set there (and the author was born there) and my ex really good friend is Taiwanese. I liked the descriptions of food and although it made the future look bleak, it wasn’t hopeless either.
I also liked how it dealt with wealth inequality, something that’s rapidly becoming a bigger problem and environmental degradation. I personally believe both of these are going to be big problems in the future and I don’t get why more dystopias don’t tackle them. Like I don’t think the US is going to become a monarchy that likes to play games to amuse the prince and help him find a wife. But growing commercialism, the ethics of surveillance without consent, bio-warfare and deadly viruses, and poverty and climate change are all things that are already problems now and will be in the future. I liked how this book touched on all of these.
Also, I just generally love sci-fi and dystopia, not gonna lie.
I really liked the love interest character! I liked how she wasn’t only petite and subservient, but she wasn’t just the Stronge Female CharacterTM archetype. She was a combination of all of them. Jason’s ‘gang’ and all the minor charcters were really interesting.
The plot was intense and usually interesting. I liked how I thought the plot was going to centre around all of Jason’s deceptions getting him into trouble and be something where nothing would happen if everybody was honest, but it wasn’t.
Overall, I liked the idea of this book, and it definitely tackled some good topics, but failed to execute them well enough to make me like it.
Have you heard of this? What other books have you read set in South east/East Asia? (I need recommendations) Is there a genre you claim to love, but never read? What have you read which has a really great concept but not as good writing?
Hi Virtually readers! This book was one of my favourites of last month. Basically: READ IT, FOOLS.
Title: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Genre: YA Contemporary
Themes: Friendship, growing up, parents, family, gay-men-who-collect-17-year-old-children-in-the-best-way
Blurb (from Goodreads): Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.
Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?
I really liked Ari & Dante when I read it in 2014 (which reminds me to reread it). I read this one in a day and LOVED IT. Here’s a list of some of the things I liked (because if I wrote everything, I’d probably just paste a copy of the whole book. And apart from being illegal, that would be far too long for a blog post.)
Things I liked about The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
- The writing. I totally believe the author is also a lauded poet. I really liked the writing style and Sal’s voice ad the way he narrated what was happening in his life—death, family, confusion (but mainly confusion #relatable). I think in another book, I would have said that the writing style felt too distant, if that makes sense, but because this wasn’t exactly an action novel, it worked perfectly.
- The focus on family. Sal’s dad is one of the nicest fathers in YA literature that I’ve ever read. And Sal and his best friend Sam and their other friend Fito basically end up like siblings. Plus Sal has an amazing Mima (grandma) and extended family. Because Sal’s adopted, he has some quite interesting thoughts about how he feels Mexican because that’s what his family is even though he’s white. Building on that, there’s no romance so family is the central theme.
- Like Sal, Shar is my nickname because my full name is too long and hard to say. A book that finally got the problems with long names and didn’t just feature Bellas, Graces, and Dans.
- THE FOOD. I haven’t eaten that much Mexican food, but this book totally sold me on it. A lot of cooking goes down and it’s excellent and made me hungry.
- The characters. Sal and his confusion about everything, really, and his development through the book was really accurately portrayed, because aren’t most people constantly confused? Or is it just me? Anyone? I think most people would agree that your last year of high school is pretty confusing. Sam and the way she deals with grief was really well written and, I feel, accurate, as were the characters of Fito and Mima. Sal’s dad, Vicente, was amazing yet also imperfect. I haven’t read many other books featuring gay parents and this one really rang true for me. Basically, the characters were just excellent.
- The setting. It wasn’t a generic American town, but was in Texas right next to the Mexican border. I liked the inclusion of a lot of Mexican culture and got a good sense of the town in general.
- The fact that not much of the actual action happened at school? Like, the characters went to school but it wasn’t the most important thing to them.
- The theme of belonging. I guess the need to belong is a human trait that most people think about but because Sal is adopted, he spends a lot of time thinking about his birth parents, and especially if he takes after his birth father or adoptive one.
- The chapter titles and parts. I just really like these.
- Words for the day. it seems like a fun practice.
Overall, this was a well written, deep and beautiful book. It didn’t have much plot but that wasn’t the point.
Plot:– (like actually there wasn’t one)
Have you read this? How do you feel about books that are half poetry? Have you read many other books featuring gay parents? What’s one contemporary without romance that you’ve enjoyed?
In case you haven’t heard of it, Begin, End, Begin, is a short story collection by a bunch of Australian Young Adult authors, and I adored it. Each story was excellent, and the authors I hadn’t read made me want to try out their full-length work(Will Kostakis and Alice Pung, I’m coming for you. I like short fiction, because it’s like dipping your toe into a story, and not worrying too much about info dumps or even background info. The story is a perfect capsule in and of itself, and it’s such a joy to have a variety of tales all together. Each author just really got teenagers.
The YA event of the year. Bestsellers. Award-winners. Superstars. This anthology has them all. With brilliantly entertaining short stories from beloved young adult authors Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Lili Wilkinson and Danielle Binks, this all-new collection will show the world exactly how much there is to love about Aussie YA.
One Small Step My only critique is that Kaufman seemed to be trying a bit too hard to tick aalllll the diversity boxes? But it was a lot of fun. I loved the setting on Mars, and this one had lots of action. I also liked how it confronted what you do after school, because it’s been something that’s on my mind a lots lately.
I Can See the Ending I definitely didn’t expect this one to have a magical realism twist. It was nicely incorporated into the story without too much spaced wasted on explanations. Anyway, Kostakis has this excellent way of showing what it means to embrace a relationship, and what a struggle that can be.
In a Heartbeat I loved this concept, and how the central tension between the narrator and her mother was resolved–not perfectly, but realistically–as well as dealing iwht what it means to be a good mother and accept responsibility. The flashbacks and format as a letter were also excellent.
First Casualty I have no idea who Michael Pryor is, but this was a really sensitive, galactic way of approaching xenophobia, in society and within ourselves. It’s not easy, but it was lots of fun.
Sundays I’ve read Cinnamon Girl and Outer Space, and I think I liked them more than this? I loved the ‘group friendship/relationships are complicated’ thing, and the movement through the part lent the story a lot of dynamism
Missing Persons Whoops, I accidentally forgot everything about the Every trilogy which I didn’t finish. Anyway, this kind of stands alone, and has friendship and not much crime, which I liked.
Oona Underground I love Lili Wilkinson’s cute contemporary, but this had a darker vibe. I liked the idea of finding your way amidst mystery and silence, and trusting in your relationships.
The Feeling From Over Here I just had to look this one up in my ebook because it’s very forgettable. Again, I appreciated the contained format, and it’s easy to read, but the characters don’t have much nuance. Anyway. Gabrielle Tozer is still great.
Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory This was really fun. I found that it was subtle in all the right ways–the inclusion of a variety of characters was seamless, and it dealt with that central YA concern of figuring out who you are without someone else, in this case an older brother.
Competition Entry #349 Jaclyn Moriarty is WONDERFUL. Her minimalist worldbuilding was EXQUISITE and I liked the way this story looked at how one person’s experience is just one way to view an event–there’s always other things going on, and time travel can reveal that. oh, and it’s really funny!
If you love Australian authors or YA in general, this is a top notch collection that will make you feel so understood. I’m so glad it exists!
have you read many short stories? tell me in the comments!
Hi Virtually Readers! I hope you’re having a wonderful Easter Sunday. If you don’t know, this is the day Lent ends, which is great, because now I can read fiction. I spent the last month and a half ONLY reading nonfiction books, which was an interesting experiment. Here are some things I learnt from it.
One: I learnt a lot about my interests. I read several books about psychology, several memoirs about grief, one book about economics, several books about language, one book about human history, one book about smart girls, one book of poetry, and a book about sewing (which I didn’t really read so much as use for a project which is still in the works. I did include the caveat that I could read classics, but this didn’t really happen; my only fiction was school related stuff and audiobooks (like 1 audiobook totally) From this list, I glean that I’m just really interested in people and how they work. My standout books were Lingo, When Breath Becomes Air, and Smart Girls. I was not a big fan of Drunk Tank Pink or Fun Science, mostly because the writing style didn’t work for me (at some point when I’m less busy there will be reviews.
Two. I read less. This might have happened anyway, because I had a very busy six weeks (seriously, this week I had exams + 10,000 words of essays because I’m an overachiever who thinks that wordcount limits are AGENTS OF THE OPPRESSION and I still felt very stressed and unsuccessful and like I didn’t have enough time…) but still, it was harder to pick up a book, and most books took me a week + (but I had several on the go at once).
Three. I learnt many interesting things. This sort of goes without saying, but I really think that this challenge forced me to learn a lot about the world, which was exciting, and it may have made me think a bit differently about certain issues, or even just become aware of things I didn’t know about before. For example, there used to be a town called Embarrass in Wisconsin, and Scottish Gaelic doesn’t use letters in a very logical way, and all sorts of other trivia that will undoubtedly make me look weird in conversations for years to come.
Four. I want to read more non-fiction. I want to read more stuff that isn’t YA, full stop. YA will still be my main genre for the foreseeable future—there are so many wonderful things about it that make it a genre I love SO MUCH. But there’s a lot about the world that I don’t know, and I don’t think YA has all the answers. I don’t think any one genre has all the answers, so I really want to read as diversely as I can, while still making reading something I love.
So all in all, it was a worthy experience. I have a month a a half left of high school, so hopefully in the second half of the year I’ll be reading A LOT (also my new kobo is coming soon YAS). I thought I’d just talk about some of the books I want to read soonish.
In the next two weeks
-Literally by Lucy Keating
-The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne (reread)
-The Host by Stephenie Meyer (reread)
-Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (and maybe Illuminae, we’ll see)
Before I Graduate
-reread The Lunar Chronicles
-reread Protector of the Small
-reread Harry Potter
-The Star Touched Queen
-Strange the Dreamer
-reread Chaos Walking
-reread The Montmaray Journals
And the non-fiction I didn’t get to (for *sometime* in 2017)
– I know Why the Caged Bird Sings
-the Elements of Style
You may notice a lot of rereads on this list. I don’t know. I guess I’m just in the mood for some nostalgia, because some of these books have really informed my high school experience and matter a lot to me, so I want to read them one last time.
How’s your Easter weekend? What’s a nonfiction book you love? do you try to read in different genres? tell me in the comments!