books · discussions · Shar · Uncategorized

Discussion: Why don’t university students read?

Shoutout to past Shar for writing this on a long bus ride and saving present Shar, ensured in the business of the last week of semester, to still post on time. Love you, past Shar! ❤ ❤
Continue reading “Discussion: Why don’t university students read?”

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Thoughts and Libraries

Hi Virtually Readers! I don’t know about you, but when I’m down there’s nothing which cheers me up so much as a library. I love liraries. They’re full of books. They’re full of people who care about books. They often have great views. Libraries are a refuge and they are important. Right now my two main libraries are the one at uni and the city library (but I also use Auckland’s Overdrive because it’s great) Both are huge, with multiple levels, and I’m going to interperse this post with some pictures I’ve taken there. These are the thoughts I have in libraries (usually the city library because at uni I tend to look for one specific book which will help me with research).

thoughts in libraries

Entering the library

  • ooooh look at all the books
  • wait which books did I want
  • let me return some books first
  • I’m just going to wander through the YA section and stroke the spines
  • now I’m going to look at the ‘librarian recommends’ shelf because I trust librarians
  • well I’ve already read most of these
  • hmm this looks interesting
  • I’ve been meaning to read this
  • I’ll just wander over to the adult section because I read grown up books now
  • I love walking up and down the shelves because its! so! calming!
  • I’m holding twelve books and my wallet and my phone now and something is going to drop
  • wait I can’t read all of these in three weeks
  • OR CAN I
  • no Shanti you have a lot of assignments and books you haven’t read at home. be reasonable
  • but there are all these books here! it is unreasonable!
  • CHOOSE LIKE THE SENSIBLE ADULT HUMAN BEING YOU ARE
  • okay fine I’ll put these back
  • wait but what about this book? no no you do not have time
  • just gonna check the non fiction section because I like non-fiction too
  • look at all of these people who are enjoying the library it’s so nice
  • okay I should check all these books out now
  • beep! beep! beep!
  • HOW AM I GOING TO FIT ALL OF THESE BOOKS INTO MY BAG AND BIKE HOME I HAVE MADE A MISTAAAAAKE
  • books are never a mistake

so! I hope you guys enjoyed that insight into my brain and you weren’t spectacularly bored because maybe it was boring? I don’t know, but libraries are really important and if you have one, support it! even if they charge you two dollars to place holds and don’t have all the books you’d like to read. and take your friends to libraries, it’s a good test to see if the friendship will last.

what is your favourite libray that you’ve ever visited? do you have a library ‘bucket list’? (mine is to go to the New York Public Libraries and reture to the British library and sleep in a library) and would you lie to see more posts like this? tell me in the comments!

 

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‘Tis the Season of Rereading His Dark Materials

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.

Continue reading “‘Tis the Season of Rereading His Dark Materials”

book review · books · shanti · Uncategorized

8 Reasons to read Ashbury/Brookfield

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.

Three, melodrama

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.

Four, friendship

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.

Seven, surprises

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!

 

book review · Shar · Uncategorized

Review: Genuine Fraud (genuinely not for me)

33843362Title: 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)”

books · Shar · tags · Uncategorized

Cake Flavoured Books Tag

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”

book review · books · Shar · Uncategorized

Review: Want

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. want-by-cindy-pon

Title: Want

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.

DSC07942

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.

Characters: 3/5

Writing: 1/5

Setting: 4/5

Plot: 4/5

Total: 3/5

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?

book review · books · Shar · Uncategorized

Review: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

Hi Virtually readers! This book was one of my favourites of last month. Basically: READ IT, FOOLS.

417b881d-36a7-406c-814c-1aa04332b06bimg100Title: 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.

DSC07776

  • 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)

Characters: 5/5

Setting: 4/5

Writing: 5/5

Themes: 5/5

Total: 5/5

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?