book review · books · Shar

Leah on the Offbeat: Great yet manipulates fave characters?

Hey readers! How is your week going? I’m back with this a review of a book that kind of disappointed me yet I also enjoyed a lot. AAAARGH.

Title: Leah on the Offbeat

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: YA Contemporary

Themes: Sexuality, growing up, university, musical theatre in high school Continue reading “Leah on the Offbeat: Great yet manipulates fave characters?”

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book review · books · shanti

Non Fiction mini-reviews

Hi Virtually Readers! I’ve been suuuuuper absent from the blogging world because literally everything else in my life has taken priority. I’ve still been reading though and am kinda sticking to a library ban. But that’s okay, I’m not gonna apologise too much. But here are some of the non-fiction books I’ve read recently, which is al ot, because I’ve hardly been reading YA which is weird, but here we are. I also will have some separate posts on Dr. Huxley’s Bequest, which will *hopefully* be my next blogging week at the end of October. It never rains but it pours, so this post is super long haha.

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Continue reading “Non Fiction mini-reviews”

blogging · books · shanti · tags

NOPE Book tag

Hi Virtually Readers! I’m so sorry that I’ve barely been posting–well, I’m actually not that sorry, because I have been busy even though I’m on holiday at the moment, and I have been putting real people before my computer, which is hard to do but anyway….the blog has been neglected! but I am here today, and I am doing the Nope book tag, which Lara tagged me for (thanks, Lara!). This will be hardish, because I’m usually pretty positive about books, but I will try.

Continue reading “NOPE Book tag”

book review · books · shanti

Starfish and Shanti’s Sadness

You may have heard of Starfish. How beautiful it is. The power of the story. I didn’t like it very much at all, unfortunately, which made me sad because it is so popular. My problem with Starfish is that it is utterly unsubtle, and tries far too hard. That doesn’t mean it’s not important, but just that it wasn’t for me.

Continue reading “Starfish and Shanti’s Sadness”

book review · shanti

The Last Beginning review

The Last Beginning was thoroughly disappointing. I read it mostly because, when I read The Next Together two years ago, there were a great deal of unanswered questions and I wanted answers. Everyone who has read it seemed to have enjoyed it, and judging by social media and her excellent third book, Lauren James is a cool person. How let down I was.

24550848Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation?

For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future. (blurb from goodreads)
I couldn’t help but compare The Last Beginning to another time travel book I’ve read this year: Invictus by Ryan Graudin. It’s tightly plotted, easily explained without infodumping, and clear. You understand how the time travel works, the nature of paradoxes, and how and why the characters do research to blend in. There is none of that in The Last Beginning. Clove is, to be frank, a complete idiot. She turns up in the past with a dress which is an romanticized approximation of historical dress, and then travels with no flipping clue if it’s going to work or not. Obviously, it does. Then she’s wandering around with no clue how to blend in or where to go TELLING PEOPLE THEIR FLIPPING FUTURE LIKE AN ABSOLUTE IDIOT. I have never time travelled or taken a physics class, but even I know that that is a BIG NO NO OH MY GOSH. Then it changes the future, and then she has to fix it. I didn’t mind that Clove was thoughtless or whingy; she’s sixteen, that’s forgiveable. But she’s supposed to be smart, and she absolutely does not behave like that. How could no one in the past—surely some of them aren’t time travelers have noticed how out of place she was? So that bothered me.
There were several things that made no sense in this, and James doesn’t even try to explain (I get that she has science degrees, yay, but the science seems thin imo. She is tangled in the practical sciency bits and the romantic possibilities, which contributes to the chaotic, all-over-the-place nature of the book; there is no attempt to bridge these dual possibilities, unlike what Graudin does so masterfully). The plot lacks coherency; it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and contorts strangely to involve documents and explanations for The Next Together. It works only because it is clamped to the events of that book, and not because it has any meaning on its own. It’s a shallow sort of book, and my lack of engagement with it reflects that.
I also found the writing exceptionally juvenile. It could be that I’m getting too old for YA, but there are such swathes of sophisticated YA with elegant writing that it’s hard to blame that. Lines like “she had never expected anything like this to ever happen to her”, or “she was never going to talk to Meg ever again” felt overwrought, excessively dramatic. Maybe it’s just Clove’s voice. And everything the parents (Jen and Tom) say is blatant and cheesy. I mean, the writing got the job done, but it certainly grated at me in places.
I didn’t mind the characters. That is, they were idiots, but they were lovable idiots. We have Clove, teen with a mission! and lots of moaning and melodrama, but that comes with the territory. There’s Spart, your average robot with a personality; Ella, mysterious for no reason; and the various Katherine and Matt’s, adorkable and straightforward. Because the documents make it clear that Ella and Clove are endgame, I never felt invested in their relationship. None of the characters were very dynamic, but they were probably too confused by the time travel.
I think I sound angry at this book, and I’m really not. It was not entirely without merit; the fact that I finished it says that alone. It just…oh, I don’t know. Rubbed me up the wrong way. All of these reviews are so positive, and I didn’t find that as I read. The Last Beginning is tangled in the beginnings and the legends; it doesn’t take a step back and see the bigger picture and that, to me, was the saddest thing about it.

Well that was quite ranty! whoops… I think it’s really hard to get time travel books right and maybe (just maybe) I have high standards. anyway have you read this? and what’s a book that was ruined in details for you?

blogging · discussions · Shar

Giving a book/author a second chance

 

You may or may not have heard of Sabriel, which Shanti fangirls about with alarming frequency, as do some of our other friends. However, I picked it up in 2014 (I think. A long time ago, anyway), got about 40% through, and the DNF’d it. I recently finished the audiobook and really enjoying it, which made me think about giving books second chances. Continue reading “Giving a book/author a second chance”

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)”

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.

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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?

books · discussions · Shar

Books and Series I don’t Ever Plan to Read

There are obviously plenty of books in the world I’m never going to read—for example, medical textbooks or random erotica books or biographies of Abraham Lincoln—but that’s fairly obvious. This post isn’t about these books. This post is about YA books, most of which I think are popular, but I will not read. Because I like to be controversial like that.

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  1. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

I actually read the first book about two years ago and mainly liked it. But it’s a really long series and I don’t want to commit, plus I’ve already been spoiled about Aelin. For some reason I just don’t want to read it?

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  1. A Court of Thorns and Rose series by Sarah J. Maas

I know a lot of people really love this, but I just don’t want to read it. One of my friends said all the sex made her kind of uncomfortable and I’d rather not read that, plus it’s actually NA and not YA, and for ever post on instagram I’ve seen about how good these are, there’s another one talking about bad representation and erasure. So, no.

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  1. Magnus Chase series by Rick Riordan

I just don’t want to commit to this series, basically. (Apparently, I have commitment issues). I liked Percy Jackson when I read it, I liked The Heroes of Olympus, I liked The Red Pyramid (although I don’t plan on finishing that series either), I liked the Trials of Apollo and I do want to finish it, but I guess I’m kind of growing out of Rick Riordan. (I mean, my eight year old sister loves him). And there are just books I’d rather read.

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  1. Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater

You can read my full rant review here, but I think it is NEVER, NEVER a good idea to give someone meningitis. Even if you have a good reason for it. Even if you think it’s a good idea. It’s not.

Shanti tells me the series improves in subsequent books, but I just don’t want to find out. I liked The Raven Cycle, and I LOVED The Scorpio Races, but I just don’t want to read this one.

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  1. Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

This is, in all probability, a perfectly good book. But I just don’t want to read it. I really like the songs from Hamilton, and I think it deserves a lot of its success but I feel like this book is basically only going to sell because of people liking Hamilton. Like, the author probably wouldn’t have thought of writing it if Hamilton wasn’t that successful. And it just kind of seems like the book is making money because of Hamilton, and that it wouldn’t if Hamilton didn’t exist. And for some reason, this really puts me off a YA version of Alexander and Eliza Schulyer’s love story. Go figure.

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  1. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (because Atticus is racist + it might not have been obtained very ethically?), the rest of the Skullduggery Pleasant series by Derek Land (too long, not interested enough), the second half of the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson (I was willingly spoiled).

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What are some books you don’t ever plan on reading? Why? Do you disagree with any on my list?

 

 

 

 

book review · books · shanti

American Street Review

I read American Street last week. There were many things I love–the diversity, the examination of what it means to be in-between two cultures, how it evoked the nuance of being in a new place and making it your home. The story uses lwa’s, Voodou spirits, to add a touch of magical realism to the setting of Detroit. I did wish, however, that the story had shown Fabiola’s relationship with her mother in a more deep way, and why she has faith, the complexities of her belonging (at times it seemed a little easy and instant). But I am glad that I read this. Continue reading “American Street Review”