Monday, January 16, 2017

Dumbledore's Army Readathon Wrap-Up

Guys, Aentee is so effing creative, and this was SUCH a fun readathon! I almost can't believe I was able to read all 7 books in the 15 days it went on, but I did! :D

I had posted my TBR back near the end of December, and I did read *most* of the ones I'd had on there. And I'm glad to say that I enjoyed ALL of them! My favorites were Melina Marchetta's and Under a Painted Sky, but I at least liked the lot of them. So I'm going to talk about them a little bit. And then at the end of this post, I've got my ID card with my points tallied up!

*****
 
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. I don't think it's possible for me to NOT fall in love with a Marchetta book. This one was just as amazing as the rest I've read, and it was also personally relatable for me, which made it special. <3

243 pages = 24 points

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed. I've read 0 books with a Pakistani MC, and very few in general when it comes to Middle Eastern and South Asian countries. This was a very hard book to read, given some of the things that happen in it, but it's eye-opening and important. So if you haven't read it yet, I strongly urge you to do so soon!

282 pages = 28 points

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. This one wasn't on my original TBR because I completely forgot I had it! It's #ownvoices because it's about a transgender teenager written by a transgender author. And I really liked it; it was super readable. It just didn't have a ton going for it, but Amanda's experiences matter.

281 pages = 28 points
 
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee. This book was sooooo good omg, I loved it. The characters, the setting, the story, the relationships, all of it. Stacey has become an auto-buy author for me.

370 pages = 37 points


Cam Girl by Elliot Wake. This was the other book that hadn't been on my original TBR, and I can't believe I forgot about it. As ridiculously engrossing as Elliot's other books, even though it wasn't my fave I've read from him.

415 pages = 41 points

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore. I feel like I haven't heard a bad thing about this book, and it was SO hyped back when it came out in 2015. It took me a long time to read it, and while I was angry about certain parts, I super enjoyed it and wanted to roll around in Anna-Marie's words forever.

308 pages = 30 points

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han. Shannon has recommended this one to me before, and had tried to get me to read it sooner, to no avail. ;) I DID start it awhile back, but didn't get far because I wasn't into it. And it did take a long time to really get into the story, but it was so fun and I loved the relationship Lara Jean has with her sisters and dad. It made my heart melt. But holy hell, that ending was MEAN. I'm so glad there's a sequel because omg not cool, Jenny.

357 pages = 35 points

***** 

Now time to tally up my points!

223 points from the books above + 35 points for reading all of them = 258

+ 10 points for reviewing two of the books (Cam Girl & The Weight of Feathers) this past week on the blog = 268 

I also posted my ID card to Twitter, for 1 point. 

Grand Total: 269 points! 

*****

Hey y'all, did you guys do this readathon too? If so, how many points did you get? What'd you read? Let's talk! :)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

An Enchanting Modern-Day Romeo and Juliet

Title: The Weight of Feathers
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Release Date: September 15th, 2015!

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

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

Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.



My Review!
*Spoilers! You've been forewarned.

I am MAD at this book. Like, I want to roll around in Anna-Marie’s gorgeous words forever, but I am not happy about the way this story went. Not. at. all. I didn’t even realize how angry I was about it until I started reviewing it in my head and I started tearing down the Corbeaus and the Palomas. I don’t think I've been this angry at fictional characters in a long time. These two families are fucking RIDICULOUS. I can’t even begin to express my utter dismay at how they handled things in the past and how terrible people they are. Both the main characters suffered much abuse at the hands of their families, the people who are supposed to love them unconditionally. It made me want to cry a lot.

Lace is emotionally abused by her grandmother. This woman is a piece of fucking work. She uses her women family members as a way to live, as they are the ones who bring in the money from the shows. And she constantly picks at their insecurities and makes them believe that they can only be las sirenas if they are beautiful to her standards. None of the Palomas goes against her because they believe that her word is law, and they just LET her decide their lives for them. They let her kick Lace out of the family because they believe a Corbeau cursed her and they could not bear to see his mark on her. And after everything that Lace goes through, she still wants her abuela’s approval and will doing anything to get it back. I could understand it to some degree given how much she loved performing in the shows. But you know what? Her family will never see her as anything more than a tainted Paloma now, and I hate them for it. And? This isn’t even the worst of what the families have done.

Cluck, my poor precious baby, deserved SO MUCH better than what the Corbeaus gave him. So much better than being called an ugly duckling who doesn’t belong. He is neglected and physically abused by his older brother while his mother lets it happen because she hates him. And the worst part is that none of it was his fault. None of it was because of his own choosing, which is of course the same for all victims of abuse, but it is literally true in Cluck’s place. He finds out near the end of the book that he is both a Corbeau and a Paloma. That the Palomas readily gave him up and that the person he loved most in the world is not his grandfather, but his father. And I cannot even begin to express how fucking angry at Alain Corbeau I am. This man watched his son get beaten down, neglected, emotionally and physically abused, AND HE DID NOTHING ABOUT IT. Sure, he made sure to stay a safe space for Cluck in that family, but it still doesn’t negate how much damage the Corbeaus did to this kid. He deserved love and warmth and to be told that he matters. Instead, he’d grown up in a household that did not care, that did not want him, and who made sure he knew that. Over and over again. The only thing that even slightly makes me feel better about this is that he finally got out. He’s no longer a part of them, and he can finally breathe a little easier. Though, the damage they’ve caused him will leave a lasting mark.

I just cannot with these people. They let a feud go on this long all because they didn’t bother to look for the truth and to tell it. They hid behind their lies and their curses and their “rules” for the children. They controlled people’s lives and did not allow room for growing up, for mistakes, for kids to find their own paths. They are awful fucking people, and I hate them. Anyway, I did love the romance, though. I loved both Lace and Cluck, and I just wanted to give them giant bear hugs and tell them that they didn’t need the Palomas or the Corbeaus. They only needed each other. But that ending is bittersweet, because I’d been hoping things would turn out differently, that the two of them would help their families see what they’ve done, make them change. It didn’t. :(

While The Weight of Feathers was beautiful and pulled me on a whirlwind of an adventure, I can’t let go of how much I wish it hadn’t gone in the direction it had. And how much I despise these families that could give the Capulets and Montagues a run for their money. Which, I suppose was the point of the book, given that it's basically a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, but still UGH. I was also super confused by one part of the ending, though I have my own theories about it. But you know, even given the anger, I did really enjoy this book, and Anna-Marie’s writing is just so freaking lovely.

RATING:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Classic Stories I Want to Read This Year

Another personal challenge I'm doing this year is: a classic a month! I'm not someone who thinks that if you don't read the classics, you just can't appreciate fine literature, or someone who thinks those who read classics are literary snobs. I know I don't have to read classics, that it isn't some guideline that bookworms have to cross to be considered a book lover. But there are some stories that I REALLY want to read. I'm going to try to read at least one a month, but we shall see!

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
This one will DEFINITELY happen this month. Alice and her story have always been one of my favorites, but I've never actually read the book. So I'm super excited to *finally* read it!

The Hobbit
I read this twice in high school (for two different English classes), but I never finished it either time. So, I want to do that! And also because I love this story, and the movies, a lot. :D

Peter Pan

I've always liked this movie, so I want to read the actual story!

Jane Eyre
I  tried this once before, because my friend and I were gonna read it and discuss together. But then, we quit after like 5 chapters, so I haven't gotten back to it.

Pride and Prejudice 

I have ALWAYS wanted to read a Jane Austen novel, and P&P has been at the top of that list. I'm so excited for it.

a Grimms fairytale

Not sure yet which one, but most likely a Disney story! Since those are really all I know about the Grimms brothers' tales. :p

a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale
I'm not which story I want to read yet, but there are SOOOOO many to choose from. Honestly, I'll probably start with The Little Mermaid since it's one of my favorite movies!
Macbeth
I've read quite a few of Shakespeare's works already, after taking a class all about him in college. But I still have yet to read Macbeth! I feel like it's a must. 


These are all books/stories I own, and since it doesn't equal 12, I will definitely be trying some other classics! I'm just not sure which ones yet. :D But unlike with a series a month, I won't be devastated if I skip a month. This is just going to be for fun! 


Have you guys read any classics; if so, did you like them? Or have you ever wanted to read any? Let's talk! :) 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

(68) Top Ten 2016 Releases I Meant to Read But Didn't (and Plan to Asap)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic: Top Ten 2016 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn't Get To (But TOTALLY plan to)

My Lady Jane
I feel like I've not heard a single bad thing about this book yet. I did test out the prologue to see whether I was in the mood, but I set it aside because historical fiction is something that I need to read when I DEFINITELY want to. So yeah, I really want to read this one soon, and I'm sure it'll happen this year!

Foxheart
I cannot BELIEVE I haven't read this yet, that it was not one of the first books I read when I brought it home from BEA. If you ask my friends, they'll be able to tell you how much I wanted this book. Haha. I WAS ALL ABOUT IT. And yet, here it sits, unread. I'm blaming much of it on the slump I hit during the last few months of 2016. But I'm definitely gonna devour it soon!
 
The Love That Split the World
This was one of the most hyped debuts that came out in 2016, and since I read a lot of the debuts, I'm surprised I didn't get to this one! I know it's been called out for problematic Native rep, but I'm still curious and want to read it.
 
Girl Against the Universe
I somehow always manage to put off reading Paula Stokes and idk why since she's one of my fave people. I think it's because the two I own and haven't read are ARCs, and I know the finished copies for her books tend to differ a lot from the ARCs. So I really just want to wait until I can get my hands on a hardcover instead.
 
A Court of Mist and Fury
I need to see what all the fuss is about, and since I really enjoyed ACOTAR, so I want to get to it as soon as I can!
 
The Unexpected Everything
Though Morgan is one of my faves, I still have only read Since You've Been Gone. I know, I know. WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE. I honestly don't know, but I really hope to get to this one at some point this year. :D
 
The Serpent King 
I've heard a lot of good things about this book, and I think all of my friends LOVED it, so I've got high expectations. Which is a big reason why I put it off for so long.

Ever the Hunted 
I'm wary about this one based off reviews I've read from trusted bloggers, but I had MEANT to give it a try before it released anyway. Hopefully I can do that this year.
 
The Steep and Thorny Way 
I still haven't read a Cat Winters novel yet, guys, and it *needs* to happen in 2017. And since I have this book, I want to read it, especially since it's a reimagining of Shakespeare's Hamlet
 
Scythe 
Gaaaah, I've wanted this one ever since I heard of it, and I absolutely want to read it before this year ends. I just need to get a copy of it. 

*****

What 2016 releases are you sad you didn't read last year? Which ones do you DEFINITELY plan on reading in 2017? Let's talk!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Review of Cam Girl by Elliot Wake

Title: Cam Girl
Author: Elliot Wake (writing as Leah Raeder)
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: November 3rd, 2015!

From Goodreads...
Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.

Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.

Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.

She’s got nothing left to lose.

So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.

It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:

Can we meet IRL?

Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that brings back a ghost from her past. Now Vada must confront the devastating secrets she's been running from—those of others, and those she's been keeping from herself..



My Review!
*Spoilers, so beware!

Absurdly good, as are all Elliot's books. Still pushing the boundaries, still changing my ideas about gender and sex and sexuality. I just, didn't always love Vada. I don't think we're meant to. She's not a nice character. She's selfish, unbelievably oblivious sometimes, and she let her fear of what society said was okay and not okay break hers and Ellis' hearts time and time again. But I could understand her, and even relate a little, and by the end, I was really appreciative with the way Vada's hangups over labels and looks brought to light so much that needs to change about the world. Gender is fluid. Sexuality is fluid. Sex is not the same as gender. And this is something that is so present throughout this book, with the beautiful prose and brutally honest narrative that Elliot is known for. And don't worry, I haven't forgotten Ellis. Sensitive, quiet, nerdy Ellis who was going through their own hangups. But you don't get to see them, unfortunately, because this book is not dual POV (and that really made me sad given Ellis was my fave character). Though, there was a reason for it. 

So, I ended up reading Bad Boy and spoiling myself over the biggest "twist" of this story. [The fact that this isn't something revealed until the MC finds out the truth is also why it's in a spoiler tag. I don't want to ruin it for anyone!] Because, I kind of ruined some things for myself? Because I knew Ellis was Blue, it changed the way I viewed that part of the book. And because of it, I could see Ellis in the way Blue spoke, what Blue said, and how they talked to each other. But Vada couldn't, and sometimes I thought she should've known. She's shared the same breath as Ellis for YEARS. It was right in front of her face. She kept shaking it off, even when evidence was presented to her, even when she THOUGHT it. Like I said, she could be incredibly oblivious. And I didn't always like how she treated Ellis. But I could understand Vada's anger when she found out, because Ellis DID string her along. Though Ellis was also being their truest self, they did sort of, manipulate, Vada through Blue. (Also using the pronouns of they because Ellis is genderfluid). Their relationship definitely wasn't perfect, and they were both struggling with identity issues, but I loved watching them find their way back to each other. For all its faults, their love is the one thing that makes both of them feel... whole.

I was not always happy about the car accident storyline because I thought it took away from Vada and Ellis needing to dig deep into their relationship and fix it, but after everything came together, and truths come to light, it all fit. And it was heartbreaking, and even more so after reading the acknowledgements. Because this happens too often. Kids, and adults, forced to conform to society's ideals and expectations, shamed and shunned from family and friends if they choose to not keep their real selves hidden. People are still so damn stubborn and awful and won't accept what doesn't fit the confining boxes they place others in. I'm glad books like these are out there, to reach those who need them, and those who could do with their black-and-white view of the world being shattered. I didn't always like parts of the story, in regards to the accident, especially when it started to veer into a suspense book. And it did take a REALLY long time before all of the secrets and truth spilled out. But I did like how Vada's disability played a part in the story too (though it could've had more focus, for sure), because when she got to ending? Man, it was beautiful.


Well, I hadn't expected to write so much. Haha. I had quite a bit of thoughts on this book! Cam Girl wasn't my favorite of Elliot's books, but that didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying it. I loved the characters (well, most of the time in Vada's case :p), including the secondary ones such as Dane and Frankie. I wasn't like a fan of Max, at all. I understood his grief and his pain, and he provided Vada a shelter against the loneliness that was clawing its way into the darkest corners of her depression. But he was a broken man, trying to find solace, and he didn't always go about anything in the best way. I think that's one of the things I like most about Elliot's books, though. The characters are never all good or bad; they LIVE in the gray area of life. It's their home. And it reflects the real world so much. I'm unsure whether reading this before Bad Boy would have made me love it better. And that's something I won't ever know. But as a standalone, something far removed from the Black Iris crowd, I think I was able to appreciate it more. Because I was able to separate the mystery from the story, and I focused more on the relationship between Vada and Ellis, and what made them, as cliche as it sounds, fit together so well.


RATING:

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Reading Challenges: 2016 Wrap-Up and 2017 Goals

I ended up doing a few reading challenges throughout the year (two of which became more of personal ones that I'll be continuing in 2017 but only for myself). One of them was the Goodreads challenge, obviously. I get so freaking excited to set up a goal for this one each year and push myself to read as much as I can. Though I'd hoped to beat 2013's goal of 162, I'm still very happy with my number for 2016. It was better than 2015's, which is all that mattered, tbh. And I was very happy with the books I read. :)

All in all, it was a fabulous reading year. There were some unbelievably disappointing books, but the majority received 4 and 5 stars from me! I set my goal at 100 for 2017, like I normally do, but my unofficial goal is 200 books. The only time I hit that was in 2014, and I'm dying to do it again. I'm not one of those people who believes in quantity over quality, but personally, I just want to read as much as I can while I can, because I KNOW I'm never going to get to all the books I want to in my lifetime. So, for me, it's not really ABOUT the number. It's about the fact that I don't want to miss out on brilliant books. Which is a big reason why I've gotten more serious about culling books from my TBR and shelves. I'm not going to read all of them, so why do I hang onto those I *know* I won't read? Ugh. ANYWAY. I'll probably write discussion a post about all that at some point this year. I also participated in Bookish Bingo throughout 2016, and while I only completed one whole board, I love doing the challenge and it's so much fun just finding books to fill the squares. It also pushes me to read books I don't normally read or would have put off otherwise. I'm in the middle of the winter edition and haven't read a whole lot, but hoping to hit some bingos! Oh! I can't forget about the Pokemon Indigo League readathon challenge that Aentee from Read at Midnight hosted during August-September. That was SO MUCH fun, and I'm glad she's doing another challenge like it. :)

*****
 
 A SERIES A MONTH
 January: The Lumatere Chronicles (3 books)
February: The Lunar Chronicles (5 books + two short stories)
March: the Circle Trilogy
April: The Wrath and the Dawn & The Rose and the Dagger (+ 3 novellas)
May: Vampire Academy (Blood Promise, Spirit Bound, and Last Sacrifice)
 June: the Addicted series (9 books)
July: The Lynburn Legacy (3 books + 2 novellas)
August: The Remnant Chronicles (3 books + 1 novella)
September: Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom
October: Hundred Oaks (Catching Jordan, Breathe, Annie, Breathe, & Jesse's Girl)
November: The Lumatere Chronicles (3 books)
December: Harry Potter (Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban)

So very proud of myself for reading a series a month the whole year! This was Danielle from Love at First Page's challenge, but after awhile, it ended up becoming a personal one for me. When I start doing it again this year, it will only be for me. I'd had SO MANY series I kept putting off before 2016, and so many I'd started and hadn't finished, that I had needed to commit to reading them. And there was no way I COULDN'T skip a month. I hated even the thought. I used Danielle's guidelines for what counted as a series: 3 books in a 3 or more series (either companions or continuations) or a complete duology. There were some months I definitely could not have read the whole series in a go. So, I still kept to the guideline of at least 3 books for it to count, which I think is completely fair. I mean, that's a trilogy! I only read a few duologies. Most of my time was spent with trilogies or more. I even managed to read the last 9 books in the Addicted series all in June. IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER, THOUGH. Binge-reading is one of my favorite things to do, honestly. I can't wait to knock off even more series this year!

*****

PERSONAL (RE)READING CHALLENGE  
January: Finnikin of the Rock
February: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress
March: A Darker Shade of Magic, Morrigan's Cross, Dance of the Gods, Valley of Silence
April: The Wrath and the Dawn
May: Addicted to You
June: 0
July: 0
August: The Kiss of Deception and The Heart of Betrayal 
September: Six of Crows
October: 0
November: Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles, & Quintana of Charyn
December: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I didn't join an actual challenge hosted by another blogger for this one, though I thought about it. I just wasn't sure how much time I could commit to it given all the new-to-me books I wanted to read last year. And I'm very happy with this! I was one of those readers who didn't understand the appeal in rereading for so long (though my #1 all-time favorite series never counted and I reread that one a few times before I even became a blogger). But I'd reread about a dozen books in 2015, and I was like, I should do this more often! Most of them were rereads in preparation for series finales. But after the garbage trash fire that was 2016, I'd also needed some of these books for comfort more than anything else. I read the Lumatere Chronicles TWICE last year, and I ended the hellish last month on Harry Potter because it felt... needed. When I hit a bad spot and a huge slump in February/March, I needed the Circle Trilogy (my #1) to ground me. I love rereading for the sake of spending time with favorite worlds and characters again, and for comfort. I reread 19 books in 2016, and I'm hoping to surpass that in 2017. :D

I plan on doing all of these challenges again this year. I've already thought about the series I want to read (with extra possibilities because I'm such a mood reader), and this month I'll be rereading the final four books in the Harry Potter series. I hope, at least. I'm participating in the Dumbledore's Army readathon currently, and that ends on the 15th. So I probably won't be reading much else besides those books and the HP ones this month. Maybe at some point I'll get back into ARCs and review copies. ;) Oh! I am also going to be trying to complete the Diversity Bingo 2017 board! 

I don't think I'll be joining the challenge officially, because I've already got so much to keep track of, but I'll be stalking the hashtag for recs and such when needed. I read a lot more diversely in 2016 than I have in the past, because I started actively seeking out those stories. But I want to do better and broaden my horizons further. I can't wait to start crossing these squares off! And oh man, I didn't think this was all going to be so much to try to do in 2017. Haha, but I'm doing all of these challenges! I had signed up for two last year that I never even started, so I made sure to really do those that I knew I WOULD keep up with. And I'm so excited. It's gonna be another fabulous reading year, guys. 


Are you guys doing any reading challenges this year too? Or any of these ones? Let's talk! :)