Friday, July 22, 2016

The Birthday Book Tag!

Happy Birthday To My Favorite Human!

Hi guys! So today, my sister Pooja turns nineteen and since it's the first time since we've known each other that I'm far, far away from her on her birthday, I thought I would dedicate today's post entirely to her ^^


The Birthday Book Tag

So I found a really fun birthday book tag which was created by YouTuber BrunetteBibliphile, and whose original video you can watch here, and I adapted it for this post by changing a couple of questions. Then, earlier this morning, I sent the questions to my sister and asked her to answer them for me. Since we were on Skype together when she answered them, it was actually super fun to do the tag!

And so, here are all the answers of the birthday girl ^^

1. Count your birth date along your bookshelf. Then subtract your birth month and go back the same number of books. What book does it land on?

Source (left)

Her birthday being on the 22nd of July, she first counted 22 books and then went back 7 books, eventually landing on An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. 

2. If you could spend your birthday with any fictional character, who would it be and why?

Source (left) & Source (right)

Pooja: Peeta Mellark from the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 'cause I get a feeling he'd sit down and listen to all my problems with real concern. Plus, he's more relatable than other male characters. And he's sooo cute and kind! 

3. Find a book that takes place in the season you were born in.

Source (left)

Since in Mauritius July is in Winter, she went with Born in Ice by Nora Roberts, also set during Winter.

4. If you could have a cake inspired by a book, which book would it be?

Pooja: Harry Potter of course!

5. Name a well-loved book you either read on your birthday or received for your birthday.

Source (left)

Pooja: A Royal Wedding, the long awaited book 11 in the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot, which was her gift from last year. *Mia and Michael finally get married!* Oops, spoiler alert! 

Memories of another birthday...

Today I can't help but also feel a little nostalgic and remember the last time we celebrated Pooja's birthday together. Last year, since I knew we wouldn't be together for her next birthday, I went all out for her 18th birthday and threw her a Harry Potter party. It was a great day and is totally one of my best memories ever. Like if you'd ask me to pick a happy memory to cast a Patronus spell, I would probably pick that one ^^ We had all those Harry Potter themed props and treats and it was just lots of fun. 

And now I'm going to leave you with some throwback pictures of that Harry Potter birthday party. If you want to see the full post where I shared all the pictures and stories from that day, click here ^^

I send you lots of hugs and kisses Pooja and I hope you have an amazing day! And once again...


Friday, July 8, 2016

My Favorite Books Of 2016 So Far

Hi guys ^^ So June is over and we're now moving to the second half of the year. Like, whaaat?? Seriously, I have no idea where the time went. To be fair though, the second half of the year is usually my favorite because there's Halloween, Christmas, awesome book releases, and... semester breaks for me XD.

And so, I thought I would do a post to look back on all the books I've read so far this year and tell you guys which of those books I enjoyed the most. Also, I thought I would also do a little update on my Goodreads Reading Challenge.

My Goodreads Reading Challenge so far

Although I managed to exceed my challenge of 120 books in 2015 by reading 175 books, for 2016 I've decided to challenge myself to only 100 books. This year I'm back at uni and just as I had imagined before starting my course, between all the work I'm juggling with, I barely have time for reading. So while I did read 87 books from January to June, the majority of that reading was done during the months before I started uni XD. 

And now let's take a look at those books I enjoyed most...

My Favorite Books Of The Year So Far

Because it was a little hard to narrow down the books to a reasonable number for this list, in a few cases I'm just going to go with a book series rather a single book. That's kind of cheating but whatever XD. Also, these books are in no particular order.


The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Okay, I do know that many people actually feel pretty meh about this series. Honestly, I kind of see why some people didn't enjoy it. However, perhaps because I had prepared myself so much to hating these books, I actually ended up really enjoying them! And while individually I wouldn't pick any of these books as my favorite of the year or anything, overall, this series was among the books I loved most in the first half of the year.

The first book introduces to the Russian-inspired world of Ravka, in a land torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a pocket of darkness home to vicious monsters. When a regiment of soldiers is sent on a mission to go into the Fold, one of them, Alina, is revealed to have a unique power that may just be the way to fight off the Fold and the creatures within. In a world where to have magic is to be a warrior, Alina's life soon starts to change forever.

I really enjoyed the Russian-inspired setting and folklore and surprisingly, I found myself really caring about Alina and the fate of all the characters. Also, to be honest, I did have a little bit of a book crush on The Darkling... *shameless blushing*. There, I said it and now it'll be out there in the online world for ever XD. 

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson 

After I finished reading this book, I remember putting down my Kindle and wanting almost immediately to reread the book all over again and that never happens to me. This book is a Peter Pan retelling with Tiger Lily as the main character. She is a ruthless and often lone character, more a creature of wit and instinct than emotion. When her path one day crosses that of Peter Pan, known in her village as the most dangerous being in Neverland, what ensues is a poignant romance that will change both their lives forever. This is the story of Tiger Lily before Peter met Wendy and the book is an stunningly beautiful as it is poignant. Note to self: It's about time I get a physical copy of this book so that I have a valid reason to reread it... 

After Alice by Gregory Maguire

Meant as a tribute to the original Alice in Wonderland, After Alice follows the adventures of Alice's friend, Ada, as she stumbles through the rabbit hole after Alice. What ensues is a dreamlike trip through the whimsical world of Wonderland, unlike anything Victorian England born Ada could ever imagine. The writing was both whimsical and beautiful and reading about the world of Wonderland as imagined by Maguire often felt like a dream. The setting was highly descriptive and very beautifully conceived and what stood out was mainly the feeling that along with Ada, you are yourself experiencing the dreamlike world of Wonderland. I actually did a full review of this book, which you can read here.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I had no idea what to expect before picking this one up and that's exactly how I would recommend you read this book. The whole Raven Cycle is unlike any YA fantasy series I've ever read but my favorite has to be book 1 because that's the book that introduces us to all the awesomeness and delicious mysteries of this very well written and unique series. Four boys, all attending a prestigious academy that earn them and their peers the name 'Raven Boys' are on a quest to find a Welsh king rumored to still be alive somewhere, lost in a magical sleep. When their quest lead them to crossing paths with Blue Sargent, the only 'normal' person in a family of psychics, this encounter marks the beginning of a friendship as special as it is beautiful. That being said though simply telling you what the book is about wouldn't do it justice. You really need to experience it for yourself to really get what The Raven Boys is all about. 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Man, this book! Carry On originates from Fangirl, another book by Rainbow Rowell, in which it is a fan-fiction of the Simon Snow series, which is basically the Harry Potter of that world. Instead of being a parody or rip-off of Harry Potter though, Carry On is instead the love child of every 'Chosen One' book ever written, subtly making fun at the tropes of these fantasy books and rising to go beyond those usual tropes to become a unique story of adventure, magic, heartbreak and yes, love. I feel like it's best if you don't know too much about the story before picking up this book because honestly, part of the magic of Carry On resides in letting the author surprise you at each turn of the pages. I highly, highly recommend!

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

This is a collection of short stories from the universe of the Meyer's Lunar Chronicles. In an advanced future full of space travels, cities on the moon, cyborgs and androids, these stories shed light on the past of some of the series' main characters, give us a glimpse into their future and finally conclude the series in the most beautiful way possible in a final story full of everything a fan of the series could have hoped for. 

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Unfortunately, I can't tell you anything about this book without spoiling everything in the first 2 books of the Throne of Glass series. The first book introduces to the legendary assassin Celaena Sardothien, who is offered a shot at getting her life back when she is given a chance to participate in a competition who will pit the land's best assassins against each other until only one remains and rises to become the king's personal assassin. While that's the gist of the first book's premise, there are is so much more to the series guys, that I can't tell you about without getting close to spoiler territory. Heir of Fire takes both the characters and the reader in unseen before places and the plot just escalates to new levels of awesomeness. Also, the reason why I picked Heir of Fire rather than any other book in the series is because this is actually my favorite book in the series so far ^^

So that's it guys for my little reading update. How's your Goodreads challenge going? And what books have you most enjoyed so far this year? Let me know down in the comments below ^^

Friday, July 1, 2016

June Wrap-Up (Also, I'm back from my blogging break y'all ^^)

Hi guys! I'm finally back after my long blogging break and to kick start things, today I have a reading wrap-up for you ^^ And as usual, this post is spoiler-free!

I'm doing monthly wrap-ups again ^^

Those of you who've been around for a while probably remember that I used to do these wrap-ups back when I had just started my blog. Then, after a few months, I had stopped doing them in favor of 3 monthly mini reviews simply because I was reading way too many books to include all of them in a single monthly wrap-up post.

Now though, with me doing my Masters and everything (more on that in a moment, hehe), I'm not getting as much reading done as I used to and actually... it's kind of fine! I find myself spending more time on my books and weirdly enough, I've actually been enjoying my books even more than usual. So... What I'm getting at with this rambling, is simply that because I'm now reading roughly 4 books per month, I'll actually be doing my monthly wrap-ups again XD. 

And now before I begin with the wrap-up, here's a quick little life update...

A small life update...

As I was telling you in one of my latest posts, I'm now doing my Master degree in Communication in Malaysia. Between moving abroad, moving in my dorm room, getting the hang of all the uni stuff and juggling between daily stuff and assignments, I've barely had time to blog, much less get much reading done. It's been a little more than a month than I've been here though so now things are actually starting to settle into a calmer routine and so, I thought it was about damn time I got back into blogging XD.

Alright, enough with the rambling... Phew! Moving on to the books...

Let's talk books!

The first book I completed in June was A Court of Thorns and Roses, which was a reread for me. The first time I read it, back in 2015, I wasn't super impressed with it, although I did find it to be a fun read. Back then I gave it 4 stars and I've since dropped down one star following my re-read. 

The story follows Feyre, a human girl who is taken captive by the fae after she accidentally kills one of them during a hunt. Thrown into the magical and dangerous world of the faerie courts, Feyre finds herself slowly forgetting everything she thought she knew about the fae as little by little, she begins to piece together the true story of her mysterious captor. 

ACOTAR is a loose, very loose, adaptation of Beauty and the Beast which I would say fits more into the new adult section than the YA one due to the few, rather descriptive love scenes. While it was pretty fun learning about the fae, their world and their magic, I found the characterization a little on the flat side. I realize Feyre was meant to appear as a strong female character but honestly, I found her slightly annoying sometimes, almost to the point of being bratty. As to Tamlin, the male lead you're supposed to find oh, so swoon-worthy... It just didn't work for me. I thought he could have done a better job dealing with his enemies and overall, I thought he was actually pretty terrible at making all the 'big decisions'. 

Okay, that sure sounds like a negative review... but it's not, I promise! I actually had a blast reading this book. Yes, I gave it 3 stars because honestly, literary-wise, it wasn't the best thing I've read, especially not by Sarah J. Maas. I still had a good time reading it though because for all its flaws, that book sure is pretty fun. Plus, it was a little gift my dad got me when we first arrived in Malaysia (he came to drop me off), so for me ACOTAR is now forever tied with my whole 'living in Malaysia' experience. 

My rating: 3 stars. 

So would I recommend ACOTAR? Absolutely! And one more reason why you should read it is that the next book actually gets much, much better!

Okay, the sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury was much, much better than ACOTAR. I can't say much without spoiling it for those of you who haven't read that far in the series yet, but I can assure you that the story take a whole new direction and for the best too! We meet old characters again, are introduced to new ones and through Feyre's eyes, we get to explore even further of the fae world first described in ACOTAR.

I really enjoyed reading more about the fae courts and all the magical places of that universe. Character-wise, the new cast was so fun to follow, especially for Rhysand. No, don't worry, I won't say anything that might lead us to spoiler-land. I'm only going to say that his character was everything I wanted him to be and then some XD.

While Feyre is still not quite my favorite fantasy female lead,  her characterization improved a lot in this book. Hell, I was actually rooting for her throughout the book XD. And now I'm so incredibly impatient for the next book to come out. I have honestly no clue as to how things will go down! Maas sure spins cool tales :)

My rating: 4 stars. 

Even if you read ACOTAR and weren't much impressed by it, do give this sequel a try. I'm fairly certain you won't regret it, hehe.

I've read only two books by Ali Smith so far and I've really enjoyed both of them. I gave How to be both 4 stars. Now, the story itself is quite difficult to explain, although the story is not in itself a complex one. In fact, I believe the book is best enjoyed when going blindly into it. 

One thing I can tell you though is that there exist two versions of this book and you won't know which version you have until you actually start reading because both versions look the same. In short, there are two separate stories within this book, although they are connected to each other. Depending on which version you pick up, your book could start with either story.

One takes place in the present and it follows a young girl called George as she is coping, rather poorly actually, with the death of her mother. Her story is quite a coming-of-age one, with elements of sexuality and love sprinkled throughout. The second story is set in the 15th century and follows a young painter whose work eventually become a subject of fascination for George in her own timeline and story.

While the writing style is unique and without doubt poetic, the book is not overly complex, making this book both dreamlike and highly enjoyable. The book does not rely overly on plot, being more of a character study of our two main characters than anything else.

My rating: 4 stars. 

Maybe the book's style is not for everybody, but if you enjoy well-written character studies, then you will probably really enjoy this one.

When I first picked up Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I'd never read anything by her before and while the premise of the book, a story of time-travel across the world, did sound amazing, the reviews for this book have been pretty mixed. 

So did I like it? Yep, I really did. I thought that the world building was on point and I really enjoyed the writing style and prose as well. While I'm not sure if the Darkest Minds, also by Bracken, would be for me, I will certainly keep an eye out for her future book releases. 

The characters were both unique and diverse, with a black man as our male lead and a headstrong violinist who doubles as a time-traveller as our female main character. However, while I did enjoy their story, I did find it a little hard to really connect with them. The characterization was probably the first main thing I thought could have used some further work. Hopefully in the sequel the characters will be fleshed out a little more.

Another thing that I also didn't enjoy as much was how quickly our heroine adjusted to all the fantastical things that were suddenly showing up in her life. In one scene she is literally being thrust into all this magical craziness and the next time we see her she's... just fine with it? Well, OK I guess... I just wish we had had a little bit more fluidity in that transition. I mean, it would only have taken a few extra pages to make those scenes a little more believable.  

Overall though, I really enjoyed this book and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel, Wayfarer. 

My rating: 4 stars. 

Maybe a little slower than your average YA fantasy, but hang in there and I promise you'll be in for a really fun read!

And that's it for this wrap-up guys! It's so good to finally be back on the blog. As usual, your comments are most welcome. What books did you enjoy most in June? Did you read any of the books I mentioned here? Let me know down in the comments ^^ And...


Cover art by Of Stacks and Cups via Pagemodo