Monday, September 26, 2016

What I'm currently reading

Hi guys! I'm finally back with a new blog post... yeh ^^ Seriously, I missed the blog so much this past month! But I couldn't really help it either. I just had too much university work to do to be able to focus on the blog. Honestly, it's not just the blogging that had to take a back burner, but my reading as well. So yeah, I really missed the blog as well as my books this past month... Not to mention you guys ^^

And so, today, I thought I would ease back into blogging with a simple enough post. So here are all the things that I'm currently reading!

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I've just been in a mood for children classics lately and this is one of my latest purchases. It's also a book that I'm thoroughly enjoying so far. In fact, I highly recommend you give this one a go. If you're not familiar with Dodie Smith, she's also the author of the 101 Dalmatians, the same book that inspired the Disney movies. Also, this Vintage Classics edition of the book is just beautiful.

Source (right)

The story is narrated by a young girl, Cassandra, as she writes a diary recollecting what's going on in her life. Her father, who published a best-selling book years ago and who has since never written anything, now just stays at home and read detective stories. Her beautiful elder sister, Rose, is desperate to get married just to escape their wretched life. Topaz, their father's second wife and their artistic stepmother occasionally goes to commune with nature wearing only her wellington boots. This unusual family lives in an old, crumbling castle. Once their father had purchased it with views to renovate it. But with the money from the book earnings gone, they have since then sunk into deep poverty. One day though, new neighbors from America, two young and rich brothers, show up in their little town and very soon, all their lives begin to change.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I've been slowly savouring this one, like one savours a box of chocolates. I read this when I'm waiting for class to start since I'm always a bit early. My edition, which is in French, is very light and floppy, which makes carrying it around on campus easy. I've been reading a little of it before each class but now I'm almost done with it, which honestly makes me a bit sad.

Source (left)

The mysterious and eccentric chocolate maker Willy Wonka has decided to invite 5 children to explore his fantastical factory. Five Golden Tickets have been hidden in his Wonka bars and the children need to find those to be allowed inside the factory. Charlie Bucket comes from a very poor family and so, never expected to get any chocolate at all, much less one with one of the Golden Tickets. However, after an unexpected turn of events, Charlie manages to buy two Wonka bars and upon opening the second, he finds a glimmer of gold under the wrapping…

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I started reading this in July and while it's really good, it's also quite the slow read. Usually I'm fine with Murakami's slow pacing but picking this book in the middle of the assignment period was not a very good idea. I read almost half of it but haven't picked it up in a while. I do plan to continue with it soon though.

Source (right)

Toru Okada's cat has disappeared, his wife is growing more distant every day and he’s been getting mysterious, unsettling phone calls. As the story unfolds, Toru embarks on a strange journey, full of new acquaintances who each have a story to tell. This is a typical magical realism novel by Murakami, which is best enjoyed by going into it without knowing too much. Not to mention that no synopsis would ever do justice to the weird and amazing plot of this book.

The Child Thief by Brom

In the past year, I've realized that I've developed a soft spot for Peter Pan retellings. They don't even have to be the best books ever written. So long they are fun, I want to read them. So when I heard of this book, which is often described as a dark retelling of Peter Pan, I knew I had to read it. I've read about 40% of it and so far I'm really enjoying it. However, I was reading it around the time I had to return to Malaysia from my semester break, which I spent back home in Mauritius, and in between traveling and moving back into the dorm and beginning the second semester, I kind of stopped reading Child Thief. I want to go back to reading it soon though. Hopefully next month I'll pick it up again!

Source (right)

When the charismatic and mysterious Peter saves him from a bunch of drug dealers who’ve been preying on his family, Nick believes he’s finally found a friend in the midst of his wretched, miserable life. When Peter asks him if he wants to join him in a land full of faeries and monsters, Nick thinks his new friend is just kidding and plays along in what he thinks is just a joke. Soon, Nick finds himself trapped in this land which is not only very real, but also very dangerous. As he’s unwittingly dragged into a centuries old war, the story of Peter’s dark past is slowly revealed.

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton

This one I was listening to on audiobook while working on assignments. I loved the Magic Faraway Tree series as a kid and this is the first book in the series. It's still as enjoyable as I remember it being many years ago. I just need to start listening to it again where I left off, especially since it's narrated by Kate Winslet, who did an amazing job with it.

Source (right)

Jo, Bessie and Fanny’s family have just moved in a new home in the countryside. One day, after exploring the surroundings, the children come across a magical tree that grows in what they soon find is called the Enchanted Wood. The children thus go on many adventures together, meeting the magical residents of the tree along the way, and exploring the top of the tree where almost each day, a new land appears.

Watchmen by Alan Moore

During my break I was in the mood for watching movies and I ended up watching a lot of them, one of which was Watchmen. I know people have mixed feelings about it but I really enjoyed it. So afterwards, I thought I would give the original comics a go since I love reading graphic novels and comics. I've only read the first 2 issues and so far I'm enjoying it. I'm looking forward to reading the rest, as well as the prequel comics 'Before Watchmen'. 

In a world where superheroes are not only known to all, but have also been outlawed, one group of ex-superheroes are forced to face a world they once left forever when some of them begin to fall prey to a mysterious assassin. What follows next is a story as unique as it is riveting, bringing you a superhero story unlike anything you probably read before.

So that's it for today's post guys. What book or books are you currently reading? Let me known down in the comments ^^

My next post: Upcoming book releases I'm excited for!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

10 Reasons Why You Should Read This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

'10 Reasons Why You Should Read...' is a new feature here on the blog, in which I highlight the main reasons I loved a book rather than do a classic review of it. If a book is featured in this post, it means that I either gave it 4 or 5 stars, that I really enjoyed it and that I definitely recommend it.

So what's the book about?

In a world where acts of violence give birth to real monsters, nowhere is really safe. Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father, the most powerful man in town, whose forces keep the monsters at bay, and who makes the humans pay for his protection. August Flynn wants nothing more than to be human, as kind-hearted as his father, the man leading the resistance against the monsters and Harker. However, August is one of the very monsters his world has fallen prey to. His is the ability to steal souls and all it takes is music. When violence suddenly forces Kate and August to cross paths, everything they thought they understand about themselves and their world begins to change.

10 reasons why I loved this book...

1. Great writing

I've read a few books by this author now and each time, aside from her unique stories and awesome characters, one thing that always shines through is the great writing. V.E. Schwab writes really well... and that's kind of an understatement! She just has a knack for coming up with the perfect descriptions to bring to life her characters and the scenes in the book in the best way possible.

2. Unique plot

While the dark, urban setting almost touches the boundaries of the dystopian genre, I wouldn't really call this book a 'typical' dystopian, simply because the world and story are both so unique. This is a world in which acts of violence have literally spawned monsters. And not the seductive supernatural bad boys we usually get in YA, but actual evil monsters. Frankly, I've never read a YA book like that and for me, This Savage Song is just a long anticipated fresh addition to the YA scene. I mean, this is a book about freaking monsters guys!!!

3. Unique characters

The book does an amazing job at avoiding usual character tropes by giving us unique and well-fleshed out characters unlike who we usually meet in YA. Aside from the main characters, which I'm getting to in a few minutes, the book had an amazing cast of secondary characters. August has two siblings, who are also monsters like him, and they were probably my favorite secondary characters. They were both so cool and unique and intrigued me almost as much as our main characters.

4. Awesome world building

Even though the setting is practically a dystopian one, the way the world is described is completely different from what you would actually expect from a dystopian. On one hand, the world closely resembles our own. The characters go to school like normal kids, the technology is almost the same as ours and the city where most of the story takes place is described like the cities in our own world. And yet, despite the seemingly normal setting, we have the supernatural aspect of the monsters, which add a darker, scarier element to this otherwise normal world. So yeah, this is definitely not your typical dystopian.

5. I loved both main POVs characters

Usually, in books with multiple POVs, there's one or a few that I tend to like more than the rest. This book was a rare case where both main POVs were equally enjoyable to me. August was my favorite character in the book though. There are more sides to his character than first meet the eye. At first he is quiet and introverted, making him adorable and relatable, but as we spend more time with him, we also discover a deeper depth to him. Beyond his quiet personality, August is also very brave and honest. And as you get to know him more, it is clear there is indeed a monster in him. Kate, our female lead, was a kick-ass and awesome character to follow. She was far from being invulnerable as some dystopian heroines are sometimes portrayed and her character was certainly a flawed one. And that's actually what made her POV such an interesting one.

6. No romance!

Throughout this book, Kate and August evolve from being almost accidental acquaintances to good friends and... they never fall in love. Yep guys! This is a YA book and it has no romance. Do I need to point out how refreshing this is??

7. It has monsters, the like you've never (probably) seen before

I'm not going to tell you what exactly these monsters are because it'll be more fun for you to meet them on your own. However, I will say that they were really unique and unlike anything I've seen so far in YA fantasy. Remember though that these are actual monsters. They don't sparkle, they don't fall in love with clueless teenagers. They actually prey on flesh and blood and they are amazing XD.

8. Cool backstory

Again, telling more about the actual backstory would ruin the book for you but I'll just say that the story behind how this book's world came to become like this and be home to real monsters is really cool. Overall, this book felt very refreshing in a genre that was kind of getting a little over-saturated with recurring fantasy and dystopian tropes.

9. The story flowed at a nice pace

The pacing in this book was perfection! There was never a dull moment in the book and the more I read, the less I felt like putting the book down. I almost read this book in a day because of how fast-paced and fun it was. But then it got like, 3 am and I just couldn't keep my eyes open anymore XD.  

10. Awesome ending

The ending guys!!! It's been a month since I read this book and the ending still gives me all the feels. I want to know what happens next dammit! I need a sequel. I need a bloody sequel! So yeah, I loved the ending ^^ For me, the book ended in the best way possible, leaving us with just enough cliffhangers to look forward to the sequel. And boy that'll be hard! I'm still kind of in denial that I have to wait an entire year for the sequel. Just sayin'.

So that's it for this post guys. Have you read this book or plan to do so? Let me know in the comments ^^


Sunday, August 7, 2016

July Wrap-Up

Hi guys ^^ So today I'm sharing with you all the books I read in July and what I thought about them. Overall, July was a nice reading month for me. I read a total of 8 books and in general, I enjoyed everything I read. Below I've ranked the books in the order I rated them, starting with ones I gave the lowest rating to till the ones I enjoyed most.

And as usual, this wrap-up is spoiler-free!

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum - After a tornado whisks her aunt’s house out of Kansas, Dorothy suddenly finds herself into the strange land of Oz. There she meets new friends, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion, and together they set out to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz, who is said to be powerful enough to grant wishes and send Dorothy back home.

I honestly thought the book was just okay. I didn't hate it or anything, but I'm not crazy about it either. I thought the characters were waaaay too nice XD. Especially, the sweet little Dorothy... Like, come on, no one is that nice, lol. But apart from that, overall the story was quite fun. Also, I actually listened to this one on audiobook and it was narrated by Brooke Shields, who did an awesome job with it. In fact, it's only because I loved Brooke Shields's narration so much that I ended up kind of enjoying the book. I don't think I'll be reading the rest of the Oz books though. 

My rating: 3 stars

If you want to give this book a go, I recommend listening to the audiobook narrated by Brooke Shields. She did such a great job with it!

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne - Set in an early Puritan New England colony, the story follows Hester Prynne, who is condemned to wear a scarlet letter A on her chest for having committed adultery and given birth to a child as a result. The story also follows Reverend Dimmesdale, a man tortured by a terrible secret and the vengeful Chillingworth, the man Hester was married to and who has now returned to the town after several years of absence.

So this is a classic I'd been meaning to read for the longest time. While I can appreciate its literary value, especially with regards to its social commentary and the time period when it was written, unfortunately I didn't ended up enjoying it as much as I thought I would. I found the book a little dry to be honest. Not much happened plotwise and I couldn't really connect with any of the characters. I do think this book is worth a read, but I don't see myself ever rereading it.

My rating: 3 stars

This is not a bad book by any means and I do think you should give it a try if the book interests you. However, there are a lot more classics out there that I enjoyed way more than this one.

Falling Kingdoms and Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes - In a world when magic is banned, four young people from different parts of the realm are brought together through violence and fate. In the kingdom in the south, privileged Princess Cleo finds her world turned upside down as she finds herself trying to save her dying sister while around them, their kingdom is readying for war. In another land, the young Jonas finds himself in the middle of a rebellion. And in the north, prince Magnus is trying to earn his father’s respect as he prepares himself to one day succeed him while his sister, Lucia discovers a terrifying secret about her heritage.

Firstly, I'd like to point out that this book is not the best literary work out there. There are a few tropes thrown in here and there and the writing wasn't anything that blew me away. However, I still fell completely in love with the series! The books are so fast paced and fun to read that you can't help keep turning the pages. I wasn't crazy about the characters in book 1 but they've been growing on me since book 2 and now I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

My rating: 3 stars for Falling Kingdoms & 4 stars for Rebel Spring

If you want a fun YA fantasy series which is as fast-paced as it's action packed, this series is for you! Plus, the series does improve with each book.

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix - Strange things have been happening at the Orsk furniture superstore. With the security cameras revealing nothing and management at the brink of panic, some employees volunteer to stay after work hours to investigate. As they patrol empty showroom floors and follow strange sights and sounds to horrors beyond their imagination, they soon realize that they are not alone inside the store.

I’ve never had so much fun reading a horror story before! Plot-wise, you could say that it’s quite a straightforward ghost story. However, what sets this book apart from others in the genre is the setting of this fictional Ikea-like store. A furniture store after dark can be spooky as hell and the book makes the best use of its setting to convey the feeling of horror that hovers over the characters trapped in there. There’s never a dull moment in this book and although I wouldn’t say that this is the scariest book I’ve ever read, there were several places where it did seriously spook me out! Also, the design of this book is just great. The book is basically designed like an IKEA catalogue. Like, how cool is that? I wrote a full review of this book, which you can also check out here if you want.

My rating: 4 stars 

Do yourself a favor and pick this book up! You might not want to read it before going to bed though, haha.

Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis - When Prue's baby brother is kidnapped by crows - yes, actual crows - she jumps on her bike and follows them inside a strange world known as Wildwood. In this strange land, a deposed ruler is amassing an army of coyotes to take her vengeance on those who ended her rule, some bandits are forming a rebellion and in the midst of it all, a terrible and powerful threat is about to be unleashed on all of Wildwood. Soon enough, Prue realizes that whether she wants it or not, her fate is now tied with the rest of the land's. 

I really, really enjoyed this book. It was like an old school children magical adventure full of fantastic settings, awesome descriptions and world building, great writing and lots of whimsical and interesting characters ranging from coyote soldiers to owl princes. The main characters were pretty cool and it was nice to follow each one's point of view and storyline. Plus, the book is illustrated and the artwork was just amazing. There are 2 more books in this series and I can't wait to dive into those as well.

My rating: 4 stars 

I highly, highly recommend this book. Reading it was such a magical experience!

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett - After she is orphaned, Mary Lennox comes to live with her uncle in his great and mysterious house on the Yorkshire Moors. At first Mary is bored, with no one of her own age around to keep her company. One day though, Mary finds a key that leads to a secret garden where no one has been in years. As she begins to unravel the secrets of the house and this mysterious garden, Mary finds help in unexpected friends and together, they begin to restore the locked garden slowly back to its former life.

Reading this book was so much fun! I loved the story, the characters, the writing, everything! Sometimes, classic children books can be a bit sickly sweet. Looking at you Dorothy XD. However, The Secret Garden does a much better job at portraying endearing, yet flawed characters. Mary, our main character is witty and sharp-tongued. She's quite a detestable child when we first meet her and throughout the book she undergoes a truly interesting character growth. Overall, this book was really charming and I do see myself rereading it at some point.

My rating: 4 stars 

I highly recommend this book for those of you who enjoy children books, especially those with unique characters.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab - In a world where acts of violence give birth to real monsters, nowhere is really safe. Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father, the most powerful man in town, whose forces keep the monsters at bay, and who makes the humans pay for his protection. August Flynn wants nothing more than to be human, as kind-hearted as his father, the man leading the resistance against the monsters and Harker. However, August is one of the very monsters his world has fallen prey to. His is the ability to steal souls and all it takes is music. When violence suddenly forces Kate and August to cross paths, everything they thought they understand about themselves and their world begins to change.

This book guys! It was my favorite was last month. It was fast paced, the plot was unique, the writing was very descriptive and all the characters were well fleshed out and unique. You follow both August's and Kate's perspectives in this book and I enjoyed both equally. Plus, the setting itself of this world was really cool. And then you have the monsters. We're talking actual blood and flesh preying monsters here guys! So yeah, this book was lots of fun. If you want to know what else I thought of it, look forward for my full review which is coming in a few days ^^

My rating: 4 stars 

Read this book. Trust me, you deserve it :)

So that's it for this wrap-up guys. I hope you enjoyed it. If you've read or plan to read any of these books, share your thoughts with me in the comments. And look forward for my next post which will be a full review of This Savage Song ^^