Thursday, June 30, 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