monthly TBR

November 2017 TBR

This month I’m gonna try to knock out some books I started but never finished and also some new releases from this year (4-5). We’ll see how consistent I am with updating from now on.

I saw a dude on the bus with a Teddie badge on his jacket. I suspect he was the guy who worked at Gamestop when I went in for my shiny silvally code.
  1. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
  2. the Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
  3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  4. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
  5. Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows
  6. A Dark Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

FEH kinda overtook my life. No one should ever let me play gacha games because I have poor impulse control.

Advertisements
book review · monthly wrap-ups

October 2017 Wrap-Up

Hiyo, long time no update. I’m finally making an effort to consolidate my book blog and book review channel (if you can call it that), meaning what I write here will more or less reflect what I’m planning to discuss in video format if all goes according to plan. I also wanna take my GR reviews and make them more concise and coherent and cross-post them here.

October was perhaps my most active month for reading since I just got back home from school and I’ve had the chance to give into my primal, book-hording nature and procrastinate on… phd apps oops. I had to go to my local library and get a new library card since my old one, which I’ve had since I was in kindergarten, expired. RIP my dalmation sticker card. Yeah, so anyway – I love making lists and organizing what I’ve done, so here we go.

I read 5 novels this month in the following order:

  1. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao – 3.5/5 stars | Review
  2. The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo – 3/5 stars | Review
  3. The Hunter’s Moon by O. R. Melling – 1/5 stars | Review
  4. The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin – 4/5 stars| Review
  5. The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera – DNF, 1/5 stars | Review
  6. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (currently reading)

Continue reading “October 2017 Wrap-Up”

monthly TBR

2017 TBR #1

I almost wrote 2016 again www.

My TBR list has changed since January when I first made one. We’ll call that TBR list TBR prime. It looked like this:

  1. Ruin and Rising, Leigh Bardugo DONE, review pending
  2. The Kiss of Deception, Mary Pearson DONE, reviewed
  3. The Heart of Betrayal, – DONE, reviewed
  4. The Beauty of Darkness, – DONE, reviewed

My current TBR is as follows:

  1. A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab
  2. The rest of the Darker Shade of Magic series if I end up liking it.
  3. Akatsuki no Yona (manga), Mizuho Kuzanagi – to get caught up.
  4. Truthwitch, Susan Dennard, DONE, reviewed
  5. Proxy, Alex London
  6. A Torch Against the Night, Sabaa Tahir
  7. Ballroom e Yokoso reread for Yao because she wants me to type ballroom.

I’m kind of non-commital to a strict TBR. I treat it as more like what I’m thinking of reading. Like Proxy and ATATN, I might get 5% through and not touch it for months.

You can find me on Goodreads stuck at the same exact 5% lol.

 

 

anime

Swayed by the Lime, Stayed for the Lime

1489939167905.jpg
AL DENTE LEMON LIME
1489930938141.jpg
Good with a squeeze of lemon.

Breaking Not News – We all knew I was idol anime trash and it was only a matter of time.

I was studying for my abstract exam yesterday and decided to marathon all of the current Marginal #4 anime episodes (I’m done with the exam now, so no worries until the next). I’ve been aware of Magi4 for a while, but only now have I actually given it a shot.

So like… I avoided Magi4 because I wasn’t a fan of green hair BUT THEN MY FAVE ENDED UP BEING 50 SHADES OF MARIMO. It’s proven, I’m easy. If it’s not glasses, it’s something whack like this and I’m ok with this.

1489939112892.jpg
This is from the pasta/softcore horror episode.

This show is honestly so nonsensical but cute I can’t help but adore it.

One of the first episodes is about Lucky Underwear. There’s another about pasta and includes softcore horror. There’s an ep about a stuffed penguin mascot and one about them making udon. This show was clearly made with someone like me in mind because it’s either about cute shit or food… or a dummy mic bust of Pythagoras.

1489947241920
tfw ur confessing love to Pythagoras

Not for everyone, but it is indeed for me.

Character Typing

Six of Crows MBTI

Hi… so I finished SOC and CK and though they made me suffer as a reader, I do have typings for the squad. These are preliminary typings and I will definitely not be going back to revisit for the sake of accuracy. These are just the impressions I got from mostly reading and a bit of skimming to get through the duology. I’ll mostly just dispute that Kaz is ENTJ not INTJ because honestly I didn’t care about the characters all too much in this series. I’m all about correcting NTJ stereotypes tho.

Spoilers for Crooked Kingdom below because I can’t bare to go back and remember SOC.

Kaz – ENTJ

  • I disagree with everyone who automatically types this boy as INTJ because coughs brooding bad boy INTJ stereotype is so old… I’m done with it. And being an INTJ myself, I would say about Kaz the same thing I’ve said about Jumin Han – his primary goal is to get shit done which reeks of dominant Te. Kaz tends to act first and get stuff done then ask questions later. He’s choosing specific actions (Te) to get what he wants (what auxillary Ni envisions) rather than the other way around as an INTJ would.
    • Kaz has a good quote (yes, I admit there are a couple of CK lines I actually liked that shows his dom Te) When he and Wylan break into van Eck’s place they have the convo: “You’re not weak because you can’t read. You’re weak because you’re afraid of people seeing your weakness. You’re letting shame decide who you are. Help me with the painting.”
  • Kaz’s primary struggle in this series is showing mercy on those who wronged him or something (again I didn’t read too carefully because of my hatred distaste for the writing but I’m sure it’s somewhere in his arc). Wylan and Inej serve as foils or morality guides with their dominant Fi to Kaz’s dom Te. Their interactions urge him to embrace his Fi.
    • When Jesper asks who’s Jordie, Kaz mcfreakin’ snaps and it’s really obvious to everyone, showing that he’s got a short emotional fuse – which is understandable since feeling is his lowest function. INTJs would be better at hiding their emotional outbursts in my opinion.
  • Not to be all shippy with the mbti typings because people of any type can get along fairly well, but this would make sense why his interactions with Inej and Wylan are like the strongest if we go by the ExTJ x IxFP dynamic being a nice pair off. Again, this is just my opinion.

Inej – ISFP

Jesper – ESTP

Matthias – ISTJ

  • Honestly the ESTP-ISTJ dynamic Jesper and Matthias had going on was really (A-OK SIGN). Given their almost Zuko-Katara backstories – Matthias, whom I begrudgingly will admit LB did incorporate some Zuko into his character, and Jesper basically having Katara’s tragic backstory – I kinda ship it. Jetthias it is and Jetthias so it shall be.

Nina – ENTP

Wylan – INFP

Kuwei – idk Wylan was Kuwei longer than Kuwei was Kuwei.

4 stars · 5 stars · book review

book review: The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

WE’RE FINALLY HERE AHHHHHHH HHHHHHHHHHHHH

Lia and Rafe and co. leave Venda and try to save their kingdoms from Komizar’s power hungry clutches.

1) Plot – Lots of twists and turns I could not predict. I’m always pleasantly surprised if it’s a good plot that I can’t completely figure out in one go.

2) Characters – Lia continues to be a motherfucking badass, Kaden gets justice, Rafe grows on me, Viceregent GETS THE ROAST, Lia’s parents get some nice moments, PAULINE ALSO IS A BADASS

Lia. My girl Lia. That girl was taking names in the second half of the book and I was shook. In a good way. She took control, made hard decisions, and got shit done. Golfer’s clap for you, MEP. It’s amazing to compare Lia in book 1 vs. book 3 Lia who basically became Morrighan’s king regent until she took over as queen of Venda after the battle. This is how you do character development (hand over heart).

Rafe – I actually did feel a lot for Rafe in the last book – his life is falling apart and he has to take command of his own kingdom plus also look out for Lia bc of love and also deal with his parents’ death. Boy has a lot on his plate. Rafe is so devoted to Lia (hand over heart) making some questionable decisions because he believes in her alkdsjfaefg.

Kaden – HE GOT JUSTICE MY SON GOT JUSTICE. I did miss the abundance of Kaden we had before. It just feels like there was significantly less of him because obviously Rafe is very important in this book.

Pauline is so unhinged and ready to take names and cut a bitch. She made me clutch my pearls. PAULINE. All while being preggo or post-preggo. I did think her interactions with Kaden were nice. I didn’t really see much basis for it, but for what we got it was still nice. Just nice.

Damn, I didn’t expect to like the king of Morrighan this much after just one chapter of him having it all figured out – being like “King Jaxon, you’re kneeling to the wrong person if you know what I mean…” damn. The queen too – even if we don’t see much of Lia’s parents, what we get is still solid.

3) Ending – MY GIRL LIA is the ~Queen~ of Venda. RAFE GREW MELONS FOR HER AND THEY’RE GONNA WORK THINGS OUT. aslkdfjasrer The long delayed happily ever after. Even the happily ever after trope is milked for all it’s worth. Kudos, MEP. Though, I did feel the Kaden x Pauline thing was rushed, but Rhys is a cute name for a baby (side glance I have an OC named Rhys). It’s not like I think they’re a bad match or anything, perhaps I’m missing the basis on why they should be together narrative-wise besides oh ye Kaden and Pauline get a happy ending.

Overall I enjoyed the ending of this series a lot. The writing was consistently well-done and while the premise for the series isn’t unique, the way MEP works them to her advantage is stellar. Lia is uncontested as my fave YA heroine because she doesn’t just throw quips around and poof shit’s done for her. She dragged herself through hardship to get where she is – she earned it and proved that she is enough and worthwhile – as an individual and as a leader. That’s not really something you often see developed to this sort of magnitude and with such intricate story-telling, in YA at least. The main trio are all solid characters in their own right. I only wish there were something more done with Kaden and Pauline.

I suppose the one main criticism for the entire series I have is that while its strength is that it does things that have been done before – but very well, it would have been nice to have some more unique elements included as well.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

4 stars · book review

book review: The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Spoilers for Kiss of Deception and Heart of Betrayal. Let’s dive into it!

So Lia and Rafe are stuck in Venda and they gotta navigate all these cray politics with the Komizar of Venda.

1) Worldbuilding – continues to deliver quality content to an e-reader near me

First of all, I’d really like to mention I impressed I was with how MEP developed the different cultures of the kingdoms. While I’m still iffy on what the gift actually is, the world around I am completely on board with. There are obvious distinctions between the mindsets of Vendans, Morrighans and Dalbretchs (?? idk is that what their demonym is?). We learn with Lia how Venda really is vs. the barbaric image Morrighan and Dalbreck has of it.

MEP makes good use of the holy text excerpts. At first I brushed them off in the first book, but they’re of the utmost importance once you start to realize what they mean.

2) Characters – interactions between the big bad and Lia are a treat to read (I mean in terms of how intriguing their dynamic is), Kaden’s tragic backstory is revealed (my assassin son!), Rafe and Kaden finally feel distinct enough from each other, again also very solid minor characters whose interactions with Lia makes the world feel very real. Rafe’s squad and Griz are also pretty damn good. The Vendans are good. They’re just all good.

So, the Komizar. He’s everything I wanted the Darkling from Greg to be (which was not delivered) and hell yes did he deliver. Dear Regi isn’t a cartoon villain or too easy to beat or stupid – if you know anything about my quips with villain characters, my main complaints are that they’re usually all INTJ and their plans fail too easily. No such thing with Komizar, he’s got motive, he’s got goal, he’s got the method and the manipulation and he ain’t afraid to use it and Lia’s gotta be able to perform at his pace or else he’s gonna chip away at what’s left of what she has.

Komizar is manipulative and loves control and dangling bits of control in Lia’s face. He’s so nasty, but it seems like he’s doing it for the “good of his people” or framing it as such at least. This dude was one of the highlights of the book. He’s just so nasty and sleazy but he has charisma and charm which makes him stand out a lot as a villain. He has the ability to back his shit up. Unlike your stock INTJ villain whose plan fails at the first flub *COUGH*.

Komizar’s relationship with Kaden is interesting as well. One of the main strengths of this series is that it establishes character relationships very well and it doesn’t waste time. Every interaction is meaningful. Relationship Chekov’s gun.

Kaden – I’ll always be rooting for Kaden, my moe assassin son deserves happiness and justice. I did predict that his father would be the viceregent because of Andres’ hair description. While I do prefer his and Lia’s dynamic vs Lia and Rafe’s, it’s obvious at this point there isn’t a love polygon, which I’m fine with because y’all don’t need romance to be happy. They have a connection that goes beyond romo even if they aren’t truthful to each other.

Lia – I love Lia more with each book. Yes, she’s in a dangerous situation, but she still maintains that brazen quality that I like about her. This installment also gives us a generous display of her intellect and savvy. AND IT SHOWS US not tells us. Lia’s intelligence is always in action because she always has to be on her toes because of the conflict btw her and Komizar. I love how she learns so much about Venda and is a badass motherfucking translator, picking up the language so fast mmmm.

ALSO SHE SHANKS KOMIZAR oh lorddd

Rafe – Is fine. He and Kaden always be fighting lol. His interactions with his squad is pretty endearing.

3) Writing + plot – MEP is rocking it tbh

The Kiss of Deception series isn’t exactly told in a linear fashion. Yes, we follow the POV characters chronologically with flashbacks, but there’s lots of planting of elements that are brought back later with satsifactory pay off that I didn’t even see coming. I can say that is also the case for the last book, The Beauty in Darkness (I just finished it before writing this review). We see this with the holy texts and stuff we see in the Morrighese court. I’m always trying to predict what happens in stories because usually i can see the tropes and indications of how the story will unfold. MEP utilizes the story elements she introduces very well and I couldn’t the story outcomes even if I was able to pick up on the planted elements.

Writing is good as always. I didn’t notice anything too awkward and I’m glad for the consistency of the quality.

What an ending tho. I read through like a third of the last book right after I finished this because the momentum !!!!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

2 stars · book review

book review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Sooooooooooo. Six of Crows. Yes, well we all know how hype it’s been in the YA-sphere The premise is promising enough and … Ok, well, let me start the the beginning of my affair with Leigh Bardugo’s books.

So back when Six of Crows (SOC) came out, I was well aware of the hype it was getting and it got me curious. I learned that this story was set in the same universe as LB’s previous series, the Grisha trilogy, or as I somewhat affectionately refer to the Greg trilogy, or just Greg for reasons I’ll mention in my Greg review (LINK HERE). So yes, hearing all the advice telling me to read Greg first, I was like I DON’T CARE and started reading SOC first. I got through around 70% through (via skimreading!) and I was seriously considering going back to read Greg because the writing was just not doing it for me and the peppering of the text with ~exotic~ pseudo European flair wasn’t helping. White people can’t even write other white people right my god…

I consulted one of my friends since she read Greg and SOC already and she told me to go for Greg because of a certain character and that LB’s books usually pick up at the end. Thus, I went back to read ALL OF GREG over my winter break and managed to finish SOC somehow. And like yeah. I found I wasn’t missing anything crucial to understanding what goes on in SOC besides the glory that is Nikolai for like fanservice (which I am glad for). This is just how LB’s books were, and I had to accept it.

But the thing is I couldn’t.

For everyone who’s still here with me: SOC wasn’t all bad.

BUT, with SOC being 70% of my first LB book, I’d have to say I’m disappointed regardless of taking hype into account or not.

1) The Writing – slow and dry af

One of the first things that stood out to me in SOC was how much I couldn’t stomach the writing. Preference in writing style is a very subjective thing, but I found that the writing in SOC was lacking a certain oomph that really immerses me in the narrative. I was quite bored from the get go and started skimming through a lot of text. And maybe this was because I skimmed a lot, but I recall they were TELLING me things more than actually SHOWING me things. This shit was so dry, it was desicating what little enjoyment I could potentially have while reading this book.

The main reason I mention the writing is because this didn’t work well to establish our main boy Kaz. While I know objectively, he’s supposed to be written as this ruthless criminal mastermind and edgy and all that, all I could think was damn, is this a cry for help? A summary of what the narration made me think:

I have the livetweets to show it; I was definitely not enjoying our introduction to our (main?) protag. I can roll with MC’s being bad or morally grey people, but I can’t roll with such a trite way to introduce a character. In retrospect, this may be a manifestation of how he’s trying to maintain his persona of Dirty Hands Kaz, but at this point I don’t care.

The PLOT ahaha ok the plot. There is one but I waited a long ass time for it to get rolling and it wans’t even an exciting heist to read. The plot was moving at such a snail’s pace that all the backstories were just in the way even if they gave me development. Usually I’m the type to forgive a bad or mediocre plot if there’s development, but in this case this book made be flip the fucking flop.

2) The Characters – Well thought out, hit or miss for the exectuion and alsoI resent certain comments because avatar tla is my favorite show. But then again ATLA was also ruined for me by bad writing.

The characters aren’t horrible. I can tell LB put thought into developing backstories for the main squad. In fact, I particularly enjoyed Inej and Nina’s characters most of the time and as much as I resent the “Matthias is a big blonde Zuko” thing, baby Thor’s got a good story too – and it’s probably one of the best IMO because it’s about questioning the country you come from. (at this point many americans would all be Zuko)

SOC has a lot of good things going on for it. The characters are by no means one-dimensional, yet I still can’t get aboard the bandwagon and sing its praises. And that’s because… of perhaps a few single lines. Y’all who’re still with me must be wondering Alice, how can a few lines make a break a book for you? It doesn’t, but these small things accumulate.

3) The Diversity – it exists, which reflects reality. At the same time, I found some issues people may or may not have picked up on because I’m petty as fuck but that doesn’t make it any less true. Most of the problems I found with this are related to the world building. Some things I found are just plain personal. I may or may not overlook some things because this is from my perspective and mine alone.

Get ready for my unpopular opinion: Diversity in and of itself does not make a book good. I know I’m echoing something that Francina Simone has often said in her videos and I didn’t completely wrap my head around this idea until I decided to finish SOC once and for all. Francina herself gave a positive review of the book and while we disagree on this particular book, I get it, man. I get it now (if you ever see this, Francina, Hiiiiiii)

I also have a quote from a classmate from HS: “We’re not racist because we’re diverse.” LOL, right? SOMEHOW THE EXISTENCE OF POC, which is a naturally occuring phenomenon, at least in real life I assure you (bc lol fantasy be white af), just automatically makes us as a society not racist. The kool-aid must taste good, Grace.

SO… SOC is considered pretty  I guess groundbreaking in terms of diversity. But m’boy… I seen better. YA can do better than this and it has done better than this (rarely, but it has) IMO.

Stereotypes. Lemme talk about them.

  • Inej – Suli = Romani sterotype. Inej isn’t a one-dimensional character, but damn. Recalling how the Suli were portrayed in Greg and comparing it to what we see in SOC
    • Comparing it to Captive Prince, where it’s obvious that the racism depicted between Vere and Akielos is IN UNIVERSE and since the author is of Meditteranean descent herself, I find it highly unlikely this reflects how she views people of the modern day equivilant ethnicity. I can see that argument (depiction of an -ism ≠ view of the author) for the Suli as well, but yeah your only brown girl main chara has a sexual abuse tragic backstory. Hmmm…
  • Matthias – a pan-Scandinavian flair but with German stereotype layered on top
    • I have less issue with this because I see what parallels LB is trying to make, but it’s still kinda annoying.
  • Wylan and Jesper – I honestly don’t remember enough about them to pick out any problems. They’re just kinda on the side. Unlike Sashisa oh wait that’s a shameless plug for my writing sorry.
  • Shu-Han stereotypes – ROLLS UP SLEEVES OK HERE WE GO IT GETS PERSONAL HOLD MY NOT SO DELICATE FLOWER

So what’s with this bullshit Mongolian-Shu Han ancient Chinese kingdom hybrid we have here called Shu Han? Just on the basis of historical timeline – Shu Han was a real kingdom back in the romance of the three kingdoms era in China and putting that in the same period of time as pseudo-imperial Russia in Greg… what even?

I did find another review (LINK, LINK) that mentioned these too minus the thing with Shu Han in the first one linked, but the second mentions it.

The same Shu “tilt” is mentioned here, which pissed me the fuck off the first time without knowing that the “tilt” was also in Greg (in Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, I believe). You might as well just said slanty-eyed because that’s what you meant, right? Fuck.

  • The Shu “tilt” is mentioned in a passage about the house of exotics and it refers to like… something about the way the Shu Han (Gregverse’s psuedo east-asian rep) eyes look. Hmm I wonder what it could be referring to…
  • While yes, in universe this passage was meant to show how the brothel takes advantage of fetishization of certain racial features from all sorts of ethnicities, YA OK like of course I see east asian monolid on this list. As if irl we don’t already see this.
  • I’d gladly direct y’all to: Writing with color on describing Asian people’s eyes (LINK)
  • I haven’t read Crooked Kingdom yet, but if Kuwei gets Asami Sato syndrome I swear…

Yeah, so the Shu Han barbaric warrior also evil inhumane scientist/druglord etc etc shit. Being an Asian-American (still real Asian for anyone who’d inevitably like to fight me) womanchild who’s done with that shit irl and born done with that shit in fiction,that’s not really something I can forgive among other things.

LB has really good PR skills. I’ve seen her write well thought-out responses to criticisms of her books and definitely sells the image of a put-together author by addressing issues people bring up about how she wrote Ravka as pseudo-Russia, so props to her. I’d have to agree with message #47 down there by Emily because she summarizes pretty well how I feel about the Gregverse world-building.

At the end of the day, it’s important to have varied depictions of underrepresented groups of people because they exist and aren’t a monolith. I feel like SOC is on the right track in terms of that, but damn I wouldn’t call it the epitome of diverse YA. I’m not really impressed with the stereotypes of real world cultures I’ve seen in the Grishaverse (I call it Gregverse) because again, it relies on the education of the audience on these cultures. And usually, it ain’t much. Part of me is really sick of fandom nutting over how diverse SOC is. Like shit, my animu son YOI does diversity too (and it’s pretty damn good perhaps maybe Seung Gil being like the outwardly unemotional Korean but still…)

I’ll fucking write my own, guys. I’ll fucking write my own book… to make myself feel better about what I’ve read from LB.

4) Wordbuidling – Same as in Greg, which I hated. Triggers me everytime I see words, which is all the time.

VERY MUCH related to the point I made about our real world sterotypes leaking into Gregverse. I never liked how LB peppers the text in Gregverse with all these European or faux European terms to add flair to the world, as if that somehow is a substitute for actual world building. I actually read Greg and finished SOC while I was in the Netherlands on my winter break lmao.

Interesting to note readers mentioning that for Greg, people mentioned this is written from a Westerner perspective and here I am like YOU GUYS KNOW HOW I FEEL WHEN PEOPLE FUCK UP CHINESE CULTURE IN THESE BOOKS LORD JESUS HALLELUJAH.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars @ Goodreads

Why? Mostly because of the writing and all the extra stuff I mentioned didn’t help it get into my good graces.

Sorry not sorry. Petty? Yes petty.

Will I read Crooked Kingdom? Eventually for my promised Nikolai cameo and pretty much nothing else.

Yeah, I’ve done lots of reading of reviews on Greg and SOC… I could write a thesis.