Help Me Set My October TBR!

Hello, friends! 

We’ve still got another ten days before the end of September but I’m already thinking of my October TBR.

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I’ve got a couple of books in mind already but since I’m reading more than ever (I’ve already finished my September TBR I set last month!) I’m looking for a few more for October.

This is what I’ve got so far…

What am I looking for?

Two things… 

  • A contemporary YA: As you know, I read mostly contemporary YA with the odd classic thrown in. Contemporary YA is what I love and it’ll always be my favourite. I have a long list of contemporaries I need to read someday but I’m asking YOU which one I should read first. So, tell me… what’s your favourite contemporary YA? Which one should I read RIGHT NOW?
  • A non-contemporary YA: Next month, I want to take a little break from contemporary (at least for a couple of days ahaha) and try something different. The problem is….I don’t know where to start.
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My world is limited to YA contemporary….help!

I’ve only read contemporary so far this year, so I’m out of the loop of what’s good and what’s not. That’s where you come in. I’m kindly going to ask you to give me a couple of recommendations, books I should absolutely give it a chance. I’m okay with all genres (but I’d like something space-related maybe??) so go nuts!

Give me all the recs!

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Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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Details & Summary:

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 30th 2017
Pages: 380

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

My thoughts…

When Dimple Met Rishi is one of the most hyped books of this year. Before reading it myself, I’d read countless reviews and most of them were very, very positive. As a consequence, I had high expectations and I was very excited to read it. Sadly, I didn’t love it or like it as much as I thought I would. While Dimple and Rishi showcase a healthy, realistic relationship, which we need to see more of in YA, I had a few problems with the story outside the romance.

I’ll start with the good stuff. Dimple and Rishi are both great characters. Dimple knows what she wants. She’s passionate about coding and she’s going to study at Stanford and hopefully someday have a career like her idol, Jenny Lindt. She’s not interested in going to university for the sole purpose of finding her IIH (Ideal Indian Husband) like her parents want her to.

“She refused to be one of those girls who gave up on everything they’d been planning simply because a boy entered the picture.”

Then there’s Rishi, who values family, tradition, and culture. He’s more than okay with the idea of meeting a girl his parents chose for him. He’s also completely okay and confident about the person he is, which was my favourite thing about him.

“If no one says, ‘This is me, this is what I believe in, and this is why I’m different, and this is why that’s okay’, then what’s the point? What’s the point of living in this beautiful, great melting pot where everyone can dare to be anything they want to be?”

Of course, the trouble starts when they meet. Rishi was aware he was being set up with someone he hoped he would marry someday. Dimple was not; she was kind of tricked by her parents.

All in all, I think the arranged marriage theme was done well. I understood both sides and sympathised with both Dimple and Rishi. I was interested to see how they’d get along after this misunderstanding. And, for a while, I really did like their relationship. Though rushed (they are completely in love in just a few weeks), I liked how it was a healthy, realistic relationship where both sides respect and value each other. Very nice to see in YA.

What I didn’t like was how the romance completely took over the plot. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a romance novel, but still. I respected Dimple so much for wanting a career and being passionate about coding and I felt like that all kind of disappeared into the background. Coding is supposed to be her number one passion, so I was very disappointed about how little time she seemed to spend on her project. It was mentioned a couple of times here and there, but I felt like she didn’t work on it that much. All of her time seemed to go toward dating Rishi, dealing with the Amberzombies (rich, mean kids? Really? Enoug with this overused trope already), and the talent show. Basically, the project kind of served as a background to their relationship, which is a real shame since I know how much hard work, time, and dedication it takes in real life.

I also wasn’t a big fan of how literally everything turned out okay in the end.

SPOILER ALERT….

Dimple and Rishi didn’t win but she did get a chance to meet Jenny Lindt who just so happens to love her idea so much she’s willing to invest in it. Dimple contacted Rishi’s role model / idol who also contacts him back. I mean, I really wish these kind of things happened in real life and I could get an answer from Elon Musk or J.K Rowling or anyone else who’s famous (and extremely busy!), but they rarely do.

The same thing goes for other plot points, such as Rishi’s relationship with his brother Ashish. They were all wrapped up rather fast and easy, which felt all a bit too convenionent to me and not very realistic.

While Dimple and Rishi deserves credit for showcasing a healthy, realistic teenage relationship and I loved reading about a different culture than mine, it’s a shame the romance dominated the plot as much as it did and their goals and interests were pushed to the background.

Rating

Mini-reviews: Fangirl, My Heart and Other Black Holes & Farewell Tour of a Terminal Optimist (e-ARC)

Hello, friends!

Since I’m WAY behind on reviews, I thought I’d do something different today. Instead of writing a full review for all the books I’ve read in the last couple of weeks (which is too daunting!) I thought I’d get a couple out of the way by doing mini-reviews. I’ve seen these type of posts around for a while now and I really enjoy reading mini-review myself, so why not try it out and see how it goes?

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

16068905I’ve mentioned it in the New York Times “By the Book” Tag already but Fangirl kind of disappointed me.  I’d heard so many good things about it and everyone recommended me reading this one ASAP, but after reading it, I’ve come to the conclusion that this book isn’t for me. Maybe the expectations were too high? I don’t know.

The biggest problem I had was not being able to relate to Cath. Which is strange considering I spent most of my time in Uni locking myself up in my dorm as well. And I totally get not wanting to go eat in the cafeteria because there’s just too many people and noise and you don’t know where to sit and … Yeah. The anxiety was done really well.

However, I thought she was too stubborn and naïve. Why was she so offended when her professor told her she couldn’t hand in fan fiction as an assignement? Everyone knows it’s copyright, no matter how much you change the characters or the story. It’s not original fiction. And even after her professor gave her a second chance (I really liked her btw! She was a very caring person), Cath was too stubborn to even give original fiction a shot, which I thought was very priviliged behaviour on her part. In the end, she did do it, but it didn’t seem like she had really changed her mind about fan fiction or original fiction.

I did like the relationships. The Reagan-Cath relationship was GOLD and Levi-Cath was okay, though unrealistic IMO. I loved her dad but didn’t care much for her sister, which was another problem for me.

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

18336965Oh my. This is a very bleak but (as far as I can tell) realistic account of two teenagers who’re depressed and suicidal. I loved Aysel’s narration and her personality. Her obsession with physics, particularly potential energy, was very interesting to read about. She’s just a smart, caring girl to whom bad things have happened. The same goes for her “suicide partner” Roman, a.k.a. FrozenRobot. Yes, he made a terrible mistake, but that doesn’t mean he deserves to die.

Before you go, “they’re going to fall in love and save each other, aren’t they?” and dismiss this book, I want to tell you that’s not what happens. Not really. It’s not some cheesy book about love being the cure or anything like that. At the end of the book, neither of them is saved or cured, but they do decide to give life another shot, which is as much as you can realistically expect of them given the state of their mental health throughout the book. To me, the ending strikes the right balance between being hopeful and realistic.

Farewell Tour of a Terminal Optimist by John Young

**Thank you to NetGalley and Floris Books for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review**

35428869Don’t worry, this one is not as bleak as the title suggests. In fact, this is quite a fun read. Connor might be suffering from cancer, but that boy has got a lot of life in him. He’s a very spirited, kind boy who’s just trying to visit his dad in jail. Much to his surprise (and mine!), his nemisis, Skeates, plays a big role in his journey. Together, they have a crazy adventure while travelling across Scotland.

I liked the characters and the unexpected bromance between Connor and Skeates, but the plot could’ve been tidied up. I had some problems with the pacing, which felt rushed toward the end. Also, some things happened out of nowhere. I can’t tell you because of spoilers, but I can tell you that it has something to do about the reason Connor’s dad is in prison. Basically, the reason behind it was supposed to be this big, astounding event, but the revelation fell a bit flat for me. It was all rather convenionent and worked out too well in the end for it to be realistic.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

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Books I Wish Were Part of the School Syllabus

Hello, friends! 

For most of you, school has started back up again. I don’t go to school anymore, but the start of the new year always makes me nostalgic. This time, I was thinking about the books I was required to read in school and then that got me thinking about all the books I wish were part of the school syllabus. I had great fun thinking up my fictional school syllabus so I thought, “Why not make a post about it and share it with you all?” and so here I am.

These are the books I wish were required reading in school…

English

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley: How can you not fall in love with English literature after reading this one? Seriously, the book is filled with references to classic (and a few contemporary!) books that will make you want to read all of them.

Geography

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: Violet and Finch grow closer as they discover “the wonders of their state” together.

History

All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr because it’s a beautifully written book about both sides of the war, told through the POV of a blind, French girl and a German boy who’s part of Hitler’s army.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank because it’s a real life account (non-fiction) of what it was like to live during WWII.

Maths

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: There’s so much maths in this one! Why? Because main character Colin “is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.” He uses a lot of mathematical equations throughout the novel, which are explained in the appendix of the book. Fun fact: they are all explained by a real mathemetician called Daniel Biss.

Physics

My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga: Aysel is depressed and suicidal, but she’s also passionate about physics. In a way, thinking about her potential energy helps her give life another chance.

Social Studies

More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera because it’s deeply emotional read about finding out who you are and being okay with it even when it’s not “socially acceptable” (meaning: your friends and family might not accept you for it)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: this one is highly relevant in today’s society and a must-read for everyone. The story is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

P.E.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: I never liked P.E., but I’m telling you, reading this book made me wish I’d tried harder. Being physically fit might come in handy after all.

Art

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley: I love this author. I think she has a beautiful writing style and she knows how to tell a story. Graffiti Moon is a great book for aspiring artists or people who love graffiti since it plays a big role in the story. Shadow is both a mysterious graffiti artist and the love interest to main character Lucy.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: both Noah and Judy are amazing artists which make me wish I had even ONE artistic bone in my body.

What do you think about my fictional school syllabus? Would you dread reading these books? Which ones would you choose? Also, does anyone know of a chemistry-related (YA) book because I couldn’t find any?? Let me know!

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Turtles All the Way Down: Countdown + John Green reads Chapter 1

Hello, friends!

I’m interrupting my weekly schedule to bring you a new post today. This was unplanned but I stumbled upon this article and decided I had to talk about it. Which article?

It’s an article (or an announcement, I guess) by Penguin Random House International. They’re preparing for John Green’s new book, Turtles All the Way Down, by reading one of his previous books each week leading up to the release on October 10th and they’re inviting us to read along with them. You can share thoughts, quotes, and pictures through #TurtlesAlltheWayCountDown and there’s a chance for you to win one of his books!

Here’s the schedule they’re following.

Week 1: Looking for Alaska (Sept 4- Sept 10)
Read and discuss the book/share your favorite quotes/share your photos using #TurtlesAlltheWayCountDown
Looking for Alaska Giveaway (open for entries Sept 4-11): Enter here

Week 2: An Abundance of Katherines (Sept 11- Sept 17)
Read and discuss the book/share your favorite quotes/share your photos using #TurtlesAlltheWayCountDown
An Abundance of Katherines Giveaway (open for entries Sept 11-18): Enter here

Week 3: Paper Towns (Sept 18- Sept 24)
Read and discuss the book/share your favorite quotes/share your photos using #TurtlesAlltheWayCountDown
Paper Towns Signed (!) Copy Giveaway (open for entries Sept 18-25): Enter here

Week 4: Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Sept 25- Oct 1)
Read and discuss the book/share your favorite quotes/share your photos using #TurtlesAlltheWayCountDown
Will Grayson, Will Grayson Giveaway (open for entries Sept 25-Oct 2): Enter here

Week 5: The Fault in Our Stars (Oct 2- Oct 8)
Read and discuss the book/share your favorite quotes/share your photos using #TurtlesAlltheWayCountDown
The Fault in Our Stars Giveaway (open for entries Oct 2-Oct 9): Enter here

Week 6: Turtles All the Way Down (Oct 10- Oct 17)
Hooray! A new John Green novel is HERE! Read Turtles All the Way Down and let us know what you think. Tag @PRHGlobal on Twitter and Penguin Random House International USA on Facebook.
Turtles All the Way Down Giveaway (open for entries Oct 10-Oct 17): Enter here

I love the idea of reading all his books before the new one releases and I’d love to do it. I’m not going to commit myself 100%, but I am going to try and read as many of his books as possible before Turtles All the Way Down releases.

Are you curious what Turtles All the Way Down is all about? Here’s John reading Chapter 1

I have to say, this sounds like it’s going to be an intense read. Those of you who’ve watched John’s videos over the years and / or listened to Dear Hank and John know that John struggles with anxiety (and OCD) himself and it shows from the first chapter he’s read. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like for him to write about such a personal topic but I applaud him for it even if the books turns out to be not-so-great (which I doubt!) All in all, I’m excited to read it when it comes out!

Are you looking forward to Turtles All the Way Down? Are you going to participate in the countdown? What did you think of Chapter 1? Yay or nay? Let me know in the comments!

 

Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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Details & Summary:

Title: The Serpent King
Author: Jeff Zentner
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House
Release Date: March 8th 2016
Pages: 384

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.
The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia, neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending- one that will rock his life to the core.

My thoughts…

“If you’re going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.”

Many people recommended this book to me, but I didn’t really consider it until I’d read Goodbye Days by the same author, which I loved. I enjoyed his writing style in Goodbye Days and admired him for creating believable and relatable characters. So why not give The Serpent King a chance? I’m happy that I did. Though I prefer Goodbye Days, The Serpent King is a great read that explores important and difficult themes such as being true to yourself and believing in your own capabilities. (Content warning: physical abuse)

The book is split into three POVs for our three main characters: Dill, Travis, and Lydia. Though they each get approximately the same amount of “screen time” so to speak, Dill is inarguably the main character of this story.

Dill is a quiet high school boy, a musician, and the son of a preacher who’s in jail for possessing child pornography. His parents are extremely religious, which affects his day-to-day life. I’d even go as far as say they were emotionally abusive since they told him he could not go college and basically implied he could have no future other than they one they had in mind.

I have to say I found it hard to relate to Dill at first. He was very passive and went along with everything his parents said. His father was in jail (rightfully so) and he was supposed to somehow be okay with that and accept it was all “part of the plan” so to speak. Obviously, he wasn’t okay with it but he felt he couldn’t do anything about it. He felt like he couldn’t do anything that would get him out of town and into a better life. So instead of formulating some kind of plan to improve his situation, he got stuck in thinking his situation was hopeless and lashed out at Lydia for trying to help him and for being ambitious herself. But as the story went on, I got a better sense of who Dill was. He was hurt and nearly broken, but, despite that, he was still a good person.

I had no problem relating to Lydia and Travis.

At 17, Lydia is a famous fashion blogger. She’s very sassy, has the best comebacks, and has worked her way to a future of success. Her parents’ money helps, of course, but it’s mostly her own hard work that got her there. Speaking of, the relationship between Lydia and her father is one of the best and more hilarious ones I’ve ever read. I love their banter.

“I mean, it’s not like she doesn’t like anything. It just has to be Christian. Really Christian,” Dill said.
“Like the Bible barely makes the cut because Christ is only in the second half,” Lydia said.

And then there’s Travis, who’s basically a giant dork who’s obsessed by a fantasy series called Bloodfall and has a secret girlfriend he’s met on one of the forums. Unfortunately, his father is physically abusive but, despite his situation, Travis stays kind and sweet and utterly precious. I loved that guy.

There are several important themes that are tackled in this book, but I love how Zentner handled the theme of “quiet lives”, as shown through Travis. Travis didn’t have any big plans and he was okay with that. He was happy working in town because it allowed him to do the only thing he truly loved, reading Bloodfall after work. In short, he told us readers it’s okay to not want big, “ambitious” lives filled with success. You can still do brave, beautiful things. 

“People live quiet lives and that’s okay. There’s dignity in that, no matter what you may think.”

However, Zentner also tells us you’re allowed to want more, as shown through Lidia and Dill. Lidia is obvious since she had her mind set on a career in New York from the get-go. Dill was a little harder. Like I said, he didn’t believe he deserved a better life. He believe that this was it and that there’s nothing he could do about it. In that way (and many other ways) I thought Zentner handled Dill’s depression really well. I felt just as hopeless as Dill toward the end. However, through an event I can’t explain because of spoilers, Dill realizes he wants more out of his life.

More importantly, he realizes he can have more.

We all can. We just have to be willing to try.

The Serpent King is a story about three teens living in a backwards country town who’re figuring out who they are and what kind of person they’d like to be. Zentner does a great job of balancing light and dark throughout the book. You’ll laugh at some of the characters’ antics, but you’ll also hurt when they do. In the end, Zentner leaves us with a hopeful note that might inspire others who find themselves in similar, seemingly hopeless situations.

Rating

August Wrap-Up: Overachieving, Giveaway & September TBR

Hello, friends!

It’s the last day of the month today which can only mean one thing…

It’s time for another wrap-up. In this post, I’ll be sharing the books I read this month, which ones I’m planning on reading in September as well as some of my favourite non-book related things I’ve enjoyed this month.

Books

I read 8 book this month! GO ME!

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: Literally everyone recommended this one to me. Maybe that’s why I was slightly disappointed. It was good, but I didn’t connect to Cath as much as wanted to (Levi and Reagan were great though!) 
  • The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner: I took me a while to get into this one, but it was well worth reading to the end. (Review to come!) 
  • My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Wanger: Depressing read but filled with raw, realistic, and genuine emotions. Very good representation of mental illness.
  • Our Story Begins by Elissa Brent Weissman: Recommended reading for aspiring (children’s) authors and illustrators.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: The book that started it all.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: My least favourite HP book, but, come on, it’s still HP so…
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera: A rough, emotional story about being okay with who you are and choosing to be more happy than not.
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera: Another great book by my favourite author about daring to live and love, even on the very last day (RR: 4,5/5)

AND…

I completed my Goodreads Challenge!! Am I an overachiever or what?

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Obviously, 30 books wasn’t a particularly ambitious goal but I’m still proud of myself. I think I only read 4 books last year, so I guess you could say I’m out of my reading slump. And I have my blog to thank for it!

Speaking of… I’m very close to 400 followers!! Thank you so much to everyone who follows me, reads my posts, and/or leaves a comment. You’re all amazing ❤

To celebrate your amazingness, I’ll be hosting a giveway once I hit 500 followers. And there’s more! If I hit 500 before Christmas, I’ll dig deep into my wallet and do a BIG giveaway.

Blog posts

Infinity Talks

Bookish Posts

Around the Blog

  • #3: Looking for New Blogs
  • #4: Let’s Keep Fighting
  • #5: Aesthetics, Ratings, Reviews & More
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Tags/Awards

Favourites

Movies & TV-shows

I’ve only got two favourites this month, both TV-shows.

The first is Riverdale. I know, I know, I’m late to the party. The second season kicks off in October but I’ve only now just seen the first season. Confession time: I tried to watch it a couple of months before and saw the first two or maybe three episodes before I stopped. I just couldn’t get into it. But then, after many people recommended it to me, I gave it another shot and I’m so glad I did. I’m in love with all of the characters, Betty and Judhead being my favourites (Go Bughead!)

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but I’ve also got a special place in my heart for Cheryl and Kevin.

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I don’t care what anyone says: I think Riverdale is a good show with a solid mystery plot line, some teenage drama, and beautiful aesthetics. If you haven’t seen it, I don’t recommend watching the trailer. Watch THIS video. It’s pretty perfect.

Second is GAME OF THRONES. I mean, obviously. I’ve put in under favourites but I have to say season 7 definitely isn’t my favourite out of all of them. I understand there were only 7 episodes but everything felt really rushed, which lead to quite a few wonky time lines, plot holes, and deus ex machinas. But the DRAGONS, though…

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WORTH IT.

And Daenerys is QUEEN. Don’t fight me on this one.

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TBR

Since I read twice as many books as I thought I would this month, I’m going to be a bit more ambitious this time around and chose six books.

How was your month? Did you read as many books as you hoped you would? What are you reading next month? Let me know in the comments!

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