Books that are on my TBR…indefinitely

Here’s a snippet of my life as a bookworm and book blogger…  

Someone recommends a book to me?

*Add to TBR*

Scrolling through Goodreads:

*Add to TBR*

*Add to TBR*

*Add to TBR*

I read a stunning review from a fellow blogger?

*Add to TBR*

Oh, look, a pretty cover!

*Add to TBR*

I know we all have a TBR that could crush us to death, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about. Today, I want to talk about those books you add to your TBR but you never get to. Since our TBR’s are so long it’s almost impossible to keep up. We keep adding new ones, which means that some of the old ones get pushed back. In my case, some of these books get shelved on the TBR indefinitely. These are the books I’m planning to read “someday” but that I fear I’ll never get to.

A few examples…

 

Have you read any of these? Which ones should I bump up on my TBR? Do you have any books that have a permanent spot on your TBR?

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Judge A Book By Its Cover: 10 Prettiest Covers of 2017

I don’t know if it’s just me, but the covers for YA (contemporary) novels have gotten more and more stunning over the past two or three years.

I remember when every cover had a random girl and / or boy on the front (who looked nothing like the MC by the way), and while those covers still exist, I’m glad we’re seeing other covers too. And THEY. ARE. STUNNING!

It’s gotten to the point where I’m buying books I’m not 100% convinced I’ll love them or books I’ve already read** but I buy them anyway because I NEED that book on my shelf. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does that.

(**Harry Potter special 20th anniversary edition, anyone?)

Here are 10 of my favourite covers for 2017 releases

Do you ever buy books because of the cover? Do you agree with my choices? Which covers do you love? Let me know in the comments!

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[e-ARC] Review: Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin

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Details & Summary:

Title: Paintbrush
Author: Hannah Bucchin
Publisher: Blaze Publishing
Release Date: July 11th 2017
Pages: 304

Mitchell Morrison and Josie Sedgwick have spent their whole lives at the Indian Paintbrush Community Village, a commune full of colorful characters tucked in the mountains of North Carolina, and they aren’t particularly close–at least, not anymore. Josie wishes she could spend all of her time at Paintbrush planting tomatoes, hiking the trails, or throwing giant communal birthday parties, while Mitchell can’t wait to escape the bizarre spiritual sharing and noisy community dinners. Luckily for both of them, high school graduation is just around the corner.
But when Mitchell’s mother makes a scandalous announcement that rocks the close-knit Paintbrush community, and Josie’s younger sister starts to make some dangerously bad decisions, the two find themselves leaning on each other for support – and looking at each other in a whole new light. Their childhood friendship blossoms in to something more as they deal with their insane families, but as graduation approaches, so does life in the real world, forcing Josie and Mitchell to figure out what, exactly, their relationship is – and if it can survive their very different plans for the future.

My thoughts…

**Thank you to Blaze publishing, who provided me with an e-ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

I had high expectations for this book, mainly because it features one of my favourite romance tropes (friends to lovers). Aside from the romance aspect, it also promised a “commune full of colorful characters tucked in the mountains of North Carolina”. I was excited to read it, but, unfortunately, Paintbrush didn’t deliver. While I enjoyed some aspects, they didn’t make up for one-dimensional characters and a lack of originality.

For me, the characters were the biggest issue. When writing a book with a dual POV, it’s important to develop your characters and give them a unique voice so readers immediately know which character is speaking. This wasn’t the case in Paintbrush. Josie and Mitchell, the POV characters, sound almost exactly alike. I also found that they have almost identical reactions to the events, which makes it even harder to distinguish them from one another.

Nor were they particularly interesting. Josie is the weird, quirky female character who enjoys planting tomatoes, spending time outdoors, and helping out the community. Mitchell is the golden boy every (mean) girl swoons over but who’s not interested in anyone because they’re all the same and he’s looking for someone “different”. And, surprise, surprise: Josie is the one who’s “different”.

Many people would probably say this isn’t a big deal, but, for me, it’s not okay to imply that one type of girl (or person) is “better” than the other. For example, not enjoying parties and preferring to read doesn’t make you a better person than someone who does enjoy going to a party. Unfortunately, that’s what’s implied in Paintbrush. There was a lot of judging coming from the main characters in general and I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me. Especially lines like these:

“Mitchell leans over and plucks an apple out of K-girl’s hand, dangling the apple high above her head. Of course she’s eating an apple – just an apple – for lunch. She squeals and jumps for the apple, hands outstretched, bumping into Mitchell and laughing.”

Josie (and, as such, the author) is basically implying that this girl is nothing more than a dumb, skinny girl who doesn’t eat and desperately dangles herself in front of the golden boy at school.

In general, Bucchin takes the easy way out and completely skimps out on character development. As a result, Paintbrush features mostly one-dimensional and stereotypical characters: hippies, a surfer dude from California, mean girls, a sister who rebels and turns into a goth, best friends who’re overly excited all the time and serve as comic relief …

The author doesn’t give them extra layers. Basically, what you see is what you get. Interestingly enough, she seems to be aware of the stereotypes. This is what happens when someone calls Josie “quirky”.

[Mitchell]

“Quirky is such a cop-out. Like, ‘everyone else thought this girl was just a big weirdo, but then I came along and found her.’ Like you’re the first guy to ever notice her. She’s a person, not a rare species or a dinosaur bone or something. It’s not like you made some kind of discovery.”

All I’m going to say is that I wish Bucchin had kept these lines in mind while she created her other characters.

Plot-wise, Paintbrush does what you expect it to do. There are no big surprises or plot twists you don’t see coming and it’s all fairly predictable, but I didn’t mind so much. Many contemporary YA romances follow the same course, which is fine if you’re looking for an easy, quick read.

While I had a lot of issues with this book, it also has some good elements. I particularly enjoyed the setting. Bucchin does a great job at describing the scenery in such a way that you wish you could visit these places and experience it yourself. The Paintbrush community was also a highlight for me. I hadn’t read anything like it before (in my country, communities don’t exist) and I’m not sure if such a community is “common” in the US, but it was nice to read about a different way of living.

Despite its faults, I did enjoy the romance between Josie and Mitchell. Bucching got the pacing right. She didn’t drag out their romance by throwing hundreds of obstacles in their way, but she also didn’t rush it. Overall, I thought the way Mitchell and Josie transitioned from friends to lovers was fairly realistic.

“We’re a mess, aren’t we?” He grins at me.
I can’t help it—I lean into him, pressing my shoulder into his, wanting to feel his warmth and his soft sweatshirt, wanting to be a part of that smile.
I shrug. “All the best people are messy.”

Paintbrush had a lot of potential to be an original and captivating YA romance. The setting and romance are there, but, ultimately, the characters let the story down. If Bucchin had taken the time to truly develop her characters, stay away from placing judgment, and added more (racial) diversity to her story, this book could’ve been a favourite instead of a disappointment.

Rating

The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag!

Another day, another book tag! Even though no one actually tagged me for this one, I’m doing it because I’ve seen it around a lot and it seems like a really fun one to do. So, there you go, I’m breaking the rules and I’m doing the tag.

  1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017

Is that even a question you need to ask me?

YESSS… It’s History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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Big surprise 😀

  1. Best Sequel of 2017 so far

I haven’t read any?

  1. New release you haven’t read yet but want to

Words in Deep Blue! I’m patiently awaiting my order. I should be getting it by the end of this week, so yay!

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  1. Most anticipated release of the second half of 2017

It’s impossible for me to choose one, so I’m picking two

  1. Biggest disappointment of 2017

I’ve actually been really lucky with the books I’ve read. They weren’t all five stars or anything, but none of them disappointed me. If I HAD TO name one, I’d say The Upside Of Unrequited. It’s not a bad book by any means, but I expected it to be better after reading Simon vs.  

  1. Biggest surprise

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I’d heard so many good things about this book, but I didn’t think it would live up to all the expectations. It did, though. It actually surpassed my expectations by a long shot. So much so that I can’t wait to see the movie!

  1. Favourite new author (debut or new to you)

Adam Silvera, definitely.

  1. Newest fictional crush

I’m in my twenties so it’s kind of weird to pick a fictional (teenage) crush BUT I’ll ignore my age and do it anyway. If I were a teen again, I would be crushing on Rhys from A Quiet Kind of Thunder.

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  1. Newest favourite character

Simon!! ❤ I love how he isn’t a typical angsty teenager. For most of the book, he’s actually pretty chill (as they say) and even though he makes mistakes (as we all do) I think he’s got a good head on his shoulders.

  1. Book that made you cry

I don’t cry over books. Ever.

(I used to not cry over movies either. And even though that’s changed recently, it still takes a lot to make me cry. No, I’m not dead inside! I guess I’m just not a cryer?)

  1. Book that made you happy

I prefer ‘sad’ / emotional books over happy books, so I can’t really come up with a book that’s made me happy. Having said that, there are plenty of books that had funny, happy moments that I really enjoyed. For example: Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt was a light read that made me smile throughout the book.

  1. Favourite book to movie adaptation of 2017 you’ve seen

before i fall

I liked this movie, but I haven’t read the book. Does that count?

  1. Favourite review you’ve written this year

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I only started blogging this year so I have a lot to learn when it comes to writing reviews, but I’m happy with the review I wrote for All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

  1. Most beautiful book you bought or received this year

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I love this cover.

  1. Books you need to read by the end of this year

I have so many! Here are a couple:

  • Words in Deep Blue
  • The Color Project
  • They Both Die at The End
  • Turtles All the Way Down
  • Cold Summer
  • Words in Bathroom Walls

Sine I wasn’t tagged to do this post, I’m not going to tag anyone either. But that just means absolutely anyone can do it! And you should because it’s actually really fun to do. Let me know if you decide to do it so I can check out your answers!

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Feeling the Pressure: Popular Books I Haven’t Read (Yet?)

Hello, everyone!

How was your weekend? Are you read for the new week? Personally, I’m feeling a bit tired since I’ve had a very busy (but very good!) weekend. And I also have a busy week and weekend ahead of me, which doesn’t help my stress levels but that’s where blogging comes in! I always feel better after I’ve written a new post for you or when I’m scrolling through my reader and seeing your posts.

So here I am: writing a post about popular books.

I was looking at my (endless) TBR a couple of days ago and I noticed there are a lot of “popular” or “hyped” books I haven’t read yet. I’m talking books that EVERYONE has read / is reading right now. Here are a few:

What surprised me is that some of these books are on my TBR BECAUSE they’re popular / hyped books, not because I’m actually excited about reading them. After some thinking, I came to the conclusion that I added them to my TBR and felt pressured to read them. I thought I HAD to read and review them or I wouldn’t be a good book blogger. Which is ridiculous.

Or is it… ?

Do you think it matters which books we choose to read and review? Do we have an ‘obligation’ to read popular books?

I think the books we choose to read matter some extent. For example, only reviewing books that are 5+ years old is most likely not going to interest your audience if they’re looking for new books / debut authors.

BUT that doesn’t mean we should read EVERY popular book out there or feel pressured to do so. And we shouldn’t feel bad or guilty for saying “hey, maybe this book just isn’t for me”. Basically, it’s okay to not read what everyone else is reading if it doesn’t interest you. Choosing to not read a hyped book doesn’t make you a bad blogger.

Does this mean I WON’T read any of the previously mentioned books? No, it doesn’t. I might decide to read A Darker Shade of Magic because I want to branch out and try something else (other than contemporary YA). But if I do, it’ll be because I want to, not because I feel like I have to.

Tell me: do you ever feel the same kind of pressure to read popular books? Have you read books that you knew you wouldn’t enjoy but you did anyway because they were popular?

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June Wrap Up & July TBR

It’s the last day of the month, which means it’s time for another wrap up. Can you believe we’re halfway through 2017 already? Which means I’ve almost been blogging for six months, which sounds crazy to me.

Anyway, this is what happened in June…

Books I read

  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: a rare case where I enjoyed the adaptation more than the original material.
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: despite a couple of flaws, this is an emotional book where mental illness (mainly depression) is done justice. Also, Finch ❤
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: I’d heard so many positive things about this one and read more than a few raving reviews. However, for me, this book was hard to get into and I wasn’t a fan of Nelson’s poetic / lyrical writing style. Having said that, the book grew on me and I did love Noah and Jude.
  • The Outsider by Albert Camus: I’m cheating a little here because I haven’t actually finished it yet, but I know I will by the end of the day.

Blog Posts

Reviews

  • Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I just realized all of their names start with a “J” 😀

Memes

Tags & Awards

Other Posts

Looking Back: Monthly Favourites

Movies

Wonder Woman: This was one of the most hyped superhero movies of 2017 and rightly so because we were finally getting a female superhero lead! There was a lot of pressure on DC for it to be good since the last movies weren’t well-received by the critics / fans (Suicide Squad, anyone?) but they delivered the goods! Wonder Woman is a spectacular movie that celebrates female power. It shows that women can just as easily carry a movie as any male can. So here’s to more female leads!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemThis was my second time watching it. I wasn’t a big fan before, but I am now. I love Newt (as you’ll know if you’ve read my Infinity Talk) and I’m so proud and happy to be a Hufflepuff ❤

My July TBR

I’ve given up hope that I’ll read more than four books in a month, so I’m sticking to four 😀

  • Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (Hufflepuff edition!): I couldn’t resist, you guys! These editions are so pretty and I need one in my life. In my defence, I’ve never read it in English (I was too young and never reread it in English) and I don’t own a copy of Philosopher’s Stone so I think it’s totally justified.
  • Radio Silence by Alice Oseman: this has been on my TBR for a while now, but I’ve finally gotten around to ordering it!
  • Wing Jones by Katherine Webber: “With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had.” Yay for biracial protagonists + athletics!
  • One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McMannus: one of the most hyped and reviewed YA novels right now. I’m interested to see if it lives up to expectations and I’m excited about reading something that isn’t just contemporary.

 

Which books did you read this month? Which are on your TBR? Did you have a good month? Let me know in the comments!

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Why We Need More Sensitive Male Protagonists (ft. Newt Scamander)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an Infinity Talk, but I’m back now with a new discussion topic. As you can tell from the title, today’s topic is the male protagonist. More specifically, why we need more sensitive or otherwise atypical male protagonists instead of the same male characters we see being reused in every book and Hollywood movie.

I was inspired to write this post after watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a spin off movie about the famous Magizoologist from the Harry Potter universe. I watched the movie for the second time on Sunday after seeing it in the cinema when it released. Before I get started, I need to make a confession: I didn’t like Newt the first time I saw Fantastic Beasts. I thought he was bland, a tad boring, and lacked any real character development. While I thought the movie was decent and enjoyable, I didn’t connect to Newt.

I didn’t think much of my opinion until I saw it a second time this past Sunday. This time, I fell in love with the character. So, what changed? To be honest, I was more critical of the material this time around and really thought about why Newt was different from other male protagonists.

And then it hit me. Newt is not a typical male protagonist. He’s not physically strong, witty, boisterous, particularly charming or charismatic like other male characters (especially in sci-fi and fantasy books and movies). Just think of Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, Kirk …

A lot of male protagonists hide their vulnerability, but not Newt. He’s quiet and vulnerable and highly empathetic. Now, these traits are also found in other male characters aside from Newt – just think of all the quiet “geeks” and “nerds” who are often love interests – but they’re rarely the protagonist of the story. Especially when it comes to fantasy and sci-fi. And when they are, they most likely have low-esteem when it comes to women and their own masculinity.

Newt is different. He appears to be completely confident with who he is and what his purpose his. This is another interesting difference between Newt and other male protagonists. Newt’s purpose is to write textbooks so others will understand these Fantastic Beasts he loves. His main talent is empathy. Not just for the animals, but also for humans, even though he finds it harder to connect with other people.

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He’s sensitive and emotional, which is framed as a strength and not a weakness. Again, this is very rare. Male protagonists are expected to save the girl, go on an epic quest, defeat the evil overlords who want to destroy the world … If those male protagonists were to showcase sensitivity and vulnerability, they would be labeled as “weak” because these traits are associated with women and femininity.

This is ultimately why “atypical” male protagonists are important. By showing sensitivity and vulnerability can also be heroic traits, a character like Newt challenges the gender stereotypes and expectations. But we need more of them. We need more atypical male protagonists in mainstream media. If not, they will never be considered anything else but atypical, boring, and bland characters instead of being recognised for what they truly are–valid heroes of any given story.

What do you think? Do you agree? Can you think of other male protagonists like Newt? 

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