Dreary Day Reads: Books for Rainy Days

Hello, friends! 

The days are getting darker. It’s dark when I leave for work and the evenings are getting darker and colder too. No more strolling around the neighbourhood while the sun sets or going for ice cream late at night.

Right now, whe weather is okay where I live, but they’ve forecast a lot of rain for the end of the week. And since I live in a country where it raines quite often, I thought I’d share my favourite books to read on dreary days.

I love to pick up any one of these books and curl up in bed with a blanket and a box of chocolates in reach.

  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson: because it’s very bleak and it’s about the end of the world (kind of) and, somehow, reading this book on a sunny day doesn’t feel right.
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: because you get to escape your own (dreary) world and immerse yourself into a wonderfully, magical one. Any of the HP are good but if I had to choose, I’d probably pick Prisoner of Azkaban because it’s my favourite or the Half-Blood Prince because it’s a bit darker and because I remember it was raining and there was a thunder storm when I got the part where a certain someone dies. It’s stuck by me as a “rainy day book” ever since.
  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera or any other Silvera book: because you can go outside afterward and let the rain wash away your tears.
  • One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus: because who doesn’t love a good mystery on a rainy day?
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: because it’s a beautifully written book about the lives of a blind French girl and a Germany boy / soldier during WWII. The prose is stunning and the story captivating. You won’t want to put this one done before you’ve reached the last page.
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: because it transports your rainy day to another time and place. No one knows how to write dreary settings and lives better than Charles Dickens.
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brönte: because a rainy day is perfect for a dark, gothic novel like Wuthering Heights. You’ll find very little happiness in this book but the storylines are captivating and the descriptions of the moors and the English countryside in general are beautiful and mesmerizing.

Would / Do you like to read any of these books on a rainy day? Which are your own favourites? Let me know in the comments!

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The New York Times “By the Book” Tag

Hello, friends!

I’m not a New York Times reader, but I’ve been wanting to go to New York City for as long as I can remember so that’s a good enough excuse to do this tag. Thank you to Beth @Reading Every Night for tagging me. I hope you enjoy reading my answers as much as I did yours.

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[e-ARC] They Both Die at The End by Adam Silvera

**Thank you to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review**

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Details & Summary

Title: They Both Die at The End
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 5th, 2017
Pages: 384

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

My thoughts…

“But no matter what choices we make – solo or together – our finish line remains the same … No matter how we choose to live, we both die at the end.”

You all know how much I love Adam Silvera. He tells powerful and emotional stories with realistic, diverse characters and a clear, hopeful message woven through the book. They Both Die at the End is no different. Even though it’s my least favourite of his so far, it’s still a very good book I’ll recommend to anyone who’ll listen to me.

At the start of the book, Mateo and Rufus have one thing in common: Death-Cast calls and tells them they’re both going to die on the same day. This might sound cliché and like an opportunity to shove the same old “carpe diem” slogan down people’s throat, but I promise this book goes beyond that. There’s no danger of rolling your eyes until they hurt.

Don’t get me wrong: They Both Die at The End inspires its readers to live the life you want or always envisioned for yourself without fear holding you back. It’s also about forgiving yourself for mistakes you’ve made along the way. Mateo and Rufus carry out these messages perfectly.

Mateo is an anxious but precious Puerto-Rican boy who regrets not taking more risks, doing more, and, basically, living more when he gets his call. He sets out to go out and do things and I felt so sorry for him knowing he has to cram a whole life of living into one day. Luckily he gets helps from his Life Friend, Rufus, a Cuban-American bisexual boy who’s a bit rough around the edges and has a few skeletons in his closet but is also a complete sweetheart. Together, they make a great team.

Honestly, their friendship was developed to perfection. Mateo being Mateo didn’t trust Rufus at all at first and there was a point where I was sure Rufus would give up on Mateo since Mateo’s anxiety stopped him from leaving his bedroom and doing things Rufus didn’t think twice about. But he doesn’t. Together, Mateo and Rufus experience as much as they can while also dealing with the hard stuff, like saying goodbye to Mateo’s dad who’s in a coma and saying goodbye to their friends. They grow closer, which was inevitable, and, without spoiling anything, I think the development of their relationship and the way it came to a pinnacle was done the right way.

As with all of Adam Silvera’s books, the characters are the stars. Mateo and Rufus are wonderful, but I also have to commend Silvera for fleshing out three-dimensional, realistic side characters such as the Plutos – Rufus’s friends – and Lidia, Mateo’s best friend and a single mom.

“You may be born into family, but you walk into friendships. Some you’ll discover you should put behind you. Others are worth every risk.”

Aside from the characters, Silvera’s writing is as beautiful, poetic, and meaningful as ever. He manages to find the right balance between happy, light moments and feelings, and deep, raw emotions that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.

The only downside to this book and the reason why I prefer History is All You Left Me and More Happy than Not is the pacing. I found it hard to get into the first couple of chapters. Yes, I liked both main characters separately but, for me, the real story didn’t kick off until they met up. And even though I understand why he did it, I’m also not the biggest fan of the many POVs, but that’s probably a personal preference (also, I wanted to read about Rufus and Mateo as much as possible).     

They Both Die at the End is a story about two young boys who find out they’re going to die within the next 24 hours. Contrary to what you might think, this book isn’t all about death. It’s about life and how you choose to live it, about learning to take risks, about forgiving yourself, about being the person you’ve always wanted to be, and, above all, about not being afraid to live and love until the very last moment.

Rating

Real Rating: 4,5 / 5

10 YA September Releases to Look Forward to!

Hello, friends! 

I was scrolling and browsing through Goodreads and I noticed there are A LOT of fantastic (-sounding) YA books that are being released in September. I thought I’d help you all out** by listing ten of my favourite ones so here goes…

(**Though you might hate me for expanding your endless TBR 😀 )

September, 5th

Feral Youth: “Inspired by The Canterbury Tales, Feral Youth features characters, each complex and damaged in their own ways, who are enticed to tell a story (or two) with the promise of a cash prize. The stories range from noir-inspired revenge tales to mythological stories of fierce heroines and angry gods. And while few of the stories are claimed to be based in truth, they ultimately reveal more about the teller than the truth ever could.”

Many fantastic YA authors have worked on this book, including Shaun David Hutchinson, Brandy Colbert, and Marieke Nijkamp. 

~~~

They Both Die at The End by Adam Silvera: “On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.”

I’ve already read this and highly recommend it! My review will be up tomorrow. 

LGBTQ Rep (Bisexual + Unspecified) + Biracial main character 

~~~

Right Where You Left Me by Calla Devlin: “In search of the perfect story to put a human face on a tragedy for his newspaper, my dad will fly into the eye of the storm. And now he’s heading to Ukraine, straight into the aftermath of a deadly earthquake. I don’t want him to leave. I don’t want to spend the week alone in a silent house with my mother, whose classically Russian reserve has built a wall between us that neither of us knows how to tear down. But I don’t tell him this. I don’t say stay.

I think I’m holding it together okay—until the FBI comes knocking on our door. Now it’s all I can do to fight off the horrifying images in my head. The quake has left so many orphans and widows, but Mom and I refuse to be counted among them. Whatever it takes to get Dad back, I’ll do it. Even if it means breaking a promise…or the law.”

~~~

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout: “Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances. Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.”

September, 12th

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren: “Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.”

I’ve heard so many good things about this one. Really excited to read it. 

LGBTQ Rep (bisexual)

~~~

Warcross by Marie Lu: “For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.”

I rarely stray from contemporary YA but I’ll make an exception for this one! 

Own voices author

September, 19th

Kaleidoscope Song by Fox Benwell: “Fifteen year old Neo loves music, it punctuates her life and shapes the way she views the world. A life in radio is all she’s ever wanted.
When Umzi Radio broadcasts live in a nearby bar Neo can’t resist. She sneaks out to see them, and she falls in love, with music, and the night, but also with a girl: Tale has a voice like coffee poured into a bright steel mug, and she commands the stage.

It isn’t normal. Isn’t right. Neo knows that she’s supposed to go to school and get a real job and find a nice young boy to settle down with. It’s written everywhere – in childhood games, and playground questions, in the textbooks, in her parents’ faces. But Tale and music are underneath her skin, and try as she might, she can’t stop thinking about them”

LGBTQ Rep + set in South-Africa

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu: “Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.”

YAY FOR GIRL POWER!! 

Release by Patrick Ness: “Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.
Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart.  At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.

But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.”

This is the US version. Release was published in the UK on May 4th, 2017. 

LGBTQ Rep 

September, 26th

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Starfish by Akemi Dawn Brown: “Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.”

Own voices

Trigger warnings: anxiety, emotional abuse, childhood sexual abuse, suicide ableism

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Are you going to add any of these to your TBR? Which books are you looking forward to in September? Let me know in the comments!

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Characters I Wish Were My Friends

Hello, friends!

Have you ever thought, “I wish X was my friend” ? I’m sure you have. And so have I, which is why I’m going to share my favourite characters with you. These are the characters I’ve connected with and wish were alive so we could be best friends.

 

Simon & Abby from Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Who doesn’t love Simon? He’s funny, down-to-earth, has a dog named Bieber, he’s sarcastic, loves Oreos, and he’s not one to stir up unnecessary drama. And then there’s Abby who’s energetic, caring, sweet, strong, and understanding.

Henry from Words in Deep Blue
He might be a complete idiot sometimes but he’s not afraid to go after what he wants, he writes letters (!), he’s passionate about books, and he’s a great friend.

Frances & Raine from Radio Silence
Frances might seem like your everyday “nerd” who lives to study and get good grades, but she’s got a lot more layers than you’d think. She’s a complete fangirl, an artist, and she’s got a cool sense of fashion (including Monsters Inc. leggings!)

Raine is an I-don’t-care-about-this kind of girl who actually does care. A lot. Especially about her friends, who she’d do anything for. Plus, she’s got the best one-liners so she’s good fun.

Reagan from Fangirl
Man, I’d love to read a book about Reagan. She’s a no-bullshit character who stands up for herself and for what she believes in. Sure, she might come across as rude at first, but she cares about her friends (even though she’d hate to admit it) and she’d do anything to help them out.

Ron from Harry Potter
This one needs no introduction. Anyone would be happy to have him as their best friend.

Griffin from History is All You Left Me
He makes a lot of mistakes this one, but he always follows his heart. I really admire that and I wish I did the same.

Alaska from Looking for Alaska
Sweet one moment, mean the other, Alaska takes some getting used to. She’s deeply flawed and troubled, but she’s a good person at heart. You’d never be bored with her at your side.

Henry from We Are the Ants
He’s deeply and depressingly nihilistic sometimes but also funny and sweet (despite the things he goes through). He cares about his family more than anything and he’s always looking to do right by them. And mostly I just want to be friends with him so I can give him a hug and tell him everything’s going to be okay.

Who do you wish was your best friend? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

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Details & Summary

Title: More Happy Than Not
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: Soho Teen
Release Date: June 2nd 2015
Pages: 304

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?

My Thoughts…

“Sometimes pain is so unmanageable that the idea of spending another day with it seems impossible. Other times pain acts as a compass to help you get through the messier tunnels of growing up. But the pain can only help you find happiness if you can remember it.”

Where to start? I honestly don’t know. A lot of thoughts and emotions have come from reading this book, but it’s hard to put them into words. I guess I’ll start by saying that I thought this book couldn’t live up to History is All You Left Me, which I read first and is one of my all-time favourites, but it did. It most definitely did. More Happy Than Not is a dark, sad, and above all thought-provoking book that deals with suicide, homophobia, and depression but still manages to close on a semi-hopeful note.

More Happy Than Not is a contemporary book, but there are sci-fi elements to the story, mainly the Leteo Institute. The Leteo Institute takes away or rather “suppresses” memories or things you’d like to forget, such as being responsible for you twin brother’s death (which happened to one of Aaron’s friends).

The story starts out by detailing Aaron Soto’s day-to-day life. Aaron lives in the Bronx with his Mum and his brother Eric, his girlfriend Genevieve, and his friends. He’s struggling with depression after his father’s suicide. Aaron has recently tried to commit suicide himself.

The story kicks off when he meets Thomas, an eccentric and sweet boy who lives in his neighbourhood. The two of them hit it off and they grow closer as the story enfolds. Silvera did a fantastic job at pacing their relationship. It didn’t feel rushed and definitely wasn’t a case of “insta-love”. Aaron’s newfound feelings for Thomas came over time after having spent much of his free time with him. But please don’t think this is a cute romance story because it’s everything but that.

“From the shapes cast by the green paper lantern, you would never know that there were two boys sitting closely to one another trying to find themselves. You would only see shadows hugging, indiscriminate.”

Not everyone’s happy about Aaron’s close relationship with Thomas. His “friends” make it very clear they will not accept Aaron being gay in one of the most heartbreaking scenes I’ve ever read. They almost beat Aaron to death and I won’t spoil what happens next, but this assault “triggers” something inside Aaron. Something that makes him turn to the Leteo Institute for help.

He tries to erase a part of who he is, which leads to a horrible consequence or “side-effect”. The ending to this book is definitely sad, but also thought-provoking because, ultimately, it’s a way to show us that you can’t change who you are. It might seem hard and impossible. It might also seem like you’ll never find true happiness, but maybe you don’t have to. Maybe you can start by being more happy than not.

“I’ve become this happiness scavenger who picks away at the ugliness of the world, because if there’s happiness tucked away in my tragedies, I’ll find it no matter what. If the blind can find joy in music, and the deaf can discover it with colors, I will do my best to always find the sun in the darkness because my life isn’t one sad ending—it’s a series of endless happy beginnings.”

More Happy Than Not is another brilliant and must-read book by Adam Silvera that should be required reading.

Rating