Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag - 2019

Hey, all! 

Can you believe we are already halfway through 2019, or only 6 month until it's the 20's again? I could have sworn New Years Eve was yesterday. So far, 2019 has been a really descent year for me, fingers crossed that the second half of the year will be lovely as well! 

As every year's midway point approaches, book tubers and bloggers galore are taking part in the Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag. What is it you ask? Just a list of prompts trying to get you to say what you think of the books you have read so far! 

Disclaimer: if you manage do to this without referring to your Goodreads page, you are a sorcerer and I am impressed and want your powers.

1. Best book of the year so far
My best discovery of the year was certainly Caraval, by Stephanie Garber! For some reason, reading it reminded me of that feeling I had when reading The Hunger Games! I just received books 2 and 3 so cannot WAIT to read them this summer!
2. Best sequel read so far
I haven't actually read many sequels this year! Does Clockwork Princess count? I have read it before, but it seems to be the only 'sequel' I have read this year! 
3. New release I haven't read but really want to 
Finale by Stephanie Garber! See question 1 for reasons as to why... 
4. Most anticipated release
I'm gonna be kinda predictable and go with Shadow Frost by Coco Ma! I read the first e-ARC version, now I have an updated physical ARC... this book will be out in October and I cannot wait to see what Coco came up with! 
5. Biggest Disappointment 
The Truth and Lies of Ella Black, by Emily Barr... I had such high hopes, the premise sounded amazing! But I had a very hard time finishing it at all. 
6. Biggest Surprise
I was totally surprised with how much I ended up loving reading the Selection trilogy! It was so fun and light-hearted, I can totally recommend it for a guilty pleasure reading session! 
7. Favorite New Author
It's a tie between Stephanie Garber and Leigh Bardugo for me! Have read one book of theirs each and yes, I need to read more before making a more informed decision. 
8. Newest Fictional Crush
I am gonna surprise a lot of long-time followers... but I haven't fallen for any fictional guys this year! Am I evolving? Is this an alternate Caroline? What?!
9. Newest Favorite Character
Asterin from Shadow Frost was awesome - actually, all of those characters were colourful and interesting in their own right! 
10. Book that made me cry
Ghosts of the Shadow Market - What did you expect, it's a Jem novella. 
11. Book that made me happy
The Selection trilogy - no shame, I felt like a kid again!
12. Favorite book-to-movie adaptation seen this year
... Have I seen any this year?! I think I've only been to the movies twice since the beginning of 2019 and I don't think I've seen any book-to-movie adaptations! 

13. Favorite review I've written
To be fair, my review of the book fair I went to last week was dope. It got shared many times and I just had such a fun time writing it - I'm liking my new writing style: literally brain vomit in style and ideas! 
14. Most beautiful book bought this year
That I bought!? Um well I haven't bought very many books this year, but I must say that Ink by Alice Broadway is BEAUTIFUL! 
15. Books I need to read by the end of the year 
Oh god where do I begin
I want to re-read VE Schwab before meeting her in October
I want to re-read The Dark Artifices
A few eARCs 
the new Markus Zusak
Six of Crows (I promised) 

That's it! Tell me, what was your most unexpected buy of the year? 

Stay bookish! 

Monday, July 1, 2019

YALTIVAL - a very bookish day

Hey, all! 

I can finally take some time to tell you all about YALTIVAL - the first book festival of this name in the Netherlands! I did not know what to expect, but I'd love to take this opportunity to tell you all about it! 

After a long and busy weekend of travel, gatherings, star observing, Dungeons and Dragons, and trying dinners that have appeared to me in a dream, I finally hauled my suitcase and sleep-deprived self to Eindhoven, a lovely town in the Netherlands that I had never visited (although the train station was eerily familiar). I was able to meet up with some bookish friends that I had met at another book convention (Danielle, Lisa and Lisa) and together, we were off to YALITVAL YATILVAL YALTIVAL! 

We started the day going to a lovely industrial-style library called Boekhandel Van Piere, where we received very-full goodie bags! Naturally, the gifted book was in Dutch, which I plan to giveaway soon (!!), but it also contained socks which I believe to be the coolest book swag ever! They also provided free Coffeelovers coffee which I was very happy with. (Coffeelovers is essentially the Dutch equivalent to Starbucks, which I love. #notasponsor) 

And instead of YA books, I took our time at the bookstore to buy a book on programming with Python, and calculus. Yes I’m a nerd, deal with it...

We soon after made our way to the Dynamo event centre, where we were confronted with every book nerd's most tempting sight - stands displaying merchandise from Letters and Lights, and Till and Dill. 

For those of you who aren't aware, Till and Dill is a lovely duo who make art based on a monthly theme. Their work is absolutely astounding, and not specifically bookish - simply beautiful. I personally have a lot of their work on my wall, it gives such a lovely vibe! On the other hand, Letters and Lights is a brand that initially created art, but now sells candles, prints, bookmarks, teacups... their items are incredible! I got 3 candles (Merida, Dungeons and Dragons, and Jamie Fraser), an A Darker Shade of Magic themed book box, and a lovely little tea cup! 

Soon enough, it was time for the author interviews, including Emily Barr, Alice Broadway, and Stephanie Garber. All three authors were absolutely lovely and answered questions with so much enthusiasm! It was so much fun to see them just chat on stage! 

Next were the signings. We were all excited enough to be a little nervous, but in the end all three authors were super sweet! Stephanie was kind enough to sign an instagram post I had done with Caraval, which she had liked and shared in the past, and I had both Alice and Stephanie sign books! It was a great highlight! 

After a lunch break, we went to an illustration workshop, in which everyone made quote postcards based off the work of Zonenmaan illustraties, the art site of letters and lights! It was a lot of fun, and I didn't realise before how much I enjoyed drawing quote cards (despite the shaky tables!) 

The day ended with a lottery and a cosplay competition - there was some cosplay based on Caraval that was absolutely astounding, I can hardly believe that people can make such costumes! 

It was such a lovely day, I cannot wait for the next book expo in October! 

Stay bookish! 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Ghosts of the Shadow Market, by Cassandra Clare & Co

Hey, all! 

The time has come! A whole series of novellas based on my one and only favourite character that I will love and cherish until the end of my reading days: James Carstairs. A set of short stories, following Jem both as a silent brother and as a human, though time, looking for the Lost Herondale. 

I laughed, and cried, and wanted to hug the characters. I had to stop reading because of surprise, and yet couldn't put it down. My only wish is that some of the stories may have been longer. 

This review will contain spoilers of The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, and The Dark Artifices! 

"The Shadow Market is a meeting point for faeries, werewolves, warlocks and vampires. There the Downworlders buy and sell magical objects, make dark bargains, and whisper secrets they do not want the Nephilim to know. Through two centuries, however, there has been a frequent visitor to the Shadow Market from the City of Bones, the very heart of the Shadowhunters. As a Silent Brother, Brother Zachariah is sworn keeper of the laws and lore of the Nephilim. But once he was a Shadowhunter called Jem Carstairs, and his love, then and always, is the warlock Tessa Gray.

Follow Brother Zachariah and see, against the backdrop of the Shadow Market’s dark dealings and festive celebrations, Anna Lightwood’s first romance, Matthew Fairchild’s great sin and Tessa Gray plunged into a world war. Valentine Morgenstern buys a soul at the Market and a young Jace Wayland’s soul finds safe harbor. In the Market is hidden a lost heir and a beloved ghost, and no one can save you once you have traded away your heart. Not even Brother Zachariah..."

This review won't be very thorough - each author that contributed brought their own voice to the story, different writing styles, and different ways of expressing crushing feelings. 

Now, anyone who has read my blog before, be it a tag or anything Shadowhunter-related, knows that I am a sucker for Jem Carstairs. His heart, his ways and his beliefs are absolutely beautiful, and I could not wait for this book to come out. Luckily this book showed up in my local bookstore almost two weeks before its initial release, so I had an earlier opportunity to let a bunch of strangers use words to break my heart.

Ah, isn't the reader's life sadistic? 

My most feel-y parts
I have said before, and will say again, that the concept of Parabatai is my absolute favorite fictional concept ever. Jem being with and remembering Will always got to me, because it was done so smoothly. They could never properly be friends as they were again, so there was always a tinge of melancholy when they were together. 

Worse, however, was some Jem and Tessa moments. Cassandra Clare, how dare you make me feel such things? This book was excellent in making you understand just how difficult Jem's life as a silent brother was. How he couldn't feel, how his emotions and even memories were fading slowly. Tessa taking care of Jem who almost died during World War One, Jem at Tessa's bedside after she gets stabbed, realizing that this is what he made she and Will go through while he was sick... 

Their daughter, Mina... 

I had so many emotions reading these parts it was difficult to keep up! 

The passages relating to the things that Jem was missing or had lost were particularily difficult to read, because everything lead to a sea of emotions. 
I actually really liked how Jem's story fit in with all the different timelines, and character's lives. I particularly liked his interaction with Alec in Argentina. However, the last novella kept me curious - I do realise that I have not read Queen of Air and Darkness so I may be missing a lot of plot to fully understand what happened in the last novella, but even then, I feel like Jem's story was just background, compared to the main plot. 

I loved getting to know how Alec and Magnus adopted Rafael, how some characters that have only been mentioned went through the struggles of being unlike the others, I liked seeing Ty and Livvy grow up, and Jace's first meeting with the Lightwoods. There is SO much that happened, that I was very happy to read! 

One day, when everything is published, I want to read all of the Shadowhunter set, in exact order. 

General impressions
This novella was full of memory, hope, and peace. Sometimes repetitive (yet that was quickly forgiven), the novella set was exactly what I needed nowadays. 

My favourites were... 
- A Deeper Love
- Learn About Loss
- Through Blood, Through Fire
- The Land I Lost

This made my fangirl heart happy, I'm giving it 4/5 stars <3

Stay bookish! 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Shadow Frost, by Coco Ma - ARC review

Hey, all! 

I just finished reading Shadow Frost, by Coco Ma! This was sent to me by Blackstone Publishing via Netgalley as an eARC. This will be published in October 2019. The fact that this is an arc does not alter my opinions. 

Before I even start reviewing this, take 2 minutes and pre-order this. It is worth it, I promise. 

P.S., this review is spoiler-free! 

"When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields—though has yet to fully understand—Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed. 

To kill it. 

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her friends begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known. 

That is… if the demon doesn’t get to them first."

The first thing you should know about this book, is that it's written by Coco when she was 15, and is being published just a year after she graduated high school. I've spoken with her and she is SUCH a ball of human sunshine! I am honoured to be able to share this book! I'll also be getting a physical ARC, so I'll be all over sharing this! 

Shadow Frost was such a smooth read. The writing made sense for the story, and the characters felt real. There was confusion and name-calling and stubbornness and laziness and none of them felt like a holier-than-thou Mary Sue. Even Asterin just felt like a normal teenager who just so happened to be able to control various elements. It was really refreshing to read characters like this - it was somewhat akin to Percy Jackson. Characters were relatable, which made it all the more fun! 

One of my favourite characters was Harry. I won't spoil a thing aside from the fact that he's a cinnamon roll and I wanna go in the book and hug him. 

Coco also did a good job depicting all kinds of relationships! There was a great cousin dynamic, a series of strong friendships, a (sorta insta-lovey but I shipped it right away so I can't judge) romance, and no love triangles! I thought there would be for a bit, but it ended up being something I couldn't anticipate. 

I loved the magic in this book - it had relatively clear rules, straightforward abilities and creative detours. Nobody overused their magic - it was simply a part of who these characters were, and I was all in for that! 

Shadow Frost has a plot that keeps moving, almost dancing with the reader. When you believe it to go one way, it takes you another, that only feels more clever. It's also super well-organised: a detail I liked was that, at times, shifting POVs described one thing, from two points of view. It gave a 3D feel to the plot, if that makes sense! 

And that ending! Shadow Frost punched me in the feels at the end - so many bombs were dropped! I always thought I knew what was happening, and it would shift! Aaa so good!

There were a few things I would just tweak - Quinlan's overuse of the word 'brat' is one I can think of now. He's not the best insulter, but it also does add to his charm. 

That's it for now! I could keep talking about this for a long time - I can't wait to meet other people who have read the book! 

I'm giving it 4.5/5 stars! 

Stay Bookish! 

Friday, May 31, 2019

Ink, by Alice Broadway

Hey, all! 

I just finished reading Ink, by Alice Broadway! I picked it up because I'm meeting Alice soon, so I thought this was the best opportunity to pick up the book that probably has one of the single most stunning covers ever! 

"There are no secrets in Saintstone...

Imagine a world where your every action, your every deed, is marked on your skin for all to see. And Leora has something to hide. 

INK is a story about love, loyalty, and the desire to live for ever. It's a tale that gets under your skin."

Ok first of all, the blurb only kinda scratches the surface of what is relevant about this book. This story is about a world in which everything about you is marked as a tattoo - your family tree, your age, job, joys and fears. Leora is finishing school to become someone who's job it is to give people their Marks. 

This book, aside from being aesthetically gorgeous beyond belief, was quite fun! I enjoyed reading it, especially towards the end. Why? Well...

For 90% of the story, I felt like the plot was being pulled into different directions, but just for a little bit, before going back to a steady, safe plot line. I was missing a dynamic, shocking event. 

And then the end happened - everything tied together in a rather unexpected way, that I enjoyed. I wasn't planning to up until the last few chapters, but I think I'll be picking up the next two books soon to find out what happens! 

So, we've established that the ending makes it worth the read, but what about the rest? 

To be completely honest, the build-up was very slow for me. Every time I thought some event would launch a more intricate plot, it fell flat. None of the characters fascinated me aside from Leora's mentor, Obel. He was interesting from the start! Otherwise, for me everyone felt somewhat flat. 

But then again, I guess that that can be expected in a super rule-fueld world. 

OH ALSO I wanted to mention one of the biggest things this book talks about. People get tattoos of their life story yes... only to have their skin bound in a book once they die. At first I was somewhat hesitant about this - sure, ok, maybe if they're treated like leather on bongos or something, that's fine and paper-like, so sure. But NO. Leora looks at a her dad's scalp skin (ew) that still has hairs on it. That small detail made me feel nervous about these skin books the entire book. 

This book was kinda creepy - I think it would have been fun if Alice had written it as a full-on thriller, actually! For now, it just lacked substance. 

That's it for now! Short review, granted, but I am in the process of moving! 

I'm giving this 3/5 stars! 

Have you read Ink? What did you think? Let me know? 
(hehe, thINK) 

Stay bookish! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Shadowhunters - Why the TV series was a flop

Hey, all! 

As I am sure you are aware, the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare was recently converted into a 3-season show on Netflix. After the mediocre movie based on City of Bones, someone had a brilliant idea to erase the movie from people's minds by making a TV series instead. 

As fans of the books, we had hope - the books really can be read as a good TV-adaptable series, if followed well. 

Kind of like Percy Jackson. 

However, with the recent release of the series finale, it is safe to say that most people were disappointed with this adaptation, to say the least. 

So without further ado, I will highlight the main points about why the Shadowhunters series disappointed the book's fans, as well as the new watchers. This article was written with the help of two friends of mine, Lisa and Lisa, thank you! <3 

Note: This article will contain spoilers, so if you don't want to know what happened, this is a good end point. 

1. Following the storyline 
Cassandra Clare, for one, is an amazing storyteller. In six books, she built an incredible world that is still being published about and expanded on to this day. Knowing the books, the show felt like it was made by someone who the books were explained to. I was enraged by simple plot choices such as... 
- Izzy being the one addicted to Yin Fen (and it being easily curable)
- Clary and Izzy becoming Parabatai
- Jocelyn dying in the first season
- and too many other things to mention
These books were made to be filmed and acted. The story in the books makes sense and is beautifully tied together with all of the spinoffs. However, the storyline, much like Percy Jackson, took a strong blow for the sake of... what, modernity? 

2. The portrayal of Parabatai
If you've been reading my reviews for a while or know me personally, you know that my favourite fictional concept in the world is that of Parabatai. Cassandra Clare wrote a new kind of connection between people with such heart that in simple sentences, you could feel how meaningful having a Parabatai is. The Infernal Devices is my favorite example, however in TMI, Jace and Alec also have a wonderful bond. 

The problem with the show, was that their bond was never shown aside for convenience. The fleeting mentions of it, combined with the way it was used purely to increase drama made it seem inconsequential, and more of a tool than a bond that two individuals decide to share despite the pain in may cause. There is a reason the books let Clary and Simon become Parabatai - their love is other than romantic or that of blood, but just as real. Clary and Izzy have each other's backs, sure, but that's it. 

Can you tell I'm salty about it? 

3. The CGI
The CGI used in this show was just a joke, to be honest. Whereas the books show a very cinematic view of demons, the CGI made it feel very generic, as if someone had copied and pasted a monster from a different movie into this series. It didn't feel original, or half as dark as was ever explained. Even the little things, such as how exaggerated the werewolf's eye glowing became, felt out of place. 

4. The Over-acting
One thing they got 'right' was that Shadowhunters have an unearthly beauty. But the directors went out and seemingly casted the best-looking people they could find that could vaguely fit the description of each character. As a result, the show was filled with... mediocre actors, who overplayed their roles. There are a few exceptions, of course! Alberto Roende portrayed Simon's personality absolutely perfectly. He is Simon. A little more good-looking than anyone anticipated, but we can allow that ;) 

5. Cassandra Clare's involvement
Now for a point that's less obvious, and that you can read more about here. Cassandra Clare had a very difficult time working with the studio that created the show. There even seemed to be moments where the character's integrity was at stake, until the point where LGBT couples would have been written out of the script. For a while, she was largely shunned when it came to her characters. Thankfully, some of her decisions went through, while others didn't. 

6. It's in the little things
The Shadowhunters Chronicles has a very specific feel to them. Between the character's ties to the Angel and their archaic way of living, it definitely felt otherworldly. However, the show took a very different spin on everything. Runes became permanent. Institutes were suddenly run like military compounds with Atlantis-level technologies that simply did not make sense. The mentions of characters from other books made the mentioned characters be very out-of-character. Jace being a jock more than an angel boy. All these little things were enough to make any fan of the books uncomfortable while watching. 

7. Forcing extra plot points and romance
This point drove me crazy. To create uninteresting conflict, the writers decided to write in extra characters and extra relationships. This resulted in characters such as Lidya, only there to essentially keep Alec and Magnus away from each other. There was a Izzy/Rafael romance that felt very forced. And the whole plot between Simon and the Seelie queen didn't make sense. Instead of taking the books for what they were and putting them in a visual form, it seems like the writers wanted to amplify something that needed no amplification.

8. It was far too OP, yet also overly generalised
Shadowhunters are strong. We all agree. However, each Shadowhunter was best at something or another. Jace was great at acrobatics, Izzy had her whip, Alec could shoot better than anyone. Instead, they made everyone acrobats, Izzy was suddenly good at everything (even metal forging?!) and Alec became a politician. Everyone was far too powerful. 

9. Character portrayal
This is just me venting: Jace was an annoying dramatic man-child who lost all of his book charm, Clary was too naive and stubborn as all hell, Izzy was too good at everything, Alec was bland, and they messed up Jem's personality. 

Bonus round! What they got right! 

1. Malec
This show made a HUGE Malec fandom. Everyone loved them, rooted for them, and now knows about them. They had a (mostly) good relationship that people could get behind and cheer for when times became difficult. Thank you for that, Netflix! 

2. Diversity in all its forms
The producers also did a really good job with the amount of diverse characters they had. It was nice to see some characters with different skin tones and ethnicities than written in the books, as well as some non-canon but now generally accepted changes, such as Rafael being Aromantic. 

3. The "It's-so-bad-it's-good" syndrome 
Most people I know who watched Shadowhunters didn't watch it for quality, but rather for it's entertainment factor. The show certainly wasn't boring! 

4. Generally the plot was okay 

This is it for me! Yes, this is primarily a rant post, but hopefully you'll see where I'm coming from! 

Have you watched the Shadowhunters series? What did you think about it? Let me know! 

Stay bookish! 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Caraval, by Stephanie Garber

Hey, all! 

I finally did it! I read the super-hyped book known as Caraval, by Stephanie Garber! Everyone has been telling me to read it. It's been on my shelf for years now, looking beautiful but collecting dust as I was never 'in the mood' for it. 

But a few weeks ago some friends and I decided to go to a book signing her win the Netherlands, where Stephanie Garber will be. So of course, I picked up Caraval. I blew the thin layer of dust off, chose a fancy bookmark and settled into my reading chair that isn't technically mine but I ended up falling in love with, made some tea and started reading. 

I read the bulk of this book in 2 days, and absolutely adored it. 

I will do my best to make this review as spoiler-free as possible! 

"Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever."

Caraval follows Scarlett, a girl who has heard stories of the Caraval event ever since she and her sister were children. Every year, she sent letters to Legend, the master of the Caraval, in hopes to be invited. One year her dreams come true, and she is taken to Caraval, along with her sister Tella and Julian. Tella becomes captured to be the objective of the game, forcing Scarlett to play. 

Oh my goodness, this book was vivid! The first thing I want to talk about is the use of color. First off, the Caraval itself is described as brighter and more vibrant than other places. Second, Scarlett seems to be synesthetic - she relates emotions directly to colos, and vice-versa. She hates purple for some reason - funny as it is my favourite color, but I guess that means she relates it to something horrible. 

Throughout the entire book you also had a feeling of magic just through descriptions; raining rose petals, sparkling snow, beautiful descriptions of every place... it was a beautiful read in every sense of the word! 

This book also painted a great image of sisterhood. I have a brother so I don't exactly know what it is to have a sister, but my brother and I are close. It's cool to know that no matter what goes on, I have him I will be able to trust. And it is totally true - if he is in trouble, I will find a way to help. 

In the book, both Scarlett and Tella would do absolutely anything to help each other, and too keep each other safe. In fact, it is the main motive behind most actions in the book altogether. Their relationship felt real, which was so nice! 

Scarlett was one of the most relatable characters I have ever read, in almost every way. Minus the synestesia, of course! Julian, her guide/love interest is - well, I really like him as well! 

The amount of intrigue in this book is ridiculous - not until the very end do you know who to trust, who is right, and what is actually going on. As the tag line says, it is all a game.. This really gave way for anything at all to happen, and gave such an atmosphere and intrigue that made the book impossible to put down! This book was elegant to a fault, and everything I've been looking for in YA recently. 

I'm giving it 5/5 stars! Highly recommend to anyone looking for some magic. 

Have you read Caraval? What did you think? Let me know! 

Stay bookish!