Thursday, December 28, 2017

Artemis, by Andy Weir

Hey, all! 

I just finished reading Artemis, by Andy Weir! 

This is one of those rare cases where I didn't like the characters much, but the book was so plot-driven that it kept me going. I read this book incredibly quickly and enjoyed the science of it. I will be slightly ranty about some character building, so watch for that! 

"Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first."

Okay so I've heard a lot of mixed opinions on this book. I found myself to be in the middle of all of the controversy. As a science nerd, I really loved the science blabbering, as well as the chemistry-based plot! It was super well thought-out in the chemistry side, and I appreciated how well the science was explained. 

Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the pacing. Although I'm someone who loves short chapters - and this book's chapters were quite long - it is written in such a way that I always wanted to know what happened next, a la Da Vinci Code. As a result, I read this book in less than a day

This story is about Jazz, a Saudi-Arabian girl who lives on the moon. She's a smuggler, helping get mild illegals onto the moon and to their recipients. She's super smart, thus a multimillionaire asks her to vandalize a company that creates oxygen for the moon-city, in order to provide oxygen for the moon on his own, for people to pay him. Needing money, Jazz agrees, but as expected, things go wrong. 

As much as I enjoyed the plot and keeping up with what was happening I had a hard time with what a lot of readers seemed to have a problem with... Jazz. 

Oh man Jazz was annoying. It felt like Andy doesn't know how to write female characters - she's the only one with a real role in the book, and she has the mindset of a 15-year-old boy. She was 'perfect' - smart, rebellious, good-looking, sarcastic and known by all. She always got told that she was smart enough to do something other than a low-paying job, but she never looked into it, even though she kept mentioning needing money. Her humor was forced and just off, and she never, ever let herself be feminine without either receiving shame or shaming herself. 

I think Andy Weir tried to be diverse but it just all fell apart - while I did enjoy that the moon colony came from Kenya, it felt like all of the random countries mentioned were mentioned for the sake of being mentioned. Same goes for varying religions and sexualities. It would be really interesting for someone from one of these countries, religions, or someone from the LGBT community to read this, I'm curious to know what you think of the representation. I'm hardly one to talk - being white straight and atheist - but something about it just felt forced. 

That's all I have for today! I'm giving it 3/5 feathers - I loved the plot and reading process, but I feel like this book was problematic in some regards. 

Have you read Artemis? What did you think of it? Let me know! 

Stay bookish! 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Gathering of Shadows, by V.E. Schwab

Hey, all! 

*I'm a little sick so my review may be short and sweet rather than long and very detailed. Hopefully this will cut back some spoilers as well* 

I just finished reading a Gathering of Shadows, by V.E. Schwab! This series may be one of my new favorites, and I cannot wait to receive book 3! 

"It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift--back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games--an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries--a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall."

I'm so happy that this book didn't fall into the dreaded second-book syndrome! A Gathering of Shadows picks up 4 months after ADSOM left off - Lila is now a thief on a ship, while Kell and Rhy are trying to figure out life now that their lives are more entwined than they could imagine. This installment focuses on an event called the Magic Games, which makes magic users from different cities compete against each other using the elements they can control. 

Of course, both Lila and Kell find themselves in these games. Of course, things go wrong. It wouldn't be a good book if that didn't happen, now would it? 

The games were a lot of fun to read about! You really felt the competition in how it was written and in everyone's reaction to it. 

This book is constantly busy and flowing, in such a way that I never wanted to put it down! The only thing that made me slow down is that it took quite a while for the main plot of the book to begin - most of the first chapters were fluffy in order to explain what happened in the time before the Games were announced. 

Kell is still adorable - I love his character, how careful he is and how aware he is of Lila around him. Lila an interesting character as well, but very stubborn at times. However, I am not surprised about her true nature - I expected it since book 1! What I'm more curious about is her backstory - notably how she ended up in Gray London. 

A new character we meet is Alucard - the Captain of Lila's ship, and a strong magic user from Red London. I never really knew whether to trust him or not, until his past with Rhy was revealed. To be fair I wasn't surprised - Rhy has a flamboyant enough personality. However, I am very curious about how his role will be involved in book 3. 

I'm sorry about how short and messy this is! I'm giving this book 4/5 feathers :) 

Have you read A Gathering of Shadows? What id dyou think about it? Let me know! 

Stay bookish! 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

2017 - What Happened There?

Hey, all! 

Ok - we have stuff to talk about. Get ready for a long post, but I gotta get this written down.

At the beginning of the year (or the end of last year), I mentioned some big goals I had for blogging, reading etc.

If you've been following me for a while, well, you'll see that most of these goals didn't exactly go to completion... 

So today, I'm going to post a 2017 recap - what I managed to get done, what I missed out on, and why that might be the case. 

So I'm a big believer in the 'bad news first' deal. So before I go on about what I managed to get done, I'm going to go over why I've been mostly MIA this year. 

Some deep stuff I needed to write down
First, I want to apologize for my blogger attitude. As bloggers, we give opinions on what we read, and we agree to read books authors and publishers send us before publication. I've been really slow with all of this in 2017, both the reading and reviewing aspect. The number of NetGalley ARCs I need to read is kind of incredible...

I also have not been visiting other blogs as much as I would have liked to. Those of you who have blogs, I love what you write, and I hope that you keep blogging so well! I'm sorry that I haven't had much of an opportunity to visit your sites, I'll do my best to change that :) 

My Goodreads goal was 70 books. I read 60 last year so I figured it was possible to get to 70. As of now, I made it less than halfway. I didn't lose interest in reading, on the contrary! Sometimes all I want to do is sit down for a week and do nothing but reading. 

Now for something more personal - life has been unusual this year. A lot of it has to do with university - I've always been a fairly good student, until last winter when I realized that I needed to take an extra year of classes to go into the master's program I want to apply for. Since then, I've been finding it increasingly difficult to pass my courses, to the point where I fail exams more often than I pass them. As a result, I've been putting reading, blogging, and archery aside - my three biggest hobbies - in order to try to pass classes that I end up failing. This brought back some insecurities in my mind, which just increased stress in the long run. 

Now, I'm not falling into any mental illness, such as depression - (In fact, the past two years, I have been doing incredibly well! My confidence grew, as did my self-comfort and my regards to other people. I'm happy in my own skin, and with the people around me, and for once I'm not afraid of being on my own in the future, or of growing up!) - I just feel constantly caught up with time, and have been putting too many responsibilities into my own hands, such as extra classes, being the co-chair of a committee, extra working hours, driving classes, and starting my thesis early. "That's life", as some say. 

I was talking about this recently with a good friend of mine, and the discussion boiled down to something I had not thought of. Maybe all of this has been happening because I somehow messed up my balance between uni and the things I enjoy. I used to read and blog constantly, in such a way that it actually helped me focus on university. Maybe I studied more efficiently when I took more time to do what I enjoyed because I had less time to study all the fluff? It makes sense... 

Therefore, my resolution for 2018 might sound counterproductive, but I think I'll be better off if it works: to put more priority into doing the things enjoy. I'll be blogging more, reading more, putting more hours into archery - maybe even find a local coach! I have some cake recipes that I've been wanting to try for years! And, as much as I honestly enjoy learning about my courses, maybe taking a break from them will make me enjoy it all more. 

What I Accomplished in 2017
I don't know if I ever mentioned this on here, but 17 has always been my lucky number. Not too sure why, but it's never failed me. 

Although I've been trying to figure out everything that I wrote about above, I did have a pretty decent year! 

- I read books

- I kept up my Instagram! It grew a lot and I cannot believe how much support I am getting through it! 

- I organized a Dutch Bookstagram Meetup with some of the loveliest instagrammers and bloggers I know! Please go follow @Anniekslibrary, @sortingdays, and @sneirrbooks! 

- I was albe to represent some lovely companies! Please please check them out! 

- I was a part of the Boekhandel Dominicanen's group Young Adult Dome, that introduced me to great books, events and people

- I helped organize a huge Harry Potter party that even made the local news! 

- I worked with lovely authors 


- I narrowed down what my passions in education are! I'm applying to a Masters in Physical and Material Chemistry, with a minor in Astronomy! It's going to be a bit difficult for me as I'm not very mathematically inclined, but I am not afraid to take more time to learn. 

- I got an awesome thesis topic to work on - Sgr A*, the black hole in the center of the Milky Way!

- I visited London which is now one of my favorite big cities.

- I jumped off a 9m cliff into a river for a canyon tour which was one of my year's highlights!

- I figured out that not all people are going to judge for no reason, and that I could be myself without worrying what people think. 

- I traveled around the Netherlands some more and explored some places in France

- I watched all of Friends, no shame, at all

- I managed to take and pass some classes that I believed would be incredibly difficult for me. 

I hope that you are enjoying the holidays, no matter where you are from, what you celebrate and what you believe in! No matter what, we are all going into a new year in a few days, and I hope that 2018 is everything you hope it will be. 

Stay bookish, and thank you for this year!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Just Another Week, Always New Discoveries III

Hey, all! 

I hope you are doing well! Winter break has officially started here, and, with 7 weeks off, I hope I'll be able to read a bit more than usual, to review some more and to catch up on everything that I missed! 

Stay Bookish 

1. Read
So I kind of temporarily gave up on A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - it's been a little slow for me especially through exams where I can only really read one short chapter at a time. I might pick it up during the winter break again. 

Yesterday, I started A Gathering of Shadows, by V.E. Schwab! I'm 2 sections in and I adore it, just as I adored a Darker Shade of Magic!  

2. Haul
No haul this time! However I did re-purpose a candle I had! One of my candles I had from Letters and Lights had its wick burn out, but loads of wax was still on the edges. I melted it and re-formed it to make melts! 

3. Discover
I didn't discover much, but I'm simply dying for Obsidio to be published! This is the third Illuminae book by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufmann, and it'll be out in March! 

Bring on the Music
Oh I've actually been all OVER the music front lately! Right now I'm listening to something I just discovered yesterday - Walk The Moon's new album. I actually really love it! :D 

Sleeping At Last is a band I also discovered this week, and they're amazing to read/relax to! I would recommend listening to their song called Earth. 

I also re-discovered many songs I used to listen to when I was 13-15, and of course, had to make a playlist with them ^^. It's funny how I haven't heard many of these songs in years, yet still know many of them by heart! 

On a more serious note, a very well-appreciated French singer - Johnny Hallyday, died last week. The impact it had on the country was huge... he will be missed. 

Movies and Motion Pictures

1. TV shows
Since yesterday, I've been catching up with Once Upon a Time! I didn't think I'd like the new season, with #CaptainSwan gone and Henry being an adult, but I love the way they twisted it this season! It reflects season 1 well but still manages to surprise me! 

2. Movies
I want to seen Coco! And Wonder! I heard that the new Star Wars movie was supposed to be good, but I'm not a big fan of the franchise, for some reason. 

That's it for me this week! I'd love to see your responses! 

Stay bookish! 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Just Another Week, Always New Discoveries - II

Hey, all! 

This is my second entry for Just Another Week, Always New Discoveries! I really enjoyed writing this last week! I hope you'll join me in writing these! 

Stay Bookish 

1. Read
I finished reading A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab! I absolutely adored it, and ordered book 2 right away! You can find my post here if you are interested. 

I started reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I'm enjoying it so far! 

2. Haul
I have a haul this time! I rarely buy books but this time I had a gift certificate for my birthday so I spent some of it on books I've been wanting! I was so happy to receive them last night! I opened a box to find... 
- A Gathering of Shadows, by V.E. Schwab
- Warcross, by Marie Lu
- Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes (which I had to unhaul a year ago because there was no room in my suitcase... my review is here!
- Caraval, by Stephanie Garber

3. Discover
This week, I didn't discover much - I've been very very busy! ^^ 

Bring on the Music
I got the tickets for Fall Out Boy I mentioned last week! I've also been listening to a lot of Green Day and general 'energetic' music, I must say. It helps give me energy on the days where I need it. I don't listen to it as much usually!

Movies and Motion Pictures

1. TV shows
I'm kind of tempted to start watching Stranger Things, as everyone is talking so much about it! But I don't really have the time... this weekend I'll hopefully catch up on Once Upon A Time, though! 

2. Movies
Wonder is now out at the movies! I heard so many amazing things about it, I hope to see it soon! Have you seen it or read the book? 

That's it for me this week! Make sure to use the linky below to join in! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

Hey, all! 

I just found a possible new favorite series? 

I finished reading A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab and I loved every bit of it! 

"Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. 

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive."

I'll start with the writing. Most of the time, it is difficult to judge the writing style in a book, and I tend to keep to the plot and the characters. Schwab has a way of writing that is incredibly elegant, both light and engrossing, in such a way that when something is described, you can imagine every bit of it. There's also a pacing in the book that is constant. This sounds like a stupid point, but it made it so easy to keep reading! Plus, if you've been reading my reviews for a while, you know how much I adore short chapters. This had chapters in chapters which was perfect!

The idea of the 4 worlds with the common point being London as a kind of "wormhole" between them is a really interesting concept. The four worlds have nothing to do with each other except for a city. It makes me wonder if there are other worlds in this universe that don't have London, that Kell could maybe travel to as well.

Kell <3 
About Kell! I absolutely adore his character and I really hope to see more of him in the upcoming books! He is smart and witty and not afraid to go through danger to help someone he cares about. I love his calm, collected personality, combined with his wits. He's a Ravenclaw for sure. His relationship with both Rhy and Lila was so great! One of my new fave characters!

Lila was so cool as well! I enjoyed reading about her a lot. I play Dungeons and Dragons, and my favorite character to play is one very much like Lila - a Rogue Thief with wild dreams and high ambitions, who is stubborn yet loyal.

We also had side characters that just showed up in a chapter or two but that made all of the difference. At one point, we meet Booth. He's just a drunk guy who's at the wrong place at the wrong time. He is quickly possessed by magic from Black London in the coolest way, and this affects the rest of the story.

That's a part of the elegance of this book. The plot can derive to a totally unknown character, and every little action still has a consequence. It's a book full of the butterfly effect, in a way that leaves you wanting to read more.

Another great thing about this book is that magic had rules, but it became almost limitless
based on how people decided to relate to it. Kell used magic as an ally, so had his own morals about it. White London uses it as a weapon, so it became more ruthless. In Black London (which doesn't really have people), it is limitless. It was written very intelligently, and it made sense. Additionally, the whole elemental system was elaborate and elegant.

This book is for magic lovers, for explorers, for dark magic enthusiasts, for people who like historical fiction, and political intrigue. I would highly recommend it to everyone, as there's something in it for anyone. It's not shy about violence, but it's not centered around it. This book is a beautiful balance of everything I love in fiction, and I cannot wait to read what Schwab comes up with next in this world!

I'm giving this book a 5/5 feathers! My goodness I could not put it down! 

There is so much more I could write aobut for this book! Have you read A Darker Shade of Magic? What did you think about it? Let me know! 

Stay bookish! 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Just Another Week, Always New Discoveries

Hey, all! 

I decided to start a thing. I always see people post on Sundays about a weekly recap and I thought it would be fun to do that as well! But I'm going to do it my way, the way of Just Another Bookish Blog! 

If you want to do it this way, feel free to! I'd love to see what you have to say about how your week went, maybe this can be the start of a new blogger meme? 

Stay Bookish 

1. Read
So this week I haven't been the most active reader. University keeps me busy, as well does, well, life! 
But I did read about half of A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab, which I have been loving! No wonder this book is on so many favorites lists and is basically all over YouTube! There is a kind of elegance to the story that I have been adoring every minute of. 

2. Haul
I didn't haul anything this week but I do have an Amazon coupon so I think I'll be hauling some books next week! (Hint: they'll have to do with my current read. Hmm, wonder what it is...) 

3. Discover
The title and color of Sarah J Maas's next book was recently announced! In case you haven't heard of it yet, it's called "A Court of Frost and Starlight". I'm not sure what to think about it - I feel like it's a title I could have come up with because I love frost, snowflakes, and all things snowy, as well as starlight! I can't wait to read it anyway! 

Bring on the Music
This week, I've been all over the music front! I've been listening to the 4 new singles by Fall Out Boy practically on repeat, as well as Loic Nottet's album, Selfocracy. About FOB - they're coming to Amsterdam next year in April, and I'm thinking of buying tickets! I'm a little poor nowadays but I can imagine that concert being so much fun! 

I am going to be seeing Imagine Dragons in February, and The Script in March and I'm so excited! I've been listening to their live concerts (not the recent ones to not be spoiled!) while I study and I cannot wait for the real thing! 

Movies and Motion Pictures

1. TV shows
Greys Anatomy just aired their last episode of the winter! They left us with so many cliffhangers, it's going to be difficult to wait! I'm tempted to re-start watching The Big Bang Theory in the meantime, or maybe catch up on Once Upon a Time. 

2. Movies
I didn't see anything new this week, but yesterday we watched Doctor Strange, which is a lot more interesting than I remembered! 

Have a lovely week, and stay bookish! 

Friday, November 17, 2017

My time in Australia - one year later - episode 2

Hey all! 

I'm so glad that you guys seemed to like my last Australia post! It got a lot more reads than my other posts, you guys are the best! 

So since I have an hour to spare (finally), I figured I'll do an episode 2! 

This one will be more of a series, or list, of 10 things I found to be typical Aussie (or at least Perth-based!) 

1. Timtams
Cookies from heaven. I swear. If any of you live in Australia and can send me a box of Timtams I will be the happiest person alive! 

(Imagine them as rectangular Oreos, with chocolate cookies, chocolate cream in the middle, and chocolate covering the whole thing. Heaven in a cookie, I tell you!) 

They're everywhere and have so many different versions! They're given as prizes and as intro gifts and yes Timtams forever. 

2. Potatoes 
I'm not sure if this is actually an Aussie thing or if it's just because we lived on campus and they were cheap to make, but we had potatoes in some way, shape or form for every meal, including breakfast. Kind of magical, I must say! 

3. Red Frogs
So I think the Red Frogs is a charity in the Perth area. I didn't know much about them but this group of people was the best. They brought random candy for us, made us pancakes every other week (Thank you!), organized quiz nights and had charity runs. 

4. Asians
One thing I was not expecting when going to Perth was there being so many people from Asia, notably from Singapore! (In a good way though they were all so nice!) There's a whole language called Singlish (Singaporean English) and I must admit, I picked up on some of their dialects while I was there. 

Perks though: Asian food for days, for cheap, at a good quality! 

5. The lack of heaters
Ok so everyone imagines Australia as warm and sunny. It is, and it isn't. In the winter it still gets way cold. Basically cold enough to need a big jacket and snuggle by the heater. Except that there are no heaters - only a little metal bars that heat up close to the ceiling. If you go in the winter, bring a sweater! That's all I can say! 
6. Australian English 
Yes there's the Aussie dialect. Sometimes it's confusing (especially on the radio). But most people I met there speak what almost sounds like Brittish English. It's really not all that bad! :D 
7. Surfing and Oceans
I miss the ocean and I miss surfing! My goodness, I understand why surfing is so huge: it makes you feel like you're flying on water. And the Indian ocean is so gorgeous! Bring me back, please! 
8. Clearest. Skies. Ever. 
WA is one of the best places for astronomy. There's only one big city and as soon as you go far away enough the sky is bright enough to have a beautiful view of the Milky Way. I loved going out with my class at night to talk about aboriginal myths about stars and constellations. They have such an interesting mythology and language, it was fascinating to learn about! 
9. 2000s Music? Yes please! 
Every party, event, tv station, you name it, was all about 2000s music. A rare modern song would be played from time to time but otherwise everything was from the 2000s/early 2010s. It was amazing, and a lot of fun! 
10. Midnight is not just for Cinderella
Everything in Australia (including nightclubs) close at midnight. Student nights were at Midnight, which meant that Thursday morning, if you needed to get up early, it wasn't much of a problem. That I found to be interesting and quite useful!! 

I hope you enjoyed this little blogpost! 

Stay bookish, 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

My time in Australia - one year later - episode 1

Hey all! 

About a year ago, I was on the other side of the world, in Perth, Australia, starting to focus on exams and realizing that, it was done: my semester abroad was over. 

Now, of course, I made amazing memories there - I met the coolest people, saw amazing sights, surfed, swam with dolphins, saw the strangest animals... and saw a snippet of the Australian culture, which is something you don't really consider when not being from there. 

So today, I'm writing this blog post about little stories, anecdotes and cultural things that I experienced while I was in Australia. This is going to be the first in a series, as I feel like some of these stories can be quite long and I tend to ramble when I write! I'll try having these once every few days for the next few weeks! 

To start off, since today loads of Dutch people are celebrating the beginning of Carnival, I figured I'd tell you about an Aussie nerd party scene. 

Little Darling

Ok so this whole story felt like it wasn't real, but I can promise that it was! About a month into my sem abroad, I decided to go to an event on my own, without the group of friends that I made there - the Science Union Quiz Night. (To be fair, none of my friends there studied science). I had no idea what I was expecting - maybe a handful of nerds with calculators trying to outsmart each other. 

Oh, I could not have been more wrong... 

The first thing I noticed was the 200+ people in themed costumes, drinking beer and dancing with friends. Being small, American, and lost, I went up to the nearest person I could find who had a Science Union shirt and awkwardly asked if I was in the right place. He got really enthusiastic and said that I obviously was (even though it didn't seem so obvious to me) and made me join his team. I probably wasn't going to find any other team so I just agreed and sat there, to the far left of the stage where people were reading out questions, with a random group of 7 other strangers that all seemed to be best drunken friends, dressed as the 7 deadly sins (gluttony brought gummy bears, the legend!), except for one guy who was a lot more reserved and that I could actually talk to over the noise and chaos.

Once everyone settled down, the quiz night proceeded as one would expect - questions, everyone debating the answer, everyone groaning about the history questions, that sort of thing. Until they announced a Never Have I Ever round. 

As a person who is on the introverted side of ambiversion, with insecurities and an inherent fear of growing up, I can say for myself that I've had an exciting life, but not in the way that Australian students have. I guess that traveling and going to music festivals don't quite count as fun when you're a student. For this game, you had to sit down if you did whatever the judges announced. I stayed standing all through the game because no, I haven't missed class because of a hangover, I haven't stolen a car and I didn't even know what fairy bread was, so there was no way I could have tried it with cheese. They invited me and another seemingly equally "boring" person to the stage for a showdown and they kept throwing stuff at us that we've never done. They finally figured us out and asked us some super innocent thing that made me go offstage but made the other girl stay. I'm glad I didn't have to stay, because what happened after was even stranger, but was the most incredible thing at the same time...

The winner of Never Have I ever had to down a beer (of course) and had to start singing some song that seemed to be from another planet (early Aussie 90s) but that every person in the room knew more than by heart. At this point, this was a song in everyone's soul, that I'm pretty sure every Aussie knows and loves. Soon enough the whole room was sing-screaming "That's the way it's gonna BEEEEE, little darling, we'll be riding on the HORSES, yeah yeah!", leaving me utterly confused and laughing so hard that my sides hurt. (The song is here if you're interested!)

Then, after more question rounds, they made us do squats. And I don't mean a few squats just for kicks. No, this song was over 10 minutes long, and if we wanted our team to win extra points, we were not allowed to stop. It was hilarious and painful all at once. (Our table won TimTams, I was so happy haha!)

Another thing that is apparently super popular there (and maybe elsewhere too) is making beer can structures - I mean pyramids and skyscrapers and swords and empire state buildings. It's quite impressive when you've never seen it before!

In the end our team got 2nd, we won SO MUCH FOOD! We were 8 in our team and I still basically lived on what we won for a week (notably noodles, chocolate and more TimTams!) Oh, and supermarket gift cards! 

Needless to say, that evening was a lot of fun, a lot of discovery and by far one of my strangest Australian experiences! 

But I enjoyed every minute of it! I loved seeing how different student life was there from how it is here, and I would go back right away if I could!

And now there's no way I'm getting that song out of my head! 

I hope you guys enjoyed that and are having a great day! 

Stay bookish! 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fallen Grace, by Mary Hooper

Hey, all!

I just finished reading Fallen Grace, by Mary Hooper

This book is more middle grade than YA, but I think it can be serious enough to be a nice YA-aged read as well.

"Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister."

So it’s no surprise that I love reading books set in Victorian London (ok so maybe The Infernal Devices doesn’t count). That time frame was an interesting point in history that can provide an amazing scenery for storytelling.

This particular book is about Grace, a 15/16-year-old girl who, with her slow-minded sister, Lily, are trying to make a living for themselves since their mother died. Grace lost a baby and meets several people that help her go through life one day at a time. Eventually, she and her sister started working for the Unwins – a family in the business of death and funerals.

I’m not too sure what to think of this book. To be fair I just needed something easy to read to relax my mind from university stress so I wasn’t exactly reading it for review. But nonetheless, I’ll do my best!

I found Grace as a character to be admirable in everything she did, but otherwise somewhat boring. She was amazing in the way she took care of her older sister, and how she managed to go through the loss of her child, but I couldn’t feel her personality through the pages. Lily was a little more interesting, but I would have really loved chapters told in her point of view, to see how her mind worked from herself rather than from how everyone else saw it.

The story itself was quite simple but that is expected from an MG book. In that sense, I think that it was written really well! It was literarily available to read for younger readers and presents deeper and darker ideas to them without overdoing it (like I believe is done in the Perks of being a Wallflower), as well as presenting a historical aspect to fiction. I would recommend this book to younger readers for that purpose alone! It's a great introduction to the darker side of Victorian England. 

I found the villain of the story to be intriguing. There were so many bad things happening in the background of the book, and it was nice to have them all linked back to one source rather than having a typical confusing list of sources. And the way that the villain is caught is kind of great! 

Overall I found this read enjoyable, despite being slightly lacking on the character front. But if you've been reading my reviews for a while now, you know how much I adore intricate characters! 

I am giving this book a 3.5/5 feathers! Nice story, a little too simple and light on the details for me personally. 

Have you read Fallen Grace? What did you think about it? Please let me know! 

Stay bookish!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Turtles All The Way Down, by John Green

Hey all! 

I just finished reading Turtles all the Way Down, the new John Green book! It completely lived up to my expectations! 

"Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts."

So! Turtles All the Way Down has been highly anticipated since John Green's Fault in Our Star, that took (and broke) everyone's hearts a few years ago. 

In Turtles, we meet Aza, a high school student who lives with OCD. What's interesting is that the author has announced his OCD and has talked about it before. 

Never have I read a book where mental illness was a characteristic of one of the main characters, where the illness was talked about so incredibly. Some thought spirals felt real, they were written in such a way that they felt almost like my own thoughts. It was never romanticized, over-dramatized or downplayed. It was truly incredible to read something like this! 

This is definitely Green's darkest book, but also the most unique one. We're not looking at his usual tropes of a love story between incredibly quirky characters, with strange friends and deep philosophies. This is a whole new twist on his style, one that I really appreciated! 


Okay so I really liked Daisy as a character - she was a supportive friend in the sense that she never pressed Aza for information about how she felt. She had her own story but didn't burden her friend with it because she knew she had problems of her own she needed to face. She took Aza on an adventure which allowed the book to progress. 

However, whereas plot is usually a driving force in a book, this book revolved around character interactions. The plot allowed for characterization to develop. Aza and Daisy didn't always agree, but they were there for each other. Their other friend, Mychal, was sweet and strange and a nice addition from time to time. 

And then there was Davis. Davis is one of my personal favorite guys from the John Green books. He's quiet, allows for awkward silence and understands that some relationships should be careful and slow. He loves astronomy (aw yes), and is an incredible brother. He is so beautifully patient with Aza's OCD and does not let it bother him. 

Oh, can we just talk about how mature everyone is in this book? Characters say exactly what they think, and they recognize individuality. It was nice to read something where you didn't have to 'yell' at characters for not seeing others as human. 

One part that really stressed me is when Aza would get into her thought spirals about C.Diff. Her cut finger was like an anchor, which was off-putting. But when she kissed Davis and swallowed hand sanitizer to feel safe, I got so worried for her. There is so much stuff in hand sanitizer... and then she did it at the hospital in front of her mother. That's when I really got the idea that mental illness is not something you can hide in front of others during a bad period. It's not 'just in your head', it's really something scary that almost controls you more than you control it. 

I could keep talking about this book forever! There was so many amazing things about it that I wish I could write about with the right words, but I think it's best if you discover all of this for yourself :) 

I'm giving this a 5/5 feather! It was really a book I can get back to! 

Have you read Turtles All the Way Down? What did you think? Let me know!! 

Stay bookish,