Friday, February 19, 2021

The Graceling Realm - Fangirl Rambles

 Hey, all! 

It's been a while! I hope everyone is doing well, that you are healthy and safe, and that you have found wonderful new stories to indulge in! 

I have recently binge-read the Graceling Realm series for the release of Winterkeep, book 4 of the series, that came out in January, 9 years after Bitterblue! I have a lot of thoughts and feels about this series. It's been a favorite for a while, and I really wanted to dive back into this story before starting Winterkeep. 

For those of you who are curious, Graceling is a series of 4 books that give stories in different settings. The first three center around the same villain, Leck, at three different points of his involvement in the Realms. Each book can be read as a standalone and have different focuses. 

Graceling focuses on people with special abilities called Graces, who have two different eye colors. It occurs during Leck's Downfall. 

Fire focuses on a different country where colorful animals are known as monsters. This occurs during Leck's childhood. 

Bitterblue is very close to Graceling, but focuses on the politics of the country, and the consequences of Leck's past tyranny. 

Winterkeep looks at international relations and the healing of some of those affected by Leck. 

In this ramble I will be talking about SPOILERS . I'm writing this as a space to organize my thoughts about this series because oh goodness there are quite a few.

1. WHY IS THIS SO UNDERRATED?

Graceling came out in that golden era of YA where books like The Hunger Games, Divergent, Percy Jackson and City of Bones were quickly gaining popularity. And while Graceling has many of the same qualities - amazing leads, a rather political background, a solid magic system, wonderful characters and probably one of the best villains I have had the pleasure to read about - this book never gained the hype all of these other well-known series did. I guess in a way it does feel a tad more mature than some of the other titles.

2. INTERESTING ROMANCE USE 

Romance is always on the sidelines, yet is used in a really smart way. For instance in Graceling, the way Kasta is basically against love, but absolutely crashes into her feelings for Po, is quite different than the usual insa-love, slow-burn romance we find in many contemporary YA books. And even through her cascade of feelings, she keeps true to herself and her wish to never marry or bear children. Each of the 4 books handles romance in a different way, and I enjoyed seeing Cashore experiment with this. I loved reading a demisexual Kasta, a hopelessly in love Giddon, a fluffy relationship with Bitterblue and a more grown-up (likely bisexual) Fire. On the sides there were all kinds of pairings that I realize... people are upset at. 

 

3. RANDOM RAMBLE ABOUT READING ETHICS: A HOT TAKE    

People have told me I shouldn't read this because only the side couples aren't in a heteronormative relationship. I feel like that's such a sad comment to get. What I don't understand is that some people currently get mad on 2 accounts: if an author tries to write about something that they are not (POC, lgbt+ etc), but also if there is a lack of diversity within a book. I'm unsure where to draw a middle line between these opinions. I mean sure someone of color will be better suited to write characters of color, for instance, I get that. But then why be upset at (stereotypically) white, heteronormative authors for not including such aspects to their characters, all while saying they shouldn't? I feel like these arguments go full circle, and, in that sense, no book will ever be 'acceptable' to people who use these arguments.


4. BACK TO THE SERIES: THE WORLDBUILDING

Another thing I really like about the Graceling realm series is that it reads like a puzzle. Every book shows a new country, with new traditions and cultures and languages. The first 3 books fill up a gruesome yet spectacular villain, one of the type I wish I could read more often. Every book has a mystery to unfold, and this is done in an impressingly smooth way.

5. LECK

I've said this on instagram, and to my friends and family, I think I have a new favorite villain in Leck. And it's not in that suggestive way, for instance the way people love Sebastian from The Mortal Instruments, or the Darkling from the Grishaverse. Leck is despicable. With the Grace to alter people's mindset, he is able to convince people he is actively experimenting on and vivesecting that everything is alright. He does this both on animals and people, stemming from a macabre curiosity about how things work. He also uses this power to make people across the world believe that he is a kind, benevolent king, to keep up a facade behind which he hides his experiments. He's so twisted and dark, and his motive is his own curiosity. He's the main villain in Bitterblue despite having been dead for years. It's such an interesting character arc. I just wish he was more present in Winterkeep

6. CHARACTER GROWTH

I cannot get over character growth in this series. Kasta and Po are just my favorites because of how brave they are. Fire becomes Leck's obsession for years. Bitterblue's arc, however, is my favorite. She goes from a 10 year old child who is terrified to open her mind, as the daughter of Leck, to a young queen trying to undo her father's terrors, only seldomly opening her mind to those she trusts the most, to a strong queen, mind-linked to a fox, confident and positive. I love how side characters each get their happy endings, one by one. All I hoped for was for Giddon to have a happy ending, so by the end of Winterkeep when he found Bitterblue, the one he loves, after weeks of thinking she was dead, you can bet I was also crying. 

7. BOOK ORDER

Graceling and Bitterblue stand out much more than Fire and Winterkeep for me. I am not sure exactly what it is, but something about books 1 and 3 have a sense of grandeure and familitarity all at once. Those two books are practically perfect in my eyes, books I'd save from a fire if I had to. 


That's it for my rambling! I hope it's not too nonsensical, but, to be fair, I am writing this for myself. I have many thoughts on this series and having them all in one place can only be a good thing for me to come back to. 


Stay bookish!

Caro



Tuesday, December 1, 2020

[ARC] Lore, by Alexandra Bracken

 Hey, all! 

I just finished Lore, by Alexandra Bracken! It just turned midnight here but hey I'm VERY hyped on sugars from the Skittles I've been snacking on and the absolute high this book gave me. Because seriously, this was the YA urban fantasy I've been waiting for! 

NOTE: I received this ARC from Netgalley. This absolutely positively superduper doesn't alter my view of the book in any way. Thank you DisneyBooks and Alexandra Bracken for entrusting little ol' me with this early copy! Lore will be out on the 5th of January everywhere so make sure to keep an eye out for it! Naturally, this review will be spoiler-free.

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"Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family's sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt's promises of eternal glory. For years she's pushed away any thought of revenge against the man--now a god--responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore's decision to bind her fate to Athena's and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost--and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees."

  

Okay. I just... I need to get my fangirl rambling out of the way before I can write absolutely anything consistent. This book is the perfect blend of ancient Greece and modern New York, old customs and cutting edge technology, old-fashioned issues and diversity. It covers so much in just over 450 pages, that it is clear that this is going to be a hit. It's messed up and twisted and bloody but also funny and endearing and so gosh dang cute sometimes!

I'm a 24-year-old who grew up with Percy Jackson, The Mortal Instrument and The Hunger Games. The 'golden era' of YA where almost anything published was an insta-hit. I see so, so many people compare this book to those three, but imagine this: those three books met, matured a whole lot, and had a murderous love child. And even then, it's difficult to image the complexity that was Lore. 

For the sake of minimizing rambling, I'm going to talk about several distinct points that I think truly highlight why this book stood out for me so much this year. 

1. Take That, Tropes! 
So many authors find a certain comfort in writing tropes that they know are popular. Insta-love, love triangles, the chosen one, the 'I'm a what?!' , the gods being super chill... you know what I mean. Pick up any book and you should be able to name a trope, right? ...Right!? This book did something different. No insta-love, no triangles, no chosen one. The gods are evil, the main character always knew what she was... this was just another (violent) 'chapter' in her life. I truly appreciated being surprised on this level. Although there were some rather expected developments, Bracken truly keeps you on your toes throughout this story. 

2. The Characters, Me Likey! 
Anyone who's followed me for a while knows I have a weak spot for two things in books: short chapters, and likable characters. Heck, I've read most of the Shadowhunter books purely for the feels the characters bring up.

Every single character in Lore brought something new to the table. Lore herself was a flawed fighter, Castor was such a rock for everyone, Miles brought the laughs and a sense of familiarity, and Van was the careful tech genius.

And don't get me started on the GODS.
I loved seeing that break from the usual convention of gods being approachable and borderline quirky. These gods were dangerous, out for blood, revenge and victory. I loved seeing a feral Artemis and a vulnerable Athena. I loved seeing an Apollo just try his best and an Ares being more than just 'BLOOD GOOD!'. Every character had so many facets, I'm surprised a disco ball didn't just emerge from the pages. 

Also: Stable. Ships. You ship em on page 1, you keep shipping em on the last page. That's all I'll say about that.


 

3. When will you learn, that your acTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES!?
Well, Bracken must have found that meme and imprinted it in her mind, because she seemed to have made sure that everything that happened in this ancient Greek battle royale had real-world consequences too. From making sure meetings happened in abandoned buildings to explaining the repercussions of a city-wide blackout,
the city of New York was as much a character in this book as Athena or Miles. It even went into little details, such as losing track of a team mate because the city didn't have cameras in a specific area. Lore draws a fantastic interplay between actions and location, such as I have rarely read. 

4. Let's Talk About That
Ok, I must say, I had fun with this book from page 1, but there was a moment that I got... concerned. The story started being relatively misogyny-heavy, with a constant pressure on 'male heirs' and making sure men get what they want. This surprised me, but after a while, this becomes very clearly explained, and even more clearly a tool for character development. Bracken was not afraid to talk about things that can be seen as taboo in the YA realm: the idea of possession and attempted r*pe, yes, but she also made the characters vulnerable. Lore wasn't perfect - in fact several times she missed in fights, wasn't brave enough to go through with actions or just plainly never had the upper hand. There was a whole segment about Medusa being seen as a witch, simply because she didn't adhere to beauty standards. This book took these ideas and directly confronted them. I applaud. 


Goodness it's almost 1:00 AM now, I could keep talking about this book for a while yet! I'm giving it a 4.5/5 stars! If I had to take away points it would be for the last chapter: it felt a tad rushed. Additionally, one character could have been given a more central role. However I'm also aware that this is an ARC and things may differ in the final version! 

Stay bookish! 

Caro
 

 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

October Wrap-Up: A whole lot of Miscellany

 Hey, all! 

October happened! One more 2020 month done and over with and hopefully we can move on to bigger better things soon NEVERMIND FRANCE IS UNDER LOCKDOWN AGAIN WHOOP

But it's ok, we have books and movies and games and a whole lotta food, considering that we felt this 2nd confinement coming from a mile away. I'm not kidding guys it's a lot of food. We made three cakes this weekend so far, it's only Sunday morning, we have a problem. 

ANYWHO as you can probably tell by the one of this I'm in a wholly talkative and sarcastic mood so this monthly wrap-up is gonna be wild. I'm especially looking forward to the November one since a second lockdown plus easier classes means I have a LOT of time to do essentially anything I want. I also ordered a whole stack of books so BRING ON THE FICTION. 

I might have also had a 2nd morning coffee before writing this don't mind the energy. 

Again not my image this one comes from Third Person Limited, another super cute blog! I am trying real hard to fix my photoshop but my laptop ain't having it.

 

What I read

(I love how the font I use is called Trebuchet) This month I didn't read half as much as I would have liked to especially considering the fact that I am still essentially confined, but I must say it was exam month and I was therefore otherwise occupied =P. But I must say my average this month was a solid 4/5 stars so I'm still counting that as an absolute win. 

 The title of my reads are all quite Halloween-y. The middle grade graphic novel Ghosts by Raina Telgemeire was an absolute treat. It's about a half-hispanic family that moves to a seaside town for their daughter who has cystic fibrosis. It turns out that this town is a place where ghosts can come visit their family around Halloween and the Day of the Dead. This was a super quick, very wholesome read, that I gave a 4/5 to. 

 The Near Witch by VE Schwab was something I was keeping an eye on closely for a while, and was glad to finally get to! I loved the creepy vibes and the moor aesthetic more than I thought I would. But after having read most of Schwab's other books, I felt a little underwhelmed. However it was still a really great October read, 3.5/5 stars from me! 

Finally, right before exams, I finished Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. This book was a lot more fun and fast-paced than I anticipated. I absolutely tore through it, truly enjoying the sense of sisterhood, the moments on the ship and the magic system. I did feel like there was a lot more that could have happened and it easily could have been 800 pages, though, so 4/5 stars from me!


What I played

 I finished playing Final Fantasy VII! I did write a whole review of it on my latest post, and I urge you to read it because it was a really fun Why The Hype post to write! For me it was a 4.75/5 star game, some bits didn't age well, but... 

I started playing the remake and so far it's absolutely incredible. I am shook by how smooth it is! I heard that all the bits that didn't age well got re-considered so I'm really looking forward to seeing how exactly this all evolved. 

I'm also making my way though an absolutely BEAUTIFUL game I got for my birthday: Ori and the Blind Forest. I'm not really used to platformers but this game is so purely pretty. I can't remember the last time I played a game and wanted to take screenshots everywhere because every scene is aesthetic goals. The gameplay is all about patience which is kicking my butt but I'm sure I'll get it eventually :) 

Because of exams, it was a little more difficult to play D&D this month, but hopefully November will bring back a sense of normality. 


What I listened to

 While I didn't discover anything specific this month, I did dive back into The Cab, like I did as a teenager. Nostalgia is defo a driving force in the kind of music I enjoy. Otherwise my playlist didn't change too much.


Other Shenanigans

 Anyone else check their camera feed to remember what actually happened this past month? Pff me neither... *starts scrolling frantically* 

- I (sorta) participated in Inktober! The few times I was inspired, I drew something based on the prompt, and other times I just took out my tablet/notebook and just started drawing. I'm really trying my best and am having a lot of fun with it

- I went to the city a bunch of times, and also did what I could with my camera because oh boi is Paris pretty in the Autumn! 

- I also started making candles. And beaded animals. In short, I got really into easy creative arts =P 

- I took a baking course in the Ritz with my cousin! We made an awesome chocolate mereingue thing which was BEAUTIFUL and tasted like EVERYTHING GOOD IN LIFE

- Courses killed me but that's ok but this month my courses are way more chill so it'll be fine! :D

- Halloween happened!

 

November Anticipation

I'm not anticipating anything in particular except for actually having the time to read and work on my thesis. Oh how I have missed my thesis. 

Weather I am being sarcastic or not is totally up to you! 


Anywho I hope you are doing well! 

Stay bookish! 


 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Final Fantasy VII - Why the Hype?

Spoiler free, for your convenience :) 

 Hey, all! 

So I'm on quite a high right now - within half an hour I finished both The Near Witch by VE Schwab and Final Fantasy VII (1997) on switch. My thoughts are kind of all over the place, so I decided to find a way to calm down. Thus, I made myself a cup of tea, put on my new blue-light blocking glasses (which is a beautiful invention, very useful in times when uni from home means you are staring at a screen 90% of the day), and start writing a new Why the Hype post! 

Oh, how I've missed writing these! 


Very, very simply put, Final Fantasy 7 doesn't sound lie something I would have picked up if it weren't for the 2 previous FF games I played. The story can be boiled down to: A group of ecoterrorists hire an ex-soldier to help blow up reactors that are soaking up the Earth's resources. They go on to try stopping a giant company from using up the Earth's resources, while the big bad evil guy tries to use these resources to become a god. 

It's absolutely fantastic. 

Square Enix and Dotemu managed to transmit an intriguing, poignant story through simple graphics and polygon characters. The story is beautifully paced, with great timing between reveals, and is really consistent. 

The characters each have their own charms, that I can only imagine will be enhanced during the remake! While I had the tendency to stick to playing with Cloud, Tifa and Barret, each of the others had really interesting mechanics, stories and attitudes. I had a lot of fun getting to know each and every one of them! Their troubles, priorities and ways of being felt relatable, and that's something I really loved. 

The gameplay itself is surprisingly smooth! While at first I had a hard time measuring my patience while waiting for each attack to be ready, it was easy to learn to use that to plan my next move. Walking around and knowing what was a real door and what wasn't was a real learning process, but there was one mechanic I really, really liked. 

Materia. 

For those who don't know, Materia is a marble-like sphere of super-concentrated magical Earth energy, that allows its user to use certain abilities. For example, if you equip a Fire materia, you get fire magic. Every weapon and piece of armor has a certain number of slots for materia, so you can customize character abilities. This mechanic is something I'd love to replicate in a game of my own, maybe someday in D&D! It was easily manageable and a lot of fun to play around with. 

So, why the FFVII hype? This game masterfully balances simple gameplay with an intriguing story, and fun mechanics with distinct characters. The story feels complete, and reaching the end is wholly satisfying, just like after finishing a good book. Even the music is something that just makes the game a unique experience that I cannot wait to go back to with the remake

Oh, and the final battle? Incredible in every way.  

I'm giving this 4.75 stars out of 5. A quarter star is missing because, being from '97, some things didn't age so well. However, I heard that the remake makes up for this several times over! 

Have fun

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

September Wrap-Up - From Summer to Studies

 Hi, all! 

I realize I've become very (very) sporadic when it comes to actually posting here. But on days like today, I just want to write all the things! I was looking through this blog and realized there's a lot of 'everything goes' here, so guess what I'm writing today.... 

That's right more not-specifically book reviews! I decided to try out a monthly wrap-up because why not.
 

September Wrap Up – One More Chapter Book Blog
Image credit to One More Chaptr. My photoshop is frozen, I'll do my best to fix it! Leah has a super cute blog and I would love for you to check it out!



September, to me, felt like a surprisingly long month. I turned 24 on the 18th, yet most of the month passed in a blur of studies and 'other stuff'. It's weird to have such a steady rhythm of life, when you are staying home daily. I'm still in France, my friends and university is still in the Netherlands, so I don't have much more to do than to stay home. I sometimes go to the city, but with the rising Coronavirus infections around Paris, I feel like it is more responsible to stay home, so that's what I've been doing. But it certainly makes time feel infinite. 
 
 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes | The Hunger Games Wiki | Fandom

What I read
I didn't have the chance to read a whole lot, but both books I read were absolute hits for me! I finished Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, the end of a duology (soon to be trilogy!!) that I can't believe I didn't read sooner! Fun group banter surrounding a complicated heist is everything I love in fiction, and this duology absolutely hit the nail on the head! The only thing that sort of fell flat for me was the ending, but this didn't surprise me too much, as the ending of the Grisha trilogy left me with the same, underwhelmed feeling. 
 
More than Crooked Kingdom, I absolutely adored The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by the legendary Suzanne Collins. Despite the backlash received for writing from the point of view of the villain, I feel like Collins did this masterfully, never making the reader feel any positive regard toward Coriolanus snow. This amazed me to no end, and I entered a week-long reading slump after finishing it :'). 
 
I also ended up reading Tunnel of Bones by VE Schwab. It was really unique and fun to read a book based on the city I currently live in, it was interesting to be able to really envision every setting, every street mentioned and every place visited. I really enjoyed reading this little spooky middle-grade read, and I can't wait to read something similar soon! 
 
FINAL FANTASY VII – Aplikácie v službe Google Play
 
What I played
I have a confession: I never actually ended up finishing Final Fantasy X - some things I needed to obtain to finish the game were just too tedious to obtain (It would have required running around for a long, long time, completing so many side-quests just to get into an unfailable battle... I ended up watching the end of it on Youtube, which resulted in many tears and in the understanding of just why this game is so popular. I still preferred XV, but I guess it's a personal thing. 
 
Once I 'finished' Final Fantasy X, I moved on to VII. I feel like I'm currently moving towards the conclusion of it, and I must say, I adore it.  Even though the game is largely comprised of polygons  (it was released in 1997), there's something about the story, combined to the music, that is absolutely enchanting. It's full of real emotions, beautiful settings and plot twists that leave you shook. I'm not quite done yet, but I do know one thing: that this is going to join my top games list. 
 
I've also been just playing a lot of Smash Bros Ultimate (with Cloud as my fighter) and Mario Kart with my friends online. However I have also re-fueled my love for Tetris with Tetris 99 and, naturally, have been continuing playing D&D about twice a week. Games are becoming a bigger part of my life, which I am not at all minding! My brother and I are looking for a 2nd hand PS4 and have a whole list of games we want to play, it's a hobby I'm really enjoying falling into! 
 
 Taylor Swift - reputation - Amazon.com Music
 
What I listened to
  With the release of Folklore (which I must say I really didn't like so much), I was reminded of Taylor Swift, and how much I enjoyed her music as a teen. So naturally, I headed to Spotify, pressed shuffle on her music, and basked in nostalgia. That is, until it hit the Reputation album - the album of hers I ignored the most for some unknown reason. And I'm amazed by how awesome the album is?! I love most of the songs, and the album has been on repeat in the background of my daily life. This is not at all something I expected, but I'm enjoying it. 
 
On the total other side of the music coin, I've also... started listening to instrumental music. (Its a shock for me too, I never really liked instrumental!). A while ago, I discovered Ludovico Einaudi and I cannot express how lovely his compositions are to listen to while reading or working! It's so, so beautiful. I've also been loving to listen to works by Nobuo Uematsu, the composer of many of the Final Fantasy games. His works are amazing to study with - there's something about it, especially the boss music, that makes you feel so productive! 
 
 Other Shenanigans
 - Classes started, some of which I love (Science and Media, for instance) and others which I can't stand. But, it helps to know that I have less than a year before graduating! 
 
- I found several places that sell English second-hand books and I've been on a personal rescue mission to save as many as possible - my shelf is a good home. However, I've also been unhauling some books - I've DNFed quite a few, and I don't think I'll ever finish them. 
 
-  I've been getting back into baking and trying fun baking techniques! My favorite so far is sugar work, I hope to make a mirror icing sometime this week! 
 
- I've been exploring Paris, accompanied by only my camera. There are so many beautiful angles, and with the lack of people, I've been taking many, many photos! 
 
- I started re-watching Once Upon a Time! Such a guilty pleasure show! 
 
- I watched YALFU 2020 from afar, where Leigh Bardugo spoke through Skype. It was such a strange situation, especially considering that I usually go every year with some blogger friends, but I hope we will all be able to go next year! 
 
- I've been trying to draw more, so decided to participate in Inktober 2020! 
 
October Anticipation
Why is everything happening in October? The release of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Tower of Nero, and God Storm has been keeping me on my toes, I cannot wait to read each and every one of these, and I might become broke to order them, but my goodness I'm excited! 
 
I'll also be receiving a huge haul of both books and games and every bit of me needs to constantly hold back from checking shipping progress every 5 minutes. The book haul is substantial, making me think that I may need a new shelf... 
 
Right before exams, I'm going to take a baking class with my cousin... hopefully. The virus is being weird right now, and nobody really knows what to expect, so we are all just rolling with it. 
 
Exams and US elections oh gods help
 I sent in my vote a few weeks ago, and I urge you to do the same. Every vote counts! 
 
 
Stay bookish! 

 
 


 
 

 
    

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Suzanne Collins).png

 Hey, all! 

Before I go into reviewing this, stop. If you've read it, go ahead and continue. If not, I'm not going to be mentioning spoilers, but I beg you, if you have any regard towards TGH, pick this up. Order it, make it next on your TBR, go support your local bookstores... just go do it.

It's been a minute since I wrote a review, and I've finished many a book since then. However, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins, was too interesting to not write about. I finished it last night and I'm still on an emotion I can't quite describe other than absolutely impressed. I understand that this book had/has some controversy surrounding it - why write a book about such an awful villain, if not to make us feel sorry for them? Upon finishing this book, I am amazed by how incredibly smart Suzanne Collins is. I will keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, so don't worry about reading on! 

This book is the prequel to The Hunger Games, focusing on Coriolanus snow before he becomes president. He becomes the mentor of the 10th Hunger Games's female tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird, as a sort of school project. Having lost his family fortune in the war, he attempts to keep his name meaningful, while doing everything he can to help Lucy Gray win the Games. 

This is a particularly difficult book to review. It is certainly a 5/5 star book for me, but finding the ways to explain why is quite peculiar. This is the first time I read a book from the point of view of the villain during their childhood. You'd think that that was just written for the author to get more attention. 

This really wasn't the case. 

Reading this book makes the original trilogy that much more complete. The weird spiteful fascination Snow had with Katniss in THG completely makes sense. The origin of many of the Games's events is now evident. Every bit of the original trilogy now makes sense, and this book make the trilogy a beautiful, whole quartet. 

What impressed me perhaps the most was the fact that Suzanne Collins never, not once dried to make you feel sorry for Snow, or to side with him. Having such a morally ambiguous main character, to the point where none of his actions even feel remotely 'good', was incredible. You can truly see that the only thing that drives Coriolanus is himself, and his reputation. He doesn't truly do anything bad. But seeing his thought process always turn back towards himself and his own self-interest was fascinating. Until the end, you never really see him talk about good or bad - just what will serve him best. But even then, it's not always displayed blatant selfishness. But his title as a Snow is always in the background. 

Snow falls on top. 

The book has powerful side characters, ones that left a mark when reading. Lucy Gray, Sejanus, and so many others, as well as every little detail feels well thought-out, as if this story about Snow may have even been considered before the original trilogy was written. 

Another thing I truly enjoyed about this book is that something about it - although I cannot for the life of me decide what it is (and I've been considering this since yesterday), is that it left me with the same feeling as YA used to, 10 years ago. There's a certain husky grittiness to it. It didn't try to be quirky or funny or lighten the mood with a sprinkle of romance. It just was. I haven't felt this certain about a YA book in a long time. I don't know how to explain it better than that, but hopefully you understand what I mean. 

I could go on an on about this story, and especially about how Coriolanus Snow was written, but I can imagine interest will dwindle quickly 

As aforementioned, I'm giving this 5/5 stars. This book deserves nothing less. 

Stay bookish! 

Caroline

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

A Summer of Stories

 Hello Hello! 

It's been a minute and a half since I last posted, and for that I'd like to apologize. I still probably won't be super duper consistent, but hey, I still enjoy writing and still have things to share for you! 



I've been discovering a lot lately, so I would like to share my new passions and obsessions be cause my goodness I am certainly obsessed with some new things! 

1. Leigh Bardugo's Books

I spent last month binging through the Grisha trilogy. And I must say, I enjoyed reading it. I didn't quite see the chemistry between Alina and sentient-brick-Mal, but hey, the author made an atypical choice in the midst of a love triangle, which I appreciate. I also found the end of the trilogy just absolutely underwhelming, a huge fall after a crazy culmination of circumstances. Despite that, I still gave the trilogy 4/5 stars, as I had a great time reading it!

But everything change when Six of Crows attacked. I am currently about halfway through Crooked Kingdom, and absolutely ADORE everything that the Dregs are. I absolutely need to know more about them, and cannot wait to finish Crooked Kingdom and fully indulge in the fandom because this was a story I didn't know I needed in my life! 

2. Final Fantasy

About a year ago, some friends introduced me to Final Fantasy XV. I automatically loved it, but couldn't play often, as I could only play at their place. Eventually, just exploring games available on Switch, I saw that FFXV was available... as a pocket version. All that changed was graphics and the open-world angle, but I caved and got it anyway at the beginning of the Curse of Forced Introversion. 

If you like well-thought plots, characters you can only love, intriguing villains, and smooth gameplay, I can only recommend FFXV. Some moments, fights and cutscenes were so epic I could hardly believe that I had just watched it. The end had me bawling like a kid, and I absolutely love the game for what it is. 

I do understand that many people, especially longtime FF fans, are upset at the game for its incomplete angle. I just watched a letsplay of the DLCs and I do see that those were necessary to give the game a sense of completion. But as a first time FF player, I still cannot get over how beautiful the game was. 

Yesterday, I finished playing FF X. This game is much older and, interestingly, feels like a totally different franchise - if it weren't for the Chocobos (CHOCOBOS!!!) it would feel even more alien. FFX was very different, yes, but also did not fail to make me care deeply for the characters, their story (It's not just you, Tidus!), and their journey. The unfolding of the story is masterfully done, and the concluding images absolutely broke me. 

I would suggest playing FFX over XV more specifically if you enjoy building a strategy, and don't mind needing to find save points. Personally, I find real-time fights in games better than turn-based, but it was still certainly fun, and I cannot wait to move on to my next final fantasy game - 7. 

Final fantasy gets all the stars from me <3

3. The Umbrella Academy Season 2

What a masterpiece! Season 2 was so much fun to watch and endlessly intriguing. It pulled at emotions and masterfully represented the issues of the 60s, in many cases mirroring current issues very well. The end had me shook and I really enjoyed binging the series in a few days. And now we have to wait 2 more years for more content... oh boy... 

4. More D&D 

I finally have a consistent D&D schedule! Every Monday and Wednesday, I play one of 4 games, one of which I DM. I just started DMing what I wrote myself two days ago, and I'm so excited to see how that turns out! Up until now, my group had been playing through a module, and I'm really glad I set up my game that way - it gave my 2 new players an opportunity to test out the D&D waters, and my older players to really flesh out their characters. 

I'm also getting to the point in the games where I'm a player where everything is happening all at once. I have been writing diary entries for each of these characters on a new blog, after each session! You can see it by clicking here! 

 

That's all I can think about for now, but I'll make another post like this in the future! I'm in the mood to discover so much all at once!

Stay bookish!  

Caroline