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!