Friday, May 31, 2019

Ink, by Alice Broadway

Hey, all! 

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

"There are no secrets in Saintstone...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm giving this 3/5 stars! 

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

Stay bookish! 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Shadowhunters - Why the TV series was a flop

Hey, all! 

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

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

Kind of like Percy Jackson. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you tell I'm salty about it? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus round! What they got right! 

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

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

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

4. Generally the plot was okay 

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

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

Stay bookish! 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Caraval, by Stephanie Garber

Hey, all! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay bookish! 

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black, by Emily Barr

Hey, all! 

Have you ever picked up a book with little to no expectations, and just found yourself to be very disappointed? 

This is the story of me and The Truth and Lies of Ella Black. 

I had heard that her other book, The One Memory of Flora Banks, was excellent. However some part of me was more curious about TTALOEB - maybe the tagline, '40 days until she dies'. I'm not a huge reader of thrillers so I wanted to give one a spin, especially as I recently found out I'll be meeting Emily Barr in June with some friends at an event! 

If you've been following my blog for a while or know me as a person, you'll know that negative reviews are the one thing I don't like writing. However, I'd rather let people know about books I find marginally problematic. 

This review will be full of spoilers, so make sure to take that into account before reading it! 

"Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for. But she hides who she really is from the rest of the world...

I call her Bella because she is the dark side of me. It's Ella but not. It's bad Ella. Bella. 

One day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Brazil. Determined to find out why, Ella uncovers a terrible secret - and, on the run-in Rio de Janeiro, she finds the truth about the deepest darkest side of herself..."

With a premise like that, I was hooked - doesn't it sound amazing?! But truth be told, I spent the majority of my time reading this book ranting so some bookish friends about it. (Thanks lovelies!) 

Now I've talked about my sensitivities here before - little things get to me in a stronger way than they should. 

But the first chapter starts with animal abuse. 

Ella lets her evil second-personality, Bella, take a small bird that her cat brought in, and crush it with a hammer. 

I love birds, and I started crying. The description was vivid, and uncomfortable, and was attempted to be justified by a personality Ella is trying to suppress. Right away I figured she suffered of some kind of dual personality disorder - a brave topic to tackle! - but I still didn't think it excused the killing of a hurt animal with a hammer. I put down the book for several weeks before having the guts to pick it up again...

Then, her parents take her out of school and take her to Rio, of all places. They know it is on her bucket list, so they let her think she's sick and may die soon. Nothing ever convinces them to tell her what's actually going on. They even took away her phone, the one way she had to contact her two, not-super-interesting-or-relevant friends. Dumb move, parents. (Literally they moved to Brazil on a whim). 

Next it simply spirals down - Ella becomes a moody, bratty teen who hates her parents and falls in love with the first stranger she sees, after one shared look. (Falling in love is not my words, she says it herself, that he must be her soulmate and whatnot). She goes out at night in the streets of Rio with shady strangers and Cute Boi, gets drunk and comes home to have a secret of her own to hold against her parents if needed. 

Oh by the way, the insta-love in this book is 100% for (in)convenience and not at all plausible. I said it and now I shall move on from it. The cringe was real. 

Next thing you know, Ella finds out that she is adopted. This makes her go psycho, try to kill her mom, join a Zombie parade, and run off to an island where no one could find her. Talk about a tantrum! There, she finds out that her biological parents were convicted murderers, and that her mom was looking for her, which is why they went to Brazil. 

Now what really bothered me most. The entire book, Ella struggles to keep Bella - her second personality - in line with being 'good'. To me, it really sounded like a mental issue of high proportions. It was scary and messed up, and suddenly just explained by the fact that her biological parents were murderers. So that's why she had a bad side. 

Oh wow I never would have guessed! 

She decided to leave everything she's ever known, throw another tantrum and go live in the favelas where she suddenly becomes a literal sunshine of a human being and teaches art - she's loved by kids and everyone she meets and her personality then was just not her personality in the rest of the books - it felt like the blend of two manuscripts happened by accident in the printer. 

And then it just gets even more upsetting when her 'boyfriend' comes in to save the day and finds her after a few days, in one of the world's biggest slum areas, pays everything off and invites her to join him in the US so she can abandon her adoptive family who have been nothing but supportive. Out of nowhere, her biological mom comes into the picture, and suddenly gets hit by a car. 

End of the book: the tagline was a lie. 

What did I just read? 

The characters fell flat, the end was disappointing, and everything was over-the-top. 

It was repetitive and tried too hard. 

The one thing I WILL give it credit for is that it kept me on my toes the entire time. I never really knew what to expect, and I took it as it was. 

Overall, I'm giving this book 1.5/5 stars. That's really low for me, maybe one of the lowest I've given. However, I don't want to dismiss the author - if I get the chance I WILL read The One Memory of Flora Banks, as I heard that that was absolutely lovely! 

Stay bookish! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Disasters, by M.K. England

Hey, all!

I recently finished reading The Disasters, by M.K. England. This book was the book of the month of November in The YA Chronicles book box, and it is the book that some bookish friends and I have decided to co-read! Meaning, we are each reading the same copy, sending it to the next person in a list of names once we are done with it. The next reader is Lisa @sjmtrash on instagram, make sure to check out her photos, they are amazing and deserve all the recognition! 

Also yes! I finally changed my blog's aesthetic! Do you like it? I like the softer colors a lot! 

"Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight."

First thing's first - I liked this book. Sure, maybe it didn't blow me away, but I didn't dislike it either! It was a really fun standalone, and a fresh, fun sci-fi that I'm pretty sure anyone can get behind. 

Now down to the details. 

Characters are always a big deal to me. What I liked about these characters was that all 5 central people felt real. Sure, some felt shady. But I liked the fact that two had anxiety-like moments getting in the way. I liked the cultural diversity this world sees in its future. I liked the absolute quirkiness and relatability of Nax - his sarcasm was amazing! He and his partners gave an incredibly fresh and realistic twist to a YA space drama, and I was there for it!

But at the same time the characters brought a side plot thing that I didn't like so much. There was a really awkward love triangle this entire time. The constant action of this book kept being cut by Nax, the main character, reacting to advances made by two of his partners. Being bi, he was popular with everyone. This I didn't have a problem with, of course. My problem was the fact that these little romantic spots felt forced, as if they were put in to grab at every possible audience. I think I would have liked the book better without any of it. 

On a brighter side, I am fully behind making this into a movie, or TV show! You have the characters that stand out, amazingly well-described settings, jokes that had me laughing out loud and constant segments of action that were so well that I could even imagine the guns. 

And the final plot solver had me laughing so hard! No spoilers on the Bookish Blog Channel, but it was so creative! 

Overall, this book was super fun, extremely bubbly, very diverse, and very fast-paced! I totally recommend it to everyone who is in the mood for something different! Space operas are where it's at! 

I'm giving this a 4/5 stars! Yes new stars too! 

Have you read The Disasters? What did you think about it? Let me know! 

Stay bookish,