Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 2017 Wrap Up and September 2017 TBR!

August Wrap Up

It the last day of August and basically the last day of summer! That means it's time for another monthly wrap up. This month, I finished a total of 8 books for a total of 3321 pages. Here's how I rated the books I read (rounded to the nearest star):

5 Stars - 2 books
4 Stars - 3 books
3 Stars - 1 books
2 Stars - 1 books
1 Star - 1 books

After including partial ratings, my ratings averaged to be 3.38 stars, which significantly less than the average ratings last month. I think this is mostly because I read a couple of books that I really disliked. 

List of Books:
  1. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stone - 1 Star
  2. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - 4.5 Stars
  3. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay - 4 Stars
  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - 4.75 Stars
  5. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - 3.25 Stars
  6. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas - 1.75 Stars
  7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - 4 Stars
  8. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - 3.75 Stars
I'm feeling pretty good about these books since 5 of them were on my TBR at the beginning of the month.

September TBR!

Since school is picking back up and I still have a lot of experiments to complete, I will be cutting down the usual length of my list. I'm not one of those seasonal readers, so my TBRs are still all over the place.
  1. Real Food/Fake Food by Larry Olmsted
  2. The Secret History of Wonder Women by Jill Lepore
  3. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  4. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
  5. The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
  6. The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias
Let me know if you have other suggestions or which one you think I should read first!

Happy reading!

Review: Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books that you hate yourself for reading but keep going anyway. I liked it better than Dark Places but not as much as I adored Gone Girl. This thriller follows Camille Preaker as she is given an assignment by her local newspaper to investigate the recent murders of two young girls in her hometown. From there on out, she realizes that the two murders very closely resemble her younger sister murder ten years ago.

Similar to Into the Water, this book has the mystery in a small town feel. Everyone seems to know secrets about everyone else, and it's hard to sort out the truth from all the gossip. I had a major problem with the pacing of the book: there were certain points where the narrative seemed to drag on, but I think it might have been the effect that the author was going for to represent (view spoiler). And the plot twist. Oh my goodness, I didn't see that one coming from miles away. I literally had to stop and reread the last two pages to make sure I wasn't going crazy. With a sharp blend of the nasty, unsettling situations and conversations that Camille experiences, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

Overall rating: 3.75 Stars

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Review: Brave New World

Brave New World Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I expected to be really bored by this book but ended up really enjoying the concepts and storyline that unfolded. When this book first came out, the author was critiqued to include an extensive amount of sexual content. Even though the case is true, I believed that Huxley was using sex as an element to build his fictional dystopia.

My favorite parts of the novel were when Mustapha Mond was introducing the world and how they calibrated their normality and when John's image of this "Brave New World" was shattered when he realized that there was no true freedom in this society. There were definitely some events that crept me out given the current state of our scientific advancements and social norms.

Honestly, I'm glad that I read this now so I could appreciate the central message of the novel, instead of picking this book off the AP reading list in high school.

Overall rating: 4 Stars

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Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Was this book an interesting read? Sure, but I was also so bored halfway through that I was debating whether or not I should dnf the book. But then I realized that I was already HALFWAY through the atrocity so I might as well keep going. I'm going to only talk about some of the problems I had with this book because if I listed out everything, this review will end up being way too long.

1. The romance between Feyre and Rhys made me cringe. It was literally the worst. Like every time they are together, they are so sex-crazy that they also jump each other. War negotiation? How about sex? And they are somehow always touching each other. Rhysand would keep his hand on Feyre's leg or the small of her back when meeting with other High Lords because he was HER MATE. Are you kidding me? These books are advertised as storylines with a strong female protagonist but at the end of the day, she can't even stand up for herself when Tamlin was verbally discrediting her worth. I think Maas was trying to make Rhys the "perfect man" by always letting Feyre make "her choices", but I thought he was pretty pathetic since he can't even stand up for his own beliefs and battle plans just so it appeared that he "respected" her. No. A relationship should be built on equality and not who has the power. I cannot even tell you how many times I rolled my eyes throughout this entire novel when this pairing was together.

2. Don't even get me started on the copious amount of terrible sex scenes that are scattered throughout the book. I honestly don't even want to talk about this because it was so disgusting. The growling...purring...ew.

3. I really didn't like Feyre in this book. She is annoying and self-righteous. In one of the later battle scenes, Mor was worried when Feyre disappears. Instead of apologizing and being empathetic towards her friend, Feyre lashes out and accuses Mor of not being honest with her about her romantic interests. What the f*** is this? (cue me throwing the book at the wall) Does she know how to actually have friends or is this one of those books where the main character is conveniently liked by everyone?

4. And speaking of Mor. Wow. She is absolutely terrible for leading Azriel on for over 500 years. And even though they've been friends for over 500 years, they've never talked about this? And it all comes out upon meeting Feyre for 6 months. Okay.

5. Do you notice that all the characters have the same personality? The females have this pretentious badass personality and all the male characters are basically perfect. After a while, it just gets really boring. I was really excited to meet some of the other High Lords, but guess what? They acted just the same as Mor and Cassian...just with different names. You could almost copy and paste different filler names and it wouldn't have changed much of the plot.

6. So it takes the rest of the Night Court 500+ years of training to control their powers, but it takes Feyre like a year at most. I really, really hate it when the main character is just automatically THAT GOOD at everything. Rhysand being the most powerful High Lord also annoyed me. Maas just couldn't resist the power couple troupe, could she?

6. There was so much plot that just happens conveniently. The entire war. And the scene where Feyre looks into the Cauldron and becomes omniscient. I almost laughed. And guess what? Both Rhys and Amran don't end up dying. You know why? Maas has to even make the ending unrealistically perfect.

Overall rating: 1.75 Stars

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Review: The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I watched this movie a couple of years ago, and this book has been on my TBR for the past seven years. My friends and I decided to read it together, I had a copy laying on my bookshelf, so I decided to pick it up. Not going to lie, this was disappointing. I mean, there are so many ways in which you can spin the premise of time-traveling to be exciting, but it really fell flat for me. There were three major problems I have with this story:

1. All of Henry and younger Clare's interactions felt really creepy. Like pedophilia creepy. Especially if the story is from Henry's perspective. The fact that a 41-year old man is having sex with an 18-year old, no matter how legal, really made me question whether I wanted to continue the book.

2. Why is everyone so conveniently wealthy? For me, it felt like everyone could just ignore their adult responsibilities so that Niffenegger could further the romantic aspect of the story. It was incredibly annoying because that was the only part of the story that I felt really indifferent towards.

3. There was absolutely no character development throughout the entire thing. There are people that have told me that they bawled over this book, but I didn't care much about either Clare or Henry. I would have expected Henry to have different life-perspectives and views as he aged and his interactions with Clare, but he is a very flat character. Henry and Clare meet. They fall in love. And all his problems with drugs and women disappear. Really? Cause I don't buy it. I didn't really see their relationship develop outside the fact that they were destined to be together.

Aside from all the problems, the story was original and interesting.

Overall rating: 3.25 stars

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Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Everyone was raving about this book, so I was really worried that I wouldn't like it as much because my expectations were already set so high. But this book was definitely worth the read and I would recommend it to everyone.

This book is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. It centers around Starr Carter, who witnesses one of her unarmed friends shot by a white police officer. What I like about this story is that it doesn't only focus on the aftermath of the shooting, but it also gives a thorough perspective of the difference between rich and poor neighborhoods, local gang wars, and Starr's interactions between her school friends and boyfriend. For example, Starr's dad used to be the leader of a local gang and how he continuously tries to seek a better life for his children after being released from prison. She also has issues with opening up to her white boyfriend, who claims to understand racial tensions, but at the same time asks her why black people have weird names. Really?

Again, I can't emphasize how this book is such a phenomenal and powerful read, especially with the current political climate in the United States. Starr is really funny and I appreciated all of her Harry Potter jokes, but there are also heartbreaking moments when I feel how frustrated she is with the state of her situation.

Overall rating: 4.75 Stars

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Review: Difficult Women

Difficult Women Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a collection of short stories written by Roxane Gay. As with short stories, there are some that were outstanding and some that I felt more indifferent towards. They centered around common themes that include domestic violence, rape, loneliness, grief, grief, and etc. Honestly, just be prepared to be sad and depressed. Regardless, these stories will slap you in the face with real talk. And I really REALLY appreciate the author for capturing such authentic voices in each piece. Without a doubt, I will be exploring some of Gay's other works in the future.

Overall rating: 4 Stars

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Review: Homegoing

Homegoing Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 and I didn't get to read it until now. But, I am so glad I did because this book was phenomenal (especially for a debut novel).

First of all, Homegoing had a very original plot. When I got the hang of the structure of the book, I thought I was going to forget all of the characters and their predecessors and descendants. But to my surprise, Gyasi did an amazing job of scattering minor details throughout her chapters that would rollover into the next generation.

Undoubtedly, this book was beautifully written. There was so much dimension added to each of the characters, and did I mention that this book is less than 300 pages? Insane! I think Gyasi is a master storyteller for bringing each of her fourteen characters to life and detailing the hardships they had to face, from the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the Civil Rights movement. I found myself wholeheartedly invested in each of the characters and feeling all the frustrations that they had to endure.

Honestly, my only issue with this book -- and thus why this book didn't get the full five-stars for me -- is how unsatisfying the ending felt for me. I don't know what I was exactly expecting, but I want to see more of Marjorie and Marcus's interactions, but the book ended very abruptly after their meeting.

Overall rating: 4.5 Stars

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is the worst book I have read so far this year. I'm not the type of person that frequently gives out 1-star ratings/reviews, but I honestly found it hard to give this book more than 0 stars. So I will start by saying that I listened and read this book in conjunction. The publishing company tried really hard to make the audiobook book extraordinary by incorporating multiple readers, sound effects, and background music. But if the story is bad, I'm not going to enjoy the audiobook more because there were cool noises in supplementation.

Here's the list of problems I found with this book:
1. The male POV, and female supporting character. Honestly, if you can't write it well, don't write it. I rolled my eyes so many times throughout the book. Like, even more than Twilight. Aside from that, Ethan was straight-up the stupidest protagonist EVER. He doesn't take advice from the adult figures in his life that are trying to protect him. This is actually one of those things that really annoy me about a lot of YA novels, but Ethan was just the worst. He sneaks out at night and overhears that Amma gave Lena a bracelet that is meant to ward off evil. What does he do? Immediately demand Lena to take it off...and she does it! It was absolutely infuriating how she basically can't make up her own mind to take action for her own benefit. I didn't really follow the romance. Lena has absolutely no reason to trust Ethan except for the fact that they can communicate telepathically (eye roll).

2. The faulty portrayal of the south. Wow. I was so annoyed every single time Ethan thought about how uneducated his classmates were, and how all the girls had blonde hair and wore short mini skirts. Like really? And he declares just how much better he was compared to everyone else before the major plot even kicked in. The worst part was when he claims that he doesn't have a southern accent because he was raised by intellectual parents. Ugh. UGH. I don't think I've ever hated a protagonist more. What a snob.

3. It was too long. Basically, it all just becomes words thrown together on paper. I am pretty sure the publishers wanted to make Twilight round 2 (I mean, the book is from the same publishing company) so they stretched the book out to be just as long. But this book was so horrible that you basically drag yourself through 350+ pages of nonsense. If I didn't listen to the audiobook, I would have quit reading by page 50.

4. This book falls under the same paranormal love story plot as every other story out there. It's super predictable. I think the author probably thought she was being original or something, but it's still the same line of garbage love story that the publishers are still trying to shovel down our throats.

TLDR: This book was absolutely terrible. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone; I'm going to un-haul my copy of the book right now.

Overall rating: <1 Star

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Monday, July 31, 2017

July 2017 Wrap Up and August 2017 TBR!

July Wrap Up

Oh my goodness! It's the last day of July already! That means it's time for another monthly wrap up. I had the best reading month of the year in July, completing 13 books for a total of 4079 pages. For me, this is is a huge number. Here's how I rated the books I read (rounded to the nearest star):

5 Stars - 4 books
4 Stars - 2 books
3 Stars - 7 books
2 Stars - 0 books
1 Star - 0 books

After including partial ratings, my ratings averaged to be 3.73 stars, which means that I have read a lot of average books, but also a lot of memorable 5-star books. 

List of Books:
  1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Short Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald - 3 Stars
  2. Landline by Rainbow Rowell - 3 Stars
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling - 5 Stars
  4. Hamilton the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter - 5 Stars
  5. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** by Mark Manson - 4 Stars
  6. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert - 2.75 Stars
  7. Caraval by Stephanie Gerber - 3.25 Stars
  8. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari - 4.25 Stars
  9. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - 4.5 Stars
  10. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - 3 Stars
  11. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins - 3.25 Stars
  12. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - 3 Stars
  13. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling - 4.5 Stars

August TBR!

I will still make a TBR even though I usually never end up following it. I always just think that I'll get to the book eventually.
  1. The Complete Novels and Stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  3. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  4. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  5. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
  6. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
  7. Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
  8. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  9. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Let me know if you have other suggestions or which one you think I should read first!

Happy reading!