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!

2017 High Summer Readathon Wrap Up!

It is officially the end of my second readathon this year and I think I did pretty well! This event was hosted by Seasons of Reading and I would definitely be interested in participating their future events.

In total, I finished 7 books for a grand total of 2394 pages:
1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
2. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
3. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
4. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
5. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
6. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

Even though these books deviated from what I originally planned in my TBR, I still think that I've done a fairly good job of consistently reading every single day.

Let me know if any of you guys have read the books I have posted here and what you thought of them. Also, please let me know if you can think up of future readathons that I can participate in!

Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

EDIT: 7/31/2017

I first read this book in elementary school and then probably reread it again sometime in middle school. I have always remembered disliking this book because I, like Ron, am terrified of spiders. Rereading this book as an adult and after completing this series made me see all the details that J. K. Rowling used to build up to the seventh book. Honestly, this lady is a queen.

And can I just say that Rowling's sense of humor is so on point. I don't like Malfoy until the later books, but his line to Goyle--"Honestly, if you were any slower, you’d be going backward."--had me choking on my water.
Another favorite: “That’d be a cheerful visit,” said Ron, “ ‘Hello, Hagrid. Tell us, have you been setting anything mad and hairy loose in the castle lately?”
The comedic relief in the midst of the tension and stress of finding the Heir of Slytherin was just so perfect. Ugh...

It's not my favorite Harry Potter book, but I have such a high appreciation for this novel. Would definitely recommend.

Overall rating: 4.5 Stars

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Review: The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For someone that is a huge Hemingway fan, this would have been a spectacular novel. For a person that has never touched a Hemingway book (shame), this book just turned out to be very dry historical fiction for me. This book came off like a travel journal instead of the emotional narrative that I was expecting. Most of the chapters are written in a very flat format that really didn't appeal to me: "we went to Spain, we met these new people, and we did all this cool stuff with them so Ernest could write his novels". Neither of the main characters (Hadley/Ernest) really appealed to me. Hadley obviously had a problem with the way their relationship was turning out, but she still stuck with him (+mistress) for 5 years. I understand that the feminist movement is not what it is today, but she never even bothered to communicate her feelings. Sometimes, Ernest would leave for a couple of days and they would be "fine" again upon the return.

My favorite part of the novel was the ending. They finally figured it out that the relationship wasn't working and decided to get a divorce (spoiler? But not really because Ernest Hemingway had like four wives). The epilogue was pretty spectacular. At the end, she still loves him for the part of her life she was with him, but she ultimately ends up finding a more sustainable relationship.

Overall rating: 3 Stars

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Review: Into the Water

Into the Water Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First of all, I really liked this book, but I didn't enjoy it as much as The Girl on the Train. I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story and the creepy small-town setting, but there were SO MANY characters and different perspectives to keep track of. I think it was really fortunate that I happened to be reading this book for a readathon (so I had to finish it in one sitting) because I couldn't remember the difference between Sean and Patrick until I was 50% done. But I really enjoyed how all the different characters pieced together at the end, even if the dramatic build up was anticlimactic and ended in like 2 pages.

Regardless, I still really enjoyed reading this book. Honestly, I feel like I'm probably going to end up reading everything Paula Hawkins writes.

Overall rating: 3.25 stars

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Review: Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was the second book I finished for the 24in48 readathon, and to be honest, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, I enjoyed revisiting the characters that I loved from To Kill a Mockingbird, but this story lacked narrative and plot. It was really hard to get into the story when it was constantly switching between present and past tense. I would have appreciated the flashbacks more if it provided insight on Henry or Atticus's characters. Since it did neither, the climax of the story (this chapter long argument between Scout and Atticus) was pretty anticlimactic.

Even though Scout was portrayed as more "progressive" than Atticus, her actions and thoughts still defined her as a racist 26-year-old woman. I mean, she basically agrees with her father and Uncle Jack that the NAACP is toxic for the South and that the Federal Government shouldn't have any power over states. It was cute when you were younger, Scout, but as a 26-year-old...ugh. Come on woman, didn't you learn anything from New York?

But wait there's more. That ending. So after this huge argument, Scout has with Atticus, they reconcile and live happily ever after. WTF. Literally, nothing happened in this book. The last chapter basically wrapped all the way around so that the story ended in the same way it started. The only thing substantial now is that you know Atticus Finch is racist. But since he's nice she'll just let it go? What actually happened here?

This was a huge disappointment and a waste of my time.

Overall rating: 2.25 Stars

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Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was definitely my favorite book that I read for the 24in48 readathon. It was JUST SO FREAKING CUTE! I know there are a lot of people that say Dimple was rude to her parents and Rishi for the first half of the novel. But honestly, as a daughter of immigrant parents, I can see where she was coming from. Now that I am older, I know when to ignore comments and establish a better relationship with them, but I think I was probably just as bad as Dimple at her age.

Obviously, this wasn't a perfect love story (I didn't give it 5 stars), because I didn't understand how fast Rishi fell for Dimple, but I guess that also has to do with the fact that he had been in love with the idea of her even before they met. And can I just point out that Rishi is like the perfect boyfriend? He has found his place in the world and treats Dimple with the respect that she has always been seeking from her parents. Even his imperfections, such as his relationship with his brother, are endearing.

Overall, I thought this was a really cute and quick read, and I would definitely recommend it for the summer.

Overall rating: 4.5 Stars

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

24in48 Readathon: FINAL WRAP UP!!!

Woooooooooo!!! I have just finished my first readathon and I think it went pretty well. Over 1,300 people participated in this readathon, and sadly to say, I did not win any of the random prize drawings. But it doesn't matter because I read A TON, which was my goal for this weekend. 

1. How many books did you read? How many pages did you read? 

I read a little over 4 books this weekend, 3 of them from my original TBR post:

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - 4.5 Stars

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - 3 Stars

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins - 3.25 Stars

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - 3 Stars

=1,358 Pages (this doesn't include the beginning of the fifth book that I started)

2. How many hours did you read?

I read a total of 24 hours and 26 minutes! This is probably the most I have ever read!

Day #1 Times:

Day #2 Times:

3. What do you think worked well in this readathon?

I love the community support and seeing some other people's posts. I particularly liked recommendation challenges like your favorite #ownvoices books and snacks to eat while you are reading. 

4. What do you think could be done to improve the readathon next time?

I am not a huge fan of the photo challenges. This is just because I don't have an elaborate bookshelf that I want to take a picture and share with people. I think photo challenges severely discourages people from going to their local libraries to check out books. I think it would be good to post optional photos. 

5. Would you participate in future 24in48 readathon?

Yes - even though I am completely burnt out on reading right now, I think I definitely might to do this again if the timing is right for me in January (I can even try to beat my time)!

BONUS: TIPS FOR SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETING THIS READATHON

  • planning ahead (most important)
    • creating and following a TBR
    • have snacks available at all times
    • block out the weekend for reading
  • setting aside a really good reread book that you are familiar with the plot - this way you can still keep reading even if you feel burnt out
  • have one or two audiobooks ready at all times - this is just so you can rest your eyes as you transition from one book to another
  • genre recommendation: YA contemporary, thriller - honestly, I don't think I can do something that focuses extensively on setting rather than the plot. Like, if I had to read 3 pages of how Frodo hikes through the Middle Earth, I might fall asleep
Do you have additional tips for me? How much did you guy read? Any good recommendations?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

24in48: 24 Hour Challenge

I have already listed a TBR previous, so check that out if you want to see what books I will be reading.

So...I will mostly be providing you a list of snacks that I want to eat for the next half of this readathon:
1. Popcorn. I actually ran out of popcorn, so I will definitely be purchasing more tomorrow. And I want something lighter than chips.

2. Carrots and hummus. Some of my friends have told me this is a really weird habit, but I absolutely love carrots and hummus. Like, I can't stop eating it once I start...

3. Cherries. There are tons of fresh cherries in Michigan during the summer and it's super cheap.

So...I guess most of my snacks are pretty healthy. Though I've definitely considered getting biscuits and eating that with tea. I also might get whatever is on sale tomorrow at the grocery store.

Update: I have currently completed ~10 hours for the readathon and finished 2 books. Reviews and reading overviews will be posted on Monday!