(Mini) Reviews: Illuminae & Solitaire

I have read so many books during my vacation that I wanted to review some, so this will be the first two books I’ll review. I normally barely ever review books that have already come out or were not sent to me for review, so this is a bit different for me. Enjoy!

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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Illuminae is just like everyone has ever told me it would be: a wild epic ride, space ships, a little romance and a hell of a lot of danger. What made Illuminae so special to me was the fact that you only get to know the characters via other people’s observations, diary entries, chat conversations and objective descriptions. And yet, even though you don’t really know the characters, you love them. Kady and Ezra are smart, determined and above all very funny. Seriously, I have laughed so many times while reading this book.

“Perhaps bravery is simply the face humanity wraps around its collective madness.”

The format is definitely unique but it does take a little getting used to. In the beginning, I also listened to the audiobook, but it started bothering me because it took so long! I switched to the physical edition and loved it much more! Still, some parts of the formatting I didn’t enjoy much compared to other parts, but it does look stunning! The art and the design are amazing.

“The universe owes you nothing, Kady. It has already given you everything, after all. It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you. The only way it will remember you is to do something worth remembrance.”

Overall, despite some minor things I didn’t like, I LOVED IT. Especially the last 100-ish pages. I flew through them! It was terrifyingly real, heartbreakingly sad, hysterically funny, amazingly creative. I would recommend 100%. Read it!

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Solitaire by Alice Oseman

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.81czqpilo2l

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t.

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I had such high expectations for Solitaire. I read Radio Silence a few months ago and loved it so much! It became an instant favourite. So when I started Solitaire, I expected to love it, or at least like it. Sadly, I couldn’t stand the main character much. She was so negative about everything. I get that some people just are like that but sometimes I really couldn’t. I just couldn’t. She was a) offensive, b) rude and c) insensitive. This might be a minor spoiler but her brother has gone through self-harm and suicidal episodes and so she knows very well what it’s like, but still, she goes around (she never said it out loud) saying that she’d like to shoot people and that they just can die and stuff like that. THAT’S SO NOT OKAY. I do not condone this, okay. It’s never okay to shoot people or hurt them.

“I think you should know that I make up a lot of stuff up in my head and then get sad about it. I like to sleep and I like to blog. I am going to die someday.”

Beside this, the story was quite enjoyable. I really liked all the side characters, I loved Charlie and Michael and the others. I thought the Solitaire idea was fun, though I guessed the reveal at the ending wayy before it happened. I really liked the fandom and media references. I am giving this book 3 stars because I just can’t give it more with the main character being so horrible.

(ps. for a book that isn’t a love story, it surprisingly has romance in it :/ )

Down The TBR Hole v2.0 (yes, it’s back)

So if you’ve missed it in some way or another, this winter I started this meme I called Down The TBR Hole. Now, months later the blogging community has seemed to have picked it up and I’m still baffled by the large number of book bloggers now taking part in it (even though I haven’t posted about it ever since I got through my tbr).

Down The TBR Hole is a meme that revolves around cleansing your TBR of all those books you’re never going to read and sort through it all to know what’s actually on there.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when youre scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well thats going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m going to give this another swing, but this time going through my someday-maybe shelf. I have several shelves on my Goodreads, one of which my to-read shelf, on which I put all the books I really want to read (it’s about 25 books right now) and for all those books I’m not 100% sure I put them on my someday-maybe shelf. It has gathered dust for a while now and I think it’s time to go through it and sort it all out! I’m going to give myself three options: move to to-read shelf, delete, or keep on someday-maybe shelf.

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Emma by Jane Austen

I have attempted to read this last year but I had read a lot of Jane Austen novels then and I was in a bit of a classics slump, so I dnf’ed. I am still going to try to finish it one day. But that will probably not be one day soon, so it’s going to stay on my someday-maybe shelf.

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We Go Forward by Alison Evans

I added this book because it apparently has asexual-aromantic representation which is something I am really interested in. It is also a travel story about two girls meeting in Berlin and becoming friends and maybe traveling together? I’m not sure about the last part, but it sounds awesome! If I can find a copy of it though… This one is going to move up to my to-read shelf!

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

Yeah… this one. My brother owns this book, and he has owned it for over half a year now and I still haven’t picked it up even though I have had every opportunity to do so. Honestly, I’m a bit appalled by it. I’ve heard the worst things and I have absolutely no interest in picking it up any day soon. I guess it’s safe to say it’s just not going to happen. This one will go!

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King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Another one of those books that I really do not want to read. I read the first book (Red Queen) and LOVED it. I read the second book (Glass Sword) and HATED it. It annoyed me so much and I the only reason I can see myself picking up this book, like ever, would be because of the ending of Glass Sword. And honestly, by now I don’t even care what happens to Mare. Sorry, Victoria, but this one is going to go.

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Angelfall by Susan Ee

I have heard so many good things about this book and the series, but the premise just doesn’t really sound that interesting to me. I’m not a big fan of the angel thing, but maybe I’m just going to have to overlook that and trust the thousands of raving reviews and keep this on my someday-maybe shelf.

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Total number of books deleted: 2
Total number of books moved to tbr: 1

That was it for this renewed first installment of Down The TBR Hole. Let me know what you thought of my choices, did I make any mistakes? Which books would you have gotten rid off?

Discussion: About Cover Judging & Comparing Book Covers (and titles) Dutch vs. UK/US

I love book covers and I love judging book covers (and nobody dare shame me for it). Sometimes I buy books based on their covers (or at least check them out), sometimes I don’t read a book because I hate the cover. I have books on my shelves I haven’t read yet because the cover really turns me off (*caughs* Graceling *caughs*).

Today I wanted to do a little fun post in which I compare some of the UK/US covers to the Dutch editions, because sometimes I really don’t understand why they made the changes they did. And sometimes I love the Dutch cover more! If you didn’t know it yet, I am Dutch, so I come across Dutch translations quite often.

But first, I wanted to talk a little about cover judging and cover changes!

Continue reading “Discussion: About Cover Judging & Comparing Book Covers (and titles) Dutch vs. UK/US”

Blogger Newbie: Raine (@ The Raine Spectrum) | How To Deal With Anxiety

Today I’m happy to share with you, Raine’s tips on how to deal with anxiety. I know there are a lot out there that has to deal with this so I hope you find this helpful. I give the word to Raine!

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Tell us something about yourself: Who Are You? I’m Raine!! I am a total geek and gamer. I love reading novels, comics, textbooks, anything I can get my hands on. My favorite games are FPS or questing. My Hogwarts house is Slytherin, and my best friends are Hufflepuffs!!!

What is your blog about and what are your plans with it? My blog ( @therainespectrum ) is about my journey through mental illness, my eating disorder, daily thoughts that I have, poetry, random reviews, pro-feminism, body positivity, pro-equality, and support for anyone who needs help. Really it’s just my ramblings, but my main goal is to channel my problems into artistic and creative ways, and to teach others how to do the same. I want to show them that normality is possible when nothing feels okay.

Why did you start blogging? I started blogging because I wanted to help people. I have been obsessed with superheros for like ever, and they’ve inspired me to help. Because I don’t have superpowers, I’d always wanted to bring joy to other people and help them in the little ways. I want to show people that everyone is beautiful and we all deserve the same opportunities, because nobody deserves to feel worthless or lesser.

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Anxiety can strike at any time, and it always sucks. It makes you irrational and frustrated. It’s so easy to get rid of that feeling, but it feels impossible to want to get rid of it because it is consuming.

Step 1.
Firstly, you need to breathe. If you aren’t breathing, it’s easier to panic. When you are in control of your breathing, think of something that makes you happy. Step 2.

Step 2.
Make a list of things that make you feel better. Do these things. Go through that list when you’re feeling anxious. For example, on my list, I have
1. Wash face with warm cloth
2. Drink a glass of cold water
3. Stretch
4. Write a short story and/or sketch a picture
5. Sing a song with my sister
Doing these things really help me, and I suggest that you try, because your list might prove helpful to you, too.

Step 3.
Call a friend. Sometimes talking to people makes things better, even if you don’t feel like talking to anyone. Having a friend is a lot better in the long run, rather than pushing them away in a moment of unhappiness.

Step 4.
When I am hungry, I get so irrational, it’s not funny. My family calls it “hangry”. Therefore, eating always makes me feel better. Even if it’s just a strawberry or some grapes. So, if you’re like me, and get hangry , then eating will definitely help.

If you want to feel better, the first thing you have to do is take control of the situation.

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I hope these tips were helpful and interesting to read! Thank you Raine for them! If you liked this post or want to read more like them, go to Raine’s blog here and follow her!

Review: City of Strife & City of Betrayal: diverse fantasy about politics and friendship

I had the opportunity to read the two first books in the Isandor / City of Spires series by Claudie Arsenault (you might remember her from her guest post a while ago). As I am completely into diverse fantasy right now (and probably until the end of the world tbh), I was really glad to have gotten the opportunity!

I will mostly mix my opinions of both the books, since they were both quite similar in build-up and characters and things like that. So this is a double-review! There will be no spoilers!

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30977572A hundred and thirty years have passed since Arathiel last set foot in his home city. Isandor hasn’t changed—bickering merchant families still vie for power through eccentric shows of wealth—but he has. His family is long dead, a magical trap has dulled his senses, and he returns seeking a sense of belonging now long lost.

Arathiel hides in the Lower City, piecing together a new life among in a shelter dedicated to the homeless and the poor, befriending an uncommon trio: the Shelter’s rageful owner, Larryn, his dark elven friend Hasryan, and Cal the cheese-loving halfling. When Hasryan is accused of Isandor’s most infamous assassination of the last decade, what little peace Arathiel has managed to find for himself is shattered. Hasryan is innocent… he thinks. In order to save him, Arathiel may have to shatter the shreds of home he’d managed to build for himself.

Arathiel could appeal to the Dathirii—a noble elven family who knew him before he disappeared—but he would have to stop hiding, and they have battles of their own to fight. The idealistic Lord Dathirii is waging a battle of honour and justice against the cruel Myrian Empire, objecting to their slavery, their magics, and inhumane treatment of their apprentices. One he could win, if only he could convince Isandor’s rulers to stop courting Myrian’s favours for profit.

In the ripples that follow Diel’s opposition, friendships shatter and alliances crumble. Arathiel, the Dathirii, and everyone in Isandor fights to preserve their homes, even if the struggle changes them irrevocably.

(this is the synopsis of the first book, not the second)
City of Strife is the first installment of the City of Spires trilogy, a multi-layered political fantasy led by an all LGBTQIAP+ cast. Fans of complex storylines criss-crossing one another, elves and magic, and strong friendships and found families will find everything they need within these pages.

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It took me a while to really get into the first book. This book features a lot of perspectives and for me, that was quite hard. In the first part of the book you get constantly introduced to new people and keeping up with everything was a bit of a struggle. Sadly, that also slowed down the story overall. However, after the beginning, it did pick up and a lot of things started happening. To my tastes, it could have been a little more fast-paced but that’s just a personal preference. In the second book, I did not have that problem, because I already knew all the characters, so therefore I enjoyed the second book more from the start.

“He found reasons to grin even when there were none, in defiance of the never-ending hardships and the world beating down on him. Maybe if he smiled enough, the happiness he projected would stop being a lie and coalesce into the truth.” – City of Strife

The story is about a city (duh) and the city is lead by a group of noble families. Some of the characters are part of this family and some aren’t and you can get to see the situation from many eyes. There is danger and intrigue, but this story is mainly about family and friendship. The characters form strong bonds and care so much about each other. I loved seeing them come together and especially in the second book, where almost all the characters get to know each other. In those final hundred pages of the second book, I have laughed with them and cried with them. They were amazing.

There are a lot of characters in this book, and I could write pages and pages about all of them, so I will only focus on my favourites. My favourites are definitely Cal and Arathiel. Cal is aromantic and he is just very sweet and kind and caring. He loves his friends and would do anything for them. Arathiel is the outsider in the story. He is strange, mysterious, quiet but also very caring. Besides these characters there were plenty more amazing ones. Hasryan and Vellien would get a shared third place on my favourites ranking, because they deserve to be mentioned. I could relate to so many of the characters in very different ways and I loved that they were all so different from each other.

“Arathiel is a warm blanket: simple, reliable, soft. He’s the friend you kind of forget, but when it really matters he’s there. Leaping of bridges to save your neck from the noose, even though you expect nothing of him.” – City of Betrayal

I cannot end this review before discussing the amazing diverse representation in these books. There were characters of almost every sexual orientation you can imagine and there were characters of different descents and different skin colors. I loved in particularly, Cal’s aromanticism because usually aro characters are described as unfeeling or cold and Cal was the absolute opposite. I also really enjoyed the non-binary/enby representation (because whenever I read about one of those characters I just can’t help but love them).

“You can’t always choose your fights. Some battles need to be fought, whether you want to or not — whether they can be won or not.” – City of Betrayal

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For the first book, my rating is 3,5 stars. But after writing this review, I am really tempted to move up my rating for the second book from 3,5 to 4 stars but I think I’m going to just leave it in the middle: 3,75 stars! What I loved most about these two books was the representation of diverse characters and the characters in general. The only thing that could have been improved, to my opinion, was the pacing of the first book. It took me a long time to get into the story (mainly because I struggled with the many perspectives), but after that it was great. I would definitely recommend these books if you like political fantasy, I don’t know if that is a genre but oh well

The Evil Writer Award

I saw this award over at Smudged Thoughts and I couldn’t not do this. It sounds like such a fun tag and there is no doubt I’m an evil writer *evil laugh*, all of my characters had the worst childhood ever and people drop dead like leaves in autumn in this story.

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How many characters do you typically kill per book? And how many people have you killed in real life, dear? Do you… feel any remorse about this? I’m concerned about you.

I haven’t finished my book yet but I’ve written about 20k and there are is only one death on paper, but there are probably about four-ish that died before the story started. I plan on having a massive kill-party near halfway and probably another near the end. But okay seriously, I expect there to be at least 20 deaths (not including the ones that died before), but probably no major characters.

I’m not going to answer the second part of this question 😛

Do you prefer to use weapons of mass destruction like explosions and famine and world war or more personal torture like killing family and friends and pets?

Personal torture, thank you very much. That way I can cause my characters some more pain because apparently, I like doing that.

Are you more like Loki, who perpetrates great evil with a creepy grin, or… give me a minute… Darth Vader, who secretly weeps inside his… fake head, whilst destroying the world? 

Creepy grin. But at the same time, I cry for my characters.

What is the most dastardly crime you have ever committed as a writer? 

So far, killed the (only?) person my character loved, in a very very awful way *grins*.

What kind of chocolate do you most like to devour as you burn things? White, milk, semisweet, or dark? Bonus points if you are so evil you find unsweetened cacao palatable!

Milk! I love milk chocolate. While we’re on the topic *takes a bite of chocolate*. You can never have enough chocolate while writing.

What is your villainous title? You may not have “Evil Overlord” because that one’s mine.

Uhm… Miss Heartbreak. Because I like to break my characters’ hearts (I’ll fix them again, I promise).

Which of your characters would actually be a match for you if you were to duke it out one on one?

Emery. No doubt. She’d kill me on sight. But honestly, I wouldn’t want to meet Felton or Noa in a dark alley either. Brim I could probably fight, and like, not lose to in the first few seconds.

Which character, in all the many books you have undoubtedly written, is most likely to be your Archnemesis?

*has not even 1 finished draft of book*

*smiles sheepishly*

I don’t know.

Do you wear a cape? Face paint? A mask? Special underpants? Or do you hide in plain sight… like Moriarty? Give me details!

I wear my special cloak because CLOAKS.

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Are you an evil writer like me? Then you should do this tag, because it’s lots of fun! What is the worst thing you’ve done to your characters? How many characters will die in your book?

What Cats Do Book Tag

I was tagged for the What Cats Do Book Tag by Faith from Adventuring Girl and because I love cats and books, I decided to give it a go! Thank you, Faith for tagging me!

Rules

  1. Credit Kate
  2. Answer the questions
  3. And tag as many people as you like

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Purr – as cats do when they’re happy or relaxed, what is the book that makes you happy or relaxed?

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Sometimes the best thing is just to read some romantic, slightly cliché book and relax. I don’t do it often, but sometimes. Isla and the Happily Ever After is definitely one of those sappy books that makes me happy.

Sleep – what is a book that put you to sleep, or was just boring?

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SeQuence was just so boring… Sorry.

Twitch While Dreaming – have you ever dreamt of a book you read?

Not that I can remember. I did once dream about Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, which I haven’t read but I dreamt that the writer was about to give me a copy of her book and then she decided to give it so someone else :/

Seems to Play Nice…until the claws are out – which book had the biggest plot twist?

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Plot twists don’t get much bigger than the one in Red Queen!

Cuddles – which book character would you (want to) give a hug to?

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My answer to this question will forever and always be Oskar from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Please let me hug Oskar, okay, he needs it so much.

Catnip – what’s a book that made you have warm and fuzzy feels?

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The Color Project gave me a lot of fuzzy feels!

Cat Breeds – what are your favorite books?

Both Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Serpent King have a special place in my heart.

The Vet’s Office – least favorite book.

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I don’t really have one least favourite book but The Way Back Home gets pretty damn close.

Being in Places They Shouldn’t – least favorite cliche.

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I have very many pet peeves and 99% of them are related to love-stories. I don’t like love triangles and insta-love, but what I hate even more is the “sort of plain, insecure girl who desperately needs a boyfriend”. I hate that it undermines the whole idea of that you’re your own person and that don’t need anyone to feel complete. I hate that so so much. (I didn’t hate this book (at all), I just hated that aspect of it).

The Good Old Cardboard Box – most underrated book series.

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The Wolves of Mercy Falls is such an underrated Maggie Stiefvater series. I adored these books so much and I think I always will.

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What’s your least favourite cliché? Which character would you want to give a hug?

If you want to do this tag, go for it! I am not tagging anyone in particular but you’re open to do it as you please!