Wrapping Up March

A month closes and a new one opens. Here’s a rundown on my March.

Monthly TBR

I finished all the books on my March TBR. YAY!

My Top 4 reads:

The One Who Ascended the Throne: The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas). This is a must read. I think it’s also my first 5 starred book this year.

The Runner Up, the Heir: A Conjuring of Light (VE Schwab): I’m still recovering from reading this one. It was also the last one left on the TBR.

The Third is a Charming Mediator: Strange the Dreamer (Laini Taylor): Fall in love with Taylor’s writing and Lazlo Strange.

The Noble Fourth Who Deserves the Praise and Loyalty from the People: Labyrinth Lost (Zoraida Cordova): OH. MY. GOD. This book is amazing!


Tracing my roots

Beauty is a Wound (Eka Kurniawan) is the first book with Indonesian and Indo (half-Indonesian and half-Dutch or partial) characters and by an Indonesian author I’ve read. In a similar vein as The House of the Spirits (Isabel Allende), Beauty centres on a family of importance but share terrible fates during the Dutch colonial rule, Japanese occupation and early years of independent Indonesia (including the power struggle and anti-communist massacre in 1965).

It’s a beautiful but confronting story that gives voice to the unspoken experiences faced by Indonesian women during those times. I learnt a lot from this book because I was clueless about  the history of my family’s country of origin – I’m Indonesian Australian. I saw a bit of myself but mostly my relatives in the characters and there were phrases that I grew up hearing so I was like “OMG!”. However, I also felt distant. There were things that I didn’t understand. Reading Beauty made me want to reconnect with my heritage and wishing I could ask my grandmother about Indonesia’s history and her own experiences since she lived through all three time periods the book is set in.

The book has intense and triggering scenes, so if you want to read it, read with caution. I did enjoy it as it blended history and the supernatural that reflects the turbulent effects of the country’s past on its people.


Mini Reviews

Because I finished A Conjuring of Light last night and I was waiting for Strange the Dreamer in physical form (I read the eARC), I thought I would do mini reviews here.

A Conjuring of Light 

Things I loved:

  • Kell, Lila, Rhy and Alucard
  • Holland and Rhy’s parents are fleshed out
  • More on Osaron
  • Magic, magic, magic

Things I didn’t love:

  • There aren’t enough pages, but I thought some scenes weren’t necessary and slowed down the plot
  • Someone dies *sad, tear-stained face*
  • Not enough Rhy and Alucard scenes

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

TW: self-harm

Strange the Dreamer

Things I loved:

  • A librarian protagonist
  • You don’t need to be a warrior to be a hero
  • Moths are your best friends and weapons
  • Steampunk-ish elements
  • Lost/cursed city narrative
  • Creepy evil kids
  • THE ENDING

Things I didn’t love:

  • THE ENDING

Rating:🌟🌟🌟🌟


Film/TV

I watch Beauty and the Beast. I enjoyed it but it could’ve been better.  I made a thread of my thoughts on Twitter.

Ghost in the Shell and the trailer of Netflix’s Death Note are out now. I’m going to keep this short because I’m drained by the major problem they have: 

The Justice League trailer also came out. Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash are looking pretty badass.


Writing

I haven’t been writing a lot this month because I was feeling down by recent events in the book community and a certain racist book (for more details, read this analysis). On the plus side, an agent requested a partial! 😀


Other Bookish Things

This March saw the 10th anniversary of City of Bones. While the prequel series The Infernal Devices changed my life, City of Bones still has a special place in my heart. It introduced me to Simon Lewis/Lovelace and Isabelle Lightwood.


new month anticipated reads

 

 

 

 

I’m excited about The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (I’ve heard that the rep is good) and Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han.

Both are coming out in April and are diverse books 🙂


My new month resolutions

  • Read faster

Til next time,

Natalia xoxo

Advertisements

February Wrap-Up

Can you believe we’re in March already? Here’s a rundown of February:

Monthly TBR

16908742_1913987288832270_6883398739310936064_n

For the first time, I’ve managed to finish my TBR! I guess my reading speed has powered up. Reasons for my choices ranged from “book has been sitting on my desk for a long time”, a re-read (City of Bones), ARCs to reviewed, “everyone has talked about this book” to “I want it!”

My Top 4 Reads:

The One Who Ascended the Throne: A Darker Shade of Magic (VE Schwab) – Oh. My. God. I don’t read a lot of adult fantasy books but this one won my heart.

The Runner Up, the Heir: Shadowshaper (Daniel Jose Older) – You know I’m still recovering from this one. All I can say is that you should read it.

The Third is a Charming Mediator: Wayfarer (Alexandra Bracken) – A satisfying ending to a duology that I didn’t know was a duology until I finished it. I’m not crying…

The Noble Fourth Who Deserves the Praise and Loyalty from the People: On the Edge of Gone (Corinne Duyvis) – A refreshing scifi with an autistic protagonist and pulls your heart strings.


Bookish Developments

I’ve been reading more graphic novels and manga thanks to Sailor Moon. Meanwhile my heart is still set in the stone that is YA fantasy and scifi.

giphy (1).gif


Film/TV

Speaking of Sailor Moon, the third season (Sailor Moon S) (part 1) was released on DVD on February 8th, and yes, I binge watched it, then did a marathon. Thanks Viz and Madman for not censoring the lesbian couple Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus. If you didn’t know, their relationship was changed to them being cousins in the original English-dubbed version.

giphy


Writing

While waiting for an agent who requested a full to get back to me, I spent the month revising my YA scifi/fantasy WIP that I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year. I also worked on two other WIPs – one of them is a mermaid story with a bisexual protagonist and the other is a contemporary romance inspired by that one time I was in the anime section at JB-HiFi and a cute guy…anyway, I have a feeling the story might transform into a fantasy one.


Much Anticipated Books

February ended with amazing releases The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig. They are priorities on my March TBR 🙂

Also the cover of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was revealed and it looks so pretty. I want the book right now!


Diversity, Problematic Books and the Community

Again problematic books and their authors have come under scrutiny. Again most of the book community dismissed the issues others especially those who support diversity and in marginalised groups to the point that some were attacked and had to leave social media. It’s sad that this keeps happening because people are too defensive of their favs or very privileged. It’s tiring for people including myself to keep repeating ourselves on why criticism on problematic books is important. It’s exhausting and hurtful to see harmful representation over and over again.

Saying your book is problematic is not an attack on you. We do want you to do better and not hurt readers, especially if you’re writing YA. As for readers, you can like/love problematic books but just be aware of its flaws and acknowledge them when you promote the books. Some of my favourite books are problematic but I still love them. I started putting trigger warnings in my reviews. I’m still learning.

Just step back and listen when someone brings up an issue.

On the positive side, this year promises several diverse and Own Voices books. Agents and publishers such as Balzer + Bray are making the effort to lift up marginalised voices. We still have a long way to go though. Readers, keep supporting diverse/Own Voices books. Writers, keep writing your stories.


My New Month Resolutions

  • Maybe lower the number of books on my March TBR? Those books aren’t going anywhere anytime soon…unless they’ve become sentient
  • Drink less tea and use another mug besides Hedwig?
  • Take my fangirling over Ezra Miller down a notch?

 

img_6097Til next time,

Natalia xoxo

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns Cover Reveal

If you haven’t heard already, the cover of the anticipated Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (by Julie C. Dao) was revealed!

226a335e-436f-4a98-9c3b-b9f382449232

The book is a Snow White retelling fused with a Chinese-inspired setting and focuses on the rise of the Evil Queen. She is Xifeng who is destined for greatness, to become an empress. In order to fulfill that, she must consume so much power, dark magic, and reject the guy pining over her. Do I need to say more?

large

Forest of the Thousand Lanterns will be out on October 10, 2017.

A Scroll of 2017 Releases That I’m Excited About

img_6015


I’ll update this post when more books are announced and release dates are changed as the year goes on


2017 promises so many new books especially diverse/Own Voices ones (yay!). Here’s a list of releases that I’m excited about:

January

Wayfarer (Alexandra Bracken): The sequel to the time travel/adventure book Passenger. Nicholas and Sophia team up to locate the missing Etta and the much sought after astrolabe that has been taken away in the first book. Release date: 3 January

Windwitch (Susan Dennard): The sequel to the epic fantasy Truthwitch. New alliances are formed, enemies and our heroes are working together. Release date: 10 January

History is All You Left Me (Adam Silvera): Griffin’s life is shaken when his first love and ex dies in an accident. He is tormented by the past, stopping himself from moving forward. Release date: January 17

Caraval (Stephanie Garber):  Two sisters enter a dangerous, magical game. Release date: January 31

Freeks (Amanda Hocking): I’m a sucker for carnival stories. The book centres on Mara whose home is a dark magical carnival. She meets a boy…and things start to go downhill with the carnival employees disappearing. Release date: January 31

February

King’s Cage (Victoria Aveyard): The sequel to the Red Queen series. Mare is under Maven’s wrath meanwhile the Reds continue to prepare for war and Cal tries to find a way to free Mare. Release date: February 7

Empress of A Thousand Skies (Rhoda Belleza): Empress Rhee is on a path of revenge. She wants to reclaim her throne and avenge her family. Release date: February 7

A Conjuring of Light (VE Schwab): Battles between the four Londons ensues in this third and final installment in the Shades of Magic series. Release date: February 21

The Ship Beyond Time (Heidi Heilig): The sequel to The Girl From Everywhere. Nix is now in charge of her future but when she discovers that she will lose a loved one, Nix and the crew travel to meet another Navigator who might help her. Release date: February 28

 

The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas): This book was inspired by Black Lives Matter and I’ve heard so many great reviews! It centres on Starr who witnesses the murder of her friend by a police officer. Release date: February 28

March

Traitor to the Throne (Alwyn Hamilton): The sequel to Rebel of the Sands. Gunslinger Amani gets close to the Sultan’s court in order to bring him down. Release date: March 7

The Bone Witch (Rin Chupeco): Tea resurrects her brother and discovers that she’s a bone witch, a witch with the power of necromancy – which doesn’t do her any favours in her community. She finds comfort in another bone witch who becomes her mentor. Release date: March 7

The Song Rising (Samantha Shannon): The third entry in the Bone Season series. Paige has become Underqueen and struggles to maintain the underworld, not to mention enemies and a new dangerous technology that would put the clairovoyant community at peril. Release date: March 7

A Crown of Wishes (Roshani Chokshi): The sequel to The Star-Touched Queen. Gauri teams up with her enemy king Vikram to reclaim her kingdom in exchange for her fighting skills. They enter the Tournament of Wishes and soon discover that there are more dangerous obstacles than they expected. Release date: March 28 

Strange the Dreamer (Laini Taylor): Obsessed with a mythical lost city, Lazlo Strange sets out to find answers. Release date: March 28

April

 

The Upside of Unrequited (Becky Albertalli): Molly is no stranger to unrequited love (same here, Molly). When her twin Cassie has a new girlfriend, Molly tries to find her courage to win over Cassie’s girlfriend’s sidekick. I hope this book has Oreos. Release date: April 11

May

Always and Forever, Lara Jean (Jenny Han): The third entry in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series which I fell in love with last year. Lara Jean is in her senior year and continues to nagivate through her familial and romantic relationships. I’m looking forward to all the baking and sweet romance. Release date: May 2

Noteworthy (Riley Redgate): Jordan Sun is determined to get fame and auditions for her school’s  all-male a cappella Sharpshooters. Release date: May 2

How to Make a Wish (Ashley Herring Blake): Escaping from a crappy life, Grace goes on midnight adventures and finds solace and unexpected feelings when she meets Eva. Release date: May 2

A Court of Wings and Ruin (Sarah J Maas): The third entry to the ACOTAR series. Feyre is in enemy territory to spy on Tamlin and his ally the King of Hybern as war is brewing. Release date: May 2

The Seafarer’s Kiss (Julia Ember): A F/F retelling of Little Mermaid with a bisexual mermaid as main character. Ersel rescues and befriends shieldmaiden Ragna, but is caught by her friend and suitor. Facing the consequences, Ersel seeks help and makes a deal with Loki, leading her to exile and learn to outsmart the god so she can be reunited with the human she has fallen for. Release date: May 4

Ramona Blue (Julie Murphy): With so many responsibilities, Ramona Blue aches for a bigger life outside of her home. When her childhood friend re-enters her life, she finds herself questioning her sexuality. Release date: May 9

Flame in the Mist (Renee Ahdieh): Set in feudal Japan, Mariko is ambushed and escapes from the Black Clan. She later sets out to infiltrate them to discover who’s responsible for the attack, but soon discovers more secrets which changes everything. Release date: May 16

The Crown’s Fate (Evelyn Skye): The sequel to The Crown’s Game. Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter but it’s not easy. A challenger steps forward, threatening her position and the Tsar Pasha’s kingdom. Release date: May 16

Lord of Shadows (Cassandra Clare): The sequel to Lady Midnight. Emma starts dating Mark to protect Julian from the consequences of falling in love with your parabatai. But the Unseelie King has enough of Shadowhunters’ laws which effects the Blackthorns. Release date: May 23

I Believe In a Thing Called Love (Maurene Goo): Straight A student Desi has never had a boyfriend. She’s terrible at romance but she tries to tackle her problems when she pursues the object of her affection Luca like he’s a school project. She learns romance through K-dramas but maybe love is more than that. Release date: May 30

 

When Dimple Met Rishi (Sandhya Menon): Dimple tries to break away from family/cultural traditions including finding the ideal husband and focus on her ambitions. Rishi is the opposite. He embraces tradition and wants his marriage to be arranged. Dimple and Rishi eventually clash… Release date: May 30

June

Tash Hearts Tolstoy (Kathryn Ormsbee): Tash is the creator of a web series, a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina which becomes nominated for an award. Her crush Thom is also a nominee – a window of opportunity to develop this crush into something more. That’s if she can tell him she’s asexual. Release date: June 6

Want (Cindy Pon): A refreshing dystopian novel where the rich are protected from disease via special suits and those who don’t have these suits suffer. Fed up with the injustice of it, Zhou infiltrates the wealthy in order to destroy the corporation behind the suits. Release date: June 13

Our Dark Duet (VE Schwab): The sequel to Our Savage Song. A new monster emerges, bringing monster hunter Kate back home. Release date: June 13

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Mackenzi Lee): Two friends are on their grand tour of Europe and discover a magical artifact that leads to a manhunt across the continent. Release date: June 27

September

Throne of Glass #6 (untitled at the moment) (Sarah J Maas): My darling Chaol deserves his own books. He is sent to the healers in Antica. There he discovers something that will change everything and becomes more vital to saving Erilea (something that should’ve been in Empire of Storms in my opinion). Release date: September 5

One Dark Throne (Kendare Blake): The sequel to Three Dark Crowns where the three sister queens continue to battle each other. Release date: September 13

 

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Leigh Bardugo): This is a collection of fairytales in the Grishverse and there will be illustrations by Sara Kipin! Release date: September 26

 

October

Warcross (Marie Lu): Two bounty hunters are hired to hunt down a hacker in a popular VR video game. Release date: October 3

27 Hours (Tristina Wright):  A group of teens fight for their homes and cultures against monsters, time and extiniction. Release date:

 

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Julie C. Dao): A Snow White retelling based on Asian mythology/folklore through the Evil Queen’s POV. Xifeng unleashes a sinister god on the world and her own vicious soul so she could become empress. Release date: October 10

 

 

 

 

November

Renegades (Marissa Meyer): This one comes out on my birthday! Renegades are a group of humans with special abilities and Nova hates them and wants revenge. Things take a drastic turn when she catches one of them Adrian’s attention. Release date: November 7

DecemBER

 

Immortal Reign (Morgan Rhodes): The sixth book in the Falling Kingdom series. Enemies become allies in order to save the world as two dangerous gods set out to destroy it. Release date: December 12

Wrapping Up: Best Books of 2016

img_5951

2016 is coming to an end. Time has flown fast – as usual. Even though a lot of bad things happened this year, there were also good things. I graduated from uni, became a bookseller, saw Aladdin the musical and met the lead cast members, and recently an agent requested a full manuscript!

Also I’ve read 187 books this year. There were so many books that I fell in love, so here’s my list of best books of 2016:

img_5954

1) Crooked Kingdom (Leigh Bardugo). This book along with Six of Crows blew me away with a high stakes plot and amazing diverse characters. It deserves the top place.

2) The Sun is Also a Star (Nicola Yoon). This is a sweet and feels-filled diverse contemporary that mixes with serious issues deportation and cultural clashes. Shipping Natasha and Daniel forever.

3) A Court of Mist and Fury (Sarah J Maas). The book that gave me a book hangover for weeks. I thought A Court of Thorns and Roses blew me away but this one tops it. Everything was much stronger and beautifully written, and the characters developed well.

4) The Crown’s Game (Evelyn Skye). Gladiator but with magic and set in 1825. This book created a special place in my heart because it’s set in Russia and has a poc/biracial main character from the Asian portion of the country.

5) A Torch Against the Night (Sabaa Tahir). This one is just mindblowing and explores the fantasy more than the first book.

6) The Midnight Star (Marie Lu). The Young Elites trilogy took up my life. It’s everything. Anti-heroine, squads, unique concept of special powers, a sweet love interest, importance of family and just free reign of power. Midnight Star is a bittersweet ending to the trilogy that redefines character development and high stakes.

7) Iron Cast (Destiny Soria). Fantastic Beasts if it was a little more diverse, had subtle use of magic, and better. I was pulled in by the 1920s atmosphere, high stakes plot and the gifted characters.

8) My Sister Rosa (Justine Larbalestier). The creepiest book I’ve read this year. What’s it like to be a sibling to a charismatic psychopath who has your life on a tight leash? I guess you have to read it.

9) Fantastic Beasts (JK Rowling). This brought the magic back to the HP world. It has some flaws but I enjoyed it.

10) Gemina (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff). What can I say about this one? It made me laugh, cry and happy. Plus illustrations by Marie Lu are amazing.

11) The Reader (Traci Chee). A debut that swept me away. Though it can be confusing on whether this is an Asian fantasy since it’s heavily wrapped up with western-inspired things and several blue-eyed characters (I’m guessing it’s a diverse world?), this book has a unique plot and the characters are interesting but hard to grow attachment to. They need more development. But it’s an enjoyable read.

12) Three Dark Crowns (Kendare Blake). Three sisters battle for one throne. One has elemental powers, one is gifted with poisons, and one is one with nature. Enough said.

13) Vassa in the Night (Sarah Porter). A beautiful modern retelling of Vasilissa the Beautiful – one of my favourite Russian fairytales. Imagine being contracted to work at a magical store and have a living puppet as your friend and conscience.

14) Truthwitch (Susan Dennard). A unique tale of witches and friendship. This one made me feel the feels.

15) Passenger (Alexandra Bracken). An amazing time travel story that had me on the edge of my seat literally.

16) Under the Rose-Tainted Skies (Louise Gornall). This book touched my heart as it deals with anxiety and ends with hope.

17) When We Collided (Emery Lord). This book didn’t sugarcoat or romanticise characters with mental health issues. It’s another book that touched me.

18) The Rose & the Dagger (Renee Ahdieh). It’s pure magic that swept me off my feet and then left me in tears.

19) The Savage Song (VE Schwab). Holy crap, give me a violin so I can play a thank you song to this book. It’s a unique scifi fantasy book that took me by surprise.

20) Aerie (Maria Dhavana Headley). A unique read that made me see pirates and seafaring in a refreshing way.

21) Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club (Alison Goodman). Buffy meets Pride & Prejudice. Enough to burst my corset.

22) The Girl from Everywhere (Heidi Heilig). A time travel story with amazing diverse characters, and incorporating Chinese and Hawaiian myths and history – I recommend.

23) The Sidekicks (Will Kostakis). Witty and heartwarming, this book opened the seven gates of feels for me.

24) Tales from Shadowhunter Academy (Cassandra Clare). I was hesitant at first but I didn’t regret reading this. It made me miss Simon so much.

25) Lady Midnight (Cassandra Clare). A refreshing entry to the Shadowhunter world and you can tell that Clare’s plotting and writing have improved.

26) The Star-Touched Queen (Roshani Chokshi). This stunning debut pulled me into Indian mythology and beautiful writing that I wanted to drink them up.

27) Fireboy (Sami Shah). Another fantastic diverse/#ownvoices book that I fell in love and sparked my interested in more South Asian mythologies.

28) Girl in Pieces (Kathleen Glasgow). A moving and well-researched story dealing with self-harm and suicide.

29) Heartless (Marissa Meyer). A great origin story on the Queen of Hearts. By the end of it, you’ll be in love and hungry for food.

30) Swarm (Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti). This book gave me the chills and made me love the characters more.

31) Everland (Wendy Spinale). A unique Peter Pan retelling in a steampunk world. Despite some flaws, it’s an enjoyable read.

Non-2016 books that I read this year and love:

Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda (Becky Albertalli). This made me smile, happy, cry, nerdy and hungry for Oreos.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Jenny Han). A book with a MC who is proud of her Korean heritage and loves baking and is romantic? I was sold.

Falling Kingdoms series (Morgan Rhodes). A slow-paced fantasy that surprised me. Also Magnus and Cleo forever.

The Lunar Chronicles (Marissa Meyer). A scifi fantasy retelling on popular fairytale princesses is my weakness.

Six of Crows/The Grisha trilogy (Leigh Bardugo). Enough said.

A Court of Thorns and Roses/Throne of Glass series (to an extent) (Sarah J Maas). The former a Beauty & the Beast retelling, the latter a series with a feminine badass warrior, a hot and magically gifted prince, and precious Chaol Westfall who has taken a special place in my heart.

That’s it from me. See you in the new year with my anticipated reads of 2017. Happy holidays and new year!