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The Book Aesthetics Tags (+ my top indie novel recs!)

For my last tag of the year (holy crap we’re nearing the end of 2017 you guys!) the Queen of Aesthetics herself, Lia of Lost in a Story tagged me to do this. Like months ago. Like August, months ago. Took me t h i s long, yes. But I finally did. Thanks Lia! You should definitely check out her blog that’s filled to the brim with bookish goodness and gorg aesthetics. Just—you know, G O  T H E R E.

RULES:

 Thank whoever nominated you (maybe you’re bitter that you have ANOTHER tag to do on top of the billions you already need to do (#relatable), still though. Someone thought of you. Be thankful. At least pretend to be

 Credit the creator of this tag (Michelle!)

 There’s no limit of how many aesthetics you can make for a question, but think of your poor readers.

 Make your OWN aesthetics, please don’t steal them from someone else. Also what’s the fun in that?

So here’s the thing.

There are books I’ll mention below that are probably titles y’all haven’t heard of. And that’s because this past year I joined Underground Book Reviews as one of their new reviewers and this opened the door to indie and self-published novels for me.

Underground Book Reviews is a magazine website that promotes indie novels through reviews, features and columns. They have other tools and services to help indie and self-published authors, too! I’m seriously glad I stumbled upon their website last year. Through UBR, I was able to find great novels that, if I’m going to be perfectly honest, I probably wouldn’t have known had I gone to Goodreads or on any social media. Like seriously. So do check it out. You might find a great read on there, gush about it all over Twitter, and make an indie author happy.

So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Disclaimer: The images I used below are not mine and I don’t, and will never, claim them to be mine. If you own any of the images and wish for me to remove them, please contact me and I will do so immediately.

Also: some links below are affiliate links. That means, if you clicked one of my links, I may get a small commission with no additional cost to you  🙂 If you and I would be eternally grateful 🙂

Favorite Book of the Year

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Here’s why you should read The Final Empire:

+ Thieves. Sophisticated, passionate and well-educated thieves.

+ Philosophers and rebels.

+ Awesome worldbuilding. Actually, I take that back. “Awesome” doesn’t even cut it.

+ Morally crooked characters. I love me some villainous main characters and enigmatic antagonist.

+ People who drink metals. (I am not joking.)

+ People—or creatures?—who turn into other people (or creatures.)

A Character You Relate to A Lot

Olivia Davenport from Not Every Girl by Jane McGarry

I have to admit: I don’t like Livy. She could be so dead-set on getting what she wants that she doesn’t see how it affects other people. I don’t think I’m like that. (I mean. I hope I’m not…?) But that doesn’t mean I can’t relate to her.

She’s stubborn and strong-willed (like yours truly.) And all she wants is to do the thing that she loves to do the most and that I can understand. A HECK lot. You could read my review of Not Every Girl here.

A Character You Look Up To

Samirah al-Abbas from The Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series by Rick Riordan

Sam is the real MVP in this series, let’s all be honest here. While eternally adorable, Magnus is lowkey pathetic. And I love Alex bits but anyone who does not let any crisis she’s facing waver her faith and will?? She deserves a big Toblerone, man.

An Underrated Gem

Hidden Dawn by Elke Silvarain

Arguably one of the best books I’ve read this year. The author’s ability to paint the mystically charming and wild landscape of British Columbia through words made the subtle fantasy element of this book SO SO GOOD.

And then there’s Sky. She’s a precious child you’d want to hold tightly and close to you because of what she’s been through. But, at the same time, you also want to push her out into the world so she can spread her wings and find the happiness she rightfully deserves. Read my review on this beautiful YA novel here.

A Character that Deserves More Love

Tecumseh from The Last Great American Magic by L.C. Fiore

This novel was my introduction to magical realism, and I didn’t even fully understand what the magical realism genre really is until I read a long Twitter thread on magical realism 101.

Tecumseh is an honorable warrior and he’s lived his life with compassion and dignity until the very end. Seriously. He’s a model character, you guys, and honestly needs more love. Plus his trickster spirit guide is hilarious.

An Underrated OTP

Blitzen and Hearthstone

It’s still debatable if this is an underrated OTP hekhek but I haven’t really read that many novels with underrated OTPs this year, so sue me.

But anyway. I don’t care if they’re really canon or just friends. OTP = One True Pairing and mygosh, these two are the most adorable pair in the entire series okay??? I love the canon pairs, sure, but the friendship these guys have is beyond the Nine Worlds.

 

Special mention to A Book of Revelations which is a compilation of some of THE BEST short stories I’ve ever read! Lots of life lessons to learn in this anthology, folks. And if you like learning your life lessons by decoding a story’s theme and moral like yours truly, you’ll have a field day reading this book. Pinky promise.

But if there is one book in this whole post that I want you to read, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give The Last Great American Magic a chance. It is a beautifully-written book with an interesting cast of well-developed characters. Tecumseh will have your heart wrapped around his finger, break it, and fix it ever so well (because he’s dedicated to a fault like that), and break it again. It’s fun.

Also, if you find this fun, please feel free to do the tag! 🙂

Have you read any novels this year that needs more love? Share them below and I’ll check them out!

kate

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Rapid Book Fire Tag | Tag Tuesday

I was tagged by the awe-inspiring Hannah Grace to do this tag and I’m so excited because it has been SOOO long since I posted something bookish in this blog. If you’ve seen in my categories, I have removed Bookish from the main topics in this blog because of the huge changes I’ve put in here. Still love books tho <3

So let’s get to it!

Rapid Fire Book Tag | A book tag! Because it’s been so long since I actually talked about books :)

Note: There are some affiliated links below but I will never recommend or mention a book I less than love. 🙂

EBOOKS OR PHYSICAL BOOKS?

I love both, actually. I’m the type who’s like, “Give me a good story in any platform and I’ll gobble it like it’s my last meal!”

PAPERBACKS OR HARDBACKS?

I CAN’T CHOOSE ONE. I love both equally.

ONLINE OR IN-STORE BOOK SHOPPING?

Okay, I only recently tried online book shopping and it scared the heck out of me the first time. Imagine your grandma sweating nervously while she signs up for Facebook. That’s me (unless your grandma’s braver than me, then yay awesome grandma! :D)

Anyway, there’s something exciting with in-store book shopping. Circling around every shelf, loving all the covers, secretly smelling the pages, and internally crying because you only brought enough money to buy two books and you’re choosing between like… ten. An adventure, I tell ya.

TRILOGIES OR SERIES?

Here’s my general preferences depending on genres:

Stand-alones for contemporary, either YA, NA or adult
Trilogies for dystopian, sci-fi and urban fantasy
Series for adventure fantasy and epic fantasy. (*whispers* BECAUSE I WANT MORE FROM THESE GENRES)

HEROES OR VILLAINS?

Heroes are cool and all but you know they’re the good guys, right? Which is why they’re kinda boring to me. I like anti-heroes more.

But villains! Oh boi if the villain has an amazing character depth and they either have a reason to be the antagonist of the story (and not be bad for absolutely no reason, blegh) or the “villain” is walking on that fine line between good and bad… Oh man, I love them. Examples are The Darkling (or Alexandeeeer!*) from the Grisha Trilogy and, in a way, Severus Snape. I mean, all throughout the series Harry thought he was the bad guy, right? But then… *sniff* Excuse me, I have to cry for hours.

A BOOK YOU WANT EVERYONE TO READ?

A Book of Revelations by A.C. Burch. It’s a collection of short stories and every short story has something exciting and insightful to learn from. I mentioned this book in a post before. And here’s my favorite quote from the book (which is hard to choose, by the way, because the book has so many great quotes and words of wisdom)

RECOMMEND AN UNDERRATED BOOK

The Hidden Dawn by Elke Silvarain. Betcha didn’t know that, huh? It’s a YA novel about a girl who moved from England to the magical country of Canada. And it’s beyond beautiful. I love how the author delicately depicts depression and anxiety. Also the magical element with the First Nation and the mysterious elk makes it even more of an exhilarating and beautiful reading experience.

You can read my review of this book in Underground Book Reviews, where self-published and indie authors are given the exposure they deserve. There are so many great books in the world and it would be great if we can also support the self-published and indie authors out there who shared their incredible works to the world.

THE LAST BOOK I FINISHED

Oy. I have no idea. Uhh… I think The Treason Game by Viv Doyle.

WEIRDEST THING YOU HAVE USED AS A BOOKMARK?

A dry face towel.

USED BOOKS, YES OR NO?

So long as every page is there and it’s readable, yes.

TOP THREE FAVORITE GENRES?

From top one to three: Fantasy, Adventure, Contemporary

BORROW OR BUY?

Hmm… If someone recommended a book whose author or title I haven’t heard before, I’ll probably just be like, “Well, lend it to me and we’ll see if I like it.”

CHARACTERS OR PLOT?

Characters. Seriously, I can read a story with a simple plot so long as the characters are interesting. Like Give Me Your Answer True by Suanne Lacquer. But a well-written plot with bland characters? It gets boring in the early chapters real fast.

LONG OR SHORT BOOKS?

Depends on the font size mehehe :3

LONG OR SHORT CHAPTERS?

A mix of both.

NAME THE FIRST THREE BOOKS YOU THINK OF

The Lightning Thief

Anna and the French Kiss

The Final Empire

BOOKS THAT MAKE YOU LAUGH OR CRY

For laugh: A Book of Revelations, I’ve Got Your Number or anything by Sophie Kinsella honestly, and every. Rick. Riordan. Book. Ey!

For cry: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Mancheeeeee) and Here to Stay by Suanne Lacquer.

OUR WORLD OR FICTIONAL WORLDS?

Fictional worlds all the way! I want to see a world where narwhals are cotton candy pink and have wings 😀

AUDIOBOOKS, YES OR NO?

Never tried. I’m only trying out podcasts recently so we’ll see.

DO YOU EVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER?

Seriously though, I’m a shallow person when it comes to book covers. If it’s artistically pretty or has an interesting title, I’m sold.

BOOK TO MOVIE OR BOOK TO TV ADAPTATIONS?

Ehh… I honestly don’t know. Some movie adaptations cut out lots of scenes because of their limited time. But some TV adaptations make the story more angst-y and I don’t like that. *cough* Like CW *cough* #SorryNotSorry

SERIES OR STANDALONES?

Please see general preferences for genres above 🙂

I TAG

Everyone who wants to do it. If you haven’t done this yet and you want to, I tag you, Pikachu!

Happy reading, awesome peeps!

* If you get the reference, I’m giving you a cookie! 😉

Quidditch: Transcending from fantasy through real-life

I was scrolling through Twitter this morning with no particular objective. Until I found this:

My first thought was, “This is insane!” And then I realized that it has been going on for a decade and I was like,

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HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS?!

Apparently, I’ve been living under the Wizarding World rock because I was not made aware of this happening since 2005.

So here’s the gist of what is now called Muggle Quidditch. It doesn’t really veer that far away from the game J.K. Rowling created for Harry Potter and the rest of the Wizarding World. It’s a semi-contact sport, coed, and 7 on 7. We’ve got the 3 hoops that are the goals, 3 kinds of balls–the quaffle, the bludgers, and the snitch. And there’s the differences: the existence of a Snitcher, the absence of flight (because we can’t do that. Yet.), the presence of dodgeball instead of a rogue iron ball, and plenty more.

I won’t be talking too much about the rules and basic know-hows of Quidditch since that’s not my goal here. But I’ll link up some helpful articles and videos below for those who want to know more.

Moving on, what I want to talk here is how the birth of this sport is such an amazing phenomenon to witness in our lifetime.

For some hours as I watched highlight reels from last year’s Quidditch World Cup on YouTube, I was just so overwhelmed with amazement on how something fictional was turned by creative and inspiring people into a real thing. That a certain literary work could impact an entire generation so much that they have owned it and made it real.

But here’s the thing about creating something new and unique that has the potential to be big: people will find you weird at first. And the general population will for quite a while.

We see something new and different, the first thing that comes to your mind “That’s weird”. It’s a reaction that’s probably been passed down to us from our parents along with our DNAs.

Quidditch and the entire community, players and mere avid fans, are pushing to achieve the sport’s legitimacy. And the greatest obstacle that I see they are facing is this mindset that it was a fictional game from a fictional novel. And that’s why it’s taken less seriously in the sports world.

Read that again, and again, and again.

I feel infuriated about this. J.K. Rowling clearly described in her books that the sport can be very physical and aggressive at times. And in the many videos, including documentaries like Brooms Up! and Mudbloods, and articles I’ve watched and read regarding this 10-year-old sport, it certainly is not a game for the faint of heart.

But why the stigma? Because it came from a fictional world?

The world of literature has long been the source and inspiration of the birth of many hobbies or interests that are beyond its traditional sphere. Cosplays, roleplays, fanfictions, the freaking Medieval Festival. And they are all getting acceptance in the general society. What’s so different about Quidditch?

Here’s what I think: real-life Quidditch does not only transcend through the realms of fantasy and reality. It is also breaking this age-old wall, blurring this age-old line that separates stereotypical jocks and nerds. And it may look or feel uncomfortable to some.

In Mudbloods, Alex Benepe, commissioner of the sport’s highest governing body International Quidditch Association, shared a story when he and his friends were starting Quidditch and heard someone make fun of them. Calling them “freaks” and the sport a “nerd game” or some sort.

All in the basis of where the sport came from.

But here’s the thing, Quidditch and the rest of the other sports all came from the same place: from the imaginative minds of creative people.

The last decade and, hopefully shorter, the decade to follow are adjustment periods for the whole world to accept Quidditch as a true sport. And we, those who campaign on making it legitimate, can only push other people into a better understanding that, yes, Quidditch is real and it’s happening.

And hopefully, more of this unique, amazing and inspiring kind of things that came from literature will happen in the near future. I wonder which book/s will inspire the next generation?


Thirst for knowledge, eh? Here’s where to get some other helpful stuff:
Quidditch World Cup 8 Highlight Reel [Video]
The Complete Muggle’s Guide To Quidditch [Video]
Brooms Up! Quidditch World Cup IV Documentary [Video]
International Quidditch Association
Quidditch World Cup: Fantasy Game, Real Bruises | Time
Muggles, rejoice: Quidditch is Becoming a Serious Sport | Smithsonian Mag


YOUR TURN! Have you heard about real-life Quidditch before this? How do you feel about it and the sport’s legitimacy? What other kind of stuff from literary fiction do you think will possibly exist in real-life? (Hopefully, for the good of everyone, you aren’t thinking of Hunger Games.) Let’s discuss!

2016 discussion challenge

Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Okay, so I was supposed to create a review for The 5th Wave first. But there are still stuff that I haven’t disclosed on that novel and I’ve already finished reading this one. So…why the heck not, right?


image

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Published on: 27 August 2015
Published by: Walker Books
ISBN: 1406331163
Pages:
343
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy
Add it on: Goodreads
Buy it on: Amazon | Book Depository
Favorite quote: “Me, all I want is to graduate…And then get on with finding out about the rest of my life, don’t you?”

This novel is not about the Chosen Ones, the fated heroes and heroines who will fight off the dragon in the end and save the entire world. It’s about ordinary, non-indie kid boy Mikey who just wants to graduate from high school, attend the prom, and maybe kiss Henna before they graduate.
Because sometimes, there are far bigger problems than this week’s end of the world and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.


The very concept of the novel immediately sang to me and appealed to me like moth to a candle’s fire. I’ve mentioned it before how we are so attracted to literary perfection and over-the-top spontaneity because they aren’t entirely present in our lives. This novel tells me just that. Also, it gives a unique and soulful take on what’s happening in the background of the fantasy stories we read and watch so much.

You get this ordinary guy with an ordinary life, Mikey, whose biggest problems have nothing to do with the blue eyed people and the blue lights and disappearing indie kids.

He is one of the most relatable YA protagonists to me. His awkwardness, fear and anxiety of many things…He is not the kind of ideal main character on a YA novel that dives into otherworldly trouble to save the world. He’s just an ordinary kid.

I like how you get to see two stories in this novel: one was of the typical fantasy hero doing typical fantasy heroic acts and the other was of Mikey and what’s going behind the fantasy story. The short synopses of the fantasy story are hilarious at times because they show these typical YA fantasy tropes in a kind of sardonic manner.

The plot was really simple and had not much difference with some other YA novels I’ve read. But what really makes this novel stand out is the context of how this seemingly ordinary story and ordinary plot is used.

The emotional aspect of the novel and its depth is completely profound. The magic behind The Rest of Us Just Live Here lies not in the presence of magic and perfectly spontaneous moments. It lies on the ordinary stuff happening in life, zoomed in to show us the extraordinary element that these trivialities possess.

Seriously. Patrick Ness is really inching his way to becoming one of my favorite authors of all time alongside Rick Riordan (duh, of course) and J.K. Rowling. He writes about tried-and-tested themes, issues and tropes in YA and Children’s Fiction but then he adds his own amazing, unique concepts and gives those themes, issues and tropes an entirely different look.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here leans more on wonderfully ordinary with some dash of common issues dealt in YA novels. And I love it. I am so excited to read more of his works.

Hopefully, as soon as I have the time and get my hands on a physical copy. Dear local bookstore, why you no have Patrick Ness novels yet?!

4 stars

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Hey there, guys! 🙋 Today’s the 4th day of 2016 (and yes, we’re still at that point in the year where knowing the 4th or the 20th day is still easily countable) and this is my first post of the year. Also, this is the first book that I’ve finished and will be reviewing for the year. It’s starting out to be a good year, book reviews-wise, in this blog but this also resulted to the first book-related bawling of the year. Good job, Patrick Ness.

Anyway, I’ll do my best in posting other topics in this blog like Art Appreciation, which is apparently the most viewed topic of 2015 according to my 2015 Year in Review (though, that’s probably because it’s the topic I share to other social media sites more often). I actually have blog posts in mind already (way from last year) but they’re just that right now–mental notes, rough drafts of the mind. So on to that later on, here’s my review of The Knife of Never Letting Go.

Only one month more and it will be Todd Hewitt’s thirteenth birthday. The day he will become a man, as dictated by the law of Prentisstown. They are all that’s left of the settlers who arrived in New World twenty years ago with the hope for a better life. And now, after a deadly war between race that killed the entire female population, and living in a world where one’s thoughts, one’s Noise, is heard by everyone, the men of Prentisstown, and the boy Todd Hewitt, are left off to fend for themselves. That is, until Todd finds a hole in the Noise. A quiet lurking in the swamp at the edge of Prentisstown. And then everything he knew and was told about changes.

I always had this thought that, after Hunger Games, YA dystopian literature will gradually come down from its celebrated hype. Suzanne Collins certainly created a benchmark of that genre that seemed almost entirely unreachable. So many YA dystopian novels were greatly compared to the Hunger Games Trilogy. Admittedly, some books almost leveled with the glory and wonders of Katniss’s story. And, personally, none have passed it. Until this.

The Knife of Never Letting Go was more than just a wonderful read. It was a breakthrough and a reminder of what YA dystopian novels could bring to the table that is literature.

The plotline was strong with the basic foundations of a YA dystopian novel–note: basic foundations, and not tropes–down pat. The beginning was slightly murky, as one tries to adapt into Todd’s world, the middle was a long excrutating torture filled with segmented thrills that are always followed by silent breathing rooms of scenes, and the end was hair-pullingly, head-scratchingly, throat-sore-from-yelling-frustratingly-ly…annoying. I swear, I was just annoyed.

Because I wanted to know what would happen next. It wasn’t wrapped up neatly but then that’s part of its appeal–it makes people want to know more. (And thank god, the trilogy is finished so I don’t have to wait for a freaking year for the next installment *glares at Uncle Rick*) The world-building was one of the best that I’ve seen, easily being at par to that of James Cameron’s Avatar and the world of Capitol and the thirteen districts.

The character development was splendid. Todd Hewitt was a great hero who served as an absolutely engaging narrative with a point-of-view you would want to be in. Viola Eade is easily comparable to Annabeth Chase and Hermione Granger for her composure and cleverness. But she instilled a personality that is entirely her own. And the bond and chemistry that they both have created–in the midst of the challenges they’ve faced–was simply believable and strong.

But beyond that is…*voice croaking* beyond that is *clears throat* Manchee.

Remember what I said above about how reading this book resulted to the first book-related bawling of the year? Yep, it was because of Manchee. I won’t say more for the benefit (or the sorrow I so wanted to witness) of the ones who haven’t read this series yet. Just know that Manchee was the best dog ever. And if I’ll ever get over my fear of dogs and own a pup, I’ll name him Manchee. Also to Patrick Ness: *flips the bird* You broke my heart and I am not even in love with you.

Overall, The Knife of Never Letting Go was a wonderful opening novel to a greatly anticipated series. This novel brought me hope to YA dystopian genre and is now officially a fan of Patrick Ness’s works. And I’ve got the entire Chaos Walking Trilogy bundle so you’re sure that I’ll be reading the entire series. I’m actually currently reading The Ask and The Answer, the second installment of the series…and it’s getting good. So good that I’ll probably post a picture of me and my future bald spot in my review of it.

5/5