Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Want to Finish in 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. This week is a freebie week, so I’m going with 10 series I want to finish in 2017. I only included series that are either already finished, or will be in 2017. I hope that’s not too optimistic though.

The Others by Anne Bishop // To read: Etched in Bone // I am determined to finish this series this year, because the final book will be released in a week or two. I’m SO excited, everyone. I know she’s writing a spinoff in the same world (with the same series title) but I’m counting that as a separate one because it will no longer revolve around these characters.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen // To read: The Invasion of the Tearling, The Fate of the Tearling // I really enjoyed the first book, and I don’t want to wait 2 years before reading the next one. I’m hoping to finish this trilogy this year, because I can’t wait to see what Kelsea does next. 

Farseer by Robin Hobb // To read: Assassin’s Quest // I need to finish this trilogy! I want to read far more Robin Hobb this year, and that can only happen when I finish this trilogy. I’m excited to see what will happen to Fitz. Also: scared.

Southern Reach by Jeff Vandermeer // To read: Authority, Acceptance // This was so weird, which is exactly why I want to continue. The first one was an incredibly quick read, so I hope I’ll be able to read the next 2 this year.

Inheritance by N.K. Jemisin // To read: The Kingdom of Gods // Another fantasy trilogy I really need to finish. I absolutely adored the first two! I have no idea what the third one will entail though. 

Curse Workers by Holly Black // To read: Black Heart // I quite enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy! The only reason I haven’t finished it, is because I haven’t been listening to audio books lately. I really want to read this one through audio, because Jesse Eisenberg narrates it. 

Empress of Bright Moon by Weina Dai Randel // To read: The Empress of Bright Moon // A duology I still have to finish! I read the first book last year, and was pleasantly surprised by it. It’s the author’s debut, and the duology is a historical fiction one set in China.

Night Angel by Brent Weeks // To read: Shadow’s Edge, Beyond the Shadows // I actually have the second book already, I have no idea why I haven’t continued. I really need to, before I truly forget everything that happened in the first book -I’ve already forgotten so much.

Paradox by Rachel Bach // To read: Heaven’s Queen // Why did I NEVER finish this??? I have no clue. It’s a space opera trilogy by one of my favorite authors. I really enjoyed the first two books, which I found fun and addictive. So I really need to finish Dev’s story. 

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis // To read: The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician’s Nephew, The Last Battle // Confession: I’ve never read the last 4 Narnia books… Oops. Something to amend this year.


Those are the 10 series I really want to finish this year! Have you finished any of these? Which one should I prioritize? Which series do you want to finish this year? 

Review: All the Rage

all-the-rageAll the Rage by Courtney Summers
Published: 28.01.2016 by MacMillan Children’s
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, YA
Rating: 5/5 stars – ★★★★★
Goodreads

Synopsis: Kellan Turner is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. But when she speaks up, she is branded a liar. Telling the truth has cost her everything, because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town.

But when news of Kellan assaulting another girl gets out, the cost of staying silent might be more than Romy can bear. All The Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.

review

Thanks to the #Bookentine readathon, I finally picked up this book. I’ve had this book on my shelf since the summer of 2015, when I got an ARC copy after working at Pan Macmillan as an intern for a while. I waited so long to read this! I do know why though. This book deals with such a heavy subject, it’s not a book I can just pick up on a whim. But I’m glad I finally read it. It was so worth it.

All the Rage centers around Romy Grey, a teenager in a small city in the U.S. She used to have a lot. She used to have a best friend she adored. That’s no longer the case now. Romy was raped. By the town’s golden boy. Why would anyone believe a girl who accused such a “nice kid”? They wouldn’t. And so Romy has been dealing with the vicious repercussions of saying she was raped.

This book made me want to set humanity on fire. I hate it. I mean, the book itself was incredible. But the fact that I could recognize so much of our society in it made me want to throw up. Courtney Summers does not pull any punches with this novel. She attacks rape culture, victim blaming, slut shaming and bullying in a confrontational manner -and it just made me want to give that woman a round of applause. We need books like this. We need authors brave enough to address these problems. Instead of all those classics, this should be required reading in high school.

I felt so much for Romy. I was angry, because of how she was being treated. I was furious, because everyone else was so weak. I was disgusted, because of the way she was treated. I felt sympathy for the girl who has been through too much. I was frustrated, because she couldn’t seem to tell anyone. I understood why she couldn’t seem to tell anyone. I was glad that she had a family that loved her so much.

I just… I can’t. I feel like I need to watch so many puppy videos after finishing this book. And I also want to set the patriarchy on fire. I will never in my life understand how an adult can treat a child like that. Can just decide what is the truth and what isn’t, based on your biased beliefs. I felt like throwing up every time the sheriff entered the story -and also felt like kicking him in the nuts.

This book was just so well written. The characters felt so utterly real, I felt like I know Romy so well. The narrative felt broken up at times which may sound like a bad thing but it actually fit with the story. Because the trauma fragments everything. It was raw, and honest. I think there were several reasons Romy’s story felt so real to me:

  • We start the story after she was raped, when everyone has already decided she is lying. But you know what happened to her because of the flashback. I don’t really know how to explain this, but it did feel like a girl’s account of rape happening. It didn’t feel like an author saying: this is what happened to her. It felt like Romy was telling me.
  • The littlest thing could induce a panic attack and/or flashback to her, which I believe would happen with trauma in real life too. A sentence that sounds too familiar. A smell or sound you heard while it was happening.
  • What struck me most were the tiny things Romy did to try and bring control back into her life. She painted her nails and lips red religiously. She panicked if she left the house without them made up. They were layers of protection, so people wouldn’t really see her. There was a process with several meticulous steps to the nailpolish and lipstick. It may seem silly, but to her it’s a way of regaining some control.

All those things made the trauma and story so vivid. I cry for every person who has been through this -or anything traumatic at all. I hope people believed you. I hope someone was there to help you. And if you’re looking for someone to listen to your story, know that I am always here. I may be a stranger to you, that’s true. But it’s sometimes easier to tell a stranger what you’ve been through, than it is to tell a loved one.

So be strong, my people. Fight. Don’t let the patriarchy crush you. Smash it. Set it on fire. Smack rape culture in the face. Help out a person in need. Stand up for those who are not believed, those who are overlooked. And make everyone you know read this book.

Weekly Wrap Up | February n° 4

what i read 80c8b0

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson // DNF // This book just wasn’t for me. I made it to page 133 before deciding to continue. I think I can actually see why people love it as I think the writing is really unique, but it just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t invested in the story, nor in the characters, and once put down I didn’t feel the need to pick it back up. 

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab // ★★★★★ // I read this immediately when it was released, to avoid all spoilers. I took my time though, as I read it in 3 or 4 days. I absolutely loved the conclusion of this trilogy. Yes, it was long, but it never felt dragged out -in my opinion. I’m excited to see what V.E. Schwab will do next.

Wicca: Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham // Read in translation – Dutch // ★★★★ //  An interesting non fiction pick, right? I was never raised in a religious manner, and know next to nothing about it. I’ve also never been attracted to any of the biggest religions, as I feel no connection to them. While I didn’t agree with everything in this book, I did find a lot I could relate to, understand and get behind. I’ll definitely be reading more on Wicca, (Neo)Paganism, Druidism, etc. If you have any recommendations, feel free to let me know!

what i watched 80c8b0

I didn’t really have any time this week, so I just watched the new Shadowhunters episode, and rewatched some of my favorite Skam ones. 

in real life 80c8b0

I had an interesting week at work today, as the event we’ve been working on for 2 months finally happened. I’m quite happy and proud with the way it turned out! 

Other than that, not much happened this week!


So that was my week! How was yours? Did you read, watch or do anything? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Review: Radio Silence | Wherein I am Frances?

radio-silenceRadio Silence by Alice Oseman
Published: 25.02.2016 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Genre: Contemporary, YA

Rating: 5/5 stars
Goodreads

Synopsis: What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself.

review

I originally bought this book because Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic absolutely loved it, and it did sound pretty interesting to me. I finally picked it up because I wanted to participate in the #Bookentine readathon by Michelle & Ely @ Tea & Titles. I’m so glad I got that little push to pick this one up, because it blew my mind. 

In all my time reading YA, and reading contemporary books, I have never come across a book I could relate to as much as this one. That made me sound really old, didn’t it? I hope you know what I mean. I actually felt like I knew Frances, that we were similar in so many ways, and that we would be great friends.

Here’s the thing: while I love stories filled with adventure or road trips and teenage (romantic) drama, that has never been my life. I’m very much an introvert. I don’t really like going to clubs or big friend groups. I do better with one-on-one conversations. There are many things I love fiercely, but don’t tell the people I know in real life about because I’m afraid they’d think I’m too weird. I was a good student. I didn’t really mind studying. Now that I am 22 years old, I love these aspects of my personality. I adore being an introvert. As a teenager, it made me feel like I was the lame or weird friend. I think reading a book like this, would have made me feel like I wasn’t alone, or weird. 

Frances has always been someone very into studying. She wanted to become head girl, so she could get into Cambridge. A good university means a good life, right? That’s always been her focus. There’s one other thing she loves even more though: a YouTube podcast called University City. It’s about a futuristic place where the world has gone to crap and someone is stuck all alone inside of a university (I think). The person sends out radio broadcasts, hoping to find someone who is listening. Frances makes fan art for the podcast, which she sometimes posts on Tumblr too. Anonymous, of course. Then she meets a guy called Aled, and finds herself with a true friend for the first time. 

I can’t tell you how much I adored this story, and these characters. Let me try though: 

  • This book is set in the UK. Somehow, I always feel closer to a teenager’s story when it’s set in the UK, rather than the US. I guess it’s a European Union thing -for now… 
  • This actually felt like a modern YA read. I know what you’re thinking: contemporaries are always modern, Jolien! Yes, I know. But I feel like the references made in this book were things I, as a young woman, understood. Instead of these weird 80s references that no teenager now actually makes. 
  • Frances is so relateable. Even though there are so many aspects of her I can’t relate to, I still feel like I am her
  • There is so much diversity in this book, without it feeling like it’s centered around it. Frances is British-Ethiopian. Daniel is Korean. She’s bisexual, something she has known for years (she’s 17 while this story takes place). This book also includes homosexuality and demisexuality -although I feel the latter could’ve been expanded on more.
  • Family is important as well. In one of the reviews I read on this book, it mentioned the bad parenting trope happening here too. I actually don’t think that’s the case. Yes, there is bad parenting in it. But there is great parenting too. Frances’ mom is honestly an incredible mother. She knows her daughter so well, and is so accepting, supporting and kind. I think she’s the kind of mother we should all aspire to be/support one day. 
  • Friendship is what this book is actually about. Is it weird that I find that so refreshing? This book isn’t about a grand romance which let’s be real, most of us don’t get at 17 years old. It’s about being a good friend, finding a friend who you can really be yourself with and how to help each other out. 
  • Education. I like that this book addresses the problems with our Western educational system. So many of us are led to believe that the only way we’ll have a good life is if we get a degree from the best school ever. And that’s just not true. Traditional education is not for everyone. It doesn’t suit everyone. There are people who thrive in real life situations, instead of in a school system. We need to be shown our other options too, which is something this book addresses. 

I could honestly go on for ages about this book. There are so many things I loved about it. I don’t think I have ever read a book like this. I felt like I was engulfed in a giant hug, while I was reading this. Saying: it’s okay. Not every teenager is all about partying. Not every teenager has a huge clique of friends. Not every teenager has this big romantic story, and/or finds the love of their life in high school. You’re great the way you are.


I would encourage everyone to read this. Even if you would normally not pick up a YA contemporary. I think this is the kind of book most people could find something to appreciate in. Thank you, Kyra and Michelle, for urging me to pick this up. I appreciate it.


As I’m writing this, I’m kind of hoping Alice Oseman will be at #YALC. I’m going this year, and I don’t think the authors have been announced yet. I would love to meet her.

Review: The Best We Could Do | An Incredible Graphic Memoir

the-best-we-could-doThe Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
Publication: 07.03.2017 by Abrams ComicArts
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Graphic
Rating: 4/5 stars
Goodreads

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way. 

Synopsis: This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

review

When I saw this on Netgalley, I immediately wanted it. Not only do I want to read more graphic novels, I also want to read more non-fiction and diverse (+own voices) books. This graphic memoir combines all three into one spectacular book.

I think this is the type of (non fiction) book I would recommend to everyone. Here’s why: 

  1. Because this is an illustrated memoir, it is very easy to read. It doesn’t feel like you’re trying to make your way through 2573365 different facts. You just don’t get as overwhelmed by non fiction when it’s in a graphic form. 
  2. It’s a diverse and own voices book.
  3. The art is absolutely stunning. It has this watercolor aspect to it that I found so gorgeous. It’s all in the red-orange color you see on the cover. So the pages are black and white usually, with the red watercolor making its way through. 
  4. It taught me so much about Vietnam, from the perspective of both Thi Bui, and her parents and grandparents. I think that’s really great, because she showed how each generation’s view on the country is quite different. 

Do you see why you need to read it too? It’s well worth your time, I promise. 

If you don’t know, this is a memoir of Thi Bui’s life. She escaped (is this the right word? I don’t really know) Vietnam with her family during the 1970s when she was just a child. Therefore, most of her actual memories are from her life in the US. I think this book is both a search for memories of life in Vietnam, and her finding her place in an American and Vietnamese culture. She explores her life, that of her siblings, but also that of her parents and grandparents in Vietnam -and what they did when they arrived in the US. 

Like I mentioned before, this book taught me so much about Vietnam. As a Belgian, I’m sad to say that I had almost no prior knowledge of Vietnam? We don’t really cover it in our history classes, so I didn’t even have a basic knowledge to fall back on. That’s why I find it so important to diversify my reading: I want to learn more about other cultures, countries, and people’s experiences.

I have to say that this book felt very sad to me. Thi Bui’s family has seen a lot of dark times, and it’s not always easy to be the ones to survive either. What really struck me is when she said that she’d always have the refugee reflex: to always be able to flee/run with your important things much faster and calmer than other people would. Because you’ve been through it so many times. And that makes me so infinitely sad. 

She doesn’t shy away from addressing the hard topics, such as not getting along with family -and/or not understanding them. I feel like this memoir is her way of trying to understand her mom, dad and grandparents. It’s her trying to understand the country she came from, but didn’t really grow up in. 

The only downside of this book is that I had to seriously pay attention to the timeline, or get confused. She sometimes goes back 20 years in time, then 30, then back to current times, etc. For example, she’d follow her dad’s life, then her granddad’s and suddenly we’re back to them arriving in the U.S. Because I wasn’t familiar with Vietnam’s history, the “non-chronological” parts made it a bit hard to follow at times.


I’d honestly recommend this to everyone. It’s touching. It’s informative. It’s sad, but also has hope. It’s beautiful, thanks to the artwork. It’s a story that deserves to be read.

Top 5 Wednesday: Want to Get Rid of Your Reading Slump?

It’s #T5W time! Today, we’re talking about books that will take you out of your reading slump. I know that this process is different for everyone. For me, two types of books usually get me out of a reading slump: re-reading a favorite book, or reading a fast-paced fun/cute book. Today, I’m focusing on books that are quite quick reads, either because of their fast-paced story line, or their adorableness. 

As always, I will leave all the Top 5 Wednesday information in the description box of my video.

Books mentioned: 

  1. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  2. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  3. Sunbolt (Sunbolt Chronicles #1) by Intisar Khanani
  4. Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers #1) by Rachel Aaron
  5. Frostfire (Kanin Chronicles #1) by Amanda Hocking

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved More Than I Thought I Would

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. This week, it’s about books you loved more or less than you thought you would. I decided to keep it positive this week, and talk about the books that pleasantly surprised me.

The Martian by Andy Weir // I’m not very well-read in the science fiction genre, which is the main reason I didn’t think I’d love this. Plus, I know only a basic amount of physics, chemistry and botany -thanks to high school. But I actually ended up loving this! I think that’s mostly due to Mark Watney’s sense of humor, because he made me laugh out loud several times while reading this. It also makes it a less dark read. Somehow it’s hilarious, even though he’s all alone on this planet without enough food/a rescue option.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl // For a while in the past few years, I stopped reading multiple genres and started focusing on just fantasy. So I was hesitant about this mystery novel, as it had been a while since I expanded my genres. But I ended up LOVING this. I was constantly speculating, wondering what happened, rooting for the journalist main character, and mind-blown by the incredible mixed media in this book.

Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram // When I started this, I thought it’d just be a cute modern retelling of Cinderella. Kind of like the movie ‘A Cinderella Story’? But this was so much more than that. I loved the representation of disability, healthy relationships, grief, and difficult family situations. 

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth // I read this in 2013, when I first discovered Goodreads. This is a historical fiction book about a teenage girl whose parents died while she was kissing another girl. It’s about the relief she feels because she won’t have to tell her parents about it, the grief and guilt, her living with her conservative aunt, and coming to terms with her sexuality. It’s an incredible book. Be warned, this is a very slow-paced book, and it’s nearly 500 pages long. But it’s so worth it. I think I want to re-read this soon, in anticipation of the adaptation. 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt // I don’t read general adult fiction often. So I’m always kind of afraid I won’t like it. Especially this book, because the writing is very… specific. I don’t know how to best explain this, but the students this book centers around study Ancient Greek and Latin. So both are used in the book, and references to the languages and culture. So I was afraid I wouldn’t get any of it. But I actually felt kind of smart while reading this. Plus, the story is just amazing.

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch // I was in a reading slump when I started reading this book, and the first few pages felt like such a struggle. But then I started getting into the story. And now it’s one of my favorite fantasy series.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson // I was afraid this would be like any other YA fantasy I’ve read. You know what I mean: the story about the beautiful and incredibly talented kick-ass girl who is the only one that can save the world and falls in love with two guys at the same time. This definitely wasn’t. Elisa isn’t that girl. She’s chubby. She doesn’t exercise often. She’s smart, but she’s shy and afraid to give her opinion at times. She doesn’t know how to fight. But she just grows SO STRONG and wonderful in this trilogy. 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen // It’s no secret that I don’t have a great track record with classics. Aside from J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, I haven’t really enjoyed the ones I read. But this one… I actually ended up really enjoying! I was so surprised that I was attached to the characters and their story. I’m definitely going to read more Jane Austen. 

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma // I didn’t expect to love this book because it’s about a brother and sister who fall in love. That creeps me out. Really. But this book… It’s a masterpiece. I never felt uncomfortable while reading. Instead, I only felt empathy and sadness and grief. And I wanted to hug Lochan and Maya forever.

The Bone Witch (Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco // I was expecting to like this. It’s about a girl who discovers she’s a bone witch (and can raise the dead) when she accidentally raises her dead brother from the grave. I was hesitant when I started it though because it’s told in two timelines: one starts when she makes the discovery, the other when she’s a bone witch in exile. And I was afraid it wouldn’t work, as it’s like her current exile-character is telling her story to another character on the island (and that’s the other timeline). Kind of like The Name of the Wind? But I absolutely adored it. I can’t wait for the next book, because I need to know how she gets to the point in exile!


So those are 10 books I absolutely loved, even though I didn’t think I would. Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Which books did you enjoy more than you expected to?