Reviews

Another Magic School novel: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Overall Enjoyment: 3.5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 2/5

Diversity: 2/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

Review

I picked this book up because of the cover. I was interested in the possibility of there being a dragon-type character. Well, there really wasn’t, but this book was still pretty good. I’m going to be honest and say that at first I did not enjoy this book. I’m not a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell. I think most of her books are boring and this just seemed like a stereotypical magic school book. BUT, if you can make it to the middle of the book and especially the end then you find a little bit more substance to this book.

Let start with the characters. There’s Simon, the chosen one who can’t actually control his own powers. He’s impulsive and fiery and that normally gets him in trouble. Simon also has the typical orphan chosen one status. Every summer he goes from foster home to foster home without true family. I really enjoyed this part of Simon’s character. Now because I like orphan stories, but because it explains a little bit around why he may be so fiery and impulsive. Then, you have Baz who is about the exact opposite. The relationship between them was okay. I wouldn’t say it’s anything too crazy simply because it seems pretty quick to me after years of antagonism, but most say love and hate are closer than we usually think. Rowell does do a great job though of filling you in on the characters history together. You get to read a lot about their feuds and pranks. What really kept me reading though was the villain. The villain that has the face of Simon as a child. Just think about what that could mean for a second. There’s not a ton about the villain, but how he’s connected into the story really moved me into thinking about the cost of power and what some people may be willing to pay for it.

The world building was almost nonexistent. There was a magic world, but it is basically like ours and so didn’t really contain anything new or unexpected from our own world.

The diversity was mainly with Baz and Simon would were lgbtq+. Others most characters are white and pretty uneventful.

Overall, I rated this book so high because of the final half of the book. It does have some interesting plot elements that I didn’t expect and there are some twists that I didn’t expect right away. I would say if you really enjoy magic school novels than you could really enjoy this book. If you’re looking for a new and exciting spin on the magic college thing or an epic romance this probably is not the book for you.

Week in Review

The Week In Review- Cool Posts, an Exciting Discovery, and Some Book Progress

Hello lovely readers, thanks for checking out this post. I’ve decided to try and start a week in review. I hope to make this a consistent weekend post, but knowing my current schedule it could easily get shuffled around. I want to use a week in review not only to share what I’m up to, but also share with you blogger posts and articles I’ve read and really like. There are so many good posts that I’ve read that I’d love to share with all of you!


Amazing blog posts I’ve read this week

Are We Not Hyping F/F Books or Are You Just Not Listening to Us by Mahan. There are so many F/F book recs in this post, but also a rant about the seeming obliviousness of people who say no one is writing/ rec-ing F/F books. Very eye opening read.

Guest Post: I’m Bi (So I’m Greedy for More) by Shri, hosted by RainbowReads. I really enjoyed this read because as someone who is also bi I really resonated with Shri’s generally confusion and lack of realization for a long time.

New and Exciting Stuff I’ve Discovered

I was scrolling through twitter when I found this gem. If you haven’t listened yet and you want author interviews or reviews of gay literature then this is the podcast for you. They’ve interview some very prominent names to me so I’m super excited to have found them! Below is a link as well as a youtube video of their interview with T. J. Klune because I will always pump up this author.

Jeff and Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast

Currently Reading

Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan. I hype is REAL. I’m in love so far!

My next (hopefully) read:

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron. I’ll be honest and say I have already started reading this book and will definitely finish it, but Girls of Storm and Shadow has consumed me so I’ll finish this after.

A book cover I’ve fallen in love with

How to Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters. The cover is fairly simple, but the post-it notes and the whole concept of this book about labels and discovering who we are just go so well together. It’s beautiful.


What books are you currently reading? Have you made any new and exciting book-related discoveries recently? How did your week go? I’d love to hear from you!

Let's Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish- Sexual Content in YA

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. Posts are written on Friday’s.

This Friday’s topic is sexual content in YA and is there too much?

I find this topic interesting, but also makes me feel old for really feeling like I might have an answer.

What even is sexual content?

I feel like in order to truly answer this question I need to let you know what I define as sexual content in YA. When I think sexual content I’m going to be honest and say I mostly think of graphic sex. This is probably because I’ve read a lot of other adult stories that have a heavy romance element, but that’s what I think of. If it’s in YA though I scale it back a bit, because honestly the USA is generally pretty prudish about sex and young people. The USA on a whole is not a sex positive country. So, sexual content in YA strike me as detailed descriptions of kissing, groping, or beyond.

Is there too much in YA?

In my opinion, no there isn’t too much sexual content in YA. Maybe it’s because I read mostly YA fantasy, but I honestly haven’t read much sexual content in YA at all. Sure there are descriptions of kissing sometimes and on rare occasion more than that, but it never seems excessive or generally graphic. Is this a thing in YA romance? I’m not sure, but really I don’t feel the need to be the morality police when it comes to sexual content. I think we as a society need to become more sex positive where we are more honest about sex and sex education. As an educator I know the whole absence only teaching doesn’t work and I kinda feel that way about sexual content. Also, young adults deserve to have themselves represented in their age group’s stories. Some people are sexually active at a fairly young age. You can feel how you want about that, but that doesn’t take away the fact that it happens. Even if young adults aren’t sexually active they still know what sex and related behaviors are. Most schools do sex ed around 5th and 6th grade.

My Personal Preferred Handling of YA sexual content

My biggest concern about anything having to do with YA and relationships is how relationships are portrayed. I feel like there are many books where there are a girl and a boy, they’re working together or something, and BAM they love each other. There’s no build, there’s just hey we’re around each other and attractive, we’re obviously meant to be together forever. Please show young people how to actually have and start a relationship. OR, and this one is worse, one character is mean to the other character, but they still fall in love and its never addressed. I get unhealthy relationship vibes and it makes me cringe. Now, I think exploring unhealthy relationships and the consequences/ effects of that are fine topics to explore. I think some young adults may need to read those stories. What I don’t like is unhealthy relationships being seen as an epic modern romance. Personally, when I was younger I didn’t really see the problems with it as I do now, but I remember hoping maybe one day to have a romance like in the books I read. I had no idea that a relationship like that wouldn’t be the ideal or healthy. Now, obviously as you learn and grow you can usually figure out what is a more healthy option, but as a young person its confusing and I’d just prefer better book role models. Please don’t teach people that abuse is attractive.

So, I kinda got off on a tangent there, but no I don’t personally believe there is too much sexual content in YA.


What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Have you even thought about this topic before? I’d love to hear what you think!

Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday: Character Traits I love

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

The rules are simple:

  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other blogger’s lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

Hello lovely readers, I don’t normally participate in top ten Tuesdays. They tend to stress me out more than its worth, but I really enjoyed the idea for this one so I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

#1 – Intelligence

If you know me at all you will know one of the qualities I value most in people I know and characters I enjoy is their intelligence. Nothing is more annoying then reading about a character continuously getting into trouble because they’re doing something dumb.

Character: Theo or most characters honestly from The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

#2 – Strength

This can be anytime of strength really. Physical, mental, or emotional. Any type of strength is something that I really admire; especially, in female characters.

Character: Ox from Wolfsong by T.J. Klune

#3- Cunning

What can I say, it’s the slytherin in me. I want a character that can plot and make moves without it being super obvious.

Character: Jude from The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

#4- Perseverance

I appreciate a character that just doesn’t give up. I like characters that struggle. I want to cheer them on and watch them succeed against the odds.

Character: Zelie from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

#5- Kindness

While I like characters that are strong and cunning it really irritates me when there isn’t any kindness or goodness to the character. They don’t have to be kind to everyone or even most people, but they need to be kind to at least someone.

Character: Meg from Written in Red by Anne Bishop

#6- Relatable

What person doesn’t like to read about characters that they can see themselves in and/or relate to?

Character: Alex from Red, White, Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

#7- Growth

I appreciate a character that grows throughout the story. We all learn and grow every day and I enjoy reading it in a character

Character: Nahri from The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

#8- Maturity

As I age reading about teenagers can get a bit frustrating. Everything is so new and they’re learning and everything seems like such a big deal. I remember that time in my life, but now I can look back a realize I really had no idea what I was doing. So, I like to read about characters with more mature voices that seem to have a bit more of a handle on life.

Character: Fatima from The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

#9- Unique

As much as I like relatable characters I don’t want to read about the same character over and over again. I want to read from unique and new viewpoints that share new thoughts, ideas, or ways of being with me.

Character: Hun-KamÉ from Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

#10- Believable

I love fiction and my favorite genre is fantasy, but I get really frustrated when the writing and characters aren’t believable.

Character: Clare from The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger


What character traits do you look for in your favorite book characters? Do we have any traits in common?

Fun Stuff

The End is Near- Status Update on 2019 Reading Challenges

So, I’m gonna be honest. I forgot about these reading challenges for awhile. I’m still interested in doing them, but I definitely let my interests sidetrack me on this. Honestly though, I’ve read a couple books for my reading challenge without knowing it and have some books on my TBR that work for some of these challenges as well. I’m not sure if I’ll fully complete either of these, but it was nice giving it a shot.

Year of The Asian Reading Challenge by CW from The Quiet Pond (thequietpond.com),Lily from Sprinkles of Dreams (sprinklesofdreams.wordpress.com), Shealea, and Vicky from Vicky Who Reads (vickywhoreads.wordpress.com). This is the challenge for you, if like me, one of your goals this year is to make sure you’re reading more diversely. The goal is to read as many books by asian authors as you can. Now, there are levels to the challenge so don’t stress out if you have a ton of other reading goals or anything like that. They also come with cute icon which you can see below. If you’d like to join please check here.

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11-20 books

Currently reading: Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natash Ngan (ARC)

Previously Read:

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Spinning Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

As you can see I may have been a bit too ambitious in this reading challenge. Not sure I’m going to make it, but I have hopes and plans to read more Asian authors.


Reading Women Challenge. This challenge was put together by ReadingWomen. It encourages people to read different books either about or by women. You can find it below. If you want more information check here.

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Previously Read:

Once & Future by Cori McCarthy & Amy Rose Capetta (#13)

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (#18)

How long ’til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin (#21)

Spinning the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (#23)

Girls of Paper and Fire  by Natasha Ngan(#22)

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson (#20)

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (#24)

Doing a bit better with this reading challenge though still further behind then I’d like to be. Gotta keep going on it.


Are you still working on your 2019 reading challenge? Are you mostly completely or kinda forgotten about them like me? I’d love to hear where you’re at!

ARC

A Fantastic Political Fantasy- Master of Restless Shadows Book One by Ginn Hale

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 4/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Freshly graduated Master Physician Narsi Lif-Tahm has left his home in Anacleto and journeyed to the imposing royal capital of Cieloalta intent upon keeping the youthful oath he made to a troubled writer. But in the decade since Narsi gave his pledge, Atreau Vediya has grown from an anonymous delinquent to a man renowned for penning bawdy operas and engaging in scandalous affairs.

What Narsi―and most of the larger world―cannot know is the secret role Atreau plays as spymaster for the Duke of Rauma.

After the Cadeleonian royal bishop launches an unprovoked attack against the witches in neighboring Labara, Atreau will require every resource he can lay his hands upon to avert a war. A physician is exactly what he needs. But with a relentless assassin hunting the city and ancient magic waking, Atreau fears that his actions could cost more than his own honor. The price of peace could be his friends’ lives. “

Review

I received this book as a free ARC from NetGalley and all opinions are completely my own.

People, this book was SOOOOOO amazing! The beginning is a little shaky. Nasri is a bit too idealist for me at the beginning, but he grows on me. The fantasy aspect of this book is based mostly on spells and magic with more fantastical beasts being in the far off distance. The intrigue though. It’s amazing, there’s some death and darkness in this book, but for a political fantasy this book is very light. I mostly don’t like political fantasy, because the dark plotting against each other and graphic nature is too much for me. However, this book has the intrigue without the graphic and/or gratuitous violence.

Let’s start with the characters first because characters are always what really are the draw for me. First, we have Narsi. He’s the optimism in our story, a bright young physician who may be a little too trusting for his own good, but is smart and sincere. Then, Atreau, who is a talented spy who poses as an author of smutty, but historical novels. Fedeles who was once possessed by dark magic and is still trying to recover from the trauma and Atriz, a man who is controlled by another through a mark of obedience. These are just our four mains, there are even more characters that we learn and see that are interesting as well. But, these characters are interesting. They all have their different personalities with secrets and stories to tell. I thought that the attraction between Narsi and Atreau was weak. It’s not really based on much, but a meeting or two. I feel like that about their characters in general. Not that they’re weak or poorly written, but more that we didn’t get a ton of time with them learning their stories. They move along most of the action of the book and so there is minimum development of them. However, Fedeles and Ariz, I yearn for them! Their relationship and what they’ve both experienced is a large part of their part of the story and I love it. I’m a sucker for hurting, but strong men and I want them to make it both out of this alive.

The world building is great, but a bit overwhelming at times. This definitely reads like a story that’s part of a series. Which after doing some more research there are definitely books in the same world as this new book that I think if were read first could make this book a bit easier to understand. There are rich characters with interesting stories that are just mentioned in passing and that can make stuff a bit confusing or hard to follow. There are multiple characters with similar J names not to mention there is also the medieval fantasy problem where one person has multiple titles and names which can make it even more confusing. However, there are written religions in this book that have a well describe history though it slowly is revealed to the reader. I also enjoyed the magic in this book. It’s glanced over a lot, but whenever its included I’m also curious to read more on it. There’s also some mild racism and hints at homophobia. Honestly, it was the worst in the beginning and honestly wasn’t really necessary for the novel to be honest. It’s just kinda shaken off and then never much mentioned again so I think the author could have ditched it all together and it really wouldn’t have been a big deal.

I would say the diversity in this book is pretty good. One of the main characters is a man of color, all of our four main characters appear to be at least bisexual. We also have a side transgender character which I was very impressed with how the author handled to be honest. There was no misgendering or anything. Just comes out as part of the story so I liked that. There are also multiple character characters dealing with trauma. It’s not heavily explored, but is definitely there.

If you enjoy political intrigue, LGBTQ+ representation, and a rich world then this is a great book for you. If you’re looking for a gay Game of Thrones this is not for you. There is as mentioned before lots of politics and scheming even some minor death. However, the intrigue and plots are the main draw to this story as well as the characters not lots of fighting, backstabbing, and generally horrible people.

Master of Restless Shadows will be available soon! October 8, 2019 to be exact. I really loved this book and would highly recommend it!

Let's Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish: Star Ratings-Are they fair or necessary?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. Posts are written on Friday’s.

For this talk the discussion topic is if star ratings are fair or necessary. This question has been posted before on different social media and blogs before and I still have mixed feelings about it.

Are star ratings fair?

Personally I believe that I suppose it depends on your definition of fair. Ratings are purely opinion-based normally so I would say that there’s nothing inherently fair about it, but it’s not supposed to be either. The star rating system is a quick glance at a person’s opinion about something. It doesn’t give a lot of detail which is why I think reviews with star ratings are super important, but I would say star ratings are ratings of convenience that can easily draw people into your review. I know there are been times where I see and excellent or terrible star rating and both pull me in to read the review more so than an average three star review would. If you view all opinions as fair than I would say yes star ratings are fair. Everyone has the right to an opinion and I believe they also have a right to express that opinion even though we might not like it or agree with it. However, star ratings are based as I mentioned before on opinion. There are very few that are objective and if you think about that then star ratings could never truly be fair. There’s no real criteria for ensuring fairness or what my one star ratings means compared to your one star rating. In fact, star ratings vary widely between book bloggers, but I believe we if know that going in it may even out the playing field at least a bit.

Are star ratings necessary?

Are they necessary? No, I would say they’re not necessary, but they do make quick glances a lot easier. I think the only real value to a star rating is for a quick glance understanding of a product. It’s not honestly that helpful to me without a review and this goes for any product not just a book. If something is rated with a really low score I want to know why just like I want to know why it received so many great ones. I know that star ratings though can often help or hurt an author’s chances of selling a book. You could perhaps review star ratings as a necessary helpful marketing tool in some cases I suppose.

Overall, I would say that while convenient and I will continue to use star rating I would say there is nothing inherently fair about them nor are they necessary. However, the possibility of using the star rating as a way to draw readers or quickly share my opinion is too much of a draw for me. I do try to be thoughtful when I create star ratings myself, but I can understand the debate about them.


What are your thoughts? Do you think star ratings are necessary or fair? Is there some other system we could be using? I’d love to hear your thoughts!