1

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

SPARKLING LETTERS BOOK BLOG - REVIEW AND I DARKEN BY KIERSTEN WHITE (3)

Rating : 4 Stars

I have a very, very mixed feeling about And I Darken. I had so much expectation but turned out it wasn’t what I expected. It was a bit less and a bit more.

The plot

First of all, I’m gonna tell you this, in case you haven’t heard enough. This book is not fantasy at all, despite being shelved as ‘Fantasy’ on Goodreads. It is historical fiction, a retelling of (apparently) Vlad the Impaler. I knew nothing about it before and after halfway reading this book, I frantically scrambled to the internet to find out more about Vlad, Wallachia, and Ottoman Empire. It’s very political and it reminded me a little of The Winner’s Kiss.

This book is slow. And by slow I mean suuuupeeer slooooowww. I was expecting the book to be all action from page one but it was… systematic. It was boring and I slept about three times during the first half of the book alone. It didn’t really pick up pace, but it got more brutal and more action packed.

It’s the kind of book that slowly grew on me. 

characters ADSoM

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way.

I felt thoroughly deceived by those sentences. On my mind, I thought Lada Dragwlya would be soft and sweet but secretly evil and brutal. But no, SHE’S OPENLY BRUTAL. She’s so ruthless and feral and cruel and SHE SCARES THE LIVING LIFE OUT OF ME! I mean… who killed a man with teeth and bare hands? Barbarian, that’s it! Lada is a barbarian! I didn’t particularly like her because she was so naive and close minded when it comes to power. She resented being a woman because she couldn’t go to war. I mean… why go to war if there are other ways to control the situation? I love being a woman and I always, always love a cunning and manipulative woman😛 but that’s beside the point.

Lada spent so much time resenting her gender that I was almost fed up with her. BUT, just like the book itself, her character slowly grew on me. She learned her lessons the hard way and I actually enjoyed her character development, despite still being cold-hearted until the end of the book :’)

Mehmed, on the other hand, stole my heart since the first time (or second) he made an appearance. He’s just so funny and determined and extremely likable! I love to see him having a vision for the future. Unfortunately, his position as Sultan somehow made him less and less likable to me. He’s naive, radical, and let’s be real, unfair to Lada.

I had a hard time liking Radu because he was such a crybaby but OMGGGG his character development is THE BEST OF ALL! I honestly enjoyed to see him making friends, standing up for himself and the people he loved and finding his own home. He was also getting braver in making his own decision. He’s also very… whispers manipulative. #Respect.

Despite my issues with the main characters, I found them extremely intriguing. I was completely curious about what would happen to them and their relationships were indeed toxic! So much lies and repressed anger. The side characters are also surprisingly interesting. There are the kind one, the cheerful one, the bitter and realistic, the naive, and the manipulative. I like Mehmed’s mother so much she’s the perfect image of manipulation ♥

SPARKLING LETTERS BOOK BLOG - REVIEW AND I DARKEN BY KIERSTEN WHITE (2)

But the best thing about this books is the element of DIVERSITY.

  1. Islamic culture & religion. I am a Muslim and do you know how often I read about Islam in YA? NEVER! I never did, and I never expected to either. It was a HUGE, pleasant surprise for me to see this book has this element. Reading about Kumal’s devotion and Radu’s fascination to Islam really warmed my heart. It’s heartwarming to see Islam was portrayed as something so beautiful and peaceful ♥ It was also fascinating to see Radu’s journey and conversion… I was born Muslim so it was never a choice for me, but seeing Radu chose Islam was just ♥♥♥
  2. LGBT. I almost never read books featuring LGBT (though I so badly want to) so this was refreshing. It was subtle AT FIRST but then we got to really see it. There were so many portrayals of it. A couple who have accepted and are happy with their lives, a man in love with a man who loves someone else, a man in love but desperately try to deny his own feeling… I was actually pleased to see this much diversity!
  3. The lives of the harems. I’m no stranger to this culture because it happened in my own country a long time ago, but it’s not featured often enough in YA. It was kinda sad for me to see those daughters being wedded ONLY to secure alliances with rival kingdom and then left to care for themselves while being ‘expendable’ to the Sultan himself </3
  4. Diverse setting. How often do you read books set in 15th century Turki? I mean, I didn’t even know where Ottoman Empire was. Even worse, I wasn’t sure where Serbia and Hungary really are😦 I’m never good with history though (hehe) this book made me open my atlas to get a better understanding of the setting. It also made me learn about Ottoman Empire. Nothing is better than diverse fantasy!😛

SPARKLING LETTERS BOOK BLOG - REVIEW AND I DARKEN BY KIERSTEN WHITE (1)

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Have you read And I Darken? Did you enjoy it? Drop some comments and let me know what you think :D I’d love to hear your thoughts ♥ 

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11

The Scavenger Hunt Book Tag

SPARKLING LETTERS BOOK BLOG- The Scavenger hunt book tag (2)

Hello there!

Today is time for a tag! ♥ Last week, Fadwa @ Word Wonder tagged me on this scavenger hunt book tag. Sounds fun? It was super FUN, actually! I had a good time taking apart my shelves to find the books and snap a gazillion pictures of them. It was fun and messy and the clean up was the worst, but still a good time nonetheless😛 anyway, thank you so much for tagging me Fadwa, and let’s get started!😀

Find a book with the letter ‘Z’ in its title or the author’s name.

Okay first item, HOW IS THAT EASY?! Haha… nothing came into my head and I had to ctrl+f-ed my goodreads shelves to look for a letter Z :’) found it at last!

Letter Z Author

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Letter Z on Suzanne😛 I used to be sooo in love with this series. It was, probably, my favorite dystopian of ever before I became more well read in that genre. Mockingjay was brutal though, there were a lot of violent and heartbreaking moment but I loved it! ♥

Find me a classic

Classic

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. It’s the ONLY classic I physically own but I honestly forgot what this was about :’) I bought it because it was on sale and I was trying to give classic a shot but it turned out to be too difficult to understand!😦 Not to mention… um… boring, honestly.

Find a book with a key on its cover.

Keys on Cover

I’ve got two! I’m not gonna recommend you to read Incarceron by Catherine Fisher though, because I basically know NOTHING about that book. I DNF’ed it around 4 years ago and never looked back :’) on the other hand, I would definitely recommend Madre by Dee Lestari. It’s an anthology written by Indonesian local author and it is AWESOME! I’m forever a fan of Dee’s works ♥

Find something on your shelves that isn’t a book.

Things other than books

I meant to take a photo of my bookshelves but my bookshelves are located on a very unfortunate corner of my room… no sunlight AT ALL. Since most of them are props for book photography, I might as well took them out😛 There are my piggy banks where I store all my coins, my can of bookmarks and paper stars, my gift box, and my teddy bears wearing graduation cap, presents from my graduation day😛

Find a book with an animal on the cover.

So I found three and ALL of them are, specifically, birds😛

Animals on cover

Here we have mockingbird on the cover of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, black crow on the cover of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (whis is TOTALLY AMAZING by the way), and a bird from the twitter logo on the cover of Twivortiare by Ika Natassa. I LOVE THEM ALL! SO GOOD! ♥

PS. I do not have books with other animal on the covers. Only birds. 

Find a book with a girl on its cover.

Alright, this one is EASY! I’ve got tons and more!😉

Girl on Cover

You know I love The Winner’s Curse trilogy so badly I couldn’t recommend it enough! There are also The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter which was pretty okay, Delirium by Lauren Oliver which was kind of okay but the next two books went super downhill, and A Court of Mist and Fury which is one of my favorite release on 2016 ♦

Find a non-YA book.

New Adult

I don’t know if this fits or not but I’ve seen some sources saying that A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas is actually a New Adult! Don’t know if it’s true… hehe😛 I’ve got other books that are definitely not YA though, like my Jody Picoult’s, Nicholas Spark’s and my collection of Sherlock Holmes, but this one is prettier for bookstagram😛

Find a book with stars on its cover.

Stars on the Cover

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This one is a translated version and you know I dislike translated book BUT for once I’m grateful to have this copy instead of the original one! The original cover doesn’t have stars on the cover… hahaha😛

Find a book with golden letters.

This one is a little difficult! I had to literally look at every single one of the books. There are a couple books that look like they have golden letters from their spine but actually are silver or yellow!

Gold Letters

The Mark of Athena and The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. I LOVE THEM! ♥ I love almost ALL of Riordan’s books because GREEK MYTH and they’re funny and Rick Riordan is the master of character development! I love The Mark of Athena because it was so full of Annabeth and her bravery and The Blood of Olympus was a perfect closure to one of my favorite series of ever! The book on the top is actually The Lost Hero, which I’m not particularly fond of because there’s NO PERCY in it </3

I TAG : 

Reg @ She Latitude

Niraja @ Fantastic Books and Where to Find Them

Kat @ Life and Other Disasters

Giovanna @ Book Coma

Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books

Anyone who wants to take part of this tag ♥

Feel free to ignore me if you have already done this tag or simply don’t feel like it🙂

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19

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

SPARKLING LETTERS BOOK BLOG- REVIEW SIX OF CROWS BY LEIGH BARDUGO (2)

Ratings : 5 Stars

“No mourners, no funeral.”

If you’ve been reading my posts, you may have noticed that I thought Six of Crows was over hyped and I had no interest reading it… well a couple days after I wrote that post, I went to a bookstore and Six of Crows was on sale! It was a lot cheaper than the usual price and with a cover that pretty, I just had to buy it. JOKE’S ON ME. It was SO GOOD and I can totally see what the fuss is all about. The hype is JUSTIFIED! ♦♦♦

P.S. All informations even remotely spoilery are put between spoilers tag (in case you wanna go in completely blind) and the writing is in white, which you won’t be able to see unless you block them

The plot

It was GENIUS! The smartest thing of ever, probably only aside of A Darker Shade of Magic. I’m in love with the idea of the story from the second chapter. This is about a group of criminals off to perform an impossible heist for MONEY. I mean, group quest? COUNT ME IN! I always, always love a group quest, especially the deadly ones. And this group is so full of genius and weird people!

I’m SO GLAD that there’s no noble cause, no saving the world kind of crap, they’re out there FOR THE MONEY and I love it! I’m a realist and a materialist, okay?😛

It was gripping from the very beginning, fast paced, super intense. With the way things are going, I kept expecting for something horrible to happen, and yet when bad things actually happened, I thought to myself “Oh hey! Plot twist!”. There were a lot of shocking and brutal moments and I don’t realize since when, but I recently really enjoy brutal and stabby stories. I AM OBSESSSSEEED!

This one was indeed brutal and very twisty.

I’m not an expert on the technical aspects, but I feel like it is as much plot driven as it is character driven. Every turn of events happen because the characters decide to do so.

world building

I’m no stranger to The Grishaverse because I read Shadow and Bone, but even then I was totally lost. It was a bit difficult to understand and my memories are vague. I feel like I understand the world much much better in Six of Crows. It was portrayed vividly and the maps are actually helpful. It’s an example of a world building done right. I definitely don’t think it’s necessary to read The Grisha trilogy first, you’ll get along just fine with this book.

&& Ketterdam was absolutely amazing. I could totally picture its harbor, its streets, its clubs and pleasure house, all the gangs operating there. It was glorious! And to think that Kaz keeps tabs on EVERYONE ♥♥

SPARKLING LETTERS BOOK BLOG- REVIEW SIX OF CROWS BY LEIGH BARDUGO (3)

characters ADSoM

This is literally the best thing of this book. Kaz’s crew is THE BEST THING OF EVER! I’m not a fan of Shadow and Bone because I honestly hate Alina and Mal and the Darkling but this book? I love them all to bits ♥♥

Kaz Brekker 

My ♥♥♥ he’s a brilliant criminal mastermind whom I just love endlessly! I love his character SO MUCH. Leigh Bardugo did a remarkable job shaping his character. He’s harsh, he’s bossy, he’s smart, he’s cautious, he (secretly) cares, and he has a really really dark past </3 my heart broke only from imagining what he had been through… no wonder he’s so traumatized </3</3 His vulnerable moments are my undoing and I LOVE HIM EVEN MORE. <spoiler>I ship him with Inej SO BADLYYYY!</spoiler> I can’t wait to see MORE tricks up his sleeves on Crooked Kingdom.

Inej

This might sound strange but I always love a girl from a pleasure house. They’re gorgeous BUT ALSO cunning has so many tricks up their sleeves. Including Inej the Wraith. She’s so stealthy and smart but honestly… a bit plain, especially compared to Nina. She’s also selfish when it comes to Kaz! <spoiler>I mean, really, Kaz is literally the only person who’s been protecting her all along. Sure, she also has Kaz’s back, but why did she act like Kaz owes her something? Clearly they are both into each other and I think Inej wasn’t being fair to Kaz. And the whole “Armor off or we’re off” ultimatum is honestly ANNOYING! Kaz has trauma </3 I still shipped them though….</spoiler>

Nina Zenik

MY FAVORITE CHARACTER OF EVER ♥ She’s Grisha, she’s pretty, she’s cunning and sassy, and she cares about other people I can’t even…. :’) She also loves FOOD and eats literally every time! Hello, relatable character!😛 Every conversation that includes her is just naturally funny and I couldn’t help but laughing. Her relationship with <spoiler>Matthias is THE WINNER of all I ship them very very very HARD! I’m very keen on starcrossed lover </3</spoiler> She’s also so brave and honorable and I seriously can’t wait to see how things turn out for her on book 2.

Matthias Helvar

I just love him, okay? He’s brutal and honorable and loyal but a fooool in love! His naivety with his Gods and sacred duty made him all the more interesting! I really enjoyed his character and his development is probably the greatest of all ♦ <spoiler>his love for Nina though </3</3</spoiler>

Wylan Van Eck 

Wylan is the baby in the crew and he’s just sooo adorable! ♥ His lack of experience with thievery made people think less of him but he’s actually super talented! He makes explosives and super smart and play flutes. It’s actually a bit sad for me to find out the truth about him and his dad but that’s a really precious turning point of his life. I’m sure he’ll get more spotlight in Crooked Kingdom!

Jesper

Jesper is fun and snarky and <spoiler>A GRISHA??</spoiler> but he’s my LEAST favorite of all the crew! I don’t know how that happened but I just couldn’t really connect with him. I wanted so bad to skim through his point of view </3 but I didn’t, obviously, this story is too precious to be skipped on! He also reminds me of Jalal from The Wrath and the Dawn.

Basically, I LOVE EVERYONE! Everyone is genius and special and has their own realistic back stories. Their interactions are also dynamic and not to mention SUPER FUN. Sass at its best! Although… WHY ISN’T JOOST IN THE STORY? He’s on the first chapter and I thought he’ll be part of the crew, being the most innocent one while busy trying to grow his mustache😦

the writing

Oh boyyyy the writing is so flowy and elegant and vivid and NOT BORING AT ALL! It was engaging and extremely addictive. Though I feel like there are wayyy too many point of views and some of it are less interesting than the others. Like I said, I wanted to skip Jesper’s POV, but I get that it was necessary. The group split so much and a single POV won’t cover everything, but still.

Some things are also less exciting, like Inej’s inner monologue with her lost parent or her God, while I personally feel like we could spend better time talking about Kaz! It got tedious sometimes, but I love it anyway ♥

SPARKLING LETTERS BOOK BLOG- REVIEW SIX OF CROWS BY LEIGH BARDUGO (1)

All in all, it’s a solid 5-stars from me. SO SO SO GOOD! ♥ I can’t wait for Crooked Kingdom to see more epicness!😛 and to anyone of you who doesn’t like The Grisha Trilogy and in doubt if you should read this book or not, I’ll tell you something : this book is a whole other level of The Grisha Trilogy. SO. MUCH. BETTER! Quit doubting and start reading!😛

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Have you read Six of Crows? I’d love to hear your thoughts ♥ Drop some comments and let me know what you think :D aaand let’s fangirl together over Kaz and Matthias! ♥♥♥ 

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14

20 Bookish Habits I’ve Been Having Since the Old Days

20 BOOKISH HABITS I'VE BEEN HAVING SINCE THE OLD DAYS - SPARKLING LETTERS BOOK BLOG

Hello there! It’s been a while since I did a post about my bookish confessions and I believe now is the time for another confession ♥ today I’m gonna share with you ALL my bookish habits! These are the habits I’ve been having ever since I could remember. Basically, for forever, hence the title ‘old days’.

Hereeee we go!

1. I’m a night reader. I can read any time of the day, but I get distracted easily during the day. I always feel like there are so many other things I could do during the day but reading, so my reading time is usually over 10 at night. And I pull an all nighter all the time :’)

2. I read ebook faster than I read paperbacks. I know this isn’t supposed to be true because scientific studies show that people read twice faster on print, but I get tired easily when I read paperbacks. The book is kind of heavy and I spend a lot of time putting it down while my e-reader is so light and super portable. Also, I can’t read paperbacks while lying on my back because it’ll block the light, but e-reader has its own light so it’s a non issue.

3. I plastic wrap ALL my books. My books are my precious belongings and I treasure them so badly! I hate it when the edge of the cover crumples or gets wet and dirty so the first thing I do after purchasing books is to plastic wrap and sign them😉

4. I NEVER dog ear my book. Dog-earing a book is a torture for me and I’ll be FURIOUS if anyone does it to my books </3

5. I love using and collecting bookmarks. Because of the aforementioned reason regarding dog earing and my inability to ever remember page numbers/chapters😦 Sadly, I rarely find the bookmarks I love to buy, so I printed almost all of them. Pinterest have so many stocks of free printable bookmarks! ♥

6. and yet I lose bookmarks all the time. This is weird. Bookmarks are tools and we’re not supposed to run out of tools, aren’t we?

7. I’m so reckless about money when it comes to books. I’m clearly not the most responsible spender out there, but with clothes and shoes and makeups, I always try to spend as little as possible. I do a lot of windows shopping to compare prices and I’m okay to not buy them right away. But with books?? I’m weak! I’m willing to spend most of my spending on books #noregrets :’)

Vintage 2

8. I never take notes while reading. There was the time when I tried so I could focus on the technical aspects while writing review, but those times are over. I felt like I couldn’t completely focus on the reading if I keep trying to over analyze everything so I stopped taking notes altogether. I have my own system for reviewing now and I’m comfortable with it.

9. I write book review 10 seconds after I finish reading. It’s definitely due to my easily distracted brain and my habit of never taking notes :’) Also, I mostly review books based on how I feel so it has to be done right away! Negative side effect, my reviews are sometimes incoherent because FEELS </3

10. I sometimes seek out spoilers for overhyped books that I can’t get my hands on (yet).

11. but I always end up regretting it because I honestly HATE spoilers when it comes to books! Not movie though, I seek movie spoiler.

12. I never highlight my books. I know a lot of people do this but the thoughts of lining the books with color is so horrifying to me. Gahhh, just no! I highlight my college text books but not my novels. It’s the equal torture of dog-earing. I take pictures of quotes and paragraphs I love so I could put them on my review.

13. I care more about rating and reviews than I care about synopsis. Fun fact : most of the time, I don’t even read the synopsis of a book! I just look at the author, the genre and topic, and most important of all, the ratings and reviews from the people I look up to. If they say it’s good, then BRING IT😛

14. but I definitely hate vague blurbs. There are a lot of books by local authors that don’t even have synopsis on the back covers. THEY HAVE QUOTES. I mean… WHY??! You can’t tell what the book is about just by quoting some conversations </3

15. I re-read books ALL THE TIME. It’s not like I don’t have a pile of books on my TBR, believe me I do😛 It’s just… there’s something comforting about reading something you’re already familiar with and reliving those precious scenes ♥ I probably have read Isla and the Happily Ever After for over 6 times and I’m still loving it!

16. I seriously dislike translated books. I lived on translated books for years and years because it’s what available in my country. By the time I got fluent enough in English, I started reading the original version and IT WAS GLORIOUS. The difference is so vast and no matter how hard the translator tries, some things ALWAYS get lost in translation.

Green &amp; Gold Covers 2

17. I put off reading sequels for so many times. I’m always extremely curious about what happens in the next book but I’m also afraid that the wait for the next next book would be insufferable! Or if it’s a series finale, I’m afraid of it being over </3 I can’t deal with the loss I just can’t… but I recently just learned my lesson. Putting off reading can actually kill the excitement so I alternate between reading it right away and putting it off depending on what the bookish community thinks of the books.

18. I warn people who borrow my books not to get them even remotely dirty. I’m extremely strict with this because PRECIOUS! Luckily, those people know me well enough to respect my wish🙂

19. I love all my books even the ones that I dislike. It’s not uncommon for me to purchase a book ONLY to completely dislike it later. A friend of mine runs a used online bookstore and she offered me to sell some of my books. I tried. I packed them up and I listed down the price only to back down at the last seconds. I couldn’t do it because again, precious. But there are also several times I actually gave out my books.

20. I clean up and rearrange my bookshelves regularly. My family and friends know that my bedroom is ALWAYS messy because I’m lazy. I rarely even sweep the floor! But I take care of my bookshelves very, very dearly. At least one in two months, I take out all the books, dust both the books and the shelves, and put them back in place, which I thoroughly enjoy because books are my precious little treasures :’)

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Alrightttt! Those are 20 of my bookish habits. Phew… it actually took some time to compose. What about yours? Does any of you share my habits when it comes to books? Or do you have any other (possibly weirder) bookish habits? Let’s hear them out! ♥♥♥

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4

Coffee Toffee: The Perfect Place for Reading, Blogging, and Hanging Out

Coffee toffee - SPARKLING LETTERS (2)

“Happiness is a cup of coffee and a good book”

You may have noticed that I don’t usually do this kind of post… but hear me out first! A week ago, one of my close friend called and invited me to the opening of Coffee Toffee‘s newest outlet in Bogor. He works for the company so obviously, I was excited to come see for myself!😀 Continue reading

27

Top 10 Tuesday: Ten Books Set in the Palace

SPARKLING LETTERS BOOK BLOG- TOP 10 TUESDAY - TEN BOOKS SET IN THE PALACE

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

I love this week theme! It’s no secret that I love ALL things even remotely related to the royalty. Royal family! Crown princes and princesses! Palace! The dresses and shiny ballrooms! Captain of the guard! I luuuurve ♥♥ Palaces and courts are beautiful and they are also the home of secrets and manipulations and all the cunningness. That’s why today’s post would be about ten books set in the palace (or at least featured a palace in it) ♦ Continue reading

16

Young Adult Contemporary Romance: Why So Irresistible?

Sparkling Letters Book Blog. Young Adult Contemporary- Why So Irresistible

Book Country defined young adult contemporary fiction as teen category set in a contemporary, realistic settings. That is after World War II. In this post, I’ll focus on YA contemporary romance instead of realistic fictions. You know… the kind of books written by Stephanie Perkins, Kasie West, and Huntley Fitzpatrick? I’m not sure how it’s called so can we please make sure first that we’re on the same page?

Good ♥ Continue reading