4

Review: History is All You Left Me // Character Driven, Complex, and Beautiful

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RATING : 3-stars

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It’s a little disappointing to see that I’ve fallen into the hype. In case you didn’t know, I loved More Happy Than Not and this book is honestly one of my most anticipated releases this year. This is gonna be an unpopular opinion but unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed.

History is All You Left me follows the story of Griffin, a high school senior whose ex-boyfriend Theo just died in a drowning accident. Theo was Griff’s best friend, first love, and probably end game as well. They broke up before Theo went to college in California. In there Theo started a new relationship with Jackson, despite saying that Griff would be his end game as well.

Unsurprisingly, the writing is beautiful and vivid. I was hooked from the first page because it jumped straight to the important scene : Theo’s funeral. However, it went downhill fast. Suddenly the pace slowed and to be honest, I was bored 😦 the writing alternates between past and present and while I usually love it, I found myself having a hard time this time. The past chapters were too… rambly. There are too many filler paragraphs, discussing things that don’t really matter. However, we got a lot of Harry Potter and Star Wars references so at least those parts were great.

My biggest issue with this book is that I couldn’t emotionally connect with the characters. Despite narrating the story, I felt so distant from Griffin and I have no idea why. And if I’m already that disconnected from the main character, you can imagine how I felt for the rest of the characters. This is upsetting because it prevented me from feeling what Griffin and the other characters felt. That’s why I was only a liiiitle bit sad. I thought I was gonna cry like a baby but it didn’t happen.

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The middle of the book was probably the hardest because there was nothing much happened there. I realized this is character driven, but still, I was bored. I wanted things to happen immediately and when it finally did… well, there’s this twist (sort of) near the end of the book but it didn’t blow me away as much as I expected. I really didn’t see it coming, though it makes sense, but it wasn’t as surprising as the twist in More Happy. The ending was great, but to me it still didn’t make up for the rest of the book.

Speaking of the characters, it’s so great that almost all the characters are complex and realistic. Griffin stood out because not only was I in his head, his characterization was also explored thoroughly. He made plenty of bad decisions that I wouldn’t agree of, but it’s understandable. Jackson took a while to grow on me but by the time I closed the book, I absolutely loved him. Wade—Griff and Theo’s best friend—is probably my favorite. He’s sassy, funny, yet thoughtful at the same time. I also love Griffin’s parents ♥

The only person I didn’t like was Theo. I felt awful because he’s dead and he meant so much for Griff and Jackson. I loved the romance but the truth is, Theo was selfish. Griff might be the one who broke their relationship but Theo held the key. He found a new boyfriend (which is completely okay and not his fault since they’d already broken up) but he kept leading Griff on and it pissed me off because Griffin (and Jackson) deserved better. I just, I couldn’t see why he was so special for Griff and Jackson and again, I felt awful for saying this 😦

I love the portrayal of grief in this book. Everybody went through it, only differently. I also love how real the portrayal of OCD in this book was. It’s vivid and realistic and I loved to see how much Griffin’s OCD and anxiety affected his daily life. At the end of the book, Griffin got slightly better—well, not exactly better but more like he wanted to be better and were open to change, because of certain someone. I was worried about it but overall I think it was handled well. However, I was really not a fan of Theo calling Griffin’s OCD “quirks” even though THE BOOK DIDN’T CONDONE IT. But still, it kinda rubbed me the wrong way and only made me dislike Theo even more </3

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ALL IN ALL, History is All You Left Me didn’t live up to my expectation, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. The characters are great, complex, and realistic. There’s also a realistic portrayal of grief and OCD. Unfortunately, I was unable to emotionally connect with the characters and couldn’t feel what they felt. I’d still recommend it for readers who are looking for m/m romance and character driven novel and I’d definitely read more of Adam Silvera’s upcoming books ♥

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Book Title : History is All You Left Me
Author : Adam Silvera
Publisher : Simon & Schuster
Release Date : January 17th 2017

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

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Have you read History is All You Left Me? What do you think about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts! ♥

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6

Review : The Hate U Give // Powerful, Important, and Provocative

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RATING : 5 Stars

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Five stars and more, and I don’t think any reviews will ever do this book justice. It’s so powerful, wonderful, and undoubtedly the most important and honest book I’ve ever read in my life.

As could be inferred from the blurb, The Hate U Give was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Going into this book, I almost didn’t know what to expect. I heard it was amazing, unapologetic, and possibly one of the best books everyone’s ever read. But still, I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was so much… more, than I could have expected. This book was so honest, strong, brilliant, and it evoked so many emotions in me. Hours after reading that last page, I’m still reeling with my emotion. There are so many things I want to discuss about this book.

Racism is a prominent theme of this book. It discusses racism, shows us what happens, and how it affects the Black and their lives. The way it was portrayed was unapologetically honest. Starr doesn’t narrate it in a mean and bitter way, she doesn’t mean to corner White people, she just talks about the reality. Differences between races exist, and so does racism.

I don’t want to say things like “I learned so much about racism and Black people” just by reading one book. It sounds… naive, and despite Angie Thomas’s honest and brilliant portrayal of it, I’m sure there are a lot of things I still don’t understand, and I don’t want to act like I do. But I’m gonna say this : THUG gives me so much insight to the lives of Black people and the racism they have to deal with. It makes me realize that racism runs so much deeper than I ever knew. It’s internalized. It’s everywhere. It’s hard to avoid, and just like Starr said, you can say something racist and not be a racist. And it’s dangerous. It costs people like Khalid, and who knows who else, their lives.

This book also evoked so many emotions in me. Seeing all the things that happened to Starr, her family, Khalid, and everyone in her neighborhood makes me angry, sad, heartbroken, furious, and baffled. But seeing Starr with her friends and family makes me smile, happy, and laugh. Between its tough issues and its sass, THUG is a perfect mix.

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More than anything, this book also makes me uncomfortable–in the best way possible. I almost never have any encounter with people from different races. In this country where I live, almost everyone here is Indonesian. We might come from different ethnics, but we’re the same race after all. But still, prejudice between ethnic exists. Sometimes I assume things about other ethnics based on common stereotypes. I know it’s not the same as racism, but it pains me to realize that I’m practically doing the same thing that these cops and some of Starr’s friends do to Khalid. They make assumption.

I also hate the fact that sometimes I justify cops killing people. It might not be about racism here, but sometimes police officers shoot drug dealers and other criminals to death. I never condone it. I believe it’s not justice. But sometimes, some tiny part of me, feel… I don’t know, relieved, that one bad person is gone. Reading THUG made me feel so, so deeply ashamed of myself for ever feeling this way. But like I said, this is the good kind of uncomfortable, because now I realize where I did wrong and it makes me want to stop doing those things for ever.

Characters wise, THUG also does a really wonderful job. Starr is my new favorite protagonist. She’s brave, strong, funny, and she’s sooo sassy I love her. She grows so much in the span of one book and I love seeing her growth. She’s grown from someone who felt like she needed to hide her true self to someone who’s not afraid. Someone who feels confident with herself and not afraid to show the world who she really is. I love all her family as fell. Seven, Sekani, Starr’s father and mother, even Uncle Carlos and Nana. They’re all amazing and together they make a wonderful family dynamic. They’re definitely my new family goal ♥

The friendship dynamic in this book is also brilliant. I love Maya, Kenya, Chris, even Hailey (even if I dislike that girl so much). I love the fact that they exist and a part of Starr’s world. It gives so much depth into the story and it makes Starr’s life more relatable. I felt weird toward Chris at first, or still do, but I love the fact that he sticks with Starr to the end. It’s also very refreshing to see a couple had been together before the story started.

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ALL IN ALL, The Hate U Give is definitely one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life. It’s wonderful, it’s so unapologetically honest, and it’s so unlike everything I ever read before. It changes my perspectives. You probably realized that I talked a lot about how the book affected me, because that’s how powerful this book really is. Highly, highly recommended.

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Book Title : The Hate U Give
Author : Angie Thomas
Publisher : Walker Books
Release Date : February 28th 2017

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

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Have you read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas? What do you think about it? Did you learn as much as I did from it? What is the most important book you’ve ever read? I’d love to hear your thoughts! ♥

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15

Review : A Quiet Kind of Thunder // Important, Relatable, and Sassy

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RATING : 4 Stars

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Hello everyone! ♥ if you pay attention to my posting schedule, you’ll know that Tuesday is for random posts and review is supposed to be posted on Thursday. This Thursday is almost the end of March, which means I’ll be posting my monthly recap. So here’s a review on a Tuesday! 😀

This is the story of Steffi, a 17 year-old high school girl with selective mutism and anxiety. On the first day of school, Steffi was introduced to Rhys, a new guy at school who was deaf. The school staff thought it would be great to pair them up, only because Steffi could speak BSL and therefore could help Rhys settled in. What started out as annoyance on Steffi’s part quickly turned into happiness because Rhys is actually a really great and adorable guy.

From the very first chapter, I instantly connected with Steffi. Not because I share her condition, but simply because she’s a very relatable person. That, and the fact that she has a really sarcastic sense of humor really charmed me. I loved how Sara Barnard explored Steffi’s condition as a selective mute and as a person with anxiety, and how no matter how much she wants to get better, there’s the fear of losing her sense of self if she suddenly be able to talk all the time. The way she described her anxiety, it was so easy to understand for someone like me. Between AQKOT and Queens of Geek, the book I just finished recently, books are doing really good job explaining anxiety.

Rhys is downright adorable, but I’ve said that before. He’s so friendly, sweet, patient, and genuine, but now without his angsty side. Just like how it is with Steffi, being deaf plays a hugeee part of Rhys’ life. It’s not all he is, but it is a central part. I love seeing how he navigates between both worlds, the hearing world and the deaf world, and how sometimes everything just frustrates him beyond belief. It was all so real. Reading about Rhys also made me realize that as a hearie, there are so many offensive things I could do without realizing that they are in fact, offensive. Things like raising my voice when talking to a deaf person, talking too fast, or not looking at them while talking. This is all so important and I’m glad the book managed to touch these issues effortlessly.

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Their relationship is both simple yet complicated at the same time. The way they understand each other? It was effortless. But there’s also the barriers, starting from the most basic one like how Rhys can’t hear and Steffi can’t talk, to the usual couple problems of miscommunication. I love reading their texts, super adorable and I really think texting is one of the most exciting element of a new relationship. It’s also nice to see that although they bonded over their limitation in communication, it’s not the reason why they are in love with each other.

And I think… every couple can relate to their problems, because their problems aren’t exclusive to deaf, selective mute, and anxious people. Misunderstanding, insecurity, saying things we don’t actually mean, it could happen to every couple. It does, actually, so it’s kind of nice to see that even if Steffi and Rhys have their own situation, it doesn’t always have to be the source of the problems. Obviously, I’m not trying to downplay their struggles and say that it’s not a big deal, because it is.

Let’s not forget that friendship and family also play a big role in Steffi’s life. I love her relationship with Tem and the conflicts within it. It’s wonderful and multi-dimensional. And her family, albeit far from perfect, is a realistic portrayal of family life. I love Steffi’s dad, Lucy, and her mum, though she’s definitely not my favorite person in the book. Also, also, cheers to how much animal appreciation there is in the book! I feel like I love Rita ♥

I also appreciate that being with Rhys doesn’t automatically cure Steffi from her anxiety nor selective mutism. I admit, I was so worried that there would be some romantic cure but as far as can tell, that’s not what happened. Steffi gets better, but it’s not only because of Rhys. Like the book said, it was a combination of medication, Rhys, and being ‘forced’ to go to school without Tem. I like how comprehensive it is because as far as I know, that’s what actually happens in real life. A combination of things.

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ALL IN ALL, A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a wonderful, quick read that effortlessly handles so many important issues. Deafness, selective mutism, anxiety, family, and friendship, among other things. On top of it all, this book is also incredibly sweet and adorable it would make you giddy with happiness. Highly recommended for a fan of realistic fiction contemporary 🙂

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Book Title : A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Author : Sara Barnard
Publisher : Macmillan Children’s Book
Release date : January 12th 2017

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it.

From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.

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Have you read A Quiet Kind of Thunder? What do you think about it? Do you have other book recommendations similar to it? Also, has anyone read Beautiful Broken Things? I’m thinking of ordering it because I love Sara Barnard’s writing and also the covers match each other. I’d love to hear your thoughts ♥

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34

Review : The Bear and the Nightingale // Cold, Dark, and Captivating

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RATING : 45-stars

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There are two things that drawn me into this book : 1) Russian folklore and 2) gorgeous cover. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book and I thought, even if I didn’t, the cover only was worth buying 😛 After reading it from end to end, I could say that The Bear and the Nightingale is one of those bizarre books that just work.

I always enjoy books with Russian vibe, but this book takes place in a rarely seen side of Russia. The characters live in this land called Lesnaya Zemlya, the northern part of Russia where the winter is so long. Since most of the stories take place in winter, the atmosphere of the book was cold and dark. Its depiction of winter nights and forests gave me chill. You just can feel the cold… figuratively.

The pace of the story was slow. It started before Vasya, our main character, was even born and ended until she was roughly 15. It was told from third person point of view and while at first I felt disconnected from the characters, I grew to love it as the story progressed. The way it was told was whimsical. It’s like hearing a fairy tale being read to you on a cold, dark night while you huddle under the blanket near the fire place. The prose is so rich, lyrical, and detailed. It was enchanting, but maybe not for those who prefer their stories fast paced and action packed. This isn’t that kind of story.

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The Bear and the Nightingale has some of the most complex and profound characters I’ve ever read about. They’re just endearing! ♥ At least some of them, while the rests are infuriating but still equally complex. I love Vasya to pieces. She’s so brave and caring, loyal and innocent, but not naive. She loves her family and her horses and the magical creatures so much. It hurts to see her misunderstood by so many people. I didn’t realize how much I care about her until I cried for her 😂

I adore almost all Vasya’s siblings as well. Olga, Sasha (!!!), Irina, and Alyosha (!!!) (sorry Kolya, you didn’t make the list. You’re annoying). They’re so sweet and loving especially Alyosha. I love seeing his relationship with Vasya. He takes care of her. He’s skeptical, but he always believes in Vasya and he’s willing to get involved in whatever weird things Vasya does just so she won’t be alone. It’s sweet ♥ Sasha’s exactly the same, too bad he went to Moscow early in the book and we didn’t get the chance to see more of him 😦 Their father Pyotr isn’t bad either. He’s complicated and I like it. The only person I don’t like from this book is Anna Ivanovna, Vasya’s stepmother. She’s mean and cruel to Vasya </3

The plot didn’t really kick until the third part of the book. The first part was more about introduction and history. It talked about who’s who, Vasya’s mother, the kids’ childhood, and the original tale of the Winter king. Part 2 mostly talked about Vasya’s life during her adolescence and her relationship with the magical creatures around her. Now part 3 is when the story gets serious. I tell you, IT’S CREEPY. Like, seriously! I was scared??? I had to close the book because I read at night and the story started to spook me. Some of the scenes were really graphic too 😂

By the end of the book, I was feeling content but also unsatisfied at the same time. Content because it didn’t end in cliffhanger and we actually got to see the resolution of the conflicts. Unsatisfied because while one conflict was resolved, we know that there will be more to the story, so much more, and I can’t wait to find out what will happen next. I’m also incredibly excited because I heard book two will tell us more about Olga and Sasha, Vasya’s elder siblings who both live in Moscow.

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ALL IN ALL, The Bear and the Nightingale was an enchanting story with rich and whimsical prose that will sway you with its magical vibe. It’s dark and cold and creepy but it will also charm you, especially because the characters are so endearing. However, this isn’t for the readers who like their story fast paced because this one is slow, but worth it ♥

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Book Title : The Bear and the Nightingale (The Bear and the Nightingale #1)
Author : Katherine Arden
Publisher Del Rey
Release Date : January 17th 2017

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

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Have you read The Bear and the Nightingale? What do you think about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts ♥ Also, I’m open to recommendations if you have any favorites Russian-inspired books 😀

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29

Review: Caraval // Strange, Magical, and Enchanting

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RATING : 45-stars

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TRIGGER WARNING : PARENTAL ABUSE

Going into a hyped book could be utterly terrifying. There’s always that dreaded question of “what if I don’t like this book?”. That’s why I was so, so wary of starting Caraval, especially since I’ve been in fantasy slump for the past 3 months. But wow, this book was pretty amazing! It reminded me of how much I love fantasy and got me back in the game. Though I kinda bounced between 4 and 5 stars the whole time I was reading it. Basically this is how I felt : Continue reading

27

ARC Reviews : You’re Welcome, Universe & Things I Should Have Known

Hello everyone! ♥

It’s Thursday and according to my new blogging schedule, it’s review time! 😀 Lately I’ve been reading so many books, mainly review copies and ARCs, which means there are a lot of reviews I need to post. That’s why today I’m doing a double review of You’re Welcome, Universe and Things I Should Have Known. However, my reason of doing a double review isn’t merely for convenience! These books also have several things in common 😛

Behold, I’ve prepared a list :’) Both books are 1) diverse contemporary, 2) e-ARCs I received from netgalley, and 3) going to be released in March. Without further ado, let’s get down to the reviews! ♣

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

youre-welcome-universe Continue reading

32

ARC Review : The Inexplicable Logic of My Life // Lyrical, Beautiful, and Heartwarming

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RATING : 4 Stars

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I received this book from publisher via Netgalley in exchange for honest review.

UPDATEIt has been brought to my attention that this book is problematic. I honestly missed this part and I didn’t think it wasn’t a big deal, mostly because the book didn’t make it a big deal. But after reading a few reviews and rethinking some passages from the book, I agree that one of the conflict could have been handled a lot more wisely. Here’s a review that talks about it in detail if you want to know more. Below is my original review ⇓

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL BOOK INDEED ♥ Continue reading