Book Chat #12: The Midnight Star and Marie Lu

Hello friends! ❤

Yesterday, I got to go see one of my favourite authors at a book signing–Marie Lu! (Yes, I’m still in shock.) She’s got some really amazing, intense books and is a superb writer. Here’s a lil Book Chat about my experience!


book chat yasimone

Lu has just released the final book of The Young Elites trilogy, The Midnight Star, and she is currently on tour, holding events in bookstores across the country. I immediately decided that I wouldn’t be missing it when I learned she’d be having a book signing close to my home. Oh, and when I say close, I mean at a bookstore in a city four hours away from me. (Never let it be said I’m not a dedicated fan!) 😀 I’m so glad I got to see her though, and it was definitely worth the drive.

When I got there, it was much smaller than the Rick Riordan meet up I attended in October of last year–around thirty to forty people this time around–but everyone there was excited and chattering on to each other about the new book as they sipped frozen hot chocolate that had been handed out; and yes, the frozen hot chocolate was pretty good. After a bit, Marie Lu walked over to the microphone and greeted us as everyone cheered. She introduced herself and spoke a little bit about the process of writing this new book, and then all the attendees raised their hands and asked questions and she answered all of them.  Here are a couple of answers to questions that I thought were interesting.

marie-lu-jpg
She was so warm and friendly and and and–

 

  • Marie Lu draws out her characters before writing them, a habit left over from previously being a video game artist.
  • Her ideal atmosphere for writing is rain, a cozy blanket, and a nice cup of tea.
  • She tends to write mostly from 8 am to 2 pm.
  • Kiss scenes are hard; she always imagines a tiny mother on her shoulder, scolding her as she writes.
  • She doesn’t generally cry over anything she writes, but writing out the last scene of the last book in a trilogy makes her shed a few tears each time.midnight-star-marie-lu-jpg
  • It’s hard for her to see her characters move on and leave their heads after writing their lives and thoughts for so long.
  • The original idea for The Young Elites involved a current side character, Raffaele, as the protagonist before she realised that a certain villain, Adelina, would make a better main character.
  • She is currently writing a new duology–the first book is called Warcross–about two bounty hunter teens hired to kill a hacker messing up the world’s most popular video game. Keep an eye out; it’s being published next fall.
  • Lu’s a pantser! In other words, she’s not super great at following an outline and sometimes her writing runs away with the characters scrambling to catch up.
  • She’s currently reading Crooked Kingdom and it might just be her favourite book of the year.

Then she signed everyone’s books and I returned home in a euphoric state, clutching The Midnight Star to my chest. Overall, it was so much fun! Marie Lu is such a genuinely warm and down-to-earth person. After only thirty minutes of her speaking, I already felt like I’d known her for a long time. 😛 I always love seeing authors and getting to know the thought processes behind their books, and I’m really glad I was able to go to this book signing in particular.

So now all the books I own that are written by her are signed, which I am thrilled about. Also, look at how pretty they are together!

pumpkin books.jpg
The best fall aesthetic of all.

 

I’ll be reading The Midnight Star this week and reviewing it as soon as possible. The Young Elite series is one of my  favourites, and I’m sure the final novel will not disappoint!

Have a lovely day everyone!

❤ Yasimone

Advertisements

Book Review || Devil and the Bluebird

Bonjour loves! How have you all been? Life has been absolutely wild lately and I’ve been away for a bit, but I’ve managed to get some good book reading squeezed in between, despite the hours slipping through my fingers like sand. It’s also officially autumn, so expect to see some enthusiastic flailing! (Let’s not mention the fact that it is absolutely boiling where I live; if the pumpkin candles and lattes are out, it’s autumn.)

Here’s a book that I picked up for the cover, bought for the synopsis, and loved for the story. Hope you enjoy!


Book Review Logo

Author: Jennifer Mason-Black

Publishing Company: Amulet Books

Release Year: 2016

Genre(s): YA, magical realism

My Synopsis

Blue Riley has made a deal with the devil.db-jpg

After her mother, who was a musician, died of cancer, it’s just been her and her sister living together with their aunt–but her sister has run away, leaving Blue alone with nothing but her mother’s old guitar. Determined not to lose her sister forever, Blue meets the Devil at a crossroads, and she (yes, she) offers Blue a deal: her voice, safety, and possibly sanity in exchange for enchanted boots and the scavenger hunt of a lifetime. With her mother’s guitar and a bag slung over her back, Blue sets out on her journey.

She bounces from city to city, hitchhiking with people she’s never met and will never see again. If her mission wasn’t hard enough already, the stakes suddenly get higher: she cannot stay with anyone for more than three days, and no one–under any circumstances–can know her real name. Along the way, she runs into many others who are trying to find their way in life too and discovers that life is unpredictable, and so are people. Through dangerous encounters and leaving behind friends, with the devil appearing at every corner and time whizzing past her, all Blue can do is trust her boots and learn to love life, people, and let music work its magic on the world.

My Review

I read this book while I was on a roadtrip–rather fitting, I’d say, for a book that takes place in cars so much. With the trees flitting by outside my window, I finished Devil and the Bluebird in one sitting and spent the rest of the ride staring outside and just thinking about it all: about people, and how they’re never what you expect.

I adored the characters. Mason-Black crafts the cast so well that all the characters that appear–regardless of the brevity of their roles–are so realistically created that you can imagine their lives and appreciate the small taste of their complexity that you’ve gotten to read. (There’s also so much diversity among the characters in many aspects, which makes me quite happy!) Blue is also such a believable, lovely main character: she’s quirky and she’s smart, and she’s also confused and afraid. Her strife, her determination, her self-guessing, and subtle humour all resonated with me in so many ways.

This novel tackles a lot of heavier subjects: running away, religion, drug abuse, and homelessness, but ties it all together deftly with words that leave you reeling in their lyrical boldness. Devil and the Bluebird is also very much centred around music; music has played a large part in Blue’s life and shows up in the story very often. Even the way this book itself is written and just the overall feel of it felt rather like music to me. It’s the book equivalent of a good acoustic folk-rock song, sung with a rich, bold voice and deft fingers picking at a guitar, the kind you’d listen to while watching trees whiz by on an empty freeway at sunset… I’m not sure what else to say besides “This book was gorgeous.”

In other words: With the passion found in David Arnold’s Mosquitoland, a uniquely haunting voice, and just the perfect amount of magical realism, this Devil and the Bluebird is a novel that will have you thinking about it for days after you read the last page. It’s a story of loss, of grief, of anger. But mostly, it’s a story of hope.

❤ Yasimone

Book Chat #12: Happy Birthday, Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling!

Hello friends!

I am so hyped today! It’s Harry Potter’s 36th birthday and J.K. Rowling’s 51st birthday!

Happy birthday, you two! ❤

make a wish harry.gif

It also happens to be the day of the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! I have not acquired it as of yet, but I will be buying it as soon as possible. Can’t wait to read it… I was actually at a bookstore yesterday for the midnight release; it was fantastic spending time with other fans, competing in trivia contests and chatting up a storm.

Here’s a little thing that I thought was fitting for today. By no means is it a complete list of how much the Harry Potter books and world impacted me, but it’s just a little thank you to the characters I spent my childhood (and many more years to come!) with. 🙂


Thank you…

to Hermione, for teaching me that friendship and bravery are just as powerful as books and cleverness;

to Ron, for showing that loyalty is best type of courage (and also to never mess with him in chess!);

to Dumbledore, for teaching me that it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live;

to Neville, for proving that even the gentlest of people can be the most powerful;

to Luna, for being a comforting, albeit eccentric, beam of light in the midst of darkness;

to Ginny, for showing me anything’s possible if you’ve enough nerve;

to Molly and Arthur, for taking in Harry as their own and giving us hope in good people;

to Lupin, for being just about the greatest Defense Against the Dark Arts professor ever and watching over Harry when no one else could;

to Sirius, for teaching me that the ones we love never truly leave us;

to Snape, for proving that even the most sullen people are not always as they seem (okay come on, that was a really good pun, you guys!);

to Lily and James, for showing me the true power of love;

to Dobby, for always being there when people needed help;

and finally, to Harry James Potter, for teaching me that in the end, all will be well.


Now, I’ll be returning to my Harry Potter movie marathon. Have a lovely rest of the weekend, everyone!

❤ Yasimone

Book Review (ARC) || The Sun is Also a Star

Author: Nicola Yoon

Publishing Company: Delacorte Press

Release Year: (ARC) To be published November 1, 2016

Genre(s): YA, realistic fiction

(Shout out to the Barnes and Noble B-Fest, where I won this ARC!)


My Synopsis

Natasha lives in New York City. Her family is Jamaican. She is cynical and practical. And she’s got a problem–her family is twelve hours away from being deported back to Jamaica. A place she remembers through fuzzy childhood memories. To be clear: She definitely doesn’t believe in fate, but it will take nothing short of a miracle for her to find  a way to stay in America, where she belongs.

Daniel lives in New York City too. His family is Korean. He is poetic and sentimental. He’s also got a problem–he has to apply to Yale and be the Good Son™ his parents want and become a doctor. But that’s not at all what he wants. To be clear: He definitely does believes in fate, and it is not in his to follow his parents’ dreams for him.

the sun is also a star.jpg
Did I mention I’m a sucker for pretty covers?

Now, under any other circumstances, they never would have met. If Natasha hadn’t been listening to music while walking away from the immigration services building and almost gotten run over, and if Daniel hadn’t skipped his college interview and been there to save her, their paths would never have crossed. But it’s funny how life works. What ensues is a journey across New York, and over the course of one day, two teenagers that began as complete and total strangers get to know each other and share in each other’s pain and happiness. And as unlikely as it seem, they each learn from each other from their differences and unexpectedly fall in love. Love at first sight is a tricky business, however. Natasha is still about to be deported. Daniel still messes things up. Will this sudden, beautiful spark burn on or fizzle out from unfortunate futures?

My Thoughts

The Sun is Also a Star absolutely blew my mind. ❤

I’m going to organise this review bit differently because if I don’t, this post will end up being a flailing mess. 😉

Writing Style

Nicola Yoon definitely writes from her heart and it really shows! I found the writing in this book to be so touching; just like the characters, it’s ever-changing. It’s a bit of soft, poetic narration that makes you feel fluttery mixed with logical philosophy and hard facts, all penned in with descriptive chapters that shake you to the core. I absolutely loved it and there were so many quote-able moments.

Format

Okay, we need to talk about how this book was set up. This book is written in multiple point-of-views, with Natasha and Daniel as the main narrators. However, some chapters are written through the perspective of side characters that briefly enter the story, while other chapters are written like the omniscient universe’s explanation of history, of fate, of incidents. It’s kind of limitless perspective that describe backstories that all connect. It’s a different reading experience but one that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Characters + Relationships

Natasha and Daniel were amazing characters! At the end of this book I almost felt as though they were real people I knew, albeit distantly. They’re both so flawed and so real, just two teens who (rather fittingly) fall in love too fast in the fastest-paced city in the work: New York City.

I generally tend not to be the biggest fan of instalove–it mostly feels too contrived to me–but this was one of the rare instances in which I was all for it. While Natasha and Daniel only knew each other for a day, the way their relationship progressed was so natural! Their dynamic was so interesting to follow along. Natasha, guarded, realist, and strictly scientific versus Daniel, an open book who tended to romanticise everything. Reading their  character development and watching the two teach and balance each other out, especially as they got closer, was deeply satisfying.

Thematic Elements

The Sun is Also a Star explores themes like fate, logos versus pathos, multiverses, the theory that all things happen for a reason, rebelling against what other people want for you versus what you want, family issues, and even some scientific knowledge smudged in. (Not to mention the whole immigration issue that Natasha was experiencing, in which she was being deported to a home she didn’t know and the bureaucracy did nothing to help.) This wasn’t a fast, fluffy romance; it wanted you to sit down and think about these things, which I respected a ton.

Another aspect I really appreciated was the racial diversity and addressing of the trials of each group. Not only were Natasha and Daniel aware of their cultures, their families were also introduced and their histories and dreams and familial struggles told. As Yoon herself is Jamaican-American and her husband Korean-America, you could tell that a lot of love and had been put into these characters and their cultures. So so so nice to see books like this. ❤

All in all: The Sun is Also a Star made me feel all the feelings. You need to get your hands on this book once it’s out. If you’re looking for a smart, dazzling romance that will leave you reeling with an overflowing heart when you’re done, this is the one!

❤ Yasimone

(Boy, this was a long review!) (Also, I’ve noticed I’ve gotten some new followers! Welcome, you guys!)

Book Review || The Kite Runner

Hello friends! Just returned to my home after five weeks of being abroad, so expect some travel posts scattered around! 🙂 Here’s a review after quite a while; I’ll be posting extra this week. (Also if anything interesting is going with you all, please let me know! I love hearing about summer!)

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Publishing Company: Riverhead Books

Release Year: 2003

Genre(s): Historical drama, political drama, realistic fiction


My Synopsis

I actually can’t give a summary for this one. There are so many incidents that occur that I honestly can’t summarise the book without giving away some major spoilers and going off on a tangent. So instead I offer you the official synopsis, taken from Khaled Hosseini’s website.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

My Thoughts

I picked this novel up on a recommendation. I’d heard a lot about it before; it has gotten a lot of high praise over the years. I was captivated by its synopsis, and I expected to like it.

I did not.

I know, I know. It is one of the most renowned political drama novels (for lack of a better phrase) of all time. I tried to like it, really, but I just couldn’t.

One major issue I encountered was that I simply did not like the main character, Amir. I struggled to sympathise with him so much; after all, the sheer enormity of all the tribulation he goes through should, at the very least, induce some affinity for him. Instead, I found him to be a pretentious child who grew into a mopey adult. Only towards the end, when he decided to redeem himself, did I feel sympathy–or any positive feelings–toward him.

first page tkr

This book used almost every single tragic plot device you could think of–from war to rape to illness to familial betrayal to attempted suicide. Every page brought another twist, another conveniently awful coincidence, another way to bring suffering to the characters. (So much so that I daresay it began to resemble the winding, melancholic Bollywood movies Amir and the son of his father’s servant, Hassan, watched as children.) It’s not that I don’t enjoy sad novels (because I certainly do) or war-time novels. I have read war-time books, and those centred around violence in the Middle East specifically, before, but never have I encountered one with this much desolation and absence of even a glimmer of hope.

tkr.jpg

As for what I did like: The prose was, admittedly, quite nice. It was descriptive and lyrical at times, and I admired the way imagery was used. There were some scenes that were very well-written and truly painted a picture of the beauty of Afghanistan before the war. The premise of the book is interesting, as well. The only problem, for me, was the plot–which is what, in its essence, makes or breaks a book.

All in all: I do not suggest you read it if you are easily triggered by violence, or if you don’t like wiping away angry tears every couple of pages. The Kite Runner was much too melancholic, slightly disturbing, and exaggeratedly despondent for my taste, but hey, it might be the right book for you. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

❤ Yasimone

Book Haul || B-Fest Goodies

Hello again!

As I mentioned in my last post, I was at Barnes & Noble yesterday for the very first B-Fest. 😃 I decided to partake in a YA trivia game that was going on–just for fun–and the prize happened to be something I found quite appealing: a tote bag filled with books and sneak peek excerpts! I ended up winning the competition (yay!) and receiving the bag. (And if I clutched it to my chest and jumped around in the middle of the store, no one needs to know.)

The contents were definitely very satisfying, and I’m still very excited about them, so here’s a book haul! Incidentally, this appears to my very first book haul in the year and a half I’ve been blogging, so if you want any more of these sort of posts, please do let me know! 😊

book haul

b-fest.jpg

Everything in the photo above includes:

  • The Sun is Also a Star, Nicole Yoon – This one is an Advance Reading Copy and will be published in November of this year! It also happens to be my first ARC, so I’ll be reviewing it sometime in the upcoming weeks. I really enjoyed Everything, Everything and I hope Nicole Yoon’s new book will have that same magic.
  • The Hawkweed Prophecy, by Irena Brignull – Another ARC, this one being published in September. I am really intrigued by the synopsis of this novel, so I’m quite excited to read and review it.
  • An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir – I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things about Sabaa Tahir’s novels, and again, I can’t wait to be immersed in this world of sultry danger and fights for freedom.
  • Color Me Creative, by Kristina Webb – This one is a unique colouring and drawing book that I will be curling up with and scribbling on on a rainy afternoon very soon. 😄

b-fest book stack.jpg

And, besides that, I also received a couple of sneak peek excerpt pamphlets of The Fever Code by James Dashner (a prequel to The Maze Runner series which will be published later this year!) and Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs, which appears to be a whimsical and heavy novel, just as Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series was. Also included was a magazine and preview feature of upcoming YA novels from everyone’s favourite Epic Reads.

the fever code.jpgtales of the peculiar.jpg


I hope you all have a great weekend, and I’ll be back tomorrow with a post about today’s B-Fest author meetings!

❤ Yasimone

Barnes & Noble Teen Book Festival

Hello friends!

So, let’s pretend I didn’t just disappear for two months. *laughs nervously*

I’m coming tomorrow with a full post complete with a very special book haul, but I just had a great evening at my local Barnes & Noble (shoutout to my favourite book store!) at their “B-Fest: Teen Book Festival,” which is a YA book fest that last throughout this weekend. It’s the first of its kind and I had a lot of fun only on the first night, so I would highly recommend paying a visit to a nearby B&N if you’d care to do so. There are author meetings and trivia contests and prize winning too!

Stay tuned for my book haul–which, by the way, is going to be an overview of the lovely bookish goodies I won in a trivia contest this evening–and I hope you all are having a great week!

❤ Yasimone

(who is finally back and here to stay)