Throwback Thursday [14]: I’m With the Vamps, Of Course.

The latest news about Robert Pattinson being tapped as the new Bruce Wayne was certainly a big surprise for me. To be honest, I’ve kind of lost track of Robert after the Twilight movie franchise was over. Apparently, he’s had some roles that showed off his chops outside of the brooding, sparkly vampire we all loved. In any case, and after the shock wore off, I’ve come to slowly acclimate myself in the idea that he’ll give the role justice. Let’s hope. DC certainly hasn’t had that much success lately (besides Aquaman, that is). So if Robert does well, and if his hoards of fans come out to support this, he could potentially shut down the haters.

Today’s post is an homage to the books that restarted my love for reading. Say what you will about the books, but I know a lot of readers owe the same gratitude to Ms. Meyer. Regardless of all its faults, the series ignited everyone’s passion for reading again, particularly the YA genre. My reading taste has grown over the years, but YA remains in my arsenal.

In 2008, while perusing the bargain books at Walmart, a paperback copy of a book caught my eye. It’s predominantly black; the cover featured extended hands cradling a blood red apple. Nothing extraordinary about it but I picked it up, anyway. Little did I know that it would be the start of an obsession that I never knew I needed. It only took three chapters before I was sucked in. As immediate as the next day, I went and searched high and low for the remaining books in the series.

Fanfiction came next. Then, the hysteria of fandom. We’ve had many ups and downs, the Twihards and I. It was (and probably is still) a very dedicated and hardcore fans. We were passionate and more often divided about the whole RPattz and KStew pairing. But regardless of our stance, we were united in our love for the franchise.


[759]: Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Ms. McQuiston’s debut novel comes in heavy with the greatest of praises that it was almost intimidating to pick up. All the reviews so far touched on how ridiculously sweet and fun it was. So because I am but a feeble human, I was unable to ignore the call. 

I mean, how could I? The story in itself combines romance and humour set in the backdrop of America’s quasi-current political climes. We have here the first son of the first woman POTUS initially involved in years of antagonistic rivalry with the English prince culminating in a disastrous scuffle at a well-publicized event. So when both countries’ PR teams decided the only way to clean up the mess was to have them do charitable public events, the two will have no choice but to address the long-standing feud. 

Enemies to lovers is one of my favourite romance tropes. But it only works if the author can pepper the dialogues with witty and funny banter. As well, the chemistry between characters also has to work. Red, White and Royal Blue, thankfully hits all the right notes. Alex and Henry couldn’t be more perfect than if I drew them in my mind and told Ms. McQuiston how I pictured them. 

This book also touched on some social issues plaguing the annals of American politics but only to a lighter degree. I was glad that being a bisexual wasn’t painted in a shade that most bible thumpers only knew how. It’s how I imagined the Americans could be: accepting as to have a woman president, whose ex-husband is a Mexican who is also a sitting Senator. 

Their kids, along with the vice president’s granddaughter, make up the White House Trio; the perfect magnet for young, impressionable voters. The media and the social media, for that matter, follow their lives like the celebrities that they are. When a romance between the first son and the prince of England came to light, their lives and global politics will never be the same. 

So comes the choice between finding their own happiness or potentially ruining the lives of their parents, and in Henry’s case, the throne. 

This book was absolutely amazing, addictive, and an absolute darling. I have read and re-read it many a times since it hit my Kindle. It reminded me of how I felt reading The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. It was just oh so good and my favourite kind of read for the simple reason that made me forget about the weariness of the day. 

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 218

Emergency Sex (and Other Desperate Measures) by Cain, Postlewait, Thomson | The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr | Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zenter | Crossing the Line by Simone Elkeles | The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon | Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Hello.

They said you can’t force inspiration, and that you have to let it come organically as if you haven’t spent a few hours of your day thinking about how much you sorely miss the process of creation. I envy those whom, after all these years, are still chugging along and not neglecting their creative outlets. This is my attempt to get back into the swing of things for the millionth time.

Life hasn’t really slowed down. And as the summer approaches, it will only speed up a little bit more. Do you ever notice that? In Canada, most especially, Summer passes so quickly. It’s here and then it’s not. Soon, my daughter will be starting her uni courses. And my son will only have one more year of grade school left before he moves on to high school. Where has time gone?

Over the course of my unofficial hiatus from the blog, I’ve found myself reading and re-reading most of Melina Marchetta’s books. The comfort they bring me takes me back to the days of discovering how much I love her words. Her fantasy series in particular is on an endless circulation. I simply can’t move on. But in the midst of my manic Marchetta binges, I have managed to read a few here and then. At the moment, I’m still on pace to reach my goal of 150 books for 2019, so regardless of my recent obsession with re-reading Ms. Marchetta’s books, things are still going well.

I hope I’ll be able to keep a semblance of order and consistency here on my blog. I really miss writing and interacting with you all.

[758]: Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s latest novel is an avant-garde in its own right: ambitious, hardly pretentious, and a larger than life endeavor that realistically portrays the hard and fast life of rock and roll. Choosing the autobiographical format of a fictional band in the 70s, she successfully allowed her readers to immerse in the life of her characters. 

By choice, I am one of those readers who can’t stand destructive characters, and Daisy Jones was simply destruction, defined.  On the other side of the coin was Billy Dunne. A reformed drug and alcohol addict who nearly ruined his life and marriage if not for fatherhood. 

Reading this novel wasn’t easy.  Often times, it angered me. Not because the writing was comically bad, because, hell, this is TJR, after all. But it was the story itself that bothered me.  I’m an unforgiving reader when it comes to drug use in books. Call me prude, but I just can’t sit here and watch it unfold before my eyes. I get so bothered by characters that use drugs to escape, and use drugs as a means to explain the person they’ve become, their source of weakness and strength, their hell and oblivion. I just can’t.

My encounter with her novels has never been the stuff of legends. In fact, out of all her books (that I mostly own), I’ve only read two. And it’s because I found I have to psych myself up to reading them.  I know her novels are as real as it gets. Difficult relationships and equally difficult characters littered the pages of her books. Why I never bought a clue that Daisy Jones would be just as hard a character to decode escapes me.  

This novel reads like an episode of VH1 Behind the Music; an oral history of their lives, their music, their heartbreaks, successes, and failures. I could readily admit that throughout my life, I’ve never read something like Daisy Jones. It was ingenious and at times, I could easily ignore the stuff that bothered me. But since drugs are as regular as breathing for Daisy, it was a challenge. 

So Billy Dunne and Daisy Jones cross paths largely in part because of a mutual friend that saw the potential of what their combined talents could bring.  The dynamic was tenuous at best. Both are hardheaded and dedicated to their craft. Neither wanted to give in without drawing blood first, but underneath – a mutual respect. One of the story arcs that I also could not forgive is cheating. But in this instance, how I wish one of the characters in this book actually gave in and damned the consequences. 

In the end, I wish I could’ve loved Daisy as much as Daisy loved her drugs. Unfortunately, and as much this novel was amazingly written, I couldn’t forgive it for not giving me what I want. And it really sucks. 

Books from the Backlog [4]

Books from the Backlog is a feature from Carole’s Random Life in Books. It’s a way to feature some books that you’ve long neglected in the hopes that you’ll finally, finally have the inkling to read them.

This week, I’m featuring books that I’ve bought back in 2013. I know that’s when I bought them because that was the date when I took the picture. Ha.

Back in the days when I have money to burn for books, I buy random releases that I see in the blogosphere. And I think this is the case in this instance. I still haven’t read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein so I’m not even sure why I bought Rose Under Fire. Though, come to think of it, it’s probably because I have FOMO on the sequel.

Bodyguard by Chris Bradford is a series from a UK author. I have no idea how I found it but Goodreads has a pretty good rating on it. I can never turn down a book about boy spies so really have no clue why I haven’t picked this up. I might just try to read it this weekend.

Projection by Risa Green confuses me, to be honest. But with the confusion comes curiosity. Some of the reviews I’ve read on Goodreads speaks of soul swapping through a kiss. Sounds kind of intriguing but there’s a whole, popular girls vs. school reject kind of vibe that I’m not really into. So, we shall see.

Anyway this is my Throwback Thursday post today. I’m linking this to Carole’s blog but check out today’s posts from other bloggers as well!

[757]: Vengeful by VE Schwab

My love affair with Blackout Poetry began with Victor Vale. To date, I think I’ve created over 100 of them. The majority were e-books because I couldn’t find it in me to destroy a physical book. This obsession only rivals that of my obsession with characters of supernatural powers. And the group of villains in this series is one that is worthy of the X-Men universe caliber. Victor Vale, in particular is one of my faves. He’s right up there with Thanos. The best kind of villains are the ones that make you question whether or not their hearts are in the right place. And therein lies the rub. I straddle the fine line between wordless wonder and seething contempt for their predisposition to play gods.

This sequel’s driving force is, simply put, revenge. Victor and Eli’s saga of trying to kill each other continues. Even if Eli has been imprisoned in a lab, being experimented on by an equally deranged scientist, his every waking hour is dedicated to getting out and finding Victor again so he can exact his revenge.

Victor, on the other hand, while living free, is sidled with a crippling illness from which he couldn’t find a cure. Reanimating his body apparently has a side effect. His bouts of blacking out was becoming increasingly frequent. His failure to find a cure means the body count for dead EOs are climbing. But in the periphery of his mind remains Eli, his arch nemesis. He knows he’s still out there, plotting the exact same thing.

Besides the usual suspects, we’ve got an EO with the ability to turn anyone or anything to dust with a single touch. Her evolution from a doting housewife to a mafia godfather to becoming one of the most feared EO started when her own husband tried to burn her alive. Revenge is best served in a bowlful of dust. And that’s exactly what Marcella did to all those who wronged her.

Her path of destruction crosses with two other EOs whose abilities will help her take over the city. One is a shape shifter; the other, a shield. In a short time, Marcella and her little crew of menace became notoriously famous and public enemy number one. But there’s one organization who will exploit an alliance just for the purpose of catching Victor Vale and his cohorts.

As per usual, Ms. Schwab developed a crew of complex and highly interesting characters. They’re the ones that forces a reader to examine their stance on the whole good vs. bad thing and be conflicted on whether their weaknesses are their strengths and vice versa. Eli remain staunched in his belief that the EOs that he helped create are an abomination that the world needs eradication. In the meantime, Victor is ridding them one by one but for mostly selfish reasons. So while I loved, loved Victor in the first book, he was purely suspect in this one.

Marcella was a character that I loved and hated in equal measure. While I applaud the addition of an avenging woman in this novel, I didn’t like how quickly she let power get to her head. But boy, was she fun to watch. I enjoyed seeing her turn her enemies into dust and plot to take over the city of Merit. Though her methods were hella dubious, in my opinion.

I loved this sequel and I hope there’ll be more. I loved the familial dynamics between Victor, Sydney, and Mitch. It’s about belonging and finding a place to exist that one can accept – whether that be with others or on your own.

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 217

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab | To Obama by Jeanne Marie Laskas | Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare | Crossing the Line by Simone Elkeles | Your Own Worst Enemy by Gordon Jack | Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor | Shade by Pete Souza | Make Blackout Poetry | One Day in December by Josie Silver

My first Hoarders post of the year! Let’s hope I don’t make a habit of this. This pile includes the books I got for Christmas which, sadly consisted of only two books: Shade by Pete Souza and Make Blackout Poetry. Mind you, there were only three books on my list last year, so 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. (The other is Michelle Obama’s Becoming – sold out. Womp. Womp.).

A friend of mine from the gym lent me two books before the Christmas holidays. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to read them: One Day in December, and the other, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. There’d been so much talk about how awesome One Day in December is so I borrowed it from her after she raved about it.

READ THIS WEEK:

Ru by Kim Thúy was a memoir of a Vietnamese woman’s journey from being one of the boat people fleeing strife in Vietnam to her life as a migrant in Canada. This was such a short book and I’m sad to say that her story wasn’t was affective as I’d hoped it would be.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult was your typical fare from this author. It was sublime, sad, completely immersive and if you’re not watching, it would hit you where it would hurt the most.

The Immortalists was a popular book last year but I didn’t pick it up until I saw it on my Libby app. It was a good read but not earth-shattering.

That’s my semi-update for the week. Let me know what you got up to in my comments below!

Check This Out: Handle With Care by Helena Hunting

Hey! Huge fan of Helena Hunting here. I’ve looked forward to her books ever since she became a published author. Today, I get to share the cover and an excerpt for her upcoming summer release, Handle with Care. Check it. This will be out on August 27th, 2019.

NOTE: This is an unedited excerpt and is subject to change.

I’m startled out of my thoughts when my brother jumps up and shouts a bunch of profane nonsense, hands flailing like he’s trying to swim on land, or approximate the chicken dance while on an LSD trip.

“You can’t do this! It’s absolute bullshit!” Armstrong yells.

I look around the table, trying to piece together what I missed.

“I’m sorry, Armstrong. I know this is a shock, but we feel it’s in the company’s best interest to put Lincoln at the helm during this transitional stage,” G-mom says firmly.

At the helm? I look to G-mom who’s busy not looking at me.

Armstrong jabs at finger at himself. “But I’m the one who’s put in all the time here! I deserve to run the company! Lincoln doesn’t know the first thing about Moorehead. All he knows how to do is dig wells and forage for food in the wilderness. How are those valuable assets here?” He turns his attention to our mother. “Did you know about this? How can you let this happen? Look at him. How can that be the face of our company? He looks like he crawled out of a gutter and mugged a twenty-year-old college kid on a bender. How is this better for our bottom line?”

My mother clasps her hands in front of her. “I’m sorry, Armstrong, but this decision wasn’t mine to make. I know this is hard for you, but your grandmother and fath—”

Armstrong stomps his foot, exactly as a toddler would. “The company is mine! Lincoln can’t have it!”

I raise a hand, half to quiet my brother and also to find out what the freaking deal is. “Whoa, let’s back this bus up.  Can someone explain what’s going on?”

“You’ve been appointed as the CEO of Moorehead Media, according to the will,” Christophe—no R, because that would make it far too pedestrian a name—my father’s lawyer says.

I’m working on trying to remain calm as I address my grandmother. “You didn’t say anything about me being CEO. You said you needed my help.”

“Running the company, yes,” she says through a practiced, stiff smile.

It’s her warning face, but seriously, when she said she needed my help for a few months I figured it meant I’d be keeping Armstrong in line while she sorted out who was going to take over the company, which I realize now was a stupid assumption.

“I didn’t think that meant CEO. How am I going to run a company with this dickhead on staff?” I motion to my brother.

“The name calling is unnecessary,” G-mom replies.

“Lincoln’s not even part of this family! He hasn’t attended one event in the past five years except for Dad’s funeral. He didn’t bother coming to my wedding and now he’s going to run the company? How is that fair?”

I snort. “Your wedding was an expensive joke.”

He crosses his arms over his chest. “I was set up. Amalie had cold feet and made me out to look like the bad guy.”

The woman beside him shoots him disgusted look.

Armstrong clears his throat and tugs at his collar. “My wedding is not the real issue. The point is that you’ve never involved yourself in any part of this family and now you think you can come in and take over. I will not stand by and let this happen!” He keeps jabbing his finger at me, as if he’s engaged in a finger sword fight.

I lean back in my chair and lace my fingers behind my neck. Armstrong has always been reactive. And self-absorbed. For a while it seemed like he finally had it together—back when he was engaged. But ever since that fiasco of a wedding he seems to have come completely unglued. Again. But worse this time. “Someone needs a timeout.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helena Hunting

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

Social Media Links:

Repeat After Me

It’s easy for us to get bogged down with things that don’t matter. In all honesty, I know it’s the reason why I had a tough time in 2018. Finding a balance between life, family, and self-care has always been a daunting task. The trick is to not only declutter our own spaces, but also our day to day activities. If you know what your priorities are, it will be easy to have a structure in your schedule. But this post isn’t about that.

This post is about the things that I need to remember so I can avoid having a repeat of 2018. I’ve been blogging since 2011, and every year I worry about the little things that deter me from enjoying my hobbies again. Things like book review deadlines, acquiring the latest hyped-up book, hauling books every week just so I can show everyone my recent acquisitions. And most of all, I got caught up with comparing my reads, my followers, my popularity with everybody else. Last year, it got to a point when I would go for weeks at a time without checking my blog. All because with every day that passed by without a post, the heavier I felt about it all. So I just ignored it all together.

Somehow, I lost sight of what it means to have an outlet for my thoughts, opinions, and emotions. I may know a few people who are just as crazy about books as I am, but they’re far and few in between. My blog, besides being an outlet for my opinions, is also a way for me to reach out to the world and connect. And even if my blog is tiny, somewhere out there, it will find a way to someone beyond the far reaches of my imagination.

  • My blog is a hobby.

It’s a place of creation; a place where my mind gives birth to something spontaneous, and even artistic. Ideas that are not forced. Ideas that come as naturally as breathing. It’s also a place where ideas can die but in a natural progression as in life. And that’s okay and perfectly acceptable. Above all else, it’s a hobby. One that I should enjoy and not treat as an obligation.

  • I cannot/will not apologize.

Sometimes, we get caught up in pleasing others or fitting in with the majority that we lose sight of who we are. It’s the same thing when we review books. Don’t apologize for your opinions. Don’t get into the habit of looking over your shoulders to see what everyone else is doing. YOU DO YOU.

  • R E S P E C T

Respect others as you would respect yourself. And the only way to do that is to be honest with yourself and your audience. Take pride in what you do but never ridicule others for their choices and opinions.

  • You are not in a race/competition.

Envy is a deadly sin. One that prevents us from enjoying what we love: reading. Forget about the bloggers that are getting ARCs and new books left, right and centre. Worry about the books that are left unattended on your shelves. Compete against yourself. Beat your previous goals. Challenge yourself to read books that you wouldn’t otherwise read. But don’t give in to pressure. Don’t let anybody else dictate what you should read.

[756]: Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

Clocking in at 880 pages, Queen of Air and Darkness was a beast of a book. But then again, Ms. Clare has been putting out books of this size for the last few years. And yet, as daunting as it was, fans who are heavily vested in this series will find it as addictive as her other books; as easily read, and just as fantastic as all her other books in this world have been.

I started reading this during my holiday break as I’d planned. Aided with an audiobook, it still took me two weeks to finish this monster. And yes, it was a fantastic installment. One that was filled with heartbreak, adventure, amazing characters, and worlds beyond our wild imaginings.

the nitty gritty

Here, we witness the desperation the Blackthorn’s felt since losing one of their own. And one sibling in particular, who was willing to do whatever it takes to bring her back. Even indulging in dark magic. In the meantime, warlocks are getting sicker and sicker, Julian and Emma are dealing with the parabatais’-being-in-love curse, Jace and Clary are lost somewhere in fairy land, and the father and daughter menace known as Horace and Zara, respectively (I can’t, for the life of me remember their last name.) are about to get what they were after all this time: control of Shadowhunters, dissolution of the peace accord, and finally, finally getting rid of the downworlders. We are also introduced to a world we’ve never seen before. An alternate world where Sebastian roams free and wreaking death and destruction to the shadowhunters, downworlders, and humans alike.

the kids are alright

It was hard to read this book and not feel like your heart is being ripped into pieces. The Blackthorns had lost so much and suffered too many heartbreaks for such a young bunch. But at the end of the day, they have each other and their love shone through with every choices and sacrifices they make.

in other words

Look, this book is hard to condense in a 3-400 word review – which is my limit when I write a review, but just know that if you’re a fan, you’ll be clamouring for the next installment. There are so many things to look forward to, and without spoiling anything, there’s hopefully going to be an epic wedding in the next book. A certain prophecy not happening, and us fans getting twice the fun with Jace Herondale. I don’t know how many books are coming, but man, it’s going to be a painful wait.