review

the hate u give

Hoooo boy.

I’ve sat here staring at this blank word document for a while. I don’t really know where to start. I think the only thing I can really say is: Wow.

The Hate U Give is a novel by Angie Thomas, set to come out on February 28th, 2017. I got an early copy through a guest speaker from HarperCollins that spoke to my class. Super quick side note: I LOVE FREE BOOKS. Bigger side note: I love free books that are this incredible.

The Hate U Give is about a teenager named Starr who witnesses her childhood best friend get shot by a cop. The novel is directly influenced and inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement – and it shows. And it does a damn good job of showing a lot of the issues that black people have to face in our society, where some people claim that racism doesn’t exist anymore. Spoiler alert, it does.

Although I’m not black, I related to Starr in some aspects of her life. I’m not going to list them out because I don’t need y’all up in my business, but the biggest thing is: she deals with her friends making racist comments towards her and about her community. I think she deals with it pretty well by calling them out on it. This is what I do as well, and sometimes it can backfire. Sometimes you look like the crazy one – “I can’t believe you think I’m racist!” – and sometimes you get called “too sensitive” when you call them out. It’s annoying. Starr thinks it’s annoying, and disrespectful, and I respect her for that.

The novel follows her journey as she comes to terms with her feelings about police officers in direct correlation to her race, a supreme court ruling, and attempting to save her friends and family from a gang. There is not one single plotline that I think should’ve been taken out – everything Starr goes through in The Hate U Give is important. The novel does an incredible job of showing that black people who live in a “ghetto” are not all thugs – which should be obvious to anyone with a brain, but unfortunately there are still idiots everywhere.

Thomas’ characters are well thought-out and complex, all of them having flaws, which makes the book so, so easy to read. I sped right through it because the characters came to life and acted everything out in front of me. I just had to listen.

And just like I listened, you should listen. The Hate U Give is an important novel and it’s being published at a time where race relations are extremely tense. A lot of issues could be avoided if people just shut up and listened, and then learned from their listening.

In 1966 The Black Panther Party released a document entitled the Ten-Point Program. In it is a set of guidelines to the BPP’s ideals and ways of operation. It was described as a “combination of a Bill of Rights and a Declaration of Independence”. Number 7 on that list is as follows:

7. We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people.

It is 2017 and police brutality against black people has not ended. I’m not saying that all police are brutalizing black people – isn’t it annoying that I have to clarify that? – but that doesn’t erase the fact that it is still happening. Please do your best to educate yourself and others. Speak up. Be brave like Starr, and speak up.

Please go get this book and recommend it to everyone you know. The only way that race relations between cops and black people can be fixed is if the rest of us start speaking up and helping, and holding people accountable for their actions.

ANYWAY that got heavy. This book is also quite funny and light at times; I didn’t mention that, but it really is. Thomas is a great writer, and I can’t wait to see what else she’ll writes. PLUS The Hate U Give is being turned into a movie with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games, Mr. Robinson) as Starr, which is super exciting. Stenberg is an incredible actress and activist, and I think she’ll be the perfect lead.

5/5

Favourite Quotes:

1. “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

2. “We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

3. “It seems like they always talk about what he may have said, what he may have done, what he may not have done. I didn’t know a dead person could be charged in his own murder, you know?”

Happy reading!

(Originally posted on onthedanforth.ca)

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let’s pretend it’s january 1st

Hi friends! Sorry I’ve been gone for a while. I was busy with school and then it was my month off/Christmas and I just read, rewatched One Tree Hill seasons 5-9, and cross-stitched. It was great. Then January hit and it was so cold and dark that I had absolutely no energy to post here once I finally got home from school. So this will be just a quick lil round-up of the last few books I read in December, and my plans for this year.

Suuuuper quickly though: my class and I are making a magazine. Like, an actual magazine. We make it, design it, write it, etc. It’s being sent to the printers next weekend and it’s being distributed in March. I can’t wait to see our final product – there’s definitely been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that went into making it. If you’d like a taste of the type of content On the Danforth publishes, you can see them here. I wrote an article describing how to read x amount of books in a year, so if that tickles your fancy and you wanna give me some clicks do so here.

Okay, so!

Back in November I wrote a post that featured a list of all the books I had read up until then. Here are the rest of them.

49. The Royal We by Heather Cocks. This book was incredible! I loved it/I devoured it. The novel is about a young American woman that lives in England and falls in love with the prince. Cliché? Totally. Worth it? Hell to the yeah. The book spans a few years so the love story is believable enough to keep you engaged. Heavily recommend.
50. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. Meh. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this novel (a sequel) as much as I enjoyed the first one (Oryx and Crake). I haven’t picked up the third book because I struggled so much with this one. I’ll read it eventually, probably.
51. A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Ohhhhh man. Oh man oh man. I absolutely loved this book. One of my new faves for sure. It made me cry on the train. It took me so long to read this book because I had a feeling it was going to be one of those books for me, and I was right.
52. Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray. Woooo this was so great. It made me extremely excited to get the third book… But. The third book is still in hardcover and I don’t have that type of money to spend just yet, #sad. But one day, soon… my birthday is coming up…

And that’s it! 52 books read in 52 weeks. If I’m being honest I’m pretty proud of myself. This year I’ve set my Goodreads Reading Challenge to 60 (YIKES tbh. I’m currently a book behind, I should wrap this up so I can go read!), and I invite you to join me. Pick a goal you think you can reach and do your best! I also took the #50BooksPledge on Twitter. Follow my new twitter, kayla_ramoutar.

Alright, that’s it. I will try to post asap (maybe after my current book – it’s about a strange and mystical bookstore!) but if I don’t, feel free to come bother me so I will.

Byeeeeeeee!

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yikes

I am absolutely terrible at keeping up with this blog. This shouldn’t surprise me because when I was growing up I’d start and stop journals — diaries — like nobody’s business, so. I’m still the same.

Before I get to this review, which isn’t really a review but an overview of the books I’ve read this year thus far, how about a quick lil’ rundown of my life since you last heard from me? (March 30th. I KNOW, I’m terrible, it’s fine.)

I applied for a post-grad program and actually got in, so that’s cool. Yay me. Some of you may know that I was struggling pretty hard with anxiety so it’s a wonder that I was actually able to apply and interview for this incredible program, and receive an offer of administration. And not back out at the last minute. Anyway, so I’m in school now — it’s reading week currently, thank god (edit: NO IT’S NOT IT’S LIKE TWO WEEKS LATER BECAUSE I EVEN PROCRASTINATE FUN THINGS!!!!!!)— and I’m enjoying it so far. Obviously there are some classes that aren’t as enjoyable as others (Friday 11:30-2:00, I’m looking at you), but for the most part it’s great. The commuting is… the worst, because Durham Regional Transit doesn’t know how to be on time, like, ever, but if that’s all I’ve got to complain about then I guess that’s good, right? Also I made some pretty cool friends, which is, again, good. Hi y’all, if you’re reading. Shout out to the group chat because to be honest I would die without it.

MY NEPHEW TURNED ONE IN JULY AND I CRIED. He’s my favourite human. In September my family was meeting up at a restaurant for my dad’s birthday and my nephew saw me from like 10 feet away and his face literally lit up and he pointed at me and wanted me to hold him. I’m in love. He’s really into touching fingers (like E.T.) and reading, and clapping whenever someone says “Blue Jays”. It’s awesome. He’s awesome.

Besides being in school and being lowkey (highkey?) obsessed with my nephew, there’s nothing new to report. Except –

It’s October 24th (edit: nope, November 7th) and I’ve read 45 (edit: nope, 48) books this year. For someone who read one book between April 2014 and January 2016, that’s pretty impressive. Here’s a quick review of all the books. I might get bored by the end, but we’ll see. If you want a more in-depth review or recommendation of any of these books, just let me know! I’d love to get this blog actually up and running (again? Was it ever really running?).

Books I’ve already reviewed are linked to said review, and at the end of the list is the link to my Goodreads account if you want to see my ratings on an individual book!

1. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
3-4. Inkspell and Inkworld by Cornelia Funke. These two books were the sequels of one of my favourite books of all time, Inkheart. I absolutely loved them both and I think that the final book in the trilogy was a perfect end to the series.
5-7. The Magicians Series by Lev Grossman
8. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. This wasn’t the best book I read this year, but it was enjoyable enough. A lot of the text was taken straight from Austen’s novel, which is one of my faves ever.
9. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
10. I Wrote This For You by Iain S. Thomas
11-14. Shades of London Series by Maureen Johnson. This series was super interesting and I flew through the books in like three days or something ridiculous like that. The plotline is that the main character can see ghosts, and the books follow her in her quest to find out more about her new abilities. I’m impatiently waiting for the fourth book.
15. All Other Nights by Dara Horn. I did not like this book. It was extremely wordy without anything of note really happening, the main character was the Worst, and by the last page I wish I erase all memory of it from my mind. Boring, dull, annoying.
16-18. Cormoran Strike Series 1-3 by Robert Galbraith. I LOVED THESE!! All three of them but especially the third one. Part of it is written from the point of view of the killer, which is simultaneously terrifying and super interesting.
19. Gemini by Carol Cassella. This book was… alright. I was enjoying it up until about three quarters in when the author apparently lost her spark. The book became very dull very quickly.
20. Songs of my Selfie by Constance Renfrow. This book was a compilation of short stories by people who are considered a “millennial”. The stories themselves were alright — definitely not the best I’ve ever read, but enjoyable enough. I just think that Renfrow could have collected much better stories that are out there.
21. The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillian. Set in Toronto in 1910, two roommates decide to put their sleuthing skills to great use and help catch a murderer. I believe this is book one of two currently, so I might pick that up… Fun story, quick read, could’ve been a lot better though.
22. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I liked Dark Places a lot more than Sharp Objects, but still not as much as Gone Girl.
23. Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis. I wanted to like this book more than I did. The concept was intriguing (girl hikes the Pacific Crest Trail — like in the book Wild that was made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon). It was good, but repetitive in a bad way.
24. Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova. If you want to read a book about family that will make you cry, pick this one. I enjoyed it, but wasn’t happy with the ending.
25. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth. I really enjoyed this book. It made me cry, laugh, and feel super connected to the main character with the way Danforth wrote her. There are some tough themes in this book (death of parents, conversion therapy/camp for LGBTQ youth), so #warning if you decide to pick it up.
26. Moon and More by Sarah Dessen. Leave me alone. Y’all know Sarah Dessen is the OG of YA drama and romance.
27. The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells. Pass on this one. Boring right up until you meet a new character and then boom — that character dies and the book ends.
28. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. Another great Dessen book. Thanks, girl.
29. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Illustrated Version by JK Rowling. You know my feelings on Harry Potter. They haven’t changed. love u always
30. Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date by Katie Heaney. It was alright. That’s all I’ve got.
31. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. OOOOOKAY!!!!!! So good. I enjoyed this… so much. I remember having to take a day or two off from reading in the summer because I couldn’t let go of these characters or the story itself.
32. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Nah. This book gave me anxiety. All it made me do is hate myself for how “messy” my room is (I have, like, my pjs on the ground. That’s it. Calm down, Marie.) and write down an inventory of my clothes so when I go shopping I don’t buy duplicates by accident.
33. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. I enjoyed this!! It’s a pretty neat story idea, so if you’re interested in good YA fantasy with a great main character, pick this series up! I’m planning on asking for book two and three for Christmas. Hi, parents.
34-36. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. Guys, don’t hate me, but this series was really good. Like WAY better than The Mortal Instruments. The characters were actually fleshed out and grew over the three books, the plot was really good, and it was set in Victorian London. Like, hello? Super fun. (Also, as a sidenote, the show Shadowhunters — which is based off of The Mortal Instruments — is very good. Much better than the books. So, if you read the books and are annoyed at how not great they were, watch that series!!)
37. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards. This was okay. The plot was good, but I felt like the dad didn’t answer for his actions as much as I wanted him to, and I didn’t love the ending.
38. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. AHHHH!!!!! I LOVED this book. It was incredible. Please read it.
39. A Poet of the Invisible World by Michael Golding. I enjoyed this… until the ending.
40. The Last Romanov by Dora Levy Mossanen. So disappointing. How could Mossanen promise me a book of scandal and heartbreak re: the Romanov’s and then hand me this? Figuratively. I’ve never met the woman. I’m sure she’s nice. But don’t read this.
41. A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout. This book was heartbreaking and beautiful and scary. I loved it.
42. Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk. HARD PASS. Sometimes Palahniuk writes really intricate and intriguing, yet weird, plot lines, and sometimes he writes for shock value. This is the latter. It’s not even good shock value.
43. Everyday by David Levithan. I wanted to like this, but I just… didn’t.
44. Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood. I didn’t love this. It was alright, but kind of stuffy and overall boring. There’s not really a plot — the book is set into four parts, one for each of Hemingway’s wives, and they just talk about their time with him.
45. You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson. AHHHHH SO GOOD. This book really helped me in finally realizing once and for all that it’s OKAY for me to be annoyed and to express my annoyance when my friends make racial slurs and jokes. Yes, you are being racist sometimes. No, it’s not funny. Listen to me when I tell you this, because you are white and thus do not understand the itchy, uncomfortable, chest-constricting feeling one gets when being faced with their friends being blatantly racist — on purpose. It makes me feel unsafe and unloved by people who are supposed to care about me. I don’t care if this is #dramatic. Stop making jokes about my skin colour. Also, read this book while you’re at it. Robinson is really funny and cool.
46-48. All Souls Trilogy by Debroah Harkness. YES. Witches and vampires and daemons, oh my! THIS is what I wanted out of Twilight. If you read it, give the first book a chance. It starts a bit slow and there’s the whole romance thing with a vampire BUT! But. It is incredible. The series was so, so enjoyable. And it’s been hard for me to move on from them. I actually haven’t read anything since (I’m trying to power through a book currently) because I am so in love with these characters and the world. The main character is a historian of alchemy (and a witch) and the other main character is a scientist (and a vampire). So incredibly good.

Aaaaand that’s all, folks! I think it’s safe to say that I will reach my goal of reading 50 books this year, so, again, yay me. Here is my Goodreads account where you can follow my progress and scour through my books if you want. If we’re not already friends, add me!

I think I’m going to start writing reviews again, so if you want to see a full review of any of the books ^above^ then just let me know in the comments here or on Facebook.

Love you, byeeeEEEEE.

review

aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe

THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a young adult novel about a boy trying to find his place in life while trying to figure himself out. Aristotle – Ari – is a semi-angry semi-confused fifteen year old boy who doesn’t really know where his place is.

Although a coming of age novel, I’m glad I read this at twenty-three instead of sixteen. I think at sixteen it wouldn’t have meant as much to me as it does now. I think I might’ve taken it for granted had I read it in high school. Reading this at twenty-three and being 6/7 years older than the main characters was helpful to me because I was able to see the story from the parents view as well. (Disclaimer: I am not a parent.) I was able to understand why Ari’s parents hid information about his brother from him, despite not agreeing with them. Ari eventually comes around and understands they were just trying to protect him, but the teen angst about it was just a little too much for me. I’m thankfully through that phase, but I can appreciate the severity that teenagers feel when they feel like they’re the only ones in their own corner. Ari wasn’t an unreliable narrator, but while reading the story I could tell when his inner angst was clouding his judgement on situations. It’s like when you get really annoyed or angry with someone and snap at them, only to look back and realize you were making a big deal out of nothing; that’s how I felt reading from Ari’s POV. I saw him snap at his mother but I also saw why his mother was acting the way she was, etc.

I think that this novel is helpful in regards to representation of LGBTQA* teenagers, but I also think it could have been more in depth with the struggles. The main point is that no matter who they are, whether Mexican or gay or questioning or any other word one uses to describe themselves, there’s a place for them in the world. Dante knows this, yet still struggles in making sure it’s okay that he knows this and that people around him know it as well. I really liked the contrast between Ari and Dante, both in their personalities and the way they deal with their feelings: Dante is very much a person who talks about his feelings and thinks that talking about them helps, whereas Ari is someone who rejects talking about his feelings until he can no longer avoid it. Ari always feels better afterwards and Dante helps him with that. I think their relationship, purely platonically – being there for one another – is just as important as their romantic feelings. I enjoyed that the story was about their relationship in every aspect, not just friendly or romantic, since they happen at different times. It felt refreshing to read a Young Adult novel about love that wasn’t solely based on romantic love.

The reason I picked this book up in the first place is I read that people who liked The Song of Achilles ([incoherent sobbing]) by Madeline Miller would like this as well – and I did! (In the interest of being honest + frank, I enjoyed The Song of Achilles MUCH more than this book. You should read that. And this. Read both.)

I read recently that the author is writing a sequel, which is SO great. I cannot wait to read it and see what other secrets of the universe Ari and Dante find.

4/5

Favourite Quotes:
1. “Everyone was always becoming someone else.”
2. “Words were different when they lived inside of you.”

review

i wrote this for you

Up next is I Wrote This For You: Just the Words by Iain S. Thomas. Let me start this off by saying that I’ve been reading the IWTFY blog since I was a teenager, I think maybe around fifteen? I was reading IWTFY when Iain rarely used his name and was just pleasefindthis. I was reading IWTFY when I had no reason (probably) to even be affected by what Iain was writing. The “I Wrote This For You” blog was a formative part of my teenage years, and I was so excited to finally get my grubby little hands on the bound and published version.

I was let down.

It wasn’t that the poetry was bad, not at all. The poems weren’t bad, it was just lacking something. Maybe I bought the wrong published version – there are many different volumes out – or maybe I just don’t have any reason to connect to the words. I think it’s probably the latter. In high school I was full of Teen Angst™ just like most other 14-18 year olds, ([From First to Last Voice] “dear diary, my teen angst has a bodycount” x) and I was like, really good at being angsty. It was an art form and I performed it as well as I could. I listened to all the angsty, emo music (which is still legitimately deliciously good so stop hatin’), wore all the angsty clothing (dark hoodies with weird quotes in an attempt to be Deep), wore too many bracelets because those guys in those bands did, read all the angsty poetry… I performed.

I also got over it. (Except for some of the music and real, good angsty poetry like Woolf or Plath or Poe.)

So, at sixteen I was all over and all about angsty poetry, especially short blurbs that were written to stab you in the heart and leave you desperate for love. So maybe it’s my old age (a joke) or the fact that I’m not crushing on anybody and haven’t in A Long Time, but this type of poetry was just too much for me to handle and too ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ for me to care. Maybe I’m jaded because of most of the poetry I read in uni was really, really good, and it’s not like this poetry was bad, it’s just that I was left wanting more.

2/5

Since these poems are very short, I’m going to type out my favourites.

The Translation Service
“And when I asked you how you’d been I meant I missed you more than I’ve ever missed anything before.”
(I remember this one from the blog, from ages ago. This one cut.)

The Moths Arrive In Black And White
“The bad news is, people are crueler, meaner and more evil than you’ve ever imagined.
The good news is, people are kinder, gentler and more loving than you’ve ever dreamed.”

The Sun Or The Moon
“Things change the way you feel. And things change.”

The Fur
“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride in that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
(The first 10 words of this poem have been posted and reposted everywhere, but not a lot of people know that Iain wrote it first, ages and ages ago. It’s a good sentiment.)

review

The Magicians Series

Yikes, sorry about how long it’s been. I read two long books (the second and third in a young adult trilogy) in about three days and it… kind of knocked me out for a bit. Anyway, I’m back with a trilogy about magic!!!

If you know me, or at least kind of know me, you’ll know that I love* the Harry Potter series (*am obsessed with). They’ve been a part of my life since I was seven years old and it doesn’t look like they’ll stop being a part of my life any time soon.When my brother told me to read The Magicians I was super pumped. He, like me, loves the Harry Potter series so I trusted his judgement. Thankfully he and I had similar reactions to the first book in the trilogy, The Magicians. Without further ado, I present you with three book reviews all rolled into one. The second and third book will be a half review/just some sentences as to not spoil the book. If you’ve read the books and would like to talk about it, you can message me on Facebook or Twitter or email me or whatever. Cool? Cool.

The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman is about a 17 year old genius, Quentin, who feels very alone and isolated, even though his two best friends are also geniuses. He’s obsessed with a series of books called Fillory, where five English schoolchildren find themselves in a magical land after crawling through a grandfather clock during the War. Sound familiar? The concept of Fillory and its adventures are straight up taken from The Chronicles of Narnia. Quentin feels very Bad and Not Here in his normal life in New York, and feels very Good and Happy in his own little world – where he reads Fillory. Early on in the story Quentin finds himself walking through a garden and ending up somewhere completely different… almost like magic. Just like the Pevensie siblings in Narnia, or the Chatwin siblings in the Fillory books. Anyway, long story short, the place where Quentin finds himself is a university where they teach young people how to wield and control magic. Quentin and his newfound friends are taught different types of magic in different areas of expertise. But the pull to the dark side of magic – and life – is hard to ignore.

If I’m being totally honest it was definitely hard for me to get into the novel to begin with. Within the first paragraph Grossman introduces a love triangle and within the first few pages introduces the main character. Quentin, for all intents and purposes, is a whiny baby who doesn’t understand the concept of not being a whiny baby. Almost right off the bat you’re introduced to Julia, his best friend and also the love of his life who doesn’t love him back. Groundbreaking stuff, really. And in a super not-at-all could I see it coming surprise twist, readers find out that Quentin mildly hates her for this while also loving her the most, definitely more than his other best friend, and her boyfriend, James. Ah, the sweet, sweet sounds of a whiny baby who thinks the world and girls owe him everything. Over the course of the first chapter readers are able to see how Quentin treats his friends, how his friends treat him, and how Quentin views women. UPSIDE: You end up liking Quentin a bit more when he finally gets to Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy. Or at least I did….for a little bit, anyway. I’m not sure if Grossman wanted readers to like Quentin or not, but if he did want us to, he did a pretty poor job of it.

So Quentin gets to Brakebills and the book finally becomes enjoyable. Promise me if you read the book you’ll at least read until then, because I totally understand why you would want to stop, but it’s worth it. Brakebills is not like Hogwarts, which was, unsurprisingly, a downside for me. What? I really like Harry Potter. The difference between how people in the HP universe do magic and how people in The Magicians do magic is quite vast, and there are parts in the novel where Grossman lowkey hates on the HP universe. You see, Harry Potter is just a series in this series, instead of being real. Or at least that’s what people in Brakebills assume, and what readers assume. Who really knows what Grossman was trying to imply with all the slight mentions of wands or Hermione or quidditch, but it rubbed me the wrong way. When I ignored the way there were little jabs at HP, I enjoyed it much more. I recommend you do the same.

My biggest issue with the book is how immature the characters were. I don’t mean the characters themselves – seeing as they’re in their late teens to early twenties throughout the course of it, of course they’ll be in varying stages of maturity – but the writing of the characters itself seemed immature. Unsurprisingly, I compare it to Harry Potter, where the characters are younger throughout all of the books, and just as immature in certain ways, yet overall I found the writing of their immaturity…mature. If that makes any sense at all. Some of the very thin and background plotlines Grossman puts Quentin through seem unnecessary and just there for being there’s sake.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel. There are definitely things that I would change if I had the chance to change them, but alas I do not. There are a multitude of characters and all of them have issues, which I think is important in a story about young adults. It’s false and unfair to expect everyone to have their lives together, even in a magic university.

Also – stop calling it “The Adult Harry Potter”. The only reason it’s been called that is because there’s sex/drugs in this trilogy as opposed to them not being in Harry Potter. An adult Harry Potter book would be WAY better than this. Super way.

3.6/5

Favourite Quote: “For just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there’s nothing else. It’s here, and you’d better decide to enjoy it or you’re going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever.”

If you’ve read the books please don’t spoil anything in the comments about the second and third ones! Thank youuuuuuu.

The Magician King

It’s super hard to not talk about this book as much as I want because most things I want to say are spoilery to the first book. I liked book two a lot better than book one. There were cool ~themes~ within the book and there’s a new character introduced that I liked a lot. Her name is Poppy and she’s Australian and smart and fun and funny. Quentin gets a lot better – thought still not super great – in this book. I think I like him better because he’s a) grown up a bit and b) [redacted] happens to him in the first novel (sorry not sorry). The first book spans about five or six years, so by the time the second one rolls around Quentin is about 24/5ish. I didn’t really like the ending of the first book, and this book’s ending is kind of ????? as well, but it’s better. There’s actually a reason for the ending instead of whatever crap Grossman thinks the first book ending is.

I would have given this book a 4 out of 5 because I genuinely enjoyed it and tore through it super quickly, BUT! Something happens about ¾ of the way through the book that had me so angry I almost quit right then and there. It was completely unnecessary to the plot itself, and just total lazy writing. Grossman could’ve picked a better way to make this certain character become who they were supposed to be without it. This is super vague but I hope if you’ve read the books you know what I’m talking about.

3.9/5

Favourite Quote: “That was the thing about the world: it wasn’t that things were harder than you thought they were going to be, it was that they were hard in ways that you didn’t expect.”

The Magician’s Land

Book three was quite enjoyable to me. I think it had everything a fantasy book should have, and there was a good amount of each of it. There were a few more new characters introduced in this novel and I really liked one of them, Plum. She’s 22 and fiery and super good at illusion magic. Quentin, again, is a lot better in this book than the first and second books. He’s almost 30 in this one, so he’s matured and figured himself out, and thus a lot of his whiny baby qualities are very few and far in between. I enjoyed this book the most.

4/5

Favourite Quotes:
1. “It didn’t matter where you were, if you were in a room full of books you were at least halfway home.”
2. “I don’t know how to phrase this exactly but what the fuck?”

OVERALL THOUGHTS

  • Not adult Harry Potter
  • A decent trilogy once grouped together
  • The banter is usually quite good, some characters are sarcastic and it’s written really well
  • Dialogue flows easily
    • Eliot and Q have good banter in the second book, and Plum and Q in the third
  • The tv show is… not great, but I’m hoping it fixes itself
    • Grossman helps out to “keep it authentic” but the only authentic thing I found in three episodes is that Quentin is a whiny baby
  • 4/5 rating overall
  • If you’re looking for some fun fantasy, check this series out! I have the pdfs for them and can email you if you’re interested
review

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is a mystery novel, like in my last review. The main character, Rachel, takes the same train every weekday morning, and she sits in the same compartment and on the same side every time. Her favourite thing to do is watch the houses go by as she gazes into their backyards. She has a favourite house to look at, and with it a favourite couple. She’s named them in her head – Jess and Jason – and she feels connected to them, as she sees them having breakfast on the terrace quite often. But one day she sees something shocking that changes her life – and theirs – forever.

The Girl on the Train is a mystery novel that has a slow start, but picks up speed quite fast. The first thing I think I should mention is that it’s told in first-person by an unreliable narrator. This means that the narrator’s credibility is untrustworthy. For example, Humbert in Lolita tells his story in such a way that readers find nothing wrong with the love story, even though the love story is between Humbert – a 36 year old man – and his 12 year old step-daughter. Another example of an unreliable narrator is Pi Patel in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. Patel tells the story of his life, but gives two endings to his tragic shipwreck tale. The other people in the book – and the readers – are left wondering which tale is correct.

With The Girl on the Train, Rachel is an unreliable narrator due to her heavy drinking; she cannot always remember what happened when she drinks. Because of this, there are parts of the story that involve Rachel directly, but neither her nor the readers know what happened. We are left wondering through most of the novel what happened at certain times. Usually this is not the case with first-person POV’s, however this made the story infinitely more interesting in my opinion. We’re in the head of the main character, but we’re still trying to figure out what happened. I found myself trying to beat Rachel to the conclusion of the missing information because I’m competitive. I’m proud to say that I figured ~it~ out a chapter or two before Rachel did, for which I deserve a gold star. (I’m joking.)

In addition to having an unreliable narrator, The Girl on the Train has a fair amount of characters that are untrustworthy. I found myself being suspicious of everyone in the book at some point or another. That was interesting to me because in one chapter I would be like, “yo Amy is suuuuuper sketchy”, and the next chapter I’d be like, “Amy is so great, she’s so crazy it’s awesome”. It was a fun ride.

I gave this novel 4/5 because while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I thought the ending after the reveal could have been a bit better. Sorry, can’t say more because I promised no spoilers! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(Also: The novel has been adapted into a movie (yay!!) and stars Emily Blunt. It’ll be released October 7th of this year. Anyone want to rent out a movie theatre and have a totally cool party?)

Favourite Quote: (it’s a tie today!)

“I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts.”
“Let’s be honest: women are still only really valued for two things—their looks and their role as mothers.”

– Kayla xo

review

Sharp Objects

Hello friends!! The first book on the agenda is Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Flynn also wrote Gone Girl, which you’ve probably heard of. A movie was made and released in 2014, and I thought it captured the book really well. From my extensive googling, I found that Sharp Objects was also set to be made into a movie, but it didn’t get very far in that regard. However, there are reports as of July 2014 that the novel is currently being adapted into a one-hour serialized drama. Yay!

Sharp Objects is a novel about a reporter, Camille Preaker, who is sent back to her hometown to cover the story of two murdered young girls. Camille is extremely hesitant to go due to her issues with her family, the town itself, and her own personal troubles. Once there, she finds her state of mind all over the place and attempts to leave a fair number of times, but decides to stay because of her need to a) prove to her boss that she can handle a story this important, and b) find out what happened to the victims. A full summary as well as reviews from other readers can be found on Goodreads. Warning: there can be spoilers in the reviews on Goodreads, but usually there’s a warning if there are. Just a word of caution!!

I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars, although sometimes I find myself wondering if I should lower it.* I’m not sure why. I definitely enjoyed the book, but I feel as though a lot of the background plot was unnecessary. Half the time I didn’t know if I was reading a murder mystery or someone’s therapy transcripts. I guess that’s the point; Flynn’s books are the types of books to get under your skin and force you to keep reading even if you find yourself uncomfortable. There’s a gory theme throughout the book that had me skimming over complete paragraphs. I don’t necessarily think it took away from the book, but I think that a lot of it didn’t have to be included. It felt as though there were “shock-factors” in there just for shock instead of plot continuation.

Another thing I didn’t like about the book was that I did not like any of the characters. I think that when reading a book the reader should be able to either identify with a character or have an overwhelming attachment to one. Something to tether the reader to the book, you know? I didn’t identify with the main character: I’ve never been in a psych ward (this is on the back of the book/it’s not a spoiler/please don’t yell at me), I know and love my father, and I love my mother/my mother loves me. Camille’s biggest issue with her hometown is that her mother, Adora, is there, and the two of them don’t get along well – or at all. It’s very well hidden, though. Adora is nice off the bat, but overwhelmingly fake as someone who feels the need to keep up a perfect appearance. I just couldn’t connect with Camille. I didn’t dislike her, per se, but I found being in her head exhausting. As for the other characters in the book – and there are a lot of them, which is my next point – I found I distrusted all of them, and I didn’t want any of them to be redeemed. The only other character I “liked” besides Camille was her boss, who wasn’t in the book too much, but seemed like an alright-kinda-guy. And his wife – she seemed okay, too, from the two or three sentences she was allotted.

As previously stated, there were a lot of background characters and sometimes I found myself flipping back to earlier pages trying to remember who was who. Who was Nancy? Was she Camille’s friend or Adora’s? How about Elizabeth? There were so many female characters introduced at once that it was hard to keep track of them, especially when they showed up in other scenes or when Camille mentioned their names in her remembrance of her past.

Regardless of these things, I enjoyed the book. I thought it was definitely entertaining – it was like an episode of Criminal Minds, except Camille isn’t part of the FBI and is thus floundering around in her initial investigation, exactly how any of us would be – and the lead up to the ending and the ending itself was worth it. I’ve heard that Dark Places is better than Sharp Objects, so I’m excited to get to that one eventually.

(*I went back to Goodreads and changed my rating from a 4 to a 3. If I had the option, I would definitely make it a 3.5… So, a 3.5/5 overall.)

Favourite Quote: “Isn’t a smile a girl’s best weapon?”

– Kayla xo

personal

an introduction

Hey. Hi. I should let you know that I’m impossibly bad at introductory sentences, so just.. bear with me through every single blog post I ever post. Thanks. Instead of rambling on and on about this and that in excessively long run-on sentences, I’ll just bullet point everything.

Who: My name is Kayla – if you don’t know my name I have absolutely no idea how you stumbled onto this blog so let me know? And also hi – and I’m twenty-three years old. I have a BA from Trent University (t r e n t that’s how we spell victory!) in English Literature.

What: This blog is primarily going to be full of posts talking about/critiquing the books I’ve read this year (2016). Sometimes I’ll have absolutely nothing of “”substance“” to say, so I’ll just talk about the book and how I felt about it vs Real Thoughts.

Where: Here? Also if you look up there ^^^ there are two symbols, the first one is a link to my Goodreads profile. The second one is a link to my Twitter if you feel like reading a) inane thoughts that cross my mind, b) One Direction related things (I’m not sorry. If you would just let me show you that they’re really talented you wouldn’t be chuckling at me right now), c) sports related things that usually end in exclamation marks, and d) Other™.

When: I’ll post a few days after I finish a book. It’ll give me enough time to digest the book and come up with something interesting enough to say (I hope).

Why: I absolutely hate to admit this, but I haven’t read a novel since I was in university. (April 2014). Exception: Gone Girl in July of 2014 (which took me two hours and didn’t even feel like I read it because I devoured it, apparently.) (Also not including 2016. I’ve read four books already. Go me!) So, yes, I didn’t read a book for a Very Long Time which is frankly embarrassing, especially for someone who has a degree in reading. My sister-in-law (Hi, Katie!) thought it would be a good idea to write about the books I read to build up a portfolio of writing for future jobs, and also to motivate myself to keep reading. – Which brings me to: Please comment on my posts! I want to know that I’m just not talking to the void. Even if you (think you) don’t have anything “of importance” to say, I would still love to hear what you thought. Did you read the book I just reviewed? Did you hate it and completely disagree with what I said? But have no idea why? Cool! Let me know. Maybe we can discuss it, or maybe we can end our friendship depending on what you think (I am TOTALLY joking. Everyone is allowed to have their own opinions in regards to literature and I value that.)

How: By using what I learned in university I’ll be attempting to create some sort of discussion and/or interesting thoughts through my posts. Sometimes in uni I found that some books were definitely delved into Too Damn Deeply and sometimes I found that some books weren’t delved into enough. I won’t be using any super technical terms so don’t be afraid to read/comment/discuss; basically I just want to talk about books. What do you like? What don’t you like? What type of books do you wish there were more of? Things like that.

Other: (Which is not one of the 5W’s but sometimes equally important). If you’d like to navigate around the blog, if you look up there ^ and then over there > you’ll see three horizontal lines (||| like this but sideways), if you click that it’ll open the navigation. You can look through the recent comments (hopefully there are some, ha!), through the different categories, and the blog’s archive.

So that’s that! If you have any ideas of what I should talk about while talking about novels (ie: plot holes, tropes, unreliable narrators, etc.) or if you have any book recommendations, please leave a comment here and let me know! Or in three weeks when you’re like “oh crap I read this super good book, Kayla should read it too!” just leave a comment in the most recent post. Wherever you want to. (Can you tell I just really want to talk to people?) I really do hope you’ll find this blog interesting, once it gets up and running (I’m already behind on book posts, yikes), and that hopefully it’ll inspire you to read some of the books I talk about, or different types of books, or just, you know, read more in general! Reading is the best. Truly.

– Kayla xo