Monthly Rewind: July 2019

Monthly Rewind: July 2019

B O O K S

During the month of July, I read 7 books.

The Ressurrectionist of Caligo | Gods of Jade and Shadow | Aphrodite Made Me Do It | Mooncakes

SLAY | Verify | Turtles All The Way Down

M U S I C

So Am I | Room Shaker | Sunset | We All Lie | Beautiful People | Crown | BROWN SKIN GIRL| Another Place

P O S T S

A feature section to highlight my favourite posts from my fellow bloggers that were posted this month. 

  • Jade War Blog Tour! – I had the pleasure of being accepted into the blog tour for the amazing Jade War by Fonda Lee. I absolutely loved Jade City, and Jade War was a complete smash! Please check out everyone’s amazing contributions to this tour!

That’s it for this month! Tell me what went on in YOUR life this month! What sort of things was important for you this month? New obsessions? New TV shows? Or book? Any new song recs (I’m always open to new music!)? Best books you read this month?

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Page to Screen (YA Edition)

Page to Screen (YA Edition)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature once hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl! Each week, a new topic is put into place and bloggers share their top ten (or your own amount) accordingly.

This week’s topic is free week on Top Ten Tuesday so I decided to do Page to Screen. This was a recent topic but I had sadly missed out on it so when free week came back, I knew I had to do it!

I decided to do a YA edition because I can think of more films/TV. But, making this list made me realise how many YA adaptation actually existed. I can name a couple off the top of my head but when I checked this article by BookRiot, there are a lot more than I expected. Sometimes I don’t realise that certain movies are based off YA novel!

This list is rather random, and I’m not ranking anything best or worst but rather what do I think of if you had to ask me: What YA books have been adapted to TV/Movie? (Only including ones that I have read and watched, and not the ones I’m aware of)

Vampire Academy

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Vampire Academy is one of those adaptions where whoever was in charge of the movie seriously messed up. I’ve only read the first two books (I was very upset with a certain character death in book two and never managed to pick up the rest of the series 😂) This series had a lot of potential and I feel like a movie series could’ve really improved upon the work.

For me, I hated the way the film was marketed and the decision to focus on the comedy aspect. Making it an over the top teen comedy that wasn’t really funny dampened any kind of success it could’ve gotten. Which was a shame because I loved Zoey Deutch, Dominic Sherwood and Cameron Monaghan at the time.

The soundtrack was the best though, I discovered CHVRCHES through it and they’re one of my favourite artists now. (Maybe I’ll do a post about my favourite YA adaptation soundtracks 😂)

Darren Shan Saga

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No movie adaptation will upset me more than Cirque Du Freak (Darren Shan Sage). I absolutely loved this book series to pieces. Even my childhood love for Josh Hutcherson couldn’t save this series. And replacing Debbie with a random ass monkey girl called Rebecca had twelve-year -old me fuming. I will cry internally at the failure of this series forever.

The Hunger Games

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Along with Twilight, The Hunger Games franchise is one of the most defining series in YA adaptions. I don’t think need to explain its influence.

But I was definitely on THG train. I was mega obsessed with the series, and while it’s not a current favourite (since mine changes a lot) this series took up a lot of my life. And seeing Josh Hutcherson in another series I love had me jumping over the moon! I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this already but yeah, it’s a little embarrassing looking back, but I don’t regret it.

THG is a good example of adapting a book well than its satisfying as a fan of the book and interesting enough to newcomers.

Divergent

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Oh, man. I loved Divergent (book) and the film was pretty satisfying. I think it did well to capitalise on the YA hype that THG built. The marketing for it was so cool and interactive. Unfortunately, I hated the rest of the series and it seems like the films didn’t do well after. I don’t remember seeing the second movie but I do remember being issues with the rest.

The Maze Runner

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Along with Divergent, TMR is another one that kicked off well but slowly lost its strength towards the end. I saw the first and second movie but I don’t remember anything about the rest of the franchise. I did love this series a lot and I was so excited to see it be adapted. But it didn’t work out and that will be a shame.

Morganville Vampires

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This was actually a web series. At the time, I thought this was the greatest thing ever. But then I realised I was seeing this through serious rose tinted glasses. I love the Morganville Vampires but the story was something that needed a better budget. While it isn’t terrible, but it is incredibly cheesy at some points. I like to rewatch it on prime sometimes because it gives me a chuckle and brings back some great memories. Also, I was a teen with no job when you were able to purchase the ID bracelet from the book. Still upset they don’t sell them anymore. 😭😭😭

The Mortal Instruments

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I’m not going to lie: I preferred the movie. Shocker, I know. I did enjoy the netflix series but I lost interest really easily. If the movie had a better script, maybe things could’ve been a little different. But I feel like it had a lot of potential because the casting was near perfect. (I wasn’t huge on Izzy but Lily Collins as Clary? Perfect.)

I don’t even like this series that much or even read books by Clare anymore but even I was disappointed. The hype for this was quite big I remember and the soundtrack was really good.

The Fault in Our Stars

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John Green books in generally really aren’t my cup of tea. As a teen, I forced myself to like them because all my friends loved his books and I was a desperate teenage who struggled to make friends so books were often my way in to friendship groups.

I have to say the film wasn’t bad. I think because it’s contemporary and doesn’t require FX like most YA adaptations, it was more faithful to the book because it didn’t have much restrictions.

Twilight

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I actually got into Twilight almost. I discovered the books at the same time as Morganville but I drifted to MV instead. (Never really liked the publishers constantly using that ONE quote on all the MV covers telling you to drop Twilight – it was quite rude, in my opinion) I think the films were alright, can’t say much because I wasn’t a super fan, but it was decent and enjoyable. If the script didn’t feel so cringey in the first one, I feel like it would’ve been received better.

Can say that “You named my daughter after the Loch Ness monster?!” is still one of the best scenes yet. 😂😂😂

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

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Cameron Post was left for dead by the YA community, and I wasn’t surprised. I feel like F/F novels get forgotten all the time. I know people kept putting this film up against Love, Simon which wasn’t fair because LS had bigger money behind it. I’m not saying one is more important than the other but I wish Cameron Post got a bigger buzz from people online. I was quite neutral about the book but the film was quiet but powerful.

What your favourite YA adaption? What’s on your TTT this week? Leave me a link or let me know in the comments


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Review: The Resurrectionist of Caligo

Review: The Resurrectionist of Caligo

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

*I received a copy via the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Roger Weathersby barely scrapes by making a living out of stealing corpses for medical schools, dreaming that one day, he’ll be a reputable doctor that saves lives. But when he’s framed for a murder of one of his steals, he is forced to reunite with an old friend to save the city and, hopefully, clear his name. The old friend in question is none of than Princess Sibylla, who returns to her childhood city on request of her Queen grandmother, who is keen to see she is married off to her cousin to further their magical bloodline. But when her own suspicions tie in with Roger’s situation, it’s up to them to save the country before it’s torn apart.

I’m not going to lie, this was quite a surprising read. The Resurrectionist of Caligo is quite intriguing. The royal family of Myrcnia rule by divine right due to their magical skills that comes from their bloodline. Everyone has a different ability, and due to it only being manifested in a person’s biology, the reigning Queen is quite hellbent on making sure it stays in the family. And that means killing off any illegitimate children and only allowing marriages within the family. And this has Sibylla on edge because her half-brother is hidden within the city and she is sure Queen is close to discovering his identity. Roger is in a strange position where in the town, the people are restless, and science is growing and questioning the supremacy of the magical users. A Resurrectionist is simply a cooler term for grave snatcher in the name of science. And Roger begins to notice a pattern in the corpses he has been collecting and the victims of a well-known strangler who has been terrorising the women of Caligo.

I loved the magical features and the development of the political intrigue of this universe. But, the world-building is a hit or miss situations where within Myrcnia, and its capital Caligo, it is quite packed with a lot of detail. I was quite impressed with the quasi-Victorian design that is set up. Trimboli and Zaloga draw on the challenges of the Victorian-era lifestyle, echoing a steampunk design, which creates the Myrcnia’s landscape. A pivot part of Sibylla’s arc is her interaction with the neighbouring country, but I was disappointed how bland they were in comparison. You get a lot of rich detail within the city, but they’ve resorted to merely being the outsiders, and it just didn’t sit well with me.  

I personally loved Sibylla and Roger as characters in their own right, but the story really hinges on their childhood connection and, personally, I never really caught on to what drew them together. And a lot of their communication is passed between Roger’s half-brother, who is also Sibylla’s warden.  They appear to despise each other, and there’s little given to understand their connection, aside from their forced situation.

Overall, I found The Resurrectionist of Caligo quite entertaining. It was quick, easy to read. The characters are great, I enjoyed the mix of comedy and mystery, and it was quite heart-warming in most scenes. The magic system is by far the most exciting aspect of this novel, but not as utilised as you would expect. But I would definitely be interested in checking out in any future sequels.


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Blog Tour: Jade War

Blog Tour: Jade War

Title: Jade War

Author: Fonda Lee

Publisher: Orbit Books

Publication date: 23 July 2019

Genres: Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis

In Jade War, the sequel to the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Jade City, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis. 

On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years. 

Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich – or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals. 

Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival – and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon. 


The universe was clearly working in my favour when I was given the honour of participating in the Jade War blog tour organised by Shealea @ Caffeine Book Tours.

Of course, the biggest thank you to Shealea for hosting this mammoth of a blog tour and working alongside Fonda Lee and her publishing team to give us all physical copies to review! The participants of this tour are all wonderful and extremely talented and I can’t wait to see what everyone’s thoughts are on this brilliant gem of a book! Check out my review and playlist!

photo taken by zaheerah

Review

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

*I received a finished copy via Caffeine Book Tours in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

We return to the city of Janloon, where the Mountain and No Peak clans have seemingly announced a public truce. But secretly the leaders of their respective clan continue to fight for control of their nation Kekon, home to the only source of jade, a magical energy source which strengthens its users. With the rise of jade smugglers, the Kaul family must work together to if they wish to bring down Ayt Mada while also squashing rising tensions within Kekon and its neighbouring countries.

My first thoughts after finishing Jade War weren’t even something I could describe. An incoherent stream of yelling seems rather fitting. The sheer joy I experienced from reading this novel is something that can’t be easily replicated.

I can’t decide what makes this series so exhilarating. It’s smart, action-filled with an intricate plot that doesn’t let you down. It truly has the perfect blend of brilliant worldbuilding and damn near perfect characters that reside within it. Everything felt so vivid and realistic and, more importantly, believable. The attention to detail is spot on, and nothing is forgettable. Jade War takes us out of Kekon and really delves deeper into the other countries. Usually, I would lean towards one or the other, worldbuilding or characters, but the Green Bone saga really hits the mark on everything.

Like in Jade City, there are many alternate perspectives, but the core ones remain the members of the Kaul family. And Lee solidifies her cast of characters that are immensely complex and ridiculously compelling.

Hilo was the game changer for me. There is so much growth and development with him that he has become one of my favourite male characters. His initial dangerous demeanour can be dissuading, but he is so protective of his loved ones that he has no choice but to act out to protect them. He is one of the series’ best characters.

Shae really stood out the most for me, personally, and her character truly grabbed my heart and was clearly unwilling to let go. Her role as Weather Man continues to be undermined daily, and she’s trying her hardest to prove to everyone she can her job, and not letting her personal life, which introduces a romantic relationship, conflict with her duty to the clan. Wen, now wife to Hilo, really makes her mark in Jade War. Hilo naturally fears for her since she’s resistant to jade, making her an easier target. But she refuses to let anyone stop her from helping her clan, her family. Her compassion and strength really amazed me. Wen and Shae, especially, are unstoppable and when they work together, shit gets done.

Anden is genuinely my favourite character in the series. In Jade War, he embarks on a new life, jade-free, on his cousin’s order, and even then, he can never truly escape the green life he was born into. What I loved, especially about Anden’s arc is that it brought to life the land beyond Kekon. And Anden he comes as a stranger and slowly learns that there’s a way to living green that is entirely different from the way he was brought up. The rules are stricter in different ways. Everything is on a different playing field when living jade-less, making it quite different from his own upbringing where Jade was crucial to your identity. And despite his promises to his family to keep a low-profile, he still manages to find trouble.

Family is such a core theme, and the circumstances the characters face put them under all sorts of pressure. Whether it be tradition, duty, honour or personal feelings, they return to each other because that’s what they’re fighting for. Stories that focus on familial love is what I love the most, and this series has, hands down, one of the best fictional families ever.

I realise I haven’t touched on this on my previous review of Jade City, but the fight scenes deserve a more extended discussion of its own. It truly comes to life and takes your breath away. The fight scenes are so brutal that I wasn’t sure if I would survive what would happen next. Having a story this ambitious and complex is not an easy feat, and Lee is incredible to have created a story so intense and satisfying.   

I was already head over heels obsessed with the Green Bone world, but Jade War just confirmed every feeling I had from Jade City wasn’t a fluke or a one-off. Jade City glittered with a promise of something bigger, and Jade War delivered that with a big bang. I have zero ideas of what will happen next, but I do know that is the clan is my blood, and the Pillar is its master. Fonda Lee deserves every word of praise and accolade she gets from this series, this series deserves it all and more.


Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

Playlist

About the author

Fonda Lee writes science fiction and fantasy for adults and teens. She is the author of the Green Bone Saga, beginning with Jade City (Orbit), which won the 2018 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, was nominated for the Nebula Award and the Locus Award, and was named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Barnes & Noble, Syfy Wire, and others. The second book in the Green Bone Saga, Jade War, releases in the summer of 2019. Fonda’s young adult science fiction novels Zeroboxer (Flux), Exo and Cross Fire (Scholastic), have garnered numerous accolades including being named Junior Library Guild Selection, Andre Norton Award finalist, Oregon Book Award finalist, Oregon Spirit Book Award winner, and YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. In 2018, Fonda gained the distinction of winning the Aurora Award, Canada’s national science fiction and fantasy award, twice in the same year for Best Novel and Best Young Adult Novel.

Fonda wrote her first novel, about a dragon on a quest for a magic pendant, in fifth grade during the long bus ride to and from school each day. Many years later, she cast her high school classmates as characters in her second novel, a pulpy superhero saga co-written with a friend by passing a graphing calculator back and forth during biology class. Fortunately, both of these experiments are lost to the world forever.

Fonda is a former corporate strategist who has worked for or advised a number of Fortune 500 companies. She holds black belts in karate and kung fu, goes mad for smart action movies (think The Matrix, Inception, and Minority Report) and is an Eggs Benedict enthusiast. Born and raised in Calgary, Canada, she currently resides in Portland, Oregon.

Check out the rest of the tour!

Review: Two Can Keep a Secret

Review: Two Can Keep a Secret

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

 A small American town finds themselves back in the limelight after a murderer remerges to terrorise its citizens. Twins Ellery and Ezra move into town to live with their grandmother when their mother is admitted into rehab and find themselves in the centre of the murder mystery. As they settle into their new home, they discover that Echo Ridge thrives on gossip and the new drama brings up old wounds of their missing aunt and creates new ones when people begin to wonder if they have a copycat or the original killer on their hands.

The main problem with the story is that there’s too much, and not much being done with it. Too many characters, too many side plots, and not enough focus on the original mystery that there is a lack of depth to everything. Ellery and Ezra’s aunt went missing before they were born, and her disappearance doesn’t seem to impact or intertwined with the current mystery like it’s suggested to be until the end. McManus relies on clichés without working on them further. Rich, snobby girls and all-American jocks. And their voices weren’t distinct enough to be remotely memorable.

What I appreciated the most about Two Can Keep A Secret was the little things. I really enjoyed the theme of family, and while this book does go on a tangent at some points, the family was a key motivation in all the characters. There’s also some discussion by the side character about being a minority in a heavily white population and how you are forced to be perfect in fear of lash back.

Like McManus’s debut, Two Can Keep A Secret followed through with that intriguing and suspense building flair. It certainly keeps you guessing and enjoyed how this small town both mixed and clashed with each other. The chapters alternate between Ellery and Malcolm, whose brother was accused of killing the first girl five years ago. Malcolm, I think, had the most substantial chapters. He has to struggle with everyone pointing the finger at him and no one willing to listen to him. Ellery is a true crime fanatic which was born out of never knowing what happened to her aunt. She’s rather exciting, and I liked how she thinks. But I found it a little inappropriate at times for her to be digging into an actual crime and treating it as her own plaything. Being stubborn isn’t a bad thing, but I could never take her seriously because she never did.

Overall, I have to say I enjoyed Two Can Keep A Secret much more than I did with One of Us is Lying. Both books have their strengths and flaws, but I think TCKAS was a stronger and more enticing read. It was a satisfying read about a small town with big secrets. I was super invested quite quickly, but I found my interesting waning towards the end. But it was still a satisfying read, and a quite quick read I might add, I would recommend reading if you have an afternoon to kill.


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Auto-buy Authors

Auto-buy Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature once hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl! Each week, a new topic is put into place and bloggers share their top ten (or your own amount) accordingly.

I’m not a big on having an “auto-buy author”, since a lot of the time, I end up not liking other books by the same author. Which is why this list is only eight because I had to think for a long and hard time on which authors would I consider immediately buying a new or perhaps one that I missed book.

  • Rachel Caine
    I basically grew up with the Morganville Vampires and The Great Library series is one of my all-time favourite YA series. Of course, Rachel will forever be an auto-buy. I prefer her YA stuff but I have purchased her adult fiction, I just haven’t got round to reading them yet.
  • S.K. Ali
    Saints & Misfits and Love From A to Z are some of my favourite Muslim YA novels.
  • Madeline Miller
    When you’ve written something as iconic as The Song of Achilles, you deserve to be everyone’s auto-buy author. 😂
  • Tahereh Mafi
    I’m not a huge fan of the Shatter Me series but everything she’s written outside of it has me hooked!
Continue reading “Auto-buy Authors”