#BookTubeAThon 2016: Update 2 & Mini-Review

Franny Billingsley//The Folk KeeperJUST FINISHED: The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley.

Corin Stonewall is a Folk Keeper; he protects the people in the orphanage where he lives, and the houses surrounding it, from the Folk – sinister creatures that sicken crops and livestock, rot food and play awful tricks on people if they’re not appeased with gifts and sacrifices. And Corin also has a secret: He’s not really Corin-the-Folk-Keeper, he’s Corinna, a girl who’s taught herself a few Folk Keepers’ tricks in order to gain some semblance of power over her own life. But when a dying man comes looking for her at the orphanage – asking for her by her real name! – and takes her away with him, all her carefully maintained layers of disguise are in danger of falling away.

While I can’t say that I loved this book, I did find it very interesting. Some good things: It was written in an eerie, haunting style that reminded me a bit of David Almond’s work (one of my favourite authors), which made it a very atmospheric read. There were also a couple of characters that I really liked, specifically Finian the lord who wants to be a sailor, and Taffy the deaf dog who so insistently tries to befriend Corinna. The transformation from Corin to Corinna was also quite remarkable, and I enjoyed how the completely separate entities that they initially seemed to be managed to gradually blend together – for such a short book, Corinna had some amazing character growth.

That said, I wasn’t a huge fan of Corinna for most of the first half of the book (she gave off some serious young Voldemort vibes), and was often so childish and petty that I had to consciously remind myself that, no, she wasn’t a petulant ten-year-old, but a teenager, and almost considered an adult in the story’s setting. Most of the book’s cast was unmemorable, and completely faded into the background – even the main villain! (The first few times he appeared, I kept muddling him up with one of the other characters who Corinna arbitrarily disliked.) And lastly, I would really like to have seen more of the Folk, who were made a prominent part of the setting, but weren’t much involved in the plot (beyond it’s premise).

In short: I did enjoy this book (mainly for its writing), but I probably wouldn’t read it again.3 stars

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Sleepy… And I still need to pack! 😦

Books Completed: 2
Pages Read: 497
Challenges Completed: 1

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#BookTubeAThon 2016: Update 1 & Mini-Review

Junot Díaz//The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoJUST FINISHED: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz.

The hilarious and heartbreaking story of a Dominican-American boy called Oscar and his family and friends… his childhood in New Jersey (and his sister Lola’s very different perspective on the same period of time), his mother’s childhood in the Dominican Republic under the rule of the dictator Trujillo, and Oscar’s later life as an adult who’s not really able to fit in anywhere. The whole book is narrated by a friend of his from university, but that’s not made obvious until quite late in the book when he also becomes a prominent character in the story, and I found it fun speculating over who he could possibly be in the earlier chapters. 🙂

I really enjoyed this book! I was slowed down a little in my reading because of all the random Spanish, which I don’t speak, and the meaning of which wasn’t always made obvious through the context – but at the same time, I only very rarely felt the urge to pick up a dictionary, and I do feel like Díaz’s use of Spanish lent a really great atmosphere to the book.

The characters were wonderful: Oscar loved everyone and everything so intently, something that was particularly interesting when contrasted with Lola, who (as Yunior states in the book) only really loves Oscar. I wasn’t always a huge fan of their mother, especially after reading Lola’s chapters, but she was still incredibly sympathetic, and her own chapters of the book were probably some of the most interesting: They explained the bleak oppressiveness of life under Trujillo’s rule in a way that really spoke to my own personal brand of nerd – through Lord of the Rings analogies! 😛 And I also really loved Yunior’s narrative; he really shone through as a character even when I was only thinking of him as “narrator”, and the affection he had for Oscar and his whole family was evident the whole way through the story.

So, to sum up: Beautiful writing, fascinating historical setting, incredible characters… What more could I ask for? (Answer: Not much.)

4 stars

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Hoping to finish at least one more book before my epic train journey. 🙂

Books Completed: 1
Pages Read: 335
Challenges Completed: 1

#BookTubeAThon TBR!

It’s Booktubeathon time, people! (Almost.) Are you excited? I’m excited, as you can probably tell from all my rambling. XD And imminent readathons mean it’s time for TBRs!

As always, I’ve tried to line up my TBR to meet the Booktubeathon challenges, but this year I’ve had to add a few restrictions, too, for practical reasons: Since I have a job now, I’ll be working on most weekdays, so I’ve tried to pick a few shorter books, and I’ll also be going on holiday towards the end of the readathon, and am not planning on taking any physical books with me, so most of the books I’ve chosen are also ones that I have on my kindle… Lastly, I’ve been pretty indecisive lately about what I want to read, so I may well change my mind about some of the books on this list – but here is my tentative TBR:

Junot Díaz//The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao1) Read a book with yellow on the cover.

This will probably be the first book I pick up for the readathon, and if all goes to plan, it will also be the only physical book on my TBR: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, a birthday present from my sister that I’m super-excited for. 😀

2) Read a book only after sunset.

To be honest, I have no idea what I’ll be reading for this challenge, and it will probably just end up being whatever I happen to be reading when I’m on the overnight train to Skye. Thematically, it would be quite nice to combine this with challenges 5 & 6, but you’ll have to read on to see why… 😉

Sabaa Tahir//An Ember in the Ashes3) Read a book you discovered through booktube.

This challenge is the one I’m most looking forward to, as I’m finally going the be able to read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir! I’ve been wanting to read this book for such a long time, but it was just too expensive – until a few days ago, when the price suddenly dropped to 99p in the Kindle Summer Sale ❗

Brandon Sanderson//Perfect State4) Read a book by a favourite author.

Again, there were a couple of things that I thought about picking for this challenge, but at long last, I managed to settle on Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson, which is a short story that doesn’t seem to be tied in with any of his other series… Of his other books, I’ve only read the Mistborn trilogy so far, but I adored them, so I’m hoping that this one will be really great, too.

Bram Stoker//Dracula5) Read a book that’s older than you & 6) Read and watch a book-to-movie adaptation.

I thought I’d combine these two challenges with a classic, since I’ve been meaning to read more of them this year, and there are a lot of adaptations to choose from, so I decided to go trawling through the unread classics on my kindle and my shiny new Netflix account to see if I could find a match. There were three, but I’m currently leaning towards Dracula by Bram Stoker, as it’s quite a bit shorter than the other two…

Abbi Glines//Until Friday Night7) Read seven books.

Genevieve Cogman//The Masked CitySo, as it stands, I have a total of four books that I’m planning to read, but if I want to complete all the challenges, I’m going to need to pick out three more! 😀 What those three end up being will probably largely depend on my mood at the time, but there are a couple that are looking quite likely. Namely: Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines, which I just downloaded a couple of days ago, The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman, the sequel to The Invisible Library, which I read a few months ago, and was really pleasantly surprised by… What I’ll pick for the last book, I haven’t the foggiest. ^^’

Booktubeathon: Update 8 [Final!] & Mini-Review

Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang//In Real LifeJUST FINISHED: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang.

A cute but thought-provoking graphic novel about Anda, a gamer who gets caught between two very different online friends: Lucy, who likes to spend her in-game time hunting illegal gold farmers (people who sell in-game products for real world money), and Raymond, a poor Chinese boy who farms gold for a living.

This story touches on a lot of interesting topics, and the ethics of gaming for real-world money is certainly not something I’d ever expect to find brought up in a graphic novel… Personally, though, I think that both sides of the debate in this story are equally wrong: It’s just as bad to be paid real money to kill gold farmers as it is to be a gold farmer in the first place… :/

For me, the main appeal of this book was in MMORPG setting, which I adored, and Jen Wang’s art style really emphasised the difference between the two worlds, particularly in her use of colour – mostly shades of brown and red for the real world scenes, compared to a whole host of colours in the different areas of the game. The characters were great, too, and I really loved the way that Anda and Raymond’s friendship developed. They were super-cute~ ❤4 stars

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Time for a break now. 🙂

Books Completed: 8
Pages Read: 1890
Challenges Completed: 7 (all)

Booktubeathon: Update 7 & Mini-Review

Sarah Dessen//Saint AnythingJUST FINISHED: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen.

A not-so-light romance novel about a teenage girl called Sydney, who is struggling to make her voice heard in the chaos that follows her brother’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment. Emotionally disconnected from both her family and friends, she is able to find an escape from her troubles in the company of Layla and Mac Chatham, her new schoolmates.

I was a little nervous going into this book, because I wasn’t quite so keen on Sarah Dessen’s last two books (What Happened to Goodbye and The Moon and More), but it turns out that I needn’t have been! I loved this book. It actually reminded me quite a bit of Just Listen, which is my favourite Sarah Dessen book – Sydney was a lot like Annabel, in that her main trouble was just that she had trouble expressing herself honestly.

The writing was excellent, and I was rarely willing to put the book down, despite it being over 400 pages long; and the story – though never particularly surprising – was tense and gripping. But as usual, the charm of this story was in the characters: Sydney was likeable and relatable; Layla was a tonne of fun, and made an excellent best-friend character; Mac was both swoon-worthy and incredibly sweet; and Ames was distinctly creepy. I wasn’t too impressed by Sydney’s parents, and her mother in particular, who was in turns over- and under-involved, regardless of anyone else’s feelings on the matter, but even she had improved by the end of the book, and was beginning to recognise her faults.

Another thing that I really like about Sarah Dessen’s books is that they’re all connected, and that when she brings out a new one, there’s always a cameo or two, and this one didn’t disappoint on that side of things either! I only noticed one actual cameo (Dave from What Happened to Goodbye), but there were references to characters/key plot points from several of her other books, including Just ListenThis Lullaby, and (most surprisingly to me) Dreamland.5 stars

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Bedtime, I think. 😉

Books Completed: 7
Pages Read: 1715
Challenges Completed: All 7!!!

Booktubeathon: Update 6 & Mini-Review

Antoine de Saint Exupéry//The Little PrinceJUST FINISHED: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

The charming tale of a pilot who crash lands in the Sahara desert, and there meets and befriends a little boy from another planet, who tells him stories about his home planet and the people he’s met on his travels.

I’ve read this book several times before, and it seems that I like it a little more every time – there’s just something incredibly sad about it (the ending and the part with the fox always make me tear up a little), but at the same time, the little prince’s stories are so whimsical and lovely (and often quite philosophical, too!). 🙂

The main theme of the book is childhood, and the absurdity of the way grown-ups look at the world, and this comes across beautifully. A must-read for children and adults alike.4 stars

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Much as ever.

Books Completed: 6
Pages Read: 1298
Challenges Completed: 6

Booktubeathon: Update 5 & Mini-Review

Kate Beaton//Hark! A VagrantJUST FINISHED: Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton.

A compilation of mostly three- and four-panel comic strips about history and literature, collected from Beaton’s webcomic of the same name. With simple, but expressive art, and some really great jokes, this collection is hilarious, and it’s very easy to see why it’s so popular.

Some of my favourites include: Get Me Off This Freaking Moor (p. 7), in which the Brontë sisters go dude-watching together; Goreys (pp. 71-81), in which Beaton makes up stories based on the covers that Edward Gorey designed for them; Crusoe (pp. 121-3), a retelling of Robinson Crusoe, from Friday’s perspective; and Industrial Revolution Fun (pp. 163-4), which… makes fun of the Industrial Revolution, basically.

This lost a star for me only because some of the historical comics (particularly the ones on Canadian history) went rather over my head. I think it’d probably be best enjoyed by someone a little more historically-savvy than I am – though, to be fair, that could describe pretty much anyone. 😉4 stars

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Still ill and disgusting, and trying very hard not to sneeze all over my books… 😐

Books Completed: 5
Pages Read: 1207
Challenges Completed: 5