Uncategorized

The Book Addiction Tag

It’s nearing the end of the semester and I really should be getting to the piles of work I have, but I found this tag over at Me and My Mundane Life and it seemed like fun, so here I am!divider

What is the longest amount of time you can comfortably go without picking up a book?

A week, maybe? It’s hard for me to think about. I mostly read when I’m commuting, and living in New York City, I commute nearly every day. It’s kind of scary to wonder how often and how much I’ll read when I don’t have such a lengthy commute anymore! I don’t really read at home as often as I’d like; when I’m home, more often than not, I’ll resort to watching YouTube or TV shows.


How many books do you carry on your person (or kindle) at any one time?

I carry my Kindle almost everywhere and it has 200+ unread titles on it. I try not to carry physical books if I can help it, or unless the book is light.


Do you keep every book you buy/receive or are you happy to pass them on to make space for more?

I would say I keep 98% of the books I buy and receive! A few years ago I had to do an unhaul mostly because I was running out of space in our tiny apartment! But in the future, when I have more space for bookshelves, I intend to never get rid of any books, ever. I want to build my own library.


How long would you spend in a bookshop on a standard visit?

Oh boy. It really depends on the bookshop and my goals! I would say my average is about a half hour, but I can get lost in a bookshop for hours sometimes.


How much time per day do you actually spend reading?

So, again, because I have a 3-hr daily commute, I spend 3hrs per weekday reading, at least. If a book is particularly engaging sometimes I’ll read for another hour or two as well. On weekends I generally don’t read at all.


Where does the task ‘picking up a book’ appear on your daily to-do list?

I’m not sure what this means? I don’t have a daily to-do list, and picking up a book wouldn’t really be on it anyway, because I don’t think of it as a “to-do” task.


How many books do you reckon you own in total (including e-books)?

I have no idea, and it’s even harder to estimate now because my shelves are double stacked, so I can’t see most of the stuff I own! Maybe somewhere around 200? I don’t know. I’m really bad at this type of numerical estimation. My Kindle also has around 200 books.


Approximately how often do you bring up books in conversation?

Depends on who I’m speaking with! A lot of the people I speak to on a daily basis don’t read very often, or aren’t keen on reading in general, so I know it’s futile to talk about reading. But if I’m talking with fellow readers than I bring up books all the time!


What is the biggest book (page count) you have finished reading?

I think it’s still Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace!


Is there a book you had to get your hands on against all odds (i.e. searching bookshops, online digging, etc)?

I have two answers for this!

First is Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nichols, which is a title not published in the US, so I couldn’t find it in any libraries here. I didn’t know Book Depository existed back then, so I ended up digging  through Amazon sellers until I found an affordable copy. It was a three-star book in the end, alas.

Second is the Worth Press edition of Pride & Prejudice. It was on Book Depository and then went out of stock, so I hunted it down everywhere, including Abe Books. Then a copy popped up on Amazon for $24, which is way more than I would usually spend on any book, but it was a limited edition so I bought it. About two weeks later the book popped up on Book Depository again for $13. Alas. Such is life.


A book you struggled to finish but refused to DNF?

I also have two answers for this!

First is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, which took me about six months to read. I refused to DNF it because I was determined to read this beloved classic and see what all the fuss was about. I was not a fan. I was so, so bored but I made my way through.

Second is The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan, which is the worst fantasy novel I’ve ever read. I found it boring, soulless, and badly written. This is one of the few books I’ve one-starred.


What are 3 of your main book goals for 2019?

  1. Get used to reading more at home!
  2. Read more stuff by Arab women, including non-fiction.
  3. Read everything by Sarah Waters.

Have you ever had the privilege of converting someone into a reader (maybe via inspiration or incessant nagging)?

I did convince my best friend to buy a Kindle, but she’s yet to actually finish a book on it. I don’t think I can count that as a success.


Describe what books mean to you in five words.

Adventure, Wonder, Escapism, Awe, Joy

Uncategorized

How I Choose My Books Tag!

Hi guys! So, I realize I popped in yesterday and dropped a book review, then bounced again.  Booktubing is going as well as it can, but frankly? It’s way too freaking hot to film. There’s no way I can film while my AC unit is on, because it’s like thirty years old and it’s fucking loud. I can’t even really have a fan on, because I film with my phone, and even though I have a mic the interference really sucks.

Plus, honestly, I think I’m more into blogging-by-writing, anyway. I’m just never as natural as I want to be when I’m speaking. Which is not to say that I’m abandoning Booktube! I’ll still post unboxings, hauls, and monthly wrap-ups over there, and maybe the occasional tag, but for now I think I’m going to rededicate myself to this blog, which I’ve missed a great deal!

So, I stumbled upon this tag over at The Literary Phoenix – well, “stumbled” is the wrong word to use, since I was actively looking for a tag! But anyways, without further ado, let’s get to the tag!


Find a book on your shelves with a blue pink cover. What made you pick up the  book in the first place?

tipping the velvetI discovered Sarah Waters in a very roundabout way. On Tumblr, I came across gifsets of the Korean movie The Handmaiden, which is an adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith. At the time, I knew nothing at all about Sarah Waters or her books, but I just knew that The Handmaiden seemed like a really cool movie, especially as it was marketed as lesbians and criminal intrigue. I watched The Handmaiden, and it ended up being one of my favorite movies of all time. So, naturally, I had to read up a bit on the book it was originally based on, which led me to Sarah Waters.

Because I had just watched The Handmaiden, I didn’t feel like reading Fingersmith, so I looked into Sarah Waters’ other books. I couldn’t make a decision, but then I was in a used bookstore in my neighborhood and I found this gorgeous, vibrant edition of Tipping the Velvet. Upon reading the summary I discovered it was all 19th century London, dance halls, and lesbians, and that’s pretty much the way to my heart.


Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy but did. Why did you read it in the first place?

the star touched queenIn 2016, when The Star-Touched Queen was published, it was all the rage. It was a very splashy debut novel that everyone was talking about. Thing is, it wasn’t all good. Opinions on this novel were vastly divided. It seemed this was the sort of book people either loved or hated. Personally, I was a little iffy about the summary, which made it seem like the book would be the sort of romance-heavy, instalove that I tend to despise, but I was intrigued by the folks who said that Roshani Chokshi’s writing was the most gorgeous writing they had ever read. Since opinions were so divided, I got curious! I thought I would like the writing and hate the romance plot.

I ended up enjoying it very much. I gave it four stars because I found the plot a little lacking, but I was smitten with the writing, which is indeed gorgeous. I have a high tolerance for what others deem purple prose, so I was enchanted with Chokshi’s lyrical writing. I also thought the romance was really well done, surprisingly!


Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick up a book at random. How did you discover this book?

girls burn brighterFull disclosure, I’m too lazy to get up and do this right now, plus most of the books on my bookshelf I haven’t actually read (oops), so I’m just going to choose a book at random from this year’s reads, on Goodreads. So, my finger landed on Girls Burn Brighter.

This was another splashy debut and it made waves in the adult literary community.  People were marking it as to-read on Goodreads and the cover is very, very eye-catching, so I had to check it out. Plus, my friend Rachel was really excited about it, so it was on my radar, and then I stumbled across on Netgalley, so Rachel and I buddy read it (I think?).

I gave it three stars – I thought it was a little too heavy on the torture porn and I hated the ending. I did think it was beautifully written, and I liked its potential.


Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

home fireThis is going to be one of my favorite books of the year, if not of all time. Here’s the thing: I don’t tend to read adult literary, and when I do, I don’t really find myself loving it as much as I loved this book. I usually struggle to connect with the characters, mainly. But Home Fire? I loved it so much. It’s a modern-day retelling of Antigone with an all-Muslim cast of characters, and it has the distinction of having the most beautiful and tragic ending I’ve ever read in my life.

Home Fire was recommended to me by Rachel, who was reading all the books on the Women’s Prize Shortlist (Home Fire ended up winning!). She was a little hesitant about recommending it since, as I said, I don’t generally read adult literary, but I was intrigued by the plot and that it was a retelling of Antigone, a play I had been meaning to read. So I picked up a copy of the play, read it, and then right away I picked up Home Fire. Since I had found Antigone somewhat lacking in emotional resonance (I generally don’t like plays), it was fantastic to read Home Fire right after and get all that emotion I had been hoping for from Antigone, which has such incredible themes.

My one gripe? I wish the covers weren’t so fucking ugly, so I could buy a copy of this book!! But both the US and the UK covers are horrific and meaningless.


Pick a book you discovered through book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?

stalking jack the ripperI have a thing about Victorian London. Frankly, if a book is set in Victorian London and has those Victorian Vibes (you know what I’m talking about), there’s a 99% chance I’m going to pick it up regardless of what it’s actually about. So, when I stumbled across Stalking Jack the Ripper, I immediately knew I had to read it. People were excited about it, it seemed to be a popular series (this book has a 4.02 on Goodreads!), and I kept seeing it everywhere!

Sadly, it did not live up to the hype. My main problem was that this book was boring. It’s really short, but it draaaaaaged. There was just a lot of nothing going on. Plus, it was seriously anachronistic with its characterization. Audrey Rose read like an overeager college freshman who’s majoring in Women’s Studies, not a Victorian-era young woman. It was a bit much. To add insult to injury, there’s no other major female characters besides Audrey Rose.

I didn’t hate this, however. I didn’t mind the romance, surprisingly, and I thought it was atmospheric. I’ve heard good things about the second book in the series, so I acquired it on my Kindle and it’s waiting to be read. I’ll probably get to it sometimes later this year!


Find a book on your shelves with a one word title. What drew you to this book?

mirageAgain, we’re going with virtual shelves here, and my pick is Mirage by Somaiya Daud. I first heard of this book on Twitter, when the book deal was announced, so I’ve been anticipating it for a long, long time. What drew me to it was that the author is Maghrebi and the book is inspired by North African culture. Being North African myself (though Egyptian, not Maghrebi, two very different things), I was immediately excited by the prospect of this book. When a detailed summary of it came out, I was a bit less excited, but I tried to withhold judgement.

Unfortunately, I did not love it. I didn’t hate it, either. I gave it three stars and wrote a lengthy review on Goodreads (which I might post here retroactively, maybe). Mainly, I found it predictable. It felt like the same old YA plot tacked onto a different settling. Plus there was a really jarring mishmash of Olden Times setting and modern sci-fi setting that I kind of despised. I did think the writing was really good, though, so I’ll probably look into Daud’s other work!


What book did you discover through a film/TV adaptation?

wizard's first ruleNever, never have I ever seen a source material that is so radically different from its adaptation. And thank goodness, frankly, because this is godawful source material.

A few years back I discovered the popular fantasy series Legend of the Seeker. After a few false starts (the pilot episode is a bit slow), I finally binged it all, and I fell in love. It was beautifully filmed (in New Zealand!), with fantastic characters and relationships, along with light-hearted humor. I also liked various elements of the fantasy world. I was devastated when Legend of the Seeker was cancelled, so I thought, hey, why not check out the source material?

The Sword of Truth series is garbage fantasy. That may seem harsh, but trust me. This is everything you don’t want in fantasy – it’s got generic Anglo-Medieval worldbuilding, a Gary Stu white male hero who all the ladies want to bone, disgusting amounts of misogyny and sexual violence, and cartoonishly evil villains. Wizard’s First Rule isn’t the worst of the books, but I hated myself enough to read three more books in the series, and they just got progressively worse and more misogynistic. Seriously, there is SO MUCH unnecessary sexual violence in these books!

Also, I’ve heard Terry Goodkind is an asshole in real life, which frankly doesn’t surprise me.


Think of your all-time favorite books. When did you read these and why did you pick them up in the first place?

the beautiful onesHmm…what are my favorite books of all time? I don’t think I’ve kept track. Because I don’t really have a single favorite book, I’m gonna pick one that comes close and that I think is sadly underrated. That book is Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Beautiful Ones.

In a world where people are always vying for Pride and Prejudice spin-offs, adaptations, and reimaginings, I don’t understand why The Beautiful Ones isn’t more popular. It’s a gorgeously written book, with old world elegance, light fantasy elements, and a swoonworthy romance!

If I recall correctly, I initially picked this up because Moreno-Garcia was on my radar, since she’s one of the editors of The Dark Magazine, where I’ve published two short stories. I had been wanting to read something of hers and this seemed like it would be most suited to my tastes. I hadn’t realized it was a Regency Romance with a Telekinetic Twist (as the author markets it!), and I hadn’t thought I would love it this much, but it’s definitely one of my favorite books of all time.


Tagging!

I’m actually going to tag people, because why not!

pace, amore, gelato
lost purple quill
i have thoughts on books
aurora librialis

Uncategorized

Top 5 Tuesday: Favorite Retellings

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bionic Bookworm.  When I saw my friend Rachel at pace, amore, libri doing it, it looked like fun, so I decided to do it too, especially given this month’s Top 5 Wednesday topics are…not doing it for me.

Anyway, what I’ve discovered from this is I apparently don’t read a lot of retellings! I’m not sure why, as I quite like them. Let me know in the comments if there are any retellings you are fond of; I’m always on the lookout for Hades/Persephone retellings in particular, but I’m open to all.

 

Dreams of Shreds and Tatters by Amanda Downum
The original: The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers

I hesitate to call this a retelling.  The King in Yellow is a book of creepy short stories that were actually a precursor to Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos; Lovecraft makes references to the stories in his own work.  Downum’s work sort of…borrows that world for her own story rather than retelling any particular Chambers tale.  The important thing, though, is that she manages to capture just how fucking creepy the mythos of Carcos and the King in Yellow are.  It’s atmospheric and hella weird, and a great modern adaptation of this strange mythos.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
The original: Beauty and the Beast

I don’t know why I thought this was a Bluebeard retelling.  Though, I suppose, the two are rather similar.  Cruel Beauty’s strength is in its two main protagonists rather than its world-building (which is weak and derivative and confounding); Nyx and Ignifex.  Nyx (Beauty) is bitter and selfish and I love female characters who are unlikeable.  Ignifex is dark and witty and charming and rakish. Their interactions are delightful. The book reads like a fairy tale, so not everything always makes perfect sense, but it’s a treat.

The Kiesha’ra by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
The original: Romeo and Juliet

I only learned this was based on Romeo and Juliet very, very recently.  I would say this is an extremely loose retelling, with only the first two books really having much to do with the Shakespeare play.  This was one of my favorite series as a teen; I read it over ten times (though I suspect it wouldn’t hold up as well if I re-read it now).  It tells the story of Zane and Danica, who come from two opposing shape-shifting species, the serpiente and the avians, who have been at war for as long as anyone can remember. Zane and Danica decide to come together and marry in order to bring peace to their societies and they end up falling in love for real. This is straight-up high fantasy, with fantastic worldbuilding and characters. The third book was also my first experience with a lesbian character, and that was very formative for me as a youngster.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
The original: Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Snow White

These series has received a lot of well-received criticism for its portrayal of Asian cultures.  It’s true that its world-building is weak and somewhat nonsensical, but it’s a fun series nonetheless.  It gives me “Found Family” vibes and it’s basically one adventure after the other. It’s also a very interesting twist on the original fairytales; the world of the Lunar Chronicles is a dystopia with cyborgs.  In fact, Cinder, one of the protagonists, is part-cyborg herself, which is a super intriguing twist on the Cinderella story! I have yet to read Winter, the final book in this series, but it’s waiting for me on my Kindle.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The original: The Iliad

I have to mention The Song of Achilles, even though I don’t think I loved it as much as most people did, nor am I familiar with the source material.  Still,  this book deserves mentioning for the beautiful, loving relationship between Achilles and Patroclus and its lovely prose.  I hadn’t expected to enjoy this book when I first picked it up, but I was really pleasantly surprised that it kept me hooked.  It also featured some really entertaining side characters; I really hope Madeline Miller writes about Odysseus at some point, because his snark was hilarious.