Tuesday, February 28, 2017

See You in the Cosmos, by Jack Cheng

Hey all! 

I just finished reading See You in the Cosmos, by Jack Cheng!
I received this book from the Boekhandel Dominicanen's Young Adult Dome. This does not affect my review! 


"All eleven-year-old Alex wants is to launch his iPod into space. With a series of audio recordings, he will show other life forms out in the cosmos what life on Earth, his Earth, is really like. 
But for a boy with a long-dead dad, a troubled mom, and a mostly-not-around brother, Alex struggles with the big questions. 

Where do I come from?
Who's out there?

And, above all, 

How can I be brave?

Determined to find the answers, Alex sets out on a remarkable road trip that will turn his whole world upside down...

This book was absolutely beautiful, in practically every sense of the word! The writing and the plot and the characters and the way little ideas came back just made this book something that was almost comforting to read! 

See You in the Cosmos is about 11-year-old Alex, who is a complete astronomy and rocket science nerd, who's goal is to follow in the footsteps of his all-time hero, Carl Sagan, and launch a recording into space for intelligent beings to find. On his golden iPod, he records his everyday life, which is far from ordinary. His mom is suffering from the death of his dad, and thus has many 'quiet days', during which he has to completely be on his own, cook, go to the supermarket, do the laundry etc. His brother lives in LA - several days away, and so he spends his time teaching himself rocket science, looking for his dad's information on genealogy.com, and taking care of everyone. He decides to go to SHARF, a rocket launch contest in the desert, and that sets him on a whole list of meetings and a huge adventure. 

Alex is an absolutely amazing character - he was written so well! The whole book is written in the form of recordings, so you read the book in the way he talks. (Please tell me there's an audiobook of this somewhere out there!) This kid is the sweetest, most clueless nerd there is out there - he can tell you anything there is to know about space but gets confused about social norms. 

"... and Ken said Sure, knock yourself out, and I said I'm not going to do that because I'm a pacifist and besides, how am I going to check my e-mail if I'm unconscious?" p55

This quote is basically how Alex's mind works throughout the whole novel, and it's so much fun to read! He has the best responses to very simple 'adult' ideas, that to him are totally logical. 

The book starts out with him trying to describe the intelligent beings on another planet, and really sets the tone for the whole book, about him trying to figure things out, and people on Earth each being intelligent in their own ways. This comes up a few times. In fact, Cheng is a master of recurring ideas - once Alex learns something - even if it's a tiny little observation or fact, the idea will pop up again from time to time, subtly. Or anytime he meets someone new, there's a little summary of the book that goes through step by step, but that makes total sense to read about in this context. (It would be weird for something like this to happen in, say, Throne of Glass. But here is was perfectly done!) 

The side characters were also amazing. 

Terra is his half-sister he meets on his adventure to find his maybe-dad, that he heard about on Genealogy.com. She has parent issues and wants to be independent, dropped out of school, but is socially very smart. She understands people in a way the other characters don't and automatically stands for Alex, her half-brother she just met. 

Steve is a guy Alex meets at SHARF, and he's a wreck. He's a very smart entrepreneur, but is socially and mentally very, very clumsy, almost to the point of being aggresive. He is supportive in the end but is often the source of arguments. 

Zed is some kind of martial arts master that Alex meets on the train and who helps him through his travels. He starts off with this vow of silence, and he's the wise one of the group. He usually comes up with good ideas and bits of wisdom for each of the other characters. 

The entire book is a smooth road-trip, with a few bumps along the way, but that generally comes together nicely. It was a beautiful read with the dorkiest character but didn't try to completely hide some social issues. When Terra takes over the recording, or when you can hear other people talking, there is often a more serious conversation going on. The good thing is, even though Alex goes through a lot in this book, nothing can get him down in the end. 

OH. He's a science nerd, who loves astronomy and the movie Contact, which is also one of my favorites. Before you go read it, watch Contact, or you'll miss some references! ^^ 

I already wrote so much about this book and I'm trying not to give too much away! This middle grade / YA book deserves SO much more hype! It's a fast, simple and compulsive read that really got me in a good mood - I almost physically enjoyed reading it in a sense!

I'm giving this a 5/5 feathers - please go read it! It's available everywhere starting today and is so, so worth it! 

Have you read See You in the Cosmos? Are you planning to? Please let me know! :D 

Stay bookish! 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Traitor to the Throne, by Alwyn Hamilton

Hey all! 

I just finished reading Traitor to the Throne, by Alwyn Hamilton! This is the second book of a trilogy. The first book came out last year and was immediately one of my favorite reads of 2016. The wait for Traitor to the Throne was very long, but I finally read it! And I must say, it was amazing! 

Another gorgeous cover!
"This is not about blood or love. This is about treason.

Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince's message has spread across the desert - and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruelest manner possible.

Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl's instinct for survival. For the Sultan's palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper's nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive... But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani's past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart."

So I just finished the book maybe 20 minutes ago, and I'm still shaken by the ending. This review will be riddled with spoilers for Rebel of the Sands: If you have not read Rebel, stop right here, turn around and go read it. You're seriously missing out! 

Traitor started off about a year after Rebel ended - the rebellion is still together, although each member goes off on their own on little missions. Jin is often away, and there is some level of stress with the rebellion. One day, Amani gets kidnapped and taken to the Palace, to live under the control of the Sultan, who the rebellion is working against. She is forced to stay in the harem, and uses this as an opportunity to spy on the palace and how it works. 

The characters in this book are absolutely amazing. Amani is strong-willed, smart and careful. she knows that she cannot lie, and is under the control of the Sultan, but manages to find little ways to get what she wants. And I mean look at this quote:
"And just like that, everyone was looking at me. If I'd know I was doomed to get this much attention I might've brushed my hair." I stopped and laughed at this point!
I am so, so happy that Alwyn didn't fall into the love triangle trope - that could have been an 'obvious' choice for this book. Amani was surrounded by princes and other guys that help her at various times. It would have been so easy to make her have another love interest than Jin throughout this book. 

ABOUT THAT - the only complaint I might have about this book, is that there isn't enough Jin in it. He is such an amazing character, but he's only here at the beginning and end of the book! He is such a cool character and he cares so much, it would have been nice to have short chapters that concern what he was up to while Amani was at the palace. For the next book, can we have some more Jimani? Pretty please? ^-^ 

This book was absolutely magical. Alwyn has a style of writing that immediately transports you to the desert, and that makes the book difficult to put down, in all the best ways. The world she came up with came from desert mythology but feels unique in the scope of YA fiction. And, to be clear, I love the world the book is sent in! 

The plot of this book was also amazing! To avoid spoilers, It'll be in be in white below - highlight it if you want to be spoiled! But for the non-spoilery section, the plot is very well thought-out, and there were no central points that were skimmed over too quickly. I often find that to be a problem with YA books - some central plot points are often not thought-out enough. I'm so glad that this book didn't fall into that! 

And now for the spoiler-talk! Remember to highlight the paragraphs below to see my thoughts on specific plot points! 

This book made me pause in surprise so many times! When Amani finds her cousin Shira - who is the Sultim's wife and who is pregnant with the son of a Djinn - and her friend Tamid - who she left behind at the beginning of Rebel of the Sands for dead - I was so amazed! I mean sure I was expecting that Tamid would still be alive, but the plot twist with Shira was awesome! I liked how she had so many secrets and became so powerful. Her death was awful! 

Every time Amani and the Sultan summoned a Djinn, I got so incredibly tense! I can't wait to see how that plays out in book three! The control he had (and lost) on her throughout the book presented so many issues but Amani was so good at overcoming them! 

THE. END. KILLED. ME! The plot twists were done amazingly well, with absolutely no moments that made me think 'I saw that coming'. I could barely believe that Leyla was working against the rebellion the whole time, and trapped Tamid by charming him. She was so sweet and shy! But what killed me the most on the inside was when prince Ahmed was taken to be executed. Alwyn wrote his death scene so convincingly, that I almost started crying. 

And then he wasn't dead. One of the rebels who can shape-shift took his place. Oh my gosh my heart had a hard time with that! 

And now Amani's going to lead the rebellion! 

I have to go fangirl now, but I'm deffinetly giving this a 5/5 feathers! It was incredible, and I'm dying for book 3 now! 

Have you read Rebel, or Traitor? What do you think of these books? Let me know! 

Stay bookish! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Just Some Series I (Probably) Won't Finish

Hey, all! 

It's Friday! And with Friday comes a little bit of free time, so I decided to do a different kind of post: something that's not a review, or a Bookish Talk. I'm thinking of doing a few more 'listicle' posts! 

So, today I'm writing a post about some of the series that I (probably) won't be finishing. Although I must say, I can be convinced with the right conversations and comments! ^-^ 

1. The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
This is one of those series that people either seem to just like or not care about. I read this book before the movies were signed for and I thought it would be a fun dystopian book to read. And sure, the first book is fine. It has a good intrigue and a great set-up as to what might be happening. The idea of the maze is amazing and the whole experimental sense was really cool. I just never felt the want or need to pick up the second book, or even see the second movie. I know I'm not the only one, a lot of people seem to be saying this about this series. 

2. Matched, by Allie Condie
Wow, I read Matched years ago! I mean, maybe 6 years ago. I did find a second-hand copy that I now have on my shelf, but I'm not sure I want to pick it up again. I can't remember particularily enjoying this book. I might read just Matched again someday, but I highly doubt I'll ever get through the whole series. 

3. The Dragon Chronicles, by Chris D'Lacey
Ok, this one may be a lie. When I was in middle school, I LOVED these books - dragons, crafts, polar bears and stars - the perfect nerdy combination in book form! I read books 1-5 and enjoyed every bit of them. Then I opened book 6, ready to dive into the books...
And the characters were not there
And it was on a different planet
And it barely even felt relevant. 
Needless to say, I DNFed it after a few chapters and haven't picked up the series since. Which is so sad because the characters and ideas were just amazing! 

4. Wicked Lovely, by Marissa Marr
I'm one of those girls who loves fairies and fairy books. I've read them forever and have so many that I love. But I was never really interested in finishing the Wicked Lovely series. I read only the first one so far, and who knows, I might pick them up if I'm ever given the whole series, or if someone can really convince me to. But right now, it's just a bit 'meh' on my never-ending TBR list. 

5. The Selection, by Kiera Cass
Oh I'm going to get so many remarks about this. I actually quite liked the first book - it was cute, whimsical and happy. And I'm not saying I'll never read them, they're just not my priority now. And sure I might pick them up again when I need a cutesy read. I know they're a lot of people's 'guilty pleasure' books just because they're so troped and cheesy, and I usually like that on certain levels. IDKKKK I just don't feel like reading them! I may let myself be convinced though ^-^ 

6. Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard
*Shields myself and my books from gasps*. I know, Red Queen is one of the new bigger series. I really enjoyed book one, but book two... I had a hard time getting through it. Mare became insufferable, and I didn't like any of the characters anymore. The plot became super intense - almost violently so - and when the third book hit the shelves a few days ago I had no interest in picking it up. 

There's a few more books that could have made a list, but I am more tempeted to read them. I might make a different list of books I'd have to be convinced to read! 

What series did you start and lost interest in? Let me know! :D 

Have a great day!
Stay Bookish! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Carve the Mark, by Veronica Roth

Hey all! 
A while ago, I finished reading Carve the Mark, by Veronica Roth! The anticipation was quite high for this book, as you probably know. So the Young Adult Dome group and I decided to all read the book together. 

These ideas and opinions are my own, though. 

Note: I understand that there are many issues that have been brought to light considering Carve the Mark, notably by Justina Ireland. I do understand that this may affect people and dissuade people from reading the book. Bloggers are even changing their Goodreads rating of the book because of it. However, this issue will not be the center of my review - I will keep it as I usually do. 

"In a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
The Akos is thrust into Cyra's world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?"

So. Carve the Mark. I can't really figure out if I liked it or not, to be completely honest. I liked the characters, but I found the world building to be rushed and messy. I honestly feel like I have to read it again to understand the world everything was happening in. 

See, you have these planets in this Galaxy. Different planets have different people and different environments. These planets interact from time to time and people visit each other and the peoples mix and mingle. Between these planets, we have some kind of life force thing called the Current that is somehow a part of the people and gives them powers that reflect their personality but is also something in the universe that people can go visit. 

To be fair I'd like a novella just explaining this universe and what's going on. 

So, since I didn't understand the world-building, I stuck to concentrating on character development and the plot, which itself was very good! The characters imagined by Roth were colorful and intriguing. I enjoyed how she took the time to have two different points of view between Akos (who is just too sweet!) and Cyra, although I found it strange how Cyra's passages were in the first person while Akos's were in the third. 

Akos is a very sweet character, but his character developed in a way I didn't like so much (very personally). He started off sweet and shy and kind, and ended up... buff? Is that the right word? He had fears and he never liked the idea of hurting people but I feel like there was a tipping point at which he was suddenly out of character, in my opinion. His Currentgift was being able to stop the current in other people - basically to hide their abilities. He has a complex family situation that leaves him quite introverted and protective. 

Cyra is the opposite - she is all fire and can inflict pain with the slightest touch. She is ready to kill for what she believes in and rarely lets people stand in her way. She, unlike Akos, suffers from many internal problems that she hides from the world. I feel like they balance each other quite well! 

Although I feel like the worldmaking was rushed and the story was quite complex, I still enjoyed reading this! I'm giving it a 3/5 feathers :) 

Have you read Carve the Mark? What did you think? Let me know! 

Have a great day! 
Stay bookish! 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton (Re-Read!)

Hey all! 

I just finished (re-)reading Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton! 

This book came out last year and was one of my absolute favorites, and it still is! As soon as I'm done with this review, I'm picking up book two, Traitor to the Throne! It comes out on March 7th in the US but we had copies in our local bookstore for the past two weeks for some reason! I was way too excited when I saw it there and picked it up right away! 

"She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him... or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is."

After a year, this is still one of my favorite debuts! The words, the pace, the imagination in the story...  all of it is enough to make you dream of the desert, its magic, and its dangers.

Alwyn's writing is eloquent and captivating, in the sense that you don't really realize that you're physically reading. I felt transported into the story, it's almost like watching a movie!

What I love about Rebel of the Sands, as for many books I review, is the characters. Amani is almost like Mulan - she disguises herself as a boy to be able to follow her dreams - to go to another town to live with her aunt, rather than living in the small town of Dustwalk, where she would most likely end up 'wed or dead'. She becomes the Blue-Eyed Bandit and meets Jin, 'The Foreigner', who helps her out of town and towards a larger city. On their way, they encounter difficulties, meet amazing people and figure things out about each other.

As I mentioned, Amani is amazing. She is sharp and determined, and always ready to fight for what she believes in, even though it may be a selfish want rather than something that would benefit everyone. She still fought and went to incredible lengths to get what she wanted. When she discovers something about herself that would change her forever, she accepts it and decides to work with it rather than against it. She is smart and brave and I wish we had more characters like her.

Jin is so cool! He starts off really mysterious and with a quiet charm that makes Amani melt (they're so cute together!), and maintains this coolness throughout the book, yet he's never shy about throwing himself in harm's way to move forward. He mostly keeps to himself and is quite secretive, but he is smart - he understands Amani and the way people work better than anyone. 

I apologize for the short review, but if you want more of my impressions you can always find my first review, here or on goodreads! 

I'm still giving this a 5/5 feathers! :D 

Have a great day! 
Stay bookish! 

Friday, February 3, 2017


Hey all! 

As you've probably heard, the book 1984, by George Orwell has been in such a high demand this past week, that printing companies are having a hard time printing enough copies. This book came out in 1948 and it's suddenly a bestseller, on the top of every sales list, on every website, everywhere. (Although I must admit, I haven't read it yet!)

I figured that it would be a good idea to have a post all about Dystopias!

Dis-toh-pee-uh: a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease and overcrowding. (Dictionary.com) 

Dystopias experienced a rollercoaster of popularity - between 2008-ish and 2014 they were all the rage, but now they seemed to have phased out. 

However, since the recent political changes going on in the world (*cough* America *cough*), dystopian books have quickly become popular agian. People are seeing what is happening in the world nowadays as equivalent to what is often portrayed in dystopian novels. I agree about this, especially with the opression sense. However, I don't want to make this political, so back to books! 

Dystopian books, as I said, have phased out in the past few years. Re-occuring themes, tropes and character-types became, well, repetitive and readers wanted something new and exciting. 

Dystopians often include Utopian novels, as well as end-of-the-world novels. There might be a bit of magic and/or science, but generally, it is a book that takes place in a future where things are just... well, not the way they should be. 

With this post I'm going to walk you through types of dystopias, as well as some of my favorites and least favorites. 

*Disclaimer: I do realize that +polandbananasBOOKS made a very similar video, and by no means am I trying to copy it - I started writing this a few days ago and saw the video in the meantime, I'm sorry!*

The first book I have for you guys is one of my all-time favorites: The Giver, by Lois Lowry (1993). Oh my goodness, if you haven't read this book, please do - it's short, and amazing in all the right ways! This is more of a Utopic book - the government of this society does everything to make everyone completely equal, and one person - the Reciever of Memory - knows what the world is really like, and is trusted with the history of the world, so that the society doesn't repeat the same mistakes as were made in the past. It's one of those books that are usually set for middle-school reading, but it's more than worth it to re-read it as a teen or young adult, it's a totally different experience! 

Next up, the Divergent Trilogy, by Veronica Roth (2011). This is a real dystopian novel - the government separated people into five different groups based on personality traits, and anyone who doesn't fit is an immediate danger. This book was immensly hyped for a reason - it's an addictive series that is fun to read, and with it's simple world and it's 'categories', people could easily imagine what exactly was going on. A lot of people put this series down because of the tragedy that happens at the end of book 3, but, if you think about it, what happened is realistic. This trilogy is definetly worth it and gives the right idea of what a real dystopia would be like.

I'm pretty sure that everyone in the bookverse agrees that The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (2008) is an amazing dystopian trilogy. The hype around this book was, and still is, huge. A country were the government is so afraid of an uprising that, to keep its population under control, it organizes games where kids are forced to fight and survive until they are the last one alive, in exchange for food and money. An uprising, a war, love and loss. It's terrifying, to think that the future could be like this, but that's what makes the Hunger Games such a good trilogy! If you haven't read it yet, what are you doing? 

Now for something less well-known: Forget Tomorrow, by Pintip Dunn (2015). This sci-fi dystopian novel is about a world where, at 17, people receive a memory that their future self sends them. These are pre-determined fates, that happen no matter what. People with good future memories are given good jobs and a sense of honor, but anyone who recieves a bad future memory may be put in jail to try to prevent that memory from happening. This book is way, way underhyped and I hope that you guys will take the time to read it, because it really is worth it! 

Another book that I find super underhyped is Exodus, by Julie Bertagna (2002). This book is another type of dystopian - it concerns climate change and overpopulation rather than governmental issues. What would happen if all fo the world's icecaps melted and what was left of humanit lived on scattered islands, or in cities in the sky? 

The final series I'm going to talk about is Maximum Ride, by James Patterson (2005). This is more of a scientific dystopian - the main characters are genetic experiments that are hunted down by other scientists and genetic experiments. The series is someone stretched thin and more middle-grade aimed, but is a fun bunch of books to read! 

There's some more dystopias I'd like to talk about, but haven't read the whole series of yet. 

  • Under the Never Sky, by Veronica Rossi (2012)
  • The Selection, by Kiera Cass (2012)
  • Angelfall, by Susan Ee (2012)
  • The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau (2013) 
  • Matched, by Ally Condie (2010)
  • The Maze Runner, by James Dashner (2009)
I know... I haven't finished any of these series past the first book... I really have to get to them! 

What do you think of Dystopian books? Are there any you want the world to read, or that you feel completely reflect what is currently happening in the world? Let me know! 

Stay bookish!