Month: December 2016

Nina’s Top Five Favourites of 2016

2016 has come to an end, and it’s time to do a recap of a turbulent year. Foremost, 2016 was the year this blog was established, a project Chantal and I worked really hard for over the summer. This year, I received my Bachelor of Science in Psychology. I travelled to the place of my mother’s origin, the beautiful island of Sicily. I met two more Goodreads friends in person, after having finally met my friend and co-blogger Chantal last year. I worked at two child and adolescent mental health facilities which was so interesting and highly gratifying. I’ve seen half the globe but visited England for the first time ever, which was a dream come true. And can you believe Leonardo Di Caprio won his first Oscar this year? Yes? Yes.

Unfortunately, 2016 was a year of struggle, too. It was the year a majority of Great Britain’s population voted to leave the EU, though these weren’t necessarily the people who will have to bear this decision the longest. Many beloved celebrities died, most recently George Michael. It was a year in which terror and violence shattered us, poisoned our hearts. Ultimately, this lead to the biggest tragedy of them all in 2016: A misogynistic, racist, politically rash, rich white man took over the most powerful position this globe currently has to offer, spreading the poison fast like a viper. Suspicion and hate has flared like a wildfire.

Which is why I love logging into sites like Goodreads, connecting with friends on the blog, and gushing over other people’s bookstagram shots (which are truly amazing). Amongst the book community, though we have our differences about books, too, we spread love. Love for books. I feel that, through our mutual passion for books, many other gaps are bridged – people from different genders, sexual orientations, countries, races, and religions come together to share their enthusiasm for the written word. Literature is a weapon, and therefore we are armed and powerful. I hope that we will continue to find our strength in books and in each other as friends, regardless of the distances and time differences.

To share my love for books wrapped into one package, I would like to present my Top 5 favourites of 2016 which all merited 5 stars from me. Clicking on the titles will lead you to my reviews, either on the blog or on Goodreads.

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Monthly Recommendations: Family

monthly-recs
Monthly Recommendations is a Goodreads group hosted by Trina from Between Chapters and Kayla from Kayla Rayne. We were so excited about November’s theme – it’s probably our favourite we’ve done so far – because it’s all about family! Due to our running late, we decided to post these recommendations during the festivities, because this time of the year is, just like this post, all about family. We absolutely adore when books feature family dynamics and relationships, especially when they are realistic and well written, and we often find that this aspect really elevates our enjoyment of a book. Nina and I have lots of books to recommend this time around, so we decided to make little categories to give a better overview. Hopefully, you’ll discover some new amazing books! As always, clicking on the title will lead you to our reviews (if there is one).

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2016 Character Awards #BookTag

The 2016 Character Awards is a book tag created by Cait over at Paper Fury, an Aussie book blog we adore to bits. If you’re missing some colour in your life, please behold her colour explosions which she refers to as her bookstagram shots. Anyway, I decided to participate in her tag nominating the best characters of books we’ve read in 2016. Please also go check out her hilarious post and, if you run a blog, consider joining these informal book awards and maybe bring some underrated characters to our attention which have been looked over (yes, this is a stabby sideswipe at the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. So sue me). Because time is running out like sand between my fingers, I’ve decided to copy an assorted collection of Cait’s award categories instead of the 20 she has originally set up (I mean, honestly, which average human being can keep up with this amount of blogging, reading, reviewing, and writing? Nina out).

Obviously, this post is NOT entirely spoiler-free for the mentioned books because of reasons. If you see a cover of a book you haven’t read and would not like to be previously spoiled for (though people’s importunate GR status updates might have already taken care of that), then either read on or skip this post altogether. Consider yourself warned, folks.

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This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song by Victoria SchwabThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity, #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on July 5th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Goodreads

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

3 Stars

If you know anything about my reading tastes you know I love Victoria Schwab. I have now read five of her books and have loved all of them with the exception of This Savage Song. Considering it was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016, I can clearly say: I am disappointed.

As is usual with Victoria Schwab, the story concept is magnificent. A dystopian world in which monsters are bred by acts of human violence. How great is that? And then we also have the musical element and the promise of no romance. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? But with this book something happened that I’ve experienced countless times with other authors, but never with Schwab. The book doesn’t deliver on its promise.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Series That Got Worse with Each Book

Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group hosted by Lainey from Ginger Reads Lainey and Samantha from Thoughts on Tomes. Every Wednesday of the month, readers and bloggers present their Top 5 Wednesday choices for a specific topic. Today’s topic are series (both books and TV) which either started out good and went downhill or commenced with a bad start and only got worse from there. As this category applies to pretty much every series I’ve ever watched, for there is only so many seasons before an original idea is sucked dry, I’ll be sticking exclusively to book series. Be aware that this list is organised as a countdown, from a series I thought was overall bearable to a series I loathed with every fibre of my being.

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The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati

The Weight of Zero by Karen FortunatiThe Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati
Published by Delacorte Press on October 11th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Mental health
Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Cath knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disease, has almost triumphed once, propelling Catherine to her first suicide attempt. With Zero only temporarily restrained by the latest med du jour, time is running out. In an old ballet shoebox, Catherine stockpiles meds, preparing to take her own life when Zero next arrives.

But Zero’s return is delayed. Unexpected relationships along with the care of a new psychiatrist start to alter Catherine's perception of her diagnosis. But will this be enough? This is a story of loss and grief and hope and how the many shapes of love – maternal, romantic and platonic – impact a young woman’s struggle with mental illness.

3.5 Stars

The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati offers a sensitive take on the daily struggles of a teen living with the prospect of a chronic mental illness. Besides highlighting the impact Catherine’s bipolar disorder has on her life, such as attending intensive group therapy, and the grim expectations she has for her future, the book tackles subjects such as the burden that rests on parents of mentally ill children, the image of mental health in society, bullying, and first love.

This debut on a girl suffering from bipolar disorder had been on my radar for months. I am aware that YA fiction has a habit of misportraying mental illnesses, sacrificing psychiatric accuracy for drama effects, romantic subplots, and happy endings. Nonetheless, I was really excited to get my hands on a YA contemporary featuring such a severe mental disorder, for I feel like bipolar does not get the literary attention it deserves with, according to the World Health Organisation, roughly 60 million people being affected worldwide. The reason I wish more YA books, not just contemporaries but also fantasy and dystopian novels, would focus and/or include mental illnesses is because many of these have their onset during adolescence, therefore making it a topic of utmost relevance.

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Most Anticipated Releases of Winter 2016/2017

most-anticipated-releases

Greetings, everyone! The dark, cold, and (hopefully) snowy months are approaching, and, as a devoted bookworm, you cannot go through winter without the proper reading material. Luckily, we have some soon to be published books to look forward to in winter 2016/2017 (winter being December, January, and February where we live). Therefore, we’ve put together a list of our most anticipated releases for you guys. The books are listed in order of publication date (as stated on Goodreads) and clicking on the titles will direct you to the respective Goodreads page. We hope you find some terrific books to keep you cosy and – if you celebrate – maybe one or two or ten that’ll wander onto your Christmas wishlists? Regardless of whether you’ll be celebrating Christmas or Chanukah or the Chinese New Year, we wish everyone a beautiful winter with family, friends, and loads of books!

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Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichiePurple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published by Harper Perennial on 2005
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 307
Goodreads

Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound. Her wealthy Catholic father, under whose shadow Kambili lives, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a University professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will lift the silence from their world and, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways. This is a book about the promise of freedom; about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood; between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new.

5 Stars

She seemed so happy, so at peace, and I wondered how anybody around me could feel that way when liquid fire was raging inside me, when fear was mingling with hope and clutching itself around my ankles.

 Purple Hibiscus is the first book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I’ve read, but I can guarantee it won’t be my last. I loved this book so much and felt deeply connected to the characters and story. It was such an insightful and thought-provoking read, I couldn’t put it down and was utterly absorbed in these characters’ lives.

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