It’s finally time to do another book tag. Can you believe we’re halfway through 2018 already? Time goes so fast, it feels like yesterday that we were celebrating the new year and pledged our reading challenge for the year! Now is a good time to look back on what we’ve read and done this year, so let’s go!
Best book you’ve read so far this year
This is a tough one! We’ve had a bunch of 5-star books already this year! Shadow and Bone, Everless, Full Moon o Sagashite, The Martian, Card Captor Sakura, Leah and the offbeat and Eliza and her Monsters. I’ve got to say though, that from this list both Everless by Sara Holland and Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia left the biggest impression on me, I loved them both a lot!
The best sequel you’ve read so far this year
This is a tough one as I’ve mainly been reading either entire series or one-off’s so far. I loved the entire Grishaverse series so much, that I’ve just bought the entire series in different editions and are planning to re-read them soon! so because of that, I’m going to say Ruin and Rising By Leigh Bardugo for perfectly bringing the story together.
A New release you’ve been dying to get to, but haven’t yet
I’m definitely going to say Cruel Prince by Holly Black for this one! I was very excited about this book and was ready to jump into it together with my book club when real life started to crawl up on me and threw me into a massive reading slump. Hopefully Soon, because this book is screaming my name next to my bed.
Most anticipated release for the second half of this year
There are so many good books coming out later this year! I’m specifically anticipating Access Restricted by Gregory Scott Katsoulis though! Access restricted is the sequel to All Rights Reserved, which was a book I loved very much with a world I can’t wait to explore more. I have no idea how Speth is going to handle the responsibility she’s getting in the next book, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she’ll fare.
The biggest disappointment so far
I’m going to have to say We Are Okay by Nina Lacour for this one. While this book wasn’t bad so to say, it just wasn’t what I expecting at all. Rather than a journey to self-acceptation, I got a kind of boring and low book about Marin hanging out in her dorm depressed and not wanting to talk about her feelings until the end at all. It’s a shame because that cover is absolutely gorgeous, and I wish the story within lived up to it.
The biggest surprise so far
Definitely Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia! I was expecting to like this one because of all the good things I’ve been hearing about it around me, but I couldn’t be prepared for how much I was going to love this book! There are too many good things to say about it, so catch the review here soon!
Favorite new to you or debut author? Francesca Zappia! after loving Eliza and her Monsters so much I’m more than ready to see what other books she has and is going to put out soon, hopefully, they’ll live up to the hype they have now.
Book that made you cry? So far I haven’t really read books that made me cry this year yet! I’ve re-read Looking for Alaska by John Green this year. Because this was a reread I know what was going to happen by the time the count-down went down, making the blow a lot easier to handle.
Books that made you happy?
Not necessarily because of the books themselves, but it made me really happy I’ve decided to reread Full Moon o Sagashite by Arina Tanemura and Cardcaptor Sakura by CLAMP this year. Both of these mangas are stories I loved very much in my childhood and were great to explore again many years later.
The most beautiful book you’ve bought this year?
I’ve mentioned buying The Grishaverse Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo in these post before, but these covers deserve to be shown again. These are absolutely gorgeous and maybe even one of my favorite covers ever!
These years have been filled with great books already! I’ve read 26 books while I pledged 25 for this year! I’m aiming to beat my pledge by 200% this year, which means I’ll have to read 50 books. I also started to review videogames next to books on this blog, so I hope you’ll be looking forward to those too. Let’s do it!
Genre: Turn-Based JRPG Hours to beat: 32 hours Release date: JP: November 18, 2016 | NA: November 18, 2016 | EU: November 26, 2016
3,5 out of 5 stars
Pokémon is a franchise that feels like coming home and taking a warm bath for me. I’ve been a Pokémon trainer ever since we managed to receive TV Tokyo on our satellite TV and loving the anime on there, despite not speaking a single word of Japanese as a 6-year-old. Pokémon Sun and Moon celebrate the 20th anniversary and tries to improve on the formula by changing some things around.
Pokémon Sun and Moon places you on the tropical islands of Alola with 81 new Pokémon and 18 Alolan Pokémon, which are generation 1 Pokémon with a new design, typing, and moves. the new Pokémon feel balanced compared to the previous generations and generally have good designs. A new feature of Alola which I welcomed very much is the removal of HM’s and replacing them with Ride Pokémon, which leaves you multiple attack slots which can then be used for actually useful attacks and helps the backtracking for missed HM’s a lot. Something else that has been changed is the removal of the Pokémon League, instead of entering the Pokémon League the trainers that come of age in Alola take the Island challenge.
The island challenge consists of multiple island trials, which all concentrate on one specific type of Pokémon. The trials all consist of a challenge like a scavenger hunt, or a quiz which will lead you to challenge the Totem Pokémon, a bigger sized Pokémon with boosted stats for a chance to beat the trial and earn the type-specific Z-crystal and their accompanying Z-move. Sadly the trials can start to feel very repetitive after you’ve done a couple, as they all depend on the same formula of solving a puzzle, maybe battle some Pokémon and battle the Totem Pokémon.
Z-moves are powerful attacks you can use once per battle, with varying effect. Some Z-moves blast some powerful attacks on your opponent while others boost the stats of your entire team. The use of Z-moves is almost a novelty during regular gameplay as the difficulty of Sun and Moon lies even lower than that of X & Y, but I can imagine they can prove useful in the competitive scene.
The plot of Sun and Moon takes some steps forward compared to the previous installments but does this in a way that gets pretty frustrating quickly. The game is filled to the brim with cutscenes that could have benefitted from more facial emotions (especially in the main character that usually stands around like an emotionless block), awkward dialogue and generally still a weak plot for a JRPG.
Improvement on old features
To help you along in your quest some features return from previous installments in a new form; Pokémon Refresh is an altered version from Pokémon X & Y’s Pokémon Amie which helps you get rid of status ailments outside of battle. X & Y’s Wondertrade also makes its return, but rather than it being a stand-alone function Sun and Moon turned it into a Festival-themed island where you can set up stands where you can earn multiple items and participate in multiplayer battles. If you’re a vivid Pokémon player you’ll be able to appreciate the improvements Sun and Moon were able to make on these functions.
All in all is Pokémon Sun and Moon an entry in the franchise which tries to bring some evolution, sadly this comes to the expensive of the Pokémon League which gets replaced by trials which can start to feel very repetitive once you’ve beaten 2 or 3 of them. The pacing of the game gets halted a bit by the very frequent cutscenes. Sun and Moon also made some really needed improvements to the formula with the removal of HM’s and improving on features like Pokémon Refresh and Wondertrade.
If you’re someone that likes Pokémon definitely give this one a try or someone new that’s looking for a fun JRPG. But if you’re new and you want a good introduction to the series, look for X & Y or Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby instead.
Leah on the offbeat is the second installment of the Creekwood series, and follow’s Leah in the year after the first installment about her best friend Simon in Simon VS. the Homo sapiens Agenda and also features characters and moments mentioned in The Upside of Unrequited. Leah is a second-year Creekwood high, Band drummer, and Simon’s best friend, and deals with her secret of not daring to come out of the closet to her best friend and family. when prom comes around for Leah and her friends, the group of close-knit friends starts falling apart. Simon and Bram don’t see anyone else standing, Abby and her boyfriend Nick starts fighting and Leah falls in love with someone unexpected.
Once again, Becky Albertalli focuses on the relationships in her story, but this time forgets to properly introduce and flesh out her characters. This results in the book having a big variety of relationships in all kinds of situations in life. There’s Leah’s relationship with her mother and boyfriend, Abby and Nick are falling apart, Simon and Bram’s starting gay relationship and Leah’s love that’s starting to blossom. Sadly, because the book didn’t further introduce of flesh out characters they all felt very flat and like they were just there for the sake of being there.
The characters we’ve known from Simon VS the Homo sapiens Agenda and the Upside of Unrequited were very fun to meet and read about again, but also they didn’t develop much more of a backstory than they already had from the previously released books. I feel this is a shame because while the book was still enjoyable it felt like an unnecessary installment in the series.
If you’re looking for a cute and quick contemporary to read, definitely pick up this book! but don’t go in expecting to learn a lot more of all the characters you already met and know, because they stayed practically the same.
Series: Starcrossed #3
Format: Paperback Pages: 320 pages Published: May 17th, 2016 Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin ISBN: 1250065984
3 out of 5 stars
Wicked Heart is the third book in the Bad Romeo universe, and follows Eliza Holt, rather than her brother Ethan Holt and his girlfriend Cassie. The general story and the way of storytelling remain the same to the previous installments of the series but doesn’t really add anything new to the table.
Just like the first book the main character Eliza and Liam had some passionate days before everything went sour because Liam had to leave in order to pursue a career in acting in Hollywood, leaving Eliza behind. In Hollywood, Liam starts dating Angel Bell, his gorgeous co-star model, and while Liam finds himself in the most talked about relationship of Hollywood, Eliza stays alone single mourning her lost relationship. all of that changes when Liam and Angel get cast on the play Eliza’s the stage manager off, and they still hit it off very well.
I can’t help but feel the story feels like a slightly worse version of Bad Romeo that includes cheating, which can be a huge turn-off. Compared to Bad Romeo, Wicked heart lacked on the emotions that weren’t “horny”.
We know most of the cast from the first two installments in the series and builds on the characters that haven’t had their backstory developed that much yet. I’m happy Eliza got a chance to stay in the spotlight and find a boyfriend of her own, rather than being forced to watch Ethan and Cassie for all of eternity. All the erotic scenes were well written and enjoyable
All in all, While I enjoyed this book for what it was, I couldn’t help feeling this book was a worse version of Bad Romeo, cashing on its success. However, if you love second chance erotica, and have read the first two installments in the series wanting to see more characters fleshed out definitely pick it up!
The upside of Unrequired is about Molly, a girl who has had twenty-six unrequited crushes because feeling insecure due to being a bigger girl makes her not act on any of them. Despite Molly’s twin sister Cassie and her friends telling her she should act on them, Molly is careful and can’t stand the idea of rejection. When Cassie gets herself a new girlfriend called Mina who has a cute hipster friend, and Molly finds herself a cute co-worker she’s finally trying to get over her insecurity and finally act on her feelings.
The story is written by the same author as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and it shows, as this book is the same very quick and extremely cute read that left me feeling warm and fuzzy. This book, however, left out the big amount of pop references making it a much more enjoyable read for me. The story is relatable (to the point I dropped it for a while because I found myself in a breakup and Molly’s insecurity hit way too close to home) and makes you yearn for the end result
Molly is an amazing character that I liked very much, but also felt whines a lot about her situation in life. Molly’s character grows a ton throughout the book, but I kind of wish she didn’t need a boy to get her there. Molly has a great and realistic relationship with her twin-sister Cassie who portrays realistically how different twins can be. The book is also incredibly diverse with Molly being a bigger girl, her mom’s and twin-sister being lesbian and bi without losing the meaning of the story or those characters being what they are just for the sake of diversity.
All in all, I loved this book very much. Molly is very relatable and makes you cheer her on in her road to self-acceptance and finally opening up to boys to land herself a boyfriend. The other characters are relatable and very diverse as well, I’d definitely recommend this to everyone that’s searching for a good contemporary to read.
Format: Paperback Manga Pages: 2354 pages total (average of 196 pages per volume) Published: August 1997 to July 2000 Publisher: Dark Horse Manga ISBN: 1595825223 (Omnibus 1), 1595825916 (Omnibus 2), 1595828087 (Omnibus 3), 1595828893 (Omnibus 4)
5 out of 5 stars
Cardcaptor Sakura is a 12 volume manga series about the 10-year old Sakura Kin0moto who finds an old book filled with a set of powerful, magical, card. Because of Sakura opening the book, the cards become shattered over her hometown of Tomoda, and it’s Sakura’s duty to find all the cards with the help of the guardian of the seal, Kerberos (shortened to Kero-chan).
Cardcaptor Sakura is aimed at younger girls, and it shows through it’s incredibly cute and inspiring storytelling accompanies with CLAMP’s amazing artwork. The story, however, doesn’t shy away from some heavier topics like death, problematic love, LGBT+ and having to juggle the responsibilities of life. Because of this, Cardcaptor Sakura is still an incredibly enjoyable read as an adult as well.
Pretty much all characters are relatable, likable and inspirational. Sakura’s surrounded by characters that are all dealing with their own problems related to the plot, rather than being cardboard cut-outs you often see as main characters.
Because of this, the character development present feels very fleshed out and causes the world to feel alive.
The original volumes have become incredibly rare and hard to find, but luckily for us, Dark Horse has reprinted the volumes in incredibly high-quality omnibuses. All in all is Cardcaptor Sakura a story that’s well-suited for a lot of people, despite being originally targeted at young girls. Its characters and world feels alive and will stay with you for years after initially reading the series.
I’d recommend this story to everyone, but especially people that are searching for a cute manga that isn’t afraid to deal with the heavier topics in life in a very lighthearted manner.
Format: Hardcover Pages: 256 pages Published: February 14th, 2017 Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers ISBN: 0525425896
2 out of 5 stars
We are okay is the story about Marin who hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since she left everything behind after the loss of her grandfather. But despite running away from thousands of miles to a college in New York she still feels the loss and depression. Now, months later Marin waits for her best friend Mabel, whose sole mission is to try to talk to Marin and convince her to come back to the coast of California with her.
The story is told from two points of views; present day, and the last few weeks leading up to Marin’s departure. but even with those two points of views nothing really happens in this story, the present-day mainly consist of Marin trapping herself in her dorm-room refusing to talk or even think about what she’s going to have to do next.
The character didn’t really help this book in my opinion either, as they all feel very empty. The emptiness could be explained by Marin’s depression and how empty she feels on the inside but this shouldn’t be an excuse to have all characters be very shallow. The only real character development in this book was from Marin’s grandfather who’s backstory was slowly revealed. The end tried to give some shot at giving Marin and Mabel a slight backstory and character, but at that moment I felt the book should have bought this up way sooner, or should just not have bothered at all.
All in all, I felt like this book was very boring, I’m all for the representation of mental illnesses in media like books, games, and movies but this was not for me.
I definitely wouldn’t recommend this one.
Format: Kindle Pages: 25 pages Published: March 23rd, 2018 Publisher: The Pokémon Company
2.5 out of 5 stars
Detective Pikachu: Episode 0 – Eevee’s case is a prequel story to the Detective Pikachu game that released March 23rd, 2018 worldwide. As a self-proclaimed great detective, Pikachu can somehow understand what people are saying. His only wish is to meet someone who can understand him in the same way.
A few months after his human partner, Harry, and Detective Pikachu’s memory went missing, he’s staying with a friend of Harry’s while trying to find him. But in the meantime, he decides to start his own agency. And when Eevee asks him to help figure out who ruined its partner’s yard, Detective Pikachu takes on the case.
The story is written in a very fast and easy going pace, with the purpose to introduce Detective Pikachu to the kids that will probably also be playing the game. The book features a couple of gorgeous illustrations that will help kids get engrossed in the story, accompanied with the simple story which has been written and printed in a way that’ll be easy for kids to read and understand. The story, however, is not very integrated into the game and because of that doesn’t serve many purposes as a prequel.
All in all is Detective Pikachu: Episode 0 – Eevee’s case a very good and cute book to read with kids that love Pokémon but don’t expect a lot of the story (or for that matter as a prequel as this case won’t be referenced anywhere in the game anymore).
The Martian is about Mark Watney, an astronaut on the Ares 3 mission on mars until everything goes wrong. After a dust storm almost kills Mark, and his crew being forced to evacuate while thinking he’s dead, Mark finds himself all alone on Mars with nothing more than the supplies left behind with all the supplies his crew left behind. With no way to connect with Earth and all alone, Mark has to survive until the next mission crew lands over 400 sols.
With this Mark’s survival story starts, which manages to be very fast-paced but yet delves into the science that comes with outer space in an accurate manner except for a couple of details. “This is not just a story, the author has done real computations,” Rudi Schmidt, ESA Project Manager for Mars Express and also a consultant on the film, told IFLScience, which really shows the dedication and accuracy that went into this. everything from the orbital dynamics to the inflatable habitat that’s the hab is accurate. All of Mark’s thoughts and calculations are written down in the book, and while they can be very overwhelming at first, they make sense and really give the story the feel of outer space survival.
Mark is also a very great character, which tries to stay positive and cracks jokes even in the hardest of times. But when something happens where emotions needed to be shown, Weir didn’t shy away from letting Mark show them. Mark has a great sense of humor (and a love-hate relationship with the 80’s media he got stuck with for entertainment). I found myself laughing through the entire book, cheering him home and maybe even shedding a little tear at the end.
The Martian is one of my favorite books as it combines my interests in books and science in a very accurate manner. If you like science or space or are searching for a good sci-fi surviving story to read, I can’t recommend the Martian enough. Because when a book actually got referenced in an ESA press conference question when the Schiaparelli mission failed, you know it’s been an amazing read
Series: The Raven Cycle #2
Format: Hardcover Pages: 439 pages Published: September 17th 2013 Publisher: Scholastic Press ISBN: September 17th 2013
4 out of 5 stars
Dream Thieves is the second book in the Raven Cycle series and is the story of Ronan Lynch, the best friends of Gansey that gets himself involved in the quest to find and wake the dead welsh king Glendower. but Ronan has another secret, he’s able to take items from his dreams out to the real world.
Dream Thieves continues where the Raven Boys ended, with Ronan admitting he toke his pet raven Chainsaw out of his dreams. The plot is a lot quicker than the Raven boys using the plot and bond with the characters that have been established there and continuing to build on those relationships while attempting to clear up some of the confusion the first book left you with. With the explanation of Ronan’s ability to take items of his dreams and following him learning how to use this power in the quest of finding Glendower, the world gets tied together a bit more making more sense with every page.
The characters are still easily one of the best parts of this book, despite almost all of them taking the back burner for Rowan, who really benefitted from the character building this gave him slowly making clear why Rowen’s soul is as broken as it is, and him clearly becoming a better person as he learns how to deal with his power. this, however, doesn’t mean all the other characters are left ignored. Gansey is trying his hardest to be a good person and a good friend, Adam learns what his sacrifice for Glendower truly meant, and Blue is starting to fall in love having to deal with the prediction of her true love dying.
The Dream Thieves was really enjoyable, more so than the Raven Boys due to it being a way quicker and less confusing read. If you liked the Raven Boys, or even if you weren’t sure about it but didn’t hate it I can recommend picking this sequel up, as it clears up a lot of the confusing while building the world up and tieing some loose ends together.
I'm Daisy, an 24 year old Interactive Designer born and raised in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I mainly read Young Adult fiction and love to discuss and share my thoughts
My rating system:
5 stars- absolutely loved it
4 stars- it was really good
3 stars- it was pretty average
2 stars- it was alright
1 star- didn’t like it at all