Changes are coming!

Hello all!
Yes, it’s me, Windie, back after a 6 month of unannounced hiatus. I’d love to tell you why I left this site collecting dust for months, but that’s a long story for another time.
Anyway, even though I have not been blogging, I spent the last few weeks brainstorming ideas for the site. After dozens cups of coffee and power naps, I arrived at these conclusion:

  1. As much as I love writing a long winded review, I no longer have the time to write a fully-fleshed reviews for every book. As you might have noticed, English is not my native language and I spent more time editing and revising rather than reading and writing. Counter-productive as one might say.
  2. I need more ORGANIZATION.
  3. I have mostly reviewed popular or best-selling books, most of them are from cis-het white authors. I did this because it’s just so convenient and let’s admit it, those books have tons of followers. On the other hand, it’s not easy to know about or get my hand on books from authors from smaller publishing company, and many of own voices still fall into this last category.

Clearly, I need to make some changes to the site in order to motivate me to go back and post regularly. So, here’s what I decided.

  • From now on, my reviews will be in a short (well, short-ish) bulleted format. As a new bujo addict, I found bullet format that much easier to write. No promise that I won’t digress though.
  • Calendar! As you can see from the menu, I have now added a calendar to the site. In here, you can find schedule of new book releases that I prepared for the site and my plan for upcoming blog posts. The calendar will not include all books release since I don’t have the resources to do so. However, I’ll add books I intend to read and review here so in a way you’ll get a teaser on what’s to come. As for how I select books to add to this calendar, I’ll explain in #3 below.
  • I’ll be dedicating more space for authors of color, authors from LGBTQIA+ spectrum, other own voices (including but not limited to physical disability and mental illness), and diverse books. This also means I will have to focus on a more specific genre since I cannot possibly keep up with everything. After a long deliberation, I decided to focus on speculative fiction – for now – from my reviews. This is a difficult decision to make, but I do have my reasons: 1) SFF was my first love 2) SFF was one of the more problematic genre in term of diversity representation (compare let’s say to contemporary young adult fiction).

So, what does this means for the site and me in general?

  1. (See me trying to keep up with bullets and numbered list?) I will post REGULARLY. At least once a week.
  2. There’ll be less Brandon Sanderson mentions in my site and there’ll be fewer recs of contemporary books too. I’ll still be reading them, obviously, and I’ll be reviewing them on GOODREADS and quite possibly still fangirl and goes into hysterics on twitter whenever I get my hand on Oathbringer. Please still love me talk to me, my contemporary lover/cosmeranauts friends.
  3. Hopefully, more time to interact with my fellow bloggers. I haven’t been blog-hopping for almost a year now and I do miss leaving long nonsensical comments on people’s posts. ^^

These changes will not happen overnight as I still have a couple of book reviews in other genre I need to post, and I need time to adapt the site, but rest assured that I’m committed to them.

That’s all for now! If you have any feedback, suggestions, virtual hugs, and coffee, please send them to me. Love you!

FBCYA Blog Tour: Diversity Talk with Tara Sim, Author of Timekeeper

timekeeper tour

Hello everyone! As I mentioned a couple of posts back, I am very excited to be a part of blog tour for Timekeeper by Tara Sim. As part of the tour, I got to interview the amazing Tara Sim. Tara, if you’re reading this, thank you for taking your time to answer the questions! I also would like to thank Bianca for organizing the blog tour, my fellow book club members at FBCYA, Sky Pony Press, and Tara herself for this opportunity.

Lack of representation is always one thing fictions, especially Science Fiction and Fantasy, kept getting called on. I am a big fan of fantasy books, and even as a fan, I could admit that it’s true. Science Fiction and Fantasy, especially what’s known as epic fantasy, is still dominated by white straight cis male authors. In term of characters, the existence of proper POC representation and own voices in mainstream SFF genre still needs to be improved. That is why when I had the opportunity to interview Tara, I decided to tackle this lack of diversity issue. In the interview, Tara explained about her view on diversity in SFF fictions, the danger of misrepresentation, the importance of #ownvoices stories, and give us some recommendations for diverse books.

About Timekeeper

Timekeeper (Tara Sim)
book cover Book title Timekeeper
Series/standalone Timekeeper #1
Author Tara Sim
Pages 368
Publisher Sky Pony Press
Year published 2016
Category | Genre Young Adult | Science Fiction, Historical, Fantasy

Synopsis

Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

The stunning first novel in a new trilogy by debut author Tara Sim, Timekeeper is perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare and Victoria Schwab.

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REVIEW: The Hawkweed Prophecy

Book Review: The Hawkweed Prophecy (Irena Brignull)
book cover Book title The Hawkeed Prophecy
Series/standalone The Hawkweed Prophecy #1
Author Irena Brignull
Pages 304
Year published 2016
Category | Genre Young Adult | Urban Fantasy
Rating 15star

Official Summary

The babies were born as the clock struck twelve. A bat fell from the air mid-flight. A silver salmon floated dead to the surface of the river. Snails withered in their shells, moths turned to dust on the night breeze and an owl ate its young. The spell had been cast.

Poppy Hooper has managed to deceive her father into believing that there is nothing mysterious or unnatural about her. He ignores the cats that find her wherever she goes, the spiders that weave beautiful lacy patterns for her, even her eyes – one blue, one green with an extra black dot orbiting the pupil.

Ember Hawkweed is a pitiful excuse for a witch. When the other girls in her coven brew vile potions, Ember makes soap and perfume. Fair and pretty, Ember is more like a chaff than a witch. One of the Hawkweeds will be queen of the witches – but everyone knows it won’t be Ember.

When the two girls meet, Poppy discovers her powers, and finds out the truth. Bound by their unlikely friendship and the boy they both love, the girls try and find their place in the world. But the time of the prophecy draws nearer – and the witches won’t give up the throne without a fight.

Review

Disclaimer: I received an e-galley from the publisher via netgalley.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. A surprise, for once. A fresh take on tropes so common like “switched at birth” and “prophecy”. Whatever it was, it wasn’t this.

The Hawkweed Prophecy opened with two witch sisters. One of them was having a baby and the other one… well, she wasn’t happy with the fact because she envisioned her own daughter to be the one prophesied to bring glory to their people. The prologue, I’m sorry to say, was the most interesting part of the book. Raven and Charlock are at least interesting and had a complicated relationship, they loved each other and Raven couldn’t bear the thought of her sister got hurt, but she didn’t want her niece to become the child of prophecy.
Unfortunately, the story then jumped into years later and switched to Poppy and Ember, now in their teenage years. These two were pretty much two-dimensional characters. Essentially, however, they are still okay and even had a few interesting encounters and scenes together. Just when I thought this book would deliver a nice take on female friendships or well, any kind of relationship really, Hawkweed Prophecy dropped a brick on my hope. Enter Leo, the least interesting, cannot make up his mind, most annoying love interest ever. Oh and everyone seems to fall in love head over heels with this guy. What really annoys me was not the insta-love (there’s plenty of it here), but I’m talking about how this book treated him as the only eligible bachelor in the entire planet and that all the girls are hopeless once they laid their eyes on him. The story tried to explain this with how the ladies are quite isolated and never saw a male before, but to be honest that sort of a weak excuse to explain the insta-love. Curiosity maybe, but not love. Okay, back to the love interest. He was not only unnecessary for the protagonists’ character development, he made them seem childish and unlikeable. The only thing he adds was another conflict to the already bloated storylines.
Another character, or should I say characters, that suffered from two dimensionality were the enemies. They were so cliché and had no layer of complexity on their evilness. I wish for more historical background of the enemies here, perhaps of the century-long conflict between the two clans. Lacking context, the big battle turned into just another part of a formulaic story.
Alright, let’s talk a bit about the writing. There is no doubt that the writing was competent. There was, however, something about it that I couldn’t quite put my fingers on that made the narrative felt jumpy and the dialogue awkward. The multiple narrators were also not very well executed. The author tried to tell the story from different perspective, instead it turn into an overexplanation with no surprise left for the reader.

Final Score

15star
1.5 stars (out of 5 stars)

Verdict

The Hawkweed Prophecy tried to give fresh take on common tropes, but it felt flat due to poor execution, unnecessary love triangle, and the blandness of characters.

Review: White Sand

Graphic Novel Review: White Sand (Sanderson, Hoskin, Gopez)
wht_sand Book title White Sand
Series/standalone White Sand #1
Author Brandon Sanderson, Rik Hoskin, Julius M. Gopez
Pages 160
Year published 2016
Category | Genre Graphic Novel | Fantasy
Rating 3.5 star

Official Summary

A brand new saga of magic and adventure by #1 New York Times best-selling author Brandon Sanderson. On the planet of Taldain, the legendary Sand Masters harness arcane powers to manipulate sand in spectacular ways. But when they are slaughtered in a sinister conspiracy, the weakest of their number, Kenton, believes himself to be the only survivor. With enemies closing in on all sides, Kenton forges an unlikely partnership with Khriss — a mysterious Darksider who hides secrets of her own. White Sand brings to life a crucial, unpublished part of Brandon Sanderson’s sprawling Cosmere universe. The story has been adapted by Rik Hoskin (Mercy Thompson), with art by Julius Gopez and colors by Ross Campbell. Employing powerful imagery and Sanderson’s celebrated approach to magical systems, White Sand is a spectacular new saga for lovers of fantasy and adventure.

Review

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy from the publisher via netgalley.

Any long-time visitor of this blog would know that Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors. Some of the things I admired the most from his writing is his solid worldbuilding and innovative magic system. Naturally, when I heard that one of his older work – part of Cosmere world nonetheless – was going to be adapted into graphic novel, I jumped at the chance to download an e-galley.
It’s always interesting to look back to an author’s earlier work after reading one of their more recent, polished works. Astonishingly, Elantris, Sanderson’s first published novel, is still a good piece of fantasy even when compared to Mistborn or the Stormlight Archive. White Sand was written around the same time as Elantris, and so I held it to the same standard as the latter. So how did it fare?

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Favorite Books I First Read Because of Recommendations

Hello everyone! I am back with another Top Ten Tuesday post, a fun weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is all about recommendations, so I decided to share a list of 10 of my favorite books that I first read because of recommendation. For fun, I also listed the person who recommended the book and how they ‘sold’ it to me. Not gonna lie, this list is quite easy to make because I am so easily swayed. LOL.

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Favorite villains

Hi friends, here comes another Top Ten Tuesday post from me. Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is all about villains.
Alright, so it’s Wednesday where I live, but let’s pretend it’s still Tuesday okay? Because I really want to write this post. Because I LOVE VILLAINS! I do not condone doing evil things (okay, maybe sometimes, like taking over the world), but well-written villains are complex with motive you could totally understand if not support.
Also, I somehow think I’ve written this sort of post in the past (like, one year ago), but cannot find it. Anyway, some of the ‘people’ in this list would have changed anyway.

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Review: Front Lines (Michael Grant)

Book Review: Front Lines (Michael Grant)
book cover Book title Front Lines
Series/standalone Soldier Girl #1
Author Michael Grant
Pages 480
Year published 2016
Category | Genre Young Adult | Historical Fiction
Rating 4 star

Official Summary

1942. World War II. The most terrible war in human history. Millions are dead; millions more are still to die. The Nazis rampage across Europe and eye far-off America.

The green, untested American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled—the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

But something has changed. A court decision makes females subject to the draft and eligible for service. So in this World War II, women and girls fight, too.

As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering. Not one expects to see actual combat. Not one expects to be on the front lines.

Rio, Frangie, and Rainy will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. They will fear and they will rage; they will suffer and they will inflict suffering; they will hate and they will love. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.

New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant has created a masterful alternate history of World War II in Front Lines, the first volume in a groundbreaking series.

Review

She is going on a date.
And also, going to war.

I have a complicated history with Michael Grant books. Some I was obsessed with, others I didn’t enjoy as much. This is why I approach Front Lines with dread, hoping that this will be more like Gone than Messenger of Fear. I’m glad to report my expectation came true.

Let me draw you a parallel. If you’ve ever read Gone, either the book, the whole series, or just the synopsis, you might remember the premise. It was about a world without adults. What will happen if all the adults in your world suddenly disappear while you and the other kids are trapped with limited resources. In Front Lines, Grant trying to explore another question. What if we let females to be drafted and to enlist to fight on the front lines during WW2? Through 480 pages, Grant showed us his alternate version of WW2 while otherwise trying to stay true to history. The question he’s trying to explore was not only “will females make a difference in the outcome of WW2 has they were let to fight on front lines?” but also “what will happen to the dynamics and what issues will arise if said things happened?”

Before I begin the review, I have to point out that there are in fact tenth of thousands of females enlisted in US military during WW2. They did not fight on the front lines, but their contribution is certainly not to be dismissed. I just feel I need to say it because when I had just finished the book, I thought there wasn’t any women in the US military during WW2. Perhaps it’s because I am not familiar with US history, but either way I don’t want other readers to jump to the same conclusion as me. I hope they won’t, but I do wish that Grant pointed this out in a prologue or thank you page or something. Erasure could be hurtful, even though it’s accidental or unintentional.

With that, let’s begin the review.

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Books on My Fall TBR

Hi everyone, welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday post, a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Books on your fall TBR.” We don’t have fall season where I live, but I always enjoy making this TBR post so I’d do it anyway. 🙂
There are so many books I promised myself to read, but haven’t had time to do it. Here are books I plan to read.

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REVIEW: Saint Anything (Sarah Dessen)

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Book Review: Saint Anything (Sarah Dessen)
book cover Book title Saint Anything
Series/standalone Stand-alone
Author Sarah Dessen
Pages 417
Year published 2015
Category | Genre Young Adult | Contemporary
Rating 3.5 star

Official Summary

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

Saint Anything was one of my pick for ReadThemAllThon. I failed the read-a-thon as expected, but I decided to read the book anyway. I have read most of Dessen books in the past, opted to binge-read them because they were so easy to read. Looking back, however, I regret my binge-reading decision because after 3 books I started to mix them all together. I cannot tell you who is the MC in The Truth About Forever or the plot of What Happened to Goodbye. So when Sarah released The Moon and More and Saint Anything, I didn’t rush to read the books. Now seems a good time to catch up on my Sarah Dessen reading, started with Saint Anything.

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Favorite Podcasts

Helloo, welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday post, a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is an Audio Freebie. I decided to go with Favorite Podcasts because I love listening to podcast while commuting, it’s such a great way to past time while learning about something new … or entertaining.
Here I listed some of my favorites, and I apologize for the fact that some of them are not books-related 😛

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