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August Recap: New things, an anniversary & thoughts about life

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August has been kind to me. And it has also been a little hectic.

I thought I would bring back my monthly recaps. I did them for awhile – I think I called them the Non-Bookish Updates – but I stopped because, er, BLOG IDENTITY CRISES (and I realized I was a boring person). So now, I’ll be writing about my month of books, life, and anything worth mentioning. So, without further ado!  Continue reading

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The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

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I received a copy from the publisher, Bloomsbury Publishing, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

I have always had nothing but the utmost affection for The Winner’s trilogy, even before the release of The Winner’s Kiss. I was apprehensive before reading it though; series finales and I just don’t go well together. But it’s with great pleasure that I can assure current and future readers of this series that The Winner’s Kiss is a fantastic end to a fantastic series.

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The Selection by Kiera Cass

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For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

The Selection is utterly ridiculous.

Though this book is commonly classified as ‘dystopian’ (and it is probably regarded as such because there really isn’t any word for ‘alternate, restructured society written without critical societal analysis’), it is as dystopian as my right pinky finger (which is, not at all). Second, the plot and its developments have as much emotional depth as a reality television show. And yet, after months of thinking, I will hold my head high and unashamedly admit that I actually enjoyed this book.

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Book Recs: You’re Portraying It Right – Mental Illnesses in YA

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I am a big advocate for positive representation of mental health and mental illnesses. People who have mental illnesses, and the mental illnesses themselves, are often misunderstood and misportrayed in the media. One of my very wise Psychology lecturers, who was a very esteemed clinical psychologist, said something that has stuck with me ever since: Sometimes the stigma of mental illnesses can be more debilitating than the mental illnesses themselves.

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Let’s Talk About: My Problem With The Word ‘Diverse’

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I don’t think it needs to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: I’m pro-diversity, and there’s no buts about it. Heck, do you remember when I talked about why I needed representation as a child and need it now as an adult? That still stands; nothing has changed. I still need representation.

However, the more I hear it, the more ‘off’ the word ‘diverse’ feels to me. I keep hearing how people want more ‘diverse’ characters, and how this book had a ‘diverse’ character which made the book awesome. I don’t doubt those opinions (on the contrary, I am confident they are pure in intention) but it is strange seeing characters – representations of people – described as ‘diverse’.

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda melted the icy cynicism encasing my heart and transformed it into a fluffy cloud that sprouts rainbows and unicorns and oreos. (Rainbow unicorn oreos. Or oreo unicorn rainbows?)

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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

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The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

Alas, Cassandra Clare’s books and I just don’t get along. And now after giving City of Bones and Clockwork Angel a chance, I think I have learned my lesson.

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