Review// The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Series: The Shadow of the Wind 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: May 1, 2001
Book Length: 506
Publisher: Penguin Group
Review: 4/5

My Review:

This book is a labyrinth – it is mainly one story (with a few side stories in between) of an author told from various viewpoints after a boy discovers one of their books in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books – where threatened texts are protected – and embarks on a quest to find out more about its mysterious author

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this book was well thought out and well written. I really enjoyed following Daniel on his journey to find out more about Julian Carax, the author of a book he found in his father’s shop, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. The beginning was amazing, and I was so into all the eerie things that were happening to Daniel which mirrored the main character in the book he was so fascinated by as a boy.

Maybe it’s the element of wonder that got me hooked, but I think I actually preferred the beginning of the book more, when Daniel didn’t know that much about Julian and was kind of just living his life, instead of playing detective trying to find the people Julian was close with to get more answers about his books, and why there were so few of them left after they’d been burned by an unknown person throughout the years. Every time Daniel got in touch with a person that knew Julian, there would be entire long chapters dedicated to that person’s narrative, so it was kind of like you were there with Daniel hearing their side of the story. However, I felt that sometimes these chapters dragged on too much. As I said before, this book is a labyrinth, and while I loved getting lost in its pages, at times the twists and turns made me dizzy. There was a lot going on at one point, and I found it difficult to keep up with who was who, and who said what, because each person Daniel “interviewed” went on for quite some time about their version of it.

I wanted more of Daniel and Fermin, but especially Fermin, a fellow worker of he and his father’s at the bookstore. Fermin was by far my favourite character – his dialogue was hilarious, and I loved his personality. I want a book entirely dedicated to him!

I will never be disinterested in a fictional book about books, and I can honestly say that despite any of my criticisms, this one was unique and worth the read. I almost can’t believe this is a series, because the book tied off so well at the end with no real loopholes that I can think of!

– Catherine

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Light Academia Book Aesthetic | Classic Reads 🌸🏰💗

Light Academia is a term I hadn’t heard of until recently, which is quite shocking considering Dark Academia is a term that I’ve seen everywhere. In contrast, Light Academia is more emotionally positive, brighter, and focuses on self care and appreciating the little things in life. Some common aspects of this aesthetic include: nature, poetry, learning, architecture, and art.

If you are looking for books that exhibit this theme, here are some quintessential classics that just might capture your heart:

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Though I’ve not personally read Little Women, I just had to include it because the cover is so cute and screams Light Academia to me.

Loosely based on the life of the author and her three sisters, this book is about the March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy as they learn to navigate the world as young women, each with their own personal moral challenges during and after the Civil War.

Jo is a writer, and Amy studies painting, Beth is described as musical, and Meg is the governess for a wealthy royal family – need I say more?

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The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is another on my list! This book is about an orphan girl, Mary Lennox, who goes to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire Moors (which, if you are like me and don’t know what that is, you can check it out here, it is absolutely stunning!).

There, she finds a magical boy who can talk to animals, and a secret garden that had been forgotten for years. Honestly, this book sounds really cute!

When I went to look it up, a lot of Goodreads reviews were raving about how beautiful the writing is, and how joyous it made them feel. What a perfect book to represent Light Academia! 🤗

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Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – definitely a must-read classic!

The synopsis alone touched my heart: Anne Shirley, an orphan girl, goes to live with the Cuthburt’s – Marilla and her brother, Matthew – on the Green Gables Farm in Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. The pair wanted a boy from the orphanage, but eventually, Anne’s charm wins them over. This book is about all the adventures Anne gets up to at Green Gables.

I might be biased, but I love that this book is set in Canada, and Prince Edward Island is such a beautiful province that so deserves the attention this book gives it!

If anyone has any more recommendations, or has read any of these, I’d love to know your thoughts! 🥰

– Catherine

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Review// Sadie by Courtney Summers

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Author: Courtney Summers
Series: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult / Mystery
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Book Length: 308
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Review: 4/5

My Review:

‘How do you forgive the people who are supposed to protect you? Sometimes I don’t know what I miss more; everything I’ve lost or everything I never had.’

Best audiobook I’ve ever read, and I think it would be best read in audio format because it is told like a podcast with a full cast of characters, as well as through Sadie’s perspective and it switches between the two. These characters tell the story of a missing girl, Sadie, set on a mission to bring justice for her little sister’s death by their mother’s ex-boyfriend. I also really love the cover a lot; I think it’s so beautiful.

It was such an emotional read with so many grief-stricken characters; it’s hard not to feel for them. I liked how it went back and forth between the podcast about finding out what happened to missing Sadie, and Sadie’s first hand account of events as they happened – I really liked the contrast and it was so suspenseful when the podcast host, West, found more leads that got him warmer and warmer to the truth.

However, with that said, the one thing I was a bit iffy about was West. He felt a little bit one dimensional, like there was something off about him but I can’t even pinpoint what exactly it was. In addition, the open-ended conclusion felt a bit frustrating! Then again, a lot of real stories like this unfortunately don’t have clear, solved endings, so maybe the author was trying to pack a bigger punch by leaving it up to the interpretation of the reader. I’m not sure, but I still wish it had ended differently.

Overall, I’m really glad I finally got to read this, and I will be thinking about the story for a long time.

– Catherine

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Review// Those Who Leave & Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

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Author: Elena Ferrante
Series: My Brilliant Friend #3
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Book Length: 418 
Publisher: Europa Editions
Review: 3/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this third Neapolitan novel, Elena and Lila, the two girls whom readers first met in My Brilliant Friend, have become women. Lila married at sixteen and has a young son; she has left her abusive husband and now works as a common laborer. Elena has left the neighborhood, earned her college degree, and published a successful novel, all of which have opened the doors to a world of learned interlocutors and richly furnished salons. Both women have pushed against the walls of a prison that would have seen them living a life of misery, ignorance, and submission. They are afloat on the great sea of opportunities that opened up during the nineteen-seventies. Yet they are still very much bound to each other by a strong, unbreakable bond.

My Review:

“A community that finds it natural to suffocate with the care of home and children so many women’s intellectual energies is its own enemy and doesn’t realize it.”

Okay yes, I know the cover to these books are really ugly, but I promise you, what’s inside is golden.

However, for the first time in the series, I’m a bit torn about how I feel about this book, mainly because the one juicy part of the whole thing consists of something that I hate: insta-love / a love subplot that comes randomly out of nowhere. On the one hand, I like that it happened because it gave me something to to keep turning the pages for, but on the other, I hate that it happened because it felt so out of place.

This book takes place in the 60s and 70s, mentioning a lot about the university and worker strikes that happened during that time in Italy, which was really interesting. I love all the historical aspects of the book and how they always tie together so well with the characters’ lives. Not only do I feel like I’ve learned something through the historical events, but it also drives the plot along, which is nice. People’s ideas of the role of women in society also begin to change in this book and I thought it was fascinating to read the progression.

The girls are in their 20s and 30s now, and Lila is as stubborn as ever, but Lenu surprised me. At the end, it felt like she became an entirely different person, and it kind of bothered me because her actions were so out of character. Though they are all grown up, it’s evident that their lives in the neighborhood have shaped – and continue to shape – who they are, even if they’ve both moved away from it.

If I could change one thing about this book, it would be how obsessed everyone is with Nino. There is no one that I know who still fantasizes about their elementary school crush, and honestly, I think Lenu needs to grow up and get over it. It kind of annoyed me that she constantly tried to find ways to bring him up and how she’s still bitter about things that happened in their childhood between him and Lila. These girls are constantly comparing each other and trying to one-up the other, and while it makes for an interesting story, sometimes it just gets so childish.

But anyway, now that I’m down to the last one, I can’t wait to see where the plot takes these characters as Ferrante always ends her books on a cliff-hanger and this one was no different!

– Catherine

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Outstanding Blogger Award! 📚🎉

Today I will be posting about the Outstanding Blogger Award. Thank you so much to Maya @HerBookishDesires for the nomination! I’m really honored to have been thought of for this, it completely made my day. Please go check out Maya’s blog, it’s one of my favourites! 😊

Rules:

  1. Provide the link to the creator’s original award post. (very important: see why in step 5)
  2. Answer the questions provided.
  3. Create 7 unique questions.
  4. Nominate 10 bloggers. Ensure that they are aware of their nomination. Neither the award’s creator, nor the blogger that nominated you, can be nominated.
  5. At the end of 2020, every blog that ping-backs the creator’s original post will be entered to win the 2020 Outstanding Blogger Award!

Maya’s Questions:

1. If you could live in one bookish setting, where would you live?

I would love to live in Frell where Ella from Ella Enchanted is from, mostly because I like the idea of there being fairies and other mythical creatures living amongst humans in the world.

2. Favorite book cover of 2020 (the book does not have to be published in 2020, you just had to read it!)

I love this cover, and I loved the book too!

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3. What have you learned (about yourself, blogging, reading) since you started blogging?

Blogging and reading has strengthened my value of friendships. There are so many kind, thoughtful people in this community, and it felt good to be so welcomed right off the bat. I feel like the older you get, the less faith you start to have in humanity, but being here makes me believe that there are lots of wonderful people out there. It is just a huge bonus that they happen to share in my hobby!

4. What gets you out of a reading and/or blogging slump?

Taking a break from reading/ blogging is really the only thing that works for me! Then eventually I get bored or curious as to what books are out there, or I get inspired after reading someone else’s blog posts to start back up again. I think the biggest challenge though is realizing that it’s okay to take a break if I need to. Reading and blogging are my hobbies, not part of a checklist of things I have to get done every week, so if I need to take a break, I need to remind myself that it’s totally okay!

5. Why did you start book blogging?

I had recently fallen back in love with reading and wanted an outlet to share all my bookish thoughts, since my friends IRL didn’t share in that passion as much as I did. Sometimes you just need to scream into the void about something you love, you know? 😇

6. What is your most hated book trope? Most loved?

I don’t really hate any book tropes enough to use the word hate, but I would say one of my least favourite is insta-love. One of my most favourite is lovers to sorta-enemies to lovers (as you might be able to tell from my love of You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle above)! 🙌

7. If you could only pick 3 books to read for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Nominees:

  1. Kaya @AFictionalBookworm
  2. Kristin @KristinKravesBooks
  3. Aoife @PrettyPurplePolkadots
  4. Kira @KiraJeanette
  5. Mandy @DevouringBooks
  6. Sofia @BookishWanderess
  7. Mayeesha @HeadOverBooks
  8. Ashmita @TheFictionalJournal
  9. Leelynn @SometimesLeelynnReads
  10. Sofii @ABookAThought

My Questions:

  1. Describe yourself in a single word.
  2. What are three random facts about yourself?
  3. If you came back in your next life as an animal, which would you be?
  4. If you could turn any book into a movie, which would it be and why?
  5. What’s your favorite thing about your book blog?
  6. What do you like the most about the country you are living in now?
  7. Are you in any fandoms? If so, what are they?

Thank you again to Maya for the nomination, and as always do not feel pressured to do the tag! ❤️

– Catherine

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