Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Chocolate Book Tag


I'm truly, madly, deeply in love with books. And I love chocolate well enough to have mocha or cappuccino every morning, eat mostly chocolate cakes, and sneak in a mini chocolate bar or two or three (alright, alright. So, I really love chocolate). So hereby I present my take on combining two of the many things I love with all my heart. Many thanks to Sofia Li from Loving The Language of Literacy who has tagged me with this yummy tag -- and provided me with a great reason to procrastinate from both my fantasy WIP and my experimental Legend fic ;).

Disclaimer: all cover images taken from Goodreads (saved)


Dark Chocolate - A book which covers dark topic

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card


Ender's Game is a tale of war and loss of innocence, of manipulation and painful realisation of one's strengths and weaknesses. Adults separating children from their families, breaking them over and over again, turning them into battle commanders in a war against another species. This book, and its child protagonist (he's not even yet a teenager) Ender Wiggin broke my heart into a lot of dark, bitter pieces.

White Chocolate - Your favourite light-hearted or humorous read

Various snippets from various books
There have been humorous, light-hearted chapters/scenes I absolutely loved and visited over and over just for good laugh, though -- I'm not a crazy, uptight, cranky old lady XD. But, yeah, I haven't read any fully 'light-hearted' book which I loved recently. I'll pass on this one.  

Milk Chocolate - A book with lots of hype that you're dying to read


Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo
I kept seeing references of it popping on Twitter -- even some of my favourite authors are crazy about it! I looked up the synopsis yesterday, and the world/premise got me interested. The last book of the trilogy has just been released, so it could be a perfect timing for me to pick it up and start reading.

Chocolate With a Caramel Center - Name a book which made you all gooey inside while reading

Guardian by Alex London

So, alright, perhaps I should've spent more time worrying about Syd and the future of the world when I read this... but the bodyguard love interest, Liam, made it impossible for me not to feel all gooey! The combination of perpetually wet blue eyes, a metal hand, secret love and devotion to the person he's supposed to protect, and mad badass-ery made me swoon and sigh. Liam/Syd is probably one of my
favourite couples in the recent YA I read -- sweet, while still well-developed and realistic.

Wafer Free Kit Kat - Name a book that surprised you recently


Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I must admit I always approach contemporary books with caution -- especially, when I hear the word 'romance' associated with them. I downloaded this upon my little recommendation circle's suggestion (looks at Commander LilaJune), and started reading as I waited for my turn at the optometrist's office. Against all odds, I was hooked. I finished this in less than two hours, and was impressed by the characters, the writing, and the gravity of the issues presented in this book. It wasn't pretentious, it wasn't cheesy -- just simply honest and refreshing.

Snickers - A book that you're going nuts about

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

I've been keeping an eye out for any update on this since they announced it. And I'm even more giddy now that my amazing friend Tina has sent me a sample she grabbed at BookCon (I don't know how I'll ever repay you, Cousin. Really). Unlike almost all other YA fantasies I know of, The Young Elites is taking a daring approach and presenting main characters who are on the darker shade of grey. That, and the interesting world I've glimpsed through the sample pages, is getting me all nuts about it.

Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows - What book would you turn to for a comfort read?


Champion by Marie Lu
Those of you who follow me on Twitter must've known by now that I worship June Iparis's sharp mind and strong heart. June's a lot of things I aspire to be; she knows what she wants and isn't afraid to let go of other things to get it, and she knows how to remain strong even when her heart's broken. Whenever I'm confused, or upset by any of my grown-up troubles, flipping through her chapters in Champion (she dual-narrates with her equal-footed counterpart Day) helps me putting things into perspective and gathering strength to devise my next strategy. If June can move on and be the amazing woman she is at the end of all of that, why can't I overcome my much lesser problems?  

Box of Chocolates - What series have you read that you feel has a little something for everyone?

Chasing The Valley by Skye Melki-Wegner




I must admit that I first picked it up because it is a MG/YA fantasy written by a female Australian author (a rarity in the YA section, even here in Australia) -- and because the main character, Danika, is the female version of the streetboy characters I have a soft spot for (she'll hold up just fine in a running/climbing/weapon-stealing match with Legend's Day Wing, The Ascendance Trilogy's Sage, and The Seven Realms' Han Allister). Once I actually started reading the first book, though, it became apparent to me that it was a crazy fusion of all kind of speculative fiction -- sci-fi, dystopia, high fantasy. Danika's world is a dystopia; a dictatorship led by a ruthless king who bombs his own cities and is super-keen to expand his dictatorship. Danika lost her family in a chemical bomb attack (an evil love child of sci-fi and high fantasy, essentially). In the story as told by the books, she's trying to run away to freedom at the valley, with a diverse crew featuring rich kids and street criminals (adventure). While I don't go through my days constantly thinking about the series (as I do some other books and series), I actually quite like it and appreciate the creativity behind the idea.

So, yeah, those are my chocolates... what are yours? ;)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Dissector (2): A Love Letter to Reading and Genres

'The Dissector' is a series of posts in which I will dissect topics which interest me, with my subjective, frank, extra-sharp mental scalpel. While honesty is a rule of these posts, I'd like to emphasise, once more, that this is merely my attempt of understanding myself and the world better. This remains, simply, one woman's opinion. Something the said woman doesn't intend to, and will never think of, shoving down anyone's throat.

Disclaimer: All Included Images Are Taken from The Books' Goodreads Entries


I read.

And that's simply a two-word sentence. I don't want to expand it by adding 'YA books', 'speculative fiction', 'historical fiction', 'anything which is good', or other tags. Because, hey, I read. My brain is programmed to pick anything written and try to make sense of it within my language limitations (I'm only fluent in two languages, English and Bahasa Indonesia). The moment I wake, I will reach for my phone and check, after my personal email and private messages/direct messages on various social networking platforms, what my preferred news website has to offer that morning. More often than not, I will read one or more news articles, editorials, or feature articles which pique my interest, too (although I'll stop before that button which says 'comment', because the comment section is often waaaay darker than any depressing article). Then I will trawl Twitter, and read a couple of interesting book-and-writing related articles tweeted by the friends and authors I follow. I don't limit myself to what is serious and important; it's a matter of interest for me. And as such, chance is I will read self-posted advertisements on power poles on my way to work or to my weekend morning coffee. And the banners hanging above my lovely neighbourhood square. And the announcements in the lifts I ride on my way to my desk. And any announcement stuck on the office door, or behind the bathroom stall doors. And everything which has ever made its way to my home mailbox, except if it's a personal mail not addressed to me. And random blog posts from my random google search. And wikipedia articles about people who appeared in the news that day.

(Alright, let's take a moment of silence here to absorb all my craziness. Those who aren't willing to dig deeper into a long essay about my excessive reading habit may stop reading right here and right now -- thank you for stopping by.)

My attitude is, admittedly, quite different when it comes to my 'hobby reading/enjoyment reading'. This comes down to the fact that I cannot possibly read every book ever written, unless there are 300 hours in a day and 365,000 days in a year. Like everyone else, I pick and choose what I read. And throughout my life, my choices have always been evolving. It has been a really fluid journey, with winding roads and branching points, and loops which converge and re-converge.

As a preschooler and kindergartener, I read a lot of fairytales and books about animals. They were not my choice, of course -- they were either gifts, or something my parents bought in a bookstore -- but I did love them. And they did spark my interest in reading, and my creative imagination. I think my parents and everyone who had ever babysat me had caught, so many times over, me in the midst of recreating those stories with my plush toys -- with my own crazy twists.

In primary school (ages 6 - 12), I devoured things I could find in my library and in the (then-limited) children section of my local bookstore in Jakarta, Indonesia. I remember borrowing, as my first library book ever, a book about who Henry Dunant was (it was like a children's version of biography, it told me his life but not in excessive details). I remember reading this book and this one and this one, in full admiration of the strong girl protagonists and the adventures they go through. I remember reading a lot of children-appropriate humour, and translated mangas too (hi Sailor Moon!). But above all, I also remember, as a pre-teen in years 5 and 6, reading this book and this one. I couldn't find any English entry
for those, and I apologise for it. But to summarise -- they were Indonesian historical fiction novels, intended for adult, written by an Indonesian author who wrote several other historical fiction books. I did not purchase them. My Dad did, many years before. He didn't make me read it; he didn't even mention he had them. I simply found them sitting in one of his drawers, and devoured them during a summer holiday. I just couldn't stop. Ancient and Colonial-era Java, frozen in the vivid, enthralling lines of narration and dialogues, captivated me. Suddenly, I saw the soul in the eras I'd had brief, formal and hard-fact-ladden brushes with in the history classes at school. Those periods were suddenly not just periods. They were writhing, breathing, with characters -- imperfect, human -- who gave breaths of life to those periods. It was my first experience of true reading bliss, one which I remember fondly until today.

I remained a keen and (looking back) critical reader throughout High School (ages 13 - 18). My High School had a relatively large, well-stocked library of fiction and non-fiction alike, and I always end up on the 'fiction' section. Birthday money, pocket money, and allowances had also started flowing, leaving me with a new power to buy what I want to read. As my body and mind shifted from a child's to a woman's and hormones started flooding, I became more drawn to romance too. Adult romance, more exactly. There were the one or two YA romances (then a rare thing to see in the library or even in bookstores -- all I remember is Meg Cabot's contemporaries) thrown in there, but mostly I was busy wrangling one of Danielle Steel's bestsellers out of a fellow student's hands or browsing Sandra Brown's crime/romance in my local bookstore. I watched romantic Japanese animes, and swooned over romantic mangas. In the later years of my adolescence, as I battled (a relatively mild, now that I've seen many other cases) a year-long-encounter with anorexia and recovered, I was introduced to the world of the section of adult contemporary I then knew as 'chick-lit'; books about grown women and their everyday issue, ranging from weight management (something relevant to me then) to relationship issues (which often involved prettier, taller, skinner women competing for the hot guy's attention). The history, culture, and fantasy loving girl in me had never died though. I managed to introduce the Harry Potter series to my reading list in the midst of everything else. I also managed to read, between homework and marching band training camps, a couple of historical fiction and culture-nuanced books which strongly resonated to me then. I devoured Snow Flower and The Secret Fan. I read my way through Ca Bau Kan (book and summary in Bahasa Indonesia), a bittersweet (fictional) historical romance telling the story of a Chinese Indonesian merchant and his Betawi (native Batavian/Jakartan) mistress/courtesan. I also read this amazing Indonesian book about a Chinese Indonesian family in a relatively recent era (the title roughly translates to 'The Last Yum Cha'). And funny things being funny -- even though the amount of contemporary and romance I read back then exceeded the amount of the fantasy and historical, I remember those few fantasies and historicals better today. Seems that my subconscious has always been clinging to my preferred genres, after all!

The university/college period (ages 19 - 22) was what I would say the darkest period of my reading. Moving to a new country, switching from reading primarily in Bahasa Indonesia to reading primarily in English, and succumbing to peer pressure to 'be cool' and 'try find a boyfriend' slowed my reading -- a lot. It didn't help that I knew no one who loved reading as much as I did (or I knew them, but didn't know them enough to know they loved reading). And -- a dark story -- I was suffering from a severe 'new-grown-up' stuck-up syndrome, in which I refused to admit love for anything remotely youthful (apart from Harry Potter and a few Animes, which she read and watched in secret in her bedroom). If I could find 19 year old Nath and give her a real hard slap on her face and yell at her for being a bloody liar and con, I think I would. She should have known she was a fantasy and historical fiction girl. She should have known she loved characters who saw the world with fresh, untainted eyes, and strived to make them better. She should have stopped trying to be 'an adult' and tried to exclusively read 'deep' adult contemporaries and 'high literature' which didn't make her feel good about the world. She should have had a better sense of what made an adult and adult, and known that 'not reading dragon-and-kingdom fantasy and fictionalised history' didn't make her an adult. After all, at the end of those years of trying to read books which 'matter', she wasn't finished growing up. She still had childish whims. She still didn't know (and actually kind of doesn't) know what to do in many situations. She was still awkward.

And above all -- she was somewhat miserable creature who believed people were all messed up, and that heroes are creatures of fantasy.

What. A. Fool.

'Pretentious reader Nath' died right at the end of her university days, when she met a wonderful man who to this day still appreciates her every quirk, the way she appreciates his. But her love for reading had been buried by years of pretension, and she evolved into a restless caged beast desperate to let her imaginative side roam free -- 'Non-reader Nath'. She paced and paced. She tried reading fanfiction of the books she'd read and loved -- most of which were of romance variety. She tried writing, doing something she loved -- and actually was so out of touch with her fantasy that she couldn't even write a page she didn't cringe at. She got confused, angry, bored. Until, one day, while sitting at a nail salon having her fingernails primped and painted some, she looked up and saw the TV there playing The Hunger Games movie. 'Non-reader Nath' saw two sisters on the screen. She saw one of them picking up a bow and a quiver, and later taking another's place in a death match. She saw a messed up society, and a character who gave hope. A character who took action and did good.

And 'Non-reader Nath', love child of 'Pretentious reader Nath' and 'Nath's innate mule-like stubbornness', burned to ashes right there and then. In her place, rose the Nath who realises she loves adventures, fantasy, history, and characters who give hope. The Nath who loves her stories, her reading, and who she is. The Nath who isn't afraid of getting judged -- and knows that whatever she does, she will end up getting judged anyway. The Nath who is who I am now.




I finished watching The Hunger Games at home that very day, with my husband. I bought all the three books soon after, and devoured them in two nights. I wrote The Hunger Games fanfiction (most of which I didn't end up publishing, because they were so bad -- but hey, that's part of writing journey, right?). I branched out to Divergent and Insurgent. I got introduced to Daughter of Smoke of Bone, and devoured Days of Blood and Starlight soon after. I found the whole YA fantasy/sci-fi/dystopia genre. I perused samples of others, bought some, read some, DNF some. I found Legend, just like that -- and devoured it, then Prodigy, and was completely humbled by the amazing characters and their struggles, the social injustice in their society which resembled something I'd seen as a child and accepted as part of life, being the entitled brat I was. I read Proxy, and was once more reminded of that. I analysed everything critically. And before I knew, I was alive again. I fell in love with characters who tried to make the world better by real action, and not just sitting-there-wallowing-why-life-is-unfair-and-sad like some of the characters 'Pretentious Nath' met. I wrote fanfiction. I started original story ideas, and am realising some of them in full-fledged WIPs. I met fellow readers and YA fiction enthusiasts on Twitter, some of whom I consider my close friends now. I was introduced to more books -- not just YA, but simply good books with inspirational stories and characters. I read some which fell within speculative fiction, and am planning to read some of the suggested historical fictions. For the first time in my life, I have a recommendation-based TBR list, instead of a haphazard one totally composed through long hours combing sections of bookstores and libraries. I learn to listen to others' inputs and opinions, and give chances to books I would otherwise not look at. I learn how to put the life lessons I've learned from books in coherent thoughts, and discuss them with my friends and in book reviews.

I am now alive. And learning.

And I am reading again, for pleasure.


All it took was an adaptation of a YA book, beautiful, hopeful stories which stoked the embers of my dormant fantasy-and-historical-fiction fangirl, characters who despite their limitations and their hardships are trying to make the world better and not muddle-it-because-my-life-suck-and-I-don't-know-how-to-not-rain-on-everyone's-parade, and a community of reading enthusiasts keen to read things which they can learn positive lessons from.


All it took was an inspired feeling.

But of course, this is just my reading journey. I am well aware that there are others who get inspirations in different ways, and others with different journeys. There are people who like sad stories and characters who constantly break things -- and it's more than alright. It's amazing that you read. It's amazing that things move you. Just like I love and respect my genres, you should love and respect your genres too -- never say you're 'ashamed',  'embarrassed', or that you feel you are 'weird'. Protect what is dear to your heart, if you must. Read what you read. Love what and who you love. Surround yourself with people who read similar things; find some on Goodreads or other social medias if you know none. Gift your favourite book to loved ones, convince them why they should read. Talk people to include your favourite books and genres in their reading list -- with the respect you'd like them to show your favourite books and genres. Spread the book love, not hatred for what you see as not 'on par with' your kind of books. Judge if you must, but remember that judgement is a reflection of what you think and not of someone else's behaviour (yes, it is hard. I still struggle with it myself. But just give it one try :)).

Let your books and genres make you a better person who learns from the stories and the characters.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Book Review: Ender's Game (Ender Quintet #1, Orson Scott Card)

This post is part of a joint effort by me and Commander LilaJune of LilaJune's Book Saloon to kickstart our blogging. Every week we'll post a review of the same book or a discussion on the same topic. This week, we are visiting the fascinating world of Ender's Game, where a brilliant boy learns about himself, others, and humanity in a heartbreaking tale of friendship and a sacrificed childhood.

(Cover image taken from Goodreads)


Disclaimer: I owe Sofia of Loving the Language of Literacy for her help in review-structuring. She is one awesome young lady.

Read the Goodreads synopsis here

I've known about this book (a classic, in my opinion) for a long, long time, and even have an old edition sitting in my bookshelf without knowing it (because my husband and I don't tell each other about the books we own, yeah). It's not until I got bored during a flight and put the movie adaptation on that I became super duper interested in reading it, though. I picked up the movie tie-in addition in an airport shop on my flight home, unaware of the one my husband has at home -- and with the encouragement from my blog buddy and Commander LilaJune, I started it. At that time, I had a high expectation of it. And once I finished reading, I must say it didn't disappoint.

Plot/Premise/Theme

Ender's Game is a story of how the threat of war, the government and its programs, the adults and the other children at Battle School, and Ender's own thoughts, love, confidence, and insecurities makes and breaks Ender Wiggin.  The premise itself is interesting: young, brilliant children in training to save the world from an imminent 'bug' invasion. This book spans a few long years, and it looked slow at first -- but later I realised that it worked well with the plot and theme. In the first few chapters, the story looked like a loose recap collection from various periods of Ender Wiggin's young life, but the more I read, the more I saw how the previous chapters built the foundation of the current chapter, little by little until it culminated in a heartbreaking final chapter. Every event in the book is important, and related to the climax and resolution. It is a plot unlike another I'd seen before, yet it felt unique and clean. And (despite the obvious spoiler given away by the movie), at the end, it still awed me.

Characters & Romance (or lack thereof)

One thing Card did really well with this book was characterisation. Ender's Game has an array of ethnically and psychologically diverse characters (even though it only has a grand total of two important female characters -- but I guess one can't pick on a classic for doing this :)), who are well-defined throughout the pages. Through Ender's interaction with any given secondary character, Card defined both Ender and the other character. When Ender's not there in the scene, the role of defining secondaries fall into the hand of his sister Valentine, and his maker/destroyer Graff, the head of Battle School.  What I love the most about Ender and all the supporting characters is how grey they are. They switch sides. Each of their strength is also their weakness, and while some of them are capable of doing evil things, they are capable of doing good as well. And they always have reasons. At the end, Ender Wiggin endeared and frightened me just the same, with his sharp mind, his regrets, his robbed childhood, and his resolution to fix the damages he had done the universe and his 'enemy'. He is one of my favourites in this book, along with his sharp-yet-gentle sister Valentine, who is his light at the end of the tunnel, the hope in the midst of regrets and adversities.

Despite the lack of romance (bar that sneaky handhold between two minor characters at the very end) which is probably tied to the characters' young ages, Ender's Game still explores the theme of love really well. The brotherly love Ender has for his older sister Valentine, and her equally fierce sisterly love for him, shines beautifully through their thoughts of each other and the few moments they share together. The friendship Ender has with Alai, Shen, Dink, and others; the mentor-mentee relationship he has with first Petra (the other girl in the story apart from Valentine) and later Bean -- I didn't feel deprived of the 'warm' feeling of romance as I read. Ender's Game proves that there are more facades of love apart from romance, and that protagonists can work and grow up well without romantic interests. This is a point I think every Science Fiction and Fantasy author should really consider, before they add a one-dimensional/damsel-or-hansel-in-distress love interest or a weird love triangle for protagonists who do not need them.

Style and Feel

Card's style is clean and open, and I enjoyed it. There are paragraphs with long, elaborate setting descriptions (especially in the Battle Room) which slowed me down and forced me to exercise my brain, but I really enjoyed Ender's internal monologues and the character interactions. Whilst Card uses a lot of 'telling' (and less 'showing' than many other authors I've read) in this book, it didn't feel impersonal to me, and I was kept interested throughout. I felt the joy. I felt the heartbreak. The book tugged me in all the right directions. Oh, and that ending. That. Ending. It got through to me. What does one do once the truth's revealed? How does one fix the humanity, the universe, and one's mistakes?

Final Verdict

One of the classic/older books I actually finished and liked. I liked how relevant and universal the themes in it are, even years later. Whilst I would love to see more female characters (of the strong variant) in the book (especially in Battle School), I loved Ender and everyone else who is there (perhaps not so much Graff, Ender's sadistic brother Peter, and the adults who either don't care or are too cowardly to fight their own battle, but the Battle School kids are awesome).

Whilst there is a lot of devastation at the end, there is also hope. I've been warned about the gloomy nature of the sequels (by the internet and my friends), and I'm on the fence about continuing. Maybe I'll pick the second book up one day, but for now, I'm content with Ender's current resolution and the story which captivated me.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5.

So - have you ever watched a movie adaptation before reading the book? How did it affect your enjoyment of the book? How did you feel about Ender, his decision, and his painful self realisation/awareness? What would you do if you were in Ender's shoes?

Monday, 2 June 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag This Summer

Image taken from the host's blog


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every Tuesday, book bloggers from all over the blogosphere (har har har cliched much Nath!) will present a compilation of 10 book(ish) things they love. Details and lists of past and future topics can be viewed here.

Alright. This is my first time participating in Top Ten Tuesday, after months of lurking in the (Bloglovin and Twitter) background, spying on and reading everyone else's entries. And, esteemed readers, let me tell you something -- I nearly delayed starting my venture into this meme's world (*cue horror gasps*). I actually messaged this lovely lady this morning to agonise over whether I should really make a list of 'top ten books that will be in my beach bag this summer', because to be honest there is nothing summer-y about the dystopia, high fantasy, sci-fi, and haunting 'true story' type biographies that I read!

After a bit of that oh-so-familiar 'should I' discussion, and a walk in mild-yet-still-cold Sydney winter (which I will soon leave for the Pacific Northwest summer :)), I decide to bite the bullet -- and compose the list of 'light, fresh' summer-reading... Nath's version. Some of these books are recs I haven't yet 'attacked'; some are little pretties I stumbled upon in bookstores; others are second and third books of series I've started reading and liked; and a couple are old favourites I'd love to read again under the summer sun. Without further ado, here they are -- hope you all enjoy!








   

  1. Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3), by Laini Taylor (Cover image from: Laini Taylor's Website)
    My lovely, minky (ha!), fantasy lover and book nerd lawyer-to-be sister-in-law (hi there Tones!) introduced me to Daughter of Smoke and Bone last year, and I've been loving it since. It's high-fantasy, and quite different from the sci-fi and dystopias I usually read, but Taylor's beautiful imageries and interesting characters and storyline keep me hooked. This book is near the top of my to-read list, and is waiting for a continuous period of five or six or seven hours in which I can devour it uninterrupted. I figure a tanning session on the beach (with a big brolly and a slathering of sunscreen) will be an ideal time for it.  It will be haunting and heavy at times, yes, but the finale of Karou and Akiva's worlds-and-lives-spanning love story is a beautiful fairytale for summer.
  2. The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass (Cover image from: Kiera Cass's Website)
    I've seen this book everywhere and taken a sneak peek in the bookstore, and I'm pretty interested in the theme/premise of a 'The Bachelor' type reality show with dystopian twist. But, to be honest, the presentation (girl with dress on the cover) and the light style is too much 'flowers-and-love-hearts' for my hardened reader soul. Perhaps the warm sunlight, the cocktails with mini umbrellas, and the lovely sound of crashing waves will soften my heart and help me to start reading this.
  3. Uglies (Uglies #1) by Scott Westerfeld (Cover image from: Scott Westerfeld's Website)
    I did an online YA fiction writing course last year, and this book came recommended by my amazing tutor (hi there Benjamin!). I started reading a sampler, and could already see the looming dystopia -- but I've been distracted by other books with 'heavier' themes since and haven't been able to get back into the world of surgery-enhanced 'pretties' and untouched youngsters 'uglies'. Continuing the pretty-dress-and-party theme of The Selection, this one will be a good read for a holiday too.
  4. Once We Were (Hybrid Chronicles #2) by Kat Zhang (Cover image from: Harper Collins' Website)
    I read the first book of the Hybrid Chronicles, 'What's Left of Me'. And I cried over Eva and Addie and the world which forces them to pretend only one of them still live in their body. As time goes past and I read more dystopian books, it becomes apparent to me that whilst still dark, the Hybrid Chronicles is one of the 'lighter' of the dystopian series I have read. I really want to know what becomes of the sisters and their love stories and their friends, thus I will take this in my beach bag (or in my kindle in my beach bag) to read.
  5. Tandem (Many Worlds #1) by Anna Jarzab (Cover image from: Anna Jarzab's Website)
    Confession: I've had this book since early this year. And I've never got past page 9. The premise of dimension travel is interesting for me, but the first scene where the character's approached by a guy at her school threw me off somehow (bad, impatient reader, I know!). In this book, the main character will channel her princess alternate-reality persona, thus this book goes really well with some other in the list.
  6. Defector (Variants #2) by Susanne Winacker (Cover image from: Susanne Winnacker's Website)
    I read Impostor (Variants #1), which was a pretty short book to me. Whilst the premise of X-men style superpower has been done so many times before, the combination of crime/murder mystery and the superpower itself provided an interesting read. This goes with the theme of 'continuing the books I've read and sufficiently liked'.
  7. Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin (Cover image from: GRRM's Website)
    I haven't progressed on this good book for a year or so. So, yeah, time to pick up my slack and at least finish this first book (although, admittedly, I love my YA dystopia genre more).
  8. The Demon King (The Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima (Cover image from: Cinda Williams Chima's Website)
    This comes with a strong rec from my awesome friend Tina at The Book Landers. Apparently it has a protagonist similar to some characters I've loved before -- and the next books in the series apparently don't disappoint too! I haven't read much 'kingdom-fantasy' type books for the past few years, and I'm looking forward to start this.
  9. These Broken Stars (Starbound Trilogy #1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Cover image from: Amie Kaufman's Website)
    This will be my go-to book if I need some romance to brighten my day. I read this before, finished it, and loved it as a romance. Tarver and Lilac are heartbreakingly perfect as a couple, sweet and fiery, childish at times and mature at other times. And along with the romance, it presents valid questions about life and great character developments, which satisfy my need for 'heavy' themes.
  10. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by J.K Rowling (Cover image from: Bloomsbury's Website)
    A classic favourite of mine. I will be re-reading this for Hermione and her Time Turner, the Trelawney funny moments, and the wonderful DADA class with Professor Lupin (one of my favourite characters in the entire series). It's a heart-stopping page turner with good emotional arcs, serious at times but not yet too dark like the later books are.
  11. Mandatory to-bring Read to everywhere: Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu (Cover images from: Marie Lu's Website)
    Well, I'm obsessed with this. And I do miss Day and June and their love story every single day, so taking them on a holiday with me is just a natural thing to do. (Yeah, Cousin? *winks*)
So... what do you think of my summer reading list? Is it summery enough? Have you read any of books 1 - 8 (which I haven't actually read?) Also... why all my summer books are part of series? lol