Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

23995368

Genre: Literary Fiction, Dystopian

Year Published: 2015

My Rating:★★★★★

This book has easily already made it into my top books of this year. I don’t know why I waited so long to read it, but golly am I glad that I finally did.

This book is half dystopian/half flashbacks to present day. In the dystopian world, the world has previously been ravaged by an almost inescapable disease that killed approximately…like… 99% of the population (scary stuff, no joke). In this post-apocalyptic time, we follow a troupe of theatre actors and musicians who travel the mid-west of the United States performing Shakespeare plays, because “survival is insufficient.” One of the actresses in this theatre group is Kirsten, and her life provides the connection to the flashback moments of the book. She once knew a famous actor named Arthur Leander, and through her memories of him, we are given flashbacks of his life and the lives of his friends and loved ones.

We see struggle in both modern day, and post-apocalyptic times. The author seamlessly connects the past to the present, all the while providing us, the readers, with beautiful writing. Mandel almost makes it seem as though that pre-apocalyptic times were more tragic than post-apocalyptic. To have the ability and success in conveying this, I think, is an immense feat.

Over-arching all of this is the message that life goes on. We live, we die (in either tragic or non-tragic ways), and we continue to move on. We see this with one of the characters we see in the beginning of the story, and don’t see again until close to the very end. The motivation to live, to overcome obstacles created not only by nature, but by other people as well, is the very definition of humanity…and I think this book conveyed just that. It was beautiful and simple, horrifying and complex, everything all at once. Much like what life is…everything. All at once.

Overall, I obviously gave this a 5/5 stars. I’ll leave you guys with some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

“She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.”

“If you are the light, if your enemies are darkness, then there’s nothing that you cannot justify. There’s nothing you can’t survive, because there’s nothing that you will not do.”

Unpopular Bookish Opinions…

Sooo we all have unpopular opinions, right? But that doesn’t mean that’s a bad thing. It just means we all have our own way of seeing things, and that’s what makes the world diverse! By means of the unpopular opinions book tag, the original of which you can find here, I’m going to share some of my unpopular opinions. Take no offense people, this is all for fun.

Let’s do this!

geronimo

1. A Popular Book or series that you didn’t like.

Most recently, the popular book that I didn’t like was…Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. *cringes from its adoring fans yelling at me*. I know, I know. From what I’ve seen of book reviews though, I don’t think I’m alone in this. It’s a pretty polarizing book. I just couldn’t stand the insta-love, and the MC was not very bright, and it was just so unrealistic. Sadly, no me gusta.
2. A Popular Book or series that every one else seems to hate but you love.

The last time I did this tag was on my YouTube channel, and at the time I said The Maze Runner series by James Dashner, but I’m gonna switch it up this time since it’s been 2 years since then. I would have to say…The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. I usually don’t like literary fiction, family-drama type novels…but I just got so invested in the characters in this one I had to know what happens. A lot of people found it boring, and I can see where it was slow, but I enjoyed it overall.
3. A Love Triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with OR an OTP that you don’t like.

(SPOILER ALERT FOR THE INFERNAL DEVICES BY CASSANDRA CLARE

!!

OK

Tessa Gray. At the end of the series, we see that she ends up with someone else. But in the beginning, and for many, many years until he dies…she chooses to be with Will. Now I know she couldn’t be with Jem because of the whole Silent Brothers thing, but I still liked him better. Luckily, they eventually get together but they definitely go through a lot before that happens.
4. A popular book Genre that you hardly reach for.

Mystery/thriller. Romance. Horror. The closest I’ve gotten to any of these is YA contemporary, or books like We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Soooo yes.
5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.

Jace Wayland. Sorry folks.
6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.

As mentioned before, Alexandra Bracken. I’ve heard if you don’t like one of her books, you probably won’t like the rest. Other authors besides Bracken? Mmm..Jennifer E. Smith? I’ve read one of her books, and I’m currently reading Windfall, which is her latest release (coming out on May 2nd). I wasn’t too crazy about the first book I read by her (I can’t even remember the title), and so far I’m not too crazy about this one either and I’m already halfway through it.
7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. (examples “lost princess”, corrupt ruler, love triangles, etc.)

I HATE, especially in YA contemporary, when there is no parent/guardian relationship with the main character. It’s just unrealistic.

ALSO IN FANTASY, when a character from our world is thrown into a magical world, or learns of time travel, or magic, or just anything otherworldly and accepts it without question. They’re just like, oh? My family can time travel? I can enter another world buy means of a secret portal? Cool.

And I would be like ????????? what’s going on????????

and I feel like most people would be like that as well
8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.

Hmm…the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout and Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.
9. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”, but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

I don’t really have an answer for this one, to be honest.

~~

Well, that’s it folks! Hopefully I haven’t offended anyone. After all, this is all in good nature. And now, to go read some books I have more positive opinions about! 🙂

reading

My Favorite Stand-Alone Novels!

Hey guys! I hope you’re all doing well. It’s been pouring rain all day today…up until now (around 6PM), when the weather decided to be sunny again. Go figure. Anyway, I thought I would share with you guys my favorite stand-alone novels!

I love a good series, but every now and then it’s refreshing to read a book that has a start and end, cover to cover. This list is in no particular order, sooooo…let’s get to it!

standalones

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Three words to describe this book: magical, atmospheric, and wonderful. Although we technically have two main characters (both of which are magicians/illusionists) Erin Morgenstern includes so many other characters with their own perspectives and is able to develop them SO WELL despite the fact they are not the main focus of attention. They all play a role, however, in this mystical, wondrous place that is the traveling Night Circus. When I read this book, I felt as though I was in a romantic, magical black and white film. I wanted to explore the beautiful European cities the book is set in (for the most part), and then spend an endless night exploring all of the curious tents, all the while being friends with each unique character. This book will forever be one of the fictional worlds I wish I could live in.

Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan

This is a book I had NEVER heard about until I saw a friend of mine reading it, and when I expressed interest in it she let me borrow it. Eventually I had to get my own copy because I wanted to take my time savoring it. It has a somewhat similar feeling to The Night Circus, but it’s definitely more dark and ominous. Our main character has to deal with a dark household (both emotionally and literally), and a mother-in-law who is one of the most evil, magical characters I have ever met. Peculiar fortune tellers, vengeful swarms of bees, unnatural (demon?) babies, a mysterious woman wailing into the midnight mist, and much more strange and magical things are in this novel. I can say with confidence that this is probably the strangest and most unique novel I have ever read.

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs

I feel as though this book is an unknown classic. To me it is the epitome of the Beat Generation but in fiction rather than poetry, which is what the Beat Generation is most known for. In this novel, Kerouac and Burroughs fictionalize a real murder that both were involved in (but not directly). It’s a really simple and quick read, but it highlights the atmosphere and feel of the Beat Generation so well, it makes the Beat fangirl in me so happy. Despite the…dank, smoky atmosphere the book gives off. It’s perfect if you want to get a little insight into these writer’s lives. AND if you haven’t heard of the movie Kill Your Darlings, which was based on the book and the actual murder that happened, I definitely recommend it. It stars Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan (both beautiful, talented actors) and although it isn’t an exact adaption of the book, it does a pretty damn good job. If you’re even remotely interested in the Beat Generation, you gotta read this book. *ad for this book over*

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

(Trigger Warning for self-harm in this book). This is a 2017 release, so not many people may be as familiar with it yet. It has been getting fairly well-known in the young adult reading community, but not as much as it should in my opinion. This is an own-voices contemporary novel following a teenage girl who has extreme agoraphobia, anxiety, depression, and OCD. The reason I love this novel so much is because I am someone who has suffered from all of these things (except the OCD) and can say that this book is not sugar-coated, and it is such an honest and true representation of what people with these invisible illnesses go through every day. Sure, it has the cutesy romance that every YA contemporary has, but it is not the focus of the novel, the mental illness is. I think that’s so important because a lot of books have the love interest fix the MC’s mental illness, and that is just not accurate. That does not happen, and this book showcases that. It shows struggle and difficulty, it shows days where it feels like nothing will get better. But, at the end, it shows hope. And that’s honestly the one thing anyone can ask for when it comes to dealing with a mental illness. The author is such a sweet person, and it’s so great to hear a story that lies in truth; one that people who suffer from these illnesses can relate to.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This is a modern classic. It’s a historical fiction WWII novel that follows our main character Liesel, a little girl adopted by an older couple. She loves to read, write, and steal books. It is heartbreaking, beautiful, and, like I said, a modern classic. I honestly don’t know what else to say about this. I feel like it’s so popular that I don’t need to say much, so I’ll just leave it at that.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

This is another YA contemporary. We see twins Noah and Jude grow up through a tragedy. We see how close they were when they were young and how far from each other they are when they grow up. This novel is beautifully written. Jandy Nelson makes your heart ache for each character, even when one is negatively depicting the other. This book, I think, is the ultimate coming-of-age novel. It explores art, friendships, family tragedy, and the troubles of growing up among peer pressure, unrequited love, and all those things that we deem cliché in YA books but are often rooted in truth. This is my favorite young adult contemporary book of all time, and I’ve read a lot of YA contemporary. Not to sound pretentious (although it will probably come across that way anyway), I think that’s saying something.

A World Without You by Beth Revis

I would say this is a young adult contemporary…but at the same time it’s not. But at the same time it is. It’s confusing and you would probably only understand what I mean if you’ve read the book (hint hint: read the book). A lot of this book feels like magical realism, especially when we’re in our main character’s point of view. However, when we switch from our MC’s view to his sister’s view, things aren’t as they seem. In our main character’s point of view, we are in a boarding school for teens who have super powers. In our MC’s sister’s POV, her brother is in a school for teens with mental illnesses and/or disabilities. Therefore, each POV is very different from the other. This makes the book a tragically beautiful story of remorse and regret, a book of what it means to be mentally ill. It explores the fine line between truth and fiction; reality and imagination. I can’t say whether or not this is strictly contemporary fiction, as the ending of the book leaves the reader questioning that, but it definitely comes in a hard second to I’ll Give You the Sun if it is.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

We’re rounding this list off with a clear-cut fantasy novel. No magical realism, illusions, etc. It takes place in a fictional world with storybook-like settings and characters. The magic in this world is made up of beautiful, non-sensical words and various mystical potions that can either hurt or help you. The villain of the story is a dark forest with unforgiving creatures and trees that hold old secrets. The main character is locked in a tower with a stern magician, who slowly but surely comes to like her and teach her magic. If all of these things don’t describe a classic fairytale story (with just a smidgen of R-rated material), then I don’t know what does. Naomi Novik’s writing is slow and sweet, setting up the ominous dark forest and the hate-to-love relationship between the magician and our main character beautifully. If I could recommend any stand-alone fantasy novel, it would be this one.

~~~

That’s it for this list, folks! Let me know what are some of your favorite stand-alone books. I love getting some good stand-alone recommendations! 🙂

 

Rapid Fire Book Tag!

Hey guys! I thought in order to get to know me a little bit better (in terms of my bookish preferences and opinions) that I would do the rapid fire book tag! This book tag originates from YouTube, on GirlReading‘s channel. Be sure to check it out if you’re interested in doing it yourself.

So…without any further ado, here’s the tag!

E-Book or Physical Book?  Physical

Paperback or Hardback? Hardback for the looks (and if it’s a new release and I just have to have it), paperback for comfort in reading and travelling.

Online or In-Store Book Shopping? In-store book shopping

Trilogies or Series? Series! I think it’s rare for a trilogy to feel complete to me. Only a few have done a good job in my opinion. Perhaps I’ll make a future post on that…

Heroes or Villains? Heroes. Yes, I’m cliché. TOO BAD.

A book you want everyone to read? The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. I believe there’s something in that memoir for everyone.

Recommend an underrated book? Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley. It’s an own-voices, YA contemporary that has some really important issues thrown in.

The last book you finished? Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The Last Book You Bought? Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I have been waiting FOREVER for this book to come out and I’m so excited it’s finally in my hands.

Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark? Nothing too weird…a tissue, maybe?

Used Books: Yes or No? Yes! If they don’t have writing all over them and aren’t ripped, for sure.

Top Three Favorite Genres? Fantasy (both YA and adult), Contemporary (both YA and adult), and poetry.

Borrow or Buy? Unfortunately for my wallet, buy.

Characters or Plot? Characters. If I love the characters, I don’t care what they’re doing.

Long or Short Books? Long books.

Long or Short Chapters? Short chapters.

Name The First Three Books You Think Of… Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Harry Potter series

The Cinnamon Peeler by Michael Ondaatje

Books That Makes You Laugh or Cry? LORD I have yet to come across a book that has made me cry, so PLEASE if you have any cry-worthy recommendations, feel free to let me know. As for laughing…any book by Ellen DeGeneres, Bossypants by Tina Fey, My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand & co., and pretty much any Rick Riordan book.

Our World or Fictional Worlds? This is tough, because it depends on which fictional world. I would love to live in Narnia or the wizarding world, but Panem? Westeros? No thank you. I think I’ll probably stick to this world.

Audiobooks: Yes or No? Yes!

Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover? Of course, who doesn’t? I’m being honest here.

Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations? Book to movie.

A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?  The movie edition of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. No one hurt me. Please.

Series or Standalone’s? Series. It allows for so much more character development and world building if the story takes place in a different world. That being said, I think it depends on the genre. Fantasy and sci-fi usually call for series, but contemporary and literary fiction call for stand-alones in my opinion.

Thanks for reading guys! Let me know your answers to some of these questions in the comments! 🙂

All previously written book reviews are up!

Hey guys! All the book reviews I have written in the past are up and running, finally! It took a bit of time to do, but now the book review page is all up-to-date.

A lot of those reviews are quite old, and so they don’t have a set format. In future book reviews I will be creating a format for every book review so everything is more…neat.

I’ll be doing different posts other than book reviews soon, so stay tuned for those! I’m so happy and excited to have this blog up and running. I’ll see you guys in the next post!

c8764a5c78d5bd752ec626a97421b5d0

Book Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

underrose

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health

Year Published: 2016 (UK) 2017 (US)

My Rating: ★★★★1/2

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This is a non-spoiler review.

TRIGGER WARNING for self-harm and depression.

This was one of my most highly anticipated reads for 2017 and boy oh boy was I right in anticipating this. The reason I was anticipating this book was because the blurb indicated it was a story about a main character with agoraphobia (fear of leaving one’s home or ‘safe space’), OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), extreme anxiety, and depression. These are all things that I have suffered from, so to see a book that was coming out that explored all of these things in one character really had me intrigued. I wasn’t disappointed.

In a nutshell, this YA contemporary follows our main character Norah, a 17 (?) year old teenager living in California who suffers from all of the above mentioned. The reader follows her day to day life and how she deals with the illness she suffers from. It explores her relationship with her mother, as well as her therapist. There is also, of course, the love interest as well. The love interest comes in the form of Luke, a boy who has just moved in next door and is intrigued by Norah: the girl who sits in the open doorway of her house, watching the outside world while her mind keeps her trapped inside her house.

Right off the bat, hearing that there is a love interest to someone who has agoraphobia, or any other invisible illness, may make a reader hesitant. Is this just another book about the love interest fixing the mental illness of the main protagonist? Because that in itself is very unrealistic.

You may think this at first, but this book is far from that. The love interest in this book definitely does not fix Norah’s illness. In fact, she still has a very long way to go by the time the end of the book comes about. What he does do, and what her mother and therapist also do in this book, is help Norah deal with the day to day hurdles she has to jump through. They help her grow.

What really amplifies Norah’s internal struggles in the book is the knowledge that the author herself has suffered from all of these things. This therefore makes it an own-voices book (a book in which the author identifies with the same characteristics of the main character). Norah’s story suddenly becomes all the more real with this piece of knowledge and it really authenticates the story in this way. It authenticates that people with this mental illness think about things such as the following daily:

-Self-harm
-Low self-worth
-Wondering if this illness will ever let them have a life
-Thinking every worst situation possible will happen if they step outside their door
-Overthinking every word a person has communicated to them
-Overthinking pretty much everything in general to the point where it makes them sick

We, the readers, discover that Norah thinks about these things daily. Her struggle with these things, and slowly but surely overcoming them only to find something else blocking her path to recovery, is what this book is really all about. The romance is a cute subplot, but again, it is not the main focal point of the story.

The only thing I would have to complain about this book was that a lot of the pages that contained Norah’s internal thoughts were overflowing with metaphors and similes. A lot of what Norah would be thinking about was compared to something else. I understand that it is hard to write a book that comprises mostly of the narrators thoughts without metaphors and similes, but I feel as though the book would have benefited more if there was less of this.

Other than that, I highly enjoyed this novel. It, in my opinion, should be required reading of any teenager in high school. It really opens up the subject of mental illness and even shows that it is more common than one may think. Students, and pretty much any one of any age, will learn that they are not alone in reading this book…and I think that’s one of the most important things to remember when you have a mental illness: that you are not alone.

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository