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Random Readings: Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo

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Let's be real: there's nothing cooler than a world where magic exists.

This little blogger watched, not too long ago, the new Harry Potter universe film: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Other than being a heavenly blast from the past and waking the dormant Harry Potter fan in, it left me thirsty for magical narratives. And, well... you can guess where that took me, didn't you?

(In case you're wondering what I thought of the film, I really enjoyed it and I'm desperate for more!!)

Feel welcome to express your thoughts and disagree (politely) in the comment section (discussion is always fun!!), but no opinion bashing will be allowed! Do remember the rating is my own opinion, which may differ from yours!

Carry On

YA Literature
AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell
GENRES: Romance; LGBT+; M-M Romance
TOPIC HIT? YAAAAS 👍

Eyyyy here goes another one of those books my friends had been insisting for aeons I should read, and really, after losing my homo-literature virginity to Captive Prince, I decided it was way past time I actually picked this book up.

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen. That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right. Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here -- it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

If you follow my reviews on... well, anything, really, you'll know I'm the biggest sucker in the universe for hate-to-love romances. I'm a druggie, an addict, a gonner. There's nothing you can do to cure this, and I'll come forth and admit it is my biggest weakness (there, I just gave the world something to hold over me.) So naturally, Carry On drew me in like a magnet. And your telling me it comes with a magical THE CHOSEN ONE narrative with Harry Potter-ish elements as a bonus? Choo-choo mon ami, I'm hopping onto this train. 
Carry On settled comfortably inside my heart very quickly. It has witty humour, lovable characters, and a genuinely interesting story going on that isn't just there as a complement to the romance. In the end I found myself flipping the pages anxiously, excited to find out how our heroes would save the day and find closure.
I heard a lot of people acuse it of being a Harry Potter rip off... which, well, I can't deny, because for the first few chapters I constantly kept comparing the two, and gosh it's hard not to view Simon and Baz as Harry and Draco (yes Drarry fans, this is the Heaven you always wanted but never got), but honestly Carry On is a parody take-on every CHOSEN ONE narrative out there. The similarities end at the superficial level, and once you're a few chapters in you'll stop thinking about it because the book does have it's own story.
But alas! Carry On is not without flaws. Even though the magical world it builds is engaging, the story gets a bit too hooked up on the romance and forgets to neatly tie off the Great Big Problem our heroes were struggling against. There was a certain character I ended up thinking was completely useless to the story as a whole, and details I felt hadn't been properly addressed. It's not entirely without resolution, of course not; it does have a proper ending, but after you close the book and get over the stupid giddy feeling of happiness the final chapter leaves you with (because if you're not smiling stupid by the end of it you must not be human) you can't help but think "hey wait a minute, what happened to this-that-and-the-other?" So even though I am desperate to send you all off to read this one, I do admit I can't give it a Bananas rating.

RATING

‘Tis good stuff, methinks


The Rest of Us Just Live Here

YA Literature
AUTHOR:  Patrick Ness
GENRES: Fantasy; Paranormal
TOPIC HIT? Nope 👎

Carry On left me thirsty for more teenage comedy with a touch of drama, so when I saw a novel by Patrick Ness (the genius behind one of my all time favourite trilogies, Chaos Walking), there was little I could do to stop myself.

What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions...

This novel din't turn out to be exactly what I was expecting. I wanted zombie fun. I wanted funny save-the-world stories with average protagonists, trying their best to struggle through an apocalypse. But that's not really what I got...
The entire fantasy plot of The Rest of Us that Live Here is a clever metaphor for dealing with the shit someone else is responsible for crapping in your back yard, but having to deal with it because, well, it's your freaking backyard. It's not that the fantasy isn't real. It is real, in the world of the book. It's just this isn't the rainbows and butterflies parody take on The Chosen One type narrative I was hoping for, and it was a pretty harsh slap in the face.
The Rest of Us that Live Here is the slice-of-life story of Mikey, his issues with anxiety, and the disorders he lives with. It's the story of how he and his friends overcome the hardships the world keeps throwing at them, and it is a ridiculously heavily emotional book that reaches out to acknowledge teenage mental illness. Is it funny? Yes, sometimes, but before picking up this book bear in mind that's not really what you're in for. It's the sort of ride you might need to steel yourself for.
I think my issue with The Rest of Us that Live Here wasn't the themes themselves —because they are stunningly clever— or the writing —because Patrick Ness is a genius when it comes to transmitting emotions—, but the fact that it didn't fit the mood I was looking for. I picked up this book at the wrong time. It gripped me and moved me to tears, but I wasn't really up for an angsty ride, so though I get the feeling that under other circumstances I would've praised it high and low, I don't feel too passionate about it.

RATING

Give it a go(?)


Labyrinth Lost

YA Literature
AUTHOR: Zoraida Córdova
GENRES: Fantasy; LGBT+; F-F Romance
TOPIC HIT? So-so 👋

I know it looks like I'm purposely picking out LGBT+ books, but I'm really not... (And even if I was, I can't really say that's a bad thing. Diversity, people. Diversity.)

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives. Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation...and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin. The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...

Ohhhh my Goddddd It was such a struggle to finish this book. It had all the right ingredients to easily gain a special spot in my heart, but I ended up regretting picking this one up. It wasn't that it was predictable, or boring... it just felt incredibly bland, too saturated for something so short. Ale goes on some pseudo 'Alice in Wonderland' adventure to rescue her entire family (which she has spirited away to the land of the not-so-dead), and meets wayyyy too many side-characters, and is wayyyy too conveniently powerful, and the bad guys are wayyyy too superficial.
First of all, I have a thing against stories where people try and force something on a protagonist that they don't want. Throughout the novel Ale repeatedly insists she doesn't want her power, that she wants to live a normal life, and sure, the main reason for this is because she fears it will hurt the people around her, but I absolutely detested how her family never actually tried to understand why she was having such a hard time. Her sister just puts her down and the lesson to be learnt is "you gotta deal with what you've been given." Yeah, sure, play The Lion King soundtrack in the background, it's great to teach people about their responsibilities, but did her family have to be such a bitch about it? Why couldn't anybody sit down with her and try to understand why she hated her power so much? (rant rant rant rant.)
I will, however, praise Córdova's world crafting skills, and her attention to the details in the bruja traditions and their cantos (spells). I can't say I recommend this book, though... the characters felt flat like pancakes, and I didn't get attached to a single one of them. In the end I didn't even care about the outcome of the story, nor am I interested in reading the sequel.

RATING

Well, maybe if you’re drunk?


Conclusions

I feel a bit disappointed with my hunt this time around. The only real hit was Carry On, and though The Rest of Us that Live Here was an entertaining ride, it wasn't what I was up for when I picked it up. Maybe I should just re-read the Harry Potter books if I'm in such thirst for magic... Either way, I don't think I'll be setting aside this genre yet, so if you have any recommendations, shoot away in the comments section my lovelies!
And of course, if you've read any of these three books and would like to share your thoughts on them with me, feel free to do so! See you next time °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°


Make sure to read the About Kira Kira and F.A.Qs pages before commenting so that your comments may follow the rules of the blog!


Posted on: 05/04/2017



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