Book Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy

Publisher: Amulet Books

Date of Publication: May 2nd, 2017

Dates Read: April 18th – 26th, 2017

Description:

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped … revered … all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Buy It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Note: I received an eARC of Noteworthy from Amulet Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: ★★★★★

I had such high hopes for this book, and I am so glad that it did not let me down.

I absolutely adore Riley Redgate’s humorous, engaging writing. She brought a lot of life to these characters, and she handled more serious discussions with such ease and grace that this entire book as a whole was such a pleasure to read. Topics that are discussed in this book include, but are certainly not limited to: bisexuality, wealth, and a heavy focus on gender roles/norms, as well as a thoughtful and careful discussion that the main character, Jordan, has with herself about her cross-dressing and trans lives. There are a lot more, but I’ll let you read about them in the book instead of hearing it all from me.

I’ve never read any book about a capella before, so serious originality points for that. It was interesting to read bits and pieces of how arrangements work and learn about a capella along with Jordan, though I understood very few of the musical terms. There was enough musical jargon to make the discussions feel real, but not too many to make this book too technical or too hard to follow. Balancing technical terms in novels can be really hard, but I think Redgate nailed it.

Of course, I love almost every single character in this book, especially the Sharpshooters. They all have unique personalities and stories, different lives with vices and virtues and everything in between. They all mess up, they all learn from their mistakes, and yet they make such a dynamic, well-functioning group, that every time there was conflict I itched for them to make up and be pals again. Jordan made for a wonderful main character, with flaws of her own but thoughtful all the same.

Noteworthy definitely picks up the pace closer to the middle of the book. At this point, events just piled one after another and made me sit on the edge of my seat, worrying endlessly about Jordan and the rest of the Sharpshooters. Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, they did – and just when you thought there was a way out, it was taken away like THAT *snap*.

This book made me feel a lot of things: anger, heartache, joy, fear, and my heart beat a bit too fast when things got really intense. Honestly, I read the scene about “manning up” right before I went to bed, and I couldn’t sleep because of how angry I was at this character for saying that. This is what Noteworthy did to my emotions and my sleep schedule. I truly never wanted to put it down.

Overall: A thought-provoking, endlessly entertaining read that I will recommend to everyone in a heartbeat!

 

My Bookish Resolutions: April Update

Hello everyone, and happy Friday!

Today I’m going to be discussing how my bookish resolutions have been working out so far – have I been keeping to them? Have I given up? Read on to find out!

Resolution 1: Read Every Day

Ha. Ha. Ha. As you have likely clearly seen, I haven’t been reading every day until recently. You know, school’s the usual excuse. I have, however, created a new schedule for myself that involves reading at 9 o’clock to calm myself down enough to go to bed at 10. I haven’t been following it perfectly, but it’s better than nothing!

Resolution 2: Read More Sequels

The only sequel that I have read this year is Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton, which I am still currently reading. I’ve had a lot of ARCs that I’ve wanted to get to, and I don’t read quickly enough to get through them all in a short amount of time.

Resolution 3: Buy Only Sequels

This is one resolution that I’ve actually been pretty good about! I’ve only bought 3 books this year: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard, and Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch. While ACoW is technically not a sequel, it is a spinoff from The Star Touched Queen, so I counted it as a sequel (my love for Chokshi made me break this rule tbh). I’m pretty proud of myself for only buying 3 books this year!

Resolution 4: Use the Library

I actually have been good about this, too, borrowing Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton before reading TttT. That’s pretty much it, though I plan to use it a lot more for other hyped books.

Resolution 5: Don’t Pressure Yourself with a Reading Goal

LOL I’ve already surpassed my reading goal of 3 by reading 4 books, which makes me very happy. It’s kind of freeing, in a way – and it’s fun to see the percent bar go above 100%. A false sense of accomplishment to make me feel like I’m being productive!


Did you make any bookish New Year’s Resolutions? How are they going for you? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope that you have a wonderful day!

~ Becca

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

DISCLAIMER: this review was originally written and posted to my booklr (bookish tumblr) on FEBRUARY 7th, 2015, and is being archived on this blog. This review contains my thoughts on the book at the time that I read it, but I have not re-read it since then, so my feelings about the content may have changed.

 

RPO.jpg

Publisher: Crown/Archetype Publishing

Date of Publication: June 5th, 2012

Dates Read: January 2nd – February 6th, 2015

Description:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

But It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

My Rating: ★★★★★

This book.

The plot was intriguing, with unpredictable twists that never failed to keep me on the edge of my seat. It had a good pace for the most part, too. If anything, there were some parts that were kind of slow, but they were mostly informational, so I could understand why they were necessary. Nonetheless, I never wanted to put it down, even though I had a test to study for. No regrets.

I really dug the characters, as well. I worried about them and called them my babies and got quite attached. They were snarky and fun and had their problems but were human and stupid and clever and I just loved this group so much.

I also loved all the 80’s pop culture references, some of which I understood, while others I had to read the explanations for. Honestly, the whole premise of the book was so neat to me. I grew up hearing about all this stuff from my parents, aunts, and uncles, and it was cool to read about it in action.

Sorry I don’t have more to say, but words cannot describe my feelings for this book. It was so so so so so good. So good. Shoutout to my boyfriend for letting me borrow it from him!

Overall: Definitely one of my favourites. Makes me want to read more sci-fi!

Ten Bookish Places I Want to Visit

It’s a big world that we live in, which means that there are a wide variety of shops and libraries to visit around the globe! Today I’ll be listing some of the places that I would love to visit, though this list is by no means exhaustive – I had to cut it down so I wouldn’t ramble on forever. As always, I welcome all suggestions for bookstores and libraries around the world that I should consider visiting – you may even introduce me to a new favourite!

Libraries

Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

I remember seeing this Colosseum-like building when I went to Vancouver about seven years ago (yikes!), but had no idea what it actually was until now. The architecture is what makes this building really neat, although I’m sure it also holds many gems inside. You can find out more information on the Vancouver Public Library website, and see the building on their Flickr!

Biblioteca Vasconcelos in Mexico City, Mexico.

The images I’ve seen of this library make it seem like a floating city of books. It’s a very angular library, lots of straight edges and modern decor – well, except for the white whale skeleton, which looks tiny compared to the enormity of the library itself. According to Rebecca O’Connell at Mental Floss, in 2015 the library held about 470,000 books, but the shelves weren’t all that full back then, another testament to its grandeur. I bet it holds more tomes now than it did back then.

The Library of Admont Abbey in Austria

Admont Abbey
Inside the Library of Admont Abbey (photo from the Stift Admont website)

This library is the epitome of Baroque style, with ceiling frescoes, limewood carvings, gold accents, and white surfaces to optimize the light. According to their website, the library holds 70,000 books of the 200,000 owned by the abbey. There are no barriers, and apparently you can tour the space without a guide! If I ever get to go here, I might have a Belle a-la Beauty and the Beast moment.

Delft University of Technology Library in the Netherlands

 

What I really like about this building is that most of it is underground. Delft University of Technology’s library has a living roof (of grass), and a giant skylight that points into a cone above ground. The inside has a modern feel, which I’ve come to expect from the Netherlands, and lots of different rooms for students to study in. Find out more info on their website, and see pictures on their Flickr!

Biblioteca Joanina at the Universidade de Coimbra in Portugal

Biblioteca Joanina
Inside Biblioteca Joanina (photo from the Universidade de Coimbra website)

Built between 1717 and 1728, Biblioteca Joanina holds rare, old books that can only be accessed by researchers, though the library itself is open to visitation by the public. It’s quite opulent, to say the least, with teakwood doors, gold-guilded decorations, and oakwood shelves that they claim deter pests from ruining the collection. Plus, they’ve got bats to help further protect the collection! How cool is that? You can read more about this gorgeous library on the Universidade de Coimbra website!

 

Bookstores

The Strand Bookstore in Manhattan, New York, USA

The Strand is one of those bookstores that I hear a million and one people talk about. It’s one of those bookstores that I swear is on every American/Canadian bookworm’s bucket list. They buy and sell books in their huge facility, claiming to have “18 miles of books”. I think I heard about this store in Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, and ever since then I’ve wanted to visit it. Maybe next time I’m in New York, though I don’t know when that will be… Find out more about this shop from their website!

Owl’s Nest Bookstore in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

This cute used bookstore is nestled in Canada’s East Coast, and is a favourite of locals and visitors, alike. At first glance it doesn’t look like much, but they’ve managed to pack a lot of books in this small shop. I can definitely see myself spending a lot of time here, just browsing through all the shelves and finding some hidden gems. I really love exploring quaint bookstores. Check out their Facebook page for more info.

Ben McNally Books in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ben McNally
Inside Ben McNally Books (from the Ben McNally Books website)

The inside of this bookstore is full of wooden decor and cozy leather chairs to curl up in. The decor is gorgeous, extending to the elegant artwork on the ceilings. They say that their shelves are always changing, that the owner and workers are open to new suggestions and always ready to help readers find something new.

Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon

Powell’s is another one of those stores that I hear about on Twitter, and is in many of those “places you have to visit!” lists for bookworms. Settled in Portland, Oregon, it boasts the title of the largest new and used bookstore in the world – so, really, it’s no wonder that everyone seems to want to visit!

El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, Argentina

This is another bookstore that ends up on many bookish bucket lists – and, obviously it’s on my list, so I can’t blame everyone for wanting to visit. Buzzfeed even wrote an article about it! This bookstore is a repurposed theatre, with seating and a cafe on the stage and stacks of books where the seating used to be. You can check out photographer Niels Micker’s photos of it on Flickr. Talk about Instagram-able!


 

Thank you for reading, and remember to leave your dream libraries and bookstores down below in the comments! Have a wonderful Monday ❤

~ Becca

Book Review: Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes

DISCLAIMER: this review was originally written and posted to my booklr (bookish tumblr) on FEBRUARY 16th, 2015, and is being archived on this blog. This review contains my thoughts on the book at the time that I read it, but I have not re-read it since then, so my feelings about the content may have changed.

Gathering Darkness

Publisher: Razorbill

Date of Publication: December 9th, 2014

Dates Read: January 17th – February 16th, 2015

Description:

Prince Magnus has just witnessed torture, death, and miracles during the bloody confrontation that decimated the rebel forces. Now he must choose between family and justice as his father, the cruel King Gaius, sets out to conquer all of Mytica. All Gaius needs now are the Kindred – the four elemental crystals that give godlike powers to their owner. But the King of Blood is not the only one hunting for this ancient, storied magic…

• THE KRAESHIANS join the hunt. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the wealthy kingdom across the Silver Sea, charm and manipulate their way to the Kindred, proving to be more ruthless than perhaps even the King of Blood himself.

• THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo and vengeful Jonas lead them, slaying with sweetness, skill, and a secret that can control Lucia’s overpowering magic – all so they can use the Kindred to win back their fallen kingdoms.

• THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally in the flesh with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia’s powers to unveil the Kindred.

The only certainty in the dark times is that whoever finds the magic first will control the fate of Mytica… but fate can be fickle when magic is involved.

Buy It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Morgan Rhodes is going to kill me with her books, I swear. I have always enjoyed her writing style and world building. And her characters, well, they’re so complex that I actually like the guy that most people hate.

AND MY OTP. THEY KISSED. THAT PROBABLY MEANS ONE OF THEM IS GOING TO DIE SOMETIMES DURING THE NEXT 3 BOOKS AND I DON’T THINK I’M PREPARED FOR THAT.

But as much as I enjoyed it, it didn’t quite earn 5 stars as the last 2 books had. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I feel like something is lacking in this book. That, and there is just so much going on at once that sometimes it’s a little hard to keep track of.

But yeah, if this is a milder version of Game of Thrones, then I will probably never read GoT. So much dying in this series. I can barely handle it.

Overall: Kind of meh at some points, but still a great read. My love for Morgan Rhodes knows no bounds.

March 2017 Wrap Up

Hello everyone! It is now officially April, and does anyone else think that March went by really quickly?

Today I am bringing you my very short March wrap up! As you may or may not have noticed, I accidentally went on a little unannounced hiatus because I lost a bit of control over my time management and homework, which is why this is going to be a baby of a post. Here’s hoping I stop doing that!

Books I Read:

Currently Reading:

  • Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton – I just started it, so there’s not much that I can say about it. I’m slowly working my way through the list of ARCs that I am immensely behind on.
  • The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco – I’m also not very far into this one, and I haven’t read enough to form a great opinion.

Miscellaneous:

 


 

That’s it! Like I said, short and sweet. I apologize for disappearing, but I’m working on my time management skills right now, and hopefully that won’t happen again for a while. I guess it also helps that my term has ended! Ha!

I hope you all have a wonderful day, and expect another post from me on Wednesday. Thanks for sticking around!

~ Becca