What I’m Reading
People of the internet, I have read some amazing books. Like, books that have floored me. I can’t wait to tell you about them. The first I loved so much I’m going to embed my Goodreads review/rambling here For Reasons.
And I Darken by Kiersten White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
ALL THE STARS OH MY GOD PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT BOOK I WILL WRITE SOMETHING COHERENT LATER
Okay okay. SO.
AND I DARKEN is a wonderful book–and that’s an understatement. It’s Game of Thrones (minus the dragons/magic/fantasy) meets The Captive Prince Trilogy meets YA in the Ottoman Empire.
There are two hearts of this book.
One is Lada. Holy. Shit. Lada is incredible. I’ve seen people call her a sociopath, but I don’t think she is. She makes brutal decisions with calculated precision. She yearns for the affection of her father. She wants power in a world that doesn’t want to give any to her because she’s a woman, and she finds a way to take it. Her fear of marriage is real. Her love and protection to her brother is gut-wrenching. The moment she learns about woman’s pleasure is eye-opening. Her relationship with Mehmed is hard, twisted, murky. Her dream is a land she calls her own, and her nightmare is a land she finds herself captive in. She is cruel. She is funny. She is loyal. She is lost. Lada is the dragon.
Heart #2 is Radu. Man, Radu. Radu starts out as a crying, fearful little boy. He grows into someone who is still scared, but has gotten his hands dirty, done some saving, but found some measure of peace and safety in Islam. He has found an impossible love, too.
Lada and Radu’s complex sibling relationship is the driving force behind this novel. Sent to the Ottoman court as wards to keep their father (Vlad the Impaler) in line, they both develop differently, despite being side by side. Lada clings to her homeland and hates everything around her, but is desperate to cleave some measure of power for herself. Radu comes to love their new surroundings, meeting new people in and out of the court, and is drawn to Islam. Where Lada is violent, rash, volatile, Radu adapts to the quiet kind of manipulation, where a smile does more than a sword.
It’s fascinating to watch.
I also love that this novel devotes much time to Lada and Radu’s birth and early years. For half the book, Lada and Radu are 12 and 11. It’s a Bildungsroman! It was done so, so, SO well. As much as I love Jane Eyre, I was antsy during those first 100 pages where Jane is a young girl in that awful boarding school. But AND I DARKEN had me gripped from the very first line and all through those beginning pages. It was beautiful too, to experience all those things with Lada and Radu and meet their father and older brother, and then be separated from them like our main characters. There’s a moment late in the book when Lada and Radu have a sweet moment after much angst, and it feels like the reader gets to reminisce and make jokes with them too.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I loved Lada/Mehmed. Their relationship was so messy. But the messiness was not glossed over, excused, or glamorized. When Lada called out Mehmed out about… errmm… things… it was glorious. So were the moments Lada assessed why she hadn’t run away, or where her power came from, or didn’t come from. I felt for her so much. So when she makes her final move at the end, I was rooting for her, despite the fallout and shattering of important relationships.
I could rant on and on about my deep seated love for this book. But I shall attempt to control myself and end it here.
Oh, and btw, I super want a mini series for this incredible book (and sure to be trilogy).
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I’ve never done this before so I hope it looks pretty. Anyway, I LOVED AND I DARKEN to infinity and beyond. I am so ready for the next book. This is definitely one of the books I’m SO glad I got at BookCon. I feel so privileged to have read this book early. Kiersten will be on tour this fall, and I really hope she comes to NYC so I can tell her how much I love her book in person… not that twitter isn’t great.
I also read WHEN WE COLLIDED by Emery Lord. I adore Emery Lord’s writing. She’s one of my idols of contemporary YA. You know what, I’m also rather proud of my Goodreads review of it, so what the hell. Let’s embed ALL THE GOODREADS REVIEWS.
When We Collided by Emery Lord
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I don’t even know what to say. Geez, Lord, you got me again! *wipes tears away*
This book was HARD. I struggled reading it.
I related to both Vivi and Jonah, because of what is going on in my life right now. I started this book the day before my dad’s suicide attempt. I related to Jonah, learning how to be a caregiver, feeling helpless and strung out, and confused. I related to Vivi, her manic and depressive episodes, something I’ve now seen up close and personal, experienced, witnessed.
I’ve been visiting a psych ward for over a week now. There’s a psych ward in this book! And it’s not scary or dark and evil. It’s normal. Parts of my reality are painted into this book with loving detail. Thank you, Emery Lord.
I loved the Daniels, their family friend Ellie, and their darling restaurant staff. I love love love big homey books, with families that are so alive and adorable you want to squish them.
I loved Vivi’s mom, Carrie, who was trying to be the best mom she could.
I loved the observations of friendship–having a word for homesickness and heartbreak, but not one for missing your friends. I love how friendship became the ultimate love story in the end, for Vivi, and it was always her motivation. I would have liked to see more emphasis on it in the beginning, but it was beautifully done towards the end.
The insta love was hard for me to deal with, and so was being in Vivi’s head through her manic and depressive states, but I knew we were always building towards a story about mental illness, and when the climax finally happened and everything came together this book sung. Usually a really good ending/resolution can’t save a book for me, but this did.
I think I’ll have a complicated relationship with this book, but I’ll always be grateful for what it made me feel. And the way it so perfectly came into my life when I needed it most.
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And finally, I wanna talk about LOVE & GELATO by Jenna Welch.
I’ve been excited about this book for awhile, and then when it debuted on the Times list it increased my anticipation for it. I identified a lot with this book, being Italian on my dad’s side and spending a lot of time in Tuscany growing up. I tore through this read in a day. I was so hooked by the characters and the mystery. Take this one to the beach! Warning: it will create an urge for gelato. And then you’ll have to book a ticket to Italia!
What I’m Doing
*Casually swooning over the cute guy that works at the locksmith nearby. Here’s a story.
I read EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU by Nina LaCour some time ago. It was a library book, and I loved it to pieces. As soon as I finished, I bought my own copy from Amazon. I was not home when it was delivered, and instead found one of those official notes that told me I could pick up my package the following day at X location. This was strange, as in the past packages have just been left for me. I was frustrated and anxiously waited for the following day.
Said day came, and I took a walk a few blocks over to apprehend my book. I was not expecting to open the door and come face to face with a veeeeerrrryyy cute boy. My insides turned to jello, as all the love poems like to say. We had a short exchange, I remember saying something about it [my package] being a book, and then zooming out of there with my giddy pounding heart.
So when we had our doorknob changed and needed to make extra copies of the new key, I was happy to run the errand.
Why is there something so adorable about bashful boys who can’t make eye contact? Le siiiighhh.
*I’ve started taking long walks. Ideally I’d like to start running, but I actually really like walking, so who knows, I might just keep walking haha. I can do 4 miles easily, and am trying to increase to 5 this week. I use the app RunKeeper to mark my progress, and it makes me excited about getting fit. I can already feel the benefits. I feel more awake and creative throughout the day. And just generally in a better mood. Elle Woods was right.
*I tried the most AMAZING drink yesterday. Basil pineapple juice! I’m going to tell the world about this drink. Everyone must consume it. It was so good and light and refreshing. I’m in love.
What I’m Thinking About
-Writing a cute locksmith romance, hahahahaha.
-Attending this thing: http://www.lamprophonic.com/amplit-fest/
To go or not to go? That is the question. 😉
-Why is Hamiltome SO GOOD?
What I’m Writing
#FANTASYWIP! I am back at work! I crossed 46k today. And even though I think most of the words were crap, I’m still so happy to have finally made progress. I can’t wait to finish this messy draft and refine some arcs and get it looking pretty.
What I’m Watching
HOLY EVERYTHING. I just watched Poldark.
My life has been changed.
*inserts Aidan Turner’s face everywhere* *Demelza, my loooovvveeeeeee*
I pretty much loved every single thing about it. Everyone must go watch it immediately. It’s on Prime, finally, for your convenience. In a time where everyone seems like they’re trying to be ~dark, edgy, gritty~ like Game of Thrones, I love how this show was not afraid to be hopeful. It was really really good. And I want season 2. Now.
I feel like there was something else I was supposed to mention… perhaps the DCOM marathon over the holiday weekend??? I DVR’d Motocrossed, The 13th Year, Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook Off, and Brink. Love them so much! ❤
That’s all from me for now. Be kind to each other,