The Halsey Book Tag

Hi, hello, hola. Today I stumbled on the Halsey Book Tag, and in my post-concert nostalgia, I thought—what the hell. I did spend a lot of the concert thinking about how her lyrics seem to fit perfectly with my favorite bookish characters, after all. Now let’s get on with the bookish discussions—monologues—, shall we?

Castle : Your favorite queen

You say that word, queen, and I think—Rose Calloway from Calloway Sisters by K. and B. Ritchie. She is smart, independent, caring, reliable, and although I did not love her to this extent in Kiss the SkyFuel The Fire had me cheering openly for Rose Calloway. I cannot spend this entire post praising Rose, so I’ll be short—she deserves all the love, and all the respect.

Hold me Down : A series you just can’t seem to quit, no matter how hard you try

See, that doesn’t happen to me anymore. I’m an impulsive reader, which means I read whatever I’m in the mood for, and if that means I have 40 books I’m currently reading, and that I most likely won’t finish them all out of boredom, then it’s fine. However, back when I had too much time to kill—how I miss that—, I did continue reading series I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about. The example that comes to mind is the Lux series by J. L. Armentrout. Frankly, I thought it predictable, if not a little dull, and yet… Yet, I finished the series, oddly amused by the main couple. Really, the series was fun, at the end. I just wouldn’t waste time reading it now.

New Americana : The fictional friend group you’d want to be your fight-the-apocalypse squad

The Foxes from All for the Game by N. Sakavic. Not sure if I would want to spend time with Andrew’s lot, because, let’s face it, they’re too extremely dysfunctional to not be extremely scary too, but these guys know danger, and they would be the last ones left standing (if Neil doesn’t run). Fyi, I just finished the series, and although it has all kinds of trigger-warnings, I loved it. I would love to have Dan on my side, even Andrew, and Matt. And Nicky, because what the hell. At least I wouldn’t get bored. Ever.

Drive : A couple that needs to communicate better

Kestrel and Arin from The Winner’s Trilogy by M. Rutkoski. As I write this, I internally wail, because the final book is coming out in about 2 weeks and oh, how I dread it. The second book was amazingly painful, and I can’t wait for my heart to be torn apart again. And for Kestrel and Arin to communicate.

Hurricane : Favorite standalone

Ooh, that’s a tricky one. I’ll settle for Cam Girl by Leah Raeder because it tackles important issues, shifted my world a little and because I would die before I could write like him, but know that I am hesitating with so many others, because how the hell do you expect me to answer such a question.

Roman Holiday : Cutest contemporary couple

Loren and Lily in the Addicted series by K. and B. Ritchie. Lily is adorable enough for both of them, and childhood-friends-to-lovers is the best trope.

Ghost : Most tragic break up

Caroline and West in the Caroline & West duology by R. York. It felt too real, it was too reasonable, why do these two have to be so stubborn, my heart bled a little during book 2.

Colors : One of your faves who hurt you a lot because they make terrible decisions

My son, Adam Parrish. From The Raven Cycle, by M. Stiefvater. And yes, I have adopted him. Sometimes, son, I just don’t agree with your decisions. But I understand, and I love you.

Strange Love : Characters a lot of people don’t get but you absolutely love

I don’t know a lot of people, you know.

Let’s go with Laurent from Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat. It’s cheating, because nobody gets Laurent during book 1. Not a lot of people like him in book 1, either. But then…

In book 2, I fell in love with his character, and trust me, I don’t get him either.

Coming Down : Best sexy time scene

Looking down at the never-ending list of answers I could choose. Leah Raeder knows how to write sex scenes, so I’ll go with Cam Girl, although Black Iris‘s is probably just as good. I’d also like to say—The Prince’s Gambit, chapter 19. Fair warning for adult content, kids.

Haunting : A book or character you’re still thinking about

Lochan Whitely from Forbidden by T. Suzuma still makes me hurt after all this time.

Gasoline : Favorite (self-)destructive character

William Herondale from The Infernal Devices by C. Clare? Andrew Minyard from the All for the Game trilogy? Loren Hale from the Addicted series? I just don’t know.

Control : Best villain

Nnggh. Do you mean worst villain, or the villain I can’t help but love? I’ll go with the former, and that is, Jonathan Randall from Outlander by D. Gabaldon. If you’ve read the book, you know what he’s done, and why he deserves a slow and painful death. (I’m not usually this violent. I think.)

Young God : Characters that secretly worship each other

Ha, ha. That’s easy. Richard Gansey III and Adam Parrish from The Raven Cycle. You know it, I know it. They’re obsessed with each other, they’re jealous of each other, they worship each other. They don’t know it, though.

I Walk the Line : Best retelling/reworking

I’ll have to go with The Song of Achilles by M. Miller. It’s a retelling of The Iliad, in which Patroclus and Achilles are lovers. It is painful, and beautiful, and beautiful.

Is There Somewhere : OTP with obstacles

Ryke Meadows and Daisy Calloway from Calloway Sisters. From the important age gap, to their personal issues, these two have had to work through a lot. God, I feel like a proud mom.

Empty Gold : An OTP that became a NOTP

Juliette and Warner from the Shatter Me trilogy by T. Mafi. Yes, I’ll admit it. I used to worship them. Now, though, meh. Their relationship is crazy unhealthy, and that doesn’t bother me in books that seem to acknowledge it, but in this series, it seems to be glamorizing it.

Trouble : Toxic relationship you ship even though you know better

I don’t know what you mean.

… Neil Josten and Andrew Minyard from All for the Game? Are they toxic for each other? I can’t figure it out.

Ha! Helena and Demetrius from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Does that count?

2015’s top #2

  • “Cam Girl” by L. Raeder

Published on November 3rd

camgirl-coverCam Girl is Elliot Finley Wake (aka Leah Raeder)’s latest book, and it seems to be to be an amplified version of his previous books. Unteachable was provoking, deep, realistic; Black Iris was entrancing, dark, confusing; now we get Cam Girl, a daring, very artistic book exploring the themes of sexuality, gender roles and forgiveness. The book begins when the protagonist has a car accident; you will notice right away the visual imagery, often relating to art, that makes this book stand out, associated with Wake’s already-poetic style. The tale that follows is one of a girl who lost everything. It is awfully eye-opening, casting criticism on social norms and expectations. When I closed this book, I felt an overwhelming love, hope, gratefulness and awe towards art and the universe around me, and these kinds of books, the kinds that make me see a different reality, that changed my world a little, they’re the ones I keep reading for.

“If you tell a story enough times, it sounds like fiction. You don’t feel that visceral throb of resonance with the person who is you, who did the things you did.”

2015’s top 10 #3

(… at last)

  • “Fuel the Fire” by K. and B. Ritchie

Published on April 2nd

Screenshot 2015-03-02 01.56.15

Fuel The Fire is the third book in the Calloway Sisters series, told through Connor and Rose’s points of view. What made this book stand out in my top 10 is mainly that the Ritchie sisters finally have representation, finally chose to tackle an lgbt+ issue, and very effectively so. If I wasn’t entirely charmed by Rose and Connor in Kiss the Sky, Fuel the Fire made me love them more than ever. The plot was unpredictable, the characters were as endearing as ever, and new additions to our gang made this book all the more enjoyable. At the end, putting this book in my top 3 is an absurdly emotional decision, and I don’t regret any of it, because I want to squeeze these characters into a giant hug.

“I’m attracted to people. To the words they speak, to the actions they take, to their full-bodied mannerisms and soulful gaits. I am attracted to people. To impassioned hearts that beat out of sync, the ones that skip a measure, heard in hushed places and violent spaces—I am attracted to people.”

2015’s top 10 #1

  • “The Winner’s Crime” by M. Rutkoski

Screenshot 2015-03-02 01.53.59The Winner’s Crime is the sequel to The Winner’s Curse. Before I go on about how wonderful the second book was, let me say that I mildly liked The Winner’s Curse but didn’t feel very emotionally involved. Paradoxically, my reasons for loving The Winner’s Crime seem to be entirely emotional. The writing is absolutely magnificent, the characters are awfully smart (we have here an intelligent, resilient female protagonist, whom I might love to death), the story is tense from beginning to end, and I don’t think I have ever been this stressed out about a fictional couple’s miscommunication before (and that is saying something, because I have read a lot of those). And finally, what I loved so much about this book, is a complex, captivating political intrigue. That is how high fantasy is done! Politics and doomed romances, well-written, smart characters with good intentions, trying to fight for what they believe, sometimes finding that what they believe might not be worth fighting for… I fell under the charm. This book whisked me away into a fascinating, outlandish world, and really, this is what I expect from fantasy.

“There was dishonor, she decided, in accepting someone else’s idea of honor without question.”

2015’s top 10 #4

  • “Black Iris” by Leah Raeder

Black IrisBlack Iris is a dark, twisted gem of a book, one told with a very poetic, elaborate writing. It’s about revenge, sexuality, mental illness, and a carefully crafted, mysterious story. I don’t want to reveal much about the plot, because the story is told during different spans of time, slowly adding pieces to the puzzle. I was intoxicated by the sensuality in this book, the cynical characters, the constant provocative tone. Reading this book is like dreaming a very dark dream, with all its confusion and venom.

 

“I am not the heroine of this story.

And I’m not trying to be cute. It’s the truth. I’m diagnosed borderline and seriously fucked-up. I hold grudges. I bottle my hate until it ferments into poison, and then I get high off the fumes. I’m completely dysfunctional and that’s the way I like it, so don’t expect a character arc where I finally find Redemption, Growth, and Change, or learn How to Forgive Myself and Others.”

2015’s top 10 #5

  • “Prince’s Gambit” by C. S. Pacat

I’m cheating, but the paperback came out in 2015

Screenshot 2015-04-22 18.37.59Prince’s Gambit is the second book in the Captive Prince trilogy. This trilogy is not for everyone : it contains graphic violence, including sexual violence. The plot revolves around the lives of two princes of two opposed kingdoms, one whom was sent to the other as a slave after having being betrayed by his brother. It’s a violent story, awfully messed-up to say the least, but surprisingly smart. If the first book didn’t have much of an intrigue and relied more on effects of surprise and on the introduction of the fantasy world, Prince’s Gambit finally focuses on plot and characters, revealing an outrageously cunning author pulling the strings. In this sequel, our whole vision of what is happening shifts from what we saw in the first novel, as the protagonist learns more about the ambiguous characters surrounding him, particularly the cold prince he is slowly falling in love with (the slow-burn might kill you). I couldn’t possibly finish this post without mentioning a fun fact about the series that makes me love it even more—the kingdom is homonormative (as opposed to heteronormative).

“I’m sorry,” said Damen.
Laurent gave him a strange look. “Why
would you apologise to me?”
He couldn’t answer. Not with the truth.
He said, “I didn’t understand what being
King meant to you.”
“What’s that?”
“An end to fighting.”

2015’s top 10 #6

  • “The Wrath and the Dawn” by R. Ahdieh

Published May 12th

The wrath and the dawn coverWe’re getting to my ultimate favorites, people. The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, and it is a delicious read. The protagonist, Shahrzad, is a woman who wishes to avenge her friend’s death by the hand of the Caliph of Khorasan by marrying him. Shahrzad is everything I ever wanted a female protagonist to be : strong, determined, smart, compassionate, experiencing moments of weakness, of helplessness. A woman does not have to meet men’s standards of strength to be strong, is something strongly reflected in this book. The setting, a ancient Persia-like world, makes the story all the more delightful : the book makes you travel. What did it for me, strangely, is the logical succession of events in this book : every character has particular weaknesses or strengths that influence the plot at one point or another, and even though these decisions might be ill-advised, you still get attached to the characters, because they always mean well, in their own way. Certainly, Ahdieh’s uncanny, mystical writing made the book all the more splendid.

“So you would have me throw Shazi to the wolves?”
“Shazi?” Jalal’s grin widened. “Honestly, I pity the wolves.”