A Youthful & Personal Perspective on the Partition of India - The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani Review

Friday, March 9, 2018
The Night Diary Review

I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Dial Books!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

Historical fiction has been one of my go to genres since I first started reading (though it admittedly has been a bit sidelined by fantasy of late), and one of the reasons I've always loved it so much is that it offers the chance to experience events and societies of the past. The Indian partition is not a topic I'm well versed in, in fact, besides the American Revolution, I'm not extraordinarily well-versed in any historical periods (thanks American school system...), so I immediately jumped on the chance to have a literary introduction to the subject.

Synopsis & Details:

In the vein of Inside Out and Back Again and The War That Saved My Life comes a poignant, personal, and hopeful tale of India's partition, and of one girl's journey to find a new home in a divided country It's 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been read more... separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders.

Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn't know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it's too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can't imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together.

Told through Nisha's letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl's search for home, for her own identity...and for a hopeful future.

Title: The Night Diary
Series: N/A
Author: Veera Hiranandani
Publication Date: March 6th 2018
Genres: Historical, Middle Grade

The Night Diary is about a young half-Muslim, half-Hindu girl,

who, along with her family, undertakes the perilous journey from her home, in what is now Pakistan, to a newly redefined India. Nisha is the perfect narrator for this novel and the situation it handles. Her youthful intelligence and confusion at the violence and mob-mentality forming around her, really highlights the futility and tragedy of the situation.

History is filled with countless tragedies and atrocities, but today, when we discuss them, we tend to only concern ourselves with the bigger picture,

neglecting all the individual sufferings that amalgamated into such a tragedy. Novels like The Night Diary help remind us of these individuals and their personal sufferings that vast historical events tend to hide from view, they help us see history with a more empathic light.

Speaking of empathy, I quickly grew attached to Nisha and her family.

I don't want to go too in depth about their journey because spoilers, but it was honestly so heartbreaking. Nisha and her family really felt like real, living, breathing people, and I couldn't help but sob as they suffered, and happy cry as they prevailed. I don't know how Veera Hiranandani did it, but her characters have touched me so deeply. It's a bit too early to say for certain, but The Night Diary will likely be one of my favorite books of 2018.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

What's your take on how we interact with history? What things do you think we need to change?
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About the Author
Picture of Veera Hiranandani Veera Hiranandani earned her MFA in creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She is the author of The Whole Story of Half a Girl, which was named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book and a South Asian Book Award Finalist. A former book editor, she now teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College's Writing Institute and Writopia Lab.
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Mermaids, Matchmakers, and College - The Sweetest Kind of Fate by Crystal Cestari Review

Sunday, March 4, 2018
The Sweetest Kind of Fate Review

I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Disney-Hyperion!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

*dusts off blog* I can't believe how long it's been since I've written a review-only post. I've just been so focused on my new "book essays" format recently, and school has also been a lot more intensive this year. Last time I posted one I was still on summer break (how I miss summer break...). But that's enough of my complaining, let the reviewing commence.

Synopsis & Details:

Amber Sand, legendary matchmaker, couldn’t be more surprised when her arch nemesis, Ivy, comes asking for her help. Ivy’s sister, Iris, is getting married, and Ivy wants to prove her sister is making a huge mistake. But as Amber looks into Iris's eyes, there doesn’t seem to be a problem— read more... Iris has clearly found her match.

It seems happily ever after is in the cards, but when Iris seeks out a dangerous, life-altering spell, it’s up to Amber and Ivy to set aside their rivalry and save the day.

While Iris is willing to put everything on the line for love, Amber continues to wrestle with her own romantic future. Her boyfriend, Charlie, is still destined for another, and no matter how hard she clings to him, fear over their inevitable breakup shakes her belief system to the core.

Because the Fates are never wrong—right?

Title: The Sweetest Kind of Fate
Series: Windy City Magic #2
Author: Crystal Cestari
Publication Date: February 13th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

I read and loved The Sweetest Kind of Fate's predecessor, The Best Kind of Magic,

when I was still an itty bitty freshman, so I thought it'd be interesting to revisit the series and its world a year later as a sophomore and see if my opinions of it have changed, and they have a bit.

I'm not sure if it's me or Amber who's changed, but in The Sweetest Kind of Fate, I felt like her voice was a tad childish.

In the novel, she's supposed to be a high school senior about to graduate, but to me, she sounded more like an eighth grader or freshman, so everytime college applications were brought up, I experienced a little jolt of: "oh yeah, she's a senior".

What remained the same though, was my adoration of Crystal Cestari's romantic plotlines.

Romantic conflict is usually the bane of my reading experience, as it can be so dreadfully formulaic and frustrating. But Cestari takes full advantages of her main character's matchmaking abilities to create a unique romantic problem: Amber is sure she and her boyfriend, Charlie, are meant to be, but everytime she looks into his eyes, she is reminded that she is not his one true match. Adding this matchmaking element to the mix removes the predictableness that can be seen in a lot of fictional romantic relationships, a trait I am more than happy to see absent.

Speaking of fictional tropes, the quintessential queen bee mean girl, Ivy, returns once again in The Sweetest Kind of Fate,

and thankfully, this time she receives some much needed character development. In the first novel, Ivy is basically a carbon copy of that typical mean girl archetype that annoyingly claws its way into all media about high school these days. But, in the second installment, her shiny exterior is peeled back a bit to reveal a more sympathetic and arguably more realistic interior.

One character that assists in Ivy's humanizing, is her newly introduced sister, Iris. Iris's romantic troubles with her girlfriend, Brooke, are originally presented as the main conflict of the story, but the The Sweetest Kind of Fate ends up spending very little time on their actual issues, so when their problems are resolved, the resolution feels a bit rushed and anticlimactic.

All in all, The Sweetest Kind of Fate is a cohesive and capable sequel to its predecessor, but I did end up enjoying it a little less, whether that be the fault of the novel or my changes in taste.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Have you ever returned to a series to find that you no longer love it as much as you once did?
About the Author
With rainbows in my hair and stories in my head, I am a writer drawn to magic in the everyday world. My debut novel, The Best Kind of Magic, arrives May 16, 2017 from Hyperion. Follow Amber Sand, a magical matchmaker who can actually see true love, as she takes off on a fun and romantic adventure toward happily ever after.

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Don't Forgive the Good Guys - A ‘Rebel Seoul’ Essay + Mini Review

Friday, February 9, 2018
Don't Forgive the Good Guys

Warning: this post has very, very slight Rebel Seoul spoilers, so proceed with caution. However, no major plot points are discussed, so, in my opinion, enjoyment shouldn't be severely affected.

In Axie Oh's Rebel Seoul, the main character's father is, by definition, a suicide bomber.

He died while bombing a government facility when his son, Jaewon, was still very young. His actions and my reaction to them plagued me for days after and caused an interesting question I'd previously pondered to resurface.

This is a good moment to point out that all the opinions and ideas I bring up here are in no way endorsed by Axie Oh, these are just some of the thoughts and revelations I had while reading Rebel Seoul.

Anton Strogonoff / Unsplash

I've always considered suicide bombing to be an unforgivable act.

These people kill indiscriminately, stealing the lives of countless innocent people all in hopes of spreading their message, and no message is worth such senseless slaughter, right?

But when I discovered how and why Jaewon's father died, I felt sympathy, not only for the abandoned son, but also for the dead father.

This reaction of mine both repulsed and intrigued me. Here was something I found so morally wrong, and yet, when done by a character whose cause I both understood and rooted for, I was ready to understand and perhaps even justify.

It shouldn't matter how "good" someone's cause is and it shouldn't matter if they're fighting a clear evil (as the father was), an unforgivable act remains an unforgivable act. But in my initial reaction it did matter.

Jakub Kapusnak / Unsplash
Picture of Korean food

We tend to hold our fictional heroes and villains to different standards,

and often, it seems that villains get the shorter end of the stick oddly enough. When an villain does something a bit morally ambiguous, like say: hold a hero hostage so they can guarantee their own safe escape, it's so easy to label it as an underhanded and dirty tactic. But when a hero does it, like in Avatar: the Last Airbender's Season 3's (view Avatar: The Last Airbender spoiler)escape from Boiling Rock, it's equally easy to justify it. After all, they had no other choice, right? The ends justify the means, am I right?

This line of thinking bothers me a lot, because, in the end, doesn't everyone fancy themselves the hero, and can't anyone believe that their cause is worth it?

Sometimes I feel like we give our heroes and those we share beliefs with too much leeway, we ignore their flaws and only see their positive attributes, but when those very same flaws appear in our enemies, we are so much more willing to condemn them. However, by being more aware of our biases, and by more closely questioning how they influence our reactions, we can perhaps be fairer. After all, people—even the most appalling and abhorrent—are really only made villains through perspective.

I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Tu Books!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh Mini Review

( / Amazon & Goodreads & Book Depository)

Rebel Seoul Cover Snip

Synopsis & Details: After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, read more... Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.

When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.

With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.

Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas in this mind-blowing, New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut.

Title: Rebel Seoul
Series: N/A
Author: Axie Oh
Publication Date: September 14th 2017
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult

Romance and me don't get along, that my friend is an indisputable fact.

I just can't stand the annoyance and the utter frustration of two people who are quite obviously in love but are blind idiots and can't freaking KISS ALREADY (as you can see, I have quite strong feelings on this matter). But crazily enough, I absolutely adored the romantic relationship between Jaewon and Tera. It just worked for me. I don't know why, but it did. Maybe they just have real f*cking good on-page chemistry.

The tech and specifically the giant mechs in this world were also really cool!

Honestly, this book would make such a superb film because it has such an interesting and entrancing setting. Though oddly enough, the world also ended up feeling a tad flat at times, but I think this was more of a me issue. Whenever there isn't in-depth world backstory, I tend to feel like the world-building is a little shallow, but with Rebel Seoul being only a book long, there isn't much room for that sort of stuff. And to be completely honest, if Oh had tried to include it, it'd probably feel stuffed in due to the book's short length.

Brady Bellini / Unsplash

Jaewon is a bit of a "reluctant rebel", which is honestly one of my favorite tropes in dystopian novels.

This reluctance comes from the fact that his father's involvement with rebels eventually resulted in his death, which left Jaewon with a complex and complicated attitude towards the rebels and their cause. This lends him a unique perspective on the conflict and creates some very intriguing internal discord.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Should the "good guys" have some leeway?
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Watching Readers Leave Your Blog Behind

Sunday, January 14, 2018
Watching Readers Leave Your Blog Behind

As you may have noticed, I kinda disappeared from Quartzfeather for a good three months, and while I've told you part of the reason why (school stole my free time), I still haven't disclosed the major cause. This is something I've been struggling with for quite a while, though I never addressed it because it just felt so selfish and petty, but I feel like it's finally time to share.

In the last year, I've seen a lot of readers disappear from Quartzfeather.

These were people I considered myself relativity close to in the book blogging world, but then one by one they just disappeared. I definitely don't blame them for leaving, after all they have no obligation to me or my blog, but nevertheless, it hurt to see them go.

It left me feeling so isolated and useless.

I felt like I was doing everything wrong and I just couldn't seem to figure out how to do blogging right. I lost the motivation to write and I lost the motivation to post, I just wanted things to return to how they were before. But at the same time, I felt so silly for caring about my changing readership, and so terribly selfish for holding it against the people who left.

Blogging just lost its shine for me, and I hated that.

A part of me still desperately loved book blogging, but another just didn't. I suppose it's a good thing sophomore year started when it did. School and the work that came along with it, allowed me to tell myself that I just didn't have the time to blog anymore. It allowed me to conveniently ignore the other reason I stopped, to ignore the petty hurt feelings I had. And while I ignored them, they healed just enough for me to start missing blogging.

Sometimes I still feel like begging those people to tell me what I did wrong, why I drove them off,

but accepting how I felt and how I still feel now, instead of trying to suppress and hide the hurt, has been so refreshing. Writing this post was hard, and I suspect publishing it will be even harder, because I still feel so terribly childish and guilty, but nevertheless, I feel like I needed to stop ignoring my feelings to move on.

Have any of you experienced something similar? How do you cope?
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2017 Recap Gazette - The Year of Not Reading All That Much

Thursday, January 4, 2018
Twenty-Seventeen Recap Gazette

In last year's recap, I committed to using a spreadsheet to keep track of everything I read in 2017, and I was doing pretty good with logging books, but then when school started up again, I basically forgot that the spreadsheet even existed... haha I suppose organization of that sort just isn't in my tea leaves....

Number of books read this year: 55

Funnily enough, another thing that I pretty much stopped doing around the same time was reading.... School is just taking up more and more of my time, which I suppose doesn't bode that well for my reading future. I'll just have to find some way to fit more time for reading into my schedule, but that's for 2018 Kai to figure out.... Now onto the good stuff.... (I feel like I've been severely overusing ellipse, whoops.)

For this next part I'll be answering some questions taken from Jamie's End of the Year Survey plus two questions of my very own.

Best Book You Read In 2017?

(decisions this hard should be illegal...)

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

After much intense internal debate, I had to go with Axie Oh's Rebel Seoul. This book wasn't particularly mind-blowing or revolutionary, but it reminded me exactly why I love reading, and for that, it's the best book I've read this year.

(A Sh*t Ton of) Honorable Mentions

  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns I'm usually pretty cautious when it comes to antihero stories, but damn this one did it right....
  • Geekerella I'm a huge sucker for fairytale retellings and god this book just stole my heart away.... *melts*
  • Noteworthy I was definitely a bit cautious going into this book, but it quickly sucked me in, and the tiny album the author made to go along with Noteworthy is so eerily gorgeous!
  • When Dimple Met Rishi When Dimple Met Rishi was so toothacheingly adorable and sweet, and plus, the author is also the sweetest!
  • The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue I mentioned this book as one of my most anticipated in last year's recap, and boy was I right to anticipate it. Gentleman's Guide is a brilliant and wildly amusing romp from start to finish.
  • Strange the Dreamer In Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor masterfully builds a sumptuous and sweeping mythological world that left me breathless and yearning for more.

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

(*hisses* dissssssssssssssssappppointmenntttt....)

The Serpent's Heir by Dean DeBlois

Most of y'all probably haven't heard of this one (in fact, according to Goodreads, it was the least popular book I read in 2017), but it was a book I was really looking forward to.... The Serpent's Heir is a How To Train Your Dragon comic book that picks off right where the second movie ended, and usually I'm wary of these types of continuation works (I've read more than my fair share of crappy ones), but this one was co-written by the director so I though I was safe... but apparently not because The Serpent's Heir ended up feeling quite lackluster and unoriginal *sigh*.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

(whoops, imma rule breaker)

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

So I technically haven't read An Enchantment of Ravens yet, so um I didn't read it in 2017, but would you just look at that cover??? *salivates*

Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2017?

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

I was assigned to read The Namesake during the summer for school, and it really touched and spoke to me. Two of the main characters in the novel immigrate to the United States from Bengal, and reading about their fictional experiences really helped me quantify what my own parents had to go through to provide me with the lifestyle I've grown up with. Reading this book has helped me understand and appreciate my parents so much more and has helped me further embrace my Chinese heritage.

OTP of the Year

(I will go down with this ship!)

Girls Made of Snow & Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

I immediately fell in love with Lynet and Nadia (what would their ship name be??? Lynadia? Nynet?) from Girls Made of Snow & Glass because they are so stinking adorable. There's been a lot more gay rep in YA recently which is GREAT, but the vast majority of it's m/m, so seeing a f/f couple (in a Snow white retelling no less) was so awesome!

Honorable Mention: I know I already listed Klance (Keith and Lance) last year, but haha I've fallen so much deeper into the Voltron fandom in 2017 so I thought it deserved a mention....

Book That Made You The Most Mad?

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

I had to think a while about this one, but ugh Trouble is a Friend of Mine really, really, really pissed me off. The writing and story weren't bad, but *groans* the Asian stereotypes were so terrible.... It was literally hard to read and it reminded me of all the sh*t some people assume of me because of my race, and to make matters worse, the author is Asian herself, so I have absolutely no clue what happened there....

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017?

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane was a such a wonderfully humorous and magical twist on the story of Lady Jane Grey (which is honestly really quite sad) so I can't wait to see what's to come with the next book in the Janies series, My Plain Jane. Though I'll definitely have to read Jane Eyre—the book My Plain Jane is retelling—before getting to this one in 2018.

Favorite Shows & Movies of 2017

(or basically what made me cry the most...)


Did I tear up in all of these? Yes, I did.

A Silent Voice I tear up a lot during movies and shows, but rarely do I ever really start crying, but A Silent Voice is that rare film that had me seriously sobbing. It's a touching and heart wrenching story about bullying, disability, and self-hate that'd I'd recommend to literally everyone.

Your Name This film totally stole my heart with its gorgeous animation and heart-pounding story. While it's not without issues, if you enjoy a good body swap story, then you should definitely give Your Name a shot.

Coco I initially had some worries about this film related to cultural appropriation, but after seeing many Mexicans and people of Mexican descendant give glowing reviews of it, I decided to give Coco a chance, and boy am I glad I did. While it wasn't nearly as much of a tearjerker as I expected, Coco is still a sweet and heartfelt story that emphasizes the importance of family in Mexican culture.

Avatar the Last Airbender I rewatched this show for the first time with my brother over the summer, and I love it as much as ever. A lot of people dismiss Avatar due to its animation format, which is honestly such a shame, because this show handles difficult and complex issues exceptionally well and has characters that are better developed than a lot of live action shows. (I will never get over just how terrible the live action film is though *groans*....)

Favorite Musicians of 2017

Run From Your Love by Khalil Fong

I wasn't a huge listener of music before this year, so this section is wholly brand new. Also if you click on the artist's name, I've linked my favorite of song of theirs.

Troye Sivan Troye Sivan started this all. When I picked up running again during summer break (I still suckkk sadly) I listened to him while getting in my daily mile and then I began listening more and more while doing other stuff like: coding, writing, and reading. His songs are just so beautiful and full of meaning.

Subin Troye may have started my music phase, but Subin is completely responsible for my newer k-pop phase. I fell for her Flower and never looked back. Though, I only like her solo for some reason, none of her work with Dal Shabet interests me.

Khalil Fong I'd been searching for a Chinese song artist for a while when I found this guy. He's technically Chinese-American so his Cantonese ain't the very best (at least according to my ma) but his songs are amazing all the same.

BTS This group is practically unavoidable in the realm of k-pop so I was bound to come across them at one point or another, and a lot of their songs are so terribly catchy so I've got quite a number of them on my playlist.

How was your 2017? Do you have any music to recommend, cause I'm all ears!
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In Life Lately.... - November & December 2017 Gazette

Thursday, December 28, 2017
Quartz Gazette November & December 2017

I promise I love writing these recaps* but ughhhh I keep forgetting to and plus noooo timmeee *sighs harriedly*. I've honestly only found time to breath and type this out because I'm finally on Winter break and it's such an unbelievable relief, but of course, there is still plenty to worry about as per usual.

*So uh, this isn't like the Gazette recaps I usually do, but I'm just trying this new style out, please tell me if you like it or hate it.

Sooo a lot has happened since I last wrote one these thingies....

In the June & July Edition I was still worrying about starting sophomore year, and here I am, half way through my tenth year, it's so weird....

Tenth grade has definitely been a lot more intensive than freshman year, and as expected, the worst offenders are Chemistry and World History AP.

Chemistry is just plain perplexing (and my teacher doesn't exactly help that fact) and World History has a sh*t load of homework (one week we had to read and take notes on 35 pages of our textbook, and I did it all in one day cause procrastination *cries*). But aside from that, it hasn't been as bad as I thought.... I mean, I actually kinda enjoy math this year (or at least I don't dread it with the fire of a thousand burning suns anymore) and that's mostly cause my teacher is freaking amazing!

In other news, I have a new crush....

I'm not sure if I ever talked about my first one here, but yep, this one's only my second.... Lol, I still don't understand how my brain works on such matters, though, I guess no one really does.... As usual, I stand next to no chance with the subject of my hormonal desires and I'll just have to settle with languishing in my heart's unfortunate lack of common sense. I honestly thought I could escape high school without going through another train-wreck of a crush because I'd managed to get away crush-less last year, but alas, it appears my hopes were in vain....

P.S. This post was embarrassingly short, but I have a year recap coming out soonish so look out for that!

Got any past crush stories? Or maybe you're in the same hairy place as me... Either way I'd love to rant about crushes together.
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I have a problem, I hoard posts

Monday, November 6, 2017
I have a problem, I hoard posts

Hey y'all! Sorry for disappearing without warning for three weeks. I had multiple posts ready to be published in my drafts, but for some reason it never crossed my mind to post them (which I suppose just further proves the title....), anyway, I finally bit the bullet and pulled this one out and polished it up for you guys. I hope you enjoy! (Also this post was written in the summer so circumstances have changed a wee.)

I'm not sure when this started exactly, but it's gotten really annoying lately....

As many of you have probably already figured out, I typically post once a week on either Saturday or Monday. This schedule works pretty well for me during the school year when I don't have nearly as much free time as I do currently, but ever since school let out for summer break, I've written quite a number of posts, and they're all currently sitting in my drafts, doing nothing.

According to my weird-ass brain, I'm apparently saving them for something, but I honestly don't know what that something is....

I guess this can all be traced back to my irrational fear that one day I'll have nothing to post when Saturday and Monday roll around, but like, even I can acknowledge how stupid that is. I mean, if I need more posts, I can just write more, or if I ever get burned out, I know I can just take a break, but my brain doesn't seem to understand that?

So yeah, right now I have about ten completely finished, unpublished reviews and discussions that could literally be posted at this very moment, but because of some odd reasoning, I just won't.... And that's not even all of it....

Whenever I finish a post that I'm particularly proud of instead of scheduling it like a normal human being,

I'll proceed to just sit on it for like all of eternity, endlessly waiting and waiting for that perfect day to post it that won't ever really come. I've somehow gotten it into my head that if I post something at the "wrong time" everyone will, for some mysterious reason, flat out ignore it, and that's kinda my worst fear. I know I shouldn't care about stats, comments, shares, and yada yada, but it really does suck to see something you worked so hard on get little to no attention.

I haven't really come up with any solution for this, though I guess you could always force yourself to schedule stuff, but I was hoping that writing this post would help me recognize and resolve this weird little habit of mine. So uh here's to hoping that my brain realizes how stupid it's being....

Am I the only one who suffers from "chronic post-hoarding syndrome"? Do you have any tips for beating it?
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What about Retellings Makes Me Love Them So Much? - A (Non-Spoiler) Girls Made of Snow & Glass Discussion + Mini Review

Saturday, October 14, 2017
What about Retellings Makes Me Love Them So Much?

If you've stuck around Quartzfeather long enough, you're probably already aware that I'm a HUGE retellings junkie. So Girls Made of Snow and Glass being one of my most anticipated books of 2017 comes as a surprise to a grand total of no one. After finally finishing (and loving) the book, I couldn't get this one question out of my head: "What about retellings makes me love them so much?".

By all means, I shouldn't like them as much as I do.

Typically I despise genres that are essentially filled with the same basic story structure and story elements repeated over and over again, with only a couple of things—like setting and characters—swapped out. That gets tiring really fast (*side eyes dystopian*). But the entire premise of retellings is that they're based on preexisting and usually very well established stories. So, what's up?

Girls Made of Snow and Glass, being a retelling of Snow White, contains many of the elements of the original story,

such as: the titular princess's all important association with snow, the evil queen/stepmother's connection with mirrors, and the classic death-like sleep. However, at the same time, the author, Melissa Bashardoust, also includes many elements that are entirely unique to her work, like: a mysterious curse that needs resolving, political and social issues concerning a north-south divide, Mina's (the Evil Queen figure) glass heart, and best of all, Lynet (the Snow White figure) gets a female love interest.

Nico Benedickt / Unsplash
Picture of a snowy castle

By the way, these random photos I've scattered throughout the post are like aesthetics of the book. I'm just trying this out so tell me if like or dislike them!

I suppose you could argue that this what a lot of dystopian authors do too: throw in some new plot points here and there, add an original geopolitical conflict, and change up the characters representing the basic genre archetypes, but, upon closer inspection, I'd like to argue that these two scenarios are actually slightly different, even though on the surface they certainly don't look it.

When I start reading a retelling, I'm not expecting originality.

I've approached this book already knowing it's basic plot structure, and perhaps even seeking that odd comfort that comes with familiarity. Fairytales are a cornerstone of basically every childhood, so getting to see one redone and refitted for your current reading level is always exciting. Plus, the original fairytales I grew up with—Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen (sorry, my childhood was pretty Disney-less)—were pretty barebones stories, making them a perfect canvas to be built upon.

Daniel Burka / Unsplash
Picture of the southern palace

The plot may not be wholly original, but a good retelling always incorporates fresh and distinctive details, further fleshes out the original story, and sometimes even contains the author's own unique perspective on the fairytale they're retelling, as most everyone has different childhood memories and emotions tied to them.

The dystopian genre lacks this feature.

There really is no set story structure backbone for dystopian, or at least not a particularly well-defined one, and it being a rather recent phenomenon means that very few will have such strong emotional connections to the genre.

For young adult at the very least, you could argue that The Hunger Games does serve as a backbone of sorts, as seen by the unnecessary amount of love triangles that the genre as a whole now possesses thanks to a certain forebearer (*cough* Team Peeta for life *cough*), but it really isn't universal enough or ingrained enough to fully act as one. So, when we see a repetitive trope in dystopian, instead of viewing it as a salute to the original story or as a fun easter egg as we do in retellings, we mark it off as a sign of unoriginality and as proof of the terrible level of inbreeding within the genre.

Aaron Burden / Unsplash
Picture of a snowflake

That's not to say that unoriginality or repetitiveness can't affect retellings either.

If I read too many retellings of say: Cinderella (that one seems to be really popular lately) in a row I will start getting bored. No matter how much of their own personal flair an author adds, the same basic story will always look the same, even when dressed up in a new fancy dress (ha). Which is why my own personal philosophy on retellings is to keep them relatively sparse, and only approach them when I'm in the mood for what they offer, no matter how much I adore them.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust Mini Review

( / Amazon & Goodreads & Book Depository)

Girls Made of Snow and Glass Cover Snip

Synopsis & Details: Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d read more... always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

Title: Girls Made of Snow & Glass
Series: N/A
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Publication Date: September 5th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, Romance, Young Adult
Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Flatiron!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

I agonized for days over my ARC request email before finally biting the damn bullet and hitting send cause just the thought of it was giving me jitters. After a couple of months, I'd long lost hope, but then, one day, a copy showed up on my doorstep, and it was like love at first sight. It's honestly kind of embarrassing how fond and careful I was with the book, it legitimately felt like one of the most precious things I owned. However, that also had some unintended side effects....

I'd built up the hype for Girls Made of Snow and Glass so high, that I was super terrified that the actual thing would disappoint me,

but my concerns proved to be in vain. While the book does start off a bit slow, the unraveling mystery and intriguing characters quickly pulled me in. Lynet and Mina are just such interesting contrasts of each other and their relationship felt incredibly real due to it's complexity.

Melissa Bashardoust reshapes the well-known story of Snow White to focus on the compelling dynamic between the evil queen and her stepdaughter,

carefully giving both of them their own complex backstories and motivations. She keeps enough of the original tale to retain that fairytale magic, but tweaks just enough to give her rendition a fresh feel. In case I haven't already made it abundantly clear (which I certainly have, probably much to the annoyance of many of y'all), I absolutely loved Girls Made of Snow and Glass, but as with most cases, I still have a bone to pick with it, even if it's a really, really tiny bone. (view spoiler)Lynet did end up feeling a tad overpowered at times. Everything just came so easily to her after she ran away because of her ability to manifest ANYTHING (and I mean absolutely anything) from snow, which is practically inescapable in the perpetually winter north. I suppose, that was kind of unavoidable, but it kind of ticked me off a bit for some reason.... Oh well, there I go being irrational again....

Jan Tielens / Unsplash
Picture of the southern palace dome

Girls Made of Snow and Glass's summary markets it as being like Disney's Frozen, which honestly caught me a little off guard at first, cause you know, different fairytales. But, after reading the book, I must admit that the parallels are definitely there: a strong emphasis on female relationships, ice magic, and a wintery setting. However, Girls Made of Snow and Glass has a decidedly darker tone—hence the comparison to The Bloody Chamber—and its world is much more fleshed out than Frozen's, which is expected considering the different mediums.

I will say though that you don't need to like Frozen to like this book.

I honestly am not a huge fan of Frozen (it's one of my least favorite of Disney's recent-ish works), but I still adored Girls Made of Snow and Glass. They may share many similarities, but they're still quite different in tone and purpose.

Do you love retellings too? Do you hate them? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter!
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