Wandering Thoughts: Things That I Want To Add In My Reviews But No Can Do

Image: Kaboompics

Wandering Thoughts is where I let my mind stray, think and talk about non-routine things. This is an avenue for bookish personal stories, fun posts, musings and discussions.

When I read reviews from reviews sites and fellow book bloggers, I sometimes stumble upon stuff that I find so pretty or brilliant or important that I want to also incorporate them with my own book reviews. I want to emulate them because they make their reviews so extra. Being extra means you love what you’re doing. Being extra shows passion. But most of the time, I end up not doing these things in my reviews because either I actually cannot do them myself or I could do them if I really try but it would eat up too much time. So here are some of the special stuff other people have in their reviews that I wish I have in mine but no can do.

  1. Book photography

    Image: Pixabay
    I cannot for the life of me take decent photos of anything. I have shaky hands so I almost always end up with blurry, or grainy, or off-center images. And on a really bad day, I do a combo of these three disasters  in one pic. Also, I have zero creative juice in arranging books to pretty flatlays. Like what background should I use with this particular book cover? Or how to pick things that goes with the book in the photo? I see people using flowers, candles, origami and such, how do they even come up with these themes, color coordination and all that aesthetic? My lack of competence in capturing pretty pictures is one of the reasons why I do not bookstagram. Book photography, while it comes natural for others is too much for me to handle.

    One of the many talented book blogger slash photographer out there is Hazel of Staybookish who takes crisp and clean photos. I also like the minimalist aesthetic of book photos by Shelumiel of Bookish and Awesome which also functions as header images for his review posts. And if going crazy with colors is your thing, Cait of Paper Fury is the ever reliable book blogger.

  2. Parental advisory

    Image: Pixabay
    It’s good practice to include trigger warning advisories in book reviews. I make sure that I do this in my reviews because I believe it’s important and the right thing to do. Another thing that I think important and value-adding is a parental advisory for books. TV shows and movies have them so why shouldn’t books be any different? I feel that this is needed especially for middle-grade and young adult books. I often see Goodreads questions from parents asking if this book or that contain mature content. I mean, I hope they are asking because they want to guide and explain sensitive matters (like sex and drug use) to their children and not to censor them on what to read or not. There are times when I feel obliged to include parental advisories in my reviews but I don’t do it because of general laziness. Woah, seeing my reason for not doing something I feel important in plain writing makes me look like an irresponsible adult. I suddenly feel bad. But the good thing is, there is a review site who does this kind of thing already. I found this review of “What to Say Next” by Julie Buxbaum from Common Sense Media really helpful and informative for parents. So for all the parentals in need of mature content warnings for their kids, head in on this review site.

  3. Book quote

    Image: Pixabay
    I do give quotes from the books I review, but not all the time. Kate of The Bookaholic Blurbs is consistent in providing quotes at the end of her reviews. I dunno, perhaps blame my general laziness again. Even if the book is quotable, I keep forgetting to bookmark all the beautiful lines. And sometimes I am just more engrossed with the story and not conscious for searching quotable quotes while reading.

    Quote posters are gems that I wanna also be able to do in my reviews, too. Have you seen these quote posters in Hazel’s review of “Girls Made of Snow and Glass” by Melissa Bashardoust?! Darn nice, it’s like woven with magic or something. I dream of conjuring things like these but alas, I am the Squib of making things pretty. True story: back in high school, my Science teacher required us to prettify our notebooks and I made use of those pesky cray pass colors. Long story short, I made mine messy instead of pretty. Like I can’t even read my science notes through all the mess, what even is the point?

  4. Talk to me portion

    Image: Pixabay
    I would love to have more interaction in my review posts but sadly,comments come in trickles in this side of the internet space. It’s an arid, windy place where tumbleweeds go to tumble. Swoosh! There’ goes one tumbleweed a tumblin’, see?

    Of course I get few comments mainly because I have little (like close to zero) blog following. But being a little book blog aside, I think that another great way to get readers’ reactions and comments is by throwing them your post-related questions. It’s like give and take (or Newton’s Third Law which I don’t think I learned properly because of my stupid messed-up science notes). It works like this: I give you my thoughts about this book and I ask what’s your take on it. Have you read it yet? Are you planning to? Questions like that. An example would be, again the great Cait of Paper Fury. (Is it too obvious that I idolize her?!) She has this “Chat With Me” portion at the end of every post and look at the flurry of comments in her blog. But then again, we have to factor in her huge blog following. So I guess the formula is blog fame + asking questions in posts = party everytime in the comments section! Would I like to test this little theory and put it to practice in my blog? Partly yes, but mostly no. I can work on asking questions with my blog posts from time to time but amassing a huge following is a tricky thing to achieve.

There you have it, the extra stuff that I really want to add in my book reviews but can’t. Mostly because of laziness and incompetence. Or euphemistically speaking, let’s just say that I’d rather spend more time reading and being content with my own style of reviewing than trying too hard on things that I have no talent for. Don’t get me wrong tho, the lack of pizzaz in my reviews does not mean that I don’t love what I’m doing. I treasure my book blog. I enjoy talking about books. I put effort in every post that I write. I work through my word wall of reviews, brick by brick with my own sweat and tears.

 Talk to me portion: Hah, let’s do this! How about you? Are there “extra” stuff that other bloggers do that you wish you can do in your own blog? Or are you one of the talented book bloggers out there? Maybe you make art nails that look like the art cover of books? Or you put fashion pieces together to capture the aesthetic of book covers? Show me your stuff, leave your artsy reviews in the comments so I can see them.

Review: Satellite by Nick Lake


Satellite
by Nick Lake

Synopsis:
A teenage boy born in space makes his first trip to Earth.

He’s going to a place he’s never been before: home.

Moon 2 is a space station that orbits approximately 250 miles above Earth. It travels 17,500 miles an hour, making one full orbit every ninety minutes. It’s also the only home that fifteen-year-old Leo and two other teens have ever known.

Born and raised on Moon 2, Leo and the twins, Orion and Libra, are finally old enough and strong enough to endure the dangerous trip to Earth. They’ve been “parented” by teams of astronauts since birth and have run countless drills to ready themselves for every conceivable difficulty they might face on the flight.

But has anything really prepared them for life on terra firma? Because while the planet may be home to billions of people, living there is more treacherous than Leo and his friends could ever have imagined, and their very survival will mean defying impossible odds.


(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date:  October 3rd 2017
Source/Format: Netgalley/eARC
Purchase links: Amazon | Kobo | Book Depository


My Thoughts:
“Satellite” presents an earth in the near future, suffering heavily from the effects of global warming. Drought, hurricanes, rising sea levels and river waters so cold that if any living thing falls in, immediate death from hypothermia is certain. Some wild animals like lions and elephants are already extinct. Mankind is looking up to space for any earth-like planet to colonize.

In such backdrop, three babies are born in a space station: our narrator Leo, and twins Libra, and Orion. Their mothers are astronauts themselves. But these kids cannot be brought by their mothers yet because their young bodies are too fragile to survive the impact of re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. So they remain in standby in the space station raised by rotating astronauts until they reach the age of sixteen years old, presumably strong enough to survive the journey back home. But what is the definition of “home” for these kids? For Leo, it’s strange to call earth his home because it’s some place he hasn’t been.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part is Leo’s life in the space station. It is a slow start for me mainly because the book has to establish the nuts and bolts of life in space. The second part, which narrates Leo’s experiences in earth is where things start to become fascinating. The reader re-discovers the wonder of seeing things for the first time through Leo’s eyes. The way Leo describes ordinary things on earth — the smell and taste of bacon, the sight of eggs frying in a pan, the feeling of locking eyes with a cow or touching a puppy—is so poetic, it brings me close to weeping. These are the great parts of the book.

Now for the meh parts. Upon his arrival, I expected Leo to experience interaction with various earth-raised teens. Sadly, the nearest school has been closed off and the people he met are limited to his retired astronaut turned ranch owner grandpa, some farm hands, and the employees of the Company which took over NASA. Leo spent a sheltered life on his grandpa’s ranch. He tried to contact Libra and Orion but discovered that his connection with them has been cut off. He was kept in the dark for so long,my anticipation for what’s really going on becomes boredom. And when some action seems to start weaving in the story, in the form of mysterious people leaving him notes implying that he needs rescuing, Leo dismissed the surfacing doubts about the people he trusts and just went on with his privileged life on the ranch. I imagine a wasted future earth where teens outside Leo’s bubble live hard-knock dystopic lives. But Leo’s narrative feels too detached and lacking urgency. Eventually, Leo was not able to do anything much. He is always dependent on people around him. Even on the third part of the book when  Leo supposedly stands up for himself, his actions are pretty much perfunctory.

The book is written with deliberate shortcuts in spelling and capitalization. For instance, “I see you.” is written as “i c u.” And “doctorate” is written as “Dr.ate”. Maybe it was used for futuristic vibe? Or to denote that hey, the world is ending, who’s got time for proper spelling? Whichever case, I am not bothered by it but some might not like these kind of stuff in their books so I’m just saying it right here.

Speaking of futuristic style, fashion in this imagined future is so forward and gender bending. Men wearing make-up, nail polish, and heels is commonplace. And there is one mention of a woman having her gene modified to grow beard. It’s mildly amusing but feels rather irrelevant to the story, TBH.

Another irrelevant aspect of the book for me is the romantic subplot. Yes, it’s so small and does not eat up the main plot but that’s my point, it’s so small that the book could’ve done away with it. Personally, I’d rather not give Leo much hope in romance. The book keeps on repeating this thing about the moon loving the earth from a distance and him having no one near him after all is like the perfect moon to earth.  I’m rambling here but if you already know the ending like I do, I think you’ll understand.

“Satellite” has its merit in giving its readers Leo’s all wide-eyed and wonder perspective. It was a delight feeling his sensory overload with earthly things after being born and raised inside a tin can in space. But the plot’s progression is so slow with its sections of autopilot action crammed in the third part of the book. Leo, Libra, and Orion are the hero trio that could have been. They have this game while in space of blurting out things that they would do on earth. I hoped and dreamed those things with them. I imagined them having legendary adventures on earth like becoming mermaids or such. (I heard that astronauts of NASA nowadays spend training in deep sea levels because it resembles zero gravity so becoming a mermaid is totally not a far-fetched idea) But sadly, those dreams did not fly...or swim for Leo, Libra and Orion, with the three of them just ambling through the story by letting people around them manage their lives.


Diversity Watch:
Leo is explicitly described to be attracted to same sex.

Libra is brown-skinned.

The new space agency is a merger of NASA, the Indian space agency, and a private company. I am assuming that a huge chunk of its employees are from India.

Santiago, a woman working in Public Relations of the space agency, is described by Leo as having Hispanic accent.

Soto, an astronaut in training, is described by Leo having blond hair, tan skin, green eyes that taper gently at the outer corners. Leo guessed his ethnicity as part Japanese or part Korean.

Ku, an Asian astronaut.

Yuri, a Russian cosmonaut.

An aircraft pilot, Lankolun is described by Leo as dark-skinned.


My Rating:

Blog Tour: 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough (Review+Giveaway)




Hello and welcome to my stop for the blog tour of 13 MINUTES by Sarah Pinborough. I wanna thank Fantastic Flying Book Club for organizing the blog tour. 

Today's business is for me to introduce the book and share my thoughts about it. The tour is also hosting a giveaway for an advanced review copy (ARC) of the book for U.S. residents. At the end of this post is a rundown of all the participating book blogs, so be sure to visit them too on their designated tour stops.


About 13 Minutes


"Mean Girls for the Instagram age." --The Times (London)

The New York Times bestselling author known for her thrilling twists is back: 

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you're a teenage girl, it's hard to tell them apart.

Natasha doesn't remember how she ended up in the icy water that night, but she does know this--it wasn't an accident, and she wasn't suicidal. Her two closest friends are acting strangely, and Natasha turns to Becca, the best friend she dumped years before when she got popular, to help her figure out what happened.

Natasha's sure that her friends love her. But does that mean they didn't try to kill her? 

13 Minutes is a psychological thriller with a killer twist from the #1 internationally bestselling author Sarah Pinborough.


Series: Standalone
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Expected Publication date:   October 3rd 2017
Source/Format: eARC via Netgalley
Pre-order links: Amazon Barnes&Noble | Kobo | Book Depository | iBooks | IndieBound

About Sarah

Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed adult and YA author based in London. 

Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.

Her next novel, Behind Her Eyes, coming for HarperFiction in the UK and Flatiron in the US (January 2017) has sold in nearly 20 territories worldwide and is a dark thriller about relationships with a kicker of a twist.

You can follow her on Twitter @sarahpinborough


Review:

My Thoughts:
Natasha, Hayley and Becca were childhood BFFs. That’s up until when Becca’s baby fats did not shed in sync with Natasha’s and Hayley’s. They deemed her not worthy of their squad and had her replaced by Jenny. The new trio became the Barbies, your resident mean girls. But one morning, Barbie leader Natasha’s body is found tangled on twigs, floating by the icy river. She survived, despite being dead for thirteen minutes and in a coma for days, but cannot remember how and why she almost ended up in a watery grave. And when she wakes up, she inexplicably feels gravitated towards seeking comfort from ex-BFF Becca, instead of turning to her two current BFFs.

A person such as Natasha is as expected, hard to relate to. She is the spoiled reigning queen bee of the wild hive that is high school. She basks in the glory of her popularity. She does things just for kicks, she manipulates people, she loves drama. Nothing really bad went off in her charmed life until her thirteen-minute death. Then enters average-student Becca, who keeps the narrative grounded. She is the person we can most probably relate to. Becca is our conduit to finding out what really happened, when Natasha slowly sheds her veneer and asks for help in piecing together her missing memories.

Most of the narrative follows Becca in 3rd person point of view but the author did not skimp on giving the reader a lot of vantage points. There are chapters with 1st person narration by Natasha through a journal she was asked to keep in helping her recover her memories and there are excerpts of her consultations with a psychologist. These elements really fleshed out her character. There are news clips of the incident and related incidents which give more background info or sometimes help move the plot forward. There are interspersed text messages between Hayley and Jenny which shows their desperation with the investigation and also provides a build up to the plot. And the notes scrawled by the investigating police detective gives an observer’s perspective of how these teens are reacting with everything going on.


The most notable thing about “13 Minutes” and what made me glued to the pages is its affecting prose. In the first few pages, there is a sense of urgency there while Natasha is drowning to death, with a succeeding sense of relief when she was saved. When characters are questioned or invited to the police precint, the book makes it believable that they are really possible suspects. So as not to reveal a lot of the plot, let me just say that all through my notes, I have scribbled a lot of “OMIGOSH!” moments for varying reasons and emotions. It is just astounding how this book can make you feel eerie things while just sitting and reading. 

The teen characters are complex and affecting, too. One instance they show glimpses of vulnerability and kindness then the next, they say and do things that makes my skin crawl. There is an element of power play here between these teen characters. Adults (parents, teachers, police, counselors) are visibly around but they are subtly relegated to the back, like mere spectators in a game of chess. And the book is smart in letting these angsty teens toy with control and power while making the adults one step behind or completely oblivious with what’s really happening. The whole flipped set-up where teens seem tough and adults seem frail adds a layer to the eerieness of the book.

“13 Minutes” is ultimately a story of childhood friendships gone awry. It gave me this new askewed grasp of what having a bestfriend means. Yeah sure, having a bestfriend is one of the nicest things: a support system, a confidante, someone who gets you and can totally read you like a book. But having someone know you through and through can also sometimes backfire. The phrase “Be my bestfriend” is probably ruined for me because of this book. Damn, this book is deliciously dark! Go ahead, indulge.

Diversity Watch:
Natasha, Hayley and Jenny are white.

Becca is racially indeterminate.


My Rating:

Giveaway

  • 1 ARC of 13 MINUTES by Sarah Pinborough
  • US Only
  • No giveaway accounts PLEASE!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule

Don't forget to follow the blog tour along and hop on these blogs as well on their designated stops:

September 27th

September 28th

September 29th

September 30th

October 1st
Reading Wonderland - Review + Favourite Quotes

October 2nd
The Bibliophile Confessions - Review + Favourite Quotes

October 3rd
The Candid Cover - Review + Playlist + Dream Cast
Supercalireader - Review
Staircase Wit - Review + Playlist + Dream Cast

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