Month: January 2016

Fanfiction, Identical Twins and Hairlines: Fangirl Book Review

Finally, the long awaited review has finally come up! Most of you have probably known from my Bout of Books readathon updates and my 2016 TBR that I have spent a long time anticipating for myself to read this book. So many of you have been saying how great it is, and how much I’ll love it.

Fangirl is a young adult novel written by Rainbow Rowell about a girl, Cath, who is entering college. You have probably heard of this book before. This novel is about Cath and her twin sister Wren, about her struggles in college, about her passion in writing, and, basically, this novel is about discovering herself.

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date Published: 2013
Num of pages: 445
Date read: January 6th, 2015
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Coming into this book, I have heard so many good things about basically everyone who has ever read it. But I try not to get my hopes up too high. The novel starts off very interestingly, and I can immediately relate to Cath. She is so passionate and obsessed in the Simon Snow stories – she is a fangirl. And of course, all of us here in the book blogging community can totally relate to that! Other than that, as a newcomer in university myself, I can really relate to Cath on her anxiety with meeting other people. Cath is basically just me.

As for the other characters, I quite liked Wren, Cath’s twin sister. What struck me in the middle of the book is how Cath and Wren seem too much like your stereotypical twins – Cath being the quiet, nerdy one and Wren being the outgoing, charming one. I was kind of bugged by that aspect of the characters, but other than that I really love Cath and Wren’s relationship. It was my favourite part of the book to read.

The other characters were just awesome for me. At first I was a huge fan of Nick and I had actually hoped that Cath would end up with him. I think it was because from Cath’s point of view, she actually described so many of Levi’s weaknesses – how he was too cheerful, how his hairline was terrible, and other little things that made Levi unlikeable. But in the end, it actually made him more real-like, and ultimately better for Cath.

You’re never going to find a guy who’s exactly like you—first of all, because that guy never leaves his dorm room.

Speaking of boys, the romance in this book was adorable. I loved the little tug and pull between Cath and Levi, and all the little scenes involving them before the actually got together that really made the two of them perfect for each other. And when they finally were together, everything they did was just cute and lovely and I just want more from them. And especially because Cath is a writer, I love how when Cath would look at Levi, she’d be able to describe him in such a beautiful and poetic way that makes me love him as well.

cover2Even so, I did find some problems about the book. I didn’t really like the parts about the mother. I felt like it was a little unnecessary and just added to too much drama into Cath’s life. I really liked Cath’s dad, but I thought he was too caricaturized and his illness seemed like something that again, Rowell added just to add more zest and more drama into the story. But I really liked Cath’s relationship with Reagan, and her love for her father and sister.

Another thing that sort of bothered me was the fanfiction parts. At some times I really liked them, I thought they were suitable to the story and was a great addition, especially if the scenes written were sort of similar or almost like a parallel to Cath’s life. But then there would also be some sections of the fanfiction that didn’t make me feel anything, and all it did was just ruin the flow of the story. We discussed this in our discussion topic of the Book Basilisks Book Club, and most people agreed that the fanfiction wasn’t a great part of the book.

I loved the parts where Cath struggled with her passion, which was Simon Snow and writing fanfiction. I really liked the part where she was angry at her teacher for saying that her fanfiction is not a real piece of writing, and when she claimed that Simon Snow was part of her, how the characters felt like hers. It was so relatable but also showed a great part of Cath’s character.

The ending for me was excellent. I thought it was kind of weird that it ended with a fanfiction and then with a short story, but I really liked the short story at the end. It made me feel warm and happy and it reminded us of the whole central theme of this book, which is basically about Cath, and family, and being strong, and loving yourself and others.

quote2“It’s okay if you’re crazy,” he said softly.
“You don’t even know-“
“I don’t have to know,” he said. “I’m rooting for you.”

I read a wonderful question and answer section in the back of the book with Rainbow Rowell, about how she thought that in the end Cath didn’t just “give up” on Simon Snow or that after these experiences her love for the books didn’t decrease, instead she extended her love towards something other than Simon Snow, but also to new people like Levi and Reagan.

In the end, I gave this book four stars on Goodreads. It did not disappoint. Sure, it had some problems, it wasn’t a perfect book. But it made me smile and giggle, it gave me so much feels, it was relatable, it had a great flow and the message in the end was wonderful. This is definitely a book that will stick with me for a long time.

4 stars

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Buying/Reading New Releases?

Last week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday got me thinking very deeply about something that I have probably realised in a long time. How often does one buy and read books that are newly released? Why? So I decided to discuss this with you guys, and let me know your thoughts on it in the comments!

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Okay, so let’s go to our Goodreads page and count how many books we read in 2015 that were actually released in 2015. My count might surprise you all: I only read 2 books in 2015 that were published in that same year. That is only 4% of all the books I read! Now I am probably one of the minority in the book blogging community that has this kind of situation. I’ve seen that so many of you read books that were released only months or even weeks before. And it’s totally fine. But I just keep thinking, why?

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One of the factors why I read so little new releases is of course, the most important factor: Money. I just don’t have the money to buy a full-priced book, which is usually a hard cover, that might probably cost almost half of the original price when I buy it the next year or later than that. Or I might wait for a few years until I can buy them secondhand for even cheaper! I know some of you would respond with, “Well Ayunda, if it’s the last book in a series and you’ve been anticipating this book for over four years, of course you’re gonna buy it without thinking of the price!” And I totally understand. Which leads me to my second point.

Anticipation. I think it is one of the main reasons why many of you bloggers buy a newly released book. You’ve heard so many people talk about the ARC maybe, or the book has been released for several months and all those times you’ve seen countless posts in your Reader of people talking about that book. And of course there’s also that factor of the book being a part of a series. I personally already have one book I know I will buy this year right after it is released, and I didn’t really care about the price because it’s the last book in one of my favourite series.
But when I think about it, the hype factor can also be a downfall to the book. I might see that single book everywhere in the internet, and it makes me want to buy the book less and less. So it basically depends.

What’s the difference anyway? I mean, when you actually consider it, I don’t even know why so many people are excited to buy newly released books. What is the difference between a book released in 2015 with a book released in 2000? My next favourite book might be a book released a day before I bought it, or ten years. It doesn’t really matter. The quality of a book is not affected by its publication year. So this could be one of the reasons why I always put off buying books that are newly released. I keep thinking, why buy it now when it’s still expensive and too hyped-up? I can just buy or read it in a year or so. The book itself will not change.
And I have actually done that in the past year. In 2015, I read 3 books that were released in 2014. And two of them were part of a series that I have loved and anticipated for years, but I put off buying them to wait for the lower price. Still a very low count – most of the books I read were still published in the 2000s but not as recent as many people’s bookshelves.

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So in conclusion, I have nothing against newly released books. I love them. I see them all the time in the Booktube and book blogging community, and obviously on bookstores every time I browse through them. Half of the books I see constantly in the internet are in my TBR because I really do want to read them. But I just prefer reading books that were not recently released because of its cost and anticipation.

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What about you? How often do you buy and read newly released books? Do you have any preference? Do you agree with any of the points I discussed above? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and opinions here!

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An Introduction to: Indonesian Literature

Selamat pagi! So some of you may already know about the fact that I am an Indonesian. If you’re still not very sure where Indonesia is and what it is about, here’s a little summary for you: Indonesia is the fourth most populated country located in Asia, whose main language is Indonesian, or commonly called Bahasa. It has a lot of different cultures in art, music, food, clothing, language, and of course, literature.

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I love the Indonesian language. It is ranked as one of the most difficult language to learn, but it is so beautiful and when used properly, it’s such a lyrical and meaningful language. I’m pretty sure most of you have never read a single Indonesian book in your life. Now in this post, I’d like to introduce you to Indonesian literature, and where to begin. I myself rarely read Indonesian books – and I do feel like I need to do it more. But from my own reading history, I think I have read enough books to create this guide.

Now just like the English literature, Indonesian literature has been going on for centuries. And of course, we have different eras for our fictional work. But because this is a guide for you non-Indonesians to start reading Indonesian books, let me start with the books that are only recently released.

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Laskar Pelangicover1 by Andrea Hirata. This is one of the most popular books in Indonesia in the 21st century. I think this is a great place for you to start. Translated into The Rainbow Troops, this novel is the first in a series that is set in Belitung, a small island in the west of our country. It tells you about a group of poor children struggling to live and study in a small rural school. It’s heartwarming and beautiful, and it teaches a lot about Indonesian culture. Or, if you’re interested to watch the movie, go and search it! You’ll probably find a movie with subtitles in it.

Pulang by Leila S. Chudori. I would highly recommend this book because of its wonderful language and it gives you a great insight into Indonesia’s history. I heard a lot of Leila Chudori’s books are very good, so you should check them all out! But in this novel, pulang means going home. It is a novel about family and discovering yourself, and it is set in the 20th century and depicts a very important national history, about Indonesia’s political tragedy. Haven’t read the translated version of this book, but I heard it’s fantastic.

Sitti Nurbayacover3 by Marah Rusli. One of Indonesia’s most famous classical literature, this is a novel published in the 1960s about a girl living in a forced marriage and her struggles. It is basically the heart of Indonesia’s literature at that time. The language is older than the earlier works I mentioned, but the story has always been very famous in my country.

Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang by RA Kartini. Kartini is considered Indonesia’s greatest women in history. She was one of the first women who promoted feminism and tried to create equality between men and women in Indonesia. On “dress up as a hero” day in primary school, a lot of people would dress up as her. This novel is translated and titled Letters of a Javanese Princess, even though the real translation of the title means “after the dark, there will be light“. It involves a lot of history and feminism and is a great read.

cover4Burung-Burung Manyar by YB Mangunwijaya. This is another old but priceless historical fiction novel. Entitled The Weavebirds (called manyar in Indonesia), it is a story of love and friendship but also about the love for your country. I loved this book, because of its beautiful language and lovely setting. I would highly recommend you reading this one.

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Still want more recommendations, or not interested in the books above? Here are some additional bonus books you can check out.

Dewi Lestari or Dee. Dewi Lestari is one of Indonesia’s most popular and prominent authors and she has been around the industry for quite a while. Her famous novel is probably Perahu Kertas (Paper Boats) and her series called Supernova. I loved Perahu Kertas, it’s a beautiful book that is perfect for you YA lovers, but unfortunately it hasn’t been translated into English yet. But Supernova: The Knight, the Princess and the Falling Star has been translated and it’s quite good. Not amazing, but I would give it a try if I were you.

Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk by Ahmad Tohari. I’ve only read one of Ahmad Tohari’s work but I really enjoyed it. I haven’t read this one: The Dancer in English, but this is his most famous work. Ahmad Tohari is another famous Indonesian writer, who focuses a lot on the economical aspect of Indonesian society. This novel is about a lot of themes: from romance to history with a bit of drama. Or, try out his short-story collections!

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Now of course, even though this is quite a lengthy post, this barely even scratched the surface of the vast and varied Indonesian literature. There are so many beautiful works out there written by amazing people, who just happen to come from my home country. I feel like this is enough, for now. If you are interested in this post, I might create another similar post! I have already a list in my head for Indonesian poetry and excellent Indonesian movies. Not to mention the more recent Indonesian fiction that are more popular and easier to read. I would love to share my culture to you guys and let you be more informed about my country. For more information, check out the Goodreads genre.

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What are your thoughts on Indonsian literature? Have you read any of the books I mentioned above? Which books are you most interested in? Let me know in the comments and we can talk about books together, as always. Sampai jumpa kembali!