When the hype fails you | books I didn’t end up loving

In the bookish community, we’re well aware of the dangers of the hype train. It’s incredibly exciting to see people anticipate a book’s release, or to hear all your favorite bloggers and vloggers talk about the same book. It peaks your interest in the book too, and might lead to you discovering a new favorite novel. Some of my favorite books are ones I never would have picked up without a little push from the online community.

However, there are downsides to hyped books as well. We’ve all picked up a book everyone raves about, and ended up disappointed because it just didn’t read our high expectations. Can you really blame us for expecting the best, though? When it seems like every person you know has given a certain book a 4- or 5-star rating, you expect to fall in love with it as well. It’s those high expectations that do us in, people. The book might be good, but we were expecting something great.

Today, I’m talking about some books that disappointed me. These may not be bad books, but I just didn’t end up loving them as much as I was hoping or expecting to.

 

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
This is a very recent read for me. I picked it up after seeing it was one of the nominees for the Goodreads Choice Awards in the mystery and thriller category, which is one of the genres I want to read more of. I somehow find it really hard to be truly captivated and thrilled by mystery/thriller books, and this was no exception. It wasn’t necessarily boring, but I was just annoyed with the main character throughout the majority of the book. She kept saying that she needed to prove that she was right, and that she would figure it out on her own, while downing bottles of wine and abusing medication at the same time. “I need to keep a clear mind! This bottle of wine will help.” Yeah, sure.

An Ember in the Ashes (Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes is such a hyped book! I find that YA novels, especially YA fantasy, are very susceptible to the hype train in the online bookish community. When this first released, everyone kept raving about it. They adored the Roman Empire-inspired world, the brutality, and the romance in this novel, and it popped up in quite a few favorite books of the year lists. I finally read it in 2018, and was quite disappointed. I did love the world and the brutality, but was not a fan of the ratio of action and romance. The romance took over here, and I was not on board with it.

 

The Girls by Emma Cline
I think this was a case of misunderstanding what the novel is actually about. When this released, so many people were talking about it. It was a historical fiction about a girl who got involved in a cult – like the Manson family. I’ve always been fascinated by cults (don’t judge me), and that synopsis really sold me on this book. However, I believe this novel is more of a coming-of-age story that involves a cult. The actual Manson family stuff doesn’t come in until 70% of the way through, and I was very uncomfortable with the focus on sex this book had since the main character was only around 14. I understand that may have been (historically) accurate, but it made me uneasy either way.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
For a while in 2017, this book was everywhere. It was one of the most read thrillers, not to mention the amount of times the trailer for the movie was shoved down my throat. I finally decided to read it when I saw a copy at my local library. Wow, am I glad I borrowed it from the library instead of buying it. This book was so utterly boring. Just like The Woman in the Window it features a female protagonist who is only unreliable because she’s an alcoholic.

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Classics are probably some of the most hyped books, as generations of people have loved them. I haven’t read many English/American classics because I grew up in Belgium where they obviously aren’t required reading. When I first wanted to give them a try, I figured I’d start with The Great Gatsby. It’s a very short book so I thought it would be a somewhat easy read. Boy, was I wrong. It took me 3 days to read about 140 pages because this book is so utterly boring. Nothing happens! At all.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
At this point in time, Milk and Honey has received some mixed reviews. When it was first released, however, everyone loved it. I haven’t read much poetry because I always feel like it goes way over my head, but I do want to broaden my reading horizon and include more poetry works in that. Why not start with one of the most popular collections right now? Sadly, this book didn’t work for me. I didn’t connect with the poems, and I guess I’m not a fan of the incredibly short poems that are just one sentence. Nothing against this style of poetry – we all like different things – but I didn’t love it.

 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Like The Great Gatsby, this book seems to be universally loved. People adore the novel, and they adore the movie adaptation of it. All of the praise it has received made me pick it up and try it for myself. To be honest, I thought this was just okay. I don’t really understand why everyone loves this book so much? If this is one of your favorite books, please message me on Twitter or email me so we can talk about this! I simply don’t understand.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
We’re going out with a banger. Oh, this book… Or should I say, this play? Before everyone comes at me, I know this is a play and that it wasn’t written by J.K. Rowling. I also knew that before starting it. That still doesn’t make this a good book/play. It invalidates so much of the original series out of convenience which is just lazy writing. Don’t even get me started on the obvious queerbaiting in here. I can’t deal with it.


In all these instances, the hype surrounding these books partly caused my disappointment in them. I think that if I hadn’t gone into these with high expectations, I would have enjoyed them more – aside from The Cursed Child. Have you read any of these books? Which books were negatively impacted by the hype for you? How can be battle the hype? Waiting for years to read the book clearly didn’t help me either, because that’s what I did with An Ember in the Ashes… I could use your tips!

2019 reading predictions

Every year so far, I’ve made a post on my reading goals for the coming year. Today, I’ve changed that post from goals into reading predictions. I feel like the word ‘goals’ only makes me feel pressured, and leaves me disappointed when I don’t reach them by the end of the year. The predictions, on the other hand, are just fun. Let’s talk about 2019!

I’ll read around 70 books

I started tracking the amount of books I read per year in 2013 through the Goodreads Reading Challenge. It’s the easiest way for me to keep track of what I read, as I tend to update my Goodreads often. For the first few years of doing this challenge I read about 140 books a year, which I only achieved because I was a university student and read when I’m stressed.

Ever since graduating, I’ve read somewhere around 70 books a year. I think 2019 will see the same trend as well. There are months in which I read 15 books, and months in which I don’t read anything. That’s what works for me at the moment, and doesn’t stress me out.

I’ll read more translated books

This ties in to the challenge I’ve set myself of reading a book from every country in the world. This means written by an author with that nationality. I didn’t set a timeline for the challenge, but it’s definitely something I’ll keep in mind the coming years. Since I only speak Dutch and English well enough to read a full novel/book, I’m going to read a lot more translated books than I have in the past.

reading a variety of genres

I’ve actually already noticed a difference when it comes to genres in my reading in 2017 vs my reading in 2018. In 2018, the vast majority of books I read were fantasy. In 2018, I read a wider variety of genres and decreased the amount of fantasy books. Don’t get me wrong, fantasy will always be my favorite genre. But there are so many other interesting books to discover, and I don’t want to limit myself so much.

I’ll get my physical TBR to around 75

I guess you could see this as a goal? Right now, my physical TBR is around 99 (as I’m typing this). I did read a lot more of my own books in 2018, but I also bought a few thanks to YALC and used bookstores. The good news is that most of the books I bought were heavily discounted. The bad news is that I feel like I’m never going to get around to reading some.

I think getting my TBR to 75 or 80 might be what I’ll achieve in 2019. I’ve become really good at unhauling books, going to the library more, and only buying books I am genuinely interested in.

the majority of my book buying will be secondhand 

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to new releases. But I’ve truly fallen in love with used bookstores in the second half of 2018, and I don’t see that trend ending soon. I ordered from Better World Books and got so many great books for such a low price level! Then I rediscovered Pêle-Mêle, a used bookstore in Brussels, too.

I’ve never been someone who needs her books to be in pristine condition, so I don’t really care about having books that look used. I actually break the spines of my paperbacks too (GASP) and like that it makes them look read and loved. Besides, I have found some really interesting books for such a low price!

If this does come true, it’ll save me so much money and help me towards reading a wider variety of genres and books I haven’t heard of before.


Those are my reading predictions for 2019! What do you think of goals vs predictions? What do you think your reading year will look like?

HAPPY 2019!

A short post for today, simply because I wanted to wish you all a wonderful and exciting 2019. I hope you’ll have tons of adventures, experiences, happy moments, and love in your life. Of course, I also wish you a 2019 filled with fantastic books.

Happy New Year to All

Happy New Year, lovely people!

The most disappointing books I read in 2018

It’s time for one of my favorite posts of the year! The one in which I talk about the books I hated/disliked reading in the past year. Some of these are merely disappointing, others I actively despise. 

Disclaimer: as always with these posts, please don’t feel offended if your favorite book is on here. This is simply my opinion.

Easy Prey by Catherine Lo – 1 star
I hated this book with a passion. It took all of my willpower to actually finish it, as can be witnessed from my Goodreads updates while reading. What I find most baffling, however, is that I’m in the minority on this one. Everyone seems to love it and I’m just like??? Did we read the same thing?? Anyway, I wrote a full review with quotes (from the proof copy), so if you’re curious to see how a book made me so angry I couldn’t read more than 2 pages without blowing my fuse – here’s my review.

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp – 2 stars
This was disappointing to me because I loved her debut novel, This Is Where It Ends. When I got an ARC of this one, I was so excited! There was a lot of telling instead of showing, especially when it comes to the creepy and isolated atmosphere. Then we have the sudden screenplay parts added? They made no sense whatsoever. This book is supposed to be about best friends, but I certainly wouldn’t want a “friend” like Corey. In short, this book made no sense to me. You can find my review here.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur – 2 stars
I listened to this poetry collection on audio because I don’t have much experience reading poetry. As the author narrates the collection herself, I felt it was the best way to experience it. Honestly, I’m so disappointed in this collection. I’ve heard so many people praise this, and I genuinely don’t understand. Some of the poems were just a single sentence, chopped up. Yeah, not for me.

Solitaire by Alice Oseman – 2 stars
Another one that sorely disappointed me. Alice Oseman’s Radio Silence is one of my all-time favorite YA novels, so I had high expectations for her other books. I wanted to read the remaining 2 of her books before meeting her at YALC, so I bought and read Solitaire. What on earth was this book? It made me so angry. I struggled to get through this book because the main character was awful, and it was never addressed. The way she treated others, and girls especially, was despicable. And the reveal. What???

Kaleidoscopic Skies by Ekta Daryani – 2 stars
This poetry collection just didn’t have an impact on me. At all. I didn’t care about the author who wrote these poems, they didn’t connect with me or speak to me, and I wasn’t blown away by her writing. It just wasn’t for me.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo – 3 stars
While I rated quite a few books 3 stars this year, this was the lowest 3-star rating (if that makes sense). I was hoping for a cute reading that incorporated references to some of my favorite K-dramas. I knew it would be silly/cheesy because she uses the K Drama Steps to True Love, and TV shows are notorious for their cliches. What I wasn’t expecting was how dangerous and manipulative some of the things she does are, and how it was never really addressed that what she did was NOT OKAY. There were no consequences to her acts, and there definitely should have been. Anyone else who has read this book care to talk about that with me? Because what the hell??


There you have it, the books that disappointed me most in 2018. One I hated, a few I disliked, and all of them I found disappointing. Have you read any of these books? Which books did you find lacking or disappointing in 2018?

Books I want to reread in the coming year(s)

Here’s the thing: I absolutely love rereading. There are some books I’ve read multiple times, and even ones that are tied to a certain time period for me. For example, I tend to reread Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings during Christmas. Both of those series have such nostalgic ties for me, and they put me in a happy and comfortable state of mind. But there are certain books I’ve wanted to reread for ages, and haven’t gotten around to. I tend to reread the same books over and over again, and skip these. No more! In the coming year(s), I will reread these books/series! The titles will take you to the Goodreads page.

THE LEGEND OF ELI MONPRESS BY RACHEL AARON

 

I first read this series in 2014, and fell in love with it. It’s what started my love for Rachel Aaron’s writing (or Rachel Bach, depending on the series). However, I binge-read the entire series in a month and can’t remember all that much about it. To make me more comfortable recommending it at this point in time, I want to reread it and see whether I still enjoy it just as much.

THE GRISHA TRILOGY BY LEIGH BARDUGO

 

I started this series when I first got back into reading in 2013, and finished it with the release of the last book in 2014. At the time, I had just discovered Booktube and book blogs, and the growing market of YA fantasy. This entire trilogy got 5/5 stars from me, and has ensured I will pick up everything Leigh Bardugo writes at some point in time. I’m curious, though, what I’ll think of it now. I’ve read a lot since 2013, and have become a much more critical reader. I hope I’ll still love it. Besides, I could use a refresher before going in to King of Scars.

HIS FAIR ASSASSIN BY ROBIN LAFEVERS

 

Another trilogy I read in 2013-2014! The reason I want to reread these is because the series is getting expanded! In 2019, Courting Darkness will be released, which follows Sybella who we first followed in Dark Triumph. I can’t remember much about this series either, so it required a reread before I can go on to Courting Darkness.

BRETHREN BY ROBYN YOUNG

 

I read this trilogy years ago in translation. I bought a Dutch copy during the Antwerp Book Fair, and fell in love with the setting and writing. This is a historical fiction novel set in the 13th century, focused on the crusades and the Knights Templar. I really want to reread this series because I only remember snippets and the name of the main character. I also have two of her other books on my shelves, so I’ll get to those at some point too.

THE BRIDEI CHRONICLES BY JULIET MARILLIER

 

This is another series I randomly picked up at the library as a teenager. I immediately fell in love with Juliet Marillier and proceeded to read her Sevenwaters series too. I can’t remember anything about this series, other than it focusing on Druids and one nobleman (noblekid?) fostered at a Druid’s home. I also never see anyone talk about this series, but I vividly remember adoring it as a teen. So we’ll see if I still love it as an adult.

PARADOX BY RACHEL BACH

 

I read the first two books in this trilogy in 2016, after falling in love with Rachel Bach’s fantasy novels – published under Rachel Aaron. These are space opera books, and they’re so much fun. They follow a mercenary called Devi who gets a job on a trade ship with a reputation for nasty surprises. It was so good! I never finished the trilogy, which is such a shame. I’d like to reread it and actually read the third book this time around.

VICIOUS BY V.E. SCHWAB

vicious

You might wonder why Vicious is on the list. Well, I read it in the first half of 2015 which is now 3.5 years ago. I really want to read Vengeful, but I know I don’t have enough of a grasp on the first book to continue on yet. That’s why I’m due for a reread, before I read a spoiler on Vengeful.

THE SECRET HISTORY BY DONNA TARTT

the secret history

Another book I read almost 3 years ago! I can’t believe it’s been that long, to be honest. When I first read this book, I was in awe of it. I took my time reading it, because I felt like the book required a slower reading experience. My copy is a pretty battered one I picked up in a secondhand store, and I’d like the pretty anniversary edition instead to reread it. Why? Because this is one of my favorite books, and I want to annotate it. I’m definitely not doing that in a copy I know I won’t keep.


I’m planning on rereading these books in the coming years! I probably won’t get to all of these in 2019, because then I’d have no time to read ‘new’ books… However, I will make an effort to reread them as soon as possible. Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts on rereading?

Books that have made me cry

I have to admit that I don’t cry often while reading. I feel like it’s easier for movies and TV shows to get to me, than it is for books. Especially when it comes to full-on ugly sobbing. This post was inspired by a TV show I just finished, Uncontrollably Fond, that made me ugly cry. So let’s talk about the books that got to me!

A FEW TEARS ESCAPED

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo
This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has read the book. If you haven’t, don’t worry because I won’t put any spoilers here. Just know that I still haven’t recovered.

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
I did not expect to get emotionally invested in this story. If you haven’t heard of this book, it tells the tale of a brother and sister who fall in love. That does not sound like something I’d like to read about. However, when you’re reading through their eyes, it makes you feel like they’re not really siblings. I got so invested in their story, and found myself torn. I don’t want them to be together (because gross!) but I also want them to be happy.

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee
This feels weird to admit because it’s an autobiography. But I felt so sad while reading Sungju Lee’s story… It always breaks my heart to learn about the horrible living conditions others have had to face, especially when they are children. Not that it’s okay for an adult to live in these conditions either, but I hope you understood my meaning.

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch
Scott Lynch really comes for you at the end of this book. Expect to be punched in the face, gut, and heart when you’re reading this.

FULL-ON CRY FEST

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
It wasn’t pretty, everyone. It wasn’t pretty at all. I needed a full 15 minutes to get myself together after I finished this book. I don’t think I will ever be okay again, thank you for asking. This WWII story about two French sisters was such an emotional read, and I already know I will re-read it at some point.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I have never cried while watching Troy, even though it’s also the story of Achilles. I already knew how his story ended before picking this book up because I loved Greek mythology and history as a teenager. So it’s not like it was a surprise to me! And I still bawled my eyes out. Seriously. I cried for at least 30 minutes while finishing this book. At some point, I couldn’t even read anymore because the tears had blurred my vision. I’ve read this book twice, and I’ve also cried twice.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I’m still in denial about this one. I still can’t comprehend it. Bonus: if you watch the movie, it’s equally as heartbreaking!! YAY.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (HP #7) by J.K. Rowling
If you haven’t read Harry Potter and don’t want to be spoiled, look away now. For everyone else: I’ll never forgive her for Dobby, Fred, Tonks, and Lupin. Fred and Remus are my favorite characters! HOW DARE YOU??


There you have it, the books that have managed to make me cry. Have you read any of these? Did they make you cry? Which books always manage to make you cry?

My bookish habits

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Today I thought I’d talk to you all about the bookish habits I have. I’ve been reading for a long time, and have developed quite a few habits since that time. Some I am very well aware of, others have been pointed out to me by my family…

Following the line with my finger

I didn’t know how to word this in a better manner, but I hope you’ll be able to understand what I mean. When reading physical copies, I tend to follow the line I’m reading with my finger. I don’t mean the tip of my finger, like pointing. I tend to hold a bunch of pages in my hand, put my index finger flat on the page and follow along. (HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THIS? HELP ME!)

However, I am a fast reader which usually results in me moving my finger constantly and wriggling it down the page -that sounded really gross for some reason.

Fun fact: I was not aware of doing this until my family pointed it out and imitated me…

Obviously, I don’t do this with e-books because it would constantly switch pages when I touch it.

Whispering

Another one I wasn’t aware of doing until my family pointed it out to me. When I am very into a book, or need to truly pay attention, I tend to whisper the words under my breath. I have no idea why I do this. Even when you are sitting next to me, you can’t actually make out what I’m saying. And I don’t even realize I do it at all. But I think it helps me concentrate?

I’ve noticed that I do this far more frequently with physical copies, and only at home. My family has mentioned numerous times that it’s a highly annoying sound because they can’t actually make anything out and it just sounds like I’m hissing the entire time.

I do this less frequently now, but it still happens. I did it all the time a few years back, apparently.

Breaking the spine of a paperback

Relax, I only do this to my own books. And no, I don’t mind the way it looks at all! I actually quite like it because it shows which books I have read again and again and again and you can clearly pick out my favorites. I would never do this to someone else’s books though, nor with library books.

Reading under a blanket -on the couch or in my bed

The only times I am not reading while relaxing with a blanket is when I am reading in public. I don’t bring a blanket on the train or to a coffee shop… But when I am at home, I always read under a blanket. For some reason, I just feel really awkward relaxing on the couch or in my bed without a blanket? And the couch and my bed are by far the most comfortable places in my apartment, so that’s where I read.

Soundtracks during readathons

This is something I usually only do during readathons -or while studying. I picked this habit up in university while studying for my exams. When I truly need to concentrate on reading and/or retaining information, I listen to soundtracks. I have a playlist filled with soundtracks from Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, Harry Potter, and the Avengers. I stick to music without any lyrics because those tend to distract me into singing along.

I just feel really motivated and empowered when listening to this epic music, and it really puts me into a productive reading mood. That’s why I usually do it during readathons when I know I’ll want to read for a while in one sitting.

Arranging books by height

You won’t see a color-arrangement on my bookshelves, sorry. I know that it’s really pretty! I love seeing other people’s shelves arranged by color. But the thought of doing it to my own… No. My books are arranged by height -at least each shelf is. One of my biggest pet peeves is when books in a series don’t match in height.

For example, I have the three bind-ups in the Riyria Revelations series by Michael J. Sullivan in paperback. For some reason, the second book is significantly shorter than the first and third books. WHY???

Buying a book while traveling

In the past few years, I’ve picked up a habit of buying a book while traveling. For example, I bought a copy of The Lost Girls of Rome while I was in Naples last year. I bought Snakewood while visiting Dublin the year before. I will probably get a book at some point during my trip to Korea and Thailand as well. I really like having these on my shelf because they remind me of the places I’ve been.

I usually stick to one book, unless the trip is bookish in nature like my visit to London in July. I went to London to attend YALC, so I let myself buy more then.

Tabbing and annotating

This is something I started last year, I believe. I try to tab most of the books I read nowadays. I have a color scheme for my tabs so I know which parts I tabbed for which reason. I could make a post about that, if you want to see it, but I don’t think my system is all that special… I use these tabs (the 5 colors micro ones) because they are quite long and thin, and allow me to mark the exact sentence I want to highlight. Let me know if you know of an alternative that’s slightly cheaper! I’ve been looking for other long and thin page markers but I don’t know where to get them.

I never used to write in my books, but it’s something I’m slowing starting back up. I’m only using books I know for a fact I will never get rid of, like my Harry Potter copies. I don’t actually write in them yet, but I have started underlining sentences in it. I did this with my copy of the first HP book when I re-read it in August, and I can’t wait to do it to the others in the series too.

I underlined sentences (with pencil, baby steps!) in Harry Potter when it’s something I wanted to remember or emphasize, but something I either didn’t love enough to tab or when it doesn’t fit with my color system.


Those were some of my bookish habits! Do you have any habits while reading?