February Unexpected Wrap Up

February has been a month full of surprises and here I am today on the 28th in what feels like a blink of an eye. After all, I managed to finish 9 books this month, an amount that I had thought must be quite impossible to attain since it's the busy, busy, busy time of the year.

Sense and Sensibility follows the story of the three Ms. Dashwoods and their mother who unfortunately have to get out of their comfortable home in Sussex upon their father's death. The four women, being offered a low-rent cottage in Devonshire by Mrs. Dashwood's cousin John Middleton, then move there and are welcomed with great hospitality. Elinor Dashwood, the eldest, is actually a bit sad to put behind someone very dear to her heart: Fanny's older brother, Mr. Edward Ferrars. But as the sensible woman that she is, Elinor doesn't let it get in the way of her happiness. Contrary to her sister, Marianne Dashwood is more emotional and, more often than not, let her feeling guides her actions and decides her prejudices. It's hard for her to love a man if they share no similar interest, that's why her meeting with the handsome and charming Mr. John Willoughby excites her so much.

Overall, I enjoyed Sense and Sensibility a little more than I did Emma but I will choose the latter if I want to reread something one day. Even though the prior was easier to read and slightly more interesting to go through, I felt like it lacked a bit of chemistry. But the characters and the plot were really great: they were definitely the highlight of my reading journey.

After being dumped by her ex-boyfriend of two years, Justin, Tiffy is left with no choice but to search for a low-rent apartment as soon as possible. After a long and exhausting hunt, it is then decided that she must be opting for a very strange arrangement instead: a flatshare with a guy named Leon Twomey who will occupy the flat only in the afternoon while Tiffy is at work. For months, Tiffy and Leon have never met in person, but they leave post-it notes here and there for each other to find and answer. Bit by bit, Tiffy then learns that Leon's younger brother is wrongly imprisoned while on the other hand he finds out that Justin is very obsessive and has emotionally abused Tiffy all this time. Finally the two meet, though the condition of their first encounter is not exactly ideal to begin with.

The Flatshare was such a cute rom-com with adorable friendship and a great progression that I felt like I wanted to know all the characters better. While this book focused on Tiffy and Leon's dynamic relationship as flatmates, it also covered some serious topics such as gaslighting and emotional abuse. It occurs to me now that not being able to register the truth until we're out of something is very terrifying but sadly true. Tiffy didn't realize that she had been emotionally abused by her ex until she had some time alone with herself to eventually heal. How the author chose to explore and handle this particular topic was quite great in my opinion. I liked the conclusion too though to be honest I was kinda hoping for something more. If you like rom-com or in need of something light and fluffy, I suggest that you pick this book up in your leisure time.

On The Fence follows the story of Charlotte Reynolds who is more known as Charlie, the youngest in the household which consists of a father, three protective older brothers: Jerom, Nathan, and Gage, and a close neighbor called Braden. She plays baseball, football, and any other sport skillfully with the four of them but when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know how to. Everything changes though when she's forced to work in a chichi boutique near the beach. Charlie is not only obliged to dress prettily, but she's also asked to be the canvas in a paid makeup session hence her introduction to the cosmetic world. And even strangest, she's now dating a handsome guy who thinks she's always had her makeup on and doesn't know a thing about baseball. Only one thing is still the same: her sometimes late-night talk with Braden by the fences that separate their houses.

As I have once said before, Kasie West's works are usually my go-to feel-good books so obviously it's not unusual if I found On The Fence very sweet as well as fluffy. The thing that was quite close with a family drama in this book was told quite well though the conclusion seemed a bit rushed. But I particularly loved the fact that the brothers still treated her fairly in their pickup games and treated her as their equal in all occasions. Sibling goals! In conclusion, I did enjoy this book a lot especially the first three-quarter hence my reading speed and pretty high final rating.

Ninth House follows the story of Alex Stern, a freshman at Yale with a dark and mysterious past. Alex was not only a dropout, but she also used to get into the world of drug dealing and was once found as the sole survivor in a terrifying homicide. Being offered a way out by attending Yale and monitoring the activities of the university's secret societies as a member of Lethe, Alex finds herself trapped in between the occults' pursuits and the possibility of their involvement in a girl's murder. It's too bad that her Virgil, Darlington, is not there to help or protect her from the possible killers and their dark magic.

In conclusion, I'd say that you would enjoy Ninth House if you could bear with the confusion you have to go through in the first few chapters. Even when I felt like the beginning was quite a struggle, I was still deeply immersed in this dark and magical side of Yale. The dark-academia vibe felt immaculate, and after confirming the existence of these societies in real life, I instantly thought that Bardugo's idea to mix them with fiction and magic was really cool. 

(It's a local book so I'm gonna write the review in Bahasa)
Serenity bercerita tentang seorang remaja perempuan bernama Hera yang sudah hampir berumur 20 tahun namun belum kunjung lulus SMA. Menyandang status sebagai ketua geng tawuran SMA Pancasila, Hera memang terkenal berandal. Ia terus-terusan saja terlibat perkelahian dengan musuh bebuyutan mereka, SMA Perkasa, dan sebagai akibatnya penjara pun bukan sesuatu yang asing baginya. Karena tahun ini adalah kesempatan terakhir Hera untuk mengikuti ujian nasional, guru BK di sekolahnya pun berusaha mempertemukannya dengan Alena, tutor yang akan membantunya belajar, meski tentu saja Hera menolaknya mentah-mentah. Namun semuanya berubah ketika ia bertemu Daniel, anak kelas X SMA Pancasila yang sempat dijadikan tawanan oleh SMA Perkasa. Kedekatannya dengan Daniel pun membuatnya mulai melihat hidup dengan cara yang berbeda, tapi apa daya, ada ikatan masa lalu yang diam-diam membayangi kehidupan keduanya.

Secara keseluruhan, Serenity adalah buku teenlit yang cukup menghibur dengan nilai-nilai penting yang bisa diambil. Namun karena alurnya yang terlalu cepat, karakter-karakter di buku ini terasa kurang tergali. Saya rasa kalau penokohan dan scenenya bisa diperdalam lagi, pasti ceritanya bakal lebih oke dan ngena, apalagi ada sentuhan drama keluarga yang bisa jadi salah satu trope yang sangat menjanjikan kalau dieksekusi dengan apik. Endingnya pun menurut saya gak tertebak; pesan yang diselipkan penulis sudah cukup oke tapi seandainya bisa diperpanjang sedikit lagi pasti bakal lebih bagus.

Geekerella follows the story of Danielle Wittimer and Darien Freeman, two teenagers who are such big fans of a classic sci-fi series named Starfield. Being a part of the same fandom, the two live very different lives though one day they are virtually connected due to some miscommunications: Elle lives with her cruel stepmother and two stepsisters while Darien is a rising new actor who is going to portray Prince Carmindor in the Starfield's reboot. Elle dislikes the new Prince Carmindor of course, but she is still determined to win the cosplay contest at the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball. With her blog, her job at the Magic Pumpkin food truck, and her new friend whom she knows by text, Elle enters the world of unexpected friendship, romance, and memories of the past.

Overall, I considered Geekerella a perfect read for my spent-at-home Valentine's day. Elle and Darien texted all the time and bonded cutely but honestly I was hoping for something more to occur between them in order for the two to fall in love. I mean, I was aware that it was a fairytale retelling and so it was supposed to be too good to be true, but sadly I wasn't as invested in their romance as I had thought I would be, in the end. Still, it's a charming retelling that glorified the power of fandom, so if you're interested in reading something cute and full of passion towards something fictional, this book should be something you have to give a try.

You Deserve Each Other follows the story of Naomi Westfield and her seemingly perfect fiancé, Nicholas Rose. Even though the two look like a perfect couple goal, there's a big crack in their relationship that is so huge that it seems unrepairable: way too demanding soon-to-be mother-in-law and lack of communication. Both of them want out but whoever says it first would have to foot the crazily enormous wedding cost. It goes without saying that they then try to drive each other crazy by pranks and being their true self, though Naomi doesn't expect that letting go of her mask and showing off her true emotion will bring the two closer.

Well, I have to say, this book was without doubt a perfect guilty pleasure read. Why? I didn't really understand Nicholas' motive in the beginning chapters since this book was told from Naomi's point of view and so it didn't give us insight into his exact thoughts. Nicholas seemed to me so fickle, and both his and Naomi's pranks were childish as hell, but I was wholeheartedly entertained regardless. Like seriously. I frequently laughed so hard that at one point my mom asked me what was I doing in my room. Naomi could be super petty at times but I supposed this was why I adored this book so much.

This book contains a coming-of-age story about an orphanage named Jane Eyre, usually described as clever though plain and not handsome. Until the age of 10, Jane lives with her cruel Aunt Reed and her three children before she is finally sent off to a boarding school named Lowood. Despite the hardship, she spends six years as a student there and another two as a teacher. Jane then decides to advertise herself and later be a governess in a grand mansion called Thornfield Hall. Unexpectedly, she falls in love with her rugged and witty master, Mr. Rochester, but she finds out that in order to save her future and character she needs to get out of the arrangement soon.

I enjoyed the first two-thirds of this book so much even though sadly I couldn’t say the same about the rest. Jane’s life in Gateshead, Lowood, and then Thornfield was very interesting to readthere’s a charm in it that spelled me to keep going onwards. However, as soon as Jane had left Thornfield and found sanctuary in Moor House, I suddenly felt the charm no more. It might be an unpopular opinion for all I know but I was even a bit... bored. How Jane didn't let her emotion get the best of her and was instead guided by her moral compass was great to witness though. I still had some mixed feelings about how Mr. Rochester handled his dark past, but then again, it's still an interesting book regardless.

City of Brass follows the story of a con artist living alone in Cairo named Nahri. Nahri has never believed in magic, but, thanks to her unique ability to sense diseases and heal them, always pretends to do so in order to survive. One day, when she's supposed to fake a zar ceremony to lift a demon out of a little girl called Baseema, she unintentionally summons a mysterious Djinn named Dara. Dara tells her that there's a city full of Daevas like her ancestors called Daevabad, the famous city of brass. He promises to take Nahri there as it's the only place free of ifrits. But later, Nahri finds out that there are pieces of his past Dara doesn't wish to share; a dangerous court full of politics including King Ghassan and his two sons: Muntadhir the emir and Alizayd the second son who's rumored to have a soft heart towards the Shafit, a half-human half-djinn creature; and old resentments between the tribes.

This book had a very intricate world-building, I admit. It was very well-built and complex, a very easy one to get lost in. Nahri especially made the story fun with her witty and headstrong character. I liked her the most in this book, followed by her time bonding with Ali through studying and books in the second place. But you see, the last 20% wasn't as charming as the earlier parts in my opinion. I admittedly found it hard to care about the characters in the last few chapters also. A few of them pretty much went downhill during the story peak, while some parts just didn't quite add up to me, though I'm going to give it a benefit of the doubt by still continuing this trilogy.