Monday, March 27, 2017

The Rules of Rating on Goodreads


(Spoiler: There are none)

Recently there’s been talk about rating books without reading them. And though I personally have not rated anything before reading (not even a DNF, I think!), there really aren’t any rules concerning this. Etiquette? Maybe. But since Goodreads never defines what their ratings are for, it’s really free game.


In other words, it’s perfectly fine to rate a book without reading it. And here are some reasons why I think that’s the case:

1. As mentioned before, I don’t feel as if Goodreads does a good job defining what the star ratings are for. The most obvious is that it’s a rating of how much you liked the book. Or disliked it. Or it could be a rating of how much you don’t want to read the book. Or do want to read it. Users are allowed to use the rating system as they see fit, expanding upon it in the review section.

2. Goodreads doesn’t even add the book to your shelves as “read” after you rate it. I just tested this, and the book I rated remained on my “Want to Read” list. So okay, Goodreads obviously knows that users will rate books that aren’t necessarily something they read.

3. You might ask, why would they do that? Well that’s my next point. The fact that Goodreads even allows for the rating of books before their release date, or without even being on a certain shelf, shows that they are okay with it. Now, it might not be for the intention of deflating the rating of a problematic book, but their intentions were most likely to help with promotion. And excitement. Like I said, if they really didn’t want this to happen, they would have restricted the rating to after release, like Amazon does.


To be honest, I see Goodreads as the #1 place to find out about books. Before I joined the book community, I would rely a lot on the avg. rating to pick my books. That’s why I feel like one-starring problematic books on Goodreads is the best way to get the message out. That way, readers outside the community will avoid it because of its low rating. Of course, saying this is a bit controversial, and well, this is just how I feel about it I suppose!

Yet after saying all of that, I don’t think I would personally rate a book I haven’t read. However, I do hope my post convinces you that it’s something that’s fine to do.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #104


Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR!

I have so many books to read in the upcoming months, and so little time. I like to pretend that this is the set schedule I have for myself, but that's a lie and everybody knows it.

Also if you haven't noticed, along with changing a couple of things on the blog, I've also changed the TTT graphic! Clicking on the graphic leads you back to The Broke and the Bookish, who hosts Top Ten Tuesdays!

I've already started The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, but I haven't gotten that far. Either way, I have heard amazing things, and I will be finishing it soon!

Obviously Holly wants me to read A Conjuring of Light ASAP, and seeing that I brought that to read over "spring" break (really winter break at this point), I WILL BE GETTING TO IT. I promise.

I'm #2 on the hold list for A Promise of Fire, because I am so very sick of YA, and I needed something new. And pretty sure either Holly or Rashika recommended this to me. And I always listen to the recommendations of my friends (sometimes)

Apparently I put All the Birds in the Sky on hold a LONG time ago, and I'm almost next in line for it! So I'm just going to assume I'll be reading it this spring.

I preordered At the Edge of the Universe, so obviously I need to get to it. Also it's Shaun David Hutchinson and he's my fave.

Recently received Waking Gods from Netgalley (that "Wish For It" actually works sometimes, ha) and that means I can read it! Woo!

I'm not as excited as I was before to read The One Memory of Flora Banks, but since it has to do with memory, I'm interested to know how it turns out.

And then there's The Upside of Unrequited.

And Letters to the Lost, which I have no idea what it's about, but I'm going in blind because why not.

Lastly, I've been reading The Secret of a Heart Note, but it's taken me months because I'm just not as engaged as I hoped I would have been? It's sad. 


Will I read any of these this spring? Time will tell. Though I will have to read ACOL or else Holly will disown me.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Review: Hunted (+ How Do We Feel About Captor/Captive Romances?)

Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: March, 14th 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 3/5/17 to 3/9/17
352 pages


Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

To say I didn’t like this would be a bit over the top. Since I’ve read These Broken Stars (which now that I think about it, also got 3 stars from me), I knew I would be picking up Hunted as well. As much as I love those retellings, I’m starting to now think maybe the writing style common to most fairytales just aren’t my thing. Either it’s that, or it’s just this book. Honestly, not sure how I feel about Hunted at all.

Hunted mushes together the tale of Beauty and the Beast, and also I think The Firebird? Or whatever the name for that tale is, because I’m really not familiar with Russian Folklore at all. Nevertheless, the story tells of our main character Yeva (secretly named Beauty by her father and her family) hunting the Beast that supposedly killed her father. But after being captured herself, she’s forced to train and hunt for him, for some unknown reason. As the story progresses, the two kind of get closer…kind of.

Buuuuut that leads to my main discussion, and why you all visited my blog today! *claps*

What is our stance on captor/captive romance? Or however it’s called.

Just a little disclaimer, I personally didn’t find this part of the book problematic, mainly because I knew it was based off Beauty and the Beast. However, I did think about this a lot while reading Hunted, and then I thought about what the opinions of the book community were on this topic. Mainly because I haven’t seen anyone talk about it in regards to this book, and from previous book and Twitter discussions, this seems to apply to only WWII settings. And I think The Bone Season? Either way, I know there’s been some discussion on this, but I wasn’t sure what made something a problematic captor/captive romance.

Thoughts like the questions above kept popping up the more I read through Hunted. For example, Yeva’s best friend warns her of not going back to the Beast, because he hurt her. And even though she reasons that it’s because she stabbed him with a knife and anyone would retaliate after that, the conversation between them really stood out. Mainly because the friend doesn’t get many lines in the book, and her saying this made me feel like the author was trying highlight this conversation.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
What are your thoughts on this topic? What makes a romance like this problematic? Or is there nothing wrong with it at all?

How does this relate back to Beauty and the Beast? What makes that romance okay and others not?


To conclude, I’m not sure how I feel about this book. I didn’t really feel the chemistry between Beauty and the Beast (literally), mainly because I kept constantly thinking about their romance. Plus, even though I did enjoy the plot, the writing itself made me a bit sleepy. I couldn’t stop myself from skimming here and there, because I just wasn’t engaged with the writing style. And because of that, I didn’t end up caring too much about the rest of the family, Yeva’s two sisters and their suitors (Also surprise, there is no real Gaston in this book!).

So basically, I thought this was pretty meh, and I’m hoping my next read will be much more exciting!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Review: Goodbye Days

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Publisher: Crown Books
Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Source: ALA Midwinter 2017
Date Read: 3/1/17 to 3/3/17
416 pages
Rating: 


Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Completely lived up to The Serpent King, just saying. Also I was scared and hesitant to start reading this. Why? Because I wasn’t sure if I could handle the sadness that came along with this book. Well, I couldn’t exactly handle it, but that’s okay because THIS STORY IS STAYING IN MY HEART FOREVER.

But seriously, I would look up from reading this thinking that all my friends were dead. Fortunately, they were not. Never have I been so grateful.

Sorry I cannot resist

Where do I even start? From the fact that I have sticky notes marking my favorite quotes? I never pay attention to quotes. Never. And here is this book, just blowing my mind.

“For a time, we rummage through the drawers of our memories, pulling out the stories that are brightest and sharpest, like knives, and setting them in a row. Rekindling fires that had burned to embers. And then we are silent and still because merely listening to ourselves breath feels like a holy rite in Death’s halls.”

The metaphors. This is my ideal writing style. At times it’s simple, and other times it just HITS YOU IN THE FEELS. Really, unlike anything I have read in a long while.

I’m not even sure what else I should be saying? Other than the fact that if you’re going to be reading any one contemporary, pick up Goodbye Days. Also, be prepared to tear up throughout the novel. Because it’s sad. I mean, imagine if your best friends were dead and everyone blamed you for their deaths. It’s rough.

One thing that did rub me the wrong way a bit was [spoiler] how Carver started going after his dead best friend’s girlfriend. However, despite saying that, I believe it brought up an important issue, and that’s that no one owns Jessamyn. She is allowed to move on at her own pace, because she doesn’t belong to anyone, dead or alive. So even though it felt weird to me to have this relationship pop up all of a sudden, I came to realize that that was okay. [end spoiler]

And that’s my very vague review. Again, highly recommend reading this, as it definitely makes my top 2017 reads.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: Girl Code

Girl Code by Andrea Gonzales & Sophie Houser
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 3/3/17 to 3/3/17
416 pages
Rating: 1/2


Perfect for aspiring coders everywhere, Girl Code is the story of two teenage tech phenoms who met at Girls Who Code summer camp, teamed up to create a viral video game, and ended up becoming world famous. The book also includes bonus content to help you get started coding!

Fans of funny and inspiring books like Maya Van Wagenen’s Popular and Caroline Paul’s Gutsy Girl will love hearing about Andrea “Andy” Gonzales and Sophie Houser’s journey from average teens to powerhouses. Through the success of their video game, Andy and Sophie got unprecedented access to some of the biggest start-ups and tech companies, and now they’re sharing what they’ve seen. Their video game and their commitment to inspiring young women have been covered by the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, CNN, Teen Vogue, Jezebel, the Today show, and many more.

Get ready for an inside look at the tech industry, the true power of coding, and some of the amazing women who are shaping the world. Andy and Sophie reveal not only what they’ve learned about opportunities in science and technology but also the true value of discovering your own voice and creativity.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Let me first get this out: CODING. GIRLS. TEENS. PROGRAMMING. TAMPONS. VIDEO GAMES. ONLY THE BEST SUCCESS STORY EVER. AND. A LOOK INTO THE TECH AND COMPUTER PROGRAMMING INDUSTRY.

Those were the keywords that ran through my head when I read the synopsis. And luckily for me, and the young girls who will be picking this up, these themes stayed true throughout the book. Girl Code emphasizes the lack of women in the computer programming industry, and STEM overall. There is this stigma that women should not be in this field.

Girl Code tells the wonderful success story of Andy and Sophie, two brilliant teens who managed to put together a complex, viral, side-scroller web game in only one week. The game you ask? TAMPON RUN. Where you throw tampons at cops trying to confiscate your tampons. The idea for this game? The one that is also emphasized throughout the book? It’s that there is this taboo around talking about menstruation. And there really is. Periods are normal, monthly thing. If I no longer view it as gross, then I should be able to talk about it with anyone (and I do, really). Talking about periods should definitely be normalized. And that is very much emphasized throughout this book, and through the game, WHICH YOU CAN PLAY HERE.


Andy and Sophie encounter many obstacles while designing and programming their game. I really appreciated how the authors went into how they tackled each project and each line of code. Sometimes it's really overwhelming to look towards the end goal, in that you start thinking "wow, will I even be able to do that?" Little by little, however, the project DOES come together. And before you know it, you have the full thing ready to go. That was me programming my first year project!

Though I did enjoy Girl Code, the writing style was a bit simple for me. Nevertheless, I’m sure it will provide many young girls with the encouragement and motivation to learn programming. Because sadly, many girls interested in STEM at age 11 lose interest once they hit 15.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Review: Denton Little's Still Not Dead

Denton Little's Still Not Dead by Lance Rubin
Denton Little #2
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Source: Netgalley
Date Read: 2/12/17 to 2/14/17
352 pages
Rating: 


You only live once—unless you’re Denton Little!

The good news: Denton Little has lived through his deathdate. Yay! The bad news: He’s being chased by the DIA (Death Investigation Agency), he can never see his family again, and he may now die any time. Huh. Cheating death isn’t quite as awesome as Denton would have thought…

Lance Rubin’s debut novel, Denton Little’s Deathdate, showed readers just how funny and poignant imminent death could be. Now in this sequel, he takes on the big questions about life. How do we cope, knowing we could die at any time? Would you save someone from dying even if they were a horrible person? Is it wrong to kiss the girl your best friend is crushing on if she’s really into you instead? What if she’s wearing bacon lip gloss?

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

If you haven't read the first book, Denton Little's Deathdate...

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SURPRISE, Denton is still alive. I mean, you could probably infer that from the fact that there is a second book. And the fact that you clicked on this link, or my blog, or whatever, and saw that Denton was in fact still not dead. So what gives?

Well, to be honest, I'm quite pleased with this duology. I didn't think the first book would be something for me, until I read that it was a humorous take on DEATH (my favorite). Also, here's my plug on The Machine of Death anthology. 



This book jumps straight into where the first one left off. It's a bit disorienting as I read the first one a little more than a year ago, but once I reminded myself what happened (and the book kind of does this for you), then I was back into the swing of things. To be fair, however, there were multiple characters I just forgot about. Even with a refresher within the first couple of pages, I found myself lost at times. For example, totally forgot that the Death Investigation Agency included Denton's best friend's mom.

But other than that, I still had a pretty wild time. We learn that yes, Denton has surpassed his deathdate. But not only that, he can actually transmit his "virus" to others. Only right before they die however. And although his recently not-so-deceased mother want to use that to send a message about the current nature of how death is treated, Denton has somewhat other plans. First off, he wants to go back to the rest of his family, his stepmom, his friends, and not stayed cooped up in an apartment forever. Second the DIA is constantly on his tail, trying to "get rid of him" because he is such a threat.

Even though the story itself isn't deep, or had a profound message underlying the story, it was very much enjoyable. And again, pretty darn funny.
"Wow, I've been in the world eighteen years, and I've never been in a love triangle, and now I get to be in one with two of my favorite people in the whole world. How awesome is that?"


Now if only all main characters could think that too instead of making a fuss, amirite?

To conclude, definitely a fun duology. I do highly recommend it, though it may or may not be for you. BUT I RECOMMEND ANYWAYS.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Why Is Blogging Hard All Of A Sudden?


Hello there. Long time no see.

Going to be honest with you guys, life has become really rough. It's getting harder and harder to juggle blogging, reading, video games, my social life, and oh right, graduate school. It's a big part of why I haven't been great at scheduling posts or reviews. Which is fine, because education comes first! Though with that being said, I do miss blogging. I just am not great at taking the time to start a post.

But moving along, I've decided to list a bunch of reasons why I am just not as motivated as I've been in the past. So here we go.

1. I have nothing to say about certain books. This has also been an issue in the past, but I managed to overcome it somehow. Now that I am even less motivated than before, it's been harder to word my thoughts into full, coherent reviews. Especially when I have NOTHING to say. Sadness.

2. 50% of the time, there's a cat sitting on my keyboard. I throw her off sometimes. But other times she's just too darn cute and cuddly. Case in point BELOW

A post shared by Valerie (@innocentsmiley) on

3. Current Events. I hate all the bad things happening in our country. HATE THEM. Because personally, I'm doing great. My life is great. But the rest of the world? Not so much. How am I supposed to blog, flail, TALK about books on Twitter, when the WORLD IS BURNING. Sorry, exaggeration.

4. Speaking of the above, I am constantly distracted by Twitter and Instagram. Especially instagram, as it's very easy to post photos everyday. At least for me, I end up taking photos all on the weekend. Though that may change depending on how much time I have. Who knows.

5. I can't write up posts because I have stats homework. Or other types of work. Or research. Or I have to prep a lecture that I'm giving, to a class, to about 100 students. Fun fun.

6. No motivation to discuss ANYTHING. What is there to discuss nowadays? I'm really not passionate about many things when it comes to discussion topics (and I'm not talking about discussions from Book Twitter, but more innocuous things, like Do You DNF, or Do You Watch Book to Movie Adaptions). I just don't really have full fledged thoughts on any of those topics. Which to be honest, is not a change from past Val. Past Val didn't care about ANY of those things! (and still doesn't)

7. EVERYONE IS LEAVING ME. There are fewer and fewer blog posts on my feed. WHY. WHERE ARE YOU ALL GOING. I rarely see you on Twitter anymore!

8. Speaking of, I have no time to comment as much as I used to. I used to comment A LOT. Like at least 20 to 30 posts a week. Now? If I make it to 5 I'm happy. But yeah, that definitely leads to less interactions, and that makes me sad.

9. I want to make all the graphics. Thanks to my school, I get all Adobe products for free. But thanks to my school, I want to make all the graphics, and I can't. I even opened up a Society6 store solely so I could buy my own things (and let others buy them too I guess). Like I made this "I'm A Plant Killer" mug, because I kill every single plant I touch.


Unfortunately the problem is, this takes hours. And often times, I am not pleased with the results.

10. Apparently I have friends. I'm busy every weekend, whether I'm going hiking, sleeping over my friend's house, going on trips, eating out, there's barely any time left for anything. I don't regret it, but I do wish there was just more time in the day. That would be nice.


So I think that is that. Obviously I am going to try to blog at least once in a while, but I think I'm done with blog schedules. Reviews will happen when they happen, I suppose.

Until then, you are stuck with me and my blog :P