Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: The Inexplicable Logic Of My Life

The Inexplicable Logic Of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Source: ALA Midwinter 2017
Date Read: 3/14/17 to 3/26/17
464 pages


The first day of senior year:

Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.

Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Disclaimer: I think that Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was a much better book.

To follow up, this was good. But just not as good, ok? I mean for one, there is no dog named Legs. And really, there is no dog in general. But I guess that’s beside the point.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life follows Sal, who although isn’t Mexican by blood, still sees himself as Mexican American since his adopted father raised him to be one. Though it doesn’t help that he is conflicted at times due to this. But this isn’t all. Him and his best friend, Sam, both go through a ton of tough times, from uncontrollable actions resulting in punches to deaths in the family.

Because life is hard.

There’s no huge climax, but rather just the ups and downs of life. And I think there’s essentially why many aren’t as impressed with this as they were with Ari and Dante. And I guess I can say the same. Because even though this was a so beautifully written, it lacked in plot. However, I can say that Sal’s father is the nicest, sweetest man ever. And of course there’s Mima, who is 10 times as sweet.

Also, this is such a quick read, which I appreciated. There’s an art to writing short, concise yet eloquent dialogue, and Benjamin Alire Sáenz has mastered that.

I would definitely recommend this, but just be warned that this probably won’t live up to his first novel. Just lower your expectations a bit, but only a bit.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Review: At The Edge Of The Universe

At The Edge Of The Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Source: Bought
Date Read: 3/14/17 to 3/16/17
485 pages


Tommy and Ozzie have been best friends since the second grade, and boyfriends since eighth. They spent countless days dreaming of escaping their small town—and then Tommy vanished.

More accurately, he ceased to exist, erased from the minds and memories of everyone who knew him. Everyone except Ozzie.

Ozzie doesn’t know how to navigate life without Tommy and soon suspects that something else is going on—that the universe is shrinking.

When Ozzie is paired up with the reclusive and secretive Calvin for a physics project, it’s hard for him to deny the feelings that develop between them, even if he still loves Tommy.

But Ozzie knows there isn’t much time left to find Tommy—that once the door closes, it can’t be opened again. And he’s determined to keep it open as long as possible.
Ever since reading We Are the Ants, I have been on the lookout for more of Shaun Hutchinson’s books. And this new one did not disappoint. It’s an interesting twist on the genre, because as with the previous book, this wasn’t fully science fiction. But at the same time, it wasn’t fully contemporary either. It’s as if it were science realism, instead of magical realism.

Tommy and Ozzie were inseparable, until one day, no one remembers Tommy. No one except for Ozzie, who is dismayed that no one remembers his best friend and boyfriend. As much as he tries to get his friends, family, anyone to remember him, no one believes him. And furthermore, he finds out that the universe is shrinking. Every day, it gets smaller and smaller, but of course, no one remembers it being that big in the first place.

Yet even with all of this weirdness, Ozzie finds solace in Calvin. Even if he feels guilty for betraying Tommy.

As I mentioned, At the Edge of the Universe is no less weird than Shaun Hutchinson’s previous book. And that’s a good thing. I thought the relationships, the characters, and the plot were all very well done. I was honestly afraid that the ending wouldn’t satisfy me. And that worry forced me to finish the book in about two days, and fortunately, the ending worked for me.

And I don't want to spoil anything, but ahhhh it was really well done. Maybe another reader would have wanted something more tangible, but in my heart I truly believed it all turned out the way it did.

Although this lived up to, and even surpassed We Are the Ants, this wasn’t a top 2017 book for me. It missed that spark for me, and that’s needed for me as contemporaries can be a hit or miss for me. It was also really hard for me to put my thoughts together for this review, as I don’t necessarily have any strong opinions about this.

BUT STILL A GREAT BOOK, YOU KNOW.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #105


Top Ten Fandoms I'm In!

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that my favorite show, Bob's Burgers, has been removed from Netflix. Or at least seasons 3 to 5 have been removed. And that was pretty much my #1 fandom. And that's partly the reason why I didn't just dedicate this post to Bob's Burgers. BECAUSE I'M SO SAD OKAY? SO SAD.

A post shared by Valerie (@innocentsmiley) on

Like look. I have my Belcher babies. And two t-shirts. I just love this show so much.

Onto my other favorite fandoms, I guess.

There's Mass Effect, which is one of my favorite, favorite, video game series (it used to be Assassin's Creed, but they messed up big time I think). It has some of my favorite character interactions, and the new game, Mass Effect Andromeda, is amazing. I'm so glad I preordered it.

Also Bioware makes great games, like Dragon Age. The characters are all amazing, and so is the story.

I feel like I'm in all the video game fandoms. Like Ace Attorney, and Pokemon, AND FALLOUT 4. And Bioshock. And there's just too many, too many.

When it comes to anime, I am a huge fan of Cardcaptor Sakura, as it was one of the first anime I watched. In French. It was great. I also watched Sailor Moon in Chinese, but I never really got into it too much. My fave is Sailor Venus however.

There's also a bunch of anime I love, like Natsume Yuujinchou, and One Punch Man. And a ton more that's on my anime list, which I don't feel like looking at right now.

Oh, don't forget everything by Disney. I really love Disney. I mean I go to WDW all the time thanks to my annual pass (thanks dad)

Uhhh let's see, TV shows. Oh I absolutely LOVED Stranger Things! And Sense8! And I'm currently in the middle of The OA, which is pretty good. Though I only watched one episode. So I lied, I'm not really in the middle middle. And I can't forget Jessica Jones. I need new seasons of all of these asap.

I'm not going to talk about books because I love all the books.

I'm in the Kung Fu Panda fandom but I'm not sure if there is actually a fandom for that. But I have literally watched that movie more than 20 times at this point. I don't know why I am freaking obsessed with it. I just am.


Is that it? Probably not. Also I basically listed everything that came to mind, and this wasn't organized in any way at all.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Month of Self-Discovery (In The Wild)

Hey guys!

I know I haven't really updated much, and no, it's not because I have quit blogging. Rather, and you'll be surprised when I say this, I've been on this journey of self-discovery.

What do I mean by this? Well, first off, I am taking this whole month off to live in the forest. And I'm not bringing much either. I've isolated myself from everyone, and the only things with me are this phone, and Anna and the French Kiss. 

"Val", you might ask, "why Anna and the French Kiss? You hate that book!" And you're right, dedicated reader, I don't like that book. But bringing it with me on my journey will remind me of how I want to live me life. Not like that book. (But I like Paris so I mean I do like that part).

Do you want to see where I'll be living? 


This is my hut for the next month. I actually staked it out last year, but it is officially MINE.

I know I said I would be in isolation, but I do have one friend with me. We're pretty close, and sometimes we discuss books together.


As you can see, super close.

So yeah. I have big plans for the next month, and since I'll have my phone, I'll be able to update via Twitter! So you'll be able to follow me as I'm going through my journey of self-discovery. And who knows, maybe you'll be inspired to take one too! At the very least, you'll learn that it's April Fool's day :D

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!