Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review: Sleeping Giants

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Themis Files #1
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
Source: ALA Midwinter
Date Read: 4/18/16 to 4/22/16
320 pages
Rating: 1/2


A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

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

I've been drawn to this book since last year, because who DOESN'T want to read about the makings of this mysterious stone giant? Doesn't it remind you of that movie, The Iron Giant? Well it did for me, and I really loved that movie, so of course I had to pick this up at one point or another.


The prologue introduces us to a young girl who discovers the an enormous stone hand, illuminated by glowing carvings. Fast forward to the future, and this girl, Rose, is now a well known physicist. By luck, she's been asked to lead the project on researching the hand, and also finding the rest of the pieces. And putting it together, and seeing how it works, or whether it works for that matter.

Sleeping Giants is told through interviews, a couple of journal entries, and recorded phone conversations between the mysterious interviewer, and a number of other characters. Although I loved how everything came together, and we got to know more about the events that were taking place, I felt that I would have liked it better as prose? There were a countless number of times where I felt left in the dark, and I wouldn't find out what happened until it was reported or the interviewer asked about it. This led to a weird pacing, as there were many time jumps between certain events.

Like I mentioned before, there were many characters. Although there were the main four, a couple more were introduced to put everything in perspective. But I just couldn't wrap my mind around all these characters.

But other than that, the plot completely pulled me into the story. Where the heck did this giant come from? How is it so powerful? What sort of technology is it? And more importantly, what the heck happened at the end there? I'm going to need that second book, because I need all my answers.

Overall, I enjoyed Sleeping Giants, even though it doesn't live up to other adult science fiction novels I have read in the past. It definitely satisfied my "Iron Giant" feels.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Review: The Last Boy And Girl In The World

The Last Boy And Girl In The World by Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
Source: ALA Midwinter
Date Read: 4/16/16 to 4/17/16
432 pages
Rating: 1/2


What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together?

While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.

And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever.

There’s a weird sort of bravery that comes from knowing there’s nothing left to lose. You might do things you normally wouldn’t. Or say things you shouldn’t. The reward almost always outweighs the risk.

Almost.

It’s the end of Aberdeen, but the beginning of Keeley’s first love story. It just might not turn out the way she thought. Because it’s not always clear what’s worth fighting for and what you should let become a memory.

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

I don't know if this is just me, but I was not expecting a contemporary here. For some reason I thought this would be fantasy? Either that, or a dystopian where the Last Boy and Girl would procreate and have babies. Or at least that's what my roommate was expecting. Sadly, we were both wrong, and instead we have a story about a town that's drowning. Due to rainfall.


Interestingly enough, this was based off of a true story. Or at least that's what it said on the first pages. I seriously wonder what town it was.

Keeley lives in a lovely, rainy town called Aberdeen, where the rainfall threatens the town almost every week. Even though sandbags line the river, the flooding still persists. It comes to the point where the mayor and governor are like "enough is enough", and they decide to turn the whole town into...wait for it...a man-made reservoir.

Rather than worry about what is to come, you know, the destruction of homes, Keeley decides that she's just not going to worry about that. Why should she? She just scored the number of her long-time crush, Jesse. Her father is finally getting off his butt and being social, supporting the locals and leading a protest against the governor. Yet, as more time passes, things slowly spin out of control.

I'm going to go straight to the point and say that every character in this book got on my nerves at least once. Which may be due to the fact that I resonated with Keeley's feelings a lot. But let's go down the list!

1. Elise: Such a goody-goody. She didn't tolerate much of Keeley's actions or personality, which mostly consisted of a fun, non-serious attitude. (Everyone needs fun in life! Hell, I used another girl's school ID to buy my dinner today, because she let me, even though we're technically not allowed. I'm sorry I ran out of money for food.)


2. Jesse: His relationship with Keeley was bleh. It was obvious he couldn't commit to a serious relationship, yet at the same time he still loved/liked her a lot. The reason why everyone thought he was a great pair was because they literally were each other. But in reality, he just couldn't handle it.
3. Morgan: As Keeley's childhood best friend, I liked her a lot. Although I don't know what she expected to happen when becoming friends with Elise. Keeley often felt out of the loop, even with her best friend, because this new friend here was "trying" to fit into their trio. Honestly, I felt a little ragey, because I understood what Keeley was going through (although selfish, I know what it's like to fight for a friend's attention).

4. Levi: Oh you. You are a squish. Although not sure where your relationship came from. That was very out of the blue.


I should probably wrap this up. As you can see, through most of the novel, I was adamantly on Keeley's side, as selfish as she was. But then I realized how damaging she was to her friends and family. Her one friend, Elise, lost her entire home to the flood, and had to relocate to Florida. Even though I didn't like her, I had to cut her some slack. Sometimes, people need a shoulder to cry on, and they won't be able to stand someone else having fun while they're sad. So although Keeley had the right intentions (at some points), her actions were often misunderstood as indifferent.

The ending was, a little sad for my tastes. Also, this book was also loooong. I'm not even sure HOW I got through it all? Though I can say that I don't regret reading it. Even if it wasn't about saving the world by making all the babies.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

An Innocent Life #8: When Will The Semester Come To End??


Hello there. I am currently drowning in everything I need to do before I graduate college. But hey, at least I don't need to worry about my future, right? (Just the future of the country, I suppose).

A photo posted by Valerie (@innocent.smiley) on

I finished reading The Last Boy And Girl In The World! It was not about the making of little babies to repopulate the Earth.

But I accidentally created an artistic photo, in that the blanket I used symbolizes the flooding of the town, Aberdeen, from the novel. MUCH ARTIST VAL. SO TALENT.

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Here are some random links from maybe the past three weeks or so? Whoops!

Cynthia @ Bingeing for Books discusses why you shouldn't blog just for free books. I mean, you'll definitely burn out within the first month!

Inge @ Bookshelf Reflections recently closed down her site (SAD) so now I can't link back to her post about JOINING BOOKISH GAMES. Which you all should, btw. Oh thanks to Shannon, here's the link!

Tonya @ LilyBloomBooks wonders if social media is too much of a good thing. I really only promote on Twitter because I am a lazy bum.

Chiara @ Books For A Delicate Eternity urges EVERYONE to go read manga! And she also has a post about whether novellas are worth your money or not.

Holly @ The Fox's Hideaway asks where all her negative reviews went (*whispers very quietly* up your butt. Haha. Ok I'll stop.)

Jillian @ Jillian's Books talks about how books have set her standards high (for real life things, like BOYFRIENDS and GIRLFRIENDS, and I guess just friends. And dogs)

Peach @ Rebelle Reads warns you to NEVER LEND OUT YOUR BOOKS AGAIN. How can people be so cruel to books?

Get your Fearless Book Blogger Workbook HERE at Bookish Serendipity!

Nefarious Tales has started! You should go check it out because A LOT of bloggers are participating!

ARGH. LIFE IS HARD

Let me tell you a fun, stressful story. Back in late February, little Val was applying to present at an Undergraduate Research Exposition at her university. It would take place on April 22nd. The deadline was March 1st, and the people in charge promised a notification on March 15th.

Fast forward to March 15th. No email. People in charge sneakily go on the website and change the notification date to April 1st. Fine.

Fast forward to April 1st. People in charge email apologies, saying that haven't gone through all the applications yet and need just a little bit more time.

Fast forward to APRIL 13TH. With less than 10 days to go, Val has been invited to present a poster. Too bad Val is posterless.

Fortunately, I do have a poster now, and I presented it. It was stressful to come up with, and I had to get it edited multiple times. But it was sooooo much better than what I expected. Like I actually talked ENGLISH. And didn't let my shyness get me! (In the end I didn't need a shot of liquor, haha). 


Look it's me! I should have won an award for best dressed or something.

The semester is almost at an end, so I mean....by May I should be HUNKY DORY. (If I had a dollar for every time I said I wouldn't be busy by a certain time....le sigh).

How are you guys doing? You guys ok?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Review: When We Collided

When We Collided by Emery Lord
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Source: ALA Midwinter
Date Read: 4/7/16 to 4/10/16
352 pages
Rating: 


We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever

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

This is going to hard for me to review. Again. I actually do have a lot of things to say, but I'm struggling to find a way to say them all, without being offensive. Especially since features a main characters with bipolar disorder.

Maybe I'll just say it straight? Ok? Ok.

So, I guess this is kind of a disclaimer in that I don't know anything about bipolar disorder. I used to think it was as simple as "oh you change moods super easily". But I'm sure that's not what it is.

Anyways, Vivi has bipolar disorder, but she's skipping out on some of her medication because of the side effects. She has just moved to this wonderful little beach town called Verona Cove, where she meets Jonah, who is struggling with his own problems. This includes taking care of his three younger siblings, while working. With his mom rarely getting out of bed, and his two older siblings working and at college, it's incredibly hard for him to juggle all the things.

And along comes Vivi, who completely turns his world around. She comes up with the craziest ideas with the kids, like a scavenger hunt, or a Slip n' Slide. And at first glance, Vivi is such a great character. She loves kids, she knows how to have fun with them. I like kids, I don't know if I'm any fun but let's just assume kids love me (They do).


But then there are just some things here and there that have gotten under my skin.

Like the fact that Vivi gets jealous when Jonah talks to other girls. Or in this case, it's his friend, from work. Whose father is really good friends with his late father. In which he was asking her for advice on how to make the family restaurant better. Like you are allowed to have relations with the opposite sex.


And then a lot of Vivi's decisions have been a little....crazy I suppose? And I couldn't get behind how she was treating Jonah at times, brushing him off and not respecting him at times. And I guess what is really bothering me is that I find it hard to criticize her without sounding like...well, an asshole. It is obvious that her bipolar disorder comes into play, and I know that excuses her actions. But unfortunately, I couldn't just ignore the feelings I had in regards to this novel. How am I supposed to know which thoughts were Vivi's, or the bipolar disorder? It was frustrating. (Cue discussion post!)

The rest of the novel I did like, though it was a little out of my comfort zone. In the end, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Like I really loved the fact that the characters were well developed. Jonah just wasn't just some guy, and Vivi actually had more going on than her illness.

I don't regret reading this, and I'm sure I'll enjoy more of Emery Lord's books in the future, but I think this was just a little too much for me. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Are We Allowed To Criticize Characters With A Mental Illness?


Hey all, I'm going to be discussing something that has been on my mind again. I really have no idea if this is controversial, but it definitely makes sense to be featuring this as a Fine Line post.

The Fine Line post is a feature I share with Holly @ The Fox's Hideaway, Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight, and Amber @ YA Indulgences. It touches upon topics that are either controversial or hard to talk about. For that reason, I will try to remain as neutral as possible. These posts are not aimed to cause offense or target anyone. And more importantly, the reason for these posts is to see what YOUR thoughts are on the topic at hand. Because I am interested in discussion.

Also, please don't be afraid to comment or discuss your thoughts. There's no right or wrong answer to anything I've discussed, and of course you do not have to agree with me on anything. The only thing I do ask is that you don't mention any names or the such. And if you do have a problem with anything I've said, feel free to DM me. Though just remember that I am allowed to state my own thoughts.

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I recently read two books, The Way I Used To Be (which isn't mental illness but we'll get to that) and When We Collided. Both featured extremely frustrating characters, which is what made them hard to read, and ultimately review.

And here is where this discussion comes in. (Before I get into it all, I would like to thank my wonderful support group in the gchat/Google Hangouts/whatever it's called nowadays, since we talked a lot about this topic. And of course, I would like to thank Amber, Holly, and Shannon for reading this and discussing it with me. Shannon rec'd me Asking For It, which now I want to read ASAP since it deals with this exact topic.)

So. It's hard to deny that there aren't a lot of books featuring characters with mental illnesses. And this is actually a good thing! It's great in that more readers can connect with the characters. More readers can become educated about mental illness, whether it's about schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder, depression, etc. Books such as Paperweight, Challenger Deep, and Made You Up are incredibly powerful narratives that opened my eyes to these topics. 

So, here is where I am unsure of where I stand. It's no surprise that sometimes I get frustrated with these characters. And that's to be expected. With When We Collided, it was so hard to read through the character's decision. And same with The Way I Used To Be, which isn't necessarily about mental illness, but also deals with such a hard topic such as rape. And I get it, that's the plot. That's how a person is in that type of situation. 

But because of this huge trend in mental illness, there's really a couple of questions I have to ask myself.

The first is something that always troubles me when I review a book featuring a character with mental illness. Can I criticize the actions of the characters? Am I allowed to do that, as someone who has not been raped, or doesn't have said mental illness? In The Way I Used To Be, our main character, Eden, spent her entire high school career struggling with the fact that she had been raped. It was horrible to read. I felt frustrated, and as someone who had not been raped, I was quick to think "Why doesn't she just SAY IT". But what could I say? I have never been in her shoes. And I'm sure other readers who, unfortunately have been, understand Eden perfectly.

For me, the same occurred with Vivi in When We Collided. I didn't agree with many of her thoughts, or her actions. But I couldn't tell apart her personality from her bipolar disorder. Were they the actions of Vivi, or the actions of an illness? 

It's a struggle because I feel like as a reviewer, I don't know whether I should criticize the character. Would it make me an asshole if I did? But then I feel equally wrong if I don't express my true feelings about it.

And along those lines, could authors be using mental illness as a way to avoid criticism? I mean, I don't think I'm the only one that struggles with criticizing characters with mental illness. If it were a different situation, I would likely criticize without second thought. Well, anyways, what do you think? I don't know if I have an opinion on this matter yet.

So in the end, I try to just follow my feelings (I say try because I'm still struggling). For The Way I Used To Be, I ended up rating it a little higher than I should've, just because I wanted others to know it was informative. But I think the important thing is that I can still say it was an eye-opening read, while criticizing the character. I just feel wrong not saying my thoughts. 


How do you feel about this? Do you also have a hard time reviewing books featuring mental illnesses?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: Girl In The Blue Coat

Girl In The Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Source: ALA Midwinter
Date Read: 4/2/16 to 4/4/16
320 pages
Rating: 


The missing girl is Jewish. I need you to find her before the Nazis do.

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman's frantic plea to find a person--a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.

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

Hello. It's me again with another book set in World War II.


(I have seriously been struggling to write this review. It's been two weeks since I finished this wonderful novel, and I have a feeling I won't be able to do the book justice. I so apologize in advance for that.)

Every time I think I have read all the stories possible from the World War II era, I stumble upon another one that completely blows my mind. You've probably read about Liesel in The Book Thief, helping her family hide a Jew in the basement. Or experienced Verity's life as a spy in Code Name Verity. Girl In The Blue Coat tells a different story, one where our main character rather stay alive than put her and her family in danger.

It's 1943, and Amsterdam is occupied by German forces. Hanneke manages to find a job at a funeral home, though most of the job involves finding and transporting black market goods to buyers. Although dangerous, Hanneke has grown to lie and flirt with any officer on her path. With her Aryan looks, she doesn't have too hard of a time. Until she decides to get involved with finding a missing Jewish girl.

It's obvious that Hanneke doesn't want to be the hero, or at least she doesn't want to anymore. Yet even so, I was still thoroughly impressed with what she was willing to do to find this missing girl, someone she has never met before, ever. Out of every WWII book I have read, I have never connected with anyone more than I did with Hanneke. I imagined myself as her. I don't really consider myself a hero, but I also don't think I would just stand idly by. And I think it takes an immense amount of courage to fight for something that may ultimately get you killed. Especially if you're not involved at all.

Hanneke could have let all of this pass her. She could have remained ignorant of the situation. But she didn't.

The setting and plot itself was researched well. It featured the Underground Camera Group, another piece of WWII history I didn't discover until now. Apparently resistance groups hid cameras and secretly took photos of what was happening, and it was incredibly dangerous because the Germans obviously didn't want that going out.  

Lastly, I do want to mention that there's a pretty nice twist relationship-wise. I don't want to ruin it, but I totally did not see it coming. Poor Hanneke didn't see it either, haha.

Overall, I really think everyone who loves WWII should read this. I don't think it packs as many feels as Code Name Verity, or The Book Thief, but it is still a fantastic read!   

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Review: Dreamology

Dreamology by Lucy Keating
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: April 12th, 2016
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 3/13/16
336 pages
Rating: 1/2


For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together they have traveled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist.

But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. It turns out, though, that Real Max is nothing like Dream Max, and getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped.

When their dreams start to bleed dangerously into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?

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

It's been about a month since I finished Dreamology, and to be honest, I'm a little conflicted. As a brain person, I very much enjoyed reading about sleep, dreams, and the like. Yet on the other hand, I felt like I was reading just to read this. But you know, who would want to pass up on reviewing this? Look at all the puns I can make!

Alice has dreamed of Max all of her life, he's literally her dream boy. And that is pretty much all she can think about, except the fact is, he isn't real. Until she transfers to a private school in Boston, and finds out that yes, he DOES exist. Surprise! But is he the REAL Max? Or our all of their memories only in her dreams?


Much of the novel focuses on the meeting of Alice and Max, and how their lives are transformed once they meet each other. You would think that once they realize that dreams can come true, they'll run off together. But that doesn't end up being the case. Max already has his life all lined up. He already has a girlfriend, other friends, and obsessing over a nonexistent girl did nothing for him. Unfortunately, he can't avoid the Real Alice since the two of them have a bigger problem. Dreams are seeping into their reality, and they must become unattached to each other before it gets worse.

You see, this book was really interesting. I like dreams. I don't remember them often, which sucks. It would be pretty nice to have a recurring dream boy for myself. One that I can remember.

Also, BOSTON. Not the best representation of Boston. I mean, all that's really described is Beacon Hill. Alice's place is accurately described, at least I can say that for certain seeing as I stayed in one of those 4-story narrow houses on Beacon Hill a couple years ago. Lots of stairs.

And uh. Max. He is very flippy floppy with his decisions on whether he should be with Alice or not. I don't know about you, but if MY dream-mate was RIGHT THERE in the flesh, I would just go for it. It's literally what both Alice and Max have been dreaming about for years.


I didn't mind reading Dreamology, though there will definitely be more memorable books out there. It also reminds me of this other book I only have heard of, called Dream Boy. I have NO IDEA whether it is similar at all, but it came up immediately after I read the synopsis.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Review: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Release Date: April 1st, 2016
Source: ALA Midwinter
Date Read: 3/28/16 to 4/2/16
352 pages
Rating: 


Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends. The only problem is she's overlooked a few teeny details. Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared. And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails. Even her latest comic book creation is misbehaving. Also, the world might be ending-- which is proving to be awkward. As doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba's life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it's the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.

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

After hearing about The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl from a number of Australian bloggers I follow, it is finally, FINALLY being released in the US. Two years later from when I heard about it.


I don't think it's any surprise that I'm drawn to this book. Even though it's not an actual superhero book, the main character, Alba, was a breath of fresh air. It's not everyday you read about a girl who draws her own comics, is comfortable in her own skin, and dresses confidently in outfits I could only dream of wearing (without feeling incredibly self-conscious). Do you know how much I would love a dress with strawberries on them? I would wear it every day!

Other than the world potentially ending, I understood exactly what Alba was going through. With so much change happening, with all of her friends moving on to bigger and better things, it's hard to not freak out about your own future. Especially when you have NO plans. And it really doesn't help that because of some stupid viral video, everyone and their mom is in Eden Valley trying the avoid the apocalypse. Or getting drunk.


It also doesn't help that you're going through a couple of rough patches with your best friend, Grady. Who may or may not be pressuring you to do something with your life. And then your movie star "friend", Daniel, comes back after 10 or so years for wait out the apocalypse.

In one way, The Incredibly Adventures of Cinnamon Girl is kind of hard to review. I'm not exactly sure what to talk about because there were a lot of deeper messages hidden in this light-hearted, fun read. And it's about life, and change, and trying new things like love. Even if you couldn't imagine it ever happening. It's almost a little frustrating to see how much Grady loves Alba, and it takes her what feels like YEARS to reciprocate those feelings!

On the flip side, I want to gush about this novel so badly. Alba's drawings of Cinnamon Girl are spread out through the book, Cinnamon Girl's feelings parallel to how Alba is feeling about her life at the time. Her obsession with gnomes, and dresses, and drawing. Her life at the bakery, her feelings about her father's accident. The novel really fleshed out Alba and made her real and dimensional. And incredibly unique and nerdy, which of course I approve of.

When I first heard of this book, the main character was what really drew me in. Two years later, I have gotten everything I wanted from this book, and more.


Also, as my first Australian YA. I can finally say, #LoveOzYA.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

An Innocent Life #7: Surgery & April Fool's (No, Those Do Not Go Together)


Hi! I have been home for a week now, basically skipping school and doing nothing. And what have I been doing exactly? Reading, shopping, playing video games....oh and I got my surgery done today! More on that later :)

Here's a fun instagram pic I took this week!

A photo posted by Valerie (@innocent.smiley) on

I have been reading The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, and it was totally not what I expected (also so much longer than I expected. Like I thought I would be done by the end of March, but nope!). Did you know this incorporates the end of the world and the apocalypse and all that jazz? It kind of reminds me of We All Looked Up, but much more light-hearted! 

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I think it is safe to say by now that yesterday's post about a debut event on Turnt-up 21er's was an April Fool's Day joke. Glad to see all the great comments on both my post and Shannon's, but I don't know WHY people are entering the giveaway hahahahh! It is quite hilarious. I don't know if you know, but April Fool's Day is my favorite day of the year. Last year, I reviewed a fake book, The Innocent Centaur #2, and everyone loved it. Shannon convinced me to go along with this idea, and I admit, we have outdone ourselves!

Alyssa @ The Devil Orders Takeout discusses whether there can be TOO much diversity in one book. Aka the use of TOKEN diversity. Like just as a selling point rather than fully fleshing out a character.

My favorite squish Larissa @ Life As Larissa talks about the tangled web of Author and Blogger relationships, and how it may subconsciously be inflating book ratings.

Emily @ Loony Literate gives us 5 reasons why she won't be getting a co-blogger. I share those 5 reasons. She also explains what a Manic Pixie Dream Girl is in her review of Thanks for the Trouble!

Tonya @ LilyBloomBooks asks if reading too much can ever be a problem. Especially when it comes to book amnesia!

Jillian @ Chasing Faerytales shares her experience on being self-conscious about reading, and asks for full reader acceptance. Totally relatable to middle school Val.

Ashley @ Nosegraze asks us about whether post events, names, or ideas are truly original. In other words, do we overestimate how original we are?

Jessica @ Bookish Serendipity shares with us 21 epic tools for book bloggers!.

Aentee @ The Social Potato talks about those never-ending series with ALL the spinoffs, and whether you had any thoughts on those.

Rasheeka @ The Social Potato discusses subtweeting! Also imagine a subtweet about this post on subtweeting. Subtweet-ception!

Shamom @ It Starts At Midnight CHALLENGES you to a take your SLUMP TO THE NEXT LEVEL.

So. Surgery. I think I have talked about this enough, but it wasn't anything major or anything. Just to clear up all that blood from my second uterus. The surgery itself wasn't bad, seeing as I only have minimal pain, and thanks to the wonders of drugs, I can live a pain free life. 

The worst part of the surgery wasn't even the surgery itself. It was just the whole peeing in a cup ordeal. I mean hello, hasn't anyone taking into account that I have one kidney? If you don't tell me to eat or drink after midnight the night before, there is no way I will be peeing in your cup, thank you very much. (In the end they had to make me urine ha...haha. THEY EVEN COMMENTED THAT I HAD BARELY NONE). 

From now on, I will not pee the day of any doctor appointments, or future surgeries, which hopefully won't happen for a couple of years.

What else, what else. Surgery was a success! I was initially supposed to have two surgeries but no need! I suspect that something happened to my skin, due to this tiny, painful brown grayish spot on my skin where the uteri live. Did I mistake what my doctor was telling me and something was inserted there? WAS THIS THERE BEFORE AND I HAD NO IDEA? 

I got to ride in a wheelchair to the car. That was fun. Highlight of the day.

So, it was okay. Other than the urine part, I would say that my April is starting off well? Still have a whole week of no classes left because of post-surgery appointment, which let's be honest, will probably take like 10 minutes.

Happy April!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Introducing Turnt Up 21ers: A Debut Event


I have some incredibly exciting news for you all! I have teamed up with Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight to host an amazing debut event featuring our very own, Turnt Up 21ers. Both Shannon and I have worked really hard on this, and we're very happy to be sharing it with you right now!

For all of you who don't know, we'll be featuring a bunch of authors debuting in 2021 on a number of blogs. And of course, I have a SPECIAL TREAT for you guys today. I will be showcasing a 2021 debut author right here right now on the blog! Drumroll please!


A Rush of Snow & Ashes by Horatio Eukale
Book One of The Innocent Centaur
Publisher: Fat Bunny Books
Release Date: May 1st, 2021
336 pages



Have you ever imagined a world unlike your own?
A place only ever thought about in your mind?
An escape to all your troubles?

As a centaur, Val constantly battles against her inner demons. The ones telling her that she's not good enough to defeat the evil coursing through the land. Armed with only her four legs and two arms, Val discovers the key to success. Procrastination.

Along with her good friend, Amber the unicorn, she searches high and low for answers about her past. Who is she? Where did she come from? Who is this ominous Midfart the Vampire? Why has she acquired a talking potato? Val must overcome not only the obstacles in front of her, but also the one inside her. Including the digestion of that piece of broccoli. Only then, can she truly defeat the powerful Northern Fox Girl.

For Val, this is only the beginning. But for everyone else, it is already the end.

Hello! Horatio Eukale here! I just want to thank Val so much for hosting me on The Innocent Smiley, which coincidentally, is part of the series name! (How did that even happen? The world will never know). Anyways, I'm incredibly honored to have my upcoming debut A Rush of Snow & Ashes featured here. And since Val has asked me to talk about my inspiration for this book, that's what I'll do.

This may be surprising to some, but most of A Rush of Snow & Ashes is due to my experience. Well actually, all of it is due to experience. You see, this actually happened. In real life. Now, don't go brushing me off yet, because I have PROOF. Or I had proof. You see, I actually experienced all of this first hand. One moment, I'm with my friends having a good time. The next, I'm fighting with Val and Amber. And before I knew it, I was on my couch in my house.

For a long time after that, I knew something felt a little off. It was like someone was telling me to speak the truth, to write it as a book. Because it was REAL. And I had to WARN SOMEONE RIGHT? About this impending DOOM. AND THAT'S WHY HERE I AM TELLING YOU--

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Hey this is Val again! It seems like we've run into some technical difficulties with this guest post! But that's okay, we have a whole event planned for you! So I definitely urge you all to check out all of these posts in the future!

TOUR STOPS:

A Rush Of Snow & Ashes by Horatio Eukale on The Innocent Smiley - April 1st, 2016
Bud, Buddy, & Bathroom Lunches by Juanita Bidet on It Starts At Midnight - April 1st, 2016
I'm A Big Kid Now by Limp Noodle on I Read, You Read, We All Read - January 2nd, 2022
The Unicorn That Flew by Berber Sandi on BirbaReader - January 25th, 2022
My Dog Ate My Retainer by Ollie Majestic on Bookin Down The Road - February 4th, 2022
Happy Birthday You Pile of Poop by Dody on The Innocent Smiley - February 31st, 2022
I Missed My Shot by Alexander Hamilton on Young Adult Indulgences - March 7th, 2022
Drunken Mishaps by Herbert Peewee on Reading Rainbow - March 20th, 2022
Weenie by Kale Onion on The Innocent Smiley - April 12th, 2022
The Unguided Help by Samson Juacal on Happy Bookday - April 60th, 2022
Below The Ice, Into the Fire by Kia Robinson on My Bookshelf Ate Me - May 19th, 2022
Magical Magic Magicking by Harry Potter on Yer A Book, Harry! - August 8th, 2022
How To Kill A Mockingjay by President Snow on It Starts at Midnight - September 4th, 2022
Swallowed By Madness by Some College Student on The Pantsless Potato - September 18th, 2022
Death by Procrastination by Rasheepoo on The Innocent Smiley - November 2nd, 2022
I Hope You See This Is A Joke by April Fool's on The Fox's Hideaway - December 7th, 2022
Time Stops For No One, Except Me by Time Traveler's Dog on Ollie Blogger - December 31st, 2022
Laughing In Your Face by Haha on The Innocent Smiley - January 8th, 2024


Did I mention that we also have A GIVEAWAY? Though do make sure to check out the Terms & Conditions before submitting!

Prize pack includes gifts from the authors: Book Depository bookmarks, playing cards from Denmark, a bottle of Dasani®, Gertrude Hawk peanut butter Smidgens®, a cow rectal thermometer, two Sharpies®, three packets of Equal®, a small votive candle, mini candy canes, a headband, Crystal Light On the Go® pack, green nail polish, lip stuff, sock monkey bubbles, and some various Bath and Body Works™ products.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Lastly, I do want to thank all of the bloggers participating in this wonderful event, happening in 2022. You mean the world to me, and I don't know HOW I wouldn't have gotten all of this done without you, my readers!

Also, don't forget to check out Shannon's part of the tour as well!