Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #94

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR

I used to live in the north, but now here I am in North Carolina, eagerly anticipating sweater weather. But it will never come. Which is fine by me, I suppose, because I really do like warmer weather. Plus I know winter is coming and I don't want that yet.

Even though it doesn't feel like fall yet, I will pretend that it is. Here's my list of books that maybe I will read and get to these next couple of months!



I recently went to see David Arnold at Flyleaf Books, and I got my copy of Kids of Appetite signed! Every one of his books that I have are signed by him now, which is great because I consider him one of my favorite authors. So I will definitely be getting to Kids of Appetite at some point.

Holly has raved about The Female of the Species a ton, which means I will definitely be getting to it at some point. I feel like I've already mentioned this, but oh well.

Shannon absolutely loved Disruption, and I'm sure that I will too. I really am just putting all my faith in my buddies, because I do tend to do that.

I bought the box set, which includes Crooked Kingdom. And that comes tomorrow!

Ah Gemina. I'm still debating as to whether I should buy a finished copy or not. I should if I have the money for it! Or maybe wait until it's on sale somewhere haha.

I am very excited for Replica because it is such an interesting concept, to flip between chapters. How am I supposed to keep track of my reading via Goodreads though? How does that work haha.

Surprise! I actually really liked Magonia! Which is why I will definitely be picking up the sequel, Aerie

And there's also Holding Up The Universe too, because honestly I think I would read anything by Jennifer Niven. I remember her coming to Rochester for the Rochester Teen Book Festival, and back then she wasn't super well known. That was a fun experience.

Iron Cast! I have no idea why I'm drawn to it. Again, Holly loved it and wants me to read it ASAP.

And I just had to pick up Timekeeper, how can you resist the plot line for this? Seriously check out that blurb!

Are you ready for fall? Apple picking? Pumpkin picking? Sweater weather? Presidential elections? (no)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Review: The Vicar of Nibbleswick (Happy 100th Birthday Roald Dahl)

The Vicar Of Nibbleswicke by Roald Dahl
Publisher: Puffin Books
Release Date: May 1st, 1994
Source: Blog Tour
Date Read: 9/18/16
48 pages
Rating: 


The Reverend Lee is suffering from a rare and acutely embarrassing situation: Back-to-Front Dyslexia. It affects only his speech, and he doesn't realize he's doing it, but the parishioners of Nibbleswicke are shocked and confused by his seemingly outrageous comments.


Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Flashback to second grade, where my teacher read to us most of Roald Dahl's books. It was there that I learned about James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, The BFG, and more. When my teacher mentioned that that was all the books we would read by him, I distinctly remember telling her that NO those weren't all the books and there were MORE. And then I went on a frenzy looking for more of his books. It was an obsession.

The Vicar of Nibbleswicke was one of those books we never got to. Though it is a picture book and not as well known as the others, it encompasses the same quality. In The Vicar of Nibbleswicke, the main character is dyslexic, but has learned to control it. Until the day he becomes the Vicar, it all unravels! Next thing you know, he's saying "dog" instead of "God". Hilarity ensues.

(Even though I am not a speech pathologist, it seems more than a coincidence that I am reviewing this seeing as my area of interest is language production and speech planning).

I quite enjoyed The Vicar of Nibbleswicke! If you have children, or are looking for a fun, short read, then this may be the book for you! You can win it in the giveaway at the end of this post!

Roald Dahl (1916–1990) was one of the world’s most imaginative, successful and beloved storytellers. He was born in Wales of Norwegian parents and spent much of his childhood in England. After establishing himself as a writer for adults with short story collections such as Kiss Kiss and Tales of the Unexpected, Roald Dahl began writing children's stories in 1960 while living with his family in both the U.S. and in England. His first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated.

Roald Dahl’s first children’s story, The Gremlins, was a story about little creatures that were responsible for the various mechanical failures on airplanes. The Gremlins came to the attention of both First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who loved to read the story to her grandchildren, and Walt Disney, with whom Roald Dahl had discussions about the production of a movie.

Roald Dahl was inspired by American culture and by many of the most quintessential American landmarks to write some of his most memorable passages, such as the thrilling final scenes in James and the Giant Peach - when the peach lands on the Empire State Building! Upon the publication of James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl began work on the story that would later be published as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and today, Roald Dahl’s stories are available in 58 languages and, by a conservative estimate, have sold more than 200 million copies.

Roald Dahl also enjoyed great success for the screenplays he wrote for both the James Bond film You Only Live Twice in 1967 and for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, released one year later, which went on to become a beloved family film. Roald Dahl’s popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans.

Two charities have been founded in Roald Dahl’s memory: the first charity, Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, created in 1991, focuses on making life better for seriously ill children through the funding of specialist nurses, innovative medical training, hospitals, and individual families across the UK.

The second charity, The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre – a unique cultural, literary and education hub – opened in June 2005 in Great Missenden where Roald Dahl lived and wrote many of his best-loved works. 10% of income from Roald Dahl books and adaptations are donated to the two Roald Dahl charities.

On September 13, 2006, the first national Roald Dahl Day was celebrated, on what would have been the author’s 90th birthday. The event proved such a success that Roald Dahl Day is now marked annually all over the world. September 13, 2016 is Roald Dahl 100, marking 100 years since the birth of the world’s number one storyteller. There will be celebrations for Roald Dahl 100 throughout 2016, delivering a year packed with gloriumptious treats and surprises for everyone.


   

Don't forget about the giveaway below!
1 winner can pick 5 books from the Roald Dahl collection! US Only.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review: Our Chemical Hearts

Our Chemical Hearts by Kyrstal Sutherland
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 4th, 2016
Source: Book Expo America
Date Read: 9/5/16 to 9/9/16
320 pages
Rating: 


Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.

Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland's brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

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

In all honesty, I didn’t think I would like this one as much as I did. Sure, I love Rainbow Rowell and would read anything she’s written. But I take those little X meets Y taglines with a grain of salt. Usually they’re not very accurate, and used as a strategy for marketing.

But boy did this book prove me wrong.

Our Chemical Hearts starts off with Henry knowing he’ll never get a girlfriend (Ok Henry, nothing new here), until his English teacher pairs him off with his new co-editor, Grace (you know where this is going). How will the school newspaper function when Henry can’t even get Grace to talk to him, let alone write articles? *Cue the insertion of manic pixie dream girl*

But wait! That’s not how it goes! As much as it seems like it, Our Chemical Hearts thankfully does not go down that path. Grace used to be popular, social, well-dressed, until tragedy struck her, forcing her to transfer. Henry is obsessed, how could this have happened to her? He’s stuck on her image from before, the Grace from a past he doesn’t know of.

You know what happens instead? He gets reprimanded for it. Which is exactly what I wanted from this book and what I didn’t expect to happen. Sure, both of them share their moments, they bond, but ultimately, this is only a first love. As it should be.

Overall, I was very pleased with how this book turned out. It really wasn’t what I expected at all, plus it had a number of great references, like Bioshock Infinite. Contemporaries should seriously have more references in general, there’s no reason not to (I mean is there?). And this book delves into some serious topics, yet the humor complemented it nicely, making the story more realistic and believable. Although I do believe that fans of John Green would love this, it’s the opposite of a John Green novel. It is everything you expect it not to be.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: The Forgetting

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 13th, 2016
Source: Book Expo America
Date Read: 9/11/16 to 9/15/16
416 pages
Rating: 


What isn't written, isn't remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person's memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn't written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

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

There’s something about The Forgetting that draws you in, and you’re just not sure what. There was a point in the novel that really picked up, and finally, finally I got into it. And couldn’t get out until the end.

Nadia lives in a world where everyone forgets every 12 years. No one knows why, no one knows how. But as long as you have your book of all your memories and experiences, you were fine. You wouldn’t be considered Lost. But once that book is gone, and your memories are gone with it, how are you supposed to know who you are? Well you don’t.

Trapped within the walls of Canaan, Nadia constantly escapes over the wall. Until Gray, the glassblower’s son catches her in the act. The problem? Well he wants to go over with her. Of course, she agrees. The more they spend time together, the more they learn about themselves, about Nadia, about Gray, and about the origins of Canaan. And how it’s really not all what it seems (surprise!).

This wasn’t what I expected. At first, I didn’t trust The Forgetting to get memory right. Being a cognitive scientist (officially now, I suppose), I wasn’t expecting the “forgetting” part to be very accurate. And true, it’s not at all. But the only reason I learned to let it go was the way the plot went. This didn’t end up being a pure dystopian, as The Hunger Games was. Neither was it exactly like how the vaults operated in Fallout 4 (Not that you know about those, but basically in Fallout 4, it’s post-apocalyptic. These vaults held people from before the nuclear explosion, but they were also unknowingly monitored by scientists. The Forgetting was giving me those sorts of vibes).

Because of that, my attention was held by The Forgetting. I couldn’t put this down until I finished. Yet saying that, there wasn’t anything remarkably amazing about it, hence only the 4 stars. It was just fast-paced, surprising in a way I didn’t expect, and interesting. I didn’t necessarily root for any of the characters, or care much about Nadia and Gray’s relationship. They were rather “forgettable”, excuse my pun I just had to do it. But still, this concept was executed pretty well, plus it’s a standalone! And you don’t see those everyday.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #93

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Favorite Songs At The Moment

I have never embedded a Spotify playlist on my blog. Ever. Should I change that today?

Yes, yes I should. I know you can't seem to play these lists without opening up the entire app, but I do use Spotify all the time, and I do pay for it (at a discount which makes it really worth it).

Anyways, maybe you should discover some new songs from my favorites! Or look at the song titles and see if you recognize any!




See any you recognize?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review: Metaltown

Metaltown by Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: September 20th, 2016
Source: Book Expo America
Date Read: 8/9/16 to 8/12/16
384 pages
Rating: 1/2


Metaltown, where factories rule, food is scarce, and hope is in short supply.

The rules of Metaltown are simple: Work hard, keep your head down, and watch your back. You look out for number one, and no one knows that better than Ty. She’s been surviving on the factory line as long as she can remember. But now Ty has Colin. She’s no longer alone; it’s the two of them against the world. That’s something even a town this brutal can’t take away from her. Until it does.

Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father. But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she’ll risk everything to do what’s right.

In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.

An enthralling story of friendship and rebellion, Metaltown will have you believing in the power of hope.

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

I am going to be honest, Metaltown was never one of my most anticipated reads. Sure, it sounded interesting, but I mainly read it because Shannon accidentally slept through the signing, and I got it signed for her. And I ended up reading it because "why not".

The world is split between the rich and the poor. The ones that can afford it can live in the nice suburbs, while the ones that couldn't lived in places like Metaltown, where labor is strictly focused on manufacturing for the war. Kids and teenagers mainly worked in Small Parts, an assembly line for building bombs.

Have you ever watched or read Les Misérables? It's similar to that except the kids are rebelling because they have no union. And they want to create one. Turns out, it's a complicated process, and a bunch of people don't want it to happen. Especially the ones on top funding this war in the first place.



Ty and Colin struggle with working at Small Parts. It's a lot of work for so little pay. It's not until Ty's accident that Colin tries to round up the workers to protest for a union. Even though this seems like a very clear cut plot, I never got bored with it. There was a perfect balance between the prose and the dialogue, and it kept me reading until the end.

However, the characters. Are you guys ready for this?

First off, I liked the characters. Though I feel like I did get off the wrong foot with Ty, especially after she had a horrible accident that destroyed most of her face (cue discussion post about attractive characters). This made me a little uncomfortable, for which I blame all those commercials, ads, and news stories that burned the image in my mind. (Spoiler: For all of you who are wondering, her face got burned by acid.) But you know what? I changed my mind by the end of the novel! She turned out to be an amazing character, but nOPE all of that doesn't even matter in the end (and I'm pretty salty about it).

Because you know why? Lena. The prettier, richer girl who Colin is actually attracted to. Which fine, whatever, sure. But man some of Lena's actions were so reckless and not thought out at all. She wanted to help out with the little revolution, but most of the time she ended up making things worse. And you know who would fix them? Ty. And you know what happens? Spoiler (highlight to read): SHE DIES. She dies, all so that Colin and Lena can get together without there being a love triangle. And you know what else? Lena gets the stupid inheritance money that was supposedly Ty's. Because Ty is the sole survivor of her family, but she didn't know until the end of the novel. And she doesn't even get to use it. What am I supposed to make out of this? Huh!?


Honestly I was just annoyed and bothered by Lena.

Before this gets super long, I do want to mention more of what I liked and didn't. (I just had to get all of that out above).

What I Like:
  • Love that Colin had two moms, Cherish and Ida. That was a nice surprise. 
  • It was well written! A perfect balance of dialogue and character interaction paired with prose. Never got bored with the writing. Just, you know, the relationships.
What I Didn't Like: 
  • There is some worldbuilding. Enough to get by, more than some other novels I've read. It was a little hard to imagine the setting. On one hand I thought everywhere was like Metaltown, where everyone was poor and had to work in a factory. But then there was also Bakerstown, which is basically a rich suburb. Or at least one with the middle class.
  • Mainly the whole setting sprouted from world hunger and famine. Scientists tried to make synthetic corn, which poisoned many people creating the corn flu. From then on all foods were tested, usually by inmates.
  • There is war between the North and East Federation, and the Advocates. Not sure if that is all the federations or what exactly the Advocates are, but I know they're there.
  • I guess overall the worldbuilding is nice when you focus on one area, like Metaltown. It seems like the reader is just as much in the dark as the characters.

Whoops this ended up being long, but you get the idea. Metaltown is an interesting read, but I got way too annoyed by some of the characters (mainly one) to fully enjoy what was happening.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #92

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten All Time Fantasy Favorites

Ha. Top Ten? What? No way will I be able to do this.

I don't think I've read enough books to do a subgenre, and I've already done a list of my favorite WWII books (which is basically all of them), so I think I will not be creative and stick with fantasy.

Oh! I guess this will be pure, fantasy. Not paranormal or supernatural, just fantasy.

Let's start off with my childhood favorite, Inkheart, which I read over and over again in elementary school. If you're interested in what happens when stories are read to life, I think you'll love to this book.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone is what got me reading again in college. And I discovered it through Goodreads! Woo! But seriously, such a good fantasy series.

I got The Night Circus for christmas years ago, and it was everything I wanted and more. Though I might have to reread it because I don't exactly remember what happened, oops.

I just reread Sabriel so I can confirm that yes it is still my favorite and yes it is still amazing.

I spent a whole month reading The Way of Kings, as it is 1000 pages. I loved the readalong that I was a part of, and our Twitter chats, and the fact that we probably spoiled everyone, but no one cared back in the day that we were having our discussions out in the open. (Either that or it wasn't that known of a book hahah)

Anyone who has read A Darker Shade of Magic will know that it is one of the best. Really. I've already preordered the last book, although I don't even know if I want to know how it ends.

Again, another Sanderson read. Mistborn blew my socks off.

Surprisingly, the hype didn't get to me for Truthwitch, though I did read it way before it got super duper hyped up. Which ended up being a good thing, because I liked it a lot!

The only graphic novel on this list! If you haven't read Nimona, what exactly are you waiting for? It's about villains! Shapeshifters! Love! Romance! All that jazz!

Lastly, there is Nevernight. With all the hype since and before its release, I'm sure you need no further convincing to read it.

Are any of these your favorites? Do you like (epic, really) fantasy?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Review: Vassa In The Night

Vassa In The Night by Sarah Porter
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: September 20th, 2016
Source: Book Expo America
Date Read: 8/24/16 to 8/25/16
352 pages
Rating: 1/2


In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

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

I am really upset that I didn't like this at all. Really upset. I mean sure, I understood that this would be magical realism, based off a fairy tale that Spirited Away is based off of (If you haven't seen that film, what are you doing with your life? Haha), and include a talking wooden doll. But uh...I haven't got a clue as to what I just read.


Do I even know how to summarize this? Let me try. Vassa has stepsisters, and among them she's known for stealing all their things. Little do they know, it's really Erg the wooden talking doll playing tricks on all of them. But Vassa promised her mother to never let anyone know about Erg, because who could believe her? Well for one, I'm pretty sure her sisters (and they aren't evil by the way, only one of them actually has an attitude) would be fine with it seeing as 1) Their convenience store has legs and beheads anyone who shoplifts and 2) The nights last for a real long time. Speaking of nights, what was the deal with that? Since it was never clearly explained, I didn't know if it just lasted longer, or never turned to day. I have no idea.


And speaking of having no ideas, what even happened in this book? Vassa heads into the store, is forced to work the cashier for a duration of three nights (again how long is this?). She befriends a "hand", the ones that protect the store from shoplifters. Then there's that motorcycle guy that circles the store like a watchman.

The events and the characters weren't the problem for me. It is the lack of an explanation as to WHY Vassa was constantly surprised at moving hands or a person (lizard?) with scales and all that shit when this convenience store is moving and has legs. Her classmates go in there and make shoplifting a game. So why did the book make it seem like the world was anything but normal? (Because news flash! It was not!).

Don't get me started on the ending. I don't even remember what I skimmed (whoops). Someone got cut up and murdered? I don't even know.

Did I enjoy reading this? I mean, ehhhhh. I think I would have been okay if I had not. This was just a whole mess of confusion for my poor brain. I just think this would have been a better read for me if the explanations were clearer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #91

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten TV Shows Of All Time

I think I'm just going to do this old school. My brain is far too lazy to come up with a cool topic, and I'm sure I'll visit other blogs and be like "WOW that is such a great twist on the idea, I wish I came up with that!" But nope. You'll have to settle for lame old me!


My latest obsession, and everyone else's, is Stranger Things. There's something about it taking place in the 90's that calls to me.

Oh Bob's Burgers. No surprise that this is on this list at all. I'm pretty much up to date with this show. I even own a couple of Bob's Burger's t-shirts because that's how much I love this show. Also I am Louise. That is all.

Jessica Jones was my most recent obsession before Stranger Things. To be honest, it was a little slow in the beginning. But then I ended up binge watching the last three episodes in a row. It was crazy.

Can't forget Sense8! It was the first full show I watched on Netflix, and restored my faith in Netflix exclusive shows. Not that I didn't have faith before, I just didn't think it had a good reputation.

Ah, Avatar The Last Airbender and Teen Titans were my childhood favorites. I actually had a lot of childhood favorites but those two, and Danny Phantom, influenced me the most.

Lastly, Sherlock was the first live action TV show that I became obsessed with. And this was only in high school too. So that holds a place in my heart even though I don't exactly care much for it anymore. (The hiatuses are just way too long lol).  

----

To be honest, I don't watch many TV shows. It's hard. I usually stick with anime, or video games. Some of the shows I watch I do like, but I haven't finished. This includes Daredevil, Kimmy Schmidt, The Office, and Psych. It's not my fault my attention span is so short!

Do you recommend any TV shows? Are any of these your favorites?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Review: As I Descended

As I Descended by Robin Talley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: September 6th, 2016
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 8/31/16 to 9/3/16
384 pages
Rating: 


Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

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

When I read Lies We Tell Ourselves two years ago, I knew I found myself a new favorite author. Which is why when As I Descended popped up on my radar, I instantly added it to my list. And having just finished reading it, I can definitely say I enjoyed this Macbeth retelling. Though I will say that this didn't compare to her debut novel.

If you've read Macbeth, you know that it involves ghosts, revenge, and a lot of death. As I Descended is no different, so do not expect your favorite characters to make it through to the end. Rather than in England, our main characters Maria, Lily, Brandon, and Mateo all went to boarding school in Southern Virginia (or at least somewhere in the South). The first three are all friends, which is half the reason why they find themselves playing with an Ouija Board. The other half of the reason stems from Lily's desire for Maria to win the Kingsley Prize. If only Maria could call on the spirits and ask for help, maybe she could finally surpass Delilah.

What could possibly go wrong with involving yourself with the spirits of dead?

The short answer? Everything. The long answer? Well a couple of people die, revenge is in the works, and regret fills the air as Maria realizes how much trouble she's gotten herself into. It doesn't help that she's unleashed a bunch of angry spirits, ones that have never been properly buried because surprise, the academy is built on top of a plantation.


I actually had an equal amount of likes and dislikes for As I Descended. For one, the plot itself made me want to keep reading. I wanted to know what the spirits had in store for Maria, and whether she could truly go through with her revenge. Maria has played by the rules her entire life, while others ahead of her have not. Winning the Kingsley Prize means a full ride to any college, and it's not like Delilah needs that money anyways. I easily related to Maria because as someone who is equally as ambitious but most often lands in second place, I understand how she feels. (But don't worry, I'm not that salty as to get revenge on everyone like that).


As for what I didn't like, well the writing itself was noticeable choppy. And also, this took place in boarding school, which I tend to not like because (get ready for the boarding school spiel) usually it's done inaccurately. And in this case, a couple of things felt incredibly unbelievable, like coed dormitories (no way you would find that anywhere), outside late at night, unsupervised around members of the opposite sex in living areas, etc. I get that it's fun to have your characters living at boarding school because they can all be together conveniently, but having gone to one, it is hard to imagine it being different.

I actually couldn't put down As I Descended once I started it, because it was that interesting. Robin Talley still remains one of my favorite authors, and I'm excited to start her other novel, What We Left Behind.    

Saturday, September 3, 2016

An Innocent Life #16: Grad School!


Hello there!

Huge changes have taken place in my life, and one major one has been the start of my Ph.D. program. You know, the one that by the end of 5 years I'll be a "doctor"? Hopefully I'll still be blogging by then, haha...haha.

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

I participated in the #ReadThemAllThon this month! Did I do well? Well, kind of. I did manage to evolve my Oddish into a Vileplume, but more on that later. From this pile, I read two books. Whoops.

I went ham on links this month. Because I am awesome

Tonya @ LilyBloomBooks gives us the skinny on FTC disclosures, like endorsing products on your instagram (or booktube, blog, etc.). She also asks whether you review every book you receive.

Alexa @ Words Off The Page guests posts on Novel Ink, and talks about being Korean American and what that means in regards to mental illness (so relatable to me, and that other post I wrote for #Shattering Stigmas)

Vlora @ Reviews and Cake wrote about whether you like humor in your books featuring mental illness on It Starts At Midnight.

Cynthia @ Bingeing On Books asks whether a character can be TOO relatable. And also whether you like reading books that make you cry (the answer is yes)

Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity wants to know whether you follow blogs with different reading tastes.

Geraldine @ Corralling Books reassures you that forgetting details in books is no big deal. (I mean, if it is a big deal for you, there is always Recaptains!)

Larissa @ Life As Larissa asks whether book blogging is falling out of trend. I don't think it is, I think everyone is still in summer mode, plus school is starting haha.

Chiara @ Books For A Delicate Eternity let's you know that she loves commenting back! (Same here! But when I have time, and not drowning in work. Which is now never)

Aila @ Happy Indulgence wants to know whether you have different ratings for different genres.

And lastly, Ely @ Tea & Titles talks about her disability, and why diverse representation is important in YA books.

Let's see. First off, I just started my grad program in Psych & Neuroscience. More specifically I'm in the Cognitive Program because brains. I have an office that I share with another graduate student, and I also take a couple of classes. I TA as well, because that is where I get my money from. You know, the money to buy food, books, a cat.

A photo posted by Valerie (@vlangloisx3) on

Surprisingly, it was easy to adopt at the animal shelter. Plus there was a deal where I could pay any amount of money I wanted for said cat, and any adoptable animal. I did end up splurging a little bit on the tracking device, the bed, the very expensive cat litter because Shannon told me that the cheap stuff does NOT work (Thanks Shannon!). Honestly, I would have gotten a dog, but I have no time at all, and I rather not spend my time worrying about not being home all the time.

So yeah! Overall I think grad school is the perfect choice for me, but then again the real work hasn't started. I'll probably get by somehow. 

How has your August been? Any plans for Labor Day Weekend? I HAVE PLANS HAHA. Any plans for September in general?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Review: The Reader

The Reader by Traci Chee
Sea of Ink and Gold #1
Publisher: Putnam
Release Date: September 13th, 2016
Source: ALA Midwinter
Date Read: 1/10/16 to 1/11/16
448 pages
Rating: 


Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.

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 heard of The Reader yet, I urge you to add it onto your TBR. For one, it's about a world without reading. Yes, without reading. Can you even imagine?

Sefia, our main character, is targeted for who knows what. With her Aunt captured, Sefia is left with no choice but to go on a mission to save her. Along the way, she encounters a boy who doesn't remember how to speak. Kidnapped by the Impressors, a group forcing boys to fight in a ring, he is given the name Archer and travels alongside Sefia. Throughout their travels, Sefia learns what the "book" she is carrying is. And ultimately, she learns how to read, which holds a lot of power in this world.

Okay, so it sounds like a book about a toddler learning how to read, but I promise it's not. My summary does little to no justice as to how stunning this was. Just trust me on this.

The world revolves around the fact that reading holds some sort of power. And you can not only read the words in a book, but you can also read people's lives. Words are used to manipulate the world and its objects. Although this is true in this fantasy world, you can make connections to real life where it's true that words hold meaning and power (Read The Book Thief yet? Come on now!) 

There's not much I can say without giving away the entire story. One of my favorite parts included the crew of the Current of the Faith, though this is actually read in Sefia's book. I also mainly adored Sefia and Archer, (kind of spoiler-y) but I would have been content if their friendship didn't turn into a relationship. You might also assume that since we know next to nothing about Archer, he might be boring to read about. But that didn't end up being the case at all. His personality, regardless of being unable to speak, really showed through.

Unfortunately, I did run into a couple of things. For one, there were a lot of characters. There was this one POV which I did not understand why it was included. And also as a heads up, you will not understand some of the POVs until you finish the book, which can be frustrating at times. The way The Reader is written mostly benefits all the action scenes, but not when it comes to character development.

To conclude, all I can really say is that The Reader is a beautiful, well-written story. And it involves reading, or really the lack of reading. And well we all love reading so I'm sure this can relate to all of us!