Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Blog Tour: A Million Junes (Favorite Unsolved Mysteries)

Hi everyone! Welcome to my stop of the blog tour!

Today, I'll be talking about my favorite unsolved mysteries. Why? Well, when I was younger, I would stumble upon documentaries, magazine articles, and articles discussing mysteries around the world that intrigued me. Sure, maybe some of these are due to photoshop, or just humans in general. BUT I CAN BELIEVE, right? Also when researching, some of the ones I stumbled upon are just downright creepy. 

One of the reasons why this idea came to me, is because of the magic surrounding A Million Junes. And how it plays a role in the story. Especially when it comes to the "thin" places, where the division between death and life is fuzzy. So you know, maybe there is magic here within these real life mysteries. WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

1. The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. I know there is evidence that she may have been found, but I always hated, and at the same time wondered about, her disappearance. WHERE DID SHE GO? And why has it taken so long to find her? If you don't know who she is, she was the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo. She disappeared (crashed?) when she was trying to circumnavigate the globe.

2. The Lost Colony of Roanoke. Remember the times we would talk about the first colony in social studies? And the fact that it just disappeared? WHAT HAPPENED TO IT? Basically what happened is that this first colony was kind of a miserable disaster, in that the land wasn't great for settling, and I think it was all swamp area? But anyways, there's a bunch of theories as to what happened, but I don't think we'll know for sure.

Also a similar thought, whatever happened to the Mayans? I always thought about this in World History class too...hmmm.

3. Crop circles. I used to watch documentaries about this on the History channel, I think (ok maybe just one). And I remember how a couple of farmers were like "it's a hoax, we made them ourselves", and then they would proceed to demonstrate how they used a sort of rake to make them. BUT WHY. I mean, I would like to believe that aliens are out there and are trying to send us a message.

Or I guess you could be like this poor student, trying to avoid studying for finals.

4. The Bermuda Triangle. More than 1000 boats and planes have disappeared in this area. Coincidence? OR MAGIC. There's really no one theory that can explain these crashes or disappearances, but the cool thing is that the boundary of this area continues to expand, thanks to the imagination of authors, in order to cover other incidents.

And that's all I can really think of at the moment, so thanks for stopping by! Are there any mysteries that you came across that you've wondered about? Are they more like places, like the ones above, or about certain people?

A Million Junes by Emily Henry
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: May 16th, 2017
Source: Blog Tour
Date Read: 5/4/17 to 5/10/17
350 pages

There are two things everyone in Five Fingers knows about the O'Donnells and the Angerts. One: They've been there the longest, ever since the town was first founded in the Gold Rush days. Two: They hate each other.

June O'Donnell--a.k.a. Junior, a.k.a. Jack, a.k.a. Jonathan O'Donnell IV, a.k.a. the first female O'Donnell first-born--has always been haunted--in more ways than one--by her family's complicated legacy. When June's father and best friend, Jack III, died suddenly seven years ago, she made up her mind to skip college and live the life of adventure that her dad always wanted for himself. Now seventeen and heading into her last year of high school, June is itching to leave her ghosts behind in Five Fingers and travel the world. It's not that she's not happy--she is, mostly--grief has left her with an emptiness that she believes only real life experience can fill.

But then what kind of O'Donnell would June be if an Angert didn't swoop in at a crucial moment and ruin everything? Enter Saul Angert, the eldest son of Eli Angert, a.k.a. June's father's mortal enemy, back in town from a writing career in the city to care for his ailing father. Somehow June's path just keeps getting tangled up with Saul's, no matter how creatively she tries to avoid it, until the unthinkable happens: She finds herself intrigued by this gruff, taciturn, yet strangely tender boy whom she was born to loathe.

But when June and Saul accidentally stumble into a bit of the forest magic, they are allowed a glimpse into the past at the fateful, horrible moment that started all the trouble between their families. Now, everything is different. The only problem is, June doesn't know if this new discovery means she should hate the Angerts even more, or if it's finally time for her--and all of the O'Donnells before her--to let go.
Emily Henry is the author of The Love That Split the World. She is a full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. She tweets @EmilyHenryWrite.

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of A Million Junes by Emily Henry (ARV: $16.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 15, 2017 and 12:00 AM on June 2, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 7, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.


Week One:
May 15 – The Paige-Turner – Review & Mood Board
May 16 – Adventures of a Book Junkie – Author Q&A
May 17 – The Innocent Smiley – Favorite Unsolved Mysteries
May 18 – Arctic Books – Review
May 19 – Twirling Pages – Review

Week Two:
May 22 – ButterMyBooks – Book Look
May 23 – Ex Libris – Review 
May 24 – The Children’s Book Review – Guest Post
May 25 – The Young Folks – Review 
May 26 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Guest Post

Week Three:
May 29 – Mundie Moms – Review
May 30 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Q&A
May 31 – Fiction Fare – Podcast Author Q&A
June 1 – YA Bibliophile – Guest Post
June 2 – Forever Young Adult – A Million Junes Cocktail

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Review: Waking Gods

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
The Themis Files #2
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Source: Netgalley
Date Read: 4/5/17 to 4/14/17
325 pages

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I read this awhile back, but I actually received this from Netgalley as a "Wish for it", and I wasn't expecting it at all. So I had to fit this in my reading schedule, because I HAD TO. I didn't absolutely adore the first book, Sleeping Giants (my review here), but I did at least enjoy it! I pretty much enjoy anything that is extra-terrestrial.

If you haven't read Sleeping Giants, I'll try to be non-spoiler-y in my review. Well, I will mark anything as spoilers so you're good!

Well, to start off, I definitely enjoyed this second installation of the series! So if you are thinking of starting this series, I can say that it does get better! Basically, in the first book, we're introduced to this huge robot thing (think Iron Giant), and the different body parts have been scattered around the world. The characters in the books (or at least one of the main characters), believe that this robot was left behind by a superior alien race, left to us as humans in order to defend ourselves. Because why leave such a powerful machine in our hands otherwise? 

That theory is quickly destroyed in this sequel.

Overall, I enjoyed this a ton. I think much more than the first book. Though again, my complaints kind of remained the same across the series. The first is that I have little to no memory of the characters. The format is similar to books such as Illuminae, in that the story is told in logs, interviews, and phone calls. But because of this, there are multiple times where we as the reader need to be brought up to speed as to what happened. I felt that this second book did a better job with this by showing us the important scenes through live action webcam videos or phone calls, which wasn't greatly executed in the first book. So I applaud that.

Other than that, I'm a bit stressed because [spoiler] EVERYONE IS DEAD and HOW EXACTLY CAN WE GO ON? I think mainly since the main mysterious dude that brought everyone together is DEAD, I don't know how the series will go on? [end spoiler] I guess I will have to trust that the author knows what they're doing.

Either way, I will definitely be keeping up with this series. I'm very excited to see how this concludes, though I don't really have any hope that there will be a very happy ending. I can HOPE.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

5 Reasons Why I Miss Blogging

Let's be honest. I have NOT been the most active here. My reasons for that have been mainly due to 1) work and grad school and 2) just not enough motivation at all. But now that all my assignments are turned in, it's finally summer. And you would think that because of all this time, I would be more excited to blog, right?

Wrong. I am even more lazy. I feel like I have to put extra effort to come up with posts and TYPE STUFF. Never have I wanted to blog from my brain more than I do now.

But while saying all of this, I can say that there were a couple aspects of blogging that I miss. FOR EXAMPLE.

1. Seeing new content on the blog. This used to be, and still is, a big reason why I loved to blog. I loved seeing this little project grow into something encompasses my passion and my creativity (what little that I have of it, at least). Even though this isn't a published book or paper, it's nice seeing your finished website out there in the world, in the public. Sure, it might not be as modern or efficient as a self-hosted Wordpress blog, but I don't have the money to justify that haha.

2. Reading other blogs and *genuinely* enjoying it. There used to be a time where I dedicated some days as "commenting" days. And then I would comment on every single Top Ten post, on every blog's first post if they commented on mine, on every post in general. And it was just, tedious. And I burned out quickly. I'm sure every other blogger can tell you this same little story. Which is why I realized that it's okay to not comment on some posts, because I personally don't enjoy forcing my comments, and I know the blogs I read deserve genuine comments (where I actually read everything word for word and DON'T skim).

3. And following up on that, keeping tracking of my favorite bloggers. Because I need to know what you're reading, doing, how your life is, at every point in time. And Twitter is nice and all, but reading personal posts gives me a much better perspective. ALSO I love showing my support on my favorite blogs because I want to let my friends know that their posts matter. THEY MATTER TO ME. And that's really all that counts, right?

4. Talking about books. This is a big one. It's why I started blogging in the first place. But somewhere along the way, writing reviews became more of a chore rather than an enjoyable hobby. Which is why I am constantly trying new reviewing strategies. Sometimes, it's just hard because I don't always have something to say or comment on. I just...flail. Or...think meh. BUT I do very much enjoy roasting books I hated. My blog is more of a place to get my feelings out about a book, but I don't think it's a great place to incite discussion. Twitter is a better place for that, but social media has seen better days, imo.

5. And lastly, YOU. Obviously I love getting comments, and I'm just glad everyone is sticking with me. Though I think I need to go through the blogosphere again, just to keep count of who's still here and who isn't. I think everyone I know is still blogging? Again, I need to comment.

What makes you come back to blogging after a slump? Also I don't think I'll be the most active here, but I will post when I can, and that's all that matters!

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.


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.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Review: Goodbye Days

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

Can a text message destroy your life?

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry I cannot resist

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 6, 2017

Review: Girl Code

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

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

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

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

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

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


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

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

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

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

Friday, March 3, 2017

Review: Denton Little's Still Not Dead

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Why Is Blogging Hard All Of A Sudden?

Hello there. Long time no see.

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

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

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

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

A post shared by Valerie (@innocentsmiley) on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #103

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Ten Books I Loved Less Than I Thought I Would

Are we going to play the "this book sucked" game, or the "this book was so much better than I expected?" I have no idea, I think it is definitely fun to bash books, so let's do that. Woo!

Literally looking forward to Of Fire and Stars since the beginning of 2016, and it just didn't work out for me at all. And for a ton of other readers as well. So I guess this really wasn't just a me thing.

Also was looking forward to Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit so much, even more than Of Fire and Stars. But that just, didn't end up working out for me either. I was just way to distraught and discouraged over the main character's father actions. Big nope for me.

I don't even know WHAT I read after finishing Vassa in the Night. No idea whatsoever.

I figured that after having good luck with the author's previous book, I would like Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. But that did not end up happening at all. Instead the book was fairly boring, and was really slow.

I WANTED TO LOVE Carry On. But I should've know that Rainbow Rowell couldn't write fantasy. Or at least couldn't write my expectations of fantasy. I set the bar too high.

Let us not go back to the trainwreck that was Zenith. The best part was that it wasn't even the whole book. Literally Part One pissed me off so badly that I just couldn't.

I'm pretty sad about Ivory And Bone, and I really wish it was the prehistoric fantasy we all deserved. Sadly it was not. Or at least it wasn't for me (and my buds).

Have I mentioned I fought so hard to get an ARC of Into the Dim? In the end it wasn't even worth it because I hated the characters wayyyy too much.

Riders wasn't that great either. I'm not so keen on the one special girl surrounded by all guys type of trope. Especially when she refuses to tell ANYONE what is going on. CUE FRUSTRATION.

To me, The Girl At Midnight felt like a carbon copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Maybe if I hadn't have read that first, I would have loved it. But sadly, nope.

To sum up, nope nope nopity nope to all of these.

I read most of these in 2016, which didn't end up being a good year for me reading wise. Hopefully this year is better!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: Traveler

Traveler by L. E. DeLano
Traveler #1
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Source: ALA Midwinter 2017
Date Read: 2/5/17 to 2/7/17
352 pages

Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all steampunk pirates and fantasy lifestyles—Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it…This Jessa is going to live.

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

Ever read one of those books where you know you’re not going to get a whole lot from it, but it was still a fun read anyways? This (and a bunch others I read this month) was one of them. Usually if a book featured some sort of time traveling or parallel universes, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it unless everything made sense. This didn’t end up being the case with Traveler. Not that that meant everything made perfect sense (Spoiler: it didn’t), but it just didn’t bother me as much.

The synopsis of Traveler is quite intriguing, hence why I picked this up. And though it’s nothing like one of my favorite video games, Bioshock Infinite, it definitely reminded me of it. For starters, there’s this whole multiverse thing going on, in which our main character Jessa can travel and embody her “other” selves in other, parallel worlds. In each of these worlds, society, along with Jessa, are a bit different. In one world she’s an amazing dancer, while in another her parents aren’t divorced. It’s all based on constants and variables really.

Excuse me as I flail over Bioshock Infinite, again. BUT CONSTANTS AND VARIABLES

And on top of that, we find out that someone is tracking down all the Jessas, and killing them. Finn, who is literally Jessa’s soulmate as they are together in almost every world, is determined to put a stop to it, with the help of their Dreamers (or more specifically “guides in the dream world”). This is one aspect of the story that just didn’t make much sense to me at all. Let me break it down.

Dreamers basically guide Travelers on their missions. Remember how there’s probably an infinite number of Jessas? Well it was never really explained whether each Jessa had their own Dreamer, or if they all had the same one. Or maybe they all had different versions of the same one? See how it gets confusing? Well anyways, these Dreamers basically give Travelers “quests” that change the trajectory of other worlds. For example, a quest may involve recommending an amazing book to someone, which later will lead them to come up with the cure for cancer. Apparently Dreamers can predict these kinds of things. The weird thing though, is that Travelers have to travel to another self in order to complete these quests. But why? Why not just have that specific individual (that specific Jessa, for example) recommend the book herself? Why use another Jessa from another world? Well, the reasoning behind it is apparently emotional ties. Because I would definitely feel real emotional recommending a book to some rando. Okay.

Second, it seemed like the main Jessa we are reading about is the only one traveling to other Jessas. Why is it just her traveling? Why is no one else asking her for permission to enter her body? Maybe this just isn’t featured in the book? I will never know.

I know what you’re thinking. Maybe this book bothered me more than what I’ve let on. Well, yes, some parts did bother me a bit, but overall I really enjoyed the idea of it all. Though I don’t think I buy the whole “Every Finn and every Jessa are the same person”, because I don’t think they are. But in the end, I’m still looking forward to continuing on with the series. Hopefully it’ll my questions will be answer, and the second will be even better than the first!