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.

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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

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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!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review: Wait for Me

Wait for Me by Caroline Leech
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 31st, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 2/4/17 to 2/5/17
384 pages
Rating: 1/2

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

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

So, it’s come to the point where I am not really having many thoughts for the books I read. And this includes this one right here, which surprisingly, is another WWII book. Wait for Me was a nice read, but it really wasn’t anything special. It also received a ton of attention as it was assumed to be a forbidden romance between a Nazi and a young Scottish woman. Though I do want to point out that the character was a German POW who didn’t want to fight in the war, I understand why some readers are tired of reading about stories that put Jewish people in the background.

Onto the review!

Though Wait for Me was easy to read, it didn’t really bring anything new. Most of the story focused on the drama of a relationship between Paul and Lorna, the drama between Lorna and her best friend Iris, and the weird and somewhat forced relationship between Iris and William (who was such a pompous ass, I couldn’t stand him). As someone who loves to read about uplifting, hopeful, and somewhat sad stories that take place during WWII, I was slightly disappointed.

Then again, maybe I should have paid attention to what I signed up for? I’ve been meaning to read more romance-y novels, but the relationship in this one just didn’t entice me enough. I enjoyed the characters, but they are pretty forgettable.

On the other hand, I did like the different cultural references. German phrases were thrown in to make Paul seem more authentic, though whether they were accurate or not I’ll never know. Also I want milk and tea from Scotland now. Is that actually a thing? You know what’s missing though? The Scottish accent. That’s a thing right? Maybe it was better it wasn’t written out on paper, because as a non-Scottish person, I probably would have had such a hard time reading the book. I don’t know, I guess accents aren’t really portrayed in books. Maybe I’m just going off on a tangent for no reason, whoops.

I also noticed that the writing was surprisingly simple. This almost read like Middle Grade (totally stole this from Shannon as we were discussing the book). I read YA because I need that break from my graduate school work, but I think this was slightly too simple for me. I needed more to the writing style!

I don’t regret reading Wait for Me, and overall I do think it’s a pretty good novel. I just wasn’t as engaged as I wanted to be. Hopefully I’ll read better WWII books in the future, because I am already 0 for 2!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #102

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Graphic Novels!

I was so tempted to put every single Ms. Marvel comic on here, because of what happened last weekend. I won't since I have a lot to recommend (and also want to read), but just know that I am very much emphasizing Ms. Marvel. It's a great comic and it has great representation.

Like I said, Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal is a GREAT place to start if you're new to comics. Also it features Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, and she is amazing. And a teenager. And a Muslim.
Saga is one that I recommend again and again and again. It's also a great place to start if you're new to comics AND graphic novels in general. The thing that makes me hesitate about superhero comics is that it's hard to find a place to start, and there's so much background on a certain character, that it's tough to know what "series" to read. With Saga, you don't need to know anything at all. Just pick up the first volume, and before you know it, you'll be on the fifth.

I raved about this earlier, but YES to American Born Chinese. Totally resonated with me (10 years later). It also is #ownvoices, and brings in the story of the Monkey King.

I recently read This One Summer, and loved the simplicity, yet hard hitting messages it conveyed. If you find this in your library, check it out ASAP.

I read Maus years ago for my English class. It was a great pick for 10th grade. Even though I don't remember much about it, I remember 1) loving it and 2) being more aware about what happened during WWII. If you love reading about WWII as much as I do, pick this up! 

After reading Ms. Marvel, I also picked up Captain Marvel (Marvel Now) #1, and loved that as well. Though I was more confused with this one, as I didn't know the history of Captain Marvel. However I still enjoyed the story and the series! 

I read The Graveyard Book and loved it, which is why I picked up the graphic novel version of it. And I was impressed! Rather than having only one artist, each chapter was drawn in a different style by different authors. I started to appreciate the diversity of the art after a couple of chapters (because to be honest I wasn't sure how I felt about it at the beginning).

Batgirl, Volume 1, in which never have I been more happier to see Batgirl back in action! I only was able to read the first volume, but I have yet to check the local library for the rest of the series.

Then there is Everything Is Teeth, which is about SHARKS. I can't say much else except that haha.

Lastly, there is White Sand, which is by Brandon Sanderson. I will never NOT recommend Brandon Sanderson, so of course he makes it onto this list!

Have you read any of these? I'm constantly on the lookout for more graphic novels at the library, so feel free to recommend me some!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Review: Almost Autumn

Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release Date: January 3rd, 2017
Source: Publisher
Date Read: 1/15/17 to 1/17/17
278 pages
Rating: 1/2

Everything starts this autumn.

It’s October 1942, in Oslo, Norway. Fifteen-year-old Ilse Stern is waiting to meet boy-next-door Hermann Rod for their first date. She was beginning to think he’d never ask her; she’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember.

But Hermann won’t be able to make it tonight. What Ilse doesn’t know is that Hermann is secretly working in the Resistance, helping Norwegian Jews flee the country to escape the Nazis. The work is exhausting and unpredictable, full of late nights and code words and lies to Hermann’s parents, to his boss…to Ilse.

And as life under German occupation becomes even more difficult, particularly for Jewish families like the Sterns, the choices made become more important by the hour: To speak up or to look away? To stay or to flee? To act now or wait one more day?

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 don’t know me by now, you’ll see that I will request and review pretty much anything related to WWII. (And if you haven’t noticed the political climate in the US, you’ll know that this is very much needed). Unfortunately, this story ended up being a bit too simple for me. With POVs changing constantly with no warning whatsoever, and a story that did not bring anything new to the table (other than the setting, maybe), Almost Autumn wasn’t my cup of tea.

Almost Autumn starts off with our Jewish main character (yay!) Ilse, being stood up by her long time crush, Hermann. Though this seems devastating at the time, little does she know that the Nazis are out to get her and her family. And although Hermann secretly works for the Resistance, he struggles with his choice about telling Ilse about his job.

Other than the above, there’s nothing much to say about Almost Autumn. With discussion about the inclusion of Jewish main characters in YA, I was delighted to see one featured here (even though it is still in the setting of the Holocaust). But honestly, my delight ended there. Most of my problems stemmed from the writing, which was simple and bland at times. However, as this was translated from Norwegian, I wouldn’t be surprised if some things were lost in translation.

Another thing that bothered me a bit was the number of POVs, and how the story jumped from one character to the next with no warning. On one page, we’re with Hermann and his thoughts about the occupation. On the next, we’re with the next door neighbor, who is debating on whether to resist or not. The closer I got to the end of the book, the more inconsistent it became.

Lastly, each WWII novels I’ve read told a different, unique story. And although Ilse’s story needed to be told, I felt that it wasn’t compelling enough. There wasn’t much depth to the characters, and the plot was as simple as the writing. Overall, I feel like I learned nothing new.

As my first read of 2017, I’m hoping that this will be my only “meh” read. But I did end up finishing my Goodreads Challenge (of one)! So there’s that piece of good news!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #101

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten New Releases I Am Excited For!

I may have missed doing this topic a couple of weeks ago, but HERE IT IS, for my freebie! Because why not. Honestly I didn't know much about 2017 coming in, but now I'm much more familiar with what will be releasing in the next upcoming months.

I should probably clarify that this most likely covers the first half of 2017!

There's really no doubt that A Conjuring of Light is my all time highly anticipated for this year. It's the final book of the series, and I'm honestly not quite sure how I will feel after I finish.

I am actually currently reading When Dimple Met Rishi right now. And you know what? I actually wasn't as excited about it before I picked it up. Now I am hooked and I understand the hype. The hype is real. (Also CODING!)

Still beyond excited for It's Not Like It's A Secret. I do hope that there are some edits before the final book comes out though. Because I really needed this book yesterday, and it needs to be perfect. Really hoping I am not overhyping this in my head hahah.

Guys this is Elizabeth Wein's new book, The Pearl Thief, AND HOW COULD I NOT BE EXCITED? I have read every one of her WWII-related books (now I know all about planes) and of course this will be my next. ALSO FREAKING PREQUEL.

I am a huge fan of Shaun David Hutchinson so I will read anything of his even if I know nothing about it. At the Edge of the Universe is already preordered and I have no regrets. 

I have also been looking forward to Noteworthy since 1994 (just kidding since a couple months ago). Anything with acapella in it just cannot go wrong.
Daughter of the Pirate King just sounds amazing. Because pirates. AND WOW I WAS JUST REMINDED THAT I AM SUPER EXCITED FOR THE EDGE OF THE ABYSS AS WELL. But I forgot to add it to this list! Let's just say I am just excited for pirates.

Coding guys. Coding. Girl Code may be non-fiction, but I will read and promote anything that has to do with girls and coding. 
Strange The Dreamer is definitely on top of this list as well. I've been waiting forever for it, so hopefully it is as good as it sounds! Also I may have preordered both the US and the UK edition because I just could not decide which I wanted more. Whoops.

Another Victoria Schwab novel! Our Dark Duet is the continuation of This Savage Song and I would be lying if I said I didn't need it ASAP.

That is a very very short list of what I am looking forward to from now til June! Obviously there are tons more on my TBR. What are you highly anticipating?