Sunday Wrap Up #2

School, work, and books! Oh my!

As of Monday, the Spring Semester of college has begun for me. So be prepared for some sporadic hiatus’s (both notified and unnotified), coffee, and tired blogging.

Currently I am taking an acting class, a theatre appreciation class, voice 1 class, piano 1 class, and a stage makeup class. One thing I did not expect was my semester to be so expensive. I had to buy a makeup kit that was around $60 and a couple of textbooks I decided to buy retail because they’d benefit me in the future. A friend of mine bought her makeup kit for $125, poor girl. Other than that, I’m also going in for stage crew for the Spring play.

I meant to start a new feature on my blog titled “Thursday Tunes” but we saw how great that went. Urg. I meant to write the blog post before hand, but alas, I didn’t. I was too tired from starting school while also working, that I forgot to write up the posts. I may leave all of my post writing to Sundays. If I have a review to write, I’ll write it ASAP, otherwise, Sundays it is.

Book wise, I finished The Aviary this morning and Monument 14 some time this week. Don’t worry folks, I’m trying the best I can to push through the Bout of Books TBR I meant to read (one more!). I’ll start on Monstrous Beauty today and see how far I get. If I went the same pace I read The Aviary, I should have the book read quickly. I also have yet to make a haul video/post for January since I’ve been meaning to start my Booktube channel as well as just post the haul since I got a great ton of books.

What was your week like? 
Do leave a comment down below!

Review: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the buss. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not–you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down out street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

Post apocalyptic situation with a bunch of kids in a superstore trying to survive? I’m totally about this. I love reading these kinds of stories because it’s interesting to see the different kind of reactions that people give off to such a chaotic and traumatic time (even if it makes me so, so irritated).

This book… Did it for me. For the most part. I liked the variety of people in this from the high schoolers to the little elementary school children. They all had their own personalities and it didn’t seem like just faces in the crowd. You think, there’s only fourteen of them what can go wrong? Well, it’s very easy to do that with characters in a book, show, movie, etc etc. Even in plays it’s considered a bigger cast if there’s 14 characters. So I really enjoyed that the characters had their own faults but also their strengths.

The main character Dean is very interesting. In hindsight he really doesn’t have anything that makes him so special. His brother, Alex, is a tech wiz, Jake is a quarterback, Brayden a jock, Niko is a Boy Scout (which ends up being very convenient as he saves their lives more than once), and Josie is just very good with children. Dean? He writes. The format you read from is his journal that he writes about the events. He writes and he cooks. Badly. Even a little kid cooks incredibly better than he does. Now it sounds like I’m ragging on our protag, but he has something that works. Dean is a very good narrator. I didn’t realize how…average he was until I started writing this. Objectively, he’s not very talented for survival of the fittest, but he writes the story so well you kind of forget.

Of course Dean’s brother Alex and classmate Niko kind of become the ultimate team during this novel. With Alex’s technological knowledge and Niko’s “always be prepared” knowledge, they save the entire group a lot of grief. They know what to do, how to do it, and how to get it done. The only problem? Well, everyone else. Of course in such a high tension environment, not everyone is going to get chummy with each other. Even though survival should be the top priority for everyone, humans tend to get very, very selfish and self centered with survival. This shows primarily in a character that–to no end–irritated me. Sahalia.

Sahalia is what my boyfriend would describe as an” edgy edgy teen”. She’s thirteen, wants to be an adult, and is going to dress as provocatively as possible to show it. I’m not going into my personal stance on her clothing choices since that can get in a long winded discussion (tl;dr I’m up for wearing whatever you want, but there’s a difference between dressing in clothes that make you look confident and dressing in clothes because you feel that it’ll show people how mature you are).  Sahalia refuses to listen to reason, dresses like an “adult”, and very much has the “you’re not the boss of me attitude”. I’m not sure if this is obvious, but people like this (not just children) infuriate me. Needless to say, the writing did a good job of me wanting to step away from the book every once in a while. There’s something that happens near the end of the book that seems to me a plot device for us to feel some kind of sympathy towards her. I don’t really agree with this, because it’s kind of an unsavory cliche of using that particular thing as a plot device.

One of my biggest gripes is that the end of the book seems a bit rushed. A lot of the days seem really long since they’re stuck in a superstore and most of the things they need to do is survive, but a solution comes around and it’s so quickly decided whether or not to go for it. Not only that, but there’s some debating that seems to have resolved a lot quicker than others and then the door closes, quite literally.

Which left me with a “I don’t know how I feel about this book now” feeling.

Final Thoughts: A good fast read, but kind of a rushed “meh” ending. I still want to continue on the series to see how it pans out, though.

Rating: 3.5/5

Details:
Title: Monument 14
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Published: May 28, 2013 by Square Fish
Pages: 294
Goodreads (As I’m writing this Goodreads is down)
Buy it: Barnes and Noble | Thrift Books | Book Depository | Book Outlet

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly link-up that is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week? A Freebie! AKA: 10 Series I’ve Loved

Come join me in my first Top Ten Tuesday~

1. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. 
Why read this? Because, dang it’s pretty much steam punk and a war story in one. I love me some good war stories. The series is so good and the illustrations are just beautiful. You will not be disappointed. 
2. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
13 year old genius, criminal mastermind and faeries? Uh, yes. Hell yes. This series came to me during a hard time in my middle school years and stuck with me well into high school. Though I really dislike one book, I live by the rule of one series can always have at least one bad book. Otherwise, I absolutely love the world Colfer has created and I absolutely love the characters that are introduced along the way along with Artemis’s own character arch. 
3. 39 Clues by Rick Riordan
Writer of the popular Percy Jackson series collaborated with a bunch of different authors created a great adventure. This is like an Indiana Jones with… everyone! There are adults, children, senior citizens. There’s a lot of heart wrenching moments and some really tense ones. I grew to love this series–but be warned: it’s a very long series. Each book is probably less that 200 pages, but there’s at least nine of these suckers. 
The book that started it all (for me). This book introduced me to the writer Holly Black and I’ve loved her writing since. This also introduced me to a lot of curse words (haha). Tithe is a pretty dark take on the fey (which are already dark, let’s be honest) and a girl who finds out she’s a part of them. The second book of the series seems completely out of place, but ah, they come together in the finale! I highly recommend this to fans of books with the fey.
5. The Gallagher Girl Series by Ally Carter
Girls that kick ass by being trained as spies? Oh you know I’m on that. Though I never got to finish this series, this book series gave me so much hype to be a girl. I grew up being a “tomboy” and seeing a whole group of girls doing that while also looking pretty? Oh man, oh man. This series has a special place in my heart. 
6.  Zombie Loan by Peach-Pit
I always talk about anime and manga here so I just have to put in some manga series. Zombie Loan starts off a bit melancholy and the protagonist isn’t the strongest in the bunch, but her character arch is just amazing and her development with the characters. What happens when a girl destined to die meets her reapers? Well that’s what you’ll find out!
7. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya
And oldie, but such a goodie. Our protagonist Tohru Honda is thrust into a world of men and women who change into the animals of the Chinese zodiac when coming in contact of people of the opposite sex. Weird, I know, but trust me this story goes so much more beyond that. The relationships that Tohru builds, creates, and saves are probably the best and the most tear jerking thing I’ve read. The series is long if you’re not used to manga (23 volumes eesh), but the ending ties all loose ends. 
8. Angel Diary by Kara, Lee Yun-Hee
Not manga but manhwa it’s Korean sister. Angel Diary is about a young god who doesn’t want to… well fill her place as a god and marry the god of the Underworld. So what do she do? Escape to earth. Choosing to live life as a Korean boy! Sounds a bit wacky, and it is, but this story just has a special place in my heart. Filled with some romance, some comedy, and some drama–Angel Diary has a rec from me. 
9. Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish) by Akiko Higashimura
I loved this series when I saw the anime. Not going to lie. The story revolves around Tsukimi, an otaku (essentially someone who’s completely obsessed with something and isn’t a contribution to society) who loves jellyfish. One day she has a run in with a “princess” who she later finds out is a man dressed in women’s clothing named Kuronoske. Better yet, he’s the brother to politician’s assistant as well as nephew to a politician. Kuronoske starts to like Tsukimi. What will happen? How will their story end? Who knows? It’s ongoing!
10. Kitchen Princess by Miyuki Kobayashi Art by Natsumi Ando
Kitchen. Princess. A manga series about a girl who loves cooking. Sounds simple and it’s true. She loves cooking. However, the stories that come from this manga just really punch you in the heart sometimes. There are many times I’ve cried reading this manga just because the protagonist is so kind to everyone, even those who are just outright cruel to her. Her way of solving problems is through food and what’s better is that there are recipes provided! I’ve tried a few myself and have not been disappointed.
Phew, alright. Half novel series, half manga series. I think that’s good. I hope you join me next week for a new Top Ten Tuesday!

Monday Mumbles: Why I Don’t Like (Most) YA Novels

Monday Mumbles is a new feature I’ve decided to start up where I talk about different topics this week. Mostly they’ll deal with books, anime, video games, or cosplay! Come join me and join the discussion!

Young Adult novels, I’ve read my fair share of them and I’ve liked a lot of them.

…When I was about thirteen or fourteen. Which is fine. They’re written for people of that age or at least they were. Recently I’ve found that a lot of YA that people have picked up is written for people leaning towards their later teen years rather than the beginnings of it. So most of the books that are written for thirteen/fourteen/fifteen year olds are kind of tossed to the “middle school” section rather than YA. That’s fine, I would like books that I can relate to. People my age. Yeah!

….Except… not yeah.

Romance? Please, Not Again

I think with a spark of Twilight becoming immensely popular a few years ago (oh God has it been a decade?), there was a lot more paranormal romance. There’s even a section in Barnes and Noble for it now!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read a lot of paranormal romance and I’ve loved it. Until I didn’t. A lot of my school girl kind of “ahhh I love romance aahhh” has kind of faded away. Now I want to read engaging stories. Stories about people in dire situations and their solutions….without romance. Try finding that in the YA section. Yeah, not so easy is it?

“But that’s just a preference!” Yes, it is. However, reading something like The Hunger Games for example. Here is Katniss living in a dystopian society where children are sent to an arena to kill each other for entertainment as “punishment” for rebelling against the Capitol. In hindsight, what should you worry about first in that kind of situation? Romance or survival? Arguably they melded together in the first novel because Katniss and Peeta’s romance was their survival, but I mean the audience reaction to it. Since The Hunger Games grew popular shortly after Twilight was popular (and even more so because of the movies) I kept hearing “Are you Team Peeta or Team Gale?” and it’s like, um…shouldn’t we be looking at the more serious picture here? Like Katniss being about sixteen or seventeen having to essentially lead a revolution she was thrown into, unwillingly? But romance sells.

Which brings me to this: why is romance a requirement for every YA novel? And not just any romance. White and heterosexual romance. I’m Korean. I have a half white, half Taiwanese boyfriend. Sure our relationship is heterosexual, but I’m not. There’s a lot of issues I have with the romances.

  1. It’s a requirement.

Since when did a love triangle trump the importance of a murder, a crime, a rebellion against a dictating government, an apocalyptic situation, etc. etc.? When I read a book where I’m indulged in these characters struggling to find a solution to their problem and I read a sudden make-out scene or a sexually tense moment it almost drops down a rating. Especially if it seems completely out of nowhere and unnecessary. I’m okay when it later comes into play plot-wise, but most of the time it’s just… there. Why?

       2.  Insta-love.

-Groan- Insta-love is probably the biggest pet peeve I have about Young Adult novels. The reason I don’t go to the romance section of YA or any fiction is because it doesn’t interest me. The most I go to for romance is romcom anime and shojo manga to be honest. So I go read things that, for the most part, shouldn’t have romance, but please refer to #1. What’s worse than required romance? Instant love. Not instant romance. Instant love. Whole hearted, I will die for you, love. I can’t even call it something like The Romeo and Juliet Phenomena because that story was over the course of… two weeks? Whereas insta-love happens in about three days. How are two characters supposed to know each other well enough, go through so much, and have time to develop a full fledged relationship in three days? It makes the characters unrealistic and it takes the fun out of the novel since being able to connect to a character is through how realistically they’re written (yes, even in fantasy folks).

We’re White and We’re Straight
What do I find a lot more irritating than required romance? Lack of representation. I’m Korean and I live in Southern California which is known to be a pretty diverse area. When I see media that’s set in Los Angeles and all they have are white people? It makes me roll my eyes, because (surprise!) LA is not filled with white people. There’s a reason why Los Angeles has China Town, Korea Town, Little Tokyo, and Philipino Town (I think that’s what it’s called). It’s because those people live there! 
Authors when you’re writing a story set in a major city (Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, etc. etc.), it would be nice to know that someone did some research to the kind of people that live there. And when I ask for representation, more people of color, I don’t ask for more black people. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that black people are being represented more in the media! But that’s essentially become the “I didn’t meet the diversity quota, let’s add a black person!” effect. Add some more people in there! Add some East Asians, some South East Asians, Polynesians, Middle Easterns, South American, Latinos. Do you understand how boring it is to read about another white girl with blonde/brown/red hair with blue/brown/hell, rainbow eyes? 
So. Incredibly. Boring.

And honestly, don’t even worry about “how” to write them. Write them as a regular character with strengths and weaknesses. If you’re worried about their culture, ask people of that culture. Not just one person. A lot of different persons. Make sure you’re not getting something wrong because of stereotypes. It makes for such a better experience, and it’s sad that writers have gotten almost lazy in this department.
And straight? Are you kidding me? I have met and become friends with so many people who don’t meet the heterosexual criteria and it’s not like I’m even trying to meet them. It just happens! People are straight, people are gay, people are asexual, people are bisexual. It goes on and on and you don’t even have to do so much research as you might with the race issue. Take about maybe fifteen minutes reading up on it and all you have to write is something like “eh not my type” and then add little quirks that deal with their sexuality that can be either subtle or incredibly forward (psst like straight people do). 
I hear authors say things like, “It’s so hard to bring original content now a days” and it’s because they don’t seem to put the effort into it. I know how hard writing can be, I’ve been writing for over five years (and still haven’t finished a single novel). I know that it’s hard to bring a story together and get it published, but all of the material coming out just seems like a small little variation of the same. exact. thing.
This blog post is getting incredibly long, so for your sake (and mine…but mostly yours) I’ll stop it here. 
Do you agree or disagree with what I’ve said here? I’d love to know! 

*Please keep all comments respectful. I’ve tried my best not to seem too harsh, but remember that this is one person’s opinion in a sea of many people’s opinions. 

Sunday Wrap-Up AKA Where Have I Been?

I know I said I wanted to dedicate full heartedly on this new blog and then *poof* I disappear for about two weeks.

Really, I apologize for that. I also seem to have overall neglected Bouts of Books 12. With cosplay, cons, work, and the end of winter break I seem to have lost track of my priorities OTL

When I made the Bouts of Books post (along with the TBR) I fully planned to follow through, I swear. However, the con suddenly jumped up on me as -wow- a week away and I had the horrible realization that I had none of the three cosplays I had planned ready. I worked extremely hard on one that didn’t even make it to the con before I scrapped it because the jacket wasn’t fitting properly and I had no time to try and fix it. The rest I pulled 3-4 AM nights working on and in reality, I went to the con with 1 cosplay. What a bummer. It came to point where I was styling my wig the night before the first day of the con -sigh-.

The con itself was quite fun and relaxing compared to the rest of the week where I was sewing like a madman right after leaving work. However, I forgot to bring any of my books (along with many, many other things) and to be perfectly honest, I was so tired throughout the entire event that I took frequent naps.

All in all I really just overbooked myself. I’ll try my hardest to be petter prepared and organized so I don’t leave this blog in the dark without any notice.

I hope your weeks went well! Discover something new? Watch your favorite movie again? Tell me, I’d love to know!