Quick Update!

Hello, hello. As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted anything last week or the week before. I’ve been caught up with school and work and even though I’m not posting, I sure am reading! So believe me, when I say I’m still trying to put in an effort. A few things that have happened lately:

  • I got put to work on the weekends at my job so I don’t really have a full weekend day free for the blog anymore T^T. Hopefully this will change when I put in a new schedule, but it also might not because…
  • I’m working on an audition for my school’s upcoming spring musical. As a theatre major, I really have to keep working on my craft and the best way to do that is to put myself out there and if I do get the job, to work at it because that’s the only way I’ll learn to become a better actor and performer!
  • I’m currently taking five classes (and for a college student like me that’s a bit excessive), so having free time is really hard to find and when I do, I tend to hang out with my friends or do something besides sit around. 
  • And like I said in the previous bullet point, I’ve been spending a lot of time away from the computer. It’s a nice change, but I’ll definitely try to squeeze some time in. I really wish Blogger had a better mobile app or else I’d be posting a lot more frequently. 

There you have it. A quick wrap up of what’s been going on recently and why I haven’t really been posting anything. As of right now I have a review for Scarlet and Cress ready to be typed up (I wrote it in my notebook). I’ve made more progress in The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.

 I’ve given up on Eleanor and Park. If you’ve seen my Twitter feed, you’ll see how I’m very unimpressed and a little miffed about the writing in the book. I got about a third of the way through and stopped reading. I may make a different post about it, but for now, just know that I am not very fond of the book at all.

But I’ve just started All the Bright Places and I like how it’s going so far, so hopefully I enjoy it more!

Sorry for not being so active lately, I’m really trying, but I feel like I’m juggling a hundred different things. Hopefully when the semester ends I’ll have more free time. You’ll probably see me making progress posts about my cosplays. I may put up a post about what I have planned.

I hope you guys have been having a great couple of weeks as well!

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Sunday Wrap-Up #4 and 5

As you can see, I’ve missed my deadline (again) for my Sunday Wrap-Ups. School and work have been kicking my butt and now I have a cold (again).

This past weekend was Valentine’s Day and while it didn’t go quite as what the both of us wanted, my boyfriend and I spent it well. We bought a heart shaped ice cream cake, watched some movies, and then called it a night. 
The past couple of weeks have been going to school, going to work, and then hanging out with two of my favorite people. There was some DnD thrown into that and that was fun (we’ve been stuck on the same campaign for far too long and I’m glad that we’re finally getting to the end game -huff-). 
Anime wise, I’ve been watching the newest Durarara season as well as the new season of Aldnoah.Zero and just watching some episodes of animes that my friend and boyfriend want me to watch. 
However, this is a book blog so let me give you the details on books that I’ve started and/or finished in the last two weeks.
Started and Finished: 
  • Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama [Review]
  • Going Home by Emma Lindhagen [Review]
  • Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer

Started: 

  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
I have reviews coming for both Marissa Meyer books and I’ve enjoyed the both of them. I can’t wait for Winter! The Darkest Part of the Forest has me really intrigued and I love the whole idea of a city being completely nonchalant and coexisting somewhat with the fey. It’s a really cool concept. Eleanor and Park however, I find really bland and a lot of tropes. Also why does Park never have his first name mentioned so far but his brother does? IDK. I’ll still finish it. 
How was your week or past couple of weeks? What did you do for Valentine’s Day? 

Novella Review: Going Home by Emma Lindhagen

Title: Going Home
Author: Emma Lindhagen
Pages: 60
Published: December 11, 2014
Buy it: Amazon
Rating: 3.5/5
Going Home

Orryn ran away from home as a young teenager. After years spent trying to forget, she is forced to face the memories she’s been hiding from. 
Thea never understood why her sister left. Her childhood was happy and she lives her adult life surrounded by people she loves, but she never stopped wondering. 
When the two sisters meet again, a struggle to mend the bond they once shared, and reconcile their differing memories of their childhood, begins. 

In a world where blending in is valued above everything else, scars can be a dangerous thing to show. After years of drifting and hiding, Orryn returns to her homeland and must choose between baring her scars and losing her sister a second time.

This novella was provided by the author for an honest review.

I’m not too sure how I feel about this book. When I was approached by the author, she said it was a family drama in a dystopian setting and while it did have a dystopian setting, the dystopia part of it was really on the back burner. There are bits and pieces of what was the dystopian society, but I felt there wasn’t any concrete creation to the world itself. Normally I would like this approach, not having the dystopia control the story, even applauded it, but this story had the dystopian almost nonexistent. There’s very brief mention of the possibility of magic users in this world and about how it is a crime, but it’s so brief that I felt that it was unnecessary. I felt that if you changed it to something else in “our world” so to speak, it would’ve been the same.

That being said, I’m not saying it’s a bad story. It’s a very nice story about resolving family issues and rekindling old relationships. I just feel that the world isn’t very developed in the sense of dystopia. There are mentions of deviance or deviants as crimes and criminals, but that’s so late in the novella that it really didn’t pin to me as the dystopian stories that I’m used to reading. I understand why there is a dystopia in terms of plot, but again, it’s so distant that I almost feel like the dystopian part was completely unnecessary.

Now that I’m done looking at my biggest gripes, I’ll talk about what I did like. The story itself is very nice in terms of familial relationships. There’s a lot of heart in the novella and it’s good as a story about mending broken relationships and it’s very honest showing how Orryn and her sister have very different views of their parents because of how they were raised and because of how they were treated.  It’s also nice to see some diversity in this novella.

The book itself is quite short, only about sixty pages long and it’s only an ebook. I think what kept this book from being a four was a lack of world building. I know that with this kind of short story, it would be pretty difficult to do, but I felt that it was lacking and really only there to further the plot rather than be part of it… If that makes sense.

I feel like I’m almost bashing this book, but one thing that I really look at with a critical eye is world building. That’s just a personal preference of mine.

Final thoughts: Nice. Not amazing, but it wasn’t bad either.

January Book Haul!

Here it is, my first haul post on this book blog! Huzzah!

So let’s start off with the books that are in the picture. Starting from the left:

Title: Crossing the Tracks
Author: Barbara Stuber
Published: July 6, 2010 by McElderry Books
Goodreads

Impression: I’m really intrigued by the blurb I read on Book Outlet and though I haven’t read a lot of contemporary because I tend to not like what I find, I’m willing to give this a try.

Title: In the House of the Wicked
Author: Thomas E. Sniegoski
Published: August 7, 2012 by ROC
Impression: Well, I just found out that this is a fifth in a series, so I’m a bit disappointed in that. This was a freebie that Book Outlet threw into the mix and I was surprised to find it in the box. Though I thought the blurb was interesting, I’m a bit hesitant to start in the middle of a series rather than the beginning of it and in the fifth book nonetheless…
Title: The Weight of Water
Author: Sarah Crossan
Published: January 5, 2012 by Bloomsbury
Impression: I really like stories of people. Even though I don’t like to read a lot of contemporary YA, I really, really enjoy stories from people about people. I guess I’m kind of a nosy person, but I really love knowing the lives of others and not for some gossipy reason. It’s just fascinating to know how someone else is living their life the same time you are living yours, so of course I had to pick up this book. This book is about a girl who immigrates to England and her struggles as she tries to fit there. The only thing that might put me off is poetry, but that’s usually because I’m not used to reading poetry.
Title: Of Beast and Beauty
Author: Stacey Jay
Published: July 23, 2013 by Delacorte Press
Impression: I love, love, loved the synopsis for this story and I hope the actual book upholds. The premise is interesting and the title has “Beast and Beauty” and what do I think? You guessed it, Beauty and the Beast. I was Belle in fourth grade for the show at my elementary school. That story will forever have a special place in my heart, so I hope this does too.
Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 5, 2012
Impression: I’ve heard so many good things about this series and I remember being really intrigued by the cover. I can’t wait to crack it open and see how I like it. 
Title: Reboot
Author: Amy Tintera
Published: May 7, 2013 by HarperTeen
Impression: I remember hearing this story from the author and I was really intrigued by it. Not really alive, but also not dead. So you’re an undead! The premise seems interesting, but I’ll have to wait and see until I read the book. 
Title: The Unnaturalists
Author: Tiffany Trent
Published: August 14, 2012 by Simon and Schuster 
Impression: I love steampunk and what spawns from it. The clothing, the community, the creativity. It’s amazing, really and I hope to cosplay something steampunk in the future. That’s the reason why I’m excited to read this book, though the low rating on Goodreads scares me a bit. Nonetheless, I’ll give it a try and I’ll see how I like it!
Now to the books that weren’t in the picture, the ebooks I purchased this month:
Title: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Published: February 5, 2013
Impression: Well, I already finished this book this past week and I was completely in love with it. There were a few things I didn’t really like about the romance between Scarlet and Wolf, but they both acknowledge the part I didn’t like about the romance so I’m not so miffed about it anymore. The Lunar Chronicles is easily becoming one of my favorite series so far.
Title: Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3)
Author: Marissa Meyer 
Published: February 4, 2014
Impression: Of course while I’m on a roll, I started on Cress almost immediately after I finished Scarlet since they were both ebooks and I happened to have them in my library. So far I’m enjoying how this series is coming along!
Did you get any new books this past month? Have you read and liked/not liked the books I’ve purchased? 

Monday Mumbles: The Investment

Monday Mumbles is a feature on this blog where I make discussion posts about my thoughts and opinions about books and book blogging. 

When I was reading books in middle school and high school, I kind of just binged-bought books at Barnes and Noble. I stacked books upon books and threw some manga in there to take home and start reading straight away. I shocked my mom by racking up anywhere from $50-$90 at the register. Now that I’m working and earn my own money, I’m pretty stubborn about purchasing my own luxuries, so now I realize just why that kind of shocked my mom (sorry, mom!).
Books at Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, or any place that sells physical books at full market value are kind of expensive. Paperbacks can be anywhere from $5.99 and usually I see YA or NA in the more $9.99 range than $5.99. As of right now I pretty much get all of my books from either Book Outlet or Thrift Books, because it’s just so much cheaper. I’m also leaning towards getting more ebooks. No matter how much I love physical books, I just can’t afford it. 
The money is probably the biggest thing that kept me from stopping my book blogs. It was too expensive to have a continuous amount of material coming out with reviews and such, that I just didn’t feel like investing the time in it either. I just read to read. Perhaps I’ll start applying for ARCs and free books (this is also why you’ll see me tweeting a lot about giveaways. I don’t have the money!). 
Now some people might say things like, “Then go to the library” or “then why do you do it?” 
“Then go to the library”
Easy. I am absolutely terrible about turning books back in. I’m so used to buying and keeping my own books, that I forget to return them to the library so I rack up obscene library fees. It’s terrible! I know! But do you see why I buy them now? I have over 600 books in my own personal library and that’s just because I forget that I have to give them back
“Then why do you do it?”
Well, it’s just fun to do. Even if I might be halted because I don’t have enough money to buy tons and tons of books like I know some people can, I’ll still try my best to keep up. I also don’t get approached by authors and publishers (yet) to review books so it’s up to me to do it haha. I like looking through people’s blogs and seeing what they think and it’s also just fun to read through what’s been going on in their lives. 
I know this is a quick Monday Mumbles because I’ve lost my momentum again, but here it is. I constantly have trouble funding my book addiction. Does anyone else?

Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago. 

Monstrous Beauty first caught my eye through the pretty cover and the main story being about mermaids because mermaids. I was a little put off on how the back cover was your stock YA boy and girl kissing–but this was after I had purchased and received the book in the mail and I already started reading it. Nonetheless, I found this novel incredibly interesting, engaging, and the romance didn’t go beyond the nice and the necessary. Though I have to give a bit of warning that there’s a rape scene during one of Syrenka’s chapter, so if you’re uncomfortable with those things especially, I would probably try to skip that.

One of the things I absolutely loved about the novel was the back and forth between the present with Hester and the past with Syrenka. The stories become intertwined well and the pace was perfect. I loved going back and forth reading Hester’s investigation about her family history and the history of Plymouth and then later reading about Syrenka’s story with Ezra that is just charming and a great love story. I think it kept everything interesting and it brought a great deal of dramatic irony which I really like in books.

Even though this book is kind of advertised as a romance/mystery, I find it to be a lot more mystery. Though you go back and forth in time, it’s obvious that Hester’s story is the main focus and while there is some romance (for reasons that are later explained in the book ~spoilers~), most of it is mystery with a good dash of fantasy. This balance worked out really well for me because the romance didn’t make me want to advance through the pages and get it over with, it kept me reading because there was something else beneath it.

I really got into the mermaids. I love the lore that was written about them and how their descriptions were more of the sirens or the earlier descriptions of mermaids rather than the Ariel kind of mermaids. There’s a good chunk of world building and like Ezra I was just so fascinated by them and wanted to learn more. The parallels between Syrenka’s story and the original Little Mermaid was a really nice and subtle touch. Of course if you know the original story, then you know it was also very tragic and sad and I’m glad that Hester had a chance at a happy ending where Ezra and Syrenka’s didn’t.

Overall this book was well balanced and the pacing was nice. In terms of romance, fantasy, mystery, and even a little bit of tragedy Fama did a great job at mixing them all in a great story where one didn’t overpower the other. It made for easy reading and it held my attention to the very end.

My only gripe was that Hester felt a little lacking to me, but that might be because I thought Syrenka and Ezra were the more interesting and complex than Hester. There’s also a tiny bit of insta-love but I believe that it has some connection to what you find in the novel. If you read it and come to a conclusion I’d love to know.

Final thoughts: Monstrous Beauty brings romance, tragedy, mystery, and fantasy into a beautiful story and kept me entertained.

Rating: 4.5/5

Title: Monstrous Beauty
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Pages: 295
Published: September 4, 2012 by BYR
Goodreads
Buy it: Barnes and Noble | Book Outlet | Kobo | Book Depository

Review: The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell

Twelve-year-old Clara Dooley has spent her whole life in the Glendoveer mansion, where her mother is a servant to the kind and elderly matron of the house. Clara has never known another home. In fact, she’s confined to the grand estate due to a mysterious heart condition. But it’s a comfortable life, and if it weren’t for the creepy squawking birds in the aviary out back, a completely peaceful one too. 
But once old Mrs. Glendoveer passes away, Clara comes to learn many dark secrets about the family. The Glendoveers suffered a horrific tragedy: their children were kidnapped, then drowned. And their father George Glendoveer, a famous magician and illusionist, stood accused until his death. As Clara digs deeper and deeper into the terrifying events, the five birds in the aviary seem to be trying to tell her something. And Clara comes to wonder: what is their true identity? Clara sets out to solve a decades-old murder mystery—and in doing so, unlocks a secret in her own life, too. Kathleen O’Dell deftly weaves magic, secret identities, evil villians, unlikely heroes, and the wonder of friendship into a mystery adventure with all the charm of an old fashioned classic.

To start off, I found The Aviary a charming tale and enjoyed it a lot despite it taking so long to get immersed in. I loved the period setting and the story itself was quite interesting and it just became a story about mourning and closure along with familial reunion.

The herione of our story, Clara Dooley, is a smart twelve-year old girl who is forced to stay home because of an apparent heart condition. She wishes that she could go to school and have friends like a normal child, but alas, she’s stuck inside the home of Mrs. Glendoveer, the woman her mother is taking care of. Mrs. Glendoveer is a widow. Her husband used to be a profound magician and he was respected and loved all over the world as a great performer. Throughout the book there is a great emphasis on the birds (hence, The Aviary) and Mrs. Glendoveer loves them dearly. There’s a great mystery with the birds, however. It’s that they’ve lived far longer than they normally should. Cue the mysterious music for ambiance.

I have to say that even though I was really struggling to get into The Aviary, once I did I was sucked in good. Clara is a very clever girl and she finds out the truth about the birds and the reason why the Glendoveer mansion has been kept up for so long. The book has a lot about “actual magic” instead of performance magic and mixes in with the idea of ghosts (which were very popular around the time the book took place). It took about 100 pages, and it being such a short book it’s kind of a shame, but the second and third act of the novel are great fun. Clara’s relationship with her newfound friend Daphne is cute and also clever as well. Daphne acts as Clara’s eyes and ears to the outside world while Clara tries to find clues from inside. It’s actually a very interesting system and I loved how it worked out in the end for those two.

Without spoiling too much of the novel, the mystery around the Glendoveer children is the driving force of the novel and for Clara’s actions and the last few chapters almost become a race for the finish.

Final thoughts: This book was a charming tale of mystery and family, and I’m glad that it picked up near the end.

Rating: 4/5

Title: The Aviary
Author: Kathleen O’Dell
Published: September 13, 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 337
Goodreads
Buy it: Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Book Outlet | Book Depository