Monthly Favorites · Uncategorized · wrap up

January 2019 Wrap Up

January 2019 was a stressful month for me but let’s be honest, January is never a great month for me. It’s too bad it happens to seem like the longest month of the entire year. It’s just that time where everyone is going back to their daily routine and all the fun festivities and chill time are over. You have to start reevaluating your life (as I did) and believe me, I was worried about a lot this month from taxes to money to school to what I’m going to do with my life. The thing about agonizing over big decisions that determine your life is that the process is painful but finally, finally you start to get out of your head and little by little you start to plan out the stepping stones until you feel it is feasible. I’m finally at that point and hopefully February will be better. At least it’ll be shorter. To end on a happy note, let’s end with the obligatory food pics 😉

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Noodology – Tomato Soup with Beef and Rice Noodle
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iSno Cafe Shaved Ice
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More noodles! Noodle Street – Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

But in the meantime, let’s talk about all the stuff I loved or didn’t in January. Starting with books:

Image result for the lost sistersThe Lost Sisters by Holly Black (4/5) – You know I never read short stories when it’s part of a series because I never saw the point but this short story proved me wrong. It gave more insight into Taryn’s motivations from the first book which we can all agree was confusing and sketchy at best. But, I sympathized a lot with Taryn after this story and although I do not agree with what she did (the betrayal!!), I can at least understand it.

The Wicked King by Holly Black (3.5/5) – You know, now thatImage result for the wicked king the shock of all the plot twists has died down, I can look at this book with a more clear head. I definitely do not think it was as good as The Cruel Prince. It definitely felt like a filler book; the development of the characters were sacrificed for the sake of plot development, the worldbuilding was shot to the wayside, and suddenly there are a lot more one note side characters used for advancing the plot. Of course that did not prevent me from squealing at all the Cardan and Jude scenes (yo, dm me when you get to the end of Chapter 15), and of course at that killer, killer ending. I will be waiting with bated breath for the last book. Also, shoutout to Alicia from A Kernel of Nonsense for Image result for the king of attoliabuddyreading this with me. The reading experience was so much more fun with you! 🙂

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (4/5)– I’m not sure what was going through my head when I decided to quit this series at the beginning of the second book a few years ago because this series is simply amazing!! I’ve read a lot of YA books with political intrigue and none of them have really come close to the subtle machinations and plotting that this series has. Rest assure I will be doing a full review of this series once I finish the fifth book.

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (4/5) – The fourth book in the Thief Image result for a conspiracy of kingsseries. Another amazing installment.  This one follows a different character but I grew to love him just as much as the main characters. Again, review to come. Also, the new covers are WAY better than the old ones. Sometimes cover changes can be really good.

Image result for daughter of the forestDaughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (DNF) – The ultimate reason why I DNF’ed this was because it was boring. It’s a very interesting book if you look at it through a feminist lens (talk to me about this, I wanna know what you think), but I grew wary once the Lady Oonagh was introduced. Of course, the female villain of the story has to wear low cut clothes and be “ladylike” and be promiscuous and sly. I hate the virgin/whore dichotomy.

 

Movies

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Bandersnatch (C)– Yes, the concept is novel and cool but only for about 10 minutes. The reason why I like watching TV and movies is because I can watch the characters come to their own conclusions. It’s part of the fun of watching characters different from you, but these “choose your own adventure” modes are you just being a stand in for the character. I could also argue that the story wasn’t right for this gimmick. If it were an adventure story such as surviving in the jungle where the choices have a lot more drastically different stakes, then sure maybe. Also, the ending was a bit too tongue in cheek and meta for me. An interesting watch, but not something I’d ever watch again.

Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse (B) – After all these years, Spiderman/Spiderwoman’s Image result for spiderman into the spider verseremains my favorite superhero and that’s because I love his/her origin story. He starts off as a teenager going about his high school life with the usual high school problems but is bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes a superhero but he’s still a teen! His story is very much a coming of age story. In much the same vein, Spider Verse is about Miles finding where he belongs but trying to live up to his people’s expectations of him. Although the story does become oversaturated what with all the different emotional beats and all the different spiderpeople coming together, it was very entertaining. Oh and yes, I did like the animation. I definitely haven’t seen something like that done in a big studio movie.

Image result for ali wong baby cobraAli Wong: Baby Cobra (A)- I’m really liking stand up comedy right now and this one was no exception. She talks a lot about modern feminism (although she’s not as feminist leaning as a lot of female comics today), her husband, racism, and a myriad of other topics. She’s pretty raunchy and crass and she tells some Asian jokes that you will only really get if you’re an Asian so that was fun.

 

TV

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Ugly Delicious S1 Ep 7 (A) – I only watched one episode which was episode 7 “Fried Rice” but I really liked it. It had such an interesting blend of talking about culture, race, and even history surrounding the cuisine. Clearly, most TV shows need to be talking about these woke topics BUT it does so in such an insightful way. I really liked the conversation they had about how we perceive authentic Chinese food vs commercial Chinese food and the concept of high end Chinese food. I Image result for patriot act hasan minhajdefinitely need to watch the rest of the season.

 

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj Ep 1-3 (B+)– I think it’s pretty great that more young people are getting more involved in politics, although that obviously comes with consequences like the rise of polarized news. Yes, Patriot Act is a left leaning entertainment news show but I must say though that for what it is, it is informative, sincere and enthusiastic about participating in the political sphere. Minhaj is a really charismatic host and the episodes are 20 minutes long so who doesn’t have time for that? I also really like the infographics he intersperses throughout; they are very concise.

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The Good Place (A) – The Good Place is a show that I did not give a fair chance to the first time I watched it. I mean I quit it after the 5th episode but I gave it a second chance and I loved it! It is so sweet, charming and asks a lot of questions most sitcoms would not dare go near. I’m planning on a review of this as well since I’m all caught up! A must watch if you’ve already seen shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks and Rec and Superstore, Image result for i am not a robot posteralthough this is probably my favorite out of all of them.

 

I am Not a robot (DNF) – You do not know how badly I want to fall in love with a korean drama right now but can’t find anything that I like (let me know any recommendations). This show moved kind of slowly and the whole robot thing could have led into some icky non consensual territory. Maybe I’m just making up excuses at this point.

You (C) – You may be a Netflix show but it feels a lot more like a CW show. Heck, it even Image result for youhas Penn Badgley from Gossip Girl and Shay Mitchell from Pretty Little Liars. The drama is of the back stabby, cat fighting, petty type. My problem with these types of shows is that the characters get into high stakes drama and then forget about it in the next episode. Dude, your best friend literally backstabbed you and sold you out, you got mad at her, and now the next day, with no explanation, you’re besties again?? The show was very entertaining and does delve into some interesting questions about social media and obsession. It’s a good show to binge watch.

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Uncategorized · wrap up

September 2018 Wrap Up

September was a relatively normal month for me. I’ve been trying to do this thing where I try not to let my social anxiety dictate my life. Not until I really analyzed myself in September did I notice how many of my behaviors (touching my hair incessantly, going on my phone, looking down) in social situations helped me avoid talking to people when really it’s not as bad as I made it out to be in my head.   I mentioned in my August wrap up that I wanted to live a more meaningful life. So I started forcing myself to initiate conversations and my theory is that by exposing myself more to different social situations I can start to become more myself wherever I go. It’s quite the difficult journey as I’ve had these habits for about 20 years of my life. In the meantime, here are some fun things I did.

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iSno cafe – shaved snow with brownies, chocolate chips, and whipped cream
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Patch Coffee – the usual hipster coffee shop but I liked this one’s airy atmosphere and travel pictures on the wall

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I promise my next post will not contain Cha for Tea
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Happy Hour!
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My boyfriend got a pillowpet bear. His name is Lenny.

 

Books

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The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski (4.5/5) – I reread the Winner’s Curse trilogy this year and I am still so amazed at this series. I did an entire review on it in my previous post here.

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Sadie by Courtney Summers (3.75/5) – Sadie is a YA crime thriller about Sadie who is out to kill her sister’s murderer. It alternates chapters between Sadie’s point of view and that of a journalist, West McCray who makes a podcast chronicling his investigation into Sadie’s whereabouts. For a crime thriller, I really liked this one and I thought the complicated relationship portrayed between Sadie’s mother, Sadie, and her sister Mattie was ambiguous and consequently fascinating.  Ironically, Sadie paints her neglectful and drug abusive mother in the best light to Mattie wanting to give her normal childhood, who, in turn, sees Sadie in a harsher light. Sadie is an awesome protagonist to follow in the first person. First person is written a lot in YA and I often wonder why because a lot of the perspectives offered nothing unique or nuanced but Sadie remains brutal and mysterious even though we are in her head. I thought the accompanying podcast to this book where you can follow along on the podcast was very ingenious and realistic. I just wish the book had a little bit more to it. Despite the good exploration of their relationships, I wish I knew more about Sadie’s past because it was so interesting. I also wish I knew more about the murderer too, he became just another murderer to me. Also, for reasons I can’t explain, this book lacked a certain tension to it.

Movies

Memento (A-) – Memento is about Lenny who is unable to form new memories whichImage result for memento makes it difficult when the movie revolves around him trying to find his wife’s murderer. When I found out this was a Christopher Nolan movie, I went into it with certain expectations since I had now seen Inception, Interstellar, Batman and now this movie. And as expected, you are left in the dark about basically everything which is actually fitting for this movie as the main character doesn’t remember anything about what he just experienced and the movie starts at its ending and meets in the middle. You will get more confused as Lenny tattoos more information to his body with the same ambiguous people appearing in his life again and people chasing him. This one is not as grand as the other movies in terms of CGI and worldbuilding. It definitely has more of a thriller aspect to it and once again that ending is left open for interpretation.

Image result for princess diaries 1 and 2Princess Diaries 1 and 2 (B) – Whenever anyone feels doubtful about who they are or whether they’re enough, they need a dose of Princess Diaries. Aside from being utterly charming and warm with a cast of lovable characters (my favorite of which is Mia’s grandmother, proper but sassy Julie Andrews), PD shows how Mia, a girl who thought she was an insecure outcast, found the princess inside herself. As a side note, I am always so delighted at the ending of PD 2. To me, it is one of the most feminist endings of any rom com I’ve seen.

TV

Insecure (A) – Insecure continues to be such a delightful comedy show. It’s definitely aRelated image show made for millennials. In this season we learn more about Issa’s childhood and we finally see her recognize her mistakes and try to fix them but really come into her own. Of course, as per Insecure, it’s filled with drama and relationship twists. The dynamics between her and Molly are as solid as ever. The Coachella episode was my favorite of the season as Issa and her friends grapple with the fact that they are growing apart.

Image result for emma approvedEmma Approved Season 1 (B)– I rewatched Emma Approved because as I am writing this Season 2 is already out!! It was such a wonderful shock when I found it was coming back because Season 1 was such a huge part of my life 5 years ago when it first came out. I was still in my sophomore year of college. I remember rushing to the library after my dreaded physics class and hurriedly finding a computer and putting headphones on to enjoy the next short but sweet episode. It was definitely one of the few bright spots in my otherwise dreary sophomore year. Though upon rewatch I found the plot to be lacking compared to the nuanced commentary and wit of the book, I definitely needed Emma’s stalwart optimism and high confidence in September.

Reality showsLove Island is only the start of more bad reality TV shows I’ve started watching except for British bake off (which is so charming). I’ve since started watching Married at First Sight. It ends up being more funny than anything since I can’t take any of them seriously.Image result for killing eve

Killing Eve – It’s been said a thousand times but I just cannot get behind watching a crime show and this one did not break that streak. Though objectively this is a great show about a female assassin (never gets shown on TV) and a female detective to boot, I need to be just in the right mood to watch crime! I watched 3 episodes before I stopped but for any crime junkies out there, I wouldn’t miss this one. It’s filled with some funny side characters and the potential for deeper psychological and violent reveals.

Games

Clash Royale

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I was back to playing this game because I just liked the gameplay and I found more interest in making new decks. But alas I got frustrated with it and stopped playing it although I know it is a game I’ll come back to eventually.

Music

Yellow by Coldplay, remade by Katherine Ho – I saw Crazy Rick Asians in August and I’ve been listening to the soundtrack. I really like the rendition of Coldplay’s Yellow. Fun fact: Coldplay originally did not want the song to be played since it had racist connotations but the director sent a heartfelt letter saying this was the song that made him comfortable in his Asian skin for the first time and Coldplay approved it.

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Nobody Compares to You by Gryffin – This song was on repeat when I was driving to pick up my boyfriend from LAX airport. It’s got that airy but upbeat tone that I always gravitate to in a song.

Makeup

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Tarte Microliner

I have found my holy grail liner. I thought it was the Kat Von D liner but that one, after I’ve used it in its entirety, I’ve noticed it actually doesn’t last that long, it’s not that pigmented and it’s actually harder to take off than this liner. The great thing about the Kat Von D liner was its tip’s precision. This one is just as precise. It’s amazingly pigmented. I only need to put one line on if needed. It also comes off very fluidly and it won’t come off in crusty pieces. You can make any eyeliner shape you want with it.

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Monthly Favorites · Uncategorized · wrap up

August 2018 Wrap Up

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August 2018 is the year I realize my own mortality. How quickly time moves. I know this because I feel this sense of urgency, that I must accomplish things now before I lose the time and opportunity to do so. Feeling this urgency also helped me realize that I can take small steps but maybe bigger steps towards my goals will be better. As is happening more often than not now, I am feeling anxious about not reaching my dreams. I always thought things would work out one way or the other but now I realize I must really work towards them and make my dreams into goals. Speaking of goals, August is now that time of year that everyone goes back to school. This gives me anxiety that I’m not in school yet. Although I know my time will come, my anxiety comes in waves and questions start to wash over me. Are they reading my application? I tried my best, but maybe I should have tried harder? How can I possible compare to the thousands of applicants that apply? The good thing about this anxiety is that it gives me the motivation to be productive and to be motivated towards my goals, personal and professional. Because of this, I am trying to give 100% to everything I care about whether it is more to my hobbies and learning more for the sake of learning or whether it is cooking or scrapbooking or learning how to store photos. I hope I can keep this streak going.

One of the biggest highlights of my August was going to Disneyland!! I have missed this IMG-0827place so freaking much! I hadn’t been back in 3 years and let me tell you a lot has happened within those 3 years, so I was excited to see how I viewed Disneyland again. I went on the “new” Incredicoaster and the “new” Guardians of the Galaxy ride. I went on the not so great Monsters Inc ride (why couldn’t they have made a Tangled one??). Also, how could I forget the famous and classic Mickey beignets, or my old favorite Pizza Planet, which has some new pasta combinations, or my new favorite, the Mint Julep–a mint lemonadey drink–at New Orleans Cafe.

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Ratatouille Postcard from Downtown Disney

Disneyland will always hold special memories for me. I’ve gone to Disneyland with the most important people that have been or are in my life. It’s always so fascinating to see what a different experience Disneyland is with each and every one of them. Sometimes I get swept up in every ride possible. Other times, I watch parades and animation academy and the other times like this, I really get to savor the food. It’s why I’m always excited to go back and I already can’t wait to go back again.

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August also marks the month of my best friend’s birthday. Talking to her while we were eating ice cream, I am struck by how much can change in a year when you’re in mid 20’s. It’s a bittersweet time of rapid change and even greater revelations. My Instagram feed is full of people of who are getting engaged, getting into grad school, and even getting married. I once thought my life would never change and now it’s changing more than ever.

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Rolling Ice Cream @ Rollin Creamery

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Image result for my lady's choosing an interactive romance novelMy Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curan (3/5)

I remember loving the Choose Your Own Adventure novels when I was a kid and when I heard there was a romance version, I was so pumped. Yet, the storyline is a little too simplistic for comfort. You literally know how some endings and caricatures are going to go. There’s the nice guy, the Darcy character etc. Also, the one storyline I did with the Darcy-like character suffers from an intense case of hate to instalove with no explanation. But it’s fun to see the different endings. I did end up dying once as a penniless orphan with syphilis so there’s that.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells (3/5)Image result for all systems red

All Systems Red is a Hugo award winning novella about a murder robot who hacks into her scripted programming and can make her own decisions and works for these human clients in exploring a new land but gets caught up in a bigger conspiracy when the other bots start to kill her human. The worldbuilding is amazing, but honestly I felt the characters were kept at arm’s distance and the plot, though suppose to be exciting felt like it was written by an eyewitness’s grandma’s cousin’s second stepsister. Too far removed from the action. The best part was hearing murderbot’s thoughts as she decides how to approach being more of a human than a bot.

1383168The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller (4/5)

The Anatomy of Story is an introduction to writing, well, a story.  It shows you the basics of plot, character, character arc, scene building, and dialogue. I love the way this guide does not make this process seem too simplistic. Normally when I read guides on writing, it’ll say things like make your character relatable, give one or two flaws and then that’s it. But this guide really shows you how to make your story organic. I love reading writing guides even if I’m not too much of a writer yet and that’s because I think these make me a better reader and helps me better analyze story structure critically and actually use specific terms. I’ve even found myself analyzing books, TV, and movies with some of his techniques in the back of my head.

Fence Vol. 1 by CS Pascat (3/5)36064768

16 year old Nicolas Cox wants to the best fencer. Headstrong and determined, he plays a match against the world famous Seiji Katayama and loses. Now he is determined to beat him and gets his chance at King’s Row, an elite fencing academy. Fence is very inspired by sports anime and manga and considering that’s not my thing, this is just ok. I just think the caricatures for these main characters are all the same. There’s that one mysterious guy that the main character wants to beat in game but there’s sexual tension between them and you get the idea. I also wanted to read this because I knew there was going to be a found family aspect but I feel nothing. I just really want more depth to these caricatures besides out of proportion drama and angst and a main character whose external motivation is very cliche and generic.

games

Polytopia

Polytopia is a strategy game where you capture cities and fight other tribes. I love polytopia, the aesthetics are freaking adorable!  It’s so fun and there are endless possibilities for creative gameplay. I love thinking about the maneuvering and seeing how using your resources affects how you play. It’s a completely free mobile game with some in game purchases but it is never at the expense of your gameplay or enjoyment of the game.

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Plants vs Zombies

This mobile game is kind of old but no less entertaining than it was when I first played it years ago. It’s great for the casual gamer and it only took me a week or so to beat the game. The graphics are so cute. It’s not that challenging but challenging enough to keep you persisting through the game.

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music

Sweetener – Ariana Grande

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I’ve been listening to this album nonstop since it came out. It seems as though Ariana Grande is moving away from her pop roots and dipping her toes in more sultry rnb music. My favorites are sweetener, goodnight and go, and pete davidson.

movies

Image result for nice guysThe Nice Guys (B)

What Nice Guys ironically lacks in action sequences, it makes up for in its clever satire and even cleverer tongue-in-cheek dialogue. Ryan Gosling’s character’s daughter steals the show with her razor sharp bluntness. It definitely plays with the action and buddy cop genre. It was a very good time but don’t watch this if you’re in the mood for a mindless action film. It was definitely a lot more than that.

Blue Valentine (B-) Image result for blue valentine

I first was interested in Blue Valentine because I had always mean to, fascinated as I am with the analysis of marriage and watching Nice Guys with Ryan Gosling reminded me of that. Blue Valentine follows a young couple in the bitter throes of their marriage. Though their marriage is tumultuous and full of miscommunication and past hurt, it was not always like this and the movie explores the beginning of their relationship and where it all went wrong. It’s quite a sad tale. We really get to see how love manifests differently in the eyes of each character. Though they see it as love, their definition of love is imperfect and different than the other. The movie makes effective use of its blocking, the characters as mysterious to us as they are to each other.

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The next two movies I will have reviews for in the upcoming weeks. I wanted to mesh them together because oh boy have I got a lot to say. I must say though I am so excited to see more Asian main characters on the silver and big screen.

shows

Image result for disenchantmentDisenchantment (DNF – Netflix)

This show took me by surprise; I wasn’t expecting this level of emotional depth but it is just not my type of humor. Simpsons was never really my type of show so objectively pretty good, but not one I’ll be continuing on with.

30 rock 

The 30 rock binge marathon continues! this Image result for 30 rock season 4show just gets progressively better as it goes on and Seasons 3 and 4 are a testament to that. Although the character of Tracy Jordan really gets on my nerves.

Image result for insecure season 3 posterInsecure Season 3 (Ongoing – HBO)

This comedy is so consistently good!! In this season Issa continues to navigate the throes of work, relationships, and friendships. Season 2 left off on a major change and I’m glad to see that although Issa’s flaws are the same, it is nice to see her navigate new changes and really self reflect. This is one of the few comedies that pays attention not only to the comedy but to its craft. The cinematography really highlights Issa’s isolation and thought processes which is awesome because she is a character who doesn’t really express her emotions easily through dialogue. But it is still fast paced and raunchy and keeps you bingewatching. Also, the music is always phenomenal.

youtube

How I Plan and Organize My Life – Jenn Im

Jenn’s videos always inspire me to be productive and this one was no exception. I love that her advice is not as basic as these productive videos tend to be (just write everything down in your planner! ugh) and it has really inspired me to strive for what I love whether personal or professional  and however simple it may be and paying attention to a long term goal through small steps is so worth it.

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favorites · Uncategorized · wrap up

January 2018 Wrap Up

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It’s been a minute since I’ve done one of these but I told myself I would restart this year so here I am. As a side effect of only posting 2x a month now, I’m compiling all the books, movies, TV shows, and music in one big monthly wrap up rather than separating my favorites apart from the book wrap up. I am convinced that January is just not my month. It’s like the Monday of the year. I anticipate a change because it’s the beginning of the year but usually everything stays completely the same. Consequently, I think it’s the month I feel the most restless. It’s the month when the holiday cheer is gone and over, set in by a gloominess and overcast, everyone is suddenly back to business. If January was about anything, working those hours, I realized what was and is truly important to my time. I started doing this project called the one second a day for the rest of the year. The idea behind it is that you take a video of your life everyday and compile one second of each to put into a video compilation at the end of the year. I’ve modified it so that it’s one picture a day. This year is more of a test year than anything because I’m not used to taking pictures frequently but nevertheless, I have taken on this endeavor. However I realized that during the middle of January, that each day was a blur of work and I just did not have a picture that highlighted my day.

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Matcha Ice Cream

Sadly, a symptom of being a fully fledged working person is that while you realize you have more responsibilities, you also realize you have to fight for what is truly important to you and how to distribute that time. I have a habit of “sucking it up” or adapting rather than changing. It’s the way I taught myself to do things but I realize that sucking it up doesn’t change anything and it just makes you more miserable. You have no sense of whether something is truly working out for you or not. If it is not working, it doesn’t mean that I should keep doing it. Life is too short to just endure.

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The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison (3.5/5)

17934655The Empathy Exams is an interesting concept of a book. It deals entirely with our ability to empathize and the nuanced ways in which we do so. One essay explores the irony of going on a tour to learn about poverty, another follows empathy through her experiences as a medical actor and how we must have common ground before we are able to empathize with someone, and another essay defends the concept of being too sentimental. As with any essay collection, there were definitely ones that had excellent premises but that I wished she had analyzed more of what she observed from it. But the very best stories are so worth the more mediocre ones because they are so in tune to how we perceive empathy in our daily lives.

 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (4/5)

I actually don’t think I’ve been this enamored by a YA fantasy since The Winner’s Kiss. 26032825The only thing I wish it had more of is Marie Rutkoski’s ephemeral writing. Holly Black’s writing cuts like a bland knife. It cuts, and does the job, even fairly well, but it just lacks a certain sharpness not to mention she uses the cliche that every YA writer uses and overly emphasizes a feeling. But what makes this different from other YA fantasies is that every single character has an immediate stake but also an underlying stake throughout the book that is not immediately apparent when they are introduced. Our main character is utterly fascinating. Jude is someone who has grown up with fire. She hates these fairies who have tormented her and who have ultimate power over her, but at the same time, this is the place she calls her home and the place that has nurtured the brutal, caustic person she has become.  Of course, I also cannot forget the slow burn romance that I fervently hope will develop more in the second book. I don’t think I’ve shipped two characters this much since Arin and Kestrel. I cannot, cannot, wait for the next book.

Meet Cute by various YA authors (3.5/5)

33503607I have to say that this is probably the strongest short story collection I’ve read in terms of how many of the stories I liked. Even if the execution was not up to par, the premises provided such a fascinating take that I had a lot of fun reading it anyways. It was such a lighthearted and happy collection and only proves why I could like YA contemporary. It brought such a smile to my face.  My favorites were “Oomph” by Emery Lord, a story that follows two girls at the airport and “Print Shop” by Nina La Cour, Nina La Cour really knows how to write a dreamy, vintage California setting. Honorable mentions have to go to Nicola Yoon’s, “The Department of Dead Love” which follows social workers who help you after a break up, Dhonielle Clayton’s, “The Way We Love Here”, where you know who your true love is beforehand, Jocelyn Davies’s, “The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love”, which follows a girl’s statistics of meeting this boy on the train everyday, Julie Murphy’s “Something Real”, which follows two girls on the set of a reality show, and even Jennifer L. Armentrout’s, “The Dictionary of You and Me” which follows a librarian and her repeated calls to the owner of an overdue book. All are squirmingly cute. I want a full book on some of these.

What do you think the difference between wanting to be friends and wanting to be more than friends is?

Some people you want to get to know and some people you want to know you. I think that’s the difference.

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My Happy Family | B+

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My Happy Family is a quiet movie about a woman who leaves her family and buys an apartment to live alone. It’s one of those movies where nothing much actually happens, and yet you have this rich sense of the main character’s inner life. When she first presents this idea of living on her own after living with her extended family including her mother, father, husband and children, her entire life. Her family cannot fathom why she would want to do this; they immediately ask if her husband has abused her in any way, wondering what she could be unhappy about. I love the way this movie explores a person, especially a woman, finding her own space, literally and figuratively. It explores the importance of finding your identity separate from your family, and how it is difficult for a woman to do so as they are expected to sacrifice for family often at the expense of their own health. This movie is set in Georgia (European Georgia) and I did watch the dubbed version, it did take me out at first because I’m so used to finding a subtitled version but I got used to it.

It | B

Image result for itI’m not really sure how to feel about this movie. On the one hand, found family especially between kids is one of my favorite things ever and this movie delivers that. It’s a fun (and scary) romp to defeat this evil clown (who is btw terrifying). It delivers a scary story that only Stephen King can write where the scary entity is just an extension of the real things to fear: abusive parents, mean bullies, and growing up. And yet, on the other hand, I just think this ’80s nostalgia has gotten old. Maybe it’s just me, but I just cannot deal without another disproportionate all white male kid gang and that 1 manic pixie dream girl. Maybe I’m not as attached to the ’80s because I was obviously not born during this time but the oftentimes racist and sexist undertones is just not nostalgic for me. This was definitely a movie adapted from a book that was definitely written in the ’80s which is different from, say Stranger Things, that has a love for the ’80s but feels less stranded in its time.

jan3

Father is Strange | finished 8 episodes 

Father is Strange is the perfect example of why cliches can work if they are well Related imageexecuted. I’ve rolled my eyes a lot at the traditional family dramas that have pervaded TV and you know, this drama’s story doesn’t deter from those familiar plot points: missing dad, shrewish mother- –in-law, miscommunication, an unexpected pregnancy subplot, no nonsense grandma, poor vs rich class conflict, and of course, some good ol’ fashioned romance. These plot points, however, are done with a subtlety and are better appreciated with distinct characters and strong acting. It also has a progressiveness that has been missing from many traditional dramas that helps it feel fresh and modern while keeping the nostalgia of a family drama. I have since stopped this drama because, however much I enjoy it, the storylines move at a snail’s pace, and I would appreciate this more when I do not have other, faster shows to occupy my time.

Image result for the end of the f *** ing worldThe End of the Fucking World | Finished 2 episodes

I think I would have liked this show 2 years ago, even a year ago, but the fact of the matter is, I just have less tolerance now for shows with apologetically shitty characters. There are always exceptions but I just do not think I’m in the mood to watch shitty, pretentious teenagers at the moment. Don’t let my review deter you from watching it though, objectively, the acting and editing are on point.

Alias Grace | Finished 4 episodesImage result for alias grace

Another stopped show. I liked it fine, but it just needed more space to explore its concepts. I love the set design and the cinematography but the story is lacking. I should just finish the last two episodes but honestly I’ve got other shows to watch.

 

 

jan4

Feminist Frequency

Image result for feminist frequency podcastAs I get more and more into the podcast world, this continues to be one of my favorite podcasts. This features 3 women, including Anita Sarkessian who produced the video games vs tropes series on YouTube. The podcast discusses the latest media including movies, TV shows, games, and the news and looks at them through a feminist lens. I really love the discussion these ladies have together. I also get some great recommendations from them.

 

jan7

Illenium – Beautiful Creatures (feat. MAX)

I’m actually really enjoying all of Illenium’s music, but this one I’ve been listening to the most. My perfect kind of EDM.

If love is a lie, then why do we need it?
We swear we’re alive, but we’re falling to pieces

jan5

Clash RoyaleImage result for clash royale

Yes, I had been playing this a lot in January and it made me realize how much I actually like playing games if only I can really apply my analytical and strategical skills. The only bad part is that I get really competitive and angry when I lose.

 

 

 

February is already shaping up to a great month, and I hope that bodes well for the rest of the year. As always, let me know if you have enjoyed any of these and if you have any recommendations for me based on these. =)

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Uncategorized · wrap up

September/October 2017 Wrap Up

The way things are going I don’t think I’m going to make my Goodreads challenge which is actually sort of a foreign concept to me. I’ve read 48 books so far this year and am 10 books behind schedule if I want to reach my goal of 70 for 2017. It’s fine with me since I got to do a lot of rereading these past two months.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

17347383POA is that turning point in young Harry’s life when he is starting to grow up and realizing more about the circumstances of his birth and seeing that people are not always what they seem. I think that is one of the sure signs of growing up when you start to see the gray areas in morality. HP 3 is not my favorite book but I do think it has the best mystery to it. I still think the mystery and machinations surrounding Sirius Black were so well thought out. I’m not surprised JK Rowling went on to write crime novels because her mysteries are excellent. And to me, they are excellent because she creates the rules within this magical world and then uses those careful rules she created and breaks them in clever and unexpected ways. This is definitely the middle book between the lightness f the last two books and the dark. And side note, who doesn’t love the Marauder’s Map and the Time Turner?

Solanin by Asano Inio

Solanin is a millennial’s book. It is about a girl named Meiko who

3430763works a desk job and lives with her depressed boyfriend, Naruo who writes the sports column for a newspaper. One day she quits her desk job spending the next year figuring out what she really wants to do. Now this book is one long homage to existential crisis that every 20 some year old experiences. The quotes are melancholy with a slight tinge of the dramatic, it feels more like melting pot of poignant and Tumblr-y ideas than a story about characters. It feels like a pointless ramble rather than a quiet coming of age story. I never got to know the secondary characters well enough for me to truly understand them as anything other than props for the main characters and the main characters I didn’t know well enough to really attach to.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee

I’ve found myself more and more critical of the YA category and nothing in this category 29283884really feels satisfying these days, although maybe I should give these books more than a couple of pages.  But I really enjoyed the Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue almost from the get go and it succeeds by finding the perfect tone of a historical comedy. The tone imbues our hedonistic and crass main character, Henry Montague, and the secondary foils that accompany him on his journey. It is so fun but Lee doesn’t just skim over the historical context. The thing I admire the most about a book is its dedication to consistent characters. I love Henry’s relationship with Percy, and the flashbacks to their past were some of the most heartwarming moments. Henry struggles to find who he is and face the demons of inadequacy he has always ran away from. He is on a whirlwind tour of Europe but he realizes when he comes home he must face his future of running the estate and figuring out how he’s going to manage his father’s expectations when they might be the opposite of what he wants. I also really liked Felicity’s character. Her sensibility and practicality were the perfect foils to Percy and Henry (although it seems like sensible and practical are practically the staples of too many female characters these days). I really appreciated the diverse range of social commentary Lee inputted in this. She gave these issues of racism, sexism, and disability their due with grace and subtle nuance. The plot is a whirlwind of 18th century European history and antique sites, debauchery, and hijinks.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

I’ve sincerely forgotten how depressing this book is and slightly repetitive. I felt it sort of lagged somewhere in the middle. It’s interesting to see how much sketchiness is allowed17347381 to happen at Hogwarts which I suppose is part of its charm. Also, rereading this as 23 year old, I have to laugh at how much more I understand the dynamics of Harry and Cho’s first date at Hogsmeade. The things Harry does is kind of cringeworthy. It’s so great. I will forever and always love the Room of Requirement and the DA. I think I liked the concept of resistance and taking action in the face of Umbridge and a tumultuous political environment. It’s interesting how well it holds up with time. The ending of this book always makes me shed some tears. I think it’s the fact that I see Dumbledore, this previously infallible person, actually being vulnerable because of his capacity to love. This trait establishes itself as his biggest strength but also his biggest weakness. I also found it quite funny what characters the Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers are with really the only relatively normal one being Lupin. But the other ones are kind of wack jobs and it’s so interesting how even if they are kind of unrealistic, they are so completely relatable as extensions of people you might now.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling

If there is one flaw these books have, in my opinion, it is the romances. They have never 17347380and will never make sense to me. I’ve never shipped Ron and Hermione nor Harry and Ginny. I have, however, developed a sudden liking towards Hermione and Draco, a paring that actually sounds so perfect now that I think about it. It includes two of my favorite romantic tropes: opposites attract and hate to love. But whatever, my favorite part of HBP is learning about Voldemort’s past and this clever concept of Horcruxes. Voldemort definitely has an old school villain feel to him. I feel if he were a character written in the present, people would criticize his character for being too unambiguous and being evil for the sake of being evil but it’s a universal story simply because of this tale of good vs evil so it doesn’t bother me. I feel that if someone made Horcruxes irl though, he/she would be very difficult to defeat just based on this sheer amount of objects you can use. Ron is a little insufferable in this one and again, the amount of times that Harry is accidentally right is kind of astounding. The ending was very disheartening when I first read it and still is esp when you realize that this book has descended right into the darkness.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

Every time I reread HP 7, I gain more and more appreciation for it. When I first read it, IImage result for harry potter and the deathly hallows new book cover was kind of frustrated with how much Dumbledore was in it. And I thought there would be something more to it but I’ve grown to really like the insight into Dumbledore’s past. It casts a lot of doubt into Harry’s blind following of Dumbledore and makes this idea of finding Horcruxes a seemingly impossible quest. Why didn’t Dumbledore tell him more about the Horcruxes? Who even was he? But if we don’t listen to Dumbledore, how do we defeat Voldemort? It must have been hard to write a satisfying ending to one of the greatest book series of all time and even harder to write an ending that feels satisfying after we’ve spend so long trying to figure out how to defeat the greatest dark wizard of all time. Needless to say though, I was satisfied and am still satisfied at the way things turned out. It felt epic and final without feeling convenient or rushed. I have mixed feelings about the epilogue though.

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

9630403Level Up is a graphic memoir about a guy who loves to play games and throughout the memoir battles whether to assuage his father’s wishes or follow his own dreams. This is a very standard follow your parents’ expectations for you or follow your own goals and it neither offers a poignant resolution nor a different take on the subject. It was, therefore, ultimately forgettable. I can’t really even recommend it to gamers because the references are barely there.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

I’ve noticed with the concept of feminism in YA and 33163378mainstream media, feminism is a game of “catch the bad guy and everyone lives happily ever after”. In Moxie, Vivian is sick of her small town school’s sexist codes and the sexist football players and the sexist principal. While it is admirable and inspirational that she start taking action to end the ingrained sexism in her school I found that that the feminism ended up being more of the feel good type as the girls got the football players and the principal evicted from the school. And while it does not ignore the blood, sweat, and tears that go into protesting and trying to change people’s perspectives, the book ignores the fact that these tools are not just to evict sexist pigs and have a feel good victory. The problem with this is that it puts the sole blame of societal sexism on a few bad apples while ignoring the injustice of the system that created these bad apples and many more to come. It’s about making lasting changes. What would have been more effective in my opinion is making changes to the school’s dress code or having these people change their minds about feminism. The romance was so cheesy and sort of sickeningly sweet and eye roll worthy really. This is a nice introduction for younger readers about modern sexist microaggressions but for veterans I suggest a hard pass.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

34076952Oh man, Leigh Bardugo continues to impress me more and more since her lackluster Shadow of Bone trilogy. You don’t have to read the Shadow and Bone trilogy to fully enjoy this one but I think you just might miss a few Easter eggs. Essentially, The Language of Thorns is a collection of short fairy tales set in the Grisha world. Bardugo effortlessly subverts our perceptions of the way fairy tales are told to us and the stereotypes and trappings of the fairy tale canon. I really like the way she handles the retellings of the fairy tales in fresh but vivid ways. My favorite one is the first one which challenges the roles that princesses, kings, queens, and monsters are relegated to and upends them. The illustration alongside these are also beautiful so the hardcover would be so worth buying.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong27746288

This is a quiet literary novel about a woman going back to live with her mom and dad. Her fiance has just left her and her dad has Alzheimer’s. This is altogether about the absurdity of life. It is humorous in a dry but touching way. It follows a diary format as she comes to terms with how best to help her father. A lot is revealed about the secondary characters for such a short book like her father’s infidelity, her mother’s guilt, and her brother’s unwillingness to give in. It’s strikes more touching than anything illuminating about the Alzheimer’s or the people with Alzheimer’s. I felt it didn’t go quite far enough with the portrayal of Alzheimers but it is a short, quick read for a lazy afternoon.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

17347384Reading the later books and then going back to earlier ones just amplifies the sense of innocence that pervaded the characters. Oh, the days when Malfoy being Slytherin’s keeper was on the top of everyone’s worry list. I particularly liked the whole section of the Polyjuice Potion. What troublemakers they were even in the second year and Gilderoy Lockhart is one of the funniest teachers Dumbledore has ever employed. I’ve also noticed in the later books, when Harry stays with the Weasleys, it gets more and more angsty and depressing compared to his stay here which was full of cute fun including gnome throwing and flying cars.

An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal

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An American Sickness was such an eye opening book on the American healthcare system. Over the past few years, I’ve become extremely jaded about American healthcare and this book felt like justification. It covers topics such as why the pharmaceutical companies make so much money, medical billing, insurance companies, and the hidden fees in hospital billing. It’s quite frustrating the way that making a profit is more desirable nowadays than actually taking care of people. It’s even more sad when you realize how dysfunctional the system is. The book is incredibly digestable but is full of facts and statistics as well as heartbreaking anecdotes. I also like that it includes resources and ways that you can improve the healthcare system and hold it accountable for your health.

I believe my favorites of this batch were definitely The Language of Thorns and An American Sickness aside from my favorites of the Harry Potter series which should come to no one’s surprise. I don’t have any specific plans for the rest of the reading year and will read as it pertains to my mood.

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Uncategorized · wrap up

April Wrap Up 2017

April was a pretty awesome reading month for me. I think this is the most I’ve read this month than I have in the earlier months of 2017. I DNFed a few things but read 9 books and 2 short stories.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (3/5)

Faulkner has an interesting narrative style. He writes this from several different Image result for as i lay dying bookperspectives but sometimes the character will refer to another character solely by the pronoun, he, and you kind of have to read the next perspective  to confirm who the character was even talking about. While this does increase the fluidity of the story, it also lends to a lot of confusion on my part. This book was both successful and not successful in portraying grief and I think that boils down to certain characters. It seemed like Faulkner liked some characters more than others. For instance, Jewel is probably the most compelling character in the entire cast. His attitudes towards his mother remain ambiguous even till the end and his independence-to-a-fault was really interesting to read. The other interesting character was the father and though he may respect his wife’s dying wish, we all know he is long past caring about her. Faulkner also does a good job portraying the grief of a child, the way they want to transform that grief into something tangible. But the other characters felt disposable. As far as satire goes, the ending was fucking hilarious. But overall, it was quite meh.

By Prudence Ruled by ehmazing (4/5)

I don’t know why I’m including fanfiction in my wrap up but I am because I never read fanfiction, like, ever. This is how you know I’ve really descended into fandom hell. TBH Related imageI’m simultaneously proud and ashamed to be in the Voltron fandom. It’s literally the most toxic fandom I’ve ever been in, there’s like 50 ship wars, ship hate every hour, and just general no-mercy attitude and bashing of the creators and writers. I just hope the VLD staff do not go through the Tumblr tags. But simultaneously I’m proud of the fandom because earlier last week, there was a photo leak from the show from a newly casted voice actor and she accidently posted a photo from the upcoming season and she deleted it from her instagram story but it was way too late. I swear people in fandom actually make the best detectives. ANYWAYS, this fanfiction follows my non-canon (so far) OTP Shiro and Allura. By Prudence Ruled is one of the most well-researched and accurate-to-the-characters fanfiction I’ve ever read in my basically non-existent fanfic history. It just captures the character’s voices so well and it’s inspired by The Bodyguard so I mean that speaks for itself. Also, it’s really well-researched in terms of worldbuilding which I really appreciate.

Related imageThis is My Idea by Teukiewookie (3/5)

Does anyone remember the movie The Swan Princess?

Well this fic is based on the movie except in space and with Voltron characters.  It is so fun and relatively accurate in character voice as far as surface-level character goes but not so different as to disengage me from the story. Plus the chapters are short so..

 

 

These next few books, I will have reviews for.

In my 2017 reading resolutions, I resolved to read more translated fiction and I made my first few steps this month. The first ones I will be doing mini reviews for in my translated fiction spotlight.

Silence by Shusaku Endo, Translated from the Japanese by William Johnston | Before the Feast by Sasa Stanisic, Translated from the German by Anthea Bell

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I also read some translated short stories that will be featured in the mentioned post as well.

Wither and Blossom by Suvi Kauppila translated by Suvi Kauppila (4/5)

Faces and Thoughts by Abdul Wakil Sulamal translated from Pashto by James Caron (3.5/5)

I also finished History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (4/5) which I actually wasn’t planning on reading but ended up loving. I will have a full review on this in May. Just expect a lot of YA contemporary in the upcoming future period.

And then I have reviews for two YA books I read this month in a mini review post.

Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett | Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor 

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The Girls by Emma Cline (2/5)

The Girls shines when Cline discusses the intricacies of girlhood. She does it so well and because of that I wish the whole book was solely focused on that. What does it feel 26893819like to come into adolescence wanting to own your body but at the same time wanting to feel desired and be desirable.

 That was part of being a girl–you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.

But honestly, everything else was just kind of boring. This is ironic because this book was suppose to be about the mysterious Manson murders. One of the most compelling characters was suppose to be Charles (or whatever his name is) who we are suppose to believe is this really alluring person who persuades these girls to leave everything they have but he turned out to be kind of boring and predictable as were the other characters. I will say that Cline really knows how to write. Her writing is intoxicating and feels like reading through the subconscious. It feels very Gone-Girlesque. But all in all, I would not recommend this one.

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (3.5/5)

Ted Chiang has some really cool ideas–both visually and scientifically which translates very well to a movie like The Arrival (based off of Stories of Your Life). But I wish there 31625351was better execution of these ideas. Most of his stories feel unfinished as if he suddenly had a good idea and had to write it down but didn’t know where the thought was going. They also feel like unfinished ideas because he sort of left them to meander on their own so a few of them lacked focus. But nevertheless they were still fascinating to read. My favorite stories were the first one, The Tower of Babylon, which is about people building a tower to reach heaven; Stories of Your Life which visually was better represented by the movie but the story itself was better in the book, and the last story Like What You See: A Documentary which is about a fictional debate about whether or not to undergo a procedure to “unsee” beauty. I still think this collection is definitely worth reading because his stories just raise so many thought provoking questions about religion, technology, mathematics, and linguistics.

Planetfall by Emma Newman (3.5/5)

A mysterious man enters the one and only colony on Planetfall. Renata Ghali is shocked and terrified because the colony she lives in is suppose to be the only home to any living inhabitants on this planet. It turns out that this man is the grandson of Suh-Mi who was 24237785the leader of the first colonization trip to Planetfall. As we get further into the book, we realize there is a lot more to this colony that we initially thought and that Renata is keeping a lot of secrets from the people around her. I will tell you this from the start: nothing will really make sense until the last 20 percent of the book and even the last page leaves off on an ambiguous note which I’m still not sure if I understand but that’s totally ok with me. I often found myself wondering why the author was focusing so much one aspect of this character and other times why the plot seemed to be falling apart and it only made sense to me after finishing the book. I really liked the worldbuilding in this book. There’s lots of mentions of 3D printing and building houses which just reminded me of the Sims. The biggest issue with this book are the characters. They felt so two-dimensional and can be listed off with a few traits. The ending was satisfactory to me but I get the feeling that if it wasn’t it would’ve marred the entire experience of reading this book for me so make your own judgement about that. I will say that I haven’t read a lot of science fiction mysteries/thrillers if any at all so this was refreshing.

DNF

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne (2/5)31395274

As you may have noticed by now, I’m really picky when it comes to contemporary romances. I thought the banter between the two characters was kitschy and super tacky and the “hating” part of the haters-to-lovers trope was over a little too quickly. The side characters were overly quirky and purely ornamental to the main characters which is just a recipe for a boring story to be honest. I started skimming this around the 50 page mark and it progressively grew cheesier and cheesier to the point of fanfiction so hard pass on this one.

 

Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them and what you plan on reading in May. I hope your May is going well so far and I will see in my next post which will probably be my April Favorites =)

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Uncategorized · wrap up

March 2017 Wrap Up

March was long but in this case that means I got to read more! It was a busy month as well and weirdly enough I read more when I’m busy. I think it’s because reading relaxes but then again if I’m too stressed so it’s a weird balance. I did, however, DNF a couple of books (3). So in total I read 7 books, 2 short stories, and 1 graphic novel.

So the books first:

The Ever Never Handbook by Soman Chainani

 

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3.5/5

The Ever Never Handbook is a companion book to The School for Good and Evil trilogy. This is like the equivalent to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to the Harry Potter series. It’s just a little bonus to the original books: how to survive going to this magical school, the course catalog, pictures of the cool creatures that reside there, school fashion and all that. I was kind of confused reading this book because there are excerpts of the characters sending letters and transcripts of characters talking to each other and they mention events that have not happened. So, at first, I thought cool, it’s a bit of an epilogue except the events that are happening are kind of depressing. One of the letters included is even “cut off” so you don’t know what happens after so that was rude. And then I look on Goodreads and found out there was gonna be a fourth book…(just as I was beginning to applaud myself for finishing one series in my life). But after reading the handbook, I realize I’m nostalgic for Sophie’s and Agatha’s world and want to go back to it again so at the end of the day, I’m happy there’s a 4th book but we’ll see.

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March5

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Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld25852870

I had high hopes for this modern Pride and Prejudice retelling but alas, it was pretty disappointing. However, I do like the wry and tongue in cheek writing as well as the fast-paced nature of the book. It’s the sort of book I could finish in one sitting if I wanted to. It also made me nostalgic for P&P retellings so I immediately went and rewatched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries afterwards and I had a lot of feelings so, in true Carolyn-fashion, I rant about them here.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

25489134I was excited for this one ever since I first heard about it because it’s written like a fairy tale and it revolves around Russian mythology. Vasya’s family worships the house spirits but when her mother dies and a priest tries to convert everyone to a religion of one god, the village starts to erupt in chaos and only Vasya’s magical powers can help. The writing is atmospheric and promises mysteries and magic at every turn. However, because it was written like a fairy tale, the secondary characters, including the stepmother, the priest, and Vasya’s father all came out to be pretty cliche. Also, the pacing was so off. Plotlines were brought up and then dropped until the second half of the book where one plotline was followed till the end. I really liked the fantastical elements such as the blending of Russian mythological creatures. I also found the author’s note to be sort of problematic; you can take creative liberties with a story but alternating Russian words because it’s not aesthetically pleasing is a different story. It could have been better but it wasn’t necessarily bad. I’ll definitely be looking out for Arden’s future works.

Human Acts by Han Kang

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In short, Han Kang has cemented herself as an auto-read author for me. My mini review here.

Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard

I just burnt bread this afternoon so you can tell how much of a cook I am but I checked25614711 this out because I love Korean food. Vietnamese food is great but there is something so communal and aesthetically pleasing about Korean food, not to mention the variety in color and type of food. What’s great about this cookbook is that there’s such a variety of recipes but each is prefaced by a little history or tidbit about the food and information about the different ingredients themselves. There’s also interviews with chefs who cook with Korean food, celebrities who love Korean food, and restaurant owners who cook a fusion of Korean and some culture of food. The photos are also really well-made and there’s even full page spreads of Koreatown and the Korean eating experience. I’m not making any of these recipes except for the one that was basically an improved version of how to make your shin ramyun (instant noodles) better but it really made me crave Korean food. Someone get me bibimbap and patbingsu asap.

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Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

This book has an amazing premise. A space ship is on its way to Aurora, its inhabitants23197269 hopeful in being its first colonizers. At the beginning of the book, the ship is on its 150th year in space and there’s still more years to go before they can even reach Aurora. Our main character, Freya, is the daughter of the ship’s chief engineer, Devi. The story sort of follows Freya as she learns to become a leader but it also follows the the ship’s apparently sentient perspective as it details the accounts of the journey. I’m really impressed with Robinson’s knowledge of biology, microbiology, population biology and physics. He does do a lot of infodumping but being the science major that I am, it was all so interesting especially when he explained the mechanics of the ship and its many biomes, how these inhabitants lived in the biomes. As can be expected, this novel is hard science fiction so do not read this if you’re not interested in any of the things I’ve mentioned above. Because it’s hard science fiction, the characters fall to the wayside but he does ask some interesting questions and gives twists to these questions that surprised me. Were we really meant to go beyond Earth given the limitations of our bodies? What happens, after generations of preparation and hope, when your destination is not everything you expected? And how do you fix the mistakes that the people who originally came on the ship didn’t forsee? Why should the generations after be forced to deal with the consequences when they might not have wanted any part of this crusade in the first place? After all, they were ultimately human, greatly ambitious but also inevitably fallible. It’s quite heavy in its scope and size and I found myself forgiving its flaws just because it was so fascinating.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before & PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han (reread)

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Every once in a while, a very special YA contemporary will come into my life that just does it right. This is one of those series. It’s cute and fluffy to the highest degree but while most YA contemporaries of that nature are at highest 3 stars for me, these two always leave me feeling not just happy but satisfied. I’m planning on doing a reread discussion for these two or a review of the entire trilogy when the third and final book comes out in May! The days cannot go by faster…

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Is it better to have been loved, or to love?

Image result for do not say we have nothingThis is the essential question of Madeleine Thien’s historical novel that alternates between the present where Li-Ling and Ai-Ming piece together the story of their fathers and the past where we find out their grandparent’s and parent’s lives during the Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong. As the Revolution grows more and more oppressive, we begin to see how her father and his family try to reconcile their personal passions and to an extent their inner selves and the constant danger of being arrested for being a counter-revolutionary. I really liked the undercurrent of music–particularly the violin and piano–throughout the book, a symbol of private desire. And I really liked reading about this struggle to maintain your identity when your very safety depends on your rejection of it. I also learned a lot about the Revolution in China during the 50’s and 60’s and how the aftereffects of that time period extended all the way to the 80’s and 90’s. I think the characters jumped a little too much from one motivation to another with no buildup in between. The pacing was also abrupt and jumps from one perspective to another with little sense of cohesion. But despite that, definitely worth a read.

Blonde Date (Ivy Years #2.5) by Sarina BowenImage result for blonde date sarina bowen

Blonde Date is a NA romance novella that’s a part of Bowen’s NA series but you don’t have to read the previous books to understand this one. It’s about a girl named Katie who is in a sorority and she needs a date to go with her to a party because she has just broken up with her asshole of a boyfriend (for reasons that will be revealed throughout the story). She gets set up with Andy who is a sweet and genuine beta male (can we please have more of these in romance novels?). Diversity in romance is a problem in general but that’s a different story. I really liked that Katie, who would normally be the antagonist in a NA story is instead the protagonist. The dialogue was pretty cliche but it didn’t bother me too much. Blissfully unproblematic, cute, and enjoyable, highly recommended for a lazy afternoon read. I wish there was a full length book on Katie and Andy.

Image result for a series of steaksA Series of Steaks by Vina Jie-min Prasad

Helena Yuanhi makes a living out of 3D printing realistic looking meat. She gets a huge gig printing out steaks for a wedding and she hopes that this gig can give her enough to run away and escape from her past. She enlists the help of Lily whose spontaneous personality serves as the perfect foil to the more quiet and reserved Helen. This short story was so great, It has a slight satirical undertone and it’s quite comedic and just plain enjoyable. I liked the two main characters and their budding friendship and all the mechanics behind the 3D printing. Highly recommended and you can even read it for free here.

 

Through the Woods by Emily CarrollImage result for through the woods

Through the Woods is a collection of horror-ish short stories in graphic novel format. The problem with this was it ended way too soon just when the story was starting to get interested. You know that scene in a horror movie where someone hears a lot of banging or whatever behind a door and they’re just about to open the door. The stories end right when the person is about to open the door which was kind of frustrating. I feel like if she prolonged one or two of these stories, I would have been so much more creeped out and invested. I particularly liked the story about the two brothers who go into the woods and only one of them comes back alive but then the next day, the dead comes back again as if nothing happened.

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DNF

Image result for crosstalk connie willisCrosstalk by Connie Willis

I got about 1/2 of the way through and it had me feeling really claustrophobic which I guess is kind of the point. It’s set in the near future where you can get a surgery that will help you better see your partner’s thoughts. This, in theory, will lead to a happier relationship. It’s a light sci-fi novel with a romcom storyline. I appreciated the numerous references to other social media but at the same time, I felt like they were being referenced by someone who doesn’t really use them. I also thought this could have been about 200 pages shorter since the scenes kept being dragged out with interruptions from one of her annoyingly endearing family members and it just got to be too much. The heroine is a protagonist straight out of Legally Blonde, smart but has ditzy and truly naive moments, and talks like she always has everything under control when she really doesn’t. I wish she had more agency in this book. I just didn’t care ultimately.


News of the World by Paulette JilesImage result for news of the world paulette

There’s nothing technically wrong with this book. It just felt a little too safe for me and I guess I had higher hopes for a book that was longlisted for the National Book Award. It has a great historical setting (right after the American Civil War) but the storyline just felt too saccharine for me especially for a literary fiction novel that’s trying to be more nuanced.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie MclemoreImage result for when the moon was ours

I know this book is well loved in the book community and I really wanted to like this one because it explores themes of being transgender, being in a relationship with a transgender person and what it means to truly expose yourself. One of the main character is Pakistani which I never see in a YA book. I also really wanted to like this book because I really like magical realism but the writing felt a little too flowery and nothing was being said. And while the writing was pretty beautiful, the storyline felt like it was going nowhere. I understand coming of age doesn’t technically have a plot but I felt like Mclemore was trying to achieve another plot besides the coming of age and it just didn’t work for me.

And that’s my March reading! Let me know what you read in March, what your favorites were or if you’ve read any of these and what your thoughts were. =)

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