tv review · Uncategorized

TV Review: The Haunting of Hill House

Image result for the haunting of hill house netflix

Title: The Haunting of Hill House

Director: Mike Flanagan

Based on the book: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Season: 1

Episodes: 10, ~42-71 minutes each

Rating: A-

 

I am so happy I found The Haunting of Hill House. I sincerely wish all horror was made this way and it really proves not only how versatile horror is but also why I love the TV form more than movies. I read the book this show was based on a while ago so I had forgotten a lot of what happened but from reviews I’ve read I understand that the show differentiates significantly from the book. In the show, the story follows 5 siblings of the Crain family in their adulthood as they cope with the aftermath of their childhood at Hill House. Their childhood was filled with strange occurrences and mysterious sightings of evil ghosts. On their last day at the Victorian Hill House, they left with the father in a hurry, only knowing their mother had died. As the story continues, it is revealed through flashback what exactly happened or didn’t happen all those years ago.

The first reason this show is so awesome is the way that jump scares are placed. They are placed in moments after achingly slow buildup and slow camera pans across dark rooms, ratcheting up the suspense and tension from one episode to the next. Funnily enough, the camera basically shows you what the scare is going to be but the real scare comes when you look back again and find the person or  the ghost is not what you thought it was at first glance. This, of course, makes the scare even more psychologically scary as the show does not rely on the violent or absurdly grotesque to tease out scares. In fact the real scares are whether or not these ghosts are the manifestations of the siblings’ inner demons. In fact, it is a relatively slow moving show taking the time to slowly lay down the important pieces of character and story over putting scares down. It is still perfectly paced and the cinematography is so masterfully slow and deliciously tense.

As Steven Crain states, “a ghost can be a lot of things. A memory, a daydream, a secret. Grief, anger, guilt. But, in my experience, most times they’re just what we want to see.” Steven, the oldest Crain sibling, is an author who writes, he believes, fictional tales of Hill House. He is sick of the fictional voices that his youngest siblings see. They should have gotten mental help for their delusions and figments of imagination a long time ago. Shirley, the second oldest and my least favorite, is a mortician and a control freak having witnessed 4 of her kittens die mysteriously at Hill House. She refuses to say these ghosts exist. Theo, the middle, struggles with emotional intimacy and then, the last two siblings were the ones who saw the most of Hill House’s ghosts. In adulthood, Luke becomes a drug addict and Nell is still haunted nights by the mysterious Bent-Neck Lady. The story shifts timelines going as back as six years ago all the way back to their childhood, each episode focusing on a sibling until it refocuses back to present events and what they will do moving forward. I was honestly surprised I got really emotional during Luke’s episode. He is quite gullible and trusting and genuinely wants to help his younger sister and the people he cares about but through his own naivety and drug addition, he is unable to. This show loves its characters and does not stray too far from its central characters’ development which is still so rare to see in horror but ultimately what I enjoyed most about this show. The siblings are all tied by their unique perspective on death and grief and even represent a deeper metaphor for depression, schizoprenia, migraines, and other mental conditions.

I love how much the show focuses on the house. The Victorian house is an entity on its own and I love each detail on its antiques, its expansive halls and rooms with mysterious treasures. With each episode, more of the house’s history and it’s original inhabitants are revealed. It really built up the suspense and mystery of the house, each sibling having a different relationship with it. It was fully integrated into the story. The story itself did delve a little bit into horror cliches, you know, with children drawing pictures of unsettling things to the age-old “mother is going crazy and hysterical” which only perpetuates the stereotype of female hysteria. The dialogue also leaves something to be desired although I didn’t really notice until the last few episodes. The ending also leaves something to be desired. I was happy we got answers but the ending was so cloying that I felt it didn’t match with the previous episodes. I wanted an uncertain ending but I suppose it does stay true to its characters and the family dynamic. Because the family has been threatened to be torn apart by this house, the ending is fitting that they start to face the demons they’ve been hiding from and come together as a family.

It was really interesting to see the family’s  fractured interactions with one another and their different relationships with or lack of with the others from what they experienced as a child. It definitely added an interesting way of telling each sibling’s perspective and the way each perspective is different because of what they experienced. For example, sheltered by their father and told to close his eyes on the fateful night their mother died, Steven did not see anything supernatural and refuses to believe that Hill House had any ghosts. Their mother died because their father was neglectful and didn’t get her the mental help she needed, causing resentment towards his father. Nell bore the brunt of seeing all these strange ghosts but no one believes her and she starts to believe she’s going crazy, still haunted by her dreams and sights. No one believes Luke either, thinking he is just a heroin addict, and although he wants to become clean, the only way to escape the ghosts he sees is to take drugs. And ultimately, that is what the show was about, the broken hopes and dreams of these siblings, how their tortured past continues to haunt them, but ultimately their inability to face their demons continues to stalk them into their adulthood. Their ghosts are the people they love, the people they have failed, their family, and even themselves. As they each cope and dodge their problems, it becomes apparent the ghosts have not left them. At the heart, it is not about people haunting the house or a scary entity wreaking havoc on lives. It is about the lies we tell ourselves, the denial, and the intimacy of a family that has had a horrible past connecting them for better or worse.

The Haunting of Hill House is so much more than typical horror fanfare and proves that horror can be done just as well for TV as a movie. I loved the exploration of character and mental health throughout and don’t think I have seen anything quite like it.

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Miscellaneous · Uncategorized

New Year, Really New Me?

2017 was the year I finally realized how much insecurity I’ve always struggled with. I always knew they were there but I always thought they were a part of me in so much as that weird birthmark that you’ve always had on your skin. Ironically, I berated myself for even having these insecurities which was the exact opposite of what I should be doing. I think I had enough of these inner demons this year and I wanted to quiet them. I started trying to love and forgive myself more and truly learning from my mistakes. I tried to remember that everywhere I go, I deserved to be there and if I find myself shrinking within myself, I ask myself why? and remembering that the insecurities I have are so small in the long run, I might as well show my authentic self. I think that’s what I wanted most, to be able to be happy and comfortable in who I am. I make a lot of mistakes but I accept them and ask myself what can be done better and move on. I  even had moments this year when I realized old me would have never done something like that. Usually when I did that last year, I would have had way more self loathing. I am proud of myself for how far I’ve come in 2017. There is still so much more left to do but I’ve come miles last year. Looking back on where I was at the beginning of the year and looking now at where I am, I never thought, for a second, that this is where life would take me but I’m so grateful for it. Of course, a good year cannot happen without the help of my amazing friends and, for the first time ever, an amazing boyfriend(I know y’all are reading this). Having a job really proved that I could work through adversity and that I am capable. I should trust myself more. I can’t be anything else other than who I am so why not embrace it? This year, I’ve also come to realize how important my health is. I had wisdom teeth surgery this year and I had post surgery infections and a lot of side effects after I took antibiotics and it just showed me how much of my health I’ve been taking for granted so I want to make my health more seriously. 2017 was definitely a growing up year but it was the best year I’ve had in so long. The big things made me happen but so did the small things. It was if someone was looking out for me last year. I hope the good streak continues to last in 2018. Cheers to a new year and new adventures! =)

Personal Resolutions

  • Find more creative and self improvement outlets.
    • My creative outlets have always been Youtube and my blog but I want to find more diversity of creative outlets like podcasts, movies, games, makeup, fashion, and graphic design. These are places where I have always found passion but this year I want to hone in on more of my creative side with them and basically broaden my creative horizons.
  • Eat more vegetables and exercise 2x a week.
    • I realize when I’m making a health goal I have to start small, otherwise I will not go through with it so I think this goal is pretty feasible.
  • Journal at least once a week.
    • The consequence of being busier than ever is that I don’t get as much time to self reflect which is something that is foreign to me. I think telling myself to journal at least once a week will help me center myself more and create a space for myself.
  • Focus on what I can do in the present.
    • Too often, I focus on what I do not have and what other fun things people are doing. I realize there are certain things about my circumstances that I can’t change right now and I hope I can channel that restlessness into productivity and doing what I can do instead of self pity.

Reading Resolutions

  • Read for at least 20 uninterrupted minutes a day.
    • I realize that whenever I read now, I had to keep checking my phone every 5 minutes and even that took away from my reading experience so I hope that in 2018, I can read for at least that allotted time without distractions.
  • Read 40 books
    • I’ve literally cut my end goal by half so I don’t put as much stress on myself this year.
  • Continue to read short story collections/essay collections.
    • I had a goal every year before this to read a diversity of formats and so far it has worked out very well. I think after this I can stop doing this and hope that I can just read diversely on my own without having to set a goal for it.

Blogging Resolutions

  • Post at least 2x a month.
    • There are several reasons for this. This year, I’ve found that my blog posts have been too sporadic and I realize that I’ve been sacrificing quality to post up content. The writing itself has probably suffered, my banners and headers have definitely deteriorated and by the end, I hadn’t included them at all. I just want to produce content that I am proud of this year. Not to say that I wasn’t proud of my content this year but it could have been better so let’s say I want to do 4 reviews this month, ideally it’ll force me to write all four but I think realistically it will at least force me to write better about two of the ones I pick.
  • Go back to posting up quarterly “What I’ve Been Watching” posts and “Monthly Favorites”
    • I realized this year that I really miss doing the Monthly Favorites post and I miss having this record of the highlights of the month. Part of the problem for Monthly Favorites was that I didn’t have a good phone to take pictures with but now I do so I have no excuse not to do this post.
    • I also miss keeping track of what I’ve been watching for the past few months. It gave me a chance to analyze the movies that I don’t want to review so I’m going to try and do more of those this year.

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Misc

2017 Reading Statistics and Recap

2017 is coming to an end! This means a spur of the mandatory end of the year posts that will be coming up on this blog. This will be third year posting my reading statistics for the year. I did one in 2015 and one last year for 2016. It was really interesting comparing how different my reading year compared to the last two years.

Books Read: 59 (excluding essays I’ve read)

This is actually terrible considering I read 126 books not including short stories in 2015 and 110 books/other formats in 2016. I literally read about half of what I did last year.

This is approximately 20,588 pages with the average being 326 pages a book.

9 rereads!! (3 rereads last year)

This was a big improvement so yay!

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I read way more books written by female authors this year. I never know what to make of this statistic. I do tend to gravitate towards books written by female authors through no intentional reasoning. This year, a lot of my rereads were also from female authors like JK Rowling and Jenny Han so that contributed to this bias. I did not read any books coauthored by both a male and female author this year nor did I read a book that had a gender identity other than male or female.

Once gain, no surprise. I think this was an improvement from last year though and I’m starting to realize more and more that nonfiction is a category that I really like to read. The problem is being in the right mood for it.

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It was a realistic contemporary type of year. I think this probably marks the first year in a while, if ever, that I have read more contemporary books than fantasy or science fiction. I definitely fell off the bandwagon with fantasy this year mostly because I just could not click with any fantasy books I tried to read. I was so tired of the old fantasy tropes, bland worldbuilding, and sexist tendencies that I just discontinued fantasy altogether. It also did not help that fantasies tend to be pretty long and I wanted books that I could finish more quickly. You can actually the gradual buildup over the years of my preference for contemporary over other genres. I think this preference relies heavily on what is happening in my own life. I try to find books that emulate my own life as a source of learning but also comfort. Also, YA romantic contemporaries are just really fun to read when you’re stressed out and just want to turn your brain off. I’m quite sad that my literary fiction and classics repertoire was severely lacking this year. I definitely was less exposed to creative and nuanced writing as a result. My poetry game stepped up though which was one of my goals for 2017 but I think after this year, it’ll start to deteriorate. Poetry will just never be my thing.

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I’m so happy I read more nonfiction than I did last year. I’m hoping to get that number to at least 20 percent every year. I always learn a lot about subjects I don’t know about or I gain more depth in the subjects I’m already knowledgeable about when I’m reading nonfiction so I like to read a variety.

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I know this is a very visually frustrating chart but it accurately summarizes how my ratings went this year. I’m as harsh as ever on my ratings with most of the books I read being 3 stars or below. There are handful of 3.5 stars and slightly more 4 star reads. 4 star reads are considered very good in my opinion. There’s a lone 4.5 star read like last year. And of course, in order for it to be a 5 star read, it basically has to be my next favorite book. I did not have any of those this year unfortunately.

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I read a lot more YA this year than last year and that’s mostly because I found YA books so much easier to read and sink into in the second half of the year. I did end up reading more adult books and that’s perfectly fine. I, in fact, prefer it to be that way. I think the amount of NA and middle grade books has remained the same. I would like to read more middle grade especially fantasy ones but the NA count is perfectly fine the way it is.

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I’m a little disappointed in this one just because I made it my goal this year to read more poetry, short stories, and novellas. I did broaden my short story collection reading slightly more although it only scratched the surface. Of course, novels are always going to be the most. I definitely cut down on the graphic novels I read this year. I was not up to date in the world of graphic novels. I think this was because the form did not interest me this year and there weren’t any particular ones I wanted desperately to read. I do wish I had taken the time to record all the essays I read this year, my favorite of which is “The Death of the Moth” by Virginia Woolf; however, I am happy that I dipped more into reading essays this year.

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I’m honestly not sure if I’m going to include this category in my statistics report next year because there are so many factors that go into this stat. First of all, I counted the ethnicity of the author but that was difficult because do I count their ethnicity or their nationality or both. Do I count the ethnicities of the characters? If so, all the characters? Just the main two characters? It’s just very hard to quantify. I wanted to keep track of this stat because I wanted to read as diversely as possible. This chart also does not take into account diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity, translations, mental health, and disabilities. Maybe next year, I’ll make a column for own voices books? I don’t know, I need help for this one.

Extra Statistics

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I think my average # of pages read this year was lower than last year. I tended to read books around the 250-400 page mark which is actually the perfect # of pages that I can read in 1-2 days. I just did not have the patience for long books this year. It is what it is but I rather not make it a habit. I don’t like the idea of not reading long books just because they are long. I think I just liked the feeling of accomplishment of finishing a book rather than taking the time to read a long book if that makes sense.

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I think my mentality towards the second half of the year in terms of reading was that I felt guilty about not reading as much one month and then I strove to read more the next month. But of course, there was a visible difference in how much I read from March onwards. There are several factors at play here. For one, I just was not enjoying anything I was reading this year (I’m not sure why). Two, I got a full time job and it’s actually really hard to read when you do have that. And third, I had more moments where I felt like watching TV and youtube instead of reading. The problem is I always want to read. I think the biggest thing was not finding anything I was enjoying because the ones I did enjoy I would finish in a day. I got so used to reading at least 5+ books a month that this year has been totally jarring in that sense.

 

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This was actually really surprising because I thought I had DNFed more books which makes me think that I did not record every book I DNFed. In reality, that “yes” column will never be 0 because I will always want to try books that are presumable radically different than what I usually read. Inevitably, some of those will not be to my taste but I do like trying them out. I think the goal is to not fall into the habit of picking up books I know I will not like especially when I give in to the hype train.

Did I meet my goals? (2017 Reading Resolutions post)

Read 70 books. Umm….nope. I’m laughing at what I wrote on the resolutions post.

 

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2016 me clearly did not anticipate what 2017 had in store for her..

Read more types of literature such as essay and short story collections. Check…to an extent but still, I made progress with this goal.

Finding more books on my own instead of taking recommendations on booktube. Check. A lot of my recommendations have been coming from Goodreads. I’ve come to accept, however, that I will always get recommendations from booktube. Isn’t that one of the purposes of Booktube after all?

Read more underrated books. No…most of the books I’ve read have had more than 3000 ratings. I don’t think I’m that sad about this to be honest.

Read as diversely as possible (in format, in content, in perspective). Check..but not as much as I thought I would.

Looking back at how well (badly) I did in terms of meeting my reading goals this year, I’m going to be making severe changes to my 2018 reading goals.

And that is a wrap on my 2017 reading year! I think this is the first year I’ve so severely overestimated how much I could read. In fact, for a large portion of the year, I did not feel like reading opting to watch youtube or watch TV instead. It is what it is but I am as motivated as ever to read. I just need to find a better balance of goals knowing how my daily life is now.

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book review · Uncategorized

Book Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Image result for always and forever lara jean Title: Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Author: Jenny Han

Pages: 336

Series? Yes (Final book in a trilogy)

Synopsis: Goodreads

Rating: 4/5

Mild Spoilers for first two books but spoiler free for the last one.

 


I started reading this book at 5pm on Saturday and kept reading until 1 in the morning with only an hourish break for dinner. In that 8 hour time span, my dear reader, I felt unbearable warmth, happiness and most of all nostalgia. And at the end, even though I knew it was the end, I still felt like there was so much more story left to these characters, that these characters have blossomed into people that I knew.

As with any last book in the series, I felt that preanxiety that comes with having such high expectations of a final novel. The story of this book’s inception is heartwarming in its own way. In an interview, Jenny Han spoke about how she was working on her new project but couldn’t because she kept thinking about what Lara Jean and Peter were up to.

Last winter, I was working on a new book, and I just couldn’t figure out how to unlock it. My mind kept drifting to Lara Jean and Peter, I kept thinking wistful thoughts, like, I wonder what those two are up to now. When I finished P.S. I Still Love You, I truly was done with the series. Always, it had been meant to be just the two. But I suppose time and space had made me nostalgic, because they were all I could think about. One night I called up my best friend and sometimes co-author Siobhan Vivian and asked her, would it be crazy if I wrote just one more book? She said not at all. She told me to try and see. So that same night, I started writing, and I couldn’t stop. I wrote until the sun came up.

-Jenny Han from EW article

There is something so natural about this story that I’ve never been able to find in other YA contemporaries. In this one, Lara Jean and Peter are in their final year of high school. They have graduation coming up and all the other things high school seniors look forward to: the senior trip, prom and of course the anxiety of college admissions. Lara Jean has plans for her future but they all start to unravel and she starts to question what is truly the right path for her.

I swear some scenes in this book took me back to some exact moments of my high school career. Not gonna lie, I kind of teared up a little when Lara Jean is anxiously opening up her email that determines whether she got accepted or rejected to UVA. Moments like these are what I’ve always loved about this series. Most YA contemporaries kind of skip this part or shove it in near the end as a sort of cherry on top of the icing at the end of the book and more often than not, they just get accepted into their dream school nbd. I just completely love the detail that Jenny Han puts into this series from the food (yaas to all the chocolate chip cookie baking in this one) to Lara Jean’s clothes (Lara Jean’s prom dress) and even to Peter’s lacrosse experience. Jenny Han even did research, people, research to make the college admissions part as true to life as possible. She even spoke to the Dean of Admissions and the lacrosse department at UVA.

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University of Virginia campus

It just encapsulates a high school experience that feels so authentic, like this is truly what a YA contemporary should be about. I understand that YA contemporary is not suppose to be 100% realistic, otherwise where the hell is my Peter Kavinsky but just adding these tiny details that you only subconsciously absorb brought me more into the story, this more visceral experience. And I love it. Some scenes just brought me back to my final days of high school, my final class of high school which I probably just spent signing yearbooks, my final day of walking the grass behind my school for AP Government. and having this sense of finality and this feeling of an end but also this anticipation that things are just starting for you.

I also love seeing that reflected in Lara Jean. Throughout this series, she has always been content with where she is but she’s realizing that she can open herself up to new possibilities that she never thought were right for her.

And on top of that, Lara Jean learns more about her relationship with Peter. I feel like this book was the perfect combination of the fluffiness and cuteness of book 1 and the angst and them dealing with real problems from Book 2. I just love how you can see how much they love and care about each other. They have to think about what every high school couple thinks about, if they’re even going to survive being apart and the delicate state of a high school relationship.  Peter’s arc also has a wonderful sense of growth. His dad makes a reappearance in this one and he has to decide whether to let him into his life or not. I really like how Peter’s insecurities are put to the forefront. Peter has always been one of my favorites in this series because he is not necessarily this arrogant boy with a heart of gold or this nerdy guy who will understand all of your Star Wars references or even this sickly sweet nice love interest who can do no wrong. Let’s face it, most of your favorite YA contemporary male heroes will fall into one of these 3 categories. I’m really satisfied with the way Han wrote this relationship that feels as though it’s always evolving and not this you-are-my-soulmate-that-I-found-at-the-age-of-18-and-we-live-happily-ever-after type of relationship. I love them so much.

And of course, without a doubt, these books always come back to family. It’s bittersweet and ever changing. There is so much change happening around Lara Jean that she doesn’t really even notice. How Margot is now slowly living her own life in Scotland, how her Dad is marrying Ms. Rothschild, and how Kitty is growing up. And although Lara Jean is consistently changing and figuring out more things about herself, she will always fall back on her family and their support. Her mother is still an ever present force in her life and she’s always thinking about how her mom would approach a situation even as she is learning to find her own way.

I will always love these books, for their authenticity but also just for their feel-goodness and how they always bring a smile to my face. I know I will be swooning over Lara Jean’s mundane adventures for many more rereads.

Let me know if I should read Jenny Han’s Summer I Turned Pretty series. I’m not sure how it compares to this one so any advice is welcomed! And of course, let’s discuss this book in the comments because I need to vent.

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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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mini book review · Uncategorized

Mini Book Reviews: Hyped YA books

Sometimes I read/watch reviews of highly anticipated books and it just makes me want to read them so much even when I know that it probably won’t be as good as reviews make it out to be considering my tastes. I guess that’s kind of the point of glowing reviews. This is the story of how I got sucked into hype once again…do they live up to that hype? Or will they falter??

Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett (3/5)

YA Contemporary | Goodreads 

Tis the season for contemporary. And the contemporary buzz book of the season is Alex, Approximately. And let me tell you, the buzz around this book was insane around the booktube community. The hype train always gets me even when I say it doesn’t. And I Image result for alex approximatelywas in the mood for contemporary so why not. And this is a reminder that I should take the hype train with a grain of salt. This is a You’ve Got Mail retelling (which I haven’t seen but really need to). At the beginning of the book, Bailey moves from DC to California to live with her dad. She’s a film buff, so much so that she is a member of an online forum for the film community where she’s been talking back and forth with fellow film buff and Californian, Alex, who she may or may not have feelings for. In fact, moving to California will give her the perfect opportunity to meet Alex in real life. Meanwhile, she lands a summer job at a museum where she meets Porter and it’s hate at first sight until it’s not….

First of all, this book feels like it was written by someone who does not live in SoCal because it feels so stereotypical. It’s basically like the California you see on the Hannah Montana set except with the inclusion of churro carts (I need that in my life) and poke (because we eat poke a lot too apparently) and of course, the surfers.

Image result for hannah montana beach scene

But I guess Jenn Bennett must be doing something right because after reading it, I just felt like going to the beach and having a bonfire. And there was something exciting and fun about having adventures in an underground museum. In terms of the romance, what you see is basically what you get. Porter was basically spat out from the formulaic YA boyfriend machine–he’s kind of a nerd but he’s just so cocky and omg if I hear that word one more time, I will sue–but he kind of missed the step where they give him a unique personality and any kind of flaws really. I did like that Bailey got to grow throughout. She’s someone who tends to avoid confrontation and being put on the spot but she learns to be comfortable with herself (even though the character development felt random and sudden; I get the gist). They both have tragic pasts that are discussed throughout and it felt off but maybe that’s just me.

The thing I hate about YA contemporary is that the 1st 10% of the book is spent developing the side characters like the parents and the friends and the backstory and the next 80% of the book is spent developing the relationship and then the last 10% suddenly the author remembers she has other characters so they suddenly have more page time but it feels like too little too late. This happened to Grace who works with Bailey at the museum. She feels kind of like the token diverse best friend considering that the author describes her father’s voice as having an “African sway”. What does that even mean?? There’s also Davy who is Porter’s ex-bestie and is basically there to make Porter look better. Also, he turned out to be a lot worse than I anticipated so the storyline turned out to be really melodramatic (complete with guns and drugs). The dad is there to instill wisdom and curfew times although I did like all the Settlers of Catan references. They all just felt token and bland.

My point is, this is YA contemporary and it doesn’t bring anything original to the genre but it’s fun and cute and actually kind of the perfect beach read literally.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (3.5/5)

YA Fantasy | Goodreads

I think after this series Laini Taylor and I might need to part ways. I enjoyed this book when I was reading it. It is magical and mysterious and as surreal as Laini Taylor’s previous works with mythic worldbuilding. Years ago, the city of Weep was erased from the minds of all the people in this world. Now it is only the stuff of legends, a good story but not real. However, Lazlo remembers Weep, in fact, he’s obsessed with it. He’s a librarian whose head is always in the clouds (“Strange the Dreamer”) and spends his free Image result for strange the dreamertime researching Weep dreaming about the day when he will be able to see Weep for himself. I have to applaud Taylor’s ephemeral writing; as over written and dramatic as it is, it does make you feel as if you were living a legend, a hero epic. There’s no other way to describe her worldbuilding except that it is epic like the libraries of Zosma. It’s completely sweeping and otherworldly, larger than life but is still grounded in what the reader knows which only makes the reader imagine it better.  I loved Lazlo’s dream landscapes of Weep, so imaginative like the fever dream of a child who has only read books about unicorns and rainbows.

But I realize after reading it why I can’t fully love this book. It’s because the payoff to all this buildup is just not satisfying. Lazlo has spent 7 years researching about Weep and it feels to the reader like an unattainable goal but then suddenly the answer comes right in front of him like all that buildup was for nothing. When they arrived at Weep, again the problem seemed insurmountable, but then when the solution arrived it didn’t feel satisfying? There’s also this instalove that annoyed me. It was almost like Laini Taylor was trying too hard to make me believe in their love by coating their instalove with frosting, with copious amounts of descriptions of how beautiful Sarai’s skin is and how mysterious Lazlo’s nose is. Are there really that many ways to describe someone’s crooked nose?? And omg this is the first time, someone has seen me!! The first time someone said I wasn’t disgusting!! Cue the blushing.  I think my eyes rolled straight out of my head. At points, it seemed like Sarai was a manic pixie dream girl and the ending didn’t help that theory either. The other side characters had a lot more potential to be intriguing characters such as Eril-Fane who was involved in the war that occurred before the events of Strange the Dreamer. I liked the concepts and themes that Laini Taylor introduces, about grief after war and guilt over the part you played in a war, how to figure out how to live with yourself after all the devastation. I wish there was more of that instead of the woe-is-me, melodramatic romance. If you liked Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, you will adore this, it’s actually quite eerie how similar the two are if you think about it.  The premise of Taylor’s books always hook me but the execution somehow always falls flat for me though.

Let me know if you’ve read these two books or if you’re planning to (they’re actually quite perfect for spring/summer) and what your thoughts are!

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Uncategorized · wrap up

January 2017 Wrap Up

I hate January because it’s the weird slump after the holidays when you realize all the festivities are over and you have to go back to real life. It also always feels like the longest month even though there are other months that have 31 days. I had a pretty ordinary January so I won’t be doing a favorites this month, I’m just going to combine it with my February favorites. And now, the books.

Image result for dragon flight book
3/5

The first book of 2017 I read was: Dragon Flight by Jessica Day George

This is the sequel to Dragon Slippers that I read last month. I don’t know what happened but the things I thought were endearing and charming in the last book grew to be irritating and annoying in this one. I think it’s because the characters were now a little too kitschy and gimmicky. Overall, it was still cute and fun but didn’t have that same charm as Book one. I still recommend the first book if you’re looking for a cute pick-me-up.

 

I then finally read a Sarah Waters book: The Little Stranger

Image result for the little stranger
3.5/5

I first wanted to read this because I was looking for a gothic novel set in a creepy mansion that may or may not have a ghost in it. And I got that..somewhat. I loved the descriptions of the mansion and all its mysterious rooms and hallways. What I didn’t love so much was the repetitiveness. One of the characters in the book would tell Dr. Faraday, the main character, that some weird shit was happening and they were really scared and they would think it’s a supernatural entity but then Dr. Faraday would deny this and the cycle would repeat over and over again (esp in the last half of the book). GIRL, let me enlighten you: IT’S A GHOST. Also, the author spoonfed me everything that the characters were thinking so they grew kind of bland. It was also way too long for it to keep the suspense it was trying so hard to build up. But overall, I’d still recommend it (with reservations) for a historical fiction ghost story (it’s not really that scary). I still intend to read Fingersmith by this author; it seems well-received.

Luna: New Moon by Ian Mcdonald

Image result for luna new moon
3.5/5

I don’t like to use the whole “this book is x meets x” but I’m going to break my own rule. If we can remember that this is its own book, I am going to say that it has a lot of similarities to Game of Thrones. So basically Game of Thrones on the moon. It follows a huge cast of characters that all have ulterior motives; they’re all vying for power for their families; there’s sex; there’s violence; a cut throat world. Perfect HBO bait. And I actually liked it. I thought the worldbuilding on the moon was super interesting because there are no rules. Everything is based on contract and negotiation and people’s lives are based on how much oxygen they have. It took me a minute to warm up to these characters because we had to know so many and the way Macdonald writes the third person is really detached but I did end up engaged. The cast of characters are diverse in ethnicity (the main family is Brazilian) and there’s an equal balance of male and female players and the female players are respected for different reasons (happily, no rape plot device).

 

The rest of the novels I have reviews for. I read two books that explored rape culture and everyday sexism. One I loved, the other not so much. Click on the pictures to be linked to my reviews =)

Image result for asking for itImage result for the female of the species

 

I have a huge graphic novel recommendations post coming within the month where I’ll write more about these two graphic novels. Let me know if you have any specific types of graphic novels you want me to recommend, I’d be happy to oblige!

Something New: Takes from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley

Image result for something new lucy knisley
4/5

Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet

Image result for beautiful darkness
3/5

What books did you read this January? And again, if you have any genre or types of graphic novel recommendations that you would like me to mention in my recs post, let me know! I hope you all have a wonderful February 🙂

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