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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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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Uncategorized · wrap up

March 2016 Wrap Up

Happy Sunday all! I’m finally here with my March wrap up. At this rate, my April wrap up will be up in June or something. Time moves so fast; I get to the end of the month and then I realize I haven’t done a wrap up yet..But anyways, here are all the books I read in March.

So the first thing I read this month was..

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4/5

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo Mini review here along with other nonfiction books

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson-I think it’s actually forbidden to give a Brandon Sanderson book anything less than a 3 stars. It’s like a rule of the BS Fight Club..if he had

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2/5

one. But this book was soooo weak. David’s humor that was endearing before just turned too campy and awkward in this one. I did not give one shit about the secondary characters who are all just caricatures and not in an I-can-excuse-it type way either. It tries way too hard to subvert espionage comedy tropes and ends up succumbing to this tropes. And lastly, why does everything in a Brandon Sanderson book have to have an otherworldly explanation, like some fiery ball in the sky created the world?? The ending was so bad; it’s like Sanderson wanted to add an interesting plot twist but it ends up falling flat because it was out of no where and actually pulls back the whole message of the series. Ugh. So disappointed.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl-On the other end of the

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3.75/5

spectrum, I really liked Night Film. I’m not a murder mystery fan at all but this one was an exception. This book is known for its pictures of articles, blog entries and case files interspersed throughout which I think is brilliant considering this is a murder mystery. Pessl does an amazing job of building up the mystery surrounding the victim, Ashley Cordova and her mysterious, reclusive father, and she kept the dark and eerie atmosphere all the way throughout the book. Full review coming soon

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Excerpt from Night Film

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler-I want Anne Tyler to write my family saga because

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3.5/5

she is so talented at writing family dynamics and interactions. With only one subtle conversation (a page and a half) between the husband (Red) and wife (Abby), I could already tell about their relationship to one another, their beliefs and values, their quirks and irritations all the while reminding me of my aunt, my mom, my dad, and my uncle all wrapped into one humorous conversation. How do you that???! She follows 3 generations of the Whitshanks including Red’s parents, Red and Abby’s teenage years and the present where their children must deal with their parents growing old and things like that. And unlike a lot of literary family sagas I’ve read, this one was so humorous and charming and not very dense.  I feel like she could have explored more with this family but whatever..

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury- I may read a variety of

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4/5

books but YA fantasy with a touch of romance will always have a special place in my heart although  I admit there’s been kind of a drought with YA fantasy I want to read lately. I’ll leave my Goodreads rant about this book:

Here’s the deal:

I’m not gonna lie; this book was predictable af. In terms of the romance and plot at least and I honestly think this book is first and foremost, a romance.

Characters: Our heroine, Zahra, is omigosh, a blushing heroine and of course, of course, our hero has been with all the girls before he met our heroine and of course, she is the only one for him.

It’s one of those books where the main characters are infiltrating a castle and there’s angst, angst, angst, oh wait I got this one little piece of information that’s important to the plot, angst, oh, um let’s have the main bad guy almost sexually assault the heroine and then have the hero swoop in and save her (cause you know, you HAVE to have that scene), angst, angst, another piece of information!, angst, a dance scene!, angst, Oh wait, there’s not enough pages left, let’s solve the problem in the most convenient manner possible, confessions of undying love, climax, happily ever after, end of book.

This book is marketed as a forbidden romance but to be honest, I don’t really see the forbidden part of it? Like the only reason I can think of is that it’s because Zahra is a jinn and Aladdin is a human..I never, once, thought that was ever an issue because it’s kind of obvious Zahra is not going to be a jinn by the end of the book so she can be with Aladdin and that kind of makes all their angst kind of irrelevant.
But, I mean, whatever, this book was so engaging and fun and the worldbuilding was really impressive for a standalone fantasy. The writing is very lush and magical. Hence, the four stars. Such a captivating read.

Graphic Novels

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3/5

Fables Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham– I read this volume after playing the game inspired from it. I enjoyed both and I have a full review of both here. It’s for those who want a little grit and less magic to their fairy tale retellings.

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4/5

Captain Marvel Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue Deconnick– Omigosh Girl Crush Alert. Captain Marvel is one awesome, funny superhero with a cat and her story in this volume was so epic and more space opera-y than I expected which is a bonus. I love the artwork as well. It just keeps you on your toes with its depiction of movement and fast action.

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3/5

Gotham Academy Vol. 1 by  Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher-Gotham Academy is shooo cute..It’s about a bunch of kids who attend Gotham Academy and it’s very Harry Potteresque what with the magic school and the episodic plot. The plot is kind of random most of the time and the it’s confusing for half of it because the author withholds way too much information about Olive’s past (or maybe I wasn’t paying attention?). The artwork for the characters is very reminiscient of manga art so if you like that type of art, this one’s for you.

Short Story

Midnight Hour by Mary Robinette Kowal- A king is only lucid at night and insane for the rest of the time. And his wife, the queen, is nameless. There is also a curse. How are these connected? Read the story here to find out. Solid writing and a very interesting premise.

Let me know if you’ve enjoyed any of these books or if you have any of these on your TBR! =) Also, I’m really in a suspense thriller mood so if you’ve read any good ones, I would love any suggestions! ALSO, should I read Lady Midnight??? I think I’m kind of over Cassandra Clare’s books but I mean I have read all her books?? I was kinda meh about the first Shadowhunter series. But I enjoyed The Infernal Devices (although they’re not really favorites of mine) especially Clockwork Prince.

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favorites · Monthly Favorites · Uncategorized

February/March 2016 Favorites

 

Warning: Extreme Ranting Ahead..

Omigosh was February and March hectic. The beginning of March was especially stressful since my phone and wallet actually got stolen while I was taking a midterm at a theater near my school (yeah I actually have class in the movie theater). And yeah, some student decided it would be fun to steal my stuff WHILE I WAS TRYING TO PASS COLLEGE. Can you be any more cruel? But the police found them so it’s all good but then the next day I lose my apartment keys and then I found out I couldn’t call anyone so I had to buy a new SIM card and I was out all last week because my fraternity had rush and also my  new credit card isn’t working and I didn’t get the job I wanted..and because I had to cancel my credit card, my order for The Winner’s Kiss COULDN’T COME IN. Ok I’m done. Be calm, Carolyn.

It’s like the bucket of problems got dumped on me this month. And I’m telling you it’s not even the big problems that really frustrate me, it’s the addition of the little things. But on a side note, I’m so thankful to my friends and my sister for being so emotionally supportive during this time. I’ve honestly never felt so loved and I feel like everyone deserves a chance to feel this way at least once in their life.

In other more pleasant news, I got my eyebrows threaded for the first time and I did not know eyebrow shaping could make such a difference but it does! I also went shopping a lot because shopping is actually really therapeutic. I had my spring break where I honestly spent it all trying to find PAs to shadow (Why is this so hard?) and hanging out with my friends. If you follow me on instagram, you’ll know that I went to the Carlsbad Flower Fields. It was so pretty!! I’m not a big flower person but one look at these flowers and I was converted.

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Ah, so serene..unlike my life

Makeup

I think getting my eyebrows threaded got me really into more of the possibilities of makeup and I’ve been loving it.

I would highly recommend the Nyx eyebrow pencil. It just gets so much coverage with so little ink and the color is perfect for my brows. I’ve also been loving my Nyx liquid eyeliner as well.

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This post was not sponsored by Nyx, fyi

 

Clothes

White crop top from forever 21- so pretty and summery; I can’t wait to wear it in the upcoming weeks because it is so hot here in Socal.

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This post was not sponsored by Forever21 but that tag is all kinds of cute. 

Apps

Google Opinion Rewards-Basically you do free surveys for free money to buy things on the Google Play Store. You can’t really go wrong with that. I buy games and ebooks with it. Surprise, surprise.

Songs

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Hymn for the Weekend-Coldplay’s new album is so awesome and I think this one’s my favorite out of all of them.

One Call Away by Charlie Puth– A random surprise

I Won’t Let You Walk Away-more EDM

Youth by Troye Sivan-My youth is yours.. This song has been playing nonstop for me. I even internally fangirled when I heard it playing at Starbucks

Wild by Troye Sivan– I love the melancholy in this song.

Lost Boy by Troye Sivan-I normally would not like the beat of htis song but something about it is just so charming and yeah this has been a Troye Sivan month. No shame.

Recommendations from Summer and Joey 

Your Lie in April OST– AHH so beautiful, it makes me want to cry. Thanks for the rec Summer!

Smoke-filled room remix– I actually usually don’t like remixes but I really liked this one. Thanks Joey, I’ve been looking at all your retrospective posts for music recs 🙂

TV

This whole month I haven’t watched basically anything but FRIENDS and this is actually the first time I’ve seen Friends. I know, I know, how can a lover of comedy not  have watched Friends by now. Well, funny story, I didn’t like Friends at first. I thought it wasn’t funny..but I’m officially converted! I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. It’s hilarious and charming and Joey and Chandler are probably my favorites haha 🙂

 

Well that’s it! Hopefully, hopefully, April brings better luck. Fingers crossed.

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Uncategorized

March 2015 Wrap Up/Favorites

So March marks the end of my winter quarter and my spring break, the highlight of which I got to go to Disneyland! March was a very mixed reading month for me and I think a large part was that I have so many books I want to read and I feel like I’m not reading fast enough even though I shouldn’t be thinking of how fast I’m reading a book. I should savor each book. Also, I think my mood for books changes so quickly. One minute I’ll feel like reading a YA contemporary, the next I’ll feel like reading horror. I think for April, I have to tell myself to slow down and really “listen” to what I’m reading.

So here are all the books I read this month with my star rating on Goodreads. I’ve included a short story I read. I’ve also included some miscellaneous favorites at the bottom. Let me know if you’ve read/watched anything on this list!

Books

1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (4/5)

2. The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski (4.5/5)

3. Watchmen by Alan Moore (3/5)

4. To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (4/5)

5. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (3/5)

6. Tea With Milk by Allen Say (4/5)

7. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (3/5) (DNF halfway through the book)

  • Shocker; I thought I would at least give this one a 4 stars

8. Alif the Unseen by G. Woodrow Wilson (3.2/5)

9. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (3.8/5)

Graphic Novels

1. Alex and Ada Vol. 1 and 2 by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn (4/5)

2. Blue Exorcist Vol. 1 by Kazue Kato (4.5/5)

Short Stories

1. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman (5/5) (LOVE)

Miscellaneous Favorites

Beauty/Fashion

1. My black and white cami from H&M (I have a picture of me wearing it on Instagram)

  • Just a very versatile piece
  • I’ve been wearing it a lot because it’s been so hot and it’s very comfortable

Youtube Channel Favorites

TV Show Favorites

1. Scorpion CBS (3/5)

  • I’m biased because I love any media with group chemistry and genius nerds.
  • I ship Waige like no other.

2. Parks and Recreation Seasons 5-7 (4/5)

3. Fresh off the Boat ABC (3.5/5)

Game Favorites

1. Kingdom Hearts (PS2)

  • Such a fun crossover between final fantasy and disney
  • I love seeing different disney characters interact and fight evil villains.
  • And yes, I realize I’m like a decade too late in playing this but whatever.

If you’re interested in seeing more of thoughts of any of the books/short stories, let me know and I’ll be sure to do a full review on it! Let me know your thoughts on my non bookish favorites too! =) What was your favorite book/show/movie of March?