First Post of 2018…(& Since A Year Ago LOL)

I admit, I’ve been SUPER negligent about blogging and 2017 has been a tumultuous year filled with heavy workload. At the time of my last review, I was student teaching and in a a perpetual state of anxiety. It was not good. My daily commute to the school I was teaching at took 45 minutes and I would spend the entirety of the drive filled with dread and anxiety over what I had to do. To be quite honest, I never really got over those feelings but they definitely lessened and morphed into slight nervousness as I gained confidence in my abilities. Despite these morning jitters, I made some wonderful memories student teaching and also gained powerful learning experiences within the classroom.

In the meantime, I returned to this blog not for the sake of book blogging because frankly, I longer can no longer afford the time and commitment to reading and reviewing books at the pace I used to. Instead, I wish to transition this blog into more personal territories. That said, I will still use this space to voice my thoughts on books I’ve read but since I have not really read anything recently, (unless you count the pedagogical articles that I read for my education courses) those book review posts will be scarce. I hope to expand my writing to my other interests and hobbies. I have started to read more manga and also watched a few anime shows during my breaks. I even surprise myself sometimes with the lengths I’m willing to go just to procrastinate. So I’ve fallen down the anime/manga rabbit hole. And not to mention that rabbit hole called BTS. 2017, it’s been a helluva year.

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Review: A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, the greatest character in this series has got to be Holland. I have always liked his character since book 1 despite all those nefarious deeds he committed. He’s just got something deeply flawed but endearing about him, and truly, I’m so happy that Schwab finally gave him the screentime and story that he deserved. What happened to him still leaves a somewhat bittersweet taste in my mouth, but I know it’s necessary to show how he became who he is. For some reason, I’m drawn to broken, fragile people and I really appreciate that Schwab obviously took great care in crafting him. He’s truly the MVP in this book and he was the most memorable character for me.

Now, about the story, I think there were places when the plot obviously lagged. There was a lot of rising action and it took much longer than I expected for it to finally culminate. However, the pacing picked up, and it was very quick and heart-pounding. The author really made those frenetic action scenes worth savoring because when fights happened, they were very good. There was a lot of foreshadowing and I think it worked nicely as subplots. Most readers may foresee these certain events but it’s really more about the unfolding of events rather than the surprise element of plot twists. The plot got very dark, of course, but the love lines in the book really elevated the book’s sweet side and bring a respite from the macabre. Some things worked out better and easier than I would have thought and most of the time, I didn’t feel as connected with secondary characters. I felt much more angst when something minor happens to the main characters compared to something major to these secondary characters. While understandable, I think that will be something Schwab will improve in ample time as she hones her writing craft. Already, I see a great improvement in her writing style from her first adult novel Vicious. In the end, I am satisfied with the ending of this wonderful trilogy. I wish there was more but the way it ended is fitting and does justice to all the characters. I would love to hear more about Holland and White London but I think that those stories are closed for now. However, there’s definitely a set-up for more adventures if Schwab truly wishes to revisit these beloved characters, so we’ll see!

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Review: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Ones Who Walk Away from OmelasThe Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ll say it. I read it because my favorite music group (BTS) released a music video referencing this book. (Everyone, go watch this profound, aesthetic MV: BTS ‘봄날 (Spring Day)’) To be honest, I just love it when art, music, and literature make cross-overs because it is so fun to explore the connections made between them. This story was fairly short but difficult for me to read because the idea of happiness in Omelas is so genuine when I considered that one piece of misery left in the midst. I think the theme has evaded many readers but to me, the notion that the people of Omelas derive happiness from the one root of sadness is actually possible. Without awareness of someone’s pain and suffering, we ourselves cannot seek happiness because it is only through the existence of misery that we can truly understand what happiness is. This way, citizens of Omelas choose to use this misery as a reason to be kind and live happy lives. Essentially, this is a story about the necessity of evil in order to bring about immense good. I personally cannot reconcile this despite knowing it, and that is why I understand fully why Guin writes about those who walk away from Omelas. Ultimately, it does not matter where they walk towards but only that they walk away from Omelas.

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ARC Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Blood Rose Rebellion (Blood Rose Rebellion, #1)Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Expected Release Date: March 28, 2017

Oh my goodness I can’t believe I got sucked in by the cover. Like would you just look at that gorgeous cover?? Blood Rose Rebellions was not profoundly bad but it also was not as good as I wanted it to be because I kept expecting something exceptional to happen. The blurb raised my hopes up (maybe too high) with talks of Hungarian history, spell breaking, and a fat lot of rebellions. Of course it misled me. To be honest, the title was not even remotely mentioned within the book and I have NO IDEA what the analogy of the blood rose has to do with the whole story. That should have been a red flag for me from the start.

Indeed, the book title irritated me but as the trooper that I am, that did not lower my rating. So why only 2.5 stars? The plot and characters. I can’t say that I connected with Anna and although it is a first-person narration, the feelings are rather shallow. It’s not that I can’t stand her, but instead, I was apathetic. Moreover, the writing is not the best especially since there are barely any action scenes. Which would not mattered if things happened. It took me much longer than expected to complete this book although I finished it in one sitting (I had a snow day today by the way). The plot has a whole lot of nothing happening; the entire length of this book could’ve been shortened so much. I felt that many scenes were useless and there were some supposedly “iconic” scenes that could’ve been better executed if crafted with more care. There were a few moments where Anna has creepy encounters but they’re all written with lackluster. I did not feel invested in the story until 80% into the book and by that time, everything else that came before made it anticlimactic.

The historical element of the story is its strongest suit and I really enjoyed learning about Hungary. I confess that I am quite ignorant of European history so I was really excited to learn more about Budapest during 1848. One of my favorite movies is The Grand Budapest Hotel so a couple stills from the movie cropped up while I was reading. Sad to say, I would still prefer watching the movie over reading Blood Rose Rebellion. I do have to say though, the book had more depth and fantasy than I initially assumed; the rich blend of Hungarian folklore could’ve been explained more to the readers. Instead of throwing out these random names of Hungarian legends, I would like more background about them. There was a twist that I did not see coming near the climax but the ending seemed to slump afterwards. I am almost certain there is no sequel since there was such a finality to the end but I did not feel resolved to it. Overall, the book was underwhelming, and the only character I liked was Mátyás and which was only due to a deed he committed. By all means, readers interested in historical fantasy genre should add this to their starter pack, but those looking for intricate plotting and complex writing may be disappointed. I’m going to shelve this under “could have been better” because I really do enjoy the premise but the execution fell flat.

I’d like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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ARC Review: A List of Cages by Robin Roe

A List of CagesA List of Cages by Robin Roe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Don’t let the blurb mislead you.
It makes it sound like the main character is Adam, and he is, but Julian is also the main character. The book follows two points of views but it starts out with Julian’s voice in the first chapter. His personality and voice was easily distinguishable because it is Adam’s foil. They are polar opposites in dispositions, mannerisms, and thought processes. It was at first distracting but I nevertheless powered through because I wanted to see how Julian’s story would unfold. It was quite devastating, to be honest. Events in his life stunted his character development severely and I empathized with his feelings of insecurity, shyness, and fears. So when Adam was introduced, his optimism and all the things that were going well in his life felt like a slap to my face. It was almost like the author was saying ‘How could someone be suffering but elsewhere, others are living carefree lives?’ This made me dislike Adam’s group of friends because they felt contrived solely to represent Adam’s popularity and contentment; was Adam was only friends with them out of convenience? It did not help that the author did not fully flesh out his friend group or provide more insight about their personalities. Aside from Emerald and Charlie, it seemed they were just there because it added numbers to his friends list. Side note: Charlie is practically the MVP of this book, I’m kind of proud but I wish there was more background information about him. He played a pivotal role and I wished he had more screen time since he’s actually important.

“I used to think struggle was what aged you, but if that were the case, Julian should’ve been a hundred years old. Now I wonder if the opposite if true. Maybe instead of accelerating your age, pain won’t let you grow.”

Additionally, this book should come with a trigger warning just in case because I cried a lot. The tears did not come until the last quarter of the book. I was eating dinner while reading and tears were streaming down as I crammed food into my mouth. I SWEAR I’M NOT AN EMOTIONAL EATER. But wow, things escalated quickly and I liked that it was not all fully resolved by the end. The story Roe wants to tell is one that cannot be tied together neatly with a bow. In a way, the story ends with a marked change within Adam and Julian; this is a good place to leave off because they’re still hurt and broken, but they now have each other to lean on and heal together. Although the genre indicates many tragic incidents, this is ultimately a story about courage, support, and friendship.

I would like to thank NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book for my honest opinion.

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ARC Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts, #1)Gilded Cage by Vic James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t know where to begin as I feel bewildered and conflicted about the ending.
The only genres tagged for this book right now is ‘fantasy’ and ‘young adult’ but it is more complex than that. The story takes places in an alternate world where there are people who are Skilled (aka they have magic powers) and those that are unskilled who are all forced to do slavedays for 10 years of their lives. The premise is quite flimsy but it does raise a lot of interest because it is a difficult one to execute.
The plot meandered and took a while to pick up and I had to stop reading after events at the end of Chapter 3. Although I am used to reading gritty, dark themes, the scene in Chapter 3 was seared in my mind and I was slightly traumatized by what I read. Personally, this book toes the lines of the young adult genre and I would not recommend it to adolescent readers. I wouldn’t necessary place a trigger warning on it but there are mature themes dealt with throughout the book.

What I Liked:
-The descriptive writing and subtle humor
-Different point of views
-They talked about C-pop
-There were different settings
-Many plot twists
-Unique characterizations
-Multiple subplots

The first half of the book was boring for me and it spent a lot of time on developing the world and introducing characters. But if you can get past all of the trimmings and enter the latter half of the book, it picks up the pace and starts fleshing out the plot. The book’s biggest strength is the complexity of each character and their motives that drive their actions. The book’s biggest weaknesses is also the reader’s lack of connection with the characters. I don’t particularly care for the romance subplot, and I was somewhat apathetic to any character plights. Nevertheless, the wide cast of characters were fascinating, and I would still like to read about them even though I do not particularly like them. I still cannot pinpoint Silyen’s motives so he was the most interesting for me to read about. The villains are not clear-cut and neither are the heroes even though there is a central conflict to fight for. As the book ends on a disastrous note for many characters, I will be looking forward to the sequel. I was ultimately captivated by this dark, twisted story, and I really like it when the ending is left open-ended with many things gone wrong.

I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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2016 in Review: List of Favorites

Now that 2016 has come to an end, I would like to sum up the books that I have read this year. This year was by far the most stressful and busiest which meant my book list was at an all-time low. I only read 25 books this year…I’M CRI. 2016 was still enjoyable so I will list some of my favorite things that happened or I encountered this year.
But academically speaking, only my bookworm life suffered and my social life and GPA flourished. Sure, I would love to have put aside more time for reading rather than obsessing over BTS or memes (LOL) but 2016 has passed with minimal regrets.
As I’m looking over my list, it is quite ironic that I started the year with reading a manga and I also ended with a manga. Back in high school, I used to be really into anime and manga but I quit due to my lack of free time. This year, I started watching anime and reading manga on my free time and it brought back so much nostalgia. Now, I am on the lookout for a good series to watch or start reading!  

Favorite Last Book in Series: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Although I finished the book with a bittersweet taste in my mouth, I was fully satisfied with the ending. I never thought that I would come to love the series as much as I did because I was so mehh about the first book (Raven Boys) and I did not like Blue’s personality.
Most Surprising Favorite Book: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I didn’t know that I would come to love this book so much although I had thoroughly anticipated reading it. All the elements in the book somehow hit the right spots and this book automatically clicked with me. I have not read Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy so I was completely blown away by her brilliant writing and inventiveness.
Favorite Meme: Arthur Memes
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Favorite Trend/Challenge: Bottle Flip
Okay, this year has been ridiculous from the Running Man challenge to the Mannequin. I It’s been a year filled with dabbing, Juju-ing on that Beat, You Name It. Although the Mannequin challenge far outstrips the others in terms of ingenuity and popularity, I have taken a liking to the Bottle Flip challenge because there’s something so satisfying about it. Majority of the people who attempt the other listed trends tend to fail and do not do it justice. I recall myself hysterically laughing at a snapchat story thread of a friend flipping all sorts of bottles found in the fridge onto the kitchen counter. Milk, orange juice, pancake syrup, water bottles. But I’m also low-key happy that this trend is over. 2017, I’m looking forward to the next trend!
Favorite Anime: Haikyu!
Let me say this first. I DON’T EVEN LIKE SPORTS. This is a show about volleyball but I was hooked within the first few episodes. I ended up binge-watching all the seasons that were out and went on to read the manga. I stayed for the compelling plotline, intense scenes, and amazing character developments and interactions. Even for people who have never watched anime, this is well worth the time investment because it encompasses all the goodness that the world of anime offers and so much more.
Favorite Movie: Kubo and the Two Strings
I’m just an emotional wreck at the end and I am amazed by the production and plot for an animated movie.

Year in Books

Food Wars!, Vol. 1 by Yuto TsukudaThe Book Whisperer by Donalyn MillerStars Above by Marissa Meyer
Morning Star by Pierce BrownA Gathering of Shadows by V.E. SchwabCaptive Prince by C.S. Pacat
Captive Prince by C.S. PacatKings Rising by C.S. PacatSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue ParkDreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillipAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
The Winner's Kiss by Marie RutkoskiIn My Hands by Irene Gut OpdykeThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. MaasThe Raven King by Maggie StiefvaterThe Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
Demian. Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend by Hermann HesseThe Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil GaimanCrooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Gilded Cage by Vic  JamesA List of Cages by Robin RoeThe Grift of the Magi by Ally Carterハイキュー!! 1 [High Kyuu!! 1] by Haruichi Furudate

New Year’s Resolutions:

  1.  Visit Japan and China this summer!
  2. Read 30 books this year.
  3. Have a 4.0 spring semester.
  4. Learn how to adequately cook economically.
  5. Average at least 6-7 hours of sleep daily.
  6. Start substitute teaching.

Happy New Year!!!!