Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: The Divine by Asaf Hanuka, Tomer Hanuka, and Boaz Lavie

The Divine by Asaf Hanuka, Tomer Hanuka, and Boaz Lavie
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: July 14th, 2015
Mark's out of the military, these days, with his boring, safe civilian job doing explosives consulting. But you never really get away from war. So it feels inevitable when his old army buddy Jason comes calling, with a lucrative military contract for a mining job in an obscure South-East Asian country called Quanlom. They'll have to operate under the radar--Quanlom is being torn apart by civil war, and the US military isn't strictly supposed to be there.

With no career prospects and a baby on the way, Mark finds himself making the worst mistake of his life and signing on with Jason.

What awaits him in Quanlom is going to change everything.

What awaits him in Quanlom is weirdness of the highest order: a civil war led by ten-year-old twins wielding something that looks a lot like magic, leading an army of warriors who look a lot like gods.

What awaits him in Quanlom is an actual goddamn dragon.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher to review. This did not affect my review in any way, nor am I being compensated for this.

I didn't know much about the book when I began reading, only knowing that the images seemed to interest me. The colors and illustrations really stick out and really make an impact on you as the reader. They colors are rich and dark but match the tone of the story and complement the plot.

The plot itself was really interesting to read about. The magical realism was particularly interesting. But what really interested me was seeing the obvious political undertones of the story. I could tell that the authors and illustrators were trying to get a specific message across about international involvement in conflicts, conflict areas, etc. As someone who's hoping to study international relations and political science, this provided really interesting commentary that made me think about the actions, consequences, causes and effects, etc of everything and of all the decisions made in the book. It sure was fascinating. The book is really thought-provoking if you read it and look at it in depth.

The book is definitely darker than most of the graphic novels that I've read and compared to most of the books First Second puts out, at least that I've read. It was much more gory than I was expecting (though perhaps I should have expected just as much), and it didn't really hide the nasty bits. This one's definitely for an older audience, and I don't think younger audiences would understand much of the subtle messages and what's written between the lines.
The Divine: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak (ARC)

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: August 4th, 2015
"When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. Unbeknownst to him, I was the only girl in the world who hated his music."

Since Cara's health has been deteriorating, all Stella Walter can think about is trying to cheer her sister up. Her life revolves around Cara to the point where Stella drops out of one of the country's top photography programs so she can spend what little time she has left with her sick sister.

With Cara's birthday around the corner, Stella wants to get her the perfect gift. An autographed poster of her sister's favorite boy band should do the trick. Sounds simple enough, right? But life isn't always so easy.

Not only does Stella hate The Heartbreakers because of their terrible music, but when she realizes that the cute boy she met at Starbucks is really Oliver Perry, the lead singer of the band, her life seems to spin out of control...

Will Stella be able to swallow her pride and get the autograph that she so desperately needs to make Cara happy? And will Oliver be able to show Stella how to live her own life again?

Meet... The Heartbreakers.
"It wasn't spectacular, but it was a cute read."

Disclaimer: I received an eARC via NetGalley. This didn't affect my review in any way, nor am I being compensated for this.

I can't say I went into this with high expectations. I already figured it would be a fluffy, light, quick read, and so on that front, it didn't disappoint! If you're looking for a cute and easy read, this is the book for you. I loved the photography aspects, as well as the insight into what it's like to be part of a boy band and to know people who are in said boy band. This would make for a great beach read. The book is predictable and a bit cliche, but I think that sometimes it's okay, and this is one of those times.

That being said, the book was still far from perfect, as expected. I thought that we were given a great and interesting, albeit not very diverse, cast of characters, but it felt sort of wasted. So much more could have been done with the characters, and I felt that nothing was done with that potential. The characters, particularly some of the boys, felt flat. I could get a sense of their personalities, but I couldn't get much more from them and their interactions with Stella. Now, maybe that's not so much a problem, but I feel like having spent so much time with the boys, Stella would have gotten to see more of the layers. We start to get into it with Alec, but it felt more like skimming the surface than really exploring the layers of him as a person.

As mentioned earlier, the book is fairly predictable and a bit cliched, but that's sort of a given when you read the blurb. Like you already know it's gonna be like that, so it wasn't as big of a deal to me. However, the pacing was off at times. It would drag in many places, and I never really felt completely engaged with the story. I didn't find it difficult to put down the book or anything like that. The book and its plot were good and decent, and I did enjoy reading it, but it didn't wow me. It's fine for a one sitting read (hence beach/pool day read), but it wasn't the kind of book that left me needing to pick it up again. Even the climax didn't seem like a big deal to me, likely because of the way it was handled/written. It could have been a big blow up and could have caused so much more of a problem--both parts of the climax--but it just never got there.

Lastly, while I appreciated the message and the lesson that Stella learned, I question whether she really learned it at all. I found the book a bit unfeminist in that it seemed that Stella never really did anything for herself or on her own accord. She leaves the guys after what Oliver did, but she also left to go back to her sister, who had a medical complication. She didn't even apply to SVA on her own and was hesitant to do so on her own; instead, one of the guys helps her/convinces her to do it. Oftentimes, one of the guys helps her pick which photos to use, and she goes along with it without questioning it or thinking twice. We never really get a sense of her taking the photos or of her mindset when she's in the moment and taking a picture for her job. It's mostly just her with the guys--almost always with the guys but without the sense of her doing her actual job. I feel like the ending was supposed to show her being independent, having made her own choice and chasing her own dreams and doing what she wants, but it's hard to see that as separate from what others are telling her/pushing her to do. I don't just didn't sit completely right with me.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It wasn't spectacular, but it was a cute read. I loved the interactions between the characters, and I loved seeing the growth of Oliver and Stella's relationship. I liked the behind-the-scenes feel and the photography aspects, and this is the kind of summer contemporary I'd love to read at the beach. It's far from perfect, but it was a solid read that delivers what you expect of it. There are tough issues, but they don't weigh down the book or give it a darker tone, which fits this type of read. This book is a great fluffy read for when you don't want to think too much about what you're reading.
The Heartbreakers: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Ali Novak: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Friday, July 24, 2015

Flashback Friday (#8): Mini Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

This is a more irregular feature. Flashback Friday is where I review, or possibly discuss, an old TV show, movie, book, or album. So what's considered old? Anything that was not released within the past year and a half. By years, I mean calendar year (so for this year, June 2014-December 2015 would NOT be old).

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Release Date: May 1st, 2012
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves - and herself - while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable - and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.
So I never meant to write this review or mini-review, but I've decided to write small reviews for some of the books I've read semi-recently and haven't reviewed to give myself time to sit and finish some books.

Anyway, I think I'm one of the few people that actually enjoyed Insurgent, potentially a lot more than Divergent. I found Tris to be more bearable and didn't find myself nearly as much at odds with her as I did before. I thought Veronica Roth did a great job at creating tension between the characters, but it also meant that much of it came down to Tobias' actions. It killed me to see how he was acting and reacting. He was such a hypocrite, but I can't help but love him. Yes, so much would have been easier, so much wouldn't have happened if he had just listened or if they had just communicated better! But obviously it wouldn't have been as exciting if they had just done that. ;)

I liked the mix of action and Tris' internal struggle. Some people might have found it slow, perhaps in the way I found the beginning of Divergent so boring. I'm glad Roth took the time to explore Tris' emotions and to let her work through her grief and come to terms with all that happened in Divergent. So often in action novels, that internal struggle and working through grief is forgotten about or pushed aside in favor of more action. Maybe that works for some people, but it was so much more realistic to see Tris struggle, and it made everything she did so much more compelling. I truly felt connected to Tris; I could understand her. She's still human, just like the rest of us. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF YOU KILLED SOMEONE? WHAT IF THAT SOMEONE WAS YOUR FRIEND? Yup, there you go.

I really loved this book, and I'm hoping I'll enjoy Allegiant more than other people have enjoyed it.
Veronica Roth; Website | Twitter | Tumblr

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Epic Reads Tag

I am notoriously bad at doing tags. I've been putting this one off for a very long time, and then I forgot about it, then put it off some more, then forgot again, and just found it and decided to finish and post it. As you will see below, I'm not great at tags, and I don't really diversify them for the most part, which is why I rarely follow up on tags in a timely manner, if at all. But here goes nothing.

(Images are not my own!)
This tag was created by Aubry and Margot over at Epic Reads, and I was tagged by the fabulous Kaitlin @ Next Page Please!

Why do you do this to me?! Gahh! Okay, if I had to pick one author, I'd probably go with J.K. Rowling because Harry Potter. One fictional character? Well, now it gets tricky...Maybe Cath (Fangirl)? Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)? Luna, Harry, Hermione, basically most of the HP characters? THIS IS TOO HARD. Snacks? I mean, if we're having tea, right? *shrugs* Whatever they'd like, I guess.

 Besides Harry Potter? Maybe Something Strange and Deadly? Perfect Ruin? Bunheads? We Were Liars?
I refuse to answer this because it seems so impossible for me. I'm very bad at taking characters out of their context and all, so this is near impossible.

You probably guessed that it was J.K. Rowling. You'd be right. I'd say, "Thank you so much for Harry Potter; it changed my life and helped shape who I am today, and I will never be able to thank you enough for saving me and for doing all that you do for so many of us Potterheads."
Ooo...this is hard to say. I've been a reader for as long as I can remember. I mean, all the classic picture books were part of what made me a reader: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear Brown Bear, Doctor Seuss, The Snow Day, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Amelia Bedelia, Goodnight Moon, etc. And especially Make Way for Ducklings, which was my favorite picture book as a young child.

*cries* How can I just pick one??? But again, I'm being predictable and saying Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Did you really think it'd be anything else?

None? I mean, it's a dystopia, right? Okay, I haven't read many dystopian novels, but if I had to choose one, I might have to go with Divergent, pre-Jeanine. I mean, I know, I know. I'm trying to choose the lesser of all evils, okay? Looking through dystopian YA lists, I realize how few I've read. But yeah, I guess I'd go with that if I had to.

The tag is a bit old, and I was tagged ages ago, so I don't know who was and wasn't tagged at some point. So I'm tagging anyone who would like to give it a shot!

*shimmy* Done!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Inspirations in the Bookish Community

I was actually inspired by my co-blogger (Lit Up Review) Grace's post about Morality in YA to write this post. If you haven't come across and read that discussion, please do so. I think it's so important to talk about, and I think Grace did a great job of articulating her (and most of my) thoughts and of starting the conversation.

But all of that inspired me to write this because I was thinking about how I wish I could have written that post--that I could have thought to delve into that topic and could have articulated my thoughts so well. I wish I could figure out my opinions half as well as she can and then go talk about it. So I've decided to showcase some of the many people in the bookish community that inspire me in different ways. Of course, this is not a definitive list!

  1. Willa @ Willa's Ramblings; Emily @ Forever Literary; Grace @ Words Like Silver
    I am so lucky to have found these ladies and to be able to call them my co-bloggers at Lit Up Review. Firstly, all of their blogs are so aesthetically pleasing to look at. But more importantly, they are amazing bloggers. I constantly strive to create the type of content that they do. In that, I don't mean that I copy them or lose my voice, but I love how eloquently they write and express their opinions. Grace's discussion posts, Emily's writing (and productivity), Willa's ability to write concise reviews. They are all so lovely and do so much outside of blogging as well, but when they blog, I am constantly blown away by what they post. I don't think I could ever express myself as well as they do, but that's okay too because I have my own voice. But they inspire me and my content constantly. I am so lucky to know them.
  2. Dahlia Alder; Katherine Locke
    These ladies are amazing in so many ways and for so many reasons. Firstly, I love both of their writing and their books. They are so fabulous at what they do, and they own every part of it. They are funny, down-to-earth, and everything in between. They aren't afraid to talk about the hard stuff--about the tought topics, about the world issues few others want to talk or think about, about diversity, about struggles, about mental illness, about almost anything. They don't shy away. They openly talk about it but never in an attacking or patronizing way. They constantly inspire me to be a better, more conscious person. I'm inspired to speak out against injustices, to talk about what's wrong and needs to be changed in our society. I'm inspired by them to do and talk and respond to the things others are scared to do. 
  3. Emily @ Blue Eyed Biblio
    I've recently started trying my hand at the whole bookstagram thing (though I've sucked at it recently for various reasons), but Emily is still one of my favorite bookstagram people, and I'm so excited about her success and about her branching out to blogging and booktubing. I've never really had the eye for things such as photography, and I've been struggling on bookstagram for that reason, but Emily offers so much inspiration. I know I won't ever be as great as her in that sense, but I hope that I can someday come close. Her images (and videos and blog posts) are just so lovely and have such a beautiful, calm aesthetic.
  4. Regan @ Peruse Project; Whitney @ Whitty Novels
    Continuing on the trend of bloggers-bookstagramer and now booktuber, one of my favorite booktubers is Regan. I love the way she speaks because it's engaging but without being way too over the top or way to dragging and dull. She's a great speaker, and I love her aesthetic as well. She reviews and talks about a diverse range of books, which is really awesome. I've never really compared our opinions since I haven't read many of the books she has, so I don't know how much our opinions are aligned. But her channel is one of my booktube inspirations. I also love Whitney because she's hilarious and manages to be herself in her videos. She's down-to-earth but has this big presence that really comes across. Her reviews are great and informative, she has great content, and she's not too dull, not too over-the-top. She's someone I would want to be friends with and someone that inspires me in the booktube community. 
  5. Hazel @ Stay Bookish; Kaitlin @ Reading Is My Treasure; Cait @ Paper Fury
    As I mentioned before, this is not a definitive list or anything, but these are some of the many bloggers that inspire me. Hazel has such a lovely aesthetic, and she's so great at everything she does and posts on her blog, whether it's the writing/post itself, the graphics, her designs, whatever. She is so kind and open, and she's so easy to talk to and work with. Then there's Kaitlin, who was one of the first bloggers I met and became friends with, and I love seeing how her blog has grown since then. I love her content and how consistent she is, but the reason I put her on this list is because I'm inspired by her productivity. She's been trying to comment on more blogs lately, and it's something I really need to be better about, so her own journey and quest in doing that has been inspiring me as well. And of course Cait. She was one of the first people to comment on my posts, and it was so cool because even then, she was a much bigger blog than I will ever be. She's able to maintain her quirky sense of self, read a whole lot, write a lot, post a lot, and have a ton of creative, unique content. I wish my content were as amazing and diverse as hers. Almost all of her posts inspire me to expand and to do what I want with my blog.
  6. Kaitlin @ Next Page Please!
    I thought it fitting that my first group of people were some of my co-bloggers at Lit Up Review and that my last would be the contributor I'm mentoring for LUR. I think it's really something different to mentor someone and help them out, and Kaitlin is so, so wonderful. She keeps me on track with things, and she's always reminding ME to do stuff. She is so kind and amazing, always open to learning and expanding and growing. Reading her reviews has really helped me to look at my own in a different light because I realize I'm a lot more critical with her posts than I sometimes am with my own (hello to rarely ever proofreading), Working with her inspires me in so many ways, and she inspires me to continue doing what I'm doing. It's so nice to have her support, as well as the support of all the wonderful ladies on the LUR team.
So as I said before, this isn't the full list because otherwise we'd be here forever. These are just some of the many that stick out to me. Yes, I know most of these people and talk to them constantly, but that's the beauty of this community. Yes, I didn't include any authors (besides Dahlia and Katherine, but they're included for different reasons), but that's because they ALL inspire me. I didn't include some of the newer people I've met because I haven't seen a lot of their content yet. Yes, there are plenty more booktubers, bloggers, bookstagramers that I could have included. Yes, there are other wonderful people (I'm looking at you, Sonia) that I could have included. Yes, I could have included my best friend Jess, who has her own photography blog, because she inspires me in all the ways on a daily basis. But as I said, we'd be here forever. ;)

Who are some of your inspirations in this wonderful community?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fiction Friction (#20): What I Post on My Blog vs. on Booktube

These posts are meant to bring about some conversation, discussion, and perhaps even a debate. These discussion posts can occur at varying days of the week, mostly depending upon what's scheduled on the blog and what I feel like discussing.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, especially after the whole thing about the blogging and booktube communities. I started thinking about how I use the two platforms differently. Now, I'm barely on Booktube at all, only making and posting videos once in a while. I watch many videos but only occasionally post a comment. I hardly ever promote my videos, and I'm only starting to post non haul/tbr videos. I rarely review books that way because I find it more difficult to articulate my thoughts when I'm speaking (I forget so much and then feel like I'm talking too much/for too long). I have yet to do any tag videos. 

On the other hand, I'm currently a part of three different blogs, and I'll be adding a fourth (not related to books) one soon. It's hard for me to juggle all of them, but I can't imagine giving any of them up. I'll be stepping down to a contributor role on Lit Up Review, which I'm sad about but also relieved about because it'll give me more time to work on keeping up this blog and my new blog while I'm in college. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to be a part of Feminists Talk Books, so even though having Mondays sucks more than I thought it would, I'm trying to keep it up. I've been struggling though, and I feel like I'm letting people (especially my co-bloggers) down. But it's the medium I feel more comfortable with. Yeah, maybe I don't get many views and most people probably don't read my posts, but when I'm feeling bogged down or burnt out, I really enjoy it (ex. this is the 7th post I'm scheduling today).

But I've realized that because the mediums are obviously very different, I think I'm also going to continue to be posting different things on the two. 

  • Hauls and TBRs will remain as videos. I now also embed my haul videos in my monthly wrap ups as well
  • Tags--I'm really bad at tags in general but especially the ones circulating the blogosphere. With videos, you can do different types of tags--guess the book, rip it or ship it, etc. Those types of tags wouldn't work in print but work very well and are, in my opinion, interesting to watch.
  • Top 10s/5s--I know a lot of people post these on their blogs and whatnot, but I find them more exciting to watch. Maybe it's the fact that you can't see them all at once or maybe it's the way the booktubers I watch present it.
  • Book Recs--While I like these on both platforms for different reasons, much of the reasoning behind this is similar to the one above
  • Reviews--I still feel like I can more accurately and articulately get my opinons across in writing. I might film some book reviews, but it will still primarily be found on my blogs. Plus, while this isn't true of every booktuber, many of them spend around two minutes just summarizing the book, and I don't really need that most of the time. I mostly read reviews for books I've already read or am really anticipating anyway, and in blogging format, I can skip over the synopsis or whatnot much more easily.
  • Discussions--Similar to reviews, I feel like my personal discussions on YouTube would be too all over the place. Plus, I think the majority of the audience on booktube isn't really as geared or interested in that in video form. It's more readable and digestable in written form.
  • Cover reveals, tours, guest posts, etc--You can't deny that this is so much easier in written form.
  • Events--Blogging events galore! For instance, I had a Dance Appreciation Week event, as well as my Summer of Songs events last summer, combining lyrics/music and books. That's just not something that can be done on Booktube.
It's true that there's room for lots of crossover, and of course it's true that these are more my personal preferences. But I think we all see the value in both mediums. They can get different types of information across or present the same information in different ways. Both communities have been welcoming to me, but I've found it easier to find fellow bloggers and to find people to read my blog posts. Not to say that there are many readers anyway, but I think that given the time I put into my blog, it's only to be expected. I'm glad to be a part of both, though I'm still very, very new to booktube. I'm glad to know people in both communities and to see more and more delving into the other. Then there's also the bookstagram community, but that's a little more cross-sectional, with bloggers, booktubers, the mixed, and the solely bookstagramers all in one sphere.

I don't want to talk about the drama that happened or drag it out more than necessary, but it did lead me to think of this and to think about what I do and the types of videos vs. blog posts I post/create.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Month in Review: June 2015

This has been a crazy month. I had end-of-the-year projects and finals and end-of-the-school-year stuff at the beginning of the month. Then it was Regents and college placement tests and meeting my advisor and scheduling my first semester classes (!). And then there was prom and graduation. Now, I'm buying as much college stuff as possible before I leave on vacation for almost two months. :)

Books I Read:

Book Mail:

One Dream Only by Elodie Nowodazkij
Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Once Upon a Crime by PJ Brackston
Mercy: Shake the World by JM DeMatteis and Paul Johnson
Blackjack: Second Bite of the Cobra by Alex Simmons
A Sailor's Story by Sam Glanzman


Other Posts:


1. I graduated high school!!! I'm so glad it's over. I'm slightly nervous about college, but I'm mostly excited.
2. This month, I began writing down happy moments of every day before going to sleep. Since starting, I had one bad day where I was just sad for no apparent reason, but it's been so helpful and has been a great way for me to start my journey towards personal happiness.
3. Prom was actually a blast! This whole time, I had been feeling pretty meh about it, and pre-prom didn't help. But once I was there and started dancing and just being around my friends, doing what I wanted and not caring about what others thought about me (because hey, I'm probably not gonna see them ever again!), I actually started to enjoy it. I ended up having a great time.
4. I saw the Royal Ballet when they were in NYC! AHHHH! I saw some of the greats of the Royal Ballet. :D
5. Had my last dance class at my studio before college. *cries*
6. Scheduled my classes for first semester, and I got my dorm assignment!

(On a random note, today's my sister's birthday, so Happy Birthday, Nessa (if you're reading this)!)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mini Review: Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 13th, 2011
When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.
I wanted a lot out of this book, and I had high expectations, but I was so, so disappointed. It's a ballet book, so of course I had to pick it up and read it. I loved the dance portions so much, and I appreciated how they were written. It was interesting to see it represented in verse, which is different from the other dance books I've read.

But once Remington/Rem came into the picture? I just couldn't. Sara was just so obsessed, and he was so lame and obviously using her. She was so convinved of their relationship, but it was so blatantly obvious, and I just couldn't deal with it. I could predict the direction the book was going to take, but I hated how it was sort of an abusive relationship--at least the way I interpreted it--that almost felt like it was supposed to be okay because she was so naive?

I couldn't deal with that or with the characters and their interactions, so I just put it down. I wish I could just take all the dance parts and read them, but I very sadly couldn't get through the other parts of the book.
 Audition: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Stasia Ward Kehoe: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Favorite Classics I Read in High School

Like everyone else, I've had my fair share of books I had to read for school that I loved and hated. But I've decided to celebrate my graduation by showcasing the classics I read and loved in high school. Most of these are likely the obvious ones, but nonetheless. (Also, can you tell 12th grade/AP Lit was a great year? :P )

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
11th Grade

So I actually read this before reading it in school because I was watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and decided I wanted to read the book. I'm glad I read it before reading it in school because with the way my teacher planned the lessons, I would have ended up despising and hating the book. But since I had already read it, I still loved the book.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
11th Grade

The plot isn't the greatest, but I fell in love because of Fitzgerald's writing. IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL AND LYRICAL. Sometimes I tear up thinking about the beauty of it. I know, I'm so lame. But honestly, I love how you can tell that all of his words and phrases were chosen specifically and carefully. Like when you talk about symoblism and whatnot in English class, Gatsby's one of those books where you don't feel like the connections aren't just a stretch.

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
12th Grade

This was the very last book I had to read in high school, and I loved it. I wasn't expecting to love this as much as I did (granted, I barely knew anything about it before going in), but I was pleasantly surprised. I love how this book made me think about life and death, about fate/destiny, about human nature. The book is strange, to say the least, but I liked that, and I saw how it all connected together. I absolutely loved this book, and it's honestly probably one of my favorite classics ever (as are many of the ones on this list).

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
10th Grade

This book is one of my favorites of all time, and I am so, so happy we read it in school because it would have taken me years to do so on my own. I absolutely love everything about this book. Atticus Finch is one of my favorite literary characters of all time. Like I love this book so much. I can't explain it, but it was the first book I read for school that really stuck out to me and stuck with me.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
12th Grade

I don't know if I would have liked this as much if we hadn't read The Awakening and Ethan Frome before it. Though I liked them, I wanted something with a little more action and a little more gritty, and Cuckoo's Nest sure delivered. It's a little lower on my list of favorites, but I still enjoyed it. It was a bit tough at first because it was just so strange, but once things get clearer and once you really start to analyze the book and how Kesey uses it to talk about society, it's so interesting.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
12th Grade

When we read this, I hated admitting that I actually liked the book. Most of my peers couldn't stand it. They found it boring and strange and annoying to read (okay yes, it might have fared better if we hadn't read it after reading Ethan Frome but whatever). But through all of our class discussions and after talking about the feminist aspect of the book with a friend from dance, I knew that I really enjoyed and appreciated the book and all that Kate Chopin gets at in it.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
9th Grade

More of a modern book and less of a classic, but we read this in school. It isn't really my favorite, but back in ninth grade, this book was a breath a fresh air from the rest of the books we had read during the year. I had watched the movie, but I also really enjoyed the book.

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
12th Grade

Okay, so technically we didn't read this book because we just watched the movie and supplemented the missing parts with portions from the text, but I didn't think I could do this post without a Shakespeare book, and though I could have included Macbeth or King Lear, of the Shakespeare books we studied, Much Ado really was my favorite. I think it was more that it was such a breath of fresh air from the Shakepearan tragedies. I'm so glad our class decided to watch the movie together right before the AP.

What were your favorite classics that you had to read in school? What do you think of my favorites?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Review: Ms. Marvel Vol 1 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

Ms. Marvel Vol 1 by G. Willow Wilson (Illustrated by Adrian Alphona)
Publisher: Marvel
Release Date: October 15th, 2014
Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she's suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she's comin' for you, Jersey!
I'm not usually a comic girl, but I kept hearing about Ms. Marvel, and I knew I needed to read it. I now cannot wait to read the other volumes.

Ms. Marvel is amazing to say the least. We have a set of diverse characters set in a very real, not-so-exciting setting. Kamala isn't one to embrace her culture and her background, but that's also contrasted by her brother and her friend Nakia. But it's in that that she finds herself struggling. She struggles with her identity, and that struggle only grows once she becomes Ms. Marvel. She goes through this transition and realization that she can be a superhero as she is (with the help of her new superpowers). She doesn't have to be white with blond hair to save lives. That message is SO important and SO powerful.

I did find large parts of this highly predictable, and I was disappointed that her friend Nakia sort of disappears later on in the story. While there was a lot going on, you could definitely tell that this was the first volume. Most of this acted as a set-up to the later comics, so it wasn't nearly as action-packed or exciting as I thought it was going to be. I liked getting to see her family life and to see the background for how and why she becomes Ms. Marvel, but I think I'll enjoy the later volumes much more. I can't wait!
Ms. Marvel Vol 1: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
G. Willow Wilson: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Adrian Alphona: Website | Twitter

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mini Review: #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso

#GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso
Publisher: Portfolio
Release Date: May 6th, 2014
At seventeen, Sophia Amoruso decided to forgo continuing education to pursue a life of hitchhiking, dumpster diving, and petty thievery. Now, at twenty-nine, she is the Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Nasty Gal, a $100+ million e-tailer that draws A-list publicity and rabid fans for its leading-edge fashion and provocative online persona. Her story is extraordinary—and only part of the appeal of #GIRLBOSS.

This aspirational book doesn’t patronize young women the way many business experts do. Amoruso shows readers how to channel their passion and hard work, while keeping their insecurities from getting in the way. She offers straight talk about making your voice heard and doing meaningful work.

She’s proof that you can be a huge success without giving up your spirit of adventure or distinctive style. As she writes, "I have three pieces of advice I want you to remember: Don’t ever grow up. Don’t become a bore. Don’t let The Man get to you. OK? Cool. Then let’s do this.”
I was expecting so much out of this book, but oh gosh was I not impressed. I don't doubt that it's feminist. She's very much all about girls doing what they want and not letting other people tell them what to do. She's all about girl power and giving females tips and whatnot. But the voice that she writes in! Ugh. I can't fault her for being very straightforward and blunt, but that's what didn't appeal to me. She came off as patronizing for much of the part of the book that I read. Her tone and voice were really off-putting to me, and I couldn't stand to be reading that. I didn't bother finishing the book. It definitely wasn't for me.
 #GirlBoss: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Sophia Amoruso: NastyGal | Twitter | Instagram
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