Wednesday, September 7, 2016

August Recap




IT'S THE END OF AUGUST (and it has been for like seven days. I'm so sorry). How has time passed so quickly? Gosh. School's been started back up for two weeks (but not rly since I pre-wrote this post and right now it's been three) and everyone's struggling to get back into the rhythm of regular old busy life. I've moved back to my college apartment, got everything pretty much organized again, etc. 

I guess the hard things for me are getting my creative flow back on for my design classes and just... finding the energy to pay attention and interact with people and walk around all the time. SO HARD. 







This month was a pretty successful month if I say so myself. I always struggle to read during the school year, and this year's no different, but I feel like I'm getting better at not stressing out to the point of doing no reading.


and
In All Place (Stripling Warrior #3) by Misty Moncur ⭐⭐⭐ (for both)
I read these books ages ago when they were babies on Wattpad and I just got a hankering to read them again. It was great revisiting the huge cast again (confusing for my brain though. I can't do 100 names. not possible) and reading about all the guys crushing on the main character XD



Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was one of my favorites of the month! The world, the plot, etc. was original in a really refreshing way. Angel stories? Exotic animals? Unknown history? Yes, please. (A full review to come)

Elfhame by Anthea Sharp ⭐⭐⭐
Not gonna lie, I was super psyched about this book because of so many reasons. 1) It's by Anthea Sharp and she's one of my favorite self-published authors 2) It's about elves 3) It's a Beauty and the Beast retelling 4) Look at that cover. It was great! My main complaint is that it wasn't fleshed out enough.


To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is one of my all-time favorite contemporaries, so I read it in August for a re-readathon. I actually connected to the characters and the story EVEN MORE than I did the first time. It was like wrapping myself in a fuzzy blanket.
















As you can see... a LOT of kpop. Mainly because my car doesn't have a radio so I can't keep up with all the songs playing now. :(





>> I PASSED THE BIOLOGY CLEP EXAM WHAT WHAT. That, my friends, is the equivalent of 8 college credit hours. In other words, a huge weight off my chest.

>> I have Illustration and Studio 3 (this one's graphic design) classes both with the same teacher who I'm not too fond of. My creativity is having a hard time getting back into a good groove.

>> My living room? It looks different now! I don't know if you remember the apartment tour video I took last school year but we changed it around (we also switched bedrooms which was more than a little confusing at first)

>> My best friend made me go to a youth church evening meet up thing with lots of people around my age being loud and social and... it was definitely something else. I mean it wasn't horrible. I did go to church in an all black outfit with combat boots however (I didn't have time to change ;)). SHE MADE ME PLAY PING PONG which I have never played and should never play again according to how horrible I am at it.


note: I know I've been so bad at keeping up with posting lately. And actually if we're being honest, since I started college I haven't been the most consistent. Which is sad, because I really love it and I was doing so well at organizing things and reviewing etc. before college. 

Oh welp, for now I'll definitely keep up with monthly recaps and try to do the occasional book review. Thanks for staying with me. :) <3

Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Trip to Taiwan

I think it's high time I got my act together and told you all about my trip to Taiwan during June. I literally had the vlogs all put together in a video, I had the pictures downloaded, I just didn't put the final product together. 

BUT. NOW I HAVE. 





Remember that trip that I talked about? The Taiwan one? Well, now I'm gonna tell you about it and throw pictures at you. ;)


I snapped most of the pictures with my phone because it was just way easier/more convenient/faster than bringing my camera that does not have good battery life with me everywhere. I hope the pictures aren't too bad quality (I don't think they are but just in case) because they were taken on the run. 


Like I have complained about a million times, there was a 16 hour flight, singular as in one section of a trip that was over 20 hours long, on the way TO TAIWAN and on the way BACK FROM TAIWAN. 

In case you haven't taken a long airplane flight before, I'm gonna tell you--it's torturous. The only way you can escape mindless boredom, extreme soreness, and mild insanity is if you try to sleep most of the way (listen to music. it blocks out the plane engines and screaming babies) and watch movies when you're awake. 


Before any of the flights.

BODIES AREN'T MADE TO SLEEP IN CHAIRS OKAY. To top that, on one of those looong flights there was a super big guy sitting behind me so I was like nah I'm not going to recline my seat that would crush his legs which is rude of course. BUT MY HEAD KEPT FALLING DOWN WHEN I FELL ASLEEP AND *sobs in exhaustion*


The main reason we went to Taiwan was to go to my mom's brother's wedding. They do it a little differently than Americans. They get married by a judge with a couple witnesses and then they have a super big, extravagant wedding feast later. 

I wore heels and a short dress and my feet were killing me afterwards. My little brother got to be in the wedding performance/train/thing, I guess you could call it. He looked so adorable in his fancy suit. 

My bro and my dad <3

Us and the fam. My sister's right beside me.

Besides that though we still did tons of fun things. We ate out with my mom's friends and family. If there is one type of food you try when you're in Taiwan, it needs to be street food. I promise. Your life will be changed. :D

So we ate, a lot. I feel like food is especially important in Asian cultures.

street food: deep-fried chicken + other things + delicious spices

hotpan: seasoned broth + veggies + meats. V POPULAR.

hotpan pt. 2

Guys the food is just so delicious. I'm pretty sure I'm way more than half Taiwanese if we're just looking at taste in food, because I love this food SO much. Just the seasonings and textures and I dunno. Although. There was the time that there was a whole snail on top of a salad. It was cooked, but it was a snail and I could still see it's little feeler things. 

Basically, it was a whole snail just missing the shell. I didn't eat it. I couldn't. The feelers were too much XD


We tried shaved ice! It was my first time. Passion fruit.

There was writing all over the walls by people from all over the world.

It was v cool.

Me and my family also went to some kind of machinery museum the day before we left. We at one McDonald's meal when we were missing American fast food too much. :D 

It was really nice actually. My sister and I fangirled over seeing Exo (kpop group) on Pocky boxes. 

this is a Pocky box. I would describe these as sweet crackers dipped in chocolate on one side

Me, my sister, and my dad randomly decided to go eat ice cream at a 7-eleven. 

We discovered kimchi pizza which is actually delicious. 

I had such a great time and it made me realize even more how much I want to travel, see the world, and explore different cultures. <33

The pictures that I put in the post are just ones that show things that either I missed in the video below or thought were too cool and artsy to not post. 

I worked super hard on the video and I'm so happy with how it turned out. I loved editing it. :)) I hope you have fun coming along on my adventure!




Sunday, July 31, 2016

Guest Post // Take Care of Yourself

[Selena's note: It's super important and relevant (especially with school starting back up here in a few) to remember to take care of yourself throughout all the busyness of life. It's something I have to remind myself of all. the. time. And so I hope this post helps you out in some way too. :)]




Julie is a former YA blogger, now just YA loudmouth. She tweets a lot (@DailyJulianne) and writes about #quietYA and representation at YA Interrobang. She's also a freelance editor at True Blue Editorial, a cat lover, and currently unemployed. Julie also founded Blogbound Con and just really cares about books a lot.












I first started coping with mental illness when I was 10. I didn’t tell anyone that was actually in a position to help me until I was 21.

In eleven years of being mentally ill to varying degrees of severity without medication or therapy meant I had to learn how to practice self care and the ways that would work for me. It became an adapt or die situation, sometimes literally. Since I made it eleven years, I like to think I figured it out, especially in the last few years.

And even if you don’t have mental illnesses, we all get stressed out. We all have tense times. Work loads pile up, money gets tight, the political situation or the news in general get to you. Those are all times where self care is necessary too.

Self care can be as simple as just resting. We all need rest to revitalize and re-energize so we can get everything on our lists done. But sometimes telling yourself to just rest can be hard because how do you rest? What will actually be restful?

These are all tips that work for me, but will not work for everyone. They don’t even always work for me, but it doesn’t hurt to try them if you can.



Retail therapy is not a lie. I spend hours and hours and hours shopping, both online and in stores. Trying on clothes and making lists on websites like Etsy and BookOutlet and ModCloth.

“But Julie,” you think, “who has that kind of money?” NOT ME. I do not have that kind of money. I maybe actually buy 1/4 of the time I do this. I picked out five things yesterday while shopping and only bought one. I spent hours last night making carts on Barnes and Noble and going through my Etsy love lists and BookOutlet’s New Arrivals and I did not buy a single thing.

I build and prepare and think about it. Most of it gets saved to pass on to my family around my birthday and Christmas. Some of it I buy, but I almost always wait until there’s a sale - because then I also get the satisfaction of seeing the money I saved.




Yoga isn’t doable for everyone, I get that. But it’s long been something that works for me. Some people need classes and the accountability that requires and I certainly appreciate that, but as someone who can’t drive and lives in the suburbs and also has little money, that’s not on the table for me.

So, I’m doing it the cheap way - a few months ago I bought myself a $16 mat from Amazon, picked up some work out gear on a clearance rack at Old Navy, and started using Yoga with Adriene videos on YouTube - primarily her 20-minute night time routine video. It’s slow and relaxing and involves a lot of just lying on your back and breathing. I’ve been really bad at doing it lately since my room’s a mess, but I’m always glad I did it when I do it.



On that note, cleaning is wonderful. I always can tell where my mental state is by looking at my room and how I feel about it. If it’s a mess and I’m indifferent? I need to monitor myself. If I’m at least bothered by what a mess it is, I know I’m managing. When I actually clean it, I know I’m good.

That’s when I’m spending time throwing out my garbage on a regular basis and putting shoes I don’t wear often in a closet and putting books on my shelf. And let me tell you, there is little more soothing than reorganizing bookshelves. I find myself going through them all the time to get rid of books and refill the shelves with books that have accumulated on my floor.

There’s a sense of satisfaction for me in getting rid of books (clothes too) and knowing they’re going to a better home. PLUS it gives me more space for other books I’m more excited about.


Reading is probably an obvious answer for you guys, but I feel the need to repeat it. Especially since not all books are equal.

As much as I enjoy them, thrillers are not going to bring down my anxiety. When I’m having a rough time - especially when I was facing finals or a really busy time in my life - I’d move to romance novels. They’re comfortable without being too predictable, they’re a bit out of my normal reading zone, but not too much, and I always know there will be a satisfying, happy ending.

Plus, they’re addicting. When I pick up a romance novel, there’s a pretty good chance I’m reading that sucker in one or two sittings, which is several hours sitting, reading, not touching social media. Romances might not do it for you, but I would recommend looking at books outside of what you usually read for particularly stressful times.



There’s something about kitchens that brings a sense of comfort to many. For me, baking is incredibly soothing. Baking is a science, but a fairly simple science, with everything laid out in measurements and ingredients and specific instructions. I can get lost in baking things.

But sometimes that’s too much of a mess and some people just don’t click with baking or have food difficulties. My second option for kitchen relaxation? Hot beverages. I don’t drink coffee, but hot chocolate and tea are always so calming for me. They’re simple and quick and low maintenance, then they warm you from the inside out.



Are you dealing with something pretty minor but stressful? Then my quick, go to's, are to close my eyes for a little bit. If I can, I’ll lie down for anywhere between 5-20 minutes. No noise, no disturbances, just close my eyes and think about non-stressful things.

If not, I just close my eyes and take a deep breath. Drink some water - water is so important and so underrated and I recommend the Plant Nanny app if you need reminders to drink water. Stretch for a bit if you’ve been sitting too long - just get up and walk to the bathroom or the kitchen, even if you don’t need anything there. Just go walk for a few seconds or go on a longer walk - longer walks with just me and my iPod tend to detangle my thoughts and help me be more creative.



Talk to someone. I’m not gonna sit here and tell you to go to therapy - as we’ve established, I’m not one to advocate that first - but talk to your friends. You don’t even have to talk about what’s bothering you, just talk about silly stuff. Talk about books and TV and your pets.

Texting is fine, but in person is better. I try to make sure I get face-to-face friend time with some of my closest friends at least once a month. If you can’t talk to someone else, talk to yourself. Journaling has been such a great tool for me. I process things better when I can write them down over talking about them, so while I’m bad at being consistent with this too, it has been really helpful.


If you have pets, spend time with them. I just stop what I’m doing and start petting whichever cat is nearest me fairly regularly. We recently adopted a younger cat, so I spend at least twenty minutes playing with her most days. Just us, a shoelace, and me snapchatting it because I can.

If you don’t have a pet and can’t have one but aren’t allergic, go to an animal shelter or a pet shop, but especially animal shelters. The dogs and cats there always appreciate someone coming to play with them or walk them. Or you can just go stare at some fish. Whatever floats your boat.



Sometimes it’s as simple as not looking at social media. I like keeping my hands busy, so sometimes it’s hard for me to stop looking at twitter, but I keep several games on my phone - Pet Rescue, Kitchen Scramble, 2048, Monopoly, Trivia Crack, PokemonGo, and the Kim Kardashian game. I also keep a link to my fanfic site of choice and I find SnapChat and Instagram (if you can deal with the terrible new format) are still pretty relaxing and chill, no matter what’s going on.



When all else fails, I go do some comfort watching while lying in bed. I have DVDs of many of my safe watches - The Nanny, Veronica Mars, Disney movies, Amanda Byne movies, rom coms. I also use Netflix to watch Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23, Gilmore Girls, Jennifer Lopez rom coms, Anastasia. There are so many low stress options for watching material and if I fall asleep while watching? All the better! The show has kept me distracted and I can fall into sleep, the ultimate safe space.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Book Review // Can't Look Away




272 pages // published August 26, 2014 //
YA, contemporary, romance // 
cover rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (fits the story well, good composition,
nice colors & font)



this is my own copy that I got before I read either >.>



Every part of this book looks awesome at first glance--heart wrenching story, check, cool new Youtube aspect, check, a pinch of el Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), check, a super pretty cover, check.


It has everything.


But it didn't live up to my expectations. It's not that it was horrible....


I liked the Youtube angle, with tips from the main character before every chapter. There aren’t enough books that include Youtube, a HUGE part of the modern world by the way, in their story lines. It was nice reading about the life and routine of a youtuber.


It was also a reminder to appreciate family always. Sometimes people get so caught up in living that they forget that death is a thing. A really scary, fast thing.


In the end though it was the main character that really threw me off. Torrey came across as really selfish, shallow, and manipulative. She 100% cared about what people thought about her for 95% of the book, but suddenly at the very end of the book she has a change of heart and character? It didn’t feel real.


It felt like the author tried to make her more lovable by putting in flashbacks to when her little sister was alive, but it didn’t work (imo) when we could jump to the present and see that she might have potential but she still clung to popularity and maintaining face.


And there were SO many flashbacks. They felt really random (plus unnecessary sometimes) and kind of came across as trying too hard to get the reader on Torrey’s side.


This book was a typical “mean girl” transformation story to me. There were some unique parts like dealing with the Day of the Dead, and sometimes it gave me hope that it would maybe go deeper into the characters but it never really got there.


The big things that annoyed me were:

1. You can’t just like someone and then still be afraid of the popular kids seeing. NUH. I mean, you can. But that ish is mean. You’re leading on a perfectly nice guy... and then you ditch him at the first sight of the popular kids cause he ain’t popular? DUDE. 



2. I know that something like your little sister’s death would mess someone up big time. I mean I can’t even imagine the pain and guilt. But then why would you still use your sister’s death to get out of social situations just because you don’t want the populars to know you were hanging out with the outcast kid? WHY??




my rating:
⭐⭐

Disclaimer: I got this e-ARC from NetGalley/Scholastic in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!


Has a book with a really interesting blurb and SUPER pretty cover ever disappointed you? How do you feel about using flashbacks in a book? Tell me bout it. ^^

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Book Review // The Raven King (ALL HAIL)





Nothing living is safe. Nothing dead is to be trusted.

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.



** The blank spaces in between these [ ] are spoilers. Avoid at all costs.

First the logistics of this wonder.

It is written by Maggie Stiefvater, 439 pages of her skills. It was born on April 26, 2016 at a place called Scholastic Press. It's the fourth and final story.

I'VE DONE IT. I've finished the final book in The Raven Cycle series. 



It's been an amazing trip (even though I'm sad it's over) and The Raven King was no less amazing.



There are so many plotlines at the same time (!!!) and yet there's actually only one. This mind-f 'ery. Twisted-ness. Time is moving, but time doesn't exist. Events are ordered things, but they're happening regardless of order. Are you confused right now? GOOD. BECAUSE I'M TRYING TO MAKE YOU UNDERSTAND HOW THIS BOOK WORKS. I love it so much (and hate it a little sometimes too). I felt like my mind couldn't comprehend the complexity of it right away.

I always appreciate good squads and the TRB squad is one of my favorites. But... I also love how, even though they're inseparable, they all are still distinctly and painfully individuals. They have their own agonizing battles. Ones that no one but themselves can help them with. And isn't that so comletely true? Sometimes only you can fight your battles. In conclusion, group solidarity PLUS individuality = win.

The problem with me critiquing this is that I'm still not sure that I understand what happened. Just decided to throw that in there.


I guess that's the magic of Stiefvater's writing... nothing's definite even though you're pretty sure it happened. You're not absolutely sure. I mean it could've happened, it probably did, and yet did it? Are you sure? It's like trying to recall blurry memories from your kidhood.



If we're being honest here... I didn't see any glaring problems with The Raven King. So these are mostly me being frustrated over the insane complexity but loving it at the same time.

A maze. A friggin maze.

I could mention things like random characters dropping in out of nowhere just when Gansey needs them, random acts that make no sense like [Greensomethingorother's wife randomly finding the third sleeper who was a demon and running rampant with it for no reason but somehow still affecting the bigger picture.]....but, that's kind of what this book is about. It doesn't make sense. It's as confusing as the minds of its characters. Pretty damn. It's as confusing as anything that magical and internal any of that could be. Pretty. damn.

Although if we're going to be petty, I wish Noah's end/ending/story resolution/?? would have been explained or described in more detail Not only because he's one of my favorite characters (but, yes, that's like 87% of the reason he's my marshmallow) but because he was such an important part of the story and Stievater never explained him or explored his story satisfactorily (imo of course. you might think differently).

There was SO much information thrown at me in both obvious and subtle ways that information processing is a difficult thing right now. [Like oh Blue is half tree spirit? Fantastic. GREAT. Ronan just told me he dreamed up Cabeswater.]

Of course I could just peg all this to the brilliance of the author and not have any cons anymore. *shakes head and mutters*

This book was 100% amazing but compared to the whole thing I thought the ending was... a tiny little bit of a let-down? I mean, I guess I just wasn't expecting everything to end quite so abruptly without too much explanation, without a chance to recover from everything that happened. I guess they all conquered their demons though.


My Rating:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Disclaimer: I was not reimbursed for this review in any way. All opinions or thoughts expressed are my own. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Library Haul || For Old Time's Sake

It's been a looong time since I did a library haul. Last night I was just thinking about my baby days as a blogger and how I would do hauls every time I visited the library and I wanted to do that again!

Because, ya know. Library books man. They're free and everything.



It's really really hot right now but IT DOESN'T MATTER I pushed past the discomfort and went to my little local library. At first I was planning on just randomly picking out books that caught my attention that I'd never heard of before.... buuut that didn't happen.



Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman.
I've seen this one a lot around the blogosphere PLUS one of my best blogger friends recommended it to me. It sounds super interesting, dealing with mental issues and all. I think it'll be really amazing to experience that through the mind of someone else. Plus, book cover love. How much more gorgeous can you get?

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis.
I've actually already started this one... it's really interesting so far. Not only does it give you a peak into asylums of old (a mostly not pretty one), it also kind of dives into the question--what makes one person sane and another insane? Is there really a difference? I love the character voice so far.

Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard.
I LOVED Red Queen so much and I'm super excited to read this and see what happens! I don't want to say too much in case I accidentally spoil someone for Red Queen, but I liked Mare's character and I hope she continues to grow as a person... independently. *cryptic smile*




I'll probably definitely be reviewing Challenger Deep and A Madness So Discreet because they're stand-alones, but I'm not sure if I'll talk about Glass Sword.

Would you like to hear my thoughts on Glass Sword? :) What books have YOU picked up in your most recent haul?

Friday, July 1, 2016

June Recap


Hi, peeps. June has come to an end. The whole summer is passing way to fast in my humble opinion but at least some really cool things happened this month. I went to Taiwan for a couple weeks, I helped out the honors program at my college as a Big Sib for a little while... aaand now I'm back to studying for an exam. Which kind of ends up on the not cool side of things but eh. 

Who can tell. If it helps me gain 8 credits I'm up for it ;)


I'm SOO happy because do you know how many books I read this month??? NINE. I haven't read that many books in a month in aaages. I feel so accomplished.  




And even better, all of the books were pretty good. There was nothing below three stars which I call a win. 


The Emperor's Edge Series (Books 1-7) by Lindsay Buroker. This only links to the first book! (one of the best imo) Yes, I binge-read a whole series. No, I'm not sorry. ^^ One of the three-star books was in this one but the rest were 4 and 5 stars, divided right down the middle. The characters are 3D, funny, heartbreaking. The story is about an enforcer who goes rogue and forms a team to help the empire.

Flash Gold (novella) by Lindsay Buroker. ⭐⭐⭐ Obviously I've been needing me some Lindsey Buroker in my life. The setting in this one is amazing--Alaska, gold, steampunk, mysterious bounty hunter. All the works. Although I did feel like the characters were too similar to some from Emperor's Edge. 

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ MAN oh man, do I have some things to say about this beauty. However, they shall be said in a semi-coherent book review that shall be posted soonish.





I just love this song so much. It's so wistful and melancholy and nice.
(I'm so good at describing things I know)


YES. I feel a little guilty because I used to be an Exotic (fan name for Exo fans) but I haven't gotten into Exo music for a while. But THIS, this has such a good beat and the vocals are so nice.


SUMMER SONG JAMMING TIME. That is all.


This is my soul song. I don't care that it was released mid-May, I don't care that the music video isn't super high-quality, it's just... it's all the things a song should be tbh. It captures perfectly the feeling of grasping at light when you're stuck in the dark. Of someone drowning finding something...someone...to save them.


This is also another super fun song! Zico's rapping is on point.


How did your June go? Was it filled with awesome books + songs? What was your favorite book of the month?


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