book review

BOOK REVIEW: Children of Icarus

9:30 AM







Pages: 313
Published: Aug. 1, 2016
Genre(s): YA, Fantasy, Mythology
Source: NetGalley/eARC
Cover Rating: 🌟🌟🌟 (Ehhh... I'm in LOVE with the wings, but I think the fonts could use some tweaking and I'm not a huge fan of the empty spaces.)


There were several things that made me want to read this book... the fact that it has a blurb that never once actually mentions the main character's name. WHAT. Insanity. Who is this person? I need to know now. 



There's a labyrinth. I mean, labyrinths practically equate to adventure if we're being honest here.

And the angel wings on the cover. Angel wings are cool. Really cool.

All that and what I'm trying to say is--I pretty much knew nothing about this book before reading it. Which leads me to saying it. was. amazing. Everything about it was unexpected and quite uniquely original.

PROS:

  • The history of the mc's civilization. If anyone starts mentioning Greek mythology and deceiving, twisty histories, I am so in. What's even cooler imo is that the story that this book grew from was the one about Icarus, who flew on wings of wax and feathers but then fell to his death. I think the author did a really good job of staying true to the old story but utilizing it in a very new way. 
  • I mentioned deceiving histories, right? Throughout this whole book I kept asking myself, "WHAT THE FRICK IS GOING ON??" The truths and the lies were so well mixed that I felt as naive as the main character. Who was super naive. What is going on?? How did these people end up here?? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE. You know the saying about those people who make you think you know a lot about them but you actually don't. Yup. That applies really well here. 




  • Worldbuilding. I love a rich, intricate, unique story world and that's exactly what I got. It was so lushly described and SO different from any book I'd read before. Okay, you might be saying something like uh Selena what about The Maze Runner, it also has super duper creepy beasties and confusing mazes and young children. Well. You're right. BUT this book has like a weird religous/cult aspect to it that didn't make it similar when I was reading it. It's not sciencey/techy (fear my intelligent use of words) at. all. 
  • The main character's development throughout the book was amazingly done. There were huge changes, growth from a shy, incapable mouse (which sounds mean but is completely accurate) to an independent, strong warrior. It just felt really gradual and natural, not choppy or too abrupt.


CONS:

  • That being said, I have to admit... I was not a fan of the main character for the longest time. Aaand I feel a little guilty about that because admittedly she is pretty relatable to me, to the younger me especially. But being anxious, being shy, being a shadow...does that mean you have to weep uncontrollably when you could be doing SOMETHING to survive? Does that mean that you lose all will to live before you've even tried? Does that mean you stand shivering in fear because you believe so much that you are useless that you risk hurting other people or yourself? Not to me. So I do understand her, I just don't agree that that was the way to deal with things. As you can see by my rant, I was pretty mad about that. *sheepish grin*





  • There were actually a lot of characters I didn't like, but I don't think it was as much bad character writing as it was ohmigod the labyrinth has turned everyone into loonies that are unlikeable as heck. Plus, they were the people in charge so you can see how lovely that would be. 
  • Connections between people. I do really like complicated and confusing books. However, I do also sometimes appreciate having things explained by the end of the book. There are a lot of characters, maybe too many, that didn't really seem to have a specific purpose in the story. And don't introduce 50 people (it wasn't really 50 but it felt like it) in the first half and then never mention them again afterwards. Like, why?
  • Lastly, the plot dragged on pretty slowly in some parts SPOILER ALERT *like when the main character was learning how to fight for herself in the labyrinth.* Sometimes characters aren't always doing exciting things, I get it. It got pretty repetitive after a while though. 


My Rating:
🌟🌟🌟🌟

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

31 Days of Self-Care

DAY 2: FEEL THE BEAT

12:31 PM

I talk more about what this whole challenge is here (basically a daily tumblr challenge) and how I'm trying to use it to get motivation to sketch more. 


Prompt: Post a link to a song that makes you feel happy.

I decided to choose not one but three hehe. The top two encompass more of a feeling than really having awesome lyrics. Tear Me Down is my kick-butt-and-own-the-world anthem. One of my favorite things to do is take a walk with music blasting in my ears and this is the song to power walk to. (The playlist buttons link to their Youtube music videos.)






What are your favorite happy songs? TELL ME.

31 Days of Self-Care

DAY 1: HAPPY PLACE

12:27 PM

A little while ago, I found a tumblr tag called 31 Days of Self-Care. It involves daily activities that calm you down or cheer you up, all through the month of December. The whole idea is just really original and nice! Aaand the fact that it has a few drawing challenges thrown in there isn't bad either.

This is my first post for this challenge (obviously I'm starting extremely late but I wanted to do it on my own time whenever I could anyway).

Prompt: What’s your happy place? Reply here or illustrate it.




If you decide to do this challenge too, leave a link in the comments because I would LOVE to come check it out. 

adulting

21 FACTS OF ADULTING (COLLEGE EDITION)

12:39 PM

I'm back from college for winter break! GET HYPE. I'm really excited to watch my favorite shows, read, do my own art projects...sleep maybe. But I'm not here to talk about sleeping, no matter how much I love it. I'm here to bring you all the things I've learned about being an adult. Which are a lot obviously. I'm a pro.






1. Bread molds way too fast. Except for the cheap kind that doesn't really even smell like bread. THAT pretty much lasts forever. 

2. For the first few weeks, college cafeteria food is not as bad as they said, and yet somehow three months later becomes just as bad as they said. 

3. Meat is way too expensive. And complicated. Who has time for seasoning, marinating,... whatever the heck you call it when you have to soften the meat? Isn't meat already soft? If it's not, then doesn't that mean you probably shouldn't try to cook it anyway?

4. Cooking in general takes way too much time. Time you could be using to ignore all your problems or to stress over that test that counts for 30% of your grade.  




5. Paying bills is gross. You lose money (need I say more?), and you have to stay in close contact with other humans for long periods of time in something they call a "line."

6. There are only so many ways to cook bell peppers. Even if they're one of the vegetables that stay good the longest. Find another vegetable.  

7. On that note, remember your vegetables. They're so easy to leave out because you're like well I have my meats, my potatoes, all the filling stuff. I don't need vegetables. Ya need vegetables. 

8. You need to learn how to cook more than the same 2 or 3 recipes that you've used forever. Your taste buds will thank you.

9. Pizza is not something you can possibly get tired of. One, it's delicious. Two, it's SO easy to fix. Hi microwave, meet pizza. 45 seconds. Bam.  




10. The only time you'll want to binge watch something will be when you're not supposed to. 




11. Family invitations are no longer a thing. You get a separate invitation now. Because you're an adult. 

12. Expiration dates are a real and dangerous problem, okay? Milk goes bad in like 1 minute. 

13. This may seem like a no-brainer but: keys, wallet, and phone. Keep them on you at all times. They are key (pun not intended) to your survival. And your student ID card. I probably don't have to tell you this but...don't lose it. 

14. Talking to yourself is not weird. It's not. I'm just alleviating your concern because it will happen. 




15. YOU have to set up doctor's appointments. YOU have to. 

YOU.

16. You should probably not have a living animal with you where you live....or a living plant. You can barely feed yourself most of the time. Don't do it.

17. Your responsibility has increased 100x. You have to make sure you go to class (on time), get your groceries, pay the bills, rent/return textbooks...you're basically your own mom now which is terrifying to say the least. 

18. Google is your best friend.

19. Probably turn on the GPS/location on your phone. That way you can track it down on your computer when you lose it in between the time you leave your room to the time you get to class 15 minutes later because you zoned out.




20. Everyone knows that weather doesn't listen. So you might as well take an umbrella with you wherever you go. Sunny with a high of 95 (Fahrenheit)? Doesn't matter. You should just probably take your umbrella. 

21. You might not feel like you have everything under control, but no one does. Every other college student is trying to learn how to be an adult just as frantically as you. #BluffingGame







hey

Hello From the Outside

10:21 PM

Hey everybody. I realize it's been what... over two months? since I last posted something on here.


And there are many reasons why, but I guess the main thing is that I don't know what to blog about anymore. I can't (right now) regularly read books and put up reviews because I don't really have the time. Even if I had the time to write reviews, I don't have the time to actually read books that much anymore. 

So, that's the dilemma. I'm trying to find other things that I can blog about that I love. That's not to say I'll never write about books again. Noooo nonono. 

I just don't want to keep publishing "filler" posts that don't have any real content or substance. 

Number #1 on the to-do list: Find the thing to blog about. 

I've been thinking about stuff I could write about like graphic novels/manga, graphic design, kpop/kdramas, etc.... I'll get back to you when I figure that out. 


august recap

August Recap

7:18 PM




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

Selena

My Trip to Taiwan

12:01 AM

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!




anxiety

Guest Post // Take Care of Yourself

12:52 AM

[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.

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