Month: January 2015

[DNF] A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)

Author: Deborah Harkness

Series: All Souls Trilogy #1

Publication Date: February 2011

Publisher: Viking Penguin

Number of Pages: 579

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Romance

Source: School library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

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Life of a Blogger: Goals and Dreams

Honestly, I don’t really know what I want to do with my future yet. I’m pretty fickle so far because I don’t know what it is I really have a passion for. I do have some definite goals that I want to achieve although most of them are academic goals.

Academically, I want to be able to manage straight A’s throughout high school and as close to a 98% as possible. I might not end up going to an Ivy League college but I want to at least be able to give myself the chance to get in if I want to. For the AP classes I’m taking, I want to try to get a 4-5 on the AP test. It’s going to require extensive studying but I’m going to try my best to do it.

Clearly I want to get into an out-of-state college and graduate but  I still have no idea what I’m going to major in. Maybe something medical? An anesthesiologist or psychiatrist sounds cool but I’m not sure if I’m cut out for it. Other days I wonder if I could be a celebrity. It keeps changing.

As for other goals, I want to move up to the third level of orchestra for the next school year. I want to improve my piano skills and find a way to increase the amount I dance. Drink more water and go to sleep earlier.

I would include blog goals but I already made a post about it earlier this year. To summarize, I want to increase variety on my blog, read a larger amount of genres, schedule earlier, etc. See the original post here.

I dream of the day when I can learn hip-hop. Because I can’t find classes where I live. They might be around here somewhere but I can’t find them.

I dream of being able to sleep enough on a daily basis. It’s a futile goal I’m working on.

This is quite possibly the cheesiest thing ever but I do wish to fall in love one day. I don’t really dream about it; I have better things to do. But after reading so many cheesy love stories, it’s something I hope will happen.

I have a bucket list of things I want to do… but none of them are actually “dreams”. They include stuff like travel and cool things that I’d want to be able to do. I’d include it but if I don’t complete some of the things on the list, it’s not going to be the end of the world.

What are some things that you dream of doing? What goals have you set?

E-books vs. Print Books

This is a pretty cliche topic but I do think it’s something that defines a reader.

Reading habits vary from reader to reader and of course, opinions do too.

I’ve had friends that read exclusively from Kindles or Nooks. You can instantly access hundreds of books and it’s so much more convenient to carry around. If you’re a fan of classics, a lot of them are free (although translations can sometimes be a little sketchy).

I’ve had other friends, that don’t own an e-reader. They borrow books from the library or buy them from the store. Of course, they are much bigger but there’s a certain novelty with having it in your hands.

I’m a fan of print books. I always will be. I love the scent of new books and the way the paper feels in my hands. The covers and the designs of chapter headers and pages on the book… I love it all. To me, it’s not something that translates well on to e-readers. I feel like e-readers are cold and they aren’t as fun to cuddle up with on a couch. There’s a monotonous clicking sound or a glare of light on your face. I like being able to relax on a couch and have a book in my hands.

I don’t have an e-reader. But I’m thinking of getting one, if only to help with my blogging in the future. For one, it makes reading e-galleys so much easier. I usually read books off of Netgalley on my laptop and it is such a pain. It’s probably the reason that I always end up trying to finish four books before they all simultaneously expire on the same day XD

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with preferring one over the other. But I have a couple of opinions on each. Why I prefer them or how I can see it’s benefit.


Electronic Readers

Pros

  • Portable
  • Can hold hundreds of books without having to take up more space
  • Easier to get e-galleys
  • Depending on your model, you may not need any type of lighting to read
  • Can easily look up definitions and take notes on certain parts
  • Nobody has to know what you’re reading if you don’t want them to
  • You can hide it under the covers more easily at night if you’re reading when you’re supposed to be sleeping.
  • Cheaper books
  • You can buy a lot of books with a $25 gift card
  • Pretty cases

Cons

  • Can feel cold and impersonal. Especially if you’re cold and then you touch it. Then you get even colder.
  • You don’t see the wear and tear (if you’re one of those people that like to have beat-up books)
  • If you drop it, it could die
  • Needs recharging. “DANGIT IT DIED! I WAS ON THE LAST CHAPTER!”
  • Depending on the e-book, stylization, fonts, colors, etc, may not show up. To me, it loses a sense of personalization.
  • YOU CAN’T SMELLLLL IT
  • No special additions like posters or limited-edition bookmarks
  • Downloading issues or technical difficulties
  • If you get mad, you can’t abuse an e-reader

Print Books

Pros

  • Each book looks different
  • Hardcover or paperback? Pick which one you want
  • You can fold the pages to mark your spot. (I can’t do that. It makes me cry.)
  • You can see how much you’ve read it simply by the condition of the book.
  • They look pretty on your shelf.
  • They have distinctive smells!
  • Authors can sign them
  • Limited edition gifts, covers, etc.
  • Designs and formatting are unique
  • Can be gifted
  • Collectable
  • Citations are easy because of page numbers.
  • You don’t have to buy every book

Cons

  • Take up a lot of space
  • Not portable. (Unless it’s a tiny mass-media paperback)
  • Requires adequate lighting to read
  • Cannot be in contact with water. Ever.
  • Easily damaged by improper care or clumsiness
  • Can be pricey
  • If you lend them to people, they might come back half-dead
  • If the library doesn’t have it, you end up having to buy it
  • No privacy about what you’re reading.
  • If nobody buys the book at the bookstore, the novels themselves may be wasted.

These were just a few of the good and bad things I thought of for each book format. Which do you prefer?

Ten Books I’d Love To Read With My Book Club

 50ab0-toptentuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday, participating book bloggers blog about their top ten lists.

I’m actually only in my school book club and we don’t really do a lot. We have plans for the library and we pretty much just talk about books and topics related to it. It’s a pretty fun club and for me, a great way to unwind after school. We tried to do a group novel last semester (It was The Name of the Star, I Hunt Killers, and Levithan and we can pick one.). Well it didn’t really work out because nobody would ever read at the same pace but we still got to discuss it… kind of.

I’m not really sure what books would be great for a book club but it seems that for the one I’m in, the book has to be gender-neutral because the guys are opposed to romance and the girls don’t want too much gore. In an ideal world, nobody would care and we would all enjoy reading everything but life doesn’t work that way. So below I have listed books that I thought would be great for my club to read. Most of them are books I haven’t read because I don’t really want to reread a book I’ve read before. I’m just going to pretend that my school has all of the books below.


1. The Archived – Victoria Schwab

Well….. I love Victoria Schwab. I have no idea what this book is about but I’m pretty sure it has a good amount of action or creepiness to satisfy the boys. And I’m banking on the fact that 99% of YA has romance woven into the plot in some way.

2. The Walled City – Ryan Graudin

I want to read this. I actually don’t think there is a lot of romance in this one. But that’s okay. Maybe the girls will be appeased by the cool setting….? Plus gore and action. And I want to.

3. Snow Like Ashes – Sara Raasch

This novel has had exceptionally good ratings from nearly everybody. It is a high-action fantasy novel and it has a love triangle. The only worry I’d have about this would be too much romance. Because the blurb seemed to imply as such.

4. Cinder – Marissa Meyer

There’s a guy in the club that reads exclusively Sci-fi and action. If there is romance, he simply is not interested. I doubt a fairytale retelling would interest him much but cyborgs…? Maybe?

5. Splintered – A.G. Howard

I actually think a girl in the club has read this before. That’s okay. She can lead the discussions. And it’s another retelling. I’m sorry but that guy can learn to expand his net of genres.

6. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

I think this book might just be the perfect book for the club. Okay sure it’s an adult novel but that’s okay! There’s time travel, historical events, romance, it has it all. I’m not sure how much of each it has, but the cover implies that there might be limited romantic interactions?

What am I kidding? Most books have romance in it in some form.

7. Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

I own a copy. I haven’t read it. But I own a copy. I know there’s romance. But the unique setting might pull some non-romance readers in…?

8. Anna Dressed in Blood – Kendare Blake

I think it might be safe to say that this book is a YA “classic”. Erm not really a classic but one that a lot of people have heard of. There’s paranormal stuff and gore and honestly I just really want to read this one.

9. The Silence of Six – E.C. Meyers

Besides that fact that the library doesn’t have it… the trailer was cool and action-y. It’s a thriller but also about hackers. Therefore, by my reasoning, it might not be so gory as to scare away the other female readers of the club.

10. The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken

Popular dystopian novel and I want to read it. There’s superpowers and romance. Good combo so hopefully it’d be okay.


It’s pretty obvious that the club I’m in has way way too many different tastes for novels (not that that is a bad thing). Most of the club can stand reading romance novels but some just can’t do it. I feel like nobody would be able to agree on any single book. That attempt was kind of sad XD but maybe I can bring these up as potential candidates at the next meeting.

[Review] Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Series: None

Publication Date: April 3rd, 2012

Publisher: Speak

Number of Pages: 338

Genre: Historical Fiction, YA

Source: Public Library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

It’s 1941 and fifteen-year-old artist Lina Vilkas is on Stalin’s extermination list. Deported to a prison camp in Siberia, Lina fights for her life, fearless, risking everything to save her family. It’s a long and harrowing journey and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

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[Review] Four – Veronica Roth

Four: A Divergent Story Collection (Divergent, #0.1 - 0.4)Author: Veronica Roth

Series: Divergent #0.1-0.4

Publication Date: July 8th, 2014

Publisher: HarperCollins

Number of Pages: 208

Genre: YA, Dystopian, Short Stories

Source: Public library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth comes a companion volume to the worldwide bestselling DIVERGENT series, told from the per-spective of the immensely popular character Tobias. The four pieces included here—THE TRANSFER, THE INITIATE, THE SON, and THE TRAITOR—plus three additional exclusive scenes, give readers an electrifying glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the DIVERGENT trilogy.

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[ARC Review] Since You’ve Been Gone – Mary Jennifer Payne

Since You've Been Gone

Author: Mary Jennifer Payne

Series: None

Expected Publication Date: February 17th, 2015

Publisher: Dundurn Group

Number of Pages: 224

Source: Netgalley

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


 Summary

Is it possible to outrun your past? Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother, Sydney, have been trying to do just that for five years. Now, things have gone from bad to worse. Not only has Edie had to move to another new school she’s in a different country.
Sydney promises her that this is their chance at a fresh start, and Edie does her best to adjust to life in London, England, despite being targeted by the school bully. But when Sydney goes out to work the night shift and doesn’t come home, Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up with them.
Alone in a strange country, Edie is afraid to call the police for fear that she ll be sent back to her abusive father. Determined to find her mother, but with no idea where to start, she must now face the most difficult decision of her life.”

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[Review] Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe, #1)

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Series: At the moment, none

Publication Date: January 28th, 2014

Publisher: Balzer + Bray  

Number of Pages: 342

Source: Library

Genre: Retelling, Fantasy, YA

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


 Summary

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

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Life of a Blogger: Achievements

I’m not really sure what the boundaries for “Achievements” include. Does that include academic and extracurriculars? I’ll probably include just broad overviews.

In Elementary School

  • I used to figure skate. I was okay but I never committed enough to improve as quickly as I was allegedly said to be able to (my schedule was too busy) nor was I ever consistent. And consistency was key. But either way I was decent enough to have won a few medals for competitions nearby.
  • In (insert some grade between 3rd and 5th) I won the class spelling bee, and later, the school spelling bee. Of course, I lost in the district one because I didn’t study. I still considered myself decent because at least I had my g’s and j’s sorted out by then. This one unfortunate kid knew how to spell the word but said “j” instead.
  • I won the class election for Vice President (we considered the teacher the president) by writing a longer speech than my competitors with a bunch of claims like preventing bullying and helping students. It didn’t really matter because the VP didn’t do much either way. One of my friends was nominated but didn’t write a speech. She said that everybody should vote for her because she likes tacos. But hey at least I can say I won a seat in office at some point.

In Middle School

  • I somehow managed to just barely qualify in academic team events. I literally just took the tests for fun, accidentally qualified for subject tests (in Arts and Humanities if you were wondering), and proceeded to not study because I did not care. Somehow, I made it to state.
  • Create some of the worst science fair projects known to mankind. (I HATE SCIENCE FAIR WITH A BURNING FIERY PASSION)

https://i0.wp.com/www.quickstarthomeschool.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/SCIENCE-FAIR-UPSET.jpg

Look I found this on Google Images and it is so funnily true.

  • Have the opportunity to compete nationally in Future Problem Solving.
  • Win way too many raffles at school.
  • Create a giant Rube Goldberg project that was theoretically supposed to work, but ended up not working. My entire group was disappointed.
  • Do NHD. Which is an achievement in of itself. (NHD stands for National History Day which is a year-long history project. Click on the picture below if you want to know more.)

I was going to use my 7th grade website as an example but well…. I can’t find it. So see my ugly 6th grade presentation instead

Displaying 2015-01-18 23.35.52.jpg

It’s so tacky. I can’t believe I thought it was good back then. Names have been removed for anonymity of my partner.

Recent Achievements

  • I won my first trophy at a Speech tournament last month!

Displaying 20150118_233009.jpg

  • I hit and surpassed 100 followers on this blog.
  • I managed to not completely fail my first semester of high school.
  • The school orchestra I’m in had re-seating and I got concert master.

Yes arm circle dance


I feel like there were probably more but I don’t actually remember them…. but what have you achieved recently?

The First Twenty Pages

Recently one of my friends checked out a book from the library. She meant to pick up the popular classic, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury but accidentally snagged his other novel, Farewell Summer (now that I look at the Goodreads, I realize that she got the third book in the series). She started reading and a few minutes later, while talking to another person, casually mentioned that she was going to go back to the library to return the book and get the book she actually wanted. Now this usually wouldn’t faze me in any way. I understand that it wasn’t the book she wanted. But what really inspired this post was that right after saying that, she said that the book was weird and that she didn’t like it.

Now I was surprised. I said, “But you literally just started the book.”

And she replied saying the writing was strange.

“How much have you read?”

“Like twenty pages. I can usually tell if I like a book based on the first twenty pages.”

Cue my gasping.

Donghae Gasp

Okay okay I know a lot of people can drop a book after twenty pages. But personally, I have to give it at least 50-100 pages before I can warrant giving up.

Anyways, it started this argument where she would quote some of the writing and I’d rebut it with some completely asinine reason that it’s not bad. Then the other girls at the table joined in. Two of us said that you could totally judge a book on 20 pages while the other two didn’t.

Well it made me wonder something. Can you accurately judge a novel based off of the first twenty pages?

As someone who read a lot, I argued that you couldn’t.

One of the girls said that only exception was Harry Potter because “it’s Harry Potter!”

Me:

leo what is this fuckery

While Harry Potter is a series that I like, it does not mean it can be exempted from the “20 pages and drop rule”. If I’m perfectly honest, the first time I tried to read Philosopher’s Stone, I could not bring myself to care about Hagrid delivering Harry onto the Dursley’s doorstep. It was only the second attempt at reading it that made me a fan.

So of course I tell her that that is a terrible reason.

Since then, I have considered my opinion and identified why I thought this way. And most of them are from my experiences reading.

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