Author: Kelly @ Dancing Through the Pages

Hey guys! I'm Kelly and owner of this blog. I hope you'll find my reviews helpful and enjoy your time here. :) *This blog is currently on hiatus until my AP tests have concluded. I will occasionally comment or review, but otherwise, I'll be inactive.

[Review] Little Peach by Peggy Kern

Little Peach

Little Peach by Peggy Kern
Series: N/A
Publication: March 10th 2015 by Balzer + Bray  
Number of Pages:
208
Genre:
YA, Realistic Fiction, Urban Fiction
Source: School library (I think)
Rating: ★★★★1/2

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

What do you do if you’re in trouble?
When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options.
Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels.
But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition.
This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.

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Op-Ed: What It Really Means to Communicate

By: Kelly Chen / April 17th, 2016

When people hear the word “communication”, most of them will probably think of talking. But with the growth of the percentage of American adults that use social media from 18% to 75% in the United States within the last ten years, it is fair to say that communication is no longer limited merely to face-to-face conversation. Often seen as a positive addition to the modern-day lifestyle, social media has expanded to touch on nearly every aspect of American society. The current generation of teens has grown up using tablets, phones, the internet, and hundreds of other technological innovations that have essentially transformed the modern world. These changes have been both positive and negative and have affected everything from the professional workplace, pop culture, to personal life. But perhaps one of the most contested impacts has been the profound changes social media has had on our communication skills. It’s impossible to deny the effects it has had on our ability to connect. Social media has caused a decline in our ability to communicate well by increasing potential miscommunication, encouraging laziness, and causing a rise in narcissism.

What Does That Text Mean?

Miscommunication is single-handedly one of the biggest weaknesses of social media. Whether it is through misinterpretation of a message or emotion, or even just an ambiguous explanation, trying to connect in any way online presents the possibility for error simply because of how impersonal it can be. According to studies sourced by Forbes, online interaction eliminates 93% of the context used in a regular conversation, including body language, facial expressions, and vocal tone. Only 7% of communication is based upon verbal word, which is oftentimes, the only way to converse through social media. However, as humans, many of us depend upon those social cues to better analyze a situation and form a proper response. Without these signals, people are more likely to misinterpret a situation, turning an innocent text into a cause of guilt, anger, and uncertainty. For instance, as someone who frequently utilizes sarcasm, it’s hard to find a way to send texts that don’t convey the wrong tone. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times that I’ve sent a witty, sarcastic message only to have a friend completely miss the point, taking me literally.

But it’s easy to see where all of this confusion stems from. According to  “The Period is Pissed”, an article describing the difficulties of using punctuation to express emotion, the mechanics of writing, specifically punctuation, classically formed as a way to structure prose “according to its own unique hierarchy and logic”, not necessarily to convey emotion. In fact, Keith Houston, an author that writes about punctuation and typology cited within the aforementioned article, explains in his novel, Shady Characters, that “explicit representations of the emotional state of the person doing the writing” are uncommon.

It makes sense. Writing, historically, was developed to record important information for individual civilizations, not for conversation. But with the growth of social media, users have bent writing to fit their needs. They have made new uses for punctuation, have created emojis, and have utilized other newfangled methods to replace the handicaps presented with a keyboard. Though many may argue that these developments are sufficient substitutes for body language and facial expressions, the ambiguity of the symbols still cause confusion. “The Epidemic of Facelessness,” an article published by The New York Times details the importance of facial expression and how social media strips that ability from humans. The article describes how emojis are, at best, a weak, “faceless imitation of a true facial expression,” and thus, cannot replace one’s true countenance or body language. “The Period is Pissed” also explains how the period’s use, or lack of thereof, is often interpreted by receivers in a wide variety of ways, resulting in unclear communication. There is no “proper” way to use punctuation to express emotion, and as such, attempting to do so results in confusing online conversations.

Lazy Emotions

Social media is easy and convenient. Nearly every person owns some sort of mobile smartphone with the capability to connect to the internet. With platforms such as Instagram or Twitter releasing mobile apps, your friends are literally a click away. It is because of this that it is simple to see why the use of social media has grown so quickly. The percentage of users has risen over 50% in the last ten years, but has done so at the cost of our relationships.

https://i2.wp.com/www.smartinsights.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Screen-Shot-2015-10-12-at-15.48.00.png

There is nothing wrong with using social media. But when it begins to hinder real life relationships and personal experiences, significant issues can arise in how genuine communication may be. Humans are, by nature, unpredictable when it comes to emotions, resulting in messy conversations and situations. Social media, however, gives users a greater degree of control over their feelings. This has allowed people to avoid dealing with these emotions, causing greater miscommunication and poorer relationships. A 2013 survey conducted by VitalSmarts found that about 81% of people asked said that emotional conversations held on social media were often left unresolved. On top of this, the same survey found that 1 in 5 people reduced in-person contact with someone over an online argument. In many these conflicts, people decided to use technology as a means to discuss their issues. And when it ended badly, they simply may have avoided each other in real life.

This is furthermore supported by Sherry Turkle’s TEDTalk, “Connected, But Alone,” in which she talks of the detrimental effects of technology. She notes, “…We’re lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy… We turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control.” She goes on to explain how people are growing lazy, possibly scared of the greater immediate repercussions of emotional arguments. Because of this, people then use social media to distance themselves from each other to “comfortably control” the connection. The result is not only harming our relationships but also our own abilities to effectively communicate.

The Dawn of Oversharing

Social media has caused widespread superficiality within the general public, harming our ability to communicate. It’s the dawn of oversharing and its worst effect, selfishness. Social media’s constant call to connect, to inform, and to share, leads to a gush of personal posts. It’s all about me, myself, and I, not about others. While inherently an innocent action, this constant sharing can have judgmental and self-centered motives, leading to increasing narcissism. This personality disorder can have hugely negative impacts on social relationships.

Narcissists generally disregard the opinions of others, endlessly boasting of their own accomplishments, qualities, and traits. And while they appear cool and confident, the truth is that the root of the disorder is insecurity.  This insecurity causes a narcissist to be extremely jealous, sensitive of criticism, and unable to accept his or her own flaws. These personality traits are often seen as undesirable, leading to strained, often superficial relationships. But in the online world, social media only exists to worsen the disorder. A study conducted in 2014 and published in Computers in Human Behavior by Department of Social Psychology at the University of Duisberg-Essen found that online, narcissists tended to post about themselves frequently in order to attract likes and comments that would “fuel their beliefs about self-importance.” Social media, made to allow people to share information about themselves to a large audience, only encourages narcissistic behavior and may cause more cases of the disorder. By providing a platform for people to tout their accomplishments and best qualities, social media may cause people to develop higher amounts of narcissism. This is supported by a study conducted by York University over Facebook users ages 18-25, in which a correlation was found that determined that the most frequent users of Facebook tended to have more narcissistic or insecure personalities.

However, many may argue that social media can instead be used to raise positive self-image through documentation, positive response, and acceptance. Social media can indeed be used to help validate self-worth and improve confidence. In fact, in the Ideal to Real TODAY/AOL Body Image survey, they found that 65% of female teens surveyed felt that seeing their selfies online “boosts their confidence.” But even so, the same source found that 55% of surveyed girls said felt that social media made them more self-conscious while 58% said that seeing others’ glamorous lives caused low self-esteem. This shows that social media, when abused, can cause crippling effects to a person’s self-esteem, especially those that do not already have strong self-esteem. And with insecurity as the root of narcissism, using social media can trigger the disorder, resulting in a decline in one’s ability to communicate.

Conclusion

Social media isn’t inherently bad. It’s actually incredible what society has done to create these new platforms and technologies. But its effects on potential miscommunication, encouraging laziness, and narcissism have made it necessary that people learn to control the degree to which social media is utilized to form connections. If we allow technology to completely take over our lives, we will face the consequences, big and small, of our actions. It’s important that we begin to re-embrace our abilities to converse face-to-face so that we can nurse our communication skills to our full potential. If we don’t, the issues will extend far beyond what I have outlined.

Humans are social animals. We grow up teaching the young, loving each other, and speaking. But in the end, what are we if we can’t even talk?


Seventh Sense costume pose

Kelly Chen is currently a sophomore at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. Her favorite part of the writing process is editing. In her nonexistent free time, she reads a lot and attempts to learn how to do hip-hop from YouTube videos. She is only occasionally successful.

Disclaimer: This was written for my high school English class. We were required to publish our Op-Eds online. Unfortunately, this is not indicative of a return to regular blogging.

[Review] The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

TThe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavenderhe Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Series: None
Publication: March 27th, 2014 by Candlewick Press
Number of Pages: 301
Genre: Magical Realism, Fantasy, YA, Romance, Historical
Source: Public library
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.
In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.
First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

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I MET V.E. SCHWAB AND IT WAS FANTASTIC

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2)

HAHAHA I MEANT TO PUT THIS UP LIKE FOREVER AGO AND IT OBVIOUSLY NEVER GOT FINISHED.

Yes, I’m alive! I found some time to finish up this post. Okay it was practically finished, but heyyy it’s something during my immense periods of inactivity.

I have, however, found a great way to make this post relevant again, even if this happened like three to four months ago. 😀

I’ll most likely get to meet V.E. Schwab, again on her book tour! Also A Gathering of Shadows is dropping in a little over a week from now, so even more reason to put this up!

Please note that all of this happened in late October, 2015. I also wrote most of this back then so it’s written as if it’s just happened. And. It clearly did not just happen because it’s February of 2016. Oops. (more…)

It’s About Time I Do This….

I feel like I owe it to everybody to put this out there. This is, firstly, to prevent a lack of communication (because I hate that) and secondly, for my own mental health.

I have not posted in close to three weeks (this Saturday marks the third week).

With all the things coming up this semester, blogging has been put on the back burner. I spend a ton of time on the computer for school and I just can’t bring myself to continue and blog without feeling as if I’m killing my vision (and sleep time).

So, unfortunately, I’ll have to be on a half-hiatus for the time being. I’ll definitely be putting up a few reviews and other posts here and there but I’m not going to be able to post as much or in as much variety as I’d like to.

Needless to say, I’ll most likely not be participating in Top Ten Tuesdays as those happen to be on the weekday and one of my busiest days (speech team practice is a huge time vacuum).

I’ll attempt to post a little instead of being totally inactive but again, no promises.

But don’t worry about me! I’ll be back and somewhat present on here! 🙂

(And hopefully not dead from school)

[Review] The Unbound by V.E. Schwab

The Unbound (The Archived, #2)

The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived #2
Publication: January 28th, 2014 by Hyperion
Number of Pages: 368
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy
Source: School library
Rating: ★★★

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.
Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she’s struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn’t easy — not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she’s really safe.
Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She’s sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she’ll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?
With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.

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[Mini-Reviews] The Archived and We Should Hang Out Sometime

The Archived (The Archived, #1)The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived #1
Publication: January 22nd, 2013 by Hyperion
Number of Pages: 328
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Source: School library
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.
Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.
Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost, Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and fall.
In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters I Just Didn’t Click With

Top Ten Tuesday Attempt #1 pic versionTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday, participating book bloggers blog about their top ten lists.

This Week’s Topic: Ten Characters You Just Didn’t Click With


I think it’s really sad how easy it was for me to come up with a list of these.

And if I’m looking through this list, I can see a trend with these. Sort of? Well I’m just a hard person to please when it comes to characters that I absolutely love.

You guys are probably going to kill me with because of some of the names on this list. PLEASE DON’T KILL ME I’M A GOOD PERSON I SWEAR.

Edit: This list is more like a list of protagonists I found insufferably annoying. So I guess for me, the topic would be more appropriately be, “Ten Characters You Not Only Didn’t Click With, But Don’t Ever Want To Click With Because You’d Rather They Not Exist.” Okay that’s a little mean. Sorry to the book characters. (more…)