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May 17, 2018

Bouncing Back | April Wrap-Up


Yes, I know that it is ironic that the post is called "bouncing back into blogging" yet it is also over two weeks late.

Irony aside, the past couple of months have been a blur for me. A blur that, for the most part, did not include blogging. I did manage to post a few stray posts here and there, but my time was mostly taken up by writing essays and reading academic journals than blog posts and fiction novels. Not that blogging isn't important to me (you guys will always be my favorites), but my education has to be the priority so that I learn everything that I can (and get my money's worth). 

But, the semester is in the past and I am home for the summer. I promise there will be no more talk about college for at least a couple of months (minus a little discussion post that I have in the works). Not only do I have more time, but I have more energy to devote to reading, blogging, and catching up on all of the book happenings that I missed out on.


Posts I Loved


1. Feeling Validation as a Book Blogger and Why it Matters with Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books


I feel like this post really understands me. Many of the suppressed fears and worries that I have about blogging are expressed through Marie's eloquent discussion that puts into words the emotions that I am too afraid to. Regardless of where you are as a blogger, this post is relevant to you. If you have thousands of followers and commenters or even just one, then this post will still resonant with you. 

2. My Trip to an Amazon Bookstore: A Review @ Chuck Wendig


Chuck's hilarious (and insightful) commentary on Amazon bookstores in comparison to independent bookstores (plus a few key shoutouts to awesome PA bookstores!).


3. Do We Create too Much Content with Eva @Avalinah's Books
  
Avalinah discusses how to find the balance between writing posts and socializing in the community. Her insights make a question all all bloggers have to face a little bit less intimidating. 

4. Blog Spring Cleaning with Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner

Even though the weather is warming up, it is not too late to do some spring cleaning on the blog. It has been months since I gave my blog's aesthetics some love, not to mention the thousands of other little details that I tend to ignore until they pile up. Thankfully, Jamie has a nice checklist to help us all get started with the virtual vacuum and duster.

5. 5 Things I Want to See in Contemporary Books with POC Representation with Aimee @ Aimee Always

The journey to inclusion and diversity in publishing is far from over. Thankfully, there are some amazing bloggers igniting conversation about the importance of diversity and representation in books, including Aimee at Aimee Always. She uses her own experiences as a part of the Filipino-Chinese community to share what books are missing in terms of representation. Everyone should join in on the amazing discussion that she started to think about other areas that need more attention and how to tackle the missing representation.

6. Underhyped #Ownvoices Novels You NEED In Your Life with Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

Speaking of representation, Veronika made a list of great #ownvoices novels that have not been getting the attention that they deserve. #Ownvoices is not just a phenomenon for popular, hyped books, but also for books that fly under the radar. Just because they are not hitting any bestseller lists doesn't mean that they don't have great representation and great stories. Personally, I haven't read any of the books on her list either, but I plan to change that as soon as possible!

7. 5 Skills I’ve Improved Through Blogging with Laura @ Boats Against the Current

Despite what your friends and family might say, blogging is not just a useless hobby. I love that Laura put together a list of practical and useful skills that blogging teaches us, showing all of the doubters that we are more than just obsessed fangirls. 



Non-Bookish Favorites


1. Marvel Movies




In preparation for the soul-wrecking power of Infinity War, my family and I went on a quest to rewatch as many Marvel movies as possible. The quest, while successful, did not prevent me from being spoiled for Infinity War (it was very anticlimactic and on Pinterest of all places). 

Despite the impossibility of going into the theater without knowledge of the death and destruction, the movie was PHENOMENAL. There were a lot of characters and, individually, they did not get a lot of screen time. The ending would have also would have had more impact if I was not spoiled, but it was definitely still worth it. I know that Marvel movies are criticized for only being made for the money, but I still enjoy them. Black Panther was able so much more than just maintaining the franchise and making money. Thor Ragnarok was more than just another superhero movie set in space, verging into a unique mixture of comedy, action, and the Marvel universe. I also really enjoyed Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy, all of which have different tones that harmoniously converge into the Marvel universe that I have come to know and love. I just hope that it survives for me to love it.


2. Warm Weather



Winter held on as long as possible to my hometown this year. His icy nails were embedded in the air until two weeks ago. I celebrated my spring break by being stuck in a blizzard and our end-of-the-school-year beach trip was canceled due to the lack of swimsuit weather. 

I have very little tolerance for cold, so it took until the end of April for me to venture outside without a winter coat. But when I finally did, it was glorious. I did not carry the burden of a puffy coat or a scarf, only a Kindle and a pair of sunglasses to read outside. Allergies did not even stop me; a couple of sneezes is nothing to endure compared to standing outside in a snow cyclone. 







3. Herbal Tea


Toward the end of the semester, things got a little bit hard to handle for me. With all of the projects, papers, and exams, my coffee to sleep ratio was getting alarmingly high. Not enough sleep and too much coffee became my habit, which I know is not particularly healthy. However, my first goal for summer break is to wean myself off of coffee and caffeine in general. My lifesaver throughout this process has been herbal tea (which does not have any caffeine compared to black tea or green tea, in case you are also new to the tea world). Until recently, I always considered myself a coffee-drinker. I went to Starbucks for an espresso or macchiato, not some fruity tea (though my mind has been completely changed about Starbucks' tea). Anyway, I will drink some green tea if I desperately need a little bit of caffeine, but I have been mostly sticking to fruit teas, peppermint tea, hibiscus tea, and rosehip tea.





Books I Loved


The Art of EscapingThe Art of Escaping 
by Erin Callahan




Out of the handful of books I was able to read for fun, I would have to say that The Art of Escaping was my favorite. I loved the unique twist on the theme of magic with a girl as the kick-butt magician defying death and the horrors of high school. The focus wasn't on the romance or the high school angst, but the dangerous challenge of finding out who you really are. 


Cat's CradleCat's Cradle
by Kurt Vonnegut




As far as assigned readings go, I really enjoyed this absurdist story about the end of the world. Some moments were just so weird and unexpected that I actually laughed. This is my first experience with Vonnegut's writing, but it will definitely not be my last. The novel was full of insane characters in an insane world, but I still got a lot out of the story. Told through the lenses of a fake religion on a fake island, this story dives into the deepest questions about truth, science, and our role in the world. 





Posts I Wish Got More Love


How Love, Simon stole my heart (and hopefully changed cinema)



I don't normally write movie reviews (even though I think that might be change in the near future), but I HAD to write one for Love, Simon. Not only was it a marvelous movie, but it also set precedents for more inclusion and diversity in the movie theater. 

Guest Review of Wild Beauty on The Book Bratz



Last month I was honored with a guest post on The Book Bratz, which has been one of my favorite book blogs (or any kind of blog) since I first joined the community. 

I reviewed the beautiful story behind the equally gorgeous cover as well as commenting on the different kinds of representation in the novel. Hop on over to their blog to see the rest of my thoughts!











Did anyone else just get home for the summer? What are you planning to do with all of the newfound free time? What was one book from the beginning of this year that I HAVE to read? Does anyone want to rant about Infinity War with me? What tea should I try next? I also really missed you guys over the past couple of months, so catch me up with you as well!  

April 23, 2018

Slow-Burning Romance and Blazing Action | The Fireproof Girl Blog Tour + Review


The Fireproof Girl
(Sophie Shields #1)
By Loretta Lost
Published on September 29, 2016
New Adult, Action, Romance
Trigger Warnings: Violence, Sexual Assault, Rape, Suicidal Thoughts



Abandoned at birth, Sophie Shields grew up in abusive foster homes, escaping into books and computers for solace. When the constant danger became too much to bear, she ran away, thinking she could survive on her hacking skills alone.

That was until she met Cole Hunter. He became the only person she could trust: her family, her friend, her partner-in-crime. Her everything. After struggling through college and starting their lives together, she believed that nothing could ever tear them apart.

Until it did.

And she’ll do everything in her power to fix what is broken. If it isn’t too late…

———

When Cole was nine years old, he watched his whole family burn to death in a house fire. Fueled by years of obsession, he started one of the world’s leading architectural firms, with a mission to design homes resistant to fire, earthquakes, floods, and every threat known to man.

Sophie was his secret weapon. She was his purpose. Since they were teenagers, he was determined to build a better life for her, so she could finally be safe, and they could be together.

But disaster has always followed Cole around, ripping away everything he loves. This time, if he isn’t careful…

His enemies might just take him down.


April 16, 2018

Harry Houdini has nothing on her | The Art of Escaping Review

The Art of Escaping
The Art of EscapingBy Erin Callahan
Publication on June 18, 2018
320 Pages
Young Adult, Contemporary

This book was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.



Seventeen-year-old Mattie is hiding her obsession with Harry Houdini and Dorothy Dietrich from everyone, including her best friend Stella. When Stella takes off to boarding school for the summer, all of Mattie’s anxieties bubble to the surface, leaving her feeling adrift. To distract herself, she seeks out Miyu, the reclusive daughter of a world-renowned escape artist whose life and career were snuffed out by a tragic plane crash.
With Miyu’s help, Mattie secretly transforms herself into a burgeoning escapologist and performance artist. Away from the curious eyes of her peers, she thrives in her new world of lock picking, straitjackets, and aquarium escapes. But when Will, a popular varsity athlete from her high school, discovers her act at an underground venue, she fears that her double life is about to be exposed. But instead of outing her, Will tells Mattie something he’s never told anyone before and the two of them find out that not all secrets can remain secret forever.
Told through the perspectives of the witty main characters, this funny and fresh debut explores the power of stage personas and secret spaces, and speaks to the uncanny ways in which friendships transform us.


April 10, 2018

Books I Loved but Will Never Revisit


Top Ten Tuesday is a list-based meme hosted by the amazing Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. If the meme sounds familiar, it was formerly hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

My "to-re-read" shelf on Goodreads is pretty much bare with a mere 12 books. Personally, I am not a huge fan of re-reading. In the end, the act of reading a story for a second or third time mostly seems like a waste of time to me when there are plenty of other books I need to read. If I had all of the time in the world, then I would gladly re-read to my heart's desire. Unfortunately, my reading time is limited and I like to dedicate that time to exploring new worlds.

Despite my stance against re-reading, there are only a handful of books that I would never consider re-reading.

April 8, 2018

How Love, Simon stole by heart (and hopefully changed cinema)



Love, Simon is a movie about choices. It's about choosing to be yourself over the image of yourself that society want you to be. Choosing to make mistakes, but also choosing to fix them. Choosing to come out into a hostile world but also choosing to be optimistic. Love, Simon gives the power of choice in a world that wants to shove everyone in the same societal norms. 

Love, Simon also gives the audience the choice to see a movie that will change their lives. 


There are a ton of movies with straight main characters. We don't need another one, but Hollywood has kept that standard in place because it believes that is what the audience wants. The cycle is perpetuated since Hollywood only gives us the same white-washed hetero films, tricking itself into thinking that is what the audience wants. However, the audience does not really choose unless there are other options. Picking between an apple and another apple is not a choice because you still end up with an apple regardless of your "choice". So, picking between one straight male-dominated movie and another straight male-dominated movie is not a choice for us either, just another resigned conclusion to see the same actors and storyline over and over again.

Love, Simon breaks this cycle by offering a fresh, diverse, and normal look into life as a gay teenager. While the necessity of this movie has been argued (mostly by those living under a rock without actual knowledge of the real world), Love, Simon is, more importantly, the movie that our generation WANTS.