Monday, August 7, 2017

Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is the worst book I have read so far this year. I'm not the type of person that frequently gives out 1-star ratings/reviews, but I honestly found it hard to give this book more than 0 stars. So I will start by saying that I listened and read this book in conjunction. The publishing company tried really hard to make the audiobook book extraordinary by incorporating multiple readers, sound effects, and background music. But if the story is bad, I'm not going to enjoy the audiobook more because there were cool noises in supplementation.

Here's the list of problems I found with this book:
1. The male POV, and female supporting character. Honestly, if you can't write it well, don't write it. I rolled my eyes so many times throughout the book. Like, even more than Twilight. Aside from that, Ethan was straight-up the stupidest protagonist EVER. He doesn't take advice from the adult figures in his life that are trying to protect him. This is actually one of those things that really annoy me about a lot of YA novels, but Ethan was just the worst. He sneaks out at night and overhears that Amma gave Lena a bracelet that is meant to ward off evil. What does he do? Immediately demand Lena to take it off...and she does it! It was absolutely infuriating how she basically can't make up her own mind to take action for her own benefit. I didn't really follow the romance. Lena has absolutely no reason to trust Ethan except for the fact that they can communicate telepathically (eye roll).

2. The faulty portrayal of the south. Wow. I was so annoyed every single time Ethan thought about how uneducated his classmates were, and how all the girls had blonde hair and wore short mini skirts. Like really? And he declares just how much better he was compared to everyone else before the major plot even kicked in. The worst part was when he claims that he doesn't have a southern accent because he was raised by intellectual parents. Ugh. UGH. I don't think I've ever hated a protagonist more. What a snob.

3. It was too long. Basically, it all just becomes words thrown together on paper. I am pretty sure the publishers wanted to make Twilight round 2 (I mean, the book is from the same publishing company) so they stretched the book out to be just as long. But this book was so horrible that you basically drag yourself through 350+ pages of nonsense. If I didn't listen to the audiobook, I would have quit reading by page 50.

4. This book falls under the same paranormal love story plot as every other story out there. It's super predictable. I think the author probably thought she was being original or something, but it's still the same line of garbage love story that the publishers are still trying to shovel down our throats.

TLDR: This book was absolutely terrible. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone; I'm going to un-haul my copy of the book right now.

Overall rating: <1 Star

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Monday, July 31, 2017

July 2017 Wrap Up and August 2017 TBR!

July Wrap Up

Oh my goodness! It's the last day of July already! That means it's time for another monthly wrap up. I had the best reading month of the year in July, completing 13 books for a total of 4079 pages. For me, this is is a huge number. Here's how I rated the books I read (rounded to the nearest star):

5 Stars - 4 books
4 Stars - 2 books
3 Stars - 7 books
2 Stars - 0 books
1 Star - 0 books

After including partial ratings, my ratings averaged to be 3.73 stars, which means that I have read a lot of average books, but also a lot of memorable 5-star books. 

List of Books:
  1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Short Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald - 3 Stars
  2. Landline by Rainbow Rowell - 3 Stars
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling - 5 Stars
  4. Hamilton the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter - 5 Stars
  5. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** by Mark Manson - 4 Stars
  6. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert - 2.75 Stars
  7. Caraval by Stephanie Gerber - 3.25 Stars
  8. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari - 4.25 Stars
  9. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - 4.5 Stars
  10. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - 3 Stars
  11. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins - 3.25 Stars
  12. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - 3 Stars
  13. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling - 4.5 Stars

August TBR!

I will still make a TBR even though I usually never end up following it. I always just think that I'll get to the book eventually.
  1. The Complete Novels and Stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  3. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  4. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  5. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
  6. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
  7. Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
  8. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  9. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Let me know if you have other suggestions or which one you think I should read first!

Happy reading!

2017 High Summer Readathon Wrap Up!

It is officially the end of my second readathon this year and I think I did pretty well! This event was hosted by Seasons of Reading and I would definitely be interested in participating their future events.

In total, I finished 7 books for a grand total of 2394 pages:
1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
2. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
3. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
4. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
5. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
6. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

Even though these books deviated from what I originally planned in my TBR, I still think that I've done a fairly good job of consistently reading every single day.

Let me know if any of you guys have read the books I have posted here and what you thought of them. Also, please let me know if you can think up of future readathons that I can participate in!

Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

EDIT: 7/31/2017

I first read this book in elementary school and then probably reread it again sometime in middle school. I have always remembered disliking this book because I, like Ron, am terrified of spiders. Rereading this book as an adult and after completing this series made me see all the details that J. K. Rowling used to build up to the seventh book. Honestly, this lady is a queen.

And can I just say that Rowling's sense of humor is so on point. I don't like Malfoy until the later books, but his line to Goyle--"Honestly, if you were any slower, you’d be going backward."--had me choking on my water.
Another favorite: “That’d be a cheerful visit,” said Ron, “ ‘Hello, Hagrid. Tell us, have you been setting anything mad and hairy loose in the castle lately?”
The comedic relief in the midst of the tension and stress of finding the Heir of Slytherin was just so perfect. Ugh...

It's not my favorite Harry Potter book, but I have such a high appreciation for this novel. Would definitely recommend.

Overall rating: 4.5 Stars

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Review: The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For someone that is a huge Hemingway fan, this would have been a spectacular novel. For a person that has never touched a Hemingway book (shame), this book just turned out to be very dry historical fiction for me. This book came off like a travel journal instead of the emotional narrative that I was expecting. Most of the chapters are written in a very flat format that really didn't appeal to me: "we went to Spain, we met these new people, and we did all this cool stuff with them so Ernest could write his novels". Neither of the main characters (Hadley/Ernest) really appealed to me. Hadley obviously had a problem with the way their relationship was turning out, but she still stuck with him (+mistress) for 5 years. I understand that the feminist movement is not what it is today, but she never even bothered to communicate her feelings. Sometimes, Ernest would leave for a couple of days and they would be "fine" again upon the return.

My favorite part of the novel was the ending. They finally figured it out that the relationship wasn't working and decided to get a divorce (spoiler? But not really because Ernest Hemingway had like four wives). The epilogue was pretty spectacular. At the end, she still loves him for the part of her life she was with him, but she ultimately ends up finding a more sustainable relationship.

Overall rating: 3 Stars

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Review: Into the Water

Into the Water Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First of all, I really liked this book, but I didn't enjoy it as much as The Girl on the Train. I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story and the creepy small-town setting, but there were SO MANY characters and different perspectives to keep track of. I think it was really fortunate that I happened to be reading this book for a readathon (so I had to finish it in one sitting) because I couldn't remember the difference between Sean and Patrick until I was 50% done. But I really enjoyed how all the different characters pieced together at the end, even if the dramatic build up was anticlimactic and ended in like 2 pages.

Regardless, I still really enjoyed reading this book. Honestly, I feel like I'm probably going to end up reading everything Paula Hawkins writes.

Overall rating: 3.25 stars

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Review: Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was the second book I finished for the 24in48 readathon, and to be honest, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, I enjoyed revisiting the characters that I loved from To Kill a Mockingbird, but this story lacked narrative and plot. It was really hard to get into the story when it was constantly switching between present and past tense. I would have appreciated the flashbacks more if it provided insight on Henry or Atticus's characters. Since it did neither, the climax of the story (this chapter long argument between Scout and Atticus) was pretty anticlimactic.

Even though Scout was portrayed as more "progressive" than Atticus, her actions and thoughts still defined her as a racist 26-year-old woman. I mean, she basically agrees with her father and Uncle Jack that the NAACP is toxic for the South and that the Federal Government shouldn't have any power over states. It was cute when you were younger, Scout, but as a 26-year-old...ugh. Come on woman, didn't you learn anything from New York?

But wait there's more. That ending. So after this huge argument, Scout has with Atticus, they reconcile and live happily ever after. WTF. Literally, nothing happened in this book. The last chapter basically wrapped all the way around so that the story ended in the same way it started. The only thing substantial now is that you know Atticus Finch is racist. But since he's nice she'll just let it go? What actually happened here?

This was a huge disappointment and a waste of my time.

Overall rating: 2.25 Stars

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Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was definitely my favorite book that I read for the 24in48 readathon. It was JUST SO FREAKING CUTE! I know there are a lot of people that say Dimple was rude to her parents and Rishi for the first half of the novel. But honestly, as a daughter of immigrant parents, I can see where she was coming from. Now that I am older, I know when to ignore comments and establish a better relationship with them, but I think I was probably just as bad as Dimple at her age.

Obviously, this wasn't a perfect love story (I didn't give it 5 stars), because I didn't understand how fast Rishi fell for Dimple, but I guess that also has to do with the fact that he had been in love with the idea of her even before they met. And can I just point out that Rishi is like the perfect boyfriend? He has found his place in the world and treats Dimple with the respect that she has always been seeking from her parents. Even his imperfections, such as his relationship with his brother, are endearing.

Overall, I thought this was a really cute and quick read, and I would definitely recommend it for the summer.

Overall rating: 4.5 Stars

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

24in48 Readathon: FINAL WRAP UP!!!

Woooooooooo!!! I have just finished my first readathon and I think it went pretty well. Over 1,300 people participated in this readathon, and sadly to say, I did not win any of the random prize drawings. But it doesn't matter because I read A TON, which was my goal for this weekend. 

1. How many books did you read? How many pages did you read? 

I read a little over 4 books this weekend, 3 of them from my original TBR post:

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - 4.5 Stars

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - 3 Stars

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins - 3.25 Stars

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - 3 Stars

=1,358 Pages (this doesn't include the beginning of the fifth book that I started)

2. How many hours did you read?

I read a total of 24 hours and 26 minutes! This is probably the most I have ever read!

Day #1 Times:

Day #2 Times:

3. What do you think worked well in this readathon?

I love the community support and seeing some other people's posts. I particularly liked recommendation challenges like your favorite #ownvoices books and snacks to eat while you are reading. 

4. What do you think could be done to improve the readathon next time?

I am not a huge fan of the photo challenges. This is just because I don't have an elaborate bookshelf that I want to take a picture and share with people. I think photo challenges severely discourages people from going to their local libraries to check out books. I think it would be good to post optional photos. 

5. Would you participate in future 24in48 readathon?

Yes - even though I am completely burnt out on reading right now, I think I definitely might to do this again if the timing is right for me in January (I can even try to beat my time)!

BONUS: TIPS FOR SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETING THIS READATHON

  • planning ahead (most important)
    • creating and following a TBR
    • have snacks available at all times
    • block out the weekend for reading
  • setting aside a really good reread book that you are familiar with the plot - this way you can still keep reading even if you feel burnt out
  • have one or two audiobooks ready at all times - this is just so you can rest your eyes as you transition from one book to another
  • genre recommendation: YA contemporary, thriller - honestly, I don't think I can do something that focuses extensively on setting rather than the plot. Like, if I had to read 3 pages of how Frodo hikes through the Middle Earth, I might fall asleep
Do you have additional tips for me? How much did you guy read? Any good recommendations?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

24in48: 24 Hour Challenge

I have already listed a TBR previous, so check that out if you want to see what books I will be reading.

So...I will mostly be providing you a list of snacks that I want to eat for the next half of this readathon:
1. Popcorn. I actually ran out of popcorn, so I will definitely be purchasing more tomorrow. And I want something lighter than chips.

2. Carrots and hummus. Some of my friends have told me this is a really weird habit, but I absolutely love carrots and hummus. Like, I can't stop eating it once I start...

3. Cherries. There are tons of fresh cherries in Michigan during the summer and it's super cheap.

So...I guess most of my snacks are pretty healthy. Though I've definitely considered getting biscuits and eating that with tea. I also might get whatever is on sale tomorrow at the grocery store.

Update: I have currently completed ~10 hours for the readathon and finished 2 books. Reviews and reading overviews will be posted on Monday!

24in48: 12 Hour Challenge

Yay!!! I just finished When Dimple Met Rishi and clocked in 6 hours and 45 minutes! Woot!

The prompt for the 12-hour challenge is: which three audiobooks would you recommend for a road trip and why?

1. Any of the Harry Potter books - this is just for familiarity's sake and an endearing plot overall.

2. Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - honestly, road trips can be long and boring, so I always feel like you need some mystery and thriller to spice things up

3. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - This book was my all-time favorite read in 2016. The vast visual images and life journey will most likely help you endure you own current journey on the highways.

I'm about to jump back and start another book!

Friday, July 21, 2017

24in48 Read-a-thon: Zero Hour Challenge

Annnnnnnnnnnnndddddd we're off! Just a quick update: I have just completed my first hour of the read-a-thon with 80+ pages of When Dimple Met Rishi and I'm about to go to sleep. Here are my answers to the get-to-know you survey:

1.    Where in the world are you reading from this weekend?
I am reading from Ann Arbor, MI.

2.    Have you done the 24in48 readathon before?
This is my first time doing the 24in48 readathon and my second readathon ever!

3.    Where did you hear about the readathon, if it is your first?
I heard about the readathon on LittleBookOwl’s Youtube videos. Plus, I also googled some readathons to do in July because it’s always been on my bucket list to do one.

4.    What book are you most excited about reading this weekend?
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
I really hope I get to it, but I might not because there are some many books on my immediate TBR.

5.    Tell us something about yourself.
I am approximately 40% Ravenclaw, 20% Slytherin and Gryffindor, and 10% Hufflepuff. I think that provides a lot of insight as to what type of person I am.

6.    Remind us where to find you online this weekend.
You can find me at my blog: http://zixybooktree.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 20, 2017

24 in 48 Read-a-thon TBR

In addition to the High Summer Read-a-thon, I will also be participating in the 24in48 Read-a-thon this weekend. There is still time for you to join! I have previously made a TBR for the High Summer Read-a-thon, but I'm deciding to add a couple of audio books and update some of the books that I have already finished.

1. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

3. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

4. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

5. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

6. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

7. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Which one I should read first or which book your enjoyed the most?

Review: Modern Romance

Modern Romance Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of all, I absolutely LOVE Aziz! I have completed watching both Master of None and Parks and Recreation, so I might be a little biased.

Even as a millennial, I still found this book to be incredibly insightful. I love how Aziz decided to broach the topic of dating while trying to integrate his humor into sociology data and his personal narrative. I also really enjoyed how many food references he made throughout the book...except that it made me really crave ramen.

By far, my favorite part of the book was when he looked at different dating cultures around the world. It really emphasized to be that the dating culture in America is honestly not as bad as it could be. Maybe Japan and Argentina men should mingle more and figure out a good balance for how to approach women. I wish he could have focused on going to more places and then comparing it to different rural environments. The overview of dating culture in Paris was like three pages!

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book even though I took a mini break to finish some other books. Highly recommend to people of all ages!

Overall rating: 4.25 Stars

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Review: Caraval

Caraval Caraval by Stephanie Garber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After finishing this book last night and sleeping on it, I'm deciding to knock my ratings down 0.5 stars, which means it rounds down to 3 stars on Goodreads.

Here's what I actually liked about the book:
The fantasy realm that Garber created was very original compared to most of the other fantasy stuff that I have read recently. I liked how she included the magical potion that allowed you to only see the important aspects of the game in color and the dress that morphs into your emotional state.

That being said, there were many aspects of this book that I found to be problematic:
1. For some weird reason, Scarlett (the protagonist of the novel) see emotions in colors. This was just way too fluffy and cheesy for me. For example, she hates the color purple and it is synonymous with terror and fear of her abusive father. At first, I thought there was going to be a magic component related to this ability, but sadly no, she just emphasizes everything with her flower talk. It was honestly really hard to stop myself from rolling my eyes 20 pages into the book.

2. I honestly didn't feel attached to any of the characters. I thought that Scarlett and Tella's father just woke up one day and decided it was okay to mentally and physically abuse his children for absolutely no reason (or...because his wife left him, but that's a pathetic excuse). Scarlett was kinda boring as a protagonist because she didn't have any distinctive personality. Without the fantasy elements of this story, this book is just about a girl trying to find her sister and experiencing a dash of first-love.

3. The love interest. Julian honestly didn't do anything except play a game with her. Can't two people honestly be friends without romantic lust getting in the way? And we really need to stop with this YA insta-love, extremely attractive male companion cliche. It's so overused and makes me dislike the characters more.

4. The rushed ending. I mean come on! Why do authors keep doing this? (beginning of spoiler) One second Tella jumps off the balcony to her death and then she's revived in like 5 pages? And all the deaths that occurred throughout the game was all fake. The characters all come back to life and the story concludes in a neatly wrapped box. Mind you, this all happened within like 10 more pages. The only thing that would make me want to continue this series is Tella's story form the epilogue. I wan to the see what bargain she decided to make with Legend for her sister to play the game. Plus, Tella is infinitely more interesting and vibrant as a character than Scarlett. (end of spoiler)

I enjoyed reading this, but still had problems with the plot and characters.

Overall rating: 3.25 Stars

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Monday, July 17, 2017

High Summer Read-a-thon TBR

Hi everyone!

Today is the first day of the High Summer Read-a-thon. There is still time for you to join! I'm excited because this will be my first read-a-thon...ever. I am hoping to be reading a lot of books and updating you guys on everything I read throughout the next two weeks.

For now, here is my TBR:

1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber

2. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

4. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

5. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

6. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

So these are the top six books currently on my TBR shelf. I am most excited to read Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi because I have heard so many good things about this book. Do you guys have any suggestion as to which one I should read first or which book your enjoyed the most?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Review: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There is just something with Elizabeth Gilbert's writing that I don't like. As of now, I have read two of her books, this one and Eat, Pray, Love. I was fine with Eat, Pray, Love, but I felt like this book was very preachy and really cheesy (I actually gave Eat, Pray, Love the same rating for different reasons). After reading multiple recommendations for this novel, I was excited to read it because I thought it was supposed to inspire you to become more creative. Instead, I read about how Gilbert spiritualizes creativity and encourages you to be happy throughout your failures. Ugh, really?
There was no science or logic to back up her arguments, and it felt like she was just rambling about her writing career. And the language was just so flowery...it was almost gag-worthy. I did agree with her that it's important to persevere through adversities in your work, but your don't have to be constantly happy while doing so. You just have to tell yourself that it's worth it at the end of the day.

Another major point: Creativity doesn't have to be limited to the arts. Engineering and many different types of STEM disciplines also utilize many of the concepts of creative work. Frankly, I'm astounded that she didn't mention this in her book; this just shows how limited she is in her world views.

Overall rating: 2.75 Stars

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I honestly had no idea what to expect when I started this book. I heard from many friends that it was really insightful and definitely worth reading if you are looking to change your personal philosophy. Honestly, if I wasn't still suffering the hungover from reading Hamilton the Revolution, I would have given this book a higher rating.

The major point this book emphasized was to stop caring about every little detail in your life and instead focus on those ideals and values that actually matter. The subtle shift comes from not being disappointed, but slowing changing your values so that they are more holistic and sustainable to obtain optimal happiness.

In the first couple of chapters, I really didn't like the style of the writing. Even though I knew there was going to be cussing and profane language, it was just so scattered throughout EVERY SINGLE sentence that I became really annoyed. If the author was really trying to get his point across, let me actually read your ideas instead of figuring out what you're trying to say between cuss words. Honestly, that was probably my only problem with the entire book. After trudging through the first two chapters, the rest of the story included well-detailed and emotional narratives that reflected the development of the "prioritizing" philosophy (I'm coining that term instead of the "no-f*uckery" philosophy). The last chapter of the book was very provocative. It really allowed me to take a step back and ask myself if I'm happy with the way my life is if I died tomorrow.

I would recommend the book to people who want to take a look a life from a different perspective. Just keep an open mind and don't let the language bother you too much.

Overall rating: 4 stars

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Review: Hamilton: The Revolution

Hamilton: The Revolution Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW! This book was so spectacular that it left my speechless after I finished it (at 3 am in the morning).

First of all, the book is beautifully made. The photos on each of the pages display the enormity of the project and how everybody in both the production and cast was involved in spinning Lin's story together. I actually really REALLY liked the layout of the book and how it was designed like an archaic 1800's document. Ahhhhh!!! So great!

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed Lin's annotations and thoughts on all the songs in the musical, Jeremy McCarter's essays absolutely destroyed me. I think he really brought another dimension to all of the cast and production members. I cried so much from reading Oskar's tragedy while listening to "Stay Alive" that I couldn't even see the words on the pages clearly. I also really appreciated how much Lin formulated the ending to focus on how Eliza took over in spreading and developing Alexander Hamilton's legacies. She really took a step from just being known as one of the Schuyler sisters/Angelica's sister and grow into her own person with her own set of accomplishments, which is very progressive for her time period.

This book is incredible, stunning, and brilliantly created. Go and read it now!

Overall rating: 5 Stars

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Top Five Wednesdays: July 12, 2017

Topic: Children/Middle Grade Books

Recommendations:
1. Matilda by Roald Dahl - 5 / 5 Stars
Obviously. I honestly don't even remember when I first read this book, but it was absolutely amazing. Like, I tried to become Matilda the next day by going to the library, checking out adult classics, and attempting to read them (I later discovered that I didn't have the same aptitude as Matilda). There is just a certain way which Dahl writes that I adore. The story was funny and inspiring, and I believe this was one of the first books I have ever bothered to reread.

2. The Boxcar Children Series by Gertrude Chandler Warner - 5 / 5 Stars
I loved mysteries (still do) as a kid, but I thought Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew weren't really my taste. I really liked how this series establishes a family of orphans that take care of each other and solve mysteries.

3. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin - 5 / 5 Stars
I actually read this book much later in my life (I believe it was sometime around high school?), but it was really good. It follows the story of Minli as she goes on an adventure to seek better fortunes for her family. The little folklore stories that are mentioned throughout the journey further improved the overall quality of the book.

4. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster - 5 / 5 Stars
I think every child needs to read this book just to open up their mind to the possibilities of words, numbers, sentences, etc. This book taught me that common items that we are exposed to everyday can be seen as an adventure, as long as you open your eyes to the world around you. The message from this story is incredibly inspiring!

5. The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden - 4 / 5 Stars
This is such a cute classical story. I honestly don't remember much of the plot because I read this book such a long time ago, but I absolutely loved the book. This just means that I definitely need to reread this book sometimes in the future.

Let me know what are some of your top children/middle grade books! If you would like to check out other books that I have read, subscribe to the blog, and be sure to check out my Goodread page

If you would like to start your own Top Five Wednesdays lists, be sure to check out the Goodreads group!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

7/6/2017
Rereading this book after 12+ years made this story even better. I never realized just how much J. K. Rowling was trying to make the first couple of books in this series a children's novel. The book was extremely well written and the humor was so on point. I couldn't stop laughing when Hermione didn't think to light a fire with magic when Harry and Ron were trapped in the Devil's Snare. When I read other fantasy novels, I realize just how hard it is for authors to build their world and magic system. Rowling integrated everything into this book perfectly. I honestly have nothing but good things to say, and I can't wait to reread the rest of this series for the 20th anniversary.

Overall rating: 5 Stars

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Review: Landline

Landline Landline by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Landline is a book about a woman named Georgie McCool who chooses to work instead of going with her husband and children to Omaha for Christmas with the in-laws. Georgie soon realizes that the only way for her to contact Neal was through a landline phone that allows her to talk to Neal from 15 years ago.

There were many aspects of this book that I really liked, such as the diversity of the characters and the nonlinear story plot that detailed Georgie and Neal's relationship. However, I had many, many problems with this book. First of all, I didn't really relate to any of the characters. Georgie is a very career-driven woman, which I have no problem with, but she her attitude towards her profession and her family makes her one of those people that seem like they won't succeed in either job. Neal was flat out pathetic, and I really didn't enjoy the "romantic" drama that ensued between them. Another major issue I had with this book was the ending. It was very abruptly written and unsatisfying. It comes as no surprise that Georgie and Neal end up together, but I wanted them to talk through the problems in their relationship again to find a middle ground between work and family. I also wanted to know what happens to Georgie and Seth's TV show scripts. That storyline was abandoned half way through the book when the drama started picking up.

I enjoyed this book as a quick summer read, but I felt ambivalent towards the romance and the conflicts.

Overall rating: 3 Stars

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Top Five Wednesdays: July 5, 2017

Topic: Books Without Romance

This is actually one of my favorite topics because sometimes I just want to enjoy a good book without a romantic subplot.

Recommendations:
1. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J. K. Rowling) - 4 / 5 Stars
2. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - 5 / 5 Stars
3. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - 5 / 5 Stars
4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - 5 / 5 Stars
5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett - 5 / 5 Stars

I also read a lot of nonfiction books, which I feel like would be cheating for this T5W topic. Here is a link to my nonfiction bookshelf

Be sure to check out the Goodreads group if you would also like to participate!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July Read-a-thons!

One of my goals for July is to try a Read-a-thon. So, I decided to go above-and-beyond my goals and participate in TWO different read-a-thons! I'm really excited about this and will keep you updated throughout my reading progress.

The first read-a-thon that I will be participating in is the High Summer Read-a-thon. This event is hosted by Seasons of Reading from July 17th (my birthday!!!) until July 30th. According to the guideline, there are basically no limitations to what you decide to read during this period. However, I will be establishing some of my own goals and TBR at a later date.

The second read-a-thon is the 24in48 reading challenge from July 22nd to July 23rd. This is going to be a lot more different than the relaxed High Summer Read-a-thon; I will be attempting to read 24 hours within a 48 hour time range. So, I feel like I won't actually be sleeping that weekend.

Again, updates will be made throughout both of the read-a-thons! I encourage all of you to also participate in some read-a-thons to give yourself a challenge or to get out from that reading slump. Let me know if you have future read-a-thon recommendations that you think I might be interested in.

Happy reading!




Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button And Other Stories

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button And Other Stories The Curious Case of Benjamin Button And Other Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one of the best and thought-provoking short stories I have ever read. I personally thought it was really interesting how the author portrayed the end of Benjamin's life similar to that of an old man's life and the backward emotional development that took a toll on the life of people around Benjamin. At various points in this story, I wish Fitzgerald could have elaborated more on the plot and character development, but I guess there wasn't much to expand upon for a short story.

As for the rest of the stories, I finally remembered why I didn't like The Great Gatsby. There's just something in the way Fitzgerald writes that really doesn't pique my interest. I wasn't invested in any of the characters, and some of the plots just felt like people were going through weird emotional dilemmas coming from the middle of nowhere. Perhaps I also lost interest in the stories after listening to Benjamin Button.

Here are my ratings for each individual short stories:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: 4.5 / 5 Stars
Babylon Revisited: 3 / 5 Stars:
Three Hours Between Planes: 3.5 / 5 Stars
The Bridal Party: 2.5 / 5 Stars
The Lost Decade: 2 / 5 Stars

Overall rating: 3 Stars

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Friday, June 30, 2017

June 2017 Wrap Up and July 2017 TBR!

June Wrap Up

Since it's the last day of June, I have decided to post my June Wrap Up and July TBR! This month, I have read 6 books and a total of 2256 pages. Here are the rating distributions of the books I read (including rounding error):

5 Stars - 0 books
4 Stars - 4 books
3 Stars - 2 books
2 Stars - 0 books
1 Star - 0 books

After including partial reading, my ratings averaged to be 3.46 stars, which means that it honestly hasn't been the best reading month. 

List of Books:
  1. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama - 3.5 Stars
  2. $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn Edin and  H. Luke Shaefer - 4.25 Stars
  3. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter - 3.75 Stars
  4. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas - 3 Stars
  5. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han - 2.75 Stars
  6. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly - 3.5 Stars

July TBR!


  1. The Complete Novels and Stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  2. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  3. Hamilton the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
  4. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  5. Arabian Nights
  6. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
  7. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
  8. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  9. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Let me know if you have other suggestions or which one you think I should read first!

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was really excited to read this book, especially after watching the movie when it came out in theaters. Even though I loved the inspiration and the premise of the stories, there were just way too many stories to follow for me. On occasion, the story lines also become very repetitive and dry, which further disengages me from the characters. For a nonfiction detailing the space race, I wish Shetterly could have provided a better narrative that showed these women's lives rather than focusing on the details of their accomplishments. Over the span of the entire book, I honestly didn't even know the difference between the two Dorothy's. Without watching the movie, I think I would have been even more lost in who each of these women were because their names are so common. Ugh.

I really wish I could have enjoyed this story more because I think this story is important for American history, but I had to really struggle to make it to the end.

Overall rating: 3.5 stars

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Review: A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had to wait a full day before writing this review. So first of all, I loved the first half of this book. Feyre was finally discovering herself and learning to control her powers. Sarah J. Maas also did a splendid job on expanding the Prythian universe and its magic system.

And then I just had tons of issues with the rest of the book:

<Beginning of spoiler>
1. Honestly, how many times did Maas write that Rhys was the MOST POWERFUL HIGH LORD and his "family" contained the MOST POWERFUL WARRIORS? This was always something that really annoyed me. Like the main love interest is all-mighty and super duper powerful. None of them even bother having flaws...oh wait, their flaws are their love interests. It's so cliche in YA and it's disgusting. 

2. Tamlin experienced a brief Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moment between the first and second book so that Feyre could actually find her true love. I think people need to understand that it's okay to fall in and out of love. It's a normal phenomenon. It's not normal when your boyfriend suddenly becomes emotionally and physically abusive. Like, where what all of that coming from? He didn't retain any of his redeeming qualities from the first book! Yes, the "Under the Mountains" experience was probably traumatic, but Tamlin completely fell away from his original character so Maas can force Rhys on us next. And did I mention that Feyre had no transitioning from Tamlin to Rhys in just six months? She claims that Tamlin no longer fought for her love, but she never bothered to fight for him either. 

3. The sex scenes. Okay, no. Just no. It was so cringe-worthy. I mean, "the mountains shook as he came"...really? Please don't tell me all teenagers think that this is what sex is like. 

4. I was not a fan of the Feyre and Rhysand ship. I like them individually as characters throughout the novel, but I hated them together. Their relationship is not healthy; it's a power play. There was a lack of communication between these two lovers and it was always expected for Rhysand to apologizes to her every time they bicker about nonsense that it just became really annoying. It's honestly really sickening watching their relationship develop.
<End of spoiler>

Overall rating: 3 stars

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Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Always and Forever, Lara Jean Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was a quick and short read. I finished it within a couple of hours in one sitting. Even though I liked the message that the author was conveying about growing up and taking the next step in your life after high school, there were some major plot holes that I had an issue with, the main one being how old Lara Jean's sister is. I mean, I thought she was like 14 or something in the first book, and now she's turning 11 and giving Lara Jean suggestions on how to cure a hangover? WTF. Seriously, this just isn't realistic at all. Aside from that, Kitty was probably actually my favorite character in this book.

You know who I absolutely hated? Margot. I think Jenny Han meant to make her a strong and independent sister that Lara Jean could look up to, but this girl honestly has no respect for her parents or anyone else for that matter. She's turning 20 in this book and acting like she owns the world. If she has a problem, she doesn't talk to her dad about it, but instead passively takes it out on poor Trina, who I really liked. I understand her frustrations with her family seemingly taking a step away from her, but that's life. Grow up. It was honestly so annoying throughout this book.

Lara Jean and Peter. Ugh. This relationship was killing me this entire series. This is what is fundamentally wrong with many of the teenage relationships out there today. I hate the lack of communication between them. Yes, transitioning from high school to college is a difficult time, but that's why it makes it more important to talk to each other about it. I want to read more young adult contemporary novels where people in healthy relationships go through life problems together. This just really fell flat for me in this department.

Overall rating: 2.75 stars (rounding it up to 3 stars)

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Review: Inferno

Inferno Inferno by Dan Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel like I have read so many Dan Brown books that I can probably predict the outcomes of the novel. Here's the gist of the story:
1. Robert Langdon is being chased by the bad guys.
2. There is a crazy psycho killer on the loose.
3. Robert runs around Europe searching for clues that will allow him to find the bad guy.
4. There's a lot of historical references in the codes that ONLY Robert is able to crack.
5. Psych! One of the people who you thought was the good guys is actually the leader of the enemy.

The only thing different about this book is that the story is very inconclusive. (view spoiler)

Overall, I enjoyed this book while I was reading it because I am a big fan of thrillers. However, after putting the book down, I can see so many plot holes and annoyances in the story that I downgrade my ratings.

Rating: 3.25 stars

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

***NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the publishers for an unbiased review.

Don't judge a book by its cover. The cover of this book is great, but the content is close to trash. As a disclaimer, I would like to say that I am not the biggest fan of young adult contemporary. This book further solidifies that dislike. I just had so many problems with this book that I don't even know where to start.

--This book was just flat out cringe-worthy. Ugh. The protagonist is an extremely unlikable girl who is basically the same horrible person from beginning to end. Personally, I like to read for a big "so what" statement that shows personal growth. But this book had nothing, except it was a huge waste of time.
(view spoiler)
These are just some of the major points that I can currently list off the top of my head. I'm sure there are others that I can't think of right now.

In essence, this was definitely one of the WORST books I've read this year. I wouldn't force this on anyone let alone read it. Don't bother to waste your money on this book.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Review: This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl

This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl by Esther Earl
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

1-star: did not like it
2-stars: it was okay
3-stars: liked it
4-stars: really liked it
5-stars: it was amazing

First of all, I would like to start off by saying that Esther Earl is definitely an amazing and kind-hearted person. She has probably inspired and helped thousands of people that she has either met in real life or online. However, this book, which is basically a compilation of all her writings and art, was just okay. And thus, the reason why I ended up giving this book 2 stars. Her story did not strike me as phenomenal, and quite frankly, I don't think it would have even existed if she hadn't met John Green. The main focal point that is brought up over and over again through her writings is how nice Esther is but isn't that how people are supposed to behave from a day to day basis? It not book-worthy. Plus, the book also came with heavy religious undertones...something I think needs a disclaimer statement before I pick it up.

I didn't particularly enjoy this book but I feel like it might be suited for people who personally knew Esther and followed her through her battle with cancer.

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Review: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So many successful people have recommended this book to me, and I finally decided to read it this year. Originally, I wanted to read it at the end of summer, but that's when my 'semester-long' reading slump began so I never got around to it until the end of the year. And I proceeded to finish this within a couple of days while taking meticulous notes.

If you haven't read this book, go out and get yourself a copy and start reading. In addition to many advices that Duhigg explores, he also tells snippets of anecdotes which I find especially engaging. I plan to implement some of the techniques that were mentioned to further improve my productivity this year.

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Review: A Feast for Crows

A Feast for Crows A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many people told me that this book wasn't going to be as good as the others because it doesn't really move the story plot and there are too many views from minor characters. But after watching Season 6 of the TV show, I finally understand the necessity of this 'filler' novel. Even though the main characters are going on their respective adventures, many keys points of the rebellion and progress are made through the minor characters.

I have nothing but good things to say about this book. Cersei was her usual crazy ambitious self. Jaime starts to question his loyalty to his sister and the Crown. The Martells have their own emerging internal conflicts, but they seem to be leaning on siding with Daenerys. Sam is on his way of becoming a maester. George R. R. Martin does a wonderful job of spinning the story together with elaborate lies, gore, and intrigue.


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Review: Cinder

Cinder Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book has been on my to-read list for such a long time because I really liked the graphics on the cover. Eventually, I ended up checked out the audiobook and listening to it on OverDrive, and I wasn't disappointed. Cinder is a part-cyborg, part-human girl who belongs to a widow with two children. She is responsible for supporting the family with her mechanic skills; however, like the story of Cinderella, her stepmother treats her cruelly and she is only able to connect with one of her stepsisters. As she is dealing with issues in her family, there is also a deadly disease that is spreading throughout the country. (The overall story plot is given in the summary)

So, why only 3 stars?
1. The first reason is terrible, but I actually didn't like the narrator's voice in the audiobooks. The way she read some of the sentences made me think that Cinder was a very snotty girl.
2. The novelty of the plot lasted for the first four chapters or so. After that, everything that happened seemed super obvious. I predicted everything that was basically going to happen, which eliminate the shock factor that I appreciate in my books.
3. That cliff-hanger ending killed me. I honestly didn't even know the story ended, and then immediately thought that the publishers want to reap as much money as they can get out of people.

Overall, this was a fun a fun and pleasant read and I would recommend it to anyone looking for fun fairy tale retellings.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 by John Tiffany
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had high hopes when I first picked up the book and then realized it was simply a badly written fanfiction. This book is definitely not written by J. K. Rowling, and the storyline and characterization shows. I even got this book for my little brother when it first came out (as he is a huge Harry Potter fan), and he ended up disliking it too.

There were two major points that made me want to rip out my hair while I was reading:
(view spoiler)

Overall, I didn't like this book and I'm going to pretend like it was never published so I can preserve my memory of the original series. The only reason this book actually got 2 stars was because I liked Draco, Scorpius, and Albus. To anyone who is planning to read it: don't. You'll preserve your sanity.

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