Friday, June 23, 2017

Surfing into the Future - That Crazy Perfect Someday by Michael Mazza Review

That Crazy Perfect Someday by Michael Mazza Review

That Crazy Perfect Someday (I keep thinking that the book title needs a comma in it, but it really doesn't, and that's bugging the hell out of me for some reason.) takes place in 2024, far enough in the future to give the world a novel aura, but close enough to 2017 to simultaneously feel familiar and slightly homey. This book envision a future where climate change has affected the world's wave patterns, creating these previously unseen waves of monstrous proportions, and now, as a result, surfing is both a wildly popular pastime and sport.

Synopsis & Details:

The year is 2024. Climate change has altered the world's wave patterns. Drones crisscross the sky, cars drive themselves, and surfing is a new Olympic sport. Mafuri Long, UCSD marine biology grad, champion surfer, and only female to dominate a record eighty-foot wave, still has read more... something to prove. Having achieved Internet fame, along with sponsorship from Google and Nike, she's intent on winning Olympic gold. But when her father, a clinically depressed former Navy captain and widower, learns that his beloved supercarrier, the USS Hillary Rodham Clinton, is to be sunk, he draws Mafuri into a powerful undertow.

Conflicts compound as Mafuri's personal life comes undone via social media, and a vicious Aussie competitor levels bogus doping charges against her. Mafuri forms an unlikely friendship with an awkward teen, a Ferrari-driving professional gamer who will prove to be her support and ballast.

Authentic, brutal, and at times funny, Mafuri lays it all out in a sprightly, hot-wired voice. From San Diego to Sydney, Key West, and Manila, That Crazy Perfect Someday goes beyond the sports/surf cliché to explore the depths of sorrow and hope, yearning and family bonds, and the bootstrap power of a bold young woman climbing back into the light.

Title: That Crazy Perfect Someday
Series: N/A
Author: Michael Mazza
Publication Date: June 13th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Sci-Fi
Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Turtle Point Press and Irish Banana Tours!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

While I can't vouch for the accuracy of Mazza's surfing descriptions, having never surfed myself, I can say they've made me incredibly wistful for the ocean.

You see, I was born in a coastal town, my mom passed the beach and it's endless waves everyday on her way to work, and after we moved, I made the majority of my childhood memories in that humid, ocean-surrounded peninsula named Florida. To say I miss the ocean is an understatement, being stuck in a Midwestern desert, as I currently am, isn't exactly my dream scenario, and so, this book, with it's descriptions of rolling waves and salty air had me pining like crazy.

The author took full advantage of the futuristic setting by taking the chance to include intriguing, new technology, such as bio-bands and self-driving cars. I loved these little additions because they got me thinking about what our world might be like in seven to eight years.

Climate change actually doesn't play a very large role in the story, though for me, the summary suggested otherwise.

Of course it's alway in the background with the giant waves and all, but it's only outright mentioned a couple of times.

There were a couple sentences here and there that threw me for a bit of a loop.

I reread them a couple times, trying to decipher their intent, but I'm still not entirely sure on their meanings. If they meant what I thought they did, I'd have more than a couple bones to pick with this book, but I'm just not sure. Haha, sorry for being so cryptic, I just don't want to pick a fight over a possibly non-existent problem.

Mafuri is a strong and compelling character.

Though the inconsistently paced plot, exhilarating one moment and slowing to a crawl the next, lost my interest more than a couple times, her spunky and determined attitude kept me reading.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Are you an ocean child like me? If so, which ocean(s) did you grow up by and/or love in your childhood? (Most of my fond memories of the ocean can be traced back to the Gulf of Mexico.)
About Michael Mazza
Photo of Michael Mazza Michael Mazza is a San Francisco Bay Area fiction writer whose stories have appeared in Other Voices, WORDS, Blue Mesa Review, TINGE, and ZYZZYVA. He is also an internationally acclaimed art and creative director working in the advertising industry. That Crazy Perfect Someday is his first novel.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Test Anxiety & Mental Exhaustion - Quartz Gazette April & May 2017

Quartz Gazette April and May 2017

Remember when I said I'd post recaps regularly... haha yeah, that was a good joke.... I didn't mean to forget about these gazette posts, it's just, I've had a lot on my plate the last few months. May was the last month of 9th grade for me, which meant lots and lots of finals to worry about, and of course, my first AP test (just thinking about it makes my stomach churn).

I kinda had a nervous breakdown a couple days before the big test day.

I just, it was so much pressure, I'd put so much weight on that one, two-hour test. And on top of all that, the College Board hadn't replied to my accommodation request yet (I'd fractured my right wrist a month or two before) and at that point, I thought I'd have to do the writing portion with my non-dominant hand, and that just freaked me out. I remember trying to do a practice FRQ (Free Response Question) with my left hand, and I just couldn't. My hand was so tired after just one, and there's three of them on the test, I just couldn't do it.

I remember crying for the first time in many years. The anxiety, the pressure, it just all finally got to me.

In the end, crying helped. It just felt so good to release all of that pent up fear and worry and see that my parents understood what I was feeling and wouldn't hold it against me if I didn't do well on the test.

Human Geography was my strongest class last year, and well, I was that kid.

You know that one, the annoying one who's always raising their hand. I genuinely found Human Geography interesting, it intrigued me and I loved how it tied in with what's happening in the world today. The material was easy for me and because of that, everyone, my friends, my peers, my teacher, thought I was going to pass the AP test easily, even when I brought up my worries about my hand (jokingly of course, cause that's how all sensible people deal with their anxieties), many of them brushed it off, said that I had nothing to worry about. I know they meant well, but honestly, that only made things worse.

I'm sorry if that sounded arrogant or stuck up, I just really needed to get that off my chest, and I didn't know how else to address it. Luckily, two days before the test, the College Board responded, and I did end up getting accommodations.

The day of the test felt so surreal, I'd known it was coming since the beginning of the year, but it just felt so improbable, so far off, like it'd never truly arrive.

The days that led up to the test were so dreadfully stressful and nerve-wracking for me, but when the long awaited day finally came, I was eerily calm. Deep inside me there was a tight ball of apprehension, but it was buried under layers and layers of numbness. I still don't know how I did, and honestly I don't even want to think of it. I don't want to build up my expectations, only to fall horribly short, and I don't want to drown in the endless what ifs. I just don't want to think.

I didn't mean for that to be so long... sorry it just all came out.

Thank you so much for sitting through all that, I haven't discussed this with anyone in real life, or really anyone at all, so finally expressing these bottled emotions has helped me let go. Thank you again.

Books Read in January & February

(click on the titles to read the complete reviews)

Read in April and May: Maud, The Roanoke Girls, An Ember in the Ashes, Noteworthy, and Animal Farm

Maud (Preview) // (Preview) I don't quite remember where or when I first stumbled across Anne of Green Gables, though, if I am to guess, I'd say I'd found it tucked between the likes of Huckleberry Finn and Pollyanna, sitting on the classics shelf in my [...]

The Roanoke Girls // This is definitely one of the harder reviews I've written of late, and it's also probably gonna turn out to be one of my shorter one too. I just don't know what to say... It's not that I didn't like the book per say, it's more like it made me [...]

An Ember in the Ashes // I have mixed feelings about An Ember in the Ashes... It was a fun and enjoyable read, but at the same time, I don't feel particularly inclined to read the sequel at the moment. My favorite character was definitely Elias, though Laia [...]

Noteworthy // (Preview) To say I loved Noteworthy is an understatement, it's more accurate to say I'm obsessed with it. Basically, Noteworthy is about a girl named Jordan who disguises herself as a boy so she can join the Sharpshooters [...]

Animal Farm // I've heard a lot about Orwell's work, so when I was offered the chance to read his Animal Farm for English I immediately jumped on the chance. I would've read it through in one sitting, but because we were taking chapter quizzes on [...]

Read in April and May: The Best Kind of Magic, Death and Night, Avatar: The Last Airbender (North and South, #3), and Love and First Sight

The Best Kind of Magic // Magical Realism has been getting lots of love from the YA community recently, and for good reason too. It's the perfect balance, normal life with a dash of mythical. The Best Kind of Magic is without a doubt magical realism, it's set [...]

Death & Night // Chokski's writing continues to be the most luscious and beautiful thing I've ever read (haha, by this point I'm pretty much a broken record...). Death and Night was too short, I wanted to see even more of Death and Night's relationship [...]

Avatar: The Last Airbender (North & South, #3) // *sigh* These comics always make me so nostalgic for the show... I believe this is the final Avatar comic (I pray that it isn't) and it was an okayish conclusion. Honestly, I don't think I could ever really [...]

Love & First Sight // Love and First Sight is about Will Porter, a boy who was born blind, getting the chance to "see". There's nothing particularly game changing about this book's writing, but it offers up a unique storyline I haven't seen in YA before. While I [...]

Shows & Movies Watched in April & May

(click on the titles to read the complete reviews or see the trailers)

Watched in April and May: Kimi no Na wa, Sherlock, Steven Universe, and Yuri on Ice

Kimi no Na Wa or Your Name // I don't know how I'm suppose to do this film justice with this review... (I mean, I just can't...). My thoughts are currently such a churning mess that I'm not sure where to begin, but Kimi no Na wa (which is also known by the English [...]

Sherlock (Season #1-2) // Sherlock's genius combined with Watson's heart makes for one hell of a duo (I may or may not ship them just the tiniest bit). I really enjoyed Season 1, and by it's end, I'd thought I'd found a new favorite show, but while watching A Scandal in Belgravia, the first episode in the second season, I started losing interest. My main issue with the show is how it treats its female characters, and with the first season, I was able to kinda ignore that, but Belgravia pushed said issues to the very front of my mind, and that made it really hard to enjoy the episode. I'm not sure if I plan on continuing, I might if the mood strikes me, but who knows....

Steven Universe (Season #5) // Oh god, these recent episodes have really shook me up, but like in the good way. If you're a Steven Universe fan these episodes are a must see, they're some of the best I've seen from this show so far and they're incredibly heart-wrenching and heartwarming at the same time. I can't say much else without spoiling everyone, so just, go watch it!

Yuri!!! on ICE (Season #1) // Ahaha, I think I might have a problem.... So I'm not sure if any of you've noticed, but I recently redid all the post graphics for the second time (yep, I'm crazy. My hands and computer officially hate me) because I've changed my graphic style again, anyway, guess what I did while remaking like 143 graphics, yep, I re-watched the entirety of Yuri on Ice's first season in one sitting, because, yeah I'm crazy (we've already established this fact). Nothings changed, I still adore this show to pieces, and yes, everyone, and I mean everyone, should watch it.

Watched in April and May: Voltron: Legendary Defender, Haikyuu, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Quan Zhi Gao Shou

Voltron: Legendary Defender (Season #1-2) // *screeches* Sooo I'm not sure if you've heard, butttt somehow a teaser trailer for Season 3 got leaked or something, and oh geeeee (season 3 spoilers)KEITH IS GONNA PILOT THE BLACK LION AND LANCE WILL PILOT RED!!!! *dreams of all the possible bonding moments*. Also, also, the release date was also revealed, we'll be getting the next season on August 4th (which is honestly kinda mean, cause I'll be back in school then...). Oops, totally forgot to talk about the episodes I actually re-watched, oh well...

Haikyuu!! // I haven't mention it here yet, but Haikyuu is one of my favorite shows (just take a look at my Twitter banner). I discovered it while waiting for the next episode of Yuri on Ice and all the characters just stole my heart. Sugawara, the gray haired one, is my personal favorite cause he's such a mom, but I love the rest of my bird children too. A couple months ago I watched all 24 hours worth of Haikyuu's 60 episodes in one week (it was a school week mind you, and yes, my homework was horribly neglected...) a fact that I'm simultaneously proud of and terribly ashamed of. God, I still can't believe I spend 1/7th of that week watching anime....

Avatar: The Last Airbender // I saw this show for the first time last year (I know, late to the party as usual), and I fully agree that Avatar is one of the best, if not the best animated show of the 21st century (too bad the movie is absolute horse sh*t). I haven't gotten too far into my re-watch so far, just a couple episodes into the first season, but I've already cried a couple times. Oh one-year-old nostalgia....

Quan Zhi Gao Shou or The King's Avatar (Season #1) // Quan Zhi Gao Shou's a Chinese anime that has gained a lot of attention recently for having impressive animation, and the animation is really pretty (well, except for the creepy CGI background characters that is *shudders*). This show follows Xiu Ye, a former professional gamer who was forced to retire. The plot's not really that special, and I'm not really a gamer, so I was kinda lost in the beginning, but the show's enjoyable enough to keep me watching. Honestly, I only started King's Avatar because I wanted to polish up my Chinese, and so far, things have been going great on that front. It's so awesome to hear my second language in a TV show again.

Bookstagrams of April & May

(photos link to my instagram: @quartzfeathers)

Bookstagrams from April and May

Words Discovered in April & May

(some fantastically long and whimsically obscure words to know)

  • Insouciant adjective - showing a casual lack of concern; indifferent.
  • Beatific adjective - blissfully happy.
  • Filigree noun - ornamental work of fine (typically gold or silver) wire formed into delicate tracery.
  • Bister noun - a brownish-yellowish pigment made from the soot of burned wood.
  • Irascible adjective - having or showing a tendency to be easily angered.
  • Pontificate verb - express one's opinions in a way considered annoyingly pompous and dogmatic.

Cover Reveals of April & May

(ten new covers that are too pretty for my mere mortal eyes)

Interesting Links from Around the Web

(posts, youtube videos, and other random, stuff I thought was cool)

  • Coco Trailer (Pixar)
    Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin [...]
  • How to Acquire ARCS (Bec)
    It’s a truth universally acknowledged that ARCs are needed to become a Big Blogger. Every successful bookworm sleeps on a pile of the hottest ARCs, sent especially to them from publishers. Little [...]
  • Does YA Hate F/F Romance? (Tasha)
    I guess you could consider this a sort of controversial topic but this has been on my mind for a couple years. So, here’s my question: Does YA hate f/f romance? I personally feel this is the case [...]
  • Star Vs. The Forces Of Evil Season 3 Intro (Disney) Star Vs. returns next month, and I'm so excited, this intro has me so hyped!!! Some idiot leaked it a while back even though Daron Nefcy specifically asked people not to, the entire fandom was pissed at them, and rightfully so.

How were your last two months? Did you have any tests to worry about? Also do you like the new cover feature I added? *wink wink*
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Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Hell Hath Club vs. Refrigeration - The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne Valente Review + Giveaway

The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne Valente Review

Confession time.... I'm pretty much superhero illiterate. I didn't grow up with them, and they've just never been my thing (well, who knows, maybe they could be if I gave them the chance). However, I've heard quite a thing or two about the horrible treatment female characters often face in the genre, which is one of the reasons I was so eager to read The Refrigerator Monologues.

Synopsis & Details:

From the New York Times bestselling author Catherynne Valente comes a series of linked stories from the points of view of the wives and girlfriends of superheroes, female heroes, and anyone who’s ever been “refrigerated”: comic book women who are killed, raped, brainwashed, driven read more... mad, disabled, or had their powers taken so that a male superhero’s storyline will progress.

In an entirely new and original superhero universe, Valente subversively explores these ideas and themes in the superhero genre, treating them with the same love, gravity, and humor as her fairy tales. After all, superheroes are our new fairy tales and these six women have their own stories to share.

Title: The Refrigerator Monologues
Series: N/A
Author: Catherynne Valente
Publication Date: June 6th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Saga Press and Irish Banana Tours!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

The other reason was the author, Catherynne Valente.

If her name doesn't ring a bell, she wrote The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (really quite the mouthful), an absolutely amazing and totally whimiscal middle grade (though Goodreads thinks it's YA for some reason) book that you should really check out.

Valente has this wonderful and distinctive imagination that really shines through in all her work.

The Refrigerator Monologues' my first adult book of her's, so I was a bit worried about whether or not I'd enjoy her style as much outside the MG genre. Turns out there was no reason to worry. The world she paints in this collection of short stories is filled with just as much whimsy and fresh originality, though this book definitely does have a more adult tone to it (well duh Kai...).

Each of the six main characters has a clear and easily distinguishable voice,

and all of their worlds and lives are pretty well fleshed out considering the limitations of the short story format. Apparently each of them are based off DC/Marvel women, though I didn't realize this fact while reading because I'm completely clueless. Anyways, here's a Goodreads review that lists them all out, just in case you're curious.

Sometimes I did feel that The Refrigerator Monologues was a bit too heavy handed with some of its feminist messages, but then again, I don't really know much about the comic industry and how it treats women, so this could be something that's sorely needed.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Who's your favorite superhero? Have you seen the new Wonder Woman movie? (I was thinking about going with my lil bro but I heard it might not be entirely appropriate for him....)
About Catherynne Valente
Picture of Catherynne Valente Catherynne M. Valente was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1979 in Seattle, WA, but grew up in in the wheatgrass paradise of Northern California. She graduated from high school at age 15, going on to UC San Diego and Edinburgh University, receiving her B.A. in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek Linguistics. She then drifted away from her M.A. program and into a long residence in the concrete and camphor wilds of Japan.

She currently lives in Maine with her partner, two dogs, and three cats, having drifted back to America and the mythic frontier of the Midwest.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Internet Famous by Danika Stone Excerpt + Giveaway

Internet Famous by Danika Stone Excerpt

Synopsis & Details:

High school senior and internet sensation Madison Nakama seems to have it all: a happy family, good grades, and a massive online following for her pop-culture blog. But when her mother suddenly abandons the family, Madi finds herself struggling to keep up with all of her read more... commitments.

Fandom to the rescue! As her online fans band together to help, an online/offline flirtation sparks with Laurent, a French exchange student. Their internet romance—played out in the comments section of her MadLibs blog—attracts the attention of an internet troll who threatens the separation of Madi’s real and online personas. With her carefully constructed life unraveling, Madi must uncover the hacker’s identity before he can do any more damage, or risk losing the people she loves the most… Laurent included.

Title: Internet Famous
Series: N/A
Author: Danika Stone
Publication Date: June 6th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Internet Famous Excerpt

(Goodreads & Amazon & Barnes & Nobles & iBooks & Kobo)

Eyes closed, Madi stumbled blindly forward.

“Where are you taking me?”

She shivered as Laurent’s mouth brushed the shell of her ear. “Just trust me. Alright?” His fingers tightened around hers. “Almost there.”


In the last minutes, Laurent had slipped on her backpack, taking one of her hands in his, the other hand sliding around her waist. She wasn’t sure where they were, but she could smell damp cement, mildew and decay. The sound of the city had dimmed in the last seconds, the red glow of sun through her eyelids replaced by darkness.

“You know I don’t like scary movies, right? No screamers on my dashboard. No trolls in the dungeon.” She shuddered. “Definitely no trolls!”

Laurent laughed. “This is good, chérie. I promise.” His scruff brushed her cheek, voice low. “Just a little further. Here. Take a step down. Don’t let go of me.”

Madi stumbled, but he caught her, the faint scent of cologne reaching her nostrils as he helped her regain her footing.

“And one more step,” he said. “A little to your left. Aha, almost there now. Hold on.”

He put a hand on either shoulder, turning her slightly. When he let go of her, Madi’s arms rose in sudden fear, but Laurent came back at her side.

“You ready?”

Madi nodded.

“Open your eyes.”

Her lashes fluttered open to discover they were standing in the damaged interior of a building. She guessed it had been a brick apartment building, but a fire, sometime in the last years, had gutted the interior. Now it was a roughly rectangular box forming a massive chimney, three or four stories high, with charred beams and the wilting remains of fire-bent stairs clinging to one side. Below their feet, the floor was warped and uneven, but apparently sound. Above them, the wide open sky.

Madi gasped as her eyes adjusted to the light.

Light poured in from many glassless windows highlighting an explosion of imagery. Faces rose from floorboards. Intricate words twisted into strangely foreign shapes. Round and round the interior walls had been painted into a massive mosaic of light and color.

“Oh my God. Did you paint this stuff?”

“Oh no, not me,” Laurent said. “Though I’ve met the artists who did.” His arm slid over her shoulders. “One of them is a MadLibber, actually.”


He winked. “I’m pretty sure you can figure out which artist would have the attitude to do something like this.”

Madi’s eyes widened. “ArtWithAttitude? This was painted by Ava?!”

“Among others.” Laurent said. “This is one of my special places. One of the hidden gems in the city. It’s one of the places I wanted to take you.” He stared up at the broken-down walls and vibrant graffiti with the reverence some people saved for church. “I love this place. I’ve photographed almost all of it.” He looked down at her and grinned. “The murals are always changing. Come back in a week, this’ll be new again.”

Madi smiled. “This is the inspiration for your photographs.”

He nodded.

“And the… the feeling of it is what you want to capture?”

Laurent’s eyes widened, gold dancing in the green. “Exactement! I want to photograph the life and spirit of a place. Not just the structure, but what a building is because people have put their lives into it.” His hand rose to cup Madi’s cheek. “Because they’ve loved it. Their vision is imprinted on it for— for— always.”


“Yes. Forever… Inaliénable. Indélébile.”

Are you in any fandoms? (I'm in a ton....) Do you have any internet friends? (Wish I had more, but I'm so socially awkward....)
Internet Famous by Danika Stone Blog Tour June 5-9
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Monday, June 5, 2017

Extremely Uncomfortable Doesn't Begin to Cover It... - The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel Review

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel Review

This is definitely one of the harder reviews I've written of late, and it's also probably gonna turn out to be one of my shorter one too. I just don't know what to say... It's not that I didn't like the book per say, it's more like it made me really, really uncomfortable?

Synopsis & Details:

Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die. After her mother's suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother's mysterious family, read more... but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane's first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

Title: The Roanoke Girls
Series: N/A
Author: Amy Engel
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Crown!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

The Roanoke Girls handles some pretty dark stuff, and well, let's just say, a fifteen year old like myself probably shouldn't have been reading a book like this....

In retrospect, the summary really doesn't give much away, so I pretty much had no way of knowing what I was getting into. While it probably would've been much more beneficial for me if the summary had indeed been a bit more transparent, I've gotta applaud whoever wrote it for making it so intriguing without revealing too much, something someone always seems to fail at *glares at the recent tell-all movie trailers* (damn, did I just refer to trailers as sentient beings? My lack of sleep is starting to get to me...).

Once I got into the thick of things and stuff started really creeping me out, it was too late to stop reading because:
  • I needed to finish the book so I could review it.
  • The Roanoke Girls' had already managed to capture my morbid curiosity, and as a result, I desperately needed to know how things ended.

  • So yeah... all I'm gonna say is read at your own risk, and know what you're getting into.

    Be ready for some pretty unconventional and unnerving stuff. The Roanoke Girls is a well written and captivating story, but it's just a bit too disturbing for me, and well, I think it has sufficiently scared me off of Adult Thrillers for a long while to come....

    Some Cover Thoughts:

    Using the picture frames on the cover is a brilliant move. The black and white photographs and the yellow wallpaper set the mood nicely, and it also reveals an integral part of the book without giving away too much, leaving just enough mystery to pull readers in (I'd know, having fallen victim to this cover myself).

    Rating: 3/5 Stars

    Have any thriller recs that maybe won't traumatize me? They would be really appreciated....
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    Thursday, June 1, 2017

    I'm Not Crying, You Are... *quietly sobs* - Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) Review

    Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) Review

    I don't know how I'm suppose to do this film justice with this review... (I mean, I just can't...). My thoughts are currently such a churning mess that I'm not sure where to begin, but Kimi no Na wa (which is also known by the English title "Your Name") is undeniably a masterpiece. It's easily the best film from 2016 I've seen.

    Synopsis & Details:

    From director Makoto Shinkai, the innovative mind behind Voices of a Distant Star and 5 Centimeters Per Second, comes a beautiful masterpiece about time, the thread of fate, and the hearts of two young souls. The day the stars fell, two lives changed forever. High read more... schoolers Mitsuha and Taki are complete strangers living separate lives. But one night, they suddenly switch places.

    Mitsuha wakes up in Taki's body, and he in hers. This bizarre occurrence continues to happen randomly, and the two must adjust their lives around each other. Yet, somehow, it works. They build a connection and communicate by leaving notes, messages, and more importantly, an imprint. When a dazzling comet lights up the night's sky, something shifts, and they seek each other out wanting something more-a chance to finally meet. But try as they might, something more daunting than distance prevents them. Is the string of fate between Mitsuha and Taki strong enough to bring them together, or will forces outside their control leave them forever separated?

    Title: Kimi no Na wa (Your Name)
    Series: N/A
    Director(s): Makoto Shinkai
    Studio: CoMix Wave Films
    Release Date: April 7, 2017 (USA)
    Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance

    Going in, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

    From the trailer and everyone else's gushing, I knew it had something do with a boy and a girl body swapping and comets, but other than that, I was relatively clueless. And boy was I in for a wondrous surprise...

    I have never been so touched by a film before. I'm at a lost for words. I don't know how to describe the pure sense of euphoria and deep sadness Kimi no Na wa left me with. Yes, it is a film about a girl and a boy swapping bodies, but it's also so much more. It's a profound examination of time, life, connection, and memory. It had me pondering the very nature of human existence, laughing my heart out, choking back sobs, and crying from happiness. (Haha, as expected this review has quickly devolved into a gushy and emotional mess....)

    Taki watching the comet in Kimi no Na wa

    I can not express the pure brilliance of Kimi no Na wa with its eloquent storytelling, powerful motifs, and exquisite soundtrack.

    Oh the soundtrack, every note's perfection, and just listening to it now makes my heart ache so much.... It matches the tone of the film extremely well and does what any good soundtrack should, improves your watching experience and further envelops you in the story.

    I hope that one day I'll be able to create something so heart touching, so brilliant, so incredibly eloquent.

    Kimi no Na wa has left me in absolute awe. I can't say much without stumbling into spoiler territory (I want you all to have the same glorious revelations that I had while watching the film), but this story is just weaved so beautifully, and the comet adds such a magical aura to the movie.

    Comet opening scene in Kimi no Na wa

    Once it grabs your attention, Kimi no Na wa never let's go.

    It takes you on a heart pounding, exhilarating journey that leaves you breathless and aching for more. The light humor melds perfectly with the deeply touching themes to create a moving and clever story. Throughout the movie, I kept trying to figure out how the director, Makoto Shinkai, possibly came up with such an amazing concept.

    I'm not sure how I went so long without mentioning the stunning animation, but it's time to talk about the animation....

    Every single frame of this film is freaking magnificent.

    It's practically indescribable, so I'll just leave a bunch of screencaps for you below (after all, they do say a picture's worth a thousand words):

    Mitsuha watching the comet in Kimi no Na wa Mitsuha and Taki connected by a red cord in Kimi no Na wa Shinto shrine gate in Kimi no Na wa Picnic on journey to the shrine in Kimi no Na wa Misty valley in Kimi no Na wa Journey to the shrine in Kimi no Na wa Meeting on the bridge in Kimi no Na wa

    My only critique is that, if anything, the characters are a bit weak.

    While the complex storyline was all I could think about after finishing Kimi no Na wa, the characters, even the main ones, barely left any imprint on me. Though, now that I think about it, this could've been an intentional move by Shinkai if he, say, wanted the viewers to project themselves onto Mitsuha and Taki.

    The ending was everything I could've hoped for,

    it ended at just the right moment and left just the right amount of questions unanswered (view spoiler)[even though my poor, long suffering heart desperately wanted to see them happily married with like 50 kids]. I'll certainly be watching for Shinkai's future work, as I'm sure pretty much everyone else will....

    Rating: 5/5 Stars

    Have you seen a Shinkai film? This was my first. What's your favorite Japanese animated work? (I'm on the prowl for more things to watch...)
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    Sunday, May 28, 2017

    Weird Announcement: I'm Changing My "Online Name" to Kai

    Why I'm Changing My Name to Kai

    Hello people *waves nervously*. You probably know me as Cassidy Jiang, the socially awkward girl with a weird sense of humor, who's obsessed with books and animation and has an unhealthy capacity for procrastination (in fact, that is literally what I'm doing at this very moment, what can I say, computer programming hw is scary...), but she is no more *dramatic music*. Haha, just kidding, I'm going no where (sorry to those who were genuinely excited at the prospect of me joining the ranks of disappeared bloggers (weird humor, am I right?)).

    The only thing changing around here's my name.

    I've been contemplating this change ever since I found out that the pinyin spelling of my Chinese name, 恺迪, is Kai Di. I know this is kinda weird and definitely a bit abrupt, but I just really want to share my "other name" with the world. Currently, only my family knows me by Kai Di, and that's something I'd like to change.

    I don't want my Chinese name to be a hidden aspect of my life, so I'm sharing it with you.

    I'm sorry for this out-of-the-blue decision, and I'm sorry if this is weird (cause it most definitely is), but this is something that's really important to me, and I feel compelled to do it. I'm not even sure if I'm going to stick with Kai, hell I might change everything back within a week, but I'm going to give it a go regardless.

    It's totally fine if you want to continue calling me Cassidy, I just want Kai to be out there.

    So yeah, if you see someone on social media with my profile picture and the name Kai Jiang, it's not a random person who stole my picture, it's me. Thank you for understanding! *hugs*

    Do you have an ethnic name? If you'd like, feel free to share it down below.
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    Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    Stereotypes, Witches, and Chicago - The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari Review

    The Best Kind of Magic Review

    Magical Realism has been getting lots of love from the YA community recently, and for good reason too. It's the perfect balance, normal life with a dash of mythical. The Best Kind of Magic is without a doubt magical realism, it's set in a version of Chicago with a secret magical community. Many different types of magical creatures live among the city's human population, including: witches, who are at the very top of the magical food chain, goblins, fairies, leprechauns, vampires, precogs, etc.

    Synopsis & Details:

    Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber's pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five read more... seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone's soul mate.

    Amber works at her mother's magic shop--Windy City Magic--in downtown Chicago, and she's confident she's seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one--her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor's son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father's missing girlfriend, she's distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can't see her own match, she can see his--and it's not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn't her match?

    The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and will appeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.

    Title: The Best Kind of Magic
    Series: Windy City Magic #1
    Author: Crystal Cestari
    Publication Date: May 16th 2017
    Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult,
    Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Disney-Hyperion!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

    Our main character, Amber, is a matchmaker, a skill which ranks pretty low on the magical hierarchy.

    Basically, she can look into anyone's eyes and determine who their true love is. It's not uncommon for people to come to her to find out whether or not the person they're dating is "the one", in fact, it's practically a daily occurrence.

    As you can imagine, when the answer is no, these people tend to respond rather negatively, lashing out at both Amber and her abilities. At the start of the novel, she has little sympathy for them, but as the story goes on, she gains insight and starts to understand their reactions more. I really appreciated this aspect of her character development, and I think it added a lot to her character and the book as a whole.

    Amber's a pretty snarky narrator, and while that does make the story much more enjoyable, there were a couple times when I felt like she was almost border-line mean....

    It's just, some of the things she thought and said left me with a bad taste in my mouth (well, then again, it's not exactly like I can really say anything about having a sharp tongue, I'm a pretty blunt snarkfest myself in real life).

    As mentioned above, there's no shortage of magical species in The Best Kind of Magic, and most of their introductions included at least one or two stereotypes, typically negative ones. While it was noted several times that characters didn't necessarily have to live up to the stereotypes their species afforded them, ultimately, I was uncomfortable with the immediate assumptions Amber made of some of the characters due to their species.

    Overall, my favorite part was definitely the romantic plotline.

    I know *gasp*, haha I never say that, but this one's pretty unique. It's not the standard love story I've come to expect, I didn't immediately know how it was gonna end (something which is sadly not very common in YA these days). The romantic plotline had me clamouring for the next book in the series the moment I finished the last page.

    Some Cover Thoughts:

    The Best Kind of Magic's cover represents the story rather well and nicely evokes that Magical Realism feel, but (here I go again...) I'm just not a fan of the title font. I know, I know, I'm forever harping about the title font, but I can't help it, I never seem to be quite satisfied by it. Don't get me wrong, I adore the tag line and how it curves with the buildings, but the title and the author's name, just no....

    Rating: 3/5 Stars

    What magical creature would you be? Also, are stereotypes okay if they're about magical creatures, and not, say, race?
    Win a finished copy of The Best Kind of Magic
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    About Crystal Cestari
    With rainbows in my hair and stories in my head, I am a writer drawn to magic in the everyday world. My debut novel, The Best Kind of Magic, arrives May 16, 2017 from Hyperion. Follow Amber Sand, a magical matchmaker who can actually see true love, as she takes off on a fun and romantic adventure toward happily ever after.

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