Monday, July 24, 2017

Coding & Coffee - When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon Review + Mini Fanart Piece

When Dimple Met Rishi Review

Dimple and Rishi were both very relatable characters for me, though for entirely different reasons.

Like Dimple, I have an interesting in coding, though the fields aren't the same. I'm just super excited that she's a female YA character who has an interest in computers and tech, it's something I hope to see much more of in the years to come.

Synopsis & Details:

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly read more... believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Series: N/A
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publication Date: May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

In When Dimple Met Rishi, what Rishi wants for himself conflicts with what his parents want for him. This is something I could really understand.

I haven't reached the age where I have to make these directional decisions, but I can already feel the pressure.

I've always known that I want to do something dealing with creativity and imagination, I've always wanted to create, but many of the jobs in those types of fields are very competitive, and only the best of the best can really make it in the end. My parents would much rather I chose a more "secure" field, and of course I know that they only want me to have a financially stable and happy life, but one of my greatest fears is finding myself with a job that I regret choosing. So seeing a character dealing with issues similar to those that I know I'll face in my future's was just really, really nice. Argh, sorry for the ramble.... Anyways moving on....

One of my favorite romance tropes is hate to love. I mean with this trope you're basically guaranteed tons of witty banter and of course, the lovely "what is this feeling" reactions.

It's the perfect balance of angst and fluff, what's not to love? With their first meeting consisting of Dimple tossing her coffee at poor Rishi (seriously, check out the back cover) there's no doubt that their romance fits the hate to love bill perfectly. They had such great chemistry, and I enjoyed every second of their interactions (well... maybe excluding those scenes where I got my heart torn out though....).

The story's a smidge predictable at times, especially towards the end.

I guessed a lot of the larger plot points pretty easily, but honestly, this wasn't a huge issue for me. When Dimple Met Rishi was just damn enjoyable for it to be a real sticking point.

Some Cover Thoughts:

Can we talk about how straight up adorable this cover is, I mean, that buoyant smile, those glorious oranges, that beautiful title font, and that gorgeous henna (at least I think that's what it is, please correct me if I'm wrong), what else is there to ask for? There's nothing that'd I'd change about this cover, it's too damn perfection.

While reading, I got inspired and sketched out a quick Dimple,

which I'm semi-proud of (please ignore her too long hair and weird looking glasses...), but Sandhya liked it so *melts into a happy puddle*. I'm not sure if I'm planning on drawing more characters in the future, we'll just have to see....

Before I go, I'd like to thank Lori from Pure Imagination for being kind enough to send me her extra ARC of When Dimple Met Rishi (I shall forever be in her debt...).

Rating: 5/5 Stars

What's your favorite coffee drink? (I typically turn to tea when I'm in need of caffeine, but Starbucks' Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino is pretty good, too bad their stuff is way too frickin' expensive....)
continue reading

Monday, July 17, 2017

Is Reviewing Getting in the Way of Reading?

Is Reviewing Getting in the Way of Reading?

This question's been bugging me for a while, particularly when I'm reading and sometimes when I'm writing a review, so I finally decided to sit down, organize my thoughts, and type up this discussion post.

Writing reviews takes up time, time I'd otherwise spend reading.

When I first started blogging, I thought running a book blog meant reading more, but honestly, I think the amount of books I read per a year has decreased. Of course this can't all be blamed on Quartzfeather and reviews. Around the same time I launched my blog, I also discovered a lot of new interests that have all taken some time from reading.

While reading, I often find myself worrying about whether or not I'll be able to write a long enough and/or comprehensive enough review.

This habit is one I seriously need to kick, because I've noticed "review pressure" (as I've dubbed it), negatively affecting my reading experiences way too many times. Hehe, if I don't have enough things to talk about in my review by the time I reach the book's halfway mark, I start panicking. I end up worrying so much about the review, that I forget to enjoy the book.

These days, I interrupt my reading on a regular basis to jot down some thoughts about the book on Goodreads (psst, add me) or if I'm feeling lazy, in the Kindle app.

This frequently destroys any reading momentum I've gathered, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, unless I wanna have absolutely nothing to discuss in my review, which I assure you, I don't, cause that just makes me panic more.

After writing all this stuff out, I've definitely realized that reviewing has started getting in the way of my reading.

Nevertheless, I wouldn't dream of quitting. I find writing them quite fun (when I'm not busy stressing), and a book blog just isn't a book blog without book reviews. I just need to find a way to stop worrying so much about them.

Do you suffer from "review pressure"? If you have any advice on quelling it, please, please leave it in the comments!
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Monday, July 10, 2017

A Love Letter to Carry On: The Rise & Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell - A Weirdly Sappy (Sorta) Review

A Love Letter to Carry On (A Sorta Review)

This has to be, at the very least, the fifth time I've reread this book. Ever since I first discovered it in 2016, Carry On's been a sort of comfort books for me. I turn to it when I want to escape life for a bit, when I just want to smile a little, when I'm stuck in a reading rut and every other books seems to displease me. To say I'm obsessed is an understatement....

Synopsis & Details:

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen. That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right. Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His read more... mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

Carry On - The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.

Title: Carry On
Series: N/A
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: October 6th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks St. Martin's Griffin!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

When I got the chance to "re-review" Carry On with the new paperback edition coming out, I immediately jumped at the offer.

Saying yes was a complete no-brainer. You should've seen me when the book came in the mail, I was beside myself with joy, shrieking so loud I must have shattered everyone's poor eardrums and bouncing of the walls in pure ecstasy.

I can't quite say why Carry On is so dear to me. If you asked, I wouldn't have a definitive answer.

Sure, Carry On is a really, really good book, an automatic five starred read for me, but what makes it so different from all the other books I give five stars, what makes it so darn special, what about it made me latch onto it so tightly?

Was it Simon with his golden curls and endearing obliviousness? Was it Baz with his blessed snarkiness and kick-ass vampire self? Was it Penny with her magical ring and spunky nature? Or perhaps it was simply the world, with it's limitless magic, with it's Wavering Woods, it's Watford, it's Ebb? I can't quite say. The brain's a weird thing, the heart's a weirder thing.

But as I sit here, terribly sleep deprived, typing this up at 5:04 in the morning after a long night of reading, I know one thing.

The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a fabulous journey that I would take you all on given the chance.

Aha, I'm kinda embarrassed, getting all sappy like this.... Ever since I wrote that one post (it's still sitting in my drafts because it's so off topic and confusing), I've been getting really emotional in a lot of my writing....

Despite only being aware of it for only one year, Carry On has already wormed it's way deep into my heart.

In those pages, in those words, I have found so much happiness, so much love. These types of gems are what keep me reading, these types of gems are what keep me blogging, these types of gems are the ones I want to share with you.

Some Cover Thoughts:

The new Carry On paperback cover is like only my favorite cover in this entire effing world. I mean, just look at the thing... Kevin Wada did everything (and I mean everything) right. Simon and Baz are just killing it on that cover! And the font, it works so damn well, the size, the color, the layout, all effing perfect. There's literally not a thing I'd change given the chance.

Beside that quote that was added to the first page (my heart totally melted upon seeing it), the inside didn't really change at all. It was a bit disappointing, but at the same time, I liked the familiarity of seeing the same chapter headings and dividing illustrations.

So, um, this post is pretty much just me being really, really sappy, and it's not the review I had planned... like at all.

Anyway, if you want to read an actual review of Carry On, then check out my first one (warning, be prepared to laugh at my expense. The grammer's terrible, and I was still figuring out my review writing style).

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Have you read Carry On? Are you a Snowbaz shipper? (we all know I am.) Do you have a comfort book? (Sorry again for getting all weirdly emotional on you guys, it's just, Carry On means a lot to me...)
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Monday, July 3, 2017

Kicking Ass & Taking Names - Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer Review

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer

I should've been writing an essay for English, but instead I decided to wisely spend my time reading Wires and Nerve. I told myself I'd only read a page or two, but that quickly became the entire book. I just couldn't put it down, despite the homework breathing down my neck (don't worry, I still got the essay done in time, just was a bit sleep deprived the next day).

Synopsis & Details:

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between read more... Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

Title: Wires and Nerve
Series: Wires and Nerve #1
Author: Marissa Meyer, Douglas Holgate
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, Romance, Sci-Fi, Young Adult, Graphic Novels

So, enough about my unhealthy procrastination habits (not getting enough sleep is really really bad for you it turns out), let's talk about the book...

Wires and Nerve focuses on Iko, as she is our protagonist this time around.

I've always found her to be an extremely likable and entertaining character, and this graphic novel is no exception. She makes a wonderful narrator, and I loved seeing everything through her eyes.

While the book is mostly about Iko, her being the main character and all, we also get to see the other members of the crew (still waiting for more Kai though).

Cinder is adjusting to her new position, figuring out how to rule Luna, and attempting to guide her country to a brighter future. Thorne and Cress are still onboard the Rampion, traveling around the world and distributing the letumosis cure to those that need it. Scarlet and Wolf are back on the farm, being as mushy as usual *screeches* The RINNGGGGG. Winter has smoothly slid into her new ambassador role, and Jacin, of course, is right by her side (no surprise there). And finally, Kai is off running The Eastern Commonwealth, and consequently, we haven't seen very much of him yet *tears*.

As this is a graphic novel review, I am 100% obligated (by my own choice) to mention the art.

I'm a bit on the fence when it comes to the art style of Wires and Nerve.

On one hand, I really liked how most of the characters' were portrayed (Iko's design is by far the best one in my opinion, though Cinder's was also a particular favorite), however, I was a bit more meh with some other character designs *cough* Kinney and Kai *cough*. I'm also not a huge fan of how the wolves were drawn, I don't know, they just didn't feel right to me. Though my head pictures are just my head pictures, so who am I to judge?

Speaking of the wolves, I'm so happy that we're finally getting some closure.

After finishing Winter, I was quite annoyed with the fact that we never found out what happened to them after Levana's downfall. I mean they're not exactly an issue that's gonna go off and fix itself.

The best part, by far, is sheer amount of butt we get to see Iko kick in Wires and Nerve (trust me the title totally fits).

She really came into her own, we get to see into her head, and watch as she struggles with her andriodness and what it means. I can't wait to see more of her and the crew in the next installment (graphic novels never last long enough)!!! Fingers crossed for Kaider.

I'm gonna be doing a Q&A post really soon and am looking for some questions, so if you have one, pretty please leave it here:

If the embed's acting weird, here's a direct link to the form.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

What's your favorite Lunar Chronicles' ship? Who's your favorite character?
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Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Think Piece - Morality & Making Sense of the Current Political Atmosphere

Morality and Making Sense of Today's Politics

The confetti, that endless blue, red, and white that came raining down when we learned that Obama had won, listening to a brief NPR report about Romney with my family, somewhere in downtown San Antonio, those are my two strongest memories of the elections I witnessed as a child, and even then, they’re pretty faint. I watched the 2008 and 2012 elections from the proverbial sidelines, too young and too uninterested to really care.

Elections, they were just something that happened every four years, a very important something I was often told, but still, I couldn’t be bothered to pay them much attention, that was, until last year.

2016 was the Year of the Monkey, 2016 was the year I enter high school, 2016 was the year I finally memorized my phone number and promptly forgot it. 2016 was a lot of things, small things, large things, life changing things. So many terrible, forgettable, wondrous things happened in 2016, but above all, 2016 will always be the year that I discovered politics.

It wasn't the headline generating primaries, it wasn't the brilliance of the late night comedians (ok, maybe it was, but just a bit), it was Hillary.

Something about watching her walk across those endless stages made something click. From that moment on, I needed to know everything about the election, from that moment on, I had an intense passion for understanding our nation's cogs and gears. I may not have liked her entirely as a candidate, but she showed me that women have a place in politics.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Hillary giving a speech to her supporters

Before I go on, I’d like to disclose a few things. As many of you may already know, I’m a Democrat through and through, and accordingly, the majority of my opinions can be categorized as liberal. These beliefs, these convictions, they’re a cumulation of my race, my gender, my experiences, and my childhood. I take pride in them, and they’re a large part of who I am as a person, but that’s beside the point.

I am not seeking to change anyone’s mind with this piece, nor am I looking to convert anyone to “my side”.

Today I am interested in your thoughts, interested in understanding your perspectives, even if they are from “the other side of the aisle”. Today I want to unpack my own messy thoughts, today I want to try to make sense of what’s going on.

"This is unprecedented. This is unheard of. This is unbelievable. This is not normal."

Those words, they’ve been in abundance lately, filling my ears, littering news articles, screaming at me from social media, spilling over into real life.

Gray scale picture of the US White House

"This is unprecedented. This is unheard of. This is unbelievable. This is not normal." Those words, they only compare, they only juxtapose, and for someone like me, someone who has no point of reference, nothing to compare this past election with, nothing to hold this administration to, they’re useless.

What is abnormal if you have no definition of normal?

This election, these past 162 days, they’ve been confusing enough with their sharpening divides, looming scandals, and bewildering tweets, but my lack of experience, that one takes the cake. The Russian investigation, Comey’s firing, Spicer’s claims, everyone keep saying these things are unprecedented, others keep defending them, but are they really so unusual, are they really so justifiable? I really can’t say.

I’ve looked to the past for answers, tried to find parallels between then and now, but in the end, facts just can’t replace experience.

In this time of growing division and partisanship, I don’t know where to turn, who to trust.

American politics is increasingly filled with anger, burgeoning distrust, and fierce polarization. Everyone’s so angry, we’re all at each other's throats. This mess of emotions, this era of volatile facts, only births aggressive disagreement and closed minds.

Multiple folded American flags

I, with my quick temper, am definitely not innocent of such things.

I've gotten into my fair share of heated debates during and after the most recent election cycle.

The topics of these bitter arguments ranged from the Obama Birther Scandal to Trump's Access Hollywood tape. While these arguments were in fact quite bitter, and while I did say countless regrettable things, I consider them priceless experiences. I'm still on speaking terms with all of those I argued with, maybe even friendly terms with some, and well, that's taught me that, yes, you can be friends with those on the "other side".

It's easy to just block out people who don't agree with you, it can even seem right sometimes, but doing so limits your worldview.

Associating with the "other side" feels like taboo these days, especially with them often being portrayed as morally corrupt, so exceedingly wrong, but if you think that of them, what do they think of you?

Contemplation of Justice statue

If you are willing to ignore someone, block them out simply because you are convinced that you are right and they are not, then I ask, how do you know that you are, without a single doubt, the right one?

Right and wrong are peculiar things, intriguing concepts.

Is there truly a sense of rightness guiding the world on some laid out path? Who is right, who is wrong? Everyone believes they’re the correct one, after all, that's the nature of opinion, but everyone can't be right.

Out of all of the opinions I hold today, there will be many that are viewed unfavorably by tomorrow.

I’ve acknowledged that my strongest beliefs might be defined as incorrect or even socially unacceptable in the future, but then, how can I truly believe in my opinions if I also believe that they won’t all “turn out to be right”, that the passing of time will judge them incorrect? Do opinions not require conviction, do opinions not require faith? How am I to believe in what I don't fully trust? How do you know if you're truly right? What even is right?

Some might point to history to prove the concept of rightness and wrongness, but is that really a true determination of morality, is that a true determination of rightness, or does it only reflect the mindset of today's opinions? Does the "right side" truly always win in the end?

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

How many of my opinions are simply shaped by the time period in which I grew up, the very time period I breathe in at this very moment? The truths I believe in so strongly, would I still recognize them in a whole different world? Would the convictions, so black and white now, turn muddled and gray?

Would I see the past injustices we clearly see today, or would I become one among many of those on the "wrong side of history”?

Many of the questions raised here currently have no definitive answers, and they likely never will. We can only wonder at the what ifs and endlessly weigh the balance of nature and nurture, but all the same, these are questions that should be pondered, questions that should be asked, even if we’ll never truly solve them.

It is dangerous to seal your mind off, to believe, without a hint of doubt, that you are always correct, to refuse to listen to anyone beside your own.

Opinions should not be stagnant creatures, they should be constantly evolving, forever reaching new heights. Question your opinions daily, do not let them off the hook simply because they are yours, after all, you could very well be "wrong".

Wrongness and rightness are defined by the individual, no one, nothing, has the final say, not even history.

Do not fall victim to a black and white world, most everything is gray.

I want to give a big thanks to Wren and Megan for beta-ing, this post would've be such a huge mess if it wasn't for them. Also Megan's responsible for that awesome title up above, haha the one I came up with was overly long and way too clunky.... Anyways, thank you all for sitting through my messy and drawn-out thoughts *hugs*.

I'm gonna be doing a Q&A post really soon and am looking for some questions, so if you have one, pretty please leave it here:

If the embed's acting weird, here's a direct link to the form.

What's your take on right vs. wrong? Was the 2016 election your first, or have you followed prior elections? (feel free to let loose in the comments, I eagerly await your thoughts)
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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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