In Life Lately.... - November & December 2017 Gazette

Thursday, December 28, 2017
Quartz Gazette November & December 2017

I promise I love writing these recaps* but ughhhh I keep forgetting to and plus noooo timmeee *sighs harriedly*. I've honestly only found time to breath and type this out because I'm finally on Winter break and it's such an unbelievable relief, but of course, there is still plenty to worry about as per usual.

*So uh, this isn't like the Gazette recaps I usually do, but I'm just trying this new style out, please tell me if you like it or hate it.

Sooo a lot has happened since I last wrote one these thingies....

In the June & July Edition I was still worrying about starting sophomore year, and here I am, half way through my tenth year, it's so weird....

Tenth grade has definitely been a lot more intensive than freshman year, and as expected, the worst offenders are Chemistry and World History AP.

Chemistry is just plain perplexing (and my teacher doesn't exactly help that fact) and World History has a sh*t load of homework (one week we had to read and take notes on 35 pages of our textbook, and I did it all in one day cause procrastination *cries*). But aside from that, it hasn't been as bad as I thought.... I mean, I actually kinda enjoy math this year (or at least I don't dread it with the fire of a thousand burning suns anymore) and that's mostly cause my teacher is freaking amazing!

In other news, I have a new crush....

I'm not sure if I ever talked about my first one here, but yep, this one's only my second.... Lol, I still don't understand how my brain works on such matters, though, I guess no one really does.... As usual, I stand next to no chance with the subject of my hormonal desires and I'll just have to settle with languishing in my heart's unfortunate lack of common sense. I honestly thought I could escape high school without going through another train-wreck of a crush because I'd managed to get away crush-less last year, but alas, it appears my hopes were in vain....

P.S. This post was embarrassingly short, but I have a year recap coming out soonish so look out for that!

Got any past crush stories? Or maybe you're in the same hairy place as me... Either way I'd love to rant about crushes together.
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I have a problem, I hoard posts

Monday, November 6, 2017
I have a problem, I hoard posts

Hey y'all! Sorry for disappearing without warning for three weeks. I had multiple posts ready to be published in my drafts, but for some reason it never crossed my mind to post them (which I suppose just further proves the title....), anyway, I finally bit the bullet and pulled this one out and polished it up for you guys. I hope you enjoy! (Also this post was written in the summer so circumstances have changed a wee.)

I'm not sure when this started exactly, but it's gotten really annoying lately....

As many of you have probably already figured out, I typically post once a week on either Saturday or Monday. This schedule works pretty well for me during the school year when I don't have nearly as much free time as I do currently, but ever since school let out for summer break, I've written quite a number of posts, and they're all currently sitting in my drafts, doing nothing.

According to my weird-ass brain, I'm apparently saving them for something, but I honestly don't know what that something is....

I guess this can all be traced back to my irrational fear that one day I'll have nothing to post when Saturday and Monday roll around, but like, even I can acknowledge how stupid that is. I mean, if I need more posts, I can just write more, or if I ever get burned out, I know I can just take a break, but my brain doesn't seem to understand that?

So yeah, right now I have about ten completely finished, unpublished reviews and discussions that could literally be posted at this very moment, but because of some odd reasoning, I just won't.... And that's not even all of it....

Whenever I finish a post that I'm particularly proud of instead of scheduling it like a normal human being,

I'll proceed to just sit on it for like all of eternity, endlessly waiting and waiting for that perfect day to post it that won't ever really come. I've somehow gotten it into my head that if I post something at the "wrong time" everyone will, for some mysterious reason, flat out ignore it, and that's kinda my worst fear. I know I shouldn't care about stats, comments, shares, and yada yada, but it really does suck to see something you worked so hard on get little to no attention.

I haven't really come up with any solution for this, though I guess you could always force yourself to schedule stuff, but I was hoping that writing this post would help me recognize and resolve this weird little habit of mine. So uh here's to hoping that my brain realizes how stupid it's being....

Am I the only one who suffers from "chronic post-hoarding syndrome"? Do you have any tips for beating it?
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What about Retellings Makes Me Love Them So Much? - A (Non-Spoiler) Girls Made of Snow & Glass Discussion + Mini Review

Saturday, October 14, 2017
What about Retellings Makes Me Love Them So Much?

If you've stuck around Quartzfeather long enough, you're probably already aware that I'm a HUGE retellings junkie. So Girls Made of Snow and Glass being one of my most anticipated books of 2017 comes as a surprise to a grand total of no one. After finally finishing (and loving) the book, I couldn't get this one question out of my head: "What about retellings makes me love them so much?".

By all means, I shouldn't like them as much as I do.

Typically I despise genres that are essentially filled with the same basic story structure and story elements repeated over and over again, with only a couple of things—like setting and characters—swapped out. That gets tiring really fast (*side eyes dystopian*). But the entire premise of retellings is that they're based on preexisting and usually very well established stories. So, what's up?

Girls Made of Snow and Glass, being a retelling of Snow White, contains many of the elements of the original story,

such as: the titular princess's all important association with snow, the evil queen/stepmother's connection with mirrors, and the classic death-like sleep. However, at the same time, the author, Melissa Bashardoust, also includes many elements that are entirely unique to her work, like: a mysterious curse that needs resolving, political and social issues concerning a north-south divide, Mina's (the Evil Queen figure) glass heart, and best of all, Lynet (the Snow White figure) gets a female love interest.

Nico Benedickt / Unsplash
Picture of a snowy castle

By the way, these random photos I've scattered throughout the post are like aesthetics of the book. I'm just trying this out so tell me if like or dislike them!

I suppose you could argue that this what a lot of dystopian authors do too: throw in some new plot points here and there, add an original geopolitical conflict, and change up the characters representing the basic genre archetypes, but, upon closer inspection, I'd like to argue that these two scenarios are actually slightly different, even though on the surface they certainly don't look it.

When I start reading a retelling, I'm not expecting originality.

I've approached this book already knowing it's basic plot structure, and perhaps even seeking that odd comfort that comes with familiarity. Fairytales are a cornerstone of basically every childhood, so getting to see one redone and refitted for your current reading level is always exciting. Plus, the original fairytales I grew up with—Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen (sorry, my childhood was pretty Disney-less)—were pretty barebones stories, making them a perfect canvas to be built upon.

Daniel Burka / Unsplash
Picture of the southern palace

The plot may not be wholly original, but a good retelling always incorporates fresh and distinctive details, further fleshes out the original story, and sometimes even contains the author's own unique perspective on the fairytale they're retelling, as most everyone has different childhood memories and emotions tied to them.

The dystopian genre lacks this feature.

There really is no set story structure backbone for dystopian, or at least not a particularly well-defined one, and it being a rather recent phenomenon means that very few will have such strong emotional connections to the genre.

For young adult at the very least, you could argue that The Hunger Games does serve as a backbone of sorts, as seen by the unnecessary amount of love triangles that the genre as a whole now possesses thanks to a certain forebearer (*cough* Team Peeta for life *cough*), but it really isn't universal enough or ingrained enough to fully act as one. So, when we see a repetitive trope in dystopian, instead of viewing it as a salute to the original story or as a fun easter egg as we do in retellings, we mark it off as a sign of unoriginality and as proof of the terrible level of inbreeding within the genre.

Aaron Burden / Unsplash
Picture of a snowflake

That's not to say that unoriginality or repetitiveness can't affect retellings either.

If I read too many retellings of say: Cinderella (that one seems to be really popular lately) in a row I will start getting bored. No matter how much of their own personal flair an author adds, the same basic story will always look the same, even when dressed up in a new fancy dress (ha). Which is why my own personal philosophy on retellings is to keep them relatively sparse, and only approach them when I'm in the mood for what they offer, no matter how much I adore them.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust Mini Review

( / Amazon & Goodreads & Book Depository)

Girls Made of Snow and Glass Cover Snip

Synopsis & Details: Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d read more... always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

Title: Girls Made of Snow & Glass
Series: N/A
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Publication Date: September 5th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, Romance, Young Adult
Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Flatiron!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

I agonized for days over my ARC request email before finally biting the damn bullet and hitting send cause just the thought of it was giving me jitters. After a couple of months, I'd long lost hope, but then, one day, a copy showed up on my doorstep, and it was like love at first sight. It's honestly kind of embarrassing how fond and careful I was with the book, it legitimately felt like one of the most precious things I owned. However, that also had some unintended side effects....

I'd built up the hype for Girls Made of Snow and Glass so high, that I was super terrified that the actual thing would disappoint me,

but my concerns proved to be in vain. While the book does start off a bit slow, the unraveling mystery and intriguing characters quickly pulled me in. Lynet and Mina are just such interesting contrasts of each other and their relationship felt incredibly real due to it's complexity.

Melissa Bashardoust reshapes the well-known story of Snow White to focus on the compelling dynamic between the evil queen and her stepdaughter,

carefully giving both of them their own complex backstories and motivations. She keeps enough of the original tale to retain that fairytale magic, but tweaks just enough to give her rendition a fresh feel. In case I haven't already made it abundantly clear (which I certainly have, probably much to the annoyance of many of y'all), I absolutely loved Girls Made of Snow and Glass, but as with most cases, I still have a bone to pick with it, even if it's a really, really tiny bone. (view spoiler)Lynet did end up feeling a tad overpowered at times. Everything just came so easily to her after she ran away because of her ability to manifest ANYTHING (and I mean absolutely anything) from snow, which is practically inescapable in the perpetually winter north. I suppose, that was kind of unavoidable, but it kind of ticked me off a bit for some reason.... Oh well, there I go being irrational again....

Jan Tielens / Unsplash
Picture of the southern palace dome

Girls Made of Snow and Glass's summary markets it as being like Disney's Frozen, which honestly caught me a little off guard at first, cause you know, different fairytales. But, after reading the book, I must admit that the parallels are definitely there: a strong emphasis on female relationships, ice magic, and a wintery setting. However, Girls Made of Snow and Glass has a decidedly darker tone—hence the comparison to The Bloody Chamber—and its world is much more fleshed out than Frozen's, which is expected considering the different mediums.

I will say though that you don't need to like Frozen to like this book.

I honestly am not a huge fan of Frozen (it's one of my least favorite of Disney's recent-ish works), but I still adored Girls Made of Snow and Glass. They may share many similarities, but they're still quite different in tone and purpose.

Do you love retellings too? Do you hate them? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter!
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Anger, Sadness, & Being Chinese American - A Poetry Dump

Monday, September 18, 2017
Sharing a bit of Poetry About Alienation

I've never done this before because admittedly, my poetry is trash. I joined my school's poetry club on a whim last year (it was the closest thing to a book club I could find) and for the first time, I, Kai Jiang, took a stab at writing poetry, and it was a lot of fun, but my style is hella weird. I don't rhyme (at least not on purpose) and I don't revise, I just write what feels right to me, I just write to get it out.

Both of the poems below are responses to my feelings of alienation from both my identity and my country.

One is addressed to one of Steve King's more famous tweets and the complicated feelings it evoked and the other is simply born out of a feeling of hopelessness in the face of overwhelming hatred, it has no specific subject, it's really just a pool of emotion....

Haha, I don't really have anything else to say.... Don't be too harsh, okay? ^_^ (also heads up, the poems are in scroll boxes because I didn't want this post to be terribly long.)

Somebody Else’s Baby

Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.
We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.
Somebody else’s babies.

one or some person of unspecified or indefinite identity.

in a different manner or place or at a different time.

Somebody else’s babies.
The proud words of an United States Representative.
Words that have stuck with me, stuck to me.
Accompanied by a sticky web of thought,
Vexatious and impossible to get rid of.

Am I somebody else’s baby?
In the eyes of Steve King, am I not an American?
What does that phrase even mean?
When does someone become an else?

My parents are both immigrants.
They came here searching for their American dream.

They have lived in this country for 25 years.
They have built a family,
They have learned a new language,
They have learned a new culture.
Are they still somebody else?
After all these years, are they still an else?
And am I, their daughter, born on American soil, raised on the American pledge, an else?
Am I somebody else’s baby?

What even is an American?
Is it someone who can trace their name back to a long ago colonist?
Someone who’s roots in this land go back farther than history can say?
Someone who arrived on our shores bright eyed with a head full of dreams and a heart full of hope?
Someone born into the delicate suspense of two cultures?
Someone who doesn’t elicit a word before American?
Someone whose great great great grandparents passed through Ellis Island on the way to a new beginning?
Someone whose ancestors were brought here in chains, against their will?
What does it mean to be American?

There is not one answer.

We are Americans.

This beautiful, colorful, deluge of stories and backgrounds.
Races and ethnicities.
Each one different, each one unique in their own special way.
And yet, we all fall under one nationality, one label,

It is not the color of one’s skin,
The length of one’s lineage,
The origin of one’s family,
That determines their Americanness,
It is their devotion to their country.

Who is Steve King to call my parents an else?
Who is Steve King to call me somebody else’s baby?
Who is Steve King to say I am not American?
Who is Steve King to say what an American is?

I am the daughter of two immigrants.
I am not an else.
I am not somebody else’s baby.
I am American.
I am the future of this country.


I would sock every last one of them,
Feel my fists sink into their faces,
Feel my knuckles crack their noses.

But violence,
Violence is only fire,
And fire does little to quell flame.

But pain,
I want to hit,
I want to break,
Only so they’ll feel my pain,
The pain it is to see others hate you for who you are,
For what you cannot change,
For what you will not change.

But this poison,
This emotion that swirls in my veins,
Cannot be told by anger,
By curled fists,
And so I sit,
Shaking with anger and shuddering in pain.

Have any of you guys ever experienced similar emotions? Do you write poetry too, if so, what drives it?
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Ginormous Reveal(s) Time!!! (shhhh, no spoilers...)

Saturday, September 9, 2017
Get Ready for Two Ginormous Reveals!!!

Sorry for disappearing on all y'all like that, but my little drama queen self had to make this reveal all that more dramatic (just kidding). In all actuality, school started up again for me recently and the first few days of sophomore year really kicked my butt (one week in and I've already had a math related crisis, that's gotta be a new record).... Everyone warned me, but did I listen? Nope. Thank god I finally have everything under control though. Anyways, I'm done talking about school *shivers*, let's move on to the stuff you're all here for....

So notice anything new around here???? Yep, that's right, I have a sidebar and a (sorta) header again.

Haha, it's been so long... I bet many of you don't even remember pre-sidebarless Quartzfeather. I'll admit, I'm gonna miss not having a sidebar a little, but I'm also super happy with this new design too *gets weirdly nostalgic*. But wait, there's more!

Remember that time I asked you guys whether or not I should open up a web design business?

Well, a whole entire year later, I'm finally going through with my dream and launching one!

Figuring out tax rules, getting a paypal account, and registering for a sales tax license was an unexpectedly messy ordeal *glares at Texas Comptroller office* but I'm finally on the other end of it all, and I'm finally cutting the proverbial ribbon, and gosh am I excited! Anywho, let's get down to the deets.

I'm now offering custom web designs for sites on the blogger platform for $80 (USD) each.

My first two clients will both get 30% of their purchases, and for the next three months, 20% of all profits will be going towards helping libraries affected by Harvey get back onto their feets. Further information on ordering a design can be found here: Web Design Services, and just for funsies I've also included my portfolio below.

My previous projects:

I'm so excited to finally get this business rolling, and it would mean the world to me if you guys could help spread the word!!! *kisses* Also if you're interested in working with me, please feel free to drop me a line at, I can't wait to get brainstorming and designing!

Is there anything big in your life that you want to or are working on starting? Also, how do you feel about the new design? Anything you'd like me to change?
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Duels & Disappointment - DNF Discussions: The Football Girl + Done Dirt Cheap + Duels & Deception

Monday, August 14, 2017
The Football Girl + Done Dirt Cheap + Duels & Deception DNF Discussions

It's been such a long time since I've done one of these, and I DNF books left and right these days, so I really don't have a good excuse.... This time I'm using twitter polls, which is honestly a bit odd and inconvenient, but I just couldn't find a good alternative. All the other poll makers were either paid, just plain ugly, or for Wordpress only... (argh I kinda really want to move to Wordpress after all that, but *sigh* I can't afford self-hosting at the moment... lol one day...). Anyway, enough with the lamenting, let us commence....

What is DNF Discussions?

I've always been terrible at deciding whether or not to DNF books, even when it's apparent that I'm not enjoying them. This bothersome quality of mine often causes me to waste way too much time reading books I couldn't care less about, but alas, my fear of missing out on something good refuses to be assuaged, so I've decided to turn to you guys to help me determine whether or not a book is worth reading on.

The Football Girl by Thatcher Heldring

(DNFed at 10% / Amazon & Goodreads & Book Depository)

The Football Girl by Thatcher Heldring Cover

Synopsis & Details: The summer before Caleb and Tessa enter high school, friendship has blossomed into a relationship…and their playful sports days are coming to an end. Caleb is getting ready to try out for the football team, and Tessa is training for cross-country. But all read more... their structured plans derail in the final flag game when they lose. Tessa doesn’t want to end her career as a loser.

She really enjoys playing, and if she’s being honest, she likes it even more than running. So what if she decided to play football instead? What would happen between her and Caleb? Or between Tessa and her two best friends, who are counting on her to try out for cross-country with them? And will her parents be upset that she’s decided to take her hobby to the next level?

This summer, Caleb and Tessa figure out just what it means to be a boyfriend, girlfriend, teammate, best friend, and someone worth cheering for.

Title: The Football Girl
Series: N/A
Author: Thatcher Heldring
Publication Date: April 4th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Delacorte!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

I was really, really excited for The Football Girl, cause, hello, girls playing football!

Haha, anyone who knows me in real life is probably scratching their heads right now and thinking: since when is Kai a fan of football??? Well, I'm not, football's just not my thing (same goes for pretty much every other sport though *glares at my terrible, can't-do-physical-activity genes*). However, I read Catherine Murdock's Dairy Queen a loonnngg while back, and have some pretty fond memories of it, so I was eager to find something similar.

When I first found out about The Football Girl, I immediately added it to my stalking shelf on Goodreads*, and when it appeared on Netgalley, I:
  • Took a minute to shriek in delight
  • Requested the book immediately
  • *If you don't feel like your tbr is sufficiently overwhelming, then take a look through my stalking shelf, and I promise you will come back with a hulking tbr and many regrets.

    Alas, it appears I was destined to be disappointed (why hello over-dramatic Kai).

    The writing was just much too plain for my tastes, and subsequently, The Football Girl never managed to capture my elusive attention.

    I gave it till my customary 10% mark and was so bored and disinterested with both the characters and the plot that I pretty much DNFed without a second thought, and the cover was so pretty too *disappointed sniffles*.

    What are your thoughts on this matter?

    Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon

    (DNFed at 65% / Amazon & Goodreads & Book Depository)

    Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon Cover

    Synopsis & Details: Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club read more... known as the Wardens.

    Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of a local lawyer: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel.

    Title: Done Dirt Cheap
    Series: N/A
    Author: Sarah Nicole Lemon
    Publication Date: March 7th 2017
    Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
    Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Amulet!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

    Here I am again, DNFing a book at 65%....

    Done Dirt Cheap started out well, I liked the characters a lot, though the bike gang thing did take some adjusting to (I'm rather clueless when it comes to that stuff), and I was intrigued by the premise. The story really started picking up around the 30% mark, and things were looking good, but then, around the 60% mark, I found myself losing interest.

    I've seen so much praise for this book and heard so many good things from both authors and bloggers alike,

    which is why I wanted to love it so badly, but I just couldn't get into it. This is definitely a case of "it's me not you," Done Dirt Cheap is beautifully written and has two well-developed, kickass narrators, but I don't think it's for me. Argh, this is one of those cases where I just can't decide whether to indefinitely DNF or not....

    What are your thoughts on this matter?

    Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey

    (DNFed at 30% / Amazon & Goodreads & Book Depository)

    Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey Cover

    Synopsis & Details: Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father's choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those read more... arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

    Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won't hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert's help, Lydia strives to keep her family's good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

    Title: Duels & Deception
    Series: N/A
    Author: Cindy Anstey
    Publication Date: April 11th 2017
    Genres: Historical, Mystery, Romance, Young Adult
    Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Swoon Reads!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

    When I picked up Duels & Deception I'd just finished Jane Austen's famed Pride and Prejudice and was looking for more books set in the Regency period, so I went into it with pretty high hopes.

    Generally I try to give some leniency to books that start off slow, sometimes it takes awhile for a story to really get rolling,

    but when I reached the 30% mark and Duels and Deception still hadn't managed to capture my attention I figured it more than about time to go ahead and DNF.

    I stopped reading right after Lydia got kidnapped, which kind of speaks for how uninterested I was in the characters and by extension, the plot.

    If you're looking for that Austen vibe, then this book certainly has that, but the slow start just wasn't working for me. Honestly I think this was another case of "wrong book at the wrong time", maybe I'll give it another try someday in the future.

    What are your thoughts on this matter?

    Have you read any of these books? What books have you DNFed lately?
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    Changing Things Up (Again) - Quartz Gazette June & July 2017

    Friday, August 4, 2017
    Quartz Gazette June & July 2017

    Not a lot's happened in the last two months it being summer break and all, but I did finally get my AP Human Geography test score back, and I got a 5! Haha it was a pretty nice surprise, considering how damn worried I was after finishing the test, but Human Geography is the easiests of the AP exams and 10.6% of all test takers got fives, so it's not a huge deal. Oh well... can't wait AP World History *groans*.

    In other news, I'll be a sophomore soon and ugh, I'm not sure how I feel about school starting again....

    I always end up getting listless and a bit depressed over the summer, having too much time on my hands is never a good thing for me, but when school gets back into the swing of things I always end up harried and stressed, so, lol, neither of those scenarios are terribly attractive. Let's just hope I can finally conquer procrastination this year so I can end up being a little less harried and stressed....

    August should be a pretty big month for Quartzfeather....

    I'm planning on finally revealing the new blog design I've been working on nonstop for the last month and I'm also hoping to finally launch a little something I've been wanting to do for awhile. So look out for all that!

    One last thing, I keep messing around with the content and formatting of my bi-monthly recap posts because I can't seem to decide what I want to do with them.

    Everything I do feels unsatisfying in one aspect or another, ugh I hate being so damn indecisive.... So uh feel free to leave your suggestions below. If I changed something you liked or you'd like me to add something please tell me!

    Books Read in June & July

    (click on the covers to read the complete reviews)

    Trouble Is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly ReviewInternet Famous by Danika Stone ReviewCarry On by Rainbow Rowell ReviewThe Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente ReviewWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon ReviewThat Crazy Perfect Someday Review by Michael MazzaYou Know Me Well by Nina LaCour, David Levithan ReviewOnce and for All by Sarah DessenThe Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine ReviewWindfall by Jennifer SmithThe Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger ReviewTo All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han ReviewMechanica by Betsy Cornwell ReviewOur Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

    Shows & Movies Watched in June & July

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

    Watched in June & July: A Silent Voice, My Hero Academia, Star Vs. the Forces of Evil

    A Silent Voice // This film first caught my attention because it beat out Your Name for the best anime of the year award, and I mean, have you seen Your Name? Anything that beats that film must be amazing, and true to word, A Silent Voice was magnificent. I'll be posting a review for it pretty soon, so keep an eye out for that, but let's just say this film deserves a lot more attention.

    My Hero Academia (Season #1-3) // Say hello to my latest obsession... (god, how many more fandom holes can I fall into). I mainly started watching this show cause I had nothing better to do with life, so I wasn't expecting much out of it, but I quickly fell in love with Midoriya and the rest of the show's wonderful cast of characters (well expect Mineta, that little perv can get wrecked... *gags*). I kinda want to write a fully fledged review, but I'm not really in the habit of doing that for TV shows, hmm maybe after season 3 ends....

    Star Vs. the Forces of Evil (Season #3) // God, that season premiere was really something.... While a bit overstuffed in places, all two hours of The Battle for Mewni were action packed and absolutely wonderful. The rich mythology was further explored and Star's powers were tested to their limits. I really can't wait to see what the rest of this season has to offer, too bad we have to wait till November... *cries*.

    Bookstagrams of June & July

    (photos link to my instagram: @quartzfeathers)

    Bookstagrams of June and July

    Words Discovered in June & July

    (some fantastically long and whimsically obscure words to know)

    • Perihelion noun - the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid, or comet at which it is closest to the sun.
    • Personalty noun - personal, movable property.
    • Troglodyte noun - (especially in prehistoric times) a person who lived in a cave.
    • Idiosyncrasies noun - a mode of behavior or way of thought peculiar to an individual.
    • Culpable adjective - deserving blame.
    • Schlepping verb - haul or carry (something heavy or awkward).

    Cover Reveals of June & July

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

    My favorite covers that were revealed in the last two months

    Interesting Links from Around the Web

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

    • Molly Shares 5 Small Blog Changes that have big effects
      Sometimes when we’re visiting other blogs, there might be something that is on their blog that makes our lives easier. It makes contacting them easier, it [...]
    • Austine Shares How to Support Your Fave Book Bloggers
      Yesterday I tweeted something that became fairly popular (compared to all my other tweets lol) after a few people commented on some of my reviews this [...]
    • Francina Shares Her Thoughts on the Carve The Mark Controversy When this whole mess first exploded awhile back, I stayed far away from it.... Trying to fully dissect a Twitter controversy is generally a pretty impossible task, but I found this Youtube video on the topic to be pretty informative. While I'm not completely sure if I agree with all her views on Carve The Mark, I try to withhold judgement on topics I'm not well versed in, her video is definitely worth a look at.
    • May Shares Why She Might Unfollow Your Blog
      I’m a very easy-to-please person. You’ll see that on Goodreads I rarely rate anything below 4 stars. I don’t even have any books on my one-star shelf. I’M JUST REALLY [...]
    • Ilsa Launches a New Blog
      Hello, awesome creatures of the universe. Welcome to the explosion of life: MY BLOG. Though I’m not sure if it’s mine. It’s a bit of wild beast at the moment who apparently does not like cages that are [...]

    What have you been up to in the last two months? Is school starting up again soon for you too?
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    The Collision Theory and Roller Skating Rinks - The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger Review

    Monday, July 31, 2017
    The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash Review

    I am handwriting my very first review today because I currently don't have access to Blogger's post editor *glares at wifi company* and I really can't wait any longer to get all my thoughts on paper, so bear (hehe, book insider pun) with me.

    Synopsis & Details

    Candace Ganger captures all the bumps in the road and simmering chemistry of those early days of first love in her young adult debut novel The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash. Ganger, a contributing writer for HelloGiggles, starts her writing career in her full of feels young read more... adult novel set around a skating rink with two characters you can’t help but root for. She explores this tender time during occasions of family tragedy, and whether young love can pull apart or become an anchor in the face of impossible circumstances.

    Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of- best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near- Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Brittani Hilles, Publicist, St. Martin’s Press | 646-307- 5558 apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall—hard—the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo.

    Loosely based on real life tragic circumstances, Ganger says, "I'd been wrestling with a family tragedy for years, wondering how I could write about this unfathomable event in a way that might help my family heal but nothing ever really felt right”. When Birdie and Bash came alive on the page that Ganger says “this was my way of re-writing their history with a little bit of hope”. Told in alternating perspectives, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash is a beautiful, complex, and ultimately hopeful teen novel that will move you to the very last page.

    Title: The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash
    Series: N/A
    Author: Candace Ganger
    Publication Date: July 25th 2017
    Genres: Contemporary, 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.

    I approached The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash a bit cautiously.

    You see, I was right smack dab in the middle of a meh-ish book slump when I first picked it up, none of the books I'd read beforehand had really wowed me, so I was a bit worried I wouldn't like this one either, but oh god did I adore Birdie and Bash.

    It did take me a bit to get into it, the first chapter took me like a week to get through cause the aforementioned previous books left me in such a weird funk, but once the story started moving, I was instantly hooked.

    The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash had me on the edge of my seat pretty much the entire time (seriously, this book gave me so much second hand anxiety), I was just so worried about poor Bash....

    I can't really say much because *spoilers* but let's just say this book deals with a pretty heavy issue from a unique perspective I've never seen before.

    Birdie and Bash are some of the best characters I've met this year.

    I just adore how Birdie's always spouting off facts both in her brain and out loud cause #relatable (hehe, why yes, I am the killjoy of my friend group with my constant factual reality checks), and Bash is just so *hugs character tightly*, BUT KYLE (view spoiler)[(sorry, I really can't help myself), oh god, Kyle... let's just say I kinda really want to rip him a new one right now, hmph...].

    The collision theory is a running motif (look at me using a fancy schmancy literary term, my English teacher would be so proud) throughout the entire story, and honestly, I really loved that little detail. It works so well the with plot and added such charm to the entire book.

    Some Cover Thoughts...

    The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash's cover isn't really anything flashy but it fits the story pretty well. While the roller skating rink doesn't really come into the story till about a third of the way through, it ends up playing a pretty integral role in Birdie and Bash's relationship.

    Diversity Corner...

    Bash, one of the two narrators, is a first generation Brazilian American, and his mother (aka the most kick-ass lady ever) is also a single parent.

    Rating: 5/5 Stars

    Have you ever been to a roller skating rink? I've been to one once during summer camp and it was pretty fun, only fell on my butt a couple time....
    Enter the Giveaway
    Picture of Candace Ganger Candace Ganger is a young adult author, contributing writer for Hello Giggles, and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. Candace—aka—Candyland—has a severe Milky Way latter addiction + eats way too many donuts/doughnuts but all things in excess, amiright? FYI: She’s totally awkward in person (#sorrynotsorry). She lives in Ohio with her family.
    The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash Blog Tour Banner
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    Coding & Coffee - When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon Review + Mini Fanart Piece

    Monday, July 24, 2017
    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....)
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    Is Reviewing Getting in the Way of Reading?

    Monday, July 17, 2017
    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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    A Love Letter to Carry On: The Rise & Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell - A Weirdly Sappy (Sorta) Review

    Monday, July 10, 2017
    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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    Kicking Ass & Taking Names - Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer Review

    Monday, July 3, 2017
    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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    A Think Piece - Morality & Making Sense of the Current Political Atmosphere

    Saturday, July 1, 2017
    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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    Surfing into the Future - That Crazy Perfect Someday by Michael Mazza Review

    Friday, June 23, 2017
    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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