June Wrap Up

Since I’m still on summer break, I had plenty of time for reading for fun. I read six (ish) books, starting and finishing the month with my favorites, and the rest were just average. I read more books than last month and hopefully I continue another good reading month for July!

#1. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia 

Technically I started this at the end of May and finished in June, so it still counts as June, right? I wrote a review earlier this month about why this book is my favorite book ever.

Rating: 5/5

Review

#2. Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes 

This is the fifth book in the Falling Kingdoms books and I adore this series with all of my heart. However, this is my least favorite installment in the series. It passes Nic’s bisexuality as something that’s complicated and his relationship with Ashur ends before it has a chance to be explored. Also, this book, more than the others, has been so Magnus-centric and I dislike his character so much.

Rating: 3.2/5

Goodreads review

#3. Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Walsh (DNF) 

I hated this book and I feel like I’ve already spent so much time talking about it.

Rating: 1/5

Goodreads review / Blog post

#4. Caraval by Stephanie Garber (ON-HOLD)

It’s an interesting plot with well-developed characters, but it fell flat towards the end of it and I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I plan to finish it someday, just not right now.

Rating: 3.5/5

#5. The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

A quick, fun read but nothing too special. I kind of fell in love with the island more than any of the characters.

Rating: 3.6/5

Review

#6. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger 

Reread. I like it more the more I read it.

Rating: 5/5

What was your most anticipated read this month and what are you looking forward to for July?

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July TBR & Plan With Me 

There’s only two days left of June and I can’t believe how fast this month flew by! I’ve read some good and not-so-good books this month (more on that Friday), but for now, this is what I plan to read in July*.

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1. A Court of Thrones and Roses by Sarah J. Maas 

Average rating: 4.29

This has to be the most talked about series right now and it’s just been sitting on my shelf for the past two weeks. Hopefully it lives up to the hype.

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 

Average rating: 4.31

I’ve started this book twice and the only reason why I haven’t finished it yet is because I dislike reading on an eReader. I just bought a paperback so maybe I’ll have more luck with that.

3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz 

Average rating: 4.34

Another book I’ve heard good reviews about, and that’s all I really have to say.

4. The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee

Average rating: 3.67

Someone recommended this book to me when I was at Barnes & Noble last and it seems pretty interesting. Also, the second book in this series is coming out soon.

5. Geekerella by Ashley Poston 

Average rating: 4.13

I bought this one without looking at any sort of reviews, but I don’t want this to be another book that stays unread on my shelf forever.

*subject to change

The first four pages of the month are mainly the basics in a style I like to call “Mostly Minimal.”  (I like alliteration, okay.) Most of the creativity comes along with the dailies.

What’s on your July reading list- is there anything you’re anticipating or are you just trying to shorten your tbr list? And do you have anything exciting planned for the summer?

Review: The Sandcastle Empire 

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Publication: June 6, 2017

Pages: 455

Rating: 3.6/5

Goodreads summary: When all hope is gone, how do you survive?

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves—but the solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected.

This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.

The Sandcastle Empire is a YA dystopian  novel set in a war-torn world, 30 years in the future. Climate change initiates the war, but the greed for power keeps the Wolves going. After spending two years planning to escape her camp alone, on the day of her escape she is met with three new acquaintances. The book follows Eden and the others as they hope to find freedom and peace on the island, but they soon realize that they are a part of a much bigger world.

This book reminds me of The 100 (the show) and Allegiant. The four girls arrive blindly at Sanctuary Island with their hopes high, but then one of them goes missing and they realize they’re not alone. It’s not until another resistance group shows up on the island that they get answers about their world.

It’s an interesting idea, but it felt like this book was trying to be too many things at once- dystopian, teen romance, sci-fi, thriller. Not to mention that the romance just felt forced. Despite seven people being the main focus of the story, Eden and Lonan are the only ones explored on a deeper level and Eden is the only one who faces any challenges. I wanted to know more about the other three girls that arrived around the island and see their progression as a unit since that’s what the synopsis led me to believe.

The attention to detail in the setting was captivating as well that at times, I wanted to visit this fictional place myself for the scenery. I find in most books the setting is rarely an important narrative so this was a nice change of pace. Nothing aggravates me more than technology being too complex or futuristic in novels. That was not the case here, and I wasn’t lost when it described Havenwater bottles, bloodlocks, and sedative serums.

This wasn’t my favorite read ever, but it did help break my brief reading slump. What element of fiction is most important to you as a reader- setting, character, plot or something else?

Owlcrate Box: June 2017

This month’s theme was “Make it Out Alive” and the box is packed with survival-themed goodies (and very green). Since dystopian societies are my favorite thing to read, I’m in love with pretty much everything.

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Here’s a breakdown of this month’s box:

→ a Little Inklings Design magnet, inspired by An Ember in Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

→ A Court of Thrones and Roses inspired bookmark from Hey Atlas Creative

→ a Divergent inspired bath bomb from Fizzy Fairy Apothecary (it smells amazing!)

→ a zombie sleep mask from Archie McPhee

→ a patch by Laserbrain Patch Co, inspired by The Giver by Lois Lowry

and, TWO new books (usually it’s only one):

  1. World New Rising by Jennifer Wilson

Goodreads Summary: Since witnessing her parents’ murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix’s only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother’s dying words- to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls- outside of The Sanctuary- is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, “Join or die.” Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world. But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself. 

  1. The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

Goodreads summary: When all hope is gone, how do you survive? Before the war, Eden’s life was easy- air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed. Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate ti escape to its shores. Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves- but the solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary Island is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected. The island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom. 

Have you heard of these titles? Are there any book subscription services you love?

 

Since I Graduated High School

When you’re a freshman in high school, the four years left of mandatory schooling seem to be the longest thing you will ever do. This past weekend, my cousin graduated from high school and it got me thinking about two things. First, I am so relieved that that part of my life has been over for three years (the only reason why I know it’s three years is because I did a simple calculation beforehand). I’m also thinking about everything I have, or haven’t, accomplished in that time.

Number One. I moved out of the house and out of state. I moved to California to live with my grandma and attend the community college there because I thought I needed a fresh start in a new place. I would come to realize in the following months, that I had no idea what I was doing and moved back home.

Number Two. It’s okay to not know. (I made that vague on purpose). For me, it was figuring out what I wanted to study and later, do with my life. Initially, I thought it was journalism and now it’s journalism, again,  but I took a detour and thought I might want to study computer science. I think I needed that hesitation and doubt in order to be completely sure of my decision going forward.

Number Three. I know myself super well now. Without all the external factors that come along with high school, I’ve spent so much time with myself that I don’t feel guilty about being reserved. I can also recognize a situation that might make me anxious and know how to deal with it.

Number Four. I have achieved 63 credits and will be attending a four-year university this fall. Yay!

Number Five. I’m okay with labels now. Society likes to organize people into boxes and have everything all neat and tidy, and I used to run from it. Particularly, I would get so worked up when people called me shy because it felt like I had to appeal to their expectations of me. I still don’t like labeling myself, but I don’t switch off now when it does occur. It comes with getting to know yourself and your values, I guess.

Number Six. Having confidence in my name makes people less likely to butcher it. Growing up, I’ve heard every variation possible from “Amelia” to “Ah-mah-leia.” Even at graduation it was mispronounced as “Uh-male-ee-uh.” I think after so many years of mispronunciations, I didn’t even know what the correct way was anymore so I didn’t bother correcting anyone. However, in the past three years, I have grown into my name and its pronunciation.

Overall, I’m a much happier person now than I was and I’ve grown so much in the past three years. How have your plans changed since graduating high school? Or if you’re still in high school, what are are you looking forward to once you graduate?

 

DNF: Love & Gelato

I made it to Chapter 10 of Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch before I had to put it away because I wasn’t enjoying it. The writing was poor and the characters were bland. Here, I’ve compiled a list of lines in this book that either made me laugh or just left me completely confused, sometimes both.

-He sounded American, but he looked about as Italian as a plate of meatballs. (59) 

-“Okay. I can pick you up on my scooter. Around eight?” (78) 

  • This really is only funny because in my mind, I was picturing Ren picking up Lina in one of these.

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-…excitement started building up in me like steam in a pressure cooker. (80) 

-So…apparently my father spoke Italian. Fluently. (83) 

  • Well, he has been living in Italy for 16+ years.

-He honestly had a dreamy look in his eyes. Did my more-than-a-friend love for food come from him? (84) 

-My cheeks were boiling like a pot of marinara sauce. (87) 

  • Now I’m just hungry.

-He met my eyes, and suddenly I wished with all my heart that I could evaporate, like the steam still curling off my pizza. (90) 

  • If giving inanimate objects feelings is personification, what is called when you reduce a person to an object…and can we not do that.

– A straight-up monsoon was happening in the general vicinity of my face, and the words kept running together in a big, blurry mess. (96) 

  • She was crying. Just say you’re crying.

-“Isn’t it like two a.m. there? (102) 

  • So you knew this, yet you still thought Addie would answer your call?

-“Elena told me there are rooms that she’s never even set foot in, and she and her mom sometimes go days without even seeing each other.”  (114) 

  • This is concerning and definitely should not happen, no matter how big your house is.

-They started raining questions. (117) 

“Ragazzi, dai. My mom will freak out if she finds out you are up here. I had a forty-five minute lecture after the last party. Some idiota left a piece of pizza on the two-hundred-year-old credenza. Come downstairs, per favore!” (124) 

  • Because we’re in Italy. With Italians. In case you forgot.

-“Ren, come on. We’re an hour late. What’s he going to do?” (131) 

  • Lina does what she wants and has no regard for authority.

Check out my full review on Goodreads. Are you confused by any of these lines or is there some philosophical reasoning behind these quotes that is beyond my comprehension?

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters

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Publication: May 30, 2017

Pages: 383

Rating: 100/5

Goodreads summary: Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimonaand Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl

The summary doesn’t do this book justice. I received this book in my Owlcrate subscription box, so even though I was interested, I wasn’t too excited about it. Now that I have read it, it’s probably one of my favorite books… ever.

The concept of the book reminds me of both Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl (which I liked) and Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds (which I loved). Half of the book takes place as if it were online, with parts of the dialogue written in text speak and profile pages, representing the good, bad, and ugly of fandom culture. Pages from Eliza’s webcomic are also integrated throughout this novel. On the outside, this book seems trivial at best, and it had me laughing out loud for more than half of the book.

BUT, HOLY SH*T, THIS BOOK IS SO MUCH DEEPER THAN IT APPEARS TO BE. There’s a twist, and it comes out of nowhere. Then, when Eliza’s identity is revealed, important and darker topics are introduced and explored further. We learn about her anxiety after she suffers a panic attack at school, and the healthy ways to live with it. There’s also a brief mention of suicidal thoughts better explained than Thirteen Reasons Why (the show)*. I did not expect to sob over this book, but here we are.

Another reason why I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy this book is because it includes a romance between Eliza and the most popular fanfiction writer, Wallace Warland. I admire that this romance didn’t feel forced. They got together just like your favorite strangers-to-lovers au. After they paired up, they didn’t fight like crazy either, and Zappia portrays a healthy relationship with communication and trust. (Okay, so she lied about LadyConstellation but she had her reasons, also, she was kind of dealing with the whole anxiety thing- it wasn’t right, but it’s forgivable). At the end of the day, this book promotes good friend, familial, and romantic relationships, in addition to taking care of yourself. 

To see what I’m reading next, add me on Goodreads. Also, what kind of reader are you, fast and excited like Eliza or slow and methodical like Wallace?

*To be clear, I’m not hating on the show at all. I think it’s well executed from the script to the actors, but it focuses much more on the external factors of Hannah’s suicide than internal. It spreads the message “be kind to everyone” and “you never know what someone else is going through,” which are good, but is a little harder to relate to (at least personally).

ATTN: SPOILERS, PLEASE READ THE BOOK BEFORE YOU READ THIS  Continue reading