Tuesday, May 30, 2017

a year in music : v


m a y

click this picture to be directed to a spotify playlist of all these songs (except for KNK's) <3

i. caught in the middle
[ paramore ]

ii. shangri-la
[ vixx ]

iii. some
[ nils frahm ]


iv. no one knows who we are
[ kascade, swanky tunes, LIGHTS ]

v. seranade in e major for strings, op 22 : II. menuetto
[ antonin devorak ]

vi. wonder if
[ yong junhyung, ft. heize ]


vii. gravity
[ timeflies ]

viii. fake happy
[ paramore ]

x. really really
[ winner ]

xi. tell me how
[ paramore ]

xii. love game
[ lim kim ]

bonus : don't want to cry
[ seventeen ]


Monday, May 29, 2017

april reads : aka belated february reads

this one's a few months late, seeing as February is Black History Month and I read these in April, but hey! you can appreciate diversity any time, not just in the appointed month, imho. besides, half of these books weren't published til mid-February and I had very little book money at the time, so I had to wait for my library got them to finally read them (and since they were fairly popular books, I have to wait foreverrrrrrr). anyways...


the hate u give

I read The Hate U Give first. it rode in my backpack when I was studying for midterms and working on big important papers, but luckily, spring break rolled around and I finally got to take this beautiful book out of my bag and envelope myself in it.

now, I'm extremely skeptical of hype. maybe it's because I'm bitter and jaded, but when I see a book talked up by the book community, I get twitchy. *coughs*The Unexpected Everything Hunger Games* so I went into this book with high expectations, and amazingly they were all met, thank goodness. this book made me cry at work, okay? it was that devastating and that amazing. I wish I'd had the time and energy to sit down and write my review immediately after reading it, but I kind of walked around in a literary daze for a while because of how great the writing was, how real the characters were, how crucial the message was. just everything. amazing.

I'm pretty sure everyone in the book community or who happens to read YA knows about this book, but if not, here's a little summary from good ol' goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. it's a story about civil rights, and about family, and about racism. it presented itself in such a "real-life" way that the impact was so strong.

things I loved most about this delightful read? the cover, for one. so minimalist, but it packs a punch--it somehow tells the story through one girl's stance, her expression, and I find that refreshing. most covers with people on them these days are just...*gazes dramatically into the horizon* this one wasn't.

Starr's family was potentially the best thing about this book. the connection, love, and frustration of family was just so perfectly executed. I wish more YA books has this kind of family--parents who love each other but not in  that over the top, cheesy, unrealistic way but who also show that they have issues and are fighting for their family every day. siblings who argue and bicker and yet would still do anything for their brother and sisters. It goes back to the realness of this book--this family was so real they could live next door. (and may I just say I was very impressed that there was no manic pixie dream whatever in this, which I find fairly common family-based contemporary YA books. thank goodness for that).

there's no doubt in my mind that this book is important, especially in the day and age we live in. horrible things happen in our country to people of color, and white people definitely have a tendency to look the other way. this book forces you to face this issue in manner that's funny and heartbreaking and real, and I hope that this book opens once-ignorant eyes to the issues in our country. just read it. you'll understand.


american street

next I read American Street, which ALSO has an absolutely gorgeous cover. I kind of didn't know what to expect from this one--I thought it was multi-narrator for some reason, which kind of made me hesitant--and I was also concerned that it would pale in comparison to THUG. well, I was once against happily surprised. American Street does deal with similar topics to The Hate U Give, but it does so differently--in a different context, in a different style, in a different everything.

American Street tells the story of Fabiola, a Haitian girl come to live in America. her mother was detained at the airport, and Fabiola is doing everything she can do bring her home...but America is so much more different and overwhelming than she originally imagined. This story is also about family, but different than THUG. American Street shows the strong connection of sisters, even if it isn't through blood.

I honestly can't choose between these two as my favourite. I loved them both for very different things. The Hate U Give was personal and real and raw. American Street was foreign (to me at least--Detroit is so different than my own town, while where Starr lived could've been my own town). Both dealt with family, but with different heavy themes. But both showed young women becoming confident and making hard decisions, and I loved that. one thing about American Street that totally shocked me (and made me put the book down for a little while) was HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILERS Kasim's death. dude. that messed me up. and for a while, I was really puzzled why his shooting affected me more than Khalil in The Hate U Give did, but then I realized that THUG is built around Khalil's death. we knew it was going to happen. in the blurb, it's right there. but Kasim...Kasim happened so fast and so unexpectedly that it was like a slap to the face. I'm still kinda sad about it, because he was such a great character. in Khalil's case, we only got to know him for a few pages and then had to grieve him the rest of the book. in Kasim's case, we fell in love with him and his sassy voice, only for it to be ripped away literally at the very end. and I guess that's another thing both of these books covered very well--death and grief.

the truth of right now

the last book I read for april was The Truth of Right Now, which I actually picked up without realizing that it was written by a woman of color or dealt with any of the topics that these other books did. I was just looking for a little contemporary romance, and well...that's not what I got. I'm not really sure what this book was about. it was pitched as the issue between a black boy dating a white girl, but honestly? that didn't truly get addressed until the very very veeeeeeery end of the book. then I thought it might be about mental illness and sexual abuse, but that didn't get outright addressed at all? and it wasn't in a healthy way either? there was nothing in Lily that showed that she wanted to get better, that she realized how damaging her behavior was, and as much as I desperately wanted to pity her (and to like her), she was a very whiney, entitled person. I get that she had a lot of hard things happen to her, and that her mind wasn't really in a great place, like, ever, but she never had any form of character development. it was always ground zero for her.

and can we please please please please PLEASE stop the whole "I'm mentally ill but maybe a boyfriend and sex will make me feel like more of a person?" trope? because that's not a healthy idea to put into people's heads in the first place, and secondly, it makes a mockery of people who actually do have these kinds of conditions. so just don't do it.

I actually did like Dari. he was the only character that I really felt invested in (although I did feel bad for Amber, because she was just there for Lily to scream at basically). I kind of wish the whole book had been about him? and his life? I feel like that would have been much more interesting than just this convoluted mess. and speaking of convoluted--why would you switch between tenses and persons for your characters? that messed me up so much. so confusing.

finally, I guess the one thing about this book that I did enjoy was the ending, because it was literally so random and so off the wall that it felt like the perfect conclusion to this weird and confusing book. and honestly, Dari was right not to forgive Lily. her entitled and selfish behavior put him in a lot of danger, and that's not something that you can just wake up the day after and forgive. it takes time and a lot of grace, and hopefully some growth on the other person's part.

march

THIS WAS REALLY GOOD.

first of all, I am so for historical graphic novels. I enjoy reading historical non-fiction, but this style of storytelling really add something to the learning process. I felt entertained and involved while learning about this major figure in the civil rights movement, and not once did I feel bored.

second of all, I wish this graphic novel had been out when I was taking modern American history in high school. Yeah, I read all the fiction that addressed the civil rights movement that was available at the time, but I feel like I never really grasped that it wasn't just a story. Seeing it in these beautiful black and white drawings made it come alive in sobering way. And there was a lot shown in this graphic novel that I didn't learn from my high school education--like the thorough rules for peaceful protests. I never knew how in depth the guidelines were. 

The only thing I didn't like about this was the fact that I don't have books 2 and 3 with me, so I'm anxious to hop down to the library and get my hands on the rest of the books. I'm definitely going to recommend these graphic novels to my mom, because I know that my brother is getting ready to go into American history as a high school student, and I want him to have the education/understanding of this serious topic that wasn't available to me when I was in high school.


so yeah. april was interesting month for books--two that I loved, one that was different, and one that was very much mehhhhh. what are your favourite books about social rights/African American rights and lives? I still have one book left to read that I didn't finish in time for this post, but it is How It Went Down, by Kekla Magoon. it's got a white male narrator, unlike the majority of the books I read for april, so I'm kind of looking forward to seeing its differences.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

a rant about atachi ruthers, aka how to be a bad parent, beautiful people style

*deep breath*

I have a lot of emotions about Tethered. we established this a long time ago. but one of things that makes me so gosh-dang emotional about this story is Neil's daddy issues. he's got a lot of them, and some of them couldn't be helped because of circumstances...but mostly, it's all Atachi's fault.


and if you can't tell from this odd little scribble I posted during the tethered files, I really really don't like him.

typically, I adore stories with strong family units, with good parents and happy normal feelings to spare...but Tethered was never a story about a happy family. even from the beginning, as soon as Neil popped into my head, I knew, deep down in my heart, that Atachi Ruthers was a dirtbag. among other things.

so without further ado (or more complaining about how much I hate this one character in particular), here's beautiful people, parental edition.

1. overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?

you know that scene of Lilo telling Stitch his badness level? well, picture Olive sitting Neil down post-Atachi's death and telling him "This is how terrible your relationship with your dad is. Even beyond the grave." that pretty much sums up how the men of the Ruthers family are. Now, Neil's mom? (who deplorably does not have a name yet whoops) she's a nice lady. she's just...a little out of the loop, and that is entirely Neil's fault. they're estranged because he made a few irreversible mistakes, and he would do anything to change this separation. throughout his childhood, she was all he had, and being apart from her is like being apart from himself.



2. do they know both of their biological parents?

yup yup yup.

3. how did their parents meet?

at college. Atachi was stationed at a campus in some suburban Massachusetts town, and he kept bumping into a very pretty TA. they had one horrible date at a overpriced coffee shop, and things took off from there.


4. how would they feel if they were told "you're turning out like your parents"?

honestly, if he were being a dramatic potato, Neil would simply burst into tears. but in everyday reality, he wouldn't react at all, because deep down, he believes he is turning into his father, and it's slowly eating him alive.


5. what were your character's parents doing when they were your character's age?

Atachi, age 21, was saving the world, if his ego can be trusted. in reality, he was living in a deserted basement, eating cheap ramen and trying to keep his head up. he was a sad college student, once. (aka this is me trying to find something lovable about this slippery man)

Neil's mom, age 21, (I NEED A NAME, GUYS. AHHHH) was in business school, studying hard, and not caring what people said about her.


6. is there something that they adamantly disagree on?

everything.



7. what did the parents find the hardest about raising your character?

Atachi doesn't really get a say in this, because he was literally gone all the time, and when he was home, he was a giant jerk. so yeah.

Neil's mom shouldered a lot of burden when it came to bringing her son up, but she did a good job, despite the fact that she feels as though she's failed. as he grew older, she worried about how quiet was, and about the bruises that appeared on his skin when he returned home each day.


8. what's their most vivid memory with their parental figures?

that one time Neil witnessed his father out on a date with someone other than his mother (I told you all that this dude is a terrible human being). and unfortunately, the day that his mother kicked him out of the house. Neil has more bad memories than pleasant ones, and he wishes his childhood could have normal, somehow.


9. what was your character like as a baby/toddler?

quiet around strangers, including his dad, but once it was just Neil and his mom together, it was like you couldn't get the kid to chill. he never stopped talking, never stopped moving, never stopped trying to make her laugh. to this day, making the people he loves laugh is his favourite hobby.


10. why and how did the parents choose your character's name?

honestly I don't know. I think the cliche thing to say is that Atachi wanted him to have a Western name so that he wouldn't be picked on at school, but nothing Atachi ever did in his life backs this up, so the story behind Neil's name is a mystery. let's just say it came to them, like it popped into my own head. names are like that, sometimes. there's no huge backstory or significance to them...they just fit so perfectly without planning.


*shivers* okay. now I want to go write happiness so I can stop thinking about Atachi and how much I hate him. and how happy I am that I killed him off before the story even began ehehehe.

do you have a character that is absolutely crucial to the story, but who you cannot stand because of who they are as a person? commiserate with me, please. I'm always fighting Atachi, 200% of the time. send help and gluten free donuts.

*photo credit to owners*

Sunday, May 7, 2017

a year in music : iv

a p r i l

click this picture for a playlist of all these songs <3 

i. ninano
[ minzy ft. flowsik ]

ii. brand new
[ ben rector ]

iii. anybody have a map
[ dear evan hansen ]

iv. palette
[ iu ]

v. love is
[ teen top ]

vi. she's a baby
[ zico ]

vii. sophomore slump or comeback of the year
[ fall out boy ]

viii. sincerely, me
[ dear evan hansen ]

ix. plz don't be sad
[ highlight ]

x. clear
[ twenty one pilots ]

xi. boy
[ exid ]

xii. rumor
[ kard ]

bonus : waving through a window
[ dear evan hansen ]

Saturday, May 6, 2017

march reads : fiction with a capital f

I've never been one for adult fiction, that mysterious 'Fiction' with a capital f. I was almost always content to stay in the cozy corner of my regional library designated with the title YA. I walked down those aisles and saw familiar spines, friendly faces, wherever I looked. it took being employed at a college library, where the aisles are filled with unfamiliar books, books that are full of science and math and famous literary figures, to make me want to branch out a little further than I'm used to.

and yes, that is my roundabout way of announcing that I now have a job. *trumpets sounds* I work when I'm not in class, and this week--the first week of summer "break"--has been a lot of working. which means I can buy books again. and makeup. and clothes. I filled up my car for the first time for a whole month with my own money, and it felt flipping fantastic. I'd never done that before. and I get to save for other more important things like, I dunno, summer classes and such (also, my phone just broke and having a job means that I can help make payments. IT'S AMAZING!). I love this job a lot, and even though it means I don't have quite as much free time to fill with Netflix and Pinterest and blogging, the best thing about being a student librarian is that I get to read on the job. so while I sit at the circ desk and wait for the copier to jam (*knocks on wood*) or for that dreaded phone to ring, I read. oh do I read.

and this month (aka March, because I'm a failure and didn't get this published in April), I read Fiction. with a capital f.


(I also read a lot of series' this month, and I loved all the books, which never happens. you can make me pick a favourite. you can't.)

the shades of magic series, by v. e. schwab

I actually read the first book of this series sometime back in November or October, I think? and when I read it, I just wasn't feeling it. not sure why, but it wasn't my jam. it had all the makings of something I should have loved, but at the time, I don't think I immersed myself in it like I needed to. and since I was coming off of Schwab's writing in This Savage Song, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. not bad--just not what I was looking for.

but I'm glad that when all the buzz about book 3 was going down, I decided to pick up A Gathering of Shadows and go for it.

AGoS didn't have much of a plot like ADSoM did, but I ended up liking it a lot more. even though my OTP were separated, I feel like I got to know the characters a lot more in this second book--and for a sequel, that says something. I'm also a big fan of tournaments and magical tournaments are double the awesome. just like the first book, I wasn't a huge fan of the scenes in White London, just because it didn't flow the same as the rest of the book, but I am proud of myself for not being offended by the constant changing of POVs. normally that's enough to drive me away, but this book was good enough to keep me interested.

Kell's development in A Gathering of Shadows was wonderful. you got to see him bloom from someone trapped in the hands of those above him to someone who (albeit unwillingly) stepped out of those boundaries and found the beginning of his own path. the tensions between him and Rhys were an excellent part of the novel--what Kell did was both a blessing and a curse, and watching the two brothers wrestle over what their lives meant because of it was fascinating to me. frankly, if the whole book had been about that, I still would've read it.

and my dear, dear Lila Bard. I don't want to say too much because of spoilers, but she was just as devilish and ingenious and ridiculous as ever. and although she and Kell spent half the book apart (or thinking each other were other people smh you idiots), I think that was important for the reader to get to know them both more as individuals before they returned to each other's sides. that was a lot of my problem with book 1--I just didn't feel like I knew anyone adequately enough, and book 2 gave that.

after finishing book 2, I quickly put book 3 on hold--but it wasn't getting there fast enough. so I ordered A Conjuring of Light and quickly devoured it. I was ready for disappointment--even though the world was shouting from on high that this book was everything it should be. thankfully, the world was right. the first two books had been a little uneventful (which for those giant books, that's saying something), but book 3 was the culmination of the story, and the plot was driving. I think  I read it during one shift--all of it. yeah. I don't know whether that's a statement on how fast I read or how long my Friday night shifts are. but I was hooked.

I really felt like the villain was more tangible in book 3, which I REALLY APPRECIATED. and I didn't expect to like Holland at all in this series, but book 3 changed that. I actually felt sympathy for him? it was so weird. and although I was rather done with Alucard in book 2, book 3 really made me like him (and wished for him and Rhy to be happy oh my gosh). basically, I just loved it so much and you should really read it. that ending was EVERYTHING. other authors, take note. that is how you do a conclusion. bless Schwab.

timothy wilde trilogy, by lindsey faye

okay, this one I had never heard of until Aimee mentioned it and I was intrigued. and since it was an adult fiction book, I figured I'd give it a shot. and my goodness am I glad I did.

Timothy Wild was such a joy to read, and for a lot of different reasons. at first, I thought that the writing was going to be very dry and kind of boring--as most historical fiction that I've read has been--but to my surprise, the writing was quite funny? and sarcastic? and bitter? and devastating? I'm not sure how all those things wrapped up into one novel actually happened, but I'm glad it did, because it was incredibly similar to my unexpected love of the writing style. the characters were truly what invested me in this series. Timothy's antihero-ness shifting into "I gotta save the world, man", Bird's spunk, Valentine's simultaneous impudence and intelligence, Jim's gentle balance for the two Wilde brothers...I adored it all. except for Mercy. The whole Mercy storyline was, in a nutshell, a let down. and maybe it's not Mercy that I have a problem with, but how Timothy reacted to her.

Mercy was Tim's manic pixie dream girl, the woman who was the essence of perfection and who could do no wrong. but when Timothy found out that Mercy was as flawed and as human and as corrupted as he was...he got angry. which made me pissed. I was actually glad she moved away, moved on, because I felt that Tim needed to grow up a little bit. unfortunately, he kept on pining away for her, using Elena as a distraction. but when Elena finally became more than just a distraction, it was too late and Tim was left with unrequited feelings for Mercy all over again. I loved the ending of this series--all the feels, man--but I did not like that. even though Tim said he'd moved on, even though he did kind of move on...he ended up in the same place as he began--despite all the new and difficult things he experienced over the course of this series, his childish love of Mercy remained the same. I just feel like Timothy should have pulled his stupid head out of the sand and taken his shot with Elena when he had it. but of course, maybe Tim had to miss that chance because he was so desperately human.

so yeah. loved this book for the characters--I could talk forever and a day about Valentine, and given the chance, I probably would. just everything about him and the decisions he makes...it hurts, man. it really hurts.

as for the mysteries in these novels, I was actually pretty impressed. not a lot of mystery novels get me, but these had a few twists and turns that surprised me. and I also have a tough time rereading mysteries, mostly because you know what's going to happen next (and if it wasn't written well it can be quite boring), but because of the intricate characters and the depth of the historical period, I definitely plan on revisiting these wonderful books. *lowkey plans on asking for them for my birthday because I adore them*

also, fun fact: right as I was reading these books, we were discussing the exact themes and topics mentioned in them in my history class. we talked about the Fugitive Slave Act and the Irish and the mill girls. it was kind of eerie, but also really interesting to get the classroom perspective and the fictional perspective of this tense historical period. all in all, I think that this series was my favourite out of all the books I read last month. so good. so sad. so beautiful.

vinegar girl, by anne tyler

teeeeeechnically I read this in April, but don't judge me--it's adult fiction and I really loved it so I'm slipping it into this post. I can't remember how I found this one--I think it might have been recommended on Goodreads. but the moment I saw that it was a rendition of The Taming of the Shrew, I knew I had to read it. and that I probably would love it. and guess what--I did.

the story wasn't much. you have Dr. Battista on the brink of discovering something great in his research, but his research assistant, Pyotr, is running out of time left in America thanks to an expiring visa. what other option does the good doctor have but to get Pyotr to marry his crotchety oldest daughter Katherine? most of the plot consisted of Pyotr trying to get on Katie's good side (and failing miserably), Bonnie being a complicated teenager, and Katherine being unsure of what she wants out of life. this book was SHORT, guys. too short. I gladly would've taken another hundred and fifty pages, especially because the characters were so interesting and the writing was so great. but maybe it being longer would have changed how I feel about this book. I don't know. the feminist aspect of the story, although a tad awkwardly smattered through the plot and then heavily placed at the end, was really great, and it was definitely necessary. Katherine also made me want to cry, because she was everything I felt the original Katherine from the play should be. yes, she had a hard time being around people. yes, she was abrasive and brash. yes, she was independent and angry. but this book made her all those things while making her a beautiful, intricate human as well. I loved it. just loved it.

beloved poison, by e. s. thomson

well...this book tried to be Timothy Wilde and didn't quite make it. I still liked it, but it definitely wasn't as great as the other books. I did appreciate a female lead in such a male-dominant genre--so many historical mysteries are male driven, and that drives me nuts. and while Jem was in disguise (this isn't a spoiler, although I was shocked to find this out on the first chapter because the blurb alluded nothing to her gender), you kind of get the feeling that she's neither male nor female--she's somewhere between. the mystery was nothing to be amazed at, but the hospital dynamic and slightly creepy undertones that this novel really sold me. and there were so many threads that came together quite nicely in the end. to my joy and excitement, there's a second book out called Dark Asylum, but I can't seem to find it. *sighs heavily* guess i'll just have to be patient.

honorary mention: the lies of locke lamora (aka the book that would never end), by scott lynch

I tried. honestly, I tried. but no matter how hard I tried to read this mini-tome of a book, no matter how much I liked the writing and the humor and the characters, I just...couldn't get through it. oh well. maybe it was how thick and tiny it was, maybe it was the awkward jumping back and forth between time periods and so many different characters speaking at all the same time. I honestly don't know. I how to give this one another shot, but who knows when.

are you on a strict YA only diet like I once was? maybe you should check some of these books out (literally, lol. library jokes.) but in all seriousness, after reading these books, I feel a lot more open to reading that ominous Fiction with a capital f. so if you have any faves or recommendations, send 'em my way. not that I have time to read this week, thanks to summer classes. *runs into the void screaming*

hope y'all have a great week--and if you're headed into finals (unlike me, who got them done early ehehehehe), take a deep breath! you're going to be just fine in the end. <3