Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Back on 2016 Books // Random Musings

Hey guys! Lol if any of you are actually still here and read this blog.

Here I am returning (honestly most likely one of my classic blips and blops back into this blog only to leave for many more months) and I am not going to even bother explaining what excuse I have for you this time. Honestly mainly because I don't have anything other than the standard- school. Furthermore,  2016 has been pretty rough for me and I know it has been for a whole lot of people also. I don't want to rehash the details haha but let us just bring on 2017 already. 

Before that though I'd like to embrace being basic af (which a phrase I dislike immensely but seems to have really blown up this year? Like bruh, why are you shaming girls for liking to take selfies with the dog filter? It's cute okay) and making a list of books that I read in 2016, was too lazy to properly review and still want to give a little shout out to.

After logging onto Goodreads and frantically adding all of the books I've read this year, I have achieved a grand total of 27. 


Hahah, I mean my goodreads goal this year was 25 so that makes 27 sound a little better right? God, I look back on say 2012 and see that I read 110 books- so mind boggling to me. I guess I just figured the world was ending? LOL. Anyways, for the little amount of time I read this year I am quite impressed with how many out of those 27 novels I honestly really enjoyed. I suppose I felt as if I had to make whatever minuscule amount of time I had to read count and frankly I had no time for shit books I knew I wouldn't enjoy. So this year I've really relied on such wonderful bloggers that I'm lucky to call my friends (RashikaKellyNickNereydaShannonValHollyZoe coughhh) and honestly have just stalked their reviews/harassed them for recommendations. Love you guys <33 Otherwise the books I've found myself have been searching for seem to fit very specific genre. I seem to be really interested in thrillers which is something I could not have predicted myself.

Okay, enough with the blabbing- let's get into the books!! This is a list that isn't in any sort of order as that would require me to be decisive which is not my strong suit. 

1) The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis 
This is a story I didn't expect in the least. But holy fuck, it blew me completely away. It was told in such a raw and unrelenting sort of way that to some would feel harsh but to me was undeniably realistic and hard hitting. It deals with such huge issues such as rape and slut shaming in a way that is stings with the realism of what girls face today. It's core messages crucial and especially relevant in our society. It also has a thriller sort of aspect that wouldn't let me put it down. Finally, that ending was insane. I actually shed a tear. McGinnis definitely didn't shy away from it and the ending is one that has (and will) stick in my mind for many months to come.

2) The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson
Now this is another story that I just couldn't put down. I ended up reading it till past midnight and even when I finished felt some residual creepiness stemming from the story. It is a dark story that certainly made me shudder on more than one occasion. I did love the way it was told, the main character being a central player among the many girls who were held captive was being interviewed by two FBI agents. However she didn't simply tell her story, more so she danced around it and left you wanting more details just as much as the agents. Slowly her story formed though, in a non-linear fashion which could have been confusing but instead was well written and done to only further build the suspense.   



3) My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows 
This is one of the more light reads I enjoyed this year, despite its apparent length. It is honestly so much fun! It made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions and by the end of it I really formed a strong bond with all of the characters. The romance was also done in a way that really made my heart melt, but never did it overtake the main story at large. I found that these three talented authors have managed have managed to blend their writing styles in a cohesive way that it never even feels like there is more than one author writing- which is an issue I have definitely encountered before. The three POVs are handled amazingly.


4) You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott 
This is another murder suspense sort of thriller. It was beautifully crafted in the way that the characters and the family dynamic was so convoluted and twisted that I couldn't look away. I felt myself gasping at every reveal and found myself at the edge of my seat as the book utterly brims with tension. It is hard to discuss this book (and really a lot of the the thrillers I mentioned) without spoiling anything. Trust me on this one everybody. 

5) The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
The romance in this one was SO SO SO cute. It really did turn me into a ball of mush, and despite its obstacles I was rooting for it since the start. I also adored the friendships highlighted in this story- like I would love to have a friend group alike that. Furthermore, there was the main character struggling to deal with her mother's death. I felt this was done beautifully and very realistically handled. It certainly can be very tough and I love that Matson didn't shy away from talking about it despite this novel on the surface level being more of a beach read. ALSO DOGS.


6) Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
This story was a courtroom drama taken to the next level with racism being handled in a way that yes- is most certainly still relevant in our society. It also made me realize that depth white privilege goes and how it can also exist quite subtly. Picoult weaves a very eye opening novel with a strong main character that will have you thinking beyond its hopeful ending. Being the cynic I did have a wee bit of an issue with the ending. That aside though, I enjoyed this novel and I think it speaks to a high level of talent that Picoult even manages to make the character of a white supremacist multi-layered instead of one dimensional.  



7) Starflight by Melissa Landers
I'm mentioning this one despite the fact I had a few quibbles with it. Starflight was just so much fun that I could easily overlook the issues I had and still really enjoy the novel overall. There was a whole crew of characters and I really fell in love with them, especially our main characters of course AND OH MY GOD DON'T GET ME STARTED ON HOW I FEEL ABOUT THE SLOW ROMANCE THAT BLOOMED BETWEEN THEM. Ugh. They were also very hilarious characters themselves, with their banter making me smile on numerous occasions. I cannot wait for more of the fun space action, I believe this is a series?


8) The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
I didn't read many debuts this year, but this novel definitely left me amazed and wanting more from Khoury. The writing in this one was simply gorgeous, I seriously had so many different passages and quotes highlighted. It is a retelling of Aladdin and truly does wonders to its inspiration. I personally have a soft spot for Aladdin so I was a little worried going into this one, however Khoury created her own original story while including little notes to the original tale. While the romance in this one was definitely feels inducing, I also loved the relationship between Zhara and Roshana. I also enjoyed the world building! 


9) Summer Skin by Kristy Eager
This is a novel I certainly wasn't expecting and wouldn't be on my radar normally as I don't read NA usually. However, this one really has me wanting to dive into that genre and explore it better. Summer Skin is the ultimate beach read complete not only with a sexy romance to boot but also some awesome friendships and kick-ass moments of feminism. This book is snarky and empowering, the main character making me laugh and also making me want applaud throughout the story. 

10) The Sun is Also a Stat by Nicola Yoon
I think a lot of people will be surprised at me for putting this on my list. I am a little surprised myself, not being a fan of insta-love myself. The romance (which is central to the novel) is arguably that. However I found myself believing and falling for it myself. I suppose the part that made it work for me was the character themselves and how they were developed to act/feel during certain circumstances, this is what made their romance seem more believable. I also really adored the cultural aspects in this novel that were prevalent throughout. I feel as if it was a really realistic portrayal of the lives of immigrants who come to America and as well as those born there. I do have more quibbles (such as the ending and the character of Charlie) but all in all Yoon crafts another unputdownable romance. 


If you guys have stuck with me to the bottom of this longer than anticipated post I love you so much <33 Thank you so much for sticking with me despite my frequent absences and just being such lovely humans. I'd love to hear some of your 2016 favorites. 

I wish you all of the best in 2017 <33










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Monday, August 29, 2016

Discussion: Is book blogging falling out of trend?

Sometimes I have these ideas for larger discussions but just cannot fully flesh out all of my ideas. These ideas usually come to me on the spur of the moment and during either time spent in the shower or at 3 AM when sleep just seems like an utter impossibility. This is one of those times, and I have no doubt that in the comments there will be a brand new large discussion in itself.

Hahaha, okay so I'm sure the title of this discussion got a few raised eyebrows  but please hear me out and consider firstly my position in all of this. Recently I haven't been so active in the book blogging community at all (been quite the lurker really) and while I have my own personal reasons for this, I can't help but notice that in general the book blogging community seems to be getting noticeably less active as a whole. I've noticed a decline in comments on some of my other favorite blogger's blogs, and when chatting with a few they've admitted to a sharp decline in stats over a recent period of time. Furthermore I see a lot less interaction between blogs in general and unfortunately even a decrease in meaningful conversation between members on social media.

While I'm sure this can be attributed to many unique factors I cannot help but also notice the uprising in popularity when it comes to booktube and bookstagram. This has lead me to wonder.... has book blogging reached its expiration date? Does it have an expiration date? Are we nearing it or beginning to head towards it? Logically new trends and forms of media will always exist and continue to develop in our technological era that we live in. But are book blogs a way of the past now, the current roads of promotion for new releases being something more accessible for people on the go and through already popular apps?

I do definitely notice that many publishers and some authors are making using of instagram and such to promote new titles. It can certainly be a powerful marketing tool. As for the core member group of bibliophilies, I've seen some that have moved entirely from blogging to these new forms of media. Some seem to be doing so at a slower rate. I honestly am not involved in bookstagram or booktube, but from what little I've observed and more so what I've heard: they're both thriving and growing communities.

I do know it is quite sad (even for myself) to think of something that had such great importance to me as the book blogging community to be a trend. However it's difficult for me to deny that things certainly seem to be waning at the moment. Do you think this is just a lull in the community? Or do you think that this will just continue and other forms of media will rise? Do you think I'm crazy?

All pertinent questions.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Personal Thoughts via Gifs



To be honest I love to read about other peoples lives. Whether this is something my curious self just enjoys, I figured I would share some things about myself. I've been thinking for quite some time of how to do this in a more unconventional way than your typical list and then the lovely Shannon made a post that I absolutely adored. Essentially it was your typical fact post but in the form of gifs which to me made it so much better and more creative than the norm (:

Without further ado, here is me casually taking Shannon's idea (love you girl!) and applying personal facts about my life with gifs (:

#1: 

This is me whenever I have spare time. Let's be honest, I can spend so much time on the internet (really not doing much) and yet the hours tick by. My laptop is something that is very much a part of me.

#2: 

Sometimes I feel confident in my body and appearance. When I do I tend to go all out and wear clothing that some may consider "revealing" or clothes that "show off" a bit. So fucking what? It is not because I desire boys attention (which really is a personal choice one consciously makes, so would there be anything wrong with that? Furthermore why should it bother anybody else?) but rather I feel okay with myself and how I look. Also omg I find sex enjoyable, so obviously that is not okay cause wow- girls finding consensual sex pleasurable!? crazy. 

#3: 

Honestly I know I am something. Lol, but what exactly? Cue my casual normal existential crisis, usually just brimming beneath the surface. I currently am enrolled in a pre-law program of sorts (it's officially called Law & Society, a four year bachelor program) and plan on going to law school after. But like??? Even with that plan I'm still so unsure of everything. Would I even be cut out to be a lawyer? Would I even like it? Or what about the people in my life right now? If recent events have proven anything, people can be temporary. The uncertainty of the future and my place in this world is something that weighs on me all of the time. And I know I'm just 19 and shouldn't worry so much but ahhh I just do. 

#4: 

I absolutely adore the movie Mean Girls so I just had to slip in a gif from that movie in this post. It's pretty accurate to my life though, whenever things get tough? I go for the most carb loaded food item available. I wouldn't mind some cheese fries right now. I just love food, alright? I figure I can eat whatever and whenever in usually large amounts and like work out once in a blue moon.

#5: 

This scene from Gossip Girl is so iconic to me. It also happens to be quite relevant to my life, with my shopping addiction becoming more and more relevant it seems. Tbh the concept of self-control isn't one that bodes well with me when faced with an irresistible pair of heels. Ooops.




#6: 

I love all movies, but I do have a soft spot for those over the top ones rom-coms that just happen to be unrealistic. See, I can even acknowledge the fact that these movies are just that-movies and nothing more. I know the things I watch will not happen to me. But I will not lie, a small part of me still is wanting to have that grand romantic gesture (or at least something resembling romance tbh) or crazy long proclamation of love occur in my life. I guess you could say  these Disney movies and rom-coms and even books tbh have brought out my inner romantic all while at the same time crushing it with my inner cynic. Eeep.

#7: 

This is shockingly a new one for me. Previously in my life I would have considered myself to be fairly cool & collective, in the sense that if I felt any sort of emotion I'd either distance myself or keep it locked up. I could play the "it doesn't exist if you don't think about it" denial card better than anybody else. Recently though I've left that completely at the curb and god guys- I can be a total emotional mess. More often than not that has been the case in my life. I've accepted it and I find it totally normal- IT IS OKAY TO CRY AND HAVE FEELINGS EVERYONE.

#8:

Haha, this one is a little sad but true. Honestly I've grown up with technology and it has become such a part of my life that when I don't have my phone it just doesn't feel right. It's just so useful, whether just to text a friend to hang out or rant when you're going through a mini crisis. I also love to take selfies with my friends. I admit to that addiction fully, as well as spending a little more than average on social media and youtube. Another thing I've found is how my the only natural way to get out of an awkward conversation on the train 

#9: 

Come on, sometimes you just gotta blast Taylor Swift and sing (or in my case more like devil scream) along completely off-key. It can be therapeutic in a slightly weird way.

#10: 


Eeeee. I need to work on this. When I don't like somebody, it tends to stick. I hold grudges. Sometimes I have good reason to and other times I really don't. It can rather surface level or just because a friend/somebody close to be got hurt or doesn't like them. This is a flaw I need to really work on.

-----------

And that is all folks! Lol I hope you guys enjoyed these truly random (and surprisingly long) insights into my personality. 

 



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Friday, June 3, 2016

Update: Dealing with Grief

Hello to anybody who may still happen to be around. More than usual I've been quite MIA in the blogging community due to the fact I've not only been quite busy but also because I've had to deal with the ramifications of a death of somebody very close to me. To say that recent times haven't been easy would be quite the understatement and it would be no exaggeration to say this is the toughest time I've been through in my nineteen years of existence.

I thought I would be prepared for the impact a death would have in my life. It was one that wasn't unexpected and something I knew would sadly happen, nonetheless when it happened it honestly hit me very hard. I have learned first hand there is no way to be fully prepared for a death of a loved one and the resulting impact it will have on your life.

I suppose I have learned many things recently. Such as how to cherish all memories both good and bad, yet not to get lost in them, how to sleep when your mind is going a million miles a minute and how that it is okay to feel and that you should take time to do so. Regularly in society crying is associated with weakness and I definitely don't think that should be the case. Crying is a natural emotional release and is something that shouldn't be ostracized, it is okay to cry.

So what is this purpose of this post? I can assure you that is isn't to garner further sympathy.

This post is less about getting into the details of my own situation and more so the struggles of moving forward when all you want to do is just lock yourself in your room and never face such an unfair world, which all of a sudden just has this gaping hole. It is about some of my feelings and observations that I hope will serve the dual purpose of not only being therapeutic for me to write but also helpful for others.

This post is for people who have experienced or are currently going through similar circumstances and feel like they're alone. It's for those people who do feel totally isolated when grieving and even a long time afterwards still feel the sting and that nobody could possibly understand what they're going through.

I'm here for you, no matter what you need or want. If you don't want to talk about it (understandably) I'm still here for you. Whether it be as a distraction to take your mind off things for a bit.

As for myself I'm doing fairly well I think. For blogging I do have a few posts and such planned so despite my recent inactivity expect to see some action here soon.

Love you to bits.
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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Anthology Review: Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by a bunch of authors

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys
YA, Horror, Paranormal
Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Dial Books
Goodreads
★★★ .5

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.
A fun fact about me is that I'm quite the horror aficionado. Growing up Stephen King was a writer who I just couldn't get enough. He writes in that way that injects just pure fear in me without relying on old and heavily over exaggerated tactics like the over use of gore. King has really given me a deep appreciation of the genre and is why I know there is so much potential in it. In YA though I've yet to have much luck with it, finding the few examples of horror I've read to be quite disappointing.

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is a collection of short stories that overall I found to be quite well written, despite enjoying some over others. I wouldn't classify the anthology as what one would typically call traditional horror (I found some of the stories to be more akin to thrillers) but found that it more so to be a quality collection that evoked a lot of feelings I associate with well written horror- whether it that slow build up of dread or that innate unsettled emotion.

I have decided to briefly review each story from the collection to give you a better idea of what to expect and to showcase my varying viewpoints on each story.

The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma 5/5
This was the opener to the anthology and omg it was the perfect introduction for what was to come. It was honestly one of my favorites from the collection. This story does seem to read more as of thriller but Suma's writing will undeniably still give you chills. She brings the story to a climax in such a way that I felt as if I was holding my breath the entire time.

In the Forest Dark & Deep by Carrie Ryan 4.5/5
This one definitely captured my attention. It's a very dark and twisted Alice in Wonderland inspired story that will have you on the edge of your seat. There are some more gruesome scenes in this short story; which coupled with the unsettling writing  and brilliant imagery will have you thinking about the story far past it's ending.

Emmeline by Cat Winters 3/5
I adore Winters as a writer and I suppose I was just expecting a little more out of this one. The writing of course was beautiful but I just found the story didn't fit into the collection as well as the others. Emmeline was of a sad tale than anything else and unfortunately didn't stick in my mind as some of the other stories did.

Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo 2/5
This one didn't work for me. I didn't feel the fear the author obviously intended but instead felt confused, especially in regards to the ending. I had a lot of questions. Gotta give the short story creativity though, it wasn't something I was expecting by any means.

Hide and Seek by Megan Shepard 4/5
This story is definitely more thriller than horror, with it telling the story of a girl trying to beat Death at it's own game. I didn't find it scary/creepy/unsettling in the least but I still loved it. The writing immersed you straight away. You  also couldn't help but root for the MC and even feel a deep connection to her despite Hide and Seek being just a short story.

The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige 1/5
Noooope. This one was a heavy romance and any inkling towards horror was pretty much thrown away for a Twilight like paranormal romance. With a typical plain Mary Sue MC, mean girls for no reason and the annoying romance Paige's story was definitely a no go for me.

The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke 1.5/5
I've honestly read/watched this story so many times. Like all of the other short stories in this collection Tucholke's is based off of other tales, however the difference lies in that I don't think she really brought anything new to the table.

Fat Girl with A Knife by Jonathan Maberry 2.5/5
ZOMBIES. I found this one to have a lot more humor in it which makes sense considering it's inspiration, which just so happens to be one of my favorite movies. The humor instead of dark and witty came off more contrived with a few nice lines. While I found this one mindlessly entertaining it didn't really have an impact on me and nor did even the basic gore included.

Sleepless by Jay Kristoff 4.5/5
While I'm quite familiar with the source material I still managed to enjoy this one quite a bit due to the  unique twists and turns added. Kristoff uses an interesting format of telling Sleepless which sets it apart from the other stories in the anthology. I think it worked very well and managed to make me even more engrossed.  Sleepless definitely had the creep factor to it, and what I love most is how it was a slow burn from a sort normalcy to definitely something more sinister.

M by Stefan Bachmann DNF
I honestly don't know about this one or if I was in the proper mood to read it when I did. I've read a couple of other reviews and everybody else seems to really enjoy it so maybe it just was me.

The Girl Without a Face by Marie Lu 5/5
LOVED this one. This story is one that managed to instill honest terror in me, it was super intense and definitely got my heart pounding. And oh my god that the very last couple of pages really left a lasting impact on me. I personally found The Girl With No Face to be the most scary story in this collection.

A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow 2/5
Mehhhhhh. Honestly this story was one I felt very unattached to. It didn't evoke any strong feelings at all- whether positive or negative. I really didn't feel anything towards it all and right after finishing I was actually kind of glad to be done with it.

Stitches by A.G. Howard 4/5
This one had the most of the gore factor I think but I do believe it was handled well overall. There was only a few times when I was questioning its need haha. It was not only very detailed, not only with the imagery but also the story itself was very well thought out and I found myself surprised by the ending.

On the I-15 by Kendare Blake 3.5/5
With this story being the final of the anthology, I think it definitely ended on a good note, however I must admit that the ending of On the I-15 did feel a very rushed and thrown together. However I found the characterization and story in this one to be quite amazing, especially for such a short story. I honestly could see this story as a full fledged novel and one I would adore.


Overall I quite enjoyed this anthology. It always makes me happy to see horror in YA and I do hope to see more as it is such an genre with unexplored potential.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Discussion: Tangled Web of Blogger & Author Friendships


This is a controversial issue, so I know I must tread lightly. I just want to be clear that I'm not policing your friendships, nor am I discounting them or am I shaming you for having them at all. The intention of this post isn't some attempt to make you stop interacting with authors. Rather, it's an a discussion post intended to create conversation through some observations I've made and quite a few questions I have for the community.

One of the many things on my mind is how does one remain impartial while maintaining author friendships? How much weight do they or do they not hold on the final rating or review? For me I find the whole point of writing reviews is to showcase your honest opinion on a story. So, personally, when bloggers are openly/publicly interactive and very friendly with an author and give their story a glowing five stars in the back of my mind I wonder: how much did their friendship influence their review or rating? Did the blogger feel pressured, perhaps to the extent where they felt in order to maintain their ties with the author they must inflate the rating? Do they feel guilty they didn't like the book and feel they to overcompensate the positives? It's hard to say and honestly leaves me wary and at times creates mistrust.

Personally speaking, I'm friendly (in my eyes there's a difference between the odd tweet and constant everyday sorta friendship thing) with authors. I wouldn't say I'm particularly close with any to the point of true friendship however. Part of that is because I fully admit I may be prone to adjusting ratings, or at least may feel the need to if the circumstance of becoming close friends with an author was presented. I think it'd be awkward to say the least to have a very strong friendship, read their book, find it mediocre or worse and continue talking to the author casually. So, the thing is- I get it. I understand why somebody would feel pressured to heighten ratings. Do I personally agree with the integrity and honesty lost with it? No, not in the least especially with the very core of the community based on honest opinions. I hold that honest integrity above all else. It's because of that I keep a professional distance from authors and don't cross into that  murky friendship area.  This is definitely an individually based choice, I think it would differ from blogger to blogger on whether or not they would be able to remain impartial or not.

It's no doubt in my mind that some bloggers who have crossed that line of professionalism into friendship and at one point or another may have felt obligated to heighten ratings (especially bloggers at a younger age, I feel they'd be more prone to the influence that comes along with the friendship) despite their genuine feelings about a novel.To anybody out there who may be feeling the temptation to inflate ratings I would encourage you to consider other options.

Many alternate options do exist and while they won't be as pleasing to an author as a glowing five star review, they're certainly more honest and the more trustworthy thing to do. The best one in my view would be an honest rating and review, of course while remaining respectful. I know some bloggers would worry that this would impact their friendship with the author but quite frankly, if an author is really your friend (and not just there for opportunistic promotion, which unfortunately does exist and I've personally experienced) I'm sure they wouldn't be put off by a 3 star review. Another choice is to to quietly rate on goodreads or not even rate at all and avoid all the possible awkwardness all together. While this one does bother me as it's restricting you of your true opinion, I definitely find it better than a falsified and frankly dishonest perspective.

Overall it's clear to me that Blogger & Author friendships and the line that exists in terms of professionalism is no easy thing to determine as it honestly differs from person to person. I personally do feel that pressure to inflate ratings exists. I think the crucial thing to do is to recognize this pressure and if you do have blogging friendships, consider the weight of their friendship on your impartiality in order to reach a option that works for you.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Discussion: Get Off Your Fucking Pedestal


Often times in the genre of Young Adult, I feel as if the main character is put on a pedestal of sorts. By this I mean the main character is lifted far up and beyond the other characters in the story and is seen as more powerful/knowledgeable/simply better than everybody else. Sometimes it seems as if the main character is even condescending or judgmental at times because she is put on such a high pedestal.  I feel as if this occurs in a multitude of ways, all of which I find to be of annoyance to me but one way is certainly more problematic.

The first technique I have seen several times in YA to make the main character just seem utterly amazing and borderline perfect is the "special snowflake" trope. This one isn't a new idea and seems to occur most often in the YA paranormal and fantasy novels. Pretty much the main character makes discoveries about the supernatural world, is the true heir to the throne etc etc. Then we discover the main character has special abilities or perhaps there is a prophecy..AND THE MAIN CHARACTER IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SAVE THE WORLD FROM RUIN. Naturally the main character will become ultra amazing at her power right away with little training. From there on out nearly every character who crosses the MC will love her and if not they're totally evil. Despite impossible circumstances the main character will always prosper.

While the aforementioned method is irritating, a tired trope and has been done about a thousand times it's not particularly offensive or hateful. I find other methods of promoting the main character much worse, just because they usually involve the degradation and tearing down of the side characters in order make the MC appear even more "appealing".

An example of this would be an YA novel where the main character has a best friend/sister/acquaintance who is a little bit more sexually promiscuous than the main character. Honestly, I'm fine with this being included as I don't expect us all to be sexual in the same way or at all. However, what I'm not fine with is it being included, having MC point it out so frequently and then points out her own innocence right after or judges the side character for her sexual experience. This infuriates me as it plays into the societal ideal that sex = taboo/bad, therefore the main character is much more angelic and "good"  than her sexually active side character. When this technique is used it also makes it seem like the side character's only purpose is to solely exist so the main character appears more "wholesome" and appealing to the reader which frustrates me to no end. Not only is it slut shaming, but it also promotes unhealthy female friendships.

Another example of an side character whose entire existence is usually torn down is the quintessential mean girl. Not only is the mean girl often slut shamed/judged by the main character (see the above paragraph for more on that) but it also appears that this side character is often never developed in any shape or form. The mean girl is just mean for the sake of being mean it seems (which is also very unrealistic). While I don't justify bullying in any way, by not developing the mean girl beyond the stereotypical trope it honestly just seems like she's being included just so she can victimize the MC and evoke the reader's sympathy. It not only demonizes the mean girl but also dehumanizes her by making her once again, nothing more that a character to increase the MC's appeal.

It's truly unnecessary (and sometimes even problematic) for the main characters to be put on such a high pedestal, especially since it's usually done in at the expense of the side characters. I think it's a very juvenile and narrow minded perspective that the main characters must be "perfect" or appear "better" than every other character in a novel. I personally prefer the main characters in novels to be flawed and to be not constantly reminded about how much better she/he is than everybody else. I also enjoy reading about side characters and believe they deserve way more development and credit than just being a tool to further enhance the main character.
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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1)
By Alison Goodman
YA, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Release Date: January 26th, 2016
Viking Books
Goodreads
★★★ .5
New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter! London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

First off, some of you may know how big of a fan I am of the sub-genre historical fiction within YA. I love it and will pretty much read any story marketed this way. I think Dark Days Club does the genre justice as it so obviously well researched, the author capturing so many details specific to the Regency period. The details are also weaved throughout the story seamlessly, in a way that makes you truly feel the atmosphere of the time period. Never did it come across as like a textbook flooding you with useless and detached information though nor did it come in the form of an info dump. It was natural and immersive without being too much.

Sometimes in historical fiction as well (especially in Regency novels or stories which feature main characters of higher status) I've personally found that sometimes they only focus on the wealthy upper classes or don't really even mention other socioeconomic statuses and what their lives were like. That wasn't the case at all in The Dark Days Club, you really got to see characters from all sorts of different backgrounds and how because of such their lives differed from one another's. I also enjoyed how Goodman included real historical events and truly discussed the conflicting political views of the time period. She also captured the societal views (such as the misogynistic "proper" role of women in the time) with honesty. All of the aforementioned made The Dark Days Club stand tall as a even more strong piece of historical fiction to me.

This novel also has some paranormal elements, which I felt were well done but at the same time missing a little something. I did enjoy them overall, as the paranormal aspects didn't overwhelm the story in that way that it would have totally changed it's course entirely. I liked that Helen, the main character, still continued on with her regular life amidst the increasingly shocking and world changing discoveries. So often you have YA novels where the main character learns about the paranormal AND BOOM RIGHT AWAY EVERYTHING CHANGES AT ONCE. I felt that Helen's slow immersion and into the supernatural world felt very natural and was done in a way that really fit the story rather than make it a whole new one. However my issue with the paranormal aspects lies in the fact I never really felt the urgency of it all, for example the few fight scenes fell quite flat. I honestly felt more tension with Helen's douchenozzle of a uncle if I'm being honest. Also I found the world-building itself surrounding the demons and the actual reclaiming lacking. While it was there (and I enjoyed knowing what was there) I couldn't help but still have questions. I do have high hopes that Goodman will answer these questions though in future installments.

Now for the characters themselves, I absolutely adored our gem of a main character. Helen was so likable and I instantly found myself loving her and her insights to the world she lived in. I love how she was strong, but not just in the physically strong sense. I loved her desire for knowledge, her unwavering love and loyalty to her parents and friends. I appreciated that she truly understood that time period that she was living in and recognized her own privileged upbringing. Really, I have nothing but love for Helen and her narrative was nothing but pleasant to read. I also appreciated the side character of Darby, Helen's maid. There was a great friendship between the two that only grew over the course of the novel and the interactions between them were one of my favorite parts of The Dark Days Club. 

There are also two male characters who show interest in Helen. I wouldn't say there's a love triangle quite yet but I do definitely see the possibility of it forming in future novels. Both of them aren't really developed that much yet (there isn't really any romance in this novel which I honestly see as a positive) so I feel fairly apathetic towards both and any possible relationship they may have with Helen. I do however like one over the other, and honestly I think it's because I'm just so sick of the brooding and mysterious love interest trope in YA.

Overall I quite enjoyed The Dark Days Club, especially the historical elements and the main character. I will definitely be checking out future installments of this series and there is no doubt in my mind that Goodman is a stellar author whose previous work I will be giving a shot ASAP.
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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Winter Day Trip: Lake Louise & Banff



I'm lucky enough to live in Canada, where I can simply drive an hour and a bit out of the city and be in the natural haven of the Rocky Mountains. Recently I found myself needing to get away from the stresses of life and when some of my sorority sisters casually mentioned a little road trip? Of course I was in.

To begin the trip we drove out to Lake Louise and decided to go skating. I'd recommend doing this as early as possible as it only seemed to get more and more busy as the day went on. The ice wasn't the best but you just couldn't beat the views. There were also these super fun ice castles to skate around and even explore.






After skating and basically being overwhelmed by the beauty in front of us we went to High Tea at the Lake Louise Fairmont hotel. We went at a very busy time and as we weren't hotel guests had to wait quite some time. I honestly found myself disappointed with the food and service given the high price. 

From High Tea we decided it was time for another adventure and drove to Johnston's Canyon, located in Banff.  We decided to hike up to the lower falls and oh my god. The views were gorgeous naturally, but getting there was quite the struggle. If you're hiking at all, I would recommend shoes with good grip as the trails were pretty much pure ice. Even with hiking boots I was sliding around and trying not to fall, which was an surprisingly funny bonding experience. 





Hiking took a lot out of me so when one of my friends highly recommended getting Beavertails I was intrigued (no everybody, they're not actual tails of beavers omg) and wanted to give them a try. They were incredibly delicious and so sweet. If you're in Banff giving Beavertails a chance is a must. There's so many amazing flavors to choose from. 

I didn't take this photo as honestly I ate my Beavertail so fast. 
So delicious and probably unhealthy but AHHH. Worth it. 


After eating we headed to the Banff Upper Hot Springs. It was super relaxing and the perfect end to the day. I didn't unfortunately get to take any photos because I honestly just wanted to lay back and just chill. By the time we went it was also fairly dark so taking photos would have been quite tough. So below is just one photo from their website (:




By the time we left the hot springs it was time to head home. Overall I had so much fun with friends experiencing all of the natural beauty Lake Louise & Banff has to offer. It's still so amazing (and I realize how lucky I am) that I can just drive an hour and see such magnificent sights. Both Banff and Lake Louise are perfect for a quick winter day trip in the mountains, as well as a quick winter getaway- there's certainly much more to do that we didn't have time for unfortunately. 




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Monday, February 22, 2016

Discussion: Stigmatization of Cosmetics


For this discussion post I will be talking about make-up in society and how it's been consistently tied up with negative connotations. Firstly, I'd like to make it clear that whether you wear makeup or do not, I won't judge in anyway- nor do I think anybody else should. For myself I enjoy a little bit of makeup, such as a nice red lip, as it does come with an empowering feelings. I think it's a personal choice and one that you should simply respect, rather than tear down.

One stigma that comes with wearing makeup is that you're doing it due to a lack of positive self-esteem and an absolute need to fulfill to societal beauty ideals. Furthermore, some see makeup as this macabre like tool that exists to give a false sense of security to those who wear it, and girls who wear makeup just can't be comfortable without it. It is because of that reasoning they don't wear makeup, maybe preach to others to do the same or even judge those who do. I do understand that this reasoning has roots in a positive strain of thinking- that some want girls to feel comfortable in their own skin without the use of cosmetics.

However, I personally find flaws in this thought process. It assumes that all women wear makeup for the exact same reason (poor self confidence issues and a need to uphold beauty standards). This is obviously not the case, as there are so many unique reasons people wear makeup. Some do so for self-expression, and I'd argue that makeup is definitely a creative outlet. Others do it to bring out certain features that they want to be highlighted. Some, like me, wear makeup as it brings a out a sense of empowerment. It's like wearing a pair of heels, it makes you feel powerful and like you're putting an in a little something extra into your appearance. In that way it does make me feel more confident, but that being said that doesn't mean I'm not confident without it. I'm not oblivious to the fact that some aren't comfortable without makeup, but I don't believe makeup is the culprit we need to blame for that, as I'm sure the individual's poor self esteem existed before they could even fathom makeup. I could write a whole other discussion on who is to blame but that is another story all together, but without getting into it I'll just casually point to the media.

There's also this bold assumption that wearing makeup means you're being a  conformist to society's ideals of beauty, a mantra I've seen preached over and over again in many YA stories- where the main character will look down on those who do wear makeup. I cannot speak for all women, but the majority I know don't wear makeup solely for the purpose to "conform" to societal ideals. To hear that some truly believe this really gets under my skin as not only is it quite judgmental, but to me it assumes that women should feel some sort of shame for enjoying something like makeup, which is traditionally feminine. I have also noticed that time and time again that things such as having an enjoyment in things like makeup and fashion tend to be viewed as shallow and vapid interests, solely existing not only to please society in general, but more specifically men. That blows my mind, like I mentioned previously there's just so many reasons women wear makeup and it's an highly individualized choice. Men shouldn't have any bearing on that and to make such an assumption like that is frankly offensive. It assumes that women exist to simply please men, and god forbid they make a choice that doesn't have anything to do with them.

Overall it's clear to me that there are many negative stereotypes and judgments that come along with wearing makeup. In response to this, I will reiterate what I said at the beginning of this post. Again, it's simply an individual's choice to wear makeup and one that has several different reasons behind it that differs person by person. We shouldn't judge or shame anybody for simply making a choice, instead we should respect it- especially when it literally has no bearing on us. I'd also really like to see a decrease in YA of the shaming of traditionally feminine things such as makeup, it truly drives me up the wall. In fact don't be surprised if you see a future post specifically on that topic (;
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Friday, February 19, 2016

Hello it's me...


I've always been awkward with introductions. I'm not really sure where to begin. I suppose my name is always a good starting point.

I'm Larissa, a 19 year old girl who is completely book enamored and quite struck with a terrible case of wanderlust. Some of you may know me from YA Midnight Reads, as I was lucky enough to be a co-blogger for there for over a year. I left the blog for a number of personal reasons but really ever since have been itching to be able to write on a platform that truly allows me to express myself- both my thoughts, words and ideas. I've just been waiting for things to calm down in terms and I now finally think it's time to re-enter the blogging community.

This time around I want to do things a little differently though. I still will be reviewing books- as reading is an activity like no other for me. It brings me such calm and joy. But yes, of course there are those common YA tropes that bring rage and total annoyance to every fiber of my being haha. 

However the difference with this blog from that of a totally book centered blog is that there will be more of a focus on discussions. Something I learned from my previous blogging experience is that formulating my thoughts and sharing opinions and views is one of my favorite things. I love to raise awareness on issues that some may have not even considered before and have honest and raw responses. It is because of the aforementioned that on Life As Larissa you can expect to see many discussion posts. Some will be book related, but I plan on the majority having roots in feminism, controversial issues and the society we live in currently. It’s hard to really be specific on what I’ll be talking about but really anything I can’t stop thinking or talking about, expect a post on it.

I also mentioned near the start of this post that I’ve been struck with quite the terrible case of wanderlust. It is because of this that I plan on sprinkling this blog with some travel posts. You’ll see such things like general stories and photos from my trips, my dream vacations (I seriously have over 50 planned, oops), some of my bucket list activities/when I actually accomplish them and recommendations. I honestly would love nothing more than to be able to share my love of the world and its gorgeous sights with you, and Life As Larissa is the platform I want to use to do exactly that.

I’m so excited to be back and can’t wait to interact with everybody. I hope that if you did know me before that you will continue with me on this latest adventure of mine. More likely, if you don’t know me or my words I hope that you will join and grow alongside with me on this wonderful blogging journey. It would be an absolute honor to have you by my side.

Welcome to Life As Larissa (: I'm can't wait to begin sharing my posts. Below is a survey that I would greatly appreciate you filling it out. It's essentially to satisfy my curiosity but also to get a feel of my readers and they would like. 



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